It's one of the most widely-asked questions that arises when anyone discusses government secrets: Did aliens land in Roswell, NM in 1947? Now, after the FBI has just opened up access to an online "vault" of previously-secret documents, that question may have just become a lot less crazy.
"The Vault" is not just the figurative name for the new cache of documents. It is the official name the FBI has given to, as the Salt Lake Tribune explains, a "revamped FBI website for documents that have been released through the Freedom of Information Act and have been recently or often requested."
According to the website, The Vault contains over 2,000 searchable documents. Enter a keyword, and a list of documents matching that term pops up. Roswell is one such term:
It's that last term that produces a document the Daily Mail says may show that aliens did in fact land in Roswell. It explains:
A bizarre memo that appears to prove that aliens did land in New Mexico prior to 1950 has been published by the FBI. [...]
Among them is a memo to the director from Guy Hottel, the special agent in charge of the Washington field office in 1950.
In the memo, whose subject line is 'Flying Saucers', Agent Hottel reveals that an Air Force investigator had stated that 'three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico'.
The investigator gave the information to a special agent, he said. The FBI has censored both the agent and the investigator's identity.
Agent Hottel went on to write: 'They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter.
'Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall,' he stated.
The bodies were 'dressed in a metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed flyers and test pilots.'
He said that the informant, whose identity was censored in the memo, claimed the saucers had been found in New Mexico 'due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with teh controlling mechanism of the saucers'.
He then stated that the special agent did not attempt to investigate further.
This is Hottel's memo:
The Tribune notes that other documents point to UFO investigations in Utah:
On April 4, 1949, FBI agents in Utah sent a cable marked “urgent” to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. It said an Army guard at the Ogden Supply Depot, a Logan policeman and a Utah Highway Patrol officer in Mantua each saw from miles apart a UFO — which they said exploded over Utah.
Under the title “Flying Discs,” the cable said they “saw a silver colored object high up approaching the mountains at Sardine Canyon” that “appeared to explode in a rash of fire. Several residents at Trenton … [reported] seeing what appeared to be two aerial explosions followed by falling object.”
But aliens aren't the only topic one can find in the troves of files. According to the Tribune, the documents also show the FBI was looking into whether the Salt Lake City NAACP had been infiltrated by communists:
A memo said the Communist Party wanted the NAACP “to win leadership among negro organizations,” and “various attempts have been made by the CP [Communist Party] to infiltrate and dominate certain NAACP branches through the country.”
“The new website significantly increases the number of available FBI files, enhances the speed at which the files can be accessed, and contains a robust search capability,” David Hardy, chief of the FBI’s Record/Information Dissemination Section, said in a statement.
You can view the documents yourself here.