|Editor's Note: Mark Rodeghier is director of the J. Allen Hynek Center for
UFO Studies. This article is from The International UFO Reporter, Spring 1998, vol
23, number 1.
Goverment UFO Documents on
By Mark Rodeghier
In the middle to late 1970s, several individuals, mostly associated with
the group Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS), used the Freedom of Information Act
to compel various U.S. government agencies to release their files on the UFO phenomenon.
The FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the CIA eventually complied with the law
and released documents relating to UFOs, although the NSA did so only after a lawsuit was
filed by CAUS. In addition, with the help of FOIA, the air force was forced to make
available UFO documents which it had collected or produced after Project Blue Book closed
in late 1969.
These documents do not contain a smoking gun to prove that the U.S. government has a
secret UFO project. They did show that many agencies had an ongoing interest in the UFO
phenomenon that was often independent of the air forces UFO project, and that the
interest continued after it ended.
Many of these documents have been made available to the public by UFO groups, including
CUFOS and the Fund for UFO Research. It was also possible to obtain these documents
directly from the agencies involved, which undoubtedly has increased their workload on a
subject they consider to be unimportant.
The growth of the Internet has now provided at least two agencies--the FBI and the
NSA--with a resource which they can use to reduce their workload. In the past few months,
both agencies have placed all their released UFO documents on their Web sites. I assume
that, in the future, people who contact the FBI and NSA for copies of UFO documents will
first be referred to the Web sites, thus placing the burden of retrieval on the public.
Nevertheless, this arrangement is an excellent opportunity for all those who wish to
directly read FBI and NSA UFO documents, at only the cost of a phone call to your Internet
provider. The address (or URL) of each site is listed at the end of this article.
The FBIs involvement with UFO investigation was
bief. After Kenneth Arnolds
sighting and the public furor it caused, the FBI became quite active in UFO investigation
in a parallel effort to that of the air force. The FBI worked in an unsystematic fashion
for a couple of months, mainly interviewing witnesses to sightings.
Then in September 1947, the FBI learned from a source in the air force
that the military wanted the FBI to investigate cases of disks found on the ground, which
were essentially hoaxes (or so the FBI thought). This didnt sit well with J. Edgar
Hoover, FBI director, who didnt want his men wasting time looking into obvious
hoaxes while the air force investigated reports of UFOs in the air. Consequently, Hoover
wrote to Major General George C. McDonald on September 27, 1947, and told him that the FBI
was immediately discontinuing its investigative activity. This letter is shown in Figure
||Fig. 1. J. Edgar Hoover letter to Air Force that ended FBI UFO
investigations, Sept. 27. 1947._
Since then the FBI has done little to investigate UFO reports,
although it did allegedly investigate some UFO witnesses and investigators, especially
during the 1950s, when concern about the Soviets and subversion was widespread.
The section of the FBI Web site with the UFO documents is entitled "Unusual
Phenomena" because it also contains documents concerning the FBI investigation of
animal mutilations in the southwest. The investigation was begun because of several
mutilations in New Mexico and political pressure at the federal level to find the
culprits. The FBI eventually concluded that the mutilations were the work of predators, a
judgment that was hotly disputed by some ranchers and local law enforcement officials.
The number of UFO documents from the NSA is more extensive. This is not because the NSA
conducted UFO investigations, but instead because the nature of the NSAs work is to
monitor communications around the globe that might affect U.S. security. At times, these
communications concern the sighting of unusual objects or phenomena, which the NSA
collects as part of its routine duties.
Although the agency was forced to release most of its UFO-related
documents (some are still withheld for national security reasons), many of them are
covered with deletions. Ive chosen one at random from communications intelligence
reports to provide an example (see Figure 2). All identifying details as to time, place,
witnesses, and report source have been removed, leaving too few details to make research
||Fig. 2 NSA sanitized communication concerning a possible UFO
The list of NSA documents includes, amazingly enough, some
articles from UFO journals, such as The U.S. Government and the Iran Case from
IUR. Many airgrams from the Department of State reporting on UFO sightings overseas
are listed; these documents were essentially internal telegrams used to communicate
quickly between agencies. There are also some Roswell documents from the Air Forces
The NSA Web site includes a speculative article, written in 1968,
entitled UFO Hypothesis and Survival Questions. This document, which was originally
classified secret, discusses various hypotheses for the UFO phenomenon, including hoaxes,
natural phenomena, secret government devices, and extraterrestrials, and considers the
implications for security if each is true. It concludes by noting that a study of UFOs may
provide an pportunity for man to "recognize and adapt to real environmental
situations." A portion of the first page of this seven-page document is shown in
||Fig. 3. NSA draft report on UFOs and the man's
There is no evidence that this draft report was ever completed, or
that it began as part of an official NSA UFO investigation, but it does make for
interesting reading. It also shows how seriously the UFO question was viewed by some in
the intelligence community in the late 1960s.
The files on both Web sites are in PDF, or portable document format. You must download
(for free) the Adobe Acrobat Reader program to view them. The files can be viewed online
or downloaded for later viewing. However, you should be forewarned that many of the files
are quite large, as much as seven megabytes in size, so youll need a relatively fast
Internet connection to make the wait less than interminable.
The location of the FBI files is http://www.fbi.gov/foipa/ufo.htm
[link is dead] .The location of the NSA files is http://www.nsa.gov:8080/docs/efoia/released/ufo.html
[link is dead] Also check out the Black Vault at http://www.blackvault.com
The CIA has finally made its UFO documents available to the public. They may be viewed
[link is dead]
[UFO doc index]