Did U.S. Government Admit to Possession of 'Alien Spacecraft'? What We Know

  • An apparent bombshell interview of a former U.S. intelligence official fueled claims of "UFO" secrets and cover-ups.

  • Questions have been raised about the reliability of cited sources, none of whom appear to be acting government officials speaking on the record.
  • In recent years, a series of revelations and government disclosures have energized UFO enthusiasts around the world but also fueled conspiracy theories.

An exclusive report published on Monday, June 5, 2023, continues to drive fervent debate and speculation about the U.S. military and government agencies' supposed possession of "exotic" material, including that deemed to be of "non-human origin."

With the recent releases of U.S. government statements and declassified material that appears to show unidentified craft encountered by U.S. Navy and Air Force craft, social media has been abuzz about what some have dubbed as the imminent "great reveal."

But while the reporting is certainly intriguing, has it amounted to an official admission by officials that "little green men" are visiting the Earth? Newsweek Misinformation watch tried to unpack the reports, speculation and misleading claims around the increasingly hot topic.

Scott Bray Explains UAP Videos in Congress
U.S. Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray explains a video of an unidentified aerial phenomena as he testifies before a House Intelligence Committee subcommittee hearing at the U.S. Capitol on May 17, 2022, in Washington, D.C. The committee met to investigate Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, commonly referred to as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). An explosive interview of a former U.S. intelligence official has fueled claims about "government cover-ups." Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

'We are not alone'

The latest claims stem from the Debrief interview with David Grusch, a 36-year-old air force veteran, who alleges the existence of a top-secret military program that discovered the wreckage of fully intact UFOs, or "unidentified aerial phenomena" (UAPs).

"These are retrieving non-human origin technical vehicles, call it spacecraft if you will, non-human exotic origin vehicles that have either landed or crashed," Grusch said. He also claimed that "dead pilots" of the craft were recovered from the wreckages.

"We are not talking about prosaic origins or identities," Grusch added. "The material includes intact and partially intact vehicles."

Debrief's report, co-authored by journalists Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal, also featured a number of other potentially explosive and unprecedented revelations, including quotes from retired Army Colonel Karl E. Nell and Jonathan Grey.

The latter was described as a "current" U.S. government official, who told the publication "We are not alone," leading some social media users to interpret this as an official admission by the U.S. government of the existence of extraterrestrial life.

The Daily Loud wrote in a post viewed a million times, "A military whistleblower claims a secret UFO retrieval program within the U.S. government has recovered numerous "non-human origin technical vehicles."

Another tweet said, "The US government has aliens from outer space & alien spacecraft in their possession. This should be a world wide news story we all celebrate & learn about," and has more than 800,00 views.

"Government just admitted UFOs are real, not of human origin, have been captured and studied, but nobody gives af," said another tweet with 185,000 views.

"I feel like we're overlooking the fact that a *current* NASIC official also just said on the record that 'we're not alone' and the US has crashed UFO materials," wrote another user, with a screengrab of an excerpt from a Guardian article. Nasic stands for National Air and Space Intel Center, an arm of the U.S. Air Force.

Somewhat ironically, the sensational revelations about the alleged "top secret" program themselves fueled conspiracy theories, purporting for the story to be a distraction from some other significant cover-up.

"How many of you stopped believing in Aliens the moment the government claimed they existed?" one Twitter user wrote.

"'Guys... guys guess what? Just a few days after the government said they had ufos and aliens in their possession guess what happened? Bro a ufo landed and people saw the aliens! Bro!' A bit too convenient don't you think," said another tweet, referencing a separate incident from this week about a 911 caller claiming a craft had crashed in someone's back yard and "8-9 foot creatures" came out of it.

"Incoming Alien scare, just like we all predicted would happen a few years ago," a conspiracy subReddit post stated.

Is it true?

So is the assertion that U.S. authorities have admitted to possession of "non-human" technologies—and perhaps even remains of extraterrestrials—accurate? A closer look at the wording used in the report suggests such conclusions may be somewhat premature.

The only "current" government official purported to have confirmed these allegations in the article is "Jonathan Grey." He is described by the authors as a "generational officer of the United States Intelligence Community with a Top-Secret Clearance who currently works for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), where the analysis of UAP has been his focus.

"Previously he had experience serving Private Aerospace and Department of Defense Special Directive Task Forces," the article states.

Further along, however, the authors clarify that "Jonathan Grey" is "speaking publicly for the first time," but is "identified here under the identity he uses inside the agency."

The latter wording is significant because it contradicts assertions that a government official has "gone on record," as using a pseudonym effectively means the quote comes from an unnamed source.

That makes the explosive revelation much more difficult to corroborate and leaves the reader to rely on the internal verification and journalistic integrity of the authors.

Furthermore, the article appears to indicate that the source does not actually have first-hand knowledge or experience of such technology being discovered or stored, as instead—Grey claims—he merely saw "classified briefings."

"High-level, classified briefing materials exist in which real-world scenarios involving UAP, as evidenced by historical examples, are made available to Intelligence Personnel on a need-to-know basis. I have been the recipient of such briefings for almost a decade," Grey is quoted as saying, without specifying which individuals or agencies may have compiled the briefings or passed them on to his team, or offering any corroborative evidence.

UFO - UAP Flying Saucer
Stock image of a UFO/UAP. An ex-intelligence officer has claimed in an interview that the U.S. government has covered up crashes from off-world craft. ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

The authors of the article do not state if they had attempted to corroborate the claims with NASIC or even if it was contacted for comment. Newsweek could not find any public statements on the subject or responses to the article from NASIC.

Newsweek reached out to the Debrief for comment via a tips hotline, and to NASIC via email.

The main source of the "alien spacecraft" claims in the article, and the subject of the interview is former U.S. government official David Grusch. Grusch is described as a "decorated former combat officer in Afghanistan," who "is a veteran of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)."

"He served as the reconnaissance office's representative to the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force from 2019-2021. From late 2021 to July 2022, he was the NGA's co-lead for UAP analysis and its representative to the task force," the article notes.

Since the Debrief interview, Grusch has also spoken to other media outlets, including TV network NewsNation, telling its reporters that the federal government has been lying to the people to cover up the existence of these crafts.

"There is a sophisticated disinformation campaign targeting the U.S. populace, which is extremely unethical and immoral," he said.

While Newsweek has so far been unable to corroborate Grusch's claims, the Debrief also cites another former member of the U.S. military appearing to vouch for Grusch.

Karl E. Nell, a "recently retired Army Colonel and current aerospace executive who was the Army's liaison for the UAP Task Force from 2021 to 2022 and worked with Grusch there," reportedly characterized Grusch as "beyond reproach."

"His assertion concerning the existence of a terrestrial arms race occurring sub-rosa over the past eighty years focused on reverse engineering technologies of unknown origin is fundamentally correct, as is the indisputable realization that at least some of these technologies of unknown origin derive from non-human intelligence," Nell reportedly told the news site.

On LinkedIn, Nell lists his most recent position as "Modernization Advisor to Vice Chief of Staff of the Army." In response to a Newsweek comment request, the Army Futures Command said in an email that Nell is no longer assigned to the Army Futures Command.

But while Debrief notes that several former colleagues vouched for Grusch's character, some on social media have expressed doubts based on past comments and his alleged ties to another former whistleblower: the self-proclaimed "former director of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (ATTIP)" and current UFO enthusiast Luis Elizondo.

One prominent critic of Grusch and his story has been Steven Greenstreet, an investigative journalist for the New York Post.

In a Twitter post titled "Was UFO 'Whistleblower' David Grusch 'groomed' by deceitful UFO activists?" Greenstreet claims that Elizondo provided "no evidence at all to support his stories," alleging that the same "UFO activists (Leslie Kean & Ralph Blumenthal) who wrote the original false and deceptive 2017 Elizondo story" have now penned the Grusch interview.

In a separate thread, he also cites Grusch's interview with Le Parisien, a French publication, where he makes a number of controversial and conspiracist claims, including a reference to the "bell-like [alien] craft," supposedly recovered and kept by Benito Mussolini's fascist government in Italy in 1933.

The story is widely thought to be a historical myth, with no convincing evidence ever emerging to support it, according to Popular Mechanics.

While that in itself does not discredit Grusch, who left government in April after—he claims—turning over classified information about the recovered craft to Congress and suffering "retaliation" from government officials, there is also little hard evidence to support his case at the moment.

Neither Grusch nor the others cited claim to have personally seen such "exotic" materials, crafts or creatures that purportedly piloted them, nor offer any details about where they may be kept. Furthermore, none of the on-record statements have come from people speaking in an official capacity as officers of the U.S. government or military.

That would make the latest revelations somewhat less sensational than it initially appeared; There have been plenty of such "close encounters" with former officials and defense contractors before. These claims have often lacked hard evidence or were eventually debunked or discredited.

Rep. Tim Burchett at Defense UAPs Hearing
Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., shakes hands with Defense Undersecretary for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie, after a House Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee, hearing on "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 17, 2022. JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP via Getty Images

In January, a Tennessee Republican congressman Tim Burchett accused the U.S. government of a "huge cover-up" following a rise in UAPs, during an interview also with NewsNation. Burchett told Newsweek in March that he believed "we have recovered a craft at some point, and possible beings."

Later that month Christopher Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Intelligence, wrote in Politico that he knew of a secret government program "involving the analysis and exploitation of materials recovered from off-world craft."

Declassified videos of UAPs

More recently, the U.S. government has declassified several videos of UAPs, one of which showed a mysterious orb flying in the Middle East in 2022. The Navy has also verified footage released in 2017 by The New York Times and The Washington Post of a Tic-Tac-shaped craft flying off the coast of California.

However, that fell short of being a "smoking gun" for alleged government knowledge of—less so efforts to cover up—secret programs about extraterrestrial beings or technology.

"Without sufficient data, we are unable to reach defendable conclusions that meet the high scientific standards we set for resolution, and I will not close a case that we cannot defend the conclusions of," Sean M. Kirkpatrick said at a meeting of the subcommittee discussing the declassified government videos in April. He is the director of the Pentagon's newly instated All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO).

"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," Kirkpatrick added.

In response to a Newsweek comment request, a Department of Defense representative refuted the claims.

"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," Sue Gough, Department of Defense spokesperson, wrote in an email.

"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," the DoD representative said.

Gough also confirmed to Newsweek that David Grusch and retired Army Colonel Karl Nell were former DoD employees.

"Regarding "Jonathan Grey," whom the article alleges worked at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), I refer you to the NASIC public affairs office," she added.

NASIC so far has not responded to Newsweek's comment request.

Responding to Newsweek, NASA also poured cold water on the claims.

"One of NASA's key priorities is the search for life elsewhere in the universe, but so far, NASA has not found any credible evidence of extraterrestrial life, and there is no evidence that UAPs are extraterrestrial," NASA told Newsweek in a statement via email.

"However, NASA is exploring the solar system and beyond to help us answer fundamental questions, including whether we are alone in the universe. NASA's efforts include the search for biosignatures, which are signs of biology, and technosignatures, which are signs of technology that are space-based, not ground-based, research.

"NASA's UAP independent study is not a review of previous UAP incidents, it was commissioned to create a roadmap to gain better data to help evaluate and categorize the nature of UAPs going forwards.

"NASA uses open, unclassified data. Anyone can look at our records at data.nasa.gov. Our Open Data Portal includes tens of thousands of data sets that are free and fully accessible to the public," the statement said.

So does this mean "the truth is still out there?" Critiques of Grusch and the Debrief report, along with the denials from official sources and agencies undermine, do not necessarily eliminate the possibility that extraterrestrials are visiting Earth, nor even that some government officials or agencies may be aware of such cases.

More concrete information may yet emerge from the materials that Grusch claimed to have provided to Congress or Senate Intelligence Committee, via congressional inquiries (including one reportedly planned by the Republican Chair of the House oversight committee James Comer, according to The Guardian) or from future disclosures of documents by the U.S. or other governments.

But no reliable or conclusive evidence has been produced so far to support that notion, nor have current representatives of the U.S. government made any statements to corroborate such claims on the record.

Newsweek also reached out for comment to David Grusch via his lawyer.

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