Media

NYT Reporter, Helene Cooper on Luis Elizondo and UFOs: “What Came Out Of His Mouth Was Absolutely Extraordinary.”

20 Dec , 2018  

“[Elizondo’s] completely credible. Yes, I did believe him. The first conversation I had with him at that hotel, we were there for about four hours, I think. And he’s sitting and we’re going through and he’s showing me documents and pictures and videos and all of this stuff.”

~ Helene Cooper, NYT Reporter

~~~~~

By Joe Murgia – @ufojoe11 on Twitter

Helene Cooper is a Pulitzer-Prize winning, Pentagon correspondent (and former White House correspondent) for the New York Times. Cooper previously worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal for twelve years. In the ground-breaking New York Times article on the Pentagon’s UFO program, her name is listed first. The Pentagon is her beat and unlike her two co-authors, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean, Cooper doesn’t have any experience writing about or investigating, UFOs. Keep that in mind when reading this transcript or listening to the podcast. Hopefully, for some of you, this is something you missed the first time around.

On your laptop or desktop, you can listen to this episode of “The Daily” at the NYT site, here.

To avoid the NYT article limit, iPhone/Apple users can listen here.

Android users, try here and here.

(It may not seem clear at first but Barbaro is the one interviewing Elizondo.)

~~~~~~~~~~

Michal Barbaro – Intro: Today.- Military footage of flying objects that can’t be explained. A decade of hidden funding in the government budget. A (New York) Times investigation discovers a secret program, inside the Pentagon, to investigate the threat of UFOs. It’s Monday, December 18th (2017).

~~~~~

Barbaro: “Helene, you cover the Pentagon for the Times. And my sense is that it’s a very secretive organization that holds information tightly. I assume a lot of your reporting is built around confidential sources, right?”

Helene Cooper: “Yeah, an enormous amount of my reporting is built on confidential sources. But usually, the tips that I get and the stories that I am chasing, tend to be about air strikes, about things that the military is doing around the world – about North Korea, about Niger, Syria, Iraq. But recently, I got a tip and found myself chasing a story that took me completely in a different direction than anything I had ever tried to do before. And after a series of phone calls, I found myself  in a nondescript hotel lobby near Union Station in Washington, D.C. with a high level intelligence source from the Pentagon.”

~~~

Luis Elizondo: “Oh boy. I’ve spent a good portion, if not all of my career, pretty much remaining in the shadows. For me, that was more of a professional necessity.”

~~~

Cooper: “Luis Elizondo, who had just resigned his job at the Defense Department. He’s an intel officer, so these are a totally different breed of people. They tend to be really spooky guys. They’re very secretive. They tend to be more paranoid. There was a lot of looking over to make sure nobody was seeing us. He sat with his back to the wall. He said, because he wanted to see if anybody came in. There was a lot of that kind of stuff. But, when you put all of that aside, what came out of his mouth was absolutely extraordinary. He sat across the table from me in this hotel lobby and said that he had been running a program at the Pentagon, looking into UFOs.”

Barbaro: “UFOs?”

Cooper: “Yeah, that’s what I thought.

~~~

Barbaro: “Can you just explain the name of the program?”

Elizondo: “Sure. Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.”

Barbaro: “And why threat?”

Elizondo: “Well, I mean, The Department of Defense, keep in mind…the name of the department is, The Department of Defense. It’s a national security organization. It’s job is to identify, and if necessary, neutralize, any threats to U.S. national security. It is a very significant mission of the department. So, typically, missions in the department involve fighting wars and identifying threats. Whether that be chemical threats, biological threats, missile threats, you name it. Any threat du jour, right? In this particular case, advanced aerospace threats.”

~~~

Barbaro: “This is program to try to identify…UFOs.”

Cooper: “Yes. It was a…it’s a program to investigate sightings of UFOs. particularly among military service members – pilots, Navy pilots, Air Force pilots…and to chronicle them. And also, to look at the technology involved in some of the objects in the hopes of eventually being able to reverse-engineer the things that these people believe that they have seen.”

(Snippet of Gimbal UFO audio plays and is interspersed throughout the next few sentences.)

~~~

Elizondo: “These are very, I believe, very compelling videos.”

~~~

Cooper: “What you’re looking at is what the pilots, the control operators are looking at when they’re looking at the computer screen during the middle of an F-18 flight. They’re seeing an object, that seems to have a force field – as they describe it – around it, that’s hovering, before it suddenly disappears out of the sky as soon as they think that they’re getting a radar lock on it.”

Barbaro: “So Helene, it sounds like the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program is interviewing American, military personnel, including pilots who have seen things that they can’t quite identify. And that, that’s part of the evidence gathering.”

Cooper: “That is part of the evidence gathering.”

~~~

Elizondo: “So what this particular video demonstrates is an object, otherwise referred to as a Tic Tac, by some of the pilots. A small, white craft. To the untrained observer, it might not look like anything but a blurry, little dot.”

Barbaro: “Is that why it looks like a Tic Tac? It literally looks like Tic Tac?”

Elizondo: “It literally looks like a Tic Tac, yes. It literally is an object that has no flight surfaces, no apparent type of thrust mechanism. Something that is hovering. Something that is demonstrating extreme maneuverability. Sudden accelerations beyond the G Forces of what we would consider healthy acceleration. And velocities that are very, very compelling to us.”

Barbaro: “So, in other words, it’s moving in a way that does not resemble anything, human made.”

Elizondo: “Right. Something that would be, for example, sitting in a complete hover and then, all of a sudden, darts off screen at an incredible velocity that, if you don’t know what you’re looking at, it may look like the screen just kind of pans away. But in reality, that’s not the case. What you’re looking at is an object that’s moving off of the field of view, at a very far distance away, at an incredible velocity.”

Barbaro: “And what do you make of that?”

Elizondo: “Well, speaking to you not as someone from the Department of Defense,  I think it’s very curious. I would submit to you…I haven’t seen anything that can do that. And I think many people who’ve witnessed this, would agree.”

Barbaro: “So these videos are just what’s been declassified. I understand you can’t talk about what is classified. Is this just a small percentage of what this program has documented and collected and seen?”

Elizondo: “Yes.”

Barbaro: “Yes?”

Elizondo: “Yes.”

~~~

Barbaro: “Helene, did you believe him when he said this? Did this seem credible at first?”

Cooper: “He’s completely credible. Yes, I did believe him. The first conversation I had with him at that hotel, we were there for about four hours, I think. And he’s sitting and we’re going through and he’s showing me documents and pictures and videos and all of this stuff. It seemed completely credible to me, in the moment. But then, I get on the Metro afterwards and I’m thinking, ‘What have I just listened…’ And the further away I got from the interview, the less believable it seemed. You know, it’s as if you’re in this interview and you’re hearing this stuff and it makes complete sense to you. And then you walk away and you’re back in the real world. And I’m sitting on the Metro in Washington, thinking, ‘Is this actually for real?'”

Barbaro: “So the doubts begin to creep in?”

Cooper: “The doubts begin to creep in right away. But, I realized pretty early on, it’s not for me to determine whether UFOs exist. I’m a defense department reporter. This is what I write about. Once I got my head around that, it sort of made it easier for me to figure out what my reporting objective was. And that was basically, to confirm that there was a program going on at the Pentagon and to find out as much about it as I could.”

Barbaro: “So where did this program actually come from? This crazy sounding but real government program.”

Cooper: “It turns out that it started in 2007 through the former Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, who only in January ended a thirty year, Senate career. Harry Reid has had a long time interest in UFOs that he got from his friend, Robert Bigelow. Robert Bigelow is a billionaire, aerospace company executive who has had an interest in UFOs for decades.”

(Audio clip from “60 Minutes” interview with Robert Bigelow plays)

Lara Logan: “Do you believe in aliens?”

Robert Bigelow: “I’m absolutely convinced. That’s all there is to it.”

Cooper: “He’s definitely a true believer. And he has said, on TV and he said to us that he believes that, you know, we’re not alone. He believes that aliens exist and that UFOs have visited this planet.”

Robert Bigelow: “There has been and is an existing presence. An ET presence. And I spent millions and millions. I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United State has ever spent on this subject.”

Lara Logan: “Is it risky for you, you know, to say in public that you believe in UFOs and aliens?”

Bigelow: “I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.”

Cooper: “And that’s sort of where it all started. Within a year or so, Mr. Reid got a defense appropriations subcommittee to put money into…black money into the Pentagon budget to fund a program to look into this.”

Barbaro: “Helene, when you say black money, what exactly does that mean?”

Cooper: “So, there was twenty-two million dollars that Harry Reid got for the program in 2007. He went through fellow Senators Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye from Alaska and Hawaii. And they were able to slip this into the Defense Intelligence Agency funding. And the funding for the DIA is classified anyway so that brings us back to black money. Black money, as it turns out, is money that Congress allocates for programs that are either classified or they don’t want anybody to know about. Now we all know that there’a a lot of things that the government does that they don’t want the average American to know about and that’s where this comes into. It’s the sort of money that you can’t find in a budget line. When we first went looking for the program, I stupidly thought I could just call up the budget from 2007 and look at the defense appropriations. And I’m not going to tell you how many hours I wasted trying to find it until we finally threw up our hands and gave up. And it wasn’t until I flew to Las Vegas and met with Harry Reid, and he told me, on the record, about getting this funding for the program that I really, actually believed that it existed.”

Barbaro: “So this is a very secret and not highly regarded program, within the defense world. So why were these three Senators on board, as best you can tell?”

Cooper: “Well Harry Reid said to me during our interview that when he went to Ted Stevens to talk to him about the program, he said it was like pushing on a open door. That Senator Ted Stevens was immediately interested in and told him that when he was a U.S. Army pilot back in World War II, he had had an experience where he thought that he was trailed by an object, for miles in the air…that he never knew what it was. He thought immediately that this was something the United States government should be looking into but that was never really followed up on. He told his immediate superiors about it but it never went anywhere after that.”

Barbaro: “So like many of these pilots, he had seen something and didn’t quite understand what he had seen.”

Cooper: “Yes.”

Barbaro: “Why do you think that the man who used to run this program agreed to talk about it, publicly…with The Times?”

Cooper: “I think he was frustrated. The program is secret and the people who are operating it tend to be true believers. And they’ve complained about excessive secrecy, they say. And they also complain that in the greater world of the Pentagon they are laughed at and sometimes ridiculed by people who have…who don’t believe that we should be looking into that sort of research. Or military chain of command who…they say are afraid of investigating or launching investigations into some of these sightings because they think that that’s gonna interfere with their promotion once they start becoming known as, you know, a commanding general who’s interested in UFOs. So two months ago, Elizondo got fed up and he wrote a letter of resignation to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, complaining about the lack of support for the program. And saying that excessive secrecy was preventing people from being able to do their jobs.”

~~~

Elizondo: “Look, the folks over at DoD are absolutely some of the finest individuals I have ever had the pleasure and honor to serve with. As for our secretary? Secretary Mattis? I can tell you from personal experience, he is absolutely one the greatest leaders this nation has ever had. The secretary inherited a department that historically was never really organized or set up to deal with a challenge like this. Keeping in mind, that the secretary, on a daily basis, is dealing with issues from nuclear weapons, potentially in North Korea, to ISIS in Syria to terrorism in Africa. And of course, military commissions in Guantanamo Bay. So, in defense of the department, please keep in mind that the phenomena that I was involved with is really hard to identify. And not only is it hard to identify, it’s even harder to define and almost impossible to discuss. So, not only were we trying to figure out what the phenomena is. But at the same time, trying to fight the forces within the department, that in some cases, stigmatized and delegitimatized the topic.”

Barbaro: “Lue, put simply, what is the sitgma?”

Elizondo: “Well, that’s a great question, Michael. I think we’re entering an area of actual evidence. We’ve reached a moment of critical mass of credible witnesses. And these are witnesses that are in charge of multi-million dollar weapon platforms with, in some cases, the highest level of security clearances. And they’re trained observers. So, when these individuals are trying to report something – ‘Hey, I saw this, when I was flying’ – that can be turned around and people say, ‘Hey look, if you’re crazy, you know, there goes your flight status,’ right? Or all of a sudden now, commander so and so, in charge of this very elite fighter wing, will no longer be taken seriously. In fact, people are gonna start to judge whether or not…maybe, you know…our friend here might not be a little bit crazy or maybe some loose screws. And that’s always a threat to these people’s career. And let’s face it, these people to pay their taxes. They have to pay their mortgages. They have families. They’re putting their kids through school. And frankly, they’re just really good patriots and they wanna do the right thing. And that stigma is pretty powerful. It stops a lot of people from reporting something that maybe they would normally report”

Barbaro: “But you learned in this position you had at the Pentagon, that many, top military pilots had seen things that they couldn’t explain. And in many cases, they had caught them on video, inside their planes. But that they might have still been nervous to talk about it, right?”

Elizondo: “Sure, Absolutely.”

Barbaro: “So you resigned because you were leading a program that couldn’t really be discussed inside the Pentagon. It was that secretive. And that wasn’t being taken as seriously as you felt it needed to be and should be. And you wanted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to know about it and realize how important it might be. And you felt that could only happen from the outside.”

Elizondo: “Yes. That is absolutely correct.”

~~~~~

Joe’s Comments

Cooper: “He’s an intel officer, so these are a totally different breed of people. They tend to be really spooky guys. They’re very secretive. They tend to be more paranoid. There was a lot of looking over to make sure nobody was seeing us. He sat with his back to the wall. He said, because he wanted to see if anybody came in. There was a lot of that kind of stuff.”

In February, Elizondo was the guest on OmniTalk Radio with host, Giuliano Marinkovic.  During that interview, he spoke about threats.”

“Since I’ve left, I’ve received two threats from people inside that building. To me, it’s almost unfathomable. I’ve had my security clearance threatened. An then I had somebody call me and actually tell me maybe I should be threatened for my personal safety. Now that kind of seems crazy and a little bit ridiculous, I understand. But it nonetheless happened.” ~Luis Elizondo

If Elizondo was receiving threats, it’s no wonder he kept his back to the wall and made sure he had a good view of anybody coming into the room as he was being interviewed by Cooper. That’s not paranoia. That’s called being careful and smart.

~~~

Cooper: “it’s not for me to determine whether UFOs exist. I’m a defense department reporter.”

UFOs exist. The question has always been, “Who’s behind the wheel?”

~~~

Cooper: “What you’re looking at is what the pilots, the control operators are looking at when they’re looking at the computer screen during the middle of an F-18 flight. They’re seeing an object, that seems to have a force field – as they describe it – around it, that’s hovering, before it suddenly disappears out of the sky as soon as they think that they’re getting a radar lock on it.”

It seems like Cooper is describing the Gimbal video because the audio from that encounter is playing right before she talks about the object hovering/disappearing. But we’ve never seen or heard how the Gimbal event ended. Did it suddenly disappear out of the sky? If so, this is new information. Or did Cooper confuse the Gimbal with the Tic Tac incident, which DID disappear out of the sky after hovering? Until I hear a clarification from her, I’ll assume it’s the latter.

~~~

Cooper: “[Elizondo is] completely credible. Yes, I did believe him. The first conversation I had with him at that hotel, we were there for about four hours, I think. And he’s sitting and we’re going through and he’s showing me documents and pictures and videos and all of this stuff. It seemed completely credible to me, in the moment. But then, I get on the Metro afterwards and I’m thinking, ‘What have I just listened…’ And the further away I got from the interview, the less believable it seemed.”

To me, this is a perfect example of how some people, who are not into the subject of UFOs, will react when first confronted with this information. I’ve played Elizondo video interviews for friends and they all agree that he comes across as very credible. I then showed them the Pentagon videos and they found them interesting. But by the end of the day, their interest had waned and they’ve never brought it up again. Is it because the rational side of their brains just found it too outlandish to believe? Or, are they fearful of what it could mean for them/us if it’s real? Cooper gave us a little insight into her thoughts on the matter when she appeared on “The Beat w/ Ari Melber.”

“I’m afraid to even think about it.”

“It makes my head blow up to even think that far.”

I think there are a lot of people out there just like Helene Cooper. It’s too scary or potentially life-changing to even contemplate what it would mean for humanity if another race of beings was visiting and interacting with us. So they just ignore it vs. the alternative of contemplating what it means and having their heads blow up. 🙂

The other thing Cooper said that caught my attention is that she spent around four hours with Elizondo during their first meeting. And she was shown documents, videos and pictures. Pictures? What pictures? We have yet to see any pictures that the AATIP program collected or from To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science where Elizondo now works. For people clamoring for the chain of custody documents? I’m only speculating but I don’t think a reporter like Cooper, who covers the Pentagon for a living, would proceed without seeing those documents. Four hours. How long were the other meetings she had with Elizondo and how many times did they meet in total? Just curious.

~~~

Cooper: “it’s a program to investigate sightings of UFOs. particularly among military service members – pilots, Navy pilots, Air Force pilots…and to chronicle them. And also, to look at the technology involved in some of the objects in the hopes of eventually being able to reverse-engineer the things that these people believe that they have seen.”

Some people might accuse me of nitpicking here but if I were writing that article, I would have said, “the things that these people have seen.” There’s no belief involved. They’ve seen these objects and in many cases, they were picked up on multiple radars and witnessed by multiple service-members at the same time. Using the word “belief” or “believe” in that spot leaves open the possibility that they were hallucinating, confused, mistaken or anything other than just reporting what they saw.

CooperThe program is secret and the people who are operating it tend to be true believers.”

It’s great having a reporter with such a mainstream resume write about this subject. But occasionally, you’ll get some words that remind you of the ridicule we’ve all faced for even looking into this topic.  Cooper also described Robert Bigelow as a “true believer.” Not sure she realizes it but that’s a disparaging phrase used by debunkers to describes anyone who has come to the realization that some UFOs are physical objects which appear to defy gravity and are interacting with humanity on some level. To me, that’s not a “true believer.” That’s an informed person who has looked at the data and realized that this is a legitimate phenomenon.

~~~

The full appearance by Helene Cooper on “The Beat” can be viewed here. Note Chuck Todd’s reaction when Melber brings up UFOs. Thanks to Giuliano Marinkovic for unearthing this obscure interview.

© Joe Murgia and www.ufojoe.net, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Joe Murgia and www.ufojoe.net with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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