Mar 21, 2022 I Nick Redfern

How and Why Government Agencies Destroy Top Secret Files We Expect To Be Kept Hidden

In my latest two articles, I made it clear that - over the years and decades - more than a few highly sensitive government files on UFOs had gone missing. As in gone forever. And that eventually those same files were totally destroyed. It's not at al impossible. One such file (or, multiple files) concerned the 1980 Rendlesham Forest "UFO landing" event. The other file was focused on Roswell. What else, of course? I've heard people say there is no way that such important material would ever be burned or shredded. You would be wrong, despite their importance. There is a perfect - and controversial - example that shows how and why high-level, important U.S. government files were destroyed. In the case, today, I'm talking about top secret papers concerning the CIA's MK-Ultra "mind-control" program. The destroying of the MK-Ultra papers went down - forever - between 1972 and 1973. That was when massive amounts of MK-Ultra files were destroyed on the orders of the CIA director at the time, Richard Helms. The reasoning behind the destruction was simple: the program was in danger of being compromised by the U.S. media and the U.S. Senate. And, as most of the mind-control work had long been perfected, the old, historical records – which told the stories of the abuses that went on in the program – were deemed vital to be destroyed. But, how did this situation come about? Let’s see.

It was in late 1972 that certain high-ranking figures in the CIA had been carefully and quietly providing U.S. journalists with highly-classified information on MK-Ultra. And it wasn’t just information that was being clandestinely shared, but official MK-Ultra documents too. With such secret papers in the hands of the press – which revealed the long and shocking story of how the CIA had been using people, against their will, in their mind-manipulation programs – all hell broke loose in the CIA, Helms demanded to know who was doing the leaking. It was imperative, he said, that whoever was doing it should be found and arrested as soon as possible. The answer to who it was that was giving such material to the media was never firmly proved. But, there is no doubt that it was a Deep Throat meets Edward Snowden-type character. When the U.S. media began to write what it knew about MK-Ultra at the time (which was limited but certainly growing in clarity) the U.S. Senate took notice too. Matters were in danger of spiraling out of control. And rapidly so, too. Director Helms knew that something had to be done, otherwise just about everything MK-Ultra had ever been done would soon be in the public domain.

Helms chose none other than Sidney Gottlieb to take control of the situation – Gottlieb having been the man who ran the occult-driven Operation Often program, which began in the latter part of the 1960s. Helms ordered Gottlieb, on the morning of January 30, 1973, to drive over to a certain installation owned by the CIA in Warrenton, Virginia. It was a facility which just happened to house hundreds of thousands of pages of MK-Ultra-themed documents. The director of the facility was outraged – after all, we're talking about massive amounts of documentation from one of the CIA’s most significant projects being destroyed at what pretty much amounted to a whim. But, that same director was hardly in a position to argue, as the orders were coming from the most senior figure in the CIA, Richard Helms.

Sidney Gottlieb arrived early in the morning and ordered that every single piece of paper on MK-Ultra be made available to him. Cart upon cart of files were taken to the facility’s furnace. Gottlieb then order personnel from the Technical Services Division to destroy the files by burning them all. Gottlieb stood in grim-faced silence as the documents were destroyed. It was an operation which took most of the day. When the task was over, Gottlieb returned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and told a relieved Helms that the job had been completed. That was not the end of things though: an order went out to every CIA substation, to every college and university that may have conducted research on MK-Ultra for them, and to every other arm of the Intelligence community to destroy anything and everything linked to the program. Inevitably some – in fact, many – survived the order of destruction.

What this tells us is that extremely important files can get burned or shredded by government agencies. And, with MK-Ultra were burned and were shredded. And those files will never be seen again - simply because they no longer exist. That could well be the case with Roswell and Rendlesham, too: so many ufologists assume that secret UFO files are always hidden away, when, really, they're just 100 percent destroyed.

NOTE: The CIA/MK-Ultra documents used in this article were released under the terms of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and, as a result, are now in the public domain.

Nick Redfern

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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