Interview with Nick Redfern on "For Nobody’s Eyes Only: Missing Government Files and Hidden Archives That Document the Truth Behind the Most Enduring Conspiracy Theories"
1. Can you tell us how you use the Freedom of Information act to gain materials to write books like For Nobody’s Eyes Only?
FOIAs exist in numerous countries. They permit members of the general public and the media the right to file a request with government agencies to (a) obtain copies of files that may already be declassified; or (b) request that files which are currently withheld – either in whole or in part – be declassified into the public arena. The FOIA is not a tool that is guaranteed to open all doors, however. There are many clauses within such act sthat permit government, military, and intelligence-based bodies to withhold their files, if they deem it appropriate to do so. The grounds for denial of access to files via the FOIA include national security concerns, matters having a bearing on the defense of the nation, privacy issues, data relative to legal and criminal subjects, and the internal operations of the relevant agency or agencies.
2. When it comes to Special Access programs how do those work to keep secrets hidden?
Contrary to what is often assumed – or claimed by alleged whistleblowers of distinctly dubious credibility – there are absolutely no levels of secrecy that extend beyond Top Secret. Not a single one. That does not mean, however, that having a Top Secret clearance provides a person with carte-blanche access to every secret, every conspiracy, and every cover-up under the face of the Sun. In fact, quite the opposite is the general rule of thumb. Here we come to something termed need to know. Person “A” might have the same level of clearance – let’s say Top Secret – as person “B.” But, here’s the important thing: to protect the security and secrecy of the project on which “A” is working, he or she is given a classified piece of data that acts as a key to open the door to that same project. That key might be in the form of a piece of documentation, such as a sternly-worded, non-disclosure agreement. Alternately, it might be a classified codeword that, without which, access to the program would be denied at all times. So, we have a situation where “A” and “B” possess the exact same clearance level of Top Secret, but only “A” knows what is afoot in the classified world of “Project X.” Such “Project X”-type operations are termed SAPs: Special Access Programs.
3. What about the missing files from Roswell? What do we know about them?
In early 1993, United States Congressman Steven Schiff began probing into the many complexities of the Roswell affair. He approached the Government Accountability Office (or the General Accounting Office, as it was known in 1993 and up until the time of its name change in 2004), which is the investigative arm of the United States Congress. During the course of their search for records to try and understand what had really taken place in New Mexico in early July 1947, the GAO learned that a massive amount of official documentation generated from within the confines of the Roswell Army Air Force between March 1945 and December 1949 had vanished. Moreover, that same documentation had disappeared under very odd circumstances: when GAO investigators asked for an explanation, they were told by the Chief Archivist for the National Personnel Records Center that its staff had been unable to ascertain how, why, and under whose jurisdiction, the Roswell files were gone.
4. How about the vanished files on England’s Rendlesham Forest?
One of the little known rumors surrounding the Rendlesham Forest “UFO landing” case is that at the height of the strange encounters a panicky British Government was on the absolute verge of evacuating a number of nearby prisons. In the 1980s, the late Graham Birdsall, who was the editor of Britain’s UFO Magazine from the 1990s to the early 2000s, had the opportunity to speak with one George Wild – a prison officer at Armley Prison in the English city of Leeds – who had some intriguing data to impart on this notable aspect of the story. According to what Wild told Birdsall, a senior prison official from the British government’s Home Office had once let it slip to him, Wild, that high-level orders had arrived at the nearby HM Prison Highpoint North advising staff to prepare for a possible evacuation of the inmates due to a matter of grave national security. Interestingly, the official records for Highpoint, for December 1980 (the time of the nearby Rendlesham Forest incident) have gone missing.
5. What can you share about the destroyed files from the MKULTRA program in the 70′s?
Certainly, the most notorious of all those many and varied operations of a so-called “mind-control” nature was MKUltra, which began in the early 1950s. One of the most interesting things about MKUltra is that when knowledge of its secret existence was leaked to the media in the early 1970s much of the then still existing documentation on the project was destroyed. One of the chief reasons for the destruction was the fear that the Soviets would get their hands on the leaked data, so it was very understandable that such steps would have been taken.
6. Could you go into the J. Edgar Hoover files that were destroyed after his death?
J. Edgar Hoover was noted for his dedication to the compilation of files on just about anyone and everyone that he saw as being ripe and relevant for covert surveillance. The voluminous document collection in question has become infamously known as the Secret Files. Unfortunately for historians, Hoover’s classified records are gone. After Hoover’s death, from heart disease, on May 2, 1972, those same files were quickly destroyed. The secrets those voluminous papers told went, just like Hoover, himself, to the grave. Fortunately, however, the story of how and why those documents came to be destroyed most certainly did not follow suit. It all revolved around an old lady, a septuagenarian, who was fiercely loyal to her boss, J. Edgar Hoover. Her name was Helen Gandy and, given that Hoover made it clear to her that she should handle the destruction of his files, she pretty much outwitted everyone as she sought to ensure Hoover’s secrets didn’t become open knowledge.
7. What would you like to share from the book with us if you could choose? A wildcard question if you will.
I think, more than anything else, it’s the very intriguing pattern we see time and again – and particularly so regarding the issue of UFOs and missing files. It’s a trend that suggests to me a concerted effort has been made to obliterate the files or to bury them incredibly deeply when they deal with significant UFO events. Unlike many researchers, however, I don’t believe this is due to the fault or the actions of the known agencies at all. Rather, I believe there is a kind of “shadow government,” or “shadow agency” that seems to have incredible power – at times, bizarrely, even a paranormal power – and tentacles all across the world that allow its members to move in and secure the required documents whenever and wherever they see fit. In other words, the agencies and elected officials are not the bad guys at all. They, in many cases, are just as baffled as we are by the large-scale disappearances of documents, such as the Roswell papers mentioned above.
8. David Kelly the UN weapons inspector?
Dr. David Kelly was a man with a great deal of fingers in many secret and sensitive pies. Back in 1984, Kelly accepted the prestigious position of Head of Microbiology at Britain’s highly sensitive installation, Porton Down. Kelly also served as the British Ministry of Defense’s Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Adviser to the Proliferation and Arms Control Secretariat, and to the Foreign Office’s non-proliferation department. And, on top of that, he was Senior Adviser on Biological Weapons to the United Nations. On July 17, 2003 he was found dead under very controversial circumstances in woods near his Oxfordshire, England home. A great deal of data was missing from the scene of what was alleged to be a suicide. His glasses and other items were all wiped clean of fingerprints – by who, we don’t know. More amazing, not a single scrap of DNA could be found on the glasses her wore every day. On top of that, and initially at least, his autopsy report was ordered withheld for 70 years! It’s a very strange affair that has convinced many that Kelly’s “suicide” was actually murder.
9. What are you up to next book wise and projects wise? Thanks for this interview.
ANSWER: My next book – from New Page Books – will be “Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind,” which deals with mysterious and suspicious deaths in the field of UFO research. That book will be published around July 2014, so for the next nine months or so, I’ll be very much off the radar for a change! Which is a good thing, as I have a lot of areas of writing I want to pursue that have nothing to do with UFOs, weirdness or conspiracies in the slightest. I can easily see myself moving away from all those issues and just writing on other areas in the future.
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