The 1947 letter, purported to be signed by Harry Truman, authorizing "Operation Majestic Twelve".
Majestic 12 (or MJ-12) is alleged to have been the code name of a secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials, formed in 1947 by an executive order by U.S. PresidentHarry S. Truman. The purpose of the committee was stated in the Wilbert Smith memo (see below) to have been to investigate the slew of reports of "flying saucer" sightings that were then being received by U.S. military intelligence and in particular to look into the possible physics and technology of propulsion of the aerial objects that were being reported. The formation of the committee is, because of the timing, widely believed to have been precipitated by the recovery of a UFO north of Roswell, New Mexico during June/July 1947.
Indications of such a group's existence may have appeared in 1978 in declassified Canadian documents, though neither the term "MJ-12", nor any of its ascribed variations, was mentioned. Therefore, suggesting this Canadian document is in some way evidence of "MJ-12" is sheer speculation. The first reference to a classified group called "MJ-Twelve" was discovered in a suspicious document dated in 1980. In this first appearance of what is now commonly called "MJ-12", the name was spelled out, not abbreviated. However, this document was later identified to be a hoax and attributed to United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) Special Agent Richard Doty, who provided it to author William Moore for the purpose (according to Moore) of feeding disinformation to Paul Bennewitz, whom AFOSI was actively working to discredit. In 1984, a set of documents was allegedly discovered in United States archives, though under circumstances that are now considered questionable as well. These 1984 documents more closely resemble legitimate declassified documents, appearing to show more effort was made to have them appear genuine. Reportedly, the FBI later declared them to be "completely bogus".
In 1978, Canadian researcher Arthur Bray uncovered previously classified Canadian UFO documents naming Dr. Vannevar Bush as heading a highly secret UFO investigation group within the U.S. Research and Development Board. No name for the group was given. Bray published excerpts of the documents in his 1979 book, The U.F.O. Connection. The author of some of the documents, Wilbert Smith, at the time was the chief radio engineer and telecommunications expert working in the Canadian Department of Transport and later headed Canadian government UFO investigations such as Project Magnet. Skeptical researcher Christopher D. Allan has claimed that Smith would not have had any security clearances and concludes that there is no way any such group headed by Bush could have come to his knowledge. On the contrary, Smith's claims could have inspired the MJ-12 hoax that followed soon after Bray made the documents public. However, there were other classified Canadian documents besides Smith's referencing Bush and the group. Furthermore Canadian researcher Grant Cameron has also pointed out that Smith must have had a high security clearance because he monitored all radio frequencies in Canada and ran the top secret "Radio Ottawa," wherein Soviet radio communications were intercepted and Canadian spies could also radio in information to intelligence services. Smith also claimed to have communicated with aliens, using something called "Tensor Beam transmission".
The earliest appearance of the term "MJ Twelve" was a message of unclear origin dated November 17, 1980. This so-called "Project Aquarius" Teletype message had been given to Albuquerque physicist and businessman Paul Bennewitz in November, 1980, by U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations counterintelligence officer Richard C. Doty. Bennewitz had photographed and recorded electronic data of what he believed to be UFO activity over nearby Kirtland AFB, a sensitive nuclear facility. Bennewitz reported his findings to officials at Kirtland, including Doty. In 1989, the UFOlogist Bill Moore claimed that the documents were actually a hoax created by Doty as part of an attempt to drive Bennewitz insane. One sentence in the lengthy Teletype message read, "The official US Government policy and results of Project Aquarius is [sic] still classified TOP SECRET with no dissemination outside channels and with access restricted to 'MJ TWELVE.'"
In 1983, Doty also contacted UFO researcher and journalist Linda Moulton Howe, revealing alleged high-level UFO documents, including those describing crashed alien flying saucers and recovery of aliens. Doty again mentioned MJ-12, explaining that “MJ” stood for “Majority” (not “Majestic”).
Because the entire MJ-12 affair made its first appearance only a year after Bray had made public the incriminating Canadian documents about the secret UFO committee, one theory is that the Project Aquarius Teletype message was part of a counterintelligence hoax to discredit the information in the just-revealed Canadian documents. Thus the various MJ-12 documents could be fake, but the secret committee described in the verified Canadian documents could still have been real. (See Arguments for below)
Moore's fictional MJ-12 in 1982-3
In 1982 Bill Moore approached nuclear physicist and UFO researcher Stanton T. Friedman about creating bogus Roswell documents, with the idea of encouraging witnesses to come forward. Also, in early 1982, Moore had approached former National Enquirer reporter Bob Pratt (who had first published a story on Roswell in the Enquirer in 1980). Moore asked Pratt to collaborate on a novel called MAJIK-12. As a result of this behavior, Pratt always believed that the Majestic-12 papers were a hoax, either perpetrated personally by Moore or perhaps by AFOSI, with Doty using Moore as a willing target. Noted UFO skeptic Philip J. Klass also argued that Moore was the most likely hoaxer of the initial batch of MJ-12 documents. Moore, however, flatly denied creating the documents, but eventually thought that maybe he had been set up. Unlike Pratt, who was convinced they were a hoax, Friedman would investigate the historical and technical details in the MJ-12 documents and become their staunchest defender.
In 1983, Moore approached UFOlogist Brad Sparks and asked him about a plan to create counterfeit government UFO documents, hoping to induce former military officers to speak out. Sparks strongly urged Moore not to do this. Moore also showed Sparks a copy of the Aquarius message.
Moore and Shandera's 1984-5 discoveries
What came to be known as the "MJ-12 papers" – detailing a secret UFO committee allegedly involving Vannevar Bush – first appeared on a roll of film in late 1984 in the mailbox of television documentary producer (and amateur ufologist) Jaime Shandera. Shandera had been collaborating with Bill Moore since 1980.
Moore said in 1989 that these documents were also a hoax created by Doty. Furthermore, the film mailed to Shandera with the MJ-12 documents was postmarked "Albuquerque," raising the obvious suspicion that the MJ-12 documents were more bogus documents arising from Doty and AFOSI in Albuquerque.
The Eisenhower briefing document
The film allegedly received by Shandera in 1984 consisted of two MJ-12 documents. The main document, dated November 18, 1952, was supposedly prepared by Rear Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, the first CIA director, to brief incoming president Dwight Eisenhower on the committee's progress. The document lists all the MJ-12 members and discusses United States Air Force investigations and concealment of a crashed alien spacecraft near Roswell, New Mexico, plus another crash in northern Mexico in December 1950.
Eisenhower did indeed receive extensive briefings from alleged MJ12 member Walter Bedell Smith in Atlanta on November 15, 1952, and a briefing at the Pentagon on November 18, 1952, by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which would have included alleged MJ-12 members Twining and Vandenberg. However, Eisenhower’s Pentagon briefings are still classified and thus the subject matter discussed remains speculative.
The Cutler/Twining memo
In 1985, Shandera and Moore began receiving post cards postmarked “New Zealand” with a return address of "Box 189, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia." The cards contained a series of cryptic messages referring to "Reeses [sic] Pieces" and "Suitland" (among other terms) that Shandera and Moore assumed were a code; however, they were unable to "decode" the seeming message.
A few months later, a happenstance request from Friedman unlocked the mystery: busy due to previous obligations, Friedman asked Moore and Shandera to examine newly declassified Air Force documents at the National Archives (NARA) repository in Suitland, Maryland; the head archivist there was named Ed Reese.
After a few days in Suitland, Shandera and Moore discovered yet another MJ-12 document, the so-called Cutler/Twining memo, dated July 14, 1954. Interestingly enough, the memo turned up in "Box 189" of the record group. In this memo, NSC Executive Secretary and Eisenhower’s National Security Advisor Robert Cutler informed Air Force Chief of Staff (and alleged MJ-12 member) Nathan Twining of a change of plans in a scheduled MJ-12 briefing.
The Cutler-Twining memo lacked a distinctive catalog number, leading many to suspect that whether hoaxed or genuine, the memo was almost certainly planted in the archives.
Moore and Shandera have been accused of hoaxing the memo and then planting it in the archives. However, Friedman notes that the memo, unlike the other early MJ-12 papers which were available only as photos, is on original onionskin paper widely used by the government at that time (1953 - early 70s) and unavailable in stationery stores. The document also has some subtle historical and other details that a civilian hoaxer would be unlikely to know, such as a red pencil declassification marking also found with the other declassified files. Furthermore, NARA security procedures would make it difficult for a visitor to the Archives to plant such a document; even the skeptical Klass argued that NARA security procedures made it highly unlikely that Shandera and Moore could have planted the Cutler-Twining memo in the archives. Instead, Friedman has argued that one of the many Air Force personnel involved in declassifying NARA documents could easily have planted the Cutler/Twining memo in with other unrelated documents.
However, most researchers have argued that various subtle details point to a forgery. For example, the date of the alleged MJ-12 meeting does not correspond to any known meeting of import (see Arguments against for more examples). However, this doesn’t negate Friedman’s point that the memo could have been planted by someone in the Air Force.
Other theories about the MJ-12 group
Since the first MJ-12 documents, thousands of pages of other supposedly leaked government documents mentioning MJ-12 and a government coverup of UFOs have also appeared. All of them are controversial, with many disputing their authenticity. A few have been proven to be unquestionably fraudulent, usually retyped rewrites of unrelated government documents. The most notable "new" MJ-12 document is a lengthy, Linotype-set manual allegedly dating from 1954, called the MJ-12 "Special Operations Manual (SOM)". It deals primarily with the handling of crash debris and alien bodies. Objections to its authenticity usually center on questions of style and some historical anachronisms.
Another government group recently associated with MJ-12 was the CIA's Office of National Estimates or ONE, a forerunner of the current National Intelligence Council (NIC). ONE was created in 1950 by CIA director Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, alleged to have replaced Secretary of Defense James Forrestal on MJ-12 after his death. A history of the NIC states that ONE was a type of super branch of the CIA "whose sole task was to produce coordinated 'National Intelligence Estimates.'" Besides Smith, it apparently consisted of 11 other members. A recent article on the history of the CIA's involvement in UFO investigations states that ONE received a UFO intelligence briefing on January 30, 1953, immediately after the end of the CIA's UFO debunking study known as the Robertson Panel. Members of ONE at that time included FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, William Bundy, President Eisenhower's chief of staff Admiral B. Bieri, and William Langer, a Harvard historian, who was chairman. Referring to ONE as "super think tank" within the CIA, the article states, "ONE is as close as we get to a documented version of the rumoured Majestic-12 group."
Connection to the secret Pratt documents
At the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) 2007 Symposium in Denver, Colorado, UFO researcher Brad Sparks presented a paper that describes the MJ-12 documents as an elaborate disinformation campaign perpetrated by Bill Moore, Richard C. Doty, and other Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) personnel. The sources for this information are files dating from 1981 (three years before the first alleged MJ-12 documents surfaced) that UFO researcher Bob Pratt gave MUFON before his death in 2005. The information lay hidden in MUFON's archives until they were digitized as part of MUFON's Pandora Project and made available to UFO researchers.[self-published source?] Of interest will be the paragraph that has a handwritten date of 1/02/82 and states: "3. UFO project is Aquarius, classified Top Secret with access restricted to MJ 12. (MJ may be "magic"). This project begun about 1966, but apparently inherited files of earlier project."
All the alleged original members of MJ-12 were notable for their military, government, and/or scientific achievements, and all were deceased when the documents first surfaced (the last to die was Jerome Hunsaker, only a few months before the MJ-12 papers first appeared).
The original composition was six civilians (mostly scientists), and six high-ranking military officers, two from each major military service. Three (Souers, Vandenberg, and Hillenkoetter) had been the first three heads of central intelligence. The Moore/Shandera documents did not make clear who was the director of MJ-12, or if there was any organizational hierarchy.
Though, again, there is no actual substantiation for citing names, the alleged members of MJ-12 were:
Reliably-documented UFO activities by purported MJ-12 members
Many of these men had reliably documented activities related to UFOs:
Vandenberg, as Director of Central Intelligence in 1946, had overseen investigations into the so-called Ghost rockets in Europe and wrote intelligence memos about the phenomena. Later as Air Force Chief of Staff, both Vandenberg and Twining oversaw early U.S. Air Force UFO investigations, like Project Sign and Project Blue Book and made some public statements on UFOs.
Twining had previously written a famous Secret memo on September 23, 1947 (the day before Truman allegedly set up MJ-12) stating that flying saucers were real and urged formal investigation by multiple government organizations such as the AEC, NACA, NEPA, Bush's JRDB, and the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. This led directly to the creation of Project Sign in late 1947.
Vandenberg met with Bush's JRDB in a suddenly called meeting on the morning of the Roswell UFO incident (July 8, 1947) and was reported in the press as handling the later public relations crises.
Bush was directly implicated in 1950-51 Canadian documents heading a highly secret UFO investigation within the Research and Development Board (RDB); this assertion was confirmed by Canadian scientist Wilbert B. Smith Immediately after the Roswell UFO incident, Bush made public statements denying any knowledge of UFOs or any relation they might have to secret government projects.
Menzel filed a UFO report in 1949, later wrote several UFO debunking books, and was the most prominent public UFO debunker of his time. Many conspiracy theorists see this as a "cover-up" for alleged MJ12 - alien connections.
Hillenkoetter was on the board of directors of the powerful civilian UFO organization NICAP and made public statements to Congress about UFOs in 1960.
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which Hunsaker chaired from 1941–1958, is also known from documents to have occasionally delved into UFO cases. Other members of NACA were Bush (1938–1948), Compton (1948–1949), Vandenberg (1948–1953), Twining (1953–1957), and Bronk (1948–1958).
Professional and social connections among purported MJ-12 members
Research has also shown that there were many social and professional connections among many of the alleged members of MJ-12. For example, Bush, Hunsaker, Bronk, and Berkner all sat on the oversight committee of the Research and Development Board (RDB), which Bush had established and initially chaired. Other notables on the RDB oversight committee were Karl Compton, Robert Oppenheimer, and Dr. H. P. Robertson, who headed up the debunking Robertson Panel, of which Berkner was a member.
Various alleged MJ-12 members or participants would also naturally be part of the Presidential office's National Security Council, created in 1947. This would include (depending on NSC composition, which evolved) various NSC permanent members: Executive Secretary (Souers, Cutler), the Secretary of Defense (Forrestal), the Secretary of the Army (Gray), National Security Advisor (Gray), and the Air Force Chief of Staff (Vandenberg, Twining). Other nonpermanent members who would attend NSC meetings as advisors and implement policy would be the CIA director (Hillenkoetter, Smith), the head of the Research and Development Board (Bush, Compton), the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Cutler, Gray), and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (Twining).
The purported members were trusted, high-ranking officials who were often involved in important government projects—they possessed diverse skills and high security clearances. However, they were not so recognizable that they would be missed if they were to be called upon in a secret emergency. If such a group existed, these individuals would make plausible members.
1988 FBI investigation
The MJ-12 documents were first made public in 1987 by Shandera, Moore, and Friedman. Another copy of the same documents Shandera received in 1984 was mailed to British researcher Timothy Good in 1987, again from an anonymous source. Good first reproduced them in his book Above Top Secret (1988), but later judged the documents as likely fraudulent.
After the documents became widely known with the publication of Good’s book, the Federal Bureau of Investigation then began its own investigation, urged on by debunker Philip J. Klass. The MJ-12 documents were supposedly classified as "Top Secret", and the FBI's initial concern was that someone within the U.S. government had illegally leaked highly classified information.
The FBI quickly formed doubts as to the documents' authenticity. FBI personnel contacted the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (counterintelligence), asking if MJ-12 had ever existed. AFOSI claimed that no such committee had ever been authorized or formed, and that the documents were “bogus.” The FBI adopted the AFOSI opinion and declared the MJ-12 documents to be "completely bogus.”
However, when Stanton Friedman contacted the AFOSI officer, Col. Richard Weaver, who had rendered this opinion, Friedman said Weaver refused to document his assertion. Friedman also noted that Weaver had taught disinformation and propaganda courses for AFOSI and was principal author of the Air Force’s debunking Roswell report in 1994. (Friedman, 110-115)
Timothy Good in Beyond Top Secret also noted that Weaver in 1994 was the Director of Security and Special Programs Oversight of AFOSI’s Pentagon office, a very high level organization within the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. Good commented that AFOSI is “an agency whose work involves counterintelligence and deception, and which has a long record of deep involvement in the UFO problem.” Within Weaver’s office were “special planners.” According to Good, “In Air Force parlance, the term ‘special plans’ is a euphemism for deception as well as for ‘perception management’ plans and operations.” Conducting an interview with one Roswell witness, Weaver himself admitted, “We’re the people who keep the secrets.” It is difficult to tell from interviews such as these, as the cold war tactics of deceptions within deceptions are intentionally vague as to where the disinformation and coverup of espionage ends and the government's actual investigation into UFOs begins.
William Moore would later reveal that the whole New Mexico UFO disinformation scheme was run out of the Pentagon by a Colonel Barry Hennessey of AFOSI. When the Defense Department phone directory was checked, Hennessey was listed under the "Dept. of Special Techniques". Working under him at the time was the same Col. Weaver.
Friedman therefore raised the question as to whether Weaver rendered an objective intelligence opinion about the authenticity of the MJ-12 papers or was deliberately misleading the FBI as a counterintelligence and disinformation agent, much like Doty had done with Moore and Howe earlier.
Journalist Howard Blum in his book Out There (1990) further described the FBI’s difficulty in getting at the truth of the matter. One frustrated FBI agent told Blum, “All we’re finding out is that the government doesn’t know what it knows. There are too many secret levels. You can’t get a straight story. It wouldn’t surprise me if we never know if the papers are genuine or not.”
The National Archives contain one document relating to MJ-12, found in 1985, which has been interpreted as corroborative evidence for the MJ-12 documents being genuine:
"Memorandum for General Twining, from Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President, Subject: "NSC/MJ-12 Special Studies Project" dated July 14, 1954. The memos advised Twining of a change of scheduling for a planned briefing following an already scheduled, unspecified "White House meeting" on July 16. Cutler was Eisenhower's National Security Adviser. The memorandum does not identify MJ-12 or the purpose of the briefing (see links). However, arguments have been made against this document's authenticity; see below.
Regarding the Cutler memo, Jim Speiser writes, "The alleged maker of the memo, Robert Cutler, was out of the country when it was typed. Researchers counter that Cutler's assistants, James Lay and Patrick Coyne, routinely sent out memos under Cutler's name, and they point to the fact that the memo (existant now in carbon copy only) is unsigned." Stanton Friedman has argued that if the memo had the absent Cutler's signature on it, it would have proven that it was a hoax.
Nuclear physicist and UFO researcher Stanton Friedman has offered other rebuttals of many arguments against the documents' authenticity. For example, Philip J. Klass suggested that the Cutler/Twining memo was fraudulent, because it was typed on a typewriter set for pica spacing (10 characters per inch), while Klass insisted that genuine White House documents of that era were only typed using elite spacing (12 characters per inch). Klass offered $100 for every example of genuine pica type that could be presented. Friedman responded, as Speiser wrote in the same article cited above, "Friedman provides no fewer than 20 such exemplars, more than enough to win the maximum prize." (Klass paid him $1000, though Speiser suggests the challenge might more accurately be called a draw: "Klass' letter specifically called for 'letters' and 'memoranda'; Friedman provides only headings and dates in his initial response.) Some other Friedman objections to Klass' arguments are provided further below.
Citing work by Timothy Good, C. D. B. Bryan notes the existence of a secret memorandum written by Canadian radio engineer Wilbert B. Smith, who had long worked for the Canadian Department of Transportation. Dated November 21, 1950, the memo recommended that the Canadian government establish a formal investigation of UFOs (Project Magnet was this study). In part, Smith wrote that his own "discreet inquiries" through the Canadian embassy in Washington D.C. had uncovered the fact that "flying saucers exist", "the matter is the most highly classified subject in the United States Government, rating higher even than the H-bomb", and that "concentrated effort is being made by a small group headed by Doctor Vannevar Bush" into their "modus operandi" (Bryan, 186;) Smith's memo was authenticated by the Canadian government. Good concluded that this document is a major argument in favor of MJ-12's reality. Additional documents from Smith and the Canadian embassy named Bush and the Research and Development Board (RDB) as being needed to clear a magazine article being written by Donald Keyhoe on Smith's flying saucer theories. Smith also made some public statements about being loaned UFO crash material for metallurgical analysis by some "highly classified group" which he would not name, but indicated it was not the Air Force or CIA. In a 2002 interview, James Smith revealed that his father on his deathbed confessed to being shown actual craft and bodies by the U.S. government.
In a letter from 1983, Dr. Omond Solandt, director of the Canadian Defence Research Board (DRB), who had approved Smith's initial UFO study and lent support from the DRB (according to Smith's memo), confirmed meeting with Bush on a regular but "informal" basis to discuss flying saucers and Smith's UFO work.
Smith's primary source in 1950 was Dr. Robert Sarbacher, a missile and electronics expert and a consultant for the RDB's guided missile committee. When contacted again in 1983 by William Steinman, Sarbacher in a letter confirmed having the 1950 meeting, reconfirmed that Bush and the RDB were definitely involved, added that mathematician John von Neumann was also definitely involved and he thought Dr. Robert Oppenheimer as well. He also reconfirmed that there had been flying saucer crashes and being told that the material recovered was extremely lightweight and strong. He was told about small alien bodies.
In later interviews, Sarbacher would also implicate electrical engineer Dr. Eric A. Walker, the executive secretary of the RDB from 1950–1951 and later President of Penn State University. Walker was contacted by phone in 1987 by Steinman. He was asked first whether he had attended meetings at Wright-Patterson AFB concerning the military recovery of flying saucers and bodies of occupants. According to Steinman, he responded, "Yes, I attended meetings concerning that subject matter." When asked as to whether he knew about MJ-12, he responded, "Yes, I know of MJ-12. I have known of them for 40 years." In subsequent interviews and correspondence by other researchers, Walker became much more evasive. But in two interviews from 1990, Walker, while saying he thought the MJ-12 documents were not authentic, also admitted he had had nothing to do with MJ-12 "for a long time" but they still existed and were "a handful of elite", no longer military, and no longer all American. "We have learnt so much, and we are not working with them, only contact. The technology is far beyond what is known in ordinary terms of physics."
Another person to implicate Bush and Walker as likely being involved was Dr. Fred Darwin, who had been Executive Director for the Guided Missile Committee for the RDB from 1949 to 1954, to which both Sarbacher and Walker acted as consultants. Like Sarbacher, Darwin also suggested John von Neumann, and added alleged MJ-12 member Lloyd Berkner and physicist Dr. Karl Compton.
Following a famous close encounter with a 300-foot flying saucer while flying from Iceland to Newfoundland on February 10, 1951, Naval Reserve pilot Commander Graham Bethune relates that he and the entire crew were immediately debriefed by USAF and Naval intelligence. In May 1951, Bethune was again questioned by a Naval intelligence officer. Bethune says he then asked the officer where such reports ended up. He responded that they first went to "a committee of twelve men" screening them for "national security impact". If deemed to have such impact, it would never be sent elsewhere. Otherwise, they would be sent to USAF or Naval offices handling ordinary UFO cases.
Although he never used the name "MJ 12", Air Force Brig. Gen. Arthur E. Exon (Commanding Officer of Wright Patterson Air Force Base from 1964–1966) reported that a secret group of mostly high-ranking Pentagon officers were somehow involved with UFO studies; he nicknamed this group the "Unholy Thirteen". However, this does not necessarily mean Exon's "Unholy 13" and "MJ 12" were the same group. When Stanton Friedman sent Exon a copy of his 1990 "Final Report on Operation Majestic 12," he reported Exon "strongly approved" the contents and that the names of the "Unholy 13" group "were those of high-level personnel he thought would know about what was happening, not of people he knew to be involved in a control group."
Author Whitley Strieber in his books Breakthrough (1995) and Confirmation (1998) claimed his uncle Colonel Edward Strieber, who had spent much of his career at Wright-Patterson AFB, knew of MJ-12: "My uncle informed me that he had knowledge of the Majestic project. He spoke of the delivery of alien materials, artifacts, and biological remains to Wright Field from the Roswell Army Air Base in the summer of 1947. He felt sure that the existence of these materials and what to do about them had been debated at the highest levels of the government. ...In 1991, after I had written Majestic [a partly fictionalized account of the Roswell incident], my uncle put me into contact with a general [Arthur Exon] – an old and trusted friend of his..." Strieber said Exon told him that everybody "from Truman on down" had known about the Roswell incident from the day it happened, and that it was known to be an alien spacecraft "almost as soon as we got on the scene."
Edward J. Ruppelt, the director of the Air Force's public UFO investigation Project Blue Book, several times in his 1956 book The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects hinted that there was another highly secretive UFO government group (or groups) operating parallel UFO investigations outside the public eye. For example, in discussing the demoralization of Project Sign personnel following the rejection by Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg of their 1948 Estimate of the Situation that UFOs were extraterrestrial, Ruppelt wrote that Sign personnel hardly investigated UFO sightings anymore and instead "More and more work was being pushed off onto the other investigative organization that was helping ATIC [Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson AFB]." Regarding the 1950 investigation of the so-called Lubbock Lights, Ruppelt wrote, “The only other people outside Project Blue Book who have studied the complete case of the Lubbock Lights were a group who, due to their associations with the government, had complete access to our files. ...they were scientists—rocket experts, nuclear physicists, and intelligence experts. They had banded together to study our UFO reports because they were convinced that some of the UFO’s that were being reported were interplanetary spaceships...”
UFO researcher and MJ-12 skeptic Brad Sparks, however, says evidence points to the group described by Ruppelt investigating the "Lubbock Lights" as being the CIA's Office of Scientific Investigation (OS/I), not "MJ-12". However, Sparks has also found evidence that the CIA OS/I division (today called the Directorate of Science and Technology) became the primary investigative group for the DOD's Research and Development Board (RDB) starting in January 1949. Researcher David Rudiak has pointed out that the 1950-51 Canadian documents mentioning an MJ-12-type group under Vannevar Bush's direction has them operating precisely out of the RDB, which would again directly link "MJ-12" to the secret group investigating the Lubbock Lights, as described by Ruppelt. Furthermore, MJ-12 was supposed to be the control group, and it would be very much in Bush's management style to assign investigative responsibility to others rather than MJ-12 conducting the detailed investigations themselves.
UFO and paranormal researcher Ethan A. Blight has presented refutation of many of the arguments put forth by critics of the documents, especially those of UFO debunker Philip J. Klass, which are used in the "Arguments against" section below. Stanton Friedman has likewise presented arguments that many of Klass' and other objections are either weak or completely bogus. Both Blight and Friedman argue that there exists no conclusive evidence against the authenticity of the documents, which, while not proving the documents' authenticity, removes much doubt. Both also argue that such false or misleading arguments are in fact characteristic of UFO debunkers in general.
Below are a number of arguments against the authenticity of various MJ-12 documents:
The FBI investigated the matter, and quickly formed doubts as to the documents' authenticity. FBI personnel contacted the U.S. Air Force, asking if MJ-12 had ever existed. The Air Force reported that no such committee had ever been authorized, and had never been formed. The FBI presently declares that "The investigation was closed after it was learned that the document was completely bogus."
The documents are of suspicious provenance. Shandera and Good both claimed to have received documents from anonymous senders, and most subsequent MJ-12 documents have surfaced under equally questionable circumstances.
Though Good initially thought the documents were genuine, he has since, according to Philip Klass, expressed "suspicions about the new ... documents" due to "some factual anomalies in their content."
UFO researcher Jerome Clark discusses the MJ-12 documents in the "Hoaxes" section of his The UFO Book, and strongly favors a hoax interpretation. He notes that as of 1998[update], a mere "handful" of ufologists support the documents' authenticity.
Scientific forensic linguistic testing was applied to select Majestic Documents in 2007 by Dr. Carol Chaski and evidence was found to disprove attributed authorship. Dr. Chaski is the founder of The Institute for Linguistic Evidence (ILE), a research organization that validates reliable document authentication techniques and provides assistance to investigators and attorneys in criminal and civil trials whenever the authorship of any document is questioned or suspicious.."
The format of the Majestic-12 Documents, with justification and different fonts and type-sizes, generates some doubts: the first typewriter with IBM typeballs (selector compensator), and with it replaceable fonts, was the IBM 72, built from 1961 — and only the successors of this machine also had the memory necessary for justification.
Page 11 of the Special Operations Manual SOM1-01 refers to "Area 51 S4", which is the same nomenclature and location referenced by R. Lazar 35 years later in 1989. Lazar's unproven background and claims shouldn't have any credibility in this discussion.
Skeptics argue there is strong evidence that the briefing document and Truman letter are fake.
The typewriter used
The typewriter used for the Truman letter was a Smith Corona model which did not exist until 1962 — fifteen years after the document was allegedly written.
The typewriter ribbon was worn and the keys were dirty. Truman documents from the period which are known to be authentic used fresh ribbons and clean keys.
The Truman signature
The signature of Harry Truman on the alleged letter to Forrestal is identical to the one known to be authentic on a letter to Vannevar Bush on October 1, 1947. The one on the briefing document is 3 to 4 percent larger and bolder, but this is explained by the fact that photocopiers do not reproduce things at exactly the same size. They match when the size is corrected and one is laid over the other.
Both signatures show a unique slip of the pen when starting the "H".
The "T" in the October 1, 1947 signature intersected the final "s" in "Sincerely yours". The same point on the Forrestal letter is slightly thinner, as if the intersection with the "s" had been modified with liquid paper or the like before photocopying.
Since two different signatures from one person will always differ, this shows that the authentic Truman signature from the letter to Bush was copied onto the bogus letter to Forrestal, which was then photocopied.
Date format and name format in the briefing document
The dates have a superfluous comma after the month, e.g. "18 November 1952". A comma is not used after the month in this date format. Every date in the briefing document has this error.
No known authentic letters or memos from Hillenkoetter has the error of the superfluous comma and none used the prepended zero.
All known authentic Hillenkoetter letters and memos use "R. H. Hillenkoetter" as the author's name, whereas the briefing document uses "Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter".
The "TOP SECRET/MAJIC EYES ONLY" stamped on the document used a rubber stamp with movable letters, unlike actual classification stamps. The "I" was raised slightly.
Authentic Top Secret documents have a page count and page numbering: "Page __ of __ pages". The briefing document does not have this.
The warnings against copying do not match the wording of actual documents from the period of 1952.
The document uses "media" instead of "press", "extra-terrestrial" instead of "alien", and uses "impacted" as a verb—these words were not in common use until the 1960s.
James Mosley, who personally knew alleged MJ-12 member Menzel found evidence that Menzel and alleged co-member Hillenkoetter did not know each other.
Record searches. Other than the questioned Cutler memo, no other document mentioning MJ-12 has been found (not even the original briefing document).
The National Archives found no record of an NSC meeting on July 16, 1954. A search of all NSC meetings for July 1954 did not find any mention of MJ-12 or Majestic.
A branch of the National Archives searched NSC records for any listing of MJ-12 or Majestic and found none.
The Cutler Memo
The NARA has issued a detailed list of problems which calls the Cutler memo's authenticity into question:
The document was located in Record Group 341, entry 267. The series is filed by a Top Secret register number. This document does not bear such a number.
The document is filed in the folder T4-1846. There are no other documents in the folder regarding "NSC/MJ-12."
Inquiries to the U.S. Air Force, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Council failed to produce further information.
The Freedom of Information Office of the National Security Council informed the National Archives that "Top Secret Restricted Information" is a marking which did not come into use at the National Security Council until the Nixon Administration. The Eisenhower Presidential Library also confirms that this particular marking was not used during the Eisenhower Administration.
The document in question does not bear an official government letterhead or watermark. The NARA conservation specialist examined the paper and determined it was a ribbon copy (i.e. not a carbon copy) prepared on "dictation onionskin." The Eisenhower Library has examined a representative sample of the documents in its collection of the Cutler papers. All documents in the sample, created by Mr. Cutler while he served on the NSC staff, have an eagle watermark in the bond paper. The onionskin carbon copies have either an eagle watermark or no watermark at all. However, Stanton Friedman has found other onionskin copies in Cutler's files that contain different or no watermarks. Most documents sent out by the NSC were prepared on White House letterhead paper. For the brief period when Cutler left the NSC, his carbon copies were prepared on "prestige onionskin."
The National Archives searched the Official Meeting Minute Files of the National Security Council and found no record of an NSC meeting on July 16, 1954. A search of all NSC Meeting Minutes for July 1954 found no mention of MJ-12 nor Majestic.
The Judicial, Fiscal and Social Branch searched the indices of the NSC records and found no listing for: MJ-12, Majestic, unidentified flying objects, UFO, flying saucers, or flying discs.
NAJA found a memo in a folder titled "Special Meeting July 16, 1956" which indicated that NSC members would be called to a civil defense exercise on July 16, 1956.
The Eisenhower Library states, in a letter to the Military Reference Branch, dated July 16, 1987:
"president Eisenhower's Appointment Books contain no entry for a special meeting on July 16, 1954 which might have included a briefing on MJ-12. Even when the President had 'off the record' meetings, the Appointment Books contain entries indicating the time of the meeting and the participants ...
"The Declassification office of the National Security Council has informed us that it has no record of any declassification action having been taken on this memorandum or any other documents on this alleged project ..."
Robert Cutler, at the direction of President Eisenhower, was visiting overseas military installations on the day he supposedly issued this memorandum − July 14, 1954. The Administration Series in Eisenhower's Papers as President contains Cutler's memorandum and report to the President upon his return from the trip. The memorandum is dated July 20, 1954 and refers to Cutler's visits to installations in Europe and North Africa between July 3 and 15. Also, within the NSC Staff Papers is a memorandum dated July 3, 1954, from Cutler to his two subordinates, James S. Lay and J. Patrick Cone, explaining how they should handle NSC administrative matters during his absence; one would assume that if the memorandum to Twining were genuine, Lay or Cone would have signed it."
In addition, although the Cutler memo was supposedly a carbon copy, it was folded as if it had been in a shirt pocket, which would be unusual for a carbon copy put in a file. The memo is in the National Archives; the question is how it got there, and if it is authentic.
A document entitled "SOM1-01: Extraterrestrial Entities and Technology, Recovery and Disposal" (ref. http://18.104.22.168/pdf/som101_part1.pdf) and found on www.majesticdocuments.com contains paragraphs with subheads set in the sans serif "Helvetica" typeface. The document purports to be from 1954, yet the typeface in question was first designed in 1957 by the Swiss graphic designer, Max Miedinger. The capitalized sans serif letter "R" (and others) found on many pages confirms that this typeface is not the much earlier Akzidenz Grotesk sans serif typeface. This evidence seems to strongly suggest that this document is a fabrication.
Timothy Good, Above Top Secret: The Worldwide UFO Cover-up, 1988, Quill (William Marlow), ISBN 0-688-09202-0
Timothy Good, Beyond Top Secret: The Worldwide UFO Security Threat, 1997, Pan Books (MacMillan Publishers), ISBN 0-330-34928-7
Steven M. Greer, Disclosure : Military and Government Witnesses Reveal the Greatest Secrets in Modern History, 2001, ISBN 0-9673238-1-9
Michael Hesemann and Philip Mantle, Beyond Roswell: The Alien Autopsy Film, Area 51, & the U.S. Government Coverup of UFOs, 1997, Marlowe & Company, ISBN 1-56924-781-1
Philip J. Klass, The MJ-12 Crashed Saucer Documents, Skeptical Inquirer, vol XII, #2, Winter 1987-88, 137-146. Reprinted (sans figures) as chapter 7 of The UFO Invasion, above.
Philip J. Klass, The MJ-12 Papers - part 2, Skeptical Inquirer, vol XII, #3, Spring 1988, 279-289.
Philip J. Klass, MJ-12 Papers "Authenticated"?, Skeptical Inquirer, vol 13, #3, Spring 1989, 305-309. Reprinted as chapter 8 of The UFO Invasion, above.
Philip J. Klass, New Evidence of MJ-12 Hoax, Skeptical Inquirer, vol 14, #2, Winter 1990, 135-140. Reprinted as chapter 9 of The UFO Invasion, above. Also reprinted in The Outer Edge: Classic Investigations of the Paranormal, edited by Joe Nickell, Barry Karr, and Tom Genoni, CSICOP, 1996.
William L. Moore and Jaime H. Shandera, The MJ-12 documents: An analytical report, 1991, Fair Witness Project
Joe Nickell and John F. Fischer, The Crashed Saucer Forgeries, International UFO Reporter, March 1990, 4-12.