Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the US government has been hiding key details about UFO encounters from the public for years.
Reid made the claim in the newly released documentary, The Phenomenon, directed by James Fox, which examines the history of UFO sightings in the US from the 1940s all the way up to this spring’s revelation regarding a Department of Defence probe into unexplained military sightings.
‘Why the federal government all these years has covered up, put brake pads on everything, stopped it, I think it’s very, very bad for our country,’ Reid tells Fox in the film.
When asked if he’s saying there’s still some evidence that hasn’t yet been publicly disclosed, Reid replies: ‘I’m saying most of it hasn’t seen the light of day.’
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Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has confirmed that the US government has been hiding key details about UFOs from the public for years
Reid made the claim in the newly released documentary, The Phenomenon, directed by James Fox, which examines the history of UFO sightings in the US from the 1940s all the way up to this summer’s revelation regarding a Department of Defence probe into military sightings
Reid was among the lawmakers behind classified but since-closed Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), a Defense Department unit devoted solely to investigating unexplained phenomena and aerial encounters from deep within the Pentagon.
Since leaving office in 2017, he has become increasingly outspoken about UFOs. In April, following the Pentagon’s release of three videos taken by US pilots that reportedly show ‘unexplained aerial phenomena’, Reid tweeted: ‘The American people deserve to be informed.’
Reid has, however, stopped short of confirming evidence of other-worldly activity, tweeting in August that he wants the issue studied and that ‘we must stick to science, not fairy tales about little green men.’
Reid stands firm on that point of view in The Phenomenon, telling Fox: ‘Nobody has to agree why it’s there. But should we at least be spending some money to study all these phenomenon? The answer is yes.’
The existence of AATIP was first unveiled by the New York Times in 2017. Though at the time the government said the program, secretly commissioned in 2007, was shuttered due to a lack of funding in 2012, the Times later confirmed it continued its existence under a new name, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force, within the Office of Naval Intelligence.
For more than a decade, the Pentagon had been conducting classified briefings for congressional committees, aerospace company executives and other government officials.
The briefings were centred on sightings, video footage, and radar logs by military pilots of ‘unexplained aerial phenomena’ which seemed to transcend existing flight technology – such as an aircraft with no visible engine at 30,000ft, traveling at hypersonic speed.
Three videos documenting such unexplainable encounters were released by the Pentagon in April, with the footage captured between 2004 and 2015.
One of the videos was captured off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, in 2015 (pictured)
The other video shows the notorious 2004 ‘Tic Tac’ incident (pictured) that was recorded over the Pacific Ocean
One of the clips shows the notorious 2004 ‘Tic Tac’ incident that was recorded over the Pacific Ocean. A second video was captured off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, in 2015.
The third clip, also captured in 2015, features a Navy pilot remarking ‘what the f**k is that thing?’ as he spots an unidentified flying object.
DOD officials said they released the videos ‘in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos’.
‘The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as ‘unidentified,” the department said.
The disclosure of these clips serves as the grounding theme of The Phenomenon.
In addition to Reid, Fox also speaks to a number of other high-ranking government officials, such as former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, and also sits down with longtime UFO researcher Jacques Valle, the inspiration behind the character of Lacombe in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The film traces the relatively recent history of UFO fixation, which began around eight decades ago.
Former senator, Harry Reid, lauded the Pentagon’s decision to officially release the clips in April
The US Military began repeatedly investigating UFOs in the late 1940s, as sightings of unidentified discs and other strange incidents began frequently cropping up in the mainstream news reports.
From 1947 until 1969, the air force investigated more than 12,000 UFO claims. However, a study code-named Project Blue Book later concluded that most of the sightings could be explained by stars, clouds, conventional aircraft or spy planes. 701 of the sightings, though, remained unexplained.
One such incident was a 1967 report in which an object appeared over Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana at the same time as 10 ICMB missiles suddenly become inoperative.
Robert Jamison, a retired USAF nuclear missile targeting officer, told of several occasions having to go out and ‘re-start’ missiles that had been deactivated, after UFOs – mysterious glowing red objects in the sky – were sighted nearby.
‘If they had been called upon by the president to launch, they couldn’t have done it,’ Reid says in The Phenomenon.
Similar sightings were also reported at nuclear sites in the former Soviet Union and again in Great Britain in 1980.
Fox’s The Phenomenon traverses the unexplained terrain of UFOs with years of first-person accounts, including an old interview with late astronaut Gordon Cooper, who experienced his own unexplained sighting while flying fighters in Germany in 1951; and former President Gerald Ford, who, while still a congressman, expressed his desire for greater transparency regarding UFO research.
Numerous experts and astrophysicists have cautioned that just because an object is unidentified or unexplained doesn’t mean it’s extra-terrestrial. Some of the incidents may be the result of bugs in display systems’ code, atmospheric effects, and neurological overload during high-speed flight.
But in The Phenomenon, Fox concludes his film with a call for consideration.
‘I’m not screaming from the hilltops ‘ET is here!’ he told the Guardian. ‘I’m just saying, “Hey, look, there’s a serious situation going on, and this demands not only government transparency, but further investigation.”’
The Phenomenon was released on October 6 and is now available for digital download.
‘Tic Tac’ UFO: US Navy pilot made visual contact with the object on November 14, 2004
At least six Super Hornet pilots made visual or instrument contact with the UFO on November 14, 2004.
The encounters, which are documented in numerous interviews with first-hand witnesses, remain a mystery, and the object’s incredible speed and movements have led to speculation that it was extraterrestrial in origin.
The original FLIR video from the USS Nimitz encounters leaked online as early as 2007.
Witnesses say that clips of the video had been circulated widely on the Navy’s intranet – used to communicate between ships in the carrier group – and an unknown sailor in the group likely first leaked it.
The clip became one of the most-touted pieces of evidence in the UFO community when the Pentagon confirmed its authenticity in 2017.
In January, Chad Underwood, the former Navy aviator who shot the famous leaked video clip, broke his silence in an interview with New York Magazine.
Chad Underwood, the former Navy aviator who shot the famous leaked video clip, broke his silence in an interview with New York Magazine in January
He said the oblong, wingless ‘Tic Tac’ shaped object was spotted off the coast of Mexico over the Pacific.
He also revealed that for about two weeks, the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Princeton, part of Carrier Strike Group 11, had been tracking mysterious aircraft intermittently on an advanced AN/SPY-1B passive radar.
The radar contacts were so inexplicable that the system was even shut down and restarted to to check for bugs – but operators continued to track the unknown aircraft.
Then on November 14, Commander David Fravor says he was flying in an F/A-18F Super Hornet when he made visual contact with the object, which seemed to dive below the water, resurface, and speed out of sight when he tried to approach it.
As Fravor landed on the deck of the Nimitz, Underwood was just gearing up to take off on his own training run.
Fravor told Underwood about the bizarre encounter, and urged Underwood to keep his eyes open.
He recalls how he suddenly saw a blip on his radar before tracking it on his FLIR camera.
Underwood was flying in an F/A-18F Super Hornet as part of the USS Nimitz (above) carrier group when he encountered an ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’
‘The thing that stood out to me the most was how erratic it was behaving,’ Underwood told the magazine.
‘And what I mean by ‘erratic’ is that its changes in altitude, air speed, and aspect were just unlike things that I’ve ever encountered before flying against other air targets.’
Underwood said the object wasn’t obeying the laws of physics and dropped from 50,000 feet altitude to 100 feet in seconds, which he says, ‘isn’t possible’. He added that he saw no signs of an engine heat plume or any sign of propulsion.
The pilot refuses to speculate as to whether the object is an alien spacecraft or not, however.
‘That’s not my job. But I saw something. And it was also seen, via eyeballs, by both my commanding officer, Dave Fravor, and the Marine Corps Hornet squadron commanding officer who was out there as well.’