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FOIA declassified documents:

This is a secret document, declassified because of the Freedom Of Information Act.

U-K adopts the CIA position on UFOs, 1951:

The document was released with exemptions to Dr David Clarke and Andy Roberts in June 2001, following a successful appeal under the FOIA. They have been published in their book "Out of the Shadows" published on May 9, 2002 by Piatkus. The authors also thanked CIA historian Gerald Haines for assistance in locating these records.


The documents, written by the CIA's Assistant Director of Scientific Intelligence, Dr H. Marshall Chadwell, also set out the "certain potential dangers which are related to these sightings" at the height of Cold War tension. They spell out the "problems of communications confusion... and the serious effects of mass hysteria" that it was feared could be purposely induced by an enemy "at a critical time by faked reports."

Dr Chadwell was present in June 1951 at the meeting in London of the MoD's Directorate of Scientific Intelligence (DSI) when the Flying Saucer Working Party presented their final report on 'unidentified flying objects,' and their conclusion that UFOs are only misidentifications, hoaxes and illusions.

UFO debunkers have interpreted this as the newly published final proof that UK's defense was only concerned by "radar errors" as a defense disturbance (and estimated that this suffice to prove that there are no UFOs). They tended to indicate that ufologists did not know what the real concern of MoD was, namely not UFOs which debunkers claim do not exist but only hysteria and false alerts. It is not quite so: they have failed to see that the concern over "clogging of communication channels" and "communication confusion" is not new but the CIA's policy on the UFO as every ufologist knew it from the Durant Report of the CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel who adopted this predetermined CIA UFO policy.

What the document really indicates is that CIA successfully exported its policy on UFO to UK, a fact that Captain Ed Ruppelt, first head of Project Bluebook, did explain long before also. Most European countries, and particularly UK, felt that they should not investigate UFOs at their expense but wait for the USAF to tell what UFOs are. At the London meeting, Dr. Chadwell simply passed on the CIA's recommendation that no further investigations of UFOs be undertaken, and that the public has to be taught that UFOs do not exist so that no "mass hysteria" can happen.

Second, the document reveals that the British Ministry of Defense set up a permanent standing committee to investigate UFOs after the closure of their first 'Flying Saucer Working Party' investigation effort. In the memo "British Activity in the field of 'unidentified flying objects'", Chadwell reveals that the MoD had "a standing committee on flying saucers" set up "about 16 months ago", i.e. after the Flying Saucer Working Party had been disbanded. This new committee was now the responsibility of Dr R.V. Jones, who replaced Dr Bertie Blount as Director of Scientific Intelligence in September 1952.

Obviously, despite the CIA position that UFOs do not exist, UK military continued experience UFOs. In September 1952 further sightings were made by the crews of NATO ships and planes participating in the Operation Mainbrace manoeuvers. The report which received the most publicity was the sighting of a 'flying saucer' by two RAF officers and three aircrew near Coastal Command Shackleton Squadron HQ at Topcliffe in North Yorkshire. According to Captain Ed Ruppelt, of the USAF's Project Blue Book, it was these sightings which led the Royal Air Force to "officially recognise the UFO."

Chadwell notes that the group had concluded "that the observations are not enemy aircraft and that none have been over [Britain?]." Of interest are Chadwell's comments on what he calls "the Yorkshire incident", the sightings made by RAF aircrew during Operation Mainbrace:

"In some RAF field, there was some sort of demonstration to which high officials of the RAF in London had been invited," he writes. "During the show, a 'perfect flying saucer' was seen by these officials as well as RAF pilots. So many people saw it that many articles appeared in the public press. This is disturbing to Jones because he realizes that the creation of the correction of public opinion is part of his responsibilities."

The memo also reveals that Dr R.V. Jones had expressed an interest in seeing the UFO footage taken by a US Navy non-commissioned officer at Tremonton, Utah, in the summer of 1952. The film has been given huge attention during the Robertson Panel: it was presented by Major Fournet and Captain Ruppelt, and the Panel decided it may show a flock of seagulls in spite of the USAF and US Navy analyses that demonstrated the contrary.

The scanned document:

FOIA document
FOIA document

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This page was last updated on June 18, 2002.