By ANDREW DeMILLO
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — 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 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 President 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." He did not immediately respond to an e-mail message seeking comment Tuesday.
On the Net: Clinton Library: http://www.clintonlibrary.gov