The Herald Bulletin

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Editorials

August 23, 2013

Editorial: Area 51 is not a mythical place

When visitors from other planets came to the United States, they were shepherded by the Central Intelligence Agency into a remote desert compound called Area 51.

Any true conspiracy theorist will acknowledge that claim as fact.

The clandestine site, about 90 miles north of Las Vegas, has been a part of American folklore since the 1950s. That's the decade when the spot actually served as a testing ground for the U2 surveillance plane and other Cold War spy devices.

Though the government denied its existence, Area 51 sparked imaginative minds. Americans would look into the night skies and speculate that high-flying jets were really flying saucers.

Sci-fi flicks popped up from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" in 1951 to "Independence Day" in 1996 (in which the president, played by actor Bill Pullman, maintains, "Contrary to what you may have read in the tabloids, there is no Area 51 ..." To which actor James Rebhorn — an Anderson native — replies, "Excuse me, Mr. President? That's not entirely accurate."

TV more than covered the cover-up. Space beings were fought in "The Invaders" from 1967-68. At the turn of the current century, "Roswell" showed aliens living among earthlings as Y2K threatened our existence. From 1993 to 2002, FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully tracked down conspiracy theories on "The X-Files" hoping to prove "the truth is out there."

It seems the truth is truly within grasp.

Last week, George Washington University's National Security Archive released a copy of the CIA's history of the U-2 program. The 400-page report from 1992 officially placed the research site near Edwards Air Force Base.

The report follows the long quest by Jeffrey Richelson, a senior fellow at the National Security Archives, who saw the history in 2002 but any mention of Area 51 had been redacted. He renewed a Freedom of Information request and last month got the copy with mentions of Area 51 intact.

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