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Revenge of the Spooky Nerds: Personal Musings on the AARO UFO Hearing

The second official Congressional UFO hearing in modern history took place earlier this week. Like the first one, in which members of the US House of Representatives questioned the work of both the short-lived Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group (AOIMSG), and its predecessor (and equally ephemeral) the US Navy’s UAP Task Force, in trying to ascertain the nature and potential risks posed by anomalous objects, this new hearing with Dr. Sean Kickpatrick — who is the Director of the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) which came to replace AOIMSG — would have been yet another disappointment for anyone under the assumption that this might be the chance for “UFO Disclosure” to finally take place.

Indeed, Dr. Kirkpatrick’s most repeated statement before the members of the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, was that AARO thus far has found “no credible evidence of extraterrestrial activity, off world technology, or objects that defy the known laws of physics.”

And yet, the proceeding which was chaired by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) — who is one of UFO Twitter’s biggest heroes due to both her active interest in the controversial subject, as well as her efforts to ensure policies regarding UAP are included in recent legislation destined to regulate military budgets and official protocols — was worth watching and analyzing for both what was said and unsaid. Which is why I want to share with our dear readers my two cents:

  • Move along, jocks: The proceeding had a totally different tone when compared with the hearing of last year, which felt amateurish and lacking of proper preparation. I can still remember the cringe I felt when Congressman Adam Schiff kept asking Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott W. Bray and his staff to try and rewind the one single crappy video they brought to show Congress. The previous directors of the offices tasked with investigating UFOs were career government officers, whereas Kirkpatrick is both a spook and a scientist with credentials; the videos he chose to show were equally crappy but hey — at least his geeks know how to use Powerpoint!
  • Settle down: Kirkpatrick is more than aware of the huge public expectations resting on his shoulders, but in his affable and deliberate tone (which made me think of a likeable college professor) he kept insisting on the fact that AARO cannot answer decades of questions all at once. His office is after all only 9 months old, so he’s asking both Congress and the American people for patience. Which is fine and good, but it still leaves seasoned students of the UFO topic with the feeling these nerds are desperately trying to reinvent the wheel with whichever meager means they were allotted by the government.
  • This is a team effort: Kirkpatrick insisted that the UFO problem cannot be solved solely by the DoD and the intelligence community. This will require the participation of private industry, Academia, the public sector and American allies. Which is sort of a paradox because it was the IC the ones who began the stigmatization of the UFO topic via the Robertson panel in the first place, all the way back in the 1950’s. How that stigma will be successfully surpassed is not something Kirkpatrick cared to elaborate.
  • Temp gig: AARO’s mission in Kirkpatrick’s mind is two fold: To turn the majority of UAP (unidentified anomalous phenomena) cases that fall in their desks into SAP (somebody else’s problem); meaning that once a case manages to no longer be considered an unknown or anomalous, it will be handled by another branch of government. Thus it will not be AARO’s decision to shoot down cheap Chinese spy balloons with super-expensive Sidewinder missiles; that will be decided by either the White House or the joint chiefs of staff (and there are more cost effective ways to deal with spy platforms than ‘kinetic responses’ in military parlance). It is clear then that Kirkpatrick’s ultimate goal for AARO is to make AARO redundant, by ensuring the standardization of reporting guidelines of UFO cases is properly followed across all branches of the US government, and that everyone is aware of the adequate mitigation measures to enable when dealing with unknown objects compromising US sensitive airspaces or operations. This is clearly a guy who does not want to be stuck with the “weird desk” of the Pentagon indefinitely, and I can respect that.
  • Need moar data: Kirkpatrick says his office is currently handling some 650 cases, but chose to show only two videos during the hearing, the quality and length of them being as underwhelming and disappointing as anything we’ve seen so far emerging from these “official” channels (or unofficial, like the ones peddled by self-proclaimed insider Jeremy Corbell who is still trying to convince us of his self importance). Yet the important thing is what Kirkpatrick meant to say with these videos; the first one being a small spherical object moving in an erratic fashion which was filmed over the Middle East in 2022, and the other one a fast moving object filmed over South Asia in 2023 which seemed to leave some sort of exhaust trail detected by the EO/IR sensors of the tracking camera. The first video, according to Kirkpatrick, will probably never be solved due to lack of sufficient supporting data, whereas the second was eventually identified as an airplane precisely because AARO counted with extra sensor data to run their assessments. Conclusion: Any unresolved UFO case can eventually be solved if you have sufficient data, time and resources; which is exactly what Blue Book kept telling the American people in the 50’s and 60’s — deja vu anyone?
  • Spooks vs Geeks: It was interesting to get a glimpse of AARO’s analyzing methodology, which involves dividing their personnel into two competing teams: Red team comprises of personnel with a background in Intelligence (spooks) whereas Blue team is made out of scientists and engineers (geeks). Both reds and blues get the same raw dataset from a given UFO case separately for assessment, and if both teams concur in their conclusion (bird, or party balloon) the case is closed. If, however there is dissent then more analysis is warranted and a team of senior independent advisors is consulted to bring ‘peer review’ to the analysis.
  • Openness? Don’t hold your breath: Kirkpatrick was asked about measure to ensure AARO’s data is one day openly accessible, to which he replied it is within their mission to launch a web portal where an unclassified version of their dataset will be open to the public. He admitted to sending a first version of this portal for submission before Christmas of last year, and since then he hasn’t received a reply from the higher-ups. So whenever AARO allows independent review of the cases they have looked into is anyone’s guess; but considering how the US government is adamant in keeping classified even the videos in which they allegedly shot down non-exotic balloons, my guess is this info will remain classified for a long looong time…
  • Let Skynet handle it: One of the most interesting things shared in the hearing is the admission of AARO’s employing artificial intelligence algorithms for “natural language processing” of submitted cases, in trying to determine any sort of coincidences or correlations in the UFOs reported by military personnel to ensure an easier standardization. This reminded me of SCU member Robert Powell’s experiments in similar technology —and the bias problems which can arise from them. Kirkpatrick would go even further than language analysis, however, by exploring how ‘target recognition algorithms’ could ensure potential UFOs don’t end up filtered out by military or civilian sensor systems —which are designed to weed out either very fast or very slow moving objects, because nobody wants to go to Defcon 2 over a flock of birds or a swarm of insects.
  • Stick to the science, yo: Even though Kirkpatrick commended the public interest in his office’s mission, he made sure to underscore how he and his team don’t seem to care about Joe Average’s wacky theories on UFO propulsion unless they have gone through the arduous process of scientific peer review. “That’s how Science works, not by blog or social media,” he stated. His words made me think not only on how seasoned UFO researchers like Ray Stanford have tried for decades to woo credentialed scientists to look into the alleged UFO evidence he’s gathered —with very little success, one might add— where he believes breakthroughs in plasma and electromagnetic research can be derived from. But I also wonder if Kirkpatrick is alluding to all the dubious scientific papers produced by the controversial AAWSAP program spearheaded by Robert Bigelow and his team, which have been largely rejected by the majority of mainstream scientists. One thing is for sure, and it is that neither Kirkpatrick nor NASA or the Galileo project will choose to deviate from the trodden path of the scientific method when casting their lens on the UFO enigma. Of course, this takes for granted the assumption that academics are enthusiastic enough with the prospect of risking their careers studying a topic they’ve been told all their lives it’s nothing but a joke —even though the stigma has been somewhat eroded, it is far from being completely gone among certain intellectual circles.
  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint run: The other overall theme of the hearing is that, with only 9 months of operation, AARO has just begun and they are in no hurry to crack this riddle. Kirkpatrick and his team are taking things by the book in a very methodical and rigorous manner, which is sure to have felt like a bucket of cold water to all those who have been impatiently waiting for ‘Disclosure’ since 2017.

These are just a few of the highlights mentioned during the one-hour Congressional hearing. But what about the things that were not mentioned? Like the fact that neither in this proceeding nor in the previous one of last year, the AAWSAP/AATIP programs have ever been officially mentioned by the directors of AOIMSG, the Naval Task Force or AARO. They all seem to have operated as if nothing was gathered by these formerly secret projects sponsored by the late Senator Harry Reid.

Which is problematic to any Lue Elizondo supporters still hanging out there, who have been repeatedly told the US government is in current possession of incontrovertible material evidence (high quality videos in close proximity lasting several minutes or more) which show without a doubt we are indeed dealing with objects that do defy the known laws of physics. Did Elizondo take all that material with him to Wyoming when he cleared out his Pentagon desk after resigning and joining Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars? And why isn’t he and/or Chris Mellon among the ‘senior retired advisors’ providing peer-reviewed consultation to AARO’s analytic methodology?

And what about all the stories we’ve been hearing for years about NORAD’s abilities to track down anything bigger than a grapefruit around Earth’s orbit, and their regular tracking of anomalous objects entering our atmosphere from deep space, allegedly codenamed ‘fast-walkers’? If AARO’s connections with most branches of DoD are so good as Kirkpatrick affirms, then why hasn’t he heard of them, instead of him trying to see if the resolution of civilian satellites tracking the climate is good enough to catch UAP?

Kirkpatrick also mentioned “two dozen witnesses” his office has interviewed who were referred to him by Congress. Just who are these people and what did they see? Have any of them experienced the sort of physical effects studied by Dr. Garry Nolan which seem closely tied to what is popularly known as “Havana Syndrome”?

Kirkpatrick’s AARO is officially mandated to submit an annual report later this year, in June-July. I doubt we will learn a whole lot more from the unclassified version of it, but that shouldn’t surprise anybody. What should surprise anyone is that large portions of the public were convinced the anti-structure nature of the UFO mystery could be comprehended once the red-taped bureaucracy of Washington got involved with it.

Maybe those fans get little comfort in the fact that at least the presentation slides are getting better.

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