Shortly before taking the stage Monday morning at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota to discuss his career as a Central Intelligence Agency officer, John Brennan paused backstage for a few questions from the press. Thirty-seven years in intel, his last four as President Obama’s CIA chief, 2013-17, Brennan also had the ear of the president in 1994-95. That’s when he delivered Bill Clinton’s President’s Daily Brief. And this was the so-called Rockefeller Initiative era, when billionaire Laurance Rockefeller persistently lobbied Clinton’s White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to release all government documents on the UFO issue.
Clinton left office without finding those documents, but former First Lady/former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempted to make UFO transparency an issue during her 2016 presidential run. Last month, The New York Times broke the story about the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification program, complete with F-18 pursuit videos and interviews with pilots and the project director, Luis Elizondo. The $22 million study was officially conducted between 2007 and 2012, but Elizondo said research is ongoing. The AATI program is said to have generated three dozen separate reports, none of which have been released.
Five years ago, same venue, Ringling College Library Association Town Hall Lecture Series, Sarasota, Van Wezel, backstage, De Void grabbed a sound bite from one of Brennan’s predecessors, then-recently retired CIA director/Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Months earlier, the CIA’s ex-Hollywood image-spinner, a guy named Chase Brandon, had gone on record about finding a box in the CIA Historical Intelligence Collection crammed with official documentation of the alleged 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, N.M. Said he found it during the mid-1990s. Gates, a friend and colleague of Chase Brandon, declined to challenge Brandon’s story.
“As director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense,” Gates told De Void in 2013, “I think I have had every security clearance that there is available in the United States government. I first joined the government 46 years ago and I have never seen one shred of evidence or one report of any kind of UFO or remains or cadavers or anything.”
That said, here’s Brennan, the man who worked Gates’ old job until 2017, on the record today, when queried about the Pentagon AATI initiative. America’s spymaster was cordial and unblinking:
“I think over the past several decades there have been a number of phenomena that have been observed by pilots, both commercial pilots, both military pilots, that are basically unexplained. Maybe it’s the result of some type of atmospheric conditions or something else. And so I think the Pentagon rightly is trying to understand whether or not any of these phenomena have implications as far as national security is concerned. Some people refer to it as UFO, an unidentified flying object, it’s something that is observed but there is no determination about what its origin or provenance is.
“During the course of my career, both in the CIA as well as the White House, I was aware that there were endeavors to try to discern what some of these phenomena are.” Me: What did you learn? “That most of them remain unexplained. But that shouldn’t mean that we don’t continue to pursue it. And try to apply the latest technologies and the latest science to understand what may be going on.
“We know that a number of our adversaries continue to try to look for gaps and vulnerabilities in our national defense so anything that might take place in the air, in the atmosphere, is something that I think is rightly an area for pursuit on the part of our intelligence community and Defense Department.”