Harry Reid's AATIP letter

There has been a couple of recent developments that could help to clear up some confusing aspects of the AAWSAP/AATIP programs:
  • Publication of senator Harry Reid's June 24, 2009 letter to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, requesting a Restricted Special-Access-Program (SAP) status for specific portions of the AATIP program. The original NYT article already mentioned that request was then denied.
  • Luis Elizondo's talk at the MUFON Symposium.
Time to see if those fit to earlier information and my earlier analysis of the AAWSAP/AATIP programs.

Those names again

First we have to get back to the old questions about the naming of the program, which has been surprisingly confusing. The letter clearly talks about the AAWSAP program with many matching details, but oddly never identifies it with that public official name. Instead it only refers to it by an "unclassified nickname" AATIP, as mentioned there:
Unclassified Nickname: Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP)
It's also noteworthy the second word is "Aerospace", as used by the NYT reporters and Luis Elizondo. Elizondo similarly reiterates in his talk that the second word was indeed Aerospace, not Aviation. Others, including Pentagon spokespeople, have used "Aviation". But then again, at least Pentagon's Audricia Harris stated AATIP is the official name, while that letter and some other earlier info states it was just a nickname.

Those together explain why NYT and Leslie Kean have been so adamant they got the name right. But if it was just a nickname, does it even matter? Evidently that nickname, possibly with varying wordings, was at least used in documents that are relevant for FOIA requests.

More importantly, why was Reid using that nickname already in 2009? And what really is the relationship and timeline between AAWSAP and AATIP?

Muddy timelines

George Knapp published an article on May 4 that described that relationship and timeline as follows:
Reid and colleagues secured funding for an ongoing study, but it wasn't called AATIP. The original acronym was AAWSAP or Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program.
...
Bigelow funded it himself for a year but AAWSAP came to an end after 2011. Elizondo, who had interacted with the study from the Pentagon, was assigned to continue the work, but he chose a smaller focus, limited to military encounters with unknown aircraft. his effort, dubbed AATIP, survived by keeping a low profile. Elizondo relied on an informal network of colleagues to investigate cases that came in.
Elizondo has said earlier the program started in 2007 and he was asked to come onboard in 2008 and became the AATIP program manager in 2010, and the initial tranche of funding ended in 2012.

He clearly remembers the years incorrectly, as we have seen the official solicitation documents that show AAWSAP started and was awarded to BAASS in 2008, not 2007, and if he wasn't really part of it, and "walked into the tail end" of it as he also stated, he most likely joined it closer to 2010, not 2008 like he has said earlier, and that "initial" funding probably ended in 2011, not 2012, after the two government and one Bigelow funded year.

Elizondo also repeated that the program didn't end in 2012, even though Pentagon spokespeople have stated so. He gave a possible explanation for that discrepancy by telling that AATIP moved from DIA to OSD in "2010 through 2012". The program probably did end around that time as far as the DIA was concerned, but was continued by Elizondo and his informal network of colleagues at a different organization.

Elizondo said at the MUFON symposium that AATIP "evolved" from AAWSAP, which existed for a short period of time, "to focus on the UAP specific capabilities and concentrated on the what and how interrogatives, not the who, not the when, but what is it and how does it work." He stated he wasn't really part of the AAWSAP program. He also presented a slide (at 1:21:36) that claimed AAWSAP was originally created and awarded to BAASS in 2007 and "formally changed to AATIP by former Program Manager to focus more narrowly on the 5 observables and research of advanced physics applications" in 2008.

It seems now clear that Elizondo never managed AAWSAP while it was running with significant ($10 million/year) government funding between September 2008-September 2010, and he either became AATIP manager during or after Bigelow funded it for a year after that. According to Knapp, as quoted above, it was the latter, and Elizondo became the manager in 2011. But while Knapp claimed Elizondo chose a smaller focus, Elizondo himself now stated that change in focus and to AATIP was done by the former program manager as well. It seems he just inherited and run a small scale low profile narrow focus program with limited funding in a more or less informal way, alongside his other duties. Which basically means he was nowhere as significant player in all of this as early reporting suggested.

Clairvoyant Reid

Based on what Knapp and Elizondo have said, the timeline seems much clearer now. AAWSAP run for a few years, after which it evolved into AATIP. But if that is so, why did Reid call it AATIP in June 2009 in his letter, during the first AAWSAP year, when AATIP supposedly didn't really exist yet? Something doesn't add up.

Was AATIP already a name for that narrower focus part of the program? Doesn't seem like so, as the letter for example identifies all those AAWSAP study areas as belonging to AATIP, program length matches the expected length of the AAWSAP if all the option years would have been used, the request for SAP status was made just for "specific portions of the AATIP", and AAWSAP isn't even mentioned by name.

The letter also specifically states AATIP was an "unclassified nickname". Since AAWSAP was a public official name and the program wasn't classified, why would it need an unclassified nickname in the first place? Did they invent that nickname early on to separate what they were doing (AATIP) from what they were supposed to be doing (AAWSAP)? Those would then be officially the same, as the other one wasn't supposed to even exist. And in practice the official one seems to have been more or less just a subcontracted smokescreen for what the money was really spent on.

What needs to be protected?

Reid's letter mentions specific portions of the AATIP for which he wanted to have restricted access. Those were:
  • The methodology used to identify, acquire, study, and engineer the advanced technologies associated with AATIP.
  • Allocation of personnel, support, and oversight.
  • Application and engineering.
It's an odd list if we consider what the AAWSA program was supposed to be. It was supposed to be about studies of breakthrough technologies through the year 2050. It had an open bidding process that was announced publicly, and the actual studies were performed by experts contracted from various universities and companies. I don't think they were actually supposed to engineer or build anything within that program. And what sort of specific sensitive methodologies would that group of people use for their varying papers?

The name of the program manager, James T. Lacatski, was already contained in the solicitation documents, and the experts were apparently more or less free to publish their studies elsewhere too, which is why we for example already had a list of the DIRDs by Eric Davis from his EarthTech publication list. Why is Reid trying to argue that the identities of any individuals or organizations associated with a publicly announced program should need some special protection?

For all that I have seen from the published results of that program so far, there's hardly anything that would need protection. But I can certainly see how certain individuals would have a need to hide their own actions and how they actually seem to have been doing something they were not supposed to do according to the official public solicitation documents. That letter certainly seems to fit that bill.

Three AATIPs

There seems to be a three-headed elephant in the room (or at least one of its ends has three of something), which the key players refuse to acknowledge. It's as if there's three different AATIPs:
  1. An (unclassified) nickname for AAWSAP
  2. A UAP focused (more or less informal) continuation of AAWSAP
  3. Whatever NIDS 2.0 poltergeist party BAASS was having at their Pigasus Award winning haunted ranch.
Depending on who you ask, and what you ask, AATIP was one or more of the above. Officially, according to the Pentagon spokespeople, it's basically option 1, although sort of reversed, since Pentagon's Harris has said AATIP is an "official name" in place of AAWSAP. Reid's letter indicates option 1 as well. AAWSAP solicitation documents are option 1, although they don't mention AATIP at all, or anything UFO related for that matter. And based on the information available so far, neither do those resulting DIRD papers.
 
Elizondo has been presenting the program as option 2, although he has also connected AATIP to those AAWSAP studies in his MUFON talk when he apparently wanted to make AATIP sound more significant. I don't remember hearing him talk about that wacky number 3, but people closely connected to BAASS have certainly done so.

At this point it's unclear if the program ever was officially a UFO program, although those were clearly studied with the money it received. At least initially it officially wasn't. And those pesky poltergeists and them manipulating human perception is again something very different, as an article in Outer Places puts it:
In essence, it seems BAASS (and by extension, the AATIP program) decided to take eyewitness testimony off the table as evidence and invent a new and arcane process that did confirm the phenomena they were trying to prove.

If this is true, then this whole story has stopped being about "the government's secret UFO program" and become "that pseudoscience horse-and-pony show the Pentagon blew millions of dollars on."
Whatever the program(s) was, there's little evidence any of those aspects created results that had real significance. And this whole messy business certainly hasn't had a positive effect on the credibility of UFO research. If it can even be called that.

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