Last month, a former intelligence officer named David Grusch claimed the U.S. had evidence of downed alien aircraft and was hiding the technology from Congress. But Grusch hadn’t seen this evidence himself: Senior intelligence officials he interviewed as part of his role on the Pentagon’s UFO task force had told him about it, he said. Us Americans without a top-secret security clearance just had to take the guy at his word.
The public may soon get a little more clarity. Senator Chuck Schumer announced Thursday night that he has introduced a bipartisan bill to declassify more UFO reports. The legislation, tacked on to the annual defense policy bill, would establish a commission to declassify docs on UFOs and purported extraterrestrial run-ins.
If the bill passes (the Senate will have to tinker with the House version of it, after Republicans added a number of culture-war provisions), it would require the president to appoint a nine-person board, subject to Senate confirmation, which would then choose what to declassify and what to keep secret. Schumer, who said that he wants to “carry on the legacy of my mentor” and UFO obsessive Harry Reid, has modeled the bill after the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act, the 1992 legislation that required the public disclosure of documents related to the assassination that launched a zillion conspiracy theories. The UFO provision has notable Republican support from Senators Mike Rounds and Marco Rubio, who is a longtime booster of the issue.
The UFO board would be welcome news for UFO skeptics and believers alike. If the two sides can agree on anything, it’s that more information is needed to prove or disprove that extraterrestrial objects are in our midst. (So far, the government has mostly just shown that military pilots are liable to mistake balloons for spooky action at a distance.) But if the JFK legislation is a model, don’t expect the UFO board to declassify each and every record. The text of that law requires that all assassination records “be disclosed in full” no later than 2017. But in the years since, the CIA and FBI have made a concerted effort to keep thousands of documents under wraps.