WASHINGTON - U.S. lawmakers said Wednesday during a Capitol Hill committee hearing that UFOs could possibly pose a threat to national security as millions of Americans await the release of a highly anticipated Pentagon report on the unexplained aerial phenomenon.
"We take the issue of unexplained aerial phenomena seriously to the extent that we’re dealing with the safety and security of US military personnel or the national security interests of the United States, so we want to know what we’re dealing with," said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY, according to the New York Post.
"I think it’s important to understand that there are legitimate questions involving the safety and security of our personnel, and in our operations and in our sensitive activities, and we all know that there’s [a] proliferation of technologies out there," Maloney added. "We need to understand the space a little bit better."
Echoing his sentiment was Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., who said, "It’s always about our safety and security — our national security is [priority] number one — and so that’s really the area where we really focused on this morning."
The chairman of the Capitol Hill committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called the meeting "interesting," saying that he learned things "that were certainly new" to him.
But Schiff would not go into detail about what he learned.
"We’re looking forward to having a public hearing at some point," Schiff said. "I mean, there’s some national security concerns that we want to take into consideration."
The meeting follows the release of dozens of footage of UFOs that have been authenticated by U.S. officials ahead of a report detailing everything the U.S. military knows about them.
When former President Donald Trump signed into law a massive $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief package in 2020, it triggered a countdown to a deadline by which the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense must provide lawmakers a report on everything they know about UFOs like the ones seen in the recently leaked footage.
Buried within the thousands of pages of legislation under the "Committee Comments" section of the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, a stipulation requested a report to senators on intelligence and armed services committees regarding any information surrounding UFO sightings and whether they present any potential threat.
While the exact nature of the purported extraterrestrial threats was unknown, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe spoke with FOX News’ Maria Bartiromo in March, saying "there are a lot more sightings" than the public is aware of.
The U.S. is not the only nation concerned about the possible threats of UFOs.
Local Japanese news agencies reported earlier in September that Japan’s Defense Minister Taro Kono has requested the Self-Defense Forces follow new protocols regarding possible interactions or sightings of unidentified flying objects which might pose a threat to national security.
In a statement obtained by Japan Times, Kono ordered members of the military beginning Monday, Sept. 14, to record, photograph and investigate any unknown objects that mysteriously enter Japanese airspace.
Orders include implementing "necessary analysis" of such sightings, including sightings by the public, according to Japan Times.
The outlet reported that in 2018, the Japanese government publicly stated its position on UFOs, saying, "No confirmation has been made of their existence."
Kono’s announcement came after an April 2020 press briefing by the Japanese Ministry of Defense, which announced that it would implement guidelines to track and investigate UFO sightings.
The decision followed the release and declassification of videos by the U.S. which show an encounter between UFOs and U.S. Navy pilots in 2004 and 2015.
During a September 2020 press briefing, Kono said he had been in talks with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on UFO sightings in Guam.
An Aug. 29, 2020 news release by the U.S. Department of Defense confirmed the meeting between Esper and Kono in Guam, a meeting that was meant to discuss "views on their shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region."
Astrophysicist and former consultant for the UFO program since 2007, Eric W. Davis, told the New York Times in July that he gave a classified briefing to the Defense Department agency as early as March regarding "off-world vehicles not made on this earth."
Last year, the U.S. Navy acknowledged that three UFO videos that were released by former Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge and published by The New York Times were of real "unidentified" objects.
"The Navy considers the phenomena contained/depicted in those three videos as unidentified," Navy spokesman Joseph Gradisher told The Black Vault, a website dedicated to declassified government documents.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.