Bryan Bender, Senior National Correspondent at Politico covering defense who was one of the reporters credited with breaking the AATIP story in December 2017, recently stated on Twitter he was “purposely misled” about the project. “I was misled early on on what AATIP was and wasn’t,” Bender wrote:
Bender specifically referenced the controversial Luis Elizondo in his series of tweets, adding, “No one is clean in this and been fully transparent or truthful. No one.”:
Parts of the AATIP story got buried, Bender suggested in a series of tweets, “because they were afraid it would be perceived as an utter waste of taxpayer money.” Bender then referenced the Robert Bigelow connection to the late Sen. Harry Reid, adding, “It was a pork project to investigate voodoo that morphed into UFOs.”
“Without the Nimitz case and the video they would have had little but ghost stories and campfire ghouls to show for it,” Bender added.
But that’s not always the way the Politico correspondent framed the so-called government UFO project as media outlets saturated the nation with the related fantastic stories. In the past Bender typically defended how he vetted AATIP information and vouched for figures such as self-proclaimed AATIP director Luis Elizondo, going as far as to guest on Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation. The cable program was considered by many to be sensational and lacking, at least if intended to be taken seriously, as Robert Sheaffer observed when he documented how an Italian case of a known hoax was presented as legitimately mysterious by Elizondo and his supporting cast.
“They make statements and gaffes that betray complete ignorance of what has occurred before them in UFOlogy,” Sheaffer wrote, “yet they bluff their way to convincing gullible reporters for major news organizations to take what they say very seriously.” Sheaffer further observed that Bender made multiple appearances on the Unidentified show to explain “how significant and wonderful everything is that TTSA is doing.”
Concerns about Bender’s objectivity and handling of the story were common. In a 2019 post at The UFO Trail, it was suggested Bender’s rationalizations about difficulty in confirming Elzondo’s assertions did not justify reporting his claims as fact. “It arguably makes it all the more apparent not to report them as fact,” the post continued.
Bryan Bender did not immediately respond to an April 25 email. He was offered an opportunity to comment for inclusion in this blogpost on the statements portrayed in his recent tweets.
Edit: The following comments were received from Bryan Bender in two April 27 emails after this post was published:
Sorry I didn’t get to this sooner. Just a busy week. Elizondo and Mellon purposely buried AAWSAP when they went public in 2017. It was a huge part of the story purposely left out. But your piece suggests I don’t think they are credible experts anymore. That is just false. They made a strategic decision not to bring AAWSAP and Skinwalker into the story. I have discussed this with them numerous times and their view was that it would muddle their message on UAPs and the successor AATIP program that Elizondo oversaw. And it probably would have. Moreover, the AAWSAP players, particularly Lacatski, refused to talk back then. I tried repeatedly to get his view on this in the early days.
And on the question of Elizondo and Mellon’s credibility, any informed observer knows that they have played a huge role in bringing the debate about UAPs to the fore and are still a major influence in ensuring Congress — and the public — get more answers from the Pentagon and intelligence agencies.
Perhaps Mr. Bender should be reminded it was his tweets that suggested he was misled and that Elizondo had not been fully transparent. If he continues to consider those to be attributes of credible expert sources, that might be considered part of the problem.
Journalist Steven Greenstreet, who also covered the AATIP story, stated in a tweet to Bender that he too was purposely misled. “I definitely put too much faith in some of the main ‘knowledgeable’ sources,” Greenstreet added:
Greenstreet is well known on “ufotwitter” due to his multimedia coverage of the evolving AATIP story since it surfaced. His work included co-authoring a New York Post article in which Luis Elizondo expressed his now familiar claims of widespread UFO sightings and subsequent cover-ups.
Greenstreet was also credited with a 2019 story destined for controversy when Pentagon spokesperson Christopher Sherwood was quoted on various UAP matters. The article suggested the Pentagon was admitting it investigates UFOs. However, diligent researchers followed up on the Sherwood statement, sought it in full, and subsequently identified that Sherwood made additional remarks unsupportive of Elizondo’s claims and omitted from the article: “Mr. Elizondo had no responsibilities with regard to the AATIP,” Sherwood stated on behalf of the Pentagon.
In an April 26 exchange conducted via direct messages on Twitter, in which Greenstreet was offered an opportunity to comment, he indicated he authored a follow-up story on the piece containing the Sherwood statement, adding, “I spent 2 weeks writing the story. It was never published.”
“If you wish to read more about how I worked on the story regarding the Sherwood statement, my emails with Mr. Sherwood during this time were released via FOIA to John Greenewald:
Steven Greenstreet provided the following statement concerning his recent tweet that he was purposely misled about the AATIP:
Last year, after having personally ridden the UFO bandwagon for 2 years, I asked myself “What if I’m wrong?”. I went back and retraced “the evidence” again. Every document, every news story and every on-record statement from the main players in the current UFO story. I quickly realized “the evidence” was not as solid as the majority of the mainstream media, including myself, had portrayed it. A combination of new documented evidence that I have acquired and uncomfortable conversations with key players that I was privy to led me to believe that I was being deceived. I plan to be more specific regarding what I discovered in the weeks to come. I’ve since spent the last year preparing new episodes of “The Basement Office” in which I essentially start over and confess, “I was wrong”.
Luis Elizondo maintains he directed the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The claim and its lack of cohesive narrative has been called into question, as has Elizondo’s tendencies to be long on sensational stories and short on producing verifying evidence. Critics argue reasonable people should expect to be required to substantiate their assertions, particularly those that involve UAP-related injuries and “positive” brain changes, such as Elizondo uses the UFO circuit to describe.
His followers remain unfazed by the criticism and gaps in verifiable information. They are convinced Elizondo is leading a push to the coveted government disclosure of UFO truth, an obsessively – if not a futilely – sought prize in which ends are often believed to justify means within the uncompromising demographic.
Luis Elizondo was offered an opportunity in an April 26 email to comment for inclusion in this blogpost on the positions of Bryan Bender and Steven Greenstreet, as reflected in their recent tweets, that they were purposely misled about the AATIP. Elizondo did not immediately respond. He has yet to reply to this writer’s multiple attempts on several separate occasions to obtain comment on salient issues.