Photo by Michael Herren on Unsplash

Explore your inner “X-Files”!

The unexplained is quick to grab people’s attention and UFOs (unidentified flying objects) are a prime example of that. Whether you are a believer in extraterrestrial life or just like a good sci-fi movie, there’s no denying that they have captured the interest of people for many years. UFOs are just that, unidentified—which means they could be swamp gas, weather balloons, what have you. Or maybe that’s just what we’re supposed to think. The general belief among conspiracy theorists is that governments the world over have more knowledge on the subject than they’re willing to share with the public.

That’s where John Greenewald Jr., founder and curator of The Black Vault, comes in. He’s dedicated himself to unearthing over 2 million documents through the Freedom of Information Act and posting them on his website. The site isn’t solely devoted to UFOs either; the topics of interest range from current politics to cryptozoology (Bigfoot and such).

Last week, Greenewald uploaded 2,780 pages of declassified CIA documents all related to the sightings and investigations of UFOs. Half of those, he says, were available in the ’80s, a few more in the ’90s, and now more recently the CIA compiled all of the related documents onto a CD-ROM which was purchased by The Black Vault.

Courtesy of reported that the recently ratified Emergency COVID-19 Stimulus Bill included a bit about the Intelligence Authorization Act. After the bill was approved, the government had to release everything it knows about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), which would include—you guessed it—UFOs.  So, Greenewald was able to purchase the disc and share it with the public.

If you are interested, there are two ways you can download all of the information. The first is in the original multi-page .tif  and text files from the CD-ROM, complete and untouched. Unfortunately, you cannot search for anything in the documents and the text files are just a bunch of gibberish and symbols. Not sure, as a casual observer, why you would want to download that version, but hey, it’s only 149 MB.

The second option is to download the files in Portable Document Format (PDF). The Black Vault has converted them for an easier to navigate, more user-friendly version. The download is a little larger at 342 MB but it’s done away with the small gibberish text files, and in theory, you can search for dates and places within the documents. However, Greenewald himself notes that “searchable .pdfs are NOT perfect. Many of these documents are poorly photocopied, so the computer can only ‘see’ so much to convert for searching.”

Still sound like too much commitment? All of the files are available for individual download in their pdf format if you just want to check out a couple and get the feel for it. That section of the site is a “work in progress” as only some of the files have descriptions attached to them but the idea is that they will all one day be complete.  

All of the available downloads can be found here.

Say what you will about UFOs and government cover-ups but digging through redacted documents from the actual CIA can be pretty fun. Well, fun may not be the appropriate word—but neat maybe. It makes one feel like you’re working with Mulder and Scully searching for the truth, although it’s doubtful there’s anything of worth in the documents you’re digging through. Greenewald also warns that “CIA claims this is their ‘entire’ collection, there may be no way to entirely verify that. Research by The Black Vault will continue to see if there are additional documents still uncovered within the CIA’s holdings.”

Well, I want to believe, anyway.

Want to check out the declassified documents? Have you ever seen a UFO? Phone home in the comments!

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