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Missing Files and Roswell

On July 28, 1995, the US Government’s General Accounting Office’s report on the Roswell affair  surfaced from its National Security and International Affairs Division. And although the GAO’s report did not provide any smoking-guns – or, rather, any old B&W photos of dead bodies and wreckage at the crash-site on the Foster Ranch, New Mexico – it did provide something interesting and controversial. But,  it is something that has been misinterpreted for years.

During the course of their search for records to try and better understand what had taken place at Roswell in early July 1947, the GAO learned that the entire outgoing messages from Roswell Army Air Field generated during the period that the event occurred were missing, and under circumstances that could not be fully determined and proved.

This, inevitably and very understandably, led certain Roswell researchers to proclaim that this was evidence of a significant event of UFO proportions having occurred, and which certain elements of officialdom were determined to keep forever hidden from the populace, the media, and the UFO research community – and possibly, even, from anyone else in government who might dare to come looking, such as investigators of the GAO.

roswell corpse

And, maybe, that’s precisely what happened. But…the story is not quite as straightforward as that.

Time and again, I have heard UFO researchers say, words to the effect of: “Because the 1947 files are missing, this means the government or the Air Force pulled them years ago, so no one could get to them.” That’s not impossible. But, there’s another issue. The files in question that are unavailable to us do not cover just the key period of the Roswell affair. Rather, they extend back as far as March 1945 and as late as 1949.

We are led to believe that if aliens crashed at Roswell, then it was an event out of the blue, with little or no advance notice, and certainly not something that had been anticipated for a significant period of time. So, that being the case, why the need to pull files from as early as March 1945 to hide something that is said to have occurred, without much warning (if any at all), in the summer of 1947?

Proponents of the notion that aliens crashed at Roswell might say that the government was just being overly careful, and wanted to make sure that (a) nothing was left behind, and (b) nothing had been misplaced in an earlier collection of material, or indeed, within a later collection of material, possibly held in secure safes at the base. So, they chose the best and quickest option available to them and scooped up pretty much everything that covered approximately two years or so before, and up to two-and-a-half years after the crash.

Maybe, that is exactly what happened. On the other hand, one can make a valid argument that the vanished files issue has no bearing on Roswell, because the documents that are missing incude papers dating from two years before the event even took place. This also offers a theory (and, granted, that’s all it is) that there was another reason for the large-scale loss of material that the GAO sought to uncover.

Let’s see what the GAO had to say about this matter of missing messages in its 1995 report: “In addition to unit history reports, we also searched for other government records on the Roswell crash. In this regard, the Chief Archivist for the National Personnel Records Center provided us with documentation indicating that (1) RAAF records such as finance and accounting, supplies, buildings and grounds, and other general administrative matters from March 1945 through December 1949 and (2) RAAF outgoing messages from October 1946 through December 1949 were destroyed.”

When the GAO demanded to know the reasons behind this development, they got an answer, as GAO files note: “According to this official [the Chief Archivist for the National Personnel Records Center], the document disposition form did not properly indicate the authority under which the disposal action was taken. The Center’s Chief Archivist stated that from his personal experience, many of the Air Force organizational records covering this time period were destroyed without entering a citation for the governing disposition authority. Our review of records control forms showing the destruction of other records–including outgoing RAAF messages for 1950–supports the Chief Archivist’s viewpoint.”

So, in other words, we have yet another explanation that does not include high-level conspiracy to explain the loss and destruction of files, but which says far more about bureaucracy. Note too that, on digging further, the GAO learned that 1950-era Roswell files had been destroyed as well, not just records up until 1949 (which is something else that fails to get mentioned to any great degree by ET proponents of Roswell).

Blacked out document

So, what’s my point in all this? Well, this is my point: Yes, it certainly is intriguing that half-a-decade of certain files are missing from the old Roswell Army Air Field, and it may even be an issue of deep conspiracy. Or, it may not be.

But, if UFO/Roswell researchers wish to maintain that the missing files from 1947 point to a specific cover-up of the Roswell event – and Roswell occurred out of the blue in July of that year – then they have to provide a viable reason as to why documentation dating back as far as March 1945 was pulled too, and why additional documentation remains missing from as late as 1950.

Saying something along the lines of “the outgoing Roswell messages from July 1947 are missing” is absolutely true, and it opens eyes and it catches the attention of people. Noting that, in
reality, the files actually cover 1945 to 1950, and also cover general administrative issues at the base, is far less attention-grabbing.

The issue of the missing files is undeniably interesting and deeply worthy of further study, scrutiny, and investigation. But, if we are to remain fair and balanced in our approach to addressing this aspect of the affair, we need to recognize that the “vanished documents” saga is not as clear-cut as it might seem, or as many might prefer it to be.

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  • Wade Gilbreath

    It might be interesting to know when the files were pulled, and if it was in several bureaucratic missteps or in one or two efforts. If large swathes of files were pulled before Roswell became famous “again” in the late 70s then it might have been aimed at burying the Roswell event in a large timeframe of missing documents. It’s the point you are making, but viewed from a deliberate, precautionary disinformation angle. For example, it removes the possibility of someone writing a cold war history — and out of curiosity — looking at that weather balloon mixup in 1947 and only finding that relatively small set of documents missing..

  • Alan Grieve

    Surely an equally good explanation would be that the files were deliberately removed, and earlier files were included in the removal to make it less obvious that the removed files related to the incident?

  • Wade Gilbreath

    That’s the point I was trying to make in an entirely too around about way…

  • PurrlGurrl

    Storing records costs the government money (space, personnel, utilities). Your money. Taxpayer dollars.

    You don’t want the government spending money. You don’t want to pay taxes.

    This has been true since the late 80s, when most federal entities began to experience funding cuts (almost everything The Tea Party claims is a fabricated version of a misinterpreted truth). These federal entities responded to funding cuts by downsizing (facilities, operations, personnel).

    Everything deemed non-essential or not Congressionally mandated is up for grabs when it’s time to cut spending. If these were records that had no mandate requiring they be kept, they very likely were destroyed to save money. The money you don’t want the government to spend. Your money.

    With each new round of federal budget cuts, more records are at risk. Ufology will just have learn to live with an ever diminishing store of available government documents (digitizing them and maintaining electronic files costs money as well).

    The perpetrators of the “conspiracy” are the American people. You are one of them.

    Just get over it.

  • alan borky

    Nick I think I’ve told you this before but I’ll mention it for the consideration of others.

    I used to work as an office temp in all kinds of capacities and in one place inspectors of some sort were due to pay a *wink*wink* surprise visit so a bunch of us were instructed to move all this dodgy paperwork out o’ sight and the guy supervising us told us to also be sure to remove all the files above and below the section concerned as well as on either side because inspectors actually rely on some lazy bastard who couldn’t be arsed shoving stuff back in the wrong place.

    So to me when I hear files from before and after that whole period also went missing this compels me to suspect this ain’t a coincidence.

    Saying that I have no problems with the aliens idea but the missing documents could also be explained by 1) a new commander using his newfound powers to get to the bottom of the story 2) spooks/black ops worrying there might be clues in there about something going on in their world at the time and what I suspect explains a lot of military based high weirdness stories 3) the Olly North factor which also involves spooks/black ops but provides the greatest motivation for making documents disappear the fear of going to jail because all those funds you secretly raised behind the back of Congress by selling weapons to your sworn enemies and dealing in drugs somehow ended up in your back account or paying off your mortgage [my favourite Olly story being the one where he supposedly explained all the bags of cash under his newly built house as being makeshift sandbags in case America was invaded while he was waiting for replacement sand to be delivered].

    What makes me think something highly strange happened at Roswell though is year in year out just when you think it’s finally over its back like Christmas.

    Saying that if you were in possession of a crashed flying saucer would YOU rush to tell the world about it knowing the spooks’d instantly pluck it out your sticky little fingers or’d you doing everything you could in your power to buy yourself enough time to explore it for yourself?

    If though you wanted to misdirect your superiors’ suspicions away from the real story OJ Simpson style why not run down the local press officer and claim something that looks like a burst rubber johnny with bits of tinfoil sticking to it’s actually a flying saucer.

  • D Rudiak

    According to the GAO investigation, the files were destroyed without
    authorization in the early 1950s. They were referring specifically to
    outgoing base communications.

    There are other files that they
    couldn’t find. The one known government document of that period
    specific to Roswell, the FBI telex from Dallas that day with the story
    that the “disc” resembled a radar target suspended from a weather
    balloon but adding that a telephonic conversation with Wright Field did
    not support that conclusion, ended with the Cincinnati FBI being
    promised a report once Wright Field had a chance to examine the object.
    The GAO went looking for that report but couldn’t find that in FBI or
    Wright-Patt. files.

    Yet, there is no problem with the FBI files
    concerning the Danforth, Illinois hoax disc of a week later, also sent
    to Wright Field with the FBI receiving a complete analysis. Nick also
    recently wrote about that case:

    about the investigation into the alleged colossal screw-up by senior
    officers at Roswell that would have embarrassed high Air Force command?
    Nope, no investigation at all into the guys handling your A-bombs, or
    at least no paper record of one. Nobody involved got the axe, got sent
    to the AF equivalent of Siberia, had their career wrecked, etc. That
    also makes no sense. Instead we have senior officers, such as Ramey,
    praising Marcel a year later as “outstanding”, Ramey adding that he
    thought he was command officer material, protested his transfer to
    Washington saying he had nobody to replace him, etc.

    Sometimes it’s the dog that doesn’t bark that tells you something pretty odd happened at Roswell.

  • > Surely an equally good explanation would be that the files were deliberately removed

    If we are using “good” in your relative sense rather than a precise sense. If there was some kind of corroboration, however inhconclusive, it would be good. If there is no corroboration, it’s not good.