The recent “disclosures” of the Pentagon’s UFO research project and the accompanying videos of allegedly anomalous aerial objects caused quite a stir in the ufology world. While these releases were a rare opportunity for mainstream news outlets to discuss the UFO phenomenon in a legitimate light, many veteran researchers urged caution. In the weeks that followed, many inconsistencies and reasonable explanations for the program surfaced which cast some doubt on the claims made by Tom DeLonge’s new “To the Stars Academy” research group. In particular, many critics noted that the ties between former Nevada Senator Harry Reid who secured the funding and Las Vegas-based UFO enthusiast and aerospace magnate Robert Bigelow were suspicious, reeing not of the alien or otherworldly, but of the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” political favor variety.
To help clear the air and discuss what he knows about these government UFO research programs (or at least is able to discuss publicly), Reid recently sat down with New York Magazine’s Eric Benson for an interview about these programs. Reid began the interview stating that “if we’re here to talk about little green men or stuff that you want to look at that was found in New Mexico or something, I’m not interested. If you’re here to talk about science, I’m happy to do that.” Reid then goes on to fill in some backstory about how he was put in touch with Bigelow through Nevada journalist and Coast to Coast AM host George Knapp shortly after Bigelow inherited a small fortune following his father’s death.
Knapp and Bigelow were both keenly interested in UFO phenomena, Reid says, and began sending him information about some of the more high-profile UFO incidents and alleged crashes like Roswell. While Reid remains skeptical about most of these claims, he says the sheer abundance of UFO reports drew him in. “Mainly what interested me is so many people had seen these strange things in the air,” Reid says, “that was interesting to me.” It was this interest – and allegations that America’s rivals were putting resources into investigating anomalous aerial phenomena – that Reid says led to securing funding for the now-infamous Pentagon UFO research program led by Luis Elizondo:
What we decided to do — it would be black money, we wouldn’t have a big debate on the Senate floor over it. They would put in their defense appropriation bill, 11 million bucks. The purpose of it was to study aerial phenomena. The money was given, a directive was given to the Pentagon, to put this out to bid, which they did.
Reid says the majority of the money went to Bigelow, who created a centralized storage facility for official documentation and reports of sightings, alleged alien artifacts, and other pieces of the UFO puzzle. Reid notes that one reason the UFO phenomenon hasn’t been seriously discussed in the military or government is because many career g-men are “afraid somebody will think they’re some kind of a wacko.”
Reid ends the interview by attacking his interview and the press at large, arguing that the media either doesn’t want to or doesn’t have the resources to comb through the thousands of reports and documents the government (and Bigelow) have amassed on UFO phenomena. Uh, where do I sign up?