Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Issue #11 Requests For Public Records

This week we will look at another type of information request; the request for public records. This works out perfectly timing-wise with one of the cases I'm working on right now. Although the particular sighting I'm investigating occurred 20 years ago, I'm sure if anyone made a report it will still be on record.

My first stop was to the Morro Bay office of the U.S. Coast Guard. They were very helpful, however they didn't have an office in Morro Bay at the time in question, which was 1994. They did not have an office there until 1998! 

The sergeant at the front desk was extremely helpful, and told me that the Harbor Patrol office was right next door, and that they had been there at the time and would probably have the records from back in 1994. I thanked him, and gave him my card, encouraged him to check out the MUFON website, and let him know that it was okay for their office to contact me whenever they had any reports that I would be interested in.

I'd like to say that next I went to Harbor Hut and had a wonderful Calamari steak, but alas, there was more work to do! I ignored the wonderful aromas emanating from the many eatery's in the area, and proceeded to the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol office. After I introduced myself, I explained what information I was looking for, and asked them if they could help. They were very nice, and provided my with the form to start my inquiry.

Morro Bay's Request For Public Records Form.

I politely asked them what the charge would be for my request, and to my delight, they told me that there would be no charge. Maybe they just liked that I was polite, or maybe they were intrigued by my inquiry, but it clearly states on the form that there is a .75 cent charge for the first page, and .25 cents for each page thereafter, so be prepared, most requests will cost something! They let me know that they had up to ten days to respond my request, and I thanked them, gave them my card, and again encouraged them to check out our website, and to give out my number or call me if they had reports that I might be interested in. Of course I couldn't resist asking if they knew anything about the sighting in 1967, and I showed them the picture from July 7th. Although they were interested, neither of them knew anything about it...I'll be filing a separate request there next trip besides my FOIA to the other agencies.

To my surprise, and delight, I received word back on my search yesterday. I was really amazed at the quickness in there reply, especially since Monday was Memorial Day! Since any names are redacted, I am going to include the harbor records, just so you all can see what to expect when you make such a request. Although the information I was specifically looking for (other reports from 25-30 miles out to sea on that date) was not in the logs, there are still other places for me to inquire.

Morro Bay Harbor Patrol Logs for 12/28-29/1994

As you can tell from the harbor logs, there was not even anyone on duty during the early morning hours. This tells me that I need to check with the Coast Guard unit that was in charge of the area off the coast of Big Sur at the time.

I hope this weeks issue gave you some insight into the process of making an information request! By the way, I did finally get that Calamari steak...

Come back next week for more on FOIA requests, and the latest news and developments! Don't forget to follow, and share with everyone!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Issue #10 History of the FOIA

John Lennon was just murdered. There is a wall in between East and West Germany. Fear of the atom bomb is still real. Ronald Reagan is newly elected, and will soon be taking office. This is the world we lived in at the close of 1980, when over the course of three days, events took place that became known as the best documented UFO case since Roswell, the Rendlesham Forest incident.

This is the topic of the new book by Nick Pope, "Encounter In Rendlesham Forest". We were very fortunate to have Nick as our guest speaker at this months Northern California MUFON meeting in San Jose, hosted by Ruben Uriarte. The house was packed to listen as Nick recounted events of the three nights, and I must take a moment here to thank Nick again for coming...this man is so gracious that he showed up and spoke for about three hours before even going home from the airport! So, thanks Nick, from all of us! I also want to make a really good point about this case in general. Jim Penniston, I know you're reading this, and your reaction is going to be, "He did what?!!!", but trust me it worked out to demonstrate a point. Nick got so involved in the story, and of course being pressed for time, "the code" sort of got shuffled aside. No, really. The story was so fascinating as it was, but the during Q & A we re-visited the code downloaded by Jim Penniston when he touched the symbols on the craft! If you are not familiar with the Rendlesham Forest incident, I strongly recommend that you buy his book.
Nick Pope and I in San Jose for NorCal MUFON

For anyone wishing to read further about the Rendlesham Forest incident, there is also a great book by Larry Warren and Peter Robbins, "Left At East Gate".

Now to move on to this month's topic; the history of the FOIA. The Freedom Of Information Act was signed into law on July 4th, 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson (you can bet it burnt his biscuits to sign it!), but we have California Congressman John Moss to thank for it's existence. Unfortunately for him, because of his passion for making information public, his F.B.I. file grew to be over two inches thick! Remember what I said in the last issue about filing a FOIA request electronically, and how that is considered as permission for you to be monitored? Something to keep in mind. In 1974 the FOIA was amended to force greater agency compliance with requests. The General Accounting Office reported in 1991 over 1.9 million requests!

So where does this leave me with my FOIA request regarding the SLO UFO? The request has to be directed to the correct agency, in the correct format, and ask for the specific information. As there are probably a few places I should ask for the files, I am still compiling exactly where I am going to file the requests, and trying to determine what the charge will be for the searches. Yes, you heard me right, charge. Some of these requests can be a little pricey, thus making them prohibitive to most people. I'm hoping this search is fairly reasonable.

I hope you all enjoyed this weeks issue! Please share with everyone! Come back next week for something new, and an FOIA SLO UFO update!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Issue #9 FOIA Requests

This week I'm going to cover a topic that I have to admit right up front is new territory for me, and I'm sure that most Field Investigators rarely have the need to use: FOIA requests.

I wrestled with myself as to how I should go about presenting this subject, and after much thought I decided that the best thing to do would be to walk my readers through the process from start to finish. In the course of my case investigations with MUFON I have not had the need to write one yet, so I thought this would be the perfect time to do this so that not only will I be prepared when the need arises, but also since this is a lengthy process I will be able to update readers on the responses to my request, and subsequent developments from whatever information I receive. This way there will be a comprehensive step-by-step illustration of the process for others to follow. I will devote issues of my blog to this topic as developments occur.

I would not be doing this if not for the fact that I have the perfect case to write one for, that I am already researching. The sighting of a UFO in San Luis Obispo, CA, on July 7th, 1967 (see issue #6) has not had any other information from Project Blue Book file #11864 released other than the four photographs and the cover sheet I was able to find on I decided to write the request thanks to a reply I received from Stanton Friedman where he pointed out that I had all the information that I needed to narrow down the scope of my request. This is very fortunate, and fairly rare to be able to provide the case file number, date, and location!

This is a great time to explain what a FOIA request isn't; it is not a guarantee that you will receive anything! There are specific rules for filing a request, and unless they are followed meticulously to the letter, at best your reply will not be timely, or the process can be mind-numbingly stretched out into a fruitless effort by a vague search. Even when done correctly, there is no guarantee that what you are after will be released. If it is deemed vital to the interest of National Security, it will not be released.

There are now two ways that a person may file an FOIA request, either electronically or by mail. I briefly thought about filing my request electronically until I read the part on the website that said "filing electronically with the system implies consent to monitoring", whereas I made the instant decision to to do it the "old fashioned" way (by mail), and to document each step. This should be very interesting to see what kind of a response I receive!

Come back next week for more on the history of the FOIA, my written request for information on the SLO UFO and where it gets sent, and a special surprise update from this weekends MUFON meeting in San Jose!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Issue #8 Increasing Your Foundation of Knowledge

This weeks topic is one of my favorites; reading! It is inescapable that in any quest for knowledge, one must do a lot of reading. Sure, there are a lot of videos on the internet, and admittedly some of them do a fantastic job of relaying information, however most of the information that I like to rely on as an investigator is based on hard data. That means a lot of reading. It also means that to be fair and impartial, one should read as many different accounts as possible, and refrain from forming any conclusions until all the data has been examined. Even then it may not solidify evidence of "one" solid conclusion, and I believe it possible for more than one version of events to be BOTH correct! After all, we are dealing  with entities apparently capable of telepathy, screen memories, missing time, etc. Is the idea of different memories from witnesses to the same event so far fetched of a concept? 

I tend to find most of the official scientific studies of great value, and I also appreciate other peoples views of the same studies. While the Air Force flat out lies in its assessment of Project Blue Special Report #14, I am still fascinated by the cases they do reveal, and their misinterpretation of the data, that most people just accepted without challenging. Of even more interest to me is Stanton Friedman's take on the report. If you've ever read PBBSR #14 (if not, you can order it from ), you know that it is full of a lot of charts, graphs, and solid data, for a fair amount of decent cases. Mr. Friedman uses the report frequently in his lectures, and the way he points out the discrepancies is both entertaining and informative. I would recommend reading all you can get your hands on by him in fact!

I would also recommend reading the University of Colorado study referred to as "The Condon Report". Although heavily biased against UFOs from start, one can easily come to the opposite conclusions simply by looking at the data!

Another cornerstone of UFOlogy, are the "MJ-12" documents. I find it remarkable that so many books and articles have been written about this small collection of documents. There are a lot of reasons why I believe in the validity of the documents, but I've also read many different accounts before I came to my conclusion.

Of course there are a lot of great books that have excellent accounts of cases, and are also fun to read! My personal favorites are by Noe Torres and Ruben Uriarte, and not just because they are friends! I bring home a LOT of books, and they usually lay around for family and company to read. Some get picked up, some only I have interest in. When I brought home a couple of Noe's and Ruben's books though, my family jumped on them! "Aliens In The Forest" and "The Coyame Incident" were big hits at my house!
I have to be a big fan of anything that grabs people's attention, and sparks their interest in the subject of UFOs! The more you know about the subject yourself, the more you can answer people's questions knowledgeably, and help direct them to to sources where they can read more.

I hope reading this weeks installment inspires everyone to read more! And please share with everyone! See you next week!