UFO Report Reveals Rifts At CIA
By Michael Smith The Daily Telegraph 8-18-99
LONDON - The CIA has released a secret history of its investigations into sightings of unidentified flying objects, revealing that there is more truth in the popular television series The X-Files than is often believed. The highly critical report describes often-bitter debates between real-life X-File investigators who believed "the truth is out there" and their skeptical bosses. It records tales of bumbling undercover agents whose activities that the government was covering up what the agency described as "extra-terrestrial visitations by intelligent beings." The problem was eventually passed to the agency's physics and electronics division, where in true X-Files style just one analyst investigated UFO phenomena. But the 1950's equivalent of Fox Mulder was constantly undermined by his boss, described by the CIA history as "a non-believer in UFO's," who tried but failed to declare the project 'inactive." While the CIA investigations eventually concluded that all the sightings could be explained, the report concludes that "misguided" attempts to keep them secret led to widespread belief of a government cover-up.

The report, written by Gerald K. Haines, the official CIA historian, was commissioned by James Woolsey, CIA director at the time, in 1993, in the wake of renewed claims of a CIA-led cover-up. It calls, for the first time, on documents that the agency hid from UFO enthusiasts who obtained thousands of more mundane files under the Freedom of Information Act. The report, completed in 1997, was released at the request of the British academic journal Intelligence and National Security, and is published in its summer issue.

U.S. intelligence began investigating UFO sightings in 1947, when a pilot claimed to have seen nine discs travelling at more than 1,600 kilometers per hour in Washington state. The claim was backed up by additional sightings, including reports from military and civilian pilots and air traffic controllers.

The first investigation, Operation Saucer, was carried out by U.S. Air Forces intelligence, which initially feared the objects might be Soviet bombers. But some officers became convinced that UFOs existed and, in a top-secret report, concluded many of the sightings were "interplanetary." Air force chiefs had the report rewritten to conclude that "although visits from outer space are deemed possible, they are believed to be very unlikely." The CIA initially dismissed the investigations as "midsummer madness." But an agency committee decided they could be used by Moscow either to create mass hysteria or to overload the air warning system, making it unable to distinguish between UFOs and Soviet bombers. In 1955, claims by two elderly sisters that they had contact with UFOs attracted widespread publicity. A CIA agent describing himself as an air officer spoke to them and reported that he appeared to have stumbled upon a scene from Arsenic and Old Lace. Analysis of a "code" that the women believed aliens were using to make contact with them while they listened to their favorite radio program showed it was Morse from a U.S. radio station. But when UFO enthusiasts heard of the "air force" officers visit, they became immediately suspicious he was a member of the CIA trying to cover up the affair.

One enthusiast pursued the CIA conspiracy theory and was visited by another CIA officer, who claimed to be in the air force and even wore an air force uniform. The ruse failed, making the conspiracy theorists even more suspicious. The refusal to release 57 documents on the investigation in the 1970s, to protect sources, also fuelled the cover-up theory, Mr. Haines concluded.

Reposted from Sightings with Permission

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