At Last, CIA Admits Area 51 Is Real

But the back story doesn't include aliens

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff | Suggested by T.A.R.D.I.S

Posted Aug 16, 2013 11:18 AM CDT

(Newser) – It's a milestone of sorts for conspiracy theorists: The CIA has for the first time declassified documents that detail the existence of Area 51 in Nevada, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The documents, obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by a national security institute at George Washington University, explain that Area 51 got its start in 1955 because the government needed a place to test U-2 spy planes. Aliens in crashed spaceships are nowhere to be found in the documents. But here's one weird detail that is: The government initially called it "Paradise Ranch" to make the "facility in the middle of nowhere" sound more alluring to workers.

The documents include a CIA map of the site, which is pretty much the same one that has long been available in a Google Maps search for "Area 51," notes CNN. So what's the big deal here? It's "clearly a conscious decision to acknowledge the name, the location rather than play pretend about the secrecy,” says the researcher who filed the FOIA request, Jeffrey Richelson. It should pave the way for the release of even more information about the site, he adds. You can dig into the 400 pages of documents here.

A map of Area 51.   (National Security Archive (thanks to a George Washingtion University researcher))
A car moves along the Extraterrestrial Highway near Rachel, Nevada. The ET highway was established by the Nevada Legislature in 1996 and runs along the eastern border of Area 51.   (AP Laura Rauch, File)
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