UFO and government secrecy researcher John Greenewald has been petitioning to get the National Security Agency (NSA) UFO files that were released in the 90s further declassified. When they were released, after a legal battle, much of the information was redacted. There are large swaths of information that have been blacked out or covered with white out. However, the NSA recently told Greenewald they could not find even one original of the hundreds of pages UFO files.
Greenewald received this information in response to a request for a Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) of the NSA’s UFO files. MDRs require that the agency re-review previously released redacted files to unredact information that is now declassified. This is a similar process that was used to reveal the name of Area 51 in CIA documents last year.
The MDR was fulfilled for an affidavit related to the lawsuit asking the NSA to release its UFO files in 1980, called the Yeates affidavit. As for the rest, the NSA writes, “With the exception of the enclosed document, we cannot locate unredacted copies or the original documents that were previously reviewed and released to the public.”
In the late 70s, the Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS), headed by lawyer Peter Gersten, sought to get UFO files from several government agencies released using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The NSA refused to release their files, so CAUS sued.
The NSA had a large amount of UFO files, not necessarily because they were investigating UFOs, but because they monitor communications worldwide as part of their regular duties. These files are called communications intelligence (COMINT). Among this large amount of data, there were hundreds of files referring to UFOs. However, the NSA felt they should remain classified.
In 1980, Eugene F. Yeates, chief of the Office of Policy for the NSA, submitted a 21 page document to the judge overseeing the case, Federal Judge Gerhart A. Gesell, as to why these files should remain classified. This is the Yeates affidavit. However, this document was also classified.
Although Gesell did not have the clearance to read the documents in question, the Yeates affidavit convinced him that the NSA files should stay classified. He wrote, “The public interest in disclosure is far outweighed by the sensitive nature of the materials and the obvious effect on national security their release may well entail.”
When the Yeates affidavit was released, it was heavily redacted. UFO researcher Stanton Friedman shows a page from the document to demonstrate government UFO secrecy, and as he says, this goes over well on television where a simple image can be very effective when making a point.
Eventually, in 1997, due to laws making it more difficult to keep files over 25 years old classified, the NSA released a less redacted Yeates affidavit, and 156 UFO documents. As Friedman puts it, the affidavit was originally about 75% blacked out, the second version was only about 20% blacked out. However, the UFO documents are heavily redacted.
The NSA must have seen Friedman’s talks or television interviews, because instead of mostly blacking out the text, this time they largely whited it out, making it much less visually poignant.
As you can see from the image above, there is very little information available in the COMINT UFO documents. Although a bit more information has been unredacted from the Yeates affidavit, the unredacted COMINT reports are the most important information for UFO researchers.
Greenewald writes, “In essence, the ‘originals’ were destroyed or lost when they blacked out the records many years ago — and now in 2014 — they are missing and can not be further reviewed for declassification and release. The history, whatever it may be, is lost forever.”