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Strange bedfellows: UFOs are uniting Trump's fiercest critics, loyalists

Strange bedfellows: UFOs are uniting Trump's fiercest critics, loyalists
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At first glance, John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanFive things to know about the new spotlight on UFOs Extraordinary explanations for UFOs look increasingly plausible Why does the hard left glorify the Palestinians? MORE and John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeFive things to know about the new spotlight on UFOs Extraordinary explanations for UFOs look increasingly plausible Sunday shows preview: US hails Israel-Hamas cease-fire; 'vast differences' remain between Biden, GOP on infrastructure MORE have little in common. Indeed, beyond serving atop America’s intelligence agencies, Brennan and Ratcliffe epitomize the deep political discord of the post-Trump era.

Brennan, a former CIA director, launched scathing verbal assaults against President Trump, quickly becoming Public Enemy No. 1 among conservative media outlets and many Trump supporters.

As Trump’s hand-picked director of national intelligence, Ratcliffe faced a torrent of criticism for politicizing intelligence for Trump’s benefit.

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The two even engaged in something of a feud, with Brennan launching a blistering attack on Ratcliffe for releasing sensitive, unverified intelligence allegedly to boost Trump’s 2020 reelection bid.

Yet for their extreme political differences, Brennan and Ratcliffe share a unique bond. They are among a small but steadily growing cohort of former government officials speaking candidly about a series of bizarre, unexplained encounters that occurred in American airspace in recent years.

Perhaps emboldened by groundbreaking reporting by the New York Times, interviews by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and the public disclosure of photos, videos and jaw-dropping pilot accounts of encounters with mysterious objects maneuvering in ways that defy the laws of physics and aerodynamics, Brennan and Ratcliffe’s recent comments are remarkable — and remarkably bipartisan. They break from decades of official deflection and inaction on unidentified aerial phenomena.

In March, Ratcliffe heightened public anticipation over a forthcoming government report on the military’s encounters, stating that “there are a lot more sightings than have been made public.”

Moreover, according to Trump’s former director of national intelligence, many of the craft “engage in actions that are difficult to explain, movements that are hard to replicate, that we don’t have the technology for” and travel “at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom.”

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Brennan, the former CIA director and Trump detractor extraordinaire, went further, speculating that the objects might “constitute a different form of life.”

Make no mistake: These are remarkable statements from two former top intelligence officials at polar opposite ends of the political spectrum.

But this UFOs-make-for-strange-bedfellows dynamic is not limited to the executive branch. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBiden fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms MORE (D-Nev.) was instrumental in establishing a Pentagon unit charged with assessing the national security implications of the extraordinary technology that these objects appear to exhibit.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPast criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin Five years after the Pulse nightclub massacre the fight for LGBTQ+ rights continues MORE (R-Fla.) has spoken candidly about his concerns over unidentified craft flying over sensitive military sites. Government transparency advocates can also thank Rubio for requiring the Department of Defense to release a public analysis, due in June, of these unexplained phenomena.

Rubio and Reid’s bipartisan national security concerns are echoed by Luis Elizondo, the former head of a Pentagon unit that investigated military encounters with unidentified objects. As Elizondo rightly noted, the United States would find itself in the midst of a cataclysmic intelligence failure – on par with 9/11 – if the unexplained objects belong to China or Russia. Indeed, any revelation that a foreign power has secretly developed such extraordinary technology would prompt an unprecedented reckoning among America’s national security community.

But after leading the Pentagon effort to assess these incidents, Elizondo – in line with Brennan's musings about “different form[s] of life” – speculates that “we may not be alone.”

In much the same vein, the naval aviator with the single most credible account of an encounter with a UFO – backed up by his colleagues and advanced sensor data – believes that the object he chased was “not from this world.”

At the same time, government assessments reportedly considered “non-human” and “alien” explanations for flying objects observed by naval aviators off the U.S. east coast in recent years.

To be sure, UFO sightings have long been derided as the stuff of tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists. But now, with credible sources of various political stripes speculating about “non-human,” “alien” and “out of this world” encounters with “different form[s] of life,” we are witnessing a paradigm shift in how these phenomena are perceived. More importantly, candid, uninhibited commentary by senior officials slowly begins to degrade the decades-long stigma that pilots and other observers confront when reporting such incidents.

Ultimately, if the government analysts entertaining “non-human” explanations for these recent encounters are worth their salt, they are asking a host of probing questions: Are these craft inhabited or more akin to drones? What explains the extraordinary variation in the size and shape of the objects; from the now-famous “tic-tac”-shaped object and black triangles to “a sphere encasing a cube” and an “acorn”? How do they fly at extreme speeds without wings or observable propulsion systems?

Much like recent columns in the Washington Post and the New York Times, a thorough government assessment of the “non-human” hypothesis would speculate on the objects’ intent and, importantly, how humanity may respond if these craft were, in fact, other-worldly. Are they simply observing humanity? Our planet? What explains their persistent presence just above – and in – the ocean?

What might their objective be? Are they emulating the (all-too-clichéd) theme of alien contact forcing humanity to unite to overcome an existential threat?  

As melodramatic as such Hollywood plot lines may be, we must give these phenomena – whatever they may be – enormous credit: They have already accomplished an extraordinary feat.

Indeed, amid the most polarized political climate in recent American history, Trump’s brashest critic and one of his fiercest loyalists are now part of an ultra-exclusive club of former officials speaking openly about a series extraordinary events. Despite their immense political differences, individuals such as Brennan and Ratcliffe are fostering a richer discussion of humanity’s place in the cosmos.

Marik von Rennenkampff served as an analyst with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, as well as an Obama administration appointee at the U.S. Department of Defense. Tell him about your UFO encounters via Twitter @MvonRen.