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Alien Needles Under Military Haystacks: The NASA UAP Report and the Pentacle Memo

Last week NASA released their UAP report, which nobody would have categorized as ‘highly anticipated’, because nobody was expecting any major bombshells coming out of this 36-page document, which frankly could have been trimmed to just four or five pages including the front and back covers —remember how in high school you needed to ‘pad’ a 5000-word essay when you only had a couple of paragraphs of useful information, hoping the teacher wouldn’t notice? That is exactly what it felt like reading through this…

NASA UAP independent team

So aside from mentioning a tantalizing proposal to analyze astronomical plates for Earth orbiting objects prior to 1959 (the year Sputnik was launched by the Soviets [1]) the only other thing that got me thinking while drudging through this soporiferous pdf were the following paragraphs:

[…] Fortunately, modern analytical techniques have improved our ability to find extremely rare signals within a sea of clutter, whether that is one Higgs event in 1010 collisions with the Large Hadron Collider, or a small number of photons from an exoplanet hiding in a billion stellar background photons. If the background cannot be minimized, it has to be characterized in detail and completely detailed knowledge of the signatures (morphological, spectroscopic, kinematic) of all known airborne events need to be incorporated to eliminate spurious detections of known phenomena. This requires an extensive study of known events with accurately calibrated instruments.

A database that supports the characterization of background signals should include information about the launch rate of balloons (weather, scientific, commercial, hobbyist, and military where allowed by national security considerations); number of aircraft in the sky across the United States and the globe; daily drone launch rate within U.S. airspace; as well as characteristics of the appearance and motion capabilities of these items.

There are two approaches to detecting anomalies in large datasets. If you are looking for a needle in a haystack, one approach is to have a detailed model of the properties of needles and look for anything that looks like a needle. The other approach is to have an accurate model of the properties of hay and look for anything that looks different from hay.

These above paragraphs caught my attention not because they were saying something particularly new —not only does the idea get repeated within the report itself (like I said, ‘padding’) but David Spergel (who was the head of the team) has been using the same ‘haystack’ metaphor every chance he’s got to publicly talk about UFOs.

No, the reason I’m writing this article is because Spergel’s haystack reminded me about a little —but highly controversial— piece of UFO history: The Pentacle memorandum.

To understand the significance of this obscure document, we first need to head back to 1953 when the CIA sponsored the infamous Robertson panel, which we have mentioned in previous Daily Grail articles. For new readers, the Robertson panel was a meeting of US top scientists organized by the CIA in 1953 to discuss the thorny topic of ‘flying saucers’, which had displayed a troublesome peak of activity in the very heart of the nation (Washington, D.C.) in the summer of the previous year; by then the Air Force had tried —unsuccessfully— to asway the public outroar with cockamamie explanations of mass hysteria, weather inversions and flocking of geese.

The conclusions of the panel? That public interest in UFOs was in itself more dangerous than the (unlikely) prospect of an interplanetary invasion, hence an insidious plan to steer away that interest with a ‘reeducation’ program involving debunking and media manipulation began; the effects of which can be felt to this day, in the form of the still-prevailing ‘stigma’ surrounding the topic.

Hynek and Vallee

Now from 1953 we must fast forward to 1967, when a young Jacques Vallee —who was still living in Chicago working under the tutelage of J. Allen Hynek— was ordering his mentor’s UFO files while he was away in Canada for the summer (Hynek and his family were probably enjoying their vacation at a small wooden cabin they owned up north).

It was then that Jacques found an unassuming letter stamped <<SECRET>> amid the deluge of papers cluttering the old UFO hunter’s home office; a memorandum harkening back to the Robertson panel, which Hynek had attended in his role of science consultant for Project Grudge, the previous name given to the Air Force’s Blue Book UFO program.

The memorandum was addressed to a “Mr. Miles E. Goll” [2] and read:




cc:      B. D. Thomas

          H. C. Cross/A. D. Westerman

          L. R. Jackson

          W. T. Reid

          P. J. Rieppal

          V. W. Ellsey/R. J. Lund    January 9, 1953


          Extra [handwritten]

Mr. Miles E. Goll

Box 9575

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

Attention  Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt

Dear Mr. Goll:

       This letter concerns a preliminary recommendation to ATIC on future methods of handling the problem of unidentified aerial objects. This recommendation is based on our experience to date in analyzing several thousands of reports on this subject.  We regard the recommendation as preliminary because our analysis is not yet complete, and we are not able to document it where we feel it should be supported by facts from the analysis.

       We are making this recommendation prematurely because of a CIA-sponsored meeting of a scientific panel, meeting in Washington, D.C., January 14, 15, and 16, 1953, to consider the problem of “flying saucers”.  The CIA-sponsored meeting is being held subsequent to a meeting of CIA, ATIC, and our representatives held at ATIC on December 12, 1952.  At the December 12 meeting our representatives strongly recommended that a scientific panel not be set up until the results of our analysis of the sighting-reports collected by ATIC were available. Since a meeting of the panel is now definitely scheduled we feel that agreement between Project Stork and ATIC should be reached as to what can and what cannot be discussed at the meeting in Washington on January 14-16 concerning our preliminary recommendation to ATIC.

       Experience to date on our study of unidentified flying objects shows that there is a distinct lack of reliable data with which to work. Even the best-documented reports are frequently lacking in critical information that makes it impossible to arrive at a possible identification, i.e. even in a well-documented report there is always an element of doubt about the data, either because the observer had no means of getting the required data, or was not prepared to utilize the means at his disposal.  Therefore, we recommend that a controlled experiment be set up by which reliable physical data can be obtained.  A tentative preliminary plan by which the experiment could be designed and carried out is discussed in the following paragraphs.

       Based on our experience so far, it is expected that certain conclusions will be reached as a result of our analysis which will make obvious the need for an effort to obtain reliable data from competent observers using the [… unreadable…] necessary equipment.  Until more reliable data are available, no positive answers to the problem will be possible.


Mr. Miles E. Goll                                       -2-                                    January 9, 1953

       We expect that our analysis will show that certain areas in the United States have had an abnormally high number of reported incidents of unidentified flying objects.  Assuming that, from our analysis, several definite areas productive of reports can be selected, we recommend that one or two of theses areas be set up as experimental areas.  This area, or areas, should have observation posts with complete visual skywatch, with radar and photographic coverage, plus all other instruments necessary or helpful in obtaining positive and reliable data on everything in the air over the area.  A very complete record of the weather should also be kept during the time of the experiment.  Coverage should be so complete that any object in the air could be tracked, and information as to its altitude, velocity, size, shape, color, time of day, etc. could be recorded.  All balloon releases or known balloon paths, aircraft flights, and flights of rockets in the test area should be known to those in charge of the experiment.  Many different types of aerial activity should be secretly and purposefully scheduled within the area.

       We recognize that this proposed experiment would amount to a large-scale military maneuver, or operation, and that it would require extensive preparation and fine coordination, plus maximum security. Although it would be a major operation, and expensive, there are many extra benefits to be derived besides the data on unidentified aerial objects.

       The question of just what would be accomplished by the proposed experiment occurs.  Just how could the problem of these unidentified objects be solved?  From this test area, during the time of the experiment, it can be assumed that there would be a steady flow of reports from ordinary civilian observers, in addition to those by military or other official observers.  It should be possible by such a controlled experiment to prove the identity of all objects reported, or to determine positively that there were objects present of unknown identity.  Any hoaxes under a set-up such as this could almost certainly be exposed, perhaps not publicly, but at least to the military.

       In addition, by having resulting data from the controlled experiment, reports for the last five years could be re-evaluated, in the light of similar but positive information.  This should make possible reasonably certain conclusions concerning the importance of the problem of “flying saucers”.

       Results of an experiment such as described could assist the Air Force to determine how much attention to pay to future situations when, as in the past summer, there were thousands of sightings reported.  In the future, then, the Air Force should be able to make positive statements, reassuring to the public, and to the effect that everything is well under control.

                                               Very truly yours,


                                                H. C. Cross



The somewhat cryptic text allows to discern some very interesting things:

  • Someone within the government had commissioned a mysterious ‘Project Stork’, whose mission was to enlist and analyze thousands of UFO cases, just less than 5 years after the modern era of flying saucers had even begun.
  • The memo advises that, since this analysis is not over due to lack of insufficient data, it would be better to either cancel or postpone the Robertson panel meeting, which would take place less than a week later.
  • Failing this, they wanted to have a formal agreement with the Air Force’s Advanced Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) to agree on how much could and could not be discussed with the scientists gathered at the meeting. In other words, the members of this ‘secret’ scientific UFO group were not themselves considered ‘worthy’ to know the whole truth concerning what the people behind this memo already had uncovered about the phenomenon!
  • This enigmatic Project Stork had also already deduced —all the way back to 1953— that UFO sightings were not evenly distributed, and the phenomenon seemed to ‘cluster’ around certain specific areas for reasons still unknown —John Keel would years later coin the term ‘window areas’.
  • These ‘window areas’ represented a unique opportunity to conduct highly covert scientific experimentation, which is exactly what the Pentacle memo —named thusly by Vallee in his public journal Forbidden Science (Vol. 1) for reasons only known to him— suggested: Place observation posts with complete skywatch, fully equipped with a whole array of cutting-edge sensors, and enforcing total air control over what could fly in and out of these areas.
  • What’s more, Vallee suggests, is that the Pentacle memo also seems to indicate how this clandestine operation would require different types of aerial activity “secretly and purposefully scheduled within the area.”

What these people were recommending was nothing less than a carefully calibrated and monitored simulation of a UFO wave.

Forbidden Science, Vol. 1

Think about it. The pure and simple ‘evil genius’ logic of it: It is virtually impossible, as Sperbelg and the NASA report put it, to know all the parameters of ‘hay’ in the outside world at a given time. So then, what’s the next-best way to keep an eye on your haystack? By putting it inside a closely monitored barbed wire fence where nothing gets in and out without your say-so.

Once you set your ‘fence’, you then go and orchestrate faux UFO sightings which will presumably be reported by concerned citizens —through the proper channels available at the time (i.e. the police and the Air Force)— and whatever falls outside your pre-planned irruption of ‘aerial activity’, or your monitored registry of naturally occurring atmospheric phenomena, would indisputably qualify as a genuine UFO.

And only YOU would know which UFOs were fake, and which were the real deal.

For weeks Vallee kept his discovery of the Pentacle memo secret, pondering its repercussions —his journals show he thought the revelation of the memo would cause a public outcry, particularly among foreign authorities and researchers [3].

Eventually he was able to ask Hynek about it (the absent-minded astronomer wasn’t even aware he was in possession of a carbon copy of such an explosive document!) and both of them managed to deduce that the mysterious “Project Stork” had been run by the Battelle Memorial Institute, the powerful think tank and government contractor resided in Columbus, Ohio, under which Hynek had been originally employed to (for legal purpose)s back when he first became a consultant for the Air Force —later the contract passed on to McGraw-Hill (that’s right, the textbook company!).

…Can it?

The Battelle Institute was in fact in charge of writing the famous Special Report #14 for Blue Book, which had analyzed 3200 UFO cases by the end of 1953 (it was released in 1955) using the most advanced computer systems of that era. The report concluded, among other things, that:

The higher the quality of the case, the more likely it was to be classified unknown. 35% of the excellent cases were deemed unknowns, as opposed to only 18% of the poorest cases. This was the exact opposite of the result predicted by skeptics, who usually argued unknowns were poorer quality cases involving unreliable witnesses that could be solved if only better information were available.


Reading Vallee’s journals, one gets the impression that the discovery of the Pentacle memo allowed Hynek to finally open his eyes to an uncomfortable truth: The Air Force had been keeping things from him.

It was not only that Battelle’s Project Stork had not shared all their information to the Robertson panel scientists —and even Hynek told Vallee he never went to Columbus to discuss things with his so-called ‘employers’— but the best UFO cases which arrived at Blue Book were being kept separate from the public records, and not even Hynek in his capacity as scientific consultant was able to get access to them.

Vallee and his family returned to Europe by the end of 1967 and stayed there for a couple of years, where he tried to unsuccessfully settle down as a computer scientist; all the while he kept working on the manuscript which eventually became Passport to Magonia [4].

Hynek, who was never a confrontational man, eventually gathered the courage to travel to Columbus and inquire —not confront— the elusive H. C. Cross and his colleagues at Battelle about their secret Pentacle letter; yet he only managed to get these old government contractors deeply nervous about the fact that a copy of the memo had managed to survive —Cross, Hynek told Vallee, was so outraged he literally snatched Hynek’s written notes from his hands and refused to returned them after the meeting was over (Hynek was smart enough not to bring his original carbon copy)— and they assured the old astronomer that all their computer punched cards used to elaborate the Special Report 14 had been destroyed years ago, and that everything they did had been approved by ATIC.

Vallee and his mentor never managed to uncover —as far as we know— whether a clandestine simulation of a UFO wave had ever taken place inside or outside the United States, as per the suggestions of the Pentacle memo —although on subsequent volumes of his Forbidden Science journals, Jacques revealed conversations he had with ‘insiders’ over the decades, who told him that some of the most famous UFO events near sensitive military installations (including nuclear sites) had been actually staged operations meant to test security protocols [5]—military sites, after all, are the closest thing to a ‘barbed wire fenced haystack’ as you could get for a hypothetical Pentacle experiment.

(Another possibility for a tentative ‘faux flap’ experiment, we could further speculate, would be remote locations with an existing ‘lore’ of UFO activity and high strangeness… say for example, a certain notoriously infamous ranch in Utah? )

So, getting back to the present day and the NASA UAP report, let us imagine someone somewhere actually conducted one or several Pentacle experiments over the years, unbeknownst to the public and public officials in the government at the time.

Could this be the real reason why both the space agency and the Pentagon’s UFO office (AARO) are so adamant to disregard past UFO cases, throw all the dusty casefiles to the paper shredder, and begin studying the phenomenon with a ‘clean slate’ —even if it takes us another eighty years to reach an answer?

Sean Kirkpatrick, head of AARO

Is it actually an issue of better sensors and ‘metadata’, or of ensuring you don’t contaminate your database with undisclosed deceptions?

Whatever the case, I sure wish that NASA’s newly appointed UAP director [6] gets himself acquainted with the thorny history of the Robertson panel, and maybe even Battelle’s hush hush role in the shaping of public policies with regards to UFOs. Because given the past history of the US government’s involvement with this mystery, and the kind of crazy shit that was officially sanctioned by the fat cats in Washington and the Pentagon in the past —remote viewing, the Bennewitz affair and MK-Ultra to name a few— it would be naïve to assume there is some kind of higher moral constraint which would have impeded some faction inside the dark corridors of power, to at least consider putting ‘forbidden sciences’ like the Pentacle experiment into practice.

Because maybe it’s not so much about finding that hypothetical needle, but about becoming the Master of the hay.


(1) A good podcast to learn more about this can be found in the Event Horizon YouTube channel.

(2) Wendy Connors of the Project Sign Research Center, is one of these fine researchers; she provided the following comments:

“Col. Miles Goll was an early kingpin at Wright Field and first worked as head of Fire Control for the Armament Lab during the war. Later, he was in T-2 and controlled access to the special situation room. Very little else is known about him, but he did have great connections at Wright Field and the Pentagon. I’ve been trying to dig up stuff on him, but it’s pretty sparse.”


(3) The fact that, to this day, this document represents only a curious footnote in UFO history, and how little interest it gathered when Vallee went on to mention it on his interview on the Joe Rogan podcast, shows how wrong he was.

(4) It is noteworthy in my opinion how such an important piece of literature was written outside the United States, and also marked a crossroads deviating from the stereotypical assumptions favored by American UFO researchers.

(5) Vallee has also alluded in his books that some ‘alien abduction’ events could have been psyops carried out by ‘black’ counterintelligence operatives; British researcher Nick Redfern has also written about this, pointing the finger at ‘classic’ cases such as Antonio Vilas Boas in Brazil, and the Rendlesham incident in the UK.

(6) NASA’s original plan to keep their UAP Director’s name secret totally backfired (as it should have) so they were forced to disclose his name: Mark McInerney.

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