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How US Intelligence Community Insiders Got the Senate’s Attention Regarding UFOs

When they couldn’t get credible data regarding UFOs in front of the Secretary of Defense, two intelligence insiders hatched a plan to get the world to pay attention and succeeded.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) has requested that the Director of National Intelligence organize research into Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP – aka UFOs) and provide a public report on what has been done thus far. It is an extraordinary move that further legitimizes a topic that has historically been relegated to mythological stories like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. However, the public did not know that there were those in the US military and intelligence communities who took the issue seriously and wanted more to be done to figure out what those UFOs are.

Verbiage from the SSCI explanatory committee report.

“We have an intelligence community for a reason, partly to support our military, partly to avoid strategic surprise, and the intelligence community was failing on both counts,” former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Chris Mellon told OpenMinds.tv in a recent interview. “The intelligence community was completely unresponsive, completely dropping the ball. I mean, it could be Russian, it could be Chinese, it could be something else.”

Mellon served for ten years as a Staff Director of the SSCI. From 1998 to 1999, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security and Information Operations, and from 1999 to 2002, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

In a recent interview for a documentary called The Phenomenon, Mellon says his professional interest in the topic of UAP began with a request by astronaut Gordon Cooper.

Cooper was a part of the famed Mercury Seven, the first seven US astronauts to go into space. He claims to have had two UFO incidents. The first was in 1951. He claims his squadron of jet fighters chased a group of round objects that could stop mid-air and make instant 90 degree turns. He also claimed that in 1957 a crew he managed at Edwards Air Force base filmed a saucer-shaped object land on a dry lake bed and then take off again. He reviewed the film and reported it. The Air Force sent a courier to collect it. He never saw the film again.

According to Mellon, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, Michael Cohen, tasked him to investigate the matter.

“Astronaut Cooper had spoken with the President,” Mellon says in The Phenomenon. “At a cabinet meeting, he raised this with Secretary Cohen, and then Cohen’s office called me and asked me to pursue this and chase it down.”

“The Air Force colonel that I spoke with got very frustrated, and when I asked him what happened to all of these records,” explained Mellon. “He said, ‘Well, that was all cleaned up or thrown out to save space.’ Something like that. It sounded ludicrous, but that’s what he told me.”

Mellon’s interest in the UFO topic was the focus of an article in The Huffington Post in May 2016 titled Is There a UFO Cover-up? A Government Insider Speaks Out. The article was written by Leslie Kean and was about Mellon joining a group of scientists interesting in developing a UFO monitoring system called UFODATA.

Kean was also one of The New York Times authors, along with Ralph Blumenthal and Helen Cooper, who broke the news in December 2017 that the Pentagon had run a secretive UFO program from 2007 to 2012 called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). The article’s primary source was Luis Elizondo, a former military intelligence official who claims he retired to get more attention to what he felt was important information regarding UFOs. He also claimed AATIP did not end in 2012 and that it continues to this day.

Along with Elizondo’s claims, The New York Times article also included two videos allegedly showing infrared camera footage from F-18 fighter jets of unidentified aerial phenomenon. Although Elizondo was the one who got those videos cleared for release, he has maintained he was not the source of the videos for The New York Times.

As featured in a recent Vice article, and covered by blogger Danny Silva, in a sneak peek clip for The Phenomenon (seen below), Mellon admits he was the source for the videos. He claims, “I received the videos, the now-famous videos in the Pentagon parking lot from a Defense Department official. I still have the packaging.” 

“This is a case where somebody bent the rules a little bit, and they did so for the larger good, and we’re absolutely all better off because of it,” Mellon continued.

Mellon says he was never a part of AATIP. In our OpenMinds.tv interview, he revealed that he believed it was some time in 2017 that he discovered AATIP’s existence. Although he did not say how he came to be aware of AATIP, Mellon says he was surprised when he found it.

“I was surprised because I was involved in, I had my hand in pretty much all the spooky stuff when I was there,” says Mellon. “There didn’t seem to be anything going on in this particular topic. And it was something that I had always been interested in. So, I was surprised to see they had anything organized at all.”

Mellon quickly offered his support to Elizondo, who was trying to get his findings regarding UAP encounters, such as the Nimitz Strike Carrier Group encounter featured in The New York Times article, to the Secretary of Defense. 

“What motivated me to a great degree, and Lue, I was outraged, just outraged, that these military pilots were not getting more support,” explained Mellon. “As a member of the intelligence community and somebody who cares about national security, I was appalled and determined to see if I could do something to help fix that problem.”

The problem was that the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) did not want to escalate the issue.

“People were still afraid to touch it and afraid to let the secretary even be exposed to the issue,” says Mellon. “They were afraid that even a mere briefing for him would somehow taint him or compromise is his Sterling reputation.”

“What I tried to do was introduce Lue to some very senior people in the department that I knew that I had connections to who were very close to the secretary of defense,” Mellon recounted. “I tried to help him. They worked through the system first, and some meetings were held, and more briefings were held and so forth, but ultimately they proved impossible to get this in front of the secretary. “

This was the point at which Mellon and Elizondo began to consider more drastic measures.

“When that didn’t pan out, ultimately, Lue faced the choice between essentially, living with an inadequate program or throwing in the towel or going public to try to inform the public and Congress and help make something happen.”

Resigning and going public was the route Elizondo chose. But before leaving, Elizondo and Mellon hatched their plan.

“We had a strategy from the outset and a plan before he even left,” said Mellon. “We discussed what that would look like, and we’ve been executing on that ever since.” 

Elizondo and Mellon began to approach journalists with their UFO videos, documents, and data. In an interview on Open Minds UFO Radio, Politico’s Bryan Bender says he was approached in the middle of 2017 and was able to confirm AATIP’s existence with his sources “on the hill.”

In a separate Open Minds UFO Radio interview, Kean says she was invited to a meeting with Elizondo held on October 4, 2017, “arranged by some of Elizondo’s colleagues” who knew her.

“I went down and went to Washington, and we spent three or four hours together,” says Kean. “I was shown the videos that were eventually released with our story. And just given, you know, told all about Harry Reid, was shown documents about Harry Reid’s involvement and just the story was kind of laid out for me at this meeting.”

“I realized at that point that it was a New York Times level story, given the documentation that was available for the program and for the people involved and everything else,” Kean continued. “And so that’s how it all started.”

While Kean and Bender worked on developing their AATIP stories, the world was introduced to Elizondo on October 10, 2017, with the launch of Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science (originally TTS/AAS, now referred to as TTSA). The announcement was launched with Kean’s article in The Huffington Post titled Inside Knowledge About Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Could Lead To World-Changing Technology. TTSA also held a press conference hosted by DeLonge featuring members of the team, including Elizondo and Mellon.

“I was especially curious to meet Luis Elizondo because he ran a program at the DOD involving the study of anomalous aerial threats,” Kean wrote in the article. “Luis had resigned this position literally the day before we met.”

DeLonge received the most press regarding the launch of TTSA, but no one seemed to take notice of the guy who claimed he ran a UFO program despite the government telling us for decades they had no interest in the topic.

Then, on December 16, 2017, The New York Times and Politico published their articles on AATIP, and the story went global. Elizondo, Mellon, DeLonge, and witnesses to the Nimitz UFO encounter, including jet fighter pilot and wing commander David Fravor, were inundated with interview requests throughout 2018. On March 9, 2019, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Mellon titled The military keeps encountering UFOs. Why doesn’t the Pentagon care? In 2019, it was announced TTSA and AATIP would be featured in a History Channel program called Unidentified.

But a significant milestone came for Elizondo and Mellon when the Navy admitted they took UFOs seriously and announced new guidelines for reporting them. The story was broke by Bender for Politico in an article titled US Navy drafting new guidelines for reporting UFOs.

“Since our show Unidentified started, since The New York Times article appeared, my op-ed in The Washington Post with another video and so forth, that first of all, engaged the Navy and required the Navy to own up to the fact that this was real,” says Mellon. “They couldn’t any longer deny it. When they had active-duty pilots and others going on the record, that also then led to the briefings for Congress.”

An article by Bender regarding Senate briefings on UFOs was published in June 2019, titled Senators get classified briefing on UFO sightings. Unidentified featured Elizondo and Mellon taking witnesses to Washington D.C. for briefings.

Mellon’s op-ed suggested, “Congress should require an all-source study by the secretary of defense while promoting research into new forms of propulsion that might explain how these vehicles achieve such extraordinary power and maneuverability.”

TTSA posted suggested verbiage for such an effort, and their ideas did not go unnoticed. The Senate took action.

Bender broke this story on June 23, 2020, in an article titled Senators want the public to see the government’s UFO reports. It was a tweet by Steve McDaniel, founder and lead software developer of Sky Hub, who discovered the SSCI UAP request in an SSCI exploratory committee report, that alerted blogger Danny Silva to the matter. He wrote a blog that caught Bender’s attention, and Bender informed the world.

“Ultimately, this reporting requirement is a recognition that there is something going on with national security ramifications,” says Mellon. “It’s a forcing function that hopefully will force the executive branch to get its act together and pool all the intelligence, regardless of which stovepipe it’s in, which organization has it, and establishes some accountability and forces them to take a position in black and white, as opposed to just giving some briefings.”

In less than three years, Mellon and Elizondo’s strategy has resulted in the US government admitting they take UAP seriously, reversing their decades-long denials of the fact, and the Senate Intelligence committee taking notice asking for more information.

“It’s a tremendous step forward,” said Mellon. “Regardless of what the phenomenon turns out to be in the end. At least now we can have some faith that a serious effort is going to be made to hold and analyze the data, probably implement a new collection strategy… So it has a lot of potential ramifications, all of them positive.”

The news has been ablaze with UFO headlines, and behind all of this was the hidden hands of TTSA’s Mellon and Elizondo.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that that report requirement would not be in there, wouldn’t exist if we had not been engaged in bringing witnesses forward and advocating this and writing about it and so forth,” explains Mellon. “Also, this is my old committee. I worked on that community for over a decade. I still know people on the hill, so there are some people there who are still there from when I served. And, because we worked together and are friends and I don’t abuse the privilege, they were willing to take my calls and listen to what we had to say. And so, I think it wouldn’t have happened without us.”

To The Stars members (from left) Tom DeLonge, Luis Elizondo and Christopher Mellon pose for a photo while filming Season 2 of Unidentified. Photo by Damien Maloney/A&E Networks.

It’s hard to argue with that point of view. But Mellon also claims that all he did was get the information into the SSCI’s hands. They took it upon themselves to determine whether the data they were presented with warranted further action.

“It was largely just because the senators and staffers have been kept in the dark,” says Mellon. “Once they got the information, I think that sort of naturally led them to a place where they recognize that they need to get more information. There’s some important unanswered questions here.”


Alejandro Rojas

Alejandro Rojas is a radio host for Open Minds Radio, editor and contributing writer for Open Minds magazine as well as OpenMinds.tv. For several years Alejandro was the official spokesperson for the Mutual UFO Network as the Director of Public Education. As a UFO/Paranormal researcher and journalist, Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating phenomena up close and personal. Alejandro has been interviewed by media organizations around the world, including the largest cable and network news agencies with several appearances on Coast to Coast AM.

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