The best argument in favor of a massive government conspiracy centering on UFOs has always been the U.S. Air Force’s need to keep information on the Roswell incident, UFO sightings, and other topics top-secret long after there was any legitimate national security reason to do so. Keeping a lid on Project Mogul, Project Blue Book, and so on was arguably defensible before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but the idea that the Air Force still needs to keep information on 1950s-era experimental aircraft away from the now-nonexistent Soviet Union is a little far-fetched, and people assume, not without reason, that this means there’s something sneakier afoot. Could it be aliens?
I don’t think so, and I’ve explained why, but I don’t feel sorry for government officials who are implicated in these conspiracies. That’s the price of keeping conspicuous secrets: people have to speculate to fill the explanatory gaps that you’ve created, and sometimes the stuff they come up with isn’t very flattering. It can even feed into anti-government paranoia, which is itself a pretty considerable national security threat these days.
So while I’m excited that the U.S. Air Force has decided to release the 12,618 UFO reports comprising Projects Sign, Grudge, and Blue Book (and seriously, check them out; they’re incredibly fun to skim through and you’ll lose hours browsing them if you’re not careful), I’m also kind of wondering what took them so long. The most recent reports come from the first year of the Nixon administration, which means that even the new stuff happened before the Beatles broke up—and none of these reports seem to describe anything that needs covering up. So why keep it all a secret for a half-century?
That’s a question I can’t answer. And until I can answer it, I can’t get too upset at anybody for thinking there might be more going on here than meets the eye.