Gerald K. Haines
from CIA Website
Gerald K. Haines is the National Reconnaissance Office
extraordinary 95 percent of all Americans have at least heard or read
something about Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), and 57
percent believe they are real. (1) Former US Presidents Carter and
Reagan claim to have seen a UFO. UFOlogists - a neologism for UFO buffs -
and private UFO organizations are found throughout the United States.
are convinced that the US Government, and particularly CIA, are engaged in
a massive conspiracy and cover-up of the issue. The idea that CIA has
secretly concealed its research into UFOs has been a major theme of UFO
buffs since the modern UFO phenomena emerged in the late 1940s. (2)
In late 1993, after being
pressured by UFOlogists for the release of additional CIA information on
UFOs, (3) DCI R. James
Woolsey ordered another review of all Agency files on UFOs. Using CIA
records compiled from that review, this study traces CIA interest and
involvement in the UFO controversy from the late 1940s to 1990. It
chronologically examines the Agency's efforts to solve the mystery of
UFOs, its programs that had an impact on UFO sightings, and its attempts
to conceal CIA involvement in the entire UFO issue.
emerges from this examination is that, while Agency concern over UFOs was
substantial until the early 1950s, CIA has since paid only limited and
peripheral attention to the phenomena.
The emergence in 1947 of the Cold War confrontation between the
United States and the Soviet Union also saw the first wave of UFO
sightings. The first report of a "flying saucer" over the United States
came on 24 June 1947, when Kenneth Arnold, a private pilot and
reputable businessman, while looking for a downed plane sighted nine
disk-shaped objects near Mt. Rainier, Washington, traveling at an
estimated speed of over 1,000 mph.
Arnold's report was followed by a flood of additional sightings,
including reports from military and civilian pilots and air traffic
controllers all over the United States. (4) In 1948, Air Force Gen. Nathan
Twining, head of the Air Technical Service Command, established Project SIGN (initially named
Project SAUCER) to collect, collate, evaluate, and distribute within the
government all information relating to such sightings, on the premise that
UFOs might be real and of national security concern. (5)
The Technical Intelligence
Division of the Air Material Command (AMC) at Wright Field
(later Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) in Dayton, Ohio, assumed control
of Project SIGN and began its work on 23 January 1948. Although at first
fearful that the objects might be Soviet secret weapons, the Air Force
soon concluded that UFOs were real but easily explained and not
Air Force report found that almost all sightings stemmed from one or more
of three causes: mass hysteria and hallucination, hoax, or
misinterpretation of known objects. Nevertheless, the report recommended
continued military intelligence control over the investigation of all
sightings and did not rule out the possibility of extraterrestrial
mounting UFO sightings, the Air Force continued to collect and evaluate
UFO data in the late 1940s under a new project, GRUDGE, which tried to
alleviate public anxiety over UFOs via a public relations campaign
designed to persuade the public that UFOs constituted nothing unusual or
extraordinary. UFO sightings were explained as balloons, conventional
aircraft, planets, meteors, optical illusions, solar reflections, or even
GRUDGE officials found no evidence in UFO sightings of advanced
foreign weapons design or development, and they concluded that UFOs did
not threaten US security. They recommended that the project be reduced in
scope because the very existence of Air Force official interest encouraged
people to believe in UFOs and contributed to a "war hysteria" atmosphere.
On 27 December 1949, the Air Force announced the project's termination.
Cold War tensions, the Korean war, and continued UFO sightings, USAF
Director of Intelligence Maj. Gen. Charles P. Cabell ordered a new
UFO project in 1952. Project BLUE BOOK became the
major Air Force effort to study the UFO phenomenon throughout the 1950s
and 1960s. (8) The task of
identifying and explaining UFOs continued to fall on the Air Material
Command at Wright-Patterson. With a small staff, the Air Technical
Intelligence Center (ATIC) tried to persuade the public that
UFOs were not extraordinary. (9)
Projects SIGN, GRUDGE, and BLUE BOOK set the tone for the official
US Government position regarding UFOs for the next 30
CIA closely monitored the Air Force effort, aware of the
mounting number of sightings and increasingly concerned that UFOs might
pose a potential security threat. (10) Given the distribution of the
sightings, CIA officials in 1952 questioned whether they might reflect
"midsummer madness.'' (11)
Agency officials accepted the Air Force's conclusions about UFO
reports, although they concluded that,
"since there is a remote possibility that they may be
interplanetary aircraft, it is necessary to investigate each sighting."
massive buildup of sightings over the United States in 1952, especially in
July, alarmed the Truman administration. On 19 and 20 July, radar scopes
at Washington National Airport and Andrews Air Force Base tracked
mysterious blips. On 27 July, the blips reappeared. The Air Force
scrambled interceptor aircraft to investigate, but they found nothing. The
incidents, however, caused headlines across the country.
White House wanted to know what was happening, and the Air Force quickly
offered the explanation that the radar blips might be the result of
"temperature inversions." Later, a Civil Aeronautics Administration
investigation confirmed that such radar blips were quite common and were
caused by temperature inversions. (13)
Although it had monitored
UFO reports for at least three years, CIA reacted to the new rash
of sightings by forming a special study group within the Office of
Scientific Intelligence (OSI) and the Office of Current
Intelligence (OCI) to review the situation. (14) Edward Tauss, acting chief
of OSI's Weapons and Equipment Division, reported for the group
that most UFO sightings could be easily explained. Nevertheless, he
recommended that the Agency continue monitoring the problem, in
coordination with ATIC. He also urged that CIA conceal its interest from
the media and the public, "in view of their probable alarmist tendencies"
to accept such interest as confirming the existence of UFOs. (15)
Upon receiving the report,
Deputy Director for Intelligence (DDI) Robert Amory, Jr.
assigned responsibility for the UFO investigations to OSI's Physics and
Electronics Division, with A. Ray Gordon as the officer in charge.
(16) Each branch in the
division was to contribute to the investigation, and Gordon was to
coordinate closely with ATIC.
Amory, who asked the group to focus on the national security
implications of UFOs, was relaying DCI Walter Bedell Smith's
concerns. (17) Smith wanted
to know whether or not the Air Force investigation of flying saucers was
sufficiently objective and how much more money and manpower would be
necessary to determine the cause of the small percentage of unexplained
"there was only one chance in 10,000 that the phenomenon posed a
threat to the security of the country, but even that chance could not be
According to Smith, it was CIA's responsibility by statute to
coordinate the intelligence effort required to solve the problem. Smith
also wanted to know what use could be made of the UFO phenomenon in
connection with US psychological warfare efforts. (18)
Led by Gordon, the CIA
Study Group met with Air Force officials at Wright-Patterson and
reviewed their data and findings. The Air Force claimed that 90 percent of
the reported sightings were easily accounted for. The other 10 percent
were characterized as "a number of incredible reports from credible
Air Force rejected the theories that the sightings involved US or Soviet
secret weapons development or that they involved "men from Mars"; there
was no evidence to support these concepts. The Air Force briefers sought
to explain these UFO reports as the misinterpretation of known objects or
little understood natural phenomena. (19) Air Force and CIA officials agreed
that outside knowledge of Agency interest in UFOs would make the problem
more serious. (20)
concealment of CIA interest contributed greatly to later charges of a
CIA conspiracy and cover-up.
photographs of alleged UFOs
Passoria, New Jersey, 31 July
Sheffield, England, 4 March 1962
& Minneapolis, Minnesota,
20 October 1960
The CIA Study
Group also searched the Soviet press for UFO reports, but found none,
causing the group to conclude that the absence of reports had to have been
the result of deliberate Soviet Government policy. The group also
envisioned the USSR's possible use of UFOs as a psychological warfare
tool. In addition, they worried that, if the US air warning system should
be deliberately overloaded by UFO sightings, the Soviets might gain a
surprise advantage in any nuclear attack. (21)
Because of the tense Cold
War situation and increased Soviet capabilities, the CIA Study
Group saw serious national security concerns in the flying saucer
situation. The group believed that the Soviets could use UFO reports to
touch off mass hysteria and panic in the United States. The group also
believed that the Soviets might use UFO sightings to overload the US air
warning system so that it could not distinguish real targets from phantom
H. Marshall Chadwell, Assistant Director of OSI, added that
he considered the problem of such importance,
"that it should be brought to the attention of the National
Security Council, in order that a communitywide coordinated effort
towards it solution may be initiated." (22)
Chadwell briefed DCI Smith on the subject of UFOs in December 1952.
He urged action because he was convinced that,
"something was going on that must have immediate attention" and
that "sightings of unexplained objects at great altitudes and traveling
at high speeds in the vicinity of major US defense installations are of
such nature that they are not attributable to natural phenomena or known
types of aerial vehicles."
drafted a memorandum from the DCI to the National Security Council
(NSC) and a proposed NSC Directive establishing the investigation
of UFOs as a priority project throughout the intelligence and the defense
research and development community. (23) Chadwell also urged Smith to
establish an external research project of top-level scientists to study
the problem of UFOs. (24)
After this briefing, Smith directed DDI Amory to prepare a NSC
Intelligence Directive (NSCID) for submission to the NSC on the
need to continue the investigation of UFOs and to coordinate such
investigations with the Air Force. (25)
Robertson Panel, 1952-53
On 4 December 1952, the Intelligence Advisory Committee
(IAC) took up the issue of UFOs. (26) Amory, as acting chairman,
presented DCI Smith's request to the committee that it informally discuss
the subject of UFOs. Chadwell then briefly reviewed the situation and the
active program of the ATIC relating to UFOs. The committee agreed that the
DCI should "enlist the services of selected scientists to review and
appraise the available evidence in the light of pertinent scientific
theories" and draft an NSCID on the subject. (27) Maj. Gen. John A. Samford,
Director of Air Force Intelligence, offered full cooperation. (28)
At the same time, Chadwell
looked into British efforts in this area. He learned the British also were
active in studying the UFO phenomena. An eminent British scientist, R.
V. Jones, headed a standing committee created in June 1951 on flying
saucers. Jones' and his committee's conclusions on UFOs were similar to
those of Agency officials: the sightings were not enemy aircraft but
misrepresentations of natural phenomena. The British noted, however, that
during a recent air show RAF pilots and senior military officials had
observed a "perfect flying saucer." Given the press response, according to
the officer, Jones was having a most difficult time trying to correct
public opinion regarding UFOs. The public was convinced they were real.
In January 1953,
Chadwell and H. P. Robertson, a noted physicist from the
California Institute of Technology, put together a distinguished panel of
nonmilitary scientists to study the UFO issue.
Robertson as chairman
Samuel A. Goudsmit, a nuclear physicist from the Brookhaven
Luis Alvarez, a high-energy physicist
Thornton Page, the deputy director of the Johns Hopkins
Operations Research Office and an expert on radar and
Lloyd Berkner, a director of the Brookhaven National
Laboratories and a specialist in geophysics (30)
charge to the panel was to review the available evidence on UFOs and to
consider the possible dangers of the phenomena to US national security.
The panel met from 14 to 17 January 1953. It reviewed Air Force data on
UFO case histories and, after spending 12 hours studying the phenomena,
declared that reasonable explanations could be suggested for most, if not
example, after reviewing motion-picture film taken of a UFO sighting near
Tremonton, Utah, on 2 July 1952 and one near Great Falls, Montana, on 15
August 1950, the panel concluded that the images on the Tremonton film
were caused by sunlight reflecting off seagulls and that the images at
Great Falls were sunlight reflecting off the surface of two Air Force
The panel concluded unanimously that there was no evidence of a
direct threat to national security in the UFO sightings. Nor could the
panel find any evidence that the objects sighted might be
extraterrestrials. It did find that continued emphasis on UFO reporting
might threaten "the orderly functioning" of the government by clogging the
channels of communication with irrelevant reports and by inducing
"hysterical mass behavior" harmful to constituted authority. The panel
also worried that potential enemies contemplating an attack on the United
States might exploit the UFO phenomena and use them to disrupt US air
these problems, the panel recommended that the National Security
Council debunk UFO reports and institute a policy of public education to
reassure the public of the lack of evidence behind UFOs. It suggested
using the mass media, advertising, business clubs, schools, and even the Disney corporation to get
the message across. Reporting at the height of McCarthyism, the panel also
recommended that such private UFO groups as the Civilian Flying Saucer
Investigators in Los Angeles and the Aerial Phenomena Research
Organization in Wisconsin be monitored for subversive activities.
The Robertson Panel's
conclusions were strikingly similar to those of the earlier Air Force
project reports on SIGN and GRUDGE and to those of the CIA's own OSI Study
Group. All investigative groups found that UFO reports indicated no direct
threat to national security and no evidence of visits by
Following the Robertson panel findings, the
Agency abandoned efforts to draft an NSCID on UFOs. (34) The Scientific Advisory Panel on
UFOs (the Robertson panel) submitted its report to the IAC, the
Secretary of Defense, the Director of the Federal Civil Defense
Administration, and the Chairman of the National Security Resources Board.
officials said no further consideration of the subject appeared warranted,
although they continued to monitor sightings in the interest of national
security. Philip Strong and Fred Durant from OSI also
briefed the Office of National Estimates on the findings. (35) CIA officials wanted knowledge of
any Agency interest in the subject of flying saucers carefully restricted,
noting not only that the Robertson panel report was classified but also
that any mention of CIA sponsorship of the panel was forbidden.
attitude would later cause the Agency major problems relating to its
Fading CIA Interest in UFOs
After the report of the Robertson panel, Agency
officials put the entire issue of UFOs on the back burner. In May 1953,
Chadwell transferred chief responsibility for keeping abreast of UFOs to
OSI's Physics and Electronic Division, while the Applied Science Division
continued to provide any necessary support. (37) Todos M. Odarenko, chief of
the Physics and Electronics Division, did not want to take on the problem,
contending that it would require too much of his division's analytic and
Given the findings of the Robertson panel, he proposed to consider
the project "inactive" and to devote only one analyst part-time and a file
clerk to maintain a reference file of the activities of the Air Force and
other agencies on UFOs. Neither the Navy nor the Army showed much interest
in UFOs, according to Odarenko. (38)
A nonbeliever in UFOs,
Odarenko sought to have his division relieved of the responsibility for
monitoring UFO reports. In 1955, for example, he recommended that the
entire project be terminated because no new information concerning UFOs
had surfaced. Besides, he argued, his division was facing a serious budget
reduction and could not spare the resources. (39) Chadwell and other Agency
officials, however, continued to worry about UFOs. Of special concern were
overseas reports of UFO sightings and claims that German engineers held by
the Soviets were developing a "flying saucer" as a future weapon of war.
To most US
political and military leaders, the Soviet Union by the mid-1950s had
become a dangerous opponent. Soviet progress in nuclear weapons and guided
missiles was particularly alarming. In the summer of 1949, the USSR had
detonated an atomic bomb. In August 1953, only nine months after the
United States tested a hydrogen bomb, the Soviets detonated one. In the
spring of 1953, a top secret RAND Corporation study also pointed out the
vulnerability of SAC bases to a surprise attack by Soviet long-range
bombers. Concern over the danger of a Soviet attack on the United States
continued to grow, and UFO sightings added to the uneasiness of US
Mounting reports of UFOs over eastern Europe and
Afghanistan also prompted concern that the Soviets were making rapid
progress in this area. CIA officials knew that the British and Canadians
were already experimenting with "flying saucers." Project Y was a
Canadian-British-US developmental operation to produce a nonconventional
flying-saucer-type aircraft, and Agency officials feared the Soviets were
testing similar devices. (41)
Adding to the concern was a
flying saucer sighting by US Senator Richard Russell and his party
while traveling on a train in the USSR in October 1955. After extensive
interviews of Russell and his group, however, CIA officials concluded that
Russell's sighting did not support the theory that the Soviets had
developed saucer-like or unconventional aircraft. Herbert Scoville,
Jr., the Assistant Director of OSI, wrote that the objects observed
probably were normal jet aircraft in a steep climb. (42)
Wilton E. Lexow, head
of the CIA's Applied Sciences Division, was also skeptical. He questioned
why the Soviets were continuing to develop conventional-type aircraft if
they had a "flying saucer." (43)
Scoville asked Lexow to assume responsibility for fully assessing
the capabilities and limitations of nonconventional aircraft and to
maintain the OSI central file on the subject of UFOs.
and OXCART as UFOs
In November 1954, CIA had entered into the world of high
technology with its U-2 overhead reconnaissance project. Working with
Lockheed's Advanced Development facility in Burbank, California, known as
the Skunk Works, and Kelly Johnson, an eminent aeronautical
engineer, the Agency by August 1955 was testing a high-altitude
experimental aircraft - the U-2.
could fly at 60,000 feet; in the mid-1950s, most commercial airliners flew
between 10,000 feet and 20,000 feet. Consequently, once the U-2 started
test flights, commercial pilots and air traffic controllers began
reporting a large increase in UFO sightings. (44) (U)
The early U-2s were
silver (they were later painted black) and reflected the rays from the
sun, especially at sunrise and sunset. They often appeared as fiery
objects to observers below. Air Force BLUE BOOK investigators aware
of the secret U-2 flights tried to explain away such sightings by linking
them to natural phenomena such as ice crystals and temperature inversions.
By checking with the Agency's U-2 Project Staff in Washington, BLUE BOOK
investigators were able to attribute many UFO sightings to U-2 flights.
They were careful, however, not to reveal the true cause of the sighting
to the public.
According to later estimates from CIA officials who
worked on the U-2 project and the OXCART (SR-71, or Blackbird) project,
over half of all UFO reports from the late 1950s through the 1960s were
accounted for by manned reconnaissance flights (namely the U-2) over the
United States. (45)
led the Air Force to make misleading and deceptive statements to the
public in order to allay public fears and to protect an extraordinarily
sensitive national security project. While perhaps justified, this
deception added fuel to the later conspiracy theories and the cover-up
controversy of the 1970s. The percentage of what the Air Force considered
unexplained UFO sightings fell to 5.9 percent in 1955 and to 4 percent in
At the same
time, pressure was building for the release of the Robertson panel report
on UFOs. In 1956, Edward Ruppelt, former head of the Air Force BLUE
BOOK project, publicly revealed the existence of the panel. A best-selling
book by UFOlogist Donald Keyhoe, a retired Marine Corps major,
advocated release of all government information relating to UFOs. Civilian
UFO groups such as the National Investigations Committee on Aerial
Phenomena (NICAP) and the Aerial Phenomena Research
Organization (APRO) immediately pushed for release of the
Robertson panel report. (47)
Under pressure, the Air Force approached CIA for permission to
declassify and release the report. Despite such pressure, Philip Strong,
Deputy Assistant Director of OSI, refused to declassify the report and
declined to disclose CIA sponsorship of the panel. As an alternative, the
Agency prepared a sanitized version of the report which deleted any
reference to CIA and avoided mention of any psychological warfare
potential in the UFO controversy. (48)
The demands, however, for
more government information about UFOs did not let up. On 8 March 1958,
Keyhoe, in an interview with Mike Wallace of CBS, claimed deep CIA
involvement with UFOs and Agency sponsorship of the Robertson panel. This
prompted a series of letters to the Agency from Keyhoe and Dr. Leon
Davidson, a chemical engineer and UFOlogist. They demanded the release
of the full Robertson panel report and confirmation of CIA involvement in
the UFO issue.
Davidson had convinced himself that the Agency, not the Air Force,
carried most of the responsibility for UFO analysis and that,
"the activities of the US Government are responsible for the
flying saucer sightings of the last decade."
Indeed, because of the undisclosed U-2 and OXCART flights, Davidson
was closer to the truth than he suspected. CI, nevertheless held firm to
its policy of not revealing its role in UFO investigations and refused to
declassify the full Robertson panel report. (49)
In a meeting with Air Force
representatives to discuss how to handle future inquires such as Keyhoe's
and Davidson's, Agency officials confirmed their opposition to the
declassification of the full report and worried that Keyhoe had the ear of
former DCI VAdm. Roscoe Hillenkoetter, who served on the board of
governors of NICAP. They debated whether to have CIA General Counsel
Lawrence R. Houston show Hillenkoetter the report as a possible way
to defuse the situation.
officer Frank Chapin also hinted that Davidson might have ulterior
motives, "some of them perhaps not in the best interest of this country,"
and suggested bringing in the FBI to investigate. (50) Although the record is unclear
whether the FBI ever instituted an investigation of Davidson or Keyhoe, or
whether Houston ever saw Hillenkoetter about the Robertson report,
Hillenkoetter did resign from the NICAP in 1962. (51)
The Agency was also
involved with Davidson and Keyhoe in two rather famous UFO cases in the
1950s, which helped contribute to a growing sense of public distrust of
CIA with regard to UFOs. One focused on what was reported to have been a
tape recording of a radio signal from a flying saucer; the other on
reported photographs of a flying saucer.
"radio code" incident began innocently enough in 1955, when two elderly
sisters in Chicago, Mildred and Marie Maier, reported in the
Journal of Space Flight their experiences with UFOs, including the
recording of a radio program in which an unidentified code was reportedly
heard. The sisters taped the program and other ham radio operators also
claimed to have heard the "space message." OSI became interested and asked
the Scientific Contact Branch to obtain a copy of the recording.
from the Contact Division (CD), one of whom was Dewelt
Walker, made contact with the Maier sisters, who were "thrilled that
the government was interested," and set up a time to meet with them.
(53) In trying to secure the
tape recording, the Agency officers reported that they had stumbled upon a
scene from Arsenic and Old Lace.
"The only thing lacking was the elderberry wine," Walker cabled
After reviewing the sisters' scrapbook of clippings from their days
on the stage, the officers secured a copy of the recording. (54)) OSI analyzed the tape and found it
was nothing more than Morse code from a US radio station.
matter rested there until UFOlogist Leon Davidson talked with the
Maier sisters in 1957. The sisters remembered they had talked with a Mr.
Walker who said he was from the US Air Force. Davidson then wrote to a Mr.
Walker, believing him to be a US Air Force Intelligence Officer from
Wright-Patterson, to ask if the tape had been analyzed at ATIC. Dewelt
Walker replied to Davidson that the tape had been forwarded to proper
authorities for evaluation, and no information was available concerning
the results. Not satisfied, and suspecting that Walker was really a CIA
officer, Davidson next wrote DCI Allen Dulles demanding to learn
what the coded message revealed and who Mr. Walker was. (55)
Agency, wanting to keep Walker's identity as a CIA employee secret,
replied that another agency of the government had analyzed the tape in
question and that Davidson would be hearing from the Air Force. (56) On 5 August, the Air Force wrote
Davidson saying that Walker "was and is an Air Force Officer" and that the
tape "was analyzed by another government organization." The Air Force
letter confirmed that the recording contained only identifiable Morse code
which came from a known US-licensed radio station. (57)
Davidson wrote Dulles again.
This time he wanted to know the identity of the Morse operator and of the
agency that had conducted the analysis. CIA and the Air Force were now in
a quandary. The Agency had previously denied that it had actually analyzed
the tape. The Air Force had also denied analyzing the tape and claimed
that Walker was an Air Force officer. CIA officers, under cover, contacted
Davidson in Chicago and promised to get the code translation and the
identification of the transmitter, if possible. (58)
In another attempt to pacify
Davidson, a CIA officer, again under cover and wearing his Air Force
uniform, contacted Davidson in New York City. The CIA officer explained
that there was no super agency involved and that Air Force policy was not
to disclose who was doing what. While seeming to accept this argument,
Davidson nevertheless pressed for disclosure of the recording message and
the source. The officer agreed to see what he could do. (59)
After checking with Headquarters, the CIA officer phoned Davidson
to report that a thorough check had been made and, because the signal was
of known US origin, the tape and the notes made at the time had been
destroyed to conserve file space. (60)
Incensed over what he
perceived was a runaround, Davidson told the CIA officer that,
"he and his agency, whichever it was, were acting like Jimmy
Hoffa and the Teamster Union in destroying records which might indict
Believing that any more contact with Davidson would only encourage
more speculation, the Contact Division washed its hands of the issue by
reporting to the DCI and to ATIC that it would not respond to or try to
contact Davidson again. (62)
Thus, a minor, rather bizarre incident, handled poorly by both CIA and the
Air Force, turned into a major flap that added fuel to the growing mystery
surrounding UFOs and CIA's role in their investigation.
minor flap a few months later added to the growing questions surrounding
the Agency's true role with regard to flying saucers. CIA's concern over
secrecy again made matters worse. In 1958, Major Keyhoe charged
that the Agency was deliberately asking eyewitnesses of UFOs not to make
their sightings public. (63)
The incident stemmed from a November 1957 request from OSI to the
CD to obtain from Ralph C. Mayher, a photographer for KYW-TV in
Cleveland, Ohio, certain photographs he took in 1952 of an unidentified
flying object. Harry Real, a CD officer, contacted Mayher and
obtained copies of the photographs for analysis. On 12 December 1957,
John Hazen, another CD officer, returned the five photographs of
the alleged UFO to Mayher without comment.
Mayher asked Hazen for the Agency's evaluation of the photos,
explaining that he was trying to organize a TV program to brief the public
on UFOs. He wanted to mention on the show that a US intelligence
organization had viewed the photographs and thought them of interest.
Although he advised Mayher not to take this approach, Hazen stated that
Mayher was a US citizen and would have to make his own decision as to what
to do. (64)
later contacted Mayher, who told him his story of CIA and the photographs.
Keyhoe then asked the Agency to confirm Hazen's employment in writing, in
an effort to expose CIA's role in UFO investigations. The Agency refused,
despite the fact that CD field representatives were normally overt and
carried credentials identifying their Agency association.
Dulles's aide, John S. Earman, merely sent Keyhoe a noncommittal
letter noting that, because UFOs were of primary concern to the Department
of the Air Force, the Agency had referred his letter to the Air Force for
an appropriate response. Like the response to Davidson, the Agency reply
to Keyhoe only fueled the speculation that the Agency was deeply involved
in UFO sightings.
Pressure for release of CIA information on UFOs continued to
CIA had a declining interest in UFO cases, it continued to monitor
UFO sightings. Agency officials felt the need to keep informed on UFOs if
only to alert the DCI to the more sensational UFO reports and flaps.
Declining CIA Involvement and Mounting Controversy
In the early 1960s, Keyhoe, Davidson, and other UFOlogists
maintained their assault on the Agency for release of UFO information.
Davidson now claimed that CIA,
"was solely responsible for creating the Flying Saucer furor as a
tool for cold war psychological warfare since 1951."
Despite calls for Congressional hearings and the release of all
materials relating to UFOs, little changed. (67)
In 1964, however, following
high-level White House discussions on what to do if an alien intelligence
was discovered in space and a new outbreak of UFO reports and sightings,
DCI John McCone asked for an updated CIA evaluation of UFOs.
Responding to McCone's request, OSI asked the CD to obtain various recent
samples and reports of UFO sightings from NICAP. With Keyhoe, one of the
founders, no longer active in the organization, CIA officers met with
Richard H. Hall, the acting director. Hall gave the officers
samples from the NICAP database on the most recent sightings. (68)
After OSI officers had
reviewed the material, Donald F. Chamberlain, OSI Assistant
Director, assured McCone that little had changed since the early 1950s.
There was still no evidence that UFOs were a threat to the security of the
United States or that they were of "foreign origin." Chamberlain told
McCone that OSI still monitored UFO reports, including the official Air
Force investigation, Project BLUE BOOK. (69)
At the same time that CIA
was conducting this latest internal review of UFOs, public pressure forced
the Air Force to establish a special ad hoc committee to review BLUE BOOK.
Chaired by Dr. Brian O'Brien, a member of the Air Force Scientific
Advisory Board, the panel included Carl Sagan, the famous
astronomer from Cornell University.
report offered nothing new. It declared that UFOs did not threaten the
national security and that it could find "no UFO case which represented
technological or scientific advances outside of a terrestrial framework."
The committee did recommend that UFOs be studied intensively, with a
leading university acting as a coordinator for the project, to settle the
issue conclusively. (70)
The House Armed Services
Committee also held brief hearings on UFOs in 1966 that produced
similar results. Secretary of the Air Force Harold Brown assured
the committee that most sightings were easily explained and that there was
no evidence that "strangers from outer space" had been visiting Earth. He
told the committee members, however, that the Air Force would keep an open
mind and continue to investigate all UFO reports. (71)
Following the report of its
O'Brien Committee, the House hearings on UFOs, and Dr. Robertson's
disclosure on a CBS Reports program that CIA indeed had been involved in
UFO analysis, the Air Force in July 1966 again approached the Agency for
declassification of the entire Robertson panel report of 1953 and the full
Durant report on the Robertson panel deliberations and findings.
The Agency again refused to budge.
Karl H. Weber, Deputy Director of OSI, wrote the Air Force
"We are most anxious that further publicity not be given to the
information that the panel was sponsored by the CIA."
Weber noted that there was already a sanitized version available to
the public. (72)
Weber's response was rather shortsighted and ill considered. It
only drew more attention to the 13-year-old Robertson panel report and
CIA's role in the investigation of UFOs. The science editor of The
Saturday Review drew nationwide attention to the CIA's role in
investigating UFOs when he published an article criticizing the "sanitized
version" of the 1953 Robertson panel report and called for release of the
entire document. (73)
Unknown to CIA officials,
Dr. James E. McDonald, a noted atmospheric physicist from the
University of Arizona, had already seen the Durant report on the Robertson
panel proceedings at Wright-Patterson on 6 June 1966. When McDonald
returned to Wright-Patterson on 30 June to copy the report, however, the
Air Force refused to let him see it again, stating that it was a CIA
classified document. Emerging as a UFO authority, McDonald publicly
claimed that the CIA was behind the Air Force secrecy policies and
cover-up. He demanded the release of the full Robertson panel report and
the Durant report. (74)
Bowing to public pressure
and the recommendation of its own O'Brien Committee, the Air Force
announced in August 1966 that it was seeking a contract with a leading
university to undertake a program of intensive investigations of UFO
sightings. The new program was designed to blunt continuing charges that
the US Government had concealed what it knew about UFOs.
October, the University of Colorado accepted a $325,000 contract with the
Air Force for an 18-month study of flying saucers. Dr. Edward U.
Condon, a physicist at Colorado and a former Director of the National
Bureau of Standards, agreed to head the program. Pronouncing himself an
"agnostic" on the subject of UFOs, Condon observed that he had an open
mind on the question and thought that possible extraterritorial origins
were "improbable but not impossible." (75)
Brig. Gen. Edward Giller, USAF, and Dr. Thomas
Ratchford from the Air Force Research and Development Office became
the Air Force coordinators for the project.
In February 1967,
Giller contacted Arthur C. Lundahl, Director of CIA's National
Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC), and proposed an
informal liaison through which NPIC could provide the Condon Committee
with technical advice and services in examining photographs of alleged
UFOs. Lundahl and DDI R. Jack Smith approved the arrangement as a
way of "preserving a window" on the new effort. They wanted the CIA and
NPIC to maintain a low profile, however, and to take no part in writing
any conclusions for the committee. No work done for the committee by NPIC
was to be formally acknowledged. (76)
Ratchford next requested
that Condon and his committee be allowed to visit NPIC to discuss the
technical aspects of the problem and to view the special equipment NPIC
had for photo-analysis. On 20 February 1967, Condon and four members of
his committee visited NPIC. Lundahl emphasized to the group that any NPIC
work to assist the committee must not be identified as CIA work.
Moreover, work performed by NPIC would be strictly of a technical
nature. After receiving these guidelines, the group heard a series of
briefings on the services and equipment not available elsewhere that CIA
had used in its analysis of some UFO photography furnished by Ratchford.
Condon and his committee were impressed. (77)
Condon and the same group
met again in May 1967 at NPIC to hear an analysis of UFO photographs taken
at Zanesville, Ohio. The analysis debunked that sighting. The committee
was again impressed with the technical work performed, and Condon remarked
that for the first time a scientific analysis of a UFO would stand up to
investigation. (78) The group
also discussed the committee's plans to call on US citizens for additional
photographs and to issue guidelines for taking useful UFO photographs. In
addition, CIA officials agreed that the Condon Committee could release the
full Durant report with only minor deletions.
In April 1969, Condon and his committee released
their report on UFOs. The report concluded that little, if
anything, had come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years and that
further extensive study of UFO sightings was unwarranted. It also
recommended that the Air Force special unit, Project BLUE BOOK, be
discontinued. It did not mention CIA participation in the Condon
committee's investigation. (79)
special panel established by the National Academy of Sciences reviewed the
Condon report and concurred with its conclusion that "no high priority in
UFO investigations is warranted by data of the past two decades."
concluded its review by declaring,
"On the basis of present knowledge, the least likely explanation
of UFOs is the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitations by intelligent
Following the recommendations of the Condon Committee and
the National Academy of Sciences, the Secretary of the Air Force,
Robert C. Seamans, Jr., announced on 17 December 1969 the
termination of BLUE BOOK. (80)
and 1980s - The UFO Issue Refuses To Die
The Condon report did not satisfy many UFOlogists, who
considered it a cover-up for CIA activities in UFO research.
Additional sightings in the early 1970s fueled beliefs that the CIA was
somehow involved in a vast conspiracy. On 7 June 1975, William
Spaulding, head of a small UFO group, Ground Saucer Watch
(GSW), wrote to CIA requesting a copy of the Robertson panel report
and all records relating to UFOs. (81)
Spaulding was convinced that the Agency was withholding major files
on UFOs. Agency officials provided Spaulding with a copy of the Robertson
panel report and of the Durant report. (82)
On 14 July 1975, Spaulding
again wrote the Agency questioning the authenticity of the reports he had
received and alleging a CIA cover-up of its UFO activities. Gene
Wilson, CIA's Information and Privacy Coordinator, replied in an
attempt to satisfy Spaulding,
"At no time prior to the formation of the Robertson Panel and
subsequent to the issuance of the panel's report has CIA engaged in the
study of the UFO phenomena."
Robertson panel report, according to Wilson, was "the summation of Agency
interest and involvement in UFOs." Wilson also inferred that there were no
additional documents in CIA's possession that related to UFOs. Wilson was
ill informed. (83)
September 1977, Spaulding and GSW, unconvinced by Wilson's response, filed
a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the
Agency that specifically requested all UFO documents in CIA's possession.
Deluged by similar FOIA requests for Agency information on UFOs, CIA
officials agreed, after much legal maneuvering, to conduct a "reasonable
search" of CIA files for UFO materials. (84)
Despite an Agency-wide unsympathetic attitude toward the suit,
Agency officials, led by Launie Ziebell from the Office of General
Counsel, conducted a thorough search for records pertaining to UFOs.
Persistent, demanding, and even threatening at times, Ziebell and his
group scoured the Agency. They even turned up an old UFO file under a
secretary's desk. The search finally produced 355 documents totaling
approximately 900 pages. On 14 December 1978, the Agency released all but
57 documents of about 100 pages to GSW. It withheld these 57 documents on
national security grounds and to protect sources and methods. (85)
Although the released
documents produced no smoking gun and revealed only a low-level Agency
interest in the UFO phenomena after the Robertson panel report of 1953,
the press treated the release in a sensational manner. The New York
Times, for example, claimed that the declassified documents confirmed
intensive government concern over UFOs and that the Agency was secretly
involved in the surveillance of UFOs. (86)
then sued for the release of the withheld documents, claiming that the
Agency was still holding out key information. (87) It was much like the John F.
Kennedy assassination issue. No matter how much material the Agency
released and no matter how dull and prosaic the information, people
continued to believe in a Agency cover-up and conspiracy.
Stansfield Turner was so upset when he read The New York
Times article that he asked his senior officers, "Are we in UFOs?"
After reviewing the records, Don Wortman, Deputy Director for
Administration, reported to Turner that there was,
"no organized Agency effort to do research in connection with UFO
phenomena nor has there been an organized effort to collect intelligence
on UFOs since the 1950s."
Wortman assured Turner that the Agency records held only "sporadic
instances of correspondence dealing with the subject," including various
kinds of reports of UFO sightings. There was no Agency program to collect
actively information on UFOs, and the material released to GSW had few
assured, Turner had the General Counsel press for a summary judgment
against the new lawsuit by GSW. In May 1980, the courts dismissed the
lawsuit, finding that the Agency had conducted a thorough and adequate
search in good faith. (89)
During the late 1970s and
1980s, the Agency continued its low-key interest in UFOs and UFO
sightings. While most scientists now dismissed flying saucers reports as a
quaint part of the 1950s and 1960s, some in the Agency and in the
Intelligence Community shifted their interest to studying parapsychology
and psychic phenomena associated with UFO sightings. CIA officials also
looked at the UFO problem to determine what UFO sightings might tell them
about Soviet progress in rockets and missiles and reviewed its
Agency analysts from the Life Science Division of OSI and
OSWR officially devoted a small amount of their time to issues relating to
UFOs. These included counterintelligence concerns that the Soviets and the
KGB were using US citizens and UFO groups to obtain information on
sensitive US weapons development programs (such as the Stealth aircraft),
the vulnerability of the US air-defense network to penetration by foreign
missiles mimicking UFOs, and evidence of Soviet advanced technology
associated with UFO sightings.
CIA also maintained Intelligence
Community coordination with other agencies regarding their work in
parapsychology, psychic phenomena, and "remote viewing" experiments. In
general, the Agency took a conservative scientific view of these
unconventional scientific issues. There was no formal or official UFO
project within the Agency in the 1980s, and Agency officials purposely
kept files on UFOs to a minimum to avoid creating records that might
mislead the public if released. (90)
The 1980s also produced
renewed charges that the Agency was still withholding documents relating
to the 1947 Roswell incident, in
which a flying saucer supposedly crashed in New Mexico, and the surfacing
of documents which purportedly revealed the existence of a top secret US
research and development intelligence operation responsible only to the
President on UFOs in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
UFOlogists had long argued that, following a flying saucer crash in
New Mexico in 1947, the government not only recovered debris from the
crashed saucer but also four or five alien bodies. According to some
UFOlogists, the government clamped tight security around the project and
has refused to divulge its investigation results and research ever since.
September 1994, the US Air Force released a new report on the Roswell
incident that concluded that the debris found in New Mexico in 1947
probably came from a once top secret balloon operation, Project
MOGUL, designed to monitor the atmosphere for evidence of Soviet
nuclear tests. (92)
Circa 1984, a series of
documents surfaced which some UFOlogists said proved that President Truman
created a top secret committee in 1947, Majestic-12, to secure the
recovery of UFO wreckage from Roswell and any other UFO crash sight for
scientific study and to examine any alien bodies recovered from such
sites. Most if not all of these documents have proved to be fabrications.
Yet the controversy persists. (93)
Like the JFK
assassination conspiracy theories, the UFO issue probably will not go
away soon, no matter what the Agency does or says.
belief that we are not alone in the universe is too emotionally appealing
and the distrust of our government is too pervasive to make the issue
amenable to traditional scientific studies of rational explanation and
(1) See the 1973 Gallup Poll results printed in The New York
Times, 29 November 1973, p. 45 and Philip J. Klass, UFOs: The Public
Deceived (New York: Prometheus Books, 1983), p. 3.
(2) See Klass,
UFOs, p. 3; James S. Gordon, "The UFO Experience," Atlantic Monthly
(August 1991), pp. 82-92; David Michael Jacobs, The UFO Controversy in
America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975); Howard Blum, Out
There: The Government's Secret Quest for Extraterrestrials (New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1990); Timothy Good, Above Top Secret: The Worldwide
UFO Cover-Up (New York: William Morrow, 1987); and Whitley Strieber,
Communion: The True Story (New York: Morrow, 1987).
September 1993 John Peterson, an acquaintance of Woolsey's, first
approached the DCI with a package of heavily sanitized CIA material on
UFOs released to UFOlogist Stanton T. Friedman. Peterson and Friedman
wanted to know the reasons for the redactions. Woolsey agreed to look
into the matter. See Richard J. Warshaw, Executive Assistant, note to
author, 1 November 1994; Warshaw, note to John H. Wright, Information
and Privacy Coordinator, 31 January 1994; and Wright, memorandum to
Executive Secretariat, 2 March 1994. (Except where noted, all citations
to CIA records in this article are to the records collected for the 1994
Agency-wide search that are held by the Executive Assistant to the
(4) See Hector Quintanilla, Jr., "The Investigation of
UFOs," Vol. 10, No. 4, Studies in Intelligence (fall 1966): pp.95-110
and CIA, unsigned memorandum, "Flying Saucers," 14 August 1952. See also
Good, Above Top Secret, p. 253. During World War II, US pilots reported
"foo fighters" (bright lights trailing US aircraft). Fearing they might
be Japanese or German secret weapons, OSS investigated but could find no
concrete evidence of enemy weapons and often filed such reports in the
"crackpot" category. The OSS also investigated possible sightings of
German V-1 and V-2 rockets before their operational use during the war.
See Jacobs, UFO Controversy, p. 33. The Central Intelligence Group, the
predecessor of the CIA, also monitored reports of "ghost rockets" in
Sweden in 1946. See CIG, Intelligence Report, 9 April 1947.
Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, p. 156 and Quintanilla, "The Investigation
of UFOs," p. 97.
(6) See US Air Force, Air Material Command,
"Unidentified Aerial Objects: Project SIGN, no. F-TR 2274, IA, February
1949, Records of the US Air Force Commands, Activities and
Organizations, Record Group 341, National Archives, Washington,
(7) See US Air Force, Projects GRUDGE and BLUEBOOK Reports 1-
12 (Washington, DC; National Investigations Committee on Aerial
Phenomena, 1968) and Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, pp. 50-54.
See Cabell, memorandum to Commanding Generals Major Air Commands,
"Reporting of Information on Unconventional Aircraft," 8 September 1950
and Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, p. 65.
(9) See Air Force,
Projects GRUDGE and BLUE BOOK and Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, p.
(10) See Edward Tauss, memorandum for Deputy Assistant
Director, SI, "Flying Saucers," 1 August 1952. See also United Kingdom,
Report by the "Flying Saucer" Working Party, "Unidentified Flying
Objects," no date (approximately 1950).
(11) See Dr. Stone, OSI,
memorandum to Dr. Willard Machle, OSI, 15 March 1949 and Ralph L. Clark,
Acting Assistant Director, OSI, memorandum for DDI, "Recent Sightings of
Unexplained Objects," 29 July 1952.
(12) Stone, memorandum to
Machle. See also Clark, memorandum for DDI, 29 July 1952.
See Klass, UFOs, p. 15. For a brief review of the Washington sightings
see Good, Above Top Secret, pp. 269-271.
(14) See Ralph L. Clark,
Acting Assistant Director, OSI, memorandum to DDI Robert Amory, Jr., 29
July 1952. OSI and OCI were in the Directorate of Intelligence.
Established in 1948, OSI served as the CIA's focal point for the
analysis of foreign scientific and technological developments. In 1980,
OSI was merged into the Office of Science and Weapons Research. The
Office of Current Intelligence (OCI), established on 15 January 1951 was
to provide all-source current intelligence to the President and the
National Security Council.
(15) Tauss, memorandum for Deputy
Assistant Director, SI (Philip Strong), 1 August 1952.
(16) On 2
January 1952, DCI Walter Bedell Smith created a Deputy Directorate for
Intelligence (DDI) composed of six overt CIA organizations--OSI, OCI,
Office of Collection and Dissemination, Office National Estimates,
Office of Research and Reports, and the Office of Intelligence
Coordination--to produce intelligence analysis for US
(17) See Minutes of Branch Chief's Meeting, 11
(18) Smith expressed his opinions at a meeting in
the DCI Conference Room attended by his top officers. See Deputy Chief,
Requirements Staff, FI, memorandum for Deputy Director, Plans, "Flying
Saucers," 20 August 1952, Directorate of Operations Records, Information
Management Staff, Job 86-00538R, Box 1.
(19) See CIA memorandum,
unsigned, "Flying Saucers," 11 August 1952.
(20) See CIA,
memorandum, unsigned, "Flying Saucers," 14 August 1952.
CIA, memorandum, unsigned, "Flying Saucers," 19 August 1952.
See Chadwell, memorandum for Smith, 17 September 1952 and 24 September
1952, "Flying Saucers." See also Chadwell, memorandum for DCI Smith, 2
October 1952 and Klass, UFOs, pp. 23-26.
memorandum for DCI with attachments, 2 December 1952. See also Klass,
UFOs, pp. 26-27 and Chadwell, memorandum, 25 November 1952.
See Chadwell, memorandum, 25 November 1952 and Chadwell, memorandum,
"Approval in Principle - External Research Project Concerned with
Unidentified Flying Objects," no date. See also Philip G. Strong, OSI,
memorandum for the record, "Meeting with Dr. Julius A. Stratton,
Executive Vice President and Provost, MIT and Dr. Max Millikan, Director
of CENIS." Strong believed that in order to undertake such a review they
would need the full backing and support of DCI Smith.
Chadwell, memorandum for DCI, ""Unidentified Flying Objects," 2 December
1952. See also Chadwell, memorandum for Amory, DDI, "Approval in
Principle - External Research Project Concerned with Unidentified Flying
Objects," no date.
(26) The IAC was created in 1947 to serve as a
coordinating body in establishing intelligence requirements. Chaired by
the DCI, the IAC included representatives from the Department of State,
the Army, the Air Force, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the FBI, and the
(27) See Klass, UFOs, p. 27.
(28) See Richard D.
Drain, Acting Secretary, IAC, "Minutes of Meeting held in Director's
Conference Room, Administration Building, CIA," 4 December
(29) See Chadwell, memorandum for the record, "British
Activity in the Field of UFOs," 18 December 1952.
Chadwell, memorandum for DCI, "Consultants for Advisory Panel on
Unidentified Flying Objects," 9 January 1953; Curtis Peebles, Watch the
Skies! A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth (Washington, DC:
Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994). pp. 73-90; and Jacobs, The UFO
Controversy, pp. 91-92.
(31) See Fred C. Durant III, Report on
the Robertson Panel Meeting, January 1953. Durant, on contract with OSI
and a past president of the American Rocket Society, attended the
Robertson panel meetings and wrote a summary of the
(32) See Report of the Scientific Panel on
Unidentified Flying Objects (the Robertson Report), 17 January 1953 and
the Durant report on the panel discussions.
(33) See Robertson
Report and Durant Report. See also Good, Above Top Secret, pp. 337-38,
Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, p. 95, and Klass, UFO's, pp.
(34) See Reber, memorandum to IAC, 18 February
(35) See Chadwell, memorandum for DDI, "Unidentified Flying
Objects," 10 February 1953; Chadwell, letter to Robertson, 28 January
1953; and Reber, memorandum for IAC, "Unidentified Flying Objects," 18
February 1953. On briefing the ONE, see Durant, memorandum for the
record, "Briefing of ONE Board on Unidentified Flying Objects," 30
January 1953 and CIA Summary disseminated to the field, "Unidentified
Flying Objects," 6 February 1953.
(36) See Chadwell, letter to
Julius A. Stratton, Provost MIT, 27 January 1953.
Chadwell, memorandum for Chief, Physics and Electronics Division/OSI
(Todos M. Odarenko), "Unidentified Flying Objects," 27 May
(38) See Odarenko, memorandum to Chadwell, "Unidentified
Flying Objects," 3 July 1953. See also Odarenko, memorandum to Chadwell,
"Current Status of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOB) Project," 17
(39) See Odarenko, memorandum, "Unidentified
Flying Objects," 8 August 1955.
(40) See FBIS, report, "Military
Unconventional Aircraft," 18 August 1953 and various reports,
"Military-Air, Unconventional Aircraft," 1953, 1954, 1955.
Developed by the Canadian affiliate of Britain's A. V. Roe, Ltd.,
Project Y did produce a small-scale model that hovered a few feet off
the ground. See Odarenko, memorandum to Chadwell, "Flying Saucer Type of
Planes" 25 May 1954; Frederic C. E. Oder, memorandum to Odarenko, "USAF
Project Y," 21 May 1954; and Odarenko, T. M. Nordbeck, Ops/SI, and
Sidney Graybeal, ASD/SI, memorandum for the record, "Intelligence
Responsibilities for Non-Conventional Types of Air Vehicles," 14 June
(42) See Reuben Efron, memorandum, "Observation of Flying
Object Near Baku," 13 October 1955; Scoville, memorandum for the record,
"Interview with Senator Richard B. Russell," 27 October 1955; and Wilton
E. Lexow, memorandum for information, "Reported Sighting of
Unconventional Aircraft," 19 October 1955.
(43) See Lexow,
memorandum for information, "Reported Sighting of Unconventional
Aircraft," 19 October 1955. See also Frank C. Bolser, memorandum for
George C. Miller, Deputy Chief, SAD/SI, "Possible Soviet Flying Saucers,
Check On;" Lexow, memorandum, "Possible Soviet Flying Saucers, Follow Up
On," 17 December 1954; Lexow, memorandum, "Possible Soviet Flying
Saucers," 1 December 1954; and A. H. Sullivan, Jr., memorandum,
"Possible Soviet Flying Saucers," 24 November 1954.
Gregory W. Pedlow and Donald E. Welzenbach, The Central Intelligence
Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs,
1954-1974 (Washington, DC: CIA History Staff, 1992), pp.
(45) See Pedlow and Welzenbach, Overhead Reconnaissance,
pp. 72-73. This also was confirmed in a telephone interview between the
author and John Parongosky, 26 July 1994. Parongosky oversaw the
day-to-day affairs of the OXCART program.
(46) See Jacobs, The
UFO Controversy, p. 135.
(47) See Peebles, Watch the Skies, pp.
128-146; Ruppelt, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (New York:
Doubleday, 1956); Keyhoe, The Flying Saucer Conspiracy (New York: Holt,
1955); and Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, pp. 347-49.
Strong, letter to Lloyd W. Berkner; Strong, letter to Thorton Page;
Strong, letter to Robertson; Strong, letter to Samuel Goudsmit; Strong,
letter to Luis Alvarez, 20 December 1957; and Strong, memorandum for
Major James F. Byrne, Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence Department
of the Air Force, "Declassification of the `Report of the Scientific
Panel on Unidentified Flying Objects,'" 20 December 1957. See also
Berkner, letter to Strong, 20 November 1957 and Page, letter to Strong,
4 December 1957. The panel members were also reluctant to have their
association with the Agency released.
(49) See Wilton E. Lexow,
memorandum for the record, "Comments on Letters Dealing with
Unidentified Flying Objects," 4 April 1958; J. S. Earman, letter to
Major Lawrence J. Tacker, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force,
Information Service, 4 April 1958; Davidson, letter to Berkner, 8 April
1958; Berkner, letter to Davidson, 18 April 1958; Berkner, letter to
Strong, 21 April 1958; Davidson, letter to Tacker, 27 April 1958;
Davidson, letter to Allen Dulles, 27 April 1958; Ruppelt, letter to
Davidson, 7 May 1958; Strong, letter to Berkner, 8 May 1958; Davidson,
letter to Berkner, 8 May 1958; Davidson, letter to Earman, 16 May 1958;
Davidson, letter to Goudsmit, 18 May 1958; Davidson, letter to Page, 18
May 1958; and Tacker, letter to Davidson, 20 May 1958.
Lexow, memorandum for Chapin, 28 July 1958.
(51) See Good, Above
Top Secret, pp. 346-47; Lexow, memorandum for the record, "Meeting with
the Air Force Personnel Concerning Scientific Advisory Panel Report on
Unidentified Flying Objects, dated 17 January 1953 (S)," 16 May 1958.
See also La Rae L. Teel, Deputy Division Chief, ASD, memorandum for the
record, "Meeting with Mr. Chapin on Replying to Leon Davidson's UFO
Letter and Subsequent Telephone Conversation with Major Thacker, [sic]"
22 May 1958.
(52) See Edwin M. Ashcraft, Chief, Contact Division
(Scientific), memorandum to Chief, Chicago Office, "Radio Code
Recording," 4 March 1955 and Ashcraft, memorandum to Chief, Support
Branch, OSI, 17 March 1955.
(53) The Contact Division was created
to collect foreign intelligence information from sources within the
United States. See the Directorate of Intelligence Historical Series,
The Origin and Development of Contact Division, 11 July 19461 July
1965 (Washington, DC; CIA Historical Staff, June 1969).
George O. Forrest, Chief, Chicago Office, memorandum to Chief, Contact
Division for Science, 11 March 1955.
(55) See Support Division
(Connell), memorandum to Dewelt E. Walker, 25 April 1957.
See J. Arnold Shaw, Assistant to the Director, letter to Davidson, 10
(57) See Support (Connell) memorandum to Lt. Col. V.
Skakich, 27 August 1957 and Lamountain, memorandum to Support (Connell),
20 December 1957.
(58) See Lamountain, cable to Support
(Connell), 31 July 1958.
(59) See Support (Connell) cable to
Skakich, 3 October 1957 and Skakich, cable to Connell, 9 October
(60) See Skakich, cable to Connell, 9 October
(61) See R. P. B. Lohmann, memorandum for Chief, Contact
Division, DO, 9 January 1958.
(62) See Support, cable to Skakich,
20 February 1958 and Connell (Support) cable to Lamountain, 19 December
(63) See Edwin M. Ashcraft, Chief, Contact Division, Office
of Operations, memorandum for Austin Bricker, Jr., Assistant to the
Director, "Inquiry by Major Donald E. Keyhoe on John Hazen's Association
with the Agency," 22 January 1959.
(64) See John T. Hazen,
memorandum to Chief, Contact Division, 12 December 1957. See also
Ashcraft, memorandum to Cleveland Resident Agent, "Ralph E. Mayher," 20
December 1957. According to this memorandum, the photographs were viewed
at "a high level and returned to us without comment." The Air Force held
the original negatives. The CIA records were probably
(65) The issue would resurface in the 1970s with the
GSW FOIA court case.
(66) See Robert Amory, Jr., DDI, memorandum
for Assistant Director/Scientific Intelligence, "Flying Saucers," 26
March 1956. See also Wallace R. Lamphire, Office of the Director,
Planning and Coordination Staff, memorandum for Richard M. Bissell, Jr.,
"Unidentified Flying Saucers (UFO)," 11 June 1957; Philip Strong,
memorandum for the Director, NPIC, "Reported Photography of Unidentified
Flying Objects," 27 October 1958; Scoville, memorandum to Lawrence
Houston, Legislative Counsel, "Reply to Honorable Joseph E. Garth," 12
July 1961; and Houston, letter to Garth, 13 July 1961.
for example, Davidson, letter to Congressman Joseph Garth, 26 June 1961
and Carl Vinson, Chairman, House Committee on Armed Services, letter to
Rep. Robert A. Everett, 2 September 1964.
(68) See Maxwell W.
Hunter, staff member, National Aeronautics and Space Council, Executive
Office of the President, memorandum for Robert F. Parkard, Office of
International Scientific Affairs, Department of State, "Thoughts on the
Space Alien Race Question," 18 July 1963, File SP 16, Records of the
Department of State, Record Group 59, National Archives. See also F. J.
Sheridan, Chief, Washington Office, memorandum to Chief, Contact
Division, "National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena
(NICAP)," 25 January 1965.
(69) Chamberlain, memorandum for DCI,
"Evaluation of UFOs," 26 January 1965.
(70) See Jacobs, The UFO
Controversy, p. 199 and US Air Force, Scientific Advisory Board, Ad Hoc
Committee (O'Brien Committee) to Review Project BLUE BOOK, Special
Report (Washington, DC: 1966). See also The New York Times, 14 August
1966, p. 70.
(71) See "Congress Reassured on Space Visits," The
New York Times, 6 April 1966.
(72) Weber, letter to Col. Gerald
E. Jorgensen, Chief, Community Relations Division, Office of
Information, US Air Force, 15 August 1966. The Durant report was a
detailed summary of the Robertson panel proceedings.
John Lear, "The Disputed CIA Document on UFOs," Saturday Review
(September 3, 1966), p. 45. The Lear article was otherwise unsympathetic
to UFO sightings and the possibility that extraterritorials were
involved. The Air Force had been eager to provide Lear with the full
report. See Walter L. Mackey, Executive Officer, memorandum for DCI,
"Air Force Request to Declassify CIA Material on Unidentified Flying
Objects (UFO)," 1 September 1966.
(74) See Klass, UFOs, p. 40,
Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, p. 214 and Everet Clark, "Physicist Scores
`Saucer Status,'" The New York Times, 21 October 1966. See also James E.
McDonald, "Statement on Unidentified Flying Objects," submitted to the
House Committee on Science and Astronautics, 29 July 1968.
Condon is quoted in Walter Sullivan, "3 Aides Selected in Saucer
Inquiry," The New York Times, 8 October 1966. See also "An Outspoken
Scientist, Edward Uhler Condon," The New York Times, 8 October 1966.
Condon, an outgoing, gruff scientist, had earlier become embroiled in a
controversy with the House Unamerican Activities Committee that claimed
Condon was "one of the weakest links in our atomic security." See also
Peebles, Watch the Skies, pp. 169-195.
(76) See Lundahl,
memorandum for DDI, 7 February 1967.
(77) See memorandum for the
record, "Visit of Dr. Condon to NPIC, 20 February 1967," 23 February
1967. See also the analysis of the photographs in memorandum for
Lundahl, "Photo Analysis of UFO Photography," 17 February
(78) See memorandum for the record, "UFO Briefing for Dr.
Edward Condon, 5 May 1967," 8 May 1967 and attached "Guidelines to UFO
Photographers and UFO Photographic Information Sheet." See also Condon
Committee, Press Release, 1 May 1967 and Klass, UFOs, p. 41. The
Zaneville photographs turned out to be a hoax.
(79) See Edward U.
Condon, Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (New York:
Bantam Books, 1969) and Klass, UFOs, p. 41. The report contained the
Durant report with only minor deletions.
(80) See Office of
Assistant Secretary of Defense, News Release, "Air Force to Terminate
Project BLUEBOOK," 17 December 1969. The Air Force retired BLUEBOOK
records to the USAF Archives at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. In
1976 the Air Force turned over all BLUEBOOK files to the National
Archives and Records Administration, which made them available to the
public without major restrictions. Some names have been withheld from
the documents. See Klass, UFOs, p. 6.
(81) GSW was a small group
of UFO buffs based in Phoenix, Arizona, and headed by William H.
(82) See Klass, UFOs, p. 8.
(83) See Wilson,
letter to Spaulding, 26 March 1976 and GSW v. CIA Civil Action Case
(84) GSW v. CIA Civil Action Case 78-859, p.
(85) Author interview with Launie Ziebell, 23 June 1994 and
author interview with OSI analyst, 21 July 1994. See also affidavits of
George Owens, CIA Information and Privacy Act Coordinator; Karl H.
Weber, OSI; Sidney D. Stembridge, Office of Security; and Rutledge P.
Hazzard, DS&T; GSW v. CIA Civil Action Case 78-859 and Sayre
Stevens, Deputy Director for National Foreign Assessment, memorandum for
Thomas H. White, Assistant for Information, Information Review
Committee, "FOIA Litigation Ground Saucer Watch," no date.
See "CIA Papers Detail UFO Surveillance," The New York Times, 13 January
1979; Patrick Huyghe, "UFO Files: The Untold Story," The New York Times
Magazine, 14 October 1979, p. 106; and Jerome Clark, "UFO Update," UFO
Report, August 1979.
(87) Jerome Clark, "Latest UFO News Briefs
From Around the World," UFO Update, August 1979 and GSW v. CIA Civil
Action No. 78-859.
(88) See Wortman, memorandum for DCI Turner,
"Your Question, `Are we in UFOs?' Annotated to The New York Times News
Release Article," 18 January 1979.
(89) See GSW v. CIA Civil
Action 78-859. See also Klass, UFOs, pp. 10-12.
(90) See John
Brennan, memorandum for Richard Warshaw, Executive Assistant, DCI,
"Requested Information on UFOs," 30 September 1993; Author interviews
with OSWR analyst, 14 June 1994 and OSI analyst, 21 July 1994. This
author found almost no documentation on Agency involvement with UFOs in
There is a DIA Psychic Center and the NSA studies
parapsychology, that branch of psychology that deals with the
investigation of such psychic phenomena as clairvoyance, extrasensory
perception, and telepathy. The CIA reportedly is also a member of an
Incident Response Team to investigate UFO landings, if one should occur.
This team has never met. The lack of solid CIA documentation on Agency
UFO-related activities in the 1980s leaves the entire issue somewhat
murky for this period.
Much of the UFO literature presently
focuses on contactees and abductees. See John E. Mack, Abduction, Human
Encounters with Aliens (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994) and
Howard Blum, Out There (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990).
See Charles Berlitz and William L. Moore, The Roswell Incident (New
York: Berkeley Books, 1988); Moore, "The Roswell Incident: New Evidence
in the Search for a Crashed UFO," (Burbank, California: Fair Witness
Project, 1982), Publication Number 1201; and Klass, UFOs, pp. 280-281.
In 1994 Congressman Steven H. Schiff (R-NM) called for an official study
of the Roswell incident. The GAO is conducting a separate investigation
of the incident. The CIA is not involved in the investigation. See
Klass, UFOs, pp. 279-281; John H. Wright, Information and Privacy
Coordinator, letter to Derek Skreen, 20 September 1993; and OSWR analyst
interview. See also the made-for-TV film, Roswell, which appeared on
cable TV on 31 July 1994 and Peebles, Watch the Skies, pp.
(92) See John Diamond, "Air Force Probes 1947 UFO Claim
Findings Are Down to Earth," 9 September 1994, Associated Press release;
William J. Broad, "Wreckage of a `Spaceship': Of This Earth (and U.S.),"
The New York Times, 18 September 1994, p. 1; and USAF Col. Richard L.
Weaver and 1st Lt. James McAndrew, The Roswell Report, Fact Versus
Fiction in New Mexico Desert (Washington, DC: GPO, 1995).
See Good, Above Top Secret; Moore and S. T. Friedman, "Philip Klass and
MJ-12: What are the Facts," (Burbank California: Fair-Witness Project,
1988), Publication Number 1290; Klass, "New Evidence of MJ-12 Hoax,"
Skeptical Inquirer, vol. 14 (Winter 1990); and Moore and Jaime H.
Shandera, The MJ-12 Documents: An Analytical Report (Burbank,
California: Fair-Witness Project, 1990), Publication Number 1500. Walter
Bedell Smith supposedly replaced Forrestal on 1 August 1950 following
Forrestal's death. All members listed were deceased when the MJ-12
"documents" surfaced in 1984. See Peebles, Watch the Skies, pp.
Dr. Larry Bland, editor of The George C. Marshall
Papers, discovered that one of the so-called Majestic-12 documents was a
complete fraud. It contained the exact same language as a letter from
Marshall to Presidential candidate Thomas Dewey regarding the "Magic"
intercepts in 1944. The dates and names had been altered and "Magic"
changed to "Majic." Moreover, it was a photocopy, not an original. No
original MJ-12 documents have ever surfaced. Telephone conversation
between the author and Bland, 29 August 1994.