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The Director of Central Intelligence, an authoritative man in late middle age, wearing steel-rimmed glasses, summarized. Unidentified Flying Objects, called UFO's, have been of intermittent concern to the CIA and the Air Force, especially in the '50s and '60s, in part because rumors about them might be a means for a hostile power to spread confusion or to overload communications channels. A few of the more reliably reported incidents turned out to be penetrations of U.S. air space or overflights of U.S. overseas bases by high-performance aircraft from the Soviet Union or Cuba. Such overflights are a common means of testing a potential adversary's readiness, and the United States had more than its fair share of penetrations, and feints at penetrations, of Soviet air space. A Cuban MiG penetrating 200 miles up the Mississippi Basin before being detected was considered undesirable publicity by NORAD. The routine procedure had been for the Air Force to deny that any of its aircraft were in the vicinity of the UFO sightings, and to volunteer nothing about unauthorized penetrations, thus solidifying public mystification. At these explanations, the Air Force Chief of Staff looked marginally uncomfortable but said nothing.

The great majority of UFO reports, the DCI continued, were natural objects misapprehended by the observer. Unconventional or experimental aircraft, automobile headlights reflected off overcast, balloons, birds, luminescent insects, even planets and stars seen under unusual atmospheric conditions, had all been reported