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The CIA released nearly 800,000 declassified files on Wednesday. The massive document dump came after two years of battling to keep the information private after the non-profit freedom of information group MuckRock filed a lawsuit demanding the federal agency upload the documents online. The files consisted of 13 million pages, featuring reports on everything from UFO sightings to psychic tests, invisible ink recipes and even intelligence briefings Henry Kissinger received as secretary of state under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
The documents also provided insight on the agency’s role during the Vietnam War, Korean War and Cold War conflicts. But dozens of declassified reports making waves online revealed the U.S. government had a deep interest, at least at the time the documents were produced, in revealing whether life on other planets existed, and to what extent that life was capable of traveling to Earth.
The documents also revealed an exhaustive scientific research effort by the United States government into the “Star Gate program,” a controversial and long-rumored secret Army unit the Defense Intelligence Agency established in 1978 at Fort Meade, Maryland. The papers included information on flying saucers, as well as research into supernatural forces at the domestic scale.
The government even tested famed psychic Uri Geller in 1973, apparently having the performer draw a series of images a government official was producing in another room at the same time. Researchers wrote Geller “demonstrated his paranormal perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner” after successfully replicating a nearly-identical image of the official’s drawings of grapes and the solar system from the other room.
“None of this is cherry-picked,” Heather Fritz Horniak, CIA spokesperson, told reporters Wednesday. “It’s the full history. It’s good and bads.”
Some documents were likely to give way to a whole host of other questions, including whether the government is spying on its own citizens. One paper even revealed secret methods the government was interested in using for sensitive investigations. The 1978 report, titled “How to open sealed letters,” provided a list of options in how to get into someone’s mail without them ever finding out.
Meanwhile, the documents did not provide an answer to whether the government was aware of extraterrestrial life. However, the files certainly indicated the CIA was interested in discovering that answer first. Horniak said the agency was forced to include some slight redactions, noting those were only included to protect certain informants and defend national security.