Government-Sponsored Research on
In the opening years of the Cold War, the idea of the use of
psychics for information gathering began to be discussed within
government circles. As early as 1952, physician Andrija Puharish
spoke at the Pentagon on extrasensory perception
(ESP) and psychological warfare. A brief initial investigation of
psychic phenomena was made by the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) under the label Project ULTRA in 1961. Then
in 1969 the CIA became concerned over reports of Soviet research
on psychic phenomena, and in 1970 under the name
SCANATE began an assessment of what had actually been
Then in 1972 what was to become a long-term research effort
was initiated by physicists Harold Puthoff and Russell
Targ, who had previously conducted some parapsychological
research at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). The pair approached
the C IA with the assertion that they had found several
psychics they felt could produce results. Their best example
was Ingo Swann who made an impression with his seeming ability
to effect a highly shielded magnetometer. Changes in the
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Government-Sponsored Research on . . .
magnetometer coincided with Swann’s own changes in consciousness.
They later involved another psychic, Pat Price, in
the successful demonstration of remote viewing, a form of
clairvoyance. A review in 1976 noted the ambiguous nature of
the remote view tests, and led to the relationship with SRI
being dropped and the employment of Price as an independent
agent. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack a short
time later, and the research momentarily came to a halt. In
spite of some stops and starts, SRI through Puthoff and Targ
would conduct additional research funded by the government
until 1990.
In the meantime the Army had become interested in ESP,
due in large part to experiences in Vietnam with soldiers who
gained a reputation as being psychic and hence contributing to
a lowering of casualties in their units. For a short time the Navy
and Air Force also showed some interest. Then in 1977 the Department
of Defense established a secret program, GONDOLA
WISH, to develop remote viewing and to use it in various intelligence
gathering operations consisting of a half dozen intelligence
officers. While much material on this unit was made public
in 1995, the actual progress of the effort remains a matter
of debate.
In 1878 GONDOLA WISH gave way to GRILL FLAME. A
selection of Army personnel and a few civilians, all believed to
have some psychic ability, were brought together at Ft. Meade,
Maryland. The heart of the GRILL FLAME program was an
operational unit that began to work on actual psychic espionage
and to pass along the results of their finding to various
Armed Forces intelligence personnel. From the beginning, the
operational unit was employed in a variety of situations. Its
work was and remains secret, but it seems to have held together
until 1988.
At the same time, the SRI staff trained some of the psychics
involved with GRILL FLAME in the use of remote viewing
techniques, and also did a number of ESP experiments with
them. The SRI personnel were unaware of the operational unit
or how the people they were working with were using their
skills on an immediate espionage operations. interacting with
that unit. Among the people who joined the staff at Fort Meade
in the early 1980s was Edward Dames, a former intelligence officer
who had previously utilized the data supplied by the operational
unit. About the same time, SRI and Ingo Swann introduced
Swann’s new model of remote viewing and the
techniques of training people based upon that new understanding.
Dames and a group of the people involved with GRILL
Flame trained with Swann. According to Dames, utilizing
Swann’s new approach, he was able to create a group of remote
viewers with an unprecedented consistency and accuracy. They
enhanced their effectiveness by acting as a team on common remote
viewing targets.
In spite of its effectiveness, however, the unit, now redesignated
INSCOM CENTER LANE became a matter of persistent
controversy within the Army. Some of that controversy was
generated by a breach in its secrecy that led to an April 1984
news column by reporter Jack Anderson. That same year, the
remote viewing research program went through a major review
by the National Research Council of the National Academy of
Science. The report was negative. In 1985 the Army ended its
involvement in the program and oversight shifted by the Defense
Intelligence Agency (DIA) which had a continuing interest
in Soviet experiments in psychic phenomena. This shift also
had an accompanying name change to SUNSTREAK.
Under the new program Dames continued to train people
who were moved into the program. By 1988, however, psychics
who had not been trained in remote viewing in the manner
taught by Swann were invited into the work and mixed with the
operational unit developed by Dames. Also, under the DIA, the
thrust of doing remote viewing on actual situations was
dropped (though Dames and his people continued to quietly
work on various matters and pass information to intelligence
contacts). Among the people who became involved in the unit
during this transitional period was Major David A. Morehouse,
one of the last officers to be trained as a remote viewer. He remained
with the secret program for two year, before returning
to a more conventional Army assignment.
At the end of the 1980s, Dames and the remaining people
who had been working with him left the Army and formed a
private company, PSI-TECH, to continue their remote viewing
work. Dames and the others were replaced with additional psychics
recruited by Dale Graff, the head of the SUNSTREAK. By
this time various members of Congress had learned of the
unit’s existence and several began to make requests of the psychics
for information of a more personal nature. Also, in 1991,
the research program moved from SRI to the Science Applications
International Corporation (SAIC) and continued under
the direction of physicist Edwin May who had previously
worked with the SRI research program.
In 1995, the Army hired the American Institute for Research
to do a comprehensive review of the research program.
The four-member review panel concluded that the continued
use of remote viewing in intelligence gathering operations is
not warranted.’’ The program was discontinued and many of
the papers related to it were declassified, though many related
to the more secret operation unit have not yet become available.
Again the name was changed to Project STAR GATE, the
name by which the entire program would later become popularly
In 1995 Project STAR GATE underwent a comprehensive
review by a panel set up by the American Institutes for Research
(AIR). AIR invited two out side panelists, University of
Oregon psychologist Raymond Hyman, a well-known
spokesperson for a skeptical position regarding psychic phenomena,
and Jessica Utts, a Professor of Statistics at the University
of California-Davis, who had written several articles favorable
to the existence of psychic phenomena. The report
concluded that the laboratory results that they examined had
produced above chance results but that it was unclear if those
results were due to psychic phenomena or some other cause.
They also concluded that the continued use of remote viewing
in intelligence gathering efforts was unwarranted.
As a result of the AIR report, Project STAR GATE was
closed. Toward the end of the year, the existence of the whole
research program was made known to the public and a selection
of document relative to the research made public. It produced
an immediate controversy. Edwin May argued, for example,
that the best results from the research had not been
shown to the panel. Edward Dames argued that the operation
unit had achieved good results in its intelligence gathering and
that the material he had produced was also not shown to the
panel. In spite of the complaints, the government program of
research ended. It has been estimated that more than 80,000
pages of research data remain classified.
In the wake of the public disclosures over Project STAR
GATE, many of the 23 remote viewers who had worked on the
program at one time or another went public. Joseph McMoneagle
claimed that he had provided information on more
that 150 targets for the intelligence community. Morehouse,
who worked with Dames at PSI-TECH for several years, eventually
left, wrote a bestselling book, Psychic Warrior, and founded
another company, Remote Viewing Technologies.
FAS Intelligence Resource Program STAR GATE. http
www.tas.orgirpprogramcollectstargate.htm. April 20, 2000.
May, Edwin. ‘‘The American Institutes for Research Review
of the Department of Defense’ Operation STAR GATE Program
A Commentary.’’ The Journal of Parapsychology 60 (March
1996) 3–23.
Morehouse, David A. Nonlethal Weapons War without Death.
New York Praeger Press, 1996.
Government-Sponsored Research on . . . Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
———. Psychic Warrior Inside the CIA’s Stargate Program, the
True Story of a Soldiers’ Espionage and Awakening. New York St.
Martin’s Press, 1996.
Operation Star Gate. httpwww.parascope.comarticles
starGareDocs.htm. April 19, 2000.
Puthoff, Harold E. ‘‘CIA-Initiated Remote Viewing Programming
at Stanford Research Institute.’’ Journal of Scientific
Exploration 10, 1 (1996).
———, and Russell Targ. Mind-Reach Scientists Look at Psychic
Ability. New York Delacorte Press, 1977.