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The Overclassification of the Space Domain

By Anton Labreche

The greatest threat to space isn’t hyperkinetic weapons or frickin’ satellites with frickin’ laser beams. It’s the United States government’s classification system. Members of our own government and space experts alike acknowledged it. It’s a hidden obstacle course with no direction and no visible end goal despite there being a course of action with a strong desire for leadership. It’s information that can be used to expedite the earthly connection to space and enter a new era that could bring our planet into a post-scarcity age. But the United States tends to cut its nose to spite its face. Or a more apt description: overclassify the nose and leave the face unaware it exists, obfuscating the concept of breathing. 

Several experts in the U.S. defense industry have similar concerns. 

According to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John F Plumb in the CSIS talk titled “Emerging Security Issues in Space Policy,” “Overclassification, I think there is this hope probably among folks in unclassified form. We’re talking about this … response to overclassification is to declassify things so that they are unclassified. But there are many things you can declassify that can remain classified.” (Center for Strategic and International Studies). A glaring issue he brought up in his CSIS talk was his summit with internal DoD stakeholders. They discovered that the greatest challenge to working with U.S. allies within the space domain was overclassification. Being unable to coordinate appropriately due to the overclassification of space domain-related data is just a thread of the overclassification web. Indeed, we can argue that this careless misuse of classification can be compared to a type of information embezzlement that does not benefit American interests. 

On another CSIS talk titled “A Contested Domain: From Space Theory to Practice,” U.S. Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) Commander, Major General Shawn N. Bratton, stated, “Yeah, we talk about declassification all the time… General Saltzman really challenged us recently. He said, ‘Hey, you have to stop talking about it and really dig into the problem… What does the security declassification guide say? Who is the declassification authority?’ We have to pull the thread on all these individual things but then say, ‘Yeah, declassification is a problem,’ and go back to our desk and work on something else… but he challenged each of us and said we own part of this. Some of us are classification authorities. We write and coordinate classification guides… We each have to do our part in that discussion. Though it feels like we made no progress, we have made tremendous progress in the past five years.” (Center for Strategic and International Studies) 

An example he brought up was his question on what we would do if we saw a Chinese or Russian bomber flying on the coastline, the public messaging, and what the direct or indirect message would be. Well, such an example came to life this past February. 

According to the October 2023 AARO/DNI report, “The U.S. engaged and shot down three UAP within days of the Chinese spy-balloon shootdown on February 4, 2023. There was also a flurry of reports of similar detections worldwide around that time.” The U.S. military shot down three objects, but they kept the information from the public. To requote Susan Gough’s statement to Chris Sharp from his most recent article in the Liberation Times, “We do not have further information to share at this time; those cases have been fully briefed to Congress are being prepared for public release…Further information on those cases will be provided once the information is cleared for public release. I cannot estimate when that will be nor whether it will include imagery.” ( Liberation Times ) The DoD has claimed not to be able to show some information due to sensitive technologies being leaked, but there is evidence to suggest it is more complicated than that. Ross Coulhart and Chris Mellon both claimed from sources that there were 8-9 UAPs that escaped from military interception given three sources. When NORAD was asked about these claims, they denied it ever happened despite confirming they had craft in the area. 

Transparency with the public on such details is a byproduct of an abuse of classification. It interferes with honest work to prioritize U.S. interests in the space domain with allies, and it obfuscates UAP research to the general public under the guise of national security when truly it comes down to embezzling information that benefits those who are in the know. The bipartisan effort to push for the NDAA and declassify information is a step in the right direction, but it’s essential to understand that declassification may not work as intended. The NDAA itself pushes to make this data public, but under the guise of national security, we will probably not get everything being asked. However, this may not spell doom to disclosure. We will likely follow a controlled dissemination of the information embezzled from the world, even from most of the U.S. government. 

Dr. Kirkpatrick, the current head of AARO, has been a critical example of improper use of relaying information on aerospace research. Despite admitting that 2-4% of their reports are truly anomalous, AARO continues to release information that is subpar in quality of presentation as well as empty in substance. The data is tied into the over-classification web, which means skewed data, and the lack of eyes obfuscated behind a hyper-compartmentalized public sector means there is no assurance that the data released is even close to being accurate. Publicly funded institutes must be held accountable by the public, not behind a hidden board of advisors not privy to Congress. It’s time the people remember who AARO serves. AARO should use our money to research and release more concrete answers, not for lies that benefit the few in the know. Many in our government acknowledge this and work daily to detangle the web. But do we? We must keep our representatives accountable and remind them that an incompetent organization is misusing our tax dollars and is in dire need of new leadership. 

The logic behind overclassification is an error in reasoning based on being fearfully reactive in hiding rather than strategically proactive in using the information for a greater purpose. However, we should consider the American strategic influence gained from declassifying this information. If the information could put America in a disadvantageous state in the geopolitical theater, then there is zero incentive to release it. Reverse-engineered technologies or information tied into defensive policy will remain classified for the foreseeable future. The only incentive to release such information is if the United States steps to the plate and pushes for an interplanetary defense initiative, a concept explored in my paper. A united space defense force working with the same mission of global security, R&D of the most cutting-edge technology with a focus on space usage, and pioneering space colonization with the international private sector will open the door to funding, staffing, brainpower, and a funnel to mitigate humanities war against the self and battle against the mystery that is space. But it begins with transparency. 

Works Cited

Center for Strategic and International Studies. “’;;.’” ‘;’ – YouTube, CSIS, March 9, 2019, Accessed November 4, 2023.

CSIS. “’;;.’” ‘;;’ – YouTube, Center for Strategic & International Studies, 9 March 2019, Accessed November 4, 2023.

Labreche, Anton. “Lighting the Dark Forest: An expository on UAP disclosure and its implications.”. – YouTube, KLU Media, October 2, 2022, Accessed November 4, 2023.

Sharp, Christopher, and Liberation Times. “Pentagon’s UFO Office Prepares To Release More Information On February Shootdowns Following Its Latest Report.” October 31, 2023. Pentagon’s UFO Office Prepares To Release More Information On February Shootdowns Following Its Latest Report, Accessed November 4, 2023.

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