By John M. Glionna Los Angeles Times
LAS VEGAS — For decades, Area 51 was the U.S. government’s Cold War-era secret that hid in plain sight, the 5-ton elephant in the Nevada desert that Washington continually denied (“No, it’s not there”), prompting reams of conspiracy theories.
Well, now it’s official: Area 51 really does exist.
In newly declassified documents, the CIA is acknowledging the existence of the mysterious war-test site in central Nevada that has captivated listeners on the far ends of the radio dial, spawning countless UFO conspiracies.
On Thursday, George Washington University’s National Security Archive released a copy of the CIA history of the U-2 spy plane program that was acquired through a public records request. The report even places the site on a map, near Rachel, Nev., about 90 miles north of Las Vegas.
But hold on to your seat, all you Area 51 buffs: The lengthy report contains no reference to little green men from outer space.
“There is a section on the relationship between the U-2 program being responsible for UFO sightings,” National Security Archive senior fellow Jeffrey Richelson told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “But if people are looking for sections on dead aliens and interspecies contact, they’ll be disappointed. It’s just not there.”
Richelson’s quest for answers goes back years. He first reviewed the CIA’s history of the site in 2002, but found all mention of Area 51 redacted. Three years later, he requested another version of the original 1992 report.
Last month he got his reply: a new copy of the 400-page report with all mentions of Area 51 restored.
He says the new document shows the CIA is becoming less secretive about Area 51’s existence, and that bodes well for future information requests about the Cold War weapons race.
“Now you can read in some detail about U-2 missions of the past,” he told the Times. “We always knew there were 24 U-2 missions over the Soviet Union but it’s nice to have maps and a table with each pilot’s name and each payload.
“Hopefully further information about those classified missions will come out in time.”
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