By Joe Murgia
Ever since The New York Times published their story last year about the Pentagon’s UFO program, there’s been debate over the official name. In their article, The Times called it the “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.” Politico and The Washington Post used the word “Aviation” instead of “Aerospace.” Why such a discrepancy among top journalists? I thought to myself, “How hard is it to get the name right?” A few folks were saying that The Times had gotten it wrong. Leslie Kean was one of the authors of the NYT piece and was accessible on Facebook. I asked her to clarify and she told me that it was “Aerospace” and that “the Times got it right!” Former head of the AATIP program from 2010-2017, Luis Elizondo, had done numerous interviews and used the word “Aerospace” every time. Great! Case closed. If the guy who ran the program didn’t know the name, who would? Now I could get back to reading about some of the more interesting aspects of the program and related UFO videos that had been released. At least that’s what I thought.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guru, John Greenewald, submitted multiple requests for any documents related to the AATIP program and wrote about it on his infamous, “The Black Vault” site. Everything thus far has resulted in a “no records” determination. Greenewald speculated that this could mean one of three things:
1) The DoD is lying
2) The program is being blown out of proportion, is misinformation or doesn’t exist
3) The DoD doesn’t have an outline, mission statement or objectives of the program but it does exist.
Later in the article, Greenewald says, “I never once have said, or published, that AATIP was fake.” That seems like a contradiction to number 2. Greenewald has done amazing FOIA work over the years but in my opinion, for whatever reason, he seems to want to downplay what the AATIP program may have accomplished. You can read his article and judge for yourself. For me, this speculation by Greenewald, first posted on his site on January 12th of this year, gives some insight into his mindset:
“Senator Harry Reid doesn’t strike me as a UFO aficionado – but he does strike me as someone who loves his constituents that donate the big bucks. I think it’s a big possibility that this project, with the majority of the money going to Mr. Bigelow in Nevada, spearheaded by Senator Harry Reid, of Nevada, is nothing more than pork, and not motivated to better humanity, get answers or uncover the truth.”
Reid, in an interview with New York Magazine, explained how he became interested in UFOs. And the $22 million in funding that the program received, was over 5 year period. To a billionaire like Bigelow, that’s nothing. Plus, according to Elizondo, Bigelow Aerospace won the bid for the AATIP work, fair and square. There’s no evidence that the program was pork.
Greenewald was also told by Major Audricia Harris, spokesperson for the DoD, that the actual name of the program is “Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program.”
Go back to the three possibilities listed by Greenewald up above. Besides the fact that his FOIAs from the DIA haven’t been processed yet due to a huge backlog of requests, is there another possibility as to why they keep coming up empty? I went back to Leslie Kean and asked her for some insight into the documents that she and the NYT have in relation to Elizondo, AATIP and FOIA issues:
Yes, we (at the Times) have documents in our possession that show Elizondo and AATIP together – and AATIP documents that refer to UAP. Many documents. However, I seriously doubt that they are available through the FOIA. These are obscure documents that only a few people at the Pentagon are aware of. I would not be at all surprised if they had none of these documents on file. -Leslie
I also asked retired Colonel John B. Alexander, who has written and lectured extensively about UFOs, about the name and why he thought the FOIAs were coming up empty:
Filed my own FOIA without results. Name is right, think embarrassment level is high and this is not a priority for any agency.
On March 12th, researcher and filmmaker, Jeremy Corbell was the guest on “Midnight In The Desert” with then host, Heather Wade. The discussion turned to the various articles that were written about AATIP and what, if anything, the public had missed in those articles:
“They did mention Skinwalker Ranch and the ties to AATIP: A-A-T-I-P, all the way back to Skinwalker Ranch. And that is indeed something I’m going to examine in my film, because there is a connection. The $22 million, spearheaded by Harry Reid, was initiated due to his understanding out of Nevada and George Knapp, of Skinwalker Ranch. So that’s kind of how the ball got rolling. And then this AATIP program: Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, right? That was, you know, kind of funded, or participated in that funding. Although, it is my understanding, it’s not what’s said publicly but it is my clear understanding that AATIP existed far before the initiation of this $22 million and continues to this day.”
Corbell then moved onto the debate at hand: What is the proper name of the program?
“Let’s also get clear on the terminology. This is something people really used against, you know, the whole thing as well. So, it is Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. That’s what Lou Elizondo said his program was. That’s how I’ve always known about it, prior to any of this. Now, here’s the deal: People are saying, ‘Well, the Pentagon said it’s Aviation.’ And it is true. It’s very interesting. I went and scoured the web and found every official statement about this program from every press person from the Pentagon there was. Every single one of them, they only said two repeating statements. And one of the things that was said was that it’s Aviation Threat. So what’s where the confusion comes in. Maybe the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand’s doing? You have the guy, head of the program saying…the term was Aerospace. So, that’s something people need to consider as well. That is, from my best understanding, from inside and out, it is Aerospace.
“So there were three different Pentagon spokespeople that came out and all three of them only said two things. And that is the name of the program – although they said Aviation – and that it ended in 2012, which I know to be patently false. Lou has even said he’s pretty confident in telling us it’s false. And then they’re saying that it was determined that there were other higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the Department of Defense to make a change, which I know is also untrue. So now we’ve got two statements from Pentagon spokespeople that I know, both are false, from three different spokespeople.”
One person who has been using the Aviation/Aerospace controversy to question the credibility of Elizondo, To The Stars Academy and the validity of the AATIP program overall, has been radio host, Jimmy Church. On April 5th, a person named “Danny” called into Church’s show and had they had this exchange:
Danny: On Twitter today, you were saying that you don’t respect (Luis) Elizondo’s opinion.
Church: I don’t. I don’t.
Danny: I mean that guy’s worked at the Department of Defense.
Church: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. This is where you are putting all of your ducks in one basket. And you are entitled to do that, Danny. Okay. 100%. You want to put all of your faith on Elizondo and everybody else is wrong and Elizondo’s right?
Danny: I wouldn’t say 100% necessarily but I think we should listen to what the man’s been saying.
Church: I HAVE listened to what he has to say! And none of it…nothing out of his mouth has been true! These are his statements, not mine. When Elizondo says that he worked for AATIP, and he can’t get the name of that right? Then I got a problem. Those are his words, not mine.
Danny: How do we know that the name isn’t right?
Church: The Pentagon said it! (Laughs) The Pentagon said it!
* * * * *
Church: Before I go and have somebody that has stepped up to a microphone and said, I just retired and I got out of it…today I’m in the UFO community. Right? Trust me. I’m from the Pentagon. I am your savior! You need a track record. A track record. And that’s it. If it comes out man. A year from now. And Elizondo has just done everything right by us and everything is great and correct. And he’s fixed these errors from the past. And there’s answers for everything. Fantastic. Fantastic. But right now man, it is what it is. And when you go out and you literally say, Aerospace, Aerospace, Aerospace and it turns out that it’s Aviation. Alright?
Danny: Well that hasn’t happened though.
Church: I just told you it did. I just told you it did and I’ll stand by that.
Danny: We haven’t had confirmation that it’s Aviation.
Church: Who is we? Who is we? Who is we?
Danny: Noone’s had the word Aviation being confirmed. It’s been reported. People are going back and forth on it. Elizondo himself has said Aerospace.
Church: Well let me ask you this, Danny: Do you represent To The Stars Academy?
Danny: No. Not at all. I wish I did to be honest with you.
Church: Do you have stock? Do you have stock in the company?
Danny: Yessir. I spent my $200. So it’s not a whole lot.
Danny: If I never get anything back, that’s okay,
Danny: But, you know, its $200 worth. It’s not a whole lot of money in the world.
* * * * *
Church: Elizondo said, his words, “I am a disinfo agent.” Now if that’s where you want to go, and put all your trust there, that’s on you Danny.
Danny: Wait, but when did he say he’s a disinfo agent? I don’t remember that.
Church: OK, well again. um, eh, um, and I may even be paraphrasing here. He may even have taken it a step further. Now, if Elizondo hasn’t been part of any disinformation then let him come out and correct everybody out there that is quoting these.
Danny: I mean he’s done a lot of interviews, he’s done some great interviews. I mean, Tom Delonge’s been on your show, he did an incredible interview.
Danny: But yeah, Elizondo has never had said he’s a disinfo agent, for sure.
Church: He’s never said that?
Danny: No, he’s never said, “I’m a disinfo agent,” no.
Church: OK, all right, there you go. That’s it’s, that’s it, that’s on you.
Danny: I mean, do you remember when he said that? So I can go back and look it up.
Church: Uh, I have read, I have read and have had that quote sent to me fifty times
* * * * *
For the record, Danny was right. Luis Elizondo has never said that he was a disinformation agent. But you can see how some people have used the discrepancy over one word to throw water on the entire story related to AATIP. It’s no surprise that Tom DeLonge or any member of TTSA has been on Church’s show in a while. At times, the UFO Community is its own worst enemy.
This week we had an apparent breakthrough with the name of the program. Researchers Paul Dean and Roger Glassel, with the help of Dean’s anonymous source and a lot of effort from the both of them, uncovered the original name of the program that spawned AATIP: Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Application Program. If you haven’t already done so, click on their names and read their excellent articles on how all of this came about. They’ve done a lot of work and I can’t do it justice in this article.
Would this AAWSAP name help with the FOIA requests? Would it unlock the treasure trove of documents we’ve all been waiting to see? Once again, DoD spokesperson, Audricia Harris was asked to clarify. Glassel wrote Harris and this is the important part of their exchange:
My question is what the relationship is between the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications (AAWSA) program and the AATIP program?”
Maj. Harris responded the following.
Same program. Just an alternative name for AATIP.
I wrote back with further questions:
“Hi Maj. Harris,
Thank you for the clarification.
Was AAWSA the real contract name? and which program name must be referred to when making requests about the program?
Maj. Harris responded:
“I would stick with AATIP. It is the official name.
Harris reiterated that it was Aviation and not Aerospace so we still have that conundrum. But I’m sure it’s a relief to lots of folks who spent time writing FOIA letters that their AATIP inquiries used the correct search term. Of course, with a “no records,” response thus far, I’m not sure that will offer much solace.
Enter investigative reporter and UFO researcher, George Knapp of KLAS-TV in Las Vegas to the rescue! Knapp has been on top of the AATIP story since the very beginning and has interviewed Elizondo, Reid, Eric Davis and Hal Puthoff about their role in the AATIP program. A few days ago, Knapp made this post on the AATIP FB group:
The text of that post reads:
Since early March, we’ve been working on several stories related to AATIP, as well as the original name and focus. I had planned to put at least two stories on the air in mid May on KLAS TV. And yes, May is one of our TV “sweeps” months. Now that SOME of the info is being discussed in public forums, we decided to move up the date of the first report. It will this this Friday, May 4th. I’m pretty sure we will be able to shed some light on many of the questions being raised here. After it airs in Las Vegas, I will post a link on this page so people elsewhere can watch the report.
So now, we wait!
aatip, aawsap, corbell, Elizondo, kean, nyt, ufo