The Robertson Panel, The Scientific Advisory Panel on Unidentified Flying Objects Convened by the CIA

The Robertson Panel, The Scientific Advisory Panel on Unidentified Flying Objects Convened by the CIA

Background

The Robertson Panel was a scientific committee which met in January 1953 headed by Howard P. Robertson. The Panel arose from a recommendation to the Intelligence Advisory Committee (IAC) in December 1952 from a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) review of the U.S. Air Force investigation into unidentified flying objects, Project Blue Book.  The CIA review itself was in response to widespread reports of unidentified flying objects, especially in the Washington, D.C. area during the summer of 1952.

The panel was briefed on U.S. military activities and intelligence; hence the report was originally classified Secret. Later declassified, the Robertson Panel’s report concluded that UFOs were not a direct threat to national security, but could pose an indirect threat by overwhelming standard military communications due to public interest in the subject. Most UFO reports, they concluded, could be explained as misidentification of mundane aerial objects, and the remaining minority could, in all likelihood, be similarly explained with further study.

The Robertson Panel recommended that a public education campaign should be undertaken in order to reduce public interest in the subject, minimising the risk of swamping Air Defence systems with reports at critical times, and that civilian UFO groups should be monitored.  The Robertson Panel’s report was contained within a larger internal CIA report by F C Durant, a CIA officer who served as Secretary to the Panel, which summarizes the activities of the panel and its conclusions. This wider document is commonly referred to as the Durant Report.

Document Archive

 The Robertson Panel Report, January 14 – 18, 1953 [28 Pages, 1.8MB]

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