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Former head of Pentagon's UFO threat identification program: 'This is in our airspace and it's real'
With the recent Pentagon confirmation of "unidentified aerial phenomena" flying around out there, and a separate VICE report confirming international sightings, it’s been an interesting few weeks for UFO believers, or UAPs, as the feds are calling them these days. But with last night’s 60 Minutes report detailing such phenomena, it’s getting to the point where it would be hard not to believe that something unexplained is out there.
That seems to be the take of 60 Minutes interview subject Lue Elizondo, who, in 2010 became head of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), a 22 million dollar Pentagon program sponsored by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to investigate and access the threat of UAPs reported by U.S. service members.
When Elizondo, who’s now a civilian, explained to 60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker what the AATIP was up to, the reporter expressed his and others’ incredulation about investigating UFOs and the like.
“Look, Bill, I'm not, I'm not telling you that, that it doesn't sound wacky. What I'm telling you, it's real. The question is, what is it? What are its intentions? What are its capabilities?” Elizondo replied.
Then he went on to describe the phenomena we’re dealing with, and well, yeah, you could see why we’d want to know precisely what’s out there.
"Imagine a technology that can do 6-to-700 g-forces, that can fly at 13,000 miles an hour, that can evade radar and that can fly through air and water and possibly space. And oh, by the way, has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth's gravity. That's precisely what we're seeing," Elizondo said. "We're going through our due diligence. Is it some sort of new type of cruise missile technology that China has developed? Is it some sort of high-altitude balloon that's conducting reconnaissance? Ultimately when you have exhausted all those what ifs and you're still left with the fact that this is in our airspace and it's real, that's when it becomes compelling, and that's when it becomes problematic."
After years of conspiracy theories trickling out of Area 51, it’s somewhat shocking to hear actual government employees discussing the matter at all. But 60 Minutes also spoke to former Navy pilot Lieutenant Ryan Graves who recalled his F/A-18F squadron seeing the UAPs with both radar and infrared targeting cameras. They also spoke with two of the four Naval aviators involved in a now-famous 2004 sighting about their experience, which was eventually leaked to the public and started getting us more prepared for the truth that something is out there. And with Christopher Mellon, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who, after AATIP funding was cut, saw the benefit of getting the public more aware of the phenomena, which would ultimately get the lawmakers more involved.
Which is now the case, as last August, the Pentagon basically brought back the AATIP as the UAP task force, and is encouraging service members to now report such encounters. The task force is supposed to deliver a report on their findings to Congress next month.
“Anything that enters an airspace that's not supposed to be there is a threat,” said Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who requested the report as former head of the intelligence committee. "I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously. I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in. That there be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed, until we get some answers. Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn't.”
Either way, the answer (aka The Truth) is out there.