'Lost Symbol': Dan Brown's New Book Has Nothing on Real-Life Conspiracies

The memo makes mention of tests that were to be done in Cincinnati and mentioned that journalists were seeking more information. But the single page, dated July 8, 1947, concluded: "NO FURTHER INVESTIGATION BEING CONDUCTED."

There are many more than 1,600 pages on UFO sightings in the FBI's section of the Unusual Phenomena Listing of FOIA documents.

Americans are not the only ones with UFO sightings. Over at the CIA's online FOIA Reading Room, there is an account of local reports from outside Vilnius, near the Lithuanian border, of two police officers seeing "a spherical object hanging and 'pulsing,' alternately shrinking and expanding."

The CIA's 'Family Jewels'

Additional police were summoned, and they tape-recorded the electrical "crackle" the flying saucer made and "noted that the tall grass around the place over which the sphere had 'hung' was flattened to a radius of 10 meters."

The Lithuania sighting report is among the 25 most downloaded documents at the CIA's FOIA reading room.

For a more guided tour of CIA documents on UFOs, click on the Agency's report "CIA's role in the study of UFOs, 1947-1990."

There is a more inclusive study of government documents on UFO sightings at the National Archives reading room.

Also among the top 25 downloaded documents at the CIA's FOIA reading room is an August 1980 daily intelligence assessment that examines not only the deteriorating military situation for Russia after its invasion of Afghanistan, but also attempts by the Iraq government in 1980 to buy uranium from Niger.

There is a 700-page report on the Bay of Pigs.

Perhaps most interesting on the CIA Web site is a declassified version of its "Family Jewels" report, detailing 25 years of agency misdeeds, released through FOIA 15 years after it was first requested. The so-called Family Jewels is supposed to be an exhaustive report on all the secrets the CIA kept. The National Security Archive, an independent information repository run through George Washington University, decodes the Family Jewels memo.

But don't look to FOIA-released documents for complete clarity. Many of them retain heavy redactions. In the "Family Jewels" report, the National Security Archive points out that some documents were less heavily redacted in earlier releases.

Secret FBI and CIA Documents Not So Enlightening

Nearly every government agency has a FOIA reading room. The Department of Justice has an index of them here.

And we haven't even gotten to the war in Vietnam, the war in Iraq, or other document-rich government activities.

On the home page of the National Archives is the claim that all the documents there could circle the earth 57 times if placed end to end. That is a lot of digging.

Most of the documents have nothing to do with celebrities, UFOs or CIA misdeeds. They are each one piece of a narrative thread that, without context, despite how interesting they might be, are less than enlightening.

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