Sometime in the next few days, the Senate will pass the version of the National Defense Authorization Act which passed the House this week. Section 1638 of the new legislation will require the establishment of a program to research UFOs, including some bizarre provisions taken straight from the fever swamps of cable TV UFO shows. The legislation, a slightly watered-down version of an amendment Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand proposed this fall, represents a triumph for ex-government UFO research advocates and infotainers Chris Mellon and Luis Elizondo, whose lobbying efforts and UFO wish list were incorporated almost completely, and sometimes nearly verbatim, into the law.
Much of the new legislation is the same as the proposed Gillibrand Amendment, revolving around the establishment of a dedicated office to coordinate the military and intelligence response to military pilot UFO sightings via collecting information, analyzing it, and reporting on the results to Congress and the public at intervals. This much is not particularly controversial, nor likely to be especially fruitful since all past investigations have reached the same conclusion. But then the weird stuff comes in.
The new law would require the military to collect “data from other sources, including with respect to the testing of materials, medical studies, and development of theoretical models” that they are then required to use to reverse-engineer imagined super-tech in order to “replicate” what pilots imagine UFOs would be doing if they were in fact super-human technology. The law does not require proof that UFOs are advanced super-tech before spending money to try to duplicate their imagined properties.
The “materials” in question are quite obviously the infamous “metamaterials,” the alleged UFO crash wreckage celebrated by the group of ufologists associated with Robert Bigelow and his circle, including “Art’s Parts” and other apparent industrial waste. The “medical studies,” specified in the legislation as the health effects of encounters with UFOs, are again a subject that the Bigelow circle spent too much time on during the AAWSAP/BAASS era of UFO research. The reverse-engineering efforts to imagine hyper-advanced, apparently alien tech is again work the Bigelow team was doing, as evidenced from the list of papers they wrote under the AAWSAP program in the mid-2000s.
The new law also demands investigation of “transmedium” vehicles, a particular interest of Luis Elizondo, and a popular claim from the Ancient Aliens TV series. Such claims have been a persistent, if minority, interest in ufology since the Shaver Mystery science fiction stories of the 1940s, with its spaceships that also visited undersea outposts of the evil Deros.
The final text removed Gillibrand’s proposed requirement to create an advisory panel empowering UFO researchers like Avi Loeb and instead asks the Pentagon to bring in outside contractors and consultants as needed to complete the required research. There are no points for guessing who stands to benefit from providing UFO analysis contracting services—the same people who have been providing paranormal, occult, and sci-fi “research” services for fifty years, and their successors.
When it is signed into law, the NDAA will appropriate all necessary money to fund its research, which could total millions of dollars, for the next four years.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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