The #1 Paranormal News Site
This week, the Central Intelligence Agency posted its CIA Records Search Tool database online, making roughly 930,000 declassified documents—over 12 million pages in all—widely accessible for the first time. Since no one has time to sift through that many digital files, we did it for you. Here’s the last five decades of CIA papers, greatest hits edition.
The document trove, CREST, was already declassified and technically available to the public, but only in person, from specific computers at the National Archives in Maryland. Digitizing that big a haul has also been quite a process; in 2014, the CIA said it could take up to six years to get it all online. To help speed things up, journalist Michael Best launched a Kickstarter campaign to go to the National Archive CREST computers, print out each page of the database one by one, scan them, and digitally publish the archive that way. Probably better for all involved that it didn’t come to that.
There may not be many shocking revelations lurking inside the trove, but the newfound accessibility will legitimately aide researchers, academics, and curious citizens. “What it mostly is is magazine and newspaper articles from all over the world,” says Nick Cullather, a historian at Indiana University who specializes in US foreign relations and intelligence. “But that’s kind of interesting because it’s a collection of things people were reading at a particular time… It gives you a sense of how the CIA was perceiving the world.”
Cullather recommends spending eight or nine hours familiarizing yourself with the database to really “get up to speed on this collection of documents.” Bless you if you have that kind of time! If not, here’s where to find the UFOs and such.
There’s a whole section of the database devoted to “Secret Writing.” While that may sound redundant, the “secret” refers to invisible ink, strategies for generating covert handwritten notes, and even invisible photography. It might not be the most current technology, but it’s some great spy nostalgia.
UFO Photos and Analysis
This is what we all want, right? Scully and Mulder would probably be disappointed by what’s available here, but for the rest of us it’s cool to track the articles and investigations the CIA compiled about aliens and UFOs. And for the true believers out there, don’t worry, this is just the stuff they chose to declassify, right?
Declassified in 2007, this CIA history tells the story of a joint mission between the CIA and British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) to tunnel into Soviet-occupied Berlin and tap phone lines at the Soviet Army headquarters. An informant tipped the project off to the Soviets, who let the Allied forces continue with it anyway until very publicly revealing its existence in 1956. Spy games!
The database includes a section called “Documents Related to the Former Detention and Interrogation Program,” which includes some recent documents from the early 2000s. One email, whose sender and recipient fields are redacted, says, “This morning I informed the front office of CTC that I will no longer be associated in any way with the interrogation program due to serious reservation[s] I have about the current state of affairs. Instead, I will be retiring shortly. This is a train wreak [sic] waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens.” A heavily redacted instruction to field psychologists says in part, “Although these guys believe that their way is the only way, there should be an effort to define roles and responsibilities before their arrogance and narcissism evolve into unproductive conflict in the field.” An especially important read, given the incoming administration’s views on waterboarding and more.
Want to know what the CIA knew about the Libyan economy in 1974, or the state of transportation and telecom systems in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1973? You’ve come to the right place. There aren’t any juicy secrets here, but it’s a fascinating historical resource.
A whole file declassified in the 1990s about using psychic powers and telepathy for military applications? Perfect. There are reports on possible Soviet use of parapsychology, research findings about telepathic “remote viewing,” disconcerting sketches of a metal structure, and a creepy advertisement for the Buffalo Bill Wax Museum in Colorado. This whole file is gold.