by Paul H. Smith

from IRVALibrary Website



Though I have griped about it for years, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) does deserve accolades for the work done with these Archives. Clearly, thousands of man-hours went into review and preparation of all these documents. Though I might like to have seen some things done differently, and had access to some of the information that ended up being withheld, this was obviously a Herculean effort and deserves some praise from all of us interested in remote viewing.

Remote viewing burst into public consciousness at the end of November, 1995. Soon, late-night radio talk shows, Internet buzz, and a handful of popular books made it all but a household term. Until now, though, what people have mostly had to go on about the realities of the U.S. Government’s dabbling with psychic warfare were the testimonies (and memories) of its veterans.


Sometimes those stories seemed plausible, but sometimes they conflicted, while other times they seemed inflated or contrived. As with any event in modern times, the best evidence for this amazing saga would have been the documents that recorded what really happened, what really was done, and who really was responsible for things that occurred.


Unfortunately, those documents were missing – and they were missing because what is known in government circles as the “proponent agency,” the government entity that is responsible, never got around to making them available.

When what became known as the Star Gate Program was declassified in the fall of 1995, the Central Intelligence Agency promised to make the archives available within six months. That time came and went. The release date was pushed two years down the road. It still never happened. It began to look to all of us waiting for those treasures to be released that we would never see them in our life times.


That meant that much of the scientific progress surrounding remote viewing that was made was not available to be used. That meant unraveling the various versions of the remote viewing story was indefinitely on hold. That meant that the many lessons-learned from laboratory and practical experimentation with remote viewing would not be available to build upon. Many folks would be left to re-inventing the wheel. It was a crying shame.

But suddenly, that has changed.

The good news is that now, after nine years of waiting, a major portion of the archives of the US Government’s seminal remote viewing program have not only been declassified, but made generally accessible to the public.


For well over a year these same documents had been available on a limited basis, but you had to go bodily to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, sit at a CD-Rom carrel, wait while the CDs were loaded for you, then page through the [15,200] documents one at a time, printing off copies of those you wanted to take with you. It was laborious and maddening... and a crap shoot.


The documents were numbered, not titled, there was no comprehensive index, no subject-matter nor chronological organization to help you know where to look or what you might find there. Soon after the Star Gate corpus was installed in the National Archives, CIA remote viewing program founder Dr. Hal Puthoff tried it out, spending the better part of a day and coming away with relatively little (though he did have lunch with Joe McMoneagle).


A U.S. News & World Report journalist went to the Archives and ended up with a hodge-podge of documents of which she couldn’t make heads nor tales. In January, 2003 she faxed me a one-inch stack of them and we had to go through them together over the phone while I explained what each was and where it fit into the overall picture.

But now all that has changed. Ninety thousand pages of the Star Gate Archives, making up nearly[15,500] documents can be owned by anyone. As I said before, that’s the good news. But now for the bad news: It is still hard to sort out a very confusing mis-mash of correspondence, research reports, remote viewing sessions, tasking documents, memos, and so on. I just spent four exhausting weeks going through all fourteen disks the CIA provided, which is what it took to even begin to make sense of it all.

What I did was not much more than a skim-job – though I actually laid eyes on perhaps around 8,000 of the total, relatively few of the documents (though still amounting to hundreds) was I able to exam in any great depth. But it was fascinating. I found hundreds – perhaps even as many as a couple of thousand – operational remote viewing sessions. These are often accompanied by the tasking sheets and by many of the final reports that comprised the audit trail of complete “live” intelligence-gathering remote viewing projects.


Among these are some of the legendary ones you’ve heard of before: for example, Joe McMoneagle’s famous sessions against Building 402, where the world’s largest submarine, the Typhoon, was being secretly built by the Soviets.


Also here is the long series of sessions done against America’s Stealth aircraft before its existence was revealed to the public.


The purpose of this remote viewing effort was to evaluate what danger Russian remote viewers might pose the secret project. It turned out to be considerable. I also found dozens of sessions on the Iranian hostage problem, remote viewings from the project done after the raid on Col. Qaddafy’s Libyan palace, sessions seeking to locate POWs in Southeast Asia, a project trying to unlock the secrets of a Soviet rocket explosion over Scandinavia, and many more.


Altogether there is extensive documentation for scores of real-world remote viewing intelligence collection operations.

It is one thing to hear about this (or, as in my case, remember them in one’s past). It is an altogether different experience to actually see these fascinating documents with one’s own eyes or, printing them out, actually hold hard copies of them in one’s hand to be leafed through and carefully examined. There was a lot to learn that was new even for me.

But the operational remote viewing materials are just the start.


There are also hundreds more remote viewing training sessions, including many done by such lights as Mel Riley, Joe McMoneagle, Bill Ray, Lyn Buchanan, Gabrielle Pettingell, Dave Morehouse, Ed Dames, and even a large sheaf of my own. I took time to look at some of these training sessions, and found it quite enlightening to see how virtually everyone, no matter how their reputations may have eventually grown, struggled in the beginning trying to get a leg up on this notably flighty discipline we call remote viewing.

Also interesting to see are all the approaches tried to solve the hard problems of remote viewing, “Search” (finding places, people or things the location of which is unknown), and “Future” (trying to predict important events). For Future there were a number of projects aimed at evaluating how well viewers could recount what would be on the front page of The Washington Post newspaper or on the cover of Newsweek magazine a week hence.


There was an attempt to see if viewers could predict events during Liberty Week 1986. Some of these produced interesting, though far from perfect results. For Search, there were projects involving dowsing for an agent’s location in a nearby area, and there were attempts to modify remote viewing beacon experiments as a search tool.

There was even one long-term project that involved several viewers tasked retro-cognitively – against a target in the past, to see how remote viewing the past compared in quality to attempts at remote viewing the present and future. The target was the attack on Pearl Harbor. Because of the high emotional content of this particular tasking, it should be no surprise that a huge amount of accurate data was produced by the viewers. I came across all this as I sorted through the Archives.

There were also various interesting attempts at what were called “utility assessments” – projects that pitted viewers against targets and problems similar to what they might encounter in a real situation. These simulated operations often, if not always, produced good results.

All forms of remote viewing methods are represented here. I came across a large body of extended remote viewing (ERV), coordinate (now “controlled”) remote viewing (CRV), and written remote viewing (WRV, a form of channeling) session transcripts. But there are also many other, more free-flow types of remote viewing done by the pioneers of the remote viewing program, and many of these seemed just as worthy and successful as those done in later years.

Besides remote viewing session transcripts, though, there are other things: There are scores of draft and final versions of various research reports from both the SRI-International and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) labs that performed the bulk of the science behind remote viewing. These include explorations not only of remote viewing but also of intuition, psychokinesis, and other psi-related subject.


Those concerned with remote viewing cover everything from documenting protocols and methods, to how one evaluates remote viewing sessions, to how to screen a population for remote viewing talent, to training methods, to hypnosis (see the Taskings&Response feature in this issue of Aperture) and much more besides.

There are also hundreds of “foreign assessment” documents – papers and research reports from around the world (but particularly from China and Russia) on developments in parapsychology and consciousness studies.


One interesting find, for example, was a 370-page compilation of research on the Chinese practice known as Qigong.

And there is also the relatively trivial – administrative and budgetary documents; policy memos on experimenting on human subjects, indoctrination and non-disclosure certificates for those being granted access to what at the time was a highly-classified program. But even these seemingly mundane documents have their importance, in that they provide the audit trail, the who-did-what-do-whom framework that will allow a fuller history of the remote viewing program to be known. Some dismiss this sort of history as being unimportant.


But it is only here that many of the more sensationalistic claims made since RV “went public” can be proved or disproved. There are those who don’t want the history delved into because it will show that the claims they’ve been making over the past decade may not necessarily be as firmly grounded as they would like us to believe.


But, jumbled though it may be, here that history is for anyone with enough patient and detective skills to sift through it. Besides, as happened to me, it can be quite entertaining to be roaming through these Archives and then suddenly stumble across letters and memos written by CIA scientists and officials talking back and forth about what exactly they had gotten themselves into and just what they might be able to do with it!

There are even some rather sensational things to be found. There are transcripts of several remote viewing sessions with the planet Mars as the target. In my skimming I encountered a session Mel Riley worked with the Ark of the Covenant as his target. And particularly startling was the report of remote viewing work done in 1983 by unnamed government viewers that described a terrorist plot to fly a business jet loaded with explosives into the US Capitol building.

As I say, there is all that good news. But there is some other bad news, as well. First, as one goes through these Archives one must always bear in mind that these were once-secret (sometimes even Top Secret) documents, and not everything about the remote viewing program was deemed releasable. The documents present in the Star Gate collection demonstrate that fact quite clearly.


Not only were [20,000] pages of documents withheld entirely, but many parts of the ones that were released have been “redacted” – or edited (or, if you want to be picky, censored). It is annoying to be paging through an interesting document only to discover that two crucial pages out of the middle are missing, with the “next two pages exempt” label heading a blank page with a horizontal slash through it.


Elsewhere, all the pages are there but phrases, sentences, or sometimes even whole paragraphs may be blanked out. By far it is persons’ names that are most often hidden, but there are plenty of other redactions as well. Fortunately, most of the session transcripts themselves tend to be intact (though often geographic coordinates are blocked). But more frustrating is that many of the operational targets for those sessions are not revealed.


What good is a session transcript if you don’t know what the target is?

Some good, actually, it turns out, since at the very least one can learn from how a given viewer worked a certain project, how he or she executed certain aspects of the process, and so on. Nonetheless, lacking the targeting information makes these sessions much less valuable than they might have been. We can only assume that there were sound national security reasons for withholding that information.


One often wonders, though, when some of the documents with the best evaluations of success for the remote viewing effort are themselves edited of the very information that tells the reader how and why the work was so successful.

A particular example I have in mind is a multi-page document containing input for a Military Intelligence Board meeting that was to decide the fate of the Star Gate program. The document spoke very highly of a significant number of successes the military remote viewers had in operational projects in which they had provided valuable actionable intelligence. However, all those examples were completely redacted.


One might almost think there was still a conspiracy afoot to undermine the credibility of the remote viewing program by the Agency that was responsible for terminating it. Significantly, the program continued for five years beyond that fateful meeting. Apparently the examples, while now unavailable to us, did at the time at least persuade the generals and admirals and their representatives who make up the Board.

Fortunately, such problems are much fewer with the many training sessions contained in the Archive.


With some occasional exceptions, feedback is included with these session transcripts, or is located in nearby files. As I mentioned above, these sessions also are very instructive, though for obvious reasons not always of the same quality as the operational work. Still there are many brilliant stand-outs among these sessions as well. And it helps that one can evaluate success more easily since the targeting information is for the most part readily available.

While I have focused mostly on what is here in the Star Gate documents, I found what isn’t here also to be interesting. What seems not to be here is any documentation from the Air Force program run by Dale Graff in the Foreign Technology Division at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, beginning in 1975. That program went on for several years and achieved a number of important things.


In fact, Graff and his program were directly responsible for keeping the SRI-International remote viewing research effort going after the CIA abandoned it the first time. But there is nothing to show for it, at least as far as I’ve been able to discover. There is also little in evidence from Graff’s and Dr. Jack Vorona’s offices at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s main facility in Washington, DC. A lot of high-level coordination with Congress and with important agencies in the intelligence community took place there, and yet the paper trail does not seem to be present in the Archives.


Yet more disappointing yet is the absence of any of the raw data (remote viewing transcripts and such), and most of the background documentation that should have accompanied the research work at SRI and at SAIC. Mostly what is present in the Archives from those important remote viewing venues is draft and final reports of the research that was done, plus a volume of correspondence from the early days. There is much more of importance that has not, therefore, yet seen the light of day.

All that notwithstanding, the present mammoth compendium of documentation on remote viewing operations, training, and research is of immense value. It is confusing, it is intimidating, it is even sometimes mind-numbing. But the treasures within it make it well worth exploring. Interestingly, my contact at the National Archives tells me that another 20,000 pages are being prepared for a separate release.


With any luck, much of the missing documentation will be found in there.


However, given how long it took this current batch to come forth, I don’t plan on holding my breath.