Greenewald probably should have pressed Elizondo a bit harder since he let Elizondo get away with some pretty wild conspiracy theories and weaselly language. Plenty of places demanded a follow-up question to highlight inconsistencies and obfuscations. But we have to work with what we’re given.
In response to the big question of whether he ever led AATIP, Elizondo failed to directly answer. Previously, he had claimed to be the head of the office and its director. Now, he merely describes himself as the “most senior” person in AATIP, not in charge of running the office but rather serving as a glorified bureaucratic liaison. Weasel words. They sound like he’s disputing the Pentagon’s claim, but they leave enough of an opening to avoid directly lying. Later, when he attacks the Pentagon for lying, he doesn’t directly say they lied about him but rather implies it through complaints about other documented Pentagon lies:
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. […] 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.
Elizondo, as you recall, claims to have been part of the program, so shouldn’t have some idea which statements are true and which are lies? Shouldn’t he be able to tell whether they are hiding the “truth”? Or does he not know the “truth”? This really needed more follow-up.
Fortunately for him, he has an out: He alleges that he has a non-disclosure agreement that conveniently applies to any difficult questions about evidence. Despite having an NDA that seemingly restricts him to only discussing History Channel-style bullshit, he is “confident” that other officials will somehow reveal the “truth” that everyone allegedly knows but no one will speak, once they “retire” and somehow avoid the legal traps that have restricted Elizondo to cable TV flying-saucer duty.
Elizondo also floated a conspiracy theory that a small cabal of bad actors in the Pentagon are attempting to destroy him, and he offered a cryptic and unsubstantiated passive-voice claim that “efforts are underway to isolate and expose these individuals and hold them accountable.” By whom? Accountable for what? Elizondo’s next sentence answers part of it. Elizondo claims these are “our” efforts, which can only mean To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, his current employer and the only “our” he could logically refer to. This really demands a follow-up question about how and why Elizondo and TTSA are attempting to punish government workers for disputing their unsubstantiated claims—and why the response to criticism is to attempt to purge the critics rather than prove Elizondo’s claims correct. The answer, I fear, is that he can’t prove his claims, as his shifting answers on his AATIP role suggest.
To forestall criticism of his lack of evidence, Elizondo attacked the press—the same press that gleefully reports on TTSA’s every round of substance-free intellectual flatulence—by claiming that the news outlets that let him spout his unevidenced drivel are somehow biased against UFOs: “The days of real reporting seem to be over,” he said, “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.” It’s an artful dodge, of course, but one transparently designed to discredit any criticism by attempting to move the goalposts and place the burden not on Elizondo and TTSA to provide evidence but on the media to treat assertions as coequal with facts.
Greenewald ended his article by commending Elizondo for speaking with him, but to be entirely frank, I see nothing in the interview that wasn’t part of Elizondo’s regular schtick. He has merely gotten better at using the chaotic state of the Pentagon under Donald Trump to his advantage by tying any doubts about his claims to the trust deficit created by Trump’s serial dishonesty and the Pentagon’s flailing under his unsteady leadership. But remember: Elizondo doesn’t trust the Pentagon so much that he and TTSA signed a contract to work with them to investigate the metal slag that they imagine came from an alien spaceship, a contract potentially worth millions in free research for TTSA. He thinks the Pentagon is trying to suppress the truth … by doing TTSA’s research for them? Totally untrustworthy!
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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