Jul 24, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Strange Controversy of the "Majestic 12" Documents: Spies, Secret-Agents and Espionage

The highly controversial Majestic 12 documents - that surfaced in 1987 - kept untold numbers of ufologists excited for years. Supposedly, throughout the Cold War, the alleged elite group hid the dead bodies and "crashed UFO" from Roswell. Frankly, I think the documents are garbage. But, someone wanted those papers in the public domain. Perhaps, U.S. Intelligence, who wanted to screw with the minds of the Russians. Or, maybe, it was a case of the exact opposite: that the Majestic 12 documents were created by the Russians to play with the minds of the U.S. government. There actually is some evidence for the latter scenario, as we will see. On November 30, 1988 there was a rendezvous between personnel from the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations and the FBI. The location for this almost unique meeting was Washington, D.C. If the AFOSI had information on Majestic 12, said the Bureau, they would definitely like to know. And, please, quickly.

A previously Secret communication back to the Dallas office from Washington on December 2, 1988 read: “This communication is classified Secret in its entirety. Reference Dallas Airtel dated October 25 1988. Reference Airtel requested that FBIHQ determine if the document enclosed by referenced Airtel was classified or not. The Office of Special Investigations, US Air Force, advised on November 30, 1988, that the document was fabricated. Copies of that document have been distributed to various parts of the United States. The document is completely bogus. Dallas is to close captioned investigation.” At first glance, that would seem to lay matters to rest, once and for all. Unfortunately, it does not. It only serves to make things even more confusing and mysterious. 

(Nick Redfern) In this story, it all comes down to Roswell...one way or another

There’s no doubt that the Air Force played a most strange game with respect to the Majestic 12 documents. The FBI was assured by the AFOSI that the papers were fabricated; however, Special Agent Frank Batten, Jr., chief of the Information Release Division at the Investigative Operations Center with the USAF, confirmed to me that AFOSI has never maintained any records pertaining to either Majestic 12, or any investigation thereof. This begs an important question: how was the AFOSI able to determine that the papers were faked if no investigation on their part was undertaken? Batten also advised me that while the AFOSI did "discuss" the Majestic 12 documents with the FBI, they made absolutely no written reference to that meeting in any shape or form. This is most odd and unusual: government and military agencies are methodical when it comes to documenting possible breaches of security. Arguably, this case should have been no different. Apparently, though, it was.

Moreover, there is the matter that  the AFOSI informed the FBI that, “copies of that document have been distributed to various parts of the United States.” To make such a statement AFOSI simply must have conducted at least some form of investigation or have been in receipt of data from yet another agency. On the other hand, if AFOSI truly did not undertake any such investigation into Majestic 12, then its statement to the FBI decrying the value of the documents is essentially worthless, since it is based on personal opinion rather than sound evaluation. We aren’t quite done with those documents and the FBI. There’s the astounding theory that one arm of the FBI – the Counterintelligence division – came up with; that the Majestic 12 papers were the work of Russian intelligence agents.

Howard Blum (in his fascinating book, Out There) suggested the FBI’s reasoning for suspecting the Russians might have been at the heart of the Majestic 12 debate revolved around “muddying the waters, creating dissension, spreading paranoia in the ranks – those were all the day-in, day-out jobs of the ruthless operation.” Soviet revenge against U.S. Intelligence for having spun their own UFO-themed operations during the Cold War. Directly connected to the Soviet theory is the fact that, as U.S. Intelligence learned to its consternation during both the 1970s and the 1980s, a number of unnamed UFO researchers and writers, with important links to the U.S. defense industry, had been compromised by Soviet agents. It went like this: those saucer-seekers who worked in the world of defense, and who had been caught tightly in a Kremlin web, would secretly provide the Russians with top secret data on the likes of the F-117 Nighthawk “stealth fighter” and the B-2 Spirit “stealth bomber” - which, at the time, were still highly classified and in test-stage out at the likes of Area 51. 

(Nick Redfern)

In return, the Russians would provide those same American UFO researchers with sensational documents on crashed UFOs and dead aliens. The plan that Moscow had in mind was for the Russians to get their eager hands on real top secret U.S. documents that could be used to advance Russian military aviation programs; but those hapless UFO investigators would receive nothing but faked garbage from their Soviet handlers, such as – you’ve got it - the Majestic 12 documents. Maybe, even the controversial Marilyn Monroe-UFO document, too. It’s important to note there is evidence to support this 1970s/1980s “dangling carrot” theory, in relation to the Majestic 12 documents and the Russians, as we’ll now see. In 1999, Gerald K. Haines – in his position as the historian of the National Reconnaissance Office - wrote a paper titled “CIA’s Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90.” It’s now in the public domain, as a result of FOIA rules. Haines’ paper largely detailed the history of how, and why, the CIA became interested and involved in the phenomenon of UFOs. Although Haines covered a period of more than forty years, I’ll bring your attention to one particular section of his paper, which is focused on the 1970s-1980s. Haines wrote: 

“During the late 1970s and 1980s, the Agency continued its low-key interest in UFOs and UFO sightings. While most scientists now dismissed flying saucers reports as a quaint part of the 1950s and 1960s, some in the Agency and in the Intelligence Community shifted their interest to studying parapsychology and psychic phenomena associated with UFO sightings. CIA officials also looked at the UFO problem to determine what UFO sightings might tell them about Soviet progress in rockets and missiles and reviewed its counterintelligence aspects.” The Soviets, then, were masking their secret, chemical- rocket tests by spreading false and fantastic tales of aliens and Flying Saucers. Haines also noted something that is absolutely key to the story this articletells, and particularly so with regard to the Majestic 12 papers and the Speriglio document: “Agency analysts from the Life Science Division of OSI and OSWR officially devoted a small amount of their time to issues relating to UFOs. These included counterintelligence concerns that the Soviets and the KGB were using U.S. citizens and UFO groups to obtain information on sensitive U.S. weapons development programs (such as the Stealth aircraft), the vulnerability of the U.S. air-defense network to penetration by foreign missiles mimicking UFOs, and evidence of Soviet advanced technology associated with UFO sightings."

If the combined intelligence community found anything more about Majestic 12 documents in the late 1980s then it is yet to appear under the FOIA. We do know something of deep interest though, thanks to a man named Richard L. Huff. He served as Bureau Co-Director within the Office of Information and Privacy. In correspondence with him, Huff informed me of the existence of an FBI “Main File” on Majestic 12, now in what is termed “closed status.” The title of the file is not something along the lines of “Potentially leaked document” “Hoaxed document;” or “Questionable document,” as one might imagine, given the strange story that is detailed in this chapter. Rather, the file title is nothing less than – wait for it – “Espionage.” While we’re admittedly forced to speculate, that one, eye-opening word alone strongly suggests that the Majestic 12 saga really did revolve around those very same components that surface in the pages of this chapter: spies, counterintelligence operations, the words of Gerald K. Haines, and the interference of the Russians. And espionage. This tells us that even if the Majestic 12 documents were hoaxed, there was a connection between the papers and secret programs that involved espionage-based operations of both the United States and Russia. No wonder U.S. intelligence was looking for everything they could on Majestic 12.    

(Nick Redfern) Even that Marilyn Monroe "UFO document" turned up in the Majestic 12 documents (see above)

Now, things get really bizarre: in 2014, there was yet another development in the controversy surrounding Majestic 12. The U.S. Department of Defense declassified a previously top secret file on what was known during the Cold War as Project Pandora. To a significant degree, the program was focused on Cold War secrets of the Russians, and how microwaves can affect the mind and body to dangerous, harmful degrees. It’s a fascinating dossier that dates back decades. It’s a lengthy file, too, running to nearly 500 pages, and is comprised of a number of notable documents. But, here’s the weird thing, the Pandora document contains a copy of the controversial Majestic 12 documents on the Roswell UFO crash of 1947. Of interest, the copy of the document in the Pandora file has a hand-written note on it stating that: “This cannot be authenticated as an official DoD document.”

Logic suggests that the message was probably written around the end of 1988, which is when both the Air Force and the FBI were busily adding near-identical messages to their copies of the Majestic 12 documents. Exopaedia notes of the Pandora program that, in the early 1960s, “…the CIA discovered that the U.S. embassy in Moscow was ‘bombarded’ with EMR (electromagnetic radiation). The signal was composed of several frequencies. The Pandora Project was intended to investigate and gather data on this Russian experiment. The embassy personnel was not informed of the existence of the beam, or of the Pandora project.” Exopaedia continues that, “the signal was intended to produce blurred vision and loss of mental concentration. Investigation on the effects on the embassy personnel, however, showed that they developed blood composition anomalies and unusual chromosome counts. Some people even developed a leukemia-like blood disease.” 

So, what we have here is a file on a program - Pandora - that dates back to the early 1960s and which was focused on major U.S. government concerns that the Soviets were up to no good – as was clearly the case. But, even so, that still does not provide the answer to an important question: why is a very controversial and questionable document on dead aliens and crashed UFOs contained in a U.S. Department of Defense file on an old, Cold War-era operation instigated by the Russians? The Majestic 12 mystery continues.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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