Almost anyone who has an interest in ufology knows of the Majestic-12 documents, a cache of alleged U.S. government documents outlining the government’s secret involvement with space aliens in the middle twentieth century. The first of these documents began circulating in 1984, with a second set of papers released in 1994, and all but diehard true believers understand that they are fake. That did not stop Ancient Aliens from devoting an entire hour to them. I’m not sure whether it is an improvement that the show is now being honest about its willingness to accept any lie that can be spun into entertainment, or whether it should be considered a further diminution of the History Channel brand. Considering History is currently promoting a blurry undated photograph showing either a teenage boy or a mannish woman as alleged proof of Amelia Earhart’s fate, I’m not sure they can really fall any further.
I remember reading the Majestic-12 documents online back in the 1990s, when it seemed like a big deal and an exciting thing that the internet had given me dramatic access to. I remember thinking they were pretty stupid back then, and I don’t feel any different now. However, I still lack a passion for modern ufology, so it was something of a slog to sit through an hour-long discussion of a topic that bored me back when I still cared about UFOs.It is for that reason that I also had no interest in watching the two-hour UFO documentary that followed this episode.
The episode opens with the story of how the Majestic-12 documents came to light, in the form of a film canister with images of a (fake) briefing for Dwight Eisenhower on the government’s alien adventures. This included reference to the Roswell myth, which in 1984 was a major current subject in ufology circles because the story had only recently been invented in its modern form and popularized by writers like Stanton Friedman. The 1980s transformed the tiny flying saucers of the original 1940s reports of flying discs into massive spacefaring craft. It’s easy when you get to change any details you want and make things up. Eisenhower’s great-granddaughter Laura, a UFO believer, shows up to babble about things she can’t possibly know about the dark secrets that the former president could not overcome.
This is, however, Linda Moulton Howe’s spotlight episode because she was involved with the 1994 set of MJ-12 documents, and she has spent 23 years “investigating” these papers without discovering anything of note about them.
It’s probably also worth noting that the show is using a fake computer-generated version of the MJ-12 documents for broadcast, copies that were retyped, cleaned up, and reformatted to look crisp and official. The original photographs are blurry and in black and white. The broadcast props are crisp, in color, and use Times New Roman typeface. I don’t know if this is a pamphlet produced for retail or one created for the broadcast, but it it’s deceptive to pass off the recreation as the original.
The second segment features Howe attempting to explain why she believes that the documents are authentic, and she had to switch from the prop version of the document to the actual photograph in order to point to the typography since the prop lacks the subtleties of the analog typesetting. Howe enthuses about the documents’ story of collaboration between the government and space aliens, but skeptic Brian Dunning has concluded that the documents are very similar to genuine U.S. government documents because they were fabricated by the U.S. government itself in order to distract from secret Air Force operations by promoting a fictitious UFO narrative. The government would be able to fake its own documents since they also made the real ones.
The third segment recounts a conspiracy about the suicide of the first U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal. The show prefers to think that he was assassinated because he planned to spill the beans about Nazi collaboration with space aliens and their use of UFO technology. However, the facts say otherwise: Forrestal resigned on Truman’s orders after it was revealed that he had been meeting with Truman’s 1948 presidential rival, Thomas Dewey, about a position in Dewey’s potential cabinet. Forrestal’s mental health issues were reported in the press long before he killed himself. The story could not, therefore, have been created after his death as an explanation for his assassination, as the show alleges. Following this, Howe alleges that an MJ-12 memo is the written order to assassinate John F. Kennedy. It’s amazing how happy super-secret organizations are to document all their evil deeds.
Howe states that MJ-12 still exists but regularly changes its “letter and the numbers” so they can constantly evade scrutiny. She alleges that most government decisions simply carry out orders from MJ-12 based on its relationship with space aliens.
The fourth segment recycles material about Project Horizon, the failed Army plan to create a moon base covered only a few weeks ago in the season premiere of this very show. The plan was never put into practice, but the show pretends that it might have and recycles everything they had previously said about it. This leads into a discussion of Corey Goode, the colleague of David Wilcock who alleges that he is frequently abducted from his own living room by sexually attractive aliens. He also claims to have been part of a secret space program that sent him beyond the Earth to engage in various nefarious activities connected to bases on the moon and Mars. Goode, as I have mentioned many times, seems to make up anything that comes into his head, and it is depressing to see how much support the fringe community gives to a man whose claims are contradictory, evidence-free, and often prima facie false. Goode alleges that the “secret space program” found the ruins of “the Ancient Builder Race” on Mars and the moon, and Mike Bara shows up to fantasize that rocks are actually the ruins of old buildings. David Childress chimes in that he thinks our government is currently occupying ruins from “millions of years ago.” How, pray tell, do our astronauts get there and back in the age of smartphones without a single photograph of their launches turning up on social media?
The next segment talks about Gary McKinnon’s allegation that he downloaded a secret photograph of a UFO or secret spacecraft. This leads into questions of U.S. government conspiracies to create military aircraft using UFO anti-gravity technology. The narrator asks how long the government can keep all of this a secret, and the narration teases the ever-coming, never-arriving day of “disclosure,” which is for ufologists what the Second Coming is for Christians—a promise of a Millennial future that is always just out of reach, a receding light meant to guide the present toward an unachievable goal.
The final segment describes current global efforts to return to the moon or travel to Mars, and Wilcock suggests that such efforts are really subtle ways of revealing the “secret space program” and taking us practically overnight to a “Star Trek age” of instant universal space travel.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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