Alien bodies allegedly hidden by the United States government. Suspected Pentagon cover-ups of secret spending programs. Retaliation against any official who dares speak out. Perhaps no congressional briefing offers up more titillating claims — or does less to illuminate them — than one about U.F.O.s.
On Friday, members of Congress entered such a session with burning questions, only to receive hedged answers that they said did little to demystify what the government knows about extraterrestrial beings.
The closed-door briefing with Thomas A. Monheim, the inspector general of the intelligence community, was supposed to help members of the House Oversight Committee understand if there was any credibility to the bombshell claims made by a high-profile whistle-blower in July.
But what, if anything, was actually said was far from clear. It didn’t help that the whole session was confidential, so the lawmakers were barred by law from relaying what they had heard — not exactly a formula for combating the raft of conspiracy theories that has sprung up around U.F.O.s, fueled by government reports documenting unexplained incidents with what it calls “unidentified anomalous phenomena” and the recent whistle-blower account.
In July, David Grusch, a former intelligence official, testified that the U.S. government was holding nonhuman bodies taken from U.F.O. crash sites, that the military is misusing funds to cover up a “U.A.P. crash retrieval and reverse engineering program,” and that people had been injured in efforts to conceal these operations. He also alleged retaliation from his superiors for previously making similar claims. The Pentagon has denied the allegations.
On Friday, some lawmakers saw tantalizing hints in Mr. Monheim’s presentation that there might have been something to Mr. Grusch’s claims and, while the rules of a classified briefing barred them from actually repeating what they had learned, they suggested the inspector general had found some of the claims credible. Which ones? No one would say.
“This is the first real briefing that we’ve had that we’ve now made, I would say, progress on some of the claims Mr. Grusch has made,” said Representative Jared Moskowitz, Democrat of Florida. “This is the first time we kind of got a ruling on what the I.G. thinks of those claims.”
What was the ruling? Sorry, that’s classified, but he did predict that the new information would drive future hearings and investigations.
“There’s a lot of new questions and a lot of new areas to ask and poke in based on what we got in this meeting,” Mr. Moskowitz said.
Representative Robert Garcia, Democrat of California, said that he “would have loved to receive much more information,” but that he did learn “interesting additional information to continue the investigation and ask more questions.”
Representative Tim Burchett, Republican of Tennessee and a leading voice on Capitol Hill arguing that the government has not revealed all it knows about U.F.O.s, said trying to squeeze more information from executive branch officials is “just whack-a-mole. You go to the next one until we get some answers.”
Still, he said, the meeting “just verified what I thought.”
Intelligence officials declined to comment on the classified briefing. A representative of Mr. Monheim’s office also declined to comment. But one U.S. official said the government still has no evidence of space aliens visiting planet Earth.
That did little to satisfy lawmakers who said they had become accustomed to government waffling and snubs when it comes to U.F.O.s.
“It’s just become evident that there is over-classification and that we are continually being stonewalled,” said Representative Anna Paulina Luna, Republican of Florida. “We are authorizing money that is supposed to be spent on certain programs, and yet there is compartmentalization in which Congress doesn’t have access to oversight in those programs. And that’s a problem.”
Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois, said that he was “more concerned” coming out of the briefing than he had been going in.
“Mr. Grusch has made allegations that we’re still trying to figure out the veracity of, and we haven’t gotten the answers that we need,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think that we’re looking at the substance of his claims, and instead we’re dancing around the procedural nature of his claims.”
Lawmakers have beefed up efforts to improve transparency surrounding extraterrestrial matters as suspicions persist that the government is hiding information from the public. In December, Congress passed legislation that directs the government to publicly disclose records related to U.A.P.s within 25 years of their creation unless the president determines they must remain classified for national security reasons.
But the measure stopped short of more aggressive steps lawmakers sought to force greater transparency, which were vehemently opposed by the Pentagon.
On Thursday, Mr. Garcia introduced a bill with Representative Glenn Grothman, Republican of Wisconsin, to facilitate the reporting of U.A.P.s by civilian aviation personnel.