The newspaper attributed the creation of the program to Nevada senator Harry Reid, who led the Democratic faction in the upper chamber for 12 years from 2005 until January, when he retired from Congress.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that the hush-hush program, tasked with investigating sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, ran from 2007 to 2012 with $22 million in annual funding secretly tucked away in U.S. Defense Department budgets worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Twitter Goes Nuts Over Pentagon's Secret UFO Program: 'I Want to Believe'
In the beginning years of the the program, the Pentagon gave most of the appropriated $22 million to an aerospace company owned by Robert Bigelow, a billionaire businessman who is "absolutely convinced" that aliens exist.
Much of the money spent on the Pentagon's UFO programme went to an aerospace firm owned by USA billionaire Robert Bigelow.
The program documented sightings of fast-moving aircraft and close encounters between USA military planes and UFOs.More news: Eminem Is Launching a Pop-Up Shop Called 'Mom's Spaghetti'
"We were trying to take the voodoo out of voodoo science", Elizondo told Politico.
The Times noted that the defence department had never before acknowledged the existence of the programme, but officials now say it was shut down in 2012.
Reid, for his part, expressed pride in the program, stating that he's "not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going" and he thinks "it's one of the good things I did in my congressional service".More news: Austria forms government coalition with far-right party
Shortly after his meeting with Bigelow, Reid met with officials, who were also interested in establishing a UFO investigation program.
But as to whether the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program has continued to investigate UFO sightings since its funding ended five years ago could rank as an unexplained phenomenon. "I've done something that no one has done before", Reid said.More news: Putin: US secret services control doping whistleblower Rodchenkov
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