Anyone interested in UFOs and the notion that the United States government has covered up the reality of alien visitation and presence in its own country and around the world has heard of the Majestic Documents. For those less familiar with UFO conspiracy theory:
The term “Majestic documents” refers generally to thousands of pages of purportedly classified government documents that prove the existence of a Top Secret group of scientists and military personnel—Majestic 12—formed in 1947 under President Harry Truman, and charged with investigating crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft and their occupants. Majestic 12 personnel allegedly included a number of noteworthy political, scientific, and military figures, including: Rear Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, the first CIA Director; Dr. Vannevar Bush, wartime chair of the Office of Scientific Research; James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy and first Secretary of Defense; General Nathan Twining, head of Air Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and later Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Dr. Donald Menzel, an astronomer at Harvard University. More specifically, the Majestic documents refer to a series allegedly classified documents leaked from 1981 to the present day by unidentified sources concerning Majestic 12 and the United States government’s knowledge of intelligent extraterrestrials and their technology. The documents date from 1942 to 1999. (Heiser)
The Majestic Documents: A Brief History
The fact that the documents were leaked (see their chronology here) gave them the air of suspicion from the very beginning. The alien-UFO-friendly researchers at OpenMinds.TV created their own video documentary on the Majestic Documents exposing their sordid history. Well-known UFO and paranormal researcher Nick Redfern notes:
Following the publication of his co-authored 1980 book The Roswell Incident, William Moore was contacted by a number of military and intelligence insiders who claimed that they wished to reveal to Moore – and ultimately to the public, the media and the world – classified data and documents on UFOs that would otherwise never see the light of day. It was as a result of this “Deep Throat”-style contact that Moore and his research partner Jaime Shandera obtained, in December 1984, a series of controversial and official-looking documents that detailed the existence and work of the allegedly Top Secret group known as Majestic 12. . . . Understandably, the documents have been the subject of much controversy and comment, with some researchers believing them to be the real thing, while others cry hoax and/or disinformation. Further MJ12 documents surfaced in the 1990s – from a researcher named Tim Cooper. They were most remarkable for the impressive number of spelling-errors they contained.
With respect to the leaking of the documents, the story begins in 1984. UFO believer and film producer Jamie Shandera received an envelope that contained photographs of 8 pages of documents that appeared to be official briefing papers describing "Operation Majestic 12.“ These documents revealed the establishment of a secret committee of 12 men (“MJ-12”), supposedly authorized by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. The document named the members and detailed the crash of an alien spacecraft at Roswell, NM in 1947. The documents explained that bodies and alien technology were recovered and how matter was concealed. Majestic 12 was tasked with exploiting the technology in U.S. industry and military applications.
Shandera had two colleagues involved in studying the leaked documents: Stanton Friedman and William Moore. Shandera and Moore were later (1985) contacted by anonymous individuals about more information via postcards postmarked “New Zealand” with a return address of "Box 189, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia." The postcards contained cryptic messages referring to "Reeses [sic] Pieces" and "Suitland.“ These were assumed to be a code, but never solved.
A few months later, in an apparent coincidence, Friedman asked Moore and Shandera to examine newly declassified Air Force documents at the National Archives (NARA) repository in Suitland, Maryland. The head archivist was named Ed Reese, revealing two of the code words (Suitland, Reese’s). During their visit to the National Archives, Shandera and Moore discovered the Cutler-Twining memo, dated July 14, 1954. It turned up in box 189 (recall the "Box 189, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia” line in the anonymous postcard).
Circumstances of the discovery have led most UFO researchers to see the Cutler-Twining memo as a deliberately planted document. Another problem was its lack of a distinctive National Archives catalog number. It therefore appeared to be planted. Moore and Shandera were accused by some of a hoax, but Friedman defended them by noting the Cutler-Twining memo was not a picture – it was on original onionskin paper widely used by the government at that time. Subsequent research by skeptic Philip Klass showed that Nathan Twining was out of the country at the time he supposedly wrote the Cutler-Twining memo. Nevertheless, some still defend it.
After these events, another UFO researcher and filmmaker, Linda Howe, was contacted by a man named Richard Doty. Doty worked for AFOSI (the Air Force Office of Special Investigations). He told Howe the MJ-12 story was true and promised her film footage of an alien. Doty never delivered on this promise, something not surprising as subsequent events revealed Doty to be a skilled disinformation agent. In addition to this episode with Howe, Doty is infamous in UFO community for feeding disinformation about UFOs to Paul Bennewitz, a physicist and inventor who lived in Albuquerque, NM. Bennewitz eventually had to be institutionalized due to Doty’s manipulation.
Majestic document validity was badly damaged in 1989, when William Moore shocked the UFO community by confessing he had been working with Richard Doty beginning in 1981. Moore was promised insider information about aliens and UFOs in exchange for information on MUFON. Importantly, this working relationship was formed before the first MJ-12 document leak and the Bennewitz fiasco. Moore’s confession made him a Benedict Arnold in UFO circles.
In recent events, more Majestic documents were leaked in June 2017 to Heather Wade, a host on the talk show, Midnight in the Desert. Redfern has made it clear that these new documents are phony disinformation due to numerous errors of grammar and government document style and mistakes about the chronology and relationship of the Roswell and Aztec UFO events—contradicting the earlier Majestic “revelations” and other verified source material. Redfern goes as far to say the new documents present readers with “utter crap.” One such low point is the new documents’ interview with a captive extraterrestrial. Nick Pope, well-known in UFO research circles due to his work investigating UFO sightings for the British Government's Ministry of Defence (MoD), described the interview as work at the level of “a high school student attempting (badly) to write a science fiction short story” (OpenMinds.TV).
The Majestic Documents: Forensic Analysis
Defenders of the Majestic Documents such as Dr. Robert Wood and his son Ryan Wood argue that the documents have survived rigorous forensic analysis. Heiser describes their efforts:
The Wood team was able to solicit the expertise of specialists in their authentication effort. For comparison of typewriter impressions, watermarks, James Black served as their primary expert. Mr. Black is a Fellow of the Questioned Documents Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a former chairman of the Questioned Documents Subcommittee of the American Society of Testing and Materials. For examination of paper, ink, and watermarks, the Wood team sought the services of the Speckin Forensic Laboratories.
The effort to thoroughly examine the documents also produced problems. Heiser notes:
A variety of concerns have been raised in the course of forensic authentication procedures and publication of these efforts, such as apparent anachronistic statements, possible typewriter impression inconsistencies, grammatical errors, departures from standard styles, printing flaws, and virtually identical signatures on different documents. Examples of each of these concerns have been catalogued and answered by the Wood team.
To date such criticisms of the Majestic Documents have failed to deliver conclusive evidence of forgery. However, Stanton Friedman has successfully detected several fakes among the cache. The forgeries were photocopies of authentic documents with certain content and vocabulary changes designed to alter the content toward a discussion of Majestic 12. These forgeries are explained and illustrated on Friedman’s website.
The Majestic Documents: Linguistic Analysis
In 2007 biblical scholar Michael S. Heiser, drawing on prior exposure to the use of linguistic pattern inquiry in ancient text research, solicited the help of Dr. Carol Chaski to test the Majestic Documents. Chaski agreed to apply her cutting-edge computational methods on authorship attribution to a range of Majestic Documents which included a signature (a named author). Heiser describes the testing:
The goal of the research presented in this study was to determine whether the Majestic documents that carry a signature were indeed written by the people to whom authorship is attributed. Toward achieving this goal, the study employed state-of-the-art computational linguistic methods of authorship attribution. In some cases, these techniques have been pioneered by Dr. Carol Chaski, a recognized leader in this type of linguistic research. These methods have been employed, validated, and approved numerous times in various courts of law. It is the opinion of the authors that the utilization of these methods is the most reliable and testable means of authenticating or refuting the authorship attribution of those Majestic documents that bear the name of an author.
The focus of this study, as noted, is validation or falsification of the authorship attributions of the Majestic documents. As such, the scientific methods employed for this study cannot be used to validate the content of any of the Majestic documents whose authorship proves genuine. The computational methods of the research cannot determine the truth of written content. It can only determine whether or not that content was written by the attributed author. Refutation of attributed authorship would prove a document is a forgery, and so the content of that document would therefore be considered spurious. The converse is not true, however. Authentication of authorship means only that the document was written by the person to whom it is attributed.
Seventeen Majestic Documents qualified for Chaski’s authorship attribution testing. Some of these documents are among the most explosive in terms of content (e.g., discussion of extraterrestrial bodies at crash sites). In the end, only one proved valid (i.e., that the document was written by the person whose signature appeared at its end). That document contained no material about ET bodies or technology.
The conclusion drawn by Chaski and Heiser (and others since the testing was done) was that the testing aligned with the suspicious circumstances of the document leaks, suggesting fakery.
Michael S. Heiser, “The Majestic Documents: A Forensic Linguistic Report” (June 2007)
Nick Redfern, “The Majestic 12 Documents are Back” (Mysterious Universe blog, June 16, 2017)
Alejandro Rojas, “More Dubious ‘MJ-12’ Documents from an Anonymous Source,” OpenMinds.TV (June, 2017)
Robert Wood, “Mounting Evidence for the Authenticity of MJ-12 Documents,” paper presented at the International MUFON Symposium, Irvine, CA; July 21, 2001
Don Schmitt, “William Moore: UFO Opportunist or Agent of Disinformation?” OpenMinds.TV (July 23, 2014)
FBI website page on Majestic-12 Documents
The Majestic-12 Papers: An Analysis