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
"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." 
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
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
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.
Briefing document and
The Cutler Memo
MJ-12 in later conspiracy
Text of the briefing document
Text of the Truman letter
Text of the Cutler memo
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
The first document was supposedly written by
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
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
Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit, an
officially recognized military group active from the 1940’s through
the late 1950s.
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  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
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
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."
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
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. 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
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
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
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
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".
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
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.
► 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.
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
The document is filed in the
folder T4-1846. There are no other documents in the folder
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.
Inquiries to the U.S. Air Force,
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Council
failed to produce further information.
The Freedom of Information
Office of the National Security Council informed the
National Archives that "Top Secret Restricted Information"
is a marking which did not come into use at the National
Security Council until the Nixon Administration. The
Eisenhower Presidential Library also confirms that this
particular marking was not used during the Eisenhower
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
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.
The Judicial, Fiscal and Social
Branch searched the indices of the NSC records and found no
listing for: MJ-12, Majestic, unidentified flying objects,
UFO, flying saucers, or flying discs.
NAJA found a memo in a folder
titled "Special Meeting July 16, 1956" which indicated that
NSC members would be called to a civil defense exercise on
July 16, 1956.
The Eisenhower Library states,
in a letter to the Military Reference Branch, dated July 16,
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
Is The Cutler-Twining Memo A Hoax?
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
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.
the briefing document -
National Security Information
EYES ONLY COPY ONE OF ONE
For Information as a early warning
BRIEFING DOCUMENT : OPERATION MAJESTIC 12
PREPARED FOR THE PRESIDENT-ELECT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: (EYES
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
EYES ONLY T52-EXEMPT (E)
EYES ONLY COPY ONE OF ONE
SUBJECT: OPERATION MAJESTIC-12 PRELIMINARY BRIEFING FOR
DOCUMENT PREPARED 18 NOVEMBER,1952.
BRIEFING OFFICER: ADM. ROSCOE H. HILLENKOETTER (MJ-1)
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
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.
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
EYES ONLY T52-EXEMPT (E)
EYES ONLY COPY ONE OF ONE
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
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.
EYES ONLY T52-EXEMPT
EYES ONLY COPY ONE OF ONE
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.
EYES ONLY T52-EXEMPT
EYES ONLY COPY ONE OF ONE
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
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".)
EYES ONLY T52-EXEMPT
the Truman letter
The White House Washington September 24, 1947
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
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.
the Cutler memo
July 14, 1954
RESTRICTED SECURITY INFORMATION
MEMORANDUM FOR GENERAL TWINING
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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