The U.S. Government Spent $22 Million Looking Into the Existence of UFOs

If there is life outside of Earth, the U.S. Government is spending a pretty penny to find out.

The Pentagon

The Pentagon is seen from the air over Washington, DC on August 25, 2013. The 6.5 million sq ft (600,000 sq meter) building serves as the headquarters of the US Department of Defense and was built from 1941 to1943. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The Pentagon

Buried in the Defense Department's $600 billion annual budget, the New York Timesdiscovered 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."

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