Are UFOs and psychics real? CIA files give an answer

The CIA has released millions of documents in a searchable database and it reveals some mysterious stuff.

It was made possible following a Freedom of Information Act request for access to the CIA's database made by journalists at MuckRock.

In 2015, the organisation said it would take 28 years to publish but later cut that to six years and would be delivered on 1200 compact disks.

In the face of that lengthy delay, journalist Mike Best crowdfunded $15,000 to print, scan and publish the files himself. The CIA agreed to post the files and the trove covers a multitude of topics including John F Kennedy's assassination, UFOs, poltergeists, the space race with the Soviets, spiritual healers in Mexico and New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance.

Here are just some of the interesting files Newshub uncovered.

Are UFOs real?

In the 1950s, citizens inundated the CIA with questions about UFOs, prompting a number of official meetings to discuss it.

It was after one in particular - on May 21, 1953 - where a UFO crash landed around 12km from the Kingman Airport in Arizona, that the Scientific Advisory Panel was briefed on the phenomenon.

Following their briefing on the incident as well as others around the country, the advisory panel was "impressed in the lack of sound data" in most of the known cases.

They thought most of the so-called sightings could be reasonably explained and "by deduction and scientific method it could be induced that other cases might be explained in a similar manner".

The brevity and reliability of witnesses made it difficult for every sighting to be conclusively explained, the document says.

It "appeared obvious" there wasn't a single explanation for the majority of sightings.

As a result of the briefing, the panel put out another document saying there's no evidence UFOs were a "direct physical threat to national security".

It suggested a programme to reassure the public there weren't hostile forces behind the phenomenon to try and dispel the "aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired".

Castro planning attack on US?

The CIA believed Cuban leader Fidel Castro was planning a military attack on the US.

There were plenty of conspiracy theories involving Fidel Castro last century. Many people believed the US tried to assassinate him on many occasions, and that the US planned a second invasion of the communist country, which is only 150kms from the US coast.

Now a former secret intelligence report from 1970 sent to then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, shows the CIA learned Mr Castro not only expected the US to invade, but that he was planning to attack first in an attempt to draw the Soviet Union into the conflict.

Following the failure of the US-backed 'Bay of Pigs' invasion of Cuba in 1961, the report shows Mr Castro expected another invasion in the 1970s, even though the US was already involved in a costly military campaign in Vietnam.

The report claims that Mr Castro's attitude towards invasion had changed, and that Cuba will no longer wait for invasion as in the case of the Bay of Pigs but will "attack... and carry on the war until the Soviet Union is drawn into it."

The CIA report also states: "Castro's concern over invasion may arise from recent efforts by Cuban exile groups to gain cooperation and facilities from some Central American governments for actions against Cuba, efforts he is almost certainly aware of.

"His vehemence, if the report is accurate, could lead him to ill-considered actions tending to create a confrontation between the US and Cuba and/or the USSR.

"Castro may be reacting in part to pressures from the Russians and their Cuban allies in the Castro Government designed to ease him out of his position of pre-eminence."

Was Uri Geller really psychic?

Uri Geller, a self-proclaimed psychic with the ability to bend spoons with his mind, was put to the test by the CIA in 1973.

Mr Geller was tested over eight days where they wanted to check out his "apparent paranormal perception".

He was locked in a secure room where he could in no way hear or see what was going on around outside.

In the drawing experiments, he was asked to replicate what another person having had no clues and told over a one-way intercom when the image was done.

In the first experiment, the word 'fuse' was picked at random from a dictionary and drawn, Mr Geller was when told it was taped to the outside of his enclosure.

"His almost immediate response was that he saw 'a cylinder with noise coming out of it,'" the document says.

He drew a drum and other cylindrical objects.

In other experiments, Mr Geller managed to draw the same thing on multiple occasions, including a bunch of grapes and the solar system. In the former, the word was 'bunch', and Mr Geller said he saw "purple circles" and drew grapes.

"As a result of Geller's success in this experimental period, we consider that he has demonstrated his paranormal perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner," the report concluded.

The tests were part of the Stargate programme aimed at recruiting "psychic warriors".   

Did invisible ink really work?

Like something out of a spy film, the CIA developed a top-secret invisible ink recipe which could be ironed into clothing including shirts or handkerchiefs.

It could then be dipped in water and used for "invisible writing".