The MJ-12 operations manual looks and smells like a hoax. (Hesemann and Mantle 117)

Chapter 28: The shoemaker and the elves

By Timothy Printy 1999

To what extent will UFOlogy go to produce evidence of a crashed saucer? Apparently, any extent is the answer and this includes forgery and hoaxes. As I have stated before, the dummy in "Alien Autopsy" was the most ridiculous attempt to produce the evidence. There are still individuals, who actually still think that it does show an actual event! However, UFOlogy went further than this in the mid-1980’s. Documents were produced that supposedly blew the lid off the cover-up that is Roswell. This was the release of the mysterious MJ-12 TOP SECRET documents.

In 1984, UFO reporter Jamie Shandera received an exposed roll of 35mm film in the mail. Shandera was a close friend of William Moore, co-author of The Roswell Incident. When developed, the film revealed several TOP SECRET documents that seemed to confirm the recovery of an alien spaceship outside of Roswell. These documents also showed that there was a supersecret organization put in place by President Truman in 1947 called MAJESTIC-12 (MJ-12). There were twelve individuals on this board and all had high profile positions. The purpose of this group was to hide any evidence whatsoever of a UFO crash and to study the materials from these crashes.

William Moore, Stanton Friedman, and Jaime Shandera "investigated" these documents to ensure they were authentic. After all, as Carl Sagan mentions in his book The Demon Haunted World, the appearance of the film at Shandera’s office is equivalent to the story of "The Shoemaker and the Elves" (Sagan 91). One has to be skeptical about such items. However, these three were busy marking time for the right moment. They did little to no research on the matter as demonstrated by the response of the skeptical community. Instead, they stated that they had a high placed sources that confirmed the existence of MJ-12. One of these sources is a Sergeant Richard Doty who had been involved in a fake UFO sighting at Kirtland AFB, NM and he had already attempted to pass a fake document to Moore referring to MJ-12 prior to 1984. When examining these MJ-12 documents, several people noted the same grammatical errors that Doty had in his fake document! In an effort to pin down, where the material came from, Phillip Klass asked Moore (or so he states in his writings) to send him a copy of the postmark telling which city and date it was mailed. Moore did not present the requested items and their seemed to be no interest in verifying where they did come from on the part of Moore, Shandera, and Friedman.

The first document on the film was a briefing document addressed to then President-elect Eisenhower by Rear Admiral Hillenkoetter. It was dated November 18, 1952 and it described the members of the MJ-12 group and their progress on their investigation on the crashed saucer at Roswell. The members of this committee were:

Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter

Mr. Sidney W. Souers

Dr Vannevar Bush

Mr. Gordon Gray

Secy, James V. Forrestal

Dr. Jerome Hunsaker

Gen. Nathan F. Twining

Dr. Donald Menzel

Dr Detlev Bronk

Gen. Robert M. Montague

Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner

Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg

The choice of Dr. Donald Menzel is unique since he spent many years "debunking" UFO sightings. Others on the list are just as interesting and it would seem that many important people were directly involved in the cover-up. However, none of these people ever indicated by action or in writings that they were involved in any way.

This document has many problems and is considered a fake. RADM Hillenkoetter addresses the document with his full first name not by his initials, which accompanies all his other correspondence. He also lists himself as ADM Hillenkoetter. This is equivalent to having a Masters degree and saying you have a PHD. It just is not proper military protocol to do so. Hillenkoetter was the first director of the CIA in 1947. However, he later became commander of the 7th task force and spent a lot of time at sea in 1950 and 1951. Following this tour, RADM Hillenkoetter became commander of the third naval district in NY. This makes an odd choice for someone involved in the investigation of a crashed saucer. Certainly, others would be better qualified. Hillenkoetter was away from the problem for two years and would have a hard time catching up. Who was in his place while he was gone? Additionally, the documents dating system is a mix of military/civilian styles. Being a military man and understanding the importance of being consistent (in fact it is practically required in all written reports), I see the problems in the dates. Phillip Klass pointed this problem out after being prompted by a man named Christopher Allan. Standard military dating is "18 November 1952" or "18 Nov 1952". No comma is added but the dating system used in the document is "18 November, 1952". All the dates use this format. Klass notes that William Moore uses this format in all his letters to him since 1982. Another interesting point brought out by Klass is the use of a 0 in front of all single digit dates (i.e. "01 August, 1950"). This too is not standard format. Klass investigated 4 documents from the Hillenkoetter to Truman and could not find this system which included the comma or the 0 in front of single digit dates. In addition, Klass again notes that Moore started using the 0 in front of his dates in 1983! Friedman apparently found some documents that do have the 0 and/or a comma. Many of these documents are from the British Military/NATO or radio messages! This is a completely different system than a formal memo. In addition, there is reference to an executive order marked 092447 (note it is the date of another MJ-12 document). This is not standard executive order marking. The numbers are written sequentially. Between September 15 and October 2, 1947, executive orders 9891-9896 were issued. There was no executive order 092447 given during this time period. Finally, Curtis Pebbles points out that there are no ‘Page [#] of [#]’ system standard in TOP SECRET documents and that RAAF is called "Walker AFB", which did not occur until January 1948.

The second document is a memo from Harry Truman to Secretary Forrestal, dated September 24, 1947, and authorizing him to proceed with Operation MJ-12. This has some serious problems with it as well and is also considered a forgery. The first is the signature on the document. It is a duplicate of signature on a letter to Vannevar Bush on October 1, 1947. No one signs his or her signature the exact same way every time. This signature has the same skidmarks in the "H" and also seems to have been touched up around the "T". Harry commonly signed his name over documentation such that some of his signature clashed with the typing. In the Bush document, the top of the "T" crossed the "Sincerely yours". In the Forrestal memo, the same spot in the "T" appears to have been doctored slightly. Also, the signature is about 3.6% larger (Klass calculation) than the Bush document. However, Klass points out that this is due to the copying process of Xerox machines which purposely do this to eliminate unwanted lines. 3.6% is about the size increase for a copying the signature two to three times (depending on the machine). While the signature is obviously a copy, the entire document seems to have been typed on a 1963 Smith Corona typewriter. A machine built 16 years after the document was supposed to have been written! Interestingly, the dates are typed with a different typewriter. Apparently the numbers did not work on the Smith-Corona and the forger had to use another to type in the numbers. Imagine the President of the United States having a secretary that uses a broken typewriter! Finally, Klass points out that Harry was a plain speaking man in most of his correspondence. Since this was a "TOP SECRET" memo, there was no need to hide behind innuendo/secrecy and Harry would have plainly stated his concerns. Much of this wording is filled with "Un-Truman-like Gobbledygook" (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 76). This hints at the fact that Harry was probably not the author of such a document.

Shandera and Moore produced a third document that was not on the film. This was an onionskin copy they claimed to have found when visiting the national archives. It was a TOP SECRET copy of a memo from president Eisenhower’s special assistant, Robert Cutler to General Twining. It was dated July 14, 1954 and stated that there had been a change of plans for a July 16 White House meeting of the "NSC/MJ-12". A major problem with this is Cutler happens to be out of country July 3-15, 1954 and could not have written this memo. The document was not listed in the contents of box it was supposedly found and it did not have a registration number for accounting purposes (all other documents in the box had one). The box itself only held recently declassified USAF intelligence material, which is odd place for a memo of this nature to be found. The carbon copy was folded as if to be placed in an envelope or a pocket of suit. Klass also points out that the onionskin had typewriter impressions on the backside, indicating that the carbon was typed on directly! As if there is not enough indication of plant/fake, all of Cutler’s NSC documents have an Eagle Watermark in the onionskin. The watermark is not on this copy either. As for the meeting, there is no record of a meeting with the NSC on the date stated. The National archives states there is not a meeting off the record either. There was no TOP SECRET registration number on the memo and the stamp "TOP SECRET- RESTRICTED" was not a proper security classification. Klass checked up on Twinings log for a meeting but it is not listed. Since Friedman said it was too secret to be placed in the log, Klass checked up on a meeting that was held one-year earlier. A Cutler memo (that suspiciously looks like the wording in the document in question), dated July 13, 1953, told Twining to take "special security precautions…to maintain absolute secrecy regarding participation" in the meeting (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 93). However, the MJ-12 meeting memo does not include this kind of wording. When Klass examined the log, the log showed, "National Security Council at White House all day" (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 93). Friedman’s defense had collapsed at this point.

Klass, for once, is not the only person attacking these documents. Fellow Roswell investigator, Kevin Randle, brings up most of these items in his book The Randle Report. Of course, Friedman has always scoffed at Randle’s version of events anyway. Therefore, it may seem a little "tit for tat". To quote Randle,

When it comes down to MJ-12, there is not a single shred of evidence that the documents are real. Not one. There are no direct links from the government or back again. The chain of evidence is broken at both ends. Until it can be linked one way or the other, the only possible conclusion is that the documents, all of them, are fakes. (Randle Randle 57)

For once, I agree with Randle. The documents have no provenance. There is no evidence that they are even authentic and a lot of evidence that they are forgeries. Barry Greenwood, the editor for the newsletter JUST CAUSE (this is for the citizens of UFO secrecy) called the documents, "A grand deception and, consequently, a giant black eye on the face of UFOlogy...The deeper we looked, the worse it became" (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 80).

An "expert" was hired to examine the documents (remember Hartmann’s statement about "experts"). This was Roger Wescott, a linguistics professor at University of Madison, NJ. Wescott received $1000 for his efforts and he gave a report that, according to Klass, was ambiguous. He stated that the documents were "authentic until proven fraudulent" (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 83). Friedman, desiring more for his money, directed Wescott to give a more clear endorsement. Wescott responded,

In my opinion, there is no compelling reason to regard any of these communications as fraudulent or to believe that any of them were written by anyone other than Hillenkoetter himself. This statement holds for the controversial presidential briefing memorandum of November 18, 1952, as well as for the letters, both official and personal. (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 84)

He had previously stated that he often switched his dated system around and since he did this, then he could not see any problem with the alternate dating system in the document. Civilians can switch dating systems around all they want but in the MILITARY, you follow standard format. It is, again, hard to believe that the Rear Admiral would write a letter to the president-elect, a former five-star general, in NONSTANDARD dating. This would be considered an embarrassing moment for the Rear Admiral. Klass investigated the background of Westcott and asked him the number of documents he had analyzed during his career to ascertain their authenticity. The answer was, "A small number... several" and added that authentication, "isn’t something that I usually do" (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 85). Finally, he admitted, "This is not my specialty" (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 85). By June 1988, Wescott wrote a letter that stated,

On behalf of those who support the authenticity of the memo, I wrote that I thought its fraudulence unproven....On behalf of its critics, I could equally well have maintained that its authenticity is unproven. (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 85).

In other words, his "qualified" opinion states that he does not know if they authentic or not! This did not prevent UFO magazine and The International UFO reporter to claim that Wescott (UFO Mag calls him a "noted linguistics expert") had declared the MJ-12 Hillenkoetter letter authentic (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 86). One must recall Mark Twain’s words concerning "experts". That they are just some "guy" from out of town.

In Friedmans recent book, Top Secret: Majic, the MJ-12 story jumps to a new level. Friedman produces an MJ-12 MANUAL! This manual has an out of date security classification! On the top of the manual is the identification "RESTRICTED" which was not in effect at the time of the document’s publication. Another problem that I see is that there is no list of effective pages. How can the owner of the manual determine if the pages are up to date and contain the correct revision? All technical manuals contain the list and this is used to verify that the book is up to date. Even if the book is an original issue, there is still a list. While, I can not verify for sure, the technical manual designation numbers on the cover appear non-standard.

Other problems are:

1. There is a reference to AREA 51 in the manual. According to Peter Merlin, the earliest reference he could find to AREA 51 is dated June 1960. All documentation prior to this refer to it as "Watertown" (Devereux and Brookesmith 131). Peter Merlin emailed me and stated that he has since seen references dating back to 1958, when area 51 was added to the Nevada test site but not any earlier.

2. The type-face did not exist until the 1980s when laser and ink-jet printers became available.

3. The manual makes reference to "downed satellites" as a cover story for any UFO crashes. In 1954, there were no satellites in space.The entire manual is devoted to how one would recover an alien spacecraft that crashed on earth. It shows what lengths the individuals who are hoaxing these documents will go to. There is no indication that this is an authentic document.

4. Peter Merlin tells me, "I have only glanced at it and I noted the improper use of the RESTRICTED classification along with TOP SECRET, a War Department seal on the cover instead of DoD, and the terminology AREA 51/S-4." (Merlin)

Stanton Friedman is the only major UFOlogist who is seriously endorsing the MJ-12 story Friedman continuously pushes this group as authentic. When he first got on the UFO talk circuit, Stan quickly learned that people will believe just about anything. He has stated, "As I gave more lectures, I found that I enjoyed speaking and that people believed me, NO MATTER WHAT I SAID (My emphasis)" (Friedman 9). Does this imply that Stan does not care if the material is true or not? Is he more concerned for the fact that people adore him and will believe him no matter what? Stan is not very concerned with looking at things skeptically. MJ-12 is his baby and ANYTHING that confirms MJ-12 that comes along is believed. He received 16,000 dollars to research MJ-12 from FUFOR at his request. He has pinned his reputation on these documents. The instant he admits they are a hoax, his credibility will drop to nothing. He MUST defend them. Those that created the documents seem to be intent on creating something to vindicate the Roswell incident. This seems to emphasize their desperation in finding something new to keep the myth alive.

Phillip Klass quotes French Philosopher Charles Peguy in reference to Stanton Friedman, "He who does no bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers" (Frazier, Karr, and Nickel 93). MJ-12 is a joke and those who seriously support it are not looking at the hard facts concerning the documents. Are there any other documents that indicate a saucer crash? Perhaps somewhere in the Air Force or Army files, there are some documents that were written by Patrick Saunders or someone higher up claiming that debris from a crashed saucer was retrieved and studied. If not, what do contemporary documents show?

Works Cited

Devereux, Paul and Peter Brookesmith. UFOs and UFOlogy: The first 50 years. New York: Facts on File, 1997.

Frazier, Kendrick ,Barry Karr, and Joe Nickell ed. UFO Invasion. Amherst: Prometheus, 1997

Friedman, Stanton. Top Secret: MAJIC. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1997

Hesemann, Michael and Philip Mantle. Beyond Roswell. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1997

Merlin, Peter. E-Mail to Author. November 29, 2006

Randle, Kevin. The Randle Report: UFOs in the 90s. New York: M. Evans and Company inc., 1997

Sagan, Carl. The Demon Haunted World. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996


Chapter 29 - Wanted: Flying Saucer - no questions asked.

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