Buried in the Defense Department's $600 billion annual budget, the New York Times discovered that there was a sizable portion—$22 million, to be exact—dedicated solely for the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. It's a fancy name for a program that essentially looked into the existence of UFOs, and much like the financial backing, which is shrouded in secrecy, the purpose behind their efforts is just as mysterious. 

The program started in 2007 at the request of former Senate majority leader Harry Reid who expressed interest in exploring "space phenomena." The initiative was funded by Reid's friend and billionaire entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, who admitted in an interview with 60 Minutes that he's "absolutely convinced" aliens not only exist but UFOs have visited Earth. 

While the Defense Department has remained mum on the existence of the program, they claim the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was shut down in 2012. "It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding, and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change," a Pentagon spokesman, Thomas Crosson, said in a statement.

Military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, who was responsible for running the program, claims that the only reason the initiative came to an end was because the funding was no longer available. Even though the agency isn't operating, it maintains that they have "continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members."

To read the piece in its entirety, click here