Harry Reid left the Senate almost a year ago but a shadowy Pentagon program tracking UFOs that he helped start is apparently still alive. and searching.
The so-called Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program spent 22 million dollars a year investigating reports of unidentified flying objects.
Its initial funding came largely at the request of former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat long known for his enthusiasm for space phenomena, the newspaper said.
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Much of the money spent on the endeavor went to an aerospace firm owned by billionaire Robert Bigelow, a longtime friend of Reid, according to The Times.
The Pentagon acknowledged on Saturday that its long-secret UFO investigation program ended in 2012, when US defense officials shifted attention and funding to other priorities.
A number for Bigelow Aerospace in Las Vegas was not answered Saturday, and voice mail for the number was out of order.
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The Times noted that the Defense Department had never before acknowledged the existence of the program, but officials now say it was shut down in 2012.
And while its funding went away in 2012, Pentagon officials said, its director continued to work with the Navy and Central Intelligence Agency until resigning in October, complaining about excessive secrecy and a lack of cooperation.
This is not the first time the United States government has investigated UFOs and other mysterious aerospace phenomena. The Air Force looked into thousands of UFO sightings from 1947 to 1969 in a series of studies including the famous study code-named Project Blue Book.
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The records included UFO sightings and a collection of reports on flying saucers. Pentagon spokesperson Thomas Crosson told the Times the reason AATIP's funding ran out was because "there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding". "Our scientists are scared of being ostracized, and our media is scared of the stigma", Bigelow told the Times.