OPINION | EDITORIAL: Government acknowledging UFO concerns

A piece of federal legislation caught our attention this week, and it has rare bipartisan support, according to The Hill.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence sent through a bill that redefines UFOs as "unidentified aerospace-undersea phenomena," and expands the definition to include "transmedium" objects that can "transition between space and the atmosphere, or between the atmosphere and bodies of water."

Most disconcertingly, a report attached to the bill notes that "transmedium threats to United States national security are expanding exponentially."

The legislation making its way through the Senate also excludes "man-made objects" from the revised federal definition of UFOs, suggesting committee members think that at least some UFOs aren't made around here.

Since a 2017 New York Times exposé of a federal UFO-investigation program essentially brought "flying saucers" into the mainstream and vaulted the now famous "Tic Tac" footage into the public consciousness, the Pentagon has released multiple reports of incredible incidents between U.S. Navy pilots and unexplained objects.

In almost all of them, pilots describe the objects moving in ways that defy the laws of physics and gravity--or at least as we know those laws--some seamlessly transitioning between the air and water. And much of the footage, say analysts and pilots alike, suggests the objects are behaving as if they want to be spotted. (Some of us still believe, or maybe hope, that all of this is instrumentation. And maybe punching the radar in the cockpit will make the blips disappear.)

Public comments, from high-ranking military officers to presidents, have adopted a different tone over the past 20 years when the subject is flying saucers. John Ratcliffe, former national intelligence director in the Trump administration, told Fox News in 2021 that UFOs exhibit "technologies that we don't have [and] that we are not capable of defending against."

And he admitted that government officials consider the possibility that other, more terrestrial entities have surpassed our own technological capability.

Either way, he said, the U.S. doesn't have good explanations for much of what's going on up there. We don't know which is more chilling, the prospect of alien intelligence active in our world or the U.S. not owning the world's skies.

For decades following the 1947 Roswell incident, the UFO phenomenon that took flight in American pop culture was relegated to the margins. CIA documents unclassified in 2001--the so-called Robertson Panel report--reveal that the government's "explain-it-away-at-all-costs" approach to unexplained sightings was grounded in the fear of spreading panic.

We weren't ready for the truth, it was reasoned. But today, Gallup says roughly 68 percent of Americans believe the government is not telling all it knows about UFOs. That the truth is out there . . .

After two generations of sci-fi's increased hold on our imaginations, of "Star Trek" and "The X-Files," it appears the government seems to have changed its mind regarding our readiness.

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