by Nick Redfern
The purpose of this report is to relate
the way in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) became
involved in the investigation of the Majestic 12 documents in the
late 1980s. The story is a strange and convoluted one and involves
the surveillance of U.S. citizens and authors, liaisons with the Air
Force (and possibly the CIA), and even allegations of Soviet
intelligence links to the story.
That the FBI has had involvement in the UFO subject is no secret: in
1976, the researcher (and author of the book The UFO-FBI Connection,
2000) Bruce Maccabee obtained via the Freedom of Information Act
more than one thousand pages of UFO-related files from the FBI that
dated back to 1947; and since then additional files have surfaced on
a variety of issues linked to the UFO controversy.
But what of the
FBI link to MJ12?
The first person to publicly air the original batch of two MJ12
documents - the so-called
Eisenhower Briefing Document and the
Truman Memorandum - was the British author Timothy Good, who did so
in May 1987 in his book
Above Top Secret.
Essentially, the first document is a
1952 briefing prepared by Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter for
President-elect Eisenhower, informing him that a UFO and alien
bodies had been recovered from the New Mexico desert in 1947. The
second is a 1947 memorandum from President Harry Truman to Secretary
of Defense James Forrestal (below image), authorizing the establishment of MJ12.
Shortly after Good's publication of the documents, additional copies
surfaced in the USA via the research team of Stanton Friedman (a
nuclear physicist), William Moore (the co-author of the book,
Roswell Incident) and Jaime Shandera (a
Moore had been working quietly with a number of intelligence
"insiders" who had contacted him shortly after publication of
Roswell Incident in 1980. From time to time various official-looking
papers would be passed onto Moore, the implication being that
someone in the U.S. Government, military or Intelligence Community
wished to make available information on UFOs that would otherwise
have remained forever outside of the public domain. It was as a
result of Moore's insider dealings that a roll of film negatives
displaying the documents was delivered in the mail to the home of Shandera in December 1984.
Moore, Friedman and Shandera worked carefully for two and a half
years in an attempt to determine the authenticity of the documents.
With Timothy Good's release, however, it was decided that the best
course of action was to follow suit. As a result, a huge controversy
was created that continues on fifteen years later.
But how and why did the FBI become embroiled in the MJ12 affair?
Howard Blum is an award-winning author and former
New York Times
journalist, twice nominated by the editors of that newspaper for the
Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting. In 1990, Blum's book
There was released, and detailed his
investigation of U.S. military and governmental involvement in the
According to Blum, on 4 June 1987, the
UFO skeptic, Philip J. Klass, wrote to William Baker, Assistant
Director at the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs.
enclosing what purport to be Top Secret/Eyes Only documents, which
have not been properly declassified, now being circulated by William
L. Moore, Burbank, California, 91505…"
The Bureau swung into action.
Jacques Vallee - the UFO author, investigator, and former principal
investigator on Department of Defense computer networking
projects-stated in his book
Revelations (1991) that the
FBI turned away from the MJ12 documents in "disgust" and professed
no interest in the matter.
Papers and comments made to me by the
FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, however,
reflect a totally different scenario. Furthermore, there are
indications that the FBI launched (or were at least involved in)
several MJ12-linked investigations during the late 1980s.
Of those investigations, one definitely began in the latter part of
1988. Howard Blum has stated that of those approached by the FBI "in
the fall of 1988", one was a "Working Group" established under the
auspices of the Defense Intelligence Agency tasked with looking at
the UFO problem. In 1990, Blum was interviewed by UFO Magazine (Vol.
5, No. 5), and was asked if the Working Group could have been a
"front" for another even more covert investigative body within the
U.S. government. Blum's response aptly sums up one of the major
problems faced by both those inside and outside of government when
trying to determine exactly who knows what.
"Interestingly," said Blum, "members of [the Working Group] aired
that possibility themselves. When looking into the MJ12 papers, some
members of the group said - and not in jest -
'Perhaps we're just a
front organization for some sort of MJ12. Suppose, in effect, we
conclude the MJ12 papers are phony, are counterfeit. Then we've solved the entire mystery for
the government, relieving them of the burden in dealing with it, and
at the same time, we allow the real secret to remain held by a
An FBI agent told me there are so many secret levels
within the government that even the government isn't aware of it!"
We also know that what was possibly a separate fall 1988
investigation was conducted by the FBI's Foreign
Counter-Intelligence division (which I have been advised operated
out of Washington and New York). Some input into the investigation
also came from the FBI office in Dallas, Texas (the involvement of
the latter confirmed to me by Oliver B. Revell, Special Agent in
Charge at Dallas FBI).
On 15 September 1988, an agent of the Air Force Office of Special
Investigations contacted Dallas FBI and supplied the Bureau with
another copy of the MJ12 papers. This set was obtained from a source
whose identity, according to documentation released to me by the
Bureau, AFOSI has deemed must remain classified to this day.
Before addressing the involvement of the FBI's Foreign
Counter-Intelligence division in this matter, let us focus our
attention on Dallas FBI. On 25 October 1988, the Dallas office
transmitted a two-page Secret Airtel to headquarters that read as
Enclosed for the Bureau is an envelope which contains a possible
classified document. Dallas notes that within the last six weeks,
there has been local publicity regarding 'OPERATION MAJESTIC-12'
with at least two appearances on a local radio talk show, discussing
the MAJESTIC-12 OPERATION, the individuals involved, and the
Government's attempt to keep it all secret.
It is unknown if this is all part of a
publicity campaign. [Censored] from OSI, advises that 'OPERATION
BLUE BOOK,' mentioned in the document on page 4 did exist. Dallas
realizes that the purported document is over 35 years old, but does
not know if it has been properly declassified. The Bureau is
requested to discern if the document is still classified. Dallas
will hold any investigation in abeyance until further direction from FBIHQ.
Partly as a result of the actions of the Dallas FBI Office and
partly as a result of the investigation undertaken by the FBI's
Foreign Counter-Intelligence people, on 30 November 1988 an arranged
meeting took place in Washington DC between agents of the Bureau and
those of AFOSI. If the AFOSI had information on MJ12, said the
Bureau, they would like to know.
A Secret communication back to the Dallas office from Washington on
2 December 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. There
can be no dispute that the Air Force has played a most strange game
with respect to MJ12.
The FBI was assured by AFOSI that
MJ12 papers were fabricated. However, Special Agent Frank Batten,
Jr., chief of the Information Release Division at the Investigative
Operations Center with the USAF, admitted to me on 30 April 1993
that AFOSI is not now maintaining (nor ever has maintained) any
records pertaining to either MJ12, or any investigation thereof.
This begs an important question. How was
AFOSI able to determine that the papers were faked if no
investigation on their part was undertaken? Batten has also advised
me that while AFOSI did "discuss" the MJ12 documents with the FBI,
incredibly they made absolutely no written reference to that meeting
in any shape or form. This is most odd: government and military
agencies are methodical when it comes to documenting possible
breaches of security.
Richard L. Weaver, formerly the Deputy for Security and
Investigative Programs with the U.S. Air Force (and the author of
the US Air Force's 1995 near-1000 page report, The Roswell Report:
Fact Vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert), advised me similarly on
12 October 1993.
"The Air Force considers the MJ12
(both the group described and the purported documents to be
bogus," stated Weaver.
He, too, conceded, however, that there
were "no documents responsive" to my request for Air Force files on
how just such a determination was reached. Stanton Friedman has also
stated that, based on his correspondence with Weaver on the issue of
MJ12, he too is dissatisfied with the responses that he received
after filing similar FOIA requests relating to the way in which the
Air Force made its 'bogus' determination.
Moreover, there is the fact that 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 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 MJ12, 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
If the Bureau learned anything further about MJ12 in the post-1989
period, then that information has not surfaced under the terms of
the Freedom of Information Act. Perhaps the Bureau, unable to get
satisfactory answers from the military and the intelligence
community, simply gave up the chase; I do not know.
I do know, thanks to Richard L. Huff,
Bureau Co-Director within the Office of Information and Privacy,
that MJ12 remains the subject of an FBI headquarters Main File that
is titled "Espionage." Today that file is in "closed status." But
why would the MJ12 documents be linked with a FBI HQ Main File
titled "Espionage?" It is here that we have to turn our attention to
the FBI's Foreign Counter-Intelligence division.
Some of the information related above was published in my book The
FBI Files. As is often the case with published authors, people who
read their books will contact them with information based on the
material contained within the pages of the book. In the wake of the
publication of The FBI Files, I was contacted by a man about whom I
will say little.
I will say that he offered that he had
formerly served with the FBI in the time period that the FBI was
investigating MJ12 and had knowledge of the Bureau's interest in the
MJ12 documents. He also supplied information that convinced me that
he was genuine. According to the man, the FBI had actually been
aware of the intricacies of the MJ12 saga for some two years before
Timothy Good published the documents in Above Top Secret.
However, I was advised, the
investigation was intensified after the documents were publicized in
the U.S. I was further told that initially there was a fear on the
part of the Air Force and the FBI's Foreign Counter-Intelligence
people that the MJ12 papers had been fabricated by Soviet
intelligence personnel who intended using them as "bait."
That bait was to be used on U.S. citizens who had a personal
interest in UFOs but who were also working on sensitive
defense-related projects - including the Stealth fighter. The hope
on the part of the Soviets, it was suspected by the FBI and AFOSI,
was that by offering the MJ12 papers to those targeted sources
within the U.S. defense industry, the Soviets would receive
something of value of a defense nature in return.
The man was unsure precisely how the
investigation concluded. He did know, however, that no charges were
brought against anyone. This is an ingenious scenario but it must be
stressed that my source reiterated that the Soviet theory was simply
that - a theory and nothing more. It was, he said, one of several
avenues being actively pursued by the FBI at the time - including
the possibility that the MJ12 documents had been created as
disinformation by the US Government to hide to facts concerning
secret experimentation undertaken by the US in the immediate
A similar comment to that of my source
as it related to the Soviets was made by Gerald Haines, historian of
the National Reconnaissance Office, in his controversial paper,
"CIA's Role in the Study of UFOs: 1947-1990."
In a section of the report dealing with CIA involvement in UFO
investigations in the 1980s, Haines commented that:
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
It should also be noted that the Haines paper claims that no
original MJ12 documents were known to exist; however, he neglects to
reference the so-called
Cutler-Twining memorandum that Moore and Shandera located in the National Archives.
There is further evidence, too, that the FBI has in its archives
more information pertaining to MJ12 than has surfaced into the
public domain thus far. On 16 November 1988, the UFO researcher
Larry Bryant wrote to Ms. Hope Nakamura of the Center for National
Security Studies and advised her that in a then-recent conversation
with William Moore, he had been informed of Moore's efforts to
secure the release of the FBI's file on him. The bulk of the FBI's
dossier on Moore (which amounted to no less than fifty-five pages)
was being withheld for reasons directly affecting the national
security of the United States of America.
Bryant went on to explain that Moore was attempting to find legal
assistance in challenging the nondisclosure of the majority of the
FBI's file. In a determined effort to lend assistance to Moore,
Bryant drafted a lengthy and detailed advertisement that he proposed
submitting to a number of military newspapers for future
Titled UFO SECRECY/CONGRESS-WATCH, the ad specifically addressed the
eye-opening fact that the Bureau's file on Moore was classified at
no less than Secret level, and that at least one other (unnamed)
U.S. government agency was also keeping tabs on Moore and his UFO
pursuits. In particular those pursuits relating to certain
"whistle-blower testimony" which Moore had acquired from a variety
of sources within the American military and government.
Courageously, Bryant signed off urging
those reading the advertisement to contact their local congressman
and to press for nothing less than a full-scale inquiry into the
issue of UFOs.
Bryant's advertisement was ultimately published (in the 23 November
1988 issue of The Pentagram, a publication of the U.S. Army); yet as
spirited as it was, it failed to force the FBI to relinquish its
files on Moore. By 1993, the FBI's dossier on Moore (which was
classified at Secret level) was running at sixty-one pages, of which
Moore had succeeded in gaining access to a mere six.
In 1989, Bryant, mindful of the FBI's surveillance of William Moore,
attempted to force the Bureau to release any or all records on
On 2 August of that year, Bryant received the
following response from Richard L. Huff.
"Mr. Friedman is the subject of one
Headquarters main file. This file is classified in its entirety
and I am affirming the denial of access to it."
Bryant's efforts on Friedman's behalf
came after he (Friedman) had filed FOIA requests with both the
Bureau and the CIA. The response from the CIA was that it had no
responsive files - except for a 'negative' name check from the FBI,
who subsequently refused to reveal details of either the size of the
file or its security classification.
On 28 August 1989, Bryant filed suit in the District Court for the
Eastern District of Columbia. "My complaint," explained Bryant,
"seeks full disclosure of the
UFO-related content of the FBI dossier on Stan Friedman. Neither
Stan not I have been able to convince the U.S. Federal Bureau of
Investigation to loosen its grasp on that dossier, which Bureau
officials assert bears a security classification."
Fortunately, in Friedman's case, a
"small portion" of the FBI's file pertaining to him was eventually
released (on 13 November 1989) as a result of Bryant's actions. The
remainder of the FBI file on Friedman has never surfaced.
What are we to make of all this? Consider the following.
conducted several investigations of MJ12 (via its Dallas Office; its
Headquarters at Washington, DC; and its Foreign Counter-Intelligence
division). It had close liaison with the Air Force Office of Special
Investigations on an MJ12-related operation that may have also
involved the CIA in an attempt to crack a Soviet intelligence
operation that may or may not have existed.
And the fact that the Bureau holds an
extensive Secret file on William Moore (co-author of the first book
on the Roswell crash and a key figure in the MJ12 saga) and a file
of unknown size and classification on Stanton Friedman is more than
notable. It also suggests that more information currently exist in
the archives of the FBI on MJ12 than has been declassified thus far.
Whether or not the FBI was ever fully
satisfied by its investigations into the murky world of MJ12 and
with what it was told by the AFOSI is debatable, however. The final
word I will leave to one of Howard Blum's FBI sources:
finding out is that the government doesn't know what it knows. There
are too many secret levels."