The organization maintained a public face, an overt identity at the Pentagon called the Office of Space Systems

Tuesday, July 9th, 2024

Area 51 by Annie JacobsenAs President Kennedy’s new secretary of defense, Annie Jacobsen explains (in Area 51), Robert McNamara called for the Pentagon to assume control of all spy plane programs:

McNamara was at the top of the chain of command of all the armed services and believed his Air Force should be in charge of all U.S. assets with wings. The public had lost confidence in the CIA, McNamara told the president.


One plan was that the CIA might work in better partnership with the Air Force. President Kennedy liked that. On September 6, 1961, he created a protocol that required the CIA deputy director and the undersecretary of the Air Force to comanage all space reconnaissance and aerial espionage programs together as the National Reconnaissance Office, a classified agency within Robert McNamara’s Department of Defense. A central headquarters for NRO was established in Washington, a small office with a limited staff but with a number of empire-size egos vying for power and control. The organization maintained a public face, an overt identity at the Pentagon called the Office of Space Systems, but no one outside a select few knew of NRO’s existence until 1992.


“Because I was the person with a list of every employee at the area, it was my job to know not just who was who, but who was the boss of somebody’s boss. An individual person didn’t necessarily know much more about the person they worked for than their code name. And they almost certainly didn’t know who was working on the other side of the wall or in the next trailer over. Wayne Pendleton was the head of the radar group for a while. He was my go-to person for a lot of different groups. One day, Pendleton suddenly says, ‘I’m going to Washington, Jim.’ So I said, ‘What if I need you, what number should I call?’ And Pendleton laughed. He said, ‘You won’t need me because where I’m going doesn’t exist.’ Decades later I would learn that the place where Wayne was going when he left the Ranch was to a little office in Washington called NRO.”


  1. Neovictorian says:

    I really liked this book but the ending of Roswell being a Soviet project operated by deformed genetic experiment children was rather strange.

  2. Isegoria says:

    Yeah, the small sections on UFOs are wildly different from the rest of the book.

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