| With the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence expecting a transparent military audit on UFOs by December, the brass is warming up by blowing off its own foot. No sooner had the History channel wrapped the finale of its “Unidentified” second season last weekend, than John Greenewald’s Black Vault detailed a bureaucracy’s determination to stonewall at the expense of its own internal logic. And in so doing, the Navy has demonstrated it won’t hesitate to toss its own people under the bus to cling to an increasingly uneasy status quo.
Greenewald’s coup, published Monday, is the latest dispatch
from his long-running FOIA odyssey to learn more about the military’s UFO investigation, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. What it tells us is that the Defense Department not only continues to deny that former Office of Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence agent Luis Elizondo ran the AATIP show, despite ample evidence to the contrary. The Navy’s counsel, Judge Advocate General’s Litigation Division, now says it can find – get this – “no evidence” that its own PIO stated for the record that “The AATIP program involved offices across the Department of Defense, including Navy.” Even though the Pentagon subsequently confirmed to Greenewald that, yep, the Navy PIO actually did issue “an accurate statement.” And blink, just like that, the Navy JAG just turned itself into a cartoon panel right out of “Family Circus.”
Want more? The legal department also insists that all AATIP records – “if they ever existed,” and that covers all documents, photos, vids, emails, etc. – “may have been permanently transferred, destroyed or otherwise no longer able to be located by the (Initial Denial Authority).”
May have been. But the Navy’s top legal eagle doesn’t even know for sure “if they ever existed.” Perfect.
Anyone sitting on the Senate Intel Committee expecting a routine accounting of what the military does and doesn’t know about The Great Taboo is naïve and should maybe recuse themselves to preserve the integrity of this inquiry. Yes, it’s fabulous that the Pentagon acknowledges it’s in damage-control mode now and needs a platform to reassure taxpayers that it’s on top of this longstanding national-security breach. On August 4, it established the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, naming Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist to coordinate the effort. The bio suggests Norquist is a stickler for details. But the project will continue to operate under the Navy umbrella. Which means this is going to be a long slog, likely rutted with misdirection and evasion.
It’s not hard to figure why powerful corners of the defense establishment are still trying to discredit retired counterintelligence operator Elizondo. This is the guy who actually took his UFO assignment seriously enough to march his mission statement and those jet-fighter videos to the NY Times in 2017 after he couldn’t unclog his findings from the stovepipe and shoot it up the chain of command. Furthermore, this summer, Elizondo and History’s eight-part series left a trail of breadcrumbs so obvious for lawmakers to follow that even Mr. Magoo could read the map.
The most promising trail leads to North American Aerospace Defense Command, which watches everything in the continental skies. NORAD uses an international treaty with Canada to shield its data from the prying eyes of FOIA. In “Unidentified’s” S2E5, retired USAF Col. Jim Cobb and onetime Senior Command Director at NORAD’s base in Cheyenne Mountain went on camera to tell producers about an incident that left “the entire room standing” in 2008.
Sensors tracked a southbound blip without a transponder as it traversed the entire U.S. eastern seaboard. The bogey’s flight path into commercial corridors was so unnerving, multiple squadrons of warplanes were scrambled to investigate; unfortunately, the pilots may have had better luck on a snipe hunt. Which begs the question: How many unknowns like that are in the NORAD case files? And where’s the Air Force? Remember those guys?
But Elizondo and his To The Stars Academy colleagues collaborating on “Unidentified” didn’t stop at NORAD. They didn’t stop with a presentation on UFOs’ unimpeded surveillance of American nuclear assets. Or with riveting personal testimony from dozens of military eyewitnesses, pilots, and other trained observers.
In a flourish of chutzpah, knowing their target audience included buttoned-down Beltway wonks, the shot-callers decided in last Saturday’s season-ender to roll the bones and go full monty with alien abductions, the most radioactive element in the UFO spectrum. And how better to tee it off than with than a couple of USAF security-patrol veterans who bore witness to the famous “northern tier” wave sweeping Strategic Air Command bases in 1975? Stationed at South Dakota’s Ellsworth AFB, they recounted a simultaneous and life-altering missing-time incident visited upon them while checking out the penetration of America’s most restricted airspace by a UFO.
The only reason we know about what happened to Ellsworth airman Mario Woods, and others like him, is because his story appeared last year in Robert Hastings’ Confession: Our Hidden Alien Encounters Revealed. Renowned as the researcher who convinced well over 100 veterans and contractors to share their stories of security lapses in his 2008 book UFOs and Nukes – Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites, Hastings himself was featured in S2E8.
Hastings offered De Void a reminder that, since 2008, he had declined 18 invitations to appear on related shows prior to cooperating with History. On balance, he says, his aversion to overexposure in sensationalist formats finally paid off.
“Compared to the vast majority of so-called UFO documentaries on TV,” he said from his home in rural Colorado, “I think the ‘Unidentified’ series was far superior. They very credibly presented multiple encounters by military personnel with these unidentified aerial phenomena, which is a very productive thing to do, in terms of promoting public awareness and education.”
Some of his quibbles were widely shared, like the producers’ wasted-time formula of regurgitating what viewers had already seen immediately before the commercial breaks. However, despite his qualified endorsement of the series, other editing decisions left him “surprised and disappointed.”
The most conspicuous flaw was excluding Hastings from the S2E3 episode “UFOs vs. Nukes.” This is the guy who literally wrote that book. Instead, his face time was restricted to the abduction episode, and all connections to his UFOs and Nukes research was omitted. And even within those constraints, specific details of what Hastings saw, vivid descriptions of confrontations with otherworldly beings, were omitted as well. For the record, he calls the producers’ choices “overly cautious.”
Not that long ago, Hastings himself chose self-censorship over personal disclosure. He harbored a legitimate fear that discussing his apparent history of abductions – which became impossible to ignore after a camping encounter in 1988 – would damage his reputation as a researcher. But as his career neared a close, he decided to spill the beans in 2019. By then, however, interest in all dimensions of The Great Taboo had evolved light years beyond Reagan’s dog whistles on the floor of the United Nations. But with a lingering caveat.
“Even though the media now has suddenly taken a serious interest in the UFO phenomenon, for most journalists, the abduction topic is still taboo,” he says. “As it is, I’m sure, with many people in government. It’s just a bridge too far for most people at this point.”
Maybe TTSA insisted on including abductions in the series, however soft-pedaled the material, because the issue is getting too big to ignore inside influential circles. Hastings alluded to one possibility in an essay early this year. But, he adds, you can only thread that needle for so long.
“I understand that people need to crawl before they walk. This is still a new and very strange and sometimes frightening subject for many, many people. And I understand that one needs to proceed slowly, in terms of presenting the evidence to the public and to congressional oversight personnel.
“But ultimately that extra step is going to have to be taken, there’s so much credible data now confirming this aspect of the UFO phenomenon.”
Whether or not it was the right call at this point remains to be seen. But Elizondo & crew have just upped the ante. If in fact abduction material is waiting at the end of the trail, beyond the hardware, beyond the physics, it’s not difficult to imagine admirals and generals burning the house down before giving that up. We got a sneak peek this week when they Navy wouldn’t even confirm the obvious.
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