How UFO believers make our government more transparent
By Dana Liebelson
"Every major military agency receives an enormous amount of requests about UFOs."
There is a group of people in America that may be more committed to prying documents from the government than just about anyone else: People who believe that Unidentified Flying Objects are real.
UFO believers have been dutifully trying to prove the existence of alien lifeforms for decades, largely by submitting countless Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. These requests are so exhaustive, they've actually spawned new laws for how government decides to give up its other (more mundane) secrets.
"There are individuals who file FOIA requests every single time a new report of a UFO comes in, asking all the relevant agencies to look for mentions of a triangular object" says Kel McClanahan, an attorney specializing in national security and privacy law. "Every major military agency receives an enormous amount of requests about UFOs."
One of those FOIA requesters is 32-year-old John Greenewald Jr., a television producer and writer in North Hollywood, Calif. He says he's filed hundreds of FOIA requests about UFOs. He filed his first request when he was 15, and received a four-page document detailing the 1976 Tehran UFO encounter that read "like an X-Files episode." After that, he says he "was hooked," and has since amassed more than 700,000 pages of government documents, most of which he's posted online.
He's not the only one. Larry Bryant, who spent decades writing for U.S. Army publications, claims that he has "filed more UFO-related lawsuits in federal court than has anyone else in the entire universe."
It's not unusual for a UFO FOIA case to make it to court. In a 1981 case, Ground Saucer Watch v. CIA, William Spaulding, head of a small UFO group, alleged that the CIA was hiding information about the "Robertson panel," a government intelligence advisory committee that met in 1953 to investigate a spate of UFO sightings. The group filed a FOIA lawsuit, which forced the CIA to conduct a search of all UFO-related documents — even if it was a piece of paper stuck under a secretary's desk. . . .
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