Unsealed: Alien Files (2012–…): Season 4, Episode 3 - The Freedom of Information Act - full transcript

In 1969, the U.S. government officially announces it will stop investigating UFOs, but declassified documents reveal that multiple government agencies have been hiding important UFO sightings for decades.

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[narrator] In 1969,
the United States government

officially announces
it will stop investigating UFOs,

but trust in the government
is about to hit rock bottom.

The 1972 Watergate scandal
opens the door for a 1974 amendment

to the Freedom of Information Act
granting the public unprecedented access

to secret government files.

They reveal that
while the US Department of Defense

may have closed
its public investigation into UFOs,

hundreds of well-documented sightings
still defy explanation.

The declassified documents also reveal
that multiple government agencies

have been hiding
important UFO sightings for decades.

Join us as we investigate why top-secret
government agencies still study UFOs,

but keep their findings classified.

A global effort has begun.

Secret files hidden from
the public for decades,

detailing every UFO account
are now available to the public.

We are about to uncover the truth
behind these classified documents.

Find out what the government
doesn't want you to know.

Unsealed: Alien Files,

exposing the biggest secrets
on planet Earth.

In 1975, UFO sightings spike
in all corners of North America,

many near military installations.

It's documented that
unidentified craft were getting

into restricted air zones,
even above nuclear installations.

[narrator] Who or what
is entering restricted air space,

and what is the US military
doing to stop it?

Unsealed case file:
the Wurtsmith incident.

Oscoda, Michigan.
October 30, 1975.

On the shores of Lake Huron,
civilian and military personnel

witness strange lights in the sky.

In 1975, at Wurtsmith Air Force Base,

there was an incident that was
described as unidentified craft

being seen outside
of this military installation

that shouldn't have been there.

And so, they had a tanker in the air
that went to go check it out,

to try and see and determine
what this craft was.

[narrator] But as the tanker
approaches the unidentified craft,

something extraordinary happens.

They were very bright lights,
but when the military

tried to fly towards them,
they switched off in sync.

As the tanker apparently approached
these objects, they did confirm it,

not only visually,
but they confirmed it by radar.

So, whatever was there was actually there.

[narrator] Despite visual
and radar confirmation,

the Wurtsmith incident,
like many of its kind,

would have remained hidden from the public
without the Freedom of Information Act.

Officials dismiss the incident
as lights from an Apache helicopter,

but the report leaves
more questions than answers.

Was it truly a helicopter?

Or was that just simply the label
and the best definition

that they could put on the craft?

[narrator] Cases like
the Wurtsmith incident

mark an important change
in the way UFOs are studied

and reported inside the government.

But to understand why,
we must go back nearly a decade.

Unsealed case file:
the Condon Report.

In 1966, Edward Condon led what has now
become known as the Condon Committee.

And what they were doing
was analyzing what the cases were

that were still unidentified
in the Blue Book system.

And in 22 years,
they investigated 12,768 sightings.

Only 701 of those remained unidentified.

[narrator] But many critics argue
the Condon Committee's findings

are a foregone conclusion.

His final conclusions in that report were

that UFOs were nothing
to be bothered with,

nothing to be...
And his other conclusion was that

from 1947 till 1968, when it was released,

no scientific information, nothing
of importance could be gleaned

from the subject of UFOs.

In 1969, the US government
terminated Project Blue Book

and said, "We are no longer interested
in investigating UFO sightings."

There's something to this phenomena
that the intelligence community

knows is important
but doesn't want us to know about.

In 1969, the US government shut down

their official Air Force investigation
called Project Blue Book,

claiming that studying UFOs has
added nothing to scientific advancement.

But by the mid-1970s, public interest
in UFOs is only getting stronger.

And one incident in 1976
shocked civilians and the military

to their core.

Unsealed case file:
the Tehran Incident.

Tehran, Iran.
September 19, 1976.

In September of 1976,
in the middle of Tehran, Iran,

an air base there was receiving
quite a few phone calls

about a mysterious object
that was seen hovering over the city.

[narrator] Iranian Air Force generals

scramble two American-made
F-4 Phantom fighter jets to intercept,

but just as the first pilot realizes
that the object is unlike anything

he has ever seen before,

his controls mysteriously shut down.

He is called back to base,
and the second F-4 takes a closer look.

As it got the same amount
of distance as the first plane,

something different happened.

A second UFO appeared
from the first one.

Then, all of a sudden,
the second UFO jetted forward

towards the incoming F-4 phantom jet.

So, the next thing that he does
is he arms his AIM-4 missile.

He flips the switch,
and he's gonna fire that.

He goes to fire in 3, 2, 1.

Everything shuts off.

He has no control over the firing.
He sees an incoming object,

and he can't do a thing.

[narrator] The pilot fears
for his life and takes evasive action,

throwing his plane into a dive.

As he's seeing this object
come towards him,

again, assuming it was a missile,

before it impacts his craft,
it makes a dip,

it loops around his aircraft
and rejoins the original UFO,

as pretty much to say,
"I don't think so. Don't even try it."

[narrator] The UFOs maneuver
in a way that defies

any known aircraft capabilities
at the time.

[Greenewald] There was actually
a third UFO that appeared,

as the pilot saw it, come out of the side
of the original craft,

then goes towards Earth
and actually lands on the ground.

It's said to have cast a large light
about a-third of a kilometer

in diameter on the ground.

[narrator] American officers
are secretly dispatched to Tehran,

where they conduct a lengthy
interview with the Iranian pilots,

officers, and air control personnel.

The report is sent to top-level agencies
within the US government.

I've never seen a UFO document
be forwarded that widely.

The CIA, the NSA, the FBI,
and, again, even the White House

received a copy of this report.

[narrator] Why does the US government
take such an intense interest

in the Tehran incident,
seven years after the air force said

that studying UFOs does not
further scientific knowledge?

Obviously, if a UFO can disable
a fighter jet in Tehran,

it can do it in the United States.

Does the government
take it seriously? Absolutely.

This proves, beyond a doubt,
that the UFO phenomena was real.

This proves, beyond a doubt,
that they were still interested in it,

and this proves, beyond any doubt,
that this was technology

that we don't even
have today, decades later.

[narrator] Experts today still cannot
explain the Tehran incident.

[Greenewald] But the most fascinating part
to me is not necessarily the case itself,

but it's the fact that we can read it.

If you couple this case,
and you put it next

to the hundreds and hundreds
of blacked-out cases on UFOs

that are blacked out
from top to bottom,

if you can read this one,

what in the heck is under
the black in this one?

[narrator] Encounters such as
the Tehran incident raise questions

about how much the government
may be hiding from the public.

In 1977, a leading independent
UFO researcher named William Spaulding

files a lawsuit against the CIA for
violating the Freedom of Information Act.

Spaulding, like a lot of people
in the UFO community,

was fairly suspicious of the government
and he didn't believe it.

So, he pushed and pushed
until finally it went to a lawsuit,

and the CIA was forced,
by order of the judge,

to look for records.

[narrator] The court forces the CIA
to release thousands of pages

of UFO files, files they officially
claimed did not exist.

William Spaulding's 1977 lawsuit
marked fundamental change

in how the UFO community used
the Freedom of Information Act

to go after this issue aggressively.

This was such a huge embarrassment
that the then Director of the CIA

asked his own officials
in a panicked memo,

"Are we in UFOs?"

[narrator] CIA, Department of Defense,
and United States Air Force documents

reveal that in 1975,
reliable military personnel

repeatedly witnessed UFOs

over weapons storage areas
and nuclear missile facilities.

Among the UFO incidents listed
in the declassified files

is the Wurtsmith sighting.

Why is it that military personnel
are always told

"Don't talk about what you saw
to anybody?" And the answer's obvious.

If you're trying to deliver
a message to the public

that these things are nothing
to worry about, you don't want

your employees going around
talking about 'em like they're real.

[narrator] Declassified documents

made available by the US
Freedom of Information Act of 1974

reveal that despite claims
to the contrary,

the US government
is still actively investigating UFOs.

But one case involving high-ranking
United States Air Force personnel

stationed in England becomes a watershed
sighting in the history of ufology.

Unsealed case file:
the Rendlesham Forest Incident.

December 1980.

The Rendlesham Forest UFO incident

took place in December, 1980,
in the United Kingdom,

but involved
two United States Air Force bases.

These were actually
two of the most important

and sensitive bases in the entire
NATO military alliance.

And this was a time
of great tension in the Cold War.

[narrator] For three nights
at the twin air force bases,

RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge,
witnesses investigate

a remarkable close encounter.

On the first night of what was actually
three nights of consecutive activity,

this UFO landed.

Security, police, and law enforcement
personnel in the military went out

and encountered a small triangular craft
which had landed in a clearing.

[narrator] One of the airmen
gets close enough

to report seeing strange symbols
on the side of the UFO

and even claims to touch the craft.

After a while, it rose slowly
up above the ground.

It cleared the tops of the trees,
and it accelerated away at immense speed.

[narrator] On the third night,

Deputy Base Commander Colonel Charles Halt
joins the investigation.

He threw together
a small team of military,

and he went out into the forest,
in his own words,

"to debunk this UFO nonsense,

and to put this whole ridiculous story
to bed for once and for all."

[narrator] But nothing could prepare
Colonel Halt for what he was about to see.

[Pope] Over a period of some hours
saw extraordinary activity in the sky,

including an object which fired

a pencil-thin beam of light
down at his feet during his own sighting.

It was his habit to carry with him
a small hand-held cassette recorder

on which he documented his observations.

This we have on audiotape.
That tape has survived.

[narrator] That tape, recorded
by Colonel Halt during the encounter,

is considered one of the most compelling
pieces of UFO evidence in history.

[Halt speaking on recording]

Taken collectively,
the Rendlesham Forest incident

is the most compelling, best evidenced,

and I think,
significant UFO incident in the world.

[narrator] But the significance
goes far beyond eyewitness accounts.

[Pope] There was indeed both
a Royal Air Force and a NATO report

that the radar establishments did indeed
have an uncorrelated target.

[Murillo] And they measure
the radiation at this site,

and the radiation is spiked.

There's radiation where it shouldn't be,
the edge of a forest. Why?

[narrator] After the incident,
Halt makes an official report

to the UK Ministry of Defence,

a seminal document now known
as The Halt Memo.

It's an extraordinary document.
It's got this very low-key title,

"Unexplained Lights."

And you actually read the thing,
it talks quite clearly

about a landed metallic
craft and about the physical evidence

in terms, particularly,
of the radioactivity levels.

There is absolutely no doubt
that these documents

are the government's
own investigation of this.

So, did the Rendlesham Incident
actually occur?

Yes, it absolutely did occur.

Multiple witnesses.
We had an object on the ground.

We had radiation.

We had the deputy commander of the base
involved, who actually saw it.

Despite the compelling evidence,

the UK military concludes
that the Rendlesham Forest sightings

are an optical illusion.

But 20 years later,
under mounting public pressure,

the UK government commissions
an in-depth study of many UFO sightings

across the country.

Unsealed case file:
the Condign Report.

Project Condign was a UK government
intelligence study

into the UFO phenomenon.

The final report was stamped
"Secret. UK eyes only."

[narrator] The Condign Report
tries to answer questions

that have lingered
since the Cold War.

Could UFO sightings
be Soviet technology?

Are they our own
top-secret black projects?

Or is it really just
atmospheric anomalies?

[Pope] One of the other
fascinating things is that

they actually dropped the term "UFO,"
and replaced it with "UAP,"

Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon.

So, when we use phrases like "UAP,"
it steers people almost away

from a nuts-and-bolts interpretation

that we're dealing with
solid-structure craft,

and it focuses the debate on, for example,
exotic atmospheric plasmas,

which is one
of the Project Condign conclusions.

[narrator] Declassified documents prove
that government agencies

have been investigating UFOs long
after they claim to no longer be

interested in the phenomena.

But when it comes to disclosure,
the National Security Agency

looks like it has come
to the end of the line.

The National Security Agency has
really shifted towards kind of more

of the spying role.

They're the ones that go out and try
and figure out what the other enemies

of the United States of America
are actually doing.

[narrator] According to John Greenewald,
the NSA has admitted

it hasn't been keeping
its records in good order

Under the Freedom of Information Act,
you can request

what's called a Mandatory
Declassification Review.

[narrator] Greenewald sends a request
to review 100% of all UFO records

that the NSA has released.

After waiting a considerable
amount of time,

the National Security Agency told me,
under the Freedom of Information Act,

that they lost 100% of those files.

[narrator] What kind of secret
is so compelling that even

the documents pertaining
to its existence have been erased?

Having done this job from the inside,
I've met a number of people,

politicians, military officers,
intelligence community personnel,

who are absolutely convinced
that some UFOs do indeed involve

visitation of extraterrestrial spacecraft
and, indeed, entities.

If it takes 30, 40, 50 years
for these secrets to be declassified,

it's possible that our children,
our grandchildren will see

a whole new batch
of evidence come to light.

[narrator] Have governments made
contact with an extraterrestrial being?

And if they have,
why are they keeping it a secret?

This is Unsealed: Alien Files,

exposing the biggest secret
on planet Earth.