Fear and Loathing at AARO
There is a blatant withholding of information being admitted to on live television, and nobody in the media seems to give a shit.
On Wednesday, April 19th, 2023, the second Congressional hearing on the UFO/UAP phenomenon in fifty years was held by the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.
The head of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, gave testimony and answered questions from Chairwoman Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and two other members of the committee.
Interestingly, the open hearing followed the classified briefing that was reportedly given to additional Senators. This left the public portion with only three Senators asking questions in what felt like a side room of the Capitol, giving off an impression of unimportance or indifference to the subject at hand.
Once the Senators, the audience, and Dr. Kirkpatrick were situated, the reading of the opening testimony began.
Dr. Kirkpatrick seemed mostly sincere, if somewhat disinterested, in addressing the UAP topic and the work his office had been undertaking for the past nine months.
Dr. Kirkpatrick rattled off what he described as AARO's accomplishments over the past year, repeatedly describing the organization as "young" and adding several caveats that more time would be necessary to produce results that would hold up to scientific scrutiny.
He listed the military services and government agencies AARO had "partnered" with their efforts to centralize data on anomalous phenomena. He highlighted the importance of collaborating with the new "Tiger Team" interagency UAP task force established by the White House in the wake of the recent Chinese spy balloon saga and subsequent shootdowns of three still-unidentified objects back in February of this year.
Kirkpatrick then went on to describe his own personal vision of how the office should be run, along with his administrative definition of unidentified anomalous phenomena and the current established process of determining the origin of unidentified craft in US airspace.
He stressed the importance of the scientific method, once again emphasizing how these processes likely won't take place at the speed desired by the public who have already been waiting 75 years for basic answers to these questions.
Kirkpatrick also dismissed civilian-led research conducted through necessity due to the decades-long information vacuum resulting from the lack of data and proliferation of disinformation by government agencies.
He derided blogs and social media as insufficient avenues to find answers to this phenomenon, platforms for transparency activism that researcher Grant Cameron humorously pointed to as the reason for his "butt being forced into a chair to testify" at the hearing in the first place.
Dr. Kirkpatrick went on to share some examples of the information collected by AARO in the form of charts and heat maps, with data points such as morphology, propulsion, color, and altitude.
He also shared two new UAP videos. One video showed a metallic orb filmed in the Middle East that still had yet to be identified, while the other was an example of a successful identification of a commercial aircraft in South Asia.
During the question and answer session, one of the more concerning admissions by Dr. Kirkpatrick had to do with the mechanism in place regarding his office's direct reporting requirements.
When asked by Senator Gillibrand if AARO had been set up correctly as a subordinate to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Dr. Kirkpatrick revealed that the office still reported to the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.
Gillibrand immediately pressed the issue, inquiring upfront if she needed to address and update AARO's reporting requirements in next year's National Defense Authorization Act.
Kirkpatrick responded in a somewhat evasive and vague manner, stating, "I think they're planning on coming back to you with an answer on what the plan is, and I think at that time, that will inform what you want to do."
As many familiar with the current push for UFO transparency will recall, Luis Elizondo has stated repeatedly in interviews and on social media that his old office of the USD(I) has a history of persecuting whistleblowers and others advocating for the release of information regarding the issue.
When AARO's predecessor AOIMSG was announced during the Fall of 2021 in what turned out to be a brazen attempt to circumvent Congressional intent, Elizondo took to Twitter and wrote a thread explaining the reason this development would be detrimental to the progress of UFO disclosure.
Important update: Before anyone gets too excited about the recent Pentagon announcement of a new UAP group, please consider the following: USDI is precisely the same organization that has underplayed and tried to kill the UAP effort for years.
USDI is an oversight organization and non-operational. Nowhere is there a requirement to provide unclassified findings to Congress, or work with our international partners.
Given that elements still exist in the Pentagon who are actively underplaying the significance of this topic, this is akin to giving an alcoholic the key and control to the liquor cabinet.
If you want to maintain UAP/UFO secrecy, this is exactly how to do it.
The fact that AARO — the latest version of the office referenced by Elizondo in his tweets above — is still under the control of the USD(I) after nine months does not seem to bode well for the chances of UAP information reaching the public.
Fortunately, the Senators leading this push have the power to mandate further requirements, though whether or not the Department of Defense will ever follow these policies is anyone's guess at this point.
Another concerning aspect of this briefing once again had to do with the USD(I)'s involvement, this time explicitly pertaining to the release of public information.
Senator Gillibrand directly asked Dr. Kirkpatrick if there was any plan for public engagement by AARO, and his response was less than assuring.
So we have a number of public engagement recommendations according to our strategic plan. All of those have been submitted for approval. They have to be approved by the USD(I&S), we're waiting for approval to go do that.
So just to review, the new AARO is still reporting to the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.
According to former USD(I) employee Luis Elizondo, this office having control over the UFO issue "is akin to giving an alcoholic the key and control to the liquor cabinet," and these same officials "have tried to kill the UAP effort for years."
This is the exact reason he resigned from the Pentagon in the first place.
AARO was mandated by Congress in legislation to no longer be under USD(I) nine months ago, a mandate which is clearly being violated in what appears to be an intentional manner.
Now Kirkpatrick is saying that plans for public engagement on the UAP issue by AARO do exist and are part of the office's strategy.
But now, since the public engagement needs to be given the green light by USD(I), we have reached a point where the obstruction has become a public spectacle and blatant abuse of power by the Pentagon.
This pattern of behavior is an indictment of the USD(I), and exposes their contempt for the American public who pays their salaries so they can provide for their families.
Employees of their office have been forced to resign in their attempts to counteract this obfuscation, risking their reputations and future job prospects because a few individuals at the top are scared of being embarrassed.
As much as some in the UFO community would love to write this hearing off as a "nothingburger" or just another bureaucratic hat tip to Congress, the reality is that this was something much more profound.
The shameless arrogance and disregard for public trust displayed by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security were laid bare in front of the entire country, and nobody took the time to notice.
There is a blatant withholding of information being admitted to on live television, and nobody in the media seems to give a shit because the subjects involved have been stigmatized by the very organizations preventing the release of said information.
Pentagon officials are handing any semi-competent journalist a blockbuster scandal on a silver platter.
Is nobody going to take them up on it?