The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

August 16, 2013

CIA acknowledges Area 51 — but not UFOs or aliens

LAS VEGAS — The CIA is acknowledging in the clearest terms yet the existence of Area 51, the top-secret Cold War test site that has been the subject of elaborate conspiracy theories about aliens and flying saucers for decades.

The recently declassified documents have set Area 51 buffs abuzz, though there's no mention of UFO crashes, black-eyed extraterrestrials or staged moon landings.

The CIA history released Thursday not only refers to Area 51 by name and describes some of the activities that took place there, but places the Air Force base on a map, along the dry Groom Lake bed.

It also describes some cool planes, though none of them are saucer-shaped.

George Washington University's National Security Archive used a public records request to obtain a CIA history of one of Area 51's most secret Cold War projects, the high-flying U-2 spy plane program.

National Security Archive senior fellow Jeffrey Richelson first reviewed the history in 2002, but all mentions of Area 51 had been redacted. So he requested the history again in 2005, hoping for more information, and sure enough, he received a version a few weeks ago with the mentions of Area 51 restored.

It's not the first time the government has acknowledged the super-secretive, 8,000-square-mile installation. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush acknowledged the "location near Groom Lake" in insisting on continued secrecy, and other government references date to the 1960s.

But those who are convinced "the truth is out there" are taking the document as a sign of loosening secrecy about the government's activities in the Nevada desert.

Barbara Mervine, who describes herself as part of the "UFO community," said the declassification of the documents is "quite important."

The site is known as Area 51 among UFO aficionados because that was the base's designation on old Nevada test site maps.

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