The Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Disclosure Act of 2023— also referred to as the Schumer Amendment—has been defanged by obstacles to the landmark legislation launched by a cadre of key Congressional Representatives, reportedly acting on behalf of influential defense contractors and elements within the intelligence community. The group opposing the measures would only allow it to pass after the amendment was stripped of two key provisions—notably the creation of an independent executive-level review board and the eminent domain provisions regarding UAP craft and related material—eliminating the oversight that would be necessary to enact a properly transparent disclosure process.
Although the amendment, titled the “Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Disclosure Act of 2023” (UAPDA), was approved as part of the $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2024 by the Senate over the summer, the Act itself didn’t pass Congress until December 14, and then only after a group of key members of Congress, led by Ohio representative and Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner, forced the exclusion of key provisions that would have been powerful tools in the process of disclosure.
The UAPDA originally called for two key provisions: the first was for the formation of a review board consisting of nine members, to be nominated by the President, that would have been dedicated to facilitating the disclosure of UAP information and materials to the public, similar to the Assassination Records Review Board that deals with the declassification of material regarding the JFK assassination. The second provision states that the US government would take possession of any recovered UAP material, biological or otherwise, from private contractors in possession of such material.
Both of these measures were excised from the amendment, resulting in UAP-related information remaining “hidden from Congress and the American people,” according to Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), who co-sponsored the amendment with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“We are lacking oversight opportunities,” Rounds added, addressing the expected effect of the omissions, “and we are not fulfilling our responsibilities.”
However, the changes made didn’t neutralize the amendment entirely: the amendment still requires the National Archives to “gather records from across the federal government on UAPs and have a legal mandate to release those records to the public if appropriate,” Schumer explained; these files are to be collected by the heads of each government agency for delivery to the Archives. And although they predate next year’s NDAA, previous whistleblower protection measures, codified into law with the passage of NDAA FY23, are still in place to shield individuals with inside knowledge from reprisal if they come forward to divulge UAP-related information.
Speaking from the floor of the Senate with co-sponsor Rounds on December 13, Schumer said that UAP “are of immense interest and curiosity to the American people,” and warned that “with that curiosity comes the risk for confusion, disinformation and mistrust, especially if the government isn’t prepared to be transparent.”
“The United States government has gathered a great deal of information about UAPs over many decades but has refused to share it with the American people,” Schumer added. “That is wrong. And additionally, it breeds mistrust.”
This mistrust, already present before the revisions to the current NDAA, has already manifested itself as numerous whistleblowers having bypassed the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) in favor of speaking directly to Congress or the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG), a mistrust that may result in what many commentators are referring to as “catastrophic disclosure” if proper channels aren’t made available to facilitate their testimony.
Indeed, Schumer stated during colloquy that they had already been “notified by multiple credible sources that information on UAPs has also been withheld from Congress, which if true is a violation of laws requiring full notification to the legislative branch–especially as it relates to the four congressional leaders, the defense committees, and the intelligence committee.”
But the fight for disclosure is far from lost: although Schumer said that the lack of cooperation from Congress on the UAP issue was “beyond disappointing,” he pointed out that “we did make important progress;” that the provisions that survived are “a major win for government transparency on UAPs,” and that “it gives us a strong foundation for more action in the future.”
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