There is one question that persistently circles
the community of Unidentified Flying Object (UFO)
true-believers: If the government has nothing to hide, UFO fans
often ask, then why is it keeping so many UFO records under lock
“Well, it turns out that the government does have something to
hide, but it has nothing to do with extraterrestrials,” said
Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy
at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C.
A document has surfaced that had been stamped “Top Secret
Umbra”—the codeword for the highest, most sensitive category of
The once-classified affidavit was originally filed by the
National Security Agency (NSA) in a 1980 lawsuit to justify the
withholding of records on UFOs. The document is largely
declassified—with certain sections cut out, ostensibly to
protect employee names, and keep NSA technologies, skills, and
foreign connections out of the limelight.
The document—In Camera Affidavit of Eugene F. Yeates: Citizens
Against UFO Secrecy v. National Security Agency, October 9,
1980—was released in redacted form on November 3 in response to
a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from researcher
Michael Ravnitzky and posted on the website of the Federation of
A read of the document yields insight into how a super-secret
agency like the NSA became caught up in the UFO phenomenon.
Created in November 1952, The National Security Agency/Central
Security Service is America’s cryptologic organization. It
coordinates, directs, and performs highly specialized activities
to protect U.S. government information systems and churns out
foreign signals intelligence information.
Being a high-tech organization, the NSA is a cutting-edge home
for communications and data processing. It is also a center for
foreign language analysis and research within the government.
The just-released 1980 document explains that a total of 239
documents related to UFOs were located in NSA files, with 79 of
those documents originating with other government agencies. One
document is an account by an NSA official attending a UFO
symposium. A healthy chunk of these reports were produced
between 1958 and 1979.
The titles of NSA-related UFO documents that are noted in the
declassified document are intriguing, such as UFO Hypothesis and
Another title cited is UFO’s and the
Intelligence Community Blind Spot to Surprise or Deceptive Data.
In this seven-page, undated, unofficial draft of a monograph
authored by an unnamed NSA employee, the author reportedly
points out what he considers to be “a serious shortcoming” in
the NSA’s communications intelligence (COMINT) interception and
reporting procedures. That is, “the inability to respond
correctly to surprising information or deliberately deceptive
The unidentified author uses the UFO phenomenon to illustrate
his belief that the inability of the U.S. intelligence community
to process this type of unusual data adversely affects U.S.
intelligence gathering capabilities.
Within the pages of the newly-released affidavit—and between
sections of excised copy—it shows NSA intercepted in 1971
communications between two aircraft and a ground controller
discussing a “phenomena” in the sky, as well as radar screen
observations, labeling what was viewed as “unidentifiable”
Other intercepted and decrypted reports of bright lights,
luminous objects, and unidentified aircraft—along with an
elongated ball of fire—scooting through the skies over non-U.S.
countries are noted too.
The 21-page affidavit makes clear that release of documents for
public scrutiny, for a variety of reasons, “would seriously
damage the ability of the United States to gather this vital
Furthermore, how the NSA works with a network of foreign
sources, organizations, and other governments to secure
intelligence data would be adversely affected.
The majority of these records, explained NSA official Eugene F.
Yeates in the 1980 affidavit, were communications intelligence
reports that “are the product of intercept operations directed
against foreign government controlled communications systems
within their territorial boundaries.”
According to Aftergood, the newly declassified Yeates affidavit
provides new insight into the types of records sought by UFO
researchers that have been withheld by NSA.
“Even with all of the deletions, one can get a sense of the
enormous scale—and the apparent success—of the worldwide
electronic intercept operations conducted by NSA at the height
of the Cold War,” Aftergood told SPACE.com.
“Unfortunately it is not clear from the affidavit how the
withheld documents might have related to UFOs,” Aftergood said.
“There must have been some connection in order for them to be
within the scope of the original FOIA request…but I have no idea
what it was.”
But for those hungry to show a great government conspiracy is at
work and that alien-driven UFOs routinely cruise through our
skies, the just brought to light document won’t help you.
“The affidavit does not discount the UFO phenomenon…it simply
doesn’t address it one way or the other,” Aftergood concluded.
Click here to read the NSA affidavit –
The following is a posting on UFO Updates by
Stanton Friedman (17th November, 2005)
I am sorry to inform you that both your 14 Nov. Secrecy News and
Leonard David's article about the NSA affidavit are grossly
misleading. Here are some facts:
1. The affidavit was first released in response to an FOIA
request in about 1981. It was about 75% blacked out. Judge
Gerhardt Gesell who saw none of the NSA's 156 UFO documents,
agreed they should not be released saying that The Public
interest in Disclosure was far outweighed by the threat to
national security should the documents (he saw none) be
released. The Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court,
again not seeing any of the 156 documents.
2. In about 1996, the NSA in response to EO 12958, decided to
release a much less censored (perhaps only 20% though not as
neat as your version)) version of the affidavit,and also
released all 156 NSA UFO documents that had previously been
withheld in their entirety. Unfortunately they were all almost
completed censored, this time with white out so that typically
only one or two lines per page could be read. From conversations
with the NSA FOIA office, I gather they were unhappy with my
showing the heavily redacted version of the affidavit on TV. It
is impossible to believe that the 95+% of the documents dealt
only with sources and methods.
3. In the mid 1980s I filed with the CIA a request for the 23
CIA UFO documents discovered by the NSA in response to Judge
Gesell's order to search. These, of course, could not be
released by the NSA. It took 2 years for the CIA to release 9
documents which were, believe it or not press abstracts of
Eastern European newspaper articles about UFOs which the Soviets
had the day they were released. I appealed their withholding of
the 14 CIA UFO documents and after 3 years received portions of
4. On some pages all but 8 or 10 words were blacked out. On one
page they said deny in toto. Couldn’t find even 8 words to
release... I filed again after 12958 and found no new words at
In short then this is not new news, and, not to mention the 95%+
of the whited out documents, is very misleading. Where is the
text of those? What is being witheld by the CIA?. So, yes,
Steven, there is a cosmic Watergate.
I should point out the 1969 comment by Air Force General Carroll
Bolender that "Reports of UFOs which could affect national
security are made in accordance with JANAP 146 or Air Force
Manual 55-11 and are not part of the Blue Book System". The Air
Force has never told the public that they had another channel
besides Project Blue Book.
I think some clarification is in order. If not, please let me
know what is in the other CIA UFO documents and in the 95% + of
the 156 NSA UFO documents.
Stanton T. Friedman
I had a Q clearance for 14 years and have been to 20 document