Dr. Ronald Pandolfi

CIA Scientist / Aviarian / "Weird Desk" Custodian


Excerpt from:
1996 by Jacques Vallee
ISBN 1-883319-43-9
Frog, Ltd., Berkeley, CA

The phone rang at the CIA, in the office of James O'Grady, Ph.D., a thirty-five-year-old scientist who had been assigned the task of looking after all the bizarre, undocumented and unwanted data that the Agency's vast collection networks were dredging up all the time. Such data didn't fit into any useful political or strategic category, yet it always merited some degree of attention.

"You never know when some innocuous ghost story or some silly occult belief may turn out to be significant," his boss had told him when he was assigned the job of "Keeper of the Weird."

"Look at Hitler's obsession with astrology; or the apparitions of the Holy Virgin in Croatia, a few years before Yugoslavia blew up in our face."

On this particular day O'Grady, a tall man with wire-rimmed glasses and a fine mustache, had already scanned a thick folder of National Security Agency telephone intercepts concerning French parapsychological experiments, and several diplomatic wires about Chinese expeditions into Tibet in search of the elusive Yeti, when the phone rang and he found himself talking to Bill Renslow, the White House Chief of Staff, whom he knew to be a close friend of President Henry Templeton.

"What can I do for you?" asked the young analyst, immediately on his guard. The Directorate of Science and Technology was not used to taking phone calls from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"I am told that you're the man in charge of analyzing strange occurrences," said the voice at the end of the line. "Does that include UFOs?"

"Not officially, sir."

"We're not speaking on the record here, young man," the voice said dryly "And you're not talking to CBS News. This is the White House, and I'm asking you, yes or no, if you keep up with UFO data."

"Yes, sir. I mean ... In public we deny it ... but I try to make sense of whatever crosses my desk. And most of it turns out to be garbage, naturally"

"Excellent. I'm sure you fellows do a fine job. I have a favor to ask you. Some friends of the president are putting a lot of pressure on us to look into all this UFO business. We have other fish to fry at the moment, of course. I'm sure you know as much as I do about what's going on in Mexico, where the social turmoil is ready to boil over. They might have a coup any day down there. However, these are friends of the president, influential people, Washington socialites, political contributors ... I'm sure you understand."

"Yes, sir, of course."

It was hard to turn down polite requests from people who influenced vast sectors of public opinion, even when they freaked out over such absurd rumors as flying-saucer stories.

"We are setting up a briefing for Tuesday afternoon at 1500 hours. I'd like you to prepare a background paper. If you show your credentials to the Secret Service at the side entrance, they'll take you straight to the conference room."

Dr. James O'Grady hung up the phone and scanned the metal cabinets equipped with combination locks that lined one entire wall of his office.


Trust the White House to call him up with such a bizarre request at five minutes to five on a Friday, when he was ready to leave, he thought. He would have to cancel his plans to visit his fiancee in Connecticut. And he would have to find out what information the Agency had on a subject that had generated far more controversy than hard data over the years.


Judging by the masses of reports his elders had left behind, it appeared they had wavered about the nature of the objects. Now he had three days to draft a briefing for the chief executive. No time to start doing serious research, of course.

O'Grady was too good a scientist to believe in flying saucers, but he was too smart an intelligence analyst to present himself unprepared before the president of the United States. So he called up the information science department, and initiated a database search of all recent foreign intercepts and 'Humint' dispatches reports that contained the "UFO" keyword.


Humint was an Agency euphemism for human intelligence, actual spies, in other words, who occasionally happened to see some unusual things in the sky of the foreign countries where they did their work.

Next, he sent the same request via encrypted email to the NSA at Fort Meade, and to the office of the Secretary of the Air Force; he started tapping into his contacts within the academic community who were known to track anomalous phenomena, with an urgent request to assemble some data for him; and he prayed that something would turn up over the next seventy-two hours that would be good enough to satisfy Renslow and his powerful friends.

[...Meanwhile, at a Top Seekrit meeting, The Conspiracy muses...]

We have one fellow there, Jim O'Grady, who's supposed to be the Keeper of the Weird. He gets all the stuff nobody wants: poltergeists and sea monsters, witches and spoon-bending, Bigfoot sightings and crop circles -- he's got closets full of them."

"Should we worry about him?" inquired Greg.

"Hell, no, he's over in left field, snooping on a few ufologists, scrutinizing their bank records, tapping phones -- the usual bureaucratic routine, kid stuff. I told you, their constituency is different from ours. O'Grady sits over there in his office at Langley. He's got all those impressive clearances, he thinks he's a superspy, he's sure he knows everything. His reality is defined by the four or five different badges that dangle around his neck. He doesn't even suspect we exist, in his wildest dreams."

"He will, as soon as we widen the circle of our initiations," Joe pointed out. "The guy's no dummy."

"Naturally," General Bushnell said on a tone of finality "We'll bring him into our little scheme when we're ready. He has a role to play, like everybody else. That's the nice thing about the end of the world -- everybody gets a piece of the action."

[...And the president is informed of The Horrible Truth...]

Now the president was being confronted with awesome evidence that a higher power than his own controlled the planet.

When the tape was over, Renslow reached for the stop button on the VCR and the vault became eerily silent. The president was white, his cheeks bloodless, his face drawn and tense.

"Why wasn't I told of this when they briefed me, right after the inauguration?" he asked between his clenched teeth.

"Evidently the need-to-know is controlled by the Alintel group. I didn't hear about it myself until this afternoon."

"The Agency sent over their Keeper of the Weird..." protested the president. "You were there with me. Just two days ago. Dammit, isn't he supposed to be cleared for that stuff? He didn't say a word about this."

Renslow looked at his feet.

"He didn't have access either. They kept CIA in the dark. I'm sorry to tell you, the guy didn't know anything."

Templeton covered his face in his hands and when he lifted his head again and looked up, his old friend thought he had aged ten years.

"What happens now?" asked the president. "Get on with it, Bill, for Christ's sake! Are we supposed to take orders from those deformed gray things?"

Let us, therefore, meditate upon these things.