Majestic 12 (MJ-12)

Some believe Majestic 12 or MJ-12 is the code name given to a group of military officers, scientists and government officials ostensibly assembled by executive order of President Harry Truman, in 1947, to investigate UFO activity following the alleged crash of an alien spacecraft in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. UFO conspiracy theorists believe it to be a key component in a government scheme intended to keep knowledge of alien contact from the public. Others believe it is nonsense.

The evidence is tied to a series of U.S. government documents allegedly containing proof of the existence of unidentified flying objects along with confirmation of an extensive government plot designed to keep that existence secret. The U.S. Air Force says they are a hoax, while the UFO community is divided on their authenticity a Canadian connection affording some legitimacy. (In 1978 previously classified Canadian UFO documents were uncovered by researcher Arthur Bray, dating from 1950/51 they named a Dr. Vannevar Bush as being head of a secret group of UFO investigators.)

The term MJ-12, first made an appearance at the bottom of an Air Force teletype received by Albuquerque physicist Paul Bennewitz in November 1980. It would later be alleged that the teletype was fake, part of a disinformation campaign initiated by counterintelligence officer Richard Doty, its intent to discredit Bennewitz, who after observing and photographing what he thought was UFO activity near Kirtland AFB and thinking he was doing the right thing had filed a report to the intelligence office at the base.

In 1980 author Stanton T. Friedman, television documentary producer Jaime Shandera and Roswell researcher Bill Moore began work on a fictional movie about UFOs. The project barely got past the beginning stages before being canceled due to lack of funding. Friedman returned to his home in Canada while Shandera and Moore began to work on UFO contacts; what followed is the defining moment for believers. In his book "TOP SECRET/MAJIC" author Stanton T. Friedman writes “Then, in December 1984 the Majestic 12 documents showed up on Jaime Shandera’s doorstep.

To be more exact, a role of undeveloped black-and-white 35mm film came in the mail to Shandera’s home in a double wrapped plain brown envelope with no return address and an Albuquerque, New Mexico, postmark. Why was it sent? One possibility, it was common knowledge that Shandera had been working with Bill and myself on the Roswell crash story and that together with Bill had many contacts some of whom were connected with OSI in Albuquerque.

Bill and Jaime’s meetings with Agent Doty and others had left them with the impression that these insiders were interested in having the facts about flying saucers released to the public in a manner that would protect their identity and their status. But we may never know.

After Bill and Jaime developed the film they called me. What they found on the film were duplicate sets of eight pages of documents that were classified TOP SECRET/ MAJIC the title page declaring “Briefing Document: Operation Majestic 12 Prepared for President-Elect Dwight D Eisenhower: (Eyes Only) 18 November, 1952.” The second page of the set listed the members of the Majestic 12 group, all of whom were dead. Then they read to me the third page: “On June 24, 1947, a civilian pilot flying over the Cascade Mountains in the state of Washington observed nine flying disc shaped aircraft traveling in formation at a high rate of speed . . . In spite of these efforts, little of substance was learned about the objects until a local rancher reported that one had crashed in a remote region of New Mexico . . . On July 7, 1947, a secret operation was begun to assure recovery of the wreckage of this object for scientific study.”

Friedman quickly realized that the documents, on the film, were alluding to both the wreckage of crashed alien spacecraft and Washington’s attempt to keep that information secret. Allegedly the remains of a flying saucer and its crew of four had been recovered in the desert approximately 75 miles northwest of Roswell early July 1947. In September of that year Operation Majestic 12 was established, its mandate, intelligence, research and development, its members accountable directly to the President of the United States.

The Eisenhower briefing also made note of certain salient facts, that the alien bodies though humanlike were distinctly different from homo sapiens, that the writing/symbols on the wreckage were as yet undecipherable, that a second saucer had been recovered in December 1950 and that UFO activity was apparently on the increase. It also recommended that Majestic 12’s strict accountability policy be maintained.

The final page stamped “Attachment A” and dated September 24, 1947, was purportedly a memorandum from President Truman to James Forestal then Secretary of Defense, authorizing Forestal to move ahead with Operation Majestic 12 while accepting input from Dr. Vannevar Bush and Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter on the hows, whys and wherefores.

Friedman was jubilant, he states “I was much exited about this discovery, but I also knew that we had to be very, very cautious with it. There was no question that if the TOP SECRET/MAJIC Eyes Only briefing document for president-elect Eisenhower was genuine it was one of the most important classified government documents ever leaked to the public."

That of course was (or is) the problem, were the eight pages legitimate or were they bogus, another attempt at disinformation by U.S. Air Force counterintelligence, planted to confuse or misdirect attention away from the U.S. government’s real agenda whatever that might be?

The alleged original members of Majestic 12 circa 1947, are as follows:

Lloyd V. Berkner: Physicist; executive secretary of JRDB; on CIA Robertson Panel
Detlev Bronk: Aviation psychologist; President John Hopkins and Rockefeller University
Vannevar Bush: Chaired JRDB, OSRD and NACA; President Carnegie Institute
James V. Forestal: 1st Secretary of Defense; 2nd CIA director
Gordon Gray: CIA psychological strategy board; National Security Advisor
Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter: 1st CIA director; Navy Intelligence
Jerome Hunsaker: Head of NACA following Bush; Aeronautical engineer
Donald H. Menzel: Astronomer; Consultant to CIA and NSA
Robert M. Montague: Head Armed Forces Special Weapons Center; Guided missile expert
Walter B. Smith: (permanent replacement for Forestal in 1950) General; 2nd director CIA
Sidney W. Souers:  Rear Admiral; Intelligence Consultant; first director Central Intelligence Group
Nathan F. Twining: General; United States Air Force Chief of Staff; Head Air Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson
Hoyt S. Vandenberg: General; second Air Force Chief of Staff; second Director Central Intelligence

In the intervening years since the original Majestic documents made an appearance many copycat and obviously fraudulent MJ-12 or connected papers have appeared, but only one seems to offer possibilities and even with it there are issues.

In 1985, while searching through newly declassified documents at the National Archives, Shandera and Moore turned up a memo dated July 14, 1954, from Robert Cutler, President Eisenhower’s National Security Advisor to Air Force Chief of Staff Nathan Twining (purportedly a member of Majestic 12) advising him of changes in a scheduled briefing of the organization. The two researchers were accused almost immediately of planting the memo by ever watchful debunkers. Stanton Friedman came to their rescue, however, pointing out that this Cutler/Twining memo contained details, historical and otherwise, with which it was unlikely an average person would be familiar (it was written on onion paper with red pencil declassification markings) and in addition, that Archive security would make it almost impossible for someone to plant the document undetected (an exception being U.S. Air Force counterintelligence).

As previously mentioned declassified and authenticated Canadian documents also seem to point to a conspiracy of some sort. Wilbert Smith a senior radio engineer with the Canadian government Department of Transport and respected scientist, sent a memo dated November 21, 1950, to the Controller of Telecommunications, in which he stated that he had learned from Dr. Robert Sarbacher, an American physicist and consultant to the Defense Department's Research and Development Board, that flying saucers exist and that though their modus operandi is unknown every effort is being made by a small group headed by Doctor Vannevar Bush (to find out more) and that the matter is classified higher than the H-bomb. Upon being contacted again in 1983 by researcher William Steinman, Dr Sarbacher reiterated that flying saucer crashes were a reality and that both Bush and the Research and Development Board (RDB) had been involved.

Publicly officialdom may answer the question as to whether MJ-12 and its purported mandate exists with a resounding no, but what of behind closed doors? Timothy Good in his book "ABOVE TOP SECRET" recounts how a remaining member of the alleged group reacted when presented with top secret information on the subject of UFOs. The author writes “The remaining member of the alleged MJ-12 panel was General Hoyt Vandenberg. Following a distinguished career in the Army Air Forces he became the second Director of Central Intelligence in 1946, a position he held until May 1947. In August 1948 when a top secret 'Estimate of the Situation' by the Air Technical Intelligence Center offered its opinion that UFOs were interplanetary, Vandenberg, Air Force Chief of Staff at the time, ordered the document to be burned.”

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