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CIA declassifies hundreds of documents that reference UFOs

Paging Agents Mulder and Scully.

In a blog post on Sunday, the Central Intelligence Agency declassified hundreds of documents culled from the 1940s and 50s that reference unidentified flying objects —otherwise known as UFOs. The agency cheekily referred to the document cache as its very own "X-Files," referencing the hit Fox Network television show from the 90s that recently made a comeback.

"Below you will find five documents we think X-Files character Agent Fox Mulder would love to use to try and persuade others of the existence of extraterrestrial activity," the CIA posted on its blog. "We also pulled five documents we think his skeptical partner, Agent Dana Scully, could use to prove there is a scientific explanation for UFO sightings."

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According to the documents, 1952 was an active year for UFO sightings. During that year, flying saucers reported over East Germany, Spain, North Africa, and Belgian Congo. Lest true believers get their hopes up, however, CIA investigators wrote a terse report that characterized many of the estimated 1000-2000 sightings as "phoney (sic)."

"The panel members were impressed with the lack of sound data in the great majority of case histories," one report deadpanned. After reviewing those instances, "the panel concluded that reasonable explanations could be suggested for most sightings," it added.

That didn't foreclose ongoing investigations, however. "It is recommended that CIA surveillance of subject matter, in coordination with proper authorities of primary operational concern...be continued," a CIA deputy assistant director wrote in August of 1952. "Notwithstanding the foregoing tentative facts, so long as a series of reports remains 'unexplainable'...caution requires that intelligence continue coverage of the subject."


In January 1953, the agency went as far as to convene an advisory group on UFO sightings, featuring a group of scientists and subject matter experts. The memo stated that UFOs were "not of direct intelligence interest," yet were still noteworthy because of the manifold mysteries of the universe that could not be explained, categorized or easily referenced. The CIA also stated the possibility that these sightings could pose national security risks from enemies of the U.S.

Fast forward several decades, and humans are now making increasing strides toward exploring the outer reaches of space themselves. SpaceX, the private space exploration company headed by Tesla founder Elon Musk, is vowing to plant a flag on Mars sometime in the near future.