This is how conspiracy theories start.
Over the past month or two, I've been posting declassified U.S. government documents about ancient astronauts, Noah's Ark, Atlantis, and other alternative archaeology topics. (You can view the collection here.) But there is one document I haven't been able to get: the State Department's Erich von Daniken memo. Written in the 1970s, the document--whatever it is--has been declassified since the 1990s, but is preserved only on microfilm in the National Archives.
I requested a copy of the document back in early June, but the National Archives never responded to my document request. I followed up by phone only to be shunted from office to office, with each telling me that it wasn't in charge of State Department microfilm. Voice mail was never returned; letters and emails went unanswered. Eventually, I ended up at a dead end on the phone tree, at an office in College Park, Maryland, where a recorded message advised callers to just hang up because they never answer the phone and won't accept voice mail.
If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd think that the government was trying to hide the truth about the von Daniken memo, and I'd run to the internet to say how the government was trying to thwart my investigation.
However, I never attribute to conspiracy what is better explained by bureaucratic inertia.
After a few more attempts, I finally have a written confirmation from the National Archives that they will process my document request within 10 business days (which is required by law in any case).
So, with luck, we'll all soon know what the National Security adviser was doing talking about Erich von Daniken in the 1970s.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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