Majestic 12 (also known as Majic 12, Majestic Trust, M12, MJ 12, MJ XII or Majority 12) is the purported code name of a secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials, supposedly formed in 1947 by an executive order of U.S. President Harry S Truman (which the FBI has concluded is “completely bogus”). The purpose of the committee was allegedly to investigate UFO activity in the aftermath of the Roswell 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 for the existence of a group named Majestic 12 is a collection of documents that first emerged in 1984. The original MJ-12 documents state that:
The Majestic 12 group… was established by order of President Truman on 24 September, 1947, upon recommendation by Dr. Vannevar Bush and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal.
The existence of MJ-12 has sometimes been denied by some agencies of the United States government, which insist that documents suggesting its existence are hoaxes. The FBI investigated the documents, and concluded they were forgeries, based primarily on an opinion rendered by AFOSI, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Opinions among UFO researchers are divided: Some argue the documents may be genuine while others contend they are phony, primarily due to errors in formatting and chronology.
In 1985, another document mentioning MJ-12 and dating to 1954 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, for example on the FBI website, where they are dismissed as bogus.
Since the first MJ-12 documents, thousands of pages of other supposedly leaked government documents mentioning MJ-12 and a government coverup of UFO reality have also appeared, sometimes collectively referred to as the “Majestic Documents.” All of them are controversial, with many disputing their authenticity. A few have been proven to be unquestionably fraudulent, usually retyped rewrites of unrelated government documents. The primary new MJ-12 document is a lengthy, linotype-set manual allegedly dating from 1954, called the MJ-12 “Special Operations Manual (SOM)”. 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.
The documents date from 1942 to 1997 and have been hotly debated in the UFO community. The documents include such matters as the conduct to be used when meeting an alien, diagrams and records of tests on UFOs, memos on assorted coverups, and descriptions of the President’s statements about UFO-related issues. The documents contain supposed signatures of important people such as Albert Einstein and Ronald Reagan, creating a major debate in the conspiracy and UFO communities. No more documents have been leaked or released since 1997. Their authenticity remains uncertain, and some claim them to be entirely fake.
However, before the appearance of the various dubious MJ-12 documents, Canadian documents dating from 1950 and 1951 were uncovered in 1978. These documents mention the existence of a similar, highly classified UFO study group operating within the Pentagon’s Research & Development Board (RDB) and headed by Dr. Vannevar Bush. Although the name of the group is not given, proponents argue that these documents remain the most compelling evidence that such a group did exist. There is also some testimony (see Arguments for below) from a few government scientists involved with this project confirming its existence.
Other theories of the MJ-12 group
MJ-12 is sometimes associated in recent UFO conspiracy literature with the more historically verifiable but also deeply secretive NSC 5412/2 Special Group, created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. Although the Special Group was not specifically concerned with UFOs, and post-dates the alleged creation of MJ-12 in 1947, the commonality of the number ‘12’ in the names of the two groups is cited as intriguing, as is the first chairman, Gordon Gray, being one of the alleged MJ-12 members. As the highest body of central intelligence experts in the early Cold War era (the Group was alleged to include the President but exclude the Vice President), the Special Group certainly would have had both clearance and interest in all matters of national security, including UFO sightings if they were considered a real threat.
Others have speculated that MJ-12 may have been another name for the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit, an officially recognized UFO-related military group active from the 1940s through the late 1950s.
Another government group recently associated with MJ-12 was the CIA’s Office of National Estimates or ONE, a forerunner of the current National Intelligence Council (NIC). ONE was created in 1950 by CIA Director Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, alleged to have replaced Secretary of Defense James Forrestal on MJ-12 after his death. A history of the NIC states that ONE was a type of super branch of the CIA “whose sole task was to produce coordinated ‘National Intelligence Estimates.’” Besides Smith, it apparently consisted of 11 other members. A recent article on the history of the CIA’s involvement in UFO investigations states that ONE received a UFO intelligence briefing on January 30, 1953, immediately after the end of the CIA’s UFO debunking study known as the Robertson Panel. Members of ONE at that time included FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, William Bundy, President Eisenhower’s chief of staff Admiral B. Bieri, and William Langer, a Harvard historian, who was chairman. Referring to ONE as “super think tank” within the CIA, the article states, “ONE is as close as we get to a documented version of the rumoured Majestic-12 group.”
All the alleged original members of MJ-12 were notable for their military, government, and/or scientific achievements, and all were deceased when the documents first surfaced (the last to die was Jerome Hunsaker, only a few months before the MJ-12 papers first appeared).
The original composition was six civilians (mostly scientists), and six high-ranking military officers, two from each major military service. Three (Souers, Vandenberg, and Hillenkoetter) had been the first three heads of central intelligence. The Moore/Shandera documents did not make clear who was the director of MJ-12, or if there was any organizational hierarchy.