Members of Congress and their staffs were given classified briefings on unidentified flying objects by the U.S. Navy with a focus on the potential threats to humans, a Navy spokesperson said Thursday.
The briefings, held on Wednesday, reviewed “efforts to understand and identify these threats to the safety and security of our aviators,” Joseph Gradisher, spokesman for the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, told HuffPost in an email.
“Navy officials will continue to keep interested Congressional members and staff informed,” Gradisher continued. Follow-up discussions with “other interested staffers” were scheduled for later Thursday.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was among those briefed, his office confirmed.
“If pilots at Oceana or elsewhere are reporting flight hazards that interfere with training or put them in danger, then Senator Warner wants answers,” Rachel Cohen, a spokeswoman for his office, said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s weather balloons, little green men, or something else entirely — we can’t ask our pilots to put their lives at risk unnecessarily.”
The Navy in April revised its rules on how military pilots report encounters with unidentified aircraft. Rather than dismissing the observations, the Navy now acknowledges there have been sightings of unauthorized and unidentified aircraft entering military-controlled ranges and airspace in recent years, Gradisher previously told Politico.
Whether any of the sightings involve extraterrestrials remains up in the air.
It’s only been in recent years that the government has begun publicly acknowledging investigations into reported UFOs.
The Defense Department acknowledged for the first time publicly in 2017 the existence of an Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program that investigates reports of unidentified flying objects. The program was launched in 2007 with the help of then-Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), The New York Times reported.
President Donald Trump, in a recent interview with ABC News, said he has also been briefed on unidentified aircraft sightings.
“I did have one very brief meeting on it,” he said. “But people are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly.”
Still, this week’s briefings on Capitol Hill reflect rising congressional interest, several current and former officials told Politico.
“More requests for briefings are coming in,” a current intelligence official told the outlet.