In a section of the Pentagon far, far away from the entrance, officials have for years quietly worked to investigate a truly out-of-this-world threat — aliens.
The Defense Department has acknowledged for the first time ever the existence of a far-out program aimed at probing UFO sightings.
The advanced Aerospace Threat Identifications program was started a decade ago at the urging of dedicated space lover and then-Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, The New York Times reported.
The program operated under the radar with a budget of $22 million and the blessing of former Sens. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Ted Stevens of Alaska.
Military intelligence official Luis Elizondo ran the program deep within the Pentagon’s maze, spending countless hours studying video and audio of reported UFO encounters.
The bulk of the budget was directed to Reid’s friend Robert Bigelow, a billionaire with enthusiasm for extraterrestrial life.
During an appearance on CBS last May, Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that UFOs have visited earth.
Pentagon officials told The Times the program was shuttered in 2012 when its funding was diverted to more earthly needs.
“It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding, and it was in the best interest of the DOD to make this change,” spokesman Thomas Cross said.
Elizondo said the only thing that ended was the government’s funding. He insisted that he kept working on the program with officials from the Navy and CIA until he resigned in October.
“Why aren’t we spending more time on this issue?” he asked in his resignation letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Reid, for his part, said he considers the program to be among his finest achievements.
“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Reid told The 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.”
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