May 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rubio raises UFO concerns in "60 Minutes" interview

Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL, speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing

Sen. Marco Rubio, during an April Senate hearing in Washington, D.C. Photo: Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is leading calls to take reports of UFOs more seriously ahead of the expected release next month of a government report on such sightings.

Why it matters: Rubio, who as acting Senate Intelligence Committee chair asked for an unclassified copy of the report to be released to Congress, told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday: "Anything that enters an airspace that's not supposed to be there is a threat."

Driving the news: Former Navy Lieutenant Ryan Graves told CBS' Bill Whitaker he and other members of his F/A-18 fighter squadron detected unexplained sightings of UFOs, also known as "unidentified aerial phenomena" (UAP), in restricted airspace southeast of Virginia Beach "every day for at least a couple years," starting in 2014.

  • The Pentagon confirmed it couldn't identify images of these UAPs, shared with "60 Minutes." Graves said he couldn't rule out technology developed by the governments of Russia or China.
  • "I am worried, frankly. ... if these were tactical jets from another country that were hanging out up there, it would be a massive issue," Graves said.
  • "But because it looks slightly different, we're not willing to actually look at the problem in the face. We're happy to just ignore the fact that these are out there, watching us every day."    

Between the lines: Loue Elizondo, the former director of the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, told Whitaker sometimes there were "simple explanations" for UAPs, others not so simple, but they would go through due diligence.

  • "Is it some sort of new type of cruise missile technology that China has developed? Is it some sort of high-altitude balloon that's conducting reconnaissance?" Elizondo added.
  • "Ultimately when you have exhausted all those what ifs and you're still left with the fact that this is in our airspace and it's real, that's when it becomes compelling, and that's when it becomes problematic." 

Of note: Rubio told Whitaker there's a "stigma" on Capitol Hill when it comes to UAPs and "I don't think we can allow the stigma to keep us from having an answer to very a fundamental question.

  • "I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously."

The bottom line: "I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in," Rubio said. 

  • "That there be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed, until we get some answers. Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn't."
  • Representatives for Rubio did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

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