by Timothy Chilman
During the Cold War, rumors emanated from behind the Iron Curtain to the effect that the Soviets were attempting to spy using paranormal abilities, and 40 institutes were involved. Soviet success was a “low probability/high impact” event. Information was sketchy and based largely on rumor from sources that were second-hand or worse, some of which were reliable and some not. The U.S. military wished to ensure they were not left behind in this respect.
The result was the Stargate Project, which ran from the 1970s to 1995 – officially. It built upon earlier research by the American Society for Psychical Research, the Stanford Research Insitute, and other, similar organizations.
In the 1960s, American scientists had discovered that focusing negative thoughts on mold inhibited its growth – perhaps gypsies’ curses worked. In one study, 151 of 194 mold samples showed inhibited growth when concentrated upon in this manner. The food poisoning bug, E.coli, was also shown to be susceptible.
The Stargate Project is not to be confused with the Jedi Project, where U.S. soldiers attempted to kill animals using their minds, which is formally known as Direct Mental Interaction with Living Systems. The Jedi Project was the subject of the film, The Men Who Stare at Goats, which starred George Clooney and Ewan Macgregor. At first, dogs were used for experiments, but soldiers could not bring themselves to attempt to kill them. Less-appealing animals such as goats and pigs were later used. A young Uri Geller was asked to kill a pig, but was a vegetarian who respected life. One soldier, special forces Sergeant Glenn Wheaton, said another soldier was able to kill goats, and that Wheaton saw him do it.
SRI International, formerly the Stanford Research Institute, split from Stanford to become an independent, not-for-profit organization. According to Jim Marrs’ book, Psi Spies, the interest of one employee, Dr. Harold Puthoff, was aroused in the 1970s after he read a book about Soviet psychic experiments, Psychic Discoveries behind the Iron Curtain. He began to investigate psychic phenomena for his employer. One of the psychics used in the SRI experiments, Ingo Swann, was believed to have genuine psychic abilities. Swann is credited with coining the term, “remote viewing,” to describe a structured approach to what would otherwise be known as clairvoyance.
Someone at the CIA had also read that book, and so the CIA made contact with SRI in 1972 regarding the matter. So began Project Scangate, which was later known as Grill Flame, Sun Streak, and eventually Stargate, and was based at Fort Meade in Maryland. The first man chosen for the project was army intelligence officer, Joe McMoneagle. In an interview, he said, “If someone would have told me we think you are psychic and we want you in this program, I would have told them, ‘What, are out of your gourd?’” McMoneagle and a group of other men had been gathered and asked of paranormal subjects. McMoneagle believed the Army should investigate the paranormal, which answer must have pleased those who interviewed him as he was soon subjected to psychic testing, for which he showed great aptitude.
The project has been reported to have included up to 22 remote viewers at its peak. McMoneagle came to see the project as worthwhile: “We proved to be quite useful ‘spies’.” McMoneagle said the project was highly successful. It was instructed by almost every intelligence agency to obtain information concerning enemy bases, terrorists, missing fighter bombers, hostages in Lebanon, Iraqi targets in Gulf War I, Soviet energy weapons, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in Scotland, narco-trafficking off the coast of the United States, KGB moles in the CIA, foreign testing of weapons of mass destruction, and a kidnapped general. The project is also known to have tried to locate Colonel Quaddafi and locate a missing airplane in Africa. Per McMoneagle, the tasks assigned were often cold cases more than a year old and all other means of intelligence collection had failed, but Project Stargate provided new information within hours that was accurate 22 percent of the time.
McMoneagle said the project took an interest in UFOs, and he had remote viewed ETs himself. His experiences found their way into various of his books telling of his time as a psychic spy. Swann was another who wrote of remote viewing extra-terrestrials in his autobiography, Penetration: The Question of Extra-terrestrial and Human Telepathy. Swann claimed to have remote viewed alien bases on the far side of the moon.
When remote viewing was attempted, the results were not revealed to the viewer, as it was feared the person’s confidence would be damaged if they knew they had been incorrect. Feedback of any kind was rare, and all observations were generally secret, despite feedback improving performance.
Shielding a target made no difference to the quality of remote viewing. Testing was conducted using a beacon and viewer. The beacon went to a remote location or examined a photograph or other object, while the remote viewer attempted to describe what was observed. Mostly, the beacons were looking at photographs in National Geographic. A single judge compared the viewer’s report to what was observed and judged whether the venture had been successful. The use of a single judge was perhaps unwise. Results were better when the remote viewer described a target instead of selecting one from a list. It was doubted whether a person needed to act as a beacon.
The project scored some misses. Swann and Harold Sherman claimed to have remote-viewed the planets Mercury and Jupiter, and Russel Targ and Puthoff said their remote viewing was vindicated by the findings of the Mariner 10 and Pioneer 10 spacecraft. Isaac Asimov found that 46 percent of the men’s claims were wrong. James Randi said that only one in 65 of the pair’s findings was a fact that was not obvious or obtainable from reference books. Swann had claimed to have perceived a 30,000 ft range of mountains on Jupiter, when no such thing exists. Swann later suggested that he had been viewing another planet.
The project, however, certainly achieved some success, which was detailed in McMoneagle’s book, the Ultimate Time Machine, and Paul H. Smith’s work, Reading the Enemy’s Mind: Inside Star Gate America’s Psychic Espionage Program.
In January 1980, McMoneagle predicted the launch date of a newly-constructed Typhoon class submarine four months in advance. Satellite photographs provided confirmation. Smith said that this was not the only occasion where McMoneagle made predictions months ahead of events.
Keith Harary of the Stargate Project predicted the release of hostage Richard Queen, who had been seized at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The prediction was made three weeks in advance, and correctly described the medical problem which occasioned the release. Harary had said, “He seems to be suffering from nausea. One side of his body seems damaged or hurt.” Queen suffered from multiple sclerosis and other conditions which affected one side of his body. The episode was not mentioned in The Mind Race: Understanding and Using Psychic Abilities, the book Harary wrote with Russell Targ. Smith said that the hostage became enraged when told of the U.S. government’s advanced warning, as he believed the information could only have been obtained if the CIA had an agent who mixed with the hostages.
Paul H. Smith believed that he had predicted the attack on the USS Stark on May 17, 1987. He said he had been correct regarding the motive, location, and method of the attack. The session had produced a 30-page document which included sketches of the ship and other diagrams.
One serial criminal who was apprehended had been described by Stargate remote viewers. He was jailed. Twenty years later, the subject supplied information that verified the remote viewer’s statements almost exactly. Reference was made to the case in the film, Suspect Zero.
According to McMoneagle, remote viewing of UFOs was not requested by government agencies. He did, however, recall viewing an object at an eastern bloc base. The object was saucer-shaped and flew at 4,000 miles per hour at 13,000 feet. It made a sharp 90 degree turn. He later discovered that the Air Force had obtained pictures of an unidentified flying object traveling at 3,900 miles per hour at 11,000 feet which had made a sharp turn to the right.
Pat Price was a remote viewer who had been a police officer serving in Burbank, Calif. He believed there were four underground alien bases on Earth, and offered his reports of these locations to Puthoff. His most well-known remote viewing success occurred when he was asked to remote view a highly secret Soviet military base in Semipalatinsk in Siberia, a very remote area. Price described a succession of non-existent features, including men in space suits. Price did not see oil derricks. He said they had been disassembled, however satellite photographs disproved this. He did, however, observe a 150-foot tall mobile gantry crane which ran on tracks over an underground building, a feature that was present and very rare. He made a number of detailed sketches. Targ said, “This trial was such a stunning success that we were forced to undergo a formal Congressional investigation to determine if there had been a breach in National Security. Of course, none was ever found, and we were supported by the government for another fifteen years.”
Paul H. Smith was the principal author of a remote viewing manual. Articles he wrote about remote viewing have since appeared in UFO Magazine while his articles about remote viewing and dowsing have appeared in The American Dowser. His book, Reading the Enemy’s Mind: Inside Star Gate: America’s Psychic Espionage Program, was the book bonus feature for the March 2006 Reader’s Digest.
McMoneagle was asked to remote view the Cydonia region of Mars. He gained the impression of an advanced civilization which had experienced a catastrophe millions of years ago. His drawings matched features on the Martian surface.
In 1995, the CIA called upon the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to evaluate the Stargate Project. For the sake of balance, one study was conducted by a believer and another by a skeptic. Both were familiar with research in the field. Jessica Utts, a professor of statistics at the University of California, said, “It is clear to this author that anomalous cognition is possible and has been demonstrated. This conclusion is not based on belief, but rather on commonly accepted scientific criteria.” She found that gifted subjects scored between five and 15 percent greater than chance, which Utts said was “far beyond what is expected by chance,” although there was much irrelevant information and successes were vague.
Utts speculated that the five regular senses detected change, and that perhaps the same could by accomplished psychically: targets containing a large degree of change, for instance variations of color, were more successfully identified by remote viewers than were other targets. Utts said that psychic abilities were inborn, and could not be produced by training. Only one percent of people were skilled at remote viewing. Utts said it would be better to study why psychic ability exists than to study whether it existed. Utts had co-authored papers with physicist Edwin May, who replaced Puthoff as the head of the Stargate Project in 1985, and so was not disinterested.
In the other study, Ray Hyman of the University of Oregon acknowledged that the test results were greater than chance and there were no glaring flaws in the testing technique, but added that Utts’ conclusion that ESP was real was “premature and that present findings have yet to be independently replicated.”
One success described in the AIR report concerned two remote viewers who viewed a secret, underground installation in West Virginia. This is believed to have been the notorious Mount Weather installation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Western Virginia Office of Controlled Conflict Operations, which is said to house a complete duplicate of the Federal government for use in the event of a national catastrophe. One remote viewer named personnel and codewords connected to the base, which prompted a full investigation into a possible leak. Hyman suggested that the remote viewers happened to already know of the base, which does not explain how some of their findings were secret. Another task was the remote viewing of North Korea, where railway tunnels were observed, and information was obtained which was not known to the U.S. government. Six remote viewers were judged to perform significantly better than the others.
After the Iran/Contra affair, there was greater scrutiny of “hip pocket” operations that could prove embarrassing to U.S. intelligence agencies. The $20 million dollar project was canceled because although a statistically significant effect was observed, it was unclear that remote viewing had been demonstrated and what had been achieved was vague and of limited applicability. The CIA took the ESP out of espionage.
Scientists do not believe in extra-sensory perception. A survey of members of the National Academy of Science in 1992 found that 77 percent did not believe in psychic phenomena. The public, on the other hand, definitely does. In a poll by Gallup in 2005, 75 percent of Americans said that they believed in paranormal phenomena, with 41 percent believing in ESP.
Mere funding of research into psychic spying does not entail that it must have been valid. The U.S. government has funded many projects that have never been proven effective, with two of the better-known examples being abstinence-only sex education and the Star Wars program. The actions of the Stargate Project, the Jedi Project and others, however, suggest that psychic spying works, although given the length of time for which Osama bin Laden evaded justice, some work evidently still needs to be done.
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