Certainly the most contentious issue in the now 66-year history of UFOlogy, the MJ-12 saga begins with the 1947 alleged crash and recovery of an alien spacecraft outside Roswell, New Mexico. Soon after, President Harry Truman instructed Secretary of Defense James Forrestal to set up Operation Majestic Twelve, a blue-ribbon, top-secret panel headed by Vannever Bush, a leading Manhattan Project figure and creator of the Memex machine, a forerunner of the modern-day computer. Researchers contend that the MJ-12 committee eventually brokered a sit-down between space aliens and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, during which an agreement was reached to enable alien studies of human biology via abductions and animal mutilations in exchange for use of extraterrestrial “black” technology that would lead to developments like the B-2 “Stealth Bomber.” Later, it was suggested that John Kennedy’s threat to reveal the MJ-12 alien negotiations was the prime reason for his assassination.
Or Is the Whole Area 51 Spectacle a Smoke Screen?
To distract us from experimental-weapons testing, the government dangles a couple of UFOs in front of our noses.
A Timeline of Close Encounters
1947: A grainy six-page memo supposedly written by Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer lays out general principles for peacefully interacting with aliens, a clear sign to readers of UFO conspiracy forums and websites that the scientific and governmental elite had made contact.
1948: The Ur-text of UFOlogy is the “Estimate of the Situation,” a military intelligence document from 1948 that concluded that a rash of UFO sitings could only be extraterrestrial in nature.
1950s: Who should be thanked for the post–World War II boom in communications technology like transistors, lasers, fiber optics, microchips, superconductors, and miracle materials like carbon fiber? According to Philip Corso’s book The Day after Roswell, these were all reverse-engineered from alien spacecraft.
1965: An anonymous source claiming to be a retired Defense Intelligence Agency official outlined a post-Roswell exchange program that, in 1965, sent twelve Americans from the Nevada test site to the aliens’ home world, known as Serpo. The eight who returned in 1978 were kept at military installations for six years.
1979: While the most-well-known theories about the American government and UFOs focus on findings from crash landings like the famous Roswell, New Mexico, incident, secreted away at sites like Area 51, researcher Paul Bennewitz believes he intercepted communications proving Uncle Sam already collaborates with aliens at the underground “Dulce Base” near the Colorado–New Mexico border. A man named Thomas Edwin Castello said in an interview circulating on UFO websites that, based on his experience as a security guard at Dulce, a race of reptilian workers performed manual labor under gray alien supervision.
1983: Many believe President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars missile-defense plan, was developed not to protect against a Soviet nuclear attack but rather an alien invasion.
Late 1980s: Depending on whom you ask, the Aviary is either a group convened by the Defense Department to research alien weapons and biotechnology as well as run interference on civilian investigators, or a more sympathetic group of academics and military figures trying to leak that same information to the public. Believers point to publications by suspected Aviary members like Christopher C. Green, a former CIA analyst who now researches military applications of neuroscience, which should clearly raise eyebrows.
In 1989, Bob Lazar told a Las Vegas TV station that while working at Area 51, he’d come across flying saucers in hangars and an element so heavy it could not be synthesized on Earth.
2001: Gary McKinnon, the hacker at the center of an extradition dispute between the U.K. and the U.S., claims that once he broke through flimsy security on military and casa computers, he found “The Disclosure Project,” which collected testimony from air-traffic controllers, nuclear-missile technicians, and others confirming the existence of UFOs.