FOIA Request Frustrations: Searching For The Truth
By: Dennis Balthaser email@example.com
In previous editorials and usually at my lectures, I have referred to the anticipation, satisfaction and sometimes frustration, involved in the research of ufology. Because of the time frame already involved with the alleged Roswell Incident of 1947, (53 years), it is extremely difficult to obtain factual information about that incident. If in fact there is a cover up, and many of us still believe there was and still is, due to the fact that it has not been satisfactorily explained in 4 attempts by the United States Air Force. One has no choice but to utilize the Freedom of Information Act law, in order to attempt to obtain information. Many witnesses have been interviewed, some of whom I consider very reliable and believable, and others that may be spreading disinformation, or have no knowledge of the incident, or worse, use the incident for their own benefit. Most of those individuals know who they are, as those of us serious about this research and investigations also do. I therefore decided to question the very organization, (United States Air Force), that has provided the excuses for what took place at Roswell in 1947, and to quote from their own report, published by the United States government in 1995.
The Freedom of Information Act law, enacted in 1966, was authored by California politician John Moss, took 13 years to get it through Congress, and is without a doubt one of the best tools available to obtain information. Over the years, many documents previously kept from the public have been disclosed through FOIA requests. Most researchers that I've talked to however, share my experience in that many times the information takes months or years to obtain, if in fact obtainable. Many times it is still cataloged as secret or not available due to National Security concerns, and some information is still "blacked out", or delay tactics are used in their responses. In the requests I've made in reference to the Roswell Incident, I have experienced all of those. Perseverance is the key. I have a lot of respect for researchers such as Stanton Friedman, Wendy Connors, John Greenewald Jr., and others that keep "digging" and eventually are able to obtain heretofore, unavailable documents.
I have recently asked my web master to post some of the FOIA requests I've done on my web site, in order that visitors to my site can be kept updated on the progress, (or lack of progress), on requests I'm working on. I have others that are not posted due to still being in process and not enough information obtained to share with the public yet, but they will be posted when appropriate.
One of those FOIA requests, and all correspondence thus far, is listed on my web site, involves the General Ramey photos taken in Fort Worth, Texas, by James Bond Johnson in July 1947. The United States Air Force, in their 1995 voluminous report entitled, "The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert", actually has a 31 page Executive Summary section written by Col. Richard L. Weaver in the front part of that report. In that article, on pages 29, 30 and 31, Col. Weaver states that the United States Air Force requested and obtained copies of the photographs taken of General Ramey, Col. DuBose and RAAF Intelligence officer Maj. Marcel in Ramey's office, from the University of Texas at Arlington collection. The University has the copyright on those photographs. Additionally Col. Weaver states that the photographs were submitted to a "national-level organization" for digitizing and subsequent photo interpretation and analysis. On July 20, 1994, the Air Force was notified by that national-level organization that the photographs were of insufficient quality to visualize either of the details sought for analysis, primarily the flowered tape and/or hieroglyphics originally reported by certain witnesses at the debris field.
Several individuals and organizations have recently been analyzing copies of those same photographs and most are now of the opinion that certain words can in fact be read on the Teletype General Ramey is holding in one of the photographs.
Since these photographs and the information contained on them could well be the "smoking gun" connected with the Roswell Incident, I decided to request information from the United States Air Force through the Freedom of Information Act. If in fact, they had requested the photographs from the University of Texas at Arlington, and had in fact, had those photographs analyzed by a national-level organization, with a report back to the Air Force as stated by Col. Weaver, I assumed there would be some record of those events to support the statements made by Col. Weaver. The Air Force report is available through the U.S. Government Printing Office, for $57.00. This is an official government publication, authorized by the United States Air Force and has a 31-page summary, written by a Colonel, whom I assume, had credentials and documentation to support the statements he made.
My first request for information was mailed to the Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon, July 27, 1999, with a copy of that request furnished to the Secretary of Defense also. I specifically requested information pertaining to the photograph of General Ramey holding the Teletype, and made reference to the 1995 Air Force report, including furnishing them a copy of the photograph in question.
Their first response informed me that I had a misunderstanding of the operation of the FOIA and that FOIA does not require any agency to analyze, interpret or create records by combining or compiling information contained in existing records. They also informed me that their office is not a repository for UFO information, but information about Project Sign, Project Grudge and Project Blue Book were retired to the National Archives and available on 94 rolls of 35MM film in archived microfilm publication T1206.
My next response was more specific, referring to Col. Weaver's statements on pages 29, 30 and 31 of the 1995 Air Force report, to address the request made by then, New Mexico Congressman, Steven Shiff about the Roswell Incident. In my request I included pages 29, 30 and 31 and even hi-lighted the particular sections I was questioning. I asked for copies or documentation on the following four specific items:
|•||The initial request to obtain copies of the photos from the University of Texas at Arlington, archives.|
|•||The initial request to have the photographs analyzed by a national-level organization, and any subsequent or additional documents related to that request.|
|•||The report returned to the researchers requesting the analysis, from the national-level organization, with any corresponding reports or documents, pertaining to the results of the analysis.|
|•||The correspondence furnished to the Air Force for inclusion in "The Roswell Report", issued in 1995.|
After more correspondence with the Air Force headquarters in Washington, DC, I was informed in November, 1999, that records regarding this subject were returned to the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. May I assume then that the Air Force is a repository for UFO information and it's located at Maxwell AFB?
Maxwell AFB informed me they have no such documents in their archives and gave me the opportunity to appeal their "no records" response, to the Secretary of the Air Force through Maxwell AFB, rather than the Pentagon, where the Secretary has his office.
I prepared my appeal and submitted it as instructed by the Air Force. On January 7, 2000 I received a response indicating the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell had made another "extensive review" and once again determined they have no records pertaining to the 4 specific items I was questioning. The Air Force did however furnish me with some 80 pages of titles of microfilm available for sale at about $30.00 each. This will give me information about the Supply and Food Service, Motor Vehicles, Air Refueling, Flying Training, when certain type aircraft were assigned to the base, and very little about 1947 or the specific information I requested.
In my latest response, I have asked the Air Force if they did an "extensive review" as I was told, did they ever contact Col. Weaver to determine where he obtained the information stated in his summary in the 1995 Air Force report? If the report is accurate, where is the documentation to support the statements made in that report? Since I'm referring to an official document authorized by the United States Air Force and printed by the United States government, it is my contention that the method of obtaining that information and reporting it is a valid FOIA request, which I will continue to pursue. I will not pursue it any longer under the Freedom of Information Act however, but will select alternative options such as a congressional investigation or legal representation.
So there you have just one of the FOIA requests I'm working on, which gives you an idea of the frustration one can have while attempting to obtain information. It's their publication---I simply want to know where they obtained the information in the report.
Research - Roswell 1947 Incident
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