CIA Releases Declassified UFO Documents

E.T. is not exposed, but the CIA offers a look at how it handled a spectacle way back when.

The Central Intelligence Agency released a collection of declassified documents Thursday related to its past study of UFOs. As it turns out, the CIA did not use this opportunity to reveal that it has or ever had made contact with extraterrestrial beings, decided an unidentified flying object was alien in origin, or that aliens are among us — but there are plenty of choice cuts within the text that gives a glimpse of how seriously the government took the UFO phenomenon when it received its first massive wave of public scrutiny .

The papers are dated from between 1949-1953, and there isn’t an overly obvious glut of redacted writing, so the reading is easy. For the most part, the material is focused on reported sightings and how UFOs can be explained — but there’s also steady chatter concerning governmental worries of the time, such as the Soviet Union and the ability to spot an invasive threat (as well as moments that practically scoff at the possibility of these sightings being unearthly visitors.)

Furthermore, tiny bits of jargon from the time add dated flavor to the content — with mentions of “Foo Fighters,” “St. Elmo’s Fire,” and “P.I.L.” — showing how buzzwords of yesteryear can eventually serve future generations with band names and movie titles.

The CIA presentation also explains “How To Investigate a Flying Saucer”— not so much to civilians trying to verify a sighting, but apparently to agents attempting to get to the bottom of a reported UFO. The column’s advice includes such dry and intense subheadings as “Conduct Controlled Experiments,” “Create a Reporting System To Organize Incoming Cases,” and “Determine the Objectives of Your Investigation.”

Finally, in what is surely just a strange coincidence, the CIA offers links to a few black-and-white photos taken roughly 50-60 years ago — but the links all turn up 404 Not Found. However, the pics are elsewhere on the web:

Interesting to see those early photos when compared to the sort of UFO proof people capture in the 21st-century: