This Is the Pentagon's 'Real Men in Black' Investigation of Tom DeLonge's UFO Videos

The report contradicts public claims the Pentagon has made about its UFO program.
Image: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for KROQ
Motherboard explores UFOs, UFO culture, and the paranormal.

A new document acquired by Motherboard shows that the Air Force launched an investigation into the release of classified UFO videos by former Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge’s UFO outfit To the Stars Academy.

At the end of last year, we revealed the U.S. Air Force's Office of Special Investigations had looked into several videos, which The Pentagon claims show "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" or UFOs. This news was particularly curious considering the videos were initially filmed by the Navy (not the Air Force) in 2004 and 2015. Since the videos were published in a New York Times article in December 2017, the Air Force has refused to discuss anything related to UFOs.


The new document, obtained from the Air Force Office of Investigations (embedded below), shows that after that New York Times article, AFOSI looked into the classification of the released videos, called “GoFast,” “Gimble,” and “FLIR.” Originally, it found “all three videos were classified” and that, though a declassification request had been made for these videos, it was never granted. As we reported in December, AFOSI has become known as "The Real Men in Black" in the UFO community.

The AFOSI investigation also contradicts the Pentagon's claims that Luis Elizondo, the man who says he ran the Pentagon's UFO program, called Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, never worked on UFOs at all.

Though his name is redacted, the investigation is clearly focused on Elizondo, who left the Pentagon, spoke to the New York Times, and has since joined DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy. Before leaving his position as an intelligence specialist in the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence’s Office, it was Elizondo who applied for the release of the three UFO videos.

In the years since the videos’ release, the Pentagon has contentiously denied the existence of a current Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, and has denied that Elizondo investigated UFOs for the DoD. This appears to be disputed by this investigation. The AFOSI report states, “[Elizondo] disclosed his involvement (to several news outlets) with the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which focused research issues on Unidentified Flying Objects.”


Similar to what’s implied in the OSI report, since Fall of 2019 when the Pentagon made it known the videos weren’t cleared for public release, the court of public opinion has widely assumed Elizondo was responsible for side-stepping regulations and releasing the videos before leaving the DoD.

However, during a previous investigation, I was able to locate a former colleague of Elizondo who was involved in the process. According to them, any errors in the process were the fault of the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review (DOPSR) agency, and not Elizondo. When asked who was responsible for the videos not being cleared, Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough acknowledged to me, “DOPSR in this specific case.”

“I did everything I was supposed to do to request the release, and even went above and beyond by also engaging Foreign Disclosure personnel; which I did not have to do by regulation,” Elizondo told Motherboard.

According to the report, three months into OSI’s investigation, an unnamed official with the Unauthorized Disclosure Office said the videos were finally determined to be “Unclassified and For official use only.” The official also told OSI agents the videos were submitted to multiple offices within the Navy for review, and it was determined they contained “No sensitive symbology or other items of concern.”

In one final interview detailed in the report, another unnamed official said “100% of all F-18 videos go through his office for declassification and public release,” however, the videos in question, “never went through his office.” The official says there’s no indication the videos were ever classified and it’s uncertain where exactly they came from since “individual units kept track of their own footage.”Intriguingly, the official told OSI, “Some videos were kept for training purposes and some for situations such as SUBJECT’s public release of unauthorized videos.” What isn’t clear, is if the “situations” being referenced relates to video taped encounters with UFOs, or if this was a reference to unauthorized releases generally.


"There are still elements within the Pentagon who are very sensitive about this topic and are unhappy with this information being brought forward for public discussion"

Almost four months after launching their investigation, the report says on April 13, 2018 OSI closed the case after it was determined the three UFO videos were “unclassified,” and the Unauthorized Disclosure Program Management Office equally considered the matter “closed.”

What’s still unclear is why the Air Force was investigating Navy videos.

“I find it strange the Pentagon would assign an Air Force unit to investigate alleged data spills involving Navy information, technology, and data,” Elizondo said. “Especially, when there are NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative Service] representatives in the same building.”

When OSI’s involvement became known in December of 2019, Motherboard asked DoD spokesperson Susan Gough if she could clarify why the Air Force’s investigative service would have been involved with the Navy’s UFO videos. Gough initially agreed to provide a response, however, she subsequently failed to respond, and ignored numerous follow-up requests.

Other journalists have expressed similar frustrations when it comes to the DoD’s sudden silence to anything UFO related. Tyler Rogoway of The War Zone recently published an entire feature detailing the DoD’s refusal to answer his inquiries related to the 2004 Nimitz UFO event.

After being provided with a copy of the report, Motherboard asked Elizondo if he had any significant takeaways from it or the DoD’s current silence. Elizondo said, “Even though there was no wrongdoing on the part of my office, there are still elements within the Pentagon who are very sensitive about this topic and are unhappy with this information being brought forward for public discussion.”