Months ahead of a deadline for US agencies to reveal everything they know about UFOs to Senators, the CIA's entire archive has apparently been uploaded to the internet for everyone to see.
Millions of pages of documents have appeared on The Black Vault, a website dedicated to "exposing government secrets" by acquiring declassified documents and making them available to the public.
Founder John Greenewald Jr says it's the culmination of 20 years of lobbying and Freedom of Information requests.
"Around 20 years ago, I had fought for years to get additional UFO records released from the CIA," Greenewald told Motherboard.
"It was like pulling teeth! I went around and around with them to try and do so, finally achieving it. I received a large box, of a couple thousand pages, and I had to scan them in one page at a time."
The motherlode came on a CD-ROM he acquired last year, Greenewald complaining the CIA has made it as difficult as possible to access the documents, which date back to the 1950s.
"They offer a format that is very outdated (multi page .tif) and offer text file outputs, largely unusable, that I think they intend to have people use as a 'search' tool," he told Motherboard.
"In my opinion, this outdated format makes it very difficult for people to see the documents, and use them, for any research purpose."
Undeterred, he spent time converting the files into PDF format which can be easily viewed on modern computers, and in cases where the text hasn't been redacted or rendered illegible through poor-quality photocopying, searchable.
"Although the CIA claims this is their 'entire' collection, there may be no way to entirely verify that," he wrote on the Black Vault blog.
"Research by The Black Vault will continue to see if there are additional documents still uncovered within the CIA's holdings."
At this stage the files are merely labelled by number, with no indication of their contents. Newshub opened a few, and found:
- a summary of a Greek newspaper from 1953 carrying claims from a former Nazi engineer, Georg Klein, that the Third Reich had developed a flying saucer capable of reaching altitudes of 12km and flying at twice the speed of sound
- a document from 1992 analysing Chinese media reports, including a claim the communists had "made progress in the study of unidentified flying objects"
- a 1994 report on a "completely new flying machine" invented by the Russians, which it describes as a cross between a "plane, helicopter and dirigible" which "seems like a UFO"
- a 1972 list of Soviet publications on "parapsychology (psychoenergetics) and related subjects"
- numerous lists of what appeared to be TV listings from Soviet Russia, Germany, Vietnam and other communist/socialist nations
- a report of "unidentified helicopters" breaching US air space from Canada
- a claim a UFO was spotted over Stalingrad in 1954 by patients in a military hospital
- a memo saying an upcoming book claiming the CIA was "involved with saucers" was "sheer drama aimed at magazine story appeal"
- the reproduction of a 1991 Soviet newspaper article looking into a conspiracy theory that Yuri Gagarin never made it into space, and the Soviets' claims to having the first man in space were a lie
- a document regarding the fatal shooting down of a US balloon in Belarus in 1995, which local forces deemed a UFO
- a newspaper article suggesting the Pentagon had found aliens, but couldn't find fugitive war criminal Radovan Karadzic
- a mysterious explosion in the Russian town of Sasavo which had no clear cause, some locals blaming it on UFOs.
The CIA has declined to comment on the contents of the upload.
A COVID-19 relief package passed into law earlier this year contained a clause requiring the Pentagon, FBI and other intelligence agencies to spill the beans on "observed airborne objects that have not been identified", as well as supply "detailed analysis of unidentified phenomena data", within 180 days.