The remote military base in the Nevada desert has a lot of history, and has been associated with aliens almost since its inception.
In 1954, President Eisenhower authorized the development of a top secret, high-altitude recon aircraft program. It required a remote location that wasn’t easily accessible to civilians or spies and Area 51 fit the bill perfectly.
In the early 1950s, US planes were conducting low-flying recon missions over the USSR. But there were constant worries of them being spotted and shot down.
So … in 1954, President Eisenhower authorized the development of a top secret, high-altitude recon aircraft dubbed Project Aquatone. The program required a remote location that wasn’t easily accessible to civilians or spies. Area 51 fit the bill perfectly.
It was in the Nevada desert near a salt flat called Groom Lake. No one knows exactly why it’s called Area 51, but one theory suggests it came from its proximity to the Nevada Nuclear Test Sites. The Nevada Test Site was divided into number-designated areas by the Atomic Energy Commission. The location was already familiar territory for the military, as it had served as a World War II aerial gunnery range.
In the summer of 1955, sightings of “unidentified flying objects” were reported around Area 51. That’s because the Air Force had begun its testing of the U-2 aircraft. The U-2 can fly higher than 60,000 feet. At the time, normal airliners were flying in the 10,000 to 20,000 feet range. While military aircraft topped out around 40,000 feet. So if a pilot spotted the tiny speck that was the U-2 high above it, they would have no idea what it was. And they would usually let air traffic control know someone was out there. Which is what led to the increase of UFO sightings in the area. While Air Force officials knew the UFO sightings were U-2 tests, they couldn’t really tell the public. So they explained the aircraft sightings by saying they were “natural phenomena” and “high-altitude weather research.”
The testing of the U-2 ended in the late 1950s; but, Area 51 has continued to serve as the testing ground for many aircraft, including the F-117A, A-12, and TACIT BLUE.
No one knows for sure what Area 51 is up to these days. The government never even publicly acknowledged the existence of the base until 2013, with the release of declassified CIA reports. But if you’re ever at the Las Vegas airport, keep an eye out for some small, unmarked, passenger planes in a fenced-off area. They’re how Area 51 employees get to work from their homes in Vegas.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2017.
A top official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed concerns about the conspiracy theory that Former President Donald Trump will be reinstated in August, Politico reported.
John Cohen, the department’s top counterterrorism official, told Congress members on Wednesday that while there is no credible threat linked to the conspiracy theory, his staff are actively monitoring extremist communities online.
He also said he was worried the heightened claims of election rigging and beliefs Trump will be back in the White House could potentially lead to violence.
The reinstatement theory has also been touted by other prominent conspiracy theorists, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who told Rolling Stone recently that Trump will be president within months and the country “will be heading toward its greatest rebirth in history.”
To be clear, the conspiracy theory has no constitutional basis, as Insider has previously reported. The Supreme Court is not able to overturn a presidential election.
The only way to remove a sitting president is through impeachment, and if that were to become the case, the vice president would then take over.
A spokesperson for the department told Politico in a statement: “The Department of Homeland Security is focused on the nexus between violence and extremist ideologies, as well as hateful and false narratives. DHS is enhancing its ability to prevent acts of violence inspired by disinformation, conspiracy theories, and extremist narratives spread through social media and other online platforms.”
Trump has recently fanned the flames of the legally impossible conspiracy theory that the Supreme Court could throw out the results of the 2020 election and reinstate him as president.
The former president has reportedly embraced the idea that he will return to the White House by August, prior to any future election, according to The New York Times.
He told supporters to look forward to “2024 or before” in a Tuesday statement that bemoaned the “very fraudulent” 2020 election, Insider’s Mia Jankowicz reported. The claims of election fraud have been publicly and repeatedly found meritless in dozens of lawsuits, Jankowicz added.
The comments come after Lindell promoted a conspiracy theory that the Supreme Court will put Trump back in the White House by August. By then, Lindell previously said, he will have obtained evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election to present to the nation’s highest court, which will delegitimize President Joe Biden’s win.
Now, it appears Lindell needs until December to do so.
“What I’m talking about, Steve, is what I have been doing since January 9. All of the evidence I have, everything that is going to go before the Supreme Court, and the election of 2020 is going bye-bye,” Lindell said at the time.
To be clear, the conspiracy theory has no constitutional basis, as Insider has previously reported. The Supreme Court is not able to overturn a presidential election. The only way to remove a sitting president is through impeachment. And in any case, the vice president would then take over.
It’s been more than seven months since the 2020 race and there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Federal, state, and local election officials have repeatedly pushed back on the false claims spread by Trump and his allies. The Trump campaign filed and lost dozens of lawsuits in an attempt to challenge the results.
Lindell, however, still contends that the race was stolen from Trump, specifically by 20 million votes, he told The Rolling Stone. The MyPillow founder is currently being sued for $1.3 billion by the voting-technology company Dominion for repeatedly asserting the company rigged the election.
Former President Donald Trump has reportedly been telling people that he thinks he’ll somehow return to the White House as sitting president by August, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
Haberman, who broke some of the biggest stories from the Trump administration and has been covering him for decades, added that Trump has been “laser focused” on voting audits in states whose results he is still trying to overturn.
In Lindell’s telling, August would be when he would go to the Supreme Court to present evidence the pillow tycoon says he acquired on January 9. Lindell claims the evidence will be so convincing that the justices will be forced to reject the 2020 election results.
Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast has amplified the conspiracy theory, with Lindell and others going on the show to promote it with minimal pushback.
Rachel Wightman works full-time at Concordia University, St.Paul, but started teaching six-week seminars part-time after watching a worrying number of people in her community became misguided by online misinformation.
The presidential election prompted Wightman to give her first workshop at her local Mill City Church in Minneapolis in early 2020. But the coronavirus pandemic paired with the Black Lives Matter protests made her workshops a lot more pertinent, so she decided to organize more.
“I remember the day our pastor was talking about racism and saying we have to check our inputs, meaning we have to get inputs from people who are different in order to understand this issue,” Wightman told Insider. “That was the moment for me where it really clicked. I knew I had to continue giving people tools to get to these inputs.”
In the last few weeks, the librarian has become inundated with requests from other pastors from around the US asking her to give her workshops to their congregations.
Recent polls show that white evangelicals have one of the highest levels of vaccine skepticism in the United States. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll published in January, just under a third of US adults say they will probably or definitely not get the vaccine, compared to 44% of those who identify as white evangelicals.
Another poll by the Christian research organization Lifeway Research found that more than 45% of protestant pastors said they had often heard congregants repeating conspiracy theories.
“As a librarian, I’m seeing this huge information landscape every day, and I feel like it’s incredibly overwhelming for people,” Wightman said. “We’ve all spent this past year in this hyped-up environment where everything feels urgent and stressful, so I try to encourage people to take some space and say: ‘Okay, I’m going to figure out how to slow down and make sense of everything around me.'”
Due to the pandemic, Wightman meets most of her students on Zoom. Together they talk about everything from how to identify fake photographs, the ways in which algorithms work, fact-checking sources, and how to avoid being judgmental when friends post something inaccurate online.
Wightman stressed that while the training is a good space to talk about all the information people find online, it is also “politically neutral.”
“We’re not here to talk about your opinion on the latest legislation or our president. We are here to talk about how do you evaluate what you’re finding online … and how that overlaps with your faith,” she said.
For the librarian, it is also important to keep faith at the center of her teachings.
“I want to also bring in this perspective of Christianity. As Christians, we need to ask ourselves, if you have this faith of loving your neighbors, in what spaces does your faith show up?'”
The librarian said her workshops had been received well by many churchgoers, who vary in age and race. Many are also taking the training to help family members who have succumbed to online misinformation, Wightman said.
Dr. Christopher Douglas, a professor of English at the University of Victoria, specializing in Christian literature, politics, and epistemology, thinks having training is essential in this day and age.
“Misinformation is in some sense baked into white evangelical churches as many of them reject science, scholarship, and mainstream journalism,” Douglas told Insider. “It’s a small step from disputing the science of evolution and climate change to doubting the efficacy of masks and vaccines in fighting the pandemic because it all comes from a common source, which is mainstream ‘secular’ science.”
Douglas believes 2020’s pandemic and election exacerbated this problem as many feel like their political opponents are trying to “destroy Christian America and to take away what they call their ‘religious freedoms.'”
This is why Christian churches need training like Wightman’s, Douglas said. “Public institutions like libraries, colleges, and universities all have a role to play in developing critical thinking and critical media literacy skills,” he said.
Even though Wightman is balancing her new work with a full-time job, she said she’s proud of what she’s accomplished so far and hopes to continue doing more workshops in the future.
“A lot of people think librarians just sit around and read all day, so it’s been fun to bust that myth open a bit,” said Wightman. “We’re teachers, we’re about connecting people with information, and so be able to do that in a new way that feels so relevant is very exciting.”