Expert researchers of the 1947 Roswell Incident weighed in Friday about whether the CIA’s admission of the existence of Area 51, a top-secret site in the Nevada desert, will lead to further proof of crashing flying saucers or alien autopsies.
“My suspicion is that they will stay quiet about that for a long, long time,” said Roswell UFO researcher Don Burleson, who is also area director of the national Mutual UFO Network.
Jeffrey Richelson, a senior fellow of the George Washington University’s National Security Archive, recently obtained declassified CIA documents in his quest to research stealth fighters at the 8.000-square-mile site, he said.
The 407-page CIA document refers to Area 51 by name and describes history of the U-2 surveillance aircraft, used to spy on the Soviet Union. It also located the Air Force base on a map, along the dry Groom Lake bed.
“It’s important,” Richelson told the Record. “It clearly represents a decision to acknowledge the existence of Area 51. That’s never happened before.”
Richelson’s main purpose for submitting his Freedom of Information Act request in 2002 was to research stealth fighter planes used for training purposes, he said.
When the documents were first received, all mentions of the military base had been redacted. He requested the history again in 2005.
“This is the end of a really pointless secrecy,” Richelson said.
Richelson remains interested in uncovering the history of the decision, and the catalyst for who weighed in on redacting information about the Area 51 project prior to the latest release.
Burleson said he was surprised the government released the information, even considering how “incredibly slow” the release of information was, he said.
“It’s kind of surprising to see them admit to anything about it,” Burleson said. “It’s kind of important. At least they are saying that it’s there, even if they are not getting to chatting about what happens there.”
Richelson said he intends to pursue further FOIA requests, but only to find out more about secret aircraft that have contributed to fighting over the years. Not to seek answers about aliens, he said.
The CIA documents do not refer to any alien life forms in residence or reverse engineering of flying saucer technology programs.
“There’s nothing there about that,” Richelson said.
The CIA history mentions an “unexpected side effect” of the planes was an increase in reports of UFOs. The report notes that the U-2 and Oxcart planes, which flew at a higher altitude, accounted for half of the UFO sightings in the 1950s and 1960s.
Researchers and witness reports of the 1947 Roswell Incident over the years have reported that a flying saucer occupied by aliens crashed on a ranch 30 miles from Roswell. The debris was taken to an Air Force hanger in town. Some accounts note that the craft and the aliens were transported out-of-state to a secret Air Force base for testing.
Nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman, the original Roswell Incident researcher, reopened the case in 1978 and interviewed many first-hand witnesses. He didn’t think the CIA document added any new insight into the Roswell incident.
“I don’t think this adds anything new at all,” Friedman said. “They’ve lied in the past. They’ve said there was an increase in UFO sightings after spy planes began being built. That’s nonsense. People have checked.”
Friedman has traveled to Area 51 in the past and obtained scores of FOIA documents, many of which had more redacted information than printed words, he said.
“You can read one line per page and everything else is whited out,” Friedman said. “I believe the government has the right to keep everything secret. I just wish they wouldn’t lie about it.”
Friedman said he has no way to know whether the release will lead to future documents that are more revealing. But either way, the truth about Roswell’s past doesn’t hinge on Area 51, he said.
“The question of if Roswell is real is not whether Area 51 exists,” Friedman said.
Mark Briscoe, director of the UFO Museum and Research Center, was not surprised by the news.
“They just finally acknowledged something we already knew,” Briscoe said.
But, considering the national security aspect, he wasn’t convinced this week’s reveal would lead to further unveiling of the truth about the government’s connection to extraterrestrial projects.
“You never know about the government and what they will do,” Briscoe said. There are certain things they release and certain things they will never release. It won’t hurt our business.”