Daniel Sheehan, J.D.-UAP: Washington under pressure?

Renowned attorney Daniel Sheehan described during a noteworthy interview the power struggles unfolding in Washington regarding the study of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP).


Published 2023-05-24 at 04:35

Reading Reading 13 min.

On May 18, constitutionalist lawyer Daniel Sheehan detailed the struggles and pressures ongoing in the U.S. Congress regarding the attempts to pass legislation forcing the executive, the military, and the intelligence community to yield before legislative oversight concerning the UAP study. The interview was conducted by Chrissy Newton, founder of VOCAB communications and podcaster for The Debrief.

Attorney at Law

For decades, Juris Doctor Daniel Sheehan has been a thorn in the US Government's side, advocating against its culture of secrecy - pointed out as a real problem in recent years by the likes of its own director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. Sheehan has built his legend through his participation in numerous, high-profile cases: the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate break-in, Black Panther 21, Wounded Knee, Three-Mile Island, and Iran-contra

As early as 1977, he got involved in UAP, facilitating the study of the phenomenon, and later defending Dr John. E Mack. This Harvard psychologist had been attacked by Dean Daniel C. Tosteson after Mack had published a study of the abduction phenomenon.

Jimmy Carter 1976 presidential campaign poster, public domain


The interview begins with Daniel Sheehan explaining how he first started working on UAP after Marcia Smith, head of the Congressional research service Science and Technology Division, asked him to fulfill a peculiar task given by President Carter: finding out if there was a relationship between UAP and extraterrestrial intelligence. President Carter was indeed interested in that topic after witnessing a flying disc when he was governor of Georgia. Mrs. Smith asked if he would contact the Vatican through the Jesuit Order in Washington DC to access their archives about UAP. The request was ultimately denied by the Vatican, but that episode allowed Sheehan to deliver a closed-door 3-hour seminar on the theological implications of extraterrestrial contacts to the head scientist of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the SETI program. 

Later in the Interview, Sheehan details the numerous initiatives he’s been part of regarding UAP studies:

  • The 2001 Disclosure Project
  • The 2013 Citizen Hearings
  • Legal Counseling for Lue Elizondo
  • Securing information for Senate and House Intelligence committees briefings
Daniel Sheehan, Citizen Hearings, still picture, Under Fair Use for Information

The Law

The conversation then dives deep  into the dispute around the several attempts by both the House and Senate to create a real UAP office with authority, funds, and means to access any piece of information in and outside the United States Government (USG):

“The Senate passed a bill 4503 that was very aggressive and got into great detail - and was very forward-leaning, actually - to demand that this office [...] was called the Unidentified Aerospace and Undersea Phenomenon Joint Program Office, but it was very complicated that [...] they couldn't figure out any kind of a short name for it. But it was in that bill [that] they actually demanded some 84 different tasks that were assigned to this new office. [...] One of them was that they were to take aggressive steps to protect any of the people in the military services or in the intelligence agencies or military contractors that wanted to come forward and share this information”.

He then explains that the bill also contained a clause requiring that any whistleblower had to first be evaluated by the FBI to have the right to share information. Considering his experience with the Bureau, he lobbied for that part to be removed. He then explains one of the most potent parts of that bill:

“If anybody tried to retaliate against a person who was trying to come forward and provide information to the Senate intelligence committee, that would generate a legal cause of action that the victim of such an attack would have against the person who did it, no matter where they were inside the government.”

He later insists:

“That really constituted teeth in a bill like that, those of us who were in communication with the staff and at the Senate intelligence committee were extremely supportive of such a provision.”

Sheehan goes on explaining that not only that bill would have given defense to whistleblowers, but it also would have required the information divulged to the committee to include “any effort to re-engineer or back engineer any of this technology”. He adds that senators would then include even more requests for the executive branch to “not give them any leeway”.

Senate Bill 4503, public domain

The Counter

But ultimately that bill would be thwarted :

“When it went over to the House side, a series of peculiar things started to happen, [...] there was a more resistant response on the part of the House members that were being lobbied by the executive branch, there wasn’t any doubt about it, and by the military and the CIA and the others who had kept secret this information for 75 years”.

Sheehan then explains how the change from “Aerospace” to “Anomalous” in the bill allowed the investigation to spread to all types of phenomena of low interest for the study of advanced crafts. According to him, this, along with the 4-year limited lifespan of the UAP office, signaled every agency unwilling to cooperate that they just needed to drag their heels during this period while feeding the UAP Office with noise about ghosts and weather phenomena.

He then describes how Senate Bill 4503 was dismantled and digested inside House Bill 7776, which finally ended as part of the National Defense Authorization. He explains that it was the reason why he created a 501c3, a public interest citizens organization based on what the 4503 should have been, and named the New Paradigm Institute.

Its goal is to:

“monitor how effectively the House and Senate intelligence committees and defense committees are making the office do its job, then see how effectively the new AARO office is making the military services cough up this information”.

He was lucid about the difficulty of the task, adding:

“The Intelligence Community was going to be the hardest of course. The Intelligence Community will classify the size of your shoes if they can get away with it. They're just obsessive about making everything secret because they've used secrecy. Information is power in Washington, in the world, and so they think that if they uniquely possess the information, they're in a position of power. And it's a certain affliction that our intelligence Community has had since the creation of the National Security State back in 1947. And it's become kind of a major public policy problem.”

Picture by Martin Falbisoner - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Plan

To achieve his goal, he declared working with Lue Elizondo, Christopher Mellon, and others that were originally involved in 4503 to ensure that the information was being conveyed to the Senate. He then regretted that 7776 was devoid of any enforcement of the 72-hour limit for AARO to transmit information to Congress, insisting that proper enforcement clauses had to exist for a bill to be applied in full. One of the other problems could be that the executive branch could decide to overclassify a whistleblower’s testimony, preventing the information from ever reaching Congress.

He also planned to meet “with some of the people in the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, on both sides. Marco Rubio and Mark Warner's staff, who are focusing on this, who were involved in, helping to draft it, to come up with a set of guidelines that they believe would be effective”.

His goal is the implementation of “a carefully kept log of any person who contacts the AARO Office, of the exact time and date of their contact an exact record of what the information is that they've been given”.

He added that they are currently looking at “the atomic energy act from 1954 because [the executive branch] have this long practice of invoking them effectively and saying “the propulsion system of these UAP [is] a form of energy so we're going to put it under the atomic energy act.”  The atomic energy commission deals with military uses of nuclear weapons material, the minute you raise that stuff everybody goes “woo! wait a second! that's got to be super secret! We've got to be extremely careful about it!”

Regarding the executive branch agencies: “they have historically viewed the Congress as an adversary to their interests”, and even if a new law managed to pass, “we have to remain ever vigilant here, especially those of us who are convinced that this is an extraordinarily important issue”.

Future Paths

We are the four generations that are alive right now that are actually going to be crafting the policies that are going to govern our relationship with a potential extraterrestrial civilization [...] for the next 10 000 years. All this is going to be done right in the next 10-year period, this is an extraordinarily important time for our human family to stay focused on this issue, and to not let the forces of the National Security State in the intelligence communities and the weapons industry and all of those people continue to be as successful as they have been for the past 75 years. 

The interview concludes with sobering notes regarding Freedom of Information Access’ (FOIA) loopholes for private companies and its 22 exemptions, the fact that pressure groups “took away the threat of seriously punishing anybody who seeks retribution”, declaring that “there are no reparations for anybody legally right now that has experience, [that] has been serving within the government, [and] has had some form of UAP experience that's been negative” even though insurance companies agreed to do so. He then expands the argument to individuals that have had their careers ruined by talking about UAP. 

He notes that in the current legislation:

“There's nothing in the bill that, for example, provides immunity to anybody who comes forward and admits that they were engaged in some sort of criminal activity to conceal this information. There's [...] a major demand on the part of a lot of people inside the National Security State’s infrastructure to have some sort of immunity if they're going to come forward and talk about what it is they've done, what it is they've known about, and they don't want to come forward unless they've got access to some kind of immunity against being prosecuted for it.”


One of the most interesting parts of the interview comes at the very end, on an ever darker note, as Sheehan explains the concept of catastrophic disclosure, a recurring theme in the meetings he has participated in:

“These people that are on the inside, that know a lot about, what it is that's been discovered about the UAP or UFO phenomenon, they keep saying “we have to be extremely careful not to allow catastrophic disclosure” [...] They were just testing me to see what I thought of that, and I would say …I would think that that's heinous but there's a lot of heinous activity that I've already publicly exposed about the government over the last 50 years, and the government hasn't fallen! But it's true that there is a substantial diminution of confidence in the integrity of our government.”

“I don't think that there's any evidence that is going to be completely devastating or catastrophic to the continued functioning of our government. What is going to be revealed in the information that they've concealed, I could be wrong, they could surprise me even after 50 years, that they've been doing something worse than I've already discovered, and they probably assume that I'd be inclined to tell everybody about it, and I'll just have to make that decision when the time comes, if it comes.”

But one question remains… Who in the House of Representatives agreed to cave in and help drown Senate Bill 4503?

Main Picture : Robmodd, CC BY-SA 3.0, Under Fair Use for Information

Baptiste Friscourt

Born in 1986, this certified visual arts teacher started looking for reliable information on UAP in 2017 at the request of his students. Since then, he's been covering UAP research in France for The Debrief while vulgarizing international content on a demonetized platform of his own which was named Explorer Lab. After serving as Editor-in-Chief of UAP Check News between February 2023 and January 2024, he is currently editor-in-chief of Sentinel News.