On June 24, 1947, Private Pilot Kenneth Arnold was flying aboard a CallAir A-2 near Mount Rainier in Washington state, United States, looking for a lost military aircraft. An Associated Press report quoted him as saying that on that expedition he had seen nine shiny objects “in the shape of plates” fly at high speed. Thus the “flying saucers” would quickly enter the popular lexicon and give the initial kick to the UFO phenomenon, which from that moment captures the interest of millions of people around the world.
Despite being a taboo subject in many scientific, communication, and government circles, the investigation of various unidentified or unexplained events and objects was the lynchpin of several programs funded by the United States government over the years. One of them was the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), a project that ran from 2007 to 2012 under total secrecy but came to light on December 16, 2017, after from an article in The New York Times.
He made sure that of the annual budget of 600 billion dollars that the Department of Defense (DOD) received, 22 million were destined to this program, a trail of money that is very difficult to follow, which was precisely what the Pentagon wanted, according to Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean wrote, the authors of that article that was the front page of the Sunday newspaper.
For years, this program ran on the fifth floor of Ring C of the Pentagon, deep in the labyrinthine building and symbol of American military supremacy. There they investigated reports of unidentified flying objects. According to the Defense Department, which had never admitted its existence before, it stopped working in 2012. However, different sources assure that, at least until 2017, this program continued to function, including Luis Elizondo, the intelligence agent, a military man who was in charge.
Elizondo is the former head of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. On October 4, 2017, he submitted his resignation through a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, warning that “bureaucratic challenges and uncompromising mindsets” were an obstacle to taking “anomalous aerospace threats” seriously between the authorities of the Department. Elizondo disagreed with the excessive secrecy and internal opposition that he faced on a daily basis. He also claimed that not enough attention was paid and not enough money was spent investigating possible threats for national security and addressing potential vulnerabilities. Elizondo assured that after his departure the AATIP was still working and that there was another person at his post.
He later joined To The Stars Academy, founded, among others, by Chris Mellon, a former United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and later for Security and Information Operations; and Tom DeLonge, guitarist for the band Blink-182. It is an initiative to “mobilize the brightest minds from within the shadows of aerospace, science, and the Department of Defense.”
Three videos recorded one in 2004 and two in 2015 by fighter pilots of the United States Navy were published by The New York Times in collaboration with this organization in December 2017 and March 2018. They show what they appear to be Unidentified flying objects that move quickly while recording with infrared cameras. They were only declassified in April this year by the Department of Defense, which noted that they were published “to clarify any misunderstanding by the public about whether the recordings that have been circulating are real or not, and if there is more (content) in the videos. The aerial phenomenon seen in the videos remains classified as unidentified. ”
These images had been leaked and have been circulating online since 2007 and 2017. As early as 2019, the US Navy had recognized that the three recordings were real, but had not officially released them until now.
In 2019, Elizondo premiered the Unidentified program on History, which in July 2020 will have its second season. New authenticated evidence is explored along with archive images and interviews with witnesses and former military members who have not spoken so far; presenting a vast advance in understanding the technology behind these unknown phenomena in the heavens.
During a telephone interview with Infobae from Los Angeles, Luis Elizondo recounted what he discovered during his years at the head of this secret Department of Defense program, and why he believes that the evidence surrounding unexplained aerospace phenomena is undeniable today.
-How would you describe your time working in the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program?
-Fascinating but frustrating. It was a privilege but unfortunately, there were many associated challenges as well. Most bureaucratic.
You resigned precisely because this issue and DOD’s “uncompromising mindset” regarding the program had prevented “anomalous aerospace threats” from being taken seriously. Could you explain this a little?
-The Secretary of Defense at the time was a gentleman named James Mattis. He and I had the privilege and honor of serving together in Afghanistan, but unfortunately, the bureaucracy did not allow me to share information with him, whom I highly respected. This was a person who deserved to know the truth, and whom I deeply admired, and this bureaucracy that we inherited did not allow vital information to be shared, mainly because it was considered taboo, there was no other reason.
-What did you discover during your time on the show?
-We understood that these phenomena are real and that they are real things that fly in our skies and that they have much more advanced technology than ours, and we cannot do anything about it. They can fly unhindered through our airspace or control civil and military airspace and we cannot do anything. In addition, the conclusion we reached is that it is a global phenomenon, it does not occur only in the United States, and that is why I think we have to work better with our peers in Latin America, in Europe, in Asia, and around the world, because This is a problem that affects humanity itself. It does not belong to a single institution or religion or government, but to all of us who inhabit this planet.
-Is the program still active?
-I have very strong reasons to believe that this program is still very active.
-How does this program differ from other projects, funded by the United States government, that investigated UFOs, such as Sign, Grudge, and Blue Book?
-First and foremost, we had support from Congress. We had the support of very powerful senators within the government. We also had technology that in the past the United States government did not have available: improvements in our radars, in our electro-optical systems, in our cameras. Our pilots are better trained today than before. So you could say that it is a unique opportunity to use these capabilities and technologies to your advantage and so once and for all try to discover what this puzzle is about.
– Last year his television program, Unidentified, premiered. Why did you decide to do it?
-This series is an opportunity to have a conversation not only with the American people, but with the world, and to show them that this is not a topic relegated to fringe science (not orthodox or marginal) or crazy people. This is a real and national security problem, and it affects us all. In America we are all Americans, be it South America, Central America, or North America, and we are all united by the same continental mass. So we should work together to be able to figure this problem out collectively.
-High-ranking figures in government have claimed over the years that there are and there have been several unexplained aerospace phenomena. Why do you think there is so much reluctance?
- I believe that part because we have spent most of the last 70 years ridiculing and criticizing individuals who have followed this topic from an amateur perspective, and there is a lot of stigma and taboo associated with this topic. When we think of UFOs people with aluminum hats and believing people come to mind without any evidence. Well, now we are at a time when we have evidence, we have governments that recognize that these phenomena are real. The time has come to take this conversation and raise it to the necessary level of our government.
-Did you suffer from this stigma when you revealed that these phenomena exist?
-Yes, absolutely, every day. My professional background is in Intelligence. I was a special agent, a special agent with a very high hierarchical rank, and my job as an investigator was always to follow the facts, in essence, find the truth and tell the truth. It is a job that I did not ask for when I was in the Government. Ironically, to fulfill the mission my country gave me, I had to leave the Government. The stigma that I face comes in general from people who do not know much about the subject and, to be fair, they have not had access to the information that I have, so it is understandable that there is some reluctance to talk about something that has always been surrounded by unnecessary stigma.
Do you think it has to do with fear of the unknown, that it can also be a foreign threat, and not necessarily an extraterrestrial one?
-Absolutely. In a way, our Latin American brothers and sisters are much more advanced in this debate. Something that I realized is that the people of Latin America are much more tolerant of the unknown and they realize that the universe and nature are full of wonders and mysteries. Here in the United States, we have prided ourselves on always having solutions and responses and that if there is a threat, we will be able to assess it very quickly. And that could be in part why we and the United States government have not had this debate. Because if you recognize that there is a possible threat and you don’t find a threat, then the fear is that people will lose confidence in your ability to do your job, be it political, military, or otherwise.
-Then, do you think that accepting that there are inexplicable phenomena implies a loss of power, whether in governmental or religious institutions?
- There are many reasons, and that is one of them, but there are others. It is very difficult to have a chat with your boss when they are paying you a lot of money, you have the best resources and the latest technology available to solve problems, and having to say: “Lord, there is something in heaven, we do not know what it is, no We know how it works, we don’t know who is behind the wheel, and the truth is that there is nothing we can do about it. ” It is a very awkward conversation, especially with one of the world’s most capable armed forces. We are always paid to find the solution.
-Your organization To The Stars Academy and The New York Times collaborated to publicize the three videos of “unexplained aerial phenomena” that were recently declassified by the Pentagon. Why do they recognize its authenticity now? And how does it make you feel professionally and personally?
- I believe that we arrived at a place where the evidence is undeniable. And now there is a risk that if it continues to be denied, that will become a greater risk than accepting the fact that it is real. Because now that we know that we have empirical evidence that these phenomena are real, then we have a moral obligation to deal with them, and the longer we deny it and dip our heads in the sand, the more people will demand that the government do something about it. So it has to do with the pressure of the American people towards the Government, within Congress and the Executive Branch because we want something to be done. And now there is an acknowledgment from the Government that these phenomena are real.
Regarding how I feel, I haven’t had the luxury of sitting down and absorbing what’s happening. I have been involved in the daily battle of trying to get this issue to where it belongs. So I really haven’t had a chance to reflect on myself and give myself the privilege of feeling something. Unfortunately. I suspect that someday in the future I will be able to sit back and reflect on our achievements and our failures. I am not trying to be evasive, I just did not have a chance to sit and watch our achievements because I am too busy trying to achieve our next goal.
– Considering the evidence you had access to, do you think there is intelligent life beyond Earth?
-Well, if you wanted proof that there is intelligent life in the universe, you only have to look at the life of your own planet. Life is abundant, adaptive, and penetrating. Life exists everywhere on this planet, including the deepest reaches of the ocean; five miles below the arctic ice; in the highest mountains. So if the question is whether there is life in this universe, the answer is yes. If the question is whether there is life in this universe beyond Earth, I think there is very compelling evidence to suggest that it is a very likely scenario.