Drafted by the Senate Intelligence Committee chaired by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, the provision requires the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and other agency heads under the Department of Defense, to "submit a report within 180 days of the date of enactment of the Act to the congressional intelligence and armed services committees on unidentified aerial phenomena."
Though it's still unclear how much of the classified information will be made public, former intelligence officials welcomed the provision and said that it would help clarify numerous questions the public has in light of last year's declassification of three Navy videos of UFOs.
The omnibus appropriations legislation includes the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (IAA). Introduced in June last year by Rubio, the act allots more resources toward intelligence gathering and analysis to protect American national security.
One provision of the act requires the disclosure of what the Pentagon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their counterparts know about unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs). Any report on the matter should address "observed airborne objects that have not been identified" and include a "detailed analysis of unidentified phenomena data collected by: a) geospatial intelligence; b) signals intelligence; c) human intelligence; and d) measurement and signals intelligence."
The report should also include a detailed analysis of data obtained by the FBI and derived from investigations of intrusions into restricted United States airspace. Also, it should contain an assessment of whether a foreign adversary is responsible for a UAP. (Related: Human-like aliens may have come from another dimension, according to declassified FBI file.)
The provision, however, is not included in the actual text of the nearly 6,000-page bill and is instead part of the committee comments at the end of the IAA. All the same, its stipulations have the full force of the law and indeed have already taken effect since the legislation's enactment.
Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough also confirmed that the provision is part of the appropriations bill, noting the department is aware that the Senate Intelligence Committee required the disclosure of UAPs.
The provision has been greeted warmly by former intelligence agents who have been pushing for more transparency following the release of three Navy videos of UAPs last year.
Nick Pope, a former UFO investigator for the U.K.’s now-defunct Ministry of Defence, said: "I welcome this move, which shows how seriously the phenomenon is being taken in the intelligence community."
But Pope noted that it remains unclear what a UAP report will say and how much can be made public given the highly classified nature of some of the information.
Chris Mellon, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for intelligence, said that the provision gives Americans "an objective basis for assessing the validity of [a UAP] and its national security implications." Mellon hopes that the next administration will execute its oversight prerogatives because the concerns of the public and military personnel have been ignored for too long.
In April last year, the Pentagon declassified three Navy videos of UAPs. The department said that the reason for the release was "to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real or whether or not there is more to the videos." The videos were leaked before they were declassified and triggered numerous speculations regarding their veracity.
Several lawmakers called for more transparency after the footage was officially made public. Rubio, for one, emphasized that Americans must be aware of UAPs as these might pose a threat to national security. "We have things flying over our military bases and places where we are conducting military exercises and we don’t know what it is – and it isn’t ours," said Rubio in July last year.
For more stories about the government's top-secret UAP findings, visit UFO.news.