After a year of eyebrow-raising headlines about government whistleblowers alleging that the military was running secret programs focused on alien spaceships and a months-long study and dogged investigative work through the shadows of classified Pentagon programs, the United States Defense Department announced Friday that it found no evidence that the government is covering up contact with extraterrestrials.

The first sentence of the 63-page report on the government’s involvement with unidentified anomalous phenomenon—a report mandated and driven by Congress—seemingly left no wiggle room: The study “found no evidence that any USG [US government] investigation, academic-sponsored research, or official review panel has confirmed that any sighting of a UAP represented extraterrestrial technology. All investigative efforts, at all levels of classification, concluded that most sightings were ordinary objects and phenomena and the result of misidentification.”

The report was issued by the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), the unit created and tasked in recent years with studying UAP sightings and untangling the truth of the government’s knowledge and understanding of generations of UFO reports. It follows media interviews and a blockbuster congressional hearing last summer where whistleblower David Grusch testified that the government was engaged in a decades-long cover-up of crashed alien spacecraft and in possession even of “non-human biologics,” e.g., alien bodies. Grusch and other witnesses and whistleblowers came forward to congressional committees and Pentagon investigators and hinted at astounding possibilities, including that the government was running secret UFO crash-retrieval programs, and defense contractors were running covert programs, hidden even from budget appropriators, to reverse-engineer captured alien technology.

There were many reasons to doubt the full expanse of the testimony by Grusch and others. Much of it was second-hand, and after spending two years writing a book on the government, UFOs, and the search for extraterrestrial life, I said last summer that many of the claims seemed more like an “intergalactic game of telephone,” where people with limited visibility into secret Pentagon and intelligence programs were misidentifying or misinterpreting more mundane program. But that’s not to say that the new AARO report is the end of the story nor that its conclusion should be the end of public interest in UFOs, UAPs, and the secret frontiers of government science.

In fact, while the report’s conclusion surprised almost no one except the most ardent of believers—people who might not be all that inclined to believe the Pentagon’s disavowal anyway—the report in its own way raises as many new questions as it answers, questions that could, with time, prove revolutionary to technology and science.

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