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Sen. Gillibrand still on hunt for hidden SAPs: "If there are any programs, we are not read in"
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Sen. Gillibrand still on hunt for hidden SAPs: "If there are any programs, we are not read in"

Ep. 249 — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also discusses the UAPDA (6-18-2024)
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The congressional press corps awaits news in the Senate Radio TV Gallery. Photo: Matt Laslo

Who?

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — Armed Services & Intelligence Committees 

LISTEN: Laslo & Gillibrand 

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Ask a Pol asks:

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) tells Asl a Pol your guy’s UAPDA amendment from last year was maybe gonna get some tweaks in  this year's NDAA — or National Defense Authorization Act — any update?

Key Gillibrand: 

“I don't know that there was anything in the NDAA about that. I’ve made sure we fully funded the AARO [All-domain Anomaly Resolution] Office. So that was the part I worked on, was funding for AARO. I don't know if there's anything about disclosures,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand exclusively tells Ask a Pol. “I did, I think, in the final bill, I think it’s included, my provision that says you can't have any SAPs [Special Access Programs] that aren’t disclosed.” 

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Caught our ear:

“I have no reason to believe that there are SAPs that exist or don't exist,” Gillibrand explains. “I have no basis to know one way or the other. I just know the provisions that I've tried to include would try to guarantee that we know about all SAPs.”

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Presidential SAPs?

“For example, I don't know if there are presidential SAPs. Meaning, I don't know if there's legal structure, under our framework, for presidents to put Special Access Programs for president eyes only. And if that exists, then I don't know about it. But I don't think that should exist based on balance of powers and based on the fact that Congress is responsible for allocating money,” Gillibrand tells us. 

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ICYMI — We alert Gillibrand of UAP Caucus probe

Department of Energy SAPs?

“I don't have oversight of the Department of Energy. I have oversight over the Department of Defense and Intel,” Gillibrand tells Ask a Pol’s Matt Laslo. “So I can follow up on that and ask my colleagues who are on the right committee, Energy and Commerce, if they've ever looked into it.” 

That's so interesting to hear Senators be like, ‘Yeah, I don't know.’

“Well we aren’t read in. If there are any programs, we are not read in,” Gillibrand says. “That's all I can say.”

But you’re the f*cking United States Congress!

Keep spreading the word!

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Below find a rough transcript of Ask a Pol’s exclusive interview with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), slightly edited for clarity.

TRANSCRIPT: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

SCENE: Ask a Pol’s Matt Laslo is on the 3rd floor of the Capitol running to grab his bag before rushing to an off-campus meeting. On his way to the Senate Radio-TV Gallery tucked up in a 4th floor attic — many senators have their hideaway offices tucked on the other side of the media gallery — he bumps into Gillibrand and an aide. 

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Laslo stops. Chats. Then proceeds to ride the Senators Only elevator down with Gillibrand. Laslo starts by asking about NASA Administrator Bill Nelson’s closed-door visit with Senate Dems last week, but once Gillibrand says she didn’t make it, Laslo hops to crypto (that portion of the interview is dropping Monday in Ask a Pol’s crypto vertical) before jumping to UAPs. 

Matt Laslo: “What are you up by my office for, ma’am?”

Kristen Gillibrand: “Hey.” 

ML: “Were you in there for Bill Nelson last week when he addressed the caucus?” 

ICYMI — Ask a Pol’s exclusive with the head of NASA 

KG: “I wasn’t there.”

ML: “No?”

KG: “How was it? What was it on?” 

ML: “I don't know. Space.”  

KG: “He’s probably talking about NASA.”

ML: “Yeah, I bet it was on NASA, but I don’t know what he discussed.” 

Gillibrand and her aide are entering the elevator and Laslo slides in and plays doorman. 

Elevator Announcer: “3rd floor. Going down.”

ML: “Any update on your crypto measure?” 

KG: “So, off the record.”

ML: “Yeah?” 

Gillibrand goes off the record on digital assets for just over :30 seconds. The stablecoin portion of our interview is dropping Monday in Ask a Pol’s crypto vertical. Here, we just cut straight to the UAP section of the impromptu interview. 

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ML: “Yeah? Now, when is comes — separate — UAPs because I always ask you about it. Any talk? Rounds said that your guy’s amendment from last year was maybe gonna get some tweaks in this year's NDAA.”

KG: “Which amendment?” 

ML: “The UAPDA. It’s with [Sen.] Schumer, you, [Sen.] Heinrich and [Sen.] Rounds, [Sen.] Rubio — it was the six of you on it.” 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s been mum on his UAPDA amendment to the NDAA this year. Photo: Matt Laslo

KG: “Making data and information public?” 

ML: “Yeah.”

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KG: “I don't know that there was anything in the NDAA about that. I’ve made sure we fully funded the AARO [All-domain Anomaly Resolution] Office.”

ML: “Yeah?” 

KG: “So that was the part I worked on, was funding for AARO. I don't know if there's anything about disclosures.” 

ML: “Yeah?” 

KG: “I did, I think, in the final bill, I think it’s included, my provision that says you can't have any SAPs [Special Access Programs] that aren’t disclosed.” 

ML: “Yeah? Do you still trust — because Sen. Rounds told me that he doesn't trust that Congress knows about all SAPs?” 

KG: “I have no reason to believe that there are SAPs that exist or don't exist.” 

ML: “Yeah?” 

Gillibrand laughs, then Laslo laughs. 

KG: “I have no basis to know one way or the other. I just know the provisions that I've tried to include would try to guarantee that we know about all SAPs.”

ML: “Well it’s interesting over in the House…” 

KG: “For example, I don't know if there are presidential SAPs.” 

ML: “Interesting.” 

KG: “Meaning, I don't know if there's legal structure, under our framework, for presidents to put Special Access Programs for president eyes only. And if that exists, then I don't know about it. But I don't think that should exist based on balance of powers and based on the fact that Congress is responsible for allocating money.” 

ML: “Do you think your amendment would weed that out?” 

KG: “That’s what I'm trying to do.” 

ML: “Yeah? Interesting, because over in the House, the UAP Caucus, they were just pressing the Secretary of Energy on kind of their role with this.” 

KG: “I don't know if there's Department of Energy SAPs that we don't know about.” 

ML: “Yeah?” 

KG: “But again, I don't have oversight of the Department of Energy. I have oversight over the Department of Defense and Intel. So I can follow up on that and ask my colleagues who are on the right committee, Energy and Commerce, if they've ever looked into it.” 

ML: “Because that's so interesting for me to hear Senators be like, ‘Yeah, I don't know.’” 

KG: “Well we aren’t read in. If there are any programs, we are not read in. That's all I can say.”

ML: “But you’re the f*cking United States Congress!”

Both laugh. 

ML: “Preciate Ya.”  

KG: “Thank you.”

ML: “Have a good one.”

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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.

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You watch the skies, we watch lawmakers. Veteran Washington correspondent Matt Laslo takes you inside the US Capitol as he pesters politicians with your questions! Ship them in to Laslo at AskaPol.com.