What the Heck Is Going on With These U.F.O. Stories?
Earlier this month, a news outlet called The Debrief published a story that included, to put it mildly, some explosive material.
The story, reported by Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal, centered on David Grusch, a decorated former combat veteran who has worked in multiple government intelligence agencies and served on the Pentagon’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force. In the story, Grusch said he had decided to come forward as a whistle-blower, testifying under oath to Congress that there are longstanding covert programs within the U.S. government that possess crash materials of “nonhuman origin.” His claims are backed by multiple on-the-record sources from the intelligence community.
The main reactions to this story have been to either embrace it as definitive truth or dismiss it out of hand. I wanted to approach it differently. What is actually being claimed here? Which claims have evidence, and which don’t? How does this story fit into the broader context of U.F.O. revelations over the past few years? There is a lot to be curious about here. There is also a lot to be skeptical about.
Leslie Kean is an independent investigative journalist who has contributed reporting to many of the major U.F.O. stories in recent years, including this most recent one, and she is the author of the 2010 book “UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record.” I asked her on the show so I could get some of my questions answered, and hopefully yours as well.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this episode and transcript misstated how David Grusch gave information to Congress. He provided information to the general counsels for the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. He did not testify directly before members of Congress.
"Intelligence Officials Say U.S. Has Retrieved Craft of Non-Human Origin" by Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal
“Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program” by Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean
"‘Wow, What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects" by Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean
"No Longer in Shadows, Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit Will Make Some Findings Public" by Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean
The UFO Experience by J. Allen Hynek
The UFO Evidence by Richard H. Hall
American Cosmic by D.W. Pasulka
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This episode was produced by Rogé Karma. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Mixing by Jeff Geld and Isaac Jones. The show’s production team also includes Emefa Agawu, Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Garrett Graff and Kristina Samulewski.