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The ‘Majestic 12’: A Secret UFO Committee, Or An Elaborate Hoax Created By A Disinformation Agent?

Conspiracy theories about the US government are nothing new, but some tend to have more staying power than others. Majestic 12, also known as "MJ-12" and "MAJIC," is just one of those conspiracies. The existence of Majestic 12 is said to have been first discovered by a television producer and ufologist in 1984, but MJ-12 allegedly dates back to the 1950s.

According to documents that have been released by the FBI, Majestic 12 was a group of top military personnel whose sole responsibility was to investigate UFO sightings and crashes. Since the release of the papers to the public in 1987, the existence of Majestic 12 has come to be widely believed by many UFO researchers and enthusiasts.

However, there are decades of evidence that call the authenticity of Majestic 12 into doubt. UFO experts, the FBI, and even a former Air Force special agent have stated that Majestic 12 is a complete hoax. Despite all the evidence that casts doubt on Majestic 12, it remains a hotly debated subject in the UFO community.

Below, we'll break down the timeline of Majestic 12's creation, discovery, and debunking.

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  • Television Producer Jaime Shandera Received A Mysterious Envelope Containing A Film Roll

    According to Jaime Shandera, he was at his home in Los Angeles reading an issue of Variety on December 11, 1984, when he heard a sound at the front door. It turned out to be a brown envelope someone had pushed through the mail slot. The envelope had a postmark from Albuquerque, NM, but there was no return address or indication of who it had come from.

    Upon opening the envelope, Shandera discovered a roll of undeveloped 35mm film. According to Shandera and his associates, this would be the beginning of the Majestic 12 investigation.

  • Shandera Thought The Film Came From Ufologist Bill Moore, But Moore Knew Nothing About It

    Although there was no name on the envelope, Shandera assumed it had been dropped off by his friend William (Bill) Moore. Moore was a well-known ufologist, and the two men were scheduled to have dinner together that evening. When Shandera showed Moore the roll of film, he told Shandera he had never seen it before.

    Moore and Shandera reportedly went to Moore's home, where Moore developed the black-and-white film. Moore had spent a good deal of his career researching the alleged UFO crash in Roswell, NM, and had even published a book in 1980 titled The Roswell Incident. As Moore began reviewing the photos, he realized there was a direct link between the photographed documents and his own research.

  • The Film Revealed Images Of Allegedly Classified Government Documents
    Photo: Truman Library / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Film Revealed Images Of Allegedly Classified Government Documents

    According to Shandera and Moore, the developed film revealed top-secret government documents, consisting of an eight-page memo dated November 18, 1952, for president-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower. The documents alleged the formation of a secret government agency called "Majestic 12," which consisted of 12 of the US's top military personnel. To top it off, the memo stated that Operation Majestic 12 had been commissioned by President Harry S. Truman on September 24, 1947.

    In addition to the famous Roswell crash, the documents also noted a second UFO crash near the US/Mexico border on December 6, 1950. It was to be Majestic 12's role to investigate these crashes, study the technology of the flying saucers, and plan for a potential alien invasion.

  • The Memo Gave Specifics Of The Roswell Crash
    Photo: University of Texas / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    The Memo Gave Specifics Of The Roswell Crash

    It seemed like no coincidence that the Majestic 12 documents fell into the hands of Moore, since they specifically noted the UFO crash in Roswell from 1947. The documents even noted that the government had recovered portions of a flying saucer, as well as four alien bodies at the crash site. Moore would later bring in fellow ufologist and Roswell investigator Stanton Friedman to assist in verifying the authenticity of the MJ-12 briefing.

    However, Shandera, Friedman, and Moore did not immediately go public with the documents. Instead, they spent approximately two-and-a-half years trying to verify or debunk the legitimacy of Majestic 12.

  • Moore Received A Cryptic Riddle In The Mail A Few Months Later

    Early on in his research of the MJ-12 papers, Moore claimed he received a strange postcard in the mail. The front of the postcard depicted an image from Ethiopia, but the postmark was from New Zealand. Like the envelope Shandera received, there was no return address. However, there was a cryptic message typed on the back of the postcard:

    Add zest to your trip to Washington
    Try Reeses pieces;
    For a stylish look
    try Suit Land

    Although Moore didn't understand the message, Friedman knew that top-secret Air Force documents were being flown to Suitland, MD, where they were being declassified and prepped for the National Archives.

  • Shandera And Moore Headed To Suitland To Comb Through Newly Declassified Files

    Moore and Shandera later claimed that over 100 boxes of top-secret government documents were being reviewed for declassification by the National Archives in July 1985. The men said they were able to gain access to the files and eventually came across a memo in its own box from July 14, 1954, that confirmed the existence of Majestic 12.

    The memo from one of President Eisenhower's aides to the USAF chief of staff read, "The President has decided that the MJ-12 SSP briefing should take place during the already scheduled White House meeting of July 16, rather than following it as previously intended."

    Although the memo appeared to provide independent verification of MJ-12, Moore and Shandera were still nearly two years away from revealing the full extent of their investigation.