Federal agencies have been asked to publish a report on unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in less than 180 days, thanks to an act included in the $2.3 trillion stimulus and government spending bill signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday.
A report by the Select Committee on Intelligence attached to the The Intelligence Authorization Act for 2021 states that the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other relevant agencies submit a report to the congressional intelligence and armed services committees on "unidentified aerial phenomena (also known as "anomalous aerial vehicles''), including observed airborne objects that have not been identified." They are asked to do this 180 days after the act is enacted.
The committee, chaired by Sen. Marco Rubio, asked for the report to include detailed analyses of FBI data taken from investigations into "intrusions of unidentified aerial phenomena" in restricted United States airspace, and of data and intelligence collected or held by the Office of Naval Intelligence.
It also asked for an analysis of the potential threats posed by "unidentified aerial phenomena to national security, and an assessment of whether this unidentified aerial phenomena activity may be attributed to one or more foreign adversaries."
The request comes after the Pentagon released three classified videos filmed by U.S. Navy pilots in 2004 and 2015, of "unidentified aerial phenomena."
One of the pilots told The New York Times in 2017 about the 2004 incident shot around 100 miles of the Californian coast: "It accelerated like nothing I've ever seen."
The ex-head of the U.S. government's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program told Newsweek earlier this year the Pentagon has "a lot more" classified videos of so-called unidentified aerial phenomena.
The term "unidentified aerial phenomena" does not mean that the space crafts are aliens, but that did not stop the imaginations of Twitter users running wild on Wednesday, with some joking that the report may make 2021 even stranger than 2020, when the world was upended by the COVID pandemic.
In a tweet using an alien and alien spacecraft emojis, Shon Gables, an anchor of CBS46, tweeted: "Are you ready to find out what the government REALLY knows about UFO's"
The unofficial Twitter account of the Reddit Aliens subreddit tweeted: "180 countdown til the pentagon releases information on what they know about UFO's."
"HOLY COW!" wrote one Twitter user. "Not a believer in aliens visiting Earth but this will be interesting."
One said alongside a news article about the report: "2021 - when we looked back at 2020 as a less f*cked up year."
Another said: "can't make this up... 2020 hasn't ended but here we are.."
One Twitter user replied to a tweet from SpaceX founder Elon Musk, asking: "Did u see the news about the aliens? Govt has 180 days to spill the beans from the day of the Covid relief signing."
According to The Debrief, the provision is not law so the report may never materialize.
Christopher Mellon, former staff Director of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Debrief: "Assuming the Executive Branch honors this important request, the nation will at long last have an objective basis for assessing the validity of the issue and its national security implications. This is an extraordinary and long overdue opportunity."