During all the UFO sightings in the late 1940's and 50's, the U.S. government was experimentally dosing the American population with LSD.
A raft of newly unclassified CIA documents reveal that the remote possibility of alien invasion elicited greater fear than a Soviet nuclear attack.
More interesting still, the CIA documents show that despite decades of repeated public denials, behind the scenes there raged a series of inter-agency feuds which implicated the highest levels of the US government.
The subject of UFOs and dabbling in psychological warfare techniques not only focused the attention of the US elite levels for 50 years but some of the greatest scientific and military minds of the era were involved in the effort.
A Herald investigation, to be published on Saturday, shows that throughout the 1950s, CIA files clearly document an explosion of activity by US intelligence and military bodies concerned with studying every possible implication for the US, and Western democracies, of UFOs.
The phenomenon, so adored by the cinematic world - from mind control and space travel to extra-terrestrial life - was reflected in the CIA's fixations. Indeed, while highly educated CIA employees experimented by giving each other surprise LSD trips in 1953, there were others, in other parts of the agency, dealing with a huge flood of UFO reports.
Significantly, however, after a burst of intense scrutiny in the early '50s, the available documents effectively go cold. Why?
The quintessential Kafkaesque explanation provided is that few files were kept because these would only confirm that the CIA was investigating UFOs. But the wildly eclectic UFO files in fact cover everything from "flying saucers over Belgian Congo uranium mines'' to Nazi "flying saucers''.
When The New York Times reported in 1979 that the CIA had investigated UFOs, the news report is said to have so upset the then-CIA director Stansfield Turner that he reportedly asked his staff: "Are we in UFOs?''
The answer then was yes - since the late 1940s apparently. But exactly how, what, when, why and who remained layered in mystery, leaving infinite grist for the conspiracy mill.
Now Philippe Mora has the files - from Roswell to now. His full report is in Saturday's The Sydney Morning Herald.
"Alien life." The Sydney Morning Herald. November 2, 2007.
There is much that is being hidden.