The government appears to be hiding some information about their interest in UFOs, but a lot has come out in the last few years.
In 2017, Politico and the New York Times revealed that the government had funded research into UFOs through an Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), according to Popular Mechanics.
The program began after several “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAP) were claimed to be seen by military personnel and pilots. The UAP were reportedly much more advanced than anything they’ve seen, Politico reports. (RELATED: Fact Check: Did The International Space Station Film A UFO For 22 Minutes?)
Former Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader at the time, secured the funding for the program in 2009 with support from other democrats and two WWII veterans, per Politico.
The origins and the reasoning behind the program are tied to the “unexplained incidents” seen by military personnel and pilots that were believed by some to be national security threats.
Politico notes that it could be related advanced technology put forth by the Chinese or the Russians.
One possible theory behind the unexplained incidents, according to a former congressional staffer who described the motivations behind the program, was that a foreign power—perhaps the Chinese or the Russians—had developed next-generation technologies that could threaten the United States.
Reid, with the help of Bob Bigelow, owner of Bigelow Aerospace, spent over $20 million on this program. Bigelow Aerospace received some of the contracts for the research and Bigelow himself has donated to Reid’s reelection campaigns, per Politico.
Bigelow has publicly voiced his belief in UFOs, and he has made it very clear that he doesn’t care about what people think.
“There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence. And I spent millions and millions and millions — I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject,” Bigelow said in an interview with CBS news. (RELATED: 61% Of People Want The U.S. Government To Make Information On UFOs Public)
When asked if it was risky to say something like that in public, Bigelow replied with “I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.”
Politico reports that the AATIP allegedly ended sometime in 2012, according to a Pentagon official, but no one knew about the existence of the program until 2017 when Luis Elizondo stepped down in October of that year.
Elizondo, a career intelligence officer, ran the AATIP initiative. In his resignation letter, he addressed former Secretary of State James Mattis about his efforts not being taken seriously.
“Bureaucratic challenges and inflexible mindsets continue to plague the Department at all levels,” the letter read.
Elizondo discussed the many sightings reported in “nuclear vicinities” with Politico, he said he had never seen anything like it before.
After he left the Department of Defense (DOD), he joined a UFO research group called “To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science,” according to Popular Mechanics.
Popular Mechanics argues further that the reasoning behind Elizondo’s resignation had more to do with the fact that the DOD would not take UAP seriously.
“#UAPs are perhaps the greatest enigma we face in our modern times. As such, it is imperative we approach the issue w/ objectivity & open-mindedness so we don’t prematurely rule out a possible origin. Ultimately, this mystery may not have an either-or answer.” – Luis Elizondo pic.twitter.com/fcZO7mzcUa
— To The Stars Academy (@TTSAcademy) February 20, 2020
A senior Pentagon official reportedly told Popular Mechanics that Elizondo had briefed a White House intelligence aide, Mattis and two of his senior aides in 2017 before he had stepped down.
While the AATIP was a secret government program, it appears Elizondo’s work and probe into UAP did not stop in 2012, but rather his resignation in 2017.
The anonymous official reportedly said that the White House aide was “uncomfortable with the prospect of UFO’s being real,” per Popular Mechanics. Mattis’ aides acknowledged the existence of UFOs but were concerned with the “political optics” should this briefing ever come out.
This was confirmed by Elizondo, who said that he “resigned only after multiple attempts to brief the Secretary [of Defense] failed,” according to Popular Mechanics. (RELATED: Pentagon Admits To Creating Secret Program To Investigate UFOs)
The Tech news outlet also obtained documentation that AATIP was reportedly active after 2012 despite the Pentagon’s denial of the program and Elizondo’s work after 2012. They did not publish this documentation because it contained sensitive information.
The office of Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner has validated that closed door meetings about UAP have happened in 2019.
Warner is the vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee. Popular Mechanics also learned in October 2019 that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Armed Service Committee had been briefed on UAP related issues.
In September 2019, the U.S. Navy confirmed that the 2017 video that were released to the public were indeed real, and identified the objects as UAP, not UFOs, according to CNN.
The videos that were released sometime between September 2017 and March 2018 by To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, where Elizondo works, show objects captured by infrared sensors.
CNN describes them as “oblong” and “fast moving.” One of the videos was taken in 2004, and the other two were taken in 2015.
Navy spokesperson, Joe Gradisher, confirmed to CNN that these were UAP and explained that their transparency was largely due to the fact that they want their Navy trainees to report these incidents.
“The only way to find out what those UAP are, he said, is to encourage trainees to report them when they see them,” CNN reports.