Chain of Custody, and Why Doggedly Pursuing the Facts is Essential.
In 2017, the (in)famous “2004 Nimitz Flir1 Video” was released by To the Stars Academy (TTSA). Commonly known as the “Tic Tac Video,” it was taken during an encounter in November of 2004 with an object resembling a white Tic Tac off the coast of California. The story has been repeated ad nauseum, but if you need to catch up, I’ve linked to the TTSA website for your convenience.
1) The Nimitz Report
2) An interview with the pilot who took the footage
I admit that this event, all the attached witness reports, anonymous whistleblowers, and documentation is a massive tangled web. I, like so many others, are unsure where it begins and ends. However, right smack dab in the middle of this web (of mythological proportions) is not TTSA or AATIP or AAWSAP or any other acronym under the sun, but some unknown individual who, in 2007, brought this incident too light for the first time.
I want to state that I have no evidence beyond what is already online. Moreover, I wish to thank the illustrious Isaac Koi for acting as my sounding board and allowing me to bounce ideas off of his brain, and providing some great insight.
I will begin at the end. In 2017, TTSA brought the video back out of the murky depths of the ether. Providing details, reports and some insight, the TicTac Video began making the Ufological discursive circuit. On their website, they claim,
“this footage comes with crucial chain-of-custody (CoC) documentation because it is a product of US military sensors, which confirms it is original, unaltered, and not computer generated or artificially fabricated.”
Ok, so “chain-of-custody” according to TTSA’s definition, is simply that the footage is authentic because it came from military FLIR hardware. What is missing, however, is the CoC documentation which explains HOW To the Stars got its hands on this video. So, we can argue the video is authentic. What we do not know is where the video came from.
Who pulled the video from the F-18’s FLIR camera? Who uploaded it to the Nimitz’s computer system? Who pulled that file and made a physical copy? Who authorized its potential declassification and release? Who gave it to TTSA? While these questions may seem immaterial to the believers, these questions are essential to sorting out the story. Moreover, what seems to continuously be swept under the rug in this narrative is the fact that TTSA was not the first to release this video.
Let’s rewind to 2007. On February 3rd, an Above Top Secret Forum user, ‘thefinaltheory,’ posted a story in which he describes his time on the Nimitz in 2005 (note the year). Describing an alleged UFO encounter, thefinaltheory explains that he accessed the Nimitz computer system and made a copy of several files including FLIR footage from the gun camera of an F-18.
Quote (Raw, no edits):
“I logged on to the top secret computer network *NOTE! I edited the name of the network out due to a suggestion/safety* and did a search of our File Server drive for the most recent modified files. This scanned all users, regardless of rank. Nothing was hidden from me. I especially looked for new files and those that were modified around the time of the "sighting".
I found many videos and powerpoint breifs (navy standard) and written reports and even message traffic that was being passed through our radio division. It was all there. I couldnt believe it at first, but then our ship called in the Air Force because even the captain didnt know what the hell was going on.
I burnt all these files to a disk and stashed it somewhere, unfortunently I dont have it anymore....I've forgotten where i put it... though i think it might be out of state at a close relatives house...ugh...
well here is what the video was:
It was taken directly from the cockpit camera of one of our ships fighter pilot jets F-18 I believe but cant be sure. It was in black and white and showed the altitude, the pilots "nickname" and the tempurature and all those little critical stats.
The UFO was floating extremely still in mid air, this was 30,000 ft above ground level. It looked literally and i mean LITERALLY just like a disk, no stupid traingles or any gimicky things like Independence Day or whatever. It looks exactly how the goverment wants you to NOT think it looks like. It's simply put, a disk.
So it was floating, the figher pilot tried to get numerous locks on the UFO but everytime the cross hairs tried to hone in the crosshairs scaled back and forth. I dont know how to put it into words well, but I know what i saw. Crosshairs move in and move back out, it couldnt get a lock whatsoever.
After about I say 10 seconds or so the UFO started to move. It moves in ways that we have never seen before, it spontaniously moved in a half circle upward and paused once again. Then it suddenly teleported about five times all over the pilots screen. The movement is instant and cannot be followed. It simply put, is amazing and so fast the eyes cant see it.
There was a bright light and suddenly it dissapeared, out of sight.”
Being that it was 2007, no one really paid any attention. It was just another UFO story on the UFO forum.
The next day, on February 4th, thefinaltheory posted a second thread including a link to the video (known as “F4” due to its download name) as well as a “cut and paste copy” of a corresponding report. While not official, the report was dated November 14th, 2004 (note the date, which now correlates to the Nimitz event). There is no way to confirm the report, and to most at the time, it was deemed a hoax. Furthermore, it doesn’t jive totally with the current testimony made by the pilots. I don’t want to wade into those waters. I leave it for other researchers to make heads or tails of.
Here is the link for the video as provided by thefinaltheory in 2007.
As was pointed out by Isaac Koi, in 2007, the website was hosted by a German film company. Again, at the time, most took this to be an elaborate hoax. User thefinaltheory never provided any documentation regarding the video. If you wish to see the video now, you can access it via the Wayback Machine. I have also downloaded a copy from that link and uploaded it here.
To convolute this story even further, a second forum user, cometa, came forward, and according to the dozen pages of forum content, aided thefinaltheory in uploading the video file to the German Vision Unlimited server. In other words, according to cometa, the German film company basically allowed the video to reside on their server, so people could view it. Cometa’s profile was disabled by ATS admin. He created a second profile, cometa2.
To add to the mystery, thefinaltheory’s account was created the day of his initial post, and she/he only created two threads, the two cited in this blog post. The last login was in May of 2009. Cometa was a well-established user when he aided thefinaltheory. Again, we can speculate that thefinaltheory and cometa are the same person. Or they aren’t. It doesn’t matter. Much of the content from thefinaltheory and cometa, such as the event logs and reports, have come out in the last year via TTSA and other individuals. I leave the researchers with more time to cut through it and sort out what is what.
Moving on. Some examination was done comparing the original video from 2007 (referred to as F4) and the TTSA TicTac video on Metabunk. According to the video’s metadata, there are some differences. Most importantly, the metadata on the two videos, according to the poster elevenaugust, suggests that the videos were edited and cut differently with different software. This would make sense. Whoever edited the 2007 F4 footage would have different software than TTSA in 2017. Furthermore, the video was edited using North American NTSC formatting, and not using the European PAL format. This proves nothing, but it suggests that the German film company was merely a hosting service, and not responsible for creating/editing/cutting the film. Begs a big question though; who edited the original F4 and why is it identical to TTSA’s 2017 TicTac video?
My last point regarding the content of the footage is a quote from the Metabunk user elevenaugust.
“1- In comparison with the TTS video, it [F4] lasts longer, 1’16.717 vs 1’16.209.
2- There are two missing frames in the beginning of the f4 video.
3- There are three missing frames at the end of the TTS video.”
So, the 2007 F4 video and the 2017 TicTac video are basically the same. We can account for the changes in the metadata because the TTSA version has text explaining the video’s content. TTSA clearly edited the video to provide context. This could account for the differences in metadata, higher resolution, frame rate changes, etc.
Moving forward in time to 2017 and TTSA’s re-release of the F4/TicTac video; we are left in an interesting situation. According to the TTSA,
“While there have been leaked versions on the internet, the CoC establishes the authenticity and credibility that this (TTSA’s TicTac, emphasis mine) version is the original footage taken from one of the most advanced sensor tracking devices in use.”
Ok, according to what? The 2017 TicTac video is the same as the 2007 F4. Herein lies the essential problem; while the video may be authentic, in that it is from a military F-18, how do we know that TTSA’s released video is not simply a copy of the video released in 2007? We have no chain-of-custody documentation proving that the DoD or any government agency gave the video to TTSA or its contractors. All we can do is speculate. Everyone, from the ardent die-hard fans to the staunch overzealous debunkers, is speculating. No one, apart from the contractors and employees of TTSA, are holding any cards. This is why “chain-of-custody” is important. I’m all for taking TTSA at its word, but, as the Lannisters remind us, “words are wind.”
Since no chain-of-custody documentation has been provided, as I stated above, no one knows who pulled the video from the F-18, from the Nimitz, or the DoD archives, or anything. Why is the TTSA version “credible” and “original” when it came out a decade after the 2007 F4? Furthermore, the content of the footage is identical. Why is F4 not “credible” and “original?”
Without any of the chain-of-custody documentation, this all smells a bit off. I’m not saying that the video is a fake; rather, I’m questioning why and how it was released, and to what end. At this point, you should have some questions running through your head.
Does this mean that TTSA’s version of the video is different (that is, from a different source, and not the alleged stolen copy), yet for some reason, edited and cut identically to the 2007 F4? If TTSA does have an “original” and “authentic” copy, why edit it to be the same as the footage released a decade earlier? Moreover, if this is the case, then records will exist for its declassification and release to TTSA or one of its contractors. We could also speculate that the DoD does have the original uncut footage, but only released aspects of the video already in the public domain to TTSA. It is also possible that a DoD staffer saw the post on ATS back in 2007 and downloaded a copy of F4 for DoD records. If the video was declassified/released to TTSA, or one of its contractors, years later, then all they were potentially given by the DoD was a copy of F4.
It may be the case that TTSA’s 2017 TicTac version IS the 2007 F4 video. This would obviously account for why it is identical beyond some cosmetic editing. If that is the case, why does TTSA insinuate that their version is “authentic” in relation to the “leaked versions” on the internet? Perhaps an unknown source provided the video to thefinaltheory in 2007 and to TTSA in 2017?
With all this being said, let’s assume that TTSA has all the proper CoC documentation, and are simply choosing not to release it. Capitalism is king after all. Perhaps they are saving it for a future release? Perhaps they will include it in some future documentary film? I get it. It’s a for-profit company. The only people who know what TTSA has and does not have is TTSA. If all that CoC paperwork does exist however, we are still left with our original leaker, thefinaltheory.
We need to appreciate that whoever thefinaltheory is, he or she got to the finish line first. A decade before the vast majority of the world got the 2017 TicTac, a single post on ATS in 2007 brought the Nimitz event into the light. While it was a whisper, and not a bang, the implications are massive. Beyond the basics of thefinaltheory’s identity, which I would love to know, is how they got the footage.
According to the ATS post, thefinaltheory burned a copy to a disc while serving on the Nimitz and simply snuck off with it. Apart from the legal implications, wouldn’t the computer system on the Nimitz track who accessed what, when and if they made copies? As pointed out by CPO Kevin Day in an interview on Phenomenon radio, every time someone uses radio communication, a log is made, and an audio copy is recorded and saved for future reference. Would not logging in and accessing top secret files on the internal computer system, and yanking those files for copy, also be tracked?
Perhaps thefinaltheory was court marshalled for espionage, or, maybe got away with stealing Top Secret Naval data (which would be damn impressive). Perhaps, as the story goes, it was illegally stolen from a computer onboard the Nimitz. Perhaps thefinaltheory fabricated the story. When you read the account, it does sound a little absurd. Therefore, if the only known source of the original 2007 F4 video was dishonest, then what does that say about the video itself?
Again, this is why the actual chain-of-custody documentation is essential. Without it, all TTSA can do is ask to be trusted and taken at their word. Luis Elizondo concludes his latest blog post by stating,
“Humans have only been able to accomplish all that we have because we are able to receive and process new information, and adapt to new realities. As for the topic of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, we have a choice. We can allow our beliefs to fill in the gaps or we can continue to doggedly pursue data in hopes that what we know informs what we believe.”
Ironically, the UFO community is being asked by Mr. Elizondo’s current employer to believe. The F4/TicTac video is authentic not because we know, but because we believe. We are being asked to have faith in TTSA and its various contractors. As Mr. Elizondo proclaims, we ought to “doggedly pursue” the data. I agree with Mr. Elizondo, and that is why the chain-of-custody documents for the TicTac video need to be made public. That paperwork is the “data” which will give us the knowledge to “inform” our beliefs.
There are very few people who actually have an answer, and this web is continuing to be spun. With every Twitter post, internet radio interview, and news article, the Nimitz event is being lionized as one of the most important UFO events in history. It very well may be. Half a dozen contractors and Tom DeLonge know how to unravel this tangled and curious web. As for the rest of us, all we know is that at the center of this web sits a little forum post, a man named cometa, and his buddy, thefinaltheory.