Just in time for the opening of The X-Files new season, The New York Times themselves provided an entire arc’s worth of cold cases for Mulder and Sculley to shine their flashlights on. Retired Senator Harry Reid is a Man in Black. The headline, “Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program” could stand up to anything Chris Carter came up with.
The first episode of the arc could be how already-billionaire Robert Bigelow, who owns Bigelow Aerospace, got $22 million dollars a year to steer the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program for the Department of Defense.
“There has been and is an existing ET presence,” Bigelow said in an interview with 60 Minutes, “and I’ve spent million and millions. I’ve probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject.”
Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that UFOs visited Earth in May on 60 Minutes. Bigelow currently works with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.
The department itself was budgeted at $600 billion annually. The funding was secured by then-majority leader U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, a renowned Trekkie Democrat whose door chime rang the alien greeting tones from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, who the Times characterized as having “long had an interest in space phenomena.” Reid got the funding with the help of ex-Alaska Democratic Senator Ted Stevens, the and former senator from the great state of Alaska Daniel Inouye. Both men are no longer alive.
Subcontractors in Las Vegas modified buildings to store metal alloys and other materials that were said to have come from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers talked with people who experienced physical effects, along with military servicemen who had reported strange aircraft.
“We’re sort of in the position of what would happen if you gave Leonardo da Vinci a garage-door opener,” engineer Harold E. Puthoff told the Times. Puthoff also did ESP research for the CIA. “First of all, he’d try to figure out what is this plastic stuff. He wouldn’t know anything about the electromagnetic signals involved or its function.”
The Defense Department’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program studied footage of an encounter between two Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets and an unknown object described as a “glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves” near San Diego in 2004. They studied one from U.S Department of Defense taken on December 16, 2017. They watched clips of aircraft moving at high speed with no visible signs of propulsion, others that hovered midair. YouTube is great that way.
“There are plenty of prosaic events and human perceptual traits that can account for these stories former NASA space shuttle engineer James E. Oberg debunked to the Times. “Lots of people are active in the air and don’t want others to know about it. They are happy to lurk unrecognized in the noise, or even to stir it up as camouflage.”
A briefing summary of the program given to the Pentagon in 2009 explained “what was considered science fiction is now science fact,” concluding that the United States couldn’t defend itself against some of the technologies discovered. A request for the special heightened security designation was denied.
“Much progress has been made with the identification of several highly sensitive, unconventional aerospace-related findings,” Reid wrote in a letter to then-deputy defense secretary William Lynn III in 2009.
“Internationally, we are the most backward country in the world on this issue,” Bigelow told the New York Times. “Our scientists are scared of being ostracized, and our media is scared of the stigma. China and Russia are much more open and work on this with huge organizations within their countries. Smaller countries like Belgium, France, England and South American countries like Chile are more open, too. They are proactive and willing to discuss this topic, rather than being held back by a juvenile taboo.”
But not many people in Washington or outside the beltway knew what was being studied. Reid is a Mormon, a faith which managed to keep a belief in magic underwear under wraps until an expose in South Park. The program is so secretive, publications are divided on specifics. The New York Times said the program began in 2007, Politico reported it started began in 2009. They both agree that funding for the Pentagon’s now-defunct Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program ended in 2012.
“The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ended in the 2012 timeframe,” Pentagon rep Dana White told Politico. “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.”
But is it now, indeed, defunct? The New York Times reported the Defense Department still investigates potential episodes of unidentified flying objects. “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 said.
Former Obama White House adviser John Podesta also has his eyes on the stars.
“Finally, my biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the #disclosure of the UFO files. #thetruthisstilloutthere,” Podesta tweeted on his last day in the White House in 2015.
During the 2016 presidential race, WikiLeaks published hacked emails online between Podesta and NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who wanted talk about UFOs with President Obama.
“If anyone says they have the answers now, they’re fooling themselves,” Reid told the New York Times. “We do not know.”