Article by Isis Davis-Marks January 15, 2021 (smithsonianmag.com)
• Since he was 15 years old, John Greenewald Jr. has been researching and collecting US declassified government UFO reports, mainly through the filing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. He stored his collection of UFO reports received since the 1990s in his website known as ‘The Black Vault’. Greenwald says that it was especially difficult getting any FOIA responses from the CIA. Finally, about 20 years ago, the CIA sent him a box containing a couple thousand declassified UFO documents dating back to the early 1980s which he scanned one by one and loaded onto his website repository.
• The CIA has maintained a ‘FOIA Electronic Reading Room’ of all declassified UFO files. With the revelation of a Pentagon UFO program that existed from 2007 to 2012 known as the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, public interest in UFOs dramatically increased. Then the recent passage of the Covid-19 relief bill triggered a 180 day deadline for the DoD and intelligence agencies to submit a report on ‘unidentified aerial phenomenon’ – government-speak for UFOs.
• In response to the pressure to release UFO documents, the CIA began collecting their declassified UFO files for public release. “[O]ver time, the CIA made a CD-ROM collection of UFO documents, which encompassed the original records, along with the ones that took years to fight for,” says Greenwald. Greenewald purchased the CD-ROM in mid-2020 and spent several months painstakingly converting its contents into searchable PDF files. Highlights of the trove include a 1976 account in which the government’s former assistant deputy director for science and technology is handed a cryptic piece of information about a UFO, and a document centered on a strange, late-night explosion in a tiny Russian town.
• With the addition of the trove of documents on the CIA’s CD-ROM, The Black Vault now holds about 2,780 pages of CIA documents on UFOs for the public to read and download. This is said to represent the entirety of the CIA’s UFO collection. In addition, the CIA has uploaded dozens of records about UFO sightings and inexplicable events from around the world – spanning the 1940s through the early 1990s – to its FOIA Electronic Reading Room.
Approximately 2,780 pages of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents detailing the government entity’s findings on unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are now available for anyone to read and download.
As Brandon Specktor reports for Live Science, the Black Vault’s collection features UFO-related records declassified by the CIA since the 1980s. The site’s owner, John Greenewald Jr., obtained the newly digitized documents—said by the CIA to represent the entirety of its UFO collection—by filing a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
“The Black Vault spent years fighting for them, and many were released in the late 1990s,” writes Greenewald in a blog post. “However, over time, the CIA made a CD-ROM collection of UFO documents, which encompassed the original records, along with the ones that took years to fight for.”
Greenewald purchased the CD-ROM in mid-2020 and has spent the past several months converting its contents into searchable PDF files. Per Live Science, highlights of the trove include a 1976 account in which the government’s former assistant deputy director for science and technology is handed a cryptic piece of information about a UFO and a document centered on a strange, late-night explosion in a tiny Russian town.
“Around 20 years ago, I had fought for years to get additional UFO records released from the CIA,” Greenewald tells Vice’s Samir Ferdowsi. “It was like pulling teeth! I went around and around with them to try and do so, finally achieving it. I received a large box, of a couple thousand pages, and I had to scan them in one page at a time.”
In other recent UFO news, the CIA itself separately uploaded dozens of downloadable records about UFO sightings and inexplicable events from around the world to its FOIA Electronic Reading Room. The files span the 1940s through the early 1990s, according to Nexstar Media Wire.
The agency’s data dump arrives one month after Congress’ passage of the 5,600-page Covid-19 relief bill, which included a provision calling for UFO-related documents’ disclosure. Within 180 days of the bill’s ratification, report Steven Greenstreet and Steven Nelson for the New York Post, officials from the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies must “submit a report … to the congressional intelligence and armed services committees on unidentified aerial phenomena” (the government’s preferred term for UFOs).
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