I-Team Exclusive: Former Sen. Harry Reid talks UFOs in sit-down interview

I-Team

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Former U.S. Senator Harry Reid wants to clarify some bad information being dispensed by the Pentagon about a secret study of UFOs. It was authorized by Reid and other lawmakers more than a decade ago. 

The UFO study was kept quiet until two years ago, and since then, a lot of misinformation has surfaced about the purpose of the study and who worked for it. Senator Reid sat down with the I-Team’s George Knapp for an exclusive interview.

Harry Reid: “Lost all my hair.”

George Knapp: “It will come back?”

Harry Reid: “Oh yeah, once I get rid of cancer.”

Reid knows that his so- far successful battle against pancreatic cancer likely comes as a disappointment to his enemies, some of whom have long wished for his death, political or otherwise. Nearly two years after the New York Times blew open a story about a Reid-sponsored secret study of UFOs and related mysteries, the former senate majority leader is encouraged by continued coverage in mainstream media and heightened public interest. If UFOs are to be part of his political legacy, so be it.

“I think I’ll be remembered for other things but hey, listen, if I am known as somebody that kind of got the ball rolling here, I’ll take it,” Reid said.

The ball started rolling in 2007. Reid and fellow Senators Daniel Inouye and Ted Stevens authorized a black budget study of UFOs. The acronym for the program was Aerospace Weapons System Application Program, or AAWSAP. In 2008, a contract was awarded to Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies, or BAASS, an offshoot of Bigelow Aerospace.  Twenty-two million was spent over three years.

Since the New York Times story broke, Pentagon spokespersons have provided multiple conflicting statements about both AAWSAP, and its successor, a smaller effort Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Progran, known as AATIP. In some statements, the Pentagon denied the programs had anything to do with unidentified flying objects. Reid says the UFO mystery was always the primary focus, starting with the first meeting he had with a scientist from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“He said, ‘I don’t understand what we’re seeing around the world with all these unidentified flying objects, and I want to be able to have an intelligent conversation in this regard,’” Reid said.  “And George, you know I became terribly interested in this, and rather than think about it, I said I’m going to do something about it.”

Reid says there is no mention of space aliens or flying saucers in the program names or documents, nor did they use the term UFO, in part because those words and names carry so much baggage. The senator says no one can say for sure where these mystery craft originate, which is why he initiated a study in the first place.

In 2009, Reid tried to get the Pentagon to turn AATIP into a special access program, a more classified operation, in part because he wanted to connect with other secret programs that may or may not have hard evidence of UFOs, including materials or technology recovered from crash sites.

“One reason I did that is there’s always this rumor, some people say there are public corporations that have materials that we should look at,” Reid said. “Now, I wanted to make sure that was valid or not valid, but I couldn’t get, they wouldn’t support it, wouldn’t approve it.”

Reid adds he was encouraged earlier this year when the U.S. Navy announced it plans to make it easier for its pilots to report UFO encounters, and he’s glad his former colleagues in congress have received closed door briefings from military officials about UFO encounters, but…

“Well, let them say something about it,” Reid said. “I’m tired of all this, they’re getting briefings and all that. Let them step up to the plate like I did and do something publicly.”

Senator Reid says he continues to receive occasional briefings about UFO investigations. Among his recent visitors are Bill and Hillary Clinton, and former Pentagon Intelligence Officer Lue Elizondo. More about that in this story.

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