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 $22 million a year went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Reid, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.
Specifically, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas to store metal alloys and other materials recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes. In addition, researchers spoke to military service members who had reported sightings of strange aircraft.
Readers took to Twitter to express how they felt about the program.
When you find out the Pentagon has a secret U.F.O. program, does it make you feel better or worse? https://t.co/zOQEUlcrpq— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) December 16, 2017
2017 — when the Pentagon acknowledging a secret UFO program seems like one of the *least* weird stories of the year https://t.co/rkTSfXozQ2— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) December 16, 2017
this is NUTS. the government is way more interested in UFOs than they've been letting on https://t.co/5OwyH4QFUn— lvl 45 chao$ potu$ (@thetomzone) December 16, 2017
So, we went from having a Congress that authorizes a secret U.F.O. program in 2012 to an administration that bans the CDC from using the words "fetus" and "evidence based" in 2017. https://t.co/PbGQTn5VDc#saturdaymorning— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) December 16, 2017
THE NEW YORK TIMES: For the past decade, the Pentagon has been investigating UFOs as part of a top-secret program.— Devan Coggan (@devancoggan) December 16, 2017
“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.”