Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Decline and Fall of FOIA

There are those who believe that the Freedom of Information Act is the gateway to all knowledge about UFOs. If you have a question, just file a FOIA request and the information will be sent to you. Anything you wish to know, you can learn, if you can find the right agency, form your questions intelligently, and if you have a little patience.
And I say crapola…
Here’s why. In the last century, which of course, means fifteen years ago, I wanted a report that had been issued at the White Sands Proving Ground. I provided the precise name of the document, the name of the author and the date it was published. Their response? They I needed more precise information. I confess I don’t know what more they could have needed other than where the file cabinet in which it was stored was located and in what office on the base.
I bring this up now because in the last year my attempts at FOIA have gone astray. I have, since the report was published in the mid-1990s, attempted to learn more about how the Air Force Roswell reports were ordered. I have asked the Secretary of the Air Force’s office, repeatedly, for all information about this including memos, letters, orders, minutes of meetings, and all the other nonessential waste of paper that you would expect from a government bureaucracy.  And I have been given the run around.
First I was sent to the Government Printing Office and their response was a catalog of documents available. Now I knew that the GPO would not have anything I wanted, but I sent a FOIA to them so that I could say that it wasn’t the right place.
Second, I was told that the documents had all been transferred to the Air Force Archives, but they said they had sent them on to the National Archives. NARA said, “No,” they didn’t have them. I returned to the Air Force Archives which gave me the details of the transfer, so it was back to NARA. They said that they did have the records, but they had not been reviewed and that would take a while. Get back to them later…
Which I did. But all they had were the records produced in the investigation including the video tapes made by the Fund for UFO Research, a court martial record of a doctor from 1957 that had no significance to the investigation at all, copies of documents that I and other private researchers had sent them, and nothing that filled my request.
In the last year I have attempted to get these documents again. I have sent four FOIA requests to the Secretary of the Air Force FOIA office and have not received a single reply. I would have thought that at the very least they would have let me know they received the request as the law requires.
The other day, I sent another FOIA request and this time I had to pick a category. Was my request commercial, educational/new or other. I fall into the commercial category, which from the sound of the emails, means they are going to charge me for the service. It seems to suggest they have a new way to stop FOIA. Make it clear it will cost money… and yes, I agreed to pay for the service because it is for a book but the information isn’t all that spectacular.
The point here is that it doesn’t seem that FOIA works as well as it used to. It seems that they can ignore repeated requests, and I really don’t want to pay an attorney two hundred dollars an hour to sue them for a response, only to learn that the information is considered vital to national security which would launch another lawsuit. They have the resources to dance, but we out here do not.
Oh, I get it that lots of people file FOIA over trivia… but then, if the records weren’t hidden away, there would be no need for FOIA. And yes, I understand that some things are a matter of national security, but I’m not sure how that might relate to the Air Force investigations of Roswell since the Air Force said it was a balloon, or how it relates to the radar tracks of a commercial airliner more than two decades ago.
FOIA just doesn’t work the way it used to and that is really all I’m saying.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jim Moseley is Dead

James W. Moseley, who for decades has poked and prodded the world of UFOs, died Friday in Florida. He was 81.

Moseley is best known as the editor of Saucer Smear, the final evolution of his self-published newsletters that were sent on an irregular schedule to his “non-subscribers.” In its pages he printed his opinions which were sometimes radical and sometimes rational. He welcomed responses, often soliciting them to keep the controversies going.
James W. Moseley, J. S.
He was the son of an Army general, whom he seemed to dislike and a self-described grave robber, trading in antiquities from South America. He faked, according to his book, Shockingly Close to the Truth, written with the late Karl Pflock, a UFO landing, and the a letter supposedly from the Department of State to contactee George Adamski. In other words, he often had fun with those in the world of UFOs which might have been his ultimate mission.
In later life he moved from the idea that UFOs might be Earth-based craft to an opinion that they were more terrestrially based (or as Jerry Clark pointed out to me, extra-dimensional, which is not necessarily terrestrially based). But that didn’t stop him from keeping his fingers in the UFO pie.
Mosley lived, for the last many years in Key West, Florida, where he avoided the Internet as much as possible, and enjoyed his position in the world of UFOs. He died of cancer on November 16.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Samalayuca UFO Crash?

Here’s a bit of a conundrum. I have been looking into a report of a flaming object crash on October 12, 1947. According to a short article that appeared in an unidentified newspaper:

El Paso, Tex, Oct 12 – (AP) An unidentified flaming object soared over the Texas-Mexico border today, apparently smashing into the Samalayuca mountains of Mexico with a loud explosion and billows of smoke.
The approximate impact area was estimated to be less than 10 miles from the point where a V-2 rocket off its track crashed south of Juarez May 20.
The public relations officer at the White Sands proving grounds where the V-2 rockets have been launched said none of the missiles had been fired since Oct.9.
Maj. Gen. John L. Homer, Fort Bliss [near El Paso] commander and military officials at air fields and other installations in the southwest, said that no guided missiles had been fired today and no rocket planes were missing from the fields in the area.
At least four persons saw the fiery object darting through the skies “with the speed of a falling star” at approximately 9:30 a.m. 

For those keeping score at home, this is case number 93 in the Project Blue Book files (and yes, I know it was Project Sign in 1947). It shows multiple witnesses and is “solved” as a meteor.
Yes, it sounds like a meteor. The witness descriptions of it moving “with the speed of a falling star,” the loud explosions and the billows of smoke are all characteristics of a bolide, that is, a very bright meteor.

However, there is a teletype message in the file that came from “Helmick CO AAFLD Alamogordo on Oct 15,” and was sent to the Commanding General, AMC at Wright Field in Dayton that suggests otherwise. It said that the Mexican government in Mexico City had reported the “unidentified flaming object that landed about 35 miles from Juarez, Mexico [across the border from El Paso] was definitely a rocket to have been launched from some Texas base.”
There is also a report from an officer in charge of the Juarez military garrison who claimed the false report of a rocket crash came from the Mexican Department of War. He said they were continuing their search for whatever had hit, but that implies they had not found any wreckage.
I do have another newspaper clipping that provides additional information, an official letter dated October 13, 1947 to “D/I Army Intelligence,” a letter from the Military Attache in Mexico City dated October 16, an unclassified teletype dated October 21 and signed by Colonel Millard Lewis, another signed by Lt. Col. Douglass Eiseman dated October 24 and a diary page for General Hoyt S. Vandenberg. I mention that so we all don’t have to run through those documents several times. I have them and have seen them on the Internet at the Project 1947 historical group.
I’m hoping someone in El Paso, West Texas, and that general region might be able to learn a little more. The newspaper article is an Associated Press story so it could have been published anywhere and I believe that both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times were interested, but don’t know what their conclusions might be. Message traffic, which are the other documents, are routinely destroyed when they have served their purpose, though the originator might retain file copies but after 65 years there seems unlikely I’ll be able to find them.
If anyone out there can point me in a direction that might yield a little more information, I would appreciate it. I suspect, given the description and what I know about bolides, is that this is the answer (because there is just no evidence that this was a stray missile from White Sands or Fort Bliss) but there are enough questions now to continue the search.