Everyone needs a hobby, and for one John Greenewald Jr that's archiving declassified US government documents on his website, The Black Vault, which has this week published what the CIA claims is everything it has on UFOs.
Though Greenewald is quick to point out there's no way of verifying that assertion, the collection is exhaustive with 2,780 hand-scanned pages of sighting reports, anecdotes, and musings from all over the world in wildly varying levels of detail and quality.
Introducing the data dump, Greenewald said that the battle to get his mitts on the documents dates back to 1996.
"Originally, the CIA would only release about 1,000 pages that had been previously disclosed after a [Freedom of Information Act] court case in the 1980s. They never addressed the records that were dated in the years after the case," he wrote.
"The Black Vault spent years fighting for them, and many were released in the late 1990s. However, over time, the CIA made a CD-ROM collection of UFO documents, which encompassed the original records, along with the ones that took years to fight for."
300,000 edgy folk pledge themselves on Facebook to storming supposedly UFO-tastic Area 51READ MORE
It's the contents of this CD-ROM plus a box of more recently unsealed documents sent to Greenewald by the CIA that have been made available for enthusiasts' perusal.
Those hoping for some kind of Roswell-like revelation may be in for disappointment, however. The Register took potshots at the extensive list of searchable PDFs, which go back as far as 1957, and couldn't turn up anything more interesting than various US military outposts reporting unidentified craft flying at anomalous speeds and their radar supposedly being "jammed."
Many of the documents appear to be diplomatic cables or similar that merely mention in passing that civilians or military in this or that country reported seeing a UFO (among far more humdrum stuff).
Even word of citizens gathering at "crop circles" seems to have been enough for the document to be included in the dump, but hipster media empire Vice's tech limb, Motherboard, pointed to "a dispute with a Bosnian fugitive with alleged E.T. contact" [PDF] – though we're pretty sure it was a joke comment – and "mysterious midnight explosions in a small Russian town" [PDF] as being of interest.
Thank goodness somebody has the time to wade through the mire even if the results are a little underwhelming. However, Greenewald himself highlighted on Twitter one document about an official being physically handed an object related to a UFO.
1/ In this CIA #UFO document, the Assistant Deputy Director for Science & Technology (A/DDS&T) was shown SOMETHING related to a UFO that was hand carried to him. He decided he would personally look into it, and after, he gave advice on moving forward. That advice is classified. pic.twitter.com/PyVEr3zCny— 🇺🇸 T̷h̷e̷ ̷B̷l̷a̷c̷k̷ ̷V̷a̷u̷l̷t̷ 🇺🇸 (@blackvaultcom) January 8, 2021
Watch now the three UFO videos uncovered by Blink-182 star – and today officially released by the PentagonREAD MORE
Talking to Motherboard, Greenewald blasted the CIA for making it "INCREDIBLY difficult to use their records in a reasonable manner" due to the documents' "outdated" format (multipage .tif) and "text file outputs, largely unusable, that I think they intend to have people use as a 'search' tool. In my opinion, this... makes it very difficult for people to see the documents, and use them, for any research purpose."
While no one would dispute that people have seen flying objects they were unable to identify – whether they be spy planes, weather balloons or top-secret technology – the notion that they were piloted by extraterrestrials remains farfetched. Indeed, if little green men were to pull up to Earth right now, we'd wager they'd utter their equivalent of "nope" and head off in search of more advanced lifeforms.
Even footage obtained by former Blink-182 guitarist and current UFO nut Tom DeLonge last year can be explained away as aeroplanes or balloons.
Still, Special Agent Fox Mulder would be hyperventilating at the sheer volume of material to pick through, and The Reg admittedly had fun donning our tinfoil hats and taking a stab. Maybe you'll have fun too. Let us know what you find in the comments. ®