WHAT’S THE STORY?
TOMORROW marks the 70th anniversary of the start of what is either the longest-running hoax in modern history or the biggest cover-up the world has even known.
It was on September 24, 1947, that US President Harry S Truman allegedly – there will be a lot of words like that in this profile – signed a special classified executive order to establish a committee of 12 experts to carry out a “top-secret research and development/intelligence operation” into the supposed crash of an alien spacecraft some 75 miles north-west of Roswell Army Air Field base in New Mexico. They were given the code name Majestic 12.
MORE like an unidentified flying object, really. Something certainly did crash north of Roswell in the summer of 1947, and at first it was clearly identified as a “flying disc” which had been recovered by Roswell base personnel.
A press release was even sent out from the base announcing its recovery, and local newspapers proudly reported that the “disc” had been impounded with the help of the local sheriff’s office.
Local people reported seeing plastic-like substances and wires lying at the site. The world’s most famous UFO incident and the whole saga of Area 51 – the designation of the “secret” land and air space around Roswell – was under way.
WHAT WAS IT REALLY?
IN post-war America, a spate of UFO sightings and especially flying saucers had led the populace to believe that invasion from space was imminent, this on top of the growing paranoia about the USSR and the Communist threat to the good ole US of A.
The Roswell UFO incident, as it became known, started in fairly simple terms. The version of events put out by the military authorities was that the “disc” was a weather balloon, but no-one was buying that, and quite rightly so because the authorities were already colluding in a massive cover-up. The material actually came from a huge balloon that was involved in a top-secret spying mission known as Project Mogul which used balloons equipped with microphones to listen out for Soviet atomic tests. Or so the US authorities maintain to this day.
Had the US Government simply announced the truth, Roswell would probably never have featured in films such as Independence Day or television’s Dark Skies and the X-Files, but they couldn’t tell the public about something that didn’t officially exist. It’s always the cover-up that gets you …
WAS THAT REALLY THE TRUTH?
IT took the US Government until the 1990s to admit it, but the Project Mogul explanation fits the facts. The alternative version is Majestic 12, in which the president’s dozen specialists took possession of seven to nine – depending on who you believe – crashed flying saucers and the alleged remains of up to 27 alien life forms.
According to an alleged leaked memo, we even know the names of the Majestic 12. They included Sidney William Souers, a former director of central intelligence; James Vincent Forrestal, the Secretary of Defense; Jerome Clarke Hunsaker, chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics; General Nathan Farragut Twining, Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force from 1953 until 1957; Dr Vannevar Bush, head of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development during the Second World War; Detlev Bronk, internationally recognised as the developer of biophysics; Donald Howard Menzel, one of America’s greatest theoretical astronomers and astrophysicists; and General Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg, second chief of staff of the US Air Force after whom Vandenberg Air Force Base is named. None of the dozen has ever confirmed membership of Majestic 12, and let’s face it, would such men have been involved in the sort of experimentation that the “aliens” were supposed to have undergone?
SO WHY DID SO MANY PEOPLE TAKE IT SO SERIOUSLY?
THE ufologist community has been split by Majestic 12 for decades. The name only entered common usage after the allegations of a cover-up of the Roswell UFO incident emerged in the early 1980s.
Hey presto, up popped a series of “leaked” Majestic 12 documents including a memo allegedly written by Robert Cutler, assistant to President Dwight D Eisenhower, to the aforementioned General Twining, referencing Majestic 12.
More and more outlandish claims were made about Majestic 12 and allegations were made that the people who revealed the existence of the documents were involved in an elaborate hoax.
Documentaries have been produced that alternatively debunk or support the Majestic 12 theories, and one later claim was made that the whole story was an exercise in disinformation from the start, as the US Government wanted to conceal what was really going at time, namely experiments connected to the Cold War.
Both the FBI and the US Air Force have carried out lengthy inquiries and have concluded that the claims about Majestic 12 and Roswell were completely bogus. But then they would say that, wouldn’t they?