Area 51, Truth Seekers 0
Bush reissues order keeping Nevada site secret.
For more than four decades, an unusual alliance of mainstream
lawyers, conspiracy theorists and UFO enthusiasts has tried to find
out just what is going on at Groom Lake, Nev. — the top-security Air
Force facility better known to fans of "The X-Files" as Area 51. Now
they will have to wait at least another year after President Bush
reissued an executive order Wednesday barring the disclosure of any
information about the site.
In the continuation of a drama played out every Sept. 18 since 1995,
Bush signed the order to make sure that lawyers pursuing hazardous-
waste claims against the Environmental Protection Agency could not
get their hands on classified information about the site, which lies
in the middle of a remote stretch of desert 100 miles north of LasVegas.
The government did not even acknowledge the existence of the
site until the mid-1990s, when it had to begin responding to workers'
claims of injuries resulting from hazardous waste practices.
Even now, all the Air Force will say is that the area is used
"for the testing of technologies and systems training for operations
critical to the effectiveness of U.S. military forces and the
security of the United States." It insists that "specific activities
and operations ... both past and present, remain classified and
cannot be discussed."
Although exasperated government lawyers say nothing nefarious
is going on at Groom Lake, they have gone to herculean lengths to
make sure no one knows what is going on at Groom Lake.
President Dwight Eisenhower began the process all the way
back in 1955, when he issued an executive order restricting airspace
over the site. Then, in 1995, President Bill Clinton raised the
stakes by issuing an order clamping down on discussion or release of
any information whatsoever.
That was about the time attorneys for former government
workers began taking their rejected medical claims to court. Those
lawyers believe the government is trying to keep the site secret to
avoid having to admit it mishandled hazardous materials, exposing the
workers to toxic fumes when it allegedly dumped poisonous resins into
open pits and burned them in the 1970s and '80s.
There is another group, however, that thinks something else
entirely is going on at Groom Lake — something spooky, something
To this group, the site is known as Area 51, the nexus of the
greatest government cover-up in history. It is, they say, where the
government studies alien spaceships, where it keeps captured
unidentified flying objects stored in underground bases, and where it
conducts autopsies on aliens.
Writers for "The X-Files" were able to dredge up numerous
scripts from stories that have built up since May 1989, when a
physicist named Bob Lazar told a Las Vegas television station about
nine alien flying saucers he said were being held near Groom Lake by
a rogue agency of the federal government.
Lazar claimed that the government was studying the propulsion
system of the spacecraft, which were flown to Earth from the Zeta
Reticuli star system. According to Lazar, the Reticulans have been
overseeing human evolution for a hundred centuries, and since they
were found out, they have been cooperating with the U.S. government
on a direct exchange of technology.
The government, to the extent that it has commented at all,
says Lazar's account is utter nonsense.
More prosaically, mainstream scientists suggest, the government
simply wishes to limit its liability as it establishes the Nevada
Test Site at nearby Yucca Mountain as a storage repository for
hazardous nuclear waste. Those alleging an extraterrestrial
conspiracy say instead that Yucca Mountain was chosen precisely so
federal researchers could have unfettered access to its stored
nuclear energy sources via a secret underground tunnel.
In any event, the government has argued that it cannot say
anything about Area 51, and it has fought workers' lawyers zealously
in court to keep government documents about the site sealed. One of
those lawyers, Jonathan Turley of George Washington University,
described the courtroom jousting with federal lawyers as
"otherworldly." And every year since Clinton issued his executive
order in 1995, the White House has reaffirmed the cloak of secrecy on
Presumably, as Agent Mulder would have it, "the truth is out
there." Just don't ask the president.