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The 'national security' scam, cont'd.
It’s always better to have laws nobody takes seriously than no laws at all . . .
Nothing wrong with Vladimir Putin that a bolt-pistol round to the back of the head and a shallow unmarked grave can’t fix. But unless the Kremlin’s generals rediscover their own patriotism and put this twisted mutt out of his misery before he destroys Russia too, the Ukrainian killfest seems destined to dominate the news cycle until it runs out of targets. But hey, cheer up – we can now officially scratch Russian technology off the UAP suspect list; otherwise, this war would be over.
Until the hurly-burly’s done, let’s hope lawmakers keen on bringing transparency to the UFO mystery are paying attention to portentous developments back home in the black world. As former deputy assistant Defense Secretary for Intelligence Chris Mellon reported last week, things are quietly sliding in the opposite direction, a trend that even Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines felt compelled to flag to Capitol Hill.
In short, the government’s so-called secrets are being classified “exponentially in a digital-first environment,” Haines recently wrote to Senate leaders, and by volume so extreme it could actually sabotage national security. Her warning microwaved an SOS from 2019 by the Information Security Oversight Office, which explained how intelligence networks are generating “electronic petabytes of classified and controlled unclassified data each month, a deluge that we expect will continue to grow unabated.”
And what form of gratuitous federal censorship would be complete without impounding even more UFO data? Taking note of the total-blackout instructions from the UAP Security Classification Guide issued by the Naval Intelligence Activity office, Mellon reasoned that the Navy videos that spurred Congress to demand accountability last year – i.e., the “FLIR1,” “Go Fast,” and “Gimbal” footage – would never have been released today under these new guidelines. With these rules in play, he wrote, “science will continue to be hindered, and inefficiency and ignorance regarding the UAP issue will continue to prevail.”
Among the non-military acronyms ordered by the National Defense Authorization Act to cooperate on the UAP problem is the FAA, which is having credibility issues of its own. One example:
On the early afternoon of Feb. 21, 2021, American Airlines Flight 2292 heading from Cincinnati to Phoenix had an apparent close call at 37,000 feet over northeastern New Mexico. Civilian radio operator Steve Douglass just happened to be monitoring chatter in the local skies when he recorded this call from the Airbus pilot to air traffic control in Albuquerque: “Do you have any targets up here? We just had something go right over the top of us. I hate to say this but it looked like a long cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing moving really fast right over the top of us.”
Queried by media, the Federal Aviation Administration managed a terse statement: “A pilot reported seeing an object over New Mexico shortly after noon local time on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. FAA air traffic controllers did not see any object in the area on their radarscopes.” American Airlines confirmed one of its pilots had indeed made the call. But the company directed further questions to – yowza! – the FBI.
End of story. Or so the FAA hoped.
Naturally, UFO researchers wanted to see the near-miss evidence. Among them was Robert Powell, co-founder and board member of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies. “Was there really an object without a transponder that came near a civilian airliner?” he wondered. “Because no civilians can fly a drone at 30,000-plus feet.”
Powell had initiated a number of skirmishes with the FAA, most consequentially in 2008, when he was working with the Mutual UFO Network. On the clear early evening of 1/8/08, according to eyewitnesses, an absurdly humongous UFO passed over the Texas cow town of Stephenville, reversed course, and headed southeast. Witnesses also reported seeing a couple F-16s apparently giving chase. The Air Force initially stated it had no planes in the sky that night, only to change its tune a week or so later, after it received a FOIA request for radar data from Powell and fellow investigator Glen Schulze. Even so, the military refused to surrender its records. But the FAA shared its radar data, as required by law. So did the National Weather Service.
What those radar tracks revealed was shocking. The UFO/UAP – this silent flying machine without a transponder, estimated at anywhere from 534 to 1,000 feet in length – had drawn the attention of at least two of the 10 F-16s flying out of Carswell AFB in Fort Worth that evening. Traveling at erratic speeds, from 49 mph to 2,100 mph, it kept a steady course for the no-fly zone outside President George W. Bush’s Texas estate in Crawford. What happened after that is unknown – the Schulze-Powell FOIA requested data from a 4 to 8 p.m. window, and the object arrived at restricted airspace at precisely 8 p.m. Significantly, curiously, not a single jet fighter was on hand to defend that perimeter.
The strength of their report on Stephenville was embedded in 2.8 million unfiltered radar hits, extracted from the En Route Intelligence Tool system. ERIT refers to raw data collected from each individual radar site. Those pingbacks can include a lot of distracting clutter – hills, birds, contrails, turbulence, even false echoes – which air traffic controllers don’t need to contend with as they monitor the traffic upstairs. What shows up on ATC screens are the combined real-time results of those radar systems, scrubbed of extraneous returns and rolled into an acronym called NTAP (National Track Analysis Program).
In 2009, following the publication of the Stephenville analysis, and less than nine years after the 9/11 catastrophe, the FAA suddenly decided that releasing ERIT data would threaten national security. So it changed the rules, and releases only NTAP records today. According to Powell, as the massive UFO neared Bush’s “western White House,” most of the pingbacks came primarily from a single radar site, and the anomalous tracks likely would not have showed up in NTAP records.
At any rate, Powell and a handful of other researchers made a bid for more info on the 2021 American Airlines incident. The FAA said no. It asserted the records were exempt from disclosure on account of an active criminal investigation – even though the FBI informed the FOIA crowd it wasn’t looking into the incident. Subsequent appeals to the FAA have been sitting in limbo for nearly a year.
Of course, the FAA has plenty of company in erecting high walls around UFO material. In 2016, more than a year before the New York Times broke the AATIP/Tic Tac story, Powell was asking the Navy to officially release the so-called FLIR1 video shot by a Navy pilot assigned to the USS Nimitz. After all, that footage had been leaked to and posted on an obscure public website years earlier. The Navy told Powell it couldn’t find any records of that event. That lie was exposed when whistleblower Luis Elizondo legally finessed the Tic Tac video — and the others — into the public domain for The Times in 2017. In 2020, Powell demanded an explanation from the Navy about the decision to disseminate false information four years earlier. The Navy finally replied last month. It said it was under no obligation to answer on account of “attorney-work-product privilege.”
“It’s just gotten to the point where FOIAs have become a waste of my time,” Powell says. “But if you’ve got a civilian airliner that was maybe almost accidentally shot down by one of our own jets over U.S. airspace? Congress and the American people have a right to know. It’s not the FAA’s job to decide whether or not to release that information. You can’t hide that information from the American public.”