Back in January, the CIA declassified an extensive archive of government documents pertaining to unidentified flying objects. The Central Intelligence Agency claims that this dump includes the full extent of their UFO files — although there’s no way to verify that. Regardless, the fascinating trove includes some juicy sci-fi-esque stories: inexplicable Russian explosions and other unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP). The entire collection of UFO documents, which totals nearly 3,000 pages, is now available to parse online through the Black Vault.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 27, 2020
The Black Vault
The Black Vault is a declassified document archive website founded by John Greenewald Jr., full of downloadable, searchable PDFs. In order for Greenewald to obtain the recent deluge of UFO and UAP documents from the CIA, 10,000 Freedom of Information Act, a.k.a FOIA requests were made to the US government. Greenewald described the excruciating process to Motherboard, writing:
“Around 20 years ago, I had fought for years to get additional UFO records released from the CIA… 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.”
As Greenewald single-handedly scanned the documents to create PDF files, now so readily available on the Black Vault, the CIA came out with an additional CD-Rom — yes, a physical CD — packed with even more (former) government secrets. Greenewald purchased the CD to add to his own archives. In Motherboard, he emphasized the efforts by government officials to make retrieving the CIA documents as painstaking as possible:
“Researchers and curious minds alike prefer simplicity and accessibility when they look at data dumps such as these,. The CIA has made it INCREDIBLY difficult to use their records in a reasonable manner. They offer a format that is very outdated (multi page .tif) and offer text file outputs, largely unusable, that I think they intend to have people use as a ‘search’ tool. In my opinion, this outdated format makes it very difficult for people to see the documents, and use them, for any research purpose.”
But thanks to Greenewald’s hard work, UFO sighting fanatics, skeptics, or any curious citizen, can peruse the colossal collection at their leisure. Want to learn about the Bosnian who possibly made contact with an extraterrestrial? Or “shadowy forms above the horizon” in Azerbaijin? Seriously, spend a few minutes browsing through the docs, which are truly out of this world, and tell me you don’t feel a little tingle down your spine wondering what might lurk in the vast, vast universe. Personally, I think the grainy quality of the reports adds a deliciously cinematic quality to the scrolling, like a virtual X-files excavation.