In an affair usually noted for its glitz and glamour, President Obama made news at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors as the first president to utter the words “Area 51.”
One of the honorees at the Kennedy Center was Shirley McLaine. Not only is she known for her lifetime of ground breaking work as a brilliant and memorable actress, but she has also been very public about her interest in the paranormal, including UFOs.
Obama saved presenting MacLaine until the end, and he began his introduction by joking:
“Now, when you first become president, one of the questions that people ask you is, ‘What’s really going on in Area 51?’ When I wanted to know, I called Shirley MacLaine.”
The crowd laughed, and after a long pause, the president continued, “I think I just became the first president to ever publicly mention Area 51. How’s that, Shirley?”
You can watch the president make his Area 51 comments in the video above. You will find the comments at nine minutes and forty seconds (9:40) into the video.
Area 51 was only officially acknowledged this past August in declassified CIA documents that were released following a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Jeffery T. Richelson of the National Security Archives.
Richelson confirmed to ABC News that though past presidents had signed waivers referring to Air Force activity in Groom Lake, Obama was the first president to use the phrase “Area 51″ — at least in public.
However, Bill Clinton has also made reference to the secretive base in the Nevada desert just short of mention the name of the base, which at the time was still classified.