Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has done more than any other lawmaker to support the search for UFOs, which he says doesn't mean a whole lot.
“The sad part about it is no one else has done anything, so saying I’ve done more than anybody else is no big deal,” Reid told Motherboard on the CYBER podcast. “There’s no one doing anything and that’s too bad.”
Reid was the architect of two Pentagon programs designed to look for and study UFOs, unidentified aerial phenomena, and advanced propulsion technologies. These two programs, called the Advanced Aerospace Threat and Identification Program and the Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Applications Program, had $22 million in funding between 2007 and 2012 through a Congressional “black budget,” and were run through a company called Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies, which worked on it along with the Pentagon.
Since the programs became public in 2017 thanks to a New York Times investigation and the man who ran the program, Luis Elizondo, Reid has given a few interviews where he’s said he wants to focus on “science,” not “little green men.” But Reid, in an interview with Motherboard this week, said that he does believe in extraterrestrial life.
“I look at it this way,” Reid said. “The world as we know it today is extremely large. It’s so big I can’t comprehend it. And I think that we as human beings have to be a little short sighted if we think we’re the only species in the entire universe. In the entire universe there is for sure more than one [species].”
Though that statement should not be terribly controversial and reflects a viewpoint held by many scientists, it's not one that has been taken by many politicians, and certainly not by someone who had as much power as Reid did. Reid also said he believes it is impossible to separate studying UFOs from searching for aliens.
Listen to the full interview on CYBER, which is available on all podcast platforms.
“I don’t think you can separate them. I think it’s all one big basket of stuff,” he said. “We learned with the work that we did that the sightings of aerial phenomenon has not been seen by a couple dozen people, not a couple hundred people. Thousands of people. Thousands of people. We have that down pretty pat. We know that unusual things have happened over decades on a regular basis and we know that in the Dakotas, a missile launching facility has been shut down because of something over one of them basically shutting off the power to them. We know the accounts off the coast of San Diego where ships have found these unusual things in the water and it shut down the communications on the ships.”
“I think that we need to fully understand this and have no boundaries on what we look for,” he added. “And I repeat now for the second or third time that people should not be afraid. I think that too many of my legislative friends are afraid to go into this because someone will think that they’re some kind of a nutcase. But I went into it and I don’t think it hurt me politically.”
Last week, the Pentagon finally published three videos that had previously leaked through Elizondo and former Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge’s UFO research organization, To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science. Reid tweeted that the release “only scratches the surface of research and materials available.” Unfortunately, much about these programs remain classified. The Pentagon has not been terribly forthcoming about AATIP when asked or FOIAed, and recently said that the program had nothing to do with UFOs.
Reid said from the earliest days, this was a UFO program and was always designed to be a UFO program. Much of the research was carried out by Bigelow on the infamous Skinwalker Ranch, a paranormal hotspot in Utah. Reid said he has never visited Skinwalker Ranch but that he followed the program very closely while he was a Senator.
"Even some of my staff told me to stay away from all this. But I never looked back. It was something I was interested in. I thought it was something that government should be involved in"
"I of course followed it very closely and talked to people that worked there, but I made the decision that it was very difficult for me to go there because I was a government employee as a member of the Senate. And I guess I could have paid my own way up. But I didn’t feel that it was appropriate for the government to take me, and so I thought well, I’ll just listen to others," he said. "But you know there are all kinds of interesting reports about people who have gone there … there was too much weird stuff going on up there. But no, I have not been there."
Reid says that while the program was ongoing, he never pushed to make its findings public, and said he believed the Pentagon or NSA should be doing this sort of work because he wasn't sure whether a civilian agency such as NASA could do it. But he does believe to this day that studying UFOs is important government work that should continue to be funded.
"I think the legislators are afraid to do this for fear they’ll be charged with wasting taxpayer dollars," he said. "Even some of my staff told me to stay away from all this. But I never looked back. It was something I was interested in. I thought it was something that government should be involved in. And I think we have the Pentagon and other government officials don’t continue work on this it’s a really unfortunate thing for the country because other countries are doing it."