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Is it an airplane, a drone, a spy balloon, or actually an alien flying object? Again and again there are reports of "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (UAP), as UFOs are officially called.

Some of these reports are still unexplained, which is why even the American space agency Nasa recently demanded more and better images and data. At the same time, UFO sightings are dismissed by some as pure nonsense.

This week, however, the claims of a former high-ranking US military and intelligence official came to light that set a different tone. David Grusch told The Debrief that the U.S. government has long owned flying objects, "intact and partially intact," whose material is "not of human origin." Extensive, highly confidential documents that are supposed to prove this, he handed over to the US Congress in April. According to Grusch's accusation, information about these objects had been withheld from Congress and deliberately "obscured by several authorities". Grusch speaks of a decades-long "cold war over salvaged physical material".

The White House referred to demand in the daily press conference to the Department of Defense. An official answer is not known. Nasa's UFO expert group, on the other hand, said at the request of "The Debrief" that it had no information about possible unknown flying objects.

Grusch saw nothing, but heard a lot

According to the article, the whistleblower was a long-time high-ranking employee of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the central US agency for military, intelligence and commercial cartographic reconnaissance. He was also the contact person for the military intelligence service NRO in the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, a department of the US Department of Defense. According to his own statements, he was responsible for top-secret analyses of reports on UAP.

Grusch now claims that extraterrestrial aircraft, as well as parts of such aircraft, have been recovered by the government and defense contractors for decades. Analyses of the material have produced "unique atomic arrangements and radiological signatures". He did not give any further details. The 36-year-old admits that he himself did not see these objects. However, he got his information from "extensive conversations with high-ranking intelligence officials" who were involved in it.

The team of authors of »The Debrief« spoke with current and former employees of the secret service, who confirm Grusch's statements in the article. Jonathan Grey, for example, an employee of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (Nasic), acknowledged the existence of "exotic materials".

Hakan Kayal, Professor of Space Technology and Chairman of the Interdisciplinary Center for Extraterrestrial Studies at the University of Würzburg, reacts openly to Grusch's statements: "We must not rule anything out. And that includes physical artifacts that can be found on Earth, regardless of whether they are functional or not," he told SPIEGEL.

Beginning of a new era?

According to Kayal, the revelations – if true – could usher in a new era in dealing with supposed UFO sightings and the question of whether there is more intelligent life in the universe. So far, according to Kayal, state secrecy and disinformation have been just as much a part of the phenomenon as the observations themselves.

In recent years, the debate about UFOs has been more intense and public than ever before. Starting in 2017, when the »New York Times« revealed that there are indeed government research projects on UFOs in the USA. The information was provided by Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal, among others, who spoke with Grusch for the current article. Then, in 2021, the Pentagon report that there are no explanations for dozens of celestial phenomena since 2004.

For Kayal, this is a paradigm shift: "After 40 years of saying: No, it's all nonsense, UFOs don't exist, the 2021 report suddenly said: Yes, they do exist. And we should do research on it." Now Grusch is joining them.

The fact that Grusch, as an insider of the authorities, feels safe to make top-secret information public may also be due to a still young law that is intended to strengthen the rights and protection of state whistleblowers in particular. At the same time, there is a risk of criminal consequences in the event of false statements.

"Perhaps suddenly much more will become known in one fell swoop what has been suspected for a long time, basically for more than 80 years," says Kayal. He argues that objective data – if they exist – and usable information should be made available to science instead of acting in secret on the basis of military and political interests. "There are numerous scientists in the world who could help solve mysteries, if they could deal with them openly and in depth." One has no choice but to investigate the matter scientifically. "We shouldn't be surprised and perplexed when the case occurs, as is the case with various natural disasters," says Kayal. "We should be prepared. Even if it's not true now."

It remains to be noted: Grusch did not see with his own eyes the flying objects he reports on. Also, the journalists had no insight into the documents and there is no official confirmation so far. So doubts remain.

Kayal is aware of the criticism of his field of expertise. For him, any kind of transparency would be a step forward: "If these things exist, they should at least admit it." Even if no details were given. Because "the consequences would be unimaginably great, scientifically and socially," says Kayal. The proof of intelligent, extraterrestrial life would be the most important topic of all time.