“60 Minutes” has tackled many strange stories, but perhaps none like this. It’s the story of the U.S. government’s grudging acknowledgment of unidentified aerial phenomena— UAP—more commonly known as UFOs. After decades of public denial the Pentagon now admits there’s something out there, and the U.S. Senate wants to know what it is. The intelligence committee has ordered the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense to deliver a report on the mysterious sightings by next month.
Bill Whitaker: So what you are telling me is that UFOs, unidentified flying objects, are real?
Lue Elizondo: Bill, I think we’re beyond that already. The government has already stated for the record that they’re real. I’m not telling you that. The United States government is telling you that.
Luis Elizondo spent 20 years running military intelligence operations worldwide: in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Guantanamo. He hadn’t given UFOs a second thought until 2008. That’s when he was asked to join something at the Pentagon called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or “AATIP”.
Lue Elizondo: The mission of AATIP was quite simple. It was to collect and analyze information involving anomalous aerial vehicles, what I guess in the vernacular you call them UFOs. We call them UAPs.
Bill Whitaker: You know how this sounds? It sounds nutty, wacky.
Lue Elizondo: Look, Bill, I’m not, I’m not telling you that, that it doesn’t sound wacky. What I’m telling you, it’s real. The question is, what is it? What are its intentions? What are its capabilities?
Buried away in the Pentagon, AATIP was part of a $22 million program sponsored by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to investigate UFOs. When Elizondo took over in 2010 he focused on the national security implications of unidentified aerial phenomena documented by U.S. service members.
Read more: CBS