Friday, April 3, 2020

NARA Tentatively Confirms 200-Page FBI File on NICAP Organizer

The existence of a 200-page FBI file likely pertaining to NICAP organizer Nicholas de Rochefort was acknowledged by the National Archives and Records Administration in a March 12, 2020 email. The file was compiled as part of an internal security investigation conducted between 1955 and 1964, according to the email, which also stated an initial assessment confirmed de Rochefort is, in fact, the subject of the file. 

In 1954 de Rochefort sought U.S. citizenship, and in 1956 the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena was incorporated. He passed away due to cancer in 1964. 

The email from NARA was sent in response to an FOIA request suggested by the FBI. The yet to be processed file was requested and will take some 30 months to prepare for release (see the body of the email from NARA at the end of this post).

Nicholas de Rochefort speaking at an event in 1954
Credit: The Brown Bulletin
We recently explored de Rochefort, his activities, and a 29-page FBI file pertaining to him obtained through the FOIA. He was active in anti-communism movements and organizations, and described by his former employer, the Advertising Council of Washington, D.C., as a "good propagandist", per an FBI report contained in the file. 

His efforts were deemed a psychological warfare success by Wisconsin Rep. Charles J. Kersten and entered into the July 29, 1954, Congressional Record. Kersten suggested such warfare can be more effectively carried out by private citizens than government, adding, "It would therefore be desirable to create a private organization for this very purpose, the members of which could devote all their time and their skill to devising actions of unconventional psychological warfare..."  

Coincidentally or otherwise, the FBI file reflects de Rochefort was employed by the Advertising Council in 1954 and 1955, and that his work with the Council on a project to counter Communist propaganda was verified by an FBI Special Agent. History and the NICAP website tell us that, then, for whatever reasons, de Rochefort became an original organizing member of NICAP during its 1956 formal incorporation. 

Researchers both in and out of UFO circles focused on the activities of de Rochefort as rumors of his involvement with the CIA mounted. One such researcher was Stanley D. Bachrack (be advised multiple spellings of his name surface). 

Bachrack took an interest in the Committee of One Million, a lobbying group of which de Rochefort was apparently a key member that opposed the People's Republic of China being admitted into the United Nations. Bachrack published a book on his research of the Committee in 1976. His work included an effort to obtain CIA files on de Rochefort, which led to suing the Agency in 1975. 

Although the entire lawsuit case file could not be located, Mr. Tim Anderson of NARA at the National Archives at Riverside helpfully found and provided a small docket file. As shown in the images below, the file establishes the granting of a CIA motion to dismiss the case. 


For those interested in more specifics, the case file of Stanley D. Bachrack v. CIA, William Colby, was initially requested from the CACD, which is the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. It responded the inquiry should be submitted to NARA at the National Archives Riverside. A series of emails and phone calls ensued with both agencies due to incorrect and/or confusion with transfer and box numbers, which are, essentially, how the files are stored and retrieved. Ultimately, Ms. Rose Henderson of the CACD stated in a March 16 email, "...this case from 1975 was probably destroyed or not recorded." 

A 1977 review of Bachrack's book, The Committee of One Million, was posted at The Journal of American History. Robert Griffith wrote how the Committee's main activities seemed to center around distributing propaganda attacking the People's Republic and lobbying Congress sporadically. Griffith adds the Committee may have been assisted by the CIA, but perceives Bachrack's evidence to be "highly speculative," and states Bachrack was unable to pursue the matter further when his Freedom of Information lawsuit was dismissed.

As previously explored, it doesn't appear the CIA and NSA were as uninterested as Griffith, at least for what might be various reasons. A now declassified CIA doc on sources and methods has versions archived at both CIA and NSA, and specifically references Bachrack's lawsuit attempting to obtain files on de Rochefort (see pages 61 and 99). The judge's ruling, according to CIA, contributed to a series of precedents emerging which greatly enhanced the legal stature of sources and methods as a means to protect intelligence information, "at least in the context of FOIA requests for information."  

So what does all this tell us about Nicholas de Rochefort, NICAP, and the evolution of the American UFO genre? Many questions remain, and more seem to arise. However, it seems increasingly improbable de Rochefort was passionately interested in flying saucers, at least not for the reasons many might like to think. 

NICAP has long been suspected of being organized, infiltrated and/or undermined by the intelligence community. Perhaps, as we continue to chip away at these decades-old mysteries and obtain new FOIA docs, more will become apparent about actual motives for such activities and involvement. In learning such things, we may not only learn more about 20th century UFO orgs and culture, but implications for the 21st century as well.     

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