UFO in the desert

Tribute to a True Believer in UFOs

I’m still catching up on happenings during my residential move, so I’m delayed in honoring a Nevada icon lost late in 2021, Senate majority leader from 2007-2015 and a champion of environmental protection and energy conservation. For that alone, he is and should be lauded, but I have another reason for the focus of this post.

Harry Mason Reid Jr. was an American lawyer, an unlikely Democrat from a town called Searchlight, and a believer in UFOs, championing those who claimed sightings. So much so that he once urged Congress to hold public hearings on the issue when speaking on the podcast “Nevada Newsmakers” in 2019.

“We’ve got a volume of research that was done, $22 million worth of research,” Reid said of the funds he secured as a US senator to begin the secret Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) in 2007, which was supervised by the Pentagon until 2012.

Reid said this AATIP research showed that “not two people, four people or six people or 20 people but hundreds and hundreds of people have seen these things, sometimes all at the same time. It is no longer just speculation that people see these unidentified flying objects.”

Reid also discussed how military pilots were once afraid to tell their superiors about UFO sightings out of concern it would hurt their promotions. He noted how advances in military technology have given aviators better photos and videos of UFOs, resulting in reports that these mysterious flying objects are capable of feats impossible for US military aircraft to duplicate.

One point of contention and where I differ from Senator Reid was his view that UFO research was a matter of national security. “We’ve had some (UFOs) seen near our military installations in South Dakota,” he said, concerned that UFOS were spotted in the vicinity of our missile defense systems.

My take, which I cover in my Other Worldly novels, is that UFOs are not necessarily piloted by those who pose a danger to US or Earth security. These unknown entities could very well be acting in a defensive posture, on a fact-finding mission to determine just how great a threat we human beings are to our own planet, and to the rest of the solar system.

Another issue is the whole incongruous and disingenuous notion that UFOs exist, but aliens don’t. If so, who is operating this advanced technology?

Once Senator Reid’s behind-the-scenes work to fund UFO research via the AATIP was revealed by the media in December 2017, he said he was happy to talk to the New York Times about UFOs and the $22 million in funding to study them, but he was not going to talk about “little green men. If you want to talk about science, I’m all in. And that is how I look at this,” Reid said.

I regret never learning precisely why he took this position. Which was it, science or national security that ultimately drove his push for UFO research? And if either or both, shouldn’t it have included extraterrestrial life?

Perhaps Reid saw it as a personal credibility issue. Or maybe he realized how folks are willing to approach the idea of advanced technology, but it’s too scary and makes the average person feel vulnerable to comprehend that some entity, somewhere, must be behind UFOs, either in the cockpit or operating them remotely.

Yet it seems a tad silly to deny this reality, whether one is addressing the issue of UFOs from the perspective of science, or especially from the stance that it’s all about national security.

In Feeling Alienated, second book of my Other Worldly series, protagonist Rowan Layne writes in her local newspaper column, “One ponders why public officials would validate the existence of UFOs, yet adamantly refuse to speculate on who’s flying them. Why did our government spend taxpayer millions to investigate potential alien spacecraft but not pilots? It seems either naively shortsighted or protectionist, and reeks of prescient paranoia.”

We’ll likely never know the reasoning behind Senator Reid’s stance on avoiding the subject of “little green men,” but at least he was willing to admit and pursue information about aircraft in US airspace that cannot be explained or identified as being of Earth’s realm. And it’s highly apropos that the Las Vegas international airport now bears the name of Harry Reid.

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