Curiously, “remote viewing” was an old story, first
reported by Anderson himself on 23 April 1984. Other Anderson columns of U.S.
and Soviet interest in psychic research date back to 1981. Anderson’s October
29 update reported that this project, which for a time was contracted out to the
Stanford Research Institute (SRI), had been scaled back and put under Pentagon
sponsorship, but nevertheless continued. Although the results of these
experiments were reportedly mixed, the project retains its defenders in
Congress: Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI) and Rep. Charlie Rose (D-NC). By 1995, Anderson
didn’t have an opinion on the merits of this research, but his 1984 column was
supportive. On Nightline, former CIA director Robert Gates implied that pressure
from members of Congress drove the CIA’s original involvement.
Another of Ted Koppel’s CIA guests, identified only as “Norm,”
was a technical advisor for CIA deputy director John McMahon and, until 1984, a
coordinator for the SRI tests. “Norm” did mention the “eight-martini”
results from some experiments; this was an in-house term for remote-viewing
results so uncannily successful that observers needed eight martinis to recover.
Still, the general impression from Koppel’s show was dismissive. Only about
“fifteen percent” of the experiments, panelists repeated, produced accurate
results. Gates argued that such research, if undertaken at all, belongs in the
Not for the first time, however, there’s more to this story
than Ted Koppel acknowledges.
Ingo Swann, who was involved in the SRI project from
1972-1988, is upset with the media’s droll treatment of this revived story.
Swann points out that the original motivation behind the “remote viewing”
project was the fear that the Soviets were investing significant resources in
applied psychic research, and might be making advances. At the time, at least,
such a rationale would have been considered a plausible one to justify such a
small expenditure of intelligence money. Nevertheless, almost all mention of
this element of the story, which had figured prominently in the first wave of
stories on “remote viewing,” was dropped in 1995.
Furthermore, Swann claims, the “fifteen percent” figure,
established early in the SRI project, represented the baseline accuracy for
non-gifted and untrained persons. U.S. intelligence wanted sixty-five percent
accuracy, and in the later stages of the project, Swann claims, “this accuracy
level was achieved and often consistently exceeded.” According to Swann, the
key players in the project, and the documentation supporting the real story,
remain under the strictest security constraints.
However this may be, Anderson’s October 29 story reminds us
that ESP is very much alive as an object of intelligence-community interest. In
addition to “remote viewing” (seeing people, places, and events at a
distance in space and time), another area of interest is the supposed power of
“micro psycho-kinesis” or “Micro-PK” - the ability to affect small
objects, such as electrical systems, by using the mind. Micro-PK is one step
away from outright telekinesis, and its supposed power has obvious attractions
for the CIA. Imagine being able to erase a computer tape from a block away, or
interfere with the avionics of a jet fighter, or detonate a warhead.
Based on the evidence that’s on the public record, the
dream of harnessing such power, or even of establishing its existence, may be
But this fact hasn’t stopped a strange band of specialists,
many of whom have government connections, from staking out careers at the
intersection of, so to speak, ESP, the Pentagon, and the CIA: where people
interested in parapsychology work with those interested in weapons research and
mind control. These would-be psi-spooks turn up occasionally on talk shows and
at conferences on “nonlethal defense.” Their ranks include companies like
PSI-TECH in Albuquerque, founded by Maj. Edward A. Dames, and figures such as
Col. John B. Alexander of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who was featured
in the February 1995 issue of Wired magazine. Dames and Alexander and a dozen
more blend in with spookier types who shun publicity but who show up at UFO and
New Age gatherings. One is ex-Naval Intelligence officer C.B. Scott Jones, a
former aide to Sen. Claiborne Pell.
Once again, it’s likely that Ted Koppel doesn’t have the
whole story. It’s also likely that he wouldn’t be cleared to report it if he
did. Still, the piddling pool of dollars so far devoted to this research
strongly implies that, if the figure is accurate, intelligence-funded
parapsychological research has been a bust.
The uncounted millions the CIA has spent on mind control
suggest just the opposite. As with “remote viewing,” the attraction of a
successful mind control program to the CIA is obvious, and has long been
explicitly acknowledged as such. The “Manchurian Candidate” scenario - in
which a programmed zombie-assassin responds to a post-hypnotic trigger, performs
the act, and does not remember it later - is one ideal type of successful mind
control. A reliable truth serum, long the object of a CIA quest, would be
another. Both of these are operational uses of mind control, its so-called
This term comes from former CIA director Allen Dulles. In
1953, Dulles, speaking before a national meeting of Princeton alumni,
distinguished two fronts in the then-current “battle for men’s minds”: a
“first front” of mass indoctrination through censorship and propaganda, and
a “second front” of individual “brainwashing” and “brain changing.”
Before an audience of fellow Ivy Leaguers, Dulles skipped the usual pieties
about democracy. The same year, Dulles approved the CIA’s notorious MKULTRA
project, and exempted it from normal CIA financial controls.
The distinction between Dulles’s “two fronts”
eventually becomes difficult to sustain, like the distinction between, say,
sociology and psychology. Still, this distinction can be useful in roughing out
a spectrum of known mind-control techniques.
For example, one powerful tool for inducing ideological and
behavioral change is social pressure in a controlled environment. The
“brainwashing” employed during the Korean War did not involve the use drugs
or hypnosis. The Chinese merely used the same techniques that they employed on
the population at large, but with more intensity, greater control, and
additional rewards and punishments such as food and sleep deprivation. Yet this
frighteningly simple program was enough to crank up the brainwashing scare in
the U.S. Some researchers now suspect that this hysterical episode had its
origins in CIA-generated propaganda, designed to give the CIA the political
space needed to research more sophisticated mind-control techniques.
Many undergraduates learn about the experiments conducted by
Solomon Asch in the 1950s, which demonstrated that expressed opinions can be
easily manipulated by social pressure, even in obvious cases, such as whether
Line A is longer than Line B on a particular card. And Stanley Milgram showed
that many unwitting research subjects would administer a series of escalating
electric shocks to another, even to the point of an apparent heart attack,
simply because a white-coated lab assistant asked them to continue. Milgram’s
research suggests that a “Manchurian Candidate” already exists in many of
us, and that all that’s required to bring him out may be a bit of propaganda.
The historical evidence for blind human obedience that could be cited here is
very familiar, and very depressing.
Still, there’s evidence that Pentagon planners are uneasy
about potential unruliness among the mass populations Dulles identified as mind
control’s “first front.” Princeton alumni may perhaps follow and accept
arguments that U.S. interests are at stake in Bosnia, but their sons are
unlikely to be on the scene defending those supposed interests. The urban or
Appalachian infantryman, and the family he comes from, may have other ideas.
Elite unease on this point may lie behind Pentagon enthusiasm
for the new wrinkle in military force that goes by the name “nonlethal” or
“less-than-lethal.” Its very claim to embody a “humanitarian” form of
warfare is a weapon in Dulles’s “battle for men’s minds.”
Nonlethal technology becomes important in a discussion of
mind control, as it involves something very close to it, in a form which might
be used to control large populations. The propaganda aspect of “humanitarian
warfare” is merely a sideshow; it’s the technology itself that enlists the
enthusiasm of Pentagon planners and law enforcement officials. Much of this
“friendly force” technology involves electromagnetic fields and
directed-energy radiation, and ultrasound or infrasound weapons - the same
technology that’s currently of interest in brain-stimulation and mind-control
A partial list of aggressive promoters of this new technology
includes Oak Ridge National Lab, Sandia National Laboratories, Science
Applications International Corporation, MITRE Corporation, Lawrence Livermore
National Lab, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. In the 1996 defense
authorization bill, Congress earmarked $37.2 million to investigate nonlethal
technologies. And this money looks like a mere ante in the game.
U.S. interest in this “less-than-lethal” technology dates
back to the early 1960s, when the State Department became aware of low-energy
microwave radiation directed at the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Under the name
“Project Pandora,” secret research into the Moscow radiation continued for
ten years - before embassy employees were informed that they were on the
receiving end. Researchers initially assumed that the microwaves were designed
to activate bugging devices. But when a large number of illnesses were reported
at the embassy, a review of Soviet scientific journals revealed that the Soviets
believed microwaves affected cell membranes and increased the excitability of
Officially, the incidence of illness at the embassy was
ultimately blamed on the U.S. shortwave transmitting antenna on the embassy
roof, which leaked energy and contributed to the unhealthy environment. Still,
the secrecy surrounding Project Pandora encouraged further speculation within
the U.S. intelligence community and elsewhere. For instance, researchers knew
that a low-energy microwave beam could be modulated with an “audiogram,” and
actually convey a recognizable message into an irradiated brain. This led some
U.S. spooks to suspect that the Soviets had been attempting to practice mind
control on the embassy staff.
Such history brings us back to the situation of the restless
public in our own jittery, pre-millennial U.S. Today, there seems to be a
dramatic increase in the number of “wavies,” those who feel they are being
harassed by non-ionizing radiation such as radio or sound waves. Nevertheless,
there is little evidence to support their belief that the secret state, despite
its obvious interest in nonlethal technology, is supporting applied research on
unsuspecting average citizens. Several alternative explanations suggest
First of all, the treatment of mental illness over the past
few decades has changed dramatically - from an institutional approach, to an
out-patient, community-based system that relies on prescription drugs to control
symptoms and behavior. Greater numbers of sufferers of paranoia, freed from
institutions, are also free to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Furthermore, the power to express oneself has been enhanced by technology -
everything from personal photocopying machines and desktop publishing, to fax
machines and now the Internet. And on the Internet, almost everyone can find
And “wavies” can make the case that they deserve the
benefit of a doubt. Revelations about the Cold War secret state, from the CIA
documents released in the 1970s to last year’s Advisory Committee on Human
Radiation Experiments (which investigated ionizing radiation only), have
produced a social environment in which it can seem difficult to rule out
anyone’s claim, no matter how paranoid-sounding. Finally, there is the modern
problem of “pollution” in the broadest sense: from electromagnetic and
chemical, and including simple noise. Human reactions to this pollution, which
is a new phenomenon in the history of our species, apparently vary by orders of
magnitude. Those who are ultra-sensitive may feel harassed, even if no one is
intentionally targeting them.
To a disinterested observer, the claims of the “wavies”
are perhaps no more bizarre than the claims of those who have experienced
profound religious conversions. The point is not to belittle anyone’s beliefs,
but rather to establish that social factors often determine what we consider to
be credible. For thousands of years societies have found it useful to allow
sufficient space for religion. Only recently has social space opened up for the
claims of “wavies.” The increase in their numbers is thus predictable,
irrespective of whether the secret state is behind their problems or not. (It
isn’t, in my opinion.)
This brings us to the “second front” mentioned by Allen
Dulles in 1953: the technology of mind control applied on an individual level.
Whereas non-ionizing radiation can be “broadcast” to large populations,
techniques such as psychosurgery, implants, and electronic stimulation of the
brain (ESB) are administered on a case-by-case basis. More exotic techniques,
whose scientific status and potential effectiveness remain uncertain, include
radio hypnotic intra-cerebral control and hypnotic dissolution of memory (RHIC-EDOM), and the use of induced “screen memory” and multiple personality
disorder (MPD) for cover purposes.
The closest parallel to the “wavies” within this second
front include those who feel that implants were forced on them, sometimes during
childhood. Such beliefs obviously tap deep fears in the popular psyche. The
season premier of “The X Files” showed FBI agent Scully discovering that
someone had planted a microchip near the base of her skull. And accused Oklahoma
City bomber Timothy McVeigh apparently claims that an implant was inserted under
his skin, for tracking purposes, during the Gulf War.
Identification implants, which are passive devices that
respond to an energy source and return an identification number, are similar to
the bar codes at the checkout counter in a grocery store. Today’s pet owners
can have these devices implanted in their pets. But anyone who confuses this
simple technology with a chip that tells them what to do is already in trouble.
Such a person should consider turning off the television, logging off the
Internet, and checking out a few books from the local library. ID technology is
ominous for those concerned with surveillance and privacy, but it has little to
do with mind control.
Granted, there are experimental “stimoceiver” implants
that can stimulate the brain through electrodes. Mind-control enthusiast Jose
Delgado became briefly famous when he stopped a charging bull in its tracks with
such a device in 1964. Even allowing for electronic miniaturization since then,
or for the fact that finely-tuned microwaves can achieve the same results as
implanted electrodes, ESB would still seem to be impractical as a mind-control
device. At best it appears to stimulate various emotions, and might be used for
behavioral conditioning in a controlled environment. This is still quite crude
as a control device. It would be simpler and more reliable to arrange a fatal
The combination of surveillance technology and implanted
aversion therapy conjures up the vision of a society of victim-robots, with
monitors on every utility pole and computers administering the conditioning. But
the necessary infrastructure would be frightfully expensive.
And no doubt unnecessary. Sufficient control over the flow of
information in society can yield results very similar to those that could be
achieved by mind-control implants installed in every individual. Thus the flaw
in the reasoning of many researchers: the mind-control techniques that have them
so worried are usually the most difficult techniques one can possibly imagine.
For those who would seek total control, plain, old-fashioned information control
- leavened with a few fascist techniques - will do nicely, thank you.
In 1973, former MKULTRA researcher Louis Jolyon “Jolly”
West, from the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA, convinced California and
federal officials to sponsor a Violence Center. Governor Ronald Reagan mentioned
the proposed Center in glowing terms in a speech on January 11, and the federal
Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) approved a $750,000 grant. By
this time the federal government, through LEAA, the National Institute of Mental
Health (NIMH), the Bureau of Prisons, and the CIA, was operating or funding
numerous behavior modification programs in prisons, schools, and hospitals. In
response to protests from UCLA students and faculty, the LEAA announced that it
would ban the use of its funds for “psychosurgery, medical research, behavior
modification - including aversion therapy - and chemotherapy.”
A year later Louis West was still hoping to obtain funds from
NIMH, but by then it was too late for his proposal. Until the 1970s it was not
unusual for mental health professionals to propose programs that would screen
children for the purpose of early diagnosis and treatment of the potentially
violent. But by the 1970s the trend was in the other direction, as some states
enacted laws that made it more difficult to confine someone involuntarily as a
mental patient. By the 1990s the shoe is securely on the other foot.
Twenty years ago it was fashionable for clinicians to blame
urban unrest and similar phenomena on the behavior of individuals. Now, however,
the individual can disclaim responsibility for his actions by blaming external
agencies. Numerous persons have gone public with accusations of strange events
during their childhood, suggesting that they were used as guinea pigs for
mysterious men in white coats. Some of their evidence seems sufficiently solid
to require further investigation, and more cases are emerging all the time.
On 15 March 1995, two patients of New Orleans therapist
Valerie Wolf testified before the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation
Experiments. Although this was outside the purview of the Committee, they were
permitted to testify because some of the names of CIA-connected researchers they
mentioned were already familiar to the Committee. These two women remembered
sessions when they were around eight years old that involved electric shocks,
hypnosis, shots with needles, x-rays, sexual abuse, and even training in
intelligence tradecraft. One case occurred from 1972-1976 and the other in 1958.
This testimony was not covered by the media.
Although the recollections of the two women were spontaneous
and did not involve regression therapy, there is also a cottage industry
developing around memories of child abuse in general. For the most part these
are not connected with government research, and perhaps many are the result of
questionable techniques used by social workers, therapists, police and
prosecutors to elicit testimony from children. Juries are becoming more
skeptical of many of these cases. This issue has even assumed the dimensions of
a religious crusade - Christian fundamentalists worry about evil in the New Age
movement, and are on the lookout for cases of “sat-anic ritual abuse” of
children. Others believe the CIA has turned children into split-personality sex
slaves for operational use.
In 1992 the False Memory Syndrome Foundation began in
Philadelphia. This organization criticizes the practice of regression therapy
when it’s used to bring out memories of traumatic childhood experiences. FMSF
considers these repressed memories of incest and sexual abuse to be objectively
false, and devastating to family life in general. There’s a growing split over
this issue among psychology professionals. To confuse the situation further,
FMSF has some on their Board of Advisors who may want to cover up their own
work. One is Louis West, another is Martin Orne, one of the key MKULTRA
researchers in hypnosis, and a third is Michael Persinger, who did research on
the effects of elec-tromagnetic radiation on the brain for a Pentagon weapons
Regression therapy could be a threat to the techniques the
CIA may have secretly developed involving the use of hypnosis. Shortly after
Pearl Harbor, George Estabrooks, chairman of the Department of Psychology at
Colgate University, was called to Washington by the War Department. As one of
the leading authorities on hypnosis, Estabrooks was asked to evaluate how it
might be used by the enemy. In 1943 he wrote a book, expanded in a second
edition fourteen years later, that included a discussion of the use of hypnotism
in warfare. In his opinion, one in five adult humans are capable of being placed
in a trance so deep that they will have no memory of it. They could be
hypnotized secretly by using a disguised technique, and given a post-hypnotic
suggestion. Estabrooks suggested that a dual personality could be constructed
with hypnosis, thereby creating the perfect double agent with an unshakable
Estabrooks’ theories regarding hypnosis are disputed by
many experts today. Frequently the entire topic is dismissed with the notion,
promoted by Martin Orne and others, that a hypnotist cannot induce a person to
perform an act that this person would otherwise find objectionable. But this in
itself appears to be a cover story; if the trance is deep enough, an imaginary
social environment can be constructed through which an otherwise objectionable
act becomes necessary and heroic. Murdering Hitler during wartime would not be
considered criminal, for example. It may even be easier than this: in 1951 in
Denmark, Palle Hardrup robbed a bank and killed a guard, and then claimed that
hypnotist Bjorn Nielsen told him to do it. Nielsen eventually confessed that
Hardrup was a test of his hypnotic techniques, which included telling Hardrup
that the money from the robbery was a means to a noble end. Hardrup had become
Nielsen’s robot, and Nielsen was convicted.
In 1976 a book by Donald Bain titled “The Control of Candy
Jones” was published by Playboy Press. This one-of-a-kind book is the story of
Candy Jones, who was America’s leading cover girl during the forties and
fifties. In 1960 Jones fell on hard times and agreed to act as a courier for the
CIA. An excellent subject for hypnosis, Jones became the plaything of a CIA
psychiatrist who used her to exhibit his mastery of mind-control techniques.
This psychiatrist used hypnosis and drugs to develop a second personality within
Jones over a period of 12 years. This second personality took the form of a
courier who could be triggered by telephone with particular sounds, and after
the mission was completed and the normal personality resumed, did not remember
These missions were elaborate, and frequently involved world
travel to deliver messages. According to the book, Jones and other victims were
once even subjected to torture at a seminar at CIA headquarters, as a means of
demonstrating this psychiatrist’s control over his subjects.
Jones married New York radio talk-show host Long John Nebel
in 1972. An amateur hypnotist, Nebel stumbled onto her secret personality, and
began unravelling the story over many subsequent sessions. Author Donald Bain, a
family friend, was invited to reconstruct the story from more than 200 hours of
taped sessions between Jones and Nebel. Various researchers have confirmed some
pieces of the story, but Bain did not name the major CIA psychiatrist involved,
nor did he name a second psychiatrist who played a more marginal role.
Researcher Martin Cannon recently identified this second psychiatrist as the
late William Kroger, who was an associate of Louis West, Martin Orne, and
another MK-ULTRA veteran, H.J. Eysenck. Whatever the truth is behind Candy Jones
- and it’s difficult to see the book as an elaborate hoax - there’s no
question that hypnotist George Estabrooks raised issues that the CIA took
seriously in secret research for at least 25 years.
The MKULTRA implementing documents specified that
“additional avenues to the control of human behavior” were to include
“radiation, electroshock, various fields of psychology, sociology, and
anthropology, graphology, harassment substances, and paramilitary devices and
materials.” The word “radiation” gave the Advisory Committee on Human
Radiation Experiments a reason to request a search of records on human
experimentation from the CIA. Their final report, released last October,
expressed dissatisfaction with the CIA’s response, and recommended that the
CIA get their act together so that legitimate requests can be accommodated
better in the future.
One problem is the compartmentation of the CIA’s
record-keeping systems. Another is that the CIA immediately decided that the
Committee’s purview was restricted only to ionizing radiation - the type of
radiation of interest in nuclear testing, as opposed to the electromagnetic and
sound waves that might be used for mind control. Finally, those documents that
the CIA did release were heavily redacted. The Committee noted that they had
“received numerous queries about MKULTRA and the other related programs from
scholars, journalists, and citizens who have been unable to review the complete
record.” In fact, most of the MKULTRA records were destroyed in 1973 by the
order of Richard Helms, who waived an internal CIA regulation to do so. It was
also the practice of MKULTRA to maintain as few records as possible.
If ESP, waves, implants, satanic ritual abuse and
post-hypnotic robots aren’t sufficient, recently the subject of mind control
has been intertwined with UFOs. Seemingly jealous of the credibility enjoyed by
victims of alien abduction, researcher Julianne McKinney promotes the view that
the entire UFO phenomenon was created by the secret state. A more thorough
researcher, Martin Cannon, also promotes this view. In a long monograph titled
“The Controllers,” he explains the UFO phenomenon as a “screen memory”
cover story induced by U.S. intelligence to protect their own mind-control
On the other hand, the implicit assumption behind McKinney
and Cannon that it must be either/or - either aliens from outer space or spooks
with a bag of secret tricks - seems arbitrary. If the ethically-challenged U.S.
intelligence community has proven anything during the last half-century, it’s
that they would not find it objectionable to work on behalf of aliens from outer
space, and against the interests of humankind.
Another possible scenario is that aliens are real, U.S.
intelligence knows more than they are telling, and they send out disinformation
agents to keep the issue at merely a low simmer. By muddying the waters with
kook-biz, they keep it from becoming officially-credible spook-biz, at which
point it might boil over into eschatology, mass hysteria, and vigilantism.
UFO researchers have recently become interested in the
Aviary, a group of former and current U.S. spooks, along with some
defense-contracting scientists, who may or may not have official status.
Apparently the mission of this group is to discredit any serious research into
UFOs. Its members include Col. John B. Alexander, Harold Puthoff from the remote
viewing project, and Jack Vorona of the Defense Intelligence Agency (formerly
the boss of Michael Persinger). The names of others are floating around the
Internet as well.
Some Aviarians claim to be UFOlogists themselves, or are
friendly and good-natured with other UFOlogists, and some genuine UFO
researchers are quick to squabble with other researchers. This makes it nearly
impossible to sort out who is disinforming whom, and difficult to distinguish
the white hats from the black hats. Since he began looking into the Aviary,
British researcher Armen Victorian has been burgled eight times, his car broken
into three times, his telephone tapped, and a bug was discovered in his home.
All this happened courtesy of British intelligence and police, reportedly as a
favor for the CIA.
Something is going on here, and chances are excellent that
it’s not happening merely for our general amusement. Whoever the men in black
turn out to be, it’s not the casually-titillated viewer of “The X Files”
that worries them. Instead, it’s the relentless researchers who track their
careers and publicize their deeds, hoping that one day the state will have no
secrets, and that those who live off of its impoverished taxpayers will, in the
end, be held accountable.
Those involved in parapsychology, mind control, and UFOlogy
who have government connections make up a small community; the same names
reappear constantly. Ranged against them are the independent researchers - also
a small community. Leaving aside Laurance Rockefeller, who is funding some
activity in this area, presumably out of personal interest, there don’t appear
to be mysterious sums of money floating around. That means the field is open for
dedicated researchers with modest resources. And that’s the good news, because
we need to be watching every move the psi-spooks make.