Stanton Friedman

UFO Crusader

Of all the UFO investigations that could possibly produce the “smoking gun” sought by all Ufologists, many believe the most likely to reveal the existence and dimensions of the 57-year government cover-up is the MJ-12 research. If it can indeed be indisputably proven that such a high-level organization as MJ-12 really has existed since 1947, with the stated purpose of controlling the investigations of, and released information about UFOs and extraterrestrial visitations, then the cover is blown.

Certainly, if the Roswell crash did occur, the ramifications would have reverberated all the way to the president almost immediately and the “buck” would have stopped at the desk of Harry S. Truman. And it is conceivable that the first act of such a president as Truman, who was, many believe, scientifically challenged, would be to impanel a committee of the most learned scientists and experts he could find to formulate a plan for dealing with such an incredible development. So, if you accept the reality of Roswell, then you must necessarily accept the likelihood of such a group as MJ-12. It would have been the correct response to such an event. Probably the most important point about MJ-12 is that its existence was logical and necessary. And yet, until one fateful day in December of 1984, no one in the burgeoning field of UFO research had ever postulated the existence of such a group.

On that day, an undeveloped roll of 35 mm black and white film arrived in the mail at the home of Jaime Shandera in Burbank, California. Shandera was a movie producer and director with a well-known interest in UFOs, who was on the verge of creating a fictional film on the subject. He had already contacted Stanton Friedman and asked him to act as a consultant for the movie. Friedman, in turn, had put him in touch with Bill Moore, the co-author with Charles Berlitz of The Roswell Incident (1980). Shandera and Moore, who lived in Arizona, had agreed to cooperate in making the movie, and in using Friedman, who lived in New Brunswick, Canada, as a consultant, when the mysterious package with no return address and an Albuquerque, New Mexico postmark, was dropped in Shandera’s mailbox. The roll of film, when developed, contained pictures of an eight-page document. The title page read, “Briefing Document: Operation Majestic 12 Prepared for President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Eyes Only) 18 November “ Stamped at the top and bottom was the apparent document classification, “TOP SECRET/MAJIC EYES ONLY.”


The Creation of MJ-12

The document first announced that Operation Majestic-12, which was to be “a Top Secret Research and Development/Intelligence operation (for dealing with the alien presence) responsible directly and only to the President of the United States,” was created by an executive order by President Truman on September 24, 1947. It then gave the names of the 12 original members of MJ-12. They were: 1) General Nathan Twining, 2) Dr. Donald Menzel, 3) Dr. Gordon Gray, 4) Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, 5) Dr. Jerome Hunsaker, 6) General Robert Montague, 7) Dr. Lloyd Berkner, 8) Dr. Detlev Bronk, 9) Dr. Vannevar Bush, 10) James Forrestal, 11) Admiral Sidney Souers, and 12) General Hoyt Vandenberg. By the time of the briefing in November of 1952, James Forrestal, who had been Truman’s Secretary of Defense, was dead. According to the official record, he had committed suicide on May 22, 1949. The document said that General Walter Bedell Smith replaced him on MJ-12, on August 1, 1950.

The Briefing Document then reviewed the history of UFO contact beginning with the famous Kenneth Arnold sighting over the Cascade Mountains of Washington in June, 1947, and covered the Roswell crash on July 4, 1947. The document stated that the main wreckage of the crashed alien craft was found 75 miles northwest of Roswell, with debris scattered around for about three quarters of a mile, and that four alien bodies were found, apparently ejected, two miles east of the main site. All were recovered on July 7, and moved to other Army Air Force facilities for evaluation. It revealed that Dr. Bronk’s team suggested the term EBE (Extraterrestrial Biological Entities) to describe the aliens, and that Dr. Menzel considered it “likely that we are dealing with beings from another solar system entirely.” The Briefing Document also revealed that there was a second saucer crash on the Texas-Mexico border in December of 1950, and then went on to express concern over the upsurge in UFO activity from May through September of that year (1952).

There is no record that Shandera and Moore ever made their movie, but for Stanton Friedman, this providential “package from heaven” was a life-changing event and launched him on a 12-year research and writing project that culminated in the publication of the definitive book on the subject of MJ-12, Top Secret/Majic, in 1996.

Stanton Friedman’s interest in UFOs is unusual. He’s a nuclear physicist, and ufology does not usually attract scientists, probably for the same reason that physicians, who are also scientists, have such difficulty accepting alternative medicine. Friedman presents an interesting contrast with his classmate, Carl Sagan, at the University of Chicago where both were majoring in physics from 1953 to 1956. Sagan, as Friedman discusses in his book, and as everyone knows, was an outspoken debunker of ufology. Sagan says in his classic book, Cosmos (1980), “We maintain that there is no credible evidence for the Earth being visited, now or ever.” But Friedman always kept an open mind. After getting his Masters degree in 1956, he went to work on the development of compact nuclear reactor engines for advanced aircraft. That became his specialty, and he worked on various aspects of this cutting-edge technology for several large aerospace companies including General Electric Aircraft, Aerojet General Nucleonics, General Motors Allison Division, Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory, McDonnell-Douglas, and TRW. Since this research was always carried out in secret, often with money from “black budgets,” Friedman usually carried a Top Secret clearance. The media and the public were never made aware that we were trying to develop aircraft powered by nuclear reactors.


Special Report 14

Friedman’s classified work took him to places where UFO-related activities were tantalizingly close, but just out of his scope. One such place was the Air Force’s Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson Air Base in Dayton, Ohio. This was where Project Blue Book was administered, and where alien craft propulsion systems were being studied. Friedman met Major Friend, the head of Project Blue Book, who allowed him into the “vault inside a vault” at the Batelle Memorial Institute, with an escort. The Batelle had in their archives all of the thousands of reports and evaluations of UFO sightings that went into Blue Book. This was Friedman’s first introduction to UFO literature, and he was astounded and fascinated. After reading about a dozen more books on UFOs from his local library, he happened upon a privately published version of the Project Blue Book Special Report 14 in the library at the University of California at Berkeley. This was the report that sifted through all the Blue Book data and summed it up. With more than 240 charts, tables, graphs and maps to review, Friedman’s scientific mind was “in data heaven.” The bottom line was that 600 sightings out of 3,000 could not be identified. It was an epiphany for Friedman when he realized that the Air Force knew that a large number of the UFO sightings were probably alien craft. He says, “I recognized that the Air Force, in its October 1955 press release about the study, flat-out lied.”

In 1967, while working for Westinghouse, Friedman met Frank Edwards, the author of the now-famous book, Flying Saucers—Serious Business (1966). After reading Edwards’ book, Friedman decided he wanted to help spread the word about UFOs and asked Edwards for advice. Edwards hooked him up with a media contact that helped Friedman get on a radio talk show on KDKA in Pittsburgh. At first Friedman’s talks were limited to small groups on what he calls “the chicken-and-peas circuit.” These were organizations and book clubs interested in UFOs, few of which were able to pay him a fee. A breakthrough came when he addressed a crowd of over 400 at a joint meeting of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics,” at the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh. His lecture that night entitled “Flying Saucers ARE Real,” was a big success and subsequently became a staple in his repertoire. Shortly thereafter, he joined a speakers’ bureau, and was immediately booked to speak at the Engineering Society of Detroit. This drew a crowd of over 1,000 and was sold out three weeks in advance. For this appearance he earned the princely sum of $300 plus travel expenses. He was now officially launched on his speaking career, and was subsequently booked all over the country by the bureau. About a year later, funding for development of nuclear reactor propulsion systems started to dry up, and Friedman now found himself out of work. He decided to devote full-time to the lecture circuit. In the seventies and early eighties, he became well known worldwide as a leading advocate of the UFO reality. As a scientist he brought a tremendous amount of much-needed respectability to ufology.

A Personal Mission

At the time the Majic document came to Shandera in 1984, Friedman had been lecturing all over the world about UFOs for almost twenty years. Since it was the seminal event of the UFO era, Friedman had devoted years of investigation and research to the crash at Roswell and he had no doubt that it had happened, but the tracks were well covered, and proof was hard to come by. But when this piece of hard evidence dropped into his lap, it had an electrifying effect. It rejuvenated his efforts and it shifted his career as a UFO investigator and spokesman into high gear. Friedman immediately realized the importance of the Briefing Document. He says in his book, “I was very excited about this discovery… There was no question that if the… document… was genuine, it was one of the most important classified government documents ever leaked to the public.” Consequently, he made it his personal mission to determine whether or not the Eisenhower Briefing Document was genuine.

For the next 10 years, Friedman laboriously tracked down every piece of evidence he could find to validate the authenticity of the Briefing Document. One of the apparent glaring inconsistencies was the inclusion of Dr. Donald Menzel in the ranks of MJ-12. Menzel, a noted professor of astronomy at Harvard was a notorious UFO skeptic who frequently publicly ridiculed believers. Friedman’s research turned up the facts that Menzel had a Top Secret Ultra Security Clearance with the Navy, a Top Secret Clearance with the Air Force, and did highly classified consulting work for the CIA, the NSA and more than thirty corporations “on such matters as radio wave propagation, cryptography, and apparently, alien interstellar spacecraft.” Furthermore he was an old friend of Vannevar Bush and was acquainted with two other members of MJ-12. Friedman concluded that Menzel had led a double life. He had secretly been in the inner circle of government UFO activity, while publicly appearing to be a very conservative Harvard scientist. Friedman also determined that Eisenhower had definitely been briefed on the date of the document, November 18, 1952. On that date the records show that the president-elect had a 43 minute, high-security meeting with members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. The last page of the Briefing Document was called “Attachment A” and was a copy of a memo from Truman to Forrestal dated September 24, 1947 authorizing Forrestal to proceed with Operation Majestic-12 with advice from Dr. Vannevar Bush and Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter. The Truman Library attested to the fact that Truman met with Forrestal and Bush on that date, and it was the only time he met with Bush between May and December of that year. Friedman also tracked down the minutiae of the document such as the date format, Truman’s signature, the typewriter used, and Hillenkoetter’s customary writing style. All these details checked out, or proved to be acceptable. Friedman was ultimately convinced that the Eisenhower Briefing Document was the real thing, and that therefore MJ-12 did, in fact, exist.


The Impossible Dream

Friedman has now spent almost 50 years in his personal crusade to reveal the truth of the extraterrestrial presence against tremendous opposition. He has had to take on not only government and military opponents, but also many high-level scientists and other researchers, some of whose connections are highly suspect. He has dealt with every challenge with a measured response backed up with methodical, careful and exhaustive research, and has emerged victorious in every case. He has crisscrossed the world with his message. On his web site, he says, “Since 1967 I have lectured on the subject ‘Flying Saucers ARE Real’ at more than 600 colleges and over 100 professional groups in all fifty U.S. states, nine Canadian Provinces, twelve cities in England and nine in other countries, with only eleven hecklers. I have also appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows. Overall, I have probably answered about 35,000 questions about UFOs and secrecy.” He has flung down the gauntlet to the Air Force challenging two of the USAF officers who wrote Roswell reports to a public debate. He has effectively demolished the arguments of everyone and anyone who has questioned the reality of Roswell and the authenticity of the Majic documents. And it was he who coined the rallying cry, “Cosmic Watergate.” If and when the dam is finally breached, and the truth does indeed make us free, we will certainly owe much of that freedom to this Don Quixote of ufology who has now, for half a century, been tilting at government windmills.

Since the appearance of the Briefing Document in 1984, many new documents have surfaced, virtually all of which support the existence of MJ-12. For those interested we highly recommend a visit to the web sites and to view the documents along with some startling photos. The investigative team maintaining this site comprises some of the leading lights of UFO research and reporting: Robert M. Wood, Ryan S. Wood, Nick Redfern, Timothy S. Cooper, Jim Marrs, Jim Clarkson and, of course as you would expect, Stanton T. Friedman.

By Len Kasten