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Pentagon Review Finds No Evidence of Alien Cover-Up

In the 1960s, secret test flights of advanced government spy planes generated U.F.O. sightings. More recently, government and commercial drones, new kinds of satellites and errant weather balloons have led to a renaissance in unusual observations.

But, according to a new report, none of these sightings were of alien spacecraft.

The new congressionally mandated Pentagon report found no evidence that the government was covering up knowledge of extraterrestrial technology and said there was no evidence that any U.F.O. sightings represented alien visitation to Earth.

The 63-page document is the most sweeping rebuttal the Pentagon has issued in recent years to counter claims that it has information on extraterrestrial visits or technology. But amid widespread distrust of the government, the report is unlikely to calm a growing obsession with aliens.

Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Defense Department spokesman, said the Pentagon approached the report with an open mind and no preconceived notions, but simply found no evidence to back up claims of secret programs, hidden alien technology or anything else extraterrestrial.

“All investigative efforts, at all levels of classification, concluded that most sightings were ordinary objects and phenomena and the result of misidentification,” General Ryder said in a statement.

While many reports of what the government now calls Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena remain unsolved, the new document states plainly there is nothing to see. The Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office concluded that if better quality data were available, “most of these cases also could be identified and resolved as ordinary objects or phenomena.”

Because of that missing data, Pentagon officials in the past have often been reluctant to speak clearly about various incidents, saying they lack information to draw a conclusion. But in the absence of conclusions, conspiracy theories have flourished, even as scientists and independent investigators made the case that optical illusions, weather phenomena, scientific balloons or drones were reasonable causes of nearly all of the unexplained incidents.

The report also challenges the accounts of whistle-blowers and former government officials who have said the United States is hiding evidence of aliens or extraterrestrial material from the public.

The Pentagon has, over time, tried to chip away at such claims. Officials have testified to Congress that the government has no extraterrestrial materials — much less a spaceship — in its possession. The Pentagon and NASA have used basic trigonometry to show why publicized military videos do not show anything extraordinary or alien.

Progress in debunking misinformation about U.F.O.s has been slowed by various changes in the task force looking into the matter. Congress has charged the Pentagon’s current group, the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, or AARO, with a historical review of the evidence.

The office has not found “any empirical evidence” that reported sightings represent “off world technology” or any classified program that had not been reported to Congress, the report concludes.

Nevertheless the public is unlikely to be swayed. Many people dismiss the government’s claims that nothing interesting is going on in Pentagon videos that appear to show strange objects, citing accounts by Navy pilots that they observed objects whose movements cannot be easily explained.

The new report notes that in the past, particularly in the 1950s, there was interest in U.F.O.s, but today the attention on unexplained sightings is greater than ever before.

The Pentagon, treading gently and writing with precise language, concludes that declining public trust in government and the speed in which misinformation now spreads has made it more difficult to rebut claims of extraterrestrial visits.

Citing a 2021 Gallup poll, the Pentagon said that exposure to the topic through “traditional and social media has increased the number of Americans who believe U.F.O. sightings are extraterrestrial in origins.”

“Aside from hoaxes and forgeries, misinformation and disinformation is more prevalent and easier to disseminate now than ever before, especially with today’s advanced photo, video and computer-generated imagery tools,” the report found. “Internet search and content recommendation algorithms serve to reinforce individuals’ preconceptions and confirmation biases just as much as to help educate and inform.”

The report notes that in the 1950s, many U.F.O. reports were driven by public sightings or classified government programs. The report lists government programs including the Manhattan Project and the secret development of the Air Force’s stealth drone, the RQ-170, that may have contributed to increased reports of unidentified objects or phenomena.

As part of the investigation, the Pentagon interviewed people who made claims to Congress that they had direct knowledge about a government coverup and others who were said to have corroborating information.

An overview of their accounts makes plain that most of the reports of alien technology are, at best, secondhand. And none of the firsthand reports were corroborated by other witnesses.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon investigated the claims and, so far, found nothing to back them up. In contrast, it collected on-the-record refutations from other witnesses. The report said the office would continue to investigate and report further claims in a second volume.

The Pentagon also looked into classified and sensitive government programs that whistle-blowers have suggested were involved with examining captured alien spacecraft.

The Pentagon concluded that while “many of these programs represent authentic, current and former sensitive, national security programs,” none of them were involved with capturing or reverse engineering extraterrestrial technology.

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