The Truth is Out There…FOIA Requests, Delusional Claims & Extraterrestrials

May 20, 2014

UFOI’m currently reading Event, a story about alien invasion and the Roswell “cover up.” Don’t judge. It was available at the library and I was in the mood for something with action. There are, of course, plenty of conspiracy theories out there about the Roswell incident, and in turn, our government’s knowledge of UFOs and alien abductions. It can make for some… interesting reading. It can also make for some interesting reading on Westlaw. I ran the following search in secondary sources on Westlaw Next:

ALIEN ROSWELL UFO

In our initial results, I see:

Sean Munger, Bill Clinton Bugged My Brain!: Delusional Claims in Federal Courts, 72 Tul. L. Rev. 1809 (1998)

Kenneth B. Nunn, Illegal Aliens: Extraterrestrials and White Fear, 48 Fla. L. Rev. 397 (1996)

Area 51 Plaintiffs Appeal National Security Blackout in RCRA Suit Kasza v. Browner, 1996 Andrews Toxic Chemicals Litig. Rep. 24011 (1996)

The Tulane Law Review provides a summary of the Roswell incident which occurred in 1947 in New Mexico. It discusses frivolous and “delusional” claims generally, starting with a case involving a pro se plaintiff and a wide variety of fantastical conspiracy claims including allegations involving a NASA cyborg program, telepathic communication, intentions to enslave U.S. citizens, and Jimmy Carter’s ability to control weather (and earthquakes, obviously). See Tyler v. Carter, 151 F.R.D. 537 (S.D.N.Y. 1993). The court held that the plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed sua sponte as frivolous, as they describe “fantastic or delusional scenarios.”

Another case outlined by the article involved a man suing Satan, alleging liability for the plaintiff’s personal and financial woes. U. S. ex rel. Mayo v. Satan & his Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D. Pa. 1971). The court in that case denied plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis, due to a lack of personal jurisdiction over the Defendant, since the complaint failed to allege where Satan resided. The court also noted the possibility that the case could be maintained as a class action, and noted that the number of potential class members would be so numerous to make joinder impracticable, and they couldn’t be sure that the plaintiff would fairly represent the interests of the class.

FOIA Requests

For documents related to FOIA requests and the Roswell incident, I ran the following query in all jurisdictions on Westlaw Next.

“AREA 51” ROSWELL & +UFO & F.O.I.A. “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION”

Scanning the Overview screen, I see the first case involved a FOIA request to the CIA for information about UFOs. In Bryant v. Cent. Intelligence Agency, 742 F. Supp. 2d 90 (D.D.C. 2010), the court found that the CIA “conducted a reasonably diligent search” for records. The plaintiff, Larry Bryant, shows up as a plaintiff in at least one other decision appearing in the initial search results; Bryant v. C.I.A., 818 F. Supp. 2d 153 (D.D.C. 2011), as does his organization, “Citizens Against UFO Secrecy.” See Citizens Against UFO Secrecy, Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t of Def., 21 F. App’x 774 (9th Cir. 2001). Other cases that appear in the result list include:

Ground Saucer Watch, Inc. v. C.I.A., 692 F.2d 770 (D.C. Cir. 1981) (cited 222 times for the idea that agency affidavits regarding records search enjoy a presumption of good faith which will withstand “purely speculative claims” about the existence and discoverability of other documents)

Collymore v. F.B.I., C-94-2268 CW, 1995 WL 165308 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 31, 1995)