~Why AATIP Was Something Else Entirely~


“By all accounts, from the very start the main focus of this secretive effort centered on investigating the 2004 Nimitz encounters, which had occurred barely three years earlier! That in itself raises the question—how did they even know about the Nimitz encounters?”

Following the 2017 announcements of the formation of To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences (TTSA) and the existence of what was called AATIP, news of the strange objects encountered during the Nimitz exercises in late 2004 made international headlines. Along with these topics information quickly came to light about the formation of BAASS and Harry Reid’s role in the DIA AAWSAP contracts. Since these stories came to light there have been questions about the relationship, if any, both between AAWSAP and AATIP and subsequently between AATIP and TTSA. Obscured in all the noise however, has also been the question of exactly how and when the Nimitz case became known to Robert Bigelow.

In a paper published in 2019 I explored a number of questions and conflicts stemming from the claims and accounts being given by people we would expect to know the facts. Since then more information has come to light from highly credible sources giving a somewhat different picture of when and how Robert Bigelow first learned of the Nimitz encounters, and how all things led to AATIP and ultimately to the present situation. This information also provides a more reasonable explanation for why it was in 2007 that the Reid-Bigelow collaboration suddenly came to life. New information also paints a somewhat different picture of the initial Nimitz fighter pilot encounters, raising more questions of why all eyes seem to have been focused only on Fravor.

To briefly recap, the events now commonly referred to as ‘the Nimitz encounters’ took place in November of 2004. Beyond a few obscure bits of information over the years, news of the events did not reach a wider audience until March 2015 when Paco Chierici released his article “There I was: The X-Files Edition”. Nevertheless, it was not until late 2017 and, in particular as David Fravor began to appear in nationwide interviews, that the lid came off. Subsequently, Reid and Bigelow gave interviews discussing how their collaboration came about, but the details fell to the wayside under the 2017 New York Times publicity blitz. Supposedly it all began with an unnamed DIA person writing to Robert Bigelow… But did it?


The story presented to the public has been that a person said to be from the DIA contacted Robert Bigelow about something that included an interest in the Skinwalker Ranch. Despite the mythology that has grown up around this ranch, according to individuals familiar with the subject nothing of real substance had come of it and Bigelow’s interest and activities there had ended between 2002-2004. (In the present context it is worth pointing out that even according to Jacques Vallee there was never any notable UFO activity there.) So it was questionable from the start why a DIA person, years late showing an interest in the Skinwalker Ranch, would be the sudden impetus for Harry Reid to appropriate $22 million dollars for a secretive UFO study project. By all accounts, from the very start the main focus of this secretive effort centered on investigating the 2004 Nimitz encounters, which had occurred barely three years earlier! That in itself raises the question—how did they even know about the Nimitz encounters?

According to a credible source with direct inside knowledge, Robert Bigelow had already been told about the Nimitz encounters years earlier by Harry Reid himself! (The name of the source is being withheld for now to avoid undue publicity and keep the focus on the principal characters.) According to this source, in 2005 Bigelow then shared that information with Hal Puthoff and one or two others.

“Bob Bigelow told Hal and XXXXXXXXX in 2005 that Reid had told him about the 2004 Nimitz events but it was filed away until '06 or '07…Hal attended meetings beginning in 2007…”

Considering the small group of names closely tied to both Bigelow and Puthoff, it would not be hard to imagine who else might have been told. However, for what were probably very understandable reasons, Bigelow and Reid chose to do nothing with the information at the time. It was not until 2007 that something changed and the Reid/Bigelow operation suddenly came to life.

At the 2018 SSE/IRVA conference in Las Vegas, NV, when speaking about his own involvement, Hal Puthoff stated “It began in June of 2007”. Similarly, in mid-2018 Luis Elizondo gave a talk on the history of AATIP and presented his chronology of events also indicating things began in 2007. But if the name ‘BAASS’ itself was not registered until January 29, 2008 and the $22 million AAWSAP contract would not even exist until August 2008—what might have happened to suddenly kick-start Bigelow and Reid’s collaboration in mid-2007?

There is one thing, one amazingly fortuitous circumstance that, like the tipping of a domino, accounts for everything. It ties Bigelow’s knowledge of the Nimitz encounters since 2005 to the sudden startup in mid-2007, and it explains why the Nimitz incidents are the common thread throughout everything. And, it explains how BAASS acquired unique information about the Nimitz encounters that would echo all the way to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

In early 2007 Douglas Kurth moved to Las Vegas.

“…He told Bob about his role in the 2004 Nimitz event during his job interview.”

One of the earliest questions in this entire set of mysteries was how Douglas Kurth suddenly appeared as an employee at BAASS in 2007. His LinkedIn profile indicated he had been hired late that year even though the name BAASS was not actually registered until early 2008. Available information indicates Kurth actually moved to Las Vegas early in 2007 (at least by March according to address records) and subsequently began applying, numerous times, for a position at Bigelow Aerospace as a Mission Control Specialist. And yet, instead of a position at Bigelow Aerospace, Kurth was hired as a manager at BAASS– a Bigelow company freshly created for the Reid/Bigelow secretive UFO research program and to ultimately acquire the AAWSAP contract.

Is it plausible to think that Kurth, when applying to work for Bigelow Aerospace, might have mentioned his own experience? This was Robert Bigelow after all, well-known for his interest in the UFO subject. What better way to catch attention and make your application stand out?

Whether or not he mentioned his Nimitz experience on his application, it apparently did come up when he was interviewed by Colm Kelleher (as well as Bigelow himself according to the above source). When it was learned that a Nimitz pilot with direct experience of the events had suddenly applied at Bigelow Aerospace, it must have seemed like being handed a golden ticket. In June of 2007, just months after Kurth arrived in Las Vegas, the Reid/Bigelow operation suddenly came to life.

Based on the above, it seems inescapable that the reason Kurth was hired to work at BAASS rather than Bigelow Aerospace was due to his unique knowledge and experience related to the Nimitz encounters. As he explained it to me:

“I was called for an interview to be a Program Manager at BAASS and accepted the job. Nobody in Bigelow companies or anyone associated with BAASS knew anything about the Supersonic Tic Tac event until I told them about it. I interviewed some of the witnesses and wrote a report about the event and submitted it. My report started the entire sequence of subsequent reports and investigations into the event.”

Nobody there knew about it until he was hired? His work would be vital to everything that came afterward, and yet years later he was under the impression that no one knew anything about the Tic Tac events until he told them. When I asked whether he ever had any suspicion that someone at BAASS or Bigelow Aerospace might have heard of the Nimitz events before he got there, he said:

“I am fairly sure in my hiring interview, Colm Kelleher who did the interview, did not know about the event. Maybe he did. Maybe I was duped. But if I was duped, it wouldn’t have been a year or so after working there when I brought up the event (first time since my hiring interview) and said it was still the most interesting case we could investigate, and had to convince them of it being significant.”

What possible motive might there have been to not tell Kurth they had already known of the Nimitz case? Why give the impression they needed to be convinced of its significance? It is not clear exactly when Kurth conducted his investigation for BAASS, though Fravor has indicated that he was first contacted sometime in 2009. But it is undeniable that from BAASS to TTSA, and even still today, the Nimitz encounters have remained a driving force in awareness of the UFO phenomenon? Much, if not most of the credit certainly belongs to Douglas Kurth and his initial investigation and report.

Reasons for suggesting an anonymous DIA person had contacted Bigelow may have been both practical and necessary. Many researchers have noticed the coincidence of the AAWSAP contract being under the purview of the DIA Defense Warning Office (DWO), an agency to which Kit Green had ties in the 2007- 2008 timeframe. Green, a close associate of both Hal Puthoff and Bob Bigelow, chaired an ad hoc committee of the NRC “TIGER Committee” (Technology Insight: Gauge, Evaluate, Review) whose purpose was to assist the DIA/DWO in forecasting emerging technologies in the next few decades. [Interestingly, in a 2007 Curriculum Vita, Kit Green referred to this as the NAS/NAE/NRC “Advanced Intelligence Technology DIA/CIA TIGER Standing Commission”.]

The AAWSAP contract, whose objectives were also focused decades into the future, would certainly seem to match well with Defense Warning Office’s interests. This may also have fueled the continuing speculation that the AAWSAP Government Project Leader, Thomas Lacatski, was the unnamed DIA person who allegedly contacted Bigelow. Speculation aside, I have seen no evidence to support Lacatski having any involvement before the matter came to him at DIA.

Still, why would Bigelow, Puthoff, and any others who might have known, choose to not tell Kurth that they had already known of the Nimitz events years before?

“That’s when they vectored Fravor’s flight toward the Unidentified contact. After a few minutes when my checks were completed, I accepted their vector toward the Unidentified contact. I had Fravor’s flight on radar and was directly over top of them when they were visually observing the Supersonic Tic Tac. I was not on the same radio frequency as Fravor’s flight. I saw the visual disturbance in the water (which has been previously and accurately reported) and that is what I used as my reference point to orbit overhead. The disturbance in the water cleared suddenly. It all seemed odd to me at the time.”

“I physically saw and met with them face-to-face while all four of the Fast Eagle aircrew and I were still dressed in flight gear and we discussed their sighting of the Supersonic Tic Tac right after we all landed…I never saw the object physically myself.”

Anyone who has followed the matter closely will likely recognize that the above description contradicts the picture presented in every pilot interview and article where Kurth has been mentioned. Even the Executive Report, released by George Knapp and presumed to represent an accurate if not official report, states only that Kurth flew over the water disturbance after being told to “skip it” and return to his operating area. Why minimize his presence? Why the inconsistency when his testimony would only add credibility to the events?

For all his involvement, why has Douglas Kurth been practically erased from the story? He saw the water disturbance first and was there circling above David Fravor and Alex Dietrich throughout the entire encounter—and he did the main investigation and report while at BAASS! Certainly his perspective deserves to be heard as much as anyone’s.


All things considered, Harry Reid’s determination to have the UFO situation studied seriously should be applauded. It is what we should expect from both our elected representatives and all those charged with our defense. Unfortunately, there has been much confusion over why and how the Reid/Bigelow effort with the $22 million appropriation seemed to have been taken over by OUSD/I not long after it began.

BAASS had received the AAWSAP contract and the first installment of appropriations funding near the end of 2008. With a legal contract and obligation to investigate and produce results, as the end of the first fiscal year approached they delivered the first 10-month report. BAASS could even anticipate four more years of funding with a powerful congressman, Harry Reid, behind the effort! But with a DIA contract, everything in place, having just started and with all that potential—why suddenly hand the reins over to agents of OUSD/I?

For reasons that are still not clear, by mid-2009 something changed causing Harry Reid to request the creation of a very highly classified Special Access Program called AATIP. The program was to be under the purview of the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense (DEPSECDEF), and based on the dates shown it would have run for exactly the remaining four years of the AAWSAP contract (FY09-FY13)! So for whom was Reid trying to get such high level secrecy and clearance—and why then?

The document related to Reid’s SAP request (called Attachment 1) which contained the proposed dates and names of personnel was accompanied by a three-page letter addressed to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, William Lynn III. The first paragraph is quite clearly referring to the AAWSAP contract that had begun the previous September (2008). The next paragraph however, was different.

In the second paragraph Reid referred to AATIP by name as a program that had already been “commissioned” and had made “much progress” in identifying several highly sensitive findings. How can this be reconciled with the following statement by Eric Davis in a 2019 OpenMinds interview?

“…the program, the AAWSAP program, is not really called the AATIP…that’s the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program that Harry Reid pulled out from thin air and made it up on his own in a letter that he wrote to Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn many years ago…”

If AATIP had not literally existed before Reid used it in the above letter, then who was he referring to as having been “commissioned” to study these subjects? The only work going on before this, and which led to the AAWSAP contract, was what began with Bigelow, Reid, Hal, and whoever else was part of this initial group. As to who else was likely in this group, an interesting email message dated January 2010 may hold answers.

This 2010 email message appeared first in a Facebook post by Ryan Skinner, and then was very quickly examined in-depth in a blog post by prolific Australian researcher, Keith Basterfield. In almost no time, however, Basterfield removed the post at the request of an unnamed individual. The content of the email itself, a discussion of Project Medea, was interesting but not something likely to pose problems for anyone today. On the other hand, to whom that email was being sent was very interesting.

The email subject was a proposal to Robert Bigelow and Colm Kelleher—but the email itself was sent to Hal Puthoff and Kit Green! Bigelow was not even a recipient, and Kelleher was merely cc’d on it (along with Jacques Vallee)! Why was Kit Green included on the same line as Hal Puthoff in an email that was a proposal by Eric Davis for data acquisition for a sensitive project? The email would presumably have been an internal communication related to a project that Harry Reid considered so sensitive that he tried to have it become a SAP with a bigot-list. What was Kit Green’s position in this hierarchy?

In the same email above, Eric Davis included a sentence that begins by making it very clear that all the recipients are part of a collective effort:

“Now that we have the proper credentials…” (emphasis added)

On an interesting side note, Kurth also mentioned knowing Green through his position at BAASS:

“I knew Colm (very well), Eric, Kit, Hal… because of the capacity of my job.”

It is interesting that in Reid’s SAP request to the OSD he listed only three people on the ‘contractors’ side, one of whom was Hal Puthoff. Then Eric Davis addressed the above email not just to his boss in the program, but to Kit Green as well. What does that suggest about Kit Green’s position in all this?

Kit Green certainly has a history with Robert Bigelow, though rarely is his name featured. He has had a close relationship with Hal Puthoff since the early 1970’s, and was involved in 1995 at the very beginning of Bigelow’s National Institute for Discovery Sciences (NIDS), and reportedly became the Chair of the Science Advisory Board (Vallee; Forbidden Science v4, pg. 294). And yet, a check as far back as possible of the archived nidsci.org web site showed the names of Puthoff, Vallee, Bigelow, Davis, Kelleher and others under Personnel…but not Kit Green. He worked on committees serving the DIA/DWO when the AAWSAP contract was awarded to BAASS, and he introduced Hal Puthoff to Tom DeLonge which lead to the formation of TTSA. If Bigelow was the Operating Manager and Colm Kelleher was the Deputy Administrator for BAASS, one wonders if there was a Senior Administrator somewhere in the ranks.

As for who “AATIP” referred to, a reasonable conclusion would be that it was a term created by Harry Reid as a reference to the core group of Kit Green, Hal Puthoff, Eric Davis, Reid and Bigelow who began their research effort in 2007. There was no formal name for them until Reid pulled one “from thin air” in 2009 for his SAP request—and then it “evolved”, as Lue Elizondo has said, once it came under OUSD/I management. The acronym apparently stuck. This would explain why the term AATIP is now broadly used as an all-inclusive reference for everything that began in mid-2007 and continued under the ‘management’ of Lue Elizondo through 2017. AATIP was never ‘officially’ a Pentagon program, which would explain why the DoD seems to have no record of Elizondo officially directing it.

In a recent conversation with someone at the DIA FOIA office I was told quite frankly that as far as they are concerned all requests are considered being for AATIP now. I tried to inquire how that could be since the DIA/DWO contract was AAWSAP and there was nothing at DIA called AATIP, but I was told they are merely doing what they are told to do. Everything related to AATIP must be cleared with the “office of responsibility”. I did ask, but the person I spoke with was not at liberty to tell me who the office of responsibility is now for AATIP?

For my part, whatever the term AATIP came to represent, the alliance between OUSD/I and a few in control behind BAASS was a sea change. Whatever BAASS/AAWSAP appeared to be doing on the surface, OUSD/I apparently managed AATIP toward different ends. Robert Bigelow himself recently stated in a Mystery Wire interview that he only met Lue Elizondo a couple of times, and that, “He didn’t play a role in our program.”

According to Lue Elizondo, he soon took over management of whatever program there was, and according to Eric Davis in an interview on “The Basement Office”, Hal Puthoff ultimately reported to Elizondo. Exactly what was being managed and what was being reported is still unknown. The AAWSAP contract apparently withered away until it was not worth continuing, though AATIP supposedly endured until at least 2017. So who was Elizondo working with up to the day he seemed to jump ship and join a full set of CIA connected individuals behind Tom DeLonge?

Whatever Reid had hoped to accomplish with the $22-million-dollar appropriation seems to have been subverted once OUSD/I came into the picture. It would not be unreasonable to wonder whether the purpose was foremost to mitigate the AAWSAP contract and constrain any further disclosure of information, at least from the OSD perspective. If so, it definitely worked.

Beyond public awareness of the Nimitz encounters, out of the five years of the AAWSAP contract virtually no information has been released other than a few snippets leaked from a single first year 10-month report and a number of relatively innocuous papers presented as DIRD’s. Why has the complete report by Douglas Kurth not been released since the Nimitz encounters are now very public—due largely to the very same group of people he worked with at BAASS? In a recent Anderson Cooper CNN interview, Alex Deitrich even stated that five years after the Tic-Tac encounter she had been interviewed (laughingly dropping the word ‘interrogated’) by ONI and AATIP! Not a word of that has been released to the public, apparently still posing ‘grave damage’ to our national security.

Even considering the three videos Elizondo had declassified and released, were those even products of his tenure or were they merely staged for use in what would become TTSA? Christopher Mellon has since claimed the videos were actually leaked to him, so why all the effort by Elizondo to prove he had them released? Now in a recent 60 Minutes program segment on “UAPs” the public was told that nothing official happened with the Nimitz encounters for five years until Lue Elizondo “came across the story and investigated it”. It was a clever use of the word ‘official’ perhaps to credit Lue and by extension the government. But it certainly left Douglas Kurth, Harry Reid, Robert Bigelow, and a number of others out of the history of what actually broke the story.