Breaking The Silence

Luis Elizondo Speaks Out on Criticism, the Pentagon, Disclosure and the Future

By John Greenewald, Jr., The Black Vault
Originally Published January 13, 2020
From Shadows to Headlines

Luis Elizondo speaks to the world for the first time in October of 2017.

In October of 2017, Luis Elizondo stepped out of the shadows. Whether he wanted it or not, he became an instant celebrity to UFO enthusiasts the moment he walked across a dimly lit stage. He stepped up to the microphone and began recounting his time with the Department of Defense (DOD), and how he had run a “sensitive aerospace threat identification program.” Then, at a moment which appeared to be marred by some reluctance in his voice, Elizondo told the world that while he ran that program, he learned “the phenomena,” as he called it, was “indeed real.”

The “phenomena” he refers to is that of the “unidentified aerial” kind; or more popularly referred to as simply UFOs.

He was introduced to the stage by Tom DeLonge, a rock star and entrepreneur who had recently formed To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTSA).  Elizondo was part of a newly developed team which aimed to, “…investigate the outer edges of science and unconventional thinking in order to push human knowledge.” Exactly what Elizondo’s role would be in this newly formed group was not immediately known, but his story intrigued the masses.


On December 16, 2017, the NY Times was one of the first two publications that brought Elizondo’s story to a whole new level of exposure.

Two months after Elizondo was introduced, the NY Times and Politico simultaneously published bombshell articles that took Elizondo’s story to a whole new level of exposure. Elizondo went from a celebrity within UFO circles, to becoming the headline of an international story.

Rumors of metal alloy debris recovered from “unidentified aerial phenomena”; allegations that tens of millions of dollars on UFO research was secretly spent; and an in-depth look under the veil of secrecy which surrounded Elizondo himself were just some of the bullet points within these viral stories. It was picked up by media outlets around the world, and very quickly, the subject of UFOs was no longer a laughing matter.

Controversy Begins to Brew

To many who had researched “the phenomena,” this was the moment they had been waiting for. They believed that “disclosure” by a world government of an extraterrestrial presence was about to take place. But despite that enthusiasm by many; others were cautious and even downright conspiratorial. Ideas began floating in some circles that Elizondo was part of a CIA backed cabal aimed to misinform the masses. And DeLonge, who was already known for saying some ‘out there’ ideas on his social network platforms, was simply a pawn in a shadowy government disinformation campaign. Then, you had those in the middle. This group was optimistically cautious about the narrative, but they began to see red flags raised about some facts and motives surrounding the story – and they wanted answers.

The ideas floating around about exactly what was unfolding were not only diverse; they were incredibly divisive. Many found themselves firmly planted on one side of the debate, or the other, and battle lines within various online ‘communities’ were drawn. Emotions would run high, and friendships would be challenged, or even broken. Colleagues would head their separate ways from working with each other, and to make all matters worse; verifiable facts were scarce to help differentiate between what was right and what was wrong.


The Pentagon began issuing statements that questioned Elizondo’s background, and his claims.

Although the Pentagon confirmed that the secretive Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) existed; controversy quickly began to brew about what the U.S. government’s position really was. Could AATIP really have been a secret UFO program? What exactly did it find? Was the entire viral story simply a misinformation campaign orchestrated by the U.S. intelligence community? Official statements did very little to answer those questions.

However, those uncertainties all paled in comparison to what would happen next. The Pentagon dropped a bombshell of their own in June of 2019 and said Elizondo had “no assigned responsibilities” on AATIP; the exact program he claimed to have ran. Although worded cryptically, the intentions were clear. Whether truthful or not, the Pentagon now aimed to hurt the credibility of one of their own. The story that the public was fed for a year and a half which caused so much excitement and confusion, was completely called into question.

This was the tipping point that took the story to the trenches of yet another deep debate. The roller coaster of official statements that brought good news, and bad, now seemed to come to a screeching halt. Elizondo’s story, along with the claims about AATIP, were being challenged by the U.S. government.

The Silence Breaks

To the surprise of many, Elizondo stayed quiet as the Pentagon unleashed their assault.  While some stood strong and believed the U.S. government was involved in a character assassination campaign against Elizondo; others would start to, or continue to, have their concerns that this was all the capstone to an entirely fabricated narrative fed to the public.

However, despite the onslaught by the Pentagon continuing, Elizondo maintained his silence about the controversy. Although he still made numerous television and radio appearances, the Pentagon’s “shots across the bow” went unchallenged and unaddressed.

This only fueled the controversy and the claims of conspiracy, along with creating more questions about something that already had few answers.

Now, that silence has been broken. After enduring months of on-and-off Pentagon statements challenging his credibility, Elizondo has chosen to speak with The Black Vault one on one.

Luis Elizondo (LE): “I chose to speak with you simply because you asked me.  I never turn down a sincere offer to clarify or provide my perspective.  I am not interested in social media drama or artificially manufactured angst and so I usually stay quiet unless I have something productive to say.”

LE: “I gave the Pentagon ample time to deconflict their response and given them the benefit of the doubt that its ‘disfunction over palace’. Unfortunately, I no longer feel this is necessarily the case and therefore it is incumbent upon me to set the record straight.  I am also aware that I still have a clearance and I don’t want the Pentagon taking any punitive measures to risk my clearance or our ongoing efforts regarding the CRADA.  I had my clearance threatened early on and I don’t want that being used as leverage to keep me quiet, but it is a possibility that they could still and try to remove my clearance in order to try and further discredit me.”

Although attempts by The Black Vault in the past two years to interview Elizondo have been unsuccessful, this time, it was different. The Black Vault reached out directly to Elizondo in early January to speak on the record in order to address some of the controversy. The intention was genuine and straight-forward. The specific focus was to allow Elizondo an unfiltered opportunity to address the barrage of official statements that have questioned the narrative he puts forth about his background, and about the program he said he ran. With no signs of hesitation; he quickly agreed. Contrary to what was expected, for this article’s focus Elizondo answered every question put forth to him by The Black Vault, with only few exceptions due to the secrecy certain answers would involve (which was very much expected and respected).

To clear the air, and to get a straightforward answer from the source, Elizondo was asked what his job really was within AATIP.

LE: “As the senior ranking person in the AATIP program, I was ultimately responsible for ensuring the efficient and effective operations of the overall effort.  However, in fairness, the lions work was performed by the outstanding men and women we had working in the program.  My job was primarily to fend off the distractions so the rest of the team could do their job.  In essence, my job was to catch the proverbial bullets so our folks could do their job without distraction.  Not an unusual role for the senior person in any program to assume.  This includes fighting for resources, support, and personnel.”

As The Black Vault has pointed out on numerous occasions, there have been many reservations accepting AATIP was truly a UFO program. However, that changed when on May 22, 2019, the NY Post published the Pentagon’s admission that it did indeed study UAPs.  Fast forward to December 6, 2019, and in a Pentagon statement issued to The Black Vault, they took it all back. “Neither AATIP nor AAWSAP were UAP related,” said Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough. “The purpose of AATIP was to investigate foreign advanced aerospace weapons system applications with future technology projections over the next 40 years, and to create a center of expertise on advanced aerospace technologies.”

Needless to say, more confusion ensued. So, why the backtrack?

LE: “[AATIP] it was not about advanced aircraft, it was indeed about UFO/UAPs. There is additional information that clearly indicates AATIP’s focus being UAP.  I don’t think that info has been made public… yet.  But I am certain it is forthcoming.  There is documentation that provides no doubt as to what our focus was.”


On June 1, 2019, The Intercept published a story which profiled the Pentagon’s newest statement at the time; Elizondo had “no assigned responsibilities” on AATIP.

But, between the time the Pentagon admitted they investigated UAPs and the day they took it all back, there was a statement that shook this entire story to its core. On June 1, 2019, The Intercept published a story which profiled the Pentagon’s newest statement at the time; Elizondo had “no assigned responsibilities” on AATIP.  In order to back up their claim, the Pentagon stated they talked to former “leadership” within the office where Elizondo worked. However, to date, those individuals and the positions they hold have never been identified.

Arguably, this was the biggest blow by the Pentagon against Elizondo, as it not only took aim at his story, but also, at the heart of his credibility and integrity. Undoubtedly, that would take an emotional toll on anyone.

LE: “Emotionally it was very disappointing, but not surprising.  There are elements in the Pentagon that are seriously upset with me for me ‘breaking rank’ in their eyes.  However, efforts are underway to isolate and expose these individuals and hold them accountable.  I am very optimistic that 2020 this will be resolved.  I can’t go into great detail on our strategy only because it has not been finalized yet. I think it’s a vendetta by a few in the Pentagon, but I think we will all know the real reason this year.”

Although Elizondo would not elaborate on the measures he is currently taking to counter back, he did remind us all about a truth that the American people know all too well: the U.S. government lies often.

LE: “As of [last week], the Pentagon was caught lying to the American people about the unsigned Iran memo.  And [last month], the Pentagon had to admit to the Washington Post that it lied to the American people for 18 years over the success in Afghanistan.  And let’s not forget their history of lying about the success of the Vietnam War, the hazards of Agent Orange to our soldiers, and the effects of asbestos to our sailors.  Frankly, I am not surprised; however, I am optimistic people are beginning to see through their foolishness.”

LE: “I believe the Pentagon is no different than any other large bureaucracy in that it is difficult for the left hand to always know what the right hand is doing.  Sometimes this is simply a result of large, disparate administrative roles and the variance of missions within the Department.  However, my concern arises when the misstatements are not a result of administrative dysfunction and instead a deliberate attempt to confuse, hide, and conceal the truth.  There are only a few, very rare exceptions in which the U.S. Government is allowed to outright lie to the American people and the world and that usually involves efforts related to covert action.   They do this to hide the sponsorship of an activity so the enemy doesn’t know we are behind a certain effort.  But that being said, even covert action has rules and oversight by the executive and legislative branches.  AATIP was NOT, repeat NOT a covert program and therefore there is no justification for the Pentagon to lie to the American people… if this is indeed what they are doing.  The longer they continue to change their position, the more I fear that this may be an active effort to suppress the truth.  The Pentagon has had 2 years to get their story straight and they continue to change their position.”

Elizondo was also asked if possibly, this could all just be human error, and a misunderstood case of semantics as they crafted their statement with, “… no assigned responsibilities…” – keyword being “assigned.”

LE: “Yes… While at the Pentagon, I worked National Programs for OUSD(I) and AATIP was under OSD.  For this reason, it’s possible they are being clever by splitting hairs.  By saying I had ‘no assigned responsibility’ is like telling Oliver North he had no ‘assigned responsibility for the Iran Contra effort.”

LE: “I think the Pentagon realizes it is fighting a losing battle regarding AATIP.  I think it now realizes that the sponsor himself has said what the program was about along with a senior officer and some of the contractors involved.  I also think they are now aware of the mass amount of documentation that exists (but not in the public realm) that substantiates the reality of what AATIP was/is, and who was/in involved.  I don’t think the Pentagon wants a public hearing where this information comes to light so therefore it may be simply easier to acknowledge the truth.”

Whatever the case may be for the Pentagon’s stance; Elizondo remains optimistic that the “mess,” as he calls it, will soon be cleaned up.

LE: “I believe there are efforts underway to help the Pentagon ‘reassess’ their previous statements and finally provide the truth to the public, once and for all. For this reason, I am fully engaged to make sure the truth comes out.  Of course, I say this with the full understanding of my obligations to protect national security information and classified data in accordance with my NDA.  A tricky task for sure.”

Elizondo also remains equally optimistic about the future of UAP awareness for humanity. That particular issue seems to be one of the more important ones, and goes to the core of why he decided to speak publicly about the topic.

LE: “I honestly never thought we would get this far so quickly.  As such, I am a bit out of breath.  My hope is that we continue to push hard for the truth that I know exists.  Now is not the time to relax and bask in our joint success… unfortunately, the way I see it… we may have won a battle, but the ‘war’ is far from over.  I think we need to engage academia, politicians, and other world leaders on this issue.  After all, it affects all of mankind and does not belong to one government, institution, or religion to control the narrative.”

Since December of 2017, there is a growing belief in some circles, that we are on the precipice of “disclosure.”  The “D word” has many meanings to different people, so instead of trying to define all of them here, the question was put forth to Elizondo to explain if a ‘disclosure’ effort was currently under way.

LE: “I think we first need to define what ‘disclosure’ means, because I think it means different things to different people.  If you mean ‘disclosure’ as defines by the fact that these things are real, then I think we are already there.  However, some people want the Government to admit things like “Elvis is on the mother-ship” and we are being invaded by reptilians from the Alpha Proxima.  In this case, I don’t think these people will be satisfied ever because this is not going to happen in, my honest opinion.  I think the best we can hope for is that the reality of UAPs is indeed real and that we need to do A LOT more homework to really figure out what these things are, how they work, who is behind the wheel, and what are their intentions.”

LE: “I believe we are at the point where putting the toothpaste back in the tube is not likely.  In part because a critical mass of individuals in our Government have been briefed officially as to the reality and nature of the phenomena.  These briefings were conducted by active Government representatives serving in an official capacity.  As a result, there are likely records of these meetings occurring.  In addition, I believe enough people in our Government have been made aware over the last 2 years that a program existed and continues to exist and at some point, these individuals will be either leaving or retiring from Government service and will also come forward.”

“Disclosure” or not, the task of informing the masses properly and factually about the UAP topic will be heavily reliant on the mainstream media. This is where Elizondo’s optimism begins to fade. He has mixed feelings about how that is currently being handled.

blankLE: “In some cases, it is [handled]positively and in other cases, not so much.  There is still lots of stigma associated with this topic.  There is also a long history if misdirection.  I have learned that the media is no different than any other business.  The days of real reporting seem to be over, replaced instead by ‘journalists’ looking for salacious headlines, click bait, and readership at any cost.  Most ‘journalists’ are simply editorialists in disguise.  It is my opinion that this is why the American people do not trust the media anymore.  Mostly because of the hyper political environment and the self-promoting echo chambers that are out there.  Media is a business like any other.  It depends upon subscriptions and readership and advertisers to survive.  As such, the media is held responsible to a business model rather than real sense of truth and transparency.  This is why we now deal with things like ‘fake news’, internet ‘influencers’, and partisan media outlets.  The days of reporting ‘just the facts’ are long dead, unfortunately.”

In the course of two years, Elizondo has been profiled by media outlets on numerous occasions. Some journalists have spoken directly with him, while others take quotes from online interviews and craft their own piece. The final products range from positive exposés to what seem to be downright hit pieces. Despite the frustrating aspect to the latter, Elizondo says he is only interested in one thing from the media.

LE: “I am not looking for ‘favorable coverage’. I am simply looking for fair and accurate coverage.  If someone wants to make fun of my goatee, then that’s fair game because it is a fact I have one.  Although this may be a silly point to make, it’s still an accurate fact.  However, when someone accuses me of not being truthful and only uses a single source, I have issue with that.  Especially because of the preponderance of evidence that others (including the program sponsor, contractors, and even documents) say contrary.  The problem with some in the media is that they only report small bits and pieces to their audience, and this results in misleading and inaccurate narratives.”

Getting beyond the few unneeded potshots taken by the media about his physical characteristics, Elizondo is proud about where the UFO/UAP topic stands today.

LE: “I am happy with the fact that recently some Navy former senior officials have come out and admitted there were more videos and greater length.  Unfortunately, I am not allowed to elaborate but the fact that the Government finally acknowledged it makes me feel a little vindicated.  Also, the Navy’s admission about the reality of UAPs (albeit could be Russian or adversarial) and the fact they are creating new policies so our brave male and female pilots can report these incidents is definitely a step in the right direction.  I am not sure I can take credit for it but I like to think I played a small part in it.”

But with that good, also comes the bad with the decisions he has made. Elizondo has one main regret since appearing from the shadows.

LE: “The impact to my immediate family and friends… the few I have left, lol!”

Moving Forward

Throughout multiple communications between The Black Vault and Elizondo, there was one word that he frequently used: “truth.”  Although there are many questions that still need answers, Elizondo is to be commended for addressing at least some of the “mess,” and to do so with The Black Vault.

It is no secret that The Black Vault has been incredibly critical about some claims that have been put forth. And even though not all of those concerns stand addressed, nor does the public yet have the irrefutable evidence to (dis)prove Elizondo’s claims; one thing has become palpable. No one can deny that since Elizondo walked across that stage back in October of 2017, he has shown conviction, and he has not wavered. To this day whether it be on television, radio or through private communications with The Black Vault, he stands by his claims and does so with a looming reality that will one day unfold.

Soon, the U.S. government will have to release at least some of the documentation regarding AATIP.  With Senator Harry Reid going on the record stating that 80% of the material is unclassified, it seems unlikely the government can hide behind national security exemptions. Those Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, in which The Black Vault has filed numerous ones, are all largely still being processed and yet to be finalized.

Will the results of those requests vindicate Elizondo? Will it show the Pentagon is actually being truthful? Or, will it reveal an unexpected third narrative no one saw coming? Every key player involved in this debate, will have their claims and their official statements challenged when documentary evidence is finally revealed. Only time will tell on who will be proven right, and who will be proven wrong.

But if the creation of this article has taught this author one thing more than all else, it is the fact that the word “truth” brings Elizondo, and myself, together onto common ground. So today, we walk side by side on it to bring at least a little clarity to a deep, dark, murky “mess” that is AATIP.

What comes tomorrow… remains a mystery.


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