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Last week, a former senior Defense Intelligence Agency scientist became the 10th ex-government official, military officer or scientist to allege (or suggest) publicly that the U.S. government has recovered at least one UFO.

The overwhelming majority of these individuals also claim that the government transferred the retrieved craft to defense contractors for technical and scientific analysis.

Separately, sources interviewed by investigative journalist Michael Shellenberger allege that defense contractors are studying a dozen or more recovered UFOs. All of Shellenberger's sources claim that excessive secrecy is hindering a comprehensive understanding of the retrieved objects' enigmatic technology.

Moreover, an expanded network of sources told Shellenberger that at least 30 whistleblowers familiar with these alleged UFO retrieval and analysis efforts have provided testimony to Congress, the U.S. government's congressionally-mandated UFO analysis office and the investigative watchdogs that oversee the U.S. Department of Defense and Intelligence Community.

Importantly, the inspector general for the intelligence community deemed the lead UFO whistleblower's core allegations "credible and urgent." Moreover, the whistleblower, former intelligence official and U.S. Air Force veteran David Grusch is represented by the intelligence community's first inspector general. This high-profile attorney, now in private practice, sat prominently behind Grusch during an extraordinary July 26 congressional hearing.

As Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, stated recently, new protections enacted by Congress resulted in "all sorts of [UFO whistleblowers] coming out of the woodwork." These individuals, Gallagher said, are telling congressional investigators that "they've been part of this or that [UFO] program," resulting in "a variety of pretty intense conversations."

As Senate Intelligence Vice Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has put it, one of two astounding possibilities is now at hand. Either dozens of credible individuals are gradually revealing the "the biggest story in human history," or a sizeable cohort of high-level government officials holding top security clearances is "crazy."

Reflecting on the stature of the individuals who spoke to Congress, Rubio asked rhetorically, "What incentive would so many people, with that kind of qualification โ€” these are serious people โ€” have to come forward and make something up?"

Indeed, given the penalties for making false statements to investigative agencies, it is unlikely that these individuals โ€” some of whom claim direct, firsthand knowledge of the alleged UFO retrieval and reverse engineering efforts โ€” are participating in a sophisticated disinformation effort.

So, are numerous high-level government officials delusional and making false claims of firsthand UFO knowledge to investigators? Such a stark case of social contagion would amount to a concerning and extraordinary development.

Moreover, if dozens of senior officials are indeed "crazy," they have still somehow convinced key members of Congress to treat their extraordinary allegations with utmost seriousness.

In July, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), along with a bipartisan group of five other senators, introduced remarkable UFO-related legislation.

Following reporting that China and Russia may also have retrieved UFOs, language in the legislation alluding to the "increasing potential for technology surprise from foreign adversaries" takes on a particular significance.

While the exact details of foreign UFO retrieval and reverse engineering efforts remain murky, Grusch has described a "publicly unknown Cold War over recovered and exploited physical material โ€” a competition with near-peer adversaries over the years to identify UAP crashes/landings and retrieve the material for exploitation/reverse engineering to garner asymmetric national defense advantages."

According to retired U.S. Army colonel Karl Nell, who served alongside Grusch in an early iteration of the U.S. government's contemporary UFO analysis efforts, "[Grusch's] assertion concerning the existence of a terrestrial arms race occurring sub-rosa over the past 80 years focused on reverse engineering technologies of unknown origin is fundamentally correct."

These allegations, from two former high-ranking defense officials, in tandem with independent investigative reporting, raise a host of national security questions and issues. And clearly, Congress is paying attention. The Schumer-led legislation, for example, defines "non-human intelligence" as "any sentient intelligent non-human lifeform regardless of nature or ultimate origin that may be presumed responsible" for UFOs.

Notably, the term "non-human intelligence" appears two dozen times in the legislation, alongside frequent references to "biological evidence of non-human intelligence."

Critically, the legislation Schumer proposed defines "legacy" UFO programs precisely as whistleblowers allege: Any government or private sector "endeavors to collect, exploit, or reverse engineer technologies of unknown origin or examine biological evidence of living or deceased non-human intelligence."

Just as importantly, the draft legislation mirrors whistleblower allegations that recovered UFOs are now in the hands of defense contractors. If passed as drafted, the bill would require that "any and all recovered [UFOs] and biological evidence of non-human intelligence that may be controlled by private persons or entities" be turned over to the U.S. government "in the interests of the public good."

A different section of the same legislation, also sponsored by Sens. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rubio, offers an intriguing glimpse into the programs described by whistleblowers.

Beyond putting an immediate halt to any unreported UFO recovery and reverse-engineering efforts, the Gillibrand-Rubio legislation describes, in some detail, retrieval efforts ("capturing, recovering, and securing [UFOs]"), scientific study ("analyzing [retrieved UFOs] for the purpose of determining properties, material composition, method of manufacture, origin, characteristics, usage application, performance, operational modalities"), security and counterintelligence ("managing and providing security for protecting activities and information relating to [UFOs] from disclosure or compromise") and reverse-engineering efforts ("replicating [UFO] technology or performance based on analysis of materials or sensor and observational information associated with [UFOs]").

Of particular interest, the legislation alludes to the existence of highly advanced forms of propulsion derived from recovered UFOs and based on "technology other than chemical propellants, solar power, or electric ion thrust."

Intriguingly, following a classified briefing from the Department of Defense inspector general on UFOs this week, Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) stated, "It appears... somebody has discovered something - some advanced form of propulsion or technology - that may actually change all of our lives."

Should it indeed exist, such technology could pose new dangers or solve any number of global challenges. But as the Gillibrand-Rubio legislation notes in its "Sense of Congress" section, extraordinary secrecy surrounding retrieved UFOs is creating "technology and security stovepipes" that may threaten the nation's "global lead in critical advanced technologies."
Marik von Rennenkampff served as an analyst with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, as well as an Obama administration appointee at the U.S. Department of Defense.