Although the media has run wild with the story, unobscured references to Area 51 in a newly released CIA document regarding the history of the U2 and OXCART spy-plane programs, provide little new information on the top-secret Groom Lake facility. In fact, prior FOIA requests for information regarding Area 51 had already resulted in the release of formerly classified documents that prove the existence of the Groom Lake facility (aka Paradise Ranch or simply “the Ranch”). These documents were placed in the public domain long before the release of the 20-year-old U-2 and OXCART History document. To confuse the issue further, the newly released document introduced new, obviously inaccurate information.
The newly released CIA document, titled The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, details the history of the development of the Cold-War era U-2 and OXCART spy planes that took place between 1954 and 1974 at the top-secret Area 51 airstrip on the Nevada Test and Training Range. George Washington University’s National Security Archive used a public records request (FOIA) to obtain the CIA history. Upon declassification and release to the public, the paranormal research community responded with a resounding, “Duh!”.
That Area 51 was a real place was not news to most. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had already referred to the “location near Groom Lake” in public speeches and previous documents obtained via FOIA requests had already provided conclusive proof by means of Depart of Energy responses to those requests. For instance, a 2001 request for information resulted in a released document that stated:
“The 38,400-acre land area once known as ‘Area 51’ was withdrawn from public use by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, a predecessor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), more than 35 years ago under Public Land Order 1662 (filed June 25, 1958).”
It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
Other publicly-available official documents mention Area 51 too and this includes the “new” 407-page U-2 and OXCART report which, unbeknownst to many, has been available in the public domain since 2002 (albeit in the form of a much more redacted version).
The newly released document even mentions “UFOs”, stating that the number of UFO reports increased “tremendously” after the introduction of the U-2 to public skies. Admittedly, a new type of plane flying 60,000 feet in the air would likely result in UFO reports from pilots but from persons positioned on the ground? Highly unlikely, especially considering the U-2 was incapable of making sudden right-turns, hovering in the air, or shooting across the sky and accelerating at immeasurable speeds, all of which were frequently reported, and video taped, by Area 51 viewers.
In addition, the new document claims that the Air Force’s Project Blue Book was a direct result of these increased sightings, which is blatantly false. Both Project Sign, set up in 1948, and Project Grudge, formed in 1949, were direct predecessors to Project Blue Book (the first of which was formed shortly after the infamous Kenneth Arnold sighting and several years before Area 51 construction).
Bob Lazar, who came forward in 1989 with a tale of government scientists tinkering with alien spacecraft at a section of Area 51 known as “S4”, told reporters:
“Everybody has known that for 25 years or so. That’s a minuscule baby step forward. Maybe a decade from now they’ll acknowledge there’s an S4.”
Admittedly, the new, cleaner version of the U-2/OXCART history document is much clearer and forthcoming in its references to Area 51 and regardless of the over-hyped media attention and the inaccuracies contained within the document, the history of the U-2 is an interesting read. We can always hope that the new release of classified information may be a precursor to the release of additional information on down the road.
You can read the full Area 51 document, The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, here.