Since the Roswell "crash" story was reintroduced in the late 70's, the tendency within the UFO community has been to embrace the belief that the military has recovered crashed disks and, in many cases, remains of their occupants, which they have been hidden away in various secret facilities around the country for study. Some have even gone so far as to insist that the government is in league with extraterrestrials in keeping the public in the dark as to their activities and intentions, breeding the atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia in which government conspiracy theories thrive.

Perhaps nothing better illustrates this philosophy than do a number of allegedly "top secret" letters known collectively as the Majestic 12 documents. Supposedly a series of secret correspondence written between the White House and a select group of senior military officers and scientists during the 1940s and 1950s, in their entirety they are—if authentic—evidence that the government not only was aware of extraterrestrials as far back as 1947, but has been using the powers of the presidency to cover-up the fact ever since. Even more, these letters imply that the military has recovered alien hardware in its possession and is intent on suppressing the information through a "disinformation" campaign designed to mislead the general public as to the true extent of the government's involvement—a revelation which would obviously have profound political and scientific repercussions if true.

Problems with the documents soon emerged, however, and many have been subsequently exposed as hoaxes (though that remains hotly debated even among ufologists today) but despite their frequent debunking, their impact on the UFO community remains. In fact, it's fair to say that these documents have done more to create an atmosphere of paranoia within ufology than any other aspect of the phenomenon, which has only been detrimental to what serious study of the phenomenon has taken place. In fact, a case could be made that were it not for the UFO communities' insistence that the Majestic Documents be taken seriously, traditional science might be more inclined to at least look at what evidence there is for extraterrestrial visitation rather than to dismiss it out-of-hand as pseudoscience.

As someone who has worked with the ufology community, I am concerned about this trend and appalled at the general lack of objectivity and logic among many of its most rabid proponents. What I have always found especially irritating is how easily many UFO buffs are to embrace any "official" looking document as evidence without considering how easily it might be to create a false but still very credible-looking document. So how difficult is it to create an authentic looking top secret government document that might pass muster with the UFO crowd using only a little imagination and some basic graphics software? I didn't know, but as a graphic artist with thirty-five years experience in the industry, I decided to take it upon myself to find out. What follows is the result of my labors, performed over the course of a single evening with nothing more than a basic computer and a propensity towards mischief.

Creating a Majestic Document

The first problem one encounters, of course, is how to make a document look like something that might have been generated by some government bureaucrat over seventy years ago. I had to consider how it might be formatted, what terminology would likely be used, who to send the letter to, etc. To do this, one might imagine it would be necessary that I have a background in dealing with secret documents, but such is not the case. All I need to do is study examples of the existing Majestic documents (accessible at which, in already having been "authenticated" by "experts", makes them perfect templates from which to create my phony document. That, plus the fact that I spent eight years in the military and so have some idea of how military jargon sounds, should do the trick.

The next thing was determining a timeline. To keep it simple, I choose mid August of 1947, which is about a month after the supposed Roswell crash and "recovery" and the point when everyone was trying to decide what to do with the "debris." Next, I needed to select my main characters. The MJ-12 document provides a cast of potential figures to choose from, or I could simply make the document addressed to no one in particular. However, if it's too generic, that also looks suspicious, so I'll need to pick someone credible but not quite as high profile as Truman or the other figures frequently mentioned in the Roswell story. I could have used Army Air Corp General Nate Twining, who is frequently mentioned in regards to the MJ-12 documents, but he's been done to death. I wanted someone a little lower down the ladder but still high enough up the chain of command to be credible. Plus, introducing a new name to the mix—especially one that has some historical validity to it—would further enhance the document's credibility. After doing a little research, I came up with the perfect nominee: Major General Laurence C. Craigie, who was, at the time, chief of the Research and Engineering Division at Wright Patterson AFB. Craigie, in being the man who would eventually authorize the implementation of Operation Sign in December of 1947, was the ideal addressee: he's important enough to be credible yet obscure enough to not be so high profile as to receive undue scrutiny. His job at Wright Patterson at the time, along with his later involvement in the entire UFO controversy, also makes him the perfect candidate as well, and the fact that he's been dead since 1994 and so can never be asked about any of this is a plus as well.

So who will be sending the report and what does he have to say to the general? I'll have it sent from some obscure civilian research scientist, whom I've named Doctor Eliot Turner. I know I'm taking a chance by naming this guy as the originator of the letter, but since I don't identify which facility he's working at and as the name Turner is reasonably common, I thought it would be difficult to authenticate the existence of the man after all this time. That should be enough to ensure the document isn't immediately debunked because of a lack of information about the sender of the letter, as most researchers would probably give up looking for the guy pretty quickly. (I call this the "needle in a haystack" approach.)

So what does Doctor Turner have to say to the general? I must be careful here. It has to be credible, somewhat routine in nature, and believable, yet be extraordinary at the same time—a real "smoking gun" letter that, if true, would blow apart the whole Roswell cover-up. It also needs to be short on specifics and lacking in the sort of useful details the more hard-nosed investigator might be interested in. Fortunately, since it also has to be brief, that should be no problem. Let's see....I think I'll make it have something to do with the instrumentation console on one of the crashed disks and how, due to the difficulty of determining how the technology works, it needs to be sent to another facility for further evaluation. Ten minutes later, this is what I came up with:

18 August, 1947

SUBJECT: Analysis of recovered disk control console

TO: Major General Laurence Craigie,
Chief of Research and Engineering Division
U.S. Air Force


In response to your communication of the 14th, I regret to inform you that the precise inner workings of the control console from the recovered craft at site LZ2 remains beyond our capabilities to determine at this time using the personnel and facilities currently available to us. Since CDE possesses the superior capability to allow for a more complete inspection, I respectfully request permission to have the entire console transferred as early as is feasible for more extensive analysis. I and my team have deemed it imperative that this transfer be done as quickly as possible to maintain security and to keep to the President's timetable.


Doctor Eliot Turner
Section 3 Analysis Coordinator

Notice that I refer to site LZ2 in my letter. This is something I picked up from a Majestic Document called the Interpanetary Phenomenon Report—a seven page report supposedly written by some group called the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit that discusses the recovery of fallen airborne objects in the New Mexico in July of 1947. In it, they identify two potential crash sites which they refer to as "LZ1" (the traditional Roswell crash site near Corona) and "LZ2", a site 20 miles southwest of Socorro that, according to their report, "contained the majority of structural detail of the craft's airframe, propulsion, and navigation technology." Thus, by integrating details from a previously "authenticated" Majestic Document and adding a few new details of my own, I've added an additional (and much needed) layer of plausibility which should pass initial muster with those already predisposed towards believing every Majestic Document to be legitimate.

Further, to provide an air of intrigue, I'm having the Doctor request permission to send the console to someplace designated as "CDE" for further analysis, the insinuation being that CDE is a coded designation for some unknown facility (maybe Wright Patterson?) that possesses a more sophisticated research capability. Using three-letter designations is a method the military frequently uses to maintain a degree of security when discussing travel plans or specific military installations; obviously, unless one knows where CDE was, they wouldn't know where the console was being sent.

Oh, oh, I've made a mistake. I put U.S. Air Force in the header, forgetting that the USAF wasn't estabablished until September of 1947, a month after the letter was written. Better change it to U. S. Army Air Corps so I can remain historically accurate.

There, I fixed it. Okay, so I've got a decent start. I've checked my facts and made sure the story holds together historically, at least on a superficial level. Now I have to set it up so that it looks like I typed it on a clunky old manual typewriter back in 1947. Of course, I could just go out and try to purchase a typewriter from that era (which is what I would do if I were really serious about perpetrating a hoax) but for the sake of time and since this is only a demonstration and not a genuine effort to fool anyone, I'll make do by using the courier font on my computer. Laying the entire thing out in Illustrator, fifteen minutes late my "document" looks like this:



Not bad, but the problem is that my version is too clean looking, especially when compared to the barely legible documents in the Majestic collection (many of which are almost unreadable). As such, I needed to "dirty" it up a bit to make it appear as though it's a copy of a copy of a copy that's gone through the proverbial wringer a few times. Fortunately, this is easy to do; I simply converted the text into vectored objects and rasterized it (turning it from vectored text to pixels). To get a more blurry effect, I next converted the entire image into a bitmap, and added a black censor's block on the bottom designed to make it look as though someone is concealing information (wouldn't you love to know what's under there?), giving it the following appearance:



Better, but still too neat. I need to take this further if I want to really make the page look old and weather-beaten, which I achieve by adding some handwritten notes, crude underlining, spill coffee on it—whatever.... Then, as a final step, I scan the document, further degrading it in an effort to achieve the desired effect. This is what emerges from my frenzied efforts:


Viola! Notice how much it looks like a Majestic document. It's not perfect, but not bad for an hour's work.

Of course, this little impromptu demonstration doesn't prove that the Majestic documents are fake, but it does show just how easy it is to come up with a reasonable facsimile of a purported top secret document using only one's imagination and some common software. Imagine what mischief I might be capable of were I to put some real time and effort into creating a fraudulent document and foisting it upon an unsuspecting public (as I suspect a few folks have done in the past)? Scary to think about, isn't it?

The point of all this is that if the prospect that Earth has been or is being visited by extra-terrestrials is ever going to be taken seriously, ufologists have to become far more discerning. Only in that way will the legitimate evidence ever see the light of day.