The UFO Whistleblower [Trenchant Edges]
Estimated reading time: 17 minutes, 6 seconds. Contains 3420 words
Welcome back to another irregularly scheduled Trenchant Edges.
Today we’re going to dig into the testimony of David Grush, who made a lot of little claims and a lot of big claims over the last few months. On July 21st he testified before the Congressional Hearing on Unidentified Anomalous Phenonema by the House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on National Security, the Border and Foreign Affairs
Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself: I’m your host here, Stephen, and this is a newsletter where we dig up the traces of fringe culture’s impact on the world with skepticism and empathy.
We’ve got a lot to do today so let’s get into it.
I like to get my biases out in front of issues like this.
Extraterrestrial life does exist, may be intelligent, and it’s not impossible that it’s on earth.
ET technology that does what we think is impossible is possible but not likely.
It’s not super credible that an ET craft that can go between star systems quickly is going to crash on a planet unless there are severe restrictions to its actual functioning or what crashed wasn’t as sophisticated as what got them here*
The US government *loves* money laundering (“budgeting”) and scapegoating amorphous threats.
The US Government has a long history of testing everything from weapons to psychological warfare techniques on its own personnel.
The US Government has been using UFOs for cover, distraction, and counter-intelligence for decades.
The more boring you make evil, the easier it is to get away with.
So, on one hand, we’ve got a big fucking mess of weird sightings and observations. Some are explainable, but many aren’t. Some of those can do things we don’t know how to make the technology to duplicate with publically available information.
And on the other hand, we have one of the most dishonest organizations in the history of the world. I’m not saying everything the US government says is a lie, I think that confuses the reasons why the state acts like it does.
*It’s also possible that ET technology on earth may have gotten here the slow way our physics would understand. It’s been suggested that robotic probes would likely be the natural way one would want to explore the universe because otherwise you’d need to wait longer than living things with lifecycles like ours would want to for interstellar travel.
One last point: A substantial amount of my commentary on the current rising UFO interest has been centered around the DoD hitting congress up for money. There’s a lot of stuff about this situation that don’t really work with that.
As we’ll see.
Setting the Scene
This brings us to our whistleblower: David Grusch.
Along with retired pilot David Fravor and Ryan Graves of Americans for Safe Aerospace, they testified before the Congressional Subcommittee Hearing on Unidentified Anomalous Phenonema by the House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on National Security, the Border and Foreign Affairs on July 26th of this foul year of our lord.
You can get a full list of everyone on the Subcommittee by checking CSPAN’s video & transcript of it. Asking questions were 15 members of the Subcommittee (which is how we’re going to refer to them because their full name is bullshit), 11 Republicans, and 4 Democrats.
Fair and balanced, just how Fox News would do it.
The whole thing was a bit over two hours and the first 20 minutes was almost entirely posturing. Fair, nothing reps love more than an open mic.
Setting that aside, they quickly establish a couple of important things:
This is a room of UFO believers. There was almost none of the usual skepticism or contempt for the subject or the people who are interested in it.
This is a National Security Issue.
The Reps have faced serious resistance trying to get answers about UFOs.
This is pretty much to be expected. Real UFO heads know that quite a lot of presidents have either had UFO experiences themselves or included some level of disclosure promises in their campaigns. Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in the former group, and Bill Clinton and Donald Trump in the latter. Clinton would later claim he looked into UFOs and was told he didn’t have a “Need To Know”.
Actually, we probably need a quick and dirty explanation of what compartmentalization is for the rest of this to make sense.
The fundamental principle of security is controlling the flow of information. Both to make sure the people who need information get it and those who shouldn’t have it don’t.
So, if you wanted to build a gun but you didn’t want any one person working on it to be able to make one what you’d do is break down the design into subassemblies that can be created as a unit and farm those out to a few different machine shops or factories.
Someone would build the receiver, the other the action, the barrel, and so on.
Only the most trusted people in the process have the full picture so there are as few points of failure as possible.
The US’ classification system is one of the main ways we’ve implemented this principle in the National Security State. According to President Obama’s Executive Order 13526 in 2009, updating the way the government handles classified information, there are three security clearance levels: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret.
They escalate in sensitivity and how much damage the information might do to national security so they’re more restrictive as the levels increase. Someone cleared for Top Secret information can read Secret or Confidential information but someone who’s only cleared for Confidential information can’t read anything higher.
But because this is the federal government this simple system has quite a lot of additions, exceptions, exclusions, and other wrinkles we’re mostly going to ignore. For example, Controlled Unclassified Information isn’t classified but they still don’t want it to be public information.
What actually matters to our story today is Codeword clearance. Where someone who’s (usually) already cleared for a certain level of access is briefed or read into a Special Access Program (SAP) of Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). This is also called collateral or compartmented clearance. The intelligence community has their own, legally distinct, but similar way of compartmentalizing called Controlled Access Programs. We’ll be using them interchangeably with Special Access Programs.
SAPs are a villain in today’s whistleblowing as Grusch’s specific accusations include massive fraud used to fund programs outside of Congress’s oversight. This is true, btw. Even if everything else Grusch says is bullshit.
All of these are ways to reduce the number of people who have access to information the state doesn’t want to get out under the notion that the fewer points of failure in a system the less likely it is to fail.
We could talk all day about this stuff but here’s the really important takeaway: This is a very simplified description of a series of overlapping standards for hiding information. Individually and much more so collectively, these systems provide a tremendous amount of ambiguity that needs to be interpreted by decision-makers within the natsec state.
Does the President or Congress need to know about aliens? These systems provide a rationale to say no.
Grusch and Friends
I want to talk briefly about the other two gentlemen at the table for this whistleblowing.
Ryan Graves and David Fravor are both retired pilots who had UFO experiences of varying kinds. Graves saw stuff on sensors and Fravor was one of the pilots who saw the 2004 Tictac UFO. NBC did a pretty good interview with him if you’re curious.
Fravor is the person I find most trustworthy in this whole hearing. He seemed practical, self-aware, unpretentious, and ironically down to earth. He avoided inflating any of his claims and showed some of the only skepticism towards the whole thing in the room.
I’m usually hesitant to grant special qualifications to pilots or military personnel but this guy seems to deserve respect. One of the more interesting details from his testimony about retaliation about being a UFO witness was that he and other observers of the 2004 incident pretty much all had or were retiring in very respectable positions as 05s or 06s. Which, I believe, means they were Lt Colonel or Colonels.
I have less to say about Ryan Graves since he was less an eyewitness and more an advocate for them.
Graves’ main point was simply that we don’t have enough information about UFOs to say what they are or assess how much of a real threat to the country. He advocates for a comprehensive way to collect & analyze data that would allow pilots both getting and receive information on UFOs.
He wanted something that would allow military, commercial aviation and intelligence to freely share info on the subject.
This goes pretty well in line with my thoughts on UFOs as an extra line item in the grand money laundering machine that is the federal government.
So, uh, why did I make that point about how this Grusch whistleblower guy made me reconsider that? And why did we just have a section that lead up to introducing Special Access Programs (SAPs)?
“I could answer that question behind closed doors.”
David Grusch is in a weird position by any measure.
He’s a career Air Force intelligence officer. His initial posting was doing simulations & training work around ground & space missile defense. He was then deployed an Intelligence Flight Commander with the Air Force including some time in Afghanistan. He then helped launch the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, a powerful system for monitoring objects in near-earth orbit, now under the control of Space Force. He then spent about 2.5 years as the Lead Intelligence Officer for the Space Security and Defense Program before becoming an Intelligence studies adjunct professor for a few years before spending 5 years as a Corporate Security Officer for the defense contractor Blue Sky Innovations.
While at Blue Sky he was also a team leader for the National Reconnaissance Office watch program and this is where he got into the special access program issues that would lead to his whistleblowing.
After November 2021 he’d go through a chain of jobs with Cyber Operations Group, USAF Academy, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency where he was co-lead in UAP and trans-medium object analysis and reporting to the UAP Task Force and eventually the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office.
He got a BA in physics in 2009, a Master’s in Intelligence Studies, and is currently working on a Master's in Public Administration at the University of Colorado.
He filled a complaint with the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG).
All of this is to say he’s actually extremely qualified to be a whistleblower about this which is kind of wild. This man has been in secret projects about space for almost his entire career.
This makes it very interesting that he only came up against UFOs, really, in 2019.
This next bit is what I expect to be the most useful and interesting part of this post: What Grusch’s actual claims are, what evidence he has for them, and why he’s being so cagey about the details.
I’m going to try to be comprehensive here, but filtering through multiple sources and trying to condense things down into discreet claims is tricky so there are places where there are going to be some gaps.
Note: It also looks like Grusch had some issues in 2014 and 2018 with PTSD and substance abuse, including some inpatient treatment. Neither of these incidents cost him his security clearance so I’m mostly going to ignore it as irrelevant unless something happens to make me think it is relevant.
David Grusch’s Claims
Note: Much of this comes from Grusch’s interview with Newsnation and I’ve pulled quotes from there where interesting.
Fundamentally: The US government is operating in secret about and on UFOs without congressional oversight and has lied to its own leaders and the public on the subject for decades.
Note: I believe this to be more or less unassailably true. I’m skeptical of a lot of his claims but I think the core here is accurate. Our previous thoughts on this provide a good place to start.
UAP Task Force was refused access to a broad, multi-decade crash retrieval program.
“These are retrieving non-human origin technical vehicles, call it space-craft if you will. Non-human exotic origin vehicles that have either landed or crashed”
US is in possession of quite a number of non-human craft from fragments to whole machines.
The US has made some discoveries from reverse engineering but could make more if the information was public.
When he tried to gain access to the programs the UAP Task force wasn’t read into, he started getting flak from his superiors.
Because he’s filed an active whistleblower complaint he has refused to detail the reprisals and retaliations involved.
Claims to be doing this out of a sense of patriotism and idealism about the US government.
The US has the bodies of nonhuman biological pilots from crashed craft
Believes he knows where those crafts and bodies are held.
Speculates that such craft got to earth by cheating physics through extradimensional travel rather than through conventional spaceflight.
Craft made from materials beyond our material science including stable heavy elements
“Based on the very specific properties that I was briefed on … isotopic ratios that have to be engineered for it to be at those levels. But also just extremely strange, heavy atomic metal, high up in the Periodic Table. Arrangements that we don’t understand. You know what the emergent properties are, but there’s just a very strange mix of elements,” he said.
Reaffirms the 1947 Roswell Incident which is interesting for reasons we’ll come back to another time.
Says the 1994 Air Force report disproving the Roswell Incident was a total hack job.
Can't discuss crash info satellite imagery in an open session
Mussolini recovered a spacecraft in 1933
“It’s long been known that the regime of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini documented numerous UAP. An internal memo from the Italian Secret Services includes crude drawings of the UAPs.
“In 1933 was the first recovery in Europe and in Magenta, Italy,” said Grusch. “They recovered a partially intact vehicle.”
“As to why Grusch believes the Air Force and the U.S. government maintain such a degree of secrecy, he believes it is, in his words, “Feudalistic dominance,” and “fuel in the war machine.””
UFO interactions with the government from sightings to crashes to retrieval continued over the decades since the 1930s as did the coverup.
Retrieval team includes at least one private aerospace company that handles storage.
Humans have been killed and injured both by nonhuman forces and by our government trying to keep that secret.
Humans have been injured or made sick while trying to reverse-engineer nonhuman technology
There are UFO related “Agreements that put our future in jeopardy” but he does not go into detail.
Substantial evidence of white-collar crime committed to make all this happen
Claims that the 1971 Agreement is proof that the USA and USSR were aware of UFOs potential to spark nuclear war.
Eh, it’s really short so I read it and while the phrase “Unidentified Object” could be a reference to UFOs it could also be anything else.
Accuses SAPs and CAPs, defense/intelligence contractors, and DoD officials of misappropriating money
Quantum Mechanics supports the holographic principle and the nonhuman intelligences may be extradimensional
Isn’t aware of situation where advanced human technology was confused with nonhuman technology
David Grusch’s Evidence
Publically? He’s revealed no evidence. He has no first-hand evidence at all, but he’s amassed around 40 witnesses who claim to have seen and done all kinds of things.
He claims to have the following, to have forwarded it to appropriate authorities, and to be willing to talk to anyone who’s suitably cleared in a secure SCIF facility. It’s worth noting several of the subcommittee members mention not being allowed to use a SCIF room for a discussion with Grusch.
Grusch’s credentials and work history appear to be legitimate if that includes his clearances he was in fact cleared for a wide variety of the most secret and hard-to-access Special Access Programs and Control Access Programs.
In many places he’s claimed to have the following information:
Sworn testimony by senior intelligence officials
The names of Special Access Programs and other secret information that would allow someone with clearance to find out what the state is doing.
What the fuck does any of this mean?
So, Grusch has been approved to release certain information through the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review, basically, an organization that clears information and publications for public release. He specifies that his views are his own and do not represent the state.
He also points out that he’s required by law to go through their process. It’s a felony not to.
Part of what this means is he’s going through official channels and doing this “properly”.
One of the interesting quotes from that Newsnation interview: “I started out as a non-believer. I came to the problem as a hardcore physics guy … intel officer,” he said. So I have, you know, excuse my language high bull—- factor.” I was very methodical … interviewing people who didn’t know each other and making sure this wasn’t some kind of cover-up of some other program.”
Dr. Shawn Kirkpactrick, head of the UAP research team, has claimed he’s found no credible evidence despite Grusch saying he’s tried to get Kirkpactrick that information but the UAP research head hasn’t followed up with him.
Here’s a bit from an interesting article that has a bunch of intel insiders speaking highly of Grusch & his claims:
“His assertion concerning the existence of a terrestrial arms race occurring sub-rosa over the past eighty years focused on reverse engineering technologies of unknown origin is fundamentally correct, as is the indisputable realization that at least some of these technologies of unknown origin derive from non-human intelligence,” said Karl Nell, the retired Army Colonel who worked with Grusch on the UAP Task Force.
Also, here’s the unclassified complaint from the ICIG that he made in 2021 which describes a pattern of obfuscation with his compartmented clearances. Those would be the codeword accesses that let him be read into specific projects.
All this is, well, it’s a lot.
How can we make sense of this?
Well, that’s going to have to wait till later this week.
I think David Grusch’s position is at least internally consistent for the most part. I’ve got some skepticism about his comments about physics that don’t square with my understanding of either quantum mechanics or the holographic principle.
But I’m willing to overlook that because 1. I don’t know either very well at all and 2. It’s easy to fuck up explaining complex things in a soundbite.
His background, the way he describes going about looking for SAPs, the way he found information that was hard to refute, and his reasons for whistleblowing all seem pretty plausible to very plausible.
But is it true?
Well, parts certainly are.
We’re already at 3,000 words here. So I think I’m going to call it shortly. I’ve been reading and writing since 9 am and it’s almost 3.
So instead of analysis, I want to share with you the most dopey possibility I can think of.
The comic Watchmen (spoilers for a comic older than most of my audience) ends with a reveal that the dork above has released a psychic WMD that will force the US and Soviets to unify against a greater threat than either of them.
I don’t think that’s what’s happening but there are a couple of moments in Grusch’s statement that make me go… hmm.
To borrow a phrase from Joe Kassabian from the Lions Led by Donkeys podcast, The Grand Unifying Theory of Fuck That Guy Over There.
Except That Guy Over There is an space alien.
Wrapping Up… for now
If you don’t follow UFOs it might seem like everything Grusch is saying is a shocking revelation.
But most of this actually goes back to around the 1950s. I’d need to double-check some dates to get that exactly but this stuff has been around at minimum for decades.
And since he’s chosen the official whistleblower route he’s refusing to actually share real evidence with anyone but other parts of the state, which makes it practically impossible to verify or disprove anything he says.
My first thought when I heard this was, “@ me when there’s evidence.”
Fundamentally, “Intelligence Officers” are liars.
Even nice ones who want to blow whistles.
Intelligence is about deception, deception detecting, and causing confusion.
Grusch seems very sincere to me. I believe he believes what he’s saying.
But that doesn’t make it true.
See you in a couple of days this time.
For real this time.