Federal officials are launching a new investigative unit to look into UFO sightings, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a part of the Department of Defense, has created a new working group, known as the Defense Special Projects Office (DSPO), to begin investigating reported UFO sightings, according to documents recently leaked to The Intercept.
While the newly created group does not have an official name, The Post reports that it will focus on investigating sightings of so-called “UFOs,” the popular term used for unidentified flying objects that have not been cleared by military agencies or have other military origins.
The group will begin by investigating about 150 UFO sightings from around the globe that have been submitted to the international UFO registry at the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), a nonprofit organization. U.S. officials will also aid the group by providing its member organizations with information on sightings that have not already been investigated by the agency.
The organization is reportedly one of several methods the military is using to keep the public — and Congress — in the dark about its involvement in UFOs.
The Department of Defense has repeatedly refused to comment on these new developments. But if the group’s structure proves successful, it could help the military solve long-term UFO mysteries such as the 1947 incident in Roswell, New Mexico.
That was when two crashed weather balloon-shaped aircraft were discovered in a field near the town of the same name. In the following weeks, people all over the world reported strange sounds and lights in the sky.
In the following years, the Air Force eventually claimed that a secret military experiment had caused the drop, but the media has never verified that claim.
More recently, researchers in Las Vegas have cited their own cold case investigation involving a 1970 incident in which witnesses reported seeing a bright object in the night sky. The Las Vegas police, fire department and sheriff’s department were all sent to investigate the crime scene, but found nothing, according to an article published last year in Popular Mechanics.
With this new group, the government plans to keep the public in the dark about the government’s involvement in UFO sightings. But investigative journalists and lawmakers have already expressed skepticism.
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, denounced the new program.
“Nothing could be more off-putting to a consumer than to be told the government is protecting secret information on new medical treatments and technologies that the public could never afford to use,” Moulton said in a statement to The Post. “By prioritizing military secrecy over transparency, they are allowing myths about the Pentagon’s involvement in secretive government experiments to remain intact.”
Despite these concerns, the new group could expand the government’s ability to talk about secret military information.