Former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid continues to call for leading with science when studying U̳F̳O̳s. O̳r̳i̳g̳i̳n̳a̳l̳ly, he says he “never intended to prove that life beyond Earth exists.” However, he has “no problem with that,” if the science proves otherwise.
As a June UAP report is due in days, Reid wrote in the New York Times, “We still don’t know what they are, but we may be close to finding out.”
Nevertheless, other former government officials indicate we could be far from finding out. Recently, reports from former and current government officials suggest “military and spy agencies are blocking or simply ignoring the effort to compile a report.”
Harry Reid On Visiting A̳r̳e̳a̳ 51
As a senator, Reid says he visited A̳r̳e̳a̳ 51, the top-secret Air Force testing site in southern Nevada.
“What I saw fascinated me, though much of it must remain classified,” Reid wrote. “During one visit, I traveled a short distance to the facility that housed the Air Force’s secret new stealth fighters. For security reasons, the pilots could fly them only at night — under the same Nevada stars I had gazed upon as a boy.”
Then, suggested the existence of A̳r̳e̳a̳ 51 should have remained classified until 2013.
“Though A̳r̳e̳a̳ 51 was developed decades ago, during the height of the Cold War, its existence wasn’t publicly acknowledged by the US government until 2013. To do so earlier would have been detrimental to our security as a nation, given that our government constantly balances the competing priorities of secrecy and transparency in a democracy,” he wrote.
Recently, Reid suggested that Lockheed Martin might have fragments of U̳F̳O̳s, but he has never seen proof.
“I was told for decades that Lockheed had some of these retrieved materials,” the Democrat told the New Yorker. “And I tried to get, as I recall, a classified approval by the P̳e̳n̳t̳a̳g̳o̳n̳ to have me go look at the stuff. They would not approve that. I don’t know what all the numbers were, what kind of classification it was, but they would not give that to me.”
Harry Reid and AATIP
At the same time, Reid realized that the “unofficial taboo” of U̳F̳O̳ discussions could actually harm national security. Furthermore, it could inhibit technical advancement as other countries openly study the phenomena.
Consequently, he decided to create AATIP with two other senators, Stevens and Inouye, focusing on science.
“I believe that there is information uncovered by the government’s covert investigations into unidentified aerial phenomena that can be disclosed to the public without harming our national security,” he said.
In 2007, Harry Reid requested funding for the self-described “clandestine P̳e̳n̳t̳a̳g̳o̳n̳ operation” the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Although his staff warned him to “stay the hell away from” the U̳F̳O̳ subject, he says he “politely ignored” them.
Although the program officially ended in 2012, U̳F̳O̳ studies carry on in the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force today.
What Inspired Harry Reid
In the Times, Reid says he became more interested in U̳F̳O̳s after journalist George Knapp invited him to a U̳F̳O̳ conference in 1996. There, he was impressed with the academic and scientific approach. Rather than focusing on a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳s, they focused on “technological advancement and national security.”
Following the experience, Reid became “hooked,” and his interest grew after conversations with former astronaut and then-senator from Ohio, John Glenn. He was the first American to orbit Earth.
Notably, Glenn reported seeing U̳F̳O̳s and “fireflies” himself. Later, reports attributed the fireflies to vapors vented from his body and the spacecraft.
Below, Knapp interviewed Reid about U̳F̳O̳s in 2019:
Leading U̳F̳O̳ Research with Science
When he was a younger man, Reid believed that leading with science was the best way to approach U̳F̳O̳s. Today, he believes it’s crucial.
“I believe it’s crucial to lead with the science when studying U̳F̳O̳s. Focusing on little green men or conspiracy theories won’t get us far. Of course, whatever the science tells us, some portion of the public will continue to believe in the reality of otherworldly U̳F̳O̳s as a matter of faith. Ultimately, the U̳F̳O̳ debate can be broken down into a sincere belief in science versus a sincere belief in e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳s. I side with science.”
To date, he says, “there’s still a great deal we don’t understand” about the phenomenon. Thus, he isn’t sure if the aircraft are of e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ origin, or made by other countries. On the other hand, some reports could be due to distorted visual perception.
However, he remains open-minded. In the past, he has indicated a belief in the probability of e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ life.
“I look at it this way,” Reid said in an interview with Motherboard in 2020.
“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].”
Robert Bigelow and Skinwalker Ranch
In 2017, the Times revealed AATIP, the “mysterious U̳F̳O̳ program,” existed and was funded for $22 million.
Much of the money went to Reid’s longtime friend, conservative Republican Robert Bigelow, who also worked with NASA to “produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.”
Further, the Las Vegas real estate and Bigelow Aerospace mogul financed ventures with funds from Budget Suites rentals. According to George Knapp, Bigelow may have spent more on U̳F̳O̳ research than “any person in history.”
In 1996, Bigelow purchased the 480-acre Skinwalker Ranch. The place earned its nickname “for the shape-shifting witches of Navajo legend.” Before Bigelow arrived, the former owners, Terry and Gwen Sherman said they witnessed three types of U̳F̳O̳s and saw mutilated cattle.
According to Vice, much of AATIP’s research took place at the ranch, a paranormal hotspot in Utah. However, Reid says he never visited the location.
“I didn’t feel that it was appropriate for the government to take me,” Reid said.
Appearing on 60 Minutes, Bigelow said he remains “absolutely convinced” that a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳s have visited Earth in U̳F̳O̳s.
Below, Bigelow talks to George Knapp about U̳F̳O̳s and his latest quest to learn about an afterlife.
Ongoing Stigma and Taboo
Today, the former AATIP leader, Lue Elizondo, and former P̳e̳n̳t̳a̳g̳o̳n̳ intelligence official Christopher Mellon suggest UAPTF faces many hurdles.
For instance, Mellon stated that the Air Force “stiff-armed” the task force from obtaining information. On the other hand, Elizondo cites enormous resistance from government bureaucracy.
“You have all the stigma and the taboo that is associated with it,” said Elizondo, who serves as an informal adviser to the military. “Organizations whose mission this might fall squarely into are resisting adopting this mission.”
Although public interest is great and the stigma about the subject has lifted, that may not be the case inside the government.
“There’s been so much public taboo about this for decades that no one wants to risk their professional careers and that of their bosses on a topic like this without being directed,” Elizondo said.
Mellon, who served in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, says lifting taboo may require direct involvement by senior executive branch officials –and more time.
“My hope is that this administration will provide our military people the support they deserve,” Mellon told NBC News. “On this issue, that means determining ASAP what threat if any is posed by the unidentified vehicles that are brazenly and repeatedly violating restricted US airspace over hovering around our warships. Our people are naturally and rightly concerned and almost nothing has been done to address their concerns.”
The American People Deserve to Know
Today, Harry Reid, now 81, hopes the upcoming UAP report will give Americans more answers.
“The American people deserve to know more — and hopefully they will soon,” he said.
In 2020, Reid said he thought it would be “a really unfortunate thing for the country” if the government stopped working on U̳F̳O̳s considering “other countries are doing it.”
However, Elizondo thinks the UAP report should be delayed. With more time and financing, it could reveal more facts instead of serving merely as more evidence of ongoing coverup.