Last Monday, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe made some eye-opening claims regarding Unidentified Flying Objects or UFOs. When asked on Fox News about an upcoming Pentagon report on the subject, Ratcliffe confirmed that the U.S. government had “lots of reports about what we call ‘unidentified aerial phenomenon.’”
The upcoming report in question is the result of the massive $2.3 trillion appropriations bill passed at the end of last year. Tucked away in the 5,500-page bill was a stipulation that mandates that the DNI and the Secretary of Defense put together a public report detailing everything the government knows about “unidentified aerial phenomenon” or “anomalous aerial vehicles.”
The Pentagon has already released video footage of UFOs that were captured by naval aviators. But according to Ratcliffe, who was a Republican congressman from northeast Texas before Trump made him DNI, that just scratches the surface. “Frankly, there are a lot more sightings than have been made public,” Ratcliffe said. “We’re talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots or have been picked up by satellite imagery that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain.” Ratcliffe cited objects breaking the sound barrier without producing a sonic boom as an example of unexplained phenomena that’s been observed by the U.S. military.
Before you jump to any conclusions about aliens, it’s important to note that Ratcliffe has a history of making exaggerated, misleading, or downright false statements. His first DNI nomination was derailed after revelations that he lied about his national security credentials. Trump nominated Ratcliffe again anyway and he was confirmed by the Senate in a 49-44 vote, by far the most controversial DNI confirmation since the position was created. As DNI, Ratcliffe claimed that China was the worst perpetrator of foreign election interference in 2020 and did so in order to undermine Trump. A recent report from the Intelligence Community has concluded that this is not true.
Regardless of Ratcliffe’s tenuous relationship with the truth, the public will be able to evaluate his claims for themselves when the report is released. The report is supposed to come out by June 1, although Sen. Marco Rubio has recently indicated that it may miss its deadline.
It should be stressed that these sightings are labeled by the Pentagon as unexplained, and there is no definitive proof that these are aliens. A number of non-extraterrestrial explanations have been put forward, such as sensor malfunction or optical illusions. It’s also possible that another nation like Russia or China has advanced technology that we don’t know about.
Still, one should hope that Ratcliffe’s claims are true and that these phenomena really are extraterrestrial spacecraft. One of the most fascinating questions facing humanity is the Fermi Paradox: if aliens are out there why haven’t we seen any sign of them? The sheer size of the Milky Way galaxy means that there would be numerous civilizations even if intelligent life were very rare, and its sheer age means that we should have encountered them by now or at least encountered signs of them, such as radio signals. The more pessimistic explanation to the Fermi Paradox is that intelligent life is always annihilated by a certain point. Perhaps all advanced civilizations eventually wipe themselves out through artificial intelligence or nuclear warfare. If these UFOs really are aliens, then at least we can take solace in the fact that we’re not doomed to destroy ourselves.