In the recently released UFO documentary The Phenomenon, Chris Mellon, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, stated that he was the source who provided the New York Times with the three infamous UFO videos it published in 2017.
Mellon, who is currently a member of Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy, told filmmaker James Fox in an on-camera interview that he met with an unnamed individual in the parking lot of the Pentagon and was handed a package containing the three videos that formed the basis of the most important UFO article in many years.
“I received the videos, the now famous videos in the Pentagon parking lot from a Defense Department official. I still have the packaging,” Mellon said. “This is a case where somebody bent the rules a little bit, and they did so for the larger good and we’re absolutely all better off because of it.”
Motherboard has been unable to independently verify that Mellon was the source of the videos, but his story tracks with everything we know about them. We know that To the Stars Academy ultimately published the videos, and Mellon was one of the earliest members of that group.
One of the New York Times journalists who worked on that story, Leslie Kean, also appears in the documentary. In that story, the Times unveiled a secretive Pentagon UFO program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or AATIP, and released videos shot by Navy pilots who intercepted a strange object off the coast of San Diego on November 14th, 2004. The pilots managed to shoot video of the object with their F-18’s gun camera. Two other videos recorded on January 21st, 2015, were released showing another anomalous aerial vehicle rotating while in flight and another object quickly flying over the water below.
Months earlier, in late August of 2017, the former head of AATIP, Luis Elizondo, worked with the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review to have the three videos declassified. On October 4th, Kean met with Elizondo as well as other individuals where she was told about the secret UFO program. Elizondo told Motherboard that Chris Mellon was in the room as well, and showed Kean videos on a laptop. Elizondo believes that the videos Kean was shown were the three UAP videos in question, but could not confirm it outright because he was not looking at the computer during that time.
Earlier that same day, Elizondo resigned from his position at the Pentagon. Only days later, Elizondo along with Mellon would appear on stage with former Blink 182 punk rocker Tom DeLonge and announce a new UFO research organization named “To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science.”
As a result, UFOs have become a hot topic. Publicly, the Department of Defence established a new UAP Task Force on August 4th, 2020 to continue investigating UFO reports made by military personnel. However, previous statements by the Pentagon contradict this and seem to indicate that the Office of Naval Intelligence along with the Office of the Secretary of Defense has had such a task force well before August of 2020.
Motherboard reached out to Kean and she stated that due to policies concerning source identity at the New York Times, she could not comment. Mellon was also unable to comment at this time and declined an interview. A spokesperson for the New York Times told Motherboard “the Department of Defense was the on the record source of the videos in our coverage. We don’t plan to comment beyond that.”