Two weeks ago, investigative journalist George Knapp and documentary filmmaker Jeremy Corbell published multiple “leaked” photographs of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), along with a night-vision video which showed triangle-shaped (reported as “pyramid” shaped) objects in the sky. The story was that these visuals were collected by the “UAP Task Force,” which investigates encounters with unknown objects. Just days later, The Black Vault originally broke the story that the Pentagon authenticated all the photographs and visuals from those two stories, and confirmed they were taken by Navy personnel. However, part of that confirmation seems to have been either walked back by the Pentagon, or at the very least, is the capstone of much unneeded confusion on the part of the Department of Defense (DOD). This confusion stems from unclear statements that were never clarified or corrected, despite numerous opportunities to do so. The Black Vault has decided to publish all communications, since all are public record and subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
It All Started When…
This saga began on April 6, 2021, with MysteryWire.com, a website “dedicated to reports on Area 51, UFOs, military technology, paranormal, mysteries and just great news stories.” Knapp, who has reported on such topics for decades, often brings new stories to their online audience, or the site dips into a vast archive of past KLAS-TV investigative reports, also dating back decades. On April 6, the story that dropped was new, and it surrounded details involving a leak of three photographs of UAPs taken by the U.S. military, according to the report. Sourced through anonymous contacts only, the photographs were instantly both praised by believers and attacked by skeptics. Instead of weighing in with forensic analysis, The Black Vault sent the images to the Pentagon for comment. At first, that request went unanswered.
Two days later, Corbell published more photographs and a video, also received from anonymous sources. Internet audiences had similar reactions with both praise and skepticism, but again, The Black Vault took the visual imagery to the Pentagon via e-mail on April 8, also seeking comment and confirmation. Throughout the day, there still, was no answer.
Then, on the evening of Friday, April 9, the Pentagon responded. Surprisingly, not only was there a response, but there was a confirmation that the images, and the video, were all “taken by Navy personnel.” However, Susan Gough, the DOD spokesperson solely tasked with responding to UAP related media enquiries, declined to give them a designation (ie: “unidentified,” “UAP,” “Balloons,” “Bokeh” or otherwise).
The Black Vault went to the point of “triple checking” the confirmation of legitimacy. Since Knapp and Corbell both published photographs (some of which were said to be unclassified video stills embedded into “briefing slides” from a classified briefing done by the UAPTF) along with a video itself of the flying “pyramids,” an email was sent to ensure that the statement applied to the “briefing slides” as well.
The original comment by the DOD to The Black Vault was the following:
“I can confirm that the referenced photos and videos were taken by Navy personnel. The UAPTF has included these incidents in their ongoing examinations.” — Susan Gough, Department of Defense Spokesperson
And the e-mail this statement was responding to, as written by The Black Vault, said this:
“I wanted to touch base, as we close this week, regarding EVEN MORE “leaked” Navy material, touted to be UNCLASSIFIED, on the topic of UAPs.
I understand I pursue a lot of questions with you both, and most time come up with the stance that the DOD/NAVY etc will not comment on potentially ongoing UAP issues.
- However, I am hoping you both will indulge me to again, so I will ask if there is any comment the DOD/Navy can give about the allegations that U.S. Navy PHOTOS, briefings slides, AND VIDEO that have been leaked and profiled below, are genuine, and are they considered UAPs / Unidentified as an official designation?
New UAP photographs: https://www.mysterywire.com/ufo/new-uap-photographs/
New leaked video and briefing slides: https://www.mysterywire.com/ufo/pictures-and-video-show-unidentified-flying-objects-moving-above-u-s-navy-warships/“
As evidenced above, the original e-mail that was directly responded to included links to the “briefing slides” as well. There was no stipulation within Gough’s statement, that she only meant PART of my question was being confirmed, but not all. Regardless, The Black Vault followed up multiple times prior to breaking the story, just to ensure 100% accuracy.
After the first follow up asking about the designation (ie: “unidentified” or otherwise) was shot down with a, “I have nothing further for you beyond what I provided,” a third follow-up was sent to clarify the “briefing slides” specifically. Since Gough’s statement only referred to visual imagery including “photos and videos,” the intent was to clarify if the information withing the caption was also being verified, or just the visuals themselves. That follow up, was the following:
“Can you confirm your statement is attributable to the leaked briefing slide photographs as well?”
“I’m not sure I understand your question, John.”
A further clarification was sent, with the “briefing slides” embedded into the e-mail to avoid any confusion. Along with the embedded slides, The Black Vault wrote:
“The below were allegedly leaked SLIDES from a classified briefing presentation. Can you confirm they are?”
“The only thing that my statement confirms is that the photos and videos in that Mystery Wire article are photos and videos taken by Navy personnel. I have nothing for you on anything else in the article.”
You will note, this is the second time the Pentagon used the word “videos,” plural, when submitting their statement. Although there was only one video, singular, it was reported by Corbell that the USS Omaha “briefing slides” were still images taken from a video (not yet leaked or known to be in the public realm). This is pointed out as even further evidence, the Pentagon was clear when authenticating all imagery sent to the Pentagon by The Black Vault, and even referenced the “videos” (plural) likely referencing the slides being taken from a video. One statement could be a typo. Two statements submitted was believed to be accurate and not requiring a “quadruple check” on the side of The Black Vault.
Since the original messages that were sent had links to BOTH Mystery Wire articles containing the leaked images (Mystery Wire had highlighted Corbell’s release, and that article was used by The Black Vault as a reference), and Gough responded to the e-mail linking to both of them which included the “briefing slides,” it seemed clear what was being confirmed, and what was not. What was confirmed, was the “photos and videos.” What wasn’t confirmed, was the information written within in the caption of the slides. Due to the fact that unclassified information can still be “exempt from disclosure” for numerous reasons; her denial to comment on ship names, locations, and actual context did make sense. However, she yet again, never stipulated or corrected my assertion that what I had sent her regarding the photographs in the “briefing slides” was not included in her blanket statement authenticating the “photos and videos.” The “briefing slides” were of “photos,” as taken from a “video,” so it was pretty clear that her statement applied to the visuals there as well, no matter how you looked at them.
But despite all that; some media outlets began running another narrative within days. The story shifted to the “briefing slides” were not verified at all by the Pentagon, though the rest were. It was reported by Fox News, and others, that the Pentagon refused to comment on those “briefing slides” specifically. Per the above e-mail exchange, that narrative did not seem accurate, given the numerous attempts to fact check and follow up by The Black Vault. Researcher Roger Glassel also received the conflicting statements from the Pentagon, and he published them on Twitter, thus confirming a trend of contradiction.
On April 21, at 4:31am Pacific time, another follow-up was sent to the Pentagon by The Black Vault to get more clarity. The e-mail read:
“I wanted to follow up as I saw a statement of clarification you sent to Roger Glassel wherein you apparently were NOT referencing the “briefing slides” I had asked you about when your original statements went out?
Can you clarify that the images I sent you, in which I referred to the “briefing slides” were NOT confirmed when you sent me that statement? I am a little confused, as my emails, and the one you responded to, specifically asked about those “briefing slides”. And I did follow up to TRIPLE check, with those specifically attached, and you said in reply to that message that your statement applied to the photos as well, but nothing else. Given the slides are all of photos, I took that as you were verifying the images, but not the data/information in the CAPTION itself, which I understood why.
Can you please clarify the above?
In addition, I have reason to believe the USS Omaha encountered this spherical shaped object on July 15th, 2019, between the times of 10:30pm – 11:30pm pacific off the Coast of San Diego, California. With those types of specifics, I am hoping you can confirm the incident with the UAS took place? Is there anything else you can add since it appears the event itself is UNCLASSIFIED?
Thank you for your time…”
“John, I specifically told you, twice, that I had nothing for you on any thing other than the photos and the video. I’ll send you what I sent R. Glassel so you have it.”
It became clear with this response, that the confusion surrounding the Pentagon’s stance became palpable. The slides were, in fact, of photographs (video still extractions), and the Pentagon’s original statement had addressed “photos.” If these “briefing slides” were considered a “video” since they were screen shots from one, the Pentagon also referenced on two occasions “videos,” plural, thus confirmed no matter how you looked at them, the statement could apply.
Regardless, a response was immediately sent:
I am in no way trying to annoy you with this, but I do hope you can see my confusion. The “briefing slides” are of photos, and despite you not confirming or commenting on the caption contents, I took what you said as confirming those photographs as well since I sent them to you (and referenced them) with the rest.
However, it appears you were not commenting on those photos, hence my attempt to clarify here. Despite me apparently overstaying my welcome on trying to clarify this issue, I assure you accuracy is my #1 priority, and I reported what you told me as those briefing slide photos were, to my belief, authenticated by your statement.
Yet, it appears now that is not so, so I am trying to clarify what I read in a tweet that you sent [to]someone else.”
“Understand, John, and I really do appreciate you always trying to be accurate. I just sent you what I’d sent R. Glassel. Hope that clarifies things for you.”
Sadly, it did not clarify. Below, you will find the forwarded message, along with a string of statements, sent to The Black Vault in order to “clarify.”
“Below is the statement that I have provided to others, in response to questions about the Mystery Wire article (https://www.mysterywire.com/ufo/new-uap-photographs/) and an Extraordinary Beliefs article (https://www.extraordinarybeliefs.com/news4/navy-filmed-pyramid-ufos):
I can confirm that the referenced photos and videos were taken by Navy personnel. The UAPTF has included these incidents in their ongoing examinations.
As we have said before, to maintain operations security and to avoid disclosing information that may be useful to potential adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examinations of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP.
Also, to clarify, I am only confirming that the cockpit photographs and videos – what the Mystery Wire article refers to as “Sphere,” “Acorn” and “Metallic Blimp,” and the videos taken with a night-vision device in the Extraordinary Beliefs article– were taken by Navy personnel. I have nothing for you regarding any other images or depictions in those articles.
Regarding the UAP report to Congress, I’d like to clarify for you that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report attached to the fiscal 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act, which was part of the omnibus spending bill signed on Dec.27, 2020, tasked the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, with submitting a UAP report to Congress.
The department is aware of the requirement and is working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. I refer you to ODNI for anything further on the UAP report.”
Yet again, even Gough references Corbell’s article, which displays the photographs embedded in the “briefing slides.” She, also yet again, does not stipulate that the “briefing slides” are not included in her blanket statement authenticating all the imagery.
The Pentagon continues to decline to comment, specifically referencing the “briefing slides,” but should any additional comments be submitted, The Black Vault will update this story.
Although the above seems like a game of semantics and potentially just a misunderstanding, it then begs to ask the question of, “Why?”
Why, within about 48-72 hours, was The Black Vault able to confirm and authenticate that the photographs and video were genuine, but now there is controversy surrounding the USS Omaha “briefing slides?”
What makes them different then the rest? Whether you consider them “photographs” of video frames; or if you want to reference them as a “video” since they are said to be extractions from one, the Pentagon’s statement would apply to them as originally written.
The above e-mails are abundantly clear, all “photos and videos” were authenticated, which included the “briefing slides.” Despite numerous opportunities to do so, there was never any correction or clarification that the photographs within the “briefing slides” were somehow not included.
Again, the question is, “Why?”
The Black Vault has speculated since the leak of the “Batman Balloon” photo in early December of 2020, that this could all potentially be a game of intentional misdirection and even disinformation, with the objective of confusing the public. The exchange outlined above, seems to add more evidence to that theory.