The Pentagon has admitted to establishing a $22 million dollar program to studying unidentified flying objects, otherwise known as UFOs.
According to a report from Politico, Congress, specifically then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, instructed the Pentagon in 2007 to create a program called the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program.
The purpose of this program, which also had the support of Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye and Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, was to study reports of UFOs often coming from military pilots. In initial discussions about the program, Stevens himself stated that during his time in the Air Force, he had been followed by a strange aircraft. A former congressional staffer told Politico that one possible reason for interest in the program is the possibility that the Russians or Chinese are behind strange aerial objects that seem to defy the laws of physics with superior flight technology.
The Pentagon has not acknowledged the program’s existence until now, but funding for the program ended in 2012. Nevertheless, there are still some officials with the program who continue to investigate UFO reports, while still maintaining their main duties elsewhere in the department.
Although the program ended in 2012, it has recently come into the spotlight again because of the October resignation of military intelligence official Luis Elizondo, who ran the initiative. In his resignation letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Elizondo complained that the Pentagon wasn’t taking the initiative’s findings seriously. Elizondo said that although he was leaving, there was already a successor at the department to continue the program.
But Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told Politico that there were other areas that more urgently required funding, which is why the flow of funds ended in 2012.
“The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ended in the 2012 timeframe,” White said. “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 a change.”
“The DoD takes seriously all threats and potential threats to our people, our assets, and our mission and takes action whenever credible information is developed,” White added.
A former official who was aware of Reid’s role in the project said that eventually, even Reid agreed the program was not worth continuing.
“After a while, the consensus was we really couldn’t find anything of substance,” the former official said. “They produced reams of paperwork. After all of that, there was really nothing there that we could find. It all pretty much dissolved from that reason alone—and the interest level was losing steam. We only did it a couple years.”
“There was really nothing there that we could justify using taxpayer money,” the former official continued. “We let it die a slow death. It was well-spent money in the beginning.”