Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today conducted a colloquy with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) on UAPs and advancing bipartisan legislation to increase government transparency and oversight in the NDAA. Below is the colloquy between Senator Schumer and Senator Rounds:
Leader Schumer: I see my friend, Senator Rounds, is on the floor and ask him to engage in a colloquy on an important set of provisions in the NDAA that deals with transparency, trust, and government oversight: the Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Disclosure Act that he and I co-sponsored and portions of which we will pass in the NDAA.
I say to my friend that Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena are of immense interest and curiosity to the American people.
But with that curiosity comes the risk for confusion, misinformation, and mistrust especially if the government isn’t prepared to be transparent.
The United States government has gathered a great deal of information about UAPs over many decades but has refused to share it with the American people. That is wrong and additionally breeds mistrust.
We have also been notified by multiple credible sources that information on UAPs has also been withheld from Congress, which if true is a violation of laws requiring full notification to the legislative branch – especially as it relates to the four congressional leaders, the defense committees, and the intelligence committee.
So, the bill I worked on with Senator Rounds offered a commonsense solution: let’s increase transparency on UAPs by using a model that works, by following what the federal government did thirty years ago with the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act. They established a presidentially-appointed board to review and release these records, and it was a huge success. We should do the same here with UAPs.
Senator Rounds: Thank you and I thank my colleague, the Democrat Leader, for the opportunity to speak on this particular issue today. This is an issue that I think has caught the attention of the American people American people, and most certainly the lack of transparency on the matter, which is of real interest to a lot of the folks that have watched from the outside. It brings together, I think, a notable parallel in the withholding of information about items that are in the government's possession regarding, in this particular case, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That same approach by government, in terms of the possible withholding of information, brings more questions and more attention to the issue of the assassination. We wanted to take that same approach with regard to how we could dispel misinformation about UAPs, about unidentified flying objects, unidentified objects that simply have come to the attention of the American people. Congress did pass legislation thirty years ago requiring the review and release of all records relating to that historic tragedy, the assassination of John Kennedy, which has led to the release of a great deal of information. The UAP Disclosure Act was closely modeled on the JFK Records Act.
Leader Schumer: I say to my colleague from South Dakota – who we've worked with as a great team on this issue and many other issues I might add – it's beyond disappointing that the House has refused to work with us on all the important elements of the UAP Disclosure Act during the NDAA conference, but nevertheless, we did make important progress.
First, for the first time, the National Archives will gather records from across the federal government on UAPs, and have a legal mandate to release those records to the public if appropriate.
This is a major, major win for government transparency on UAPs and it gives us a strong foundation for more action in the future.
Senator Rounds: I would agree, sir, and I think probably the most significant shortcomings that I think we need to visit about as well, shortcomings of the conference committee agreement that are now being voted on were the rejection, first of all, of a government-wide review board composed of expert citizens, presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed, to control the process of reviewing the records and recommending to the President what records should be released immediately or postponed, and a requirement as a transparency measure for the government to obtain any recovered UAP material or biological remains that may have been provided to private entities in the past and thereby hidden from Congress and the American people. We are lacking oversight opportunities, and we are not fulfilling our responsibilities.
Leader Schumer: Well, I would like to echo what my friend Senator Rounds has said today and on many occasions: it is essential we keep working on our proposal to create an independent, presidentially appointed review board that can oversee UAP classified records and create a system for releasing them, where appropriate, to the public.
Again, as the senator said, it’s the same method used for the JFK records and it continues to work to this very day.
It is really an outrage the House didn’t work with us on adopting our proposal for a review board, which of course by definition here is bipartisan in the Senate. Now it means that declassification of UAP records will be largely up to the same entities that have blocked and obfuscated their disclosure for decades.
We will keep working. I want to assure the American people, Senator Rounds and I will keep working to change the status quo.
And before I yield finally to him, I would like to acknowledge my dear friend, the late Harry Reid, a mentor, who cared about this issue a great deal. So, he is looking down and smiling on us, but he’s also importuning us to get the rest of this done, which we will do everything we can to make happen.
Senator Rounds: I agree with my friend and colleague. To those who think that the Citizen Review Board that would have been created in our UAP Disclosure Act, that it would be unprecedented and somehow go too far, we note that the proposed Review Board was very closely modeled on the review board established in the JFK Assassination Records Act of 1992, which has successfully guided the release of records to the American public on another very sensitive matter of high interest to the American people. And it does one more thing that we really need to recognize, and that is that there is, we believe, information and data that has been collected by more than just the Department of Defense, but by other agencies of the federal government as well, and by allowing for an outside, independent collection of these records we can make progress in terms of dispelling myths and providing accurate information to the American people.
Leader Schumer: Again, I thank my friend and pledge to work with him and other bipartisan colleagues in the future to build upon what we achieved in this conference report. We encourage our colleagues to join us in the further investigation of this issue and in advancing legislation that will complete what we have accomplished in this NDAA.