Stanton Friedman

Kevin D. Randle’s
Book Cover  


The reality of Operation Majestic 12 (MAJIC 12 or MJ-12), and the highly classified documents associated with it, has been a disputed question in ufology for more than eighteen years. Books and papers have been written. Claims have been made that everyone knows the documents were fraudulent, or that no ufologist besides me accepts that there was such an organization set up to deal with crashed saucers by President Truman and that the original three documents are genuine. These are the Eisenhower Briefing Document (EBD) dated November 18, 1952, the Truman-Forrestal memo (TF) dated September 24, 1947, and the Cutler-Twining (CT) memo of June 14, 1954. I don’t think anybody else has spent as much effort trying to determine the legitimacy of the MJ-12 documents as I have; hence this review.

For the average person with an interest in conspiracies and UFOs, Randle’s book would at first appear to be the definitive work on the subject. He concludes that, while there was a crashed saucer retrieved near Roswell, New Mexico, in July, 1947, and that there must have been some sort of oversight committee established to deal with it, that all the MJ-12 documents are frauds and that there was no Operation Majestic 12. These findings are consistent with past articles and viewpoints that he has published. The cover gives a subtitle of “The True Story Behind the Government’s UFO Conspiracies.” There is a big “TOP SECRET” in red, and a yellow-on-black “RECENTLY DECLASSIFIED INFORMATION REVEALED FOR THE FIRST TIME!"

A much more careful review of this book, in conjunction with reading such other sources as References 1-5, leads one to a very different conclusion: namely that "Case MJ-12” is more a work of propaganda than of investigative journalism. These are strong words, but the facts seem to support the notion that Dr. Randle was guilty of very selective choice of data, sloppy research, and strong bias. Despite the cover’s claims, I could find no recently declassified information and there is much that is simply untrue.


For example, Randle contends that there was no need for a briefing of President Elect Eisenhower in November, 1952, because as Army Chief of Staff when Roswell occurred in July, 1947, he would already have known about it. “There would have been no reason to prepare such a document.” I don’t argue with the notion that Ike in July, 1947, would have been made aware of the Roswell event, since the Army Air Force was then under the Army. However, it must be noted that in late spring 1947, well before Roswell, Ike had already informed the Government that he would be taking the position of President of Columbia University (obviously not a high security government job) within a year, which he did. He also completed his 200,000-word war memoirs “Crusade in Europe” published in the autumn of 1948. It became the best selling non-fiction book of the year.

However, in December, 1950, Ike was prevailed upon by President Truman to take a leave of absence from Columbia and to accept the position of Commander Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers In Europe (SHAPE). The job, to create effective military forces for NATO, was of extraordinary importance in the budding cold war with Russia. He took command in April, 1951, with the almost impossible task of organizing an effective force out of longtime enemy Germany, England, France, and the USA on the well devastated European continent. He was thus based in Europe until he returned to the USA in June of 1952 for the Republican convention, and the presidential election of November 4, 1952. It seems very doubtful, to say the least, that Ike would have been on the distribution list for any of the eight TOP SECRET EYES ONLY documents listed on page 6 "Enumeration of Attachments” of the EBD. For some reason, this page isn’t included in “Case MJ-12” though pages1-5 and 8 are. The pages printed also do not include the 3-hole punch marks on the original prints. Each had a dot in the middle seemingly for a pin on which the pages could be quickly placed for photography purposes without having to reset the 35 mm camera. Since photographing classified documents and having a camera in a classified area are violations of law, the photographer would have understandably been in a hurry. A fraudster would have plenty of time. Page 7 just says, “Attachment 'A'” and is also not included. Page 8 is the TF memo.

Strangely, Randle remarks, “There would be so many important things for Eisenhower to learn about the state of the world, things he needed to know as President, that the landscape wouldn’t be cluttered with what we in the Army called 'nice to know information' especially when he already knew about it.”

This is a very good argument for why Ike’s files, in the five years previous, would NOT have been cluttered with highly classified papers about a TOP SECRET/MAJIC
Walter B. Smith
Walter B. Smith U.S. Gov.
project only accountable to the President, until he became President more than five years later. It should be noted that the briefing was described on page 2 as "This document has been prepared as a preliminary briefing only. It should be regarded as introductory to a full briefing intended to follow.” Ike did not become president until January 20,1953, two months later, during which time President Truman was very definitely still in charge. It should further be noted that General Walter B. Smith, named in the EBD as the 13th MJ-12 member replacing Forrestal, who had died in May, 1949, wrote to Truman on January 9, 1953, that he had briefed Ike on National Security matters four times after the election. I published this letter in Reference 2. Of course Ike needed a briefing on this very important matter, just as he would certainly have been out of the loop on this matter for five years. The CIA claimed, in response to my FOIA request for these briefings, even providing dates and times for two of them, that they couldn’t find them!!


It seems strange that Randle spends so little time dealing with the makeup of the MJ-12 group as listed in the EBD. Their names are listed on page 2 of the EBD in an appendix, but, because this is a paperback book, the print is very small. He doesn’t call attention to the fact that the group had six civilians and six military men: two each for the USAF, the US Army, the US Navy. There were five scientists covering a wide range of specialties and the new Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal. It was truly an all-star cast. All had been tested in the crucible of war. All also did very well after the war. Their capabilities were either known directly to MJ-12 member Dr. Vannevar Bush, who had been director of the old National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, and the war time Office of Scientific Research and Development, under which was the development and military utilization of the Atomic Bomb, the proximity fuse, radar, and many dozens of other important new technologies. Bush also headed the Joint Research and Development Board, postwar, which was named by General Twining in his famous September 23, 1947 memo about flying saucers, as one of the groups that should be kept informed.

The other scientists included Dr. Jerome Hunsaker, who succeeded Bush as head of NACA and was Chairman of The Aeronautical Sciences Dept. at MIT; Dr. Lloyd Berkner, a close associate of Dr. Bush at the Carnegie Institute; Dr. Detlev Bronk, an aviation physiologist and later head of the National Academy of Sciences and many other committees; and Dr. Donald H. Menzel, a Harvard astronomer who supposedly was a thorough UFO sceptic, but whom I discovered led a very busy Military Intelligence life.

The Military guys (Generals Vandenberg, Twining, Montague, and later Walter B. Smith; Secretary of the Army Gordon Gray; and Admirals Hillenkoetter and Souers) were all well known to General George C. Marshall who had been wartime Chief of Staff and in 1947 was serving as Secretary of State, and who even came back after a long illustrious career to serve as Secretary of Defense in 1950. Truman considered him the outstanding living American. Randle doesn’t discuss the fact that this was truly an all-star cast. George Elsey, who worked for Truman the entire time he was President, told me he could think of no reason why Truman would not have selected any of these people. Aside from on page 2 of the EBD, there is no mention by Randle of Dr. Hunsaker, Dr. Berkner, General Montague, and not much about Twining or Vandenberg. Menzel is singled out for comment as noted below.


Randle also doesn’t mention the special significance of the dates in the EBD. November 18, 1952 was the date, not only of a meeting between Truman and Ike at the White House as a kind of welcoming and how to facilitate the transition. It was also the date when Ike received briefings on national security matters in the vault at the Pentagon. We do know that at least MJ-12 member Nathan F. Twining, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, was there. Interestingly in Ike’s book “Mandate for Change,” while he mentions the meeting with Truman, there is no mention of the high security briefings at the Pentagon afterwards.

The EBD notes that on August 1, 1950, deceased MJ-12 member James Forrestal was permanently replaced on MJ-12 by General Walter Bedell Smith, who later became the 4th director of Central Intelligence. He had succeeded Hillenkoetter in that post. This was the only date in a several-month period that Smith met with Truman “off the record.” The Truman Library hadn’t supplied that date to anybody else. How did the hoaxer get the date right?

The EBD mentions that “On 07 July, 1947, a secret operation was begun to assure recovery of the wreckage of this object for scientific study.” Back in December, 1984, it wasn’t known when the document was received; but according to Flight Logs for MJ-12 member General Nathan F. Twining and his pilot (obtained by me years later), that was the date Twining flew to New Mexico. He visited Alamogordo, Sandia, and Kirtland, but not Roswell. He was accompanied by five top military technologists, and left New Mexico on July 11. He was interviewed by the press during that week about flying saucers, and it was clear from his answer that he had been tasked to dig into the flying saucer question. Just a random date?


Randle claims that the most convincing reason for saying the EBD is a fraud is the fact that it lists “Briefing Officer: Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter.” But RHH was only a rear admiral and certainly would never have called himself Admiral, Randle claims. Randle admits that generic titles (General for Brigadier, Major or Lieutenant General; Colonel for Lt. Colonel and Colonel, etc.) are used, but surely not in this instance! However, in a group of half civilians and half military (Army and Navy and Air Force), rank would not matter. MJ-12 member Sydney Souers was listed as Admiral, but was not as a full Admiral. Generals Twining, Vandenberg, Montague and Smith were all called General, but none had four stars in l947.

An earlier complaint by Philip Klass about Hillenkoetter was that he is listed as Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, but that he signed his letters RH Hillenkoetter (which I had supplied him) and didn’t like the name Roscoe. The Truman Library had sent
Roscoe Hillenkoetter
Roscoe Hillenkoetter U.S. Gov.
me several pages from the White House Appointment Logs. The name Roscoe is very prominent. On some of the same log entries, it says Admiral, rather than Rear Admiral, Roscoe Hillenkoetter. If it is good enough for the White House, a copy one-of-one TOP SECRET/MAJIC EYES ONLY Briefing for the President Elect can also say Admiral in a rank-doesn’t-matter situation. Surely one wouldn’t single out only one man for use of real, rather than generic, ranking? Ike himself often used generic ranks in his writing. At least Kevin no longer asks for me to supply “other” instances where RHH signed his name Admiral, since there is no RHH signature in the EBD.


Rather surprisingly, Randle makes no mention at all of a detailed analysis performed by a world class linguistics expert, Dr. Roger Williams Westcott, to evaluate whether or not RHH had actually written the Briefing. At the suggestion of attorney Robert Bletchman, I had obtained about 27 items written by RHH from the Truman Library to provide a database. Dr. Westcott concluded, “In my opinion there is no compelling reason to regard any of these communications as fraudulent or to believe that any of them were written by anyone other than Hillenkoetter himself. This statement holds for the controversial presidential briefing memorandum of November 18, 1952, as well as for the letters, both official and personal.” His letter and very impressive background credentials are presented in Ref. 2, which Randle has.


Kevin doesn’t approve of the CT memo either; but, unfortunately, he doesn’t include even the text, no less a copy, for the reader. His biggest complaint is the use of the security marking TOP SECRET RESTRICTED. This, indeed, is not very common. The naysayers claim that this is a combination of the highest and the lowest security markings and so is a non starter. It is strange that Kevin ignores a statement made by General Accounting Office people looking for Roswell-related information. They stated in an overview of their Roswell-related activities:

Date: December 7, 1994. Ms. Laura Jackson and I reviewed records pertaining to the Air Force’s atomic energy projects and certain mission and weapons requirements. These files were classified up to and including Top Secret. The period covered by these records was from 1948-1956. There was no mention of the Roswell Incident. No information pertaining to the assignment was obtained. In several instances we noticed the classification Top Secret, Restricted used on several documents. This is mentioned because in past references to this classification (Majestic 12) we were told that it was not used during this period.