This is an extended commentary on Kevin Randle's summary of the events relating to "MJ-12," or "Majestic Twelve," which I feel is a reasonable overview of the facts behind one of the most audacious UFO hoaxes committed in the public arena. I will refer to the corresponding pages in Randle's paper, followed by additional information from my point of view.
Page One: There was a hint of the existence of something called "MJ-12" in the so-called "Aquarius Telex" some time before 1984. At the time there were a flurry of alleged government UFO documents circulating which were not released through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It was unclear from where these originated and I felt that by giving them attention, it would help to elevate them beyond what they deserved (and in the process satisfying a hoaxer's intent). In the writing of the book Clear Intent, myself and my co-author Larry Fawcett had a policy of not accepting or discussing what appeared to be government documents coming from a void, i.e. from other than verifiable government sources. Official FOIA releases put a stamp of approval on the authenticity of the papers sent from government agencies.
When Lee Graham contacted us with a parcel of paper, including detail on the supposed existence of MJ-12, it had become clear that this particular story was gaining momentum beyond the undocumented "Aquarius Telex" that had previously circulated. I decided to print the information just in case there was reality to the claims that would become evident at a later time. Lee Graham was enthused with the distribution of this information, following up with sometimes reams of photocopies of documents, articles and his own letters to government urging serious treatment and investigation of MJ-12. Much of the bulk was not particular relevant to MJ-12 but Graham was essentially throwing in the kitchen sink to convince his contacts that the claims were real. I remained dubious but time would tell.
Page Three:After the MJ-12 information was published in the newsletter I did for Citizens Against UFO Secrecy in 1985, Just Cause, I continually heard talk of a Richard Doty being involved with UFO investigations around Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico and his being involved with Dr. Paul Bennewitz, who had claimed contact with aliens. I was far removed from New Mexico so, while interesting, the stories didn't go beyond hearsay. More concrete information had to surface before much could be done.
Page Six: In phone conversations with Peter Gersten, Peter laughed at the notion William Moore proposed that he stole the Aquarius Telex and expressed doubts about Moore's credibility. He felt it was a way for Moore to create an alibi for inconsistencies in the appearance of copies in circulation of the Aquarius Telex, being that Moore controlled the originals and was responsible for mark-ups, including self-applied censorship, to give the appearance of being official. This would become even more important later.
Page Eleven: There was a continuous drum beat of outsiders being invited to peek at, but not document, alleged paperwork verifying MJ-12-related activities. This involved Richard Doty again, the person who was involved in the Kirtland AFB dealings with Paul Bennewitz and beyond, as I later found, with a UFO witness named Craig Weitzel. Weitzel had reported a real UFO sighting but when I quizzed him in a phone conversation much after the fact, Weitzel said that he did see a unidentified object but that detail in an anonymous letter in circulation within the UFO community (the basis for contacting him) was an embellishment. This document also said that Weitzel spoke to an AFOSI agent named "Dody." Doty seemed to be involved in layers of suspicious activity concerning UFOs. And as was later evident, Moore, in a 1989 speech for MUFON, admitted that the Weitzel letter was a fake created by Doty and sent to another UFO group to recruit an informant. But this fog would take much more time to clear.
Page Sixteen: The beginning of the end was looming for MJ-12. Lee Graham's pressure for others to endorse and publicize MJ-12 on behalf of Moore seemed strange as Moore was not in touch with CAUS about his activities. Larry Fawcett spoke to Moore on the phone offering help to look into the story. We already had a track record of obtaining government documents through FOIA so an offer of assistance certainly wouldn't hurt. Instead, Moore was dismissive, saying he had to put bread on his table. Meaning? I can see no other way of spinning this except that Moore wanted no interference with his intention to make money off of the story.
Page Seventeen: We had learned that Moore had an agreement to do a simultaneous release of MJ-12 documents (as it turned out those on the roll of microfilm sent to Jaime Shandera in December 1984) with Timothy Good upon the European publication of Good's new book Above Top Secret to be released in 1987. But Good's book was to be released early, trumping the simultaneous release. Moore had to scramble to get his end of the deal together so Good wouldn't have sole publicity. An issue of Moore's newsletter, Focus, was prepared in a hasty effort with copies of MJ-12 documents printed from the film. For the first time I would see these papers that had been the substance in the rumor mill. I was grossly disappointed. Everything about the appearance of the documents screamed "Fake." Security markings were applied inaccurately. Language sometimes bordered on the ridiculous. An emblem was hand-drawn instead of printed. It looked amateurish. And it was not like I hadn't seen government UFO documents before. I had seen thousands already in hardcopy and microfilm. These didn't make the grade. With this disappointment came an unpleasant task. Since there was no doubt now this story had major problems, I had to go about proving it. This happened over several years, an indication of how time-consuming and complicated the task was of peeling away the onion layers to get to the core.
Page Seventeen-Eighteen: Now if Moore and Good planned a simultaneous release of the MJ-12 papers, how did a "CIA agent" get involved in giving Good his copies? This came from Good in his book The UFO Report - 1990. Was Moore now working with the CIA or was something more mundane afoot? It took a while to discover that in the first edition of Good's book, photographic plates of some of his copies of the MJ-12 papers were included. But these copies were rather dirty, with photocopier smudge and flaws. In later printings, the plate reproductions were scrubbed clean. Why? One wants to reproduce the original important papers as they were in trying to convince of their genuineness. As Kevin describes, it was apparent the story about Good's acquisition was a deception to divert attention from Moore as the source.
Page Nineteen:Much has been said about the MJ-12 film coming from an anonymous source. But was it really anonymous? The film mailed to Shandera came in the mail. It had to come in an large envelope. In fact, a copy of the front of it appears in the 1988 MUFON Symposium Proceedings with a paper by Moore and Stanton Friedman titled, "MJ-12 and Phil Klass: What Are The Facts?" There was one problem. The whole purpose of showing the envelope was to see what the postmark was to give a hint as to where it came from. But Moore and Friedman performed a careful bit of censorship and made sure the copy didn't include the entire postmark, with it being cut off at the top. Why? Because if it had been included, it would show that it came from Albuquerque, New Mexico, home of Kirtland AFB and AFOSI Special Agent you-know-who.
Page Twenty-One: The only piece of paperwork to mention MJ-12 not part of mysterious acquisition is the Cutler-Twining memo. I inspected the box in which it was allegedly found. It contained little paperwork with many empty folders. The memo was said to have been found IN BETWEEN folders that otherwise had nothing to do with MJ-12 or UFOs. Stanton Friedman has admitted that he felt the document was planted in that box to be found after Moore being alerted by previous mysterious messages said to have been received by him pointing the way. The curious thing to me was that the document was folded as if it had been in a letter-sized envelope. It was odd if the document were a carbon copy produced in an office as it would have been filed flat and not mailed. It wasn't signed so it was meant to be kept as an internal copy of an allegedly dispatched message. Why fold it? It should have gone right into a folder in the office. But it wouldn't be so mysterious if the copy were brought in from outside, folded and hidden in a pocket to be planted by a hoaxer to have it "discovered" later. Such would imply an undeserved authenticity. On my visit to the National Archives to find the original memo, I walked in with several folders of papers never checked. I could easily have smuggled in a fake for later discovery. Question: Who stood the most to benefit from false MJ-12 papers being "authenticated" in such a fashion by its discovery?
Page Twenty-Five: The statement by Friedman meant to convey the impression of high security at the National Archives is deceiving in that it would be easy to enter a secure area with a folded piece of paper under clothing with the intent to plant. In fact, Friedman had already admitted that it had been done with the Cutler-Twining memo. He just didn't name two obvious suspects: Moore or Shandera. And since Shandera found the document in Box 189, it makes Moore the likely suspect as the planter as he was the one who had much to gain by having someone else "find" the memo. It was much like the way the Kirtland UFO documents of 1980 were unveiled. Moore gave KPIX-TV in San Francisco copies of the documents, without a doubt created by the hands of his colleague Richard Doty. A documentary was prepared and aired in my area on November 14, 1982. I videotaped the program, which dutifully flashed a Kirtland document in enough detail that it could be read if on freeze frame. I filed a FOIA request for the file and eventually received copies, although strangely somewhat different that the copies on TV. This certified the documents to be authentic from the Air Force Office of Special Investigation even though the copies on TV were apparently illegally shown prior to an official release, if one is to believe Moore's reporting on it. Of course if they are fakes, no law is broken and in fact no prosecution was ever launched. Moore referred to me once as a "useful idiot" which may be his way of hinting how he used others unwittingly to further his pursuits.
Page Twenty-Seven: I discussed this in the original reporting on MJ-12 but it bears repeating. In the Eisenhower Briefing is a list of unattached attachments. "Attachment A" is called a "Special Classified Executive Order #092447. (TS/EO)." It implies that presidential executive orders are classified under a certain numbering system. Real executive orders are numbered sequentially from the first one at the dawn of the republic. They can be classified but still retain the sequential numbering throughout presidential terms. However, in this case a number is applied that is not sequential but is merely the date of the document, September 24, 1947 (092447). This number doesn't mesh with the real numbering of executive orders for the 1947 time frame. There is no such thing as a "Special Classified Executive Order" under such a numbering system in U.S. history. It has been made up for the special occasion of MJ-12, which is the only place one will ever find it. It is a hardcore, nuts and bolts example of how even unsophisticated fakery can grab hold of public attention and seem outwardly impressive when it is in reality merely a puff of smoke.
Page Thirty-Four: The second coming of MJ-12, or "MJ-12 - Version 2." Another attempt is made to sell MJ-12 to the public with an old technique. Aviation writer Don Berliner, who co-authored a book about Roswell with Stanton Friedman, an original MJ-12 defender, receives a roll of film in the mail. Sound familiar? This time it was an MJ-12 manual on how to deal with crashed saucers and aliens. This was followed by numerous other documents allegedly from mysterious internal sources who could not be independently confirmed. Sound familiar again? The volume of document releases in this case far outstrip the original MJ-12, with much coming from a fellow named Tim Cooper. Apparently Cooper would receive bunches of paper in a postal box without postage or envelope. Aside from the other problems with the documents, this raised my eyebrows because I had worked nearly 40 years in post offices. Cooper would open his PO box, remove the papers when they were there and take them home for study, or so he would have us believe. A clerk loads the boxes with mail early in the morning. Did Cooper once think of asking for the postal clerk in charge of the box line if a stranger were placing loose papers in his box (illegal by the way)? Did Cooper approach the postmaster to ask why these papers were appearing in his box? Did Cooper ever worry about taking classified papers out of his PO box from unknown sources and taking them home? Did he ever worry about the consequences of receiving classified materials illegally? Apparently not because this continued without consequences and without a single comment to postal authorities as to why this is happening. Of course, if this were not really happening as Cooper described, then all such concerns evaporate.
One part of the Version 2 MJ-12 that also seemed of little concern was the receipt of the "1st Annual Report" of the Majestic 12 Project. For in it were described historical UFO events to brief MJ-12 personnel about the subject's background. One was a discussion of the disappearance of a British regiment into a mysterious cloud during the World War 1 Gallipoli campaign in Turkey. This discussion in fact paralleled the first known revelation of the disappearing regiment in 1965 when several members of the old New Zealand Army Corps testified to the event in an affidavit. The problem here was that the 1st Annual Report on MJ-12 was supposed to have been written in 1952, 13 years before the alleged incident was first revealed. It was a gaping anachronism that should have cast doubt on the entire document, but didn't for its adherents. They were still convinced of its authenticity, as mindless as it may seem. Version 2 of MJ-12 continued the flow of shaky, revisionist history for a new audience who apparently were expected to be bowled over and intimidated by the sheer volume of dubious documents being released publicly. It was so bad that even Stanton Friedman, who accepted the original documents, labeled a large number that he looked at as "emulations" of real documents.
Page Forty-Four: The core MJ-12 papers remaining from this paper storm are the original documents promoted as authentic by William Moore and Stanton Friedman. They successfully hid the mailing source of the film sent them from New Mexico, though it wasn't hard to figure out. What they couldn't hide was the other content on the film. What is never mentioned by the promotion of MJ-12 are other documents on the same roll of film as the "good" MJ-12 documents. They are a series of strangely worded memos on CIA masthead, stamped "Top Secret." They are cryptically written and often make no sense at all. A sample:
"Yesterday R2 requested briefing on Project "A". In particular, he wanted updated info from (Deleted) MJ3 advised that that info was not available to P2. Apparently, White House requested info because of large volume of FOIA requests. Can't seem to make those fools realize EBE-2 info is not available for any dissemination, per EO 01156, regardless of who requests info. Contact T-2P and see if he can assume custody of the matter."The other mongrel MJ CIA documents follow a similar pattern of peculiar language, randomly applied self-censorship, and lack of any distinctive staff markings. It is as if blank CIA letterhead were used to crank out fictional jabber. Terms were used, like "EBE" and "IAC" that could be traced to language in Moore's fiction novel from the early 80s. "IAC" was Bob Pratt's choice for the novel's title! Needless to say, the CIA labeled a sample I sent as not their product in a June 11, 1987 letter to me. Moore and Friedman persistently did not discuss these memos even though they came from the same film as the documents they chose to present and debate. How is it that one can feel a source releases a mixture of documents with an appearance of genuineness accompanied by a group of papers that are clearly flawed and amateurish and regard the source as credible? None of the releases have a legitimate provenance with which to begin. I must confess that the idea of cherry-picking items to endorse from a selection offered by a dubious source of dubious information is a rather baffling thought process.
"Don't allow AF to evaluate IDENT info. They may open up a little too much. KEND-3 can assist to some extent."
The Aquarius Report
The Project Aquarius Report is a three-page extract of a larger document with a title page and two pages of text. The title page contains a large printed label "Executive Correspondence" in bold type and below in typescript is "Executive Briefing." This has the appearance of an important government paper one would admit. Except that in the process of researching MJ-12, Robert Todd, a skilled colleague who was expert in unearthing obscure documents, came across of sample sheet of government stationery with a clear plastic cover, the plastic cover having been sent to him by accident. It was a see-through sheet with the words "Executive Correspondence" on top, in the same fashion as on the Aquarius Report. On the bottom in bold type it said, "Do Not Write On This Cover As It Is Intended For Re-Use, Return It With File Copies To Originating Office." This was a plastic file cover used internally by government agencies to transmit and file everyday paperwork. When one reads the qualifier at the bottom of the sheet, the significance of "Executive Correspondence" on top becomes rather muted, rendering the paperwork as a bit more mundane.
This did not escape the attention of the preparer(s) of the Aquarius Report because the label "Executive Correspondence" that should normally be near the top edge of a document is dropped by roughly an inch or so. This has the effect of the more mundane bottom phrase mentioned above vanishing out of view when the whole arrangement is photocopied. The plastic overlay then seems to ascribe significance to the document, in fact ANY document, over which the overlay is placed. The plastic sheet was easily obtained by anyone in a government office, and by misusing it, it gives a false impression of importance.
Something else striking about this report was the use of a hand-drawn emblem on the cover of what appears to be a rocket shape inside a circle. Since when does government hand-draw emblems on official reports? This couple with the fact that the same typewriter used to prepare the "Aquarius Report" was used to prepare the mongrel MJ CIA documents mentioned earlier. All this again linked to the fiction novel created by Doty, Moore and Robert Pratt.
Dating Abnormalities in Documents
A controversial feature in the MJ-12 documents early on was the styling of dates used on the papers that seemed unlike the normal ways government dated information. Government documents of the late 40s through early 50s had a standard date format, using for example "2 March 1948," a numerical day followed by a spelled-out month followed by a numerical full year. Sometimes there would be a comma inserted after the month but this was rare, 3 examples in 600 pages. in one sample. All those came from one person in Air Force Intelligence.
UFO skeptic Philip Klass had pointed out that the MJ-12 Hillenkoetter Briefing paper had broken the standard date style by not only inserting the extra comma but by inserting a zero that preceded a single digit date, for example "07 July, 1947." No examples of this could be found in any real government documents of the era. However, this same style does appear in the personal writings of William Moore. An implication pointed out by critics was whether or not Moore had something to do with the writing of MJ-12 documents.
In 1990, I had received a communication from a veteran UFO researcher, Jun-Ichi Takanashi, now deceased, that he had noticed copies of five government documents regarding Green Fireballs from early in flying saucer history that possessed the range of dating peculiarity as was evident in the MJ-12 documents. Well, maybe I was wrong about my suspicions and that the MJ-12 dating style was used. But there was a catch!
The documents Takanashi cited were included in a publication called, "The Mystery of the Green Fireballs" (Prescott AZ, 1983). He pointed out something really odd. He said only one out of the five documents appeared to be a copy of the original and the others appeared to be retyped. The author of the paper was William Moore. I undertook a search for the original copies of the four retyped documents Moore reproduced. The fifth was a document containing the rare comma insertion but lacking a leading zero in front of a single-digit date. Eventually the four originals were located on roll 88, OSI Chronological Files from the Air Force's Project Blue Book microfilms at the National Archives.
In all four cases where the documents were retyped (apparently for clarity as government documents were often difficult to read), Moore had changed the dates from the standard government style to his own style by not only persistently adding an extra comma to the dates, but in the case of a 9 February 1949 memo, adding a preceding zero in front on a single-digit date where none had existed before. Moore effectively imprinted his own writing style for dates onto redone government documents that he marketed and sold, the same style that existed uniquely otherwise in the MJ-12 papers. Moore called his retyped documents "faithful" reproductions in the paper but, unconsciously or not, incriminated himself with regard to MJ-12.
Moore's 1989 Speech
In a peculiar turnabout, William Moore gave a speech on July 1, 1989 at the annual MUFON symposium in Las Vegas. His intent was to clarify his involvement in MJ-12 since the documents had created so much controversy since their official release by Moore in 1987. Moore painted himself as an unpaid government agent, recruited by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations to spy on a person, Paul Bennewitz, in New Mexico to observe how an alleged disinformation operation against Bennewitz was working. Moore's OSI contact: Richard Doty. Moore's speech was a pastiche of contradiction and self-incrimination in his admission that he was involved in spreading false information, by his word for the government but more realistically for his own edification. When problem with the MJ-12 documents mounted, Moore's only recourse was to shift blame from himself and his accomplices to shadowy government operatives as if he were somehow "connected" with official operations concerning UFOs. Not many bought it as there was clear anger with Moore from his audience. Being involved with Doty wasn't helpful either since Moore admitted in his speech that Doty was "almost certainly involved" with the 1978 Ellsworth UFO document fake (see MUFON Journal, January 1984). After the speech he did not remain for questions.
Moore, Stanton Friedman and other defenders of MJ-12 reality had asserted that not a single question had been raised that would cast doubt on the documents. Yet according to Moore's speech, in 1982 he had brought both Jaime Shandera and Friedman into his inner circle and both were aware that at least some of the information was disinformation. How can both be true? How can one trust the statements of project leaders having such a skewed view of their own research? Yet to this day MJ-12 continues to garner a following, small but with almost a religious fervor, with a quality of information that can be considered degraded at best.
If one were to accept the reality of the documents in spite of the numerous credibility issues and long track record of provably false claims, consider this. If they were real, what happened since the 1980s and 1990s, the heyday of MJ-12 publicity. A modest element led by Robert and Ryan Wood in California continue to support just about any document that is claimed to be related to MJ-12. Even one of the original supporters of MJ-12 (Stanton Friedman) does not accept the lengths to which the Woods go in their beliefs. Of the original team of researchers, two (Moore and Shandera) have dropped out of sight in UFO research and Friedman is left as the sole vocal supporter, along with a rabid but virtually invisible underground. A question I had asked long ago still remains to be discussed. If the documents are real, why haven't the original researchers gone all out to press the issue with important world sources instead of conducting internal arguments within the UFO community? The claimed overwhelming weight of the data they have should surely convince TV and radio news outlets, government and scientific investigative bodies and political organs devoted to exposing government secrets at every turn. What has Wikileaks found about MJ-12? Edward Snowden? To say this would be the story of the century would be an understatement, that is if the documents were authentic. But so far no concrete information has survived scrutiny after more than 30 years. It is time to move along.
The Myth of MJ-12: Appendix A –Pt 1
The Myth of MJ-12: Appendix A –Pt 2
The Myth of MJ-12: Appendix A –Pt 3
SHARE YOUR UFO EXPERIENCE