COPYRIGHT CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
INTERVIEW WITH BARRY GREENWOOD
When we began filing freedom of information requests in 1975, we didn't quite know what we were going to come up with. We were working with a lot of public material, material that some of it had appeared in national tabloids. In all, not the most credible sources, but we had many stories and we prepared requests using the regulations that we had studied on FOYA and the US code, and eventually we sent out several dozen letters to different agencies. I estimate at least a dozen different U.S. government agencies, and within weeks, we began receiving a flow of material. One in particular which was fascinating was a release from the joint chiefs of staff, a set of documents describing incidents in 1975 over flights of U.S. bases and I looked and said wow, where did this come from. So using material in the documents provided, I requested additional material from the air force and a flow began that didn't stop for about two years. We ended up with hundreds of pages of materials describing essentially UFOs, flying saucer type objects buzzing military installations in both the United States and Canada. And the incidents were regarded as quite serious.
In some cases, the sightings could be explained, in my opinion, after studying the documents we saw reports of lights in the sky that could very well have been planets, stars, or whatever, but in other cases, you had objects of considerable size being seen in some cases, radar trackings occured, certainly couldn't say these were celestial objects. They were physical objects close to the base. The air force didn't have explanations for all of the sightings, and the sightings eventually disappeared after about three weeks and we were left with a big puzzle. Some of them leaked to the press. We found evidence of press coverage in Maine near Long air force base, in Montana near Malstrom air force base, which involve sightings near missle silos. But the sightings reported in the press never alluded a great deal to the military reports. There were civilian spillover reports, people outside the bases having seen the same objects without being aware that military personnel had reported the same thing. And it was made policy within the government that whenever sightings were discussed with military personnel, there would be no connection made between base sightings and civilian sightings. This to remove alarm.
I think in the case of the 75 overflights, there's a very clear fear. If you had unknown objects flying near missle silos near nuclear bomb dumps as was the case in at Long air force base, nasty things could happen. You don't know what an unknown vehicle is going to do near these sites. I think the air force probably was concerned about a nuclear accident of some sort. Perhaps one of these vehicles crashing accidentally or on purpose into a missle silo causing a lot of damage. Its publicity that they didn't need.
Well, there are several different explanations and I think the explanations are relative to the time periods involved. In the 1940s and 50s, you were dealing with a completely unknown phenomenon. Air force was charged with the defence of the United States from the air. When you're dealing with unknowns, you have to slap a curtain of secrecy around them. To study them further without public scrutiny. And there were periods during that time that the air force had lost complete control of the phenomenon. 1947 when the subject first broke into the newspapers, it was very difficult to deal with it because media people, politicians, the public were asking very hard questions about this. They wanted to know what it was all about. The military didn't know. It was a new to them as it was to everybody else. But naturally the public assumes the government has all the answers, tell us. And the last thing the military wants to do is say they don't know something. So that explains secrecy during that period. As the phenomenon evolved, it was persistent, it would be reported from time to time, in some cases airline pilots would call in sightings and rather dramatic reports. Again they were unexplainable. The government was trying to deal with it the best they could but I don't think they had any answers yet. So again, keep the secrecy on until we find out what it's all about. All hell broke loose in 1952. Sightings exploded during the summer of that year. And they exploded over a very unfortunate place for the government - Washington, DC where everybody could see and hear what was going on. And there was a great deal of alarm at the time. Intelligence channels were being clogged with reports from everybody. And the concern shifted more from an admittance of ignorance on the part of the government to a problem, a serious problem of the government's intelligence structure being overwhelmed with reports of flying saucers. Everybody and their mother was reporting and they were calling military bases doing this. If everybody's calling military bases, important things can't get through. So a policy was developed eventually to debunk the phenomenon, to screen out the lower quality reports. The thinking was that the high quality sightings would still get through and wouldn't have to make their way through a morass of essentially Mrs. Jones down the street sighting a flying saucer. They would know when an important sighting came along. So the policy was put into effect and it persisted through the years even though there were other waves of sightings occurring 1957, 1965, they were able to handle it. They were able to manage it more, and the debunking eventually caught hold in the public, in media imagination in particular. People felt well, maybe is explainable, maybe we shouldn't be alarmed about it, while all the time there were still mysteries coming through and the mysteries were being effectively quieted by the military in the process of their investigation. But if you check the government's files now after the fact they've been released to some extent, I won't say everything's been released but at least the government's official investigation is available now. You'll note that out of the 12,000 plus reports that the air force handled, there are still 701 considered unidentified, not by way of insufficent data or lack of information. It's simply material that's unexplained. And that to me is cause for concern. If there's one incident that's hard information that's unexplained, people should be concerned about it. So I think that pretty well covers the government's attitude over the years. Now they will tell you that there are no official investigations, the government is out of the UFO business. They are for all intents and purposes except they still must investigate reports of national security concern. If something flies over a military base, they're not going to ignore it. And we know those things still happen. So they must still pay attention and monitor the phenomenon. But the public is kept at arm's length now.
one document which I feel argues the strongest for government secrecy is an NSA affidavit that was used in a court case during the late 70s. We had the notion that NSA, our National Security Agency, which is responsible for electronic intercepts, monitoring of foreign powers, satellite communications and so on, would probably have a great deal of information on UFO reports being filed over the years. The NSA came about in 1952 and we had every reason to believe that there should have been a worthwhile data base there. So we have filed requests under the freedom of information act over the years, every one of them being denied by NSA, saying that everything they have is of national security importance and you cannot have access to it. Well, we decided at one point to take it to court. We must get our resources and sued for release of the documents, and it was argued that over the years, the government has said in three government funded studies that there was no national security threat involved with the UFO phenomenon. We were using their words against them saying well, you have no justification for withholding this material. So we want to have access to it. And the NSA had a very interesting method in arguing their case. They told the judge well, while these documents can't be released, they can't be seen by outsiders, we'll prepare an affidavit that explains what the documents are about. Even the affidavit must be classified top secret. The judge said well okay, you can do that. And it as on the stipulation that the affidavit would only be seen by the judge and no one else. We had no access to this. We could not know the reasons why the NSA was withholding the material. It was classified. So the judge studied the document, came out, case closed, NSA has a right to withhold the material due to the important nature of the subject matter - UFOs, and that was it. We had no more recourse to getting the material. But we had a brainstorm one day to request the affidavit itself, perhaps if we could see the reasons that they had withheld the materials, we might have access to an under... FOYA. I filed for the document and a few weeks later we received a copy of it, which you can see here, classified top secret. And it explains to some extent the workings of the case but I think as you'll quickly see, a great deal of it was withheld. And we can only guess as to the reasons why these passages had been taken out. Now there are a few interesting remarks in the affidavit making reference to surprise material, novel theories on the part of NSA personnel speculating about the phenomenon, which to me argues very clearly that the subject is still being taken seriously by the government. I believe many of these passages deleted are sighting report descriptions that the NSA has withheld. So overall I think you can get the point that we have a very strong case for secrecy on UFOs and now the problem is getting access to this material to see what is the cause of such alarm.
I don't think the government has answers. I think we would have been aware of that long ago if they did have answers, though some leak, a retiring general or politician who decided that enough is enough and we should talk about this. I don't think they have an answer. I think what they have are stories, information that's very difficult to deal with, reports of national security concern. There were a few incidents during the 50s that we're aware of that did get out of jets being set to chase unidentified objects and disappearing, merging with blips on the scope, disappearing completely. The aircraft were completely unaccounted for. We don't know why. We don't know what happened. A lot of the material's still classified on stories of that nature. But we know that they've happened through leaks by military personnel and other internal sources. I think they're hiding their inability to deal with some of these stories. They do not want to admit that they can't explain what's going on. That's the military's job. If they admit they can't handle it a situation, there may be congressional investigations, a lot of embarassing things can happen when the military is investigated, so rather than reveal the inabilty to deal with these stories, keep it quiet, withhold it, sit on it.
its a terrible thing when you ask a question of someone and they give you a vague answer. You don't know how to interpret it. I think the government has given the public every reason to believe that UFOs are real and perhaps they're from outer space. I'm not saying that's the answer. I'm saying that's generally what the public believes about the phenomenon, and the government has done nothing to dispel that notion by way of their withholding some crucial materials.
In the swamp gas incidents, there was heavy press pressure trying to get an answer. And the air force responded to that, I think they would have been better advised playing it cool, but there was such a media hype going on at the time that they sent Alan Heinick out and they told him to calm things down, suggest an explanation, and Alan did suggesting swap gas. He didn't say that was the answer. He said there's a possibly that in a few instances this may have happened, swamp gas ignited, people would see a light in the swamp and think it was some sort of a spaceship. It wasn't a hard answer but all the press knew was swamp gas. Ran to the phones, called it in and it hit the papers the next day. The story caught fire. It's a silly explanation but it was never considered to be an answer at the time it was given. It was simpy a suggestion, and not the only possible explanation for what happened. So again with situations like that, the government in its inept handling of certain situations really led the public to believe that they did have an answer to the phenomenon, that they did know what was going on and were sitting on the answer very hard. I think its otherwise. I think they're mystified as, just as much as anyone else.
I've counted at least 50 - 60 different tales of military personell coming out saying they heard of a story called a crash ufo sometime in the 50's or the 40's or the 60's and they're intriguing. I mean you have to pay attentionwhen a retired military person, a colonel, or even a general says something was out there. The problem is proving it. Generally what we get in these stories are verbal accounts from people long after the fact when we try to do a trace track down documentation or other information, we just never seem to get anywhere with it. Now roswell is a different situation. Many people have surfaced, describing this story and something happened. There's no doubt about it. Roswell was a news event at the time. The papers of January 9th, 1947 describe an object that was found on Mac Broswell's branch. Was picked up by the military and shipped off for study somewhere. After that the story becomes cloudy. We have to depend upon people who were there at the time saying such and such happened. we tried to use those statements to track down paper work, documentation, we have found some, but that paperwork doesn't admit to the object being anything more than a radar targetting device. A baloon born device. Something very mundane. Well it's been argued that well the government is probably sitting on the file they do have a proof it's an alien spacecraft, they have bodies. We've heard that from other witnesses. we have listen to the stories, these people were there, we weren't. But at the same time we need proof
the subject has in the last five, six, seven years or so, become very bizarre, it's almost unlike anything I've experienced in the past. I came into this originally when, when UFO's were distant flying objects, tracked down radar, a lot of public attention, ah, military attention, government funded reports being issued and all, it was a time when the subject was hardcore. Now it's become less so and I don't quite know how to explain that, perhaps it could be because the sightings were truly abated and in their place we have a new mythos that has stepped in to fill the void. Alien abductions. Many people have come out and claimed that they've been on flying saucers, they've been medically examined, probed, even now sexually abused. ah. It's a very different experience from what I remember, but once again, very much the way we deal with crash saucers, we require hard proof a verbal testimony while interesting isn't enough to tout this as fact.
one thing we have done was to search out any government reports on abductions. If you accept the fact that abductions have been happening by the millions, the way some UFO pundits have claimed then there should be some internal attention being given to this, CIA perhaps, even, at least the FBI, because these people are claiming to be kidnapped by aliens. There should be some information. We found nothing. Very, very little information in the FBI file about alien abduction, there have been a few references, but nothing more than passing comments and not paying much mind to the subject in general. Pretty much information file, other than that no, there haven't been any serious attempts by the government as far as we can tell to, to investiate abductions. We've been hearing a lot of stories about clandestine investigations it's running rampant through the subject now. But we have no proof. We have witnesses claiming such and such happened and that'sit.
People being visited by dark suited government agents, what not, in the past they were known as MIB's, men in black and it seem to be reviving again - but ah, if someone would at least get a photocopy of an id or take a photograph of these people, something we can work with it would be a lot better than a tale. That's all we're getting now are tales.
I found this subject to be very frustrating in recent times because all of the principles of investigation that I remember from the past seem to be ignored. It's okay for witnesses to say whatever they want with without qualification. And media attention seems to dominate the investigations whereas in the past it wasn't as much that way.
Now the tendency is to go to the media first. Before the investigating organizations, make a claim and suddenly you're famous. Subjects become more or less a cult of personality now. More your name is mentioned on television, in the radio, the newspapers, the more important you are. The more knowledgeable you are the more of an expert you are. I don't believe in experts in this subject there's no such thing. How can someone be an expert when they can't say what these things are, where they come from, who's inside them, and what it's all about. Nobody can answer that with proof. They can only speculate on it.
The culture has been imbued in the witnesses now, with the advent of high profile movies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., everybody knows what an alien's supposed to look like and aliens are looking like that now. It's information that I can't really trust as much as I had in the past before, when the cultural influence wasn't there. Close Encounters depicted little grey thin men with large heads. We're seeing that continuously now. How can you tell what's fact and what's fantasy. How can you tell whether a person hasn't seen that movie and had that ingrained in their subconscious. Again we require the hard proof to separate the fact from fantasy
I think it's the appeal of the unknown, discovering something that nobody has known before, ah, UFO phenomenon is relatively new situation in the larger scheme of things. We first heard of UFO's in mass during the late 1940's even though sightings had occured prior to that time, they weren't recognized as a distinct field of study but since the late 40's we have a phenomenon being presented to us, an aerial phenomenon tht seems to defy explanation, it seems to defy every attempt to put it away. Lay it to rest. And that to me is fascinating it suggests that while we don't have answers at the same time we're dealing with a phenomenon, something that's real, that resists every attmept to understand it. And that is very appealing to me. I have a curiosity about the unknown that never dies. I'll go to great lengths to satisfy that curiosity and this subject is a major challenge. to that curiosity and I see no sign of it slowing down as long as it's there, as long as the events of the past still require answers I'll be there looking into it, if the subject disappears tomorrow entirely, if there are no more sightings from now until doomsday we'll still have this history, this past, to explain to tell people this is what it's all about. We want to know, I want to know what it's about.
Well if anyone has ever wondered what a UFO organization looks like I'll give you some idea a good long look at what we have. What you're looking at right now are newsletter files. This is the lifeblood of the UFO field. Organizations and individuals communicate with one another by way of these newsletters and magazines and they come from all corners of the world. This particular collection involves some 1100 different titles, from a great many countries an it's, it's the only source in some cases of citing information, some very dramatic incidents and it includes organisations like Nicap aerial phenomenon research organization, ah, foreign groups like foreign saucer review which at one time was quite a large organization they were the focal point of the international research and communications network on the subject. Right here, are samples of publications, pamphlets, booklets, ah, odd little items that have been issued over the years on the subject, quite a large number of them here. And represents all sorts of styles and formats, budgets that people were able to afford, some things are barely surviving now. Ah, done on coarse paper, we have a job in preservation. I 'm sure that most libraries can appreciation, we've had to enclose much of it in plastic, for fear of watching it turn to dust. And over hre, the small selection of case files, this is one particular favourite of mine we've spent the last five years, in addition to working with government documents reseraching historical UFO incidents. And we've gone way back into history trying to find stories that somehow correlated to incidents that we have reported now and I was amazed at some of the things we'd run across. Sightings of flying discs in the late 1700's, 1850, 1870, they're there to be discovered it's just a matter of going outa and going to work to find them. And over here is quite an interesting display, we have 8 crates of files representing some 2,000 plus cases of close encounters of the third kind. We refer it to as humcat, or humanoid catalogue and it's as many reports of UFO, humanoids, and aliens that we've been able to gather over the years. Mainly responsible for this is a researcher named Ted Bloutcher who was kind enough to send this along to us but we've been adding material as the years have gone along. And it's probably the largest single assortment of humanoid cases that we have available. And over here is the core of Koz operation, government documents. We have in addition to our own hard copy files, micro film copies of project BLue Book and they're contained on over a 100 rolls of microfilm representing some 140,000 pages of information. The cases run from 1947 through the end of project blue book in 1969. Each frame, each roll contains about 1,000 frames and they were also photographic files, files of the airforce office of special investigation, letters to the air force, clippings, just a vast amount of material and since the end of Project Bluebook we've gathered hard copy, documents released through the freedom of Information Act over the years, from dozens of different government agencies, included CIA, national security agency, defense intelligence agency, State Department and even foreign files from Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa many other nations.
WHO PAYS FOR ALL THIS?
We do. Out of our pockets plus subscribers through the newsletter. we're not a large organization we have several hundred people who subscribe and it's certainly not a budget to brag about but it helps us enough that we can pursue some (unclear) requests and have access to quite a bit of mateiral. I'm planning to reasearch some more in the National Archives shortly and we expect to find some new material. Who knows where it's going to end up. we have 7,000 pages now and we may discover a vast amount later on, from wherever. It's only a matter of, the agencies in the government involved, out of the goodness of their hearts, to provie us with the information. we know they have it, it's just a matter of their releasing it.