2017's Journalistic Bombshell

The genesis of a disclosure in progress, part 4


Published 2023-10-08 at 12:13

Reading Reading 15 min.

At the root of this 2017 earthquake is journalist Leslie Kean

Leslie Kean is a freelance investigative journalist, author and radio show host. She belongs to the American aristocracy, as does Christopher Mellon, another protagonist we will mention later. Here's what The New Yorker says about her: “Kean grew up in New York City, descended from one of the country's oldest political dynasties. Her grandfather Robert Winthrop Kean served ten terms in Congress; he traced her ancestry, on her father's side to John Kean, a delegate from South Carolina to the Continental Congress, and on her mother's side to John Winthrop, one of the Puritan founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. She speaks of her family's heritage in rather abstract terms, except when she talks about the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, her grandfather's great-grandfather, whom she considers an inspiration. Her uncle is Thomas Kean, who served two terms as governor of New Jersey and later chaired the 9/11 Commission.” She attended the Spence School and Bard College, and helped found a Zen center in upstate New York.

She has written articles in dozens of publications in the United States and abroad, including the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Providence Journal, International Herald Tribune, Globe and Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, Bangkok Post, The Nation, Journal of Scientific Exploration and of course the NY Times. Having spent several years investigating Burma, she co-authored Burma's Revolution of the Spirit: The Struggle for Democratic Freedom and Dignity (Aperture, 1994), and contributed to a number of anthologies published between 1998 and 2009. Leslie Kean was also a producer and live host for a daily investigative program on Pacifica radio station KPFA. In 2002, she co-founded the Coalition for Freedom of Information (CFi), an independent alliance advocating greater openness of information about UFOs and responsible media coverage based on a credible and rational approach. As CFi director (Coalition for Freedom of Information), she was also a successful plaintiff in a four-year Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against NASA. In 2009, Kean helped produce "I Know What I Saw," an independent documentary directed by James Fox. At the time, she was the partner of one of the most prolific abduction researchers, Budd Hopkins.

She is the author of Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates "Evidence for an Afterlife" (Crown Archetype, 2017) and "UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record" (Crown Publishing Group, 2010), a New York Best-seller at the time. Her book has been translated into 9 additional languages and served as the basis for a History Channel documentary. Kean is a consulting producer for the 2021 documentary series "Surviving Death," a Netflix original based on her book. She co-wrote a series of groundbreaking stories about UFOs, the Pentagon and the Navy for The New York Times from 2017 to 2020. Leslie Kean was known for what she called an "agnostic activist" approach to the phenomenon, borrowing from political scientist Alexander Wendt, according to The New Yorker.

Picture by Jacqui from Pixabay

Christopher Mellon

On October 4, 2017, at the invitation of Christopher Karl Mellon, Leslie Kean was invited to a confidential meeting at the bar of an upscale hotel near the Pentagon. 

Christopher Karl Mellon (born October 2, 1957), is a lobbyist and venture capitalist, retired from government service. He served 20 years in the federal government. He is a registered independent who has served presidents and senators of both parties. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, 1999-2002, and for Security and Information Operations, 1998-99. From 2002-2004, he served as Minority Staff Director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Most recently, Mellon was a consultant and contributor to History Channel documentary series "Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation." He has actively worked on Capitol Hill and with the Pentagon in prominent positions and has a strong network. He comes from an elite American family and is the son of Karl Negley Mellon and Anne Stokes Bright, and the great-grandson of Gulf Oil co-founder William Larimer Mellon. His great-great-grandfather, Thomas Mellon, founded Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh.

In a March 2022 article published by The Hill, Mellon stated, "I approach the UAP subject as a member of two serious groups of scientific researchers, the Galileo Project and the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU). These UFO research organizations have brought together groups of competent scientists who seek to advance our collective understanding of these anomalies. These efforts now appear to be hampered by new guidelines that move the classification criteria simply because some U.S. government officials do not like surveillance and are uncomfortable sharing information."

He continues: "since the DOD does not retroactively claim that the Gimbal, Go Fast or FLIR1 videos themselves are or should ever have been classified, or that their release compromised national security, by what authority are they now claiming the need or right to classify the same types of information in the future?"In James Fox's UFO documentary, The Phenomenon, Chris Mellon stated that he was the source who provided the New York Times with the three famous UFO videos it published in 2017.  He claims to have met an anonymous source in the Pentagon parking lot and received a package containing the famous videos. “I received the videos, the now infamous videos in the Pentagon parking lot from a Department of Defense official. I still have the package," Mellon said. "This is a case where someone bent the rules a little bit, and they did it for the greater good and we're all absolutely better off because of it”.

At the October 4, 2017 appointment, Leslie Kean was greeted by Hal Puthoff, a paranormal investigator long involved in secret government programs, and Jim Semivan, a retired CIA officer, president of JimSem1, Inc. where he’s been working as a consultant with the intelligence community on a variety of classified topics. He retired from the Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Operations after 25 years as an operations officer both overseas and in the United States. He used to be a member of the CIA's Senior Intelligence Service.

Picture by Lara Jameson

Lue Elizondo & Tom Delonge

Leslie Kean was then introduced to Luis Elizondo who had just resigned the day before from his position as head of the AATIP. For the next three hours, she was invited to go through documents proving the existence of the first official governmental investigation on UFOs since the termination of Project Blue Book in 1970. 

The son of a Cuban exile, Elizondo was born in Miami and graduated from Riverview High School in Sarasota in 1990, where he was a member of the ROTC (Reserve Officer's Corps) program.

While in college, he studied microbiology, immunology and parasitology, before joining the Army where he served for 20 years. There he led military intelligence operations in Afghanistan, South America and Camp Seven at Guantanamo Bay. When in the military, Elizondo said he was in charge of subjects as diverse as coups, terrorism, drug cartels, but mainly in the sphere of counterintelligence.

All these people had just joined To the Stars... Academy of Arts & Sciences (usually shortened to To the Stars or TTSA), a company co-founded by Blink-182 and Angels and Airwaves guitarist Tom DeLonge; engineer and parapsychologist Harold E. Puthoff, and Jim Semivan.

Here’s De Longe presenting the rationale behind TTSA’s inception:  “Public interest in the outer limits of science and understanding of phenomena has historically been stifled by prevailing ideology and bureaucratic constraints. We believe there are discoveries within our grasp that will revolutionize the human experience, but they can only be accomplished through the unrestricted support of groundbreaking research and innovation."

The New Yorker goes on:

“Kean was told that she could have the videos, along with chain-of-custody documentation, if she could place a story in the Times. Kean soon developed doubts about DeLonge, after he appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast to discuss his belief that what crashed at Roswell was a reverse-engineered U.F.O. built in Argentina by fugitive Nazi scientists, but she had full confidence in Elizondo. “He had incredible gravitas,” Kean told me. She called Ralph Blumenthal, an old friend and a former Times staffer at work on a biography of the Harvard psychiatrist and alien-abduction researcher John Mack; Blumenthal e-mailed Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, to say that they wanted to pitch “a sensational and highly confidential time-sensitive story” in which a “senior U.S. intelligence official who abruptly quit last month” had decided to expose “a deeply secret program, long mythologized but now confirmed.” After a meeting with representatives from the Washington, D.C., bureau, the Times agreed. The paper assigned a veteran Pentagon correspondent, Helene Cooper, to work with Kean and Blumenthal.”

 "Tom [De Longe] is really focused on the entertainment side, so there's not much for Chris, Steve and I to do. (...) Our talents lie in engaging governments, Congress and international organizations, and we're ready to move into second gear. Entertainment is one way to do it, but it's not complete”.

 It is indeed a political and citizen disclosure initiative that these new ufologists lead. History, as well as an impossible debate, are both in progress.

New Republic discusses this powerful movement: "The national coverage of speculation around aliens culminated in last September's viral (and unsuccessful) movement [2019] "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" to breach the secret government testing site, where believers say authorities are hiding their evidence related to aliens and flying saucers. As the coronavirus rocked the country this spring, Congress began demanding information about what the bureaucracy knows about alien life and technology. Florida Senator Marco Rubio told the New York Times that he had to make sure that Navy videos did not show superior technology from Russian or Chinese origin; retired Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose native Nevada includes Area 51, told the newspaper that he was aware of reports "that there were real [alien UFO] materials that the government and private sector had in their possession." Many officials and researchers involved told Kean and Blumenthal the same thing on the condition of anonymity during their investigation. 

In 2019, Elizondo was interviewed by Tucker Carlson on Fox News, and suggested that the government had fragments of a UFO, "then quickly invoked his oath of security." 

Special session of the Senate, Brazil

Recent Developments

Eric Davis, a former AAWSAP consultant who now works for defense contractor Aerospace Corporation, said he gave a classified briefing to a Department of Defense agency in March 2021 about recoveries of "off-world vehicles not made on this Earth." He said he also gave classified information about unexplained object recoveries to Senate Armed Services Committee staff members on Oct. 21, 2019, and to Senate Intelligence Committee staff members two days later.

The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF) was formed within the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence to "standardize the collection and reporting" of unidentified aerial phenomenon sightings. The program was detailed at a June 2020 hearing of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The UAPTF issued a preliminary report in June 2021.

In July 2022, it was announced that the UAPTF would be replaced as an organization by a new All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) - which had just issued a second report -, public hearings have been held in the Senate and House of Representatives, and discussions have included the need to de-stigmatize witnesses. In an effort to protect those with information about unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) and increase the influx of reports about them, Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, providing government employees and contractors immunity from retaliation for reporting UFO encounters.

Scientific initiatives such as the Galileo project or the recent NASA study also propose to study and collect public data on UFOs.

In the wake of the 2017 movement, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces announced new procedures for military pilots to record UFO encounters. 

A 58-page analysis published by a conservative Israeli foreign policy think tank - the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies - on unexplained aerial phenomena (UAP) describes the quantum leap in military affairs that is taking place as a result of the study of UAP in their current characteristics and assesses the strategic implications in terms of potential threats from adversaries. 

Following the United States, the Brazilian Senate held a hearing on June 24 dedicated to unidentified aerial phenomena in order to address the history of the Brazilian military's involvement with the UFO phenomenon, as well as the worldwide attention that the subject has received in recent years. Among the historical events highlighted during the hearing was an incident that occurred on the evening of May 19, 1986, involving sightings of 21 large unidentified flying objects over São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Goiás. Some of the objects were estimated to be 100 meters in diameter and were detected by radars at the Integrated Center of Air Defense and Air Traffic Control of the Brazilian Air Force.

At the initiative of the Centro Ufologico Nazionale (CUN) based in Italy and the International Coalition for Extraterrestrial Research (ICER), the Republic of San Marino could soon bring the subject of UFOs to the United Nations.

Previous article: The Nimitz UFO Incident

Translated from French by Guillaume Fournier Airaud

Main picture: Image by Krzysztof Pluta from Pixabay

Thibaut Canuti

Thibaut Canuti is a contemporary historian and a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Sciences de l'Information et des Bibliothèques. He has written several books, including "Un fait maudit" and the two-volume "Histoire de l'ufologie française," authored numerous articles, and participated in various conferences. Thibaut is interested in all aspects of the UFO phenomenon and ufology and serves as an editor and writer.