© Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA
Key members of Congress delivered an astounding rebuke to the Pentagon's UFO analysis office last week, doubling down on whistleblower allegations of secret U.S government UFO programs.

Rumors of surreptitious UFO retrieval and reverse engineering efforts have circulated for decades, buoyed recently by extraordinary congressional interest and legislation, as well as remarkable whistleblower testimony.

In March, the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), the Department of Defense's UFO analysis program, released a 63-page report categorically denying the existence of such activities. Sean Kirkpatrick, AARO's former director, amplified the report's findings in a series of combative opinion pieces and interviews.

But congressional legislation formally introduced last week represents a remarkable rebuke of AARO and Kirkpatrick's emphatic denials.

Notably, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025 would cut off funding for "any activity involving [UFOs] protected under any form of special access or restricted access limitations" that has not been reported to Congress, as required by law.

In other words, despite AARO's sweeping denials of secret, unreported UFO activities, the Senate Intelligence Committee believes that such programs do indeed exist.

Critically, the legislation released last week also requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of AARO. This formal review by Congress's in-house investigative agency is a stark demonstration of the Senate Intelligence Committee's lack of confidence in AARO.

Key senators, in short, believe that the Pentagon's UFO office is either not being truthful with the American public or is not executing its mission effectively.

Moreover, the committee's legislation explicitly prohibits government contractors from utilizing a specific, nuanced budgetary process to fund unreported UFO programs. This indicates that the Senate Intelligence Committee is zeroing in on allegations, alluded to by whistleblowers and in previous legislation, that "exotic" craft of "non-human," "non-earth" origin are held by private defense contractors.

Last July, Air Force veteran and former intelligence official David Grusch testified under oath to the existence of illicit UFO retrieval and reverse engineering programs. Not only do Grusch's allegations align with recent legislation, but he also alleged that private contractors exploit the same budgetary process to circumvent legislative oversight.

At the same time, the intelligence committee's legislation includes nearly 30 pages of robust new whistleblower protections. The provisions appear crafted to encourage additional UFO whistleblowers to come forward, largely by mitigating the conditions that led to the vicious reprisals that Grusch alleges he endured.

Congress's stunning rebuke of AARO is not limited to the Senate Intelligence Committee. In March, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) indicated twice that extraordinary legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) would be reintroduced this year.

Among several remarkable provisions, the UAP Disclosure Act alleges that elements of the U.S. government have secretly operated decades-long "legacy programs" that seek to retrieve and reverse engineer UFOs of "non-human" origin.

Should the Schumer-led legislation resurface later this summer, as seems likely, it would amount to yet another rebuke of the Pentagon's UFO office.

In December, on the Senate floor, Schumer had stated that "the United States government has gathered a great deal of information about [UFOs] over many decades but has refused to share it with the American people."

According to Schumer, "multiple credible sources" have alleged that elements of the U.S. government have withheld UFO-related information from Congress illegally.

Last June, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made a series of similarly startling UFO-related comments, providing further insights into the extraordinary allegations underlying the legislation.

According to Rubio, "smart, educated people with high clearances and very important positions in our government" have come to Congress "with claims about the U.S. recovering exotic materials and then reverse-engineering those materials to make advances in our own defenses and technologies."

In August, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a member of the Senate defense and intelligence committees, echoed Rubio's comments, describing the UFO whistleblowers who informed congressional legislation as "very thoughtful, serious people." Asked in early May whether AARO's report categorically denying the existence of illicit UFO efforts is "case closed," Gillibrand stated, "Oh, it's definitely not case closed."

Setting aside the extraordinary nature of these remarks from key members of the Senate, congressional displeasure with AARO should come as no surprise. The office's landmark report shooting down allegations of unreported UFO programs is riddled with basic factual errors, stunning omissions and a laundry list of historical distortions.

Christopher Mellon, the Department of Defense's former top civilian intelligence official, took AARO to task in a scathing, 16,000-word analysis of the report.

At the same time, AARO released a remarkably flawed case resolution report on a highly anomalous UFO incident which U.S. Air Force personnel had felt obligated to report to Rep. Matt Gaetz's (R-Fla.) office. AARO's risible explanation for this encounter exemplified the absurd and unscientific explanations that the U.S. government has offered up for countless, highly credible UFO incidents for nearly a century.

Perhaps worse, AARO has made no progress on identifying the mysterious objects observed on a daily basis, over the course of several years, by naval aviators in tightly controlled training airspace off the U.S. East Coast. According to Navy documents, the UFOs, which exhibited highly anomalous flight characteristics, such as the ability to remain airborne for extreme durations or to remain perfectly stationary against hurricane-force winds, pose a "critical" flight safety risk.

Unsurprisingly, the Pentagon's inability to make sense of this years-long "severe threat to Naval Aviation" left fighter pilots "exasperated."

Nor has AARO provided any answers following a series of astonishing UFO incursions in alarming proximity to sensitive U.S. military installations over the last five years.

The mysterious objects exhibited highly anomalous technology, including the ability to operate well over 100 miles offshore, descend slowly into the ocean or, remarkably, to emit no sound while flying for long durations in extreme weather conditions.

In a few notable instances over the Great Plains in late 2019 and early 2020, for example, law enforcement officers observed dozens of UFOs operating in conjunction with a stationary "mothership" over the course of several hours. Alarmingly, some of the weeks-long incursions were clustered around nuclear missile silos and missile command stations, matching a decades-long trend of extraordinary UFO activity in close proximity to U.S. nuclear assets.

At the same time, AARO has no explanations for dozens of UFO incursions over Air Force ranges in Arizona in 2022 and 2023, including incidents involving up to eight objects at a time and encounters at altitudes up to 36,000 feet, far in excess of the operating altitude of conventional drones. Similarly, AARO has no answers for a shocking, weeks-long series of UFO incidents over Langley Air Force Base in late 2023.

It should come as little surprise, then, that key senators do not trust the Pentagon's UFO office. The stakes could not be higher.
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.