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We may not know if aliens exist, but UFOs still pose a national security risk

A highly anticipated report from U.S. intelligence released Friday focuses on unidentified aerial phenomenon or UAPS, commonly known as UFOs. The report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concludes that unidentified objects clearly pose a risk to flight and a national security threat to the U.S. But the larger question about alien life remains unanswered. John Yang reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It is one of the most enduring questions of humanity: Are we alone in the universe?

    Today, a highly anticipated report from the U.S. intelligence community zeros in on unidentified aerial phenomenon, or UAPs, commonly known as UFOs. It comes from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It concludes that these unidentified objects clearly pose a risk to flight and a national security threat to the U.S.

    But the larger question is, is this alien life, remains unanswered.

    John Yang has the story.

  • John Yang:

    Judy, the nine-page report says there is not enough high-quality information to draw any conclusions about the source or intent of these UAPs.

    Here to discuss what is in the report and what the report does say, Representative Andre Carson, Democrat of Indiana, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, which commissioned this report.

    Mr. Carson, you said in a statement earlier today that this represents a much-needed shift on this issue. What do you mean by that?

  • Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN):

    Well, as you just mentioned, today's report still leaves many of us with a lot of unanswered questions.

    It does not rule out all that many potential scenarios that we have come up with. So ,when we're talking about UAPs, we could still be dealing with a lot of varying scenarios or potentialities. But the report goes a very long way in terms of prioritization.

    So it goes a long way in terms of bring credibility to the issue. However, since coming to Congress, I have been fascinated by the issue, as have been my colleagues. And I am pleased to see that our approach has been taken more seriously now.

    So, it's a taboo topic, but I think there's much more work to do.

  • John Yang:

    And coming from the Intelligence Committee, which asked for this report, clearly, there is a belief that there could be a national security threat?

  • Rep. Andre Carson:

    Well, I think that that is always a consideration.

    The immediate concern is very twofold. One, this is a technology that we don't completely understand, and it seems to be defying our understanding of physics. It appears to be more advanced than our own technology, but that's never a good thing from a strategic point of view.

    There is an expectation among Americans that we stay on top of advancements in technology. And, secondly, whoever's operating or whoever's behind, these aerial phenomena, seems to be keenly interested in our military capabilities.

  • John Yang:

    And is that why the Intelligence Committee — I mean, it was the Intelligence Committee that asked for this report?

  • Rep. Andre Carson:

    Certainly.

    But it is effectively a response to the scores of inquiries that we get daily, not only from our offices, but that the committee gets. And there's a tendency for the UAP sightings and developments to occur around military assets, especially, it seems, around our naval assets.

    And that's enough to know that we need more information and really a better understanding. We know enough now, but that's not necessarily important. There are still many unknowns, but we're honing in on this issue very rapidly.

  • John Yang:

    You talk about needing more information.

    The report spells out or sets goals about sort of more research, more gathering of information about the UAPs. What is the next step?

  • Rep. Andre Carson:

    Compared to other national security issues and issues critical to our defense, we still suffer from a very limited understanding of these phenomena.

    A part of that is we have a very limited data set. There is only a number of sightings, data and observable phenomena. Also, the quality of that information can sometimes be subpar.

    And so I think the next part will be breaking down the stigma that exists, especially amongst legislators, particularly amongst pilots outside of Congress. But I think the next step is to do a deeper dive. I want to hold a public hearing as well. But we're not going to get the information we really need initially until we have classified briefings.

    And my hope is that it's not another nation who has a strategic and technological advance, and it's not from the private sector. My hope is that we can contain this matter. And, hopefully, it stays within the good old United States of America.

  • John Yang:

    And you are going to get more briefings from the intelligence community?

  • Rep. Andre Carson:

    Without question.

    You know, as the chairman of that committee, my hope is to have a series of hearings, and one of them being a public hearing, so we can at least provide the information to the American public to the degree that will not compromise our national security, to give them some kind of resolve, and I think quell their thirst for this wonderful phenomenon that we have been talking about and movies have been made about for the past seven or eight decades.

  • John Yang:

    Representative Andre Carson of Indiana, thank you very much.

  • Rep. Andre Carson:

    What an honor. Thank you.

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