The following is the complete text of the GAO Report to Congressman Steve Schiff having to do with the Roswell incident. It also includes related documents.
ALL OF THE GAO REPORT (with very minor exceptions mentioned below) is included in this file. The documents were optically scanned and run through an OCR (optical character recognition) tool. I proof-read the resulting document for errors (although some may have slipped through).
The only things missing are:
The actual hard copy of this report can be ordered by calling the GAO publications ordering desk at (202) 512-6000.
J. Barry Bitzer
July 28th, 1995
Schiff Receives, Releases Roswell Report
(missing documents leave unanswered questions)
Washington: Congressman Steve Schiff today released the General Accounting Office (GAO) report detailing results of a records audit related to events surrounding a crash in 1947, near Roswell, New Mexico, and the military response.
The 20 page report is the result of constituent information requests to Congressman Schiff and the difficulty he had getting answers from the Department of Defense in the now 48-year-old controversy.
Schiff said important documents, which may have shed more light on what happened at Roswell, are missing. "The GAO report states that the outgoing messages from Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) for this period of time were destroyed without proper authority. Schiff pointed out that these messages would have shown how military officials in Roswell were explaining to their superiors exactly what happened.
"It is my understanding that these outgoing messages were permanent records, which should never have been destroyed. The GAO could not identify who destroyed the messages, or why." But Schiff pointed out that the GAO estimates that the messages were destroyed over 40 years ago, making further inquiry about their destruction impractical.
Documents revealed by the report include an FBI teletype and reference in a newsletter style internal forum at RAAF that refer to a "radar tracking device" - a reference to a weather balloon. Even though the weather balloon story has since been discredited by the US Air Force, Schiff suggested that the authors of those communications may have been repeating what they were told, rather than consciously adding to what some believe is a "cover up."
"At least this effort caused the Air Force to acknowledge that the crashed vehicle was no weather balloon," Schiff said. "That explanation never fit the fact of high military security used at the time." The Air Force in September, 1994 claimed that the crashed vehicle was a then-classified device to detect evidence of possible Soviet nuclear testing.
Schiff also praised the efforts of the GAO, describing their work as "professional, conscientious and thorough."
A two page letter discussing a related investigation into "Majestic 12" was also delivered.
Schiff will be available to the media Saturday, July 29th, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern) at 2404 Rayburn MOB in Washington, DC and by telephone: (202) 225-6316.
A copy of the report may be obtained by calling (202) 512-6000 and referencing Document number GAO/NSIAD-95-187.
START GAO REPORT
United States General Accounting Office Washington, D.C. 20545
National Security and International Affairs Division
The Honorable Steven H. Schiff House of Representatives
Dear Mr. Schiff:
On July 8, 1947, the Roswell Army Air Held (RAAF) public information office in Roswell, New Mexico, reported the crash and recovery of a "flying disc." Army Air Forces personnel from the RAAF's 509th Bomb Group were credited with the recovery. The following day, the press reported that the Commanding General of the U.S. Eighth Air Force, Fort Worth, Texas, announced that RAAF personnel had recovered a crashed radar-traciting (weather) balloon, not a flying disc."
After nearly 50 years, speculation continues on what crashed at Roswell. Some observers believe that the object was of extraterrestrial origin. In the July 1994 "Report of Air Force Research Regarding the Roswell" Incident, the Air Force did not dispute that something happened near Roswell, but reported that the most likely source of the wreckage was from a balloon-launched classified government project designed to determine the state of Soviet nuclear weapons research. The debate on what crashed at Roswell continues.
Concerned that the Department of Defense (DoD) may not have provided you with all available information on the crash, you asked us to determine the requirements for reporting air accidents similar to the crash near Roswell and identify any government records concerning the Roswell crash.
We conducted an extensive search for government records related to the crash near Roswell. We examined a wide range of classified and unclassified documents dating from July 1947 through the 1950s. These records came from numerous organizations in New Mexico and elsewhere throughout DoD as well as The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the National Security Council. The full scope and methodology of our work are detalled at the end of This report.
In 1947, regulations required that air accident reports be maintained air accidents reported by the Army Air Forces in New Mexico during July 1947. All of The accidents involved military aircraft and occurred after July 8,1947 -- the date the RAAF public information office first reported the crash and recovery of a "flying disc" near Roswell. The Navy reported no air accidents in New Mexico during July 1947. Air Force officials told us that according to record-keeping requirements in effect during July 1947, there was no requirement to prepare a report on the crash of a weather balloon.
In our search for records concerning the Roswell crash, we learned that some government records covering RAAF activities had been destroyed and others had not. For example, RAAF administrative records (from Mar. 1945 through Dec. 1949) and RAAF outgoing messages (from Oct. 1946 through Dec. 1949) were destroyed. The document disposition form does not indicate what organization or person destroyed the records and when or under what authority the records were destroyed.
Our search for government records concerning the Roswell crash yielded two records originating in 1947 -- a July 1947 history report by the combined 509th Bomb Group and RAAF and an FBI teletype message dated July 8, 1947. The 5O9th-RAAF report noted the recovery of a "flying disc" that was later determined by military officials to be a radar-tracking balloon. The FBI message stated that the military had reported that an object resembling a high-altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector had been recovered near Roswell.
The other government records we reviewed, including those previously withheld from the public because of security classification, and the Air Force's analysis of unidentifled flying object(1) sightings from 1946 to 1953 (Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14), did not mention the crash or the recovery of an airborne object near Roswell in July 1947. Similarly, executive branch agencies' responses to our letters of inquiry produced no other government records on the Roswell crash.
According to press accounts from July 1947, Army Air Forces personnel from RAAF were involved in the recovery of an airborne object near Roswell. Therefore, if an air accident report was prepared, it should have been prepared in accordance with Army regulations. According to an Army records management official, in 1947 Army regulations required that air accident reports be maintained permanentiy. An Air Force official said there was no similar requirement to report a weather balloon crash.
According to an Air Force official who has worked in the records management field since the inid-1940s, air accident reports prepared in July 1947 under Army regulations should have been transferred to Air Force custody in September 1947, when the Air Force was established as a separate service.
The Air Force Safety Agency is responsible for maintalning reports of air accidents. We examined its microflim records to determine whether any air accidents had been reported in New Mexico during July 1947. We identified four air accidents during this time period.(2) All of the accidents involved military fighter or cargo aircraft and occurred after July 8, 1947 -- the date the RAAF public information office first reported the crash and recovery of a "flying disc" near Roswell. According to the Army Air Forces' Report of Major Accident, these four accidents occurred at or near the towns of Hobbs, Albuquerque, Carrizozo, and Alamogordo, New Mexico. Ouly one of the four accidents resulted in a fatality. The pilot died when the aircraft crashed during an attempted take-off.
In searching for government records on the Roswell crash, we were particularly interested in identifying and reviewing records of military units assigned to RAAF in 1947 -- to include the 509th Bomb Group, the 1st Air Transport Unit, the 427th Army Air Force Base Unit, and the 1395th Military Police Company (Aviation).
Document disposition forms obtained from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, indicate that in 1953, the Walker Air Force Base (formeriy RAAF) records officer transferred to the Army's Kansas City records depository the histories of units stationed at Walker Air Force Base. These histories included the 509th Bomb Group and RAAF for February 1947 through October 1947; the 1st Air Transport Unit for July 1946 through June 1947; and the 427th Army Air Force Base Unit for January 1946 to February 1947. We could not locate any documentation indicating that records of the 1395th Military Police Company (Aviation) were ever retired to The National Personnel Records Center or its predecessor depositories.
The July 1947 history for the 509th Bomb Group and RAAF stated that the RAAF public information office "was kept quite busy ... answering inquiries on the `flying disc,' which was reported to be in [the] possession of the 509th Bomb Group. The object turned out to be a radar tracking balloon." By his signature, The RAAF's commanding officer certified that the report represented a complete and accurate account of RAAF activities in July 1947. (Excerpts from the report are contained in app. I.)
In addition to unit history reports, we also searched for other government records on the Roswell crash. In this regard, The Chief Archivist for the National Personnel Records Center provided us with documentation indicating that (1) RAAF records such as finance and accounting, supplies, buildings and grounds, and other general administrative matters from March 1945 through December 1949 and (2) RAAF outgoing messages from October 1946 through December 1949 were destroyed. According to this official, the document disposition form did not properly indicate the authority under which the disposal action was taken. The Center's Chief Archivist stated that from his personal experience, many of the Air Force organizational records covering this time period were destroyed without entering a citation for the governing disposition authority. Our review of records control forms showing the destruction of other records-including outgoing RAAF messages for 1950 -- supports the Chief Archivist's viewpoint.
During our review of records at FBI headquarters, we found a July 8, 1947, teletype message from the FBI office in Dallas, Texas, to FBI headquarters and the FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio. An FBI spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the message.
According to the message, an Eighth Air Force headquarters official had telephonically informed the FBI's Dallas office of the recovery near Roswell of a hexagonal-shaped disc suspended from a large balloon by cable. The message further stated that the disc and balloon were being sent to Wright Field (now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio) for examination. According to The Eighth Air Force official, the recovered object resembled a high-altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector. The message stated that no further investigation by the FBI was being conducted. (A copy of the teletype message appears in app. II.)
To follow up on the July 8th message, we reviewed microfilm abstracts of the FBI Dallas and Cincinnati office activities for July 1947. An abstract prepared by the FBI Dallas office on July 12, 1947, summarized the particulars of the July 8th message. There was no mention in the Cincinnati office abstracts of the crash or recovery of an airborne object near Rosweil.
Because the FBI message reported that debris from the Roswell crash was being transported to Wright Held for examination, we attempted to deterinine whether military regulations existed for handling such debris. We were unable to locate any applicable regulation. As a final step, we reviewed Air Materiel Command (Wright Held) records from 1947 to 1950 for evidence of command personnel involvement in this matter. We found no records mentioning the Roswell crash or the examination by Air Materiel Command personnel of any debris recovered from the crash.
We sent letters to several federal agencies asking for any government records they might have concerning the Roswell crash. In this regard, we contacted DoD, the National Security Council, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the CIA, the FBI, and the Department of Energy.
The National Security Council, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Department of Energy responded that they had no government records relating to the Roswell crash. (Copies of their responses appear in app. III, IV, and V.) The FBI, DoD, and the CIA provided the following information.
The FBI informed us that all FBI data regarding the crash near Roswell had been processed under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests previously received by the Bureau. We reviewed the FBI's FOIA material and identified the July 8, 1947, FBI teletype message discussing the recovery near Roswell of a high-altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector. (A copy of the FBI's response appears in app. VI.)
DoD informed us that the U.S. Air Force report of July 1994, entitied "Report of Air Force Research Regarding the Roswell Incident", represents the extent of DoD records or information concerning the Roswell crash. The Air Force report concluded that there was no dispute that something happened near Roswell in July 1947 and that all available official materials indicated the most likely source of the wreckage recovered was one of the project MOGUL balloon trains. At the time of the Roswell crash, project MOGUL was a highly classified U.S. effort to determine the state of Soviet nuclear weapons research using balloons that carried radar reflectors and acoustic sensors. (A copy of DoD's response appears in app. VII.)
In March 1995, the CIA's Executive Director responded to our letter of inquiry by stating that earlier searches by the CIA for records on unidentified flying objects produced no information pertaining to the Roswell crash. The Executive Director added, however, that it was unclear whether the CIA had ever conducted a search for records specifically relating to Roswell. In the absence of such assurance, the Executive Director instructed CIA personnel to conduct a comprehensive records search for information relating to Roswell. On May 30, 1995, the CIA's Executive Director informed us that a search against the term "Roswell, New Mexico," in all CIA databases produced no CIA documents related to the crash. (A copy of CIA's response appears in app. VIII.)
A draft of this report was provided to DoD for comment. DoD offered no comments or suggested changes to the report. The Chief Archivist, National Personnel Records Center offered several comments clarifying matters dealing with records management. These comments have been incorporated into the final report where appropriate.
The CIA, the Department of Energy, the FBI, the National Security Council, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy also received excerpts from the report discussing the activities of their respective agencies. They had no substantive comments and made no suggested changes to the report.
To determine the requirements for reporting all accidents in 1947, we interviewed military service records management officials, reviewed military record-keeping regulations in effect during this time period, and examined Army Air Forces and Navy air accident reports.
We also sought to identify any government records related to the Roswell crash. In this regard, we visited and reviewed records at the locations listed in table 1.
|National Archives II,
College Park, Md.
National Record Center,
|National Personnel Records Center,
St. Louis, Mc.
|Department of the Air Force,
|Department of the Army,
|Department of the Navy,
|Air Force Safety Agency,
Kirtland Air Force Base,
|Air Force History Support Office,
Boiling Air Force Base,
|National Security Agency,
|Military History Institute,
Army War College,
| Army Central Security Facility,
| Central Intelligence Agency,
| Federal Bureau of Investigation,
| National Atomic Museum,
Kirtland Air Force Base,
Footnote (a) Project Sign was the predecessor to Project Blue Book.
Our search of government records was complicated by the fact that some records we wanted to review were missing and there was not always an explanation. Further, the records management regulations for the retention and disposition of records were unclear or changing during the period we reviewed.
We also queried the National Security Council, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Energy, the FBI, DOD, and the CIA to determine what government records they have on the Roswell crash. We did not independently verify the information provided to us in their written responses.
In addition to physically examining government records, we contacted the following federal activities to determine whether they had any information about the Roswell crash:
* Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; * Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; * Army Center for Military History, Washington, D.C.; and * 509th Bomb Wing, Office of the Historian, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.
We conducted our review from March 1994 to June 1995 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Unless you publicly announce its contents earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days after its issue date. At that time, we will make copies avallable to other interested parties upon request.
If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please call me. A major contributor to this report is Gary K. Weeter, Assistant Director.
/s/ Richard Davis Director, National Security Analysis
Abbreviations: CIA Central Intelligence Agency DoD Department of Defense FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation FOIA Freedom of Information Act RAAF Roswell Army Air Field
[ Picture / cover page appeared here, text: ] Combined History 509th Bomb Group and Roswell Army Air Field 1 July 1947 Through 31 July 1947
[page from retierved document follows]
The other three briefings were those which were given to the VIP and a simulated briefing to a large group of Air Scouts representing all of the troops in New Mexico which was given on 15 July 1947.
Several small projects were completed during the month including signs on all the office doors, a building directory, and a world situation map which is maintained on a day-to-day basis.
The Historical Section of S-2 has been seriously handicapped by the removal of the regular stenographer with the reduction in force.
Due to the fact that the quality of the department reports has in general been so inadequate, lectures are being prepared to be given early in August to properly train the liaison representatives of each department.
The Office of Public Information was kept quite busy during the month answering inquiries on the "flying disc", which was reported to be in the possession of the 509th Bomb Group. The object turned out to be a radar tracking ballooon.
The main project of the month was making all arrangements for a successful Air Force Day. Lt. Golonel Oliver LaFarge, Air Reserve Corps, at Santa Fe, made arrangements for Colonel Blanchard to visit the Governor of New Mexico and ask him to declare Air Force Day in New Mexico on 7 August.
[end excerpt from Combined History]
[Note ______ indicates area blacked out by marker; spelling is reproduced as is in the original.]
TELETYPE FBI DALLAS 7-8-47 6-17 PM _________ DIRECTOR AND SAC, CINCINNATI URGENT _________ FLYING DISC, INFORMATION CONCERNING _________ HEADQUARTERS EIGHTH AIR FORCE, TELEPHONICALLY ADVISED THIS OFFICE THAT AN OBJECT PURPORTING TO BE A FLYING DISC WAS RE COVERED NEAR ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO, THIS DATE. THE DISC IS HEXAGONAL IN SHAPE AND WAS SUSPENDED FROM A BALLON BY CABLE, WHICH BALLON WAS APPROXIMATELY TWENTY FEET IN DIAMETER. _________ FURTHER ADVISED THAT THE OBJECT FOUND RESEMBLES A HIGH ALTITUDE WEATHER BALLON WITH A RADAR REFLECTOR, BUT THAT TELEPHONIC CONVERSATION BETWEEN THEIR OFFICE AND WRICHT FIELD HAD NOT _____________ BORNE OUT THIS BELIEF. DISC AND BALLOON BEING TRANSPORTED TO WRIGHT FIELD BY SPECIAL PLANE FOR EXAMINAT INFORMATION PROVIDED THIS OFFICE BECAUSE OF NATIONAL INTEREST IN CASE. XXXX AND FACT THAT NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY, ASSOCIATED PRESS, AND OTHERS ATTEMPTING TO BREAK STORY OF LOCATION OF DISC TODAY. _________ _________ ADVISED WOULD REQUEST WRIGHT FIELD TO ADVISE CINCINNATI OFFICE RESULTS OF EXAMINATION, NO FURTHER INVESTIGATION BEING CONDUCTED. WYLY RECORDED END CXXXX ACK IN ORDER UA 92 FBI CI MJW BPI H8 8-38 PM O 6-22 PM OK FBI WASH DC OK FBI CI
[letter follows on "National Security Council" letterhead]
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL Washington, D.C. 20506
April 28, 1995 MEMORANDUM FOR MR. JOSEPH E. KELLEY Director-in-Charge, International Affairs Issues General Accounting Office
SUBJECT: Request for NSC Records
I am responding to your April 12, 1995, request for information or NSC records related to the crash of an airborne object near Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947. The NSC has no records or information related to the incident at Roswell.
For information about any government records that may document the crash at RosweIl, we suggest you contact the National Archives, Textual Reference Division, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, Maryland 20740.
/s/ Andrew D. Sens
[letter follows on "Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy" letterhead]
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLODY POLICY WASHINGT0N D.C 20500 April 26, 1995
Dear Mr Hunt.
In response to your recent inquiry of April 12, 1995. The Office of Science and Techology Policy reviewed its records regarding the Roswell Incident. OSTP has no direct knowledge of what occurred at Roswell and no records, except for the information I received from the Air Foree.
I look forward to receiving the GAO report.
Sinrerely, /s/ John H. Gibbons Director Enclosures As stated Mr. William Hunt Director, Federal Management Issues United States Government Accounting Office Washington, DC 20548
[letter follows on "Department of Energy" letterhead]
Department of Energy Washington, DC 20585 June 5. 1995 Richard Davis Director, National Security Analysis General Accounting Office Washington, D.C. 20538
Dear Mr. Davis.
This is in response to your request for records related to the crash of an airborne object near Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947. We conducted an in- depth search for documents related to the crash and have found no such documents.
If you have any questions regarding this matter. please do not hesitate to contact Barry Uhlig of my staff.
Sincerely, /s/ Joseph F. Vivona Chief Financial Officer
[letter follows on "U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation" letterhead]
U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation Washington, D.C. 20535 April 24, 1995 Mr. Richard Davis Director Attn: Gary K. Weeter National Security Analysis General Accounting Office Washington, D.C.
Dear Mr. Davis:
This is in response to a letter dated April 7, 1995, from Norman J. Rabkin, Director, Administration of Justice Issues, General Accounting Office, to John E. Collingwood, Inspector in Charge, of Office of Public and Congressional Affairs, FBI, regarding government records concerning the crash of an airborne object near Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947 (code 701034)
A search of FBI indices for information relating to the crash of an airborne object near Roewell, New Mexico, in 1947, determined that all FBI data concerning the incident has been processed under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and is available for review in our FOIA Reading Room. A copy of the document forwarded to me by Gary Weeter is among the documents in the Reading Room. If your staff wishes to review the material, please call Margaret Tremblay, a member of my staff, at least 48 hours in advance of the desired appointment.
Sincerely yours, /s/ Swanson D. Carter Supervisory Special Agent Office of Public and Congressional Affairs
[letter follows on "Inspector General, Department of Defense" letterhead]
INSPECTOR GENERAL Department of Defense 400 Army Navy Drive Arlington, Virginia 22202-2884 May 4, 1995 Nr. Richard Davis Director, National Security Analysis U.S. General Accounting Office 441 G Street N.W. Room 5025 Washington, D.C. 20548
Dear Mr. Davis:
The Department of the Air Force July 1994 report is the DoD response to questions posed in your April 12 letter related to GAO Code 701034.
If you have any questions, please contact my action officer, Pattie Cirino. If she is not available, please contact Ms. Merlene L. Scales.
/s/ Rathryn M. Truex Deputy Assistant Inspector General for GAO Report Analysis Enclosure
[letter follows on "Central Intelligence Agency" letterhead]
Central Intelligence Agency [ symbol ] Washington, D.C. 20585 Mr. Richard Davis Director, National Security Analysis US General Accounting Office Washington, D.C. 20548
Dear Mr. Davis,
In a letter dated 30 March 1995, this Agency advised you that it would conduct a comprehencive record search to aid in the completion of your investigation of the crash of an airborne object near Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947. In accordance with your request, we have searched all of our data bases against the terms "Project Mogul" and 'Roswell, New Mexico."
The search did not yield any documents related to either of these terms. Therefore, this Agency has no information, beyond those records already reviewed by Mr. Gary Weeter of your staff, relevant to your investigation.
Sincerely, /s/ Nora Slatkin Executive Director
GAO United States General Accounting Office Washington, D.C. 20548
National Security and International Affairs Division 94-0692 July 28, 1995 The Honorable Steven H. Schiff House of Representatives
Dear Mr. Schiff:
In response to your request, we asked several agencies for their views on the authenticity of the publicly circulated written material referred to as Majestic 12. The origin of this material is unknown, but it is purported to represent highly classified government records explaining unidentified flying object recovery procedures and the crash of a disc-shaped aircraft near Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947.
Since the late 1980s, several federal agencies have been contacted by nongovernmental persons and asked to comment on the authenticity of the Majestic 12 material. The agencies contacted include
These agencies responded to the inquiries by stating that their knowledge of Majestic 12 was limited to the written material submitted to them by nongovernmental persons. These agencies added that they found no records in their files relating to Majestic 12. Moreover, the agencies' overall conclusion concerning the authenticity of the Majestic 12 written material was the same--there is no evidence that the Majestic 12 written material constitutes actual documents originally created in the executive branch. According to the Information Security Oversight Office and the Air Force, the Majestic 12 material should not be treated as if it had ever been actually classified by an executive branch agency or government official. We found nothing in our work that contradicts the conclusions reached by these agencies.
We also asked the archivists at the Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower libraries for their views on the authenticity of the Majestic 12 material. The archivists said that over the years they have received several inquiries from the public concerning this material. In their search for related records, including classified intelligence and National Security Council documents, they found nothing that appeared to fit the description of the Majestic 12 material or any references to this particular designation.
Lastly, during our review of material received from the public by the Information Security Oversight Office in connection with past Freedom of Information Act requests, we came across a message dated November 17, 1980. The message, which appeared to have been originated by the Operations Division of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), contained the words "MJ Twelve."
We contacted AFOSI to determine the authenticity of the November 1980 message. In a letter dated February 28, 1995, the Commander, AFOSI, Investigative Operations Center, advised us that a search of AFOSI files failed to disclose any official record copy of the message. The commander also advised us that in connection with an earlier Freedom of Information Act request, AFOSI had been asked to determine the authenticity of the message. At that time, AFOSI concluded that the message was a forgery.
Sincerely yours, /s/Richard Davis Director, National Security Analysis