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PART IV. THE SECRETS
The revelations in the BAASS report beg the question: Why is the government now insistent it never studied UFOs, and why aren’t these documents being discussed or made available through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests?
Individuals who worked on the AATIP program say the current uncertainty and confusion was by design and involved a dizzying shell game that’s entirely consistent with how black budget intelligence programs are run. “What you’re dealing with is the very core of government secrecy and how things they absolutely don’t ever want to discuss are kept hidden away,” one former AATIP contractor tells Popular Mechanics.
Sources say the key to understanding current denials of UFO studies in AATIP comes from a phrase stamped on each page of the BAASS Ten Month Report obtained by Popular Mechanics:
“The information is proprietary and cannot be disseminated or used without prior written consent from the Operating Manager of BAASS.”
According to several former AATIP contractors, the “product” being produced for the DIA was technical reports on exotic and potential “game-changing” aerospace technologies, and the manner of determining what areas these radical airborne breakthroughs might emerge was through the research of UFOs.
In exchange, not only would the DIA get the agreed-upon technical reports, but it would also gain access to the extensive research BAASS was gathering on UFOs. While the DIA had access to the volumes of UFO data, the materials were actually commercial property of BAASS, as a subsidiary of Bigelow Aerospace.
The idea of using an aerospace research project as a cover for a secret UFO program may seem unscrupulous. “But this all rings very familiar,” Neil Gordon, an investigator with the Project on Government Oversight, tells Popular Mechanics.
“WHAT YOU’RE DEALING WITH IS THE VERY CORE OF GOVERNMENT SECRECY AND HOW THINGS THEY ABSOLUTELY DON’T EVER WANT TO DISCUSS ARE KEPT HIDDEN AWAY.”
Gordon, whose area of expertise is in federal contractor misconduct, contractor accountability, and government privatization, says running the “commercial in confidence” program through AATIP is consistent with how the DoD deals with programs it wants to keep secret. “Whether it’s right or not is another story,” Gordon says, “but everything sounds very common for how black budget programs run.”
The DIA may have had extensive access to the UFO materials, but because all of the data technically belonged to BAASS, under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, disclosing or releasing proprietary materials provided to the government in confidence is a federal crime. Essentially, the DIA’s UFO program was set up to circumvent FOIA requests and avoid having to discuss UFOs publicly.
Out of concern for providing Popular Mechanics access to the 2009 BAASS Ten Month Report, the person who made these materials available did so only under the guarantee of anonymity. It’s worth noting this person is not a current government employee, nor were they involved with BAASS or the AAWSAP contract.
“Unfortunately, the government attempting to evade FOIA by contracting out its responsibilities is nothing new,” Josh Budray, an attorney who specializes in FOIA and First Amendment cases, tells Popular Mechanics. “Both federal and state FOIA statutes strive to eliminate such obvious gamesmanship—avoiding transparency and disclosure obligations by contracting out functions—but whether they are successful in doing so is an entirely different story.”
Davis, the astrophysicist and former AAWSAP contractor, says his work on the AATIP program was entirely consistent with all of the technological intelligence programs he’d previously worked on over the last 30-plus years. “Indeed, science is applied, but right now there’s not enough data on UAP to make examining it a scientific endeavor. It’s an intelligence issue, not a scientific endeavor,” he says.
Puthoff, meanwhile, says BAASS produced “stacks of material to the ceiling,” but because of the way things were done, he was surprised to hear any of it had become public. “To be honest, I didn’t think this stuff would ever see the light of day,” he says.
“TO BE HONEST, I DIDN’T THINK THIS STUFF WOULD EVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY.”
When reached for comment, Colm Kelleher, the former Deputy Director of BAASS, said, “I am unable to discuss this topic.” Multiple other requests to Bigelow Aerospace for comment went unanswered.
The entire manner in which the DIA partnership allegedly operated raises an important question: Could the reason for the Pentagon’s recent denials of AATIP or AAWSAP conducting UFO research be the result of the current DoD administration being naive to the program’s underlying and commercially secret hidden purpose? It seems like a plausible theory … if it wasn’t for something else Popular Mechanics uncovered.
PART V. THE ADMISSION
Last year, Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists obtained via FOIA request and published a January 2018 letter that the DIA Congressional Relations Division sent to members of Congress. In the letter, the DIA provided “a list of all products produced under the AATIP contract for the DIA to publish.” The referenced list includes 38 technical papers, called Defense Intelligence Reference Documents (DIRDs), which cover a range of advanced, exotic, and theoretical aerospace topics.
Given what’s been said about the commercially confidential nature of AATIP, the phrase “for the DIA to publish” may be a critical play on words. Nevertheless, a source with access to the materials provided Popular Mechanics with a copy of a previously unreleased technical paper listed as one of AATIP’s products.
While the DIA refers to the paper as “Field Effects on Biological Tissue,” the original title for the submitted paper appears to actually have been “Clinical Medical Acute & Subacute Field Effects on Human Dermal & Neurological Tissues.” According to the study’s introduction, the paper is an examination of “clinical medical signs and symptoms and biophysics of injury known and expected from near-field (mostly ultra-high), NIEMR Microwave, Thermal, from unintended exposure to anomalous systems.”
You can read the entire study below.
In light of the cumbersome clinical language, just a cursory scan reveals the entire focus was on examining injuries that may have occurred after contact with UFOs or UAP. In fact, the very term “UFO” appears 16 times in the report; the word “anomalous” is used 27 times (most often with the word “aircraft,” “aviation,” or “aerospace” immediately following); and the phrase “Advanced Aerospace Systems Applications Program” is mentioned in bold on four occasions.
Popular Mechanics spoke with the study’s author, Christopher “Kit” Green, a forensic clinician and neuroscientist. Green was surprised to learn his research paper had become publicly known, because he was under the impression it was never included in the distributed set, nor was it finally peer-reviewed.
Green confirms his paper wasn’t cited correctly in the letter to Congress, however, he says the 54-page document Popular Mechanics obtained appeared to be the same paper he was requested to provide as a product of AAWSAP.
“This focused on forensically assessing accounts of injuries that could have resulted from claimed encounters with UAP,” says Green. “I didn’t work for BAASS, other than as a contractor for my paper, and I wasn’t a part of AAWSAP. However, it is my understanding this program was a UFO study that outwardly was not supposed to look like it had anything to do with UFOs.”
“THIS PROGRAM WAS A UFO STUDY THAT OUTWARDLY WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE IT HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH UFOS.”
Green cautions some past speculations about his paper were inaccurate, including the claims it was an effort to understand or reverse-engineer UAP technology. Green also stresses that while his work focused on encounters with unknown or unidentified aerial objects, all of the injuries he assessed could be accounted for by known terrestrial means, and did not provide any evidence for extraterrestrial or non-human technologies.
Could the 38 technical reports BAASS produced for AATIP represent what it determined accounted for UAP?
“Many of the topics could be called ‘dual-use’ given that, say, papers on advanced plasma propulsion and invisibility cloaking could apply to our own advanced aerospace development as well as possibly some UAPs,” says Puthoff. But his “spacetime metric engineering paper, the warp drive and wormhole papers, and specifically the Statistical Drake Equation paper are essentially applicable only to UAPs.”
Davis, who worked with Puthoff and authored four of the DIRDs, offers a particularly intriguing detail about the DIA’s 38 reference papers.
“This wasn’t focused on whether or not [UAP] are real. It’s already been well established that UAP are real by a preponderance of evidence. Some classified and some proprietary [that] I can’t talk about,” he says.
Instead of investigating if UAP are real, the 38 technical papers for the AAWSAP contract were also an intelligence assessment to measure just how far advanced UAP could be from current and projected scientific understandings. “Me, Hal [Puthoff], and an aerospace executive who had access to materials worked on that assessment for the DIA,” Davis says.
Ultimately, aside from the wealth of BAASS proprietary evidence, Green’s study alone—which the DIA told Congress was a product of AATIP that it would “be happy to provide upon direct request”—seems to completely dispute the Pentagon’s recent claims that neither AATIP or AAWSAP were related to UFOs.
A Timeline of UFO Programs
In an exchange of emails between Gough, the Pentagon spokesperson, and Swedish research Roger Glassal, which were provided and published by research analyst Keith Basterfield, Gough said AAWSAP commenced in the fiscal year (FY) 2008 with a designated $10 million dollars of funding. Since the bid solicitation wasn’t issued until August 2008, we now know that Gough was mistaken, and the program actually began in FY2009, which began October 1, 2008.
In the same email exchange, Gough indicated the first 26 technical reports were completed in late 2009 and an additional $12 million dollars was designated in the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Act for 12 additional reports. (Editor’s note: In the original email, Gough indicated “late 2008.” It’s assumed this was also said in error since BAASS didn’t receive the AAWSAP contract until September 2008 and Green’s technical paper is dated May 2009.)
“After an OSD/DIA review in late 2009, it was determined the reports were of limited value to DIA and there was a recommendation that upon completion of the contract the project could be transited to an agency or component better suited to oversee it.
Funding for the program at the DIA ended in 2012 and DoD elected not to continue the program after the work contracted under the FY2010 NDAA was completed.”
Indeed, every source Popular Mechanics spoke to for this story agrees the partnership between BAASS and AAWSAP had concluded by 2012.
But here’s where things get messy: Gough says when DIA funding dried up in 2012, the overarching AATIP program closed up shop as well. Every source we spoke to, however, says not only did AATIP not end in 2012, but the program is still ongoing to this day.
Core to the contention of whether or not the government maintained an interest after 2012 is the man the DoD says “had no responsibilities” with AAWSAP or AATIP: former senior Pentagon intelligence executive Luis Elizondo.
Who, exactly, is Elizondo? A patriotic whistleblower putting his reputation at stake for something he says the American public must know about? Or a huckster using his former position for his own benefit, as the Pentagon seemingly implies?
PART VI. THE LEADER
After serving a stint as a counterintelligence agent for the U.S. Army, in the late 1990s, Elizondo would be recruited into the ranks of the enigmatic U.S. intelligence community.
Elizondo’s first stop as an intelligence operations specialist was running counterinsurgency and counternarcotics operations in Latin America. “We dealt with a lot of stuff, like coup d’etats, black market terrorism, violent drug cartels, all that kind of stuff,” Elizondo says.
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Elizondo was then redirected toward East Asia, where he served an advisor of a small intelligence unit assigned to support General James Mattis during his command of Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Task Force 58 (TF-58) in the War on Terrorism. In a case study published by the Naval War College in 2016, Lt. Col. Damian Spooner describes the analysis and products produced by intelligence sections under Gen. Mattis as being “indispensable” in driving TF-58 planning and operations.
Later, while continuing to support the U.S.-led war on terrorism, Elizondo, the son of a Cuban exile, found himself in Cuba dealing with some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world at Guantanamo Bay’s infamous “Camp Seven,” the prison constructed for the sole purpose of housing 14 “high-value detainees.”
In early 2008, James Clapper, then the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, asked Elizondo to come to the Pentagon to help coordinate information sharing and partnership engagement being run by the Secretary of Defense’s Office. Though the promise of cutting his daily commute in half was one of the biggest selling points, Elizondo’s decision to set up shop at the Pentagon would end up putting him directly in the path of recruitment for a special program the DIA had just started running: AAWSAP.
Though the BAASS Ten Month Report includes an abundance of UAP information, nothing within the text contains any data or information provided by the U.S. government. Conversely, there are a number of requests made by BAASS for access to specific UAP information being held within the DoD and other U.S. agencies. Sources say this is key to understanding how Elizondo entered the picture.
“If they [BAASS] wanted access to info that I’m not saying does exist, but it might have been highly classified, you need someone who had the tickets to make sure the contractors weren’t actually looking at Special Access Program (SAP) stuff thinking it was UFOs,” says an intelligence official who is not authorized to speak on the record.
“Plus,” the official tells Popular Mechanics, “I’m not saying it was, but they might have been looking into something that was of significant interest to foreign advisories and a high-value target for espionage. Bottom line, you needed a counterintel guy.”
Elizondo tells Popular Mechanics that he never wanted to be a part of AATIP. However, as a senior official at OUSDI with a background in counterintelligence, he found himself being recruited into the ongoing UFO effort.
“In 2008,” Elizondo says, “two guys came by my office and said, ‘Are you Lue Elizondo?’ The first thing I thought was, ‘Oh no, what did I do?’ They told me, ‘You came highly recommended as a former senior CI guy with some background in advanced avionics.’ Which is true—I worked some on the Open Skies Treaty. I worked with Raytheon, Boeing, and some other stuff. That was my portfolio.”
Elizondo was told AATIP needed a counterintelligence support and security guy for a very special program. Within a month, after a series of meetings, Elizondo finally met with the then-director of AATIP, who asked him what seemed like a strange question at the time:
“What do you think about UFOs?”
Elizondo was flummoxed. “I was like, ‘What the hell?’ I thought it was a test or something. So I told the truth: I don’t. I don’t think about UFOs. I don’t know if they’re real or not. I don’t think about them. I’m too busy trying to catch terrorists and bad guys.”
Elizondo’s ambivalence was evidently exactly what those running the program wanted to hear. Soon enough, Elizondo joined AATIP. “Seriously, for awhile, I still didn’t know if it was a test,” he says. “It wasn’t until I started examining the security posture of the portfolio that I suddenly realized these things are really unidentified.”
Not long after Elizondo was on board, in June 2009, Sen. Harry Reid submitted a letter to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn III requesting AATIP be granted restricted SAP status. Though ultimately denied, had Reid’s request been granted, it would have further tightened security and secrecy around AATIP.
Last year, KLAS Las Vegas reporter George Knapp published Reid’s letter showing Elizondo’s name on the list of “preliminary government personnel” who would have had access to AATIP. In addition to Elizondo, Reid, and the late Senator Daniel Inouye, seven other names of government employees (which have not been released) would have had access to the proposed AATIP SAP. Notably, only three “contractor personnel” made the cut.
According to a source with knowledge of the letter, the three contractor personnel Reid wanted to grant preliminary access to were Bigelow, Kelleher, and Puthoff. Puthoff confirms with Popular Mechanics that he was one of the three approved contractors on the list. The Pentagon later confirmed the letter published by Knapp was authentic.
Sources say the limited number of contractors listed with access is yet another breadcrumb left on the trail of secrecy showing AATIP was indeed slightly different from the AAWSAP contract.
According to multiple sources, including individuals working within the Pentagon—and confirmed by Elizondo—in 2010, when the DIA cut off funding for AATIP’s contract, a DIA program manager asked Elizondo if he would keep the UFO project running. “I wasn’t a DIA employee,” Elizondo says, “so I’d have to run it wearing my OSD hat at the Pentagon. We all agreed this was the best thing to do, so that’s what we did.”
By all accounts, Elizondo was now “bootstrapping” AATIP from the OUSDI, meaning he added the program to the list of his existing intelligence portfolios.
Popular Mechanics has learned the post-BAASS era of AATIP was an even more closely guarded program and consistent with how highly classified intelligence projects are conducted.
“Ninety percent of people don’t understand how the general government runs, and even less understand the intelligence community,” a former senior Special Operations and Intelligence Officer tells Popular Mechanics. “Because this program would have now been out of the Front Office, your guy [Elizondo] would have had the ability to muster up people from various areas of the Intelligence Community. You would have wanted to include the least possible, but best people for the specific mission. You could have had people from the DIA, ONI [Office of Naval Intelligence], and OSI [Office of Special Investigations] all working separately, but together on the same mission.”
Elizondo says when he took over the AATIP, he ran it like a traditional government effort. “We greatly reduced the number of contractors to just what we might have needed, but this was going to be government to government, looking on government systems at government data,” he says.
According to Elizondo, unlike most of the BAASS personnel, the post-2012 AATIP crew did have access to highly classified government information to adequately assess the situation. While the Pentagon denies that AATIP continued after 2012, Elizondo says the post-BAASS AATIP was not unsanctioned, and not just a group of government UFO enthusiasts. “Very, very few people in the building knew what we were doing, but the Front Office (Office of the Secretary of Defense) was in the loop,” he says.
Popular Mechanics has learned the ONI was one of the major backers that wanted to see AATIP continued, which sources say is why the Navy has been so willing to take the most public lead on the UAP issue today.
Elizondo’s critics have repeatedly asked an important question: If AATIP was such a secret program, why is Elizondo now talking about it publicly?
By denying AATIP SAP status back in 2009 and not ever officially blanketing it under a security classification, Popular Mechanics has learned that the government effectively allowed for the program itself to now be discussed.
“There’s a lot they can’t talk about, like sources, methods, etc., but the program itself is unclassified and fair game for public disclosure,” a source with knowledge of the program tells Popular Mechanics. Elizondo confirms this is correct. “I’ve never once violated, nor am I willing to violate my security oaths, so anything I’ve discussed is indeed unclassified,” he says.
In one of Elizondo’s employee performance evaluations, which Popular Mechanics obtained, it lists his primary “mission goals” as managing and administering information, access controls, and security of national-level SAPs for the Secretary of Defense. Elizondo confirms his position allowed him access to the most highly secretive and reclusive programs being run by the U.S. “The stuff we were seeing was truly unidentified. It wasn’t related to anything we were doing,” he says.
In October 2017, Elizondo resigned from the DoD to join former Blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge’s UFO research group To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science, which would soon release the Navy’s “Flir1” video to the world and properly kick off a ufological renaissance. Elizondo now works as the company’s Director of Global Security and Special Programs.
Why did Elizondo leave his government job? Because he realized the Pentagon’s top brass would never treat UAP with the importance they deserved. A senior Pentagon official tells Popular Mechanics they were aware that Elizondo briefed a White House intelligence aide and two senior aides to Mattis, then the Secretary of Defense, in the spring of 2017.
The official, who is not authorized to speak on the record, says the White House aide was uncomfortable with the prospect of UFOs being real. To their knowledge, the White House aide did not pass the information along. The aides to Mattis, meanwhile, acknowledged UFOs were a real issue, but they were concerned with the political optics should it ever come out that the Secretary of Defense had been briefed about them. Elizondo confirms the accuracy of these accounts. “I resigned only after multiple attempts to brief the Secretary [of Defense] failed,” he previously told Popular Mechanics.
Finally, while the Pentagon has denied AATIP’s existence after 2012 and that Elizondo was never involved in looking into UFOs, Popular Mechanics has obtained documentation that seems to unambiguously show AATIP was active after the closing of the BAASS AAWSAP contract, Elizondo was running this extension of AATIP, and the efforts to examine UFOs are still currently underway.
Though the documents were unclassified, they contained sensitive information, and the person sharing them did so only under the guarantee that Popular Mechanics would not make them publicly available. The person said they only were willing to share the materials to support Elizondo’s claims, which they say have been unfairly challenged over the last two years. The individual, who is not a government employee, did approve the release of a small section from one of the documents showing the changing of responsibilities before Elizondo left the DoD.
Last edited by Carol on Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night, the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
With deepest respect ~ Aloha & Mahalo, Carol