By John Greenewald, Jr. – The Black Vault – Originally Published February 19, 2021

In the past week, a claim that the Pentagon had admitted to having UFO debris, and that they released the test results, began circulating social media channels and some mainstream media publications. Ultimately only gaining traction within tabloid style newspapers known for sensationalized headlines and wild claims; the overall story was easily debunked rather quickly. But, that brief attention to an outlandish claim revived interest in a different story from 2017, which is when the NY Times said that “metal alloys… had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena [UAP]” giving many the impression that specially modified buildings in Las Vegas, Nevada, were being used to store and test the unknown material. But, did these secret warehouses actually store the material? And if not; does it even exist?

The Legend Begins

Interest has been revived in a 2017 NY Times article which insinuates that “metal alloys” from UFOs are being stored in a building in Las Vegas.

On December 16, 2017, Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean wrote the explosive article, “Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program.” This trio of journalists profiled the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which was what they called the “Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program.”  Within that article, buried thirty-one paragraphs below their masthead, was a bombshell allegation that specially modified buildings were being used to house debris obtained from Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), or what they called, UAPs.

“Under Mr. [Robert] Bigelow’s direction, the company [Bigelow Aerospace] modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. [Luis] Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena,” the article outlined. “Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes.”


A 24 hour poll on The Black Vault’s Twitter page, yielded participation by 629 people, who overwhelmingly all believe the NY Times was reporting that actual debris was within the warehouses in Las Vegas. Even with a healthy margin of error, it still shows a strong three-quarters of those surveyed felt that way.

As a result of writing this, many who read the story, along with news outlets who critiqued it, believed this to indicate that “metal alloys” from UAPs were actively being stored within these buildings. This claim was touted throughout many publications, which in turn helped create a more than three yearlong UFO legend about pieces of “metal” from unknown craft housed within secret warehouses in Las Vegas. Outlets who covered that angle included Scientific American, Live Science, New York Magazine, Vice News,, Popular Mechanics, The Independent, Deadspin, and many others, which all conveyed the NY Times’ claim about “metal alloys” and the buildings they resided in.

The Clarity

However, despite the seemingly incontrovertible claim put forward by the NY Times about the alloys, and the lack of any known legitimate opposition to what was printed; it is now being clarified by those intimately involved with the overall storyline here more than three years later.


Luis Elizondo contacted The Black Vault to correct the record regarding “metal alloys” as reported by the NY Times.

The Black Vault received word this week from Mr. Luis Elizondo, the man who says he headed the AATIP program prior to his retirement from the Department of Defense (DoD). He felt the quote from the NY Times may have been confusing to some, after seeing it cited in an article last week on this website.

“Buildings were constructed to house material. Meaning, if Bigelow were to collect material, they would then be stored at the modified buildings,” Elizondo told The Black Vault in an e-mail. “I never said HE DID indeed collect material for AAWSAP. As I have always stated, I was part of AATIP, and had little to do with AAWSAP.”

AAWSAP was the Advanced Aerospace Weapons System Application Program, a program that according to Elizondo, differs from AATIP. Where AAWSAP, also according to Elizondo, focused on a broad-spectrum view of the paranormal and was spearheaded by Bigelow Aerospace’s subsidiary called BAASS; AATIP focused on more of the “nuts and bolts” of UAPs which Elizondo headed while working within the Pentagon.

The NY Times never mentioned AAWSAP in their original reporting, even though their claims were more about this program rather than the referenced AATIP.

And Then There Was None

With Elizondo denying having ever said Bigelow housed UAP material, that leaves the other part of the NY Times’ claim that “program contractors” had also confirmed the storage of the mysterious alloys. As has been established, Bigelow would be the overall contractor related to AAWSAP, and by chance, he recently addressed the UFO “metal alloy” claim in a video interview just weeks ago.


Robert Bigelow speaks to investigative journalist George Knapp, in a video interview published on

In a one-on-one discussion with George Knapp of, Bigelow was asked point blank about the claim. “NY Times reported that you modified your facility here in order to house some material from somewhere else. Did you ever have it?” Knapp asked. Bigelow simply responded, “We never had any.”

To further confirm that no contractor informed the NY Times about the pieces of UAP housed at Bigelow Aerospace, The Black Vault also reached out to Dr. Hal Puthoff. Puthoff is the President & CEO of EarthTech International, and at this time, served as a contractor and the “Senior Science Advisor” to BAASS during the AAWSAP. When asked about the statements given by Bigelow and Elizondo regarding the UAP debris being acquired and studied during the AAWSAP; Puthoff’s brief response to The Black Vault was that “their statements are correct.”

The Contradictions

The Black Vault also reached out to the journalists who wrote the original claim that has become more controversial rather than incontrovertible. Leslie Kean was the only to respond directly, and believes that The Black Vault “mischaracterized” what they originally wrote.

“You mischaracterized what we said. We did not write that Bigelow had collected material through AAWSAP or that Bigelow ever had material at all,” Kean said in a direct message on Facebook. “We said that Bigelow Aerospace modified buildings so that they could store materials recovered from what contractors told us had been retrieved from unidentified aerial phenomena.”


Ralph Blumenthal appears on MSNBC the day after the NY Times article was published. He recounted a detailed story about material being tested by scientists, and called back to his article that referenced the material, which appears to be a clear contradiction by his co-authors claim.

Although Blumenthal and Cooper did not respond directly to The Black Vault’s requests for comment, a December 17, 2017, interview of Blumenthal with MSNBC not only provides additional context of the claims made by the NY Times, but it also confuses the situation further.

Contrary to Kean’s statement that the NY Times never said Bigelow’s buildings had the material but rather just modified them in preparation; Blumenthal recounted a rather detailed story about “material” being studied by scientists during this program. In fact, he did so while speaking specifically about the Pentagon’s “UFO program” and his co-authored NY Times article about AATIP. He calls back to the only section of their article that deals with material, which is where the three authors of the piece specifically wrote about specially modified buildings at Bigelow Aerospace, which were modified solely to house the UAP “metal alloys.”


In an interview with MSNBC, one of the authors of the NY Times piece, Ralph Blumenthal, gives a direct call back to his article, appearing to completely contradict his co-authors interpretation and meaning of the same paragraph.

“They have, as we reported in the paper, some material from these objects that is being studied so that scientists can find what accounts for their amazing properties, this technology of these objects, whatever they are,” Blumenthal told MSNBC’s Yasmin Vossoughian. “They are studying it. It’s some kind of compound that they don’t recognize.”

It appears based on Blumenthal’s interview with MSNBC, two of the three co-authors of the article seem to disagree with what facts they were both originally reporting.

But, despite the seeming contradiction, Blumenthal stands by what he said. Although he did not respond to The Black Vault directly, Kean passed on a statement when she was asked about the contradiction.

“Leslie earlier responded for both of us. What I said on MSNBC is accurate and I’m not going beyond that. No further comment.”

When asked for further clarification on how both Kean’s and Blumenthal’s statements could both be true; Kean did not respond by the publish date of this article. (Any follow ups submitted will be added here)

To make matters even more confusing, the truth behind the “metal alloys” reported in 2017 would become even more elusive as time went on. Two and a half years after Blumenthal’s 2017 interview with MSNBC; he and Kean appeared together on a YouTube channel called “Project Unity” in a joint interview on July 25, 2020. In this interview, Blumenthal seemed to change his previous version of the story about what was really housed in Las Vegas.

“We did report that Robert Bigelow, who was a contractor on the program and was close to Harry Reid who got the money for the program, built a warehouse to hold retrieved materials. That was in the story,” Blumenthal said. “That’s as far as we got. That’s as much as we could find out at the time.” Blumenthal then goes on to state that since their original article, they learned that “… no materials were provided,” and that “… they never were put into the warehouse.”

It is unclear why the detailed story about materials and testing conveyed to MSNBC in 2017 was omitted, and the 2020 shifted to saying that no material was ever housed in Las Vegas or even given to Bigelow for the AAWSAP.


Building at Bigelow Aerospace headquarters, located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Many Millions” Of Dollars

If three major players in the saga of AAWSAP and AATIP all agree there were no “metal alloys” in Las Vegas, then why were the buildings modified in the first place? The price tag to do such a remodel, according to Bigelow, was into the “millions” of dollars.

“We had bought facilities, spent many millions of dollars in buying buildings and I did have a large program to do a major construction on this property besides what we already have here and that was going to be really fun and cool, ” Bigelow told when asked about the NY Times article and the work Bigelow did through the AAWSAP. “So we would have nothing that would protrude the surface much, I was going to use life support systems that you use in space because you don’t have a door you can go out of or a window you can put up. So you survive based on the ecosystem the environmental control support systems that you create on board your stations. And so I was going to actually implement those into the underground facility which was going to be substantial and so that was a lot of fun to to do.”

If the NY Times article was right about building modifications for UAP material, but just incorrect with the impression that material was actually being stored there, why would Bigelow Aerospace need artificial ecosystems and “environmental control support systems” in an underground facility in order to house these “alloys” and other pieces of debris? Who informed Bigelow he would be getting material to spark a project spending “many millions of dollars” in preparation for its arrival? Were the modifications done with taxpayer dollars out of the $22 million reportedly going to Bigelow Aerospace for the AAWSAP contract?

The answers to these questions are unknown.

The Black Vault has reached out to Bigelow Aerospace numerous times in the past couple of years regarding AAWSAP and the claims by the NY Times in 2017. Those requests have all been ignored to date.

There is UFO Material – But Where?


In January of 1997, I dug up through #FOIA from the Army, a once classified folder labeled “Alleged Flying Saucers from Denmark.” The incident appears to have occurred in 1947. Inside this folder, were poor photocopies, of numerous photos of some type of debris from the “Flying Saucer.”

With a muddied past of reporting on UFO or UAP material; it might reinvigorate you to know there actually is material out there from unknown craft, and it is documented within the archives of the US government. Although some of that documentation goes back decades, it is documented none-the-less. But what about today? Is the US government and military actively hiding UFO artifacts and testing them?

That answer, is hard to come by. In a May 31, 2019, interview between Elizondo and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson; that truth may have started to reveal itself, even if just for a moment.

“Do you believe based on your decade of serving in the US government on this question, that the US government has in its possession any material from these aircrafts?” Tucker Carlson asked. With clear hesitation to answer, Elizondo stated simply, “I do, yes.” Carlson quickly followed up. “You think the US government has debris, from a UFO, in its possession right now?” And it was that question that sparked Elizondo to close the door on going any further. “Unfortunately, Tucker, I really have to be careful of my NDA [Non-Disclosure Agreement]. I really can’t go into a lot more detail than that. But, simply put, yes.”


Luis Elizondo appeared on Tucker Carlson’s FoxNews show on May 31, 2019, and revealed he believed the US government was in possession of UFO debris.

Shortly after Elizondo’s appearance on FoxNews, he did an interview with Alejandro Rojas and During this, Elizondo brought up his reference to the materials in possession of the US government on his own accord, which prompted an interesting exchange.

“Now, I did state for the record when I was asked on, on a recent interview by Tucker Carlson, do I believe that material exists? Um, I stand, absolutely stand by that statement, but I unfortunately, I don’t think I can elaborate more on that,” Elizondo affirmed. Rojas added, “Right. And to clarify, I mean, you believe that likely does exist, but it’s not like something you can prove.” Elizondo responded, “I didn’t say that. I just, I’m going to probably politely, deflect that question.” Thus the door was closed again.

Elizondo has further clarified with The Black Vault, that his assertion about “material,” comes from “real information not related to AAWSAP.” Where, or what, that material is remains a mystery.

Will We Ever Know?

There is no telling if, or when, the US government will come clean on if they truly hold UFO debris. The powers that be have had a long, documented, history of covering up the full story for quite some time, whatever that full story actually is.

However, despite the general public’s frustration of not knowing the big picture and what the ultimate truth actually is, there is one crucial aspect to getting to that point: accuracy. Accuracy in reporting, and accuracy from those conveying the stories.

As proven in the past couple of weeks, numerous erroneous claims about UFO debris have circulated and are easily debunked. Couple that with newly revealed clarity that partially tarnishes claims published three years ago by the NY Times, it becomes a murky bog of unsubstantiated rumors and unclear assertions.

On the surface, many stories seem clear, concise, and mind-blowing. Yet, once challenged, many stories fall apart. And those that haven’t yet; they become heavily questioned.

Maybe that is the plan. Maybe this is all part of massive disinformation campaign spearheaded by the US intelligence community which has succeeded in confusing the general public to the point of simply believing nothing. Or, maybe, it’s all a necessary part of a well-orchestrated and finely-crafted strategy which leads us all on a step-by-step path to “disclosure” where mistruths are sprinkled in with absolute truths in order to progressively get the general public to believe. Or, maybe it is something else entirely.

Whatever may be at the root of this all, in the end, no one still has the right answer. At least, not yet.


Additional Quotes, Published In Full

blankLuis Elizondo

Published in FULL.

blankLeslie Kean

“We stand by our reporting in The New York Times story. I spoke to Lue Elizondo and he verified the accuracy of the excerpted statement you quote. You mischaracterized what we said. We did not write that Bigelow had collected material through AAWSAP or that Bigelow ever had material at all. We said that Bigelow Aerospace modified buildings so that they could store materials recovered from what contractors told us had been retrieved from unidentified aerial phenomena. As Lue has reaffirmed, that statement was and remains correct. If anyone had objections to our story written over three years ago, they would have informed us at the time it was published.”

blankDr. Hal Puthoff

Published in FULL.

blankRalph Blumenthal

Published in FULL.


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