LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – In a move sure to provide fodder for conspiracy theorists, the Clinton Library withheld e-mails with subject lines like «X-Files» and «Area 51» from a batch of documents recently released at a UFO buff’s request.
National Archives officials made several files — ranging from a White House staffer’s obsession with the TV show «The X-Files» to President Bill Clinton’s push to hook up the Sci-Fi Channel at Camp David — available for viewing starting last Thursday in response to Freedom of Information requests.
Several pages, however, were withheld because they would «constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,» according to National Archives documents.
Among the released pages, 27 come from the files of former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, a fan of «The X-Files,» a show about FBI agents investigating extraterrestrials and other supernatural events. The files include articles forwarded to Podesta about the canceled Fox show.
Peter Baker, a Washington Post reporter, relied on Podesta’s interest in the show to persuade him to help on a book about the White House.
«Why am I skeptical that this book constitutes an opportunity for us?» Podesta wrote in a March 24, 1999, e-mail to Baker, who eventually wrote a book about the former president’s impeachment and trial.
«Because any good X-Files fan is skeptical by nature and understandably so,» Baker replied the next day.
In 1995, a group called the «Project Starlight Coalition» sent Clinton a letter asking him to declassify any documents about extraterrestrials or UFOs.
Two months later, an aide replied that he had forwarded the request for a meeting to White House staff.
«The President appreciates your interest and long-standing involvement in this issue,» James A. Dorskind, a special assistant to the president, wrote to members of the coalition.
The files also include an e-mail between White House spokeswomen Patricia F. Lewis and Mary Ellen Glynn over a Hollywood Reporter question about Clinton’s insistence on installing the Sci-Fi channel at the presidential retreat.
«I know we’re not going to talk about it, but it’s one of the better questions I’ve heard in a while and I wanted to share,» Lewis wrote.
The records are being released in response to a slew of requests from UFO enthusiast Grant Cameron, who operates a Web site on presidential history with extraterrestrials. Cameron has several other requests pending, including one for «all files on the Kennedy assassination.»