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Majestic 12 investigate UFO and alien activity for the US Government.

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Majestic 12 investigate Roswell.
Roswell UFO incident as reported in the Daily Record, 8 July, 1947.

Majestic 12 is thought to be the code name of a secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials. Majestic 12 was supposedly formed in 1947 by an executive order of U.S. President Harry S. Truman. The purpose of Majestic 12 was to investigate UFO activity in the aftermath of the Roswell incident, the purported crash of an alien spaceship near Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947. This alleged committee (Majestic 12) is an important part of the UFO conspiracy theory of an ongoing government cover up of UFO information. Majestic 12 is also known as Majic 12, Majestic Trust, MJ 12 or MJ XII.

Overview of Majestic 12.

The primary evidence for the existence of a group named Majestic 12 is a series of questionable documents that first emerged in 1984 and which have been the subject of much debate. The original MJ-12 documents state that:

The Majestic 12 group... was established by secret executive order of President Truman on 24 September, 1947, upon recommendation by Dr. Vannevar Bush and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal.

Dr. Bush was named as head of the group. The existence of MJ-12 has been denied by some agencies of the United States Government, which insist that documents suggesting its existence are hoaxed. The FBI investigated the documents, and concluded they were forgeries, based primarily on an opinion rendered by AFOSI, the U.S. Air Force counter-intelligence office. Opinions among UFO researchers are divided: Some argue the documents may be genuine while others contend they are phony, due primarily to errors in formatting and chronology.

In 1985, another document mentioning MJ-12 and dating to 1954 was found in a search at the National Archives. Its authenticity is also highly controversial. The documents in question are rather widely available on the Internet, for example on the FBI website, where they are dismissed as bogus (linked below).

Majestic 12 alien.
Majestic 12 alien depiction.

Since the first MJ-12 documents, thousands of pages of other so-called MJ-12 documents have also appeared, all of them controversial. Some have been proven to be unquestionably fraudulent, usually retyped rewrites of other totally unrelated government documents. The primary new MJ-12 document is a lengthy, linotype-set manual dating from 1954. 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.

However, before the appearance of the various dubious MJ-12 documents, Canadian documents dating from 1950 and 1951 were uncovered in 1978. These documents mention the existence of a similar, highly classified UFO study group operating within the Pentagon's U.S. Research and Development Board, and again headed by Dr. Vannevar Bush. Although the name of the group is not given, these documents remain the most compelling evidence that such a group did exist. There is also some testimony from a few government scientists involved with this project confirming its existence.

MJ-12 is sometimes associated in recent UFO conspiracy literature with the more historically verifiable but also deeply secretive NSC 5412/2 Special Group, created by President Eisenhower in 1954. Although the Special Group was not specifically concerned with UFOs, and post-dates the alleged creation of MJ-12 in 1947, the commonality of the number '12' in the names of the two groups is intriguing, as is the first chairman, Gordon Gray, being one of the alleged MJ-12 members. As the highest body of central intelligence experts in the early Cold War era (the Group was alleged to include the President but exclude the Vice President), the Special Group certainly would have had both clearance and interest in all matters of national security, including UFO sightings (actual or imagined) if they were considered a real threat.

Others have speculated that MJ-12 may have been another name for the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit, an officially recognized military group active from the 1940's through the late 1950s.

Majestic 12 Documents.

The Majestic Documents are a series of supposed leaked government documents which purport to describe the existence of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and government coverups regarding them. The documents are related to the Majestic Council conspiracy theory.

The documents run from 1946 to 1997 and have been hotly debated in the UFO community. The documents include the conduct to be used when meeting an alien, diagrams and records of tests on UFOs, memos on assorted coverups, and descriptions of the President's statements about UFO-related issues. The documents contain supposed signatures of important people such as Albert Einstein and Ronald Reagan, creating a major debate in the conspiracy and UFO communities. No more documents have been leaked or released since 1997.

Majestic 12 membership.

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 named members were:

  • Rear Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter: first CIA director.
  • Dr. Vannevar Bush: chaired wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development and predecessor National Defense Research Committee; set up and chaired postwar Joint Research and Development Board (JRDB) and then the Research and Development Board (RDB); chaired NACA; President of Carnegie Institute, Washington D.C.
  • James Forrestal: Secretary of the Navy; first Secretary of Defense (replaced after his death on MJ-12 by Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, 2nd CIA director).
  • Gen. Nathan Twining: headed Air Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson AFB; Air Force Chief of Staff (1953-1957); Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff (1957-1961).
  • Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg: Directed Central Intelligence Group (1946-1947); Air Force Chief of Staff (1948-1953).
  • Gen. Robert M. Montague : Guided missile expert; 1947 commander of Fort Bliss; headed nuclear Armed Forces Special Weapons Center, Sandia Base.
  • Dr. Jerome Hunsaker: Aeronautical engineer, MIT; chaired NACA after Bush.
  • Rear Adm. Sidney Souers: first director of Central Intelligence Group, first executive secretary of National Security Council (NSC).
  • Gordon Gray: Secretary of the Army; intelligence and national security expert; CIA psychological strategy board (1951-1953); Chairman of NSC 5412 committee (1954-1958); National Security Advisor (1958-1961).
  • Dr. Donald Menzel: Astronomer, Harvard; cryptologist during war; security consultant to CIA and NSA.
  • Dr. Detlev Bronk: Medical physicist; aviation physiologist; chair, National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council; president Johns Hopkins & Rockerfeller University.
  • Dr. Lloyd Berkner: Physicist; radio expert; executive secretary of Bush's JRDB.

According to other sources and MJ-12 papers to emerge later, famous scientists like Robert Oppenheimer, Albert Einstein, Karl Compton, Edward Teller, John von Neumann, and Werner von Braun were also allegedly deeply involved at some time.

Many of these men had reliably documented activities related to UFOs:

  • Twining and Vandenberg 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 at the end of 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). 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..
  • Berkner was on the 1953 CIA-organized Robertson Panel debunking UFOs and helped establish Project Ozma, the first Radio telescope search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
  • Menzel filed a UFO report in 1949, later wrote several UFO debunking books, and was the most prominent public UFO debunker of his time.
  • Hillenkoetter was on the board of directors of the powerful civilian UFO organization NICAP and made public statements to Congress about UFO reality 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).
  • Edward Teller was a member of a scientific panel in 1949 at Los Alamos National Laboratory looking into the UFO phenomenon known as the Green Fireballs.

Research has also shown that there were many social and professional connections between the various alleged members of MJ-12. For example, Bush, Hunsaker, Bronk, and Berkner all sat on the oversight committee of the Research and Development Board, 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. As mentioned, 1950 Canadian documents indicated that Bush headed up a small, highly secret UFO study group within the RDB.

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).

Thus, it is argued, the supposed members and participating personnel of MJ-12 would have served on many other high government agencies and could thus influence government policy at many levels. list of supposed current MJ-12 members below, again indicating various individuals who have served in high government positions.

Majestic 12 history.

The history of the Majestic 12 papers is highly complex and what follows is only a sketch of what happened. 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 UFO Connection."

What came to be known as the "MJ-12 papers," detailing a secret UFO committee again headed by Vannevar Bush, first appeared on a roll of film in late 1984 in the mailbox of television documentary producer (and amateur ufologist) Jamie Shandera. Shandera had been collaborating with Roswell researcher William Moore since 1982.

However, the term "MJ Twelve" originally surfaced only a year after Bray’s book in what turned out to be a bogus Air Force teletype message dated Nov. 17, 1980, called the "Aquarius document." This had been given to Albuquerque physicist Paul Bennewitz in November, 1980, by AFOSI (counterintelligence) officer Richard Doty as part of a disinformation campaign against him to discredit his information. Bennewitz had photographed and recorded electronic data of what he believed to be UFO activity near nearby Kirtland AFB, which he had reported to the office (counterintelligence) at Kirtland. Later it was discovered the Aquarius document was phony and had been prepared by Doty.

One sentence in a lengthy document read:

The official US Government policy and results of Project Aquarius is still classified TOP SECRET with no dissemination outside channels and with access restricted to "MJ TWELVE."

As Greg Bishop writes, "Here, near the bottom of this wordy message in late 1980, was the very first time anyone had seen a reference to the idea of a suspected government group called 'MJ Twelve' that controlled UFO information. Of course, no one suspected at the time the colossal role that this idea would play in 1980's and '90s UFOlogy, and it eventually spread beyond its confines to become a cultural mainstay."

Because the entire MJ-12 affair made its appearance only a year after Bray had made public the incriminating Canadian documents about the secret UFO committee, one theory is that it 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.

Just prior to Bennewitz and the Aquarius document, Bill Moore had been contacted in September 1980 by a shadowy group of 10 military intelligence insiders, some thought to be AFOSI personnel at Kirtland such as Doty, who claimed to be opposed to UFO secrecy. Moore called them the "Aviary." Soon after, in January 1981, Doty provided Moore with a copy of the phony Aquarius document with mention of MJ Twelve. Moore would later admit in 1989 that he began collaborating with AFOSI at the time in spying on fellow researchers such as Bennewitz and dispensing disinformation, ostensibly to gain insider trust and penetrate the coverup. In return, Doty and others were to leak information to him. Later it would turn out that some of the UFO documents given Moore were genuine, but others were forged by Doty and compatriots, or were retyped and altered from the originals. Furthermore, the film mailed 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.

In 1983, Doty also targeted 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").

Moore soon showed a copy of the Aquarius/MJ 12 teletype given him by Doty to researchers Brad Sparks and Kal Korff. In 1983, Moore also sought Sparks reaction to a plan to create counterfeit government UFO documents, hoping to induce former military officers to speak out. Sparks strongly urged Moore not do this. The previous year Moore had similarly approached Ufologists, Stanton T. Friedman about creating bogus Roswell documents, again 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 novel called MAJIK-12 As a result, 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. 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 documents and become their staunchest defender.

The 1984/1985 Majestic 12 Papers. The Eisenhower briefing document.

The film 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 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 on this date after his election, including a briefing at the Pentagon by the Joint Chiefs, which would have included alleged MJ-12 members, Generals Nathan Twining and Hoyt Vandenberg. However, Eisenhower’s Pentagon briefing is still classified and thus the subject matter discussed remains speculative.

Majestic 12 and the Truman memo.

An attached document of one page, dated September 24, 1947, was supposedly written by President Harry Truman, addressed to Secretary of Defense James Forrestal, authorizing the formation of the group "Operation Majestic Twelve". In it, Truman stated he wanted ultimate decision-making power to reside with the Office of the President, after consultation with Forrestal, Hillenkoetter, and Dr. Vannevar Bush.

One very obscure historical detail in its favor, previously unknown, was that this was the only date on which both Forrestal and Bush met with Truman. (It is also the day after Gen. Twining wrote a Secret memo saying flying saucers were real and urged an extensive investigation by multiple government agencies, including Bush’s Research and Development Board.) Again, this doesn’t prove authenticity, it would indicate that if the documents were hoaxed, whoever responsible had done their homework very well.

Majestic 12 and the Cutler/Twining memo.

In 1985, Shandera and Moore began receiving cryptic post cards postmarked "New Zealand." When told about the messages, Friedman realized they were referring to newly declassified Air Force documents at the National Archives (NARA). After a few days search there, yet another document naming MJ-12 turned up: the so-called Cutler/Twining memo, dated July 14, 1954. In this, 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.

what Record Group, and what subfile within the Record Group, is this document located in? That would make it possible to locate the document purported to be this one.

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, is on original onionskin paper widely used by the government at that time. It 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. Instead, Friedman has argued that one of the declassifying Air Force people 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 (though this doesn’t negate Friedman’s point that the memo could have been planted by the Air Force). For example, the date of the alleged MJ-12 meeting does not correspond to any known meeting of import.

Majestic 12 insight into the FBI investigation.

The MJ-12 documents were first made public in 1987 by Shandera, Moore, and Friedman. Another copy was mailed to British researcher Timothy Good in 1987, again from an anonymous source. Good first reproduced them in his best-selling book '’’Above Top Secret’’’ (1988), but later disowned the documents as likely fraudulent.

After the documents became widely known with the publication of Good’s book, the Federal Bureau of Investigations 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 the FBI’s official position became that the MJ-12 documents were "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 principle 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 Program’s 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." (Good (1997), 481-482) Conducting an interview with one Roswell witness, Weaver himself admitted, "We’re the people who keep the secrets."

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." (Blum, 297)

Arguments for Majestic 12.

  • 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 memo's 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 (extant now in carbon copy only) is unsigned.".
  • Nuclear physicist and UFO researcher Stanton Friedman has offered rebuttal of many arguments against the documents' authenticity. For example, Philip J. Klass suggested that the Cutler/Twining memo was fraudulent, because it was typed in Pica font, while Klass insisted that genuine White House documents of that era were only typed in Elite. Klass offered $100 for every example of genuine Pica font 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 Spier 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.).
  • Perhaps weakly corroborating the authenticity of the Cutler memo was a column written by journalist Dorothy Kilgallen on Feb. 15, 1954, in which she stated, "Flying saucers are regarded as of such vital importance they will be the subject of a special hush-hush meeting of world military heads next summer.".
  • 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 wouldn't name, but indicated it wasn't the Air Force or CIA.
  • 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 Neuman 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 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 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 Neuman, and added alleged MJ-12 member Lloyd Berkner and physicist Dr. Karl Compton..
  • 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 high-ranking officers and scientists were somehow involved with UFO studies; he nicknamed this group the "Unholy Thirteen".
  • Author Whitley Strieber in his books Breathrough (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 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. Blight asserts that there exists no evidence against the authenticity of the documents, which, while not proving the documents' authenticity, removes much doubt. Blight also suggests that such false or misleading arguments are in fact characteristic of UFO debunkers in general.

Arguments against Majestic 12.

To recapitulate, the original MJ-12 documents are the 1947 Truman memo establishing MJ-12, the 1952 Eisenhower briefing document, and the 1954 Cutler/Twining memo from the National Archives.

Below are a number of arguments against the authenticity of various Majestic 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.".
  • Critics note that the documents are of suspicious provenance. Shandera and Good both 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, a mere "handful" of ufologists support the documents' authenticity.
  • Another bit of evidence--which argues against Menzel's membership, at least--is that in 1949, he reported a UFO encounter to the U.S. Air Force. It is argued Menzel would have no reason to send a "confidential" UFO report to the Air Force two years later when he witnessed two aerial lights he described as "exceptional." Furthermore, Menzel's 1949 report makes no mention of any such group as MJ-12. See the main Donald Menzel page for more information and a counterargument.

Majestic 12 and the briefing document and Truman letter.

Much evidence has been found, leading skeptics to argue 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 that are known to be authentic used fresh ribbons and clean keys.
  • Majestic 12: 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 3-4% larger and bolder, but this is explained by the fact that photocopiers don't 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".
  • other issues regarding Majestic 12.
    • 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 doesn't have this.
    • The warnings against copying don't 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 a 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.

Majestic 12: The Cutler Memo.

  • The NARA has issued a detailed list of problems which calls the Cutler memo's authenticity into question.
  1. 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.
  2. The document is filed in the folder T4-1846. There are no other documents in the folder regarding "NSC/MJ-12.".
  3. Researchers on the staff of the National Archives have searched in the records of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and in other related files. No further information has been found on this subject.
  4. Inquiries to the U.S. Air Force, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Council failed to produce further information.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. Most documents sent out by the NSC were prepared on White House letterhead paper. For the brief period when Mr. Cutler left the NSC, his carbon copies were prepared on "prestige onionskin.".
  7. The National Archives searched the Official Meeting Minute Files of the National Security Council and found no record of a NSC meeting on July 16, 1954. A search of all NSC Meeting Minutes for July 1954 found no mention of MJ-12 nor Majestic.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 Majestic 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.

MJ-12 in later conspiracy theory

Soon after their disclosure, MJ-12 was absorbed into many other alleged conspiracies; Milton William Cooper's works (especially Behold A Pale Horse) are key in this introducing MJ-12 to a wider, conspiratorially-minded audience, and have generated significant criticism as unfounded. Some of these later versions insist that the "M" in "MJ-12" stands not for "Majestic" but for "Majority".

According to less extravagant conspiracy theory lore, Majestic 12 was created with a more humble goal: to cover up alien activities on Earth, and liaise with the aliens to obtain technology in exchange for knowledge and testing on human biology.

Present-day Majestic 12?

Many theories suggest that MJ-12's efforts continue to the present. For example, UFO researcher Bill Hamilton says he has identified the present-day members of MJ-12. Gordon Novel, a shadowy figure associated with various CIA conspiracies, Watergate, and the Jim Garrison investigation of the Kennedy assassination, in a recent interview, further adds that most are Americans with a few foreigners. Allegedly they were involved with Kennedy's murder because Kennedy wanted to end the cover-up. They are major world power brokers and manipulate events behind the scenes in a bid for total world power. Supposedly a key motivation behind the cover-up is back-engineering captured alien technology in order to obtain such domination. Moreover, many criminal acts have been committed towards this end, including numerous murders to maintain security and control of international drug trafficking to pay for the huge research and security costs.

Another person to say that MJ-12 still existed was Dr. Eric Walker. When originally contacted, Walker said he had known of their existence since their creation in 1947. Similar to Novel, Walker in a later 1990 interview said the current membership was mostly American but had added some foreigners. They were a highly elite group of individuals and Walker repeatedly discouraged interviewers from trying to learn more, saying there was nothing the average person could do.

According to an article in DNA Magazine dated July 6, 2006, and series of interviews given by a Dr. Dan Burisch, (an alleged government employee of MJ-12 for 20+ years) on the Jeff Rense Radio program July 6th and July 13th, 2006, the alleged current line up of MJ-12 consists of the following members:

  • J1: Vice Admiral John M. McConnell --- former director of the NSA, first (Jan. 2007) Director of National Intelligence (DNI), replacing previous Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) as head of U.S. intelligence community.
  • J2: Richard B. Cheney --- Vice President USA and former Secretary of Defense under first President Bush.
  • J3: Porter Goss --- former DCI (Director of Central Intelligence).
  • J4: Admiral Bobby Ray Inman --- Former director of the NSA and Naval intelligence, former deputy director of the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
  • J5: Henry Alfred Kissinger --- former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under President Nixon.
  • J6: Zbigniew Brzezinski --- Former National Security Advisor under President Carter.
  • J7: General Richard B. Myers - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under second President Bush, until his recent retirement, in September 2005.
  • J8: Kevin Tebbit --- Ministry of the British Defence.
  • J9: Carol Thatcher --- Daughter of the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher.
  • J10: Alan Greenspan --- former Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
  • J11: Harold Varmus --- former Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Nobel Prize winner in medicine.
  • J12: M. Kelly (information unknown).

In an effort to prove his authenticity, Dr. Burisch posted his government credentials on the website. While the above members alliance or involvement with MJ-12 is still lacking in verifiable certification, Dr. Burisch's employment with the U.S. Government has been verified as accurate.

References in popular culture to Majestic 12.

  • Majestic 12 is a fictional group of weak superheroes from Zatch Bell.
  • In television, this conspiracy has largely inspired several TV series:
    • The X-Files, in which they are often referred to as "The Syndicate" and Mulder receives a top secret file regarding Majestic 12.
    • Dark Skies (1996-1997), in which the name MJ-12 is specifically used and has later notables as members, such as Robert Kennedy, astronomer Carl Sagan, CIA director Allen Dulles, and Vice President Hubert Humphrey. The Kennedy assassination was supposedly engineered by MJ-12 because President Kennedy wanted to make the alien presence public. Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen was also supposedly murdered by MJ-12 for knowing too much.
    • In Stargate SG1 there is a fictional goverment organization known as "The Trust", whose goals are similar to that of Majestic 12; Procuring new alien technology and covering up all alien activity.
  • An episode of Serial Experiments Lain featured a brief overview of the Majestic-12 conspiracy.
  • The Majestic-12 conspiracy (or ones like it) makes a prominent appearance in several computer and video games:
    • Deus Ex and its sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War feature their own Majestic 12.
    • The Delta Green supplement to the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game.
    • The alternate-reality game Majestic is inspired by the conspiracy.
    • Perfect Dark features a similar conspiracy.
    • Majestic Twelve is the name of the fourth Space Invaders game in Japan. It is called Super Space Invaders '91 internationally.
    • In Destroy All Humans!, The human enemies which pose the most threat to Crypto are known as "Majestics". In the second, they are known as the M16.
  • Political satirist Christopher Buckley parodied Majestic-12 in his novel little green men.
  • The committee is featured in Robert Doherty's Area 51 novel series, in which all but two of the top members are "reprogrammed" by an alien computer found in South America. The main characters of the series (who are not members) are sometimes referred to as "the new Majic-12" or "Majestic-13.".
  • Alien abduction claimant Whitley Strieber wrote a novel called Majestic in 1989, which dealt with the formation of MJ-12 following the alleged UFO crash near Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947. His 2006 novel The Grays, while not making specific reference to the term MJ-12, relates the story of a similar governmental organization called simply "the Trust.".
  • Majestic-12 also appears in Scarecrow, a recent action novel by Matthew Reilly, albeit in a slightly different form. The group in Matthew Reilly's novel is a group of the world's richest business men, who operate in the shadows, bringing different leaders into and out of power when it suits them. Also they were responsible for attempting to bring about a change in the world superpowers, a change Scarecrow prevented.
  • MJ-12 is one of a line of computers sold by PC maker Alienware.
  • American punk-rock band U.S. Bombs on their cd Covert Action perform a song called Majestic Twelve about the thirteen families who rule the world.
  • The last line of the blink-182 song 'Aliens Exist' goes "I'm not like you guys, twelve majestic lies". Writer of the song, Tom DeLonge (Vox, Guitar) is a strong believer in all things paranormal.
  • The Dutch Reggae group Beef have a song named 'Top Secret' concerning Majestic 12 on their album Beef.
  • Majestic 12 is the name of a model of inline-skates that were produced by the company Roces (as of 2005 they are named M-twelve).
  • MJ-12 was a shadow group of multinational corporation officials, who wanted to secure Noah's Ark in order to usher in the apocalypse, according to manga comic series Spriggan.
  • Record 'Channel Zero' by artist 'Canibus', contains a couple of references to Majestic 12; "Approximately fifty years ago, under the direction of president Harry Truman, and in the interest of national security, a group of twelve top military scientific personnel were established...", "...MJ twelve is not majestic...".
  • A company called Majestic 12 developed the computer game Cricket Captain for D&H Games.
  • Majic 12 was also a Hungarian demogroup.

more on Majestic 12 ufos and aliens below.

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