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Q&A with Luis Elizondo

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Asked to describe on a scale of 1 to 10 the public’s level of understanding of UFO phenomena, and the government’s, Luis Elizondo answered: “Public’s understanding is probably .01. Government’s understanding is about .02.” The Daily Record interviewed Elizondo, former head of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, last week, ahead of the release Friday of a government report on Unexplained Aerial Phenomena. (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Former head of AATIP talks UFOs and the search for answers

By John Dilmore
and Toby Martinez
Roswell Daily Record

Luis Elizondo (Submitted Photo)

Thousands of people are expected to descend on Roswell later this week for the city’s first post-pandemic UFO Festival. Though Luis Elizondo doesn’t plan to be among them, no one has done more in recent years to drive interest — through the pursuit of new information — in the phenomena drawing those crowds than the former head of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.

Elizondo has been a consistent presence in media as anticipation has built in recent months for release of a much-publicized report from the U.S. intelligence community on Unexplained Aerial Phenomena. (See related story, click here.)

Not surprising, given the unique insight and drive for transparency Elizondo has contributed to the questions being asked louder and louder with each passing day: What is being seen in the skies? And what is its origin?

Elizondo served for years as an intelligence officer within various branches of government and the armed forces, including as program manager/director of AATIP, where the mission was to conduct science-based intelligence investigations “of incursions by UAPs into controlled U.S. airspace,” as noted in his bio.

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He eventually left his Pentagon post to focus on raising awareness of UAPs and the questions surrounding them — “to dismantle the bureaucratic silos and stovepipes hindering the conversation about this important topic.” In 2017, he joined a private company comprised of former intelligence officers, scientists, engineers and others dedicated to engaging top policy-makers and the media on the topic.

A year later he started working as a host and technical producer on the History Channel’s “UNIDENTIFIED: Inside America’s UFO Investigation,” which introduced to a wider audience the history of the UAP phenomenon and present-day efforts to shed light on it. Front and center were investigations into the now-famous declassified military videos of tic-tac UAPs encountered by U.S. Navy pilots and other military personnel.

“In late 2020,” Elizondo states in his bio, “I decided to focus on disclosure advocacy at the global level … and this is where our journey begins!”

The Roswell Daily Record recently interviewed Elizondo on a range of topics related to the history and ongoing examination of UFO/UAP phenomena, including his thoughts on the alleged 1947 UFO crash outside Roswell.

Presented here are excerpts from the conversation, edited for length and clarity. Additional excerpts will appear in future editions of the Daily Record.

Roswell Daily Record: In your years of researching and speaking with people about UFO phenomena, have you heard or come across anything related to the alleged 1947 Roswell incident that you hadn’t heard before or that you think the general public might not have heard?

Elizondo: I’ll share with you … some of the observations that were made by some people. Before I was part of AATIP, I had no idea about Roswell, other than that there was sort of some alleged crash at some point and some farmer found debris — but during my time with AATIP, there was some very interesting anecdotal information that suggests there wasn’t just one crash, there may have been actually two crashes, and that somehow it may have been related to some sort of testing that was being done at the time at White Sands, and that material was recovered.

And that material that was recovered, samples of that material actually found their way into the hands of private citizens, some of them, but that the … allegedly the larger sections of debris were all recovered by the U.S. Government.

Unfortunately, my time at AATIP was very much focused on the current events at the time — so, for example, any type of instance that may involve military encounters from 2004, let’s say, until the time I left. There was discussion about historical events but it wasn’t the priority of AATIP, and the reason for that is not that it wasn’t important. We just had much better data and more recent data from the military sensors and eyewitnesses that revealed it.

So, there was discussion sometimes from what we call the graybeards. Some of these individuals would’ve been part of not just AATIP but part of historical efforts going back to Blue Book even, where individuals have shared with us these … I don’t want to call them stories … sometimes when you say “I’m going to tell you a story,” this seems to be based in fiction, but these individuals were convinced that the events in New Mexico was not fiction. In fact that it was a, very much a real event and that some very exotic material was recovered.

And then there was a subsequent effort to try to be very dismissive about what actually occurred in New Mexico. But again, I will share with you that it was, from my understanding, it wasn’t actually one, it was two crashes, and it may have been related to some sort of nuclear-type testing of technology that we were doing, atomic and/or nuclear technology at Los Alamos at the time.

Roswell Daily Record: U.S. military technology …

Elizondo: You know, you also had the Atomic Agency back then, so U.S. Atomic Commission as well, so we can say military but I just want to make sure that I’m accurate here. I don’t know if it was completely military. I think the response was a military response, but I don’t know the type of testing that was being done in Los Alamos in the 1947 time era — but if that is true then it seems … it’s interesting to me, because it’s consistent with the other observations we made that there is certainly a nuclear tie to UAP activity.

Roswell Daily Record: If you had a time machine and you could go to any moment in the history of the UFO or UAP phenomenon, and you could see it with your own eyes because you thought it would give you the best shot at the answer to what these things are, which period would you choose, which case?

Elizondo: I would actually go back to ancient Rome. When I was in Italy, I had the sincere honor and privilege of talking to one of the head academics in Rome, and there they provided a communication — a scroll if you will — between a Roman soldier and a Roman general, and in there he describes what they call a clipeus … the Roman shield from the Latin word … and they described what they call these flaming Roman shields in the sky that would follow them from battle space to battle space. I think for me that would be really interesting because going back that far, if I had the ability to look at a UAP, I could then make a determination knowing what I know now — are these vehicles consistent with what we’re seeing today or have they evolved as well, if it’s like humanity has evolved? Is there some sort of evolutionary process going on with these things, or is it not? Is it fairly consistent?

Roswell Daily Record: What researcher or historic witness would you most like to speak to … someone you haven’t yet been able to speak to?

Elizondo: Wow. You know, that’s a tough question. You don’t know what you don’t know. I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to speak to a lot of people. Robert Hastings is one of them. Just a fascinating human being, very articulate, very, very intelligent, and I really appreciated speaking with him. I really appreciated speaking to Terry Lovelace as well. He had a riveting account that he shared with me. I won’t go into detail unless he gives me permission to share it.

But, I don’t have a favorite because all of them are, I think, important for adding clarity to this discussion. I don’t think any one narrative is correct, and I don’t think any one narrative is necessarily incorrect. I think as we continue our efforts and collect more data and more information and talk to more people, I think we may be surprised that a lot of these eyewitness accounts — and in some cases experiences — may actually add some clarity or fidelity to this topic down the road.

Right now I think it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. You’ve got a piece that just doesn’t seem to fit. Well, you don’t throw the piece away. You set it aside and you keep it because at some point it may fit later on in the puzzle.

Roswell Daily Record: Did you ever meet Stanton Friedman?

Elizondo: No, sir, I did not. I heard that he was an amazing human being. I wish I had an opportunity to have met him. I was very fortunate, I had a chance to work with folks like Hal Puthoff and Kit Green, Eric Davis, absolute legends in the community from a scientific perspective, and those were the people that I had the chance to interact with.

Roswell Daily Record: Of people who you’ve spoken to, whistleblowers or alleged witnesses, is there one that stands out for you as having hit the nail on the head, that most rings true to you?

Elizondo: Truth unfortunately is, so many times, it seems to be subjective, so I want to be sure to differentiate between what my truth might be versus what the real truth might be. We all have our version of what truth is, and yet sometimes the real truth may be something a little bit different, so I’m very careful to offer my opinion on who has a narrative that’s closer to the quote/unquote truth.

I learned a long time ago as a kid, you learn about the three blind men trying to describe an elephant. One person’s touching the ear while the other’s touching the leg and the other one’s touching the trunk, and they’re all describing something seemingly completely different, and in reality they’re describing the same thing from a different perspective. …

For me, when you’re talking to the military eyewitnesses who are not only trained observers and highly critical thinkers, they’re looking at things through a very specific aperture, if you will, and then you see the distress in their facial expressions when you’re having a conversation because not only are they confused and perplexed, frankly they’re a little concerned. … It’s always very compelling to me because I’ve trained in my background to understand micro-behaviors and neurolinguistics and things that the human body does when it is either under stress or it is being deceptive, and in these cases, none of these pilots have ever indicated any type of deceptive behavior, and they’re not trained in that, right? They’re pilots. They’re trained to be good pilots, not interrogators.

So, I have time and time and time and time and time again, when speaking to these individuals, they’re all telling you the truth. The question is, is what they are observing, that truth, the real truth? And the more I talk to pilots and the more I talk to eyewitness radar operators and whatnot, the more I’m convinced that what they are observing is the reality — and I have seen it myself on gun camera footage, some very, very compelling — that at the end of the day you’re left scratching your head and saying, “Look, I don’t know what that is, it’s not ours,” and I think that’s now finally being validated through Congress in this 180-day report.

We now realize it’s not our technology, so whose is it, right?

And then we have to go down the logic trail, if you will, for that part of the discussion, and right now the jury is still out. We don’t have a definitive conclusion yet, but I think it’s more and more looking like it’s something probably not man-made.

Roswell Daily Record: What are the odds of any of these videos making it into the public domain?

Elizondo: Well, that’s not my decision. I would certainly hope so. I would certainly hope that if Congress decides to have hearings on this, which they now seem to think that they want to do, which I would support completely … that decision’s not up to me. I would hope that that video could be, and the other videos could be, scrubbed enough to protect sources and methods and allow the American people to see what I’ve seen. But again, that decision’s not up to me.

Roswell Daily Record: Has all of this been worth it for you?

Elizondo: Oh, wow. Either there’s days that I wake up and I say, “Hell yes,” and then there’s days I wake up and say, “Hell no.” It probably depends on how badly I’m getting beat up on social media at the time. My wife and my kids really take it hard when these people come out and they try to assume what your motivation is or they say, “Oh, well, he’s a counterintelligence guy, you can’t trust him.” These are coming from people in some cases who, you look at their social media profile and they’re for equal rights for everybody, you know, we don’t stereotype, and yet some of these people are the first ones that throw arrows just because I happen to have served my country. All of sudden now I’m being bad and evil.

It’s frustrating for me because I gave up a very good career to do this, and I’m not asking people for money, I’m not selling anything. I’m just speaking my mind based upon my observations and my experience. If people don’t want to listen to it, then don’t listen to it. I’m not forcing anybody to listen to it.

But, I think what’s bad for me, is what hurts, is when people start assigning a false narrative or a false motivation that isn’t there and they just presume or assume something, and they’re not really interested in the truth. They’re more interested in trying to support their own preconceived narrative or conspiracy theory. And so, it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating.

Roswell Daily Record: How would you say the government has changed over the years when it comes to treatment of people who try to get new information out or seek new information, or whistleblowers? Has there been any change?

Elizondo: No, they definitely … there’s some elements in the Pentagon that definitely came after me and they’re still trying to come after me. Fortunately, that’s their minority so their voice is becoming increasingly more silent. But no. I mean, the first thing that people do within the government is if something salacious comes out, they ignore you, and then when they can’t ignore you, then they try to come up with ways to discredit you, and then when they can’t discredit you, they try to buy you off somehow.

So, we’re probably in the phase right now of people still trying to discredit AATIP and what we were doing and what our findings were, and myself. And fortunately we have champions like Sen. Harry Reid, who had come out and corrected the record. After all, it was his program, so he probably knows a little bit about this program. And, there’s some people in the government too that have quietly came up and said hey, look, Lue, we know what you were doing, we know what the program is. It just takes us a little bit of time unfortunately, internally to a department, to figure this out, and I think that’s probably why you have this IG evaluation that’s being pursued by the inspector general, DOD inspector general. I think they know that. I think they realize there’s been some missteps internally within the department and they’re just trying to figure out, where did they go wrong and what they can do better. At least, that’s my initial impression. I think they’re trying to do the right thing. I hope that’s the case certainly.

Roswell Daily Record: Could you speak a little bit more about some of the correlations you’ve seen between clusters of sightings and specific geography, proximity to nuclear facilities, that sort of thing, and what your thoughts are on those?

Elizondo: There definitely seems to be two congruencies that we saw in AATIP. One is our interest in our nuclear capabilities, and when I say capabilities, I don’t mean just weapons. It means propulsion. It means related technology. I mean power as well, and energy. There seems to be some interest in that. And then secondly, there is also some interesting congruencies we see in and around bodies of water. There’s been some speculation and some hypothesis presented that indicates maybe water’s being used as a potential fuel source. But there were some very interesting things that we saw, and I think what further makes this interesting is the fact that when you look at this compared to what the Russians were seeing in the ‘90s, and presumably still are seeing — and so were these other countries at the time that we were working with — they had the same exact problem too.

When I say problem, the same challenge of UAPs in and around nuclear equities, and water as well, and this is not just being observed by civilians. It’s being observed by law enforcement officers, security personnel, intelligence personnel. People who are trained to think critically and to really, probably from a trained-observer perspective, look at things from a slightly different angle. …

There’s an old saying we have in the military, “He who sees the enemy first wins.” Right? “He who pulls the trigger first wins.” We spent a lot of money making sure that we have a competitive advantage over our adversaries. So, these folks are highly trained in identifying if that’s an F-16 or an F-15 versus an Su-22 or a MiG-25.

You look at a MiG-25 and an F-15, to the untrained eye they look pretty similar, and then when you talk to an Air Force or a Navy pilot, they say, “No, they look completely different.” Well, that’s because they’re trained. They’re trained to notice the subtleties, and when these folks are reporting back things that don’t not only look like any aircraft we have, but don’t have wings and any associated technology such as control surfaces and rudders and ailerons and elevators — and don’t even have an engine, any obvious sign of propulsion, no cockpit, no rivets within the skin of the aircraft, then you’re faced with the big question: OK, well, what is it?

And that’s one of the reasons why we really don’t call them UFOs anymore, because when you talk about flight, you’re talking about four fundamental forces: thrust, lift, drag and weight. When you understand those forces, you create wings and lifting bodies and you create flight. These things are in our atmosphere but they don’t have any of the associated technology or characteristics that we normally attribute for flying, so we don’t know if even that’s an accurate term — if these things are truly flying or not — because they don’t appear to have the things necessary to fly.

They’re there and they’re in our skies, but they may not be using the same type of technology we do to defy the natural effects of Earth’s gravity.

Roswell Daily Record: On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you say the public’s level of understanding of the phenomena is — and also, what is the government’s?

Elizondo: Public’s understanding is probably .01. Government’s understanding is about .02.

Roswell Daily Record: That would suggest that the government really doesn’t know what’s going on, doesn’t know much more about what these things are and what’s going on than the public does.

Elizondo: Well, and that’s a great way to put it. … We think of the government, it’s this big, if you will, entity — this gigantic entity, this lumbering giant we call government. But the government is composed of many different parts. And there are parts within the government that may be aware of a little bit more about these things, but it’s not indicative of the whole of government …

When we say “The government must know something,” well, OK, what’s your definition of the government? Are you talking about a scientist that’s been part of this effort since the 1980s sitting in some sort of laboratory? Or are you talking about the president of the United States? Because if you mean the president of the United States and Congress, then the answer’s no.

If you mean that there are some expertise within the organizations that might have some better understanding of this, then that’s possible. But as a government writ large — no, we don’t. We don’t have a collective understanding of this. We don’t have a strategy to pursue this, and this is part of my frustration. …

AATIP was one of those pockets where we had a certain level of expertise and understanding, but that wasn’t indicative of the whole of government, and that’s why this conversation is so important, the one we’re having right now with you, because it’s important that the whole of government does recognize this topic and the validity of this topic. And then can apply the right amount of resources and expertise and talent to try to figure it out.