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The CIA’s ‘entire’ collection of UFO documents is now available to read online

The collection includes nearly 2,800 pages of previously classified papers

The mother ship in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), one of the Steven Spielberg films that served as an inspiration for the Netflix hit show “Stranger Things.”
The mother ship in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977).
Columbia Pictures

Approximately 2,780 pages of previously classified CIA documents detailing the agency’s findings on UFOs are now publicly available to read and download, Smithsonian Magazine reports.

According to Vice, a website known as The Black Vault (which identifies itself as “the largest privately run online repository of declassified government documents anywhere in the world”) recently published an archive filled with free downloadable PDF files containing the CIA’s notes on what the agency refers to as unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs.

John Greenewald Jr., the site’s owner and creator, obtained the newly digitized documents by filing a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, Smithsonian Magazine reports. According to the site, Greenewald received the documents on a CD-ROM and spent the past several months converting the files into searchable PDFs. Vice reports that some of the documents date as far back as 1980s.

According to Greenewald, the CIA vowed the documents in the CD-ROM included every file the agency had regarding UFOs, but Greenewald notes on his website that “there may be no way to entirely verify that,” The Guardian reports.

Before obtaining the CD-ROM, Greenewald had experienced previous success receiving documents from the CIA, but it was apparently not an easy task. In an interview with Vice, he said:

“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.”

CNET reports that Greenewald tweeted out a message on Wednesday stating that The Black Vault had received over 30 million visits in the 24 hours that followed the new archive going live.

In addition to the documents found on The Black Vault, the CIA separately uploaded dozens of downloadable records that detail UFO sightings and other inexplicable events to its Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room, Smithsonian Magazine reports. The files reportedly span from the 1940s through the 1990s.

The newly-released documents arrive one month after Congress passed a 5,600-page COVID-19 relief bill which included a provision that called for the public release of UFO-related documents. According to a New York Post article, officials from the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies are now required to “submit a report … to the congressional intelligence and armed services committees on unidentified aerial phenomena” within 180 days of the bill’s ratification.