LAS VEGAS — UFO buffs and believers in alien encounters are celebrating the CIA’s clearest acknowledgement yet of the existence of Area 51, the top-secret Cold War test site that has been the subject of elaborate conspiracy theories for decades.
The recently declassified documents have set the tinfoil-hat crowd abuzz, though there’s no mention in the papers of UFO crashes, black-eyed extraterrestrials or staged moon landings.
Audrey Hewins, an Oxford, Maine, woman who runs a support group for people like her who believe they have been contacted by extraterrestrials, said she suspects the CIA is moving closer to disclosing there are space aliens on Earth.
“I’m thinking that they’re probably testing the waters now to see how mad people get about the big lie and cover-up,” she said.
For a long time, U.S. government officials hesitated to acknowledge even the existence of Area 51.
The CIA history released Thursday not only refers to Area 51 by name and describes some of the aviation activities that took place there, but locates the Air Force base on a map, along the dry Groom Lake bed.
It also talks about some cool planes, though none of them are saucer-shaped.
George Washington University’s National Security Archive used a public records request to obtain the CIA history of one of Area 51’s most secret Cold War projects, the U-2 spy plane program.
National Security Archive senior fellow Jeffrey Richelson first reviewed the history in 2002, but all mentions of the country’s most mysterious military base had been redacted. So he requested the history again in 2005, hoping for more information. Sure enough, he received a version a few weeks ago with the mentions of Area 51 restored.
The report is unlikely to stop the conspiracy theorists. The 407-page document still contains many redactions, and who’s to say those missing sections don’t involve little green men?