Kevin Randle, a premier UFO researcher and often a good critic of various UFO conspiracies, gives a treatise on the possible theory of the MJ-12 documents and that they appeared in 1981, not in Jaime Shandera’s mailbox in 1984:
I have been reviewing the history of MJ-12 and I have found something interesting. The first mention of MJ-12 was not when Bill and Jaime Shandera received the undeveloped film. It wasn’t even when Moore was planning a novel with Bob Pratt, one-time editor of the MUFON Journal and former reporter for the National Enquirer.No, the first mention of MJ-12 was in 1981 in a one page document that seemed to be a legitimate AFOSI teletype message that has become known as the Aquarius Telex or the Aquarius Document. It is, in fact, a retyped version of an AFOSI report on UFOs photographed and filmed by Paul Bennewitz over Albuquerque, New Mexico. Although the majority of this document seems to be from a real report, there is one line that is not in the original. It says, “Results of Project Aquarius is still classified Top Secret with no dissemination outside official Intelligence channels and with restricted access to MJ – Twelve. [Emphasis added.]”Here was a mention of MJ-12 that seemed to have gone unnoticed. A few UFO researchers attempted to learn about Project Aquarius with little luck but none seemed interested, at that time, in MJ-12. Eventually some, such as Lee Graham and Barry Greenwood, using FOIA, attempted to find additional information. Graham learned more when Bill Moore showed him a copy of the Eisenhower Briefing Document. Graham was able to provide a list of the names of those associated with MJ-12 to Greenwood.The point is, however, that MJ-12 was mentioned long before the undeveloped film arrived in 1984. Moore, in fact, contacted Bob Pratt and told him about MJ-12 in 1982 with the idea of writing a book. Pratt felt that Moore didn’t have enough evidence to warrant a nonfiction book, but thought they could discuss it in a novel. Pratt’s working title? MAJIK – 12.I have, over the last several months attempted to get the major proponents of MJ-12 to discuss this. Robert Wood has responded that he was going to do something about it, let me know what he thought about it, but that response has not arrived. Stan Friedman wrote, in response to my first inquiry that he was about to catch a plane but would have something later. He has yet to provide that, let alone respond to my last email.MJ-12 didn’t just appear when the film arrived at Shandera’s house. It had been mentioned before, and a novel had been written about it. Pratt thought, when the MJ-12 stories hit the press in 1987, they should attempt to sell the novel once again. He wrote to Moore suggesting that, but never got a response.You have to wonder about the reality of something that appeared for the first time in a document that was later to be declared a hoax (or rather the version that MJ-12 was a retyped version that added the line about Project Aquarius and MJ-12). Here’s the thing that hasn’t been discussed. Let us say that there is a highly classified project known as MJ-12… So secret that virtually nothing about it has been found. Now suppose that you want to introduce disinformation into the UFO community to confound it, and you have a mission of discrediting Paul Bennewitz because his research could expose a real, non UFO related but classified project. You create a fake document and ensure that it falls into his hands, hoping he would run to the media with it. Once he had done that, then you whip out the real document to prove he has an altered one… and you imply that he is responsible for the alteration and you demonstrate that he is unreliable.So far, so good. But the very last thing you are going to do is put in that disinformation the name of a real, highly classified project that is so secret that no one outside a small exclusive circle knows about. To do so would be expose that project to scrutiny by UFO researchers who are responsible for thousands upon thousands of FOIA requests. You’ve now given them information that they shouldn’t have. There is no reason to expose MJ-12, if it exists, in a document meant to discredit Bennewitz.