David B. Gleason/Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA)

Tens of millions of dollars are being spent.

Hidden inside the $600 billion Defense Department budget lies $22 million dedicated to investigating space phenomena, The New York Times reported.

Called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, the program investigated unidentified flying objects from 2007-2012, although former military intelligence official Luis Elizondo said the program still exists with involvement of officials in the CIA and the Navy.

Until recently, the Pentagon has remained mostly secretive of the program.

Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader in 2012, was the main advocate for the program. Reid once appeared on 60 Minutes and said he was convinced that aliens existed and that UFOs have been to Earth.

Most of the $22 million a year went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Reid, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.

Specifically, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas to store metal alloys and other materials recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes. In addition, researchers spoke to military service members who had reported sightings of strange aircraft.

Readers took to Twitter to express how they felt about the program.

“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Reid told the New York Times. “I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before.”

Tess Cagle

Tess Cagle

Tess Cagle is a frequent contributor to the Daily Dot, writing for all six sections of the publication with a focus on politics, lifestyle, entertainment, and TV reviews. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.

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