U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna is at the forefront of Congress’ dive into the world of UFOs.
The first-year Republican member of Congress from Pinellas County helped organize the highly anticipated hearing Wednesday after a former U.S. intelligence officer claimed publicly that the government is withholding information about spacecraft of “nonhuman origin.”
Air Force veteran David Grusch, a former member of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and National Reconnaissance Office turned whistleblower, first came forward in early June. Among the dramatic claims he made under oath this week before the House Oversight subcommittee:
- The U.S. government is concealing a program that retrieves unidentified flying objects.
- The U.S. government has likely been aware of spacecraft or activity of “nonhuman” origin since the 1930s.
- The U.S. government is “absolutely” in possession of unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs.
- “Nonhuman biologics” were found at a crash site.
Speaking about the importance of the investigation, Luna pointed to a 2019 poll that found 68% of Americans believe the government knows more than it’s saying about UFOs.
“From my personal experience, I believe the same thing,” Luna said during the hearing.
In an emailed statement, Luna said the issue of unidentified aerial phenomena is salient for Floridians.
“Florida is home to some of the largest aviation hubs in the country, and per testimony, these UAP’s are posing massive safety issues for civilian flights as well as national security issues,” she said. “Florida’s Gulf Coast is also home to some of the biggest military bases in the country, including MacDill AFB, as well as the military’s unique Gulf testing range. UAPs in the skies over Florida present a range of different concerns, and I believe that transparency drives the best public policy.”
Luna and Tennessee Rep. Tim Burchett organized Wednesday’s hearing, which is the first of many to come, Luna said in an interview with NewsNation after the hearing.
In the hearing’s opening statements, Luna called for greater transparency and for the release of “mountains of over-classified documents.”
“It is unacceptable to continue to gaslight Americans into thinking that this is not happening,” she said.
While working for the National Reconnaissance Office, Grusch said he was asked in 2019 to identify all classified programs related to UAPs. Grusch became a whistleblower after his alleged discovery of the government keeping the public and Congress in the dark about UAPs. The Pentagon has denied Grusch’s claims.
Luna, herself an Air Force veteran, said she knew service members who were afraid to come forward about UAP sightings for fear of retribution and being taken off flight status.
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“In the last couple of years, have you had incidences that have caused you to be in fear for your life for addressing these issues?” Luna asked Grusch.
“Yes, personally,” he responded.
Grusch said that there’s a stigma associated with reporting UFO sightings, and that there needs to be a “safe and transparent” reporting process for both military and commercial pilots.
Luna also asked why Grusch uses the term “nonhuman origin” instead of “extraterrestrial” life.
“The phenomenon is very complex,” Grusch, who has a degree in physics, said. " I like to leave an open mind analytically to specific origin.”
Luna first became involved in February, when she was approached by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who represents part of the Panhandle. According to Gaetz, several months ago, his office received a protective disclosure from Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County regarding a UAP encounter off the coast of Florida.
“As a veteran and someone who worked in airfield management, I found this particularly concerning,” Luna said in a statement.
Gaetz, Luna and Burchett traveled to the Air Force base to interview pilots and collect evidence. But “we were stonewalled,” Luna said.
After a back-and-forth with the base commander, they agreed to let Gaetz in by himself to speak to a pilot and review evidence, Gaetz said during the hearing.
Gaetz said he spoke to one pilot and saw images and radar data from the encounter, which occurred during a test flight over the Gulf of Mexico.
“One of the pilots goes to check out that diamond formation and sees a large floating, what I can only describe as an orb, again, like I said, not have any human capability that I’m aware of,” Gaetz said. “And when he approached, he said that his radar went down.”
Luna said the next step is rallying Congress members to pressure the intelligence community into releasing classified information related to UAPs.
The hearing and interest in the topic among House members has been a bipartisan effort. Florida Democratic U.S. House members Maxwell Frost and Jared Moskowitz were also involved in the questioning, as was New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another younger legislator to whom Luna has frequently been compared.
On Friday, Gaetz, Luna, Moskowitz and Burchett sent a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy requesting the creation of a select committee to investigate UAPs.
“The reason(s) why there is such strong bipartisan support for this investigation are the whistleblower concerns and a government that has become so large that it no longer respects the authority of the legislative branch,” Luna said in a statement. “Our clearances are top-secret, and we need to know. We represent the American people and will continue to work with our Democratic colleagues to push for full transparency.”