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Majestic-12 or Majic 12 (sometimes written simply as MJ-12 or MJ-XII) is the code name of an alleged secret committee of high-level scientists, military leaders, and government officials, supposedly formed in 1947 at the direction of U.S. President Harry S. Truman. The purpose was to investigate UFO activity in the aftermath of the Roswell UFO 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 of a group with this name 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 (Majic 12) group ... was established by secret executive order of President Truman on 24 September, [sic - see discussion] 1947, upon recommendation by Dr. Vannevar Bush and Secretary [of Defense] James Forrestal." [1]

Dr. Bush was named as head of the group.

The existence of MJ-12 has been denied by the United States government, which insists that documents suggesting its existence are hoaxed. The FBI investigated the documents, and concluded they were forgeries. Opinions among UFO researchers and enthusiasts are divided: Some argue the documents may be genuine, others contend they are phony, due primarily to errors in formatting and chronology.

In 1985, another document mentioning MJ-12 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, including on the FBI’s own website, linked below.

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, unquestionably authentic Canadian documents dating from 1950 and 1951 were uncovered in 1978. These do 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 corroborating its existence.


  1. History

  2. Arguments for

  3. Arguments against

    1. Briefing document and Truman letter

    2. The Cutler Memo

  4. MJ-12 in later conspiracy theory

  5. Text of the briefing document

  6. Text of the Truman letter

  7. Text of the Cutler memo

  8. References




















Majestic 12 first entered the public consciousness in 1984 (Susan Wright writes that the documents first surfaced in 1982, but all other sources support a 1984 date). Television producer (and amateur ufologist) Jamie Shandera says he received a roll of film in the mail from an anonymous sender. Once developed, the film was of two documents:

  • The first document was supposedly written by Harry Truman, authorizing the formation of a committee called "MJ 12", charged with evaluating the 1947 Roswell UFO incident.

  • The second document was supposedly prepared by MJ-12 in 1952, to brief incoming president Dwight Eisenhower on the committee’s progress. The documents discuss United States Air Force investigations and concealment of a crashed alien spacecraft near Roswell, New Mexico.

All the alleged members of MJ-12 were notable for their military or scientific achievements, and all (except Edward Teller) were deceased when the documents first surfaced.

The alleged members of the Majestic-12 committee were:

(Four of these men had reliably documented activities related to UFOs: Menzel wrote or co-wrote several debunking books; Hillenkoetter was a member of NICAP; while Twining and Vandenberg oversaw early U.S. Air Force UFO investigations like Project Sign).

Shandera first publicly discussed the MJ-12 documents in a 1982 made-for-television documentary, The UFO Experience (Wright, p95-96). MJ-12 remained something of a fringe topic--even in ufology--until a few years later after the publication of Timothy Good’s best-selling book, Above Top Secret (1988), which reprinted the MJ-12 documents. Good also reported receiving photos of the MJ-12 the documents from an anonymous sender.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations then began their own study of the MJ-12 documents: 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 secret information.

Other MJ-12 documents have since surfaced, and again, opinions differ as to their authenticity. Susan Wright agrees with the mainstream consensus that the MJ-12 documents are phony, and speculates that they may have been disinformation.

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.



Arguments for

The National Archives contain one document relating to MJ-12, 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: "NCS/MJ-12 Special Studies Project" dated July 14, 1954. The one page memorandum refers to a briefing to take place on July 16. The memorandum does not identify MJ-12 or the purpose of the briefing. However, arguments have been made against this document’s authenticity; see 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. The memo was dated November 21, 1950, and was written to recommend that the Canadian government establish a formal investigation of UFOs. In part, Smith wrote that his own "discreet inquiries" had uncovered the fact that the U.S. government had undertaken classified UFO investigations, and that "concentrated effort is being made by a small group headed by Doctor Vannevar Bush." (Bryan, 186) Good concluded that this document is a major argument in favor of MJ-12’s reality; Smith’s memo was authenticated by the Canadian government.

  • UFO and paranormal researcher Ethan A. Blight has presented refutation [1] 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.

  • 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 group of high-ranking officers and scientists were somehow involved with UFO studies; he nicknamed this group the "Unholy Thirteen". [2]



Arguments against

To recap, the MJ-12 documents are:

1. Briefing Document: Operation Majestic Twelve, dated "18 November, 1952" and allegedly written for newly-elected president Eisenhower. It consists of seven pages and eight attachments were listed, but only one was included - the next item. This was on the roll of film received by Shandera.

2. A letter from President Truman to Defense Secretary Forrestal, dated September 26, 1947. It was an attachment of the briefing document (above). This was on the roll of film received by Shandera.

3. A letter from presidential assistant Robert Cutler to General Nathan Twining, USAF chief of staff, dated July 14, 1954; allegedly found by Moore and Shandera in the National Archives after the disclosure of the two documents listed above. It refers to a supposed meeting on July 16, 1954 to discuss the NSC/MJ-12 Special Studies Project".

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."[3]


  • 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."[4]

  • 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. This report, publicly unknown for nearly three decades, is strong evidence against at least Menzel’s involvement in MJ-12. If he truly was privy to secret UFO information since 1947--when MJ-12 was supposedly founded--then 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.


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.

  • 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.
    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.
    Days of the month with single digits have a zero prepended, e.g. "01 August’". This was not common practice in the military until years later. Every single-digit day of the month has this erroneous format.
    No known authentic letters or memos from Hillenkover 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
    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.



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 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 of 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. Ia 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.


  11. Read: Is The Cutler-Twining Memo A Hoax?



MJ-12 in later conspiracy theory

Soon after their disclosure, MJ-12 was absorbed into many other alleged conspiracies; William Milton 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". Many theories suggest that MJ-12’s efforts continue to the present.

According to the testimony of Dan Burisch, Majestic-12 are today in fact working for the Committee of the Majority, a Masonic organization which is coordinating alien contact with earth, as well as the operations towards a New World Order. Under this direction, MJ-12 is responsible for all scientific operations at Area 51, Dulce, New Mexico, and the Frenchman’s Mountain installations.


This is but one conspiracy theory suggesting that MJ-12 have far-reaching powers (not unlike the Illuminati), and are aiming for one-world government. Skeptics note that given that the very existence of MJ-12 is doubtful, these larger conspiracies are equally dubious.

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.


Text of the briefing document -

National Security Information


For Information as a early warning

18 NOVEMBER, 1952


WARNING: This is a TOP SECRET - - EYES ONLY document containing compartmentalized information essential to the national security of the United States. EYES ONLY ACCESS to the material herein is strictly limited to those possessing Majestic-12 clearance level. Reproduction in any form or the taking of written or mechanically transcribed notes is strictly forbidden.



NOTE: This document has been prepared as a preliminary briefing only. It should be regarded as introductory to a full operations briefing to follow.

OPERATION MAJESTIC-12 is a TOP SECRET Research and development/ Intelligence operation responsible directly to the President of the United States. Operations of the project are carried out under control of the Majestic-12 (majic-12) Group which was established by special classified executive order of President Truman on 24 September, 1947, upon recommendation by Dr. Vannevar Bush and Secretary James Forrestal. (See Attachment "A".) Members of the Majestic-12 Group were designated as follows:

Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter Dr. Vannevar Bush Secy. James V. Forrestal* Gen. Nathan F. Twining Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg Dr. Detley Bronk Dr. Jerome Hunsaker Mr. Sidney W. Souers Mr. Gordon Gray Dr. Donald Menzel Gen. Robert M. Montague Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner

The death of Secretary Forrestal on 22 May, 1949, created a vacancy which remained unfilled until 01 August, 1950, upon which date Gen. Walter B. Smith was designated as permanent replacement.


On 24 June, 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. Although this was not the first known sighting of such objects, it was the first to gain widespread attention in the public media. Hundreds of reports of sightings of similar objects followed. Many of these came from highly credible military and civilian sources. These reports resulted in independent efforts by several different elements of the military to ascertain the nature and purpose of these objects in the interests of national defense. A number of witnesses were interviewed and there were several unsuccessful attempts to utilize aircraft in efforts to pursue reported discs in flight. Public reaction bordered on near hysteria at times.

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 located approximately seventy-five miles northwest of Roswell Army Air Base (now Walker Field).

On 07 July, 1947, a secret operation was begun to assure recovery of the wreckage of this object for scientific study. During the course of this operation, serial reconnaissance discovered that four small human-like beings had apparently ejected from the aircraft before it exploded. These had fallen to earth about two miles east of the wreckage site. All four were dead and badly decomposed due to action by predators and exposure to the elements during the approximately one week time period which had elapsed before their discovery. A special scientific team took charge of removing these bodies for study. (See Attachment "C".) The wreckage of the craft was also removed to several different locations. (See Attachment "B".) Civilian and military witnesses in the area were debriefed and news reporters were given the effective cover story that the object had been a misguided weather research balloon.


A covert analytical effort organized by Gen. Twining and Dr. Bush acting on direct orders of the president, resulted in a preliminary consensus (19 September, 1947) that the disc was most likely a short range reconnaissance craft. This conclusion was based for the most part on the craft’s size and the apparent lack of any identifiable provisioning. (See Attachment "D".) A similar analysis of the four dead occupants was arranged by Dr. Bronk. It was the tentative conclusion of this group (30 November, 1947) that although these creatures are human-like in appearance, the biological and evolutionary processes responsible for their development has apparently been quite different from those observed or postulated in homo-sapiens. Dr. Bronk’s team has suggested the term "Extra Terrestrial Biological Entities" (EBEs), be adopted as the standard term of reference for these creatures until such time as a more definitive designation can be agreed upon.

Since it is virtually certain that these craft do not originate in any country on earth, considerable speculation has centered on what their point of origin might be and how they got here. Mars was and remains a possibility, although some scientists, most notably Dr. Menzel, consider it more likely that we are dealing with beings from another solar system entirely.

Numerous examples of what appear to be a form of writing were found in the wreckage. Efforts to decipher these have remained largely unsuccessful. (See Attachment "E".) Equally unsuccessful have been efforts to determine the method of propulsion or the nature and method of transmission of the power source involved. Research along these lines has been complicated by the complete absence of identifiable wings, propellers, jets, or other conventional methods of propulsion and guidance, as well as a total lack of metallic wiring, vacuum tubes, or similar recognizable electronic components. (See Attachment "F".) It is assumed that the propulsion unit was completely destroyed by the explosion which caused the crash.


A need for as much additional information as possible about these craft, their performance characteristics and their purpose led to the undertaking known as U.S. Air Force Project SIGN in December,1947. In order to preserve security, liaison within the Intelligence Division of Air Material Command whose role was to pass along certain types of information through channels. SIGN evolved into Project GRUDGE in December, 1948. The operation is currently being conducted under code name BLUE BOOK, with liason maintained through the Air Force officer who is head of the project.

On 06 December, 1950, a second object, probably of similar origin, impacted the earth at high speed in the EL Indio-Guerrero area of the Texas-Mexican border after following a long trajectory through the atmosphere. by the time a search team arrived, what remained of the object remained almost totally incinerated. Such material as could be recovered was transported to the A.E.C. facility at Sandia, New Mexico, for study.

Implications for the National Security are of continuing importance in that the motives and ultimate intentions of these visitors remain completely unknown. In addition, a significant upsurge in the surveillance activity of these craft beginning in May and continuing through the autumn of this year has caused considerable concern that the new developments may be imminent. It is for these reasons, as well as the obvious international and technological considerations and the ultimate need to avoid a public panic at all costs, that the Majestic-12 Group remains of the unanimous opinion that the imposition of the strictest security precautions should continue without interruption into the new administration. At the same time, contingency plan MJ-1949-04P/78 (Top-Secret - Eyes Only) should be held in continued readiness should the need to make a public announcement present itself. (See Attachment "G".)



Text of the Truman letter


The White House Washington September 24, 1947


Dear Secretary Forrestal:

It continues to be my feelings that any future considerations relative to the ultimate disposition of this matter should rest solely with the Office of the President following appropriate discussions with yourself, Dr. Bush and the Director of Central Intelligence.



Text of the Cutler memo

July 14, 1954



SUBJECT: NSC/MJ-12 Special Studies Project. The President has decided that the MJ-12 SSP briefing should take place during the already scheduled White House meeting of 16 July, rather than following it as previously intended. More precise arrangements will be explained to you upon arrival.

Your concurrence in the above change of arrangements is assumed.


Special Assistant to the President



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