Oct 17, 2021 I Nick Redfern

Roswell: “Records Which Should Never Have Been Destroyed”

As you will see this week, I'm on a bit of a Roswell kick. But, it's worth it. Nineteen-Ninety-Four was the year in which the UFO research community got even more fired up by Roswell. It was all due to the publication of a U.S. Air Force report on the July 1947 event. Its title: Report of Air Force Research Regarding the Roswell Incident. Was the government about to come clean on the issue of what happened on the Foster Ranch? Were the remains of dead aliens about to be presented to the world? Not exactly, no. In fact, the military was heading into territory that was previously uncharted. Matters really began in the early part of 1993. That was when the late Steven Schiff – who was the Congressman for New Mexico at the time – approached the Department of Defense, seeking out the truth on the one alleged UFO case that just about everyone has heard of. Schiff mailed a letter to the Secretary of Defense at the time, Les Aspin. Schiff came right to the point and said: “Last fall I became aware of a strange series of events beginning in New Mexico over 45 years ago and involving personnel of what was then the Army Air Force. I have since reviewed the facts in some detail, and I am writing to request your assistance in arriving at a definitive explanation of what transpired and why.”

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(Nick Redfern), Roswell, New Mexico, 2017

Aspin chose not to reply to Schiff. That task was given to Colonel Larry G. Shockley, of the Air Force. Shockley informed Schiff that he had "referred this matter to the National Archives and Records Administration for direct reply to you."  The response from the National Archives' staff did not please Schiff or his staff: "The U.S. Air Force has retired to our custody its records on Project Blue Book relating to the investigations of unidentified flying objects. Project Blue Book has been declassified and the records are available for examination in our research room. The project closed in 1969 and we have no information after that date. We have received numerous requests concerning records relating to the Roswell incident among these records. We have not located any documentation relating to this event in Project Blue Book records, or in any other pertinent Defense Department records in our custody."

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(Nick Redfern) Hanging out at Roswell, New Mexico

"Passing the buck" and "given the runaround" were the terms that filled Schiff’s head when he got the news. It was news that he was far from satisfied with. That same runaround continued for weeks, and, finally, for even months. By now utterly frustrated, angry and puzzled, Schiff finally chose to take another approach. It was a very ambitious move. Schiff contacted the Government Accountability Office (at the time, it was known as the General Accounting Office), which is the investigative body of the U.S. Congress. The GAO wasted no time in planning to tackle the mystery. Its staff, however, were beaten to the finish line. By whom? By the Air Force, that’s who. Although the USAF maintained that it held no records on Roswell, when word got out that the GAO was now on the hunt for the truth behind the Foster Ranch incident, the Air Force quickly launched its very own investigation. The result of that same investigation was the publication of the aforementioned July 1994 Report of Air Force Research Regarding the Roswell Incident. It would be another year before the GAO’s conclusions were revealed, specifically on July 28, 1995.

The GAO's National Security and International Affairs Division wrote in their finished dossier: “DOD [Department of Defense] informed us that the U.S. Air Force report of July 1994, entitled Report of Air Force Research Regarding the Roswell Incident, represents the extent of DOD records or information concerning the Roswell crash."  The GAO continued: "The Air Force report concluded that there was no dispute that something happened near Roswell in July 1947 and that all available official material indicated the most likely source of the wreckage recovered was one of the project MOGUL balloon trains. At the time of the Roswell crash, project MOGUL was a highly classified U.S. effort to determine the state of Soviet nuclear weapons research using balloons that carried radar reflectors." The Mogul theory is the one which is still endorsed by the U.S. Air Force to this day. It should be noted, however, that not a single shred of documentation has ever surfaced from the Air Force’s archives and which conclusively proves that the Roswell debris was from a Mogul balloon train. The Mogul theory was, and still is, simply that – a theory and nothing else.

The mainstream media pretty much accepted the explanation of the Air Force, which was the predictable outcome: UFOs rarely attract the serious attention of respected, investigative journalists. Ufologists, meanwhile, rolled their collective eyes, unsatisfied with anything that wasn’t completely pro-UFO in nature. That was pretty much predictable, too. As for the GAO, well, behind the scenes its staff were privately puzzled – even angry, in some quarters – by the fact that the Air Force had, effectively, jumped the gun. And that is certainly accurate terminology. What the Air Force was supposed to have done was to offer any and all assistance that it could to the Government Accountability Office and to hand over copies of any and all relevant Roswell-based documentation in its possession. This was the same for each and every other agency which the GAO approached, too. The list included the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense, and the CIA. That the Air Force hastily launched its own investigation, published a report, and quickly shot down any and all explanations beyond Project Mogul, made many people within Ufology conclude that the Air Force was engaging in a sizeable amount of what is commonly known as "damage control."

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(Nick Redfern) Roswell, 2017

There are clear indications that Congressman Schiff had his suspicions that he had not been given the full, true story of what occurred at Roswell. His beef, however, was not with the GAO. In fact, Schiff personally praised the agency, calling its work on the Roswell case "professional, conscientious and thorough." What Schiff was not happy with, were the eye-opening revelations that a massive number of records from the old Roswell Army Air Field could not be found. Not here. Not there. Not anywhere. Schiff told the press: "It is my understanding that these outgoing messages were permanent records which should never have been destroyed. The GAO could not identify who destroyed the messages, or why."

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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