Luis Elizondo

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Luis Elizondo
Luis Elizondo.jpg
Luis Daniel Elizondo

EducationUniversity of Miami
OccupationFormer Military intelligence officer
OrganizationTo the Stars (company), Department of Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, U.S. Army Counterintelligence, Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program,
Known forDirector of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (defunct)

Luis Elizondo is a former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent and former employee of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.[1] After his resignation in 2017, he joined the company To The Stars as its Director of Global Security and Special Programs. Elizondo left the company in late 2020.[2][3] The company produced the History Channel docuseries Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation, in which he stars.[4]

Elizondo claims to be the former director[5] of the now defunct Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a $22 million special access program initiated by the Defense Intelligence Agency in order to study unidentified aerial phenomena, also known as UFOs. This program is associated with the release of the Pentagon UFO videos.[6] However, according to Pentagon spokesperson Christopher Sherwood: “Mr. Elizondo had no responsibilities with regard to the AATIP program while he worked in OUSDI [the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence], up until the time he resigned effective 10/4/2017.[7] Elizondo has since appeared in various media as a UFO expert, but critics question Elizondo's credibility and credulity.

Early history[edit]

Elizondo is the son of Luis Elizondo III, a Cuban exile that volunteered for Brigade 2506, a CIA-sponsored group of exiles formed in 1960 to attempt the military overthrow of the Cuban government headed by Fidel Castro, which culminated in the Bay of Pigs invasion.[8][2]

Elizondo studied microbiology, immunology, and parasitology in college.[9] He served in the U.S. Army for 20 years, running military intelligence operations in Afghanistan, South America, and Guantanamo Bay's Camp Seven.[2][10][11]

Regarding his military career, he stated he "dealt with a lot of stuff, like coup d’états, black market terrorism, violent drug cartels, all that kind of stuff". Following the September 11 attacks Elizondo then redirected toward East Asia, where he served as advisor of an intelligence unit assigned to support General James Mattis during his command of the Marine Expeditionary Unit Task Force 58 in the War on Terror.[11]


Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence[edit]

From 2008 until his resignation in 2017, Elizondo worked with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in The Pentagon.[6] During this time, he claims he was the director[12][5][13][14] of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a special access program funded at the initiative of the then Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-Nevada)[15] to investigate aerial threats including unidentified aerial phenomena.[12] Elizondo told a reporter he thought that he might have been selected for AATIP because of his scientific background, work as a counterintelligence agent protecting American aerospace technology, and lack of interest in science fiction.[9]

According to the Department of Defense, the AATIP program ended in 2012 after five years. Elizondo said he worked with officials from the U.S. Navy and the CIA out of his Pentagon office for this program until October 2017, when he resigned to protest what he characterized as "excessive secrecy and internal opposition".[6] Elizondo asserts that "underestimating or ignoring these potential threats is not in the best interest of the Department no matter the level of political contention."[11] The New Yorker reports that Elizondo was hired to take over the program, which was an outgrowth of a government project awarded to businessman and paranormal enthusiast Robert Bigelow, ostensibly to examine the future of warfare, but reporting almost exclusively about U.F.O.s, including "a photo of a supposed tracking device that supposed aliens had supposedly implanted in a supposed abductee".[4]

His position in the AATIP was questioned by The Intercept and challenged by Pentagon officials, with spokesperson Christopher Sherwood saying “Mr. Elizondo had no responsibilities with regard to the AATIP program while he worked in OUSDI [the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence], up until the time he resigned effective 10/4/2017.”[1] In response, Elizondo filed a complaint with the agency’s inspector general claiming "a coordinated campaign to discredit him for speaking out" including "Pentagon press statements asserting he had no official role in UFO research, even after his role was officially confirmed". Elizondo also claims he is the target of "a personal vendetta from a Pentagon rival".[16][17][18] Reid sent a letter to NBC News stating "I can state as a matter of record Lue Elizondo’s involvement and leadership role in this program".[9]

To The Stars[edit]

After resigning from his career with DOD, Elizondo in October 2017 joined To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences. Elizondo also distributed three declassified videos to the press that were made by pilots from the United States Navy aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt which became known as the Pentagon UFO videos.[19][20] The release was accompanied by the first mainstream press reporting on the existence of the AATIP.[6] In April 2019, the Navy acknowledged drafting new guidelines for pilots and other personnel to report encounters with "unidentified aircraft", and Elizondo told The Washington Post that it was "the single greatest decision the Navy has made in decades".[21] The classified nature of the videos and the validity of Elizondo's authorization to distribute were questioned by some.[11][22][23] In April 2020, the United States Department of Defense released the videos prompting Elizondo to comment, "We are fueled by the Pentagon’s significant actions and hope this encourages a new wave of credible information to come forward".[24] According to Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Elizondo initially explained to the Pentagon in a memo that the videos would "help educate pilots and improve aviation safety", but in later interviews he stated that his goal was to shine light on the program he ran for seven-years to "collect and analyze reported UFO sightings". After joining To the Stars, Elizondo announced on stage at an event that they were, “'planning to provide never-before-released footage from real U.S. government systems—not blurry amateur photos but real data and real videos'".[4] According to him, UAPs might be from another dimension, they might use hydrogen found in water to "warp space time", and that the US government possesses "exotic material" associated with UAPs.[9]

A History Channel docuseries titled Unidentified: Inside America’s U.F.O. Investigation produced by To the Stars features Elizondo and others who claim affiliation with AATIP.[25][26][27][28][29]

Elizondo, along with Christopher Mellon and Steve Justice, left the company led by Tom DeLonge in late 2020, saying "Tom is really focused on the entertainment side, so there’s not a whole lot for Chris, Steve and I to do [...] Our talents lie in engaging governments, Congress and international organizations, and we’re ready to shift into second gear. Entertainment is one way to do it, but it’s not comprehensive.”[2]


Reporter for The New Republic Jason Colavito questioned why if Elizondo was so concerned that UFOs"were an imminent national security threat, he didn’t take his concerns to national security journalists or to Congress". Instead, "He joined up with Puthoff and Team Space Ghost at their new entertainment company".[30]

According to The Intercept writer, Keith Kloor, "Elizondo and Mellon have come to rely on a largely passive and credulous press to generate sensational UFO headlines". Kloor notes that Elizondo received considerable media attention from a 2017 New York Times story called “Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious UFO Program", and gained visibility by starring in the History Channel TV series.[1] Air & Space magazine wrote that the TV series "cast Elizondo as a burly, intrepid, backpack-toting crusader seeking to expose the truth in the face of a stonewalling government bureaucracy and a culture of ridicule. In doing so, the History Channel followed a long tradition within ufology of portraying the UFO investigator as a heroic figure determined to tear away the veil of secrecy surrounding extraterrestrial visitors".[31]

New York Times Pentagon correspondent Helene Cooper interviewed Elizondo in 2017. Cooper characterized Elizondo's behavior as typical of intel officers, who are "really spooky guys, they’re very secretive, they tend to be more paranoid". According to Cooper, "There was a lot of looking over to make sure nobody was seeing us, he sat with his back to the wall. He said, because he wanted to see if anybody came in". Cooper explained to "The Daily" podcast host Michael Barbaro that at the time she spoke to Elizondo, she found him very credible, but when she got on the metro after the meeting she began to have second thoughts, saying "the farther away I got from the interview the less believable it seemed".[32]

In the 2021 New Yorker article, reporter Gideon Lewis-Kraus writes that after talking with Elizondo, it was difficult to tell what AATIP had accomplished, and when pressed, Elizondo "invokes his security oath like a catchphrase". When in 2019 Elizondo was interviewed by Tucker Carlson, Elizondo stated that the government had fragments of a UFO, "then quickly invoked his security oath".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c KloorJune 1, 2019, Keith KloorKeith. "The Media Loves This UFO Expert Who Says He Worked for an Obscure Pentagon Program. Did He?". The Intercept.
  2. ^ a b c d Cox, Billy. "From the shadows into the light – the man who broke the UFO embargo grew up in Sarasota". Herald-Tribune.
  3. ^ Taylor, Derrick Bryson (2019-09-26). "How Blink-182's Tom DeLonge Became a U.F.O. Researcher". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c d Lewis-Kraus, Gideon. "How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously". The New Yorker.
  5. ^ a b Warrick, Joby (2017-12-16). "Head of Pentagon's secret 'UFO' office sought to make evidence public". Washington Post.
  6. ^ a b c d Cooper, Helene; Blumenthal, Ralph; Kean, Leslie (2017-12-16). "Glowing Auras and 'Black Money': The Pentagon's Mysterious U.F.O. Program". The New York Times.
  7. ^ KloorJune 1 2019, Keith KloorKeith; A.m, 11:00. "The Media Loves This UFO Expert Who Says He Worked for an Obscure Pentagon Program. Did He?". The Intercept. Retrieved 2022-05-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Farwell, Matt (2020-08-10). "Tom DeLonge's Warped UFO Tour". The New Republic.
  9. ^ a b c d Burton, Charlie (2021-11-09). "This man ran the Pentagon's secretive UFO programme for a decade. We had some questions". GQ. Retrieved 2021-11-13.
  10. ^ "UFOs regularly spotted in restricted U.S. airspace, report on the phenomena due next month". CBS News.
  11. ^ a b c d McMillan, Tim (2020-01-17). "The Tale of the Tape: The Long, Bizarre Saga of the Navy's UFO Video". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  12. ^ a b Blumenthal, Ralph (2017-12-18). "On the Trail of a Secret Pentagon U.F.O. Program". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Eli Watkins and Brian Todd. "Former Pentagon UFO official: 'We may not be alone'". CNN.
  14. ^ "UFOs are about to make their way to the U.S. Senate. Here's what to know". NBC News.
  15. ^ Editor-at-large, Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN. "This former senator isn't surprised by the new UFO tapes". CNN. {{cite news}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  16. ^ Bender, Bryan. "Ex-official who revealed UFO project accuses Pentagon of 'disinformation' campaign". POLITICO.
  17. ^ "Whistleblower who spoke out on UFOs claims Pentagon tried to discredit him". the Guardian. 2021-05-28.
  18. ^ "UFO whistleblower claims Pentagon threatened him after leaking military reports". The Independent. 2021-05-27.
  19. ^ Mellon, Christopher (March 9, 2018). "The military keeps encountering UFOs. Why doesn't the Pentagon care?". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  20. ^ Cooper, Helene; Blumenthal, Ralph; Kean, Leslie (2019-05-26). "'Wow, What Is That?' Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-02-15.
  21. ^ Paul, Deanna (2019-04-25). "How angry pilots got the Navy to stop dismissing UFO sightings". Washington Post.
  22. ^ "What Is Up With Those Pentagon UFO Videos?". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  23. ^ "The Pentagon's UFOs: How a Multimedia Entertainment Company created a UFO news story". Skeptic. 2019-06-05. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  24. ^ Yuhas, Alan (2020-04-28). "The Pentagon Released U.F.O. Videos. Don't Hold Your Breath for a Breakthrough". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  25. ^ D'Addario, Daniel (2019-05-31). "TV Review: History's 'Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation'". Variety.
  26. ^ "Watch Preview: Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation: Aware Clip - Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation". HISTORY. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  27. ^ Cooper, Helene; Blumenthal, Ralph; Kean, Leslie (2019-05-26). "'Wow, What Is That?' Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  28. ^ Hipes, Patrick (2019-03-12). "History Boards Six-Part UFO Docuseries 'Unidentified' Featuring Pentagon Whistleblower". Deadline.
  29. ^ "Tom DeLonge says he'll 'expose new evidence' about UFOs in upcoming TV series". Global News.
  30. ^ Colavito, Jason. "How Washington Got Hooked on Flying Saucers". The New Republic. The New Republic. Archived from the original on 25 May 2021. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  31. ^ Eghigian, Greg. "The Year of UFOs". Air & Space. Archived from the original on May 26, 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  32. ^ Barbaro, Michael (18 December 2017). "Listen to 'The Daily': The Pentagon's U.F.O. Program". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 May 2021.

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