MYSTERY WIRE — The recent release of a report filed by investigators from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations came as welcome news to veteran intelligence officer Luis Elizondo, formerly the manager of AATIP, a once secret Pentagon program to gather information about UFOs.
“I’m thankful for the professionalism of the AFOSI investigators,” Elizondo told Mystery Wire.
Elizondo voluntarily retired from his Pentagon position in October 2017. For ten years, he worked with the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a multi-agency effort to collect and evaluate information about encounters between US military units and unknown aerial intruders. Elizondo’s announcement that he had been in charge of the program came during the initial unveiling of a civilian UFO venture “To the Stars Academy”, or TTSA, founded by rock star Tom Delonge.
Two months after Elizondo stepped forward, the New York Times unleashed a blockbuster story about AATIP and its mission, along with video of a dramatic encounter between pilots assigned to the USS Nimitz carrier group and a vastly superior but unknown craft dubbed the “Tic Tac.” The Times story included an interview with former Senate majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the primary legislative sponsor of a hush-hush study of UFOs and related phenomena.
Elizondo has taken a pounding over the last two years, in part because of ever-conflicting statements issued by the Pentagon about the purpose of AATIP, Elizondo’s role, and how the Tic Tac video, along with two other U.S. Navy UFO videos, were made public. UFO writers and debunkers have pummeled Elizondo, AATIP, TTSA, Delonge, and even Harry Reid over various perceived conspiracies, inaccuracies, and alleged scams, despite statements from Reid and others that the program really was a UFO study and that Elizondo was directly involved.
The KLAS I-Team and Mystery Wire have made public a series of authentic government documents that bolster Elizondo’s claims, including a 2009 letter from Reid to the DOD, in which Elizondo and other known principals in the AATIP program were copied. ( In previous on-camera interviews, both Reid and Elizondo confirmed the legitimacy of the letter.) Also released were documents from DOD which confirmed that three “UFO” videos had been released by the DOD, not by Elizondo, but neither of these quieted conspiracy-minded critics.
In his very first long form, on-camera television interview back in early 2018, Elizondo revealed that he expected some kind of payback from persons within the Pentagon who were unhappy that he had stepped forward to talk about UFOs. He also told us that his immediate supervisor at DOD was not in the loop about AATIP and was unaware Elizondo has been given the UFO study as one of several programs he helped manage. Higher-ups at the Pentagon were certainly aware. Here is an excerpt from that interview:
Elizondo: … a lot of people think AATIP and they think Luis Elizondo, and it’s probably not an overly accurate assessment, because there were other folks that were related to our efforts, and that were part of our effort. It was a bit of a confederated approach. So you have folks in the Navy in pockets, and DIA in pockets here and there throughout the departments. We worked together collectively on this. As the Director for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, yes, ultimately, these things kind of gravitated towards one central belly button. But we work this together. There are a lot of folks right now. Incredible fine men and women, absolute heroes to this nation, that are still doing this work. And I think it’s important to point out that I wasn’t AATIP, I was part of AATIP. AATIP was a much bigger thing than Luis Elizondo.
Knapp: Did you? Did your boss, your immediate supervisor know what you were doing?
Elizondo: My immediate supervisor did not.
Knapp: Kind of an odd position to be in.
Elizondo: Very odd, in fact, it’s created a great amount of grief for me now. I’ve received many calls where certain individuals within that building are not very happy with me and they have taken steps to make sure I know they’re not happy with me.
Knapp: Come after you? Could they try to smear?
Elizondo: Yes, that’s already occurred. It has been confirmed to me that is absolutely the case.
Elizondo told us that not long after he left the Pentagon, he learned that a some within the Pentagon were urging that a formal investigation be initiated to find out if he had violated any laws or regulations related to the release of three UFO videos. Although the videos had been recorded by the US Navy, the investigation was assigned to AFOSI. Elizondo could not comment about it on the record while the probe was underway, but a Freedom of Information request filed by Vice’s Motherboard has changed that.
A news story based on that Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has now documented the investigation was undertaken by AFOSI, the investigative agency for the Air Force. AFOSI has a long history with the UFO subject and has been portrayed as “the real men in black” by some journalists, in part because of its reputation for muddying the UFO waters and intimidating eyewitnesses.
In Elizondo’s case, however, the “Men in Black” rode to the rescue. The report compiled by the investigators essentially exonerated Elizondo the release of the videos. But it also went further by confirming Elizondo’s role with AATIP, and also by agreeing that AATIP was primarily a UFO study. These findings directly contradict the most recent statements issued by the DOD’s Public Affairs office concerning the program and Elizondo’s role.
We reached out to Elizondo for a formal comment. This is the statement he provided to us.
I knew when I left DOD that I had ruffled the feathers of some higher ups because of the perception that I was not going along with the agenda. I came to expect there might eventually be some kind of retribution.Luis Elizondo
I do not know exactly why AFOSI was given this assignment but am aware there is great sensitivity within the Pentagon to anything related to the UAP subject. I suspect there are some people who hoped that AFOSI would find something that might assassinate my character and discredit the program. Neither of those happened.
I’m thankful for the professionalism of the AFOSI investigators. It has been my honor and pleasure to work with them from time to time. The release of this document confirms what I have been saying all along–that AATIP was an investigation of UAPs, that I was the program manager for a period, and that the three videos were released by the DOD, not by me.
Elizondo was not clear why the AFOSI was chosen for this task, but other sources familiar with the probe say there is nothing sinister about it. At the time the investigation began, AFOSI was the primary agency to handle sensitive investigations related to the Office of Secretary of Defense.