Majestic 12 (also known as Majic 12, Majestic Trust, M12, MJ 12, MJ XII or Majority 12) is the purported code name of a secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials, supposedly formed in 1947 by an executive order of U.S. President Harry S. Truman. The purpose of the committee 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 is an important part of the UFO conspiracy theory of an ongoing government cover up of UFO information.
The primary evidence for the existence of a group named Majestic twelve is a collection of 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.
The existence of MJ-12 has sometimes been denied by some agencies of the United States government, which insist that documents suggesting its existence are hoaxes. The FBI investigated the documents, and concluded they were forgeries, based primarily on an opinion rendered by AFOSI, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Opinions among UFO researchers are divided: Some argue the documents may be genuine while others contend they are phony, primarily due 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.
Since the first MJ-12 documents, thousands of pages of other supposed leaked government documents mentioning MJ-12 and a government coverup of UFO reality have also appeared, sometimes collectively referred to as the "Majestic Documents." 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 primary 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.
The MJ-12 documents are alleged to date from 1942 to 1997 and have been hotly debated in the UFO community. The documents include such matters as 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. Their authenticity remains uncertain, and some claim them to be entirely fake.
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 Research & Development Board (RDB) and headed by Dr. Vannevar Bush. Although the name of the group is not given, proponents argue that these documents remain the most compelling evidence that such a group did exist. There is also some testimony (see Arguments for below) 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 Dwight D. 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 cited as 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 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 UFO-related military group active from the 1940s through the late 1950s.
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."
Original MJ-12 Members
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.
The named members of MJ-12 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
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 & Rockefeller 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 Wernher von Braun were also involved with MJ-12. 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. Radm. Konstantine Konopisos most recently implicated to involvement with later years of the MJ12 activities as Vice JAG of the US NAVY.
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.
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. 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 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).
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
Professional and social connections between purported MJ-12 members
Research has also shown that there were many social and professional connections between 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. 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). Therefore the supposed members and participating personnel of MJ-12 would have served on many other high government agencies and could conceivably have influenced government policy at many levels.
The purported members were trusted and high ranking officials and scientists, with a history of inclusion in important government projects and councils; they possessed a diverse range of skills and knowledge while also having a high security clearance. At the same time that they possessed these qualities, however, they were not so public figures as to be instantly missed should they be called upon in an emergency one wished to keep secret. If such a group existed, these members would be the likely types of individuals to be part of its membership.
The history of the MJ-12 papers is highly complex, with a series of often-confusing assertions, counter assertions and debates.
Arthur Bray's discovery (1978)
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.
Paul Bennewitz Connection (1980)
The earliest citation of the term "MJ Twelve" originally surfaced in a purported U.S. Air Force teletype dated November 17, 1980. This so-called "Project Aquarius" teletype 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 as part of a disinformation campaign to discredit Bennewitz, who claimed to have uncovered evidence of extraterrestrials on earth. Bennewitz had photographed and recorded electronic data of what he believed to be UFO activity near nearby Kirtland AFB, which he had reported to officials at Kirtland. Later it was discovered the Aquarius document was phony and had been prepared by Doty.
One sentence in the lengthy teletype 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 1980s and '90s UFOlogy, and it eventually spread beyond its confines to become a cultural mainstay."
As Bennewitz was the subject of a disinformation campaign, many investigators are automatically suspicious of any documents or claims made in association with the Bennewitz affair. 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 the Project Aquarius teletype 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.
The Moore/Shandera Documents (1984)
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) Jamie Shandera. Shandera had been collaborating with Roswell researcher William Moore since 1982.
Just prior to Bennewitz and the Aquarius document, Moore had been contacted in September 1980 by Doty, who described himself as representing a shadowy group of 10 military intelligence insiders who claimed to be opposed to UFO secrecy. Moore called them "The Aviary".
In January 1981, Doty provided Moore with a copy of the phony Aquarius document with mention of MJ Twelve. Moore would later claim in 1989 that he began collaborating with AFOSI in spying on fellow researchers such as Bennewitz, and dispensing disinformation, ostensibly to gain the trust of the military officers, but reality to learn whatever UFO truth they might have, and also to learn how the military manipulated UFO researcher. 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 nuclear physicist and UFO researcher 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. Noted UFO skeptic Philip J. Klass would also argue that Moore was the most likely hoaxer of the initial batch of MJ-12 documents.
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.
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