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How Accurate Were Tom DeLonge's Alien Claims? An Investigation

I compared DeLonge's claims from two years ago with the New York Times's bombshell UFO report.
Image: Harmony Gerber/Getty

Last weekend the New York Times published a thrilling expose about a secret Department of Defense program dedicated to the investigation of unidentified flying objects. The report, coauthored by three Times journalists including two Pulitzer Prize winners, has on-the-record statements by the man who ran the program, videos of UFOs filmed by the Pentagon, and confirmation of its existence and purpose from former Senator Harry Reid, who earmarked $22 million for the program.


It also has tantalizing details about possible alien alloys in the possession of the Department of Defense that, as Deadspin notes, went curiously un-freaked-out about as America collectively ho-hummed at this truly wild revelation. I, too, was busy and realize this post is a bit late, but I don't want to live in a society in which the statute of limitations on possible extraterrestrials is less than a week.

As I read the Times story and listened to The Daily podcast interview with reporter Helene Cooper and Luis Elizondo, the man who headed the Pentagon program until he resigned earlier this year, I was struck by how similar the story is to one former Blink 182 frontman Tom DeLonge told Motherboard on our podcast more than two years ago. DeLonge, you’ll remember, quit the band to focus on studying UFOs full-time. He was called a kook at the time, but much of his story checks out. DeLonge is credible enough that Elizondo and two other former DOD officials who worked on the program recently joined his To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, which is producing fiction and nonfiction books about UFOs.

I revisited our interview with DeLonge and compared it to the details that were included in the Times story to move a step closer to figuring out: How right is Tom DeLonge?

Tom DeLonge claim: The Department of Defense has a UFO program of some kind
Confirmed by the New York Times

DeLonge has always claimed that extraterrestrials and advanced flying technologies are under the purview of the Department of Defense; when we talked to him he mentioned “getting connected with one person who is of the highest level and rank in a very, very specific division of the Department of Defense. The program described by the Times is a DoD program.


Tom DeLonge claim: The Department of Defense has alien technology
Hinted at by the New York Times

Much of his first book, Chasing Shadows (which DeLonge calls “historical fiction”), is about secret government programs to recover, test, and ultimately build alien technology for use in warfare. When we asked him about that on our podcast, he said that part was true: “When they build a tech for the first time, they build it all in different locations, they assemble it at one location, and test it at another location,” DeLonge said. “When they operate it, they operate it at a different location.”

The Times notes that defense contractor Bigelow Aerospace “modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena.” Someone who worked on the program said that some of the technology was beyond our understanding: “We’re sort of in the position of what would happen if you gave Leonardo da Vinci a garage-door opener,” Harold Puthoff, who worked on the program, said. The Times report does not contain details about any attempts by the DOD to build or use alien technology.

Tom DeLonge claim: Abductions are real and have some sort of medical component
Not confirmed

DeLonge told us he has evidence people have been abducted: “When someone goes through what they don’t understand—what we call an abduction scenario and they see the medical tests—that is very very true. Dr. Roger Leir, there’s a surgeon—he removed over 11 implants from people.”


Motherboard recently reviewed a documentary about Leir, who died several years ago. His claims are disputed. The Times does not say people have been abducted by aliens but said the Pentagon program “also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with objects and examined them for physiological changes."

Tom DeLonge claim: The Pentagon doesn’t tell us about UFOs because they are dangerous
Suggested by Pentagon officials to the New York Times

DeLonge’s book Chasing Shadows is interesting because the government are the good guys, protecting us from the use of alien technology by foreign adversaries. DeLonge told us the government kept this secret from us for our safety and that “they need to be supported and they need to be given credit for some revolutionary things that they have done … stuff that the entire world should be thankful for, not just the United States.”

Elizondo told The Daily that the program was called the “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program,” and that it was primarily a national defense program.

One could argue that perhaps excepting SETI, the most serious civilian research into UFOs and extraterrestrials is currently being done by Tom DeLonge’s company

Tom DeLonge claim: High-ranking DoD officials like to talk about UFOs at bars
Confirmed by the New York Times

When we interviewed DeLonge two years ago, one of the things that I and then-Motherboard managing editor Adrianne Jeffries found hard to believe was that a high-ranking Pentagon official would sit down with him at a bar and lay out specifics of a secret program: “When I sat with that person in the back of a bar/restaurant … and he looked away and he looks back at me and said ‘We found a lifeform.”


“I sat there for two hours after that and had the meeting of my lifetime,” DeLonge said.

Cooper, one of the Times reporters, described a similar meeting with Elizondo, which lasted four hours: “I found myself in a nondescript hotel lobby near Union Station Washington DC with a high-level intelligence source from the Pentagon. Luis Elizondo, who had just resigned his job at the Defense Department,” she said. “What came out of his mouth was absolutely extraordinary. He sat across the table from me and said he had been running a program at the Pentagon looking into UFOs.”

To be clear, nothing in the Times report suggests that the Pentagon has found a “lifeform.” I reached back out to DeLonge after the Times story was published and asked him if Elizondo was the person he met with. DeLonge, through his representative, told me he met with a different person but could not tell me their identity.

Is Tom DeLonge right?

With Elizondo and two other members of the Pentagon joining To the Stars, one could argue that perhaps excepting SETI, the most serious civilian research into UFOs and extraterrestrials is currently being done by Tom DeLonge’s company. That said, there is not mainstream journalistic confirmation of much of what he has said, at least not yet.

DeLonge has hinted at a long alien-technology arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, nothing Elizondo said or the Times reported suggests we have enough evidence to confirm this. DeLonge also told us the “UFO phenomenon has to do with genetics” and “the DNA of mankind,” but would not elaborate on what that meant. It has been suggested by many people, however, that many UFOs may be military test planes or experimental technologies. And there is, of course, a lot more that we don’t know, that remains classified, or that has only been hinted at by credible officials. The Daily host Michael Barbaro asked Elizondo: “Is this just a small percentage of what this program has documented and collected and seen?” He responded: “Yes.”

So is Tom DeLonge right? It’s too early to say, but: