The Truman Signature

Television producer (and amateur ufologist) Jamie Shandera says he received a roll of film in the mail from an anonymous sender. Once developed, the documents consisted of an eight page briefing paper to President Eisenhower detailing a UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, another crash at El Indio, Texas in 1950, and listing the members of the government's special Majestic-12 or "MJ-12" UFO group. It was dated "18 November, 1952", and it named "Admiral" Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter as the briefing officer.

The final page of the briefing paper was a memorandum from President Harry Truman to his secretary of defense, James Forrestal, instructing Forrestal to proceed with "Operation Majestic-12".

The memorandum was dated 24th September 1947. This article concentrates on this particular document, known as the Truman-Forrestal Memo and in particular the problems with Truman’s signature.

From Wikipedia:
* The signature of Harry Truman on the alleged letter to Forrestal is identical to the one known to be authentic on a letter to Vannevar Bush on October 1, 1947.

The one on the briefing document is 3-4% larger and bolder, but this is explained by the fact that photocopiers don't reproduce things at exactly the same size. They match when the size is corrected and one is laid over the other.

Click to enlarge

* Both signatures show a unique slip of the pen when starting the "H".

* The "T" in the October 1, 1947 signature intersected the final "s" in Sincerely yours". The same point on the Forrestal letter is slightly thinner, as if the intersection with the "s" had been modified with liquid paper or the like before photocopying.

* This shows that the authentic Truman signature from the letter to Bush was copied onto the bogus letter to Forrestal, which was then photocopied.

Skeptical Inquirer; 5/1/2000; by Philip J Klass
One of the original MJ-12 documents released by Moore and his two partners (UFO lecturer Stanton Friedman and TV producer Jaime Shandera) purported to be a memo from President Truman to Defense Secretary James Forrestal, dated September 24, 1947, which authorized the creation of the MJ-12 group.

My investigation revealed that the Truman signature was a pasted-on photocopy of a genuine signature--including accidental scratch marks--from a memo that Truman wrote to Vannevar Bush on October 1, 1947 (see "New evidence of MJ-12 hoax," SI 14[2], Winter 1990).
Link to original article

UFO Historical Revue, Barry Greenwood 1999 More needs to be said about signed documents. The Woods make much of the fact that signatures appearing in some of the papers look real. Indeed that is likely. The signatures may well be authentic for whom they are supposed to represent. However, the Woods pay astonishingly little attention to the likelihood that photocopy forgeries are responsible, especially given the conditions under which Tim Cooper, and then the Woods, received their copies (no originals, generations-removed photocopies). I had once investigated, while with CAUS, an alleged letter by a University of Chicago professor, on university letterhead, claiming knowledge of alien autopsies. After I sent the photocopied letter to the professor for comment, I had received a midnight phone call from the university's attorney, asking for the source of the copy. The professor informed the attorney that someone had placed false text over a real, signed letter of his and recopied it. He was quite upset that his academic reputation would have been damaged if people believed what was written. It takes only minutes to create a document in this way, and it can be done to anyone at any time who has written and signed a document. A reason to doubt photocopied evidence from unknown sources? Here it is! Friedman cites the February 1948 memo as containing a handwritten Truman signature and Vannevar Bush initials, and calls it "doctored" (TS/Majic, pg. 159), establishing that photocopied forgeries did come from the Woods' source, Tim Cooper, and ultimately the mysterious "Cantwheel."
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Harry Truman and the two signatures

David E Thomas
When I give talks about Roswell, I always show how Klass found that President Truman's alleged signature on an MJ-12 letter was really just photocopied from a different, legitimate letter (see Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 14, No.2, Winter 1990). As transparencies of both signatures are overlaid, the audience always gasps in surprise as the different signatures blend into a single trace. Incredibly, Stanton Friedman still maintains the validity of MJ-12.
When I confronted him on a radio show last year, he said Klass's methods were shown false in his new book Top Secret/Majic.
And what is Friedman's new attack on the signature analysis? "The signatures are clearly not identical." Simply outrageous!
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Stanton Friedman

Stanton Friedman
Right from the start the TFM has been the target of the debunkers. Phil Klass in a fast press release after Bill Moore publicized the EBD, TFM, and CTM, had claimed it was an obvious fraud since it made all kinds of mistakes compared to real Truman letters. He used the word "letter" nine times even though it is clearly headed "Memorandum." Many have claimed that the typewriter was obviously from 1960 proving it was a fraud (no forensic document analysis was provided). Most claimed that the signature was identical to that on another memo from Truman to MJ-12 member Vannevar Bush. First measurements clearly indicated it was not an exact copy since the lengths of various segments seemed not to match.

Randle provided the off-the-cuff opinion of Peter Tytell, a world-class Questioned Documents examiner. Moore, Shandera and I had sent a copy of the documents to PT who didn't want his name used anywhere, and prepared no report, but apparently claimed the typewriter typeface was not in use until the 1960s. Randle quotes him thusly "It was just perfect because the whole thing of the twelve pages or however many pages it was. Most of the pages were just blank pages with just five words written on them like Top Secret or Appendix A or something like that." In reality there were eight pages and only one, page 7, (not included by Randle) had "Appendix A." Fortunately Dr. Robert M. Wood hired an expert, James A. Black, to perform a professional examination. On November 13, 1998, Black stated: "My knowledge of typewriter fonts permits me to conclude that the letter was likely to have been typed by an Underwood Standard typewriter. The portions of the type font of the letter that can be clearly visualized match those of a typewriter exemplar of an Underwood Standard typed in May 1940."
Black also added that that the disputed signature is most likely a reproduction. "I reached this opinion because the ink line is homogenous and feathering is absent at the ends of the lines." Does this prove the document is a fraud? The real question is where would there have been an original of the memo with a signature?? Forrestal's ORIGINAL would have been signed, but who else would have received a signed copy? One expects that Dr. Bush and the DCI (Hillenkoetter) noted in the memo would have had copies. Most likely unsigned. Forrestal died in May, 1949, three years earlier. Since we know that W.B. Smith was briefing Ike at this time (1952) on National Security matters, presumably Hillenkoetter, then at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, may well have had the EBD typed at the CIA. Smith (who worked very closely with Ike during WW 2) might well have said that Ike likes documents with signatures. Surely the CIA had the capability of lifting a signature from the memo from Truman to Bush (ironically I had found that in the Bush papers at the LCMD).

Of course, none of the critics of the memo note that the numerical portion of the date "24,1947." is offset from the September and done with a different typewriter. Bush's office always put a period after the date. Rarely did Truman's. George Elsey, who worked for Roosevelt at the White House and then for Truman during his entire term in office, told me that most of what a President signs is prepared by other people and sometimes the documents have to have the date typed later when it is clear which date is appropriate. He could find no reason to say the EBD, TFM, or CTM were fraudulent. Truman was very busy at that time as the New National Security apparatus was being installed, the USAF was separated from the Army, the CIA was created from the Central Intelligence Group, etc. etc. Why would a hoaxer use two different typewriters and put a period after the date? Forgers normally do as little as possible to call attention to idiosyncrasies in the forgeries -- whether paintings or documents.

Other critics of the signature claim, based on Albert S. Osborne's book "Questioned Documents", that no two signatures are alike. Actually, Osborne said that one could have identical signatures, just not consecutively. After the 1948 election Truman commented to a family member that he was signing 500 thank-you notes an hour.

Some were surely identical to others. Klass had even claimed the Osborne book was published in 1978, when it would have covered Xeroxing, when it fact it was published in 1910 and the chapter involved is entitled "Traced Forgeries."
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Harry Truman in the Oval Office

Christopher Allan
Truman's signature. Stan first refuses to admit it is identical, as far as the eye can see, to one on a genuine Truman memo written to Bush on Oct.1, 1947. (It was Stan who first drew attention to the fact that one "matched" the other in an IUR article in 1988. Had he kept his mouth shut, the genuine Truman-Bush memo would most certainly never have been found).

He now says the original T-F memo was signed but none of the carbon copies were. This is entirely possible. However, Stan tells us that because Forrestal had died in 1949 his (original) was apparently lost. By 1952 Hillenkoetter thought Ike would like to see a signed executive order from president Truman to go with the briefing he (Hillenkoetter) was preparing for Ike in November 1952.

But the original, signed, T-F memo was nowhere to be found. This does not worry Stan, who proposes that, in order to fill this void, Hillenkoetter, or possibly W. Bedell Smith, asked the CIA to get hold of a Truman signature somehow. The CIA then decided to lift Truman's signature from the genuine Bush memo of Oct 1, 1947 and copy it onto the unsigned carbon copy of the Sept 24, 1947 T-F memo before Hillenkoetter passed it to Ike in the notorious Nov '52 briefing paper!! He says "the CIA would have its disinformation people transfer it". (I wonder what Truman's reaction would be had he discovered that some smart guy in the CIA had, without permission, transferred his signature from one document to another! Remember Truman was still President at this time.)

According to STF, this accounts for the two signatures being (almost) identical.

Does anyone follow all this? A trifle confusing perhaps? More important: Is such a scenario, once again, really credible?

In my view it belongs in the world of pure fantasy.
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Christopher Allan
1. The T-F memo was written by someone in Bush's office. The numeric part of the date being added by Bush before despatch. This implies that Truman could not compose even a brief 10-line memo himself. He had to get a third (or fourth) party to do it. [I should add that Stan has never shown that Bush even saw this memo since there is no cc list to show it was sent to anyone other than Forrestal.]

2. The Hillenkoetter-Ike paper was likely written by someone in the CIA, presumably because H needed advice & help in writing it. Also, STF says the CIA was so concerned that the T-F copy memo had no signature, that they had to lift one from a 5-year old document. But in so doing H omitted his own signature on the briefing! (Presumably he either forgot or decided his signature was less important than getting Truman's, by devious means).

3. The Cutler-Twining memo was not written by Cutler, since he was out of the country. Again, a third person wrote it (according to STF.) Thus we have the position that Stan, in order to maintain that all three papers are authentic, has to tell us that none of them was in fact written by its indicated author!

Truly amazing.

I wonder what the CIA or Hillenkoetter would have done had the 'missing' T-F original (with T's signature) suddenly turned up after H sent his briefing to Ike! The CIA would then have egg on its face and be forced to find a way out of their predicament, since they would then have in their possession one T-F memo with one Truman signature and the same memo with a different Truman signature (i.e. the one lifted from another document).

Let's get real for once: no CIA agent with even half a brain would ever try to transplant the signature of a serving President from one document to another.
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Ryan S Wood discusses the Truman signature

Majestic Documents Website
A video is available at the website. In this video, Ryan Wood discusses the Truman signature controversy. View the video here.

The signature is also discussed in another document discussing the MUFON 2000 Symposium proceedings, also at the above website.

The Skeptical Believer - John Shirley
Somewhere around mid-morning Bob Wood tackled that notorious Harry Truman MJ-12 letter to Vannevar Bush, refuted by skeptics because of its photographic-precise likeness of the Truman signature to another Truman signature found on another document-- identical down to near-microscopic blots. This exact duplication appears to show that the signature was photographed or photocopied from that other, unrelated letter. Bob suggested that the similarity in the signatures, beyond ordinary signature consistency, was the result of the use of a "pentagraph" machine, a device which Truman used (there are photos of him using one) to sign more than one document at the same time, with several pens mechanically connected.
I replied that the pentagraph, being mechanical and not a digital or photographic device, would not make precisely the same signature -- it would make one that would be similar, but not exactly the same. The two signatures in the disputed documents are exactly, precisely, photographically the same -- way beyond the likely capability of a pentagraph. Bob nodded but said that the jury was still out on the exactitude of a pentagraph's signature-duplicating capability. They hadn't found one to test yet. Link to original article

After reviewing all of the above information, I have come to the (tentative) conclusion that there is enough evidence to suggest the signature has been added to the "Truman Forrestal Memo" in an attempt to convince people of the document's authenticity. If this is the case, where does that leave the rest of the Majestic 12 documents in terms of believability?

The biggest factor that swayed me in favour of this conclusion can be found in the following: "The "T" in the October 1, 1947 signature intersected the final "s" in Sincerely yours". The same point on the Forrestal letter is slightly thinner, as if the intersection with the "s" had been modified with liquid paper or the like before photocopying."

Stephen Broadbent.

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