Uh, on second thought, maybe it's not Amelia Earhart in that photo after all

The deflating follow-up to yesterday’s post. The photo … can’t be this easy to debunk, can it?

MailOnline had access to this same picture a year ago – and an investigation in the US National Archives established that the photo was among a batch taken after 1940, at least three years after she disappeared…

[W]hen [our investigator] established that the picture was among others contained in an envelope that clearly identified them as being taken on Jaluit after 1940 – at the very least three years after Miss Earhart disappeared on an attempt to circumnavigate the world – his enthusiasm waned.

The photo itself apparently isn’t marked with a date, just the location of Jaluit Atoll, but its inclusion in that envelope obviously points away from the woman in the picture being Earhart. Case closed, right? Well, hold on: The retired U.S. Treasury agent who discovered the photo in the archives in 2012 has an explanation. Sort of.

A longtime Earhart buff who has spent thousands of hours combing through government records, [Les] Kinney discovered the photo in a “formerly top secret” file in the National Archives.

“It was misfiled,” he tells Henry in the documentary, referring to the photo which depicts two blurry images on a dock believed to be Noonan and Earhart – who stares out at a nearby ship with her back turned to the camera. “That’s the only reason I was able to find it.”

How does he know it was misfiled? Or does he mean the whole file was misfiled, made available to the public accidentally when it was supposed to remain top secret? It’s hard for me to believe this guy would have spent five years chasing the theory that it’s Earhart in the picture if he found it in an envelope marked “1940” or after. He must have some reason to believe the date is in question.

This, however, from the Daily Mail is a fair point. If that’s Earhart and Fred Noonan in the photo and the Japanese were already on the scene, towing her plane behind a boat, where the hell was security?

MailOnline’s investigation a year ago also concluded that if Miss Earhart and Noonan had been captured by the Japanese after surviving the crash of the Elektra the suspected spies would have been under guard, yet there is no sign of any Japanese soldier on the jetty…

A further discrepancy is centered around the actual presence of the two figures on the dock, when descendants of Marshall Islanders who claim to have seen the two Americans, say that once they were escorted onto the Koshu Maru off the island of Milli they were never allowed to leave the vessel at its next stop, Jailuit.

The body language is oddly chill too given the circumstances. “Earhart” appears to be having a perfectly fine time, sitting on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away while “Noonan” mingles with the locals, with nary a policeman or soldier in sight. In reality, the Japanese would have reacted strongly to their presence either because they suspected them of being spies or, at a minimum, because they suddenly found themselves with one of the world’s most famous people in their custody after her disappearance made international headlines. Either way, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Earhart and Noonan would have been this relaxed and unmolested after their plane had already been seized. Even if the photo had been taken in the first hours after they landed, before Japanese security arrived, you’d expect them to be more agitated — they’d just survived a rough landing, possibly with injuries, and didn’t know who on the atoll they could trust, if anyone. Exit question: Is the photo fake news?