Thursday, June 22, 2023

The NYTimes Dips Its Toe In The Water Again: Ezra Klein Interviews Leslie Kean

NYTimes  |  EZRA KLEIN: So that, I think, brings us to the latest story you’ve published. So who is David Grusch? And what is he claiming?

LESLIE KEAN: David Grusch is a former senior intelligence officer who was with both the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. He just left the N.G.A. in April of 2023. He had a top-secret compartmented information clearance and was involved in a lot of different aspects of these two agencies.

And one of them was he was their U.A.P. investigative person, and he was involved with the U.A.P. Task Force on behalf of both these agencies starting in 2019 through 2022. And he, during that time — there’s more that I can tell you about him, but I think we’re more interested to know that, when he was working at the Task Force, he started to look into this question of crash retrievals.

And what it involved was him speaking to many people because he was very well connected and very well trusted within the intelligence community. He was able to speak to many people who have direct knowledge of these programs, people who are actually involved with the programs. And many of them came forward to him and told him about illegal activities that were going on because there was no oversight. There were questions about the Federal Acquisition Regulations that should have been governing some of the contracted programs.

And he just was able to gather a lot of data from them over a period of years, which he eventually brought to Congress and also communicated to the intelligence community inspector general in a complaint that involved reprisals that had been taken against him earlier.

It’s a long and complicated story. But I think the key thing is that he is making the statement that there are craft in the possession of these programs, these government programs, and have been for decades that have been shown to be of nonhuman origin definitively. And he doesn’t have direct access to the programs. He hasn’t seen the stuff himself. He hasn’t touched it or had any exposure to it. He has seen documentation about it — photographs, as I understand it — and has spoken to many people directly involved. So that’s where his information comes from.

EZRA KLEIN: So has he named any of these people to you?

LESLIE KEAN: Not to me. The specific individuals, the locations of the programs, the names of the programs, all of those things are classified, so he’s not in a position to present any of that information to me. But he has presented that information to Congress, and he presented about 11 hours of oral testimony to congressional staffers, which was then transcribed into hundreds of pages. So all that information has been provided, but not to me.

EZRA KLEIN: So there’s something weird here. So we go back to what we were talking about at the beginning with the program under Elizondo, and this is this small rump program. It’s having trouble getting funding having trouble getting any notice.

And now, there’s this allegation that, I guess, somewhere else in the government, they have crash remains. Grusch has said, either to you or in subsequent interviews, that he believes they have bodies. There’s a multidecade race between nations to retrieve and hold these things. And so there’s been this unbelievable level of, I guess, success, findings, retrievals.

So on the one hand, you have this program that is supposedly the Pentagon’s investigation into U.A.P.s, which is having trouble getting off the ground or getting any notice, and then, on the other hand, this allegation that somewhere in the government, somewhere else, according to someone else, there is an incredibly powerful set of programs that are doing this. Is that the sort of shape of the story?

LESLIE KEAN: Yeah, I would say that. These programs are completely separate from the program that Elizondo was involved with, nothing to do with it. They’re deep black — they call them legacy programs. They’ve been around for decades, and they’re much more tightly controlled in terms of security than the program he was involved with. So yeah, they are completely separate.

EZRA KLEIN: So but how do you understand what is being alleged about, I guess, the Pentagon’s organizational structure here? Somebody in theory at the top of the government knows about the programs and knows what the Pentagon is doing, and the Secretary of Defense is having one U.A.P. program that has no attention and then other black programs that do.

Or is the allegation here the Secretary of Defense wouldn’t know about this? Or the C.I.A. — what is organizationally, as you understand it, being alleged? How do you merge in your mind the different programs you are reporting on here?

LESLIE KEAN: Yeah, it’s a really fascinating question, Ezra, because these programs that — or let’s say, one central program that Grusch is talking about and others have talked to me about, I don’t have that kind of specific information. I don’t really who knows about these programs and who doesn’t.

It appears that many high-level officials don’t know about them, and that’s why he has to be a whistle-blower and go to Congress about them. The members of Congress didn’t know about them. Or they might have heard about them, but they haven’t had the data that he was able to provide. And the other whistle-blowers that are also coming forward to them — and I know there have been others. They just haven’t come out with their names yet.

So it’s a fascinating question because they’re so hidden. And there’s so much information that is not being brought forward publicly about them that I cannot say, this is how they’re structured. This is who runs them. This is who knows and doesn’t. Maybe this president is briefed and this one hasn’t.

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