Jul 28, 2023

Is all this UFO hype for real?

Is all this UFO hype for real?
Photo by Albert Antony / Unsplash

On Wednesday, three witnesses delivered eyebrow-raising testimony to Congress.

If we had a reasonable media landscape, what happened in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday would go down as one of the most newsworthy days of the year, if not the decade.

But it likely won't, because the testimony centered on unidentified flying objects (UFOs) or, as the government calls them these days, unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP). And since our media landscape is unreasonable, whenever anyone or anything seemingly credible wades into that area, it gets dismissed as unserious nonsense.

Here are the basic facts of this story: A former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer named David Grusch testified, under oath, that federal intelligence personnel are concealing evidence of UFOs from the public — and have been for decades. He alleged that our government is in possession of alien spacecraft, has recovered the bodies of alien pilots, and even that people have been injured by unidentified flying objects or by government officials trying to cover the program up. To many Americans, these allegations are either the fantastical ravings of a kook or the most credible and concerning testimony yet of what has long been suspected.

Grusch was joined by Ryan Graves, a former Navy pilot who has spoken out about encountering unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) during training missions, and retired Navy Commander David Fravor, who in 2004 famously encountered a Tic-Tac shaped object performing maneuvers that defy our current understanding of physics.

Grusch's claims were first introduced to the public when journalists Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal published a story about him in a news website called The Debrief, then explored further when he appeared in a NewsNation interview. Here at Tangle, we decided to cover that story in a YouTube video; in one of the more serious moments of my breakdown, I told viewers that the most important thing about Grusch, in my mind, was his credibility.

Not only has he served for 14 years as an intelligence officer in the Air Force and National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency, but he has nothing but sterling reviews on his record. No insubordination, no misconduct, no signs that he is someone who may be acting out of anything other than a desire to share what he believes to be true.

In the video, I also emphasized the novelty of what Grusch was claiming, which has been missed by much of the coverage about him. Rather than alleging that a representative body like Congress was keeping the "truth" about UFOs and aliens from the public, he is alleging that executive branch agencies and intelligence officials within the government are actually keeping that information from Congress.

In other words, the cover-up isn't about politicians lying to us, but about intelligence officials lying to our representatives. Grusch says that aerospace engineers and weapons manufacturers are running a skunkworks within the government, siphoning money from government contracts and putting it toward unsanctioned research projects, and that we are effectively in a race to reverse-engineer the technology we've found before other nations do.

On Wednesday, Grusch, Graves, and Fravor were sworn in by Congress and peppered with questions by the House Oversight subcommittee on national security about what they understood to be true, and what they could tell the public.

It's worth laying all this out in plain terms. To do so, we're going to outline the claims made by Grusch, the questions he didn't or couldn’t answer, what the other witnesses said, and then the reasons to be skeptical. At the end, I'll share "my take."

The claims made by Grusch

  • Grusch claims that while examining classified documents and working alongside other UAP intelligence officials, he was told of "a multi-decade UAP crash retrieval and reverse-engineering program."
  • Grusch claims that he interviewed officials who had direct knowledge of aircraft of "nonhuman origins" and biological material from pilots of those aircraft (that he called "biologics") that were non-human.
  • Grusch alleges people with direct knowledge of the UAP programs that discovered those materials are currently still in the programs investigating them.
  • Grusch claims that he requested full access to some of these programs and was denied, and he accused the military of misappropriating funds to shield such programs from congressional oversight.
  • Grusch alleges that in the course of sharing his knowledge with the public, his life was repeatedly threatened, and he and his colleagues have been the victims of "administrative terrorism."
  • Grusch claims that he knew of "multiple colleagues who have been injured" by UFOs or by members of the government.
  • Grusch claims he interviewed 40 witnesses over four years, and concluded from those interviews that the government is in possession of UAPs.
  • Grusch claims he knows the "exact locations" of UAPs in government possession and has shared those locations with the inspector general and intelligence committees. "I actually had the people with the firsthand knowledge provide a protective disclosure to the inspector general," he said.

What he didn't answer.

  • When asked if the government had any contact with aliens, Grusch said he could only answer that question inside a sensitive compartmented information facility.
  • When asked if he knew of anyone who had been killed to cover up the alleged program, Grusch said, "I directed people with that knowledge to the appropriate authorities."
  • In response to specific questions about how he or the people he interviewed knew objects were extraterrestrial, Grusch demurred, saying he could only speak about that with lawmakers in a closed session.
  • Because Grusch filed a formal whistleblower complaint, he is limited in what corroborating evidence he can provide publicly, while the evidence he submitted goes through the proper government channels.
  • When asked what other officials could come forward to corroborate his claims, Grusch said he could not answer that in an open session.

The other claims.

Grusch was joined by two other witnesses. While Grusch was largely framed as the "star witness" of the hearing and garnered the most attention, Graves and Fravor, the two former Navy pilots, also delivered some startling testimony.

In particular, they both expressed their belief that the UAPs being encountered by pilots were a threat to U.S. national security. Fravor said the technology he has witnessed in UAP encounters was far superior to anything we have, and that the objects he observed could go to and from space in ways that did not seem possible.

All three witnesses said the current reporting systems for UAP are inadequate, and that there is still a stigma reserved for pilots who accurately describe what they are seeing in our skies. Graves, for instance, described unknown objects he encountered while piloting an F-18 jet as "dark gray or black cubes … inside of a clear sphere, where the apex or tips of the cubes were touching the inside of that sphere."

He also recounted a story another pilot told him about an incident 10 miles off the coast of Virginia in which an object between 5-15 feet long flew between two F-18s and then came within 50 feet of the aircraft, but there was no acknowledgment of the incident or any way to report the encounter.

UAP encounters, he emphasized, were not rare or isolated. He estimated that 95% of such encounters go unreported.

"If UAP are foreign drones, it is an urgent national security problem," he said. "If it is something else, it is an issue for science. In either case, unidentified objects are a concern for flight safety. The American people deserve to know what is happening in our skies. It is long overdue."

Graves said UAP encounters were so common that they were worked into pre-mission briefings, and the things many pilots have witnessed did not conform to our understanding of physics.

"These objects were staying completely stationary in Category Four hurricane winds," Graves said. "The same objects would then accelerate to supersonic speeds, 1.1, 1.2 Mach, and they would do so in very erratic and quick behaviors that we don’t—I don’t have an explanation for."

Fravor, in recounting the famous 2004 "Nimitz incident," described how he was a commander of the USS Nimitz when he spotted a 40-foot flying Tic-Tac shaped object off the coast of southern California. The object was hovering over the water before it rapidly climbed 12,000 feet in the air, and then accelerated and disappeared before being spotted roughly 60 miles away less than a minute later. Fravor told pilots aboard the USS Nimitz of the object when he returned, and they managed to capture it on video when they went on their flight.

Most notably, Fravor claimed the object had no visible propulsion system and was maneuvering in ways that no pilot could survive because of the gravitational forces such speed would create.

"I think what we experienced was, like I said, well beyond the material science and the capabilities that we had at the time, that we have currently or that we're going to have in the next 10 to 20 years," Fravor said.

When asked why they decided to come forward, Graves gave one of the more notable responses of the hearing, telling the room that he did not want to share his story — but a close friend had "pestered" him to go public and add credibility to the stories of what many Navy pilots were seeing.

Reasons for skepticism.

The first and most obvious reason to be skeptical of Grusch is that he has not personally witnessed any of the things he’s testifying to.