MAJESTIC-12: STORY OF THE DECADE by Jim Speiser For forty years, The Question has burned.

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

MAJESTIC-12: STORY OF THE DECADE by Jim Speiser For forty years, The Question has burned. At times the Question was a barely visible ember, on the verge of becoming a wisp of smoke; in more recent times, it has burned with renewed vigor, the flames fanned by books, rumors, and the seem- ingly universal desire for the Answer to be "Yes!" But never before has the Question threatened to engulf our sensibilities as in 1987, the Year of Majestic 12. The Question: Is the Government of the United States hiding the remains of crashed alien spacecraft, and/or its occupants? If we are to believe the words allegedly written by Admiral Roscoe V. Hillenkoetter to President-elect Dwight Eisenhower, the Answer threatens to topple us from our perceived roost on the top of the Cosmic Ladder. The Answer, says William L. Moore and his associates, Stanton Friedman and Jaime Shandera, may be contained in a series of docu- ments and a body of research collectively known as Majestic-12, or MJ-12. The documents themselves are readily available for review from the Fund for UFO Research, and unless you've been hiding in the Ama- zon Jungle for the past nine months, you are most likely aware of their basic content, so I won't review it here. But I thought that a brief history of MJ-12 developments would be in order, followed in a subsequent article by some comments and observations that I hope will clarify for some the issues at hand. I first heard the words Majestic-12 in the Winter 1985 edition of JUST CAUSE, the journal of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy. In their article, they related that a California UFO researcher named Lee Graham had been shown a document (which later turned out to be the Eisenhower briefing, the "heart" of MJ-12), by someone he described as a military intelligence operative. He was allowed to examine the document briefly, in which time he was somehow able to memorize not only the date and basic contents, but the names of the Majestic-12 personnel. CAUS exhibited a cautious interest in the document, not willing to endorse what at that time could only be considered rumor. At the time he saw the document, Lee Graham had been research- ing another UFO "buzz-word", Project Aquarius, which had surfaced in a purported telex from the headquarters of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) to Kirtland AFB in New Mexico. The AFOSI telex spoke of analysis that had been performed on a series of UFO photographs taken during a spate of sightings at Kirtland in 1980, and seemed to conclude that at least a couple of the photos were "legitimate negatives of Unidentified Flying Objects." The second part of the document spoke of the results of "Project Aqua- rius," and of other covert government UFO investigations being hand- led by, guess who, MJ-12. The origin of this particular document is shrouded in almost as much controversy as the Eisenhower briefing. Dale Goudie of CUFON claims that it was his operatives who dug it up, and certainly it was his operatives who filed FOIA requests with AFOSI and with the National Security Agency on the keyword "Aquarius." These requests were successful in obtaining confirmation from the NSA that a Pro- ject Aquarius does indeed exist at that agency, but that release of ANY of its contents would pose an "extremely grave threat to the Na- tional Security." The agency denied that it had anything to do with UFOs, however. AFOSI, meanwhile, denied that there was an Aquarius in that office. William L. Moore also claims to be the one who unearthed the AFOSI telex. He says the inside source who passed it to him retyped it in order to mask his identity, since it was a classified docu- ment. He claims the document was stolen from his briefcase and some- how wound up in the hands of CAUS. There are a number of interesting things about this document: (1) It is the first known reference to either MJ-12 or Project Aqua- rius. (2) It is classified SECRET, yet references TOP SECRET and ABOVE TOP SECRET material, which is an absolute no-no under the rules of handling classified documents. It is for that reason that the document seems fraudulent at first blush; HOWEVER, (3) both Moore and Goudie claim that they were told to ignore the document itself and concentrate on its contents. (4) The document makes ref- erence to something called CR-44, something that was completely cryp- tic to UFO researchers at that time. Subsequent FOIA filings have revealed that CR-44 may be extremely significant to our understand- ing of government attitude toward the UFO subject. Collection Re- quirement 44-A is a classified order from AFOSI, requiring the col- lection of any intelligence relative to any conceivable security breach at nuclear facilities, both military and civilian. Kirtland AFB is a nuclear installation, and as we mentioned, was the object of numerous overflights by anomalous aerial phenomena back in 1980. Whoever drew up the AFOSI telex, bogus or bona fide, had direct know- ledge of a classified military requirement. In July of 1986, I sent a copy of the AFOSI telex to an Air Force officer with a high security clearance, and asked for his reactions. He telephoned me upon receipt of the document, and with what seemed a sense of urgency asked me where I had gotten the doc- ument. He indicated that, while some of it was definitely bogus, parts of it indicated that the individual responsible had access to classified military information. He promised to pass the telex on to AFOSI for their comments, which I already knew would be negative -- I had seen memoranda from HQ AFOSI that claimed the telex was bogus. I probably would not have paid much more attention to the document, were it not for the fact that my surprised Air Force contact was none other than Major James McGaha, co-founder of Tucson Skeptics and member of the UFO Subcommittee of CSICOP. (I should say at this point that I know the Major well, and any connection you may draw between his being in the Air Force and being a UFO debunker are completely unfounded.) Further, as a double check, I asked another Air Force retiree for his reactions, and was told that some of the scramble codes at the top of the document are real and would have been classified. Unfortunately this source prefers to remain anony- mous at this time. This brings us to 1987, and the events of this year are best summarized in a chronology. January -- in a conversation with Dr. Bruce Maccabee, I was told that "someone" was coming out with something so big, it would cause Phil Klass to "require a change of underwear." This was confirmed in a subsequent conversation with Bill Moore. I began to suspect MJ-12, and immediately put out the word on ParaNet to be on the lookout for "a major breakthrough." February -- I have dinner with Moore during one of his frequent vis- its to Phoenix. He is secretive by nature, and was even more so about what he had going, except to say that he was really only act- ing as a go-between, funneling the right information from the right sources to the right news media, and that an announcement would be made soon. As we left, I asked him, "Bill, if all goes according to plan, is this "The Big One?" The one we've waited for all these years?" His answer was a terse but confident "yes." March -- Rumors begin to fly left and right. The UFO grapevine be- comes rife with word that "Moore has flipped his lid," "The govern- ment has documents that deal with alien interference in our evolu- tion," "It has something to do with Christ and religion," etc. It becomes obvious that if there is anything going on, the spreading of rumors can only damage it. Feeling guilty that some of my specula- tions on ParaNet may have fueled the fire, I attempt to douse the flames by calling people and telling them that, whatever it is, Moore holds the cards, let him play them. The International UFO Reporter, journal of CUFOS, prints an article by Bruce Maccabee entitled, "What If They're Real?," in which he confirms that MJ-12 is at the center of the controversy. The article tells of a document found by Moore at the National Archives, which mentions MJ-12 and is addressed to one of its members. April -- An issue of Just Cause claims that Sen. John Glenn had received confirmation from the NSA that AFOSI maintains a "Project Aquarius." ParaNet receives a copy of the letter from the NSA to Sen. Glenn, and it is clear from the wording of the letter that the NSA Freedom of Information officer, Julia Wetzel, had simply become confused by all the FOIA requests, or perhaps was attempting to deflect further requests. In a call to Phil Klass, I learn that he has just returned from a skiing trip, and does not know much about MJ-12, except that Lee Graham had sent him something on it. Moore distributes the first round of documents, which contains the first three pages of the Eisenhower briefing, with key phrases and security markings blacked out. No immediate comment from Moore as to why it was done this way. May -- Phil Klass and Dale Goudie square off on Larry King Live. Klass calls the Aquarius telex and other documents a "hoax," and challenges Goudie to hold a press conference in Washington at his expense. Goudie declines on the air, but later accepts. June -- At the National UFO Conference in Burbank, Moore unveils the complete set of MJ-12 documents, including the controversial Cutler-to-Twining memo, which he claims to have come across in the National Archives in July of 1985 -- seven months after the Eisenhower Brief-ing was left on the doorstep of his associate, Jaime Shandera. Shandera himself conducts a dramatic question-and-answer session at the conference banquet,


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank