Fact Check

Fact Check Q & A with Debrief Co-founder and Professional Investigator Tim McMillan: Part 3

Prior to launching a recent story on alleged U.S. government crash retrieval efforts by Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean, Christopher Plain sat down with Debrief Co-founder and investigative reporter Tim McMillan to learn about all of the fact-checking and background research that was done by The Debrief’s investigative team beforehand. The following is Part 3 of a 3-part transcript of that call, which has been edited for overall readability. Here, you can read parts one and two

CP: Tim, thanks for going through all the fact-checking with me there and how that all came together. I had a few extra questions that came up when I was prepping for this. I was just hoping we could go through them. You mentioned to me on the phone the other day, when you first told me about this, and after I got done crapping my pants, that this was different than previous, supposed whistleblowers, namely Bob Lazar and, more significantly, Colonel Corso, who would probably be a closer analog to this particular thing. Why is this different than those cases?

TM: Sure. That’s a great question. And I’ll tell you that, you know, everybody who reads this article is going to take something different away from it. I realize there’s going to be a segment of people who read it that will say, walk away and go, “Well, this is it. This is just conclusive, absolutely proved that aliens are real. They’re visiting Earth and, you know, UFOs or aliens spacecraft.” Right?

CP: Yep.


TM: There’s another segment that is going to walk away from and go, “Well, this did not provide any real conclusive evidence that aliens are real and UFOs or aliens, you know, this is just somebody’s testimony. This didn’t…they didn’t provide any photos or videos of the craft or any of that,” right?

CP: Yep.

TM: And, end of the day, neither one of those conclusions is true. Or, more importantly, the intent of this article was never to prove either one of those. But rather, we’re sharing something that is unprecedented to my knowledge. Which is, you have an individual who had the agency, had the authority, and was in a position to obtain the information, who is saying that there are these programs, is saying that there’s non-human technology recovered. And saying it in an official way. And we’re reporting on the fact that this person has testified to this under oath to General Counsel, so to attorneys for a Congress, sworn that this information is true and affidavits to the Inspector General’s office. We’re sharing that.

CP: That’s fair.

TM: And I think that’s what makes it different. Whereas in the past, you’ve certainly had people who have made similar claims. They’ve made those claims in books. They’ve made those claims in documentaries or television shows or interviewed on podcasts, that type of thing. Where there’s really no consequence, there’s really no official matter for it. And there’s really…there’s no mechanism. It’s not like the government listens to somebody’s podcasts and goes, “Well, did you hear what so and so said? We better go investigate.” So, unlike that, you have somebody who’s making these claims that are extraordinary claims, in a process that is official, legally binding to the individual, who could potentially have access to finding that extraordinary evidence to support that extraordinary claim. So I think that’s what makes this so much different. This isn’t, I mean, this isn’t even just the 2017 New York Times report where they disclose the existence of AATIP. There you have people like Lue Elizondo coming forward and saying that all of this exists. This is somebody who has first disclosed all this information through legal channels to the government first before it’s become public. And so that, I think, I’m unaware of it there ever being a case similar to that.

CP: Awesome, awesome, great. I had a few thoughts, but you covered them all. So next question I wrote here is, “Do these claims lend credence to the infamous Wilson/Davis memo? And if proven true, do you owe UFO Joe a meal?

TM: (Laughs loudly) No. I don’t owe Joe anything. He’s a jerk to me on Twitter (laughs again). But it…it’s one of those things…when you look at Wilson/Davis or any of them, I’ll say, generally speaking, this information and knowing that somebody has come forward and shared it…and if you have other witnesses who are claiming firsthand knowledge who have shared it, not with us in the public, yet rather to legal authorities, that certainly opens this door that perhaps a lot of the things that have been dismissed or have been regulated to folklore, there is some credence to it. Maybe it needs to be re-examined. I know for me personally that certainly is the case. That’s one of my biggest issues with that particular topic is you never have anybody that’s saying, “I first hand handled this,” you know? “I know we have crashed UFOs because I handled it,” at least not anybody that can substantiate their background and provide the authority that they could have been in that position to do that. You have a lot of, you know, “I heard from somebody else.” And in this case, this is very similar to that. However, this is somebody who’s sharing that information directly with legal authorities. And then people with firsthand information have purportedly come forward and testified in support of that, to corroborate that. And so that makes it a beast of a different animal.

CP: Yep.

TM: I don’t know what else to say.

CP: Yeah. I think that’s the right answer. All right. Next question. To my recollection, most famous UFO crash stories include stories of beings or bodies. What do you make of the fact that nowhere in this whistleblowers account (are) there reports of beings or bodies?

TM: Huh, that’s a good question. I don’t know. I didn’t spend any time really thinking about that. But it is, it is a good question. Because obviously, there’s clearly considerably more information behind this than has even been brought forward. And again, I can’t stress enough that the biggest takeaway story here is that someone has come forward in an official capacity to say that these claims are true, but actual specifics of what those claims are outside of them being the recovery of objects of non-human origin? We really don’t know what those specifics are. And there’s certainly no one during any of my background checks, any of my sources, discussed biological recovery of biological beings that kind of stuff. But it’s…it wasn’t a part of our particular story.

CP: Gotcha. The reason I asked…

TM: So I don’t know…

CP: Go ahead. Sorry.

TM: Yeah, I was just, I don’t know what that means at this point. I mean, it’s already a little bit of a shock, the story itself, and so I’m extremely hesitant to theorize on anything.

CP: The reason I ask is that, in the story, it mentions that determinations were made that they were dealing with non-human material based on morphology, radioisotope data, material analysis, and other things like that. And, again, if there were bodies there that were clearly not human, one would think that that would be, as my wife, the lawyer, would say, more dispositive evidence that you’re dealing with something non-terrestrial than the morphology.

TM: So sure. Oh, yeah, you’re absolutely right. And it does raise an interesting point. But at the same time, we don’t know what aspects of Grusch’s testimony, or even information that was provided to DOPSR beforehand, was possibly classified or he was told was not going to be approved. So I don’t know that that is one of the things, but there’s obviously there’s a lot of information still out there. A lot of specifics that haven’t come to light yet.

CP: Excellent. I agree. Tim, why did The Debrief run this story ad-free and decide to not make money off of printing this story?

TM: That really your question?

CP: Yeah. Just between you and me, like one of the, one of the critiques of the UFO world, as you know, is people are out to make a buck. And here we are with a potentially history-making story, and we’re saying we think it’s important enough to…

TM: Well, I’ll just say that, obviously, there was some debate and discussion about that area of running ads on it. As CEO, I was thinking money-wise, and I’m thinking this is a huge historical, huge potential, and you don’t want to lose out on any financial revenue that can be made from it. At the same time, I, you know, I think the determination was made that we wanted to be able to present the story as cleanly as possible so that people weren’t distracted, they could read it, they could synthesize it, because of the nature of what was being discussed and what’s being revealed. It’s obviously really significant. And so we didn’t want any of the distractions from the ad side of it. And we didn’t want to, you know, oftentimes, for very good reason, when it comes to the things related to UFOs, or the paranormal, is very commercialized, and oftentimes its infotainment or entertainment, rather than news information. And we wanted to present it in a very professional formal way and not distract from it. So the decision was made if we would publish it without advertisements for a period of time. And so maybe it cuts against the grain, perhaps from what people are used to seeing with UFO information. So no subscriptions. No, none of that, “Go listen to our sponsors.” Here’s the information. And I think some discussion was had between me and Micah that, perhaps, this is the morally high ground or the morally right thing to do.

CP: Tim, you mentioned earlier in the article when we talked about DOPSR clearing Grusch to go ahead and discuss his claims. When you first told me about this story on the phone, you actually mentioned you had a thought about maybe a motivation, or just you had a thought about them going ahead and clearing him to talk. Would you share what that was?

TM: Sure. Yeah. I thought it was…it’s not just my thought, but in some of my background investigations and some of the sourcing I spoke with, especially on the legislative side of the house, so the congressional side of things, you know, they were, um, I was as well, befuddled by the fact that the DOPSR had approved this. Typically, the Department of Defense tries to stay away from the media as much as possible in general, but when it comes to UFOs, absolutely. And so, you know, one theory was that you know, they cleared it because, again, they’re going to request the withholding of information that’s classified, or currently national security. And so it was, “We’re going to clear this because we’re just going to claim that it’s not true, you know, that this guy’s just making the whole thing up,” you know? Of course, because (They’ll just say it is make-believe. But that’s what makes this case in particular very interesting because if that is the position that the government wants to take, is that “It’s not true, and you’re making it up,” that they can share these details initially even before us, under oath, in sworn affidavits, it becomes this thing where people can easily say, unlike books that were published in the past or claims that are made on TV, people would say, “Okay, fine. If he’s not telling the truth, charge him. Charge him with lying, charge him with perjury, charge him with filing false, um, making false statements in a federal investigation.” We’ve seen that in the political world. I’m sure most people are familiar…you know, there were a number of individuals during the special counsel’s investigation who were charged with making false statements to federal investigators. So if the claim is that Grusch is crazy, and this is all make-believe, then I think the responsible or reasonable response would be “Prove it. Charge him with a crime.”

CP: Okay, great. Was there any pushback by any sources during your fact check about any even small points or anything in general? Did you receive any pushback during the fact-check process? Or did anything fail the fact-checking process?

TM: Ralph and Leslie have done a good job. And so, when we saw their, their kind of initial product, or just before the final finished product, it goes through editorial, but their product, they’d already done a really good job. And it already really fact-checked everything. I just independently verified that. And then, in particular, one of the nice things, in this case, is the fact that it had gone through DOPSR before publication. So, obviously, when you talk to sources, nobody, nobody’s gonna want to share it. Nobody. Nobody is sharing classified information. And so there’s always the default when dealing with things of this nature, any defense or intelligence stuff, it just defaults to classified. So it’s easier to not discuss than it is to. But in this case, it was nice because we could show that what we were trying to fact-check had already been cleared and not classified or national security information. So people can openly kind of say, “Yeah, no, that’s true. That’s true, or that’s not true.” I didn’t get any pushback from anybody or anything. Nobody said, “Oh, my God, don’t, don’t do this. Or don’t publish this.” Nobody spoke poorly about Grusch or Nell, anybody that was in the article. I really didn’t get any pushback. And it’s important to note that that even comes…that all of this sourcing isn’t coming from people who are “UFO insiders” or “UFO enthusiasts.”

Now, there was one unnamed individual that I recommended to editorial be removed. I’m not going to get into specifics, but it boils down to ensuring we are limiting ourselves to named, on-the-record sources for an article of this magnitude. Frankly, there is a ton of info we could have added, but it was from sources who justifiably couldn’t be named. But that individual and their quotes was removed prior to publication.

CP: Gotcha.

TM: People that are in the community.

CP: Fantastic. Is this Gary Nolan’s hornet’s nest he was talking about?

TM: It looks like it. Obviously, this story…you know…it’s hard to keep things under wraps. And so a lot of people have been, there have been whispers and murmurs about something big coming out for weeks now. And so people knew this was kind of coming to a head. You know, I think that Gary Nolan was one of the people…that information leaked out, oftentimes due to witnesses you’re interviewing. They know somebody, and then that person knows somebody. And so, you know, Gary certainly, it would appear, is somebody who’s in the circles with some of the witnesses or people that know the witness. I have not spoken to Gary, but I would imagine it’s probably a pretty safe bet that this is what he might have been referencing.

CP: I know that Ralph and Leslie mentioned…I don’t remember the date of it. Maybe it was in 2021 when they did a New York Times piece, where we first heard from Eric Davis about off-world vehicles, not of human origin. And there was a lot of talk from them in interviews that they had a lot more to that story they wanted to run with. But ultimately, the New York Times decided to not run it. Is it your impression that this is that? That this is what they’ve been working on for two or more years now?

TM: No, well, I don’t. Because a lot of the stuff with Grusch came in starting in 2022. So I’m not sure that…some of it may have been, I don’t know. That’s one you’d have to ask them. We didn’t really get into it. But a lot of this stuff, certainly, in my opinion, when the information was shared was done after it had already been shared with the Inspector General and Congress. That definitely bolsters it. I certainly, I’m glad that it came out this way rather than the other way around. Because again, when you’re a reporter, especially with claims like these, and if these claims are being made to a reporter first, (its) definitely going to require much more significant levels of verification that what’s being said is accurate because there aren’t the same consequences than if you’re lying in an official capacity.

CP: So Tim, this is the last one, and then we’re done. This is a question I ask almost every researcher I talked to whenever I’m discussing one of their stories with them, and it’s always my final question. Is there any key final point or key idea that you just want to make sure it’s gotten across to The Debrief readers, as far as how the story came about, the fact-checking process, or even just your own observations? Is there any key main takeaway that you think is critical to emphasize here?

TM: I think for me, this is not, this is definitely not…this is not an endgame moment. Let me put it that way. So I know some people may determine or feel that way. But there’s certainly, what this is, for me, is certainly, especially for people like myself who were really skeptical about anything like this beforehand, this is a huge foothold into this area that there really could be something to it. And just based on this story, and the fact that I can’t stress enough, the fact that it came out, and it’s gone through all of these official channels and it’s been handled appropriately and officially, and very formally, so not anything like entertainment, that certainly, suddenly, the idea that this is, that the government could have this material, it could be, potential programs could be going on, the foothold of this being true, the foothold is much more firm now. And it’ll be exciting to see kind of where that goes from here. But it’s hard to predict.

CP: Yep.

TM: I think it’s somewhat ironic that this story is getting published on June 5th. Because that’s the day before the 79th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy allied landing. And actually, the allied landings were supposed to be scheduled to take place on June 5th. And so, in a weird way, you kind of wonder, “Is this similar to a D-Day moment?” Where, obviously, you know, when the Allies landed on June 6th, it didn’t immediately end the war. There was still a lot of fighting, a lot of sacrifices, a lot, a lot of battles that lay ahead. But everybody universally knew that once the Allies gained a foothold on the European continent, it was only a matter of time. Like, that was the major hurdle. And so (it’s) interesting with this kind of story, it’ll be interesting to see where it travels from here. And whether we look back on this. Was this a D-Day moment? Was this the moment where the idea that a lot of things that we relegate, or have relegated to science fiction or fantasy, could, in fact, be true, and this was the moment where that foothold was achieved, you know? That staging area was formed, and it’s just the process of any kind of actual confirmation where there isn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind. So that’s interesting. That’s interesting to me. Does it prove that UFOs represent alien spacecraft and the government has UFO technology? No, I mean, it doesn’t, and I’m the person who fact-checked. But it’s certainly more reason to explore that possibility now, much more so than before.

And just to be clear, because you know I’m a huge WWII buff and nerd. I’m by no means suggesting that this article or this information coming out is in anyway comparable to the courage, conviction, sacrifice, and heroism of Allied soldiers on June 6, 1944, D-Day.  Rather, I’m saying that there are always these huge turning points  in history, that at the time you don’t realize just how important they are. Obviously, if what Grusch is claiming is true, it is one of the most significant revelations in human history. But we’re not there yet. We don’t know how it will play out and how history will remember it. It could be drastically different than one might think. No matter which direction those initial thoughts might be leaning. Plus, you know me. I relate everything to military strategy, historical warfare, the art of war (laughs).

CP: Thanks for all of your time, boss. I need a nap.

TM: Thanks, Chris. It was fun.

Christopher Plain is the Head Science Writer at The Debrief as well as a Science Fiction and Fantasy novelist. Follow and connect with him on Twitter, learn about his books at plainfiction.com, or email him directly at christopher@thedebrief.org.

Tim McMillan is a retired law enforcement executive, investigative reporter, and co-founder of The Debrief. His writing typically focuses on defense, national security, the Intelligence Community, and topics related to psychology. You can follow Tim on Twitter: @LtTimMcMillan.  Tim can be reached by email: tim@thedebrief.org or through encrypted email: LtTimMcMillan@protonmail.com