Tuesday, September 21, 2021

UFO Three Card Monty: Menzel, Hillenkoetter & NICAP

Dr. Donald H. Menzel

    Dr. Donald H. Menzel (1901-1976) was a distinguished astronomer and astrophysicist. He was also an outspoken critic of UFOs as interplanetary vehicles. The scientist, whose rather extraordinary career path went through Princeton and Harvard, found no compelling reasons to believe UFO reports carried any particular significance to his fields of study.  

Menzel was often cited during the mid 20th century as an authority on UFO skepticism. In The UFO Evidence, a study of some 750 cases published in 1964 by the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, Menzel was recommended as a source for counterviews. He was also cited as a leading yet skeptical scientist by Mike Wallace during a 1958 interview of NICAP head Maj. Donald Keyhoe.

When the infamous and unverified MJ-12 papers were introduced and amplified by Bill Moore and associates in 1984, Menzel was named as one of the twelve who were supposedly ultra secretly assigned to oversee retrievals of crashed flying saucers. Some researchers speculate Menzel's inclusion was a joke among the hoaxers of the documents.

Also named among the MJ-12 in 1984 was Adm. Roscoe Hillenkoetter. He was the first director of the CIA (1947-1950) and served as NICAP Chairman of the Board of Governors from 1957-1962. The admiral was an obvious choice for inclusion in the alleged MJ-12, as of course the Director of Central Intelligence would have been in the loop if an unearthly saucer and its inhabitants were dragged off of Mack Brazel's ranch in '47.

In the late 1950's and 1960's, Hillenkoetter numbered among many respected intelligence officers who provided NICAP with statements in strong support of UFOs as a significant issue. Some of those officers went as far as to specify they believed saucers represented an alien presence. A look into the former DCI's personal correspondence with Dr. Menzel, however, might lead one to suspect the issues were not as simple as often portrayed. That seems to especially have been the case among intelligence personnel and those in their professional and social circles. 

Mixed Messages

    Acting on info contained in an August 2020 email received from James Carrion, it was discovered a library was in possession of an archive of Menzel letters. Specifically, James shared a copy of a 1963 letter written from Hillenkoetter to Menzel, with a boilerplate message across the top which stated it was printed by the American Philosophical Society Library. Correspondence with the Society Library soon revealed it was the custodian of a Menzel collection, which included a folder titled "Hillenkoetter."   

Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter
The Library helpfully provided a pdf of the Hillenkoetter folder, containing ten pages of material exchanged between Menzel and Hillenkoetter from 1961-1965. The letters contain Menzel criticisms of NICAP, and what he clearly felt was the Committee's irresponsible framing of UFOs and questionable tactics undertaken.

"In my opinion," Menzel wrote Hillenkoetter in 1961, rather than UFOs, "the congressional investigation should be of Keyhoe and NICAP..."

Hillenkoetter's letters did not offer significant resistance to Menzel's critical assertions. While the former DCI occasionally suggested he initially found flying saucers potentially interesting, he wrote to Menzel in 1963, "I resigned from NICAP about 20 months ago feeling that it had degenerated from an organization honestly trying to find out something definite about possible unknowns, into a body bickering about personalities."

In that same 1963 letter, Hillenkoetter wrote further, "Thank you very much for your book. To my mind, it was very well done and I enjoyed it and found it of great interest. I should say that you have effectively put to rest all surmises about flying saucers being from 'outer space'. You have done a thorough and praiseworthy job."

There are at least two significant points to be taken from this correspondence. One, it is abundantly clear these men shared no history of crashed saucer retrievals as continues to be cultivated by those endorsing MJ-12 unsubstantiated conspiracies. What's more, if Hillenkoetter had any relevant knowledge of UFOs, he sure didn't seem to have much conviction about it. Perhaps his knowledge of related deception operations was another story. 

The second point, and a leading contender for why Menzel saved these letters and they were eventually archived by the American Philosophical Society Library, is it became increasingly apparent to Menzel that Hillenkoetter portrayed his views differently to Keyhoe than he did to Menzel. Hillenkoetter was sending mixed messages, Menzel called him on it, and Menzel apparently wanted to save the receipts.

In a 1965 edition of NICAP's The UFO Investigator, the magazine cites and challenges Menzel statements made during an interview in which he asserted Hillenkoetter accepted his prosaic explanations for UFOs. The NICAP rebuttal included a copy of a 1965 letter to Keyhoe from Hillenkoetter, denying Menzel's claim, and published with the intention of supporting the credibility of UFOs in general and the admiral's ongoing endorsement of the NICAP UFO hunt. Hillenkoetter's letter indeed suggested he never lost faith in NICAP or saucers, and that he had not accepted Menzel's skeptical stance as correct. Moreover, the NICAP article suggested Menzel mischaracterized Hillenkoetter's position. 

Menzel sent a copy of the article to Hillenkoetter, along with a copy of the admiral's above referenced 1963 letter, reminding Hillenkoetter he did precisely what he denied to Keyhoe was the case. It might be considered noteworthy that Hillenkoetter continued to fan the flames of publicly cultivating the UFO mystery in the process. It was apparently important to Menzel to save proof he was not mischaracterizing Hillenkoetter's statements, which, as the archived file demonstrates, he indeed was not.

FBI Files

    The FBI provided five files totaling over 200 pages in response to a Freedom of Information Act request on Donald Howard Menzel. Further inquiries to the Bureau resulted in identifying another three files potentially responsive and located at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). 

NARA subsequently confirmed Dr. Menzel is indeed the subject of each of the three files. The records total an estimated 550 pages and must be processed for release. The files are estimated to be available in 2024 at a projected cost of $440 for a reproduction, such as a pdf, or free to view in person.

The 200 pages released by the FBI thus far represent investigations ranging from the 1940's to the 1970's. The documents tell a Cold War story, often portrayed through FBI memos and statements obtained from confidential informants, of a scientist who spent his life subject to the surveillance of intelligence agencies. This was due to his involvement in such projects as the Atomic Energy Commission, where he was employed at Los Alamos, NM. 

He was also investigated extensively by the Office of Naval Intelligence, due at least in part to his work with "code matters" for the Boston Naval Reserve (see p6). This occurred during the late 1940's. 

Menzel was frequently the subject of security investigations to either clear him for inclusion in classified projects or revisit his political loyalty due to his chronic work with sensitive material. The same applied to many of his associates, including astronomer Dr. Harlow Shapley. Menzel and Shapley were employed together in the Harvard astronomy department in the 1940's.

FBI files on Menzel suggest his relationship with Shapley numbered among the Bureau's deepest concerns about his activities, warranted or not. Although the two disagreed sharply on many professional issues, Menzel defended Shapley's right to hold and express his opinions.

Interestingly, Shapley's take on extraterrestrials would later be published in NICAP literature. In a NICAP brochure within a section titled, "Published Statements on the Question of Other Worlds," the first entry reads, "Dr. Harlow Shapley, former Director of Harvard Observatory: 'We must now accept it as inevitable that there are other worlds with some kind of thinking beings.'" (see p35

After some 30 years of accumulated FBI investigation memos, the Bureau considered grooming Menzel as a double agent. His work frequently offered him the opportunity to travel abroad to international conferences, and he was no doubt a subject of investigation by adversarial intelligence agencies by the 1970's. Page one of a 1974 FBI memo to Director Hoover from the Boston Field Office, requesting "authority to recontact the subject as a potential security informant or double agent": (see p12)

Foreign adversaries were not the only forces the Bureau was potentially competing with for Menzel's attention. Two months following the above memo, a Boston Special Agent in Charge informed the director that Menzel indicated he was more than willing to discuss the Bureau's internal security responsibilities. Menzel was cooperative, the agent advised Hoover, but pointed out that he had been interviewed recently by the CIA about his trip to the People's Republic of China: (see p14)

The significance of Cold War culture and related spy networks looms large in a quest to better understand the UFO topic. The more clearly these dynamics are understood, the more accurately we might process the evolution of resulting belief systems and events taking place today. The omission of spy games is detrimental, and their inclusion in a functional assessment stands to connect a lot of dots.

Read about the above referenced circumstances and much more in my new book Wayward Sons: NICAP and the IC.

Related post:

The Birth of NICAP

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Identify What You Want

    We've all been there. You log into your favorite social media site and rapidly forget what you even liked about it. Snark is rampant, jokes aren't funny, and your intelligence is insulted by nonsense meant to be taken seriously. It can be difficult to remember what you hoped to get out of social media, and it can be even more difficult to keep in mind that not everyone shares your goal. Most may not, actually.

Identifying what we're doing on a social media site may be a good idea. If you're reading this blog and have a Twitter account, for instance, you may have hoped to find people discussing UFO stuff online. Maybe you hoped you'd learn something about UFOs, or share some of your ideas with others. 

Many hope to find like-minded people to talk about topics they find challenging to share with friends and family. Many such attempts result in a wide variety of online responses, ranging from over the top credulousness to caustic rebuttals. This is an inevitable part of social media interactions, and the sooner we accept it, the better. This doesn't mean we should accept abusive remarks, but neither should we expect emotionally safe behavior from dysfunctional keyboard warriors. Ya gotta step in some crap if ya wanna get to the barn.

We might take responsibility for seeking online interactions, and what type of interactions we're looking for. Are we looking for UFO contacts? What for, exactly? What do we expect to gain? What are we willing to contribute in return, and are we able to voice this?

I'm reminded of complications that frequently arise between UFO witnesses and investigators. Both parties often seem to think their intentions should be understood without having to state them. A more functional perspective might be that witnesses could intentionally identify what kind of assistance they are seeking, and investigators could be prepared to clarify what services they claim to offer.

Are we looking for a competent investigation, or are we seeking emotional support? The skills and resulting activities for providing such services could vary greatly. It would be helpful if we could accurately identify what we hope to gain from contacting a UFO organization or investigator, and questions we might ask to facilitate the process. 

Similar might be said for swimming around social media. We would be wise to know what we hope to gain and how we intend to achieve it. Understand the inherent risks of emotionally leading with the chin in public forums. Choose your support systems wisely, as well as sources you identify as offering quality information.

Be kind to yourself and expect to make mistakes. They're signs you're trying. And identify what you hope to achieve. Otherwise, you'll never achieve it.

Friday, August 13, 2021

The Birth of NICAP

Things get complicated when you get past eighteen

But the class of '57 had its dreams

- The Statler Brothers, The Class of '57


Preorder the e-book now.
Paperback also now available.
    In 1956 an eclectic group of community leaders began meeting around Washington, D.C. Among them were T. Townsend Brown, an inventor with an eye on antigravity technology; Morris K. Jessup, a UFO investigator and author; Clara John, the original ghostwriter for George Adamski; and Maj. Donald Keyhoe, a writer with a belief UFOs represented interplanetary spacecraft. Inspired by Clara John's flying saucer club, they laid the foundation for the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, or NICAP. 

Initially led by T. Townsend Brown, NICAP formally applied for incorporation in August 1956. The group was incorporated by Brown and two representatives from a consulting firm, Counsel Services, Inc., with which Brown had an ongoing relationship. The representatives acting as NICAP incorporators were the president of the firm, Mary Vaughan King, and a former State Department employee, Thomas D. O'Keefe. From the certificate of incorporation (see page 3):

Vaughan King soon left NICAP. Likewise, O'Keefe rapidly resigned as treasurer, and the organization would have its next treasurer come and go just as quickly. Brown was destined to have a short stint at the helm, as well.

Maj. Donald Keyhoe landed in the director's chair in January 1957, and NICAP operated under his guidance the next 13 years. A public relations campaign drew some 14,000 members. The org collected and investigated UFO sightings, accused the Air Force and CIA of conducting a cover-up, and pushed for and obtained Congressional hearings on UFOs. 

Within a year of the release of a 1969 Air Force-sponsored UFO report resulting from the hearings, Keyhoe and top personnel departed NICAP amid accusations of CIA interference. A former CIA officer on the Board of Governors was widely suspected of dismantling the org. A close look, however, reveals NICAP beginnings were just as much in question.

Mary Vaughan King and associates announced the formation of the Baltimore-based Counsel Services in March 1947. From a Baltimore newspaper:

A March 1949 letter to the Economic Cooperation Administration was authored by then-Director of Central Intelligence and future NICAP chairman of the board Adm. Roscoe Hillenkoetter. The ECA was a government office headquartered in Washington. Hillenkoetter and the CIA clearly had an ongoing relationship with the Administration, and expressed a desire to increase the amount and security clearance of intelligence obtained from the ECA:

A May 1949 clipping from The (Baltimore) Evening Sun indicates Counsel Services was working "under ECA auspices":

A 1950 article reported Counsel Services had "specialists" under contract with the ECA:


In 1956, immediately after acting as a NICAP incorporator, Mary Vaughan King of Counsel Services presented Townsend Brown a contract for approval (see pages 6-7). Among other items of interest, the contract stipulated additional consultants may be retained as needed to work under the supervision of Counsel Services officers, namely former State Department man Thomas D. O'Keefe and her:

Circumstances as documented above, combined with additional information presented in my new book, Wayward Sons: NICAP and the IC, strongly suggests an intelligence community interest in the birth of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. The e-book version of the book is currently available for preorder and will drop on or about August 21. The paperback version is also now available. 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Preorder E-Book 'Wayward Sons: NICAP and the IC'

     Wayward Sons: NICAP and the IC is now available for preorder in e-book format. Your Kindle purchase will download on or about Saturday, August 21. Cost is $9.99. A paperback version will be offered about the same point in time. Below please see the table of contents and introduction contained in the nonfiction book.

Please note the e-book may be most suitable for certain readers. The book frequently references a variety of linked sources, so the links are easier to navigate in e-book form. Another consideration is a number of images of documents are provided which may be most effectively viewed on an electronic device. Also, I did not create an index for the paperback since an e-book is searchable. While I created a paperback version because I understand some readers prefer a hardcopy book, I encourage taking the above circumstances into account and giving some thought to what will offer you the best reading experience when choosing a format. [UPDATE: I received a proof copy of the paperback and the images of documents transferred quite well. I would therefore say the most important issues in choosing your preferred format are if it is important to you to have live links and a searchable medium.]

Thank you for your interest. Should you choose to obtain the book, I sincerely hope you find it a worthy read.

To request a review copy, email subject line "Wayward Sons" to jackbrewerblog@yahoo.com and I will reply with a pdf version of the e-book.


    The significance of the NICAP story is subjective. Like many historical sagas, it depends on who you ask as to what it meant, and, in some cases, what even happened. Select events can be established from records and archives, and we will certainly examine them, but the fact remains people have differing ideas about what was most important and most interesting about the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena.

It is notable that the NICAP saga may be viewed in at least two contexts. One, which is my interest, is the organization's intersection with the intelligence community. A second, and more commonly viewed context, is NICAP UFO investigation. People interested in UFOs understandably want to know if the group learned anything important. The investigators of NICAP sure thought so, but dissecting the situation leads us to the paradox of the matter. The story of NICAP, and what is most significant about it, is not so easily discerned.

Did NICAP do some good work? Yes, it did. Were NICAP investigators credulous? Yes, that's true too, depending on specific circumstances considered. Was NICAP a CIA front? That might be accurate as well, short lived and/or intermittent as it may have been. Did NICAP rattle swords with the CIA and Air Force about a UFO cover-up? Yep, it certainly did. Was the CIA monitoring NICAP? It sure appears so, to more and less extents and depending on the particular circumstances. Did the CIA dismantle NICAP? Maybe so, or, at the least, it is true that CIA associates did basic managerial work for NICAP throughout its lifespan and stages of decline. Did NICAP run itself in the ground through financial mismanagement? Yes, to an extent it did indeed, which also means the CIA was not fully responsible for its demise, at least not necessarily. Much like the parable of the blind men and the elephant, many perspectives are correct to some extent, depending on how one comes at it.

Many feel NICAP was derailed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Perceived motives often include thwarting UFO investigation and destabilizing the group's effort to challenge the Condon Report, which was an Air Force-sponsored assessment that minimized the saucer situation. The presence of CIA associates in the saga is clear enough, but motives are much less so. We will consider the circumstances along with the perspectives of those familiar with the events.

I actually came to strongly suspect the CIA was substantially involved in the incorporation and initial operation of NICAP. We will explore this in detail on the coming pages.

Ironically, I am not convinced the situation significantly impaired or even particularly affected the way Maj. Donald Keyhoe would run the outfit for the next 13 years. During his tenure there was some overt CIA interest in NICAP activities, as well as some possible not so overt interest. The activities of CIA psychological warfare specialist and NICAP Board of Governors member Col. Joseph Bryan III will be explored, as will profiles of his intelligence colleagues from the Office of Policy Coordination. We will examine those situations along with some surrounding spectacles that found their ways into a NICAP orbit.

A focus of this book is NICAP's relation to the intelligence community, particularly the CIA and FBI. We will draw upon documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), newspaper clippings, and many more cited sources.

Much of the material referenced was obtained from records published on the websites of intelligence agencies or by submitting my own requests under the FOIA. As of this writing, several FOIA requests remain open. I will post the material at my blog, The UFO Trail, as it is received.

Another primary source for information covered in this book was NICAP files provided by researcher and archivist Barry Greenwood. I am tremendously grateful to him for supplying the material.

A 69 MB folder provided by Mr. Greenwood consists of 42 pdfs containing NICAP records. It may be accessed in whole on Google Drive or as individual files I will reference and link, as will be the case with many additional sources.

I apologize in advance for the errors which will inevitably inhabit this offering. I hope we find them few, far between, and of minimal consequence.

I am thankful to all who helpfully fielded my questions, provided material, and assisted me in reaching people of interest. I also thank all the researchers whose work and materials are cited. Select archives played key roles as well, and I am grateful to their administrators for their valuable assistance.

Thanks to those who maintain intelligence agency online reading rooms. I am grateful to the FBI, NARA, CIA, NSA, USAF, and the many FOIA officers at several agencies who filled my requests, informed me when no material was available, conducted correspondence, and continue to process records pertaining to this saga. Their work is important and appreciated.

I am grateful to the friends, loved ones, and acquaintances who supported this effort. Your messages, encouragement and phone calls are important to me. Thank you.

I am grateful to you for joining me on an exploration of events beginning some 70 years ago. Thanks for coming along. In doing so, we will hopefully catch a meaningful glimpse or three of what took place. I trust you will share the interest I developed, and find that circumstances from years gone by tend to shed light on more recent events.

Friday, July 23, 2021

CIA Conducts MDR on Bluebird Docs

     The CIA recently conducted a Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) of a file containing Cold War era documents pertaining to Project Bluebird. The action resulted from a 2020 request for an MDR submitted by this writer. The Agency provided the updated file today by email. It may be compared to the previously released file originally obtained from the CIA online reading room. 

Research conducted on members of the Board of Governors of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, or NICAP, contributed to interest in requesting further declassification of select Bluebird records. Inaugural Director of Central Intelligence Roscoe Hillenkoetter initially approved the project which ultimately led to MKULTRA. Hillenkoetter, who directed the CIA from 1947-1950, went on to act as NICAP Chairman of the Board from 1957-1962. NICAP, an organization which investigated UFOs, was launched in 1956.  

NICAP Board staple Col. Joseph Bryan III was later identified as a CIA officer who directed a psychological and political warfare subdivision within the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). The OPC operated on CIA funding in conjunction with directives expressed by the State Department from 1948-1952. At that point it was merged with the Office of Special Operations and the two became the Directorate of Plans, effectively forming the CIA Clandestine Services.  

The above referenced Project Bluebird records indicate representatives from the OPC were included on a short list of eyes only personnel providing support for the operation. While it has long been known Hillenkoetter approved the project, the MDR nonetheless offers a bit further insight into the circumstances, such as the DCI's signature shown in the image below on a 1950 memo, along with the indication of OPC involvement.

Page 19 of the updated file was newly released as a result of the MDR. The document is a 1950 memo discussing responsibilities related to the interrogation of Robert Vogeler, accused of espionage in Hungary on behalf of the United States. The now declassified memo appears to be part of a volley of communications pertaining to interrogating Vogeler with Bluebird methods should he be released from prison and accessible to the Agency. 

The CIA would go on to fund a study of Hungarian immigrants within Project MKULTRA. Subproject 69 sought to improve psychological warfare techniques hindered by the Iron Curtain. Hungarians fleeing to the U.S. from conflict were perceived as opportunities to better understand how techniques could be made more effective. MKULTRA was formally approved by DCI Allen Dulles in 1953.

Memos contained in the above referenced Bluebird file outline project objectives and methods, which included increasing the effectiveness of interrogation techniques. Specifically, one memo states, "The purpose of this project is to provide for the immediate establishment of interrogation teams for the operational support of OSO [Office of Special Operations] and OPC [Office of Policy Coordination] activities." This was to be accomplished through the use of such tools as speech inducing drugs, narcoanalysis and hypnotism. 

Offices with the appearance of medical facilities were to be set up in Washington, D.C. The OPC and Office of Special Operations were designated to provide support and undercover staff. 

It might be considered difficult to identify if such documents tell us more about the NICAP Board members or the obsession of the CIA with such lines of research. Either way, it seems reasonable to give deeper consideration to the full employment histories of people often projected to be UFO Disclosure heroes. The pro-UFO quotes of DCI Hillenkoetter are frequently promoted in certain social media circles. His support for unethical human research projects, not so much.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Office of Secretary of Defense: DIA Ran AATIP Until It Ended in 2012

    The AATIP was managed by the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2008 until it ended in 2012, a Government Information Specialist from the Office of the Secretary of Defense stated in an email received Wednesday. The statement comes on the heels of a FOIA final response indicating a search conducted by the DIA found no correspondence, such as emails or memos, exchanged between Luis Elizondo and the DIA pertaining to the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The message also comes in the wake of a May 24 email in which Pentagon Spokesperson Sue Gough stated DIA managed AATIP and Elizondo was not assigned to DIA. 

Email received Wednesday, June 30, stemming from FOIA request
for OUSDI records pertaining to AATIP and AAWSAP 

Elizondo and his associates have repeatedly claimed he directed the AATIP, and have specifically stated his directorship began in 2010 from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, or OUSDI. Pentagon spokespersons have repeatedly stated Elizondo had no assigned responsibilities for AATIP while assigned to the OUSDI.

The Wednesday email came as the result of a FOIA request seeking documents on the AATIP and AAWSAP, or Advanced Aerospace Weapon Systems Applications Program. The request for records on the apparent Pentagon UFO projects was submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Joint Staff (OSD/JS) with the intention of initiating a search for potentially responsive files located in the OUSDI. 

A final response to the request was received June 24 attached to an email from Government Information Specialist Raymond Hartwick of the OSD/JS FOIA Requester Service Center. The response stated the request had been misdirected and should be sent to the DIA.

A reply to the email was sent, informing Mr. Hartwick of an understanding there are allegations the AATIP was transferred into the OUSDI from the DIA. He was therefore asked if the request was submitted to the proper office that would respond to FOIA requests for the OUSDI, and, if not, would he please advise as to where to submit the request to the OUSDI. 

Having not heard back from Mr. Hartwick by Tuesday morning, he was telephoned. A voice mail message was left, reiterating a desire to submit the request to the OUSDI. Wednesday afternoon he emailed, assuring the expressed questions had not been forgotten.

"I am still working with my components to provide you with accurate answers," he added in the email.  

Later Wednesday afternoon another email, pictured above, was received. The message did not address the FOIA submission process for the OUSDI and again advised to direct the request to the DIA. Mr. Hartwick further stated, "The AATIP was managed by DIA from 2008 until it ended in 2012."  

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

DIA FOIA Search Finds No Correspondence With Elizondo Pertaining to AATIP

    The Defense Intelligence Agency responded to a FOIA request that a search found no correspondence, such as emails or memos, exchanged between Luis Elizondo and the DIA pertaining to the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The request was submitted in 2018, with a final response issued in a pdf dated June 24, 2021, and delivered Monday by email.

Alluding to FOIA requests submitted by several researchers, the DIA response went on to state the Agency is currently reviewing all of its AATIP holdings and preparing the documents for release. Upon DIA release, the material will be made available for viewing in an online FOIA Reading Room.  

The body of the response:

Luis Elizondo did not immediately respond to an opportunity to comment for potential inclusion in this blog post.

The DIA was credited with launching the AATIP in 2007. The project reportedly transferred to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in 2010, and was shelved in 2012.

Elizondo has repeatedly asserted amid doubts and criticism that he directed the AATIP and worked on it for some ten years. Sen. Harry Reid supports the claim Elizondo ran the project. 

Official statements, directly opposing his claims, have repeatedly been issued from Pentagon spokespersons. Elizondo has done himself no favors in failing to present adequate documentation, or even committing to a particularly coherent narrative.

Some question why Elizondo, who describes himself as an extensively experienced counterintelligence professional, would be selected to head a program investigating aerospace threats. Others suspect his interest in UFOs was much less official than typically portrayed, and that he encouraged public misunderstanding through writers such as Leslie Kean and George Knapp, while at other times simply selectively omitting more accurate context.   

In an email exchange conducted earlier this year with Pentagon Spokesperson Sue Gough, this writer qualified an understanding the position of the DOD is that Elizondo had no assigned responsibilities in the AATIP while assigned to the OUSDI. That being the case, it was asked if it would be possible to clarify who was assigned responsibilities to direct the AATIP.

"The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) managed AATIP," Ms. Gough replied. "Luis Elizondo was not assigned to DIA." 

Daniel Sheehan, an attorney with a long history of advocating alien visitation and taking up UFO-related issues, filed a complaint on behalf of Elizondo with the Department of Defense Inspector General. The document reportedly included Elizondo's assertions a disinformation campaign was undertaken against him. Personal vendettas were to blame, it was alleged, for DOD official denial of his AATIP position and responsibilities.  

Several internet bloggers were notified by the Pentagon he had no duties in the AATIP, Elizondo reportedly asserted in the complaint to the Inspector General. This, the complaint continued, resulted in the bloggers accusing him of fabrication.  

A FOIA request for the complaint was submitted in May to the DOD IG. It responded in a letter dated June 2 that any documents that may be responsive are compiled for a law enforcement inquiry. Release of the documents, at this time, could reasonably be expected to interfere with the inquiry, the response added. The material could be requested and reviewed again at a later date for potential exemption to disclosure and possible release.