Summary: There are two major elements to the UFO mystery: the UFOs themselves and the intensive efforts by the governments of the world to withhold information about them. Neither the nature nor the purpose of the governments' actions are clearly understood. But this policy dates back to the latter part of World War II when UFO-like "foo fighters" were being reported by combat pilots.
There are two major elements to the UFO mystery: the UFOs themselves and the intensive efforts by the governments of the world to withhold information about them. Neither the nature nor the purpose of the governments' actions are clearly understood. But this policy dates back to the latter part of World War II when UFO-like "foo fighters" were being reported by combat pilots.
A report about "foo-fighters" is said to have been prepared in 1945 by the United States Eighth Air Force, but no copy has been seen by the public, despite the passing of a half century. A year later, when "ghost rockets" were seen over Scandinavia, the Swedish Government invoked secrecy and only began to release information 40 years later. When "flying saucers" appeared over the USA in the summer of 1947, only the most general information was made public, while reports and analyses were kept under wraps, as was the fact that the government was taking the saucers seriously.13,14
The U.S. Air Force ongoing UFO investigation (Project Sign, Project Grudge, and Project Blue Book), collected more than 12,000 reports, most of which were "explained." It was official policy to refuse to comment on "unexplained" cases. By keeping case details secret, the public was kept from learning that many of the allegedly-explained cases had not been analyzed by generally accepted scientific standards.15
In 1976, with the amendment of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act by the U.S. Congress, a mechanism was created for unearthing government UFO information whose very existence had long been denied. Formal requests, followed by appeals and sometimes legal action, produced thousands of pages of previously-classified documents from the Air Force, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other intelligence-oriented agencies.
It appears, however, that the released information was the least sensitive material in the official files. Almost all the released documents had been classified merely "Confidential" or "Secret," with just a few having been "Top Secret". Many pages of these documents showed the black marks of censorship. In fact, many pages of the voluminous case files of the official U.S. Air Force investigation contained black marks hiding information.16
The rapid flow of UFO documents in the 1970s dropped to a slow trickle in the 1980s, but will probably pick up again with the Administration's recent declassification measures. However, since every government agency has at its disposal a long list of reasons for refusing to release information, it will still be easy to keep the most interesting and significant material locked up.
The most striking example of continuing government secrecy is its reaction to growing public and press interest in the apparent crash in 1947 of a strange craft on a sheep ranch in New Mexico: the so-called "Roswell Incident." Most of the time since 1947, the Air Force claimed that the crash was that of a weather balloon. Despite the testimony to the contrary of dozens of first-hand and second-hand witnesses to this event, the U.S. Government has yet to release even one Air Force Report that includes the full testimony of these witnesses. Personal efforts in 1993 by U.S. Congressman Steven Schiff from New Mexico to learn about the crash were ignored. He turned the task over to the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress.17,18
As a result of this investigation, the U.S. Air Force issued a brief report in July 1994 and a large report in 1995, both of them now stating that the wreckage found on the sheep ranch was not that of a balloon used for weather data collection, but of a balloon from a then-secret Project Mogul experiment intended to detect Soviet nuclear explosions, which used trains and clusters of standard weather balloons.19
The GAO, in its final report in July 1995, stated that it could find no evidence for a UFO wreckage, but discovered that a large quantity of potentially valuable U.S. Air Force message traffic for the period had been improperly destroyed. Furthermore, since no documentation was found to support the new Project Mogul explanation, the GAO did not endorse the current Air Force explanation and stated that "the debate on what crashed at Roswell continues."20
While there is some indication that a few governments are easing their long-held policies of withholding all UFO information, there is no sign that this could become a trend, or that it could produce truly meaningful information.
As the result of long-term and highly effective practices by many of the world's governments, the people have been kept in the dark about the extent and significance of UFO activity. Moreover, thousands of talented scientists who might contribute to the understanding of UFOs have been prevented from doing so because they are not part of the governmental system.
Since no government has openly stated that UFOs constitute a potential security threat, there is no reason to assume that there is any reasonable basis for continuing to keep UFO-related information secret.
13. SAC Memo to FBI, "Protection of Vital Installations," January 31, 1949.
14. Smith, Wilbert, Memo to the Department of Transport, Ottawa, November 21, 1950.
15. Bolender, Brig. Gen. C.H., ibid.
16. Judge Gesell Ruling, ibid.
17. FBI teletype, July 5, 1947
18. Claiborne, William, "GAO Turns to Alien Turf in Probe," Washington Post, January 14, 1994.
19. Weaver, Col. Richard L., USAF, "Report of Air Force Research regarding the 'Roswell Incident,'" July 1994. USAF, "The Roswell Report: Fact versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert," October 1995.
20. United States General Accounting Office Report to the Honorable Steven H. Schiff, House of Representatives. Government Records "Results of a Search for Records Concerning the 1947 Crash Near Roswell, New Mexico," July 1995.