Harry Reid, who retired from Congress earlier in 2017, stated: "I'm not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going".
But Mr Elizondo confirmed that he continued to work with officials from the Navy and the Central Intelligence Agency on the program until he resigned from office in October.
"I think it's one of the good things I did in my congressional service".
While the body of (still mostly classified) evidence that the program has gathered does suggest that there are things going on that we don't know about, it's still now too much of a leap of faith to assume that all of these unidentified objects are alien in nature.
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In the interview with the Daily Beast, Elizondo noted that the investigations continued under new leadership primarily because the military considers any potential threat a serious issue. Elizondo said knowledge of the programme was limited, even within the Pentagon itself.
According to The New York Times, Reid first found the resolve to set up the UFO watch following a conversation with his friend, real estate billionaire Robert Bigelow-who also has significant aerospace interests, and who, according to a piece by Sixty Minutes, is hard at work designing the spaceship of the future. "I've done something that no one has done before", Reid said.
On CBS' "60 Minutes" in May, Bigelow said he was "absolutely convinced" that aliens exist and that UFOs have visited Earth.
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Officially, the AATIP program "ended in 2012", the Pentagon told Reuters.
One reported instance involved a whitish oval object, about the size of a commercial plane, that was chased by two Navy fighter jets off the coast of San Diego in 2004.
Mr Bigelow built a headquarters to store "recovered unidentified aerial phenomena" with researchers who examined people that had "experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects". In addition, researchers spoke to military service members who had reported sightings of odd aircraft.
The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was started in 2007, ceased to be funded in 2012, but is still operation today. Pilots attempting to understand what they see can be heard in this video published by the Department of Defense, which, however, refuses to specify the date and location of the incident.
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"There's a whole fleet of them, look on the S.A." one says. He said that he joined the Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, founded by former Blink-182 gutarist Tom DeLonge. They are speaking publicly about their efforts as their venture aims to raise money for research into UFOs.