In a Jan. 30, 2018, interview with Luis Elizondo, investigative journalist George Knapp asks about the history of AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Identification Program), the Pentagon and UFOs. They also discuss the Tic Tac incident. Part 4 of a 10 Part series.
George Knapp: When you and I first met, you told me that you had been at this for 10 years, about 10 years. So ’07, can you describe for me what program existed before ’07, how something like the Nimitz would have been handled, where it goes, and how it became different under AATIP and BASS?
Luis Elizondo: Sure, so I think what AATIP accomplished, starting in ’07 with my predecessor … keep in mind, I came in in 2008, and I really didn’t take over until about 2010. What they were successful doing at a very early time, to include the efforts of Harry Reid and the other senators, was to be able to create a single belly button, residing at a relatively senior level that allowed all the disparate pieces of information to come to a single location. That hadn’t been done before. So when you had an incident like the Nimitz, you had, unfortunately, an opportunity for information to kind of get lost in the white noise, right? Someone might report something here, there might be a video there that gets locked away in some safe never to be seen again, not necessarily deliberately trying to hide information. But let’s face it, the Navy is a big organization, the Air Force is a huge organization, DOD even bigger, right?
Knapp: It does no one any good to make a big fuss about this, their career?
Elizondo: Well, of course it doesn’t. There’s a huge amount of stigma associated with this, too. These are individuals who have top secret clearances. They’re in charge, as I said before, of multimillion-dollar weapon platforms. In fact, they’re trusted to fly live munitions over American cities, and fight wars on behalf of us as the American taxpayer. And yet there’s this stigma that if they report something that may be … not very definable, then that causes people potentially to put their flight status in jeopardy, people to question maybe their mental stability and a whole bunch of negative consequences that result from someone just trying to do the right thing. Look, you go into any major metropolitan area, you go and ride the metro or the subway or any airport, and it says, “See something, say something,” right? If it’s suspicious, report it. Hey, I don’t care if I see luggage that’s been abandoned … I’m going to go ahead … or a bag … I’m going to report it anyways, or even a McDonalds bag, I’m going to report it. And yet, in the Department of Defense, it’s the exact opposite. In fact, unless you know what it is, don’t say anything. Keep quiet, because it could impact you negatively. And we have seen before time and time again, there is this undercurrent that when someone does report something, there is this immediate reaction to try to discredit the individuals. Not only to our pilots, I have personally experienced it over the last three months. It becomes pretty visceral at times. And so pilots who are good patriots, these are men and women that are our front lines, that serve their country silently, and they serve it proudly, yet, they can’t report what they’re seeing. And why is that again? Again, because it’s not well defined. Because it doesn’t have a Russian star on the tail. It doesn’t have a tail number. They can’t report it.
Knapp: So Nimitz is an example. I mean, you know, there’s a fairly dramatic incident, well documented, that gets stuffed in a drawer somewhere.
Knapp: And it doesn’t get studied until AATIP gets, you guys get up and running.
Elizondo: Right. And I think there’s many instances … people say, “Oh, the Nimitz incident.” Well, that’s one that people know of, because that’s the one that has been on social media and is fairly common right now in the public sphere. But there are many, many Nimitz incidents that are equally compelling, that are told from the from the eyes of individuals just like commander Dave Fravor. Folks that are true patriots, Top Gun graduates, folks that are trained observers, millions of dollars invested to teach these pilots how to observe things in the air. These folks are the best of the best. Dave Fravor was the Commander of the Black Aces. It doesn’t get better than that. And yet, when he tells you he’s seen something go from a near hover, or something that is over the water going at 450 knots, and all of a sudden takes off over the horizon in two seconds. You’d better believe what he’s telling you he’s seen. And by the way, that’s backed up by three other individuals that were also on that same flight in two aircraft, and then later by the radar operators, and then later by two more F-18s afterwards. So I think people need to really look at this. Let the data speak for itself. Let the information received from electro-optical data, electromechanical mechanisms be the tool in which we can look and compare what the eyewitness testimony is saying. And compare that to what we were seeing in the actual collection capabilities that we have, as a country. Keep in mind, we have equipment, without going to a lot of detail, that is designed to tell you as a pilot very quickly what you’re looking at 50 miles away. Is it a drone? Is it a missile? Is it an aircraft? What the heck is it? And not only what is it, where it was built, and who built it and who owns it, right? We pay a lot of taxpayer money for these capabilities. And when the equipment that we have, whether it’s on an aircraft and it’s coming from our boats, and sometimes from other capabilities, is all coming up with a zero? It frustrates me because people say, well, that’s just IR glare. That’s IR fuzz, you know. That’s an atmospheric condition.
Knapp: A bug on the windshield.
Elizondo: Right? I said, like atmospheric conditions, you cannot lock a radar onto. So, I’m sorry, it’s not atmospheric. And IR fuzz, we have capabilities, again, I can’t go into detail because some of it gets sensitive very quickly. But we know if it’s IR fuzz, we know ahead of time, what it is, if it is truly some sort of IR heat glare. That’s not what we’re seeing here. And people will say, “Well, you know, the video is very short, you don’t know what you’re looking at.” Well, that’s true. The reason why some of these videos are short is because we have to protect sources and methods in the Department of Defense. And it’s quite possible that within a few seconds after that portion that people see the conversation becomes classified. So it’s not that, “Oh, there’s just a short snippet, and then the government’s trying to fool us and that’s when the video is very short.” The video is short, probably because what happens afterwards is classified. We can’t talk about classified information.
Knapp: The Tic Tac, in that incident. That’s not Russian. That’s not Chinese. It’s not ours. Right. It’s somebody else’s. It’s from somewhere else.
Elizondo: I think even more compelling … look, if this was a Tic Tac that we saw in 2004, that would have been extremely advanced technology and capabilities for 2004. I think everybody would. It is considered extreme exotic technology today, let alone in 2004. But these observations match with previous observations going well before that. So if a country like Russia, or China had this capability back then, and has managed to keep it secret all this time, then, you know, my hat’s off to them. But I think those technologies would have seen manifested in other things that are probably more useful than a simple drone flying over, you know, the coast of San Diego, they probably would have used it for something a little bit more strategically important.
Knapp: If we had that technology then, or now, I mean, it would give us mastery of even more mastery of the skies against adversaries that we have already.
Elizondo: Absolutely. And there’s things, there’s utility in that that goes beyond reconnaissance, okay. If you truly had the ability to take something from point A to point B that quickly, then you probably wouldn’t just simply waste that capability on something that allows you to collect information on an exercise somewhere out in the South China Sea. You’re going to use that capability when you really, really, really need it and you’re not going to risk exposing that capability to the world just because you want to do a test drive and see what the Nimitz is doing off the coast of California.