Senate Intelligence bill gives holders of "non-earth origin or exotic UAP material" six months to make it available to AARO

Senate Intelligence bill gives holders of "non-earth origin or exotic UAP material" six months to make it available to AARO
"We need to just look into whether there are rogue SAP programs that no one is providing oversight for. The goal for me will be to have a hearing on that at some point so that we can assess if these SAPs actually exist.”– Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), quoted in "UFO Whistleblower, Meet a Conspiracy-Loving Congress," by Matt Laslo, in WIRED, June 13, 2023.

By Douglas Dean Johnson

@ddeanjohnson on Twitter

Original publication: June 24, 2023. 10:30 AM EDT. Any substantive updates or corrections added after the initial publication are logged at the end of the article. Latest update: December 24, 2023, 1 PM EST.

[UPDATE (December 24, 2023): On December 22, 2023, President Biden signed into law the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R. 2670), which also incorporated the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA). The final act included four provisions relating to Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP), but they differed substantially from the provisions that had earlier been approved by Senate committees and/or by the full Senate, as described below. Thus, this article is now out of date, but it is preserved here as a snapshot of the legislative proposals as they existed in the summer of 2023. For information on the UAP-related provisions contained in the final enacted bill, see Quick guide to UAP-related provisions in the final FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (December 13, 2023).]

[UPDATE (August 2, 2023, 8 AM EDT): On July 27, 2023, the U.S. Senate passed an amended version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), under the bill number H.R. 2670, setting the stage for a conference committee with the House of Representatives during the months ahead. I summarized the Senate's actions in this July 27 tweet-chain. The Senate-passed bill incorporated the entire Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA), as well as the Schumer-Rounds "UAP Disclosure Act" originally introduced on July 13; there were some revisions in the language of the UAP-related provisions of both the IAA and the Schumer-Rounds proposal, but only on fairly peripheral aspects. An integrated text of the entire Senate-passed bill has not yet been printed; the legislative texts embedded below do not reflect the late revisions. So far in the current Congress, the House of Representatives has approved only one minor measure encouraging declassification of more UAP-related documents.]

[The original June 24, 2023 article begins here.]

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) has unanimously approved legislation containing language that appears intended to dig out any UAP-associated technology that is or ever was controlled by the federal government.

The new UAP/UFO provisions are being publicly reported in detail in this article for the first time anywhere.

The new UAP provisions are part of the Fiscal Year 2024 Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA, S. 2103), which was approved unanimously by the Senate Intelligence committee in a closed-door session on June 14. On June 21 I reported on the committee's action, but the text of the UAP amendment was not yet publicly available at that time. The committee formally filed the bill and it was assigned its number on June 22; it was posted on the Internet early on June 24.

The new UAP language (found in Section 1104 of the bill) would require "any person currently or formerly under contract with the Federal Government that has in their possession material or information provided by or derived from the Federal Government relating to unidentified anomalous phenomena that formerly or currently is protected by any form of special access or restricted access" to notify the director of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) within 60 days of enactment, and to provide within 180 days (six months) "a comprehensive list of all non-earth origin or exotic unidentified anomalous phenomena material" possessed and to make it available to the AARO director for "assessment, analysis, and inspection."

AARO is the Pentagon office established by Congress to conduct investigations of unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP), and to collect information on current and past federal government activity pertaining to UAP.

The legislation also would require the AARO director to notify designated congressional committees and leaders within 30 days after receiving any such notifications, information, or exotic materials.

The Intelligence committee legislation also includes what might be called a "safe harbor" provision, providing that if such a person complies with the notification and make-available deadlines, "No criminal or civil action may lie or be maintained in any Federal or State court against any person for receiving [UAP-related] material or information."

The "safe harbor" language might be read to imply that a private entity that obtained non-human technology from the government, and then held on to that material outside of the standard mechanisms for democratic oversight, perhaps profiting from it in some manner, might be in a legally tenuous position. If so, then such an amnesty period might smooth the way for timely and orderly disclosure. This reading of the provision is speculative; the committee has not yet published any explanatory material on the language.

Section 1104 of S. 2103 does not create any new criminal offenses. Neither does it confer any immunity for threats or acts of violence, perjury, or other crimes of the sorts sometimes alleged in stories about purported hidden government UFO programs.

A PDF file of the UAP-related section of the Intelligence bill (Sec. 1104) is embedded immediately below this paragraph. Images of the seven UAP-related pages are displayed at the bottom of this article.

The seven-page committee amendment, now found as Section 1104 of the bill, was sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). It was co-sponsored by Senators Michael Rounds (R-SD), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). The language was adopted by the 17-member committee (see roster below) on a voice vote, after which the overall bill was approved unanimously.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved the Gillibrand amendment on June 14, 2023, on a voice vote.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sits on both the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Armed Services Committee. She chairs the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee.


Besides the notification and make-available requirements for UAP-related information and hardware, S. 2103 contains a sweeping prohibition on any future direct or indirect funding for any special-access program (SAP) activity related to unidentified anomalous phenomena (as that term is broadly defined in current law--see the box below), unless the program has been "formally, officially, explicitly, and specifically described, explained, and justified to the appropriate committees of Congress, congressional leadership, and the Director [of AARO]."

"Special access program" (SAP) refers to classified programs run by the military or certain other agencies, to which access is restricted to lists of specific persons, determined on a "need to know" basis. Within the Intelligence Community, a comparable program is referred to as a "controlled access program" (CAP). There are several different categories of SAP/CAPs, some more secret than others--but under statutes beefed up in recent years, every type of SAP/CAP is supposed to be reported to least a small number of designated members of Congress.

The definition of "unidentified anomalous phenomena" as revised by Public Law 117-263 (enacted December 23, 2022)– a definition which includes "transmedium objects or devices" as defined.

The designated "appropriate committees" are the intelligence, armed services, and appropriations committees of both houses of Congress. "Congressional leadership" is defined as the Speaker and minority leader in the House of Representatives, and the majority and minority leaders in the Senate. A total of 58 senators and 137 House members hold the positions that the bill designates to receive such notifications.

The categories of activities covered by the prospective funding ban are defined in six expansive paragraphs, to include "any activities relating to," among other things, "Recruiting, employing, training, equipping, and operations of, and providing security for, government or contractor personnel with a primary, secondary, or contingency mission of capturing, recovering, and securing unidentified anomalous phenomena craft or pieces and components of such craft," and "managing and providing security for protecting activities and information relating to unidentified anomalous phenomena from disclosure." Also included is a broad range of activity related to reverse-engineering, including work on "any aerospace craft that uses propulsion technology other than chemical propellants, solar power, and electric ion thrust."

The UAP provision also contains a "Sense of Congress" subsection, which asserts that "due to the increasing potential for technology surprise from foreign adversaries and to ensure sufficient integration across the United States industrial base and avoid technology and security stovepipes...the Federal Government must expand awareness about any historical exotic technology antecedents previously provided by the Federal Government for research and development purposes."

A "sense of Congress" measure does not create substantive law, nor does it modify or limit the effect of any substantive provisions. "Sense of Congress" language merely provides an explanation or justification for substantive requirements. In this case, the stated justification seems to be that there is a compelling need for the U.S. government to step up its efforts to reverse-engineer any exotic technology that is within its reach, and the lawmakers have concluded that this requires a relaxation of some of the extreme secrecy controls that purportedly surround study of exotic technology.

The language seems in sync with past public claims by some persons purporting to have direct or indirect knowledge of UFO "crash retrieval" programs, who have asserted that such programs had made little progress over decades, because stringent secrecy has severely limited the scientific and engineering resources available to unravel the workings of devices or materials of purportedly non-human origin. Such claims were made, for example, by an unnamed military contractor quoted by Michael Shellenberger in a June 7, 2023 article titled, "U.S. Has 12 or More Alien Spacecraft, Say Military and Intelligence Contractors."

[UPDATE (July 14, 2023, 4:00 PM EDT): One provision of an amendment to the Senate's National Defense Authorization Act proposed on July 13 by Senators Schumer, Rounds, and others, described below, would reach beyond the universe of government-funded research and government-derived material, to assert that the federal government will establish ownership through eminent domain over "all recovered technologies of unknown origin and biological evidence of non-human intelligence that may be controlled by private persons or entities in the interests of the public good."]

[UPDATE (July 18, 2023, 9:30 PM EDT): The Senate today informally agreed to add the Schumer-Rounds amendment (SA 836) to the NDAA (S. 2226), without objection. The Senate then moved the NDAA past an initial procedural hurdle, 72-25. The Senate is expected to spend some days dealing with a host of unrelated issues on the bill, before S. 2226 will be ripe for a vote on passage.]

[UPDATE (July 19, 2023, 2:30 PM EDT): The text of the Schumer-Rounds proposal ("UAP Disclosure Act") accepted without objection on July 18, 2023 (SA 836) contained minor changes from the text originally submitted by Senator Schumer's office on July 13 (SA 797). The complete text of the revised amendment (SA 836), as it appeared in the Congressional Record of July 18, 2023, pp. S3009-S3016, is embedded below as a PDF file.]


The Intelligence Authorization Act sets policy for the Intelligence Community, which involves 18 agencies, both military and civilian. The National Defense Authorization Act sets policy and authorizes programs for most components of the military. For lawmakers supportive of putting more light on any hidden UAP-related programs, having compatible language in both bills is ideal, since the subject matter straddles both realms. Having both committees speaking in concert may also be helpful in prodding a recalcitrant bureaucracy.

Gillibrand's amendment on UFO-related special access projects first became public as part of the Intelligence Authorization Act, but the SAP issue is being addressed as well as part of a different bill, the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In an interview reported by Matt Laslo of WIRED on June 13, Gillibrand said she would seek to add language to the NDAA cutting off funding for SAPs that are not properly reported to designated members of Congress. The Senate Armed Services Committee finished amending the NDAA on June 22, and then approved the bill on a vote of 24-1 [but the bill text did not become publicly available until July 13]. On June 23 Senator Gillibrand issued a press released stating that she had "secured full funding" for AARO during the committee session; an executive summary of the committee-approved NDAA also mentioned "increased funding" for AARO. (For further details on the AARO funding matter, see the last section of this article.)


[UPDATES (July 13 and July 21, 2023): The Senate Armed Services Committee formally reported its version of NDAA (S. 2226) on July 11, 2023, making the bill text publicly available. The UAP-related provisions of S. 2226, of which Sen. Gillibrand was the leading advocate, are similar, but not identical, to those found in the IAA (S. 2103). Some of these differences might reflect substantial jurisdictional or policy differences among lawmakers, but some might also merely be reflections of minor technical issues that will be smoothed out and integrated at later stages in the legislative process. The UAP-related provisions of S. 2226 (Sec. 1546, pages 823-828) are embedded as a PDF file below. The pertinent pages are also inserted as images at the end of this article.

The NDAA contains a provision stating that anyone complying with the notice and reporting requirements is not committing any violation of classification laws or of previous non-disclosure agreements, but it does not contain the IAA's "safe harbor" provision described above, which apparently intended to address some ownership or possession issues. The NDAA does not contain the IAA "sense of Congress" justifications discussed above. Finally, the NDAA funding limitation applies only to programs authorized within the Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2024, while the IAA provision as initially approved by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) would have have applied, on its face, to all future appropriated funds under any bill, unless the limitation is explicitly repealed or explicitly waived in future legislation. However, on July 20, 2023, SSCI Chairman Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) filed a revised version of its bill (SA 994) as a possible amendment to the NDAA, which changed the funding limitation to apply only to Fiscal Year 2024.]

[UPDATE (July 14, 2023, 6:45 AM EDT): Late on July 13, 2023, the New York Times reported that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will seek approval of an amendment to establish a special commission "with broad authority to declassify government documents about U.F.O.s and extraterrestrial matters...modeled on the commission that oversaw the release of information about John F. Kennedy's assassination [enacted in 1992]."

[UPDATE (July 14, 2023, 3:15 PM EDT): A joint statement was issued by sponsors of the UAP disclosure amendment proposed by Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 2226). The amendment is co-sponsored by Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Todd Young (R-In.). The full text of the Schumer-Rounds amendment (SA 797) is embedded below as a 64-page PDF file.]


As part of last year's National Defense Authorization Act, enacted in December 2022, Congress mandated establishment of a "secure system" by which anyone involved in a past or current UAP or alien-tech research program may file reports with AARO. Under this new law, anyone utilizing this "secure system" to disclose UAP-related information will not be violating classification laws or non-disclosure agreements, and will enjoy legal protection from reprisals by the government or government contractors.

The 2022 law also states that the Secretary of Defense must report to designated key lawmakers within 72 hours if he determines that "an authorized disclosure [under the new system] relates to" a previously unreported UAP-related special-access program.

In addition, the 2022 law requires AARO to prepare a comprehensive report to Congress on government involvement in UFO matters, going back to January 1, 1945. The report is to include, among other things, "any program or activity that was protected by restricted access that has not been explicitly and clearly reported to Congress," and "any efforts to obfuscate, manipulate public opinion, hide, or other provide incorrect unclassified or classified information about unidentified anomalous phenomena or related activities." The report is due in June 2024. The law requires the Comptroller General, who heads the Governmental Accountability Office, an arm of Congress, to monitor the progress of the study and to periodically verbally brief designated lawmakers.


The new UAP initiatives in the Senate come in the wake of reports in the media, beginning on June 5, 2023, regarding allegations by David Grusch, who in April retired from a level GS-15 position (colonel equivalent) as an intelligence officer with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Grusch's allegations were first reported in an article that appeared on the website The Debrief on June 5, written by Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal, and were elaborated on in interviews with journalist Ross Coulthart, broadcast on News Nation, and in other statements.

Grusch said that while assigned to the interagency UAP Task Force (a UAP-investigating body that preceded AARO), he received classified information from multiple "current and former senior intelligence officers" who said they were part of or had knowledge of a longstanding, highly secret program, which Grusch termed "a broad [UFO] crash-retrieval program." He said his sources told him that this program is engaged in attempts to reverse-engineer "quite a number" of "technical vehicles, call it spacecraft if you will" of non-human origin.

David Grusch on News Nation, June 11, 2023.

"The allegations themselves are breathtaking," Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hi.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, told WIRED's Matt Laslo. "It could be a game changer, or it could be a crank."

Kean-Blumenthal and Coulthart reported that Grusch initially reported on his findings to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense in July 2021, an action that Grusch later alleged somehow triggered various reprisals against him. The perpetrators of the alleged reprisals have not been publicly identified.

In May 2022, Grusch submitted a complaint to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG), employing a longstanding law, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA) ((50 U.S.C. § 3033(k)(5)), which spells out a process for members of certain intelligence agency to report matters defined as being of "urgent concern," including serious violations of law, willful withholding of information from Congress, and some types of reprisals. The law requires that the Senate and House intelligence committees to receive notification of any "urgent concern" complaint, if the ICIG finds it to be "credible," which he did in this case; the committees were notified in July 2022.

Subsequently, staff persons to the two intelligence committees separately conducted extended sworn interviews of Grusch regarding his allegations. Grusch also provided sworn statements and classified information to the inspectors general. It appears that investigations into Grusch's disclosures are ongoing by both the ICIG and the Inspector General of the Defense Department.

Within hours of The Debrief's initial report on Grusch's claims on June 5, 2023, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough issued this statement: "To date, AARO has not discovered any verifiable information to substantiate claims that any programs regarding the possession or reverse-engineering of extraterrestrial materials have existed in the past or exist currently. AARO is committed to following the data and its investigation wherever it leads. AARO, working with the Office of the General Counsel and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, has established a safe and secure process for individuals to come forward with information to aid AARO in its congressionally-mandated historical review. AARO’s historical review of records and testimonies is ongoing and due to Congress by June 2024. AARO welcomes the opportunity to speak with any former or current government employee or contractor who believes they have information relevant to the historical review."

In a statement to Christopher Sharp of Liberation Times, published June 22, Gough stated: "AARO has been rigorously investigating alleged programs mentioned by individuals who have come forward as part of the congressionally-mandated historical review. To date, AARO has not been denied access to any United States government program, past or present, during the course of its work." Since David Grusch did not make his allegations "as part of the congressionally-mandated historical review," Ms. Gough's statement may not have applied to his allegations.

[ADDED July 13, 2023: In addition to the provisions of the Intelligence Authorization Act (S. 2103) that explicitly refer to UAP, as discussed above, S. 2103 also contains a 20-page section containing language to beef up the whistleblower protections that currently apply within the Intelligence Community. There is no mention of UAP in this part of the bill, but I have reason to believe that the proposed changes are engendered in part by concerns expressed by or about potential UAP-related whistleblowers. The proposed changes pertain, among other things, to the remedies for cases in which a whistleblower's identity is unlawfully disclosed, including creation of a private cause of an action (right to sue) for a whistleblower who is injured by such an unlawful disclosure of his identity. Another new section would enhance remedies in cases in which a whistleblower suffers adverse actions with respect to his security clearances or access, in reprisal for a making a lawful whistleblower disclosure. I lack the expertise to analyze in detail how much the provisions in the bill depart from current law. I will leave it to others with such expertise to analyze the proposed changes in detail; my purpose here is merely to call attention to them. The whistleblower provisions comprise Title VI (Sections 601-605) of S. 2103, found on pages 104-123 of the PDF bill; I have embedded those pages below.]


Both the NDAA and the IAA still have many steps to go in the legislative process. However, ultimate enactment of an NDAA by the end of 2023 is a very good bet; Congress has enacted an NDAA for the past 62 years running.

In many years, the IAA is folded into the NDAA at some stage in the legislative process, prior to the NDAA gaining final congressional approval and being sent to the president.

One open question is how the current leaders of the Intelligence and Armed Services committees in the House of Representatives will respond to the new Senate UAP proposals.

The senior members of the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives have said little publicly about the Grusch allegations, and the version of the NDAA approved by the committee (H.R. 2670) contained no UAP-related provisions. [UPDATE: On July 14, 2023, the House passed its version of the NDAA (H.R. 2670) by a vote of 219-210. The House first adopted, without debate, an amendment offered by Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) that seeks to encourage the Department of Defense to declassify more UAP-related information-- but as I read it, the amendment would do little if anything to narrow the discretion that Executive Branch authorities have over those decisions. An image of the Burchett amendment as adopted is inserted below. A second amendment, proposed by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wi.), tracked the expansive UAP special-access project language advanced by Senator Gillibrand and found in the Senate Armed Services Committee's version of NDAA, as described above – but the House Rules Committee did not allow a House floor vote on the Gallagher amendment, apparently because of objections from leaders of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.]

Congressmen Michael Turner (R-Ohio) and Jim Himes (D-Ct.), who are respectively the chairman and ranking minority member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, made generalized dismissive comments about the possibility of the government possessing secret alien technology, in a brief joint interview with Fox News on June 6 (see video clip below). They have said little if anything publicly on the matter since then. ‌


On June 6, 2023, Congressmen Jim Himes (D-Ct.), left, and Michael Turner (R-Ohio), respectively the ranking minority member and the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), respond briefly to a question about the David Grusch story.

[UPDATE (July 14, 2023, 6:45 AM EDT): The U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) on July 13, 2023, approved its version of the FY 2024 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 3932), "by a bipartisan voice vote." Unlike the Senate Intelligence committee version of the IAA discussed above, the HPSCI-approved bill contains no UAP-related provisions, nor were such matters referenced in a summary press release issued by the committee.]

Despite the absence of expansive UAP-related provisions in this year's House-passed NDAA and HPSCI-approved IAA, the approval of UAP-related provisions by the two Senate committees, following by the advancement of the bipartisan Schumer-Rounds proposal, makes it likely that the final NDAA-IAA package will contain some sort of new UAP provisions, with details to be being worked out in a House-Senate conference committee or other closed-door, bicameral negotiations that will occur later in the year.


Under ordinary procedures, there would be no expectation that negotiations on the final shape of NDAA-IAA provisions pertaining to UAP would involve the leadership of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. To date, however, that is the only House committee that has announced that it intends to hold a public hearing on the subject, before the end of July.

On June 6, House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) told News Nation that he had tasked two members of that committee, Reps. Tim Burchett (R-Tn.) and Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fl.), to put together a public hearing on the subject. In an interview with Frank Camp published on on June 17, 2023, Burchett said that he was hoping that Grusch would be able to testify at the hearing: "We would like to get him there. It’s premature to say who we will have there. We’ll release that when we get the okay from the committee chair of everybody that we’ve invited who’s been cleared to come speak...I want to talk to people who have seen something and can provide some proof of what’s going on."‌

Senator Gillibrand chairs the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee. In remarks to Matt Laslo of WIRED, reported on June 13, Gillibrand said she wanted to "have a hearing at some point so that we can assess if these SAPs actually exist." Asked by Laslo whether she thought there was veracity to Grusch's claims, Gillibrand said "I have no idea. So I'm going to do the work and analyze it and figure it out."

On April 19, 2023, Gillibrand's subcommittee held both a closed (classified) hearing and an open hearing on AARO, at which AARO Director Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick was the sole witness. During that hearing, Kirkpatrick said, "I should also state clearly for the record that in our research AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, off world technology, or objects that defy the known laws of physics. In the event sufficient scientific data were ever obtained that a UAP encountered can only be explained by extraterrestrial origin, we are committed to working with our interagency partners at NASA to appropriately inform U.S. government's leadership of its findings."

A provision of the 2022 law establishing AARO reads as follows: "50 U.S.C. Sec. 3373(f)(1)(A): Availability of data: The Director of National Intelligence, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, shall ensure that each element of the intelligence community with data relating to unidentified anomalous phenomena makes such data available immediately to the Office" [i.e., AARO].‌

In a statement to Christopher Sharp of Liberation Times, published June 22, Gough said, "By law, AARO may receive all UAP-related information, including any classified national security information involving military, intelligence, and intelligence-related activities, at all levels of classification regardless of any restrictive access controls, special access programs, or compartmented access programs. Moreover, there is no restriction to AARO receiving any past or present UAP-related information, regardless of the organizational affiliation of the original classification authority within DoD, the Intelligence Community, or any other U.S. government department or agency.”

In an interview with journalist Ross Coulthart, broadcast by News Nation on June 11, Grusch said, "Well, I know Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick. I've known him about eight years. And, you know, I expressed some concerns to Dr. Kirkpatrick about a year ago, and told him what I was starting to uncover. And he didn't follow up with me. He has my phone number. He could have called me. I hope he ultimately does the right thing. He should be able to make the same investigative discoveries I did. It's totally crazy if he doesn't."



On February 16 a bipartisan group of 16 senators – including Gillibrand, SSCI ranking minority member Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), and SSCI Chairman Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) -- sent a letter to the second-ranking officials at the Department of Defense and in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, urging support for more robust funding for AARO, and raising questions about the pace at which the Pentagon bureaucracy has implemented some of the AARO-related mandates enacted in December, 2022.

In her opening remarks at her April 19 hearing on AARO, Gillibrand said, "Congress established AARO. We made it clear that we expect vigorous action...But despite our best efforts the President's budget for fiscal years '23 and '24 requested only enough funding to defray the operating expenses of AARO. It included almost no funds to sustain the critical research and development necessary to support a serious investigation. It took a letter to Secretary Austin [sic] from Senator Rubio and me and 14 other senators to get the office [AARO] temporary relief for the current fiscal year."

Following the conclusion of the Senate Armed Services Committee's closed-door voting sessions on the NDAA on June 22, Senator Gillibrand issued a press release (shown below) stating that "she had secured full funding" for AARO as part of the bill. [UDPATE: The Armed Services Committee's report on the NDAA (report no. 118-58), issued July 13, 2023, did not give the total amount of funding to be authorized for AARO in 2024, because funding levels for intelligence programs are including only in classified report annexes, not in public documents. However, the public report did say this: "The [Department of Defense] budget request included classified amounts for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation, Defense Wide (RDDW) for the all-domain Anomaly Resolution Office. The committee understands that the AARO requires an additional $27.0 million in fiscal year 2024 to execute its mission. Therefore, the committee recommends an increase of $27.0 million for AARO in RDDW in line 999 Classified Programs. The committee expects the Secretary of Defense to request appropriate funding in future years."]

Press release issued by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) following conclusion of closed-door action by the Senate Armed Services Committee on the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.

The actual appropriation of funds for military and intelligence programs is conducted in a different bill, the annual Defense Appropriations bill, which originates in the Defense subcommittees of the Senate and House Appropriations committees. Generally, any program is most secure when it has strong advocates on both the pertinent authorization (policy and oversight) committees and on the pertinent appropriations subcommittees.

Membership of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 118th Congress.


Membership of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, 118th Congress.


"The goal for me will be to have a hearing on that at some point so that we can assess if these SAPs actually exist."– Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), chair, Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (quoted in WIRED, June 13, 2023).


(1) July 3, 2023: Added update regarding the filing of a proposed UAP-related amendment to the House of Representatives version of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2670) by Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-Wi.). The amendment was similar to the UAP-related provision approved by the Senate Intelligence committee but differed with respect to one provision.

(2) July 12, 2023: Added information on UAP-related language in the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, S. 2226), as formally reported out by the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 11, 2023, comparing them to the UAP-related provisions earlier approved by the Senate Intelligence committee in the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA, S. 2103). The pertinent pages of both bills appear as images above, and are embedded as PDF documents at appropriate points in the text.

(3) July 12, 2023: Added information on whistleblower anti-reprisal provisions of S. 2103, the Intelligence Authorization Act, and embedded a PDF file containing the pertinent pages from the bill.

(4) July 14, 2023, 6:45 AM EDT: (1) Inserted information reported by the New York Times late July 13 regarding an amendment to NDAA to be proposed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), to create a special commission to declassify much UFO-related information. (2) Inserted information on the version of Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 3932) approved by the House Intelligence committee on July 13, 2023, and embedded a PDF of the committee-reported bill.

(5) July 14, 2023, 4:00 PM EDT: Inserted updates on status of Senate NDAA, House NDAA. Inserted language of the Schumer-Rounds amendment proposed to the Senate NDAA, and a link to a multi-senator press release on that proposal. Added description and images of the "eminent domain" provision of the Schumer-Rounds amendment.

(6) July 17, 2023, 2:30 PM EDT: Clarified my previous partly erroneous statement regarding what is known about the authorized funding level for the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) in Fiscal Year 2024. Inserted images from the report of the Senate Armed Services Committee on S. 2226, stating that the committee recommended a funding increase of $27 million, over and above the classified figure that had been submitted as part of the Department of Defense budget request (but the total figure remains classified).

(7) July 18, 2023, 9:30 PM EDT: Added update on Senate action adding the Schumer-Rounds amendment ("UAP Disclosure Act") to NDAA, S. 2226, without objection.

(8) July 19, 2023, 2:30 PM EDT: Inserted PDF of slightly revised version of Schumer-Rounds "UAP Disclosure Act," as submitted and accepted as an amendment (SA 836) to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 2226), July 18, 2023.

(9) July 20, 2023, 9:30 AM EDT: Noted the submission of a revised version of the Intelligence Authorization Act as a possible amendment (SA 994) to the NDAA, confining the proposed funding limitation provisions to Fiscal Year 2024.

(10) August 2, 2023, 8 AM EDT: At the top of the article, added an update explaining that the Senate had approved a combination NDAA-IAA on July 27, 2023, with some revisions to the UAP-related components discussed in this article, making the legislation ripe for a conference committee with the House of Representatives during the months ahead. A future article on this blog will present an up-to-date discussion of the entire array of UAP-related provisions currently under consideration in Congress.

(11) December 24, 2023, 1 PM EST: At the top of the article, noted that President Biden signed the final FY 2024 NDAA into law on December 22, 2023, incorporating UAP-related provisions that were modified substantially from those earlier approved by Senate committees and/or the full Senate; referred the reader to an article describing the UAP-related provisions contained in the final enacted bill.

(12) February 16, 2024: Inserted an image of part of a page from the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, reporting on its adoption of the Gillibrand amendment on a voice vote, on June 14, 2023.