Read More: Las Vegas Review-Journal
A secret government program that investigated UFO sightings, stored objects of unknown origin in a Las Vegas warehouse and survived for at least five years with shadowy funding secured by Harry Reid? Sounds about right to Dennis McBride. The Nevada historian and author could only shrug when he read the New York Times’ bizarre Dec. 16 account of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a mysterious Defense Department initiative to investigate reports of unidentified flying objects. “I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t surprised at all,” said McBride, director of the Nevada State Museum in Las Vegas. “I’m sure that there’s all sorts of things going on we don’t know about because they are secret. Why not Harry Reid?” Bigelow’s involvement According to the Times, Pentagon officials recently acknowledged the existence of the UFO program, claiming it began in 2007 as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency and ended after five years. But the military intelligence official who ran it said the work continued after funding from Congress dried up in 2012. The Times’ investigation unearthed contracts showing the program received $22 million in federal funding between 2008 and 2011. The money went to Bigelow Aerospace, the North Las Vegas-based company founded in 1999 by Robert Bigelow, owner of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain and one of Reid’s longtime friends and campaign contributors. Bigelow’s company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials reportedly recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena, the Times said. Bigelow’s fascination with outer space and the paranormal is well-documented. In 1997, he gave UNLV $3.7 million to establish the Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies, which featured course work in metaphysics, near-death experiences and extrasensory perception. His aerospace firm is now testing an inflatable space capsule attached to the International Space Station under a contract with NASA.