• Early CIA Concerns, 1947-52
• The Robertson Panel, 1952-53
• The 1950s: Fading CIA Interest in UFOs
• CIA U-2 and OXCART as UFOs
• The 1960s: Declining CIA Involvement and Mounting Controversy
• The 1970s and1980s: The UFO Issue Refuses To Die
• CIA Reference Notes
CIA UFO Notes
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.
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,
In 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 DCI).
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
Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, p. 156 and
Quintanilla, "The Investigation of UFOs," p. 97.
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, DC.
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.
See Air Force, Projects GRUDGE and BLUE BOOK and
Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, p. 67.
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
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.
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.
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
Tauss, memorandum for Deputy Assistant Director, SI
(Philip Strong), 1 August 1952.
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 policymakers.
See Minutes of Branch Chief's Meeting, 11 August 1952.
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.
See CIA memorandum, unsigned, "Flying Saucers," 11 August 1952.
See CIA, memorandum, unsigned, "Flying Saucers," 14 August 1952.
See 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.
Chadwell, 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.
See 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.
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 AEC.
See Klass, UFOs, p. 27.
See Richard D. Drain, Acting Secretary, IAC, "Minutes
of Meeting held in Director's Conference Room, Administration Building, CIA," 4 December 1952.
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.
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 proceedings.
See Report of the Scientific Panel on Unidentified
Flying Objects (the Robertson Report), 17 January 1953 and the Durant report on
the panel discussions.
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. 28-29.
See Reber, memorandum to IAC, 18 February 1953.
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.
See Chadwell, letter to Julius A. Stratton, Provost
MIT, 27 January 1953.
See Chadwell, memorandum for Chief, Physics and
Electronics Division/OSI (Todos M. Odarenko), "Unidentified Flying Objects," 27
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 December
See Odarenko, memorandum, "Unidentified Flying
Objects," 8 August 1955.
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 1954.
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.
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.
See 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.
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.
See Jacobs, The UFO Controversy,
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.
See 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
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
See Lexow, memorandum for Chapin, 28 July 1958.
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.
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
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).
See George O. Forrest, Chief, Chicago Office,
memorandum to Chief, Contact Division for Science, 11 March 1955.
See Support Division (Connell), memorandum to Dewelt
E. Walker, 25 April 1957.
See J. Arnold Shaw, Assistant to the Director, letter
to Davidson, 10 May 1957.
See Support (Connell) memorandum to Lt. Col. V.
Skakich, 27 August 1957 and Lamountain, memorandum to Support (Connell), 20
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 1957.
See Skakich, cable to Connell, 9 October 1957.
See R. P. B. Lohmann, memorandum for Chief, Contact
Division, DO, 9 January 1958.
See Support, cable to Skakich, 20 February 1958 and
Connell (Support) cable to Lamountain, 19 December 1957.
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.
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
The issue would resurface in the 1970s with the GSW FOIA court case.
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.
See, 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.
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
Chamberlain, memorandum for DCI, "Evaluation of UFOs," 26 January 1965.
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.
See "Congress Reassured on Space Visits," The New
York Times, 6 April 1966.
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
See 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.
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.
See Lundahl, memorandum for DDI, 7 February 1967.
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
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.
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.
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.
GSW was a small group of UFO buffs based in Phoenix,
Arizona, and headed by William H. Spaulding.
See Klass, UFOs, p. 8.
See Wilson, letter to Spaulding, 26 March 1976 and
GSW v. CIA Civil Action Case 78-859.
GSW v. CIA Civil Action Case 78-859, p. 2.
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
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.
Jerome Clark, "Latest UFO News Briefs From Around the
World," UFO Update, August 1979 and GSW v. CIA Civil Action No. 78-859.
See Wortman, memorandum for DCI Turner, "Your
Question, `Are we in UFOs?' Annotated to The New York Times News Release
Article," 18 January 1979.
See GSW v. CIA Civil Action 78-859. See also Klass,
UFOs, pp. 10-12.
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 the
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
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
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. 245-251.
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. 258-268.
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.