Three former military officials told Congress Wednesday that they believe the government knows much more about UFOs than it is telling the public.
A House Oversight subcommittee held a hearing on UFOs — officially known as unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs — and heard mystifying testimony about unexplained object sightings and government possession of “nonhuman” biological matter.
Lawmakers on the committee, baffled by some of the testimony, repeatedly noted that UAP sightings are an issue of bipartisan concern and raise national security questions. Separately, some accused the federal government of endeavoring to conceal key UFO-related information from the public, though they did not provide evidence to support those allegations.
“The sheer number of reports, whistleblowers and stories of unidentified anomalous phenomena should raise real questions and warrant investigation and oversight. And that’s why we are here today,” Rep. Robert Garcia, the top Democrat on the subcommittee, said in his opening statement. "UAPs, whatever they may be, may pose a serious threat to our military or civilian aircraft. And that must be understood."
These UAP sightings, experts say, might be attributable to balloons, drones, optical illusions or even the blinking lights of a commercial airliner. The Pentagon has said they have seen no evidence linking UAPs to alien activity, though they have not ruled out that explanation.
Here are five of the witnesses' main claims from the hearing:
Government is ‘absolutely’ in possession of UAPs
David Grusch, a former U.S. intelligence official, told the panel that he is “absolutely” certain that the federal government is in possession of UAPs, citing interviews he said he conducted with 40 witnesses over a four-year period.
The former U.S. intelligence official said he led Defense Department efforts to analyze reported UAP sightings and was informed of a “multidecade” Pentagon program that endeavored to collect and reconstruct crashed UAPs.
Asked by Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., how such a program is funded, Grusch claimed that the effort is "above congressional oversight" and bankrolled by a "misappropriation of funds."
"Does that mean that there is money in the budget that is set to go to a program but it doesn't and it goes to something else?," Moskowitz asked.
"Yes. I have specific knowledge of that," Grusch said, though he did not provide more details, claiming the information remains classified.
‘Nonhuman biologics’ were found at a crash site
Grusch, who underscored that he has not personally spotted a UAP, told the panel that he knows of "multiple colleagues" who were injured by UAPs. He also said he has interviewed individuals who have recovered "nonhuman biologics" from crashed UAPs.
Grusch said he prefers to use the term "nonhuman" rather than alien or extraterrestrial.
Asked by Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., to substantiate the crashed UAPs claim, the former intelligence official said he could not divulge specific details, once again claiming the information was too sensitive to share with the public.
He did, however, describe the nature of what he saw: "I have to be very careful here ... [but] what I personally witnessed, myself and my wife, was very disturbing."
A Pentagon spokesperson told NBC News that Grusch's claims are false.
Officials must establish a 'safe and transparent reporting process'
Some lawmakers and witnesses pushed the federal government to establish clear channels to communicate UAP information with both the public and the military, and said the military should establish a comprehensive reporting process for unidentified objects sightings.
Ryan Graves, a former Navy pilot, told the panel that military pilots do not feel adequately briefed on UAPs, which he said leaves them unprepared to respond to UAP encounters.
The former Navy pilot claimed that commercial airline pilots have spotted UAPs too.
"There has to be a safe and transparent reporting process for pilots both on the commercial side and the military side to be able to report UAPs," Garcia said.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., echoed the calls for more transparency. She noted that Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, the director of the Pentagon's All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office, had previously told Congress that there was “no credible” evidence of extraterrestrial life.
Grusch objected to Kirkpatrick's claim, prompting Foxx to say that "contradiction is a perfect example of why we need to inject transparency into our government."
Stigma associated with sightings 'silences' possible witnesses
Some witnesses and lawmakers at the hearing argued that the stigma associated with reporting UFO sightings — as well as the alleged harassment of those who work to investigate them — may be hindering efforts to determine their origins.
Graves told the panel that stigma "silences" pilots who fear "professional repercussions," which he said is "compounded by recent government claims questioning the credibility of eyewitness testimony."
The Federal Aviation Administration has no mechanism for pilots to report UAPs, and instead directs them to civilian groups that are often dismissed as the domain of cranks and conspiracy theorists.
Those institutional hurdles led Graves to form a first-of-its-kind group that pushes for policy changes, serves as a hub for pilot whistleblowers and advocates for more disclosure by the military and other government agencies.
Lawmakers said they hoped the hearing could help assuage pilots' fears of speaking out.
"This hearing will not be the end of this discussion, but a new chapter and start. We should encourage more reporting, and more study of UAPs," Garcia said. "The more we understand, the safer we are."
UFO spotted accelerating to 'supersonic speeds'
David Fravor, a former Navy commander, said he and three fellow military pilots spotted a white Tic-Tac-shaped object in 2004, hovering below their jets and just above the Pacific Ocean.
As he descended to inspect the sighting, he claimed the unidentified aircraft — which he said bore no visible rotors, wings or exhaust — began to ascend and approach his fighter jet.
He claimed that the UAP then vanished, only to reappear a few seconds later, but this time it was spotted 60 miles away.
Fravor told the committee that the technology he and his team encountered defies logical explanation.
"The technology that we faced is far superior to anything that we had," Fravor claimed. "And there’s nothing we can do about it, nothing."