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The U.S. Senate is currently awaiting an official report detailing everything the government knows about unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs). The report is the result of a provision in the $2.3 trillion 2020 appropriations bill that provided coronavirus relief to Americans and avoided a government shutdown. It is expected, among other things, to address the now infamous Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), made famous by reporting in late 2017.

The current UFO-mania centers on a series of sightings made by U.S. Navy pilots or appearing on their sensors in 2004, 2014, and 2015, the video and reports of which were leaked by former U.S. Defense Department official Luis Elizondo. Elizondo’s alleged credibility derives from his claim to have served as director of AATIP. He described the program as “understandably overstretched” and without “the resources that the mounting evidence deserved.” His effort to ignite interest in un- or underreported military sightings has been bolstered by the creation of To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science (TTSA), a research institute co-founded by UFO true believer and former Blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge, and former CIA official Jim Semivan. Elizondo now works with TTSA in the company of another former U.S. intelligence official, Christopher Mellon. The credentials of both the Navy pilots and the former government officials involved in TTSA have kept these sightings, and the controversy around them, in the public eye for more than three years.

Amid the breathless media reporting and calls for transparency, accountability, and the American people’s “right to know,” it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and mystery. Why are the Pentagon and the respective branches of the U.S. military investigating UFO/UAP sightings? Will we finally receive confirmation that aliens are real and visiting us? Or that we’re being surveilled by some advanced aerial Big Brother technology? What is the government hiding from us?

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