The truth is out there … perhaps: CIA releases thousands of UFO files

<span>Photograph: Gabe Palmer/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Gabe Palmer/Alamy

The truth is out there. Well, maybe. Thousands of documents from the CIA on unidentified flying objects were released this week in a document dump that the agency says includes all their records on UFOs.

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The documents are currently available on the Black Vault, an online archive of declassified government documents, after the site’s founder John Greenewald Jr, purchased a CD-Rom the CIA had made with its UFO documents. About 2,700 pages were included in the collection, what the agency says are all the files it has on UFOs, but Greenewald notes on his website that “there may be no way to entirely verify that”.

Some of the reports, including one about mysterious explosions in a Russian town and another with a first-hand account of a strange sighting of a flying object near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, are the sort of reads that you might expect to find in a science fiction novel rather than official government documents. But some of the documents are difficult to read, and what exactly they were used for is unclear. Greenewald told Vice’s Motherboard that the intelligence agency put the documents together in an “outdated” format that makes it hard to parse the collection.

“The CIA has made it INCREDIBLY difficult to use their records in a reasonable manner,” he wrote to Motherboard. “This outdated format makes it very difficult for people to see the documents, and use them, for any research purpose.”

The document dump comes just as UFOs – or, as the US government calls them, unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) – seem to have caught the attention of lawmakers in Congress.

The government funding bill Congress passed at the end of December, which included the $900bn coronavirus stimulus, instructed the director of national intelligence and secretary of defense to release a report on UAPs in six months’ time.

The Senate’s intelligence committee, which wrote the directive, said intelligence and defense agencies should note any “links to adversarial foreign governments” and “the threat they pose to US military assets and installations” in the report, suggesting that lawmakers are wondering if a US adversary could be in charge of strange UFO sightings.

Three videos that were leaked from and eventually released by the US defense department in April of last year showed unidentified objects in airspace that were captured on tape during pilot training flights. The pilots could be heard noting the speed and shapes of the objects.

The former US senator Harry Reid, who was at the helm of previous efforts to investigate UFOs, retweeted the video writing: “The US needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications. The American people deserve to be informed.”

In August of last year, the defense department created a UAP taskforce to “detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to US national security” after lawmakers pressured the department to make more serious inquiries into UAP sightings following the release of the videos.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida who leads the Senate intelligence committee, suggested in an interview with a Miami news station that lawmakers are more concerned about technological advancement from US adversaries than signs of extraterrestrial life.

“Frankly, if it’s something from outside this planet, that might actually be better than the fact that we’ve seen some sort of technological leap on behalf of the Chinese or the Russians or some other adversary,” he said.