Saturday, September 01, 2007

MJ-12 is DEAD

Back a decade or more, I was collecting video-taped testimony from Roswell witnesses for the Fund for UFO Research’s oral history project. I was in California with Stan Friedman and we, quite naturally, began to discuss MJ-12. I had heard from a couple of people that Bill Moore, one of those who released the MJ-12 documents into the public arena in 1987, had been talking about creating a "Roswell" document to try to shake things loose.

Moore, I had heard, thought he had taken the investigation as far as he could without some sort of revelation or dramatic discovery. The plan was to put out a document that would closely mirror the situation in 1947 and force those involved in the cover up to reveal part of it as they attempted to learn who knew what and how much of it they knew.*

Friedman confirmed that it was true. Bill Moore had told him the same thing. But when the MJ-12 documents surfaced, Frriedman thought nothing of that conversation and the fact that the documents had not gone to Moore but to an unknown film producer whose only tie to the UFO community seemed to be Bill Moore.

Barry Greenwood had heard the same thing and reported in his Just Cause newsletter of September 1989, on page 10, "After Moore released the first wave of MJ-12 documents in 1987, CAUS [Citizens Against UFO Secrecy], and particularly Larry Fawcett, spoke to Moore about cooperation in researching the story in the form of filing FOIA requests, etc. as an effort to flesh out information. Moore rejected the offer, adding that he wanted to ‘put bread on my table.’"

In the late 1980s, as I was beginning my research into the Roswell case, Warren Smith (seen here), a writer living in Clinton, Iowa called me and said that he had just learned of MJ-12. I believe he had a copy of the MUFON Journal that had an article about MJ-12. Smith told me that he knew something more about the Del Rio crash of 1950, which was mentioned as part of the Eisenhower Briefing paper dated November 18, 1952 and was the major piece of MJ-12 documentation available at that time.

Smith’s story was that he had been installing and upgrading linotype machines somewhere and one of the men he worked with had a wife who was visiting a "dude" ranch in southern Texas. The man was getting daily letters from his wife. They took a weird slant when she mentioned that the cowboys had seen something strange crash and that the military had come in to recover it.

If this story was true, then it would be a nice piece of corroboration for the Eisenhower Briefing document. Smith said that he could get the letters, but never did. Later I learned that Smith had a habit of inventing things like this (He once tried to interest a friend in creating the Ted Bundy diaries). I couldn’t trust anything he had said and it meant that this corroboration did not exist.

There were other, major problems with all the MJ-12 documents as well. Stan Friedman sent copies to a questioned document expert, Peter Tytell. Tytell analyzed them and concluded they were faked. He pointed to the signature on the Truman Memo which was part of the Eisenhower Briefing and said that it was uncharacteristically low on the page. Truman habitually signed with the top of the "T" on Truman reaching into and touching the text of the letter. That it did not on the memo in and of itself didn’t prove it was faked but it sure suggested it.

The proof was on the "T" on Truman. According to Tytell, there was evidence that the top stroke on the "T" had been altered. That was definitive proof that the memo was a fake.

And, if that wasn’t enough, the signature on the memo matched, exactly, another signature on an authentic document. To Tytell, as well as other experts, this exact match proved the document to be faked.

Tytell also said that the typeface on the documents was from a typewriter that didn’t exist at the time the document was supposedly written. To him it was another proof that these documents were faked.

Yes, I know that Friedman has said that other experts said the typewriter did exist, but he has offered no proof of this and has not identified these experts. Yes, I know that Robert and Ryan Wood have found pictures of Truman using an automatic writer so they suggest the exact match isn’t a disqualification on the Truman Memo, but frankly, they’d need to find a third document to show that Truman used it to sign the memo, and they have not. And yes, I know Friedman (seen here) has little to say about Tytell and demands we produce a signed assessment by Tytell knowing full well that Tytell refuses to do so until someone pays his fee. If I had a couple of grand laying around, I’d do it myself.

To make it worse, if that is possible, we now know that Bill Moore was discussing the dates and data that appear in the first of the MJ-12 documents with Bob Pratt and talking about MJ-12 two years before he, or rather Shandera received the 35 mm film with the Eisenhower briefing on it. Moore, according to the notes now available as an example, said to Pratt:

Well, that was '53... fully 11 months after the Robertson Panel, and there were all sorts of doings and goings on between the CIA and the NSC where the CIA was attempting to - it's not clear which way it was going, whether the NSC was attempting to get the CIA to take over things or whether it was vice versa. I've never been quite clear, on who was trying to influence whom, but if you read that message it is very confusing. And especially when a lot of those documents make reference to attachments which aren't there. So I have just sort of conjectured that the NSC got control of it at the point in time where Truman was ending his administration and Eisenhower was beginning his. If you stop and think about the point in time of the Robertson Panel, it happened just on that transition phase. See, Truman had not run for reelection in '52, in November. Eisenhower wins and takes office in January, January 20, and you've got the Robertson Panel deliberating in there, and it could .well be that somebody was trying to determine how to go on with the change in administrations, which would have presented a problem for that sort of a thing, especially if it had gotten highly developed and the decision had already been made that this has got to be kept locked tighter than a drum. How then to deal with it with an incoming president whose reaction is not certain. And that's a point that nobody's ever brought up that I've heard in discussion. Nobody's ever noticed that that date is a very interesting.
And one of the biggest problems for these documents is that there is no provenance for them. The trail leads to Bill Moore and Jaime Shandera and ends there. No authentic documents mentioning MJ-12 has ever been found. None of the men mentioned left personal papers that contained a reference to MJ-12 and that suggests there are none because lots of people have spent lots of time looking for just that sort of a reference.

The final and probably fatal blow to all this is the paper Brad Sparks delivered at the most recent MUFON conference. In it Brad traces the history of MJ-12, in its first incarnation as a novel to be written by Bill Moore, a Air Force OSI agent named Richard Doty, and former National Enquirer UFO reporter Bob Pratt. Quite a bit of the MJ-12 stuff surfaces in that novel. And yes, I know the excuse will be that they thought a novel was the best way to publish the information about MJ-12. A nonfiction book would have required sources and footnotes and evidence, something they didn’t want to have to produce. And, more importantly, after all these years, have failed to produce.

Using the information from Pratt’s personal notes ( a sample of which was quoted earlier), interviews with various researchers, Sparks, along with Barry Greenwood, conclude that MJ-12 is a hoax. Sparks believes it was a sanctioned disinformation campaign by the AFOSI with Moore and Shandera as the willing participants, or maybe the unwilling dupes. The evidence leads clearly to hoax regardless of the spin put on it or the reason for its creation.

Sparks points out that this report is the most heavily footnoted article to ever appear in The MUFON Symposium Proceedings. It contains facsimiles of many of the documents and it outlines the evidence clearly and concisely. It should drive the final stake through the heart of MJ-12, but nothing in UFO research ever sinks completely. There are always those who will attempt to resurrect it by claiming that was a disinformation campaign that contains some "real" information. All we have to do is figure what is real and what is fake.

But disinformation implies that it was an official operation of some kind and in this case the overseeing agency is AFOSI, at least to Spark’s way of thinking. I’m not sure it was a sanctioned mission and it might have been more of Doty seeing a gravy train and leaping aboard with his buddy Bill Moore than it was any kind of planned AFOSI operation. At this point, it really doesn’t matter because in either case, the conclusion of hoax is the important one. Government disinformation or opportunism by Doty and Moore makes no difference in the end. They both lead to hoax.

You can read the Spark’s paper or download both the paper and the supporting documents here:

For those interested, I have copies of my book Case MJ-12, available, which is a long analysis of some of this history. It would make a nice companion to the Sparks and Greenwood analysis of MJ-12...

For ten bucks, which includes the shipping and handling (and a little bit of a discount on the cover price), I’ll send along a copy. Write to me at:

Kevin D. Randle
PO Box 10934
Cedar Rapids, IA 52410

*I believe the attempt failed because those running the cover up were smart enough to realize that the document had nothing to do with reality and that it contained information that was just flat out wrong. It didn’t conform to the standards of the time and date used by the military, contained misspellings and it contained nothing extraordinary. It did, however, interest the media for a while, but they quickly gave up when they could find no corroboration for the document and that many of the mistakes were noticed. In the end, MJ-12 has damaged th hunt for the truth.


C. Conrad said...

Friedman will never admit that the MJ-12 hypothesis has been destroyed. I hate to say this, but frankly, it is because it is his cash cow. He makes quite a lot of money from his speaking engagements, and never fails to introduce himself as "Nuclear Physicist Stanton Friedman" in any interview or publication, which just sounds like big-noting.

Now, if Friedman had to admit that his project of the last, what, 20 years (?) has been worthless (as a sincere scientific researcher really would in the face of evidence destroying an hypothesis) what would he be left with, in terms of his research? Not much. He'd have to start from scratch. It is very difficult for any human being, no matter how ethically sound, to admit that a cherished theory or belief is wrong, and let it go. I think Colin Wilson noted this, he called it "The Right Man Theory". EST also touched on it, noting that people would "rather be right than happy." But that is deadly in Science.

Mr Friedman has made a lot of intelligent and insightful contributions to the UFO research field over the years, but it is sad to say that he has been pretty much without any credibility over the last few, AFAIC. Because of the MJ-12 debacle.

At the risk of sounding like a crackpot conspiracy theorist, the MJ-12 story seems to have been a classic piece of disinformation seeded by someone or several someones to basically undermine the UFO research movement. Either that, or it was simply a hoax designed to attract attention for its own sake, or those who could gain limelight from pursuing it.

It largely succeeded in waylaying many, along with all the other tosh that happened during the 90's (Santilli, I'm looking at you). We're in a bad way.

But let's look at the bright side: the core reality of the phenomenon remains, beneath the obscuring dross. Therefore, it will necessarily produce new data that will be worth pursuing.

All this shows is that rigorous scientific approach to the field is absolutely vital. IMHO, there must be a set of qualifications established for researchers that will be recognized within the field and without, by academics and laypeople alike; that's what we lack, and that's why any old loony can up and self-publish a book or create a web page and call themselves a 'bona fide' UFO researcher.

Real researchers must keep plugging away, unperturbed by the negatives, and, if possible, avoid the temptations of media exposure until such time as they have unequivocal data, not just supposition and colourful theories.

Mark said...

If anyone would like a copy of Stan Friedman's 1960s vintage resume, wherein lie his credentials to assume the mantel of "nuclear physicist," let me know. It makes for interesting reading to see how long he held the job.

Jeremy said...

I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that if Friedman still clings to MJ-12 it isn't because this is his gravy train, it's because it's been such a huge part of his life and the very thing he's been debating in favor of for so long that to give it up is paradigm-shattering for him.

If you defended something your whole life and it turned out you were wrong, what would that do to you? What was your life about? What does it say about your field of interest?

What's shocking to me is that Friedman knew Bill Moore had said that he wanted to forge documents to shake things up, then ended up with these MJ-12 documents and Friedman thought nothing of it. How. Is. That. POSSIBLE????

And just as an aside, Richard Doty needs to leave the planet. Go to Serpo or something. The fact that he's still a "player" in ufology means that ufology is a joke.

This sucks. What are we doing? Really? Why do we bother?

Bob Koford said...

I'm not sure if I can be clear enough about this, but here goes:

First of all, all of these "anti-mj12/anti-Friedman" comments seem to be based on the same 3 or 4 documents, when in reality, the so-called majestic documents are comprised of several.

What IS interesting about a few of them, such as the IPU report, for instance, is the knowledge of things not known, to very many people anyway, that are in a few. It shows that, in at least the few, knowledgable individuals put them together, who had access to certain pieces of historical information on secret government activities. They had the proper names, dates, etc., which took a lot of checking up on, historically (at least it did for me) to verify. It paints it to be either official government set-up, or just simply, authentic. The accuracy of the details of some of the documents is intriguing, such as knowing about certain official units or organizations that are accurate for the day. In some cases they are particularly alone within the data field, which is itself strewn about with shredded bits of truth, as it is. To have certain very little known facts being presented properly, no matter how one wants to feel about it, must be, at least, considered, as all of the pertinent facts are being assessed.


To continually jump on ANY bandwagon, on any subject, and use it to attack other researchers, instead of listing the important facts and differences, side-by-side, clearly, and leaving it at that, is the mistake being made here...and a deviceive and hurtful one at that.

valiens said...

Bob, is it not disconcerting to say the least that Moore said he was going to forge documents about Roswell to shake things up and then came forward with documents as he described only "real?"

Seriously, I'd never heard that before and with it that Friedman (or Randal) had heard this. If I had heard this in the 80s I would never have bothered putting any stock into the MJ-12 thing.

Shame on all of you who knew this and didn't make this THE ISSUE about MJ-12 back then, let alone now, decades later. You've got to be kidding me.

KRandle said...

Hello All -

Let's understand one thing here. There are now something like 4000 pages of documents that relate to MJ-12. Stan Friedman, in his research, has shown that some of these documents are actual, historic documents that have been retyped by the forgers, who add an MJ-12 comment or two and then release the new version into the public arena. What this does is remove the need for vast historic research. We end up with authentic sounding documents that contain obscure references and that suggests either a government conspiracy or someone who has done a great deal of research. It actually means neither of these things. Stan actually found an obscure letter that had been reproduced in a book that made some of these references. It was a retype and those interested should look at some of this work.

My second point here is the complaint that no one had released the information that Moore had talked about creating an MJ-12 document before now. This simply is not true. I did a paper for the Fund for UFO Research in which I mentioned that. It appeared in the mid-1990s. There are other references to it in other places.

What it boils down to is this. Of the hundreds of documents that have been released, the source documents have been found. That is, the real letters and papers on which the fakes are based have been identified. And, we know that Bill Moore, Bob Pratt and Richard Doty were woring on a novel about MJ-12 prior to the documents being mailed to Shandera. We know that Moore talked of creating a document to shake things loose.

I have written an entire book looking at this. Stan has written an entire book looking at this. Ryan Wood has included in his book some of the arguments for authenticity.

In the end, without provenance, without any link directly to authentic documents, we are left with little room to wiggle. Unleass something changes, the only logical conclusion is that MJ-12 is a hoax.


CDA said...

Yes I certainly agree that MJ-12 is a fake. I first said so soon after the 3 original papers appeared 20 years ago.

Now, when will you admit that the "Unholy 13" is, or was, also a non-existent committee? I am still unclear who first used this term. Was it General Exon or yourself?
And why this strange designation? I still suspect it was based on Exon being tipped off, by Stan Friedman, about MJ-12, and the fact that Walter Bedell Smith was in effect the 13th man (as Stan has said). I concede that some of the names on "Unholy 13" differ from those on MJ-12 but there were a few on both, if Exon is to be believed.

Finally, where are the documents produced by the Unholy 13 group? It is asking far too much to believe that none have ever surfaced. There must be mountains of them. Where are they, and why did the GAO not locate a single one?

I submit that the "Unholy 13" is as fictitious as MJ-12.


KRandle said...

Good Morning, CDA -

Exon was the one who first used the term and I believe it was just a name he invented for those at the top who would have had something to do with the investigation of the Roswell debris. He never supplied 13 names, in some cases only said that top intelligence officials, or top government officials were involved.

Stuart Symington caught me by surprise because I had only heard of him as a senator. That he was the Undersecretary for Air put him into the chain of command in 1947, above the top military leaders and below the Secretary for War. That had to come from his understanding and not from anything that Friedman might have said.

I personally don't believe that Friedman or MJ-12 fed into Exon's claims, although both ere out there to be found if someone wanted to. MJ-12 was certainly big news for a while with the New York Tims and Nightline covering it. So, Exon could have heard about it.

I also don't believe that Exon, in using the name, was talking about a specific group like MJ-12, but sort of a loose confederation of offices and people who were interested in the crash and wanted to determine what it was.

The important point of this was that Exon, who was who he said he was, who retired as a general officer, who had some contact with the UFO investigations in his capacity of base commander, named people who he said were involved and some of them didn't match MJ-12.

So, the Unholy 13 is a name that Exon came up with for this group and I think it was just a term he had used as a military officer when talking about groups who either had no official name or who had one but seemed to be operating outside the best interests of everyone else. So, yes, there was no "Unholy 13" as an official group, but this does not negate what Exon said... Maybe he just didn't know what it was called, he only knew that it existed and who some of the members were.

starman said...

I think Brad Sparks is right on target. I've long thought that MJ12 was government disinformation, put out with the help of Moore. But what was the specific purpose of this disinformation? What was it intended to achieve? I think it's obvious...

starman said...

Btw, Friedman stands by the authenticity of MJ12 to this day, judging on an email he just sent. Schmitt accused Randle of being a government agent. I wonder if FRIEDMAN is. After all, if the "briefing document" was government disinformation, wouldn't it serve the government's purpose if it had a strong, persistent advocate?

TLC said...

Forget MJ-12... A better discussion would be the "Pentacle Memorandum."