Conspiracy theorists and believers have been convinced for decades that US government has been hiding the existence of UFOs and aliens from the public.
Although there have been thousands of sightings across America over the years there has been little in the way of concrete evidence to say that there is actually something out there.
Bust as Fox Mulder used to say on The X-Files:
We still don't have anything in the way of hard evidence to say that there are little green men flying around the skies above us.
However, in 2007 the US government thought that they should renew efforts to look into the UFO phenomenon.
The "Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program" was set up by former Nevada senator Harry Reid a decade ago but its existence has only just been acknowledged by the Department of Defense.
In a piece by The New York Times the US government claims the program was shut down in 2012 but while funding has ceased former employees are certain that it is still operating.
Reid, who was the Democrat Senate for Nevada, a state which was the site of probably the most famous UFO incident in history, teamed up with a friend in the aerospace tech industry (Robert Bigelow, who now works for Nasa) to fund the program.
Reid, who is now retired, then received the backing and support from other senators, Ted Stevens from Alaska and Daniel K. Inouye from Hawaii and very subtly and quietly set up this secretive wing of The Department of Defense.
According to Reid, it is one of his proudest contributions to the country during his time in government.
I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going.
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.
Although the Pentagon only recently confirmed that the program was real, they were eager to stress that it only lasted for five years.
In that time their goal was to research the many UFOs that had been seen by US military personnel, in order to boost America's knowledge on the subject and not label it as a unspoken taboo.
Speaking to the New York Times Bigelow said:
Internationally, we are the most backward country in the world on this issue.
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 organisations 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.
The program was headed by a man named Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official and by 2009 they were convinced that were on the verge of making a significant discovery.
However, Elizondo quit as he was unhappy with the secrecy around the program as he felt it was a matter of national interest.
In his resignation latter, Elizondo points towards “the many accounts from the Navy and other services of unusual aerial systems interfering with military weapon platforms and displaying beyond-next-generation capabilities.”
The NYT report suggests that the program is still operating unofficially but Elizondo has since set up the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, with other former government officials to raise awareness of UFOs amongst the public and raise money for research.
That fact is not something any government or institution should classify in order to keep secret from the people.
If anyone says they have the answers now, they’re fooling themselves.
We do not know, we have to start somewhere.
HT AV Club