The truth is finally out there. Or it’s available for anyone who wants to read through the approximately 2,780 pages of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents that detailed the agency’s research into unidentified flying objects (UFOs). This month, UFO-related records dating back to the 1980s have been declassified and many are now posted on the Black Vault after the website’s owner, John Greenewald Jr., filed a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The U.S. intelligence agency has claimed this represents the entirety of its “UFO collection.” But it is far from the only records to touch on what can only be described as the “paranormal.” Another recently declassified memo highlighted that in 1991 the CIA knew that Russian scientists were conducting experiments on extrasensory perception – or ESP – to gain information and influence physical objects using only the mind. The memo even suggested that one of the Russian scientists had “perfected” the methods to use ESP.

In a blog post, Greenewald said the Black Vault had worked since 1996 to obtain the CIA’s documents on UFOs and ESP.

Even more paranormal-related documents could be coming, as lawmakers tacked on an order for the federal government to release additional UFO information to last month’s Covid-19 relief bill.

The Declassification Process

It is unclear how many requests the CIA received for its files on the paranormal, but lawmakers in Washington have warned that the declassification process has been overwhelmed by a flood of records that are still awaiting review.

Earlier this month, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) told the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), “I intend to push the director of National Intelligence to fix a broken declassification system.”

Each year on December 31 classified documents that turn 25 years old are automatically declassified, but in part because of the Covid-19 pandemic, some agencies sought to extend the deadlines. However, unless specific records are reviewed and found to be the subject of an authorized exemption, the content is declassified.

It is unclear if the UFO/ESP records would have had an extension but in the case of those it doesn’t seem as if national security was at stake. However, to resolve such issues, the FAS has called for a “drop dead” date to be instituted that would not require a review.

As FAS explained in a post, “prior classification status would simply lapse without any further processing,” an approach that was favorite by the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) during the Clinton Administration.

Forty Years

In human years, 40 is generally considered to be “middle aged,” and could also serve as a good benchmark for most records. More than 99% of all files, even those that receive an extension, tend to be declassified by that point the head of the ISOO suggested in the 1990s.

Fast forward to now, and FAS has argued that 25 years should remain a good starting point for a “drop dead” date. The issue is that some documents – such as those involving national security and high tech military hardware – would still require extensions and thus negate the very concept of a drop dead date.

An example is documents that contain information on nuclear weapons, which are classified under the Atomic Energy Act and therefore cannot be declassified by fiat, no matter the age. Likewise, documents that contain classified information controlled by international agreements or treaties are also protected regardless of how much time passes. Supporters of a drop dead date suggest these are just a small fraction of old records that now await declassification.

It is likely that the most secret documents – those related to nuclear weapons and controlled by treaty – will never be made public, but it is still unclear if the declassification process will be addressed anytime soon. Until then at least, those wanting to know what the government has been keeping secret has thousands of newly released documents to look through.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer who covers business technology and cyber security. He currently lives in Michigan and can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.