In 2023, the U.S. Air Force is known to have shot down numerous unknown objects primarily described as “balloons.” February 4, 2023, off the coast of South Carolina; February 10, 2023, over Alaska; February 11, 2023, over Yukon; and February 12, 2023, over Lake Huron, were all events that took place and were heavily covered in the mainstream media.
On February 18, 2023, The Black Vault filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a copy of, “all visual imagery captured from the shootdown of balloons/Unidentified Aerial Objects…” and asked that all classified/unclassified “…photos, videos, cockpit footage, personal cell phone photos/videos take by the pilots could have given to the DoD, etc.” be included in the release.
On March 21, 2023, the U.S. Air Force responded and denied the release of everything requested. It is unknown how many photos or videos were discovered or are being withheld, but their explanation was the following:
“The 1 Fighter Wing (1 FW) has conducted a thorough search for for responsive records to your request. Your request was processed under FOIA and was coordinated with the office of primary responsibility. Please note that, consistent with your request, under Exemption 1 and AFMAN 33-302, referencing Executive Order (EO) 13526 that apply to the continued classification of information, the requested information is withheld and not releasable.
Please see Exemption 1 below:
FOIA EXEMPTION 1
FOIA Exemption 1, 5 U.S.C. §552(b)(1), protects from disclosure national security information concerning the national defense or foreign policy, provided that it has been properly classified in accordance with Executive Order 13526. In this instance Sections 1.4(c) and 1.4(e) of the executive order apply. If the information qualified as Exemption 1, there is no discretion regarding its release. DoD 5400.7-R AFMAN 33-302, para C22.214.171.124. classification authorities are given great deference in deciding whether information is properly classified. Taylor v. Dept of the Army, 684 F.2d 99, 109 (D.C. Cir. 1982) (according “utmost deference” to affidavits explaining classification decision).”
The request was originally filed by The Black Vault to the Headquarters of the U.S. Air Force, however, it was later forwarded to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia for review and processing.
The Black Vault will file an appeal to fight the denial.
The entire letter can be downloaded below:
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