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Area 51: “I can’t discuss it, sir.”

Although the story of Area 51 didn’t really take off big time until 1989 – which was when Bob Lazar entered the scene in controversial and eyebrows-raising fashion – there were significant indications as far back as 1984 that something very weird and deeply conspiratorial was going down out in the heart of the Nevada Desert. We know this, thanks to a now-declassified U.S. Government document of 1987 on what are referred to in its pages as “military land withdrawals. The title: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Interior and Insular Affairs, House of Representatives, Ninety-Ninth Congress, Second Session.

Rayburn building

On March 11, 1986, beginning at 9:45 a.m., in room B-352, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable John F. Seiberling made a notable statement on the U.S. Air Force’s plans to prevent American citizens from accessing massive slabs of land that, legally, the Air Force had no right to claim as their own. That land, of course, was – as the government saw things – way too close to Area 51 for comfort. But, before we get to that, let’s take a look at a certain controversy that was going down in 1984. It provides us with a timeline that led directly to the events of March 11, 1986.

In his 1991 book, Alien Liaison, British ufologist Timothy Good wrote: “In early 1984 the U.S. Air Force illegally seized 89,000 acres of public land, known as the Groom Range, in order to further restrict access to Area 51. The decision to control access was made after the consultation with local Bureau of Land Management officials and after USAF Headquarters had conferred with the Air Force Secretariat.”

Groom Range

As a result of this controversial land-grabbing operation, in August 1984 a hearing was held to specifically address this issue. It was held in the U.S. House of Representatives. The debate was between the Honorable John Rittenhouse – who was there to represent the interests of the Air Force – and the Chairman, the Honorable John F. Seiberling. The debate went as follows:

Seiberling: “Is it true that Air Force has already acted to restrict public use of the Groom Range area?”

Rittenhouse: “Yes, sir, it is true. We have asserted the right to control the surface access and egress to the extent of requesting people not to go in and out. We have people posted to the roads and at certain times we do not. We ask their cooperation.”

Seiberling: “Under what legal authority was that done; that right asserted?”

Rittenhouse: “As far as I know, sir, there is none; except decisions were made at a much, much higher level than mine that that be done.”

Seiberling: “There is no higher level than the laws of the United States.”

Rittenhouse: “No, sir, I understand, and we can describe that further if you would like, sir.”

Seiberling: “I would like.”

Rittenhouse: “In closed briefing.”

Seiberling: “Why would that have to be in a closed briefing?”

Rittenhouse: “I can’t discuss it, sir.”

Seiberling: “Shades of Watergate. All I am asking you is under what legal authority this was done. I am not asking you the technical reasons. That certainly is not classified.”

Rittenhouse: “As I stared earlier, originally we had no legal authority but we asserted the right to request people not to enter that area.”

Seiberling: “How?”

Rittenhouse: “We legally did not have that authority.”

In a November 20, 1985 Public Hearing for Renewal of Groom Lake Mountain Range Land Withdrawal, at Alamo, Nevada, numerous people had their say in relation to this highly controversial and charged issue. One of the irate locals stated – and whose words have become a part of the official, public record – that: “I’d like to know how the military can hide behind the guise of national security when you have broken all of the rules that’s supposed to ensure this country’s freedom, denying our access, holding us at gunpoint when you feel necessary, not telling people you’re withdrawing it for our own good. You can’t tell me why you’ve broken all the rules? And you say it’s national security.”

Things were destined to become even more controversial a few years later, which was when Bob Lazar surfaced…

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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