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Feds reportedly spent $22M on mysterious UFO program

Program was discontinued in 2012, but its backers say it still exists, The New York Times reports.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

Funding for the program came largely at the request of Harry Reid, a former Democratic senator from Nevada, who has had a long-held interest in space phenomena, according to the New York Times.

Bill Clark/Roll Call

The US government apparently suspected the truth was out there after all.

The federal government spent about $22 million funding a covert Pentagon project that investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, The New York Times reported Saturday. Even though the Department of Defense decided to defund the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program in 2012, its backers say the program remains in existence, the Times reported.

The program investigated sightings of aircraft that appeared to move at very high speeds with no visible signs of propulsion, or that hovered with no apparent means of lift, the Times reported. The program also reportedly studied videos of encounters between unknown objects and American military aircraft.

The program's initial funding came largely at the request of former Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, who has had a long-held interest in space phenomena, according to the newspaper. On Saturday, Reid renewed his call for the US to fund UFO research in a tweet that linked to the Times' report and borrowed "The X-Files" tagline that "the truth is out there."

"If anyone says they have the answers, they're fooling themselves," Reid wrote in a subsequent tweet. "We don't know the answers but we have plenty of evidence to support asking the questions. This is about science and national security. If America doesn't take the lead in answering these questions, others will."

Reid, who retired from Congress this year, told the Times he was proud of the program.

"I'm not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going," Reid said. "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."

The Defense Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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