Implausible Deniability

by | Jun 12, 2022

I hadn’t intended for this, my second post, to touch on the same ground as the first: the point where consciousness – the thing that makes us ‘us’ – and unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP, formerly known as UFOs) meet.


But back then, more than a month ago, I didn’t know – nobody outside government did – that a Congressional hearing on UAP by the House Intelligence Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation Subcommittee would be taking place, as happened on 17th May.

This was, in its way, historic – the first time in 50 years that government – in the guise of senior officials from the US Department of Defense – had been summoned to testify before Congress on UAP/UFOs. My initial impression? Most people’s? Overwhelmingly underwhelming. But with the benefit of several weeks of hindsight, and with input in the interim from people whose business it is to know, I accept I shouldn’t have been quite as hasty to judge and dismiss in the way that I did.

Those first impressions, though, really weren’t favourable at all. Witness testimony was delivered by Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald S. Moultrie and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott W. Bray. The impetus behind the hearings were the string of events that have taken place since December 2017 (see my last post: when the New York Times revealed the existence of a secret programme within the DoD tasked with UFO investigation – the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. When the NYT blew open AATIP’s existence, its activities were repackaged as the UAP Task Force. When, at the end of 2020, the DoD and the intelligence community (IC) were compelled to tell Congress what they knew about UAP/UFOs in a report they had to assemble and deliver within six months, the UAPTF was repurposed again as the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group. If ever you needed evidence that the DoD and IC had been dragged kicking and screaming into the light of public accountability on this subject, ‘the AOIMSG’ surely is it. Few people in the committee room could remember how to spell it, let alone pronounce it; and this, it began to dawn on me, as I watched the whole show unfold, was intentional. When Under Secretary Bray stood up to share a video of a UFO encounter he had brought along as show’n’tell, there was a palpable quiver of anticipation from the room. But as he ran the footage, which appeared to have been taken on a smart phone from the cockpit of a fighter-jet, not only did we have trouble spotting the object he wanted to show us, but he did too – and when it came to trying to freezeframe said object, the hearing almost descended into farce.

The result set the tone for much of what followed, which became an abject lesson in how to do ‘plausible deniability’ – a technique that’s designed to let officialdom off the hook in situations like this, because the officials who are under the lamp attest very simply that they ‘do not know’.

This denial of knowledge of things almost anyone with a modicum of curiosity about UFOs ought to have known about was a frequent mantra of the hearing (for a full rundown on it, see The Debrief’s transcript here: It included some remarkable official amnesia on issues as diverse as the existence of official studies on UFOs by the DoD between Project Blue Book, which closed in 1969, and AATIP, which opened in 2007, and the ‘Malmstrom Incident’, in which a UFO (or something remarkably like one) shut down a dozen or so Minuteman nuclear-tipped ICBM silos in March 1967. But for the perspicacious questioning of one or two congressmen, in particular Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin, the DoD might have got off scot fee. Here’s a soupçon of what he was up against, which I pick up here after Gallagher asks Moultrie if he was aware of the Malmstrom incident and if he had any comments on the accuracy of reports on it.

Moultrie: Let me pass that to Mr. Bray, since you (Mr. Bray) have been looking at UAPs over the last three years.


Bray: That data is not within the holdings of the UAP Task Force.


Gallagher: But you are aware of the report? That the data exists somewhere?


Bray: I have heard stories. I have not heard (sic) official data on that.


Gallagher: So you have just seen informal stories, no official assessment that you’ve done or exists within DoD ..?


Bray: All I can speak to is, you know, what’s within my cognisance, the UAP Task Force, and we have not looked at that incident.


Gallagher: Well, I would say it’s a pretty high-profile incident …”

In UFO lore, they don’t come much higher. And the Malmstrom incident isn’t the only case where UFOs have taken nuclear weapons off-line. It has become a mantra of mine that you can debunk any single incident in the canon of UAP/UFO stories, just as you can pretty much anything, but it’s hard to debunk all the data across the entire history of the phenomenon.

For anyone looking to ramp up on the subject of UFO ‘interventions’ at nuclear sites (which include nuclear powerplants and facilities involved in the production of nuclear weapons, as well as the weapons themselves), take a look at ‘UFOs and Nukes’, a large and authoritative work by researcher Robert Hastings, who, by the book’s second printing five years ago, had interviewed upwards of 150 former or retired US military personnel about their UFO encounters at ICBM launch facilities, fissile material storage depots and weapons test areas during the Cold War: What it provides is a large part of the backstory to today’s congressional hearings, which have emerged out of the so-called ‘180-Day Report’ – the report that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence submitted to Congress last June. Its unclassified section made it abundantly clear that range incursions by UAP/UFOs – incidents in which UFOs have appeared in closed military airspace – as well as close encounters between UFOs and civil air traffic have reached a point where there are serious concerns for people’s safety.

This point was picked up after the hearings by an evidently frustrated Gallagher in interview (see: “It is a fact,” he said, “that things are appearing on our (military) ranges – they’re fouling our ranges, that’s why they’re called ‘range-foulers’. It presents a safety risk to our pilots. We have to figure out what the hell is going on and right now we’ve gotten no answers from the Pentagon.” He then, in the same interview, made an extraordinary plea (one that I happen to agree with) that the current quest for answers to the UAP question needed to be opened up beyond the military. “(We must) declassify as much as possible and invite the help of the private sector – it’s not just fringe people looking into this; there are multi, multi billionaires in the VC (venture capital) and private equity community who are fascinated by this question,” he said. Via such an approach, Gallagher went on to say, (a) answers would begin to materialise and (b) the Pentagon would be prevented from further obfuscation or shutting inquiry down.

This in itself is revelatory – but perhaps we shouldn’t be all that surprised.

The tech community is leading science in wanting to know about UAP/UFOs, in my opinion, for a very simple reason: what we learn about them is going to tell us a great deal more about the reality we inhabit than is currently known – a reality science doesn’t have answers to either for another simple reason: its refusal (as mainstream science, at least) to entertain the notion we may not live in a solidly material world after all, but one that is more squirrelly, and far more surprising. That the tech sector is prepared to go here tells us something else: it sees opportunity in this knowledge.

On the frontier of this new frontier – one that folds consciousness into the equation (and more than this: one that acknowledges consciousness, not matter, as primary) – there is very likely an explosion of new knowledge that is waiting to be discovered, as well as solutions, potentially, to swaths of conundrums science is currently stuck on (dark energy, dark matter, anyone?). When this knowledge is unlocked, then, truly, we will have entered not merely a new paradigm of science and technology – including multi-billion dollar (or trillion even) breakthroughs in communications, computing, energy and space travel – but, even more widely, of humanity itself.