The CIA spent over $20 million training remote viewers to keep a “psychic eye” on Soviet military projects.
Some U.S. taxpayers were outraged when they learned that the CIA had spent a million dollars a year for twenty years hiring psychics to spy on the Soviets. According to scientists at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Palo Alto, California, where the research began in 1972, NASA, the air force, the navy, and the CIA chipped in to supply the budget for psychic spies mentally keeping tabs on Soviet military projects. Russell Targ, one of the directors of the research, said that the psychics were able to achieve remarkable results that he as a physicist would not have believed if he had not witnessed them himself.
In one instance, Pat Price, a former Burbank, California, police commissioner, sat in the Palo Alto laboratory and gave CIA officers the details of some of the equipment at a Soviet “Star Wars” weapon factory. To check out Price’s “controlled remote viewing” (CRV) abilities, the CIA directed a spy satellite to photograph the site. High-resolution photographs revealed the equipment that Price had seen but which no one in American intelligence had known existed. Price also described some equipment that the spy satellite was unable to photograph. Three years later, on-ground intelligence operatives confirmed Price’s psychic description as being right on target.
In another display of his psychic prowess, Price pinpointed the location of a Soviet bomber that had gone down in a jungle so dense that intensive aerial searches had failed to located it. Based on Price’s directions, a CIA team was able to remove electronic equipment and secret codes from the downed aircraft.
Dr. David Morehouse, a former army Ranger officer and CIA operative, and himself a remote viewer, said that the SRI gathered together all the major psychics for whom they could get temporary security clearances and whom they could afford and began to explore whether so-called psychic talent could be controlled.
It became the assignment of the well-known New York artist-psychic-sensitive Ingo Swann to develop the parameters of controlled remote viewing into a rigid discipline. Swann came to SRI in June 1972 and began working with Targ and Dr. Harold “Hal” Puthoff. In October Swann’s ability with clairvoyance so impressed two CIA agents that they set up an eight-month pilot program. When his contract with the CIA expired, Swann left SRI in August 1973, but he returned in the fall of 1974 as a consultant. In the late 1970s Swann developed a strict remote-viewing protocol that was used to train new recruits.
“The protocol was turned over to the Defense Intelligence Agency in 1982,” Morehouse told reporter Elizabeth Nickson. “It was born in a bed of science, managed and governed in a bed of science, and it was used as an intelligence collection technology, with the understanding that it was not 100% accurate, recognizing that it never will be 100% accurate, recognizing that no other intelligence collecting methodologies are 100% accurate.” According to Morehouse, remote viewing was simply one more method of gathering the pieces of a puzzle.
In time, a proven stable of remote viewers was established. In test after test, the psychics viewed secret installations worldwide, read documents in locked safes, and witnessed events that took place behind closed doors.
In 1983 Swann, working with Puthoff, believed that he had been able to develop an accurate model of how the collective unconscious communicates information to conscious awareness. The ability to employ extrasensory abilities, such as remote viewing, Swann maintained, is akin to language, an innate human faculty, but like language it must be learned to be effective. Theoretically, according to Swann’s insight, anyone should be able to be trained to produce accurate, detailed target data.
According to Lyn Buchanan, one of the remote viewers who worked with Army Intelligence and the CIA, CRV develops communication between the conscious and the subconscious minds. The subconscious relays information on a “target,” prompting the hand of the remote viewer to begin to make symbols representing the objective on sheets of paper. The remote viewer does not enter a trance state but remains wide awake, yet he or she experiences insights, emotions, and mental impressions of the target. In one sense, the remote viewer bilocates—that is, exists in two places at once.
Buchanan told reporter Michael Shinabery that he had always felt that there was another project, buried deeper than the one in which the remote viewers participated. Fueling Buchanan’s suspicions is a description of Pat Price’s final hours. Price was one of the very best viewers and one of the most reliable, and Hal Puthoff was having dinner with him the evening that Price died. According to Buchanan:
Hal had gone to the bathroom, come back, and there was Pat Price lying face down on the table, dead. Puthoff quietly summoned a waiter, who pushed through the kitchen door to call for an ambulance. Almost immediately, as the doors swung back the other way, attendants came in, went over to the table, got Pat Price, took him through the kitchen and out the back and put him in an ambulance. They refused to allow Puthoff to accompany Price to the hospital.
Puthoff looked on the side of the vehicle, and there was no hospital, no ambulance service name. It was just a solid white truck.
Pat Price’s body was never found. The question on many people’s minds is whether Pat Price is dead or not.
For twenty-three years, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other government groups studied ways in which CRV might be utilized to collect intelligence on a dependable basis. The CIA disbanded and declassified the project in December 1995, when a government-funded, two-person panel evaluated the program and concluded that it did not have any great value in intelligence operations. A number of the remote viewers have since gone on to teach CRV to private individuals.
Skeptic Ray Hyman, professor emeritus in psychology at the University of Oregon, has commented that he didn’t see any science at work in the SRI program in remote viewing, only guesswork. And even if CRV worked some of the time, Hyman said, it was too erratic to be dependable.
On the other hand, is Pat Price dead—or is he heading up an even more secret group of remote viewers than the one headed by Puthoff and Targ at SRI during the 1970s and ‘80s?