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18 December 2017, 01:07 | Kara Nash
Documents that have been recently declassified or acquired reveal that the Defense Department has spent at least $22 million on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which is meant to track and research unidentified flying objects.
Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader in 2012, was the main advocate for the program.
Until recently, the Pentagon has remained mostly secretive of the program.
Following the article's publication, Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Ochoa told Reuters: "The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Programme ended in the 2012 timeframe". The Pentagon confirmed AATIP's existence, though it's yet to comment on whether the program is still running despite lacking government funding.
However, Elizondo said that even without its generous funding, the program was still alive, telling the New York Times that he was working with Central Intelligence Agency and Navy officials on the issue up to his resignation.
The program was headed up by Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence officer, who resigned earlier this year.
According to the NYT, the bulk of the funding was going to Bigelow Aerospace, a company owned by one of Reid's friends and donors, billionaire entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, who is now working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space. "Much progress has been made with the identification of several highly sensitive, unconventional aerospace-related findings", Mr. Reid wrote in a letter to a deputy defense secretary at the time. The company and its subcontractors would store supposed pieces of UFO wreckages in specially repurposed buildings, collect witnesses' accounts and study those who claimed to have encountered the objects to detect potential physiological changes.
In one eerie encounter, a whitish oval object, about the size of a commercial plane, was chased by two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the coast of San Diego. He's gone on to work on privately funded UFO research projects. Following his resignation, he joined the for-profit To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Readers took to Twitter to express how they felt about the program. Elizondo told reporters that he did have a successor, though he couldn't name them. "I think it's one of the good things I did in my congressional service" he adds. "I've done something that no one has done before", Reid said.
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