MS. ALEMANY: [In progress] --UFOs or as it’s officially identified--officially called, unidentified aerial phenomenon, UAPs. While we’re waiting for the unclassified report from Congress on the matter, our guest, Lue Elizondo, the former director for AATIP, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, has some answers. So excited to welcome you today, Lue. Thanks for joining us.

MR. ELIZONDO: Jackie, it is my sincere pleasure to be with you and your audience today. Thank you very much for having me.

MS. ALEMANY: So, I want to take us back for a second and set the table for this conversation. How exactly did you get signed in the first place to investigate UFOs for the intelligence community?

MR. ELIZONDO: Well, Jackie, quite frankly, I was voluntold. In essence I had some--I guess some prerequisite experience that they were looking for. At the time, the organization was fairly new, and they were looking for someone to create a counterintelligence and security portfolio. And I guess because of some of my background running investigations, counterintelligence investigations, and some of my background in technology protection, specifically with aerospace systems, that probably, I suspect, was a fairly lucrative skillset that they were looking for to create this sub portfolio under AATIP. And that’s how I got into the program. I entered the program in 2008. I was asked by its director to come on board and establish this program, and then in 2010 was when I was asked to take over the effort.

MS. ALEMANY: And I’m sure many of you are well aware of this. If you are tuning in, you’ve probably watched the documentary that came out this year, "The Phenomenon." Senator Harry Reid, which this doc outlines, got the program funded. Did you brief him in Congress on these unexplained pilot sightings when you were running the program?

MR. ELIZONDO: Jackie, we provide many briefings, mostly through DOD and intelligence community leadership. That information was also provided to times to the staffers and of course our elected officials. It’s very important that when you’re working in a national security construct that you try to follow the chain of command as much as possible. So, a lot of my briefings were really to more senior level folks in the Department of Defense and within our intelligence architecture. But there were times, yes, that we were--we would be asked to brief other officials, particularly in the legislative branch and in the executive branch as well.

MS. ALEMANY: And right now, everyone in Washington and really a lot of people around this country are hotly anticipating this unclassified government report on aerial phenomena witnessed by Navy pilots. It’s expected to be delivered to the Senate Intelligence community by the director of national intelligence, hopefully by June 25th. The New York Times reported that senior administration officials who were briefed on the findings said that the unusual movements witnessed by pilots did not originate from American military or advanced U.S. government technology, but that’s really about the only conclusive finding that has been so far teased from the report. What do you think the likelihood that aerial phenomena are actually extraterrestrial spacecraft?

MR. ELIZONDO: Well, Jackie, that’s really the question, isn’t it? The bottom line is, up until very recently there were really only three possibilities of what this could be. And the first possibility is that it is some sort of secret U.S. tech that somehow, we have managed to keep secret even from ourselves for a long period of time. The second option is that it is some sort of foreign adversarial technology that has somehow managed to technology leapfrog ahead of our country despite having a fairly robust and comprehensive intelligence apparatus. And of course, the third option is something quite entirely different. It’s a different paradigm completely.

Now as of this week we now know through some of the discussions at senior-level leadership that this report has definitively stated once and for all that it’s not our technology. And that’s hugely important. For 30 years there has always been this undercurrent, if you will, these conspiracies that there was some sort of TR-3B program and some sort of a super special technology that has been implemented and we’ve been--just been very careless about it. And I think that argument was finally put to bed this week. So that really only leaves two other options, and that’s--again, it’s foreign adversarial or it’s something quite different. And I think we’re now beginning to learn, as we’ve heard from the director of national intelligence--and I can certainly tell you from my experience--that we’re pretty confident that it’s not Russian or Chinese technology, and there’s several reason for that that, if you like, I’m more than happy to go into.

MS. ALEMANY: Yeah, actually, could you go into that. I know you’ve explained it in previous interviews, but these sightings have happened for the past 70 years, and I know you’ve said before that you didn’t think it was possible for one of our foreign adversaries who have been helpful actually in providing information on this issue, would be capable of keeping something a secret for so long. Is that accurate?

MR. ELIZONDO: That’s precisely one of the counterarguments. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, as of today, we had an announcement by former Director of National Intelligence Ratcliffe who said this isn’t Russian technology. And as we know during Glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was this five-year romance period, if you will, between the United States and Russia where we began really sharing a lot of information. And a lot of their--ironically enough, a lot of their UFO information wound up in our hands, and it turns out that they were experiencing the exact same issues from a UFO or a UAP perspective that we were. So, if you look at really the timelines here, you know, it’s looking increasingly less likely that this is some sort of Russian technology.

So that really leaves China. And some of these reports, you’re absolutely correct, Jackie, they go back into the early 1950s, and even earlier. And so, what that says is that you have pilots, whether we’re describing what we call a white flying tic-tac or a white flying butane tank in the 1950s or a white flying lozenge, if you will--they’re all describing the exact same vehicle, craft, if you will, doing exactly the same thing, performing in ways well beyond our current capabilities.

And if you look at that from a--from a temporal perspective, from a time perspective, it simply doesn’t make sense that China back in 1950 would have this beyond next generation technology, mastered it, is able to fly at will anywhere it wants on the face of the planet, and the last 70 years, despite the billions of dollars we’ve put into our intelligence community infrastructure and architecture, it has--it has managed to evade us. In fact, China is a country that has stolen quite a bit--spends a lot of time stealing technology from us. And so, one has to ask the question that if really a country had this technology, would it be necessary to steal, you know, much more basic technology from another country. Furthermore, if you had this type of technology, you probably wouldn’t need to invest so much in military because you had this, if you will, checkmate type technology or capability where everything else now becomes obsolete.

And so, this goes to your last part of your question. So, I feel or do I believe this is, quote, “extraterrestrial”? Let me be very careful before I answer that by saying at the end of the day, Jackie, it doesn’t matter what I think or what I believe. What matters is what the data and the facts tell us. And from that perspective, it’s very important that--I’ve always--I had a very simple job, and that is to collect the truth and speak the truth. That’s it. Very much as an investigator, which I used to be. We applied the same level of rigor and methodologies we did at hunting terrorists and spies as we did in hunting UFOs. So, we really didn’t care what these were. We were just trying to get to the bottom of what they were. And so therein lies, if you will, a little bit of our approach. We were--we were very agnostic, if you will, or objective about this topic and tried to allow the facts to lead us down a certain path. And that is really what we’re doing today. What we’re realizing is that the facts are painting a far more compelling picture than what we thought. In this case, you, your audience, they’re the jury. So what matters is really what you think about this. And so, the hope here is that the U.S. government can provide the data and the evidence and information and then allow the American people to decide what we think this is about.

I think, if I may just digress for a moment here, you mentioned something very interesting that a lot of people want to talk about and say is this extraterrestrial. And I want to just if I can for just briefly delve into where we are with modern day science. We are human beings that a lot of now people in psychology refer to as cardio-social animals. It means we look at things in extremes because for the first nine months of our existence we were in our mother’s womb and we heard that binary heartbeat of our mother. And so, we tend to look at the life, if you will, in our universe in that binary way. It’s either good or it’s bad. It’s hot or cold, black or white, up and down, and that’s how we tend to judge things. But in reality, the universe and physics isn’t binary. It’s not binary at all. In fact, there’s all sorts of options and opportunities of what this could be.

So again, back to your question. Is it from here, or is it from out there? We don’t really know. In fact, there’s lots of other options on the table. It could be from--as I’ve said before, it could be from outer space, inner space, or the space in between. As we begin to learn what quantum physics is and we begin to understand our place here on this little planet, we begin to realize that there’s a lot of other options. We judge the universe in five fundamental senses, the ways that we perceive the universe, and that’s touch, taste, hear, smell, et cetera. And if you can’t--if you can’t use those senses to look at something or measure it, then we really can’t interact with it.

And yet we know the majority of the universe around us--99 percent of it, in fact--is not perceivable. There are right now Wi-Fi signals coursing through your body. There’s cosmic radiation coming in from the cosmos. There’s neutrinos coming in from the sun. There’s radar hitting you from the local airport. And yet these are all realities and you can’t interact with it because we just don’t have the tools to do so. Take a beautiful night sky, look at the stars, and you might say, wow, that’s really a pretty sky. But if you now take a radio telescope and look at that same spot in the sky, all of a sudden you begin to see things that you couldn’t see before. You see the ultraviolet, you see the infrared spectrum, you see nebula.

So, I guess my longwinded point to all this is that we must keep all options open. If we already know that 99 percent of the universe we cannot perceive or interact with, then there may be other options here. This may not necessarily be something from outer space. In fact, this could be something as natural to our very own planet as us, we’re just now at a point we’re beginning to technologically be able to interact and collect data. This could be something from under the oceans. This could be something from, yes, from outer space. We really don’t know. And this is why I think we really need to take a whole of government approach and look at this, because it is--day by day, it is seeming like more and more this conversation is shifting from a human technology--quite possibly, we don’t know for sure yet--but to something far more profound.

MS. ALEMANY: But as someone who is more steeped and in the know on the data and the facts, do you have any more narrow idea in that 99 percent of things that we are unaware of what this could be exactly?

MR. ELIZONDO: You know, through observations we are--we are quite convinced that we’re dealing with a technology that is multigenerational, several generations ahead of what we consider next generation technology, so what we would consider beyond next generation technology. Something that could be anywhere between 50 to 1,000 years ahead of us. And for us, I think it’s when you’re looking at the observations and these things, how they can outperform frankly anything that we have in our inventory and we’re pretty certain anything that our foreign adversaries have in their inventory, then, yes, obviously as human beings we tend to go down that rabbit hole of speculation.

I want to be very careful that I don’t offer my opinion in an unqualified manner. I’ve always stated this is exactly why we need a UAP taskforce. In fact, this is why we need a much bigger, whole of government enduring capability, because at the end of the day we don’t know what we’re dealing with. And frankly, all options have to be on the table until they’re no longer on the table.

I could offer you my opinion right now, but, Jackie, in all honesty it would probably be a bit of disservice because we frankly don’t have enough information yet. We’re just now getting to the point as a government, as a society that we are accepting the reality that this is real, whatever it is. I think--I think we need to do a little bit more. And so out of respect to you and your journalistic integrity and to your audience, I’m probably going to refrain from offering more of my opinion on that particular aspect only because the one thing I’ve learned in intelligence is you can be absolutely sure of something and still be absolutely wrong, and I don’t want to mislead anybody.

MS. ALEMANY: I’m going to be a little bit of a pest here, and I apologize for my desire for a more black and white answer.

MR. ELIZONDO: Sure.

MS. ALEMANY: But in common parlance, I guess, is that something that you would refer to as an alien or a time traveler. Is there any sort of way you could, you know, more specifically [audio distortion]?

MR. ELIZONDO: Sure, so, yeah, I’ve said before this is something--and I guess I may have just said it again--but that this could be something from outer space, inner space, or frankly the space in between. There’s a lot of options out there. This could be something that is extra hyper dimensional. Now I don’t mean extradimensional in a woo-woo sense. I mean, extradimensional in a quantum physics sense. We know that the universe is full of shortcuts and loopholes.

We know--so let me if I may backtrack for just a moment, it took the Renaissance to come to the point where we understand Newtonian physics. We understand what gravity looks like. We still don’t quite understand what it is yet, but we understand what it looks like, and we understand force equal mass times acceleration, and whatnot. So, we had these really elegant solutions for our observations of the--of the natural world. And then it took a couple hundred years, but along comes some cat with crazy hair we call Einstein who now introduces the notion of relativity. It kind of upends really science and turns it 180 degrees and says, well, actually there’s a thing called spacetime, and space and time are actually connected, and they’re also stretchable and compressible. And as bizarre as that may be, that is precisely what we’re seeing. And so, spacetime can be warped based upon mass or a lot of energy.

And then of course 40-some years ago we really start getting into this whole other paradigm of science, and it's quantum physics. And someone once described it as you have this box sitting on the ground, and in walks a dog, and all of a sudden two cats walk out. And as crazy as that may seem, that’s precisely what we’re seeing in these observations with quantum physics, proverbially speaking of course. So, it doesn’t make sense, and yet there’s this weird duality. Maybe the universe, the speed of light although may be the universal speed limit, there may be some shortcuts and offramps in our--in our--in this understanding of our universe.

So, we are--we are just now scratching the surface of understanding what type of science it may take to do what we are seeing with these vehicles. There’s five specific observables associated with these--with these UAPs, unidentified aerial phenomena, that really separate them from the rest of anything that we would consider terrestrial aircraft or manned aircraft or some type of human-based technology. And again, I want to be careful not to go too far out on the limb because that’s where the speculation starts, and that’s also where the danger starts, because we simply don’t know yet.

MS. ALEMANY: Well, and I guess the other key question here is what do you think the likelihood is that the U.S. government is actually going to confirm anything?

[Pause]

MR. ELIZONDO: Jackie, I think I lost you, but I’m going to go ahead and try to answer the best I can. I think you were asking me what the likelihood is of the U.S. government going ahead and confirming anything in this 180-day report. So let me see if I can go ahead and answer that. Hopefully that was your question because I seem to have lost signal.

So, the 180-day report is, first of all, not substantial enough time to do a comprehensive report. In fact, I’ve told people it takes longer to remodel a household kitchen sometimes than it does to conduct one of these 180-day reports.

Secondly, there’s the other issue here that we had COVID and this pandemic that kept a lot of people home for most of that time.

And then thirdly, I think if this turns out to be some sort of adversarial technology that has happened to leapfrog ahead of us for the last seven years, Jackie, we’re talking about one of the greatest intelligence failures this country has ever seen, probably eclipsing 9/11 by an order of magnitude. It took us nearly three years to come up with a 9/11 Commission report. If this turns out to be some sort of adversarial technology that did happen to technologically leapfrog us, 180 days I don’t think is going to be sufficient.

I think what we can expect the report to say is something like this. There are about 100 and some odd cases out there that are compelling enough that they are definitely displaying some sort of capability, technology that we don’t have. Secondly, we don’t know what these things are. We have no evidence to suggest that they are from outer space, but at the same time we have no evidence to suggest that they’re not. And so, this report will probably be a bit of a placeholder. The one thing we know for sure at this point is that it’s not U.S. secret technology. So that takes part of the 30-year argument that this is some sort of secret Air Force, if you will, weapon platform being tested. That’s now off the table. And so now we can focus more, I think, on the foreign adversarial perspective, or hopefully maybe something quite frankly sufficiently different than anything that we had--we had possibly considered before.

MS. ALEMANY: And when we’re actually talking about this as a national security threat or as a foreign adversarial threat as you just mentioned, you know, I think we need to talk about China here, which the United States government also views as a national security threat. And China is making big investments at the moment to identify extraterrestrial life as a part of their military mission. There’s discussion within the community about whether it’s better for us to lead the way with confirmation versus China doing so and possibly being dishonest about what they’ve found--essentially a new modern-day space race. Do you think, in your opinion, does it matter which national takes the lead on confirming the presence of extraterrestrial life and who gets to the bottom of this answer first?

MR. ELIZONDO: I think--well, you’re right, Jackie. And not only that, they’ve just announced they’ve established a new UAP taskforce similar to ours and they’re using artificial intelligence to do this. We also know that there’s a play by them to try to lead this conversation at the United Nations. That--for me, it’s a multifaceted question you’re asking me. There’s two parts of me, and I’m a little bit I guess you’d say schizophrenic about the response. There is the national security side of me that has said always we have these adversaries, these traditional adversaries, and they’re going to steal everything they can from us. We should--don’t trust them. Try to cooperate, but don’t trust them.

But then there’s the other side, which is the non-governmental side of me that tends to be a little bit more optimistic. And perhaps this is an opportunity for our countries, rather than to find disagreement, maybe to find some sort of common ground. Maybe this may be a new renaissance. Maybe this is an opportunity for our countries to work together on a common good that involves all of humanity. Maybe this is like we did in the Cold War where we started working with the Russians to, you know, this era of cooperation where we start meeting each other in space. I would certainly hope the latter is what happens, but I don’t know. You know, that’s a great question, because what I hope for may be different than what I expect. And that still needs to be reconciled. So, I don’t know if I answered your question appropriately, but that’s how I feel.

I would love nothing more than an opportunity to work with our adversaries, our conventional adversaries--Russia, China, let’s get everybody to the table. I believe this is a topic that involves all of humanity. I think it affects all of us equally and yet differently, depending on our philosophical, sociological and theological belief systems. So, I--you know, I guess maybe--maybe guess the kid in me wants this to be an opportunity for us to work together. But I also have a very realistic side, because I’ve seen what those countries are capable of doing, and you know, I--it would have to take a lot of trust for us to do that.

MS. ALEMANY: And several of these UFO sightings have been above secret nuclear weapons facilities. Almost every major nuclear power across the globe really has reported and declassified these sightings. You have talked extensively about the connection here, which might be helpful I think for some people to hear in advance of my next question, which is whether or not the U.S. government has considered utilizing nuclear-powered naval fleets to lure these kinds of things to further study them.

MR. ELIZONDO: Wow. So first of all, Jackie, thank you for asking such a thoughtful question. Obviously, you’ve done some homework. And I also want to, by the way, thank you as a journalist for following this topic, because I know there’s a lot of risk involved, and I also know there’s been traditionally a lot of stigma and taboo associated with it. So, I want to congratulate you for your courage and thank you and your audience for at least having this conversation.

But secondly, yes, that is--that is one of the concerns we have from a national security perspective, that there does seem to be some sort of congruency or some sort of intersection between these UAP or UFO sightings and our nuclear technology with nuclear propulsion, nuclear power generation, or nuclear weapons systems. Furthermore, those same observations have been seen overseas in other countries. They too have had the same incidents. So that tells us this is a global issue.

Now in this country we’ve had incidents where these UAPs have interfered and actually brought offline our nuclear capabilities. And I think to some they would probably say, well, that’s a sign that whatever this is, is something that is peaceful. But in the same context, we also have data suggesting that in other countries these things have interfered with their nuclear technology and actually turned them on, put them online. So that is equally, for me, just as concerning. I think that there is certainly at this point enough data to demonstrate there is an interest in our nuclear technology, a potential to even interfere with that nuclear technology. And when you look at all these naval ships out there--let’s take the Nimitz battle carrier fleet for example--in some cases you’re talking about a nuclear footprint probably bigger than most cities. You have a nuclear-powered carrier with aircraft on board that--and then you have nuclear-powered destroyers. You have nuclear-powered submarines, some of those with nuclear weapons on board, or nuclear--certainly nuclear capabilities. I’ll just say that. So, I think--I think, yeah, it shouldn’t be a surprise that maybe there is an increased interest in our capabilities as it relates to our nuclear technology. And the Navy is certainly not immune to that.

MS. ALEMANY: [Inaudible]

MR. ELIZONDO: Yeah, absolutely. And so, you know, I think the--there’s two--there’s two congruencies that we see. We see a--we see an interest in our nuclear capabilities, and then we have this really bizarre what--I don’t know if you call it an interest, but there seems to be a connection with water, and these things have a tendency to be seen in and around water, which kind of leads to one of the observables that we’ve had. There’s five distinct observables that set this technology, as I mentioned earlier, aside from everything we have in our inventory.

The first is hypersonic velocity. The ability to change directions instantly. And when I say instantly, I mean human beings can withstand about 9 g forces or some of our best aircraft can withstand about 16 Gs. These things are doing 3-, 4-, 600 Gs in midflight.

Then there’s hypersonic velocity. That is speeds that by definition are Mach 5 or above, very, very fast. We do have some technology. You mentioned Russian hypersonic and things like that. You know, there are technologies that can go that fast, but then again, you don’t expect a hypersonic aircraft to do a 90-degree turn. To put that into context, our SR-71 Blackbird when at 3,200 miles an hour wants to take a right-hand turn, it takes roughly half the state of Ohio to do it. You don’t expect it to just kind of do this. And that’s precisely what we’re seeing.

And then the third observable is a bit like cloaking. We call it low observability.

But the fourth observable is what we were talking about, and that is trans medium travel and water. The ability for an object to fly not only in our atmosphere, low and high altitudes, but also potentially in a vacuum environment like space and even underwater. Now we do have vehicles that can do that. We have, for example, a seaplane. A seaplane is a plane that can fly, and it can float on the water. But when you look at it, it’s neither really a very good aircraft or a boat because it’s a design compromise. And yet what we are seeing are objects that can operate in all these domains or all these environments, seemingly without any type of performance compromise.

And so why are we seeing these things around--in and around water is something that we’re really--we’re really kind of scratching our heads with, because we’ve seen these things. They’ve been recorded not only in our atmosphere but there’s data to suggest that they’ve also been tracked by some of our capabilities underwater as well and being able to perform in ways that frankly exceed anything that we know on the planet right now.

MS. ALEMANY: And, Lue, unfortunately we only have time for one more question. But I should make it clear to our viewers that you actually signed an NDA when you were working on this at the Pentagon. Is there any scenario that would cause you to break that NDA if you feel like, for example, this report obfuscates or peddles disinformation about what the findings actually are here?

MR. ELIZONDO: No, ma’am. I will now violate my non-disclosure agreement with the government. I still maintain a security clearance. And the reason is that not because it’s my loyalty to the government, because it’s my loyalty to the American people. That contract I signed those many years ago was a promise to the American people that I would never violate their trust, period. And I can’t violate their trust in order to gain their trust. It doesn’t work that way. So, what I’s going to continue to do is doing what I’m doing now and pushing for this disclosure, pushing for the information that I know to be true because I saw it and so did my colleagues, continue to have this conversation the way I can.

And I’ll tell you, if it looks like the Pentagon continues to obfuscate, I have made it clear before that there’s a possibility I would consider running for some sort of congressional office. I don’t want to do that. I’m not a politician. I don’t have the political savvy. But if I have to put my boots back on in order to make sure this conversation is had and ultimately allow the American people to have this conversation amongst themselves, then I will do what’s necessary short of violating my non-disclosure agreement and violating my trust with the American people.

MS. ALEMANY: Well, we hope you’ll come to us if and when you make that decision to run for office. Thank you so much for joining us today, Lue, and thanks for your work on all this.

MR. ELIZONDO: Jackie, thank you sincerely to you and your audience. You’ve been wonderful. Any time.

MS. ALEMANY: And everyone, I’m going to be back at 4:30 for a special program, Life After Vaccines: The Future of Travel and Live Events, with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and Kayak CEO Steve Hafner. Thanks for joining us.

[End recorded session.]