During a briefing with reporters earlier Thursday, NASA officials initially declined to release the director’s identity, citing potential threats.
“They’ve been working there for a while to help communicate during the probe,” NASA Associate Administrator Nicola Fox told reporters.
But when asked directly if he could name the officer, Fox was blunt: “We’re not going to release his name.”
However, on Thursday evening, NASA sent out an updated news release that included McInerney’s name and described his previous work as NASA’s liaison to the Pentagon, which included limited UAP operations for the agency. The publication explained the decision to name McInerney after refusing to do so earlier in the day.
A key reason for the initial secrecy was threats to members of the independent probe team, NASA Deputy Assistant Administrator Dan Evans told reporters.
Many members of the study were ridiculed on social media, received hate mail and were “warned” by their colleagues to stay away from researching such topics as it could damage their scientific credibility and promotion prospects, the report said.
“That’s why we’re not splashing our new director’s name on there, because science should be independent,” Evans said. “Of some [the incidents] elevated to real threats.”
It is unusual for a public official to remain anonymous, but NASA officials reiterated that a key component of the study is to remove the stigma surrounding those willing to report UFO sightings.
The research director will “develop and oversee NASA’s vision for UAP research,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, adding that the new director will “serve as NASA’s point of contact for government agencies,” Fox said.
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