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The Birth of The CIA and Flying Saucers
2006 04 19

By Frank Warren |

There's been a lot of speculation in regards to the irony of the "birth of the CIA" (formerly, The Central Intelligence Group [CIG]) in September of 1947, coinciding with all the "flying saucer (UFO) activity" beginning (publicly speaking) in June of that year; starting with Kenneth Arnold's sighting near Mt Rainier, to the "crashed discs" in the area of Roswell, New Mexico. Some have claimed, that the sole purpose in creating the CIA was to investigate the "flying saucer" (UFO) phenomenon.

That, of course is not the case. “CIG” and then later the “CIA,” were born primarily out of the realization of the importance of a "post war" intelligence gathering agency, similar to it's "war time" predecessor, the "OSS," and President Truman's frustration with being "out of the intelligence loop," as "Vice-President." In addition to the difficulty it had been for him to obtain information from the various government departments, each of which seemed "walled off" from the others.

At that time, by many accounts, he had been surprised to discover how much information relating to intelligence and national security matters had been "withheld" from him. The most dramatic evidence of how ill-informed he was came on his 12th day in office when "Secretary of War Henry Stimson" briefed him for the first time on the “Manhattan Project” (atomic bomb), about which Truman had heard only hints while serving as Vice-President and on key Senate committees. (David McCullough, Truman, Simon and Shuster, New York, 1992, pgs. 376-378.)

It is interesting to note however, that both CIG and the OSS did in fact investigate UFOs individually. The OSS investigated what US pilots had nicknamed "Foo Fighters" (UFOs trailing our aircraft during World War II), fearing that these objects could be a “new secret weapon” from either Germany or Japan. The OSS also investigated possible sightings of German V-1 and V-2 rockets before their operational use during the war. (Jacobs, UFO Controversy, p. 33.) The Central Intelligence Group, the predecessor of the CIA, also monitored reports of "ghost rockets" in Sweden in 1946. (CIG, Intelligence Report, 9 April 1947.)

The CIA's "official" position on the "investigation of UFOs" from a historical stand point is this:

Although it had “monitored” UFO reports for at least three years, (49 to 52) CIA reacted to the new rash of sightings by forming a special study group within the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) and the Office of Current Intelligence (OCI) to review the situation. (Gerald K. Haines, National Reconnaissance Office historian, Ralph L. Clark, Acting Assistant Director, OSI, memorandum to DDI Robert Amory, Jr., 29 July 1952.)

"OSI" and "OCI" were in the Directorate of Intelligence. Established in 1948, OSI served as the CIA's focal point for the analysis of foreign scientific and technological developments. In 1980, OSI was merged into the Office of Science and Weapons Research. The Office of Current Intelligence (OCI), established on 15 January 1951 was to provide all-source current intelligence to the President and the National Security Council.

Until 1952, one could conclude, "based on these statements," that the CIA had no "direct involvement" in the investigation of "flying saucers," other then a monitoring position of other agencies, i.e., the Air Force's Project SIGN (initially named Project SAUCER) to "collect, collate, evaluate, and distribute" within the government all information relating to such sightings, on the premise that UFOs might be real and of national security concern. (Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, p. 156 and Quintanilla, The Investigation of UFOs, p. 97.)

Amid mounting UFO sightings, the Air Force continued to collect and evaluate UFO data in the late 1940s under a new project, "GRUDGE", which tried to alleviate public anxiety over UFOs via a PR campaign designed to persuade the masses that UFOs constituted nothing unusual or extraordinary. UFO sightings were explained as "balloons, conventional aircraft, planets, meteors, optical illusions, solar reflections," or even "large hailstones." They recommended that the project be reduced in scope because the very existence of Air Force official interest encouraged people to believe in UFOs and contributed to a "war hysteria" atmosphere. On December 27, 1949, the Air Force announced the project's termination. (Air Force, Projects GRUDGE and BLUEBOOK Reports 1-12, National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, Washington, DC, 1968 and Jacobs, The UFO Controversy, pgs. 50-54.)

Now this is where it gets interesting; there seems to be a contradiction in facts as "evidenced" by the "Oral History Interview with Robert B. Landry" given February 28, 1974, by, James R. Fuchs for Harry S. Truman Library: (Robert B. Landry was a member of faculty, National War College, 1946; Executive Officer to Army Air Force Chief of Staff, General Carl Spaatz, 1947; United States Air Force Aide to President Truman, 1948-53).

Subject: UFOs;

Date: 1948

In this time period the UFO phenomenon was getting quite a bit of play in the press, radio, TV and from miscellaneous other sources. All manner of objects and things were being seen in the sky by people, including attempted UFO landings and UFO hoverings over isolated areas. There was even a report of seeing little men with big round heads getting in and out of a UFO. Well, the President, like any other citizen, is exposed to all these goings on, too.

In any case, I was called one afternoon to come to the Oval Office. The President wanted to see me. We talked about UFO reports and what might be the meaning for all these rather way?out reports of sightings, and the subject in general. The president said he hadn't give much serious thought to all these reports; but at the same time, he said, if there was any evidence of a strategic threat to the national security, the collection and evaluation of UFO data by Central Intelligence warranted more intense study and attention at the highest government level.

I was directed to report quarterly to the President after consulting with Central Intelligence people, as to whether or not any UFO incidents received by them could be considered as having any strategic threatening implications at all.

The report was to be made orally by me unless it was considered by intelligence to be so serious or alarming as to warrant a more detailed report in writing. During the four and one?half years in office there, all reports were made orally. Nothing of substance considered credible or threatening to the country was ever received from intelligence. Note: the Air Force had been charged by the Department of Defense with the collection and evaluation of UFO data from all sources such as the other services, the National Weather Service, and any other reliable source.

It would appear, based on "that interview" that the CIA was "directly involved" in the "investigation of UFOs" as early as 1948, not 1952, as previously mentioned in the article by “Gerald K. Haines.” Landry concludes that "nothing of substance considered credible or threatening to the country was ever received from intelligence," however we know that's not true based on Haines' article:

"a massive buildup of sightings over the United States in 1952, especially in July, alarmed the Truman administration. On 19 and 20 July, radarscopes at Washington National Airport and Andrews Air Force Base tracked mysterious blips. On 27 July, the blips reappeared."

Personally I believe that Landry played no real part in any serious investigation by CIA. I think his role, was for appearance sake, unwittingly. Truman was receiving "intelligence reports" on a daily and weekly basis, since 1946, from CIG, then CIA beginning in 47. There would have been no reason for Landry to be involved. Having said that, remember that "Flying Saucers" were being seen all over the country and were making headlines coast to coast. Any "lack of response" on Truman's part, I think would have been highly unusual. So, overtly, he tasked Landry in his minor role, to report to the President as to "appease" outward appearances of official concern of the "aerial phenomenon."

In conclusion, as more and more documents become "declassified," and "Ufology moves forward (albeit sometimes at a snail's pace), I think we as the public, won't be surprised to see the "ever changing" official positions of various government agencies. Moreover we've witnessed this in recent years, with the Air Force's explanation(s) of the "Roswell Incident." Fortunately, with man's advancement in personal technologies, e.g., desk top computers, camcorders, cellular phone cameras, and the internet, it's getting much harder for the government to pass off eye witness sightings of UFOs as, mass hysteria, hallucination, swamp gas, ball lightening or heat inversions. Because of that, this author feels we're coming to the inevitable, eventuality of "government disclosure" in regards to the UFO phenomenon.

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