Former astronaut Edgar Mitchell (left) claims that "since the Roswell incident in 1947 … there was a cover-up… That was a valid incident and that there have been … active investigation programme, reverse engineering programme and cover-up associated with that since that time." (1) Hear his 2008 radio interview confirming his views here.
Certainly Arnold’s sightings and the Roswell incident were not ‘one offs’ as further reports of UFO sightings continued unabated. In fact a US Air Force report of 30th July of that year made reference to 18 reported sightings of flying discs, although there was no further reference to other physical evidence (2). Clearly such sightings could not be simply logged, they would have to be investigated to identify their nature and establish if they posed a security threat the to United States. Inevitably this task would fall within the jurisdiction of the US Intelligence Community.
Under the oversight of the Director of Central Intelligence, this intelligence community spans the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, as well as the perhaps lesser known military intelligence agencies and other governmental departments. Yet each of the major agencies has systematically denied having any interest or ongoing involvement in the UFO phenomenon.
The National Security Agency was established by President Harry Truman, on 4th November 1952. With an annual reported budget of over $30billion per annum, the ‘NSA’ has the task of intercepting foreign government communications and breaking the codes that exist to protect such transmissions, in addition to diplomatic, commercial traffic, domestic telephone calls and fax messages. With its headquarters at Fort George G Meade in Maryland, the agency employs tens of thousands of personnel and co-ordinates activities throughout the globe.
Not surprisingly the NSA has been considered a storehouse of UFO information. It was contacted on 20th February 1976 by researcher Robert Todd and asked to reveal its UFO materials. Todd received the following reply: "Please be advised that NSA does not have any interest in UFOs in any manner."
The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) stance on UFOs was one of apparent similar disinterest. Its position on the phenomena was summarised in a letter it wrote to researcher Bill Spaulding in March 1976: "In order that you may be aware of the true facts concerning the involvement of the CIA in the investigation of the UFO phenomenon, let me give you the following brief history. Late in 1952 the National Security Council levied upon the CIA the requirement to determine if the existence of UFOs would create a danger to the security of the United States.
The Office of Scientific Intelligence established the Intelligence Advisory Committee to study the matter. That committee made the recommendations [in] the Robertson Panel Report. At no time prior to the formation of the Robertson Panel and subsequent to this issuance of the panel’s report [January 1953], has the CIA engaged in the study of UFO phenomena. The Robertson Panel Report is the summation of the Agency’s interest and involvement in this matter."
The FBI held a similar position, advising a correspondent in 1973 that "The investigation of Unidentified Flying Objects is not and never has been a matter that is within the investigative jurisdiction of the FBI." (70).
So if none of the ‘big three’ agencies held any interest, perhaps another agency outside the intelligence community was involved in the investigation of the phenomena.
The obvious choice would be NASA. Created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on 1st October 1958 to "co-ordinate national space activities" and to "co-ordinate the administration of the civilian space program" the agency stated its position in the UFO phenomenon in a 1978 NASA information sheet:
"NASA is the focal point for answering public enquiries to the White House relating to UFOs. NASA is not engaged in a research program involving these phenomena, nor is any other government agency. Reports of unidentified flying objects entering United States airspace are of interest to the military as a regular part of defence surveillance. Beyond that, the US Airforce no longer investigates reports of UFO sightings." The official line then appears to be that the major US intelligence agencies were and are not involved in the UFO phenomenon.
Except they were - and the 1974 Freedom of Information Act proved it. This Act allowed members of the public the right to acquire documents from government files provided they could identify their subject and source with reasonable accuracy.
Armed with the powers of this Act, researchers went back to the National Security Agency (the agency that claimed that it "does not have any interest in UFOs in any manner") requesting that it divulge its UFO information. The NSA declined the release of any documents on the grounds of national security, however by doing so appeared to inadvertently confirm that they did actually hold UFO data.
Numerous approaches were then made to get this information declassified, however NSA repeatedly refused, issuing an affidavit explaining why ‘UFO’ papers could not be released – however even this explanation was classified.