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Majestic-12 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." 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.

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.

If these documents turn out to be authentic, then we possess the most compelling evidence for a UFO coverup by the U.S. government.


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:

Dr. Lloyd Berkner


Dr. D. W. Bronk


Dr. Vannevar Bush


Sec. James Forrestal


Gordon Gray


Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter


Dr. Jerome Hunsaker


Dr. Donald H. Menzel


General Robert Montague


Sidney Souers


General Nathan Twining


General Hoyt Vandenburg

(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 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.

  • 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 Thirteen".

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 Shandra.

  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 Shandra.

  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 Shandra 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 authorised, 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 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."

  • 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. See the main Donald Menzel page for more information.

Click on the links below to view the Majestic-12 documents:


Or, if you prefer, you can view them in the PDF file format.

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