From the Monday edition of the Morning Jolt:
Harry Reid’s Secret UFO Research Program
To a lot of people paying attention to the news Sunday, the New York Times’ scoop was that from 2007 to 2012, the Pentagon had a secret program to study UFOs.
But I feel like the story could have had a completely different emphasis: Three senators — Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye, and Alaska Republican Ted Stevens — sent $22 million in taxpayers money to Reid’s buddy Robert Bigelow could research UFOs. And no one else in the U.S. Senate was allowed to know!
Mr. Reid, who retired from Congress this year, said he was proud of the program. “I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Mr. Reid said in a recent interview in Nevada. “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.”
None of the three senators wanted a public debate on the Senate floor about the funding for the program, Mr. Reid said. “This was so-called black money,” he said. “Stevens knows about it, Inouye knows about it. But that was it, and that’s how we wanted it.” Mr. Reid was referring to the Pentagon budget for classified programs…
Contracts obtained by The Times show a congressional appropriation of just under $22 million beginning in late 2008 through 2011. The money was used for management of the program, research and assessments of the threat posed by the objects.
The funding went to Mr. Bigelow’s company, Bigelow Aerospace, which hired subcontractors and solicited research for the program.
As a plotline to The X-Files, this is awesome; in real life, this looks like a classic abuse of budgetary authority. Just what did the taxpayers get for this $22 million sent to Harry Reid’s friend?
To hear these guys tell it, the aliens are visiting regularly, the military knows, and only a few, lonely, Fox Mulder-like officials are willing to speak about it, while everyone else proceeds in naive denial:
The program collected video and audio recordings of reported U.F.O. incidents, including footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. “There’s a whole fleet of them,” one exclaims. Defense officials declined to release the location and date of the incident.
…A 2009 Pentagon briefing summary of the program prepared by its director at the time asserted that “what was considered science fiction is now science fact,” and that the United States was incapable of defending itself against some of the technologies discovered. Mr. Reid’s request for the special designation was denied.
As we say on the Three Martini Lunch, “way to go, Nevada. Way to go.”