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U.S. releases records confirming existence of Area 51

Friday - 8/16/2013, 5:24am  ET

George Washington University obtained this recently declassified government map showing the government property known as Area 51, the first time any government document has acknowledged the existence of the famed spot. Click here to view a larger version of the map. (Courtesy George Washington University)

WASHINGTON - Newly declassified government documents acknowledge the existence of Area 51.

While Americans have heard of the section of Nevada most associated with the search for extraterrestrial life and an alleged government conspiracy to cover up the existence of aliens, the National Security Archive at George Washington University has obtained declassified documents that "finally" confirm the land's existence.

The documents detailing the history of the U-2 spy plane were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Although redacted, the records include numerous references to Area 51 and Groom Lake, including a map of the area, according to the university.

National Security Archive senior fellow Jeffrey Richelson reviewed the history in 2002, but all mentions of Area 51 had been redacted. Richelson says he requested the history again in 2005 and received a version a few weeks ago with mentions of Area 51 restored.

Officials have acknowledged in passing the existence of the facility in central Nevada where the government is believed to test intelligence tools and weapons.

According to CNN, "Area 51 has also been referenced in government documents in the past, though this newest release is the first that acknowledges its existence and location in a purposeful way."

Richelson believes the new document shows the CIA is becoming less secretive about Area 51's existence, if not about what goes on there.

The documents also name the pilots who flew U-2 missions, mission names and details of flights over Russia, India and China.

Read more about what GW obtained here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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