With the approval of Paul Dean. Wednesday, 8 January 2020
Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) Admits to “TOP SECRET” Records and “SECRET” Video From USS Nimitz “Tic Tac” UFO Incident
On October the 28th, 2019, long-time researcher and friend Christian Lambright submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the US Navy’s (USN) Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) for records relating to the famed USS Nimitz “Tic Tac” UFO encounter. In it, he stated:
“This is a request for records under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) as amended including the E-FOIA amendments. Because I am unsure of what department or agency retains the records I am requesting, I ask that you forward a copy of this request to all locations that would have been in position to receive any of the material(s) detailed in the following paragraphs.
This request is to include all releasable portions of records and reports related to investigation of the detection of and encounter(s) with Anomalous Aerial Vehicles (AAVs) by personnel involved with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) operations off the western coast of the United States during the period of approximately 10–16 November, 2004. The designation ‘AAVs’ is used here because it appeared in a summary of these events, so there may also be other terms used in the material I am requesting.
Information supportive of my request comes from a former pilot and now writer who has publicly stated he was allowed to see an exhaustive classified ONI report on these events prior to an article he published in 2015. Other supportive information comes from a contractor/analyst who has stated that an investigation had been conducted by a “GS-15” with the Office of Naval Intelligence.
If any records responsive to my request originated with another agency and require review or handling by that agency, I request that I be informed appropriately of the agency(ies) involved and actions in this regard.
I also request that ANY and ALL partially releasable information be forwarded to the appropriate agency(ies) specified for review, if any, and that I be informed appropriately of actions in this regard.
In order to help determine the category in which to place this request, please know that I am a private individual requesting records for noncommercial research and study purposes. Therefore, I believe this request belongs in the “all other” fee category. However, I am willing to pay reasonable search and reproduction fees up to a maximum of $50.00 over and above the ‘2 hours’ research time and first 100 pages free’ provisions of the FOIA for costs associated with this request if necessary.
If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you explain all deletions by reference to specific categories of exempted information, but as required by law, release any segregable portions that are left after the exempted material has been redacted. I also request that redactions be made using blackout not white-out.”
Less than two months later, on December 9th, 2019, the ONI’s FOIA/PA Coordinator, Camille V’Estres, sent Lambright her reply. Her letter states, in part:
“This is a final response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request of October 28, 2019, addressed to the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). Your request was assigned the above referenced Department of Navy FOIA number. You request all releasable portions of records and reports related to investigation of the detection of and encounter(s) with Anomalous Aerial Vehicles (AAVs) by personnel involved with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) operations off the western coast of the United States during the period of approximately 10–16 November, 2004.
Our review of our records and systems reveal that ONI has no releasable records related to your request. ONI has searched our records for responsive documents. We have discovered certain briefing slides that are classified TOP SECRET. A review of these materials indicates that are currently and appropriate Marked and Classified TOP SECRET under Executive Order 13526, and the Original Classification Authority has determined that the release of these materials would cause exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States. Specifically, under Section 1.4, the materials would trigger protections under subcategory c), the Intelligence Activities of the United States, as well as the Sources and Methods that are being used to gather information in support of the National Security of the United States. In addition, the materials would trigger protections under subcategory e), Scientific and Technological Matters related to the National Security of the United States. For this reason, the materials are exempt from release under the (b) (1) Exemption for Classified Matters of National Defense. As a result these records may not be released and are being withheld.
We have also determined that ONI possesses a video classified SECRET that ONI is not the Original Classification Authority for. ONI has forwarded your request to Naval Air Systems Command to make a determination on releasability…”
From there, Ms. V’Estres goes on to offer Lambright his standard rights of appeal, and a non-determination of fee waiver.
Evidently, the ONI’s response contains numerous issues worth raising. The ONI reviewed their “records and systems” but found “no releasable records” regarding the USS Nimitz “Tic Tac” UFO event. At first glance, this implies that they have nothing themselves to release. But interpreted slightly differently, the statement could also suggest that they in fact do have internal, homegrown records, but those records off limits. This, however, seems unlikely, due to the candid admissions that come next. During these searches, ONI discovered records originating from another agency. Designated as “briefing slides”, these items were deemed to be “classified TOP SECRET” under the well-worn Executive Order 13526, and the originating authority determined that they must stay that way. The reasons given relate, firstly, to “Intelligence Activities of the United States” and “Sources and Methods” which are used to collection national security information, and, secondly, to “Scientific and Technological Matters” related, again, to national security. Finally, the ONI admits to possessing a video which is currently classified “SECRET”. Again, the ONI has no authority to declassify it, but they did at least confess to who does. The originating agency is acknowledged as the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). Ms. V’Estres reply letter is imaged below.
At this point, we can have no firm ideas as to what this material is. Moreover, the main purpose of this short piece is not to dissect each-and-every possibility, much of which would be based on assumption. Succinctly though, at first glance one may presume that the “briefing slides” relate to a series of briefings involving the USN. Research partner Keith Basterfield has elaborated on such events here. This, however, is pure supposition. Also, it is important, I think, to reiterate that this material classified TOP SECRET, and we don’t even know who by. The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA)? A successor to the elusive Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP)? Whatever the situation, we can say that it relates to USS Nimitz’s UFO encounter of November, 2004. Afterall, Lambright’s FOIA request asked for nothing else. As for the video, which is apparently classified SECRET and owned by NAVAIR, one is bound to think it relates to the short “Tic Tac” footage taken by pilot Chat Underwood during the famed and still unsolved encounter. Again, this mightn’t be the case. In the meantime, the ever patient Christian Lambright has taken an appropriate course of action to move all this further ahead.
Paul Dean is an Australian researcher who focuses on government and military involvement and response to the so-called UFO phenomena. Working alone for 20 years, Paul became an expert in regards to so-called “UFO files,” Six years ago he began tackling the problem directly, and became instrumental in seeing that the Australian government release hitherto classified files from the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Services Australia, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, and the National Archives of Australia. He works extensively with Australian based researcher Keith Basterfield on UFO case analysis and the preservation of UFO-related records.
Paul and his team use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain records, and is hot on the trail of 100s of never-before-seen classified military files. Recent discoveries include UFO sighting reports created during the Vietnam War, and administrative records related to a pair of highly classified “UFO tracking” programs which were ran by the US Army and US Air Force during America’s involvement in Vietnam. Other fresh finds include Federal Bureau of Investigation records related to the interrogation of UFO researchers in the 1970’s, and a current Federal Aviation Administration system for logging military intercepts of unknown objects in America’s airspace. Paul has also begun requesting UFO records from the USAF’s Air Force Space Command, which will include files from the 21st Space Wing and the vital Joint Functional Component Centre for Space at Vandenburg Air Force Base. Working on a daily basis with Boston-based archivist and historian Barry Greenwood, Paul believes there are likely hundreds of thousands of UFO records still held by elements of the US government, and works tirelessly to source their location and availability status. All-in-all, Paul has acquired a total of 240,000 pages of UFO-related government and military records from around the world, and tens of millions of pages of non-government UFO records, including books, newsletters, monographs, newspaper articles, case studies, letters, and magazine articles.
The Pentagon’s Secret Search for UFOs
Funded at the request of Harry Reid, the program probed a number of encounters military pilots had with aircraft they believed didn’t operate like anything they had seen before.
By Bryan Bender, December 16, 2017
The Pentagon, at the direction of Congress, a decade ago quietly set up a multimillion-dollar program to investigate what are popularly known as unidentified flying objects — UFOs.
The “unidentified aerial phenomena” claimed to have been seen by pilots and other military personnel appeared vastly more advanced than those in American or foreign arsenals. In some cases they maneuvered so unusually and so fast that they seemed to defy the laws of physics, according to multiple sources directly involved in or briefed on the effort and a review of unclassified Defense Department and congressional documents.
The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, whose existence was not classified but operated with the knowledge of an extremely limited number of officials, was the brainchild of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who first secured the appropriation to begin the program in 2009 with the support of the late Senators Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), two World War II veterans who were similarly concerned about the potential national security implications, the sources involved in the effort said. The origins of the program, the existence of which the Pentagon confirmed on Friday, are being revealed publicly for the first time by POLITICO and the New York Times in nearly simultaneous reports on Saturday.
One possible theory behind the unexplained incidents, according to a former congressional staffer who described the motivations behind the program, was that a foreign power — perhaps the Chinese or the Russians — had developed next-generation technologies that could threaten the United States.
“Was this China or Russia trying to do something or has some propulsion system we are not familiar with?” said a former staffer who spoke with POLITICO on condition of anonymity.
The revelation of the program could give a credibility boost to UFO theorists, who have long pointed to public accounts by military pilots and others describing phenomena that defy obvious explanation, and could fuel demands for increased transparency about the scope and findings of the Pentagon effort, which focused some of its inquiries into sci-fi sounding concepts like “wormholes” and “warp drives.” The program also drafted a series of what the office referred to as “queried unverified event under evaluation,” QUEU reports, in which pilots and other personnel who had reported encounters were interviewed about their experiences.
Reid initiated the program, which ultimately spent more than $20 million, through an earmark after he was persuaded in part by aerospace titan and hotel chain founder Bob Bigelow, a friend and fellow Nevadan who owns Bigelow Aerospace, a space technology company and government contractor. Bigelow, whose company received some of the research contracts, was also a regular contributor to Reid’s reelection campaigns, campaign finance records show, at least $10,000 from 1998 to 2008. Bigelow has spoken openly in recent years about his views that extraterrestrial visitors frequently travel to Earth. He also purchased the Skinwalker Ranch in Utah, the subject of intense interest among believers in UFOs. Reid and Bigelow did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
According to a Pentagon official, the AATIP program was ended “in the 2012 time frame,” but it has recently attracted attention because of the resignation in early October of Luis Elizondo, the career intelligence officer who ran the initiative. In his resignation letter, addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Elizondo said the efforts of his program were not being taken sufficiently seriously. The Pentagon official could not confirm Mattis had actually seen the letter.
“We tried to work within the system,” Elizondo told POLITICO in a recent interview. “We were trying to take the voodoo out of voodoo science.”
He described scores of unexplained sightings by Navy pilots and other observers of aircraft with capabilities far beyond what is currently considered aerodynamically possible. The sightings, Elizondo told POLITICO, were often reported in the vicinity of nuclear facilities, either ships at sea or power plants. “We had never seen anything like it.”
But, in his view military leadership did not appear alarmed by the potential threat. “If a Russian ‘Bear’ bomber comes in near California, it is all over the news,” he said. “These are coming in the skies over our facilities. Nothing but crickets.”
Shortly after his resignation, Elizondo was listed as one of the key players in a for-profit company called To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founded by Tom DeLonge, an entertainment mogul and former guitarist and vocalist for the rock band Blink-182. An April 2016 profile of DeLonge in “Rolling Stone” magazine described his fascination with theories about extraterrestrial space travel as an “obsession.”
In a video advertising the company, DeLonge describes To The Stars as a “public benefit corporation” that has “mobilized a team of the most experienced, connected and passionately curious minds from the U.S. intelligence community, including the CIA, Department of Defense, who have been operating under the shadows of top secrecy for decades.”
The founders say they believe “there is sufficient credible evidence of UAP [unidentified aerial phenomenon] that proves exotic technologies exist that could revolutionize the human experience.”
The goal of the academy’s researchers, it says on its website, is “to use their expertise and credibility to bring transformative science and engineering out of the shadows and collaborate with global citizens to apply that knowledge in a way that benefits humanity,” adding “without government restrictions.”
Also helping drive the effort is Chris Mellon, a former Democratic staff director for the Senate Intelligence Committee and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence. Other members of the company include a former high-level CIA official and the former director of advanced systems at Lockheed Martin’s super-secret Skunk Works facility in California.
“I think we’re all frustrated by the fact that our government and science neglects some of the most interesting and provocative and potentially important issues out there,” Mellon says in the video.
POLITICO learned of the Pentagon program earlier this fall, shortly after Mellon and his colleagues rolled out their new private effort, which is now seeking investors with a minimum purchase of $200 in common stock shares. Its website claims 2,142 investors, who have purchased slightly more than $2 million worth of shares.
At a recent press conference for To The Stars in Las Vegas, Mellon described one of the sightings reported by U.S. Navy pilots: “It is white, oblong, some 40 feet long and perhaps 12 feet thick … The pilots are astonished to see the object suddenly reorient itself toward the approaching F/A-18. In a series of discreet tumbling maneuvers that seem to defy the laws of physics, the object takes a position directly behind the approaching F/A-18. The pilots capture gun camera footage and infrared imagery of the object. They are outmatched by a technology they’ve never seen.”
“They did not exhibit overt hostility,” Elizondo, listed as director of global security and special programs for To The Stars, explained in a recent published interview of the series of reported encounters. “But something unexplained is always assumed to be a potential threat until we are certain it isn’t. On the bright side, I believe we are closer than ever before in our understanding of how it operates.”
The Pentagon’s AATIP program marked a 21st-century effort to replicate some of the decades of inconclusive research undertaken by the Pentagon in 1950s and 1960s to try to explain thousands of reported sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, by military and civilian pilots and average citizens — particularly an effort known as Project Bluebook that ran from 1947 to 1969 and is still a focus of intense interest for UFO researchers.
The more recent effort, which was established inside the Defense Intelligence Agency, compiled “reams of paperwork,” but little else, the former staffer said.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White confirmed to POLITICO that the program existed and was run by Elizondo. But she could not say how long he was in charge of it and declined to answer detailed questions about the office or its work, citing concerns about the closely held nature of the program.
“The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ended in the 2012 time frame,” White said. “It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change.”
White added: “The DoD takes seriously all threats and potential threats to our people, our assets, and our mission and takes action whenever credible information is developed.”
But some who were aware of the effort in its earliest days were uncomfortable with the aims of the program, unnerved by the implication that the incidents involved aircraft that were not made by humans.
“I thought it was a little bizarre at the time,” recalled a former senior intelligence official who knew about Reid’s role first-hand. He asked those in the know: “Tell me what this is, and what we are doing and what is going on and that we aren’t doing something that is nonsense here.”
“I was concerned the money was being funneled through it to somebody else who was an associate of Harry Reid’s,” added the former official, who asked not to be identified. “The whole circle was kind of a bizarre piece.”
Reid enlisted the support of Inouye, then chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, as well as Stevens, who two sources involved in the effort were told had related to Reid that as a pilot he had personally witnessed similar unexplained aerial phenomenon.
There was also interest among some analysts at the DIA who were concerned that the Russians or Chinese might have developed some more advanced systems. Reid’s views on the subject were also shaped by a book about the Skinwalker Ranch, co-authored by his acquaintance George Knapp, the former congressional staffer said.
“When this was brought to Senator Reid he said, ‘There is enough here and I am obligated if this is a national security issue to invest some money in this,’” he explained. “Stevens and Inouye agreed with this.”
“I still remember coming back from that meeting and thinking of the implications of what Reid said,” the former senior official said. “I remember being concerned about this. I wanted to make sure it was supervised and we were using the appropriation to do actual research on real threats to the United States.
He said he was assured that the research being done was valid. “It was not a rogue individual out of control.”
The former staffer said that eventually, however, even Reid agreed it was not worth continuing.
“After a while the consensus was we really couldn’t find anything of substance,” he recalled. “They produced reams of paperwork. After all of that there was really nothing there that we could find. It all pretty much dissolved from that reason alone — and the interest level was losing steam. We only did it a couple years.”
“There was really nothing there that we could justify using taxpayer money,” he added. “We let it die a slow death. It was well-spent money in the beginning.” (Theodoric Meyer and Gabriel DeBenedetti contributed tp this report)
Written by Bryan Bender and dated 23 April 2019
“The U.S. Navy is drafting new guidelines for pilots and other personnel to report encounters with “unidentified aircraft,’ a significant new step in creating a formal process to collect and analyze the unexplained sightings-and destigmatize them.
The previously unreported move is in response to a series of sightings of unknown, highly advanced aircraft intruding on Navy strike groups and other sensitive military formations and facilities, the service says.
“There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and /or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years,” the Navy said in a statement in response to questions from POLITICO. “For safety reasons and security concerns, the Navy and the [U.S. Air Force] takes these reports very seriously and investigates each and every report.
“As part of this effort,’ it added, “the Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities. A new message to the fleet that will detail the steps for reporting is in draft.”
To be clear, the Navy isn’t endorsing the idea that its sailors have encountered alien spacecraft. But it is acknowledging there have been enough strange aerial sightings by credible and highly trained military personnel that they need to be recorded in the official record and studied -rather than dismissed as some kooky phenomena from the realm of science-fiction.
Chris Mellon, a former Pentagon intelligence official and ex-staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said establishing a more formal means of reporting what the military now calls “unexplained aerial phenomena” — rather then “unidentified flying objects” — would be a “sea change.”
“Right now, we have situation in which UFOs and UAPs are treated as anomalies to be ignored rather than anomalies to be explored,” he said. “We have systems that exclude that information and dump it.”
For example, Mellon said “in a lot of cases [military personnel ] don’t know what to do with that information-like satellite data or a radar that sees something going mach 3. They will dump [the data] because that is not a traditional aircraft or missile.”
The development comes amid growing interest from members of Congress following revelations by POLITICO and the New York Times in late 2017 that the Pentagon established a dedicated office inside the Defense Intelligence Agency to study UAPs at the urging of several senators who secretly set aside appropriations for the effort.
That office spent some $25 million conducting a series of technical studies and evaluating numerous unexplained incursions, including one that lasted several days involving the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group in 2004. In that case, Navy fighter jets were outmaneuvered by unidentified aircraft that flew in ways that appeared to defy the laws of known physics.
Raytheon, a leading defense contractor, used the reports and official Defense Department video of the sightings off the coat of California to hail one of its radar systems for capturing the phenomena.
The Pentagon’s UFO research office, known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat identification program, was officially wound down in 2012 when the Congressional earmark ran out.
But lawmakers are now asking questions, the Navy also reports. “In response to requests for information from Congressional members and staff, Navy officials have provided a series of briefings by senior Naval Intelligence officials as well as aviators who reported hazards to aviation safety,” the service said in its statement to POLITICO.
The Navy declined to identify who had been briefed, nor would it provide more details on the guidelines for reporting that are being drafted for the fleet. The Air Force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Advocates for treating such sightings as a potential national security threat have long criticized leaders for giving the phenomenon relatively little attention and for encouraging a culture in which personnel feel that speaking up about it could hurt their career.
Luis Elizondo, the former Pentagon official who ran the so-called AATIP office, complained after he retired from government service that the Pentagon’s approach to these unidentified aircraft has been far too blase.
“If you are in a busy airport and see something you are supposed to say something,” Elizondo said. “With out own military members it is kind of the opposite: “If you see something, don’t say something.” He added that because these mysterious aircraft “don’t have a tail number or a flag -in some cases not even a tail-it’s crickets. What happens in five years if it turns out these are extremely advanced Russian aircraft?”
Elizondo will be featured in an upcoming documentary series about the Pentagon ufo research he oversaw. He said the six part series will reveal more recent sightings of UAPs by dozens of military pilots.
Both Elizondo and Chris Mellon are involved with the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, which supports research into explaining the technical advances these reported UAPs demonstrate.”