Area 51 expert recalls national-security projects conducted at secret site

(CBS News) This week the CIA finally acknowledged what may be its worst-kept secret: there really is a base in Nevada called Area 51.

CIA finally acknowledges Area 51's existence

They even released its location, pinpointed on a map. It's a remote area near a dry lake 80 miles north of Las Vegas. However, the government is only confirming the existence of the "top secret" site; it is not saying what actually happens inside of the site.

The newly released information offers details on the U2 spy plane program and the relationship between that program and UFO sightings.

Annie Jacobsen, national security journalist and contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, wrote a book that uncovered many of Area 51's secrets. Her findings are based on rare secret documents as well as interviews with more than 70 former scientists and employees of the site.

"In my book, I interview 74 men who lived and worked there during the Cold War, and these are scientists, spies, statesmen who were working on all kinds of really important national security programs from the U2 spy plane to to the F-117 stealth fighter," said Jacobsen on "CBS This Morning: Saturday." "There were also tests going on out there performed by the Atomic Energy Commission, you know, nuclear weapons tests; there was a dirty bomb test that went on out at Area 51."

The acknowledgment comes after many years of public information requests from George Washington University's National Security Archive.

"These are big national secrets that the government didn't necessarily want to get out there, and so far they've done a pretty decent job keeping a lot of it under wraps," said Jacobsen.

The author told the "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-hosts that there must be sites similar to Area 51 that the public does not know about.

"Remember the Donald Rumsfeld quote, 'You don't know what you don't know'? I think that's part of the lure of Area 51 is finding out what it is that you don't know," she said.

Watch the full discussion with Jacobsen in the player above

  • Shoshana Davis

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