Ask a Pol
Listening to lawmakers with Laslo, UAPs
EXCLUSIVE – Sen. Rounds on NDAA UAP provision: “It's not what we wanted, but it's a step in the right direction”
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EXCLUSIVE – Sen. Rounds on NDAA UAP provision: “It's not what we wanted, but it's a step in the right direction”

Ep. 98 — Sen. Mike Rounds also complains AARO is "collecting items, they're not really disseminating items” (12-14-2023)
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This year’s NDAA conference committee revealed there are still UAP conversations taking place in the Capitol that are kept secret from senators. Photo: Matt Laslo

The US House has now passed the National Defense Authorization Act—or NDAA—conference committee report, which means it’s on its way to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature before it becomes the law of the land. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) is the lead Republican sponsor of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s bipartisan Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Disclosure Act, hence Schumer and Rounds had a colloquy on UAPs during the Senate NDAA debate yesterday.  

“It's not what we wanted, but it's a step in the right direction,” Rounds exclusively tells Ask a Pol. “It brings attention to the need for additional transparency.”

The NDAA is a must-pass annual measure, so even as the sweeping, 3,000+ page measure just passed both chambers of Congress, negotiations are already underway for the next one. And Rounds is promising to continue fighting for their original measure, 

“I think an independent commission is still the best way to go,” Rounds says. 

The former governor of South Dakota also let us in on what he thinks of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office—or AARO. He voices concern—for the first time we’ve heard—over AARO limitations, namely, that it’s housed within the Department of Defense and thus internally-focused on Pentagon programs.   

“AARO is a part of DOD. Well, this goes beyond DOD. This requires cooperation by other agencies as well,” Rounds says. “That's the reason we wanted to separate it out, because we want it to be all encompassing.”

Rounds also criticizes—in his South Dakota nice sort of way—how AARO is failing to inform the public and lawmakers alike, though his ultimate concern remains national security (read: secrecy). 

“AARO is working, but AARO is just for DOD. And while they're collecting items, they're not really disseminating items,” Rounds says. “So we would like to have some transparency, but we also want to make darn sure that we protect our national security interests as well.” 

Ask a Pol also presses Rounds on where the opposition to the Senate UAP amendment came from, specifically asking if it was House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner. Rounds seems to have the same questions the UFO community has, even if he’s failed to get a solid answer thus far. 

“I don't. I had talked to them. And I know that they had some concerns, but I don't know if the concerns were such that it would stop it,” Rounds says. “So I, honestly, don't know where the actual stop was at within the process.” 

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Matt Laslo’s a veteran congressional correspondent, new media prof. & founder of Ask a Pol — a new, people-powered press corps, asking your questions at the Capitol. @Ask_a_Pol (or @askpols).

Ask a Pol is a new, people-powered press corps, asking your lawmakers your questions at your US Capitol. Follow us on the socials @Ask_a_Pol (or @askpols on Insta). 

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Below find a rough transcript of Ask a Pol’s exclusive interview with Sen. Mike Rounds, slightly edited for clarity. 

TRANSCRIPT:

Matt Laslo: “How you doin’ sir?” 

Mike Rounds: “Hey, good. How you doing?” 

ML: “Still standing. What do you make of the changes to your UAP amendment?” 

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MR: “It's not what we wanted, but it's a step in the right direction. And it brings attention to the need for additional transparency. I would really like to have the commission. And if we can negotiate on the commission, that's fine, in terms of who is on it, but I think an independent commission is still the best way to go.” 

ML: “Do you know who pulled the levers? Was it Chair Turner?” 

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Ask a Pol
Listening to lawmakers with Laslo, UAPs
I cover Congress different. I listen. Learning daily. Even while throwing stones at all the glass houses. This will be a stream of my noteworthy interviews. They're conducted at the US Capitol, if not otherwise noted. Matt Laslo is a veteran congressional reporter, Johns Hopkins University lecturer, fmr. Vice News Tonight/HBO correspondent, etc.