New book exposes secrets inside AATIP and AAWSAP


Exclusive on-camera interview with Dr. James Lacatski and Dr. Colm Kelleher.

(Photo by Andy Dunaway/USAF via Getty Images)

MYSTERY WIRE – It’s been nearly four years since the public learned about a previously-secretive Pentagon study of the UFO mystery.

Mainstream media outlets reported in December 2017 that a secret study dubbed AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program) had received $22 million in black budget funds, money secured in part by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and a few Senate colleagues, for a study of UFOs.

But that scenario is wrong.

The Pentagon did spend $22 million on a secret study, and the investigation went way beyond UFOs, and it wasn’t called AATIP. The correct acronym was AAWSAP, the Advanced Weapons System Application Program.

The program was first proposed and later managed by a career intelligence analyst and rocket scientist named Dr. James Lacatski who’d spent much of his career working for the Defense Warning Office within the D.I.A., the Defense Intelligence Agency.

In 2007, Lacatski became interested in stories about bizarre activity and unknown aerial platforms reported in and around a property known as Skinwalker Ranch in northeastern Utah.

Lacatski and a few Pentagon colleagues read and discussed a book, Hunt for the Skinwalker, and wondered if the unusual activity investigated by a scientific team at Skinwalker Ranch might represent both a threat and an opportunity for national defense.

In the summer of 2007, Lacatski met the owner of the ranch, Las Vegas businessman Robert Bigelow, and visited the property, where he had a profound encounter with the unknown. That experience led directly to the creation and funding of AAWSAP.

Now for the first time, Dr. Lacatski is sharing the story of the secret study, how it was organized, what it investigated, and what conclusions it reached.

Very little of this information has been made public prior to the publication of a new book, Skinwalkers at the Pentagon.

The book is co-written by Dr. Colm Kelleher, a microbiologist who was a principal program manager for the DIA’s contractor BAASS (Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies), a subsidiary of Bigelow Aerospace.

Kelleher was in charge of screening and hiring more than 50 scientists, investigators, data systems experts, and others who spent three years probing UFO cases, interviewing eyewitnesses, collecting and analyzing physical evidence, and building what might be the world’s largest UFO/UAP databases on behalf of the D.I.A.

In an exclusive conversation with George Knapp, the journalist who is the third co-author of Skinwalkers at the Pentagon, Dr. Kelleher describes the scope of the information gathered by  the BAASS team.

“Yes, we had multiple streams of cases pertaining to UFOs that were coming in,” Kelleher said. “We were also examining multiple databases, some of which were pilot databases, military pilots, civilian pilots. and we were databasing a very large number of cases. We had what we call the data warehouse that has 11 separate databases of UAP cases from around the world and from within the United States. And we actually database a several 100 cases where individuals both here and beyond the united states had encountered ufos and had had had physiological effects, pathological effects and medical effects, some of which medical effects were quite serious.”

Dr. Jim Lacatski, who has never before spoken in public about AAWSAP or the UFO issue, responded to social media critics who have suggested the Pentagon’s study had nothing to do with UFOs. “Now, if you want to look at the tail end of the project, you’ll find over 100 documents required to be reported to the Defense Intelligence Agency that were UFO related,” Lacatski said. “In part, of course, they were large documents and you also have technical studies, and you have that database, probably the largest UFO database that exists in the world and is currently being used by the U.S. military. So yes, it was completely a UFO project.”

In addition to the general topic of UFO/UAP cases, the AAWSAP program succeeded in focusing on other mysteries, some of which are directly related to national security and public safety.

Partial Summary of Findings

1. AAWSAP discovered and broke the Tic Tac case in 2009, the biggest case in UAP history. AAWSAP personnel were deployed to interview the pilots, the Aegis radar operators on the Princeton and the investigative report was submitted as a part of the cache of 100 reports to DIA in 2009. That was 8 years before the New York Times had even heard of the Tic Tac case.

2. Real time boots-on-the-ground deployments of personnel in the continental United States (CONUS) and internationally to investigate UAPs.

3. Analyzed and documented hundreds of cases of interactions with UAPs that resulted in physiological and pathological effects, some of which were medically devastating.

4. The construction of a massive data warehouse comprising 11 separate databases meant that AAWSAP had a very broad scoped data set that was rich in detail at six separate levels. The design of the data warehouse was based on experience in working with the UAP. The cases that were input into the data warehouse were carefully analyzed (in some cases translated into English) and carefully scrubbed before being assigned a numerical index of credibility. This was an attempt to minimize the GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) effect.

5. Being in the vicinity of metallic/structured craft (e.g. Skinwalker Ranch) and associated phenomena can cause experiencers to bring “something home with them”. AAWSAP proposed an infectious agent model for the “transmission” of anomalies from person-to-person. The nickname for this phenomenon is “hitchhikers.”

6. Utilized Ansys multiphysics software to conduct deep dive analysis into the behavior and performance of Tic Tac – again years before the New York Times article. This was actual boots on the ground engineering analysis utilizing PhD physicists that AAWSAP hired. Not issuing a report that this or that should be done some time in the future.

7. Designed and built a portable autonomous UAP surveillance unit with multiple sensors that could be deployed anywhere in CONUS in a day or two.

8. Contracted with multiple laboratories to chemically analyze anomalous samples from alleged crash sites and other sources.

9. Deep dives – (AAWSAP personnel boots on the ground) into medical cases as a result of getting zapped with a beam from a UAP in Georgia or as a result of a close encounter with small blue orbs (unidentified flying object) causing multiple medical effects. Obtained enough data to show close encounters are a threat to human health.

10. Hired Russian translators who aided with translation and analysis of Soviet era documents on their national UAP strategy. Showed a very complex, well organized organizational chart from 1991 that indicated a very sophisticated approach that spanned multiple agencies.

In a recorded on camera conversation, the three co-authors; Lacatski, Kelleher, and Knapp discussed some of the common misperceptions about AAWSAP, its successor AATIP, and the two years it took to write the book (including the 14-month review by Pentagon’s security review process).

RELATED: Skinwalker Ranch home page (opens in new tab/window)

George Knapp
Dr. Jim Lacatski, there has been considerable speculation fueled in part by statements from the DOD’s spokesperson that the $22 million that was secured by Senator Reid and his colleagues in Congress to fund this program and study had nothing to do with UFOs. It was really just a study of future technologies, presumably by our adversaries. That it was really just just that. Can you address whether AAWSAP was first and foremost, an investigation of UFO phenomena? Why isn’t made obvious in any of the documentation that’s been made public so far?

James Lacatski
The answer to that is yes. It was completely UFO related. The reason you haven’t seen the documentation is we use the statement of objectives format for the request for proposal. That is insufficient for anyone examining the contents of the contract, they must have the proposal. Now, within the proposal, and in this case, it was from Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS). It’s clearly mentioned, among the topics proposed, a worldwide database of advanced aerospace vehicles, anomalous vehicles. There can be no ambiguity here. This was being proposed as a UFO project. Now, if you want to look at the tail end of the project, you’ll find over 100 documents required to be reported to the Defense Intelligence Agency that were UFO related, in part of course, I mean, they were large, very large documents. And you also have technical studies, and you have that database. Probably the largest UFO database that exists in the world and is currently being used by the US military. So yes, it was completely a UFO project.

George Knapp
One of the other things that’s been confusing for the public over the last almost four years, the New York Times and other major media outlets reported that that $22 million went to AATIP and not to AAWSAP. Can you clarify the difference between AAWSAP and AATIP?

James Lacatski
Yes, the name AATIP was a nickname for AAWSAP for certain security reasons that we’ve put into the book. But the difference between AAWSAP with the nickname AATIP at DIA, and AATIP at the Pentagon is quite distinct. AAWSAP had $22 million of funding. It covered military and civilian UFOs, yielding a massive database. It also had a main contract and sub contracts. Now AATIP in the Pentagon, as described in the articles, was basically zero funded, looked at specific military UFO encounters and very important ones because they had film and it had no contract. So getting back to how did this mix up occur, I think it’s not deliberate. It’s not due to authors, to television personalities, etc. It’s the fact we were running not a an official SAP, but a closed program. I can tell you for a fact that within my own office, they did not know, except leadership that this contract was being run. They had no idea whatsoever. Our security was that tight. And also, the fact is, is that, well, I guess that pretty much says it. That’s that’s that’s the best example I can give.

George Knapp
Dr. Colm Kelleher, you were Program Manager at BAASS. Can you describe in sort of broad terms, the operation at BAASS, how many people were hired in what timeframe? And what did they do? I mean, was this a real investigation of UFOs and related phenomena and how did it work?

Colm Kelleher
Well, I was hired in November of 2008. The AAWSAP program ran from September 2008 to late 2010. So one of the first tasks that I had coming on board was to put together a team of UFO focused investigators as quickly as possible. So I was thinking back on this and between November 2008, and probably April 2009, I personally conducted about 300 telephone interviews in an attempt to recruit different people for different positions at AAWSAP. In addition, I did at least 100, face to face interviews in my office in that period of time. So we’re talking about a pretty rapid clip in terms of bringing forth a lot of people into the office, sometimes there were one or two people outside. But our focus was in hiring a team of PhD level scientists, that would include physics and biology, master’s level scientists, technicians, we also looked for database analysts, and military intelligence personnel who had a long history investigative background. And of course, we also were looking for a lot of security officers, because security was a big issue. Interestingly, one of our program managers was a 20 year veteran of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, also known as AFOSI. And this guy was very, very seasoned investigator. And he helped us a lot in what turned out to be attempted formation of a relationship with AFOSI, which is discussed in the book. But all of this hiring and recruitment occurred within a four or five month period. I think by the end of May of 2009, we had a team of about 50 people. And George, when you consider that this was a 24 month contract, so not only were we putting together the security infrastructure of this of this large organization, and that included facility security clearances, getting everything up to a level that was sufficient for inspections, but hiring these people, training all of these different people. And then we executed multiple programs side by side. And all of this happened in a 24 month period. So we were on a pretty rapid clip. And I would say, I’ve worked with government organizations in the past, NASA and DoD in other capacities, and putting that kind of level of activity together in a 24 month period, I think was pretty extraordinary. And, obviously, Dr. Lacatski, his input in Washington, DC, and greasing the wheels to make all of this happen, putting together a pretty large organization that was focused only on UFO investigations. That was the key.

George Knapp
You know, one of the most disturbing aspects of the investigation that you both cooperated in and headed is highlighted in this book, the medical and physical consequences of close encounters, and not just lights in the sky, and people may be seeing structured craft, but also other related phenomena that resulted in documented physical effects, some of them pretty serious effects. Dr. Kelleher, can you tell us a little bit about what was learned about the medical consequences of these encounters and maybe provide an example?

Colm Kelleher
Yes, we had multiple streams of cases pertaining to UFOs that were coming in. We were also examining multiple databases, some of which were pilot databases, military pilots, civilian pilots. And we were databasing a very large number of cases, we had what we call the data warehouse that has 11 separate databases of UAP cases from around the world and from within the United States. And we actually databased several 100 cases where individuals both here and beyond the United States had encountered UFOs and had physiological effects, pathological effects and medical effects, some of which medical effects were quite serious. And to that end, in terms of real time investigations and medical UFO effects. We had two physician scientists, and I’m talking MD PhDs that were consultants with AAWSAP. And their task was basically to be as a part of a team that would go out and investigate UAP related injuries. We had a few that were real time and normally during a UFO investigation investigators may spend a few days with the witnesses. In terms of these medical type investigations. These investigations went on sometimes for months and sometimes for years. And a lot of these investigations involved taking blood samples, analytical chemistry, hematology of blood samples, immune system parameters, sometimes MRIs were done all under the HIPAA standards. We were very careful to observe all patient confidentiality, and HIPAA dictates. So we came across a few outstanding cases in terms of medical injuries. I can give you an example of one. There was a biotechnologist that was driving towards Bend Oregon. And he had his daughter in the car and the daughter noticed off in the field, three unusual unidentified objects that seem to be erratically, flying close to the ground. They were small. And right after they noticed this, they came towards the car and the biotechnologist, as he was driving, two have these objects came into the vehicle, one passed right in front of father and daughter right across the dashboard, the other one through his left shoulder and exited through his right shoulder. These were small, approximately baseball sized objects, we we still have not a good ascertainment of exactly what those objects were. But right afterwards, this guy began to feel dizzy, began to feel nauseous. (The) following morning he woke up there was a lot of pain in his left side. His left face was very, very sunburned. He started within a couple of days or a week, losing hair on his left side, his left eye began to decrease in acuity, his left ear began to go downhill. Long story short, our physician scientists followed this guy and his family over several months. A few months later, this guy came down with a rare form of ductal carcinoma. And luckily was able to be treated. But the multiple blood samples were taken over that time, and sort of a very cohesive picture was put together so that a complete story of what we thought was a high probability of medical injury occurring as a result of this close encounter with unidentified flying objects. There are other cases that we explain in the book, but that one in particular, was followed, actually, for years.

George Knapp
Just one last comment from each of you. We all have been working on it, you guys more than I have, for a couple of years putting this together, it’s finally out. Dr. Lacatski, Jim, 14 months it took to get the stamp of approval from the DoD. I imagine you were kind of sweating it out there. Can you tell me about that process and how you feel about what emerged from that process?

James Lacatski
Well, I’m glad that we finally got a public release authority. And frankly, I understood all of their concerns. What we had to rewrite in the book, and what we had to remove and put in. I wasn’t really sweating it because I was almost in constant communication with them. Very pleasant people I was dealing with, and I understood their situation during the pandemic, they were working off site, but they had to process it through secure channels, because you don’t know what’s in the book. So they had to process it as if it had maybe top secret SCI information in it. Of course it didn’t. But nevertheless, they had to handle it that way. They had to go into work, transferred to various organizations for their review and approval, but eventually occurred and I’m glad we got that approval for release.

George Knapp
Colm, you’re excited, it must be like giving birth, huh? To have this finally out and to be able to tell this story.

Colm Kelleher
Yeah, I think it’s been a It’s been a long time coming. And I think the book as it comes out should be able to address a certain level of confusion, especially in the media over the last four years. There has been a sort of a focus on the book and it will encapsulate the entire program. And I think it is a complete summary of the 24 month program that occurred. And as Jim said, over 100 reports, during that 24 months were submitted to the Defense Intelligence Agency, both electronically and by paper. I remember standing in my office, actually, in Las Vegas, with the paper copies in three ring binders. And that set of data actually went to about six feet high on the floor of my office. I mean, it was an incredible stash of data, because it encompassed not only monthly reports, but also reports that were deep dives into specific cases and also topics. So I think it’s about time that the entire story of AAWSAP is being told. And you know, Dr. Lacatski was the driving force in Washington, DC, and I was the day-to-day manager in Las Vegas. So I think between the two of us, we’ve come up with a pretty good summary of what the whole program looked like.

George Knapp
I think people will really enjoy seeing the genesis of the investigation, how that was explained and is explained in the book. Also, what I liked was the inside baseball of how all of you, Senator Reid, Robert Bigelow, fought to get the program on and get it up and running, but also to defend it from predators in the Pentagon who eventually caused a lot of trouble. I mean, could imagine if AAWSAP and BAASS had been allowed to continue, how far down the road we would be in understanding these mysteries.

The book also includes the titles of more than 100 documents produced by BAASS for the Defense Intelligence Agency as part of the AAWSAP effort, which ran from 2008 through 2010.

Former Senator Harry Reid, whose support secured funding for the AAWSAP investigation, wrote a stirring foreword for Skinwalkers at the Pentagon in which Reid described how he first became interested in the UFO mystery. 

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