The United States government allocated about $22 million into a sector of its Defense Department known as the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, which was founded in 2007. Its goal was to “take the voodoo out of voodoo science” regarding supposed UFO sightings.


Both Politico and the New York Times have reported on the program’s existence. While federal funding for it ceased in 2012, the program persists according to its backers, with its members continuing to investigate incidents brought to them while still performing their other jobs within the Defense Department. Its mission is to study unexplained phenomenon, such as seemingly impossible ariel maneuvers perpetrated by unidentified flying objects.

Luis Elizondo lead the program from the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, although he resigned from the post this past October. He cited his belief that the program wasn’t regarded with an appropriate level of commitment from the Pentagon. Elizondo noted how, prior to his resignation, he turned to members of the C.I.A. and the Navy for cooperation. In his resignation letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Elizondo asked, “Why aren’t we spending more time and effort on this issue?”

Officially, the Pentagon no longer seems to recognize the AATIP as one of its initiatives. In an email correspondence with the New York Times, Pentagon spokesman Thomas Crosson 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 AATIP was founded in 2007 by then-Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Nevadan Democrat with a professed interest in space travel. Reid remains satisfied with the program and his part in creating it. “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,” he said. Other senators who supported the endeavor at the time include the late Daniel Inouye and Ted Stevens, who were respectively a Hawaiian Democrat and an Alaskan Republican.

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