The Pentagon’s secret search for aliens revealed: Editorial Board Roundtable

December 21, 2017 GMT

The Pentagon’s secret search for aliens revealed: Editorial Board Roundtable

Some taxpayers may snort when they hear about unidentified flying objects, but for years, the Pentagon secretly spent millions of taxpayer dollars investigating fast-moving objects that closely tracked U.S. Navy pilots, people who said they had close encounters with the objects and military service members who reported strange sightings, according to The New York Times and Politico.

U. S. Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, told the Times that he became interested in researching UFOs after he was approached by Nevada billionaire and donor Robert Bigelow, who was intrigued by them.


Reid later convinced Sen. Ted Stevens, a Republican from Alaska and a former fighter pilot who said he had been followed by strange aircraft, and Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Democrat from Hawaii, to fund the program from the Pentagon budget without a debate on the Senate floor, where they most likely feared some ridicule.

Bigelow’s company, Bigelow Aerospace, got a little over $20 million from 2007 to 2012 to hire subcontractors and handle the research. The program was then defunded and the work taken over by the U.S. Navy and the CIA.

While the investigation produced reams of paper, it couldn’t determine if the phenomena was manmade or not.

Eventually, Reid, like many government officials before him who have undertaken investigations into weird aviation phenomena, concluded that the program couldn’t be justified.

Luis Elizondo, who resigned from running the program in October because he said it was too undercover and too unappreciated, argued in his resignation letter that “more time and effort” should be spent on researching aerial mysteries.

So what do you think of this secret extraterrestrial project -- a waste of money or a small step for mankind in studying UFOs?

Sharon Broussard, chief editorial writer,

I have a soft spot in my heart for such projects because of my love of “Star Wars” and other space fantasies. But coming down to earth, this project rankles: Reid and his senatorial compadres conducted this research without consulting the public and using secret funds. That should never happen.

Ted Diadiun, editorial board member:

I agree with the writer Bill Bryson, who once expressed doubt that intelligent beings would travel here from hundreds of light years away just to amuse themselves by creating crop circles in farmers’ fields and startling drivers on remote country roads. But you don’t have to believe in UFOs to be in favor of research that tries to unravel the many aerial mysteries in our space and outer space. Spending money on seeking explanations for such things is all right with me.


Thomas Suddes, editorial writer:

In the context of the Pentagon’s gigantic budget, this was peanuts. Moreover, it was a topic worth pursuing. The underlying argument against this project seems to be that it didn’t find anything. But that’s a common result of scientific research. You ask questions without knowing the answers -- if there are answers. If answers don’t turn up, you move on to the next research topic or project.

Elizabeth Sullivan, director of opinion,

There’s no reason to shroud in secrecy a program with clear national security implications investigating unidentified fast-moving objects operating near U.S. military aircraft. The objects don’t have to be alien UFOs to be of concern. What is of concern is that this project was funded on the sly, pushed by UFO enthusiast Sen. Harry Reid, with a good chunk of the millions he and others wrung from the Pentagon budget going to a firm run by Reid’s friend and campaign contributor Robert Bigelow. The work should continue -- without the side deals.

Have something to say about this topic? Use the comments to share your thoughts, and stay informed when readers reply to your comments by using the Notification Settings (in blue).

* Send a letter to the editor, which will be considered for print publication.

* Email general questions about our editorial board or comments on this editorial board roundtable to Elizabeth Sullivan, director of opinion, at