Sunday, July 29, 2018

The 2009 Senator Reid AATIP letter revisited

Former Senator Reid advises how the program was funded

The New York Magazine dated 21 March 2018 published details of an interview between former Senator Harry Reid and reporter Eric Benson. Former Senator Reid told the following story about how the funding for the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP) came about.

'I'm in Washington in the Senate and Bob Bigelow called me...and said "I got the strangest letter here. Could I have a courier bring it to you? I said, "Sure." ...The letter was from a federal national security agency...The letter said, "I am a senior, long-time member of the security agency, and have a PhD, "I can't remember in what, in Physics for sure, maybe math also." And the letter said, "I'm interested, I'm interested in talking with you, Mr Bigelow. I have an interest in what you've been working on. I want to go to your ranch in Utah."

"...I called Bigelow back and said, "Hey, I'll meet with the guy." I called the guy. He said, "I don't want to meet in my office. I don't want to meet at your office. Where can we meet?" I said, "Come to my home." The two of us met and I was terribly impressed with him. Very low key scientist. He told me of his interest. I called Bigelow and I said, "This guy, I've checked him out and he seems like a pretty nice guy and his credentials are as he says."

He went, met Bigelow, and after I don't know how much time went by, he came to me and said "Something should be done about this. Somebody should study it."

I was convinced he was right. I said, "Well if you were me, what would you say to people in power in the United States Senate who have huge control over the spending of defense money? And here's what he said "What I will do is prepare something for you that anyone can look at that that wants to, it's strictly science. He put it into scientific language - what the study should consist of.

"I at the time, was the leader of the Senate and I called two of my friends who for many, many years were like brothers...They controlled for quite a number of years the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. It was Stevens and Inouve.

"...what we decided to do - it would be black money, we wouldn't have a big debate on the Senate floor over it. They would put it in their Defense Appropriations Bill, 11 million bucks. The purpose of it was to study aerial phenomena. The money was given, a directive was given to the Pentagon, to put out this bid which they did."'


This then, is how the funding was obtained for the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program.

After extensive research, in April 2018, I located a digital copy of the August 2008 Defense Intelligence Agency solicitation which sought bids from private enterprise to undertake the AAWSAP work, and I then reported on the contractor who was the successful bidder.

The AAWSAP objectives - July 2008

I also, after reading a copy of one of Defense Intelligence Reference Documents, found that the first AAWSAP manager was one James T Lacatski, and posted the results of a search as to who he was.

Part of one of the DIRDs

The private industry contractor who won the bid to undertake part of the AAWSAP work, is known to be Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies LLC, as evidenced by their name on what appears to be a part of the DIA contract, which was shown on a KLAS-TV George Knapp and Matt Adams news report.

BAASS work on the AAWSAP is believed to have commenced by September 2008, as evidenced by BAASS advertising for personnel who's roles and jobs are compatible with that outlined in the DIA AAWSAP solicitation. How this ties in with Elizondo's statement that the AAWSAP commenced in 2007 is uncertain. It would appear logical that the AAWSAP program was up and running before BAASS received a contract to work on it.

From Nevada state records

The 2009 Reid letter

So, the AAWSAP work was well underway by 2009. How did it go?

KLAS-TV reporters George Knapp and Matt Adams, in a news report on 28 June 2018 revealed the existence of a 2009 dated letter, which Senator Reid sent to the Department of Defense about the program, which had by then been renamed the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP.) At this point, only part of the contents of the letter was revealed.

I therefore undertook a search for other avenues of obtaining a full copy of the letter, via an approach to the University of Nevada -Reno, which had acquired the entire series of the Senator's archives. However, I was advised by the University that the letter was under 10 years old, and that as part of the agreement for acquiring Senator Reid's archives they were not permitted to release paper material which was less than 10 years old.

Fortunately, in another KLAS-TV news report on 25 July 2018, reporters Knapp and Adams provide the entire letter for us all to read (with some small areas redacted.)

In the next segment of this blog, I will provide the entire text of the letter, together with some thoughts of mine, on its contents (in italics.)

The letter

The letter is dated June 24, 2009 and is addressed to 'Honorable William Lynn III, Deputy Secretary of Defense, 1010 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1010.'

The official military addresses of senior Defense officials are different, e.g.Secretary of Defense is 1000 Defense Pentagon; Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) is 3010 Defense Pentagon; and the Deputy Secretary of Defense is 1010 Defense Pentagon.

The letter goes on:

'Dear Secretary Lynn,

Beginning this past September, the US Senate has mandated that the Defense Intelligence Agency assesses far-term foreign advanced aerospace threats to the United States. The scope of program interest covers from the present out to forty years and beyond. In order to further our effort in recognizing emerging disruptive aerospace technology, technical studies are being conducted in regard to advanced lift, propulsion, the use of unconventional materials and controls, signature reduction, weaponry, human interface and human effects.'

1. 'Beginning this past September' agrees well with the August 2008 date of the DIA solicitation; the closing date of the solicitation being 5 September 2008; and the September 2008 BAASS call for new employees.

2. The details of the DIA mandate, ie advanced lift etc.,  agrees perfectly with the AAWSAP aims etc., as set out in the August 2008 DIA solicitation for bids.

'Since the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program  (AATIP) and study were first commissioned much progress has been made with the identification of several highly sensitive, unconventional aerospace related findings.'

Note the reference to AATIP and not AAWSAP. In a recent 'Coast to Coast' radio interview between George Knapp and former ATTIP program manager Luis Elizondo, Elizondo stated that the program changed its name from AAWSAP to AATIP in 2008. (Elizondo maintains that AAWSAP was running in 2007 through to 2008 before the name change.)

'Given the current rate of success, the continued study of these subjects will likely lead to technological advancements that, in the immediate near-term will require extraordinary protection. Due to the sensitivities of the information surrounding aspects of this program, I require your assistance in establishing a Restricted Special-Access-Program (SAP) with Bigoted Access List for specific portions of the AATIP.'

1. My understanding of a Special Access Program (SAP) is that only a limited number of individuals are given access to that SAP information. This restricts the access to, and distribution of, information about the SAP. 

2. My understanding of a Bigoted Access List is that it is a list of specified individuals who can access details about a program. No one else can access that program.

3. What precisely do the words 'I require your assistance in establishing a Restricted Special-Access-Program (SAP) with Bigoted Access List for specific portions of the AATIP.' mean? Do they mean:

(a) 'I require your assistance in establishing a Restricted Special-Access-Program (SAP),  with Bigoted Access List for specific portions of the AATIP.' (Note the position of my added comma.) meaning that the whole AATIP becomes a SAP with an access list for some portions? Or

(b) 'I require your assistance in establishing a Restricted Special-Access-Program (SAP) with Bigoted Access List, for specific portions of the AATIP.' (Note the different position of my added comma) meaning that only some portions of AATIP become a SAP with Bigoted Access List? 

'In order to support this national effort, a small but highly specialized cadre of Department of Defense (DoD) and private sector individuals are necessary. These individuals must be specialized in the areas of advanced sciences, sensors, intelligence/counterintelligence, and advanced aerospace engineering. Given the likelihood that these technologies will be applied to future systems, involving spaceflight, weapons, communications and propulsion, the standard management and safeguarding procedures for classified information are not sufficient. Even the use of conventional SAP protocols will not adequately ensure that all aspects of the project are properly secured.

Although not every aspect of AATIP requires restricted SAP read-on, the following portions should be  maintained at the Restricted SAP level.'

This seems to indicate my option (b) above applies, that only some portions of AATIP become a SAP with Bigoted Access List.

''The methodology used to identify, acquire, study and engineer the advanced technologies associated with AATIP.

'Specific methodologies used to study unconventional technology may require nuanced approaches that will undoubtedly be of significant interest if not a top priority for adversarial Foreign Intelligence Security Services (FISS).

Undue attention by government or private sector entities, not involved in AATIP or any international interest will directly or indirectly interfere with the daily AATIP mission and perhaps threaten the overall success of the program.'

This certainly fits in well with recent comments by the To The Stars Academy, about the  2015 East Coast battle group incidents and release of the 'Gimbal "video, plus the 'Go fast" video, where the To The Stars Academy says they cannot provide either specific dates or locations where the videos were taken, and suggests this is because the DoD hasn't given consent for these details to be revealed. 

'Allocation  of personnel, support and oversight.

Due to the highly specialized nature of the personnel involved with AATIP, the overt acknowledgement of their participation in the program will lead to an unnecessary security and counterintelligence risk.'

Why then did the publicly available DIA solicitation advise that one James T Lacatski was the AAWSAP manager if identifying personnel was an issue? Perhaps because the solicitation was pre this 2009 letter?

'Occasional assistance from specialized individuals within Dod, the scientific community, or academia may be necessary from time to time based on demonstrated subject matter expertise. Adequate protection of their identities and affiliation is critical to avoid unnecessary scrutiny.'

One wonders how much, the authors of the 38 Defense Intelligence Reference documents (DIRDs) were told, when they were tasked with preparing a DIRD? No DIRD authors' 'how to write a DIRD and why' have so far been located.

'Without the appropriate Restricted SAP protection, the cost associated with a compromise would be  significantly higher than the cost associated with a properly administered Restricted SAP.'

No financial figures were given to demonstrate the above statement was true,

'Protection of industry partners and participation is critical. Public awareness of an industry's AATIP affiliation may discourage that industry's further participation with the US Government in this program.'

The August 2008 solicitation was openly advertised on the Federal Business Opportunities website and BAASS openly advertised the relevant AAWSAP jobs. The fact that no one had yet (with the possible exception of George Knapp) located the public 'who got the contract' announcement, which should have been on the Federal Business Opportunities website, but isn't, may mean that the award announcement was never publicly made, contrary to the then current processes. All of this, of course, is prior to the Senator's 2009 call for a SAP.

'Applications and engineering

The nuanced manner in which some of these technologies will be collected, engineered and applied by the US may require senior level government approval. These decision makers must be afforded the necessary time to make strategic decisions by restricting access to the "big picture" or overall intent of the program to those on a strict Bigoted List.

The word 'nuanced' means 'characterized by subtle shades of meaning or expression.'

'Associated exotic technologies likely involve extremely sophisticated concepts within the worlds of quantum mechanics, nuclear science, electromagnetic theory, gravitics and thermodynamics. Given that all of these have the potential to be used for catastrophic effects by adversaries, an unusually high degree of operational security and read-on discretion is required.'

To me, none of the above paragraph makes sense in speaking of then 2009 foreign aircraft technology. It  makes better sense to me if Reid is thinking of 'off planet' objects. You will note that no where in the letter are the terms UFO or UAP ever used.

'Due to the expertise required to carry out the objectives of this program, we will require  a small, specialized group of Dod personnel, who are dedicated to performing the SAP-related functions and executing programmatic requirements within the program. It is essential that the Government & military personnel who are already involved with this program are assigned to further support this program in a Restricted SAP capacity (See Attachment 1). These individuals all currently possess the appropriate security clearances and are already providing unique support to AATIP.

Ultimately the results of AATIP will not only benefit the US Government but I believe will directly benefit Dod in ways not yet imagined. The technological insight and capability gained will provide the US with a distinct advantage over any foreign threats and allow the US to maintain its preeminence as a world leader.'

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration of this request. If you or your staff have any questions, please contact Bob Herbert of my staff at (202) 437-3162.'

'Attachment 1

Sponsoring agency: Undetermined (DEPSECDEF).
Component level SAP central office.
Unclassified nickname: Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP).
Program length: FY09-FY13 (Preliminary).
Program funding: FY09- O&M, FY10-FY13- TBD.
SAP category designation: Intelligence, Dod Acquisition.
FY10 Preliminary Bigot List of Government personnel:
1. Honorable William Lynn III, Dep Dir of defense (Govt)
2. Honorable Senator Harry Reid of Nevada (Govt)
3. Honorable Senator Daniel Inouve of Hawaii (Govt)
4-11 Redacted.

FY10 Preliminary Bigoted List of Contractor Personnel funded under the AATIP
1-3 Redacted.

This document contains information exempt from mandatory disclosure under the FOIA. Exemptions 1 and 5 apply.'

Some individuals have suggested that the 13 listed names were people who received a carbon copy of the letter. This appears incorrect.

Overall impressions

1. In this 2009 letter, which is dated about nine months from the commencement of the AAWSA funded program (as opposed to anything informal which may have been running since 2007) Senator Reid is very positive about results, by stating 'Since the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program  (AATIP) and study were first commissioned much progress has been made with the identification of several highly sensitive, unconventional aerospace related findings.'

2. We of course, at the moment, have not documented evidence that the program became a Restricted Special Access Program. However, one might deduce for the reasons given at various places above, that the program did indeed gain SAP status.


I wish to thank KLAS-TV reporters George Knapp and Matt Adams for releasing the copy of the 2009 Senator Reid letter for us all to be able to analyze.


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