Friday, September 06, 2019

Faked Documents - More than You'd Think

Normally I wouldn’t watch a Melissa McCarthy movie. I just don’t care for her because of some of the things and positions she had taken in her personal life. However, I was curious about her film, Can You Ever Forgive Me? This is the story of a one-time bestselling writer, Lee Israel, who fell on hard times and her attempts to pull herself up financially.

So, you’re asking yourself, “What in the hell does this have to do with UFOs?”


But it was what Lee Israel (McCarthy) did to earn money… She began to forge documents. And, when it seemed that these forgeries were questioned, she began to sell the real thing. She would go to libraries, archives, and museums that held, in their collections, the real documents, make notes about them including the fonts on the typewriters, the spacing, and other details. She would then recreate the document, go to the holder of the document, and switch them.

The National Archives - Hundreds of Thousands of Documents but Some Are Fake.
Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
The flaw in the security system was that they didn’t really examine the material being brought in but did check the material, the briefcases, purses or backpacks as the person left. She was quite successful, if you can call it success, in her attempts to acquire the documents and then to sell them. Of course, it all, eventually, fell apart.

Here’s the rub. It is estimated that over 400 fake documents, either copies or completely faked, are still held in various collections long after she was caught. Hundreds of fake documents that could be used in historical research, in writing biographies, in reconstructing real events based on alleged eyewitness testimony.

You might remember that I did review the movie Truth, about the documents that suggested President Bush had been less than candid about his Air Guard service. This episode ended up with the firing of a senior producer and eventually Dan Rather. You can read me take on that here:

In that movie, Truth, Mary Mapes, the senior producer fired because of the badly flawed story that CBS reported, said that someone would have had to understand the chain of command, the style of the documents being forged, and have inside information on how those things played out forty years earlier. Apparently, it never occurred to her, or Rather for that matter, that if someone had copies of the originals, they could easily create authentic sounding documents. By altering a line or two, now have a document that had an authentic feel to it and that would cast doubt (throw shade?) on President Bush. And someone who had served in the Texas Air Guard would probably have those sorts of documents in his personal file. (I have dozens of documents from my time in the military including flight and training records that are over 50 years old.)

The point here, reinforced by Can You Ever Forgive Me and Truth, is that you need a proper foundation for the acceptance of historical documents. It isn’t enough for them to appear in plain envelopes or given to you mysteriously without any provenance. Unless you can establish the history of the document, you are going to end up with fakes in your collection that are either created out of whole cloth or duplicated by someone with access to the original. Someone who might have slipped a line or two in, or for that matter, taken a line or two out, and you then have a flawed perception of reality.

And the point?

Can anyone say, “MJ-12.”


Unknown said...

The problem that always bugs me regarding the MJ-12 debacle, is that whenever an MJ-12 supporter is confronted with the evidence of it being an outright hoax they usually use the same cop out line such as "well the documents might be fake but there's no doubt an MJ-12 type group exists".

I also find it funny when the Majestic flavour spreads into other areas of the field, particularly ones of dubious credibility. Take the Lazar case, for example, back when that story hit the press Lazar was touting an ID badge he claimed was from his days at the supposed S4 base. Anyone who has seen the badge will know it has "MAJ" written on it, and I find it very interesting that back when Lazar's story came out MJ-12 was still all the rage in the field a and hadn't yet been shown to be such a hoax, but fastforward to today and none of Lazar's supporters will ever mention that badge.

Same thing with the infamous hand scanner which Lazars supporters claim he could not possibly known about unless his story was true. The only problem with that theory is that the very same hand scanner was in Close Encounters of the third kind years before Lazar came along.

Kevin, I have heard you say in the past that the Lazar story is in your grey basket because of George Knapp's credibility. Is this still the case? I also used to hold the same opinion but after seeing how much Knapp has lost his neutrality and objectivity in that case, I no longer believe a word of it. Along with the fact that Lazar's company United Nuclear has had several government contracts in the past. We have seen how the US government treats legitimate whistleblowers in the past and I cannot believe for one second they would go into business with the guy who blew the whistle on what would have to be the most highly classified secret to date.

Seeing George's behaviour throughout this AATIP saga has also opened my eyes. His treatment of John Greenewald has been at best disappointing and downright hypocritical. For a guy who champions journalism, he sure does hate anyone sniffing around asking questions about the subject, even when he magically pulls suspect documents out of his hat to support one of his buddies. Did he ever get back to you on the questions you asked him?

Woody said...

Nice comment, Unknown.
David Rudiak and Anthony Bragalia, both serious believers, compared to me, have commented in favour of some of my points, have even occasionally admitted the sheer mass of hoaxing and lying that litter some famous UFO cases. But Kevin Randle, in my experience of most of his writing, has started from that level. Never denying the friggin mountain of hoaxing and extra colourful reporting that litters Ufology. Instead he has approached the reader as a researcher who knows about this only too well but would still like us to know the reasons for his grand curiosity about some of the cases.
Thanks Kevin, as skeptical as I am, I'm also very curious.
All the best mate,


Paul Young said...

Unknown... The problem that always bugs me regarding the MJ-12 debacle, is that whenever an MJ-12 supporter is confronted with the evidence of it being an outright hoax they usually use the same cop out line such as "well the documents might be fake but there's no doubt an MJ-12 type group exists".

But if the general lore is correct, ie, the ETH is correct for some UFO cases and in 1947 the US government had, for the first time, irrefutable evidence (the recovered Roswell debris) then it would make absolute sense they would get a team together of highly rated people, from various fields, in order to investigate just what the world was up against and come up with some kind of strategy, going forward.
In short, an MJ12 kind of group would have been a must.
Every man and his dog point the finger at Bill Moore faking the documents but I personally think it more likely that it was a government disinformation exercise to help keep people off the trail of a very similarly named group. (which might also explain why Lazar had MAJ on his id card. )

As for Lazar, despite the really worrying sticking point with his story (at which university was he educated?) that's always been the only real hammer that his critics have used to hit him over the head with. I always wondered that maybe these top boffins had simply hit a brick wall in trying to figure out the propulsion system and decided that a fresh approach might be needed. Someone who can make a particle collider in his back yard and transform his car to be rocket powered might have been just the man they were looking for. Some of these guys from MIT and Cambridge, with PhD's dripping out their ears, might be able to work out the square root of a biscuit tin but not be able to open it.

Tom Whitmore said...

In reading the “Reference Report On MJ-12 (Revised), there is a reference to an acronym “NNMR” within section 10. Can anyone tell me what that stands for.