Harry Reid saw 'classified' things at Area 51 that 'fascinated me'

Harry Reid
(Image credit: David Becker/Getty Images)

Is the truth out there? Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is weighing in.

Reid wrote an article for The New York Times on Friday discussing how he became "increasingly interested in UFOs," something he says his staff warned him not to "engage" with publicly. Despite their warnings, the former Nevada senator, as he recounts, helped secure funding for the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a Pentagon program to investigate UFO reports.

"I believed that an unofficial taboo regarding the frank discussion of encounters could harm our national security and stymie opportunities for technical advancement," Reid writes. "Which is why, along with Senators [Ted] Stevens and [Daniel] Inouye, I helped create that secret Pentagon program in 2007. We wanted to take a close, scientific look at the technological implications of reported UFO encounters."

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Reid argues that there's information the government has uncovered during its UFO investigations "that can be disclosed to the public without harming our national security," as "the American people deserve to know more — and hopefully they will soon" through the upcoming release of a UFO report requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

At one point, Reid also describes visiting Area 51 as a senator and seeing fascinating things.

"As a Democratic senator from Nevada, I visited Area 51, the top-secret Air Force testing site in southern Nevada long associated with UFO-related conspiracy theories," he writes. "What I saw fascinated me, though much of it must remain classified."

He does mention, though, during one visit seeing the "facility that housed the Air Force's secret new stealth fighters."

Reid stresses that "there's still a great deal we don't understand" and that "focusing on little green men or conspiracy theories won't get us far," also writing that "I have never intended to prove that life beyond Earth exists." He adds, though, "If science proves that it does, I have no problem with that." Read the full essay at The New York Times.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.