May 10th, 2007 03:56 EST
Operation Stargate and Psychic Spies - A Closer Look at a Journalist's Work
Please find below the feature "operation Stargate" and the response that was provoked by not covering both sides of the story." I hope that my mistake will help fledgling writers and journalists from making the same mistake that I made.
Long before Mrs. Cleo and her Psychic Friends Network sprang onto the American scene there was another group dabbling deep into psychic phenomena.
In the early 1970s, the CIA created the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to begin a study of controlled clairvoyance under the direction of Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff.
Under the rubric "Project Scanate" which stood for "scanning by coordinates," thousands of people were recruited, placed in dark rooms, and asked to describe what they saw at given longitudes and latitudes. Edwin May, a former director of Stargate, which was the remote viewing project that was spawned of the cold war as a result of the fear that the Soviet Union might already have established a psychic warfare program, has gone on record as saying, "we are exactly correct 50% of the time."
"Russell Targ is a physicist and author who was a pioneer in the development of early laser technologies, as well as being the co-founder of the Stanford Research Institute`s investigation into psychic abilities during the 1970s and 1980s. He is a co-author of Mind Reach; Scientists Look at Psychic Abilities and The Mind Race, as well as Understanding and Using Psychic Abilities. Targ recently retired from Lockheed Martin which is a major defense contractor of the U.S. Government, working as a senior staff scientist, where he developed laser technology for peaceful applications."
"Dr. Puthoff is currently the Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Austin, Texas, a position held for more than 10 years. He is considered one of the premier theoretical physicists in the field of vacuum zero point energy and has published several of the most respected papers in the field. A graduate of Stanford University, he has been a research associate and lecturer at the University in the Department of Electrical Engineering. Dr. Puthoff also served for several years as the Director of the Cognitive Sciences Program at SRI International. As a theoretical and experimental physicist, he has worked in the areas of fundamental electrodynamics, quantum vacuum states, gravitation, cosmology, and high power microelectronics. He has authored more than 30 technical papers and is co-author of the textbook Fundamentals of Quantum Electronics, which is used in numerous Universities around the world. He is also listed in the publications, Who`s Who in Science and Engineering, Who`s Who in the World, and is also a Fellow of the Fetzer Institute."
For decades, U.S. Intelligence Agencies as well as Intelligence Services around the world have been engaged in a quest to find Intelligence operatives with abilities reaching far beyond any network of informants or advanced spying technology. An agent with the ability to probe the enemy`s deepest underground bunkers, to determine the exact location of hostages, or physically incapacitate foreign leaders or entire armies, all from thousands of miles away by using only their minds.
Efforts to determine intelligence applications for psychic abilities have centered around "remote viewing," which is a purported clairvoyant ability to spy on distant enemies.
Operation Stargate was first brought to the attention of the American public by ABC TV`s Night Line news program on November 28, 1995. As a result of the program, at the request of the U.S. Senate appropriations committee, the CIA was asked to assess the project, which it had inherited from the Pentagon and had an operating budget of somewhere around 25 million dollars a year to determine whether more research would increase its efficiency and practicality.
The assessment concluded that despite its achievements as well as statistically significant results in the laboratory, remote viewing had not provided reliable operational applications in the collection of intelligence data for the purpose of national security.
However, the remarkable success that operation Stargate experienced in the late 1970`s and early 1980`s cannot be overlooked. The early successes were due largely to a group of six psychics known as "The Naturals." Joe McMoneagle, a retired army intelligence officer, who claims that he left Stargate in 1984 after receiving a Legion of Merit award for "providing information on more than 150 targets that had been previously unavailable from other sources."
When asked about this, McMoneagle said, "The project deteriorated as the military began letting any old kook into Stargate." Other sources also began deploring the New Age twist given by the influx of spoon-benders and crystal gazers.
"Joe McMoneagle is considered to be one of the greatest naturals." In the early 1970`s Joe had a Near Death Experience (NDE), which seems to have given him the ability to achieve telepathic and altered states at will. Joe has stated that a viewer`s ability to remote view is dependent upon each individual`s innate talent.
In other words, their achievements in remote viewing are limited by the amount of natural ability they are born with."
McMoneagle said, "It`s important to withhold belief in any paranormal abilities until they`ve been fully demonstrated and replicated by science."
Operation Stargate`s crowning achievement came when remote viewers were able to describe in an incredible amount of detail the Soviet Union`s construction of a secret missile base, which were not be seen by U2 flyovers or orbiting spy satellites. Remote viewers were able to draw highly accurate sketches of a large crane, which was constructed on railroad tracks as well as a large metallic domed structure. The drawings were substantiated by U2 spy plane flyovers and integrated human intelligence on the ground.
Operation Stargate was not confined to activities solely at the SRI. At Penn State University Park, PA beginning in 1980 and lasting until 1992 students were subjected to non consensual experimentation, this included being drugged and subjected to verbal psycho stimuli while asleep. Target subjects at times recalled indicia of memory where by those who were experimenting on them directly indicated or eluded to working for federal agencies such as the FBI, secret service, CIA, NRO, ATF, and Interpol. These activities were not limited to federal involvement. State and local agencies were also implicated in the participants` memories.
The backgrounds of these students were eternally manipulated in order to forestall criminal liability on the part of the federal government. Participants say their credit ratings were ruined and their academic records had been abused. "Professors you knew suddenly did not know you." Students have also alleged that photos were taken of them and surveillance devices were placed in their apartments and dorms. When contacted by journalists, Penn State refused to comment on the allegations but did not deny them.
The experiences of the participants in the alleged experiments all suffer similar flashbacks as UFO abductees and soldiers from Vietnam that were subjected to mind altering drugs which were intended to decrease a soldiers need for sleep as well as decreasing his fear to fight. This program has sometime been referred to as "Jacob`s Ladder."
Operation Stargate was officially decommissioned in 1995 under the Clinton administration`s defense budget cuts. However, its missions were simply absorbed into the covert operations of allegedly disassociated federal offices and agencies.
Topics such as remote viewing, mind control, and Men in Black all sound like something out of the X-Files, but let us only look back to the time of Dick Tracy and his wrist communicator and Buck Rogers with his rocket pack. Both of these are current technologies being used by the military as well as publicly operated corporations.
If you personally or anyone you know has been a part of any of the above operations and studies, I would like to hear about it. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHE AIN`T GONNA BUDGE
Reader Shawn Bishop follows up:
As you may recall, I made an effort to engage a so-called "journalist" in a dialogue regarding an internet article she wrote espousing the credentials of "remote viewer" McMoneagle, and the SRI, Targ and Puthoff and the so-called "Operation Stargate" as legitimate and established scientific facts. I had forwarded you the initial emails of my exchange with her (one Judyth Piazza) on April 16, last month.
I suggested that she contact the JREF, and you made the following prediction to me in response to her first reply, wherein she asked more about my bona fides and background credentials:
No, she did not contact me. Note that you see here the cautious approach " "What is your connection and or interest in regards to this topic or remote viewing? ..... If you [have the] time would you mind sending me a brief bio of yourself." If you don`t present the right credentials, she won`t go any further....
Well, James, your prediction was correct, it would seem. On April 21, in response to her aforementioned message, I replied to her with this message " which I forwarded to you shortly after originally sending it to her.
Dear Mrs. Piazza,
Please call me Shawn, I am more comfortable on a first name basis. I apologize for this late reply.
To answer the second section of your email, my brief bio is essentially as follows. I am originally from the city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I attended McMaster University for my Honors bachelor`s degree in physics (summa cum laude). From there I went to Canada`s west coast to pursue my master`s degree in high energy physics (Particle Physics) at the University of Victoria. Having completed that degree I then moved to Vancouver where I did my PhD at Canada`s national nuclear and particle physics laboratory, TRIUMF (www.triumf.ca).
There I did work in experimental nuclear astrophysics at the radioactive ion beam facility known as ISAC (http://www.triumf.info/public/about/isac.php). More layperson information of the research I did can be found at this website: http://dragon.triumf.ca/home.html. I am now in Japan working in the Heavy Ion Nuclear Physics group at the national laboratory name RIKEN. Now, enough of these boring personal details....
Mrs. Piazza, I have no connection to remote viewing except that, as a trained scientist and open-minded skeptic, I am not at all convinced of the claims made by the RV`rs. Their claims are fantastic and, if they were true, would turn every facet of the knowledge gleaned by the scientific community from the past 200 years of scientific work, on its head.
Nobel Prizes would be immediately handed over to the researchers who verifiably demonstrate, under rigorously controlled conditions, that these powers exist. If true, our police agencies would be able to solve virtually all crimes, but alas they are not. Imagine the time saved by those who are forensic scientists if they could just RV their way to the crime scene and track down who the criminal is.
There would be no need to labor long and hard in university to obtain a degree in forensic science. The UN would be using them to uncover the mass graves of those who were victims of war crimes and ethnic cleansing, but alas, the UN is not. The scientific community (NASA for example) could be using them to "travel" the surface of Mars, rather than spending the money and resources to two robotic rovers, but alas, NASA is not " ditto for Jupiter and Saturn. There would be no need to have UN inspectors in North Korea or Iran to verify if the N.
Koreans/Iranians are making nuclear bombs, the US/UN could instead have RV`rs check this, but alas, they are not. And I could continue like this and fill several more of your computer screens with basic, common-sense, everyday examples of where/how these people could be used but, alas, are not. I`m sure you can think of examples of your own. Do none of these cause you to think, "If their powers were real, why aren`t they being used?"
My interest in this issue has more to do with how you, as a journalist, were able to write an article which treats this subject as though it is established fact. Your article presented no counter-views to the claims being made by the RV`rs.
I can only presume that you had some sort of personal contact with Mr. McMoneagle (in person, phone, email) who claims to have fantastic RV`ing powers. So I can only wonder why, as a journalist, you couldn`t ask McMoneagle to perform the most basic test of his abilities. A trivial test could have been something like the following: have a friend/colleague (Person A) take a random object and put it into a hidden location in your home/office (you don`t know where it is, or what it is).
Then, in your communications with McMoneagle, ask him to tell you where, and what, the object is that Person A hid. And if he were to provide an answer, you take that answer to Person A and determine if it is correct or not. Such a basic, simple, test to determine the veracity of his claims would have taken no more than 10 minutes of time to do. And I can only wonder why it wasn`t done before a journalistic article was written promoting RV`ing as factual and verified.
By the way, you should also know that McMoneagle has declined to do simple tests to verify his abilities. The James Randi Educational Foundation (www.randi.org), as I described in my first email, has a standing $1,000,000 challenge to anyone who can demonstrate powers, such as those McMoneagle claims to have.
I emailed James Randi to determine if McMoneagle has ever attempted the tests. My original email to James, and his reply are directly copied and pasted below.
Does not McMoneagle`s rejection of winning an easy one-million dollars not make you wonder, "WHY?"
Compared to my usual abrasive and undiplomatic style in the face of someone`s stupidity, I thought the wording of this message struck an open and honest willingness to engage in a serious, good faith, (albeit gently critical) dialogue with this "journalist." As of today, July 1st, Piazza has not in any way replied to this message I sent her on April 21. It would seem that the beckoning voices emanating from under that giant rock, which houses the likes of Jean Luis Naudin, Tom Bearden, Sylvia Browne, Brenda Dunne, Gary Schwartz and the rest of their ilk, were just too irresistible for this journalist.
The siren song of unreason is obviously too sweetly sonorous for Mrs. Piazza, versus the ugly truths of reality and its impositions upon us when there is the wondrous magic of McMoneagle and the hodge-podge bric-a-brac research of SRI and its cohorts. Doubly ironic for me is that this journalist http://www.calder.net/jpiazza/ touts herself as a member of the Committee of Concerned Journalists (http://www.journalism.org/).
It would seem that concern about the veracity of claims made in ones articles is not foremost on her literary mind.
Shawn, as long as she isn`t compelled to answer, she won`t. You`ve pointed out to her the basic duties expected of any journalist, and she has opted to ignore both you and them. No surprise.
SUPPORT FROM A BISHOP
You`ll recall the exchange between reader Shawn Bishop and columnist Judyth Piazza at www.randi.org/jr/072205meters.html#12. Here`s the " probably final " exchange between these two. First, Ms. Piazza`s rejoinder to Shawn, just as the journalist wrote it:
I would like to say thank you for your concern in regards to my journalistic integrity. Currently, I am a senior at the University of Central Florida and all feedback that I receive is essential in the development of my journalistic ability.
As shown on Randi`s website in the article "She Ain`t Gonna Budge""there was some question to why I requested Shawn Bishop s credentials before speaking to him."I feel that this was not an unreasonable request whereas there are many people out there that may not have the best intentions. Because of that, I will continue to request credentials and biographical information from anyone that may be requesting commentary or services from myself.
At the beginning of my career, I quickly found that topics of importance did not generate the interest that national enquirer type stories do.
However, I would like to mention that true or false, accurate or inaccurate, explained or unexplained or even a fancy word such as hypothesis as in there self do not prove anything.
What is certain is that you obviously have an interest in the paranormal and that the U.S. government up until 1995 spent about 25 million dollars on the topic (RV) [remote viewing]. Anyone with an interest can validate this information by taking the time to go through Government expenditures.
My point is, as a fledgling writer you want to get your name out there and have as many people read your work as possible.
Obviously, I have fostered the reaction I was looking for. But, my question to you is, rather than scrutinizing my integrity, why not take the time and energy to uncover the mystery yourself. I will make this promise to you...I am going to take another look at remote viewing whereas, I have more time, resources, experience, and skill to cover this story in a much more in depth manner."
If you can be of any assistance, I welcome your cooperation. However, please remember that James Randi as well as myself owes our popularity to the exact type of people that you accuse me of being. (Gullible, skeptical, curious, intuitive, adventurous, tenacious, and reliable) in other words human.
You raise an interesting point in regards to requesting credentials of persons before you correspond/speak with them. On April 21 I sent you an email in which was included my answer to your request of my credentials. I went on to further explain what my real interest was in contacting you regarding your internet article on Operation Stargate; namely, that I was critical of the credulous manner in which your article presented this so-called research and, in particular, one Joe McMoneagle.
In that email I also provided you with references to read what other people, outside SRI, found when they toured the SRI labs and, as if that were not enough, I also provided you with the information by which you could contact one of those persons directly; namely, links and email address of James Randi.
After I answered your request for my credentials and provided you with additional information and personal contacts that would shed more light on your investigations into SRI `s past, you promptly disengaged from further correspondence, as I heard nothing back from you. I can only assume that because the information I provided you was not what you wanted to hear about SRI, that is, it was not information that cast SRI in a positive light, you wanted nothing more to do with it.
You are entirely wrong, Judyth, to say that I have an interest in the paranormal. I do not. Perhaps on the surface, in the few emails we have exchanged, it may appear this way, but then I would suggest to you to read what I have to say much more carefully.
I have no interest in the likes of McMoneagle insofar as their claimed abilities are concerned, because it is self-evident that such people are charlatans and scam artists. The real interest I have is in the psychological and societal aspects of why it is so many seemingly intelligent people are able to fall hook, line, and sinker for the lies, games, and scams that such persons as McMoneagle and his ilk pull off on an unsuspecting, credulous journalists and the public.
You suggest that I "uncover the mystery." To what mystery are you referring?"If you are suggesting that RV`ing is a mystery, I wish you all the best in spending the rest of your days being fooled by unscrupulous persons such as McMoneagle who prey on the vulnerability, naivety " and in some cases"outright stupidity " of uncritical people who gladly swallow any pill of lies they are fed in the hopes they will feel better for it. The only mystery in any of this, Judyth, is how any rational human being could willingly be conned into accepting such fantastical claims without so much as questioning in the slightest way whether any of it could really be true.
That the US government spent any money on this "research" is of little importance or consequence in respect to the veracity of McMoneagle`s claims, or of those claims by any of the researchers at SRI [Stanford Research International]. Governments spend millions every year on foolish, nonsensical "scientific research.""
If you wanted to really dig into your government`s books, you would probably find hundreds of millions of your hard-earned tax dollars being wasted on perpetual motion machines, anti-gravity, and RV`ing. Does this money spending mean that any of these things are "true"? Hardly so.
It only proves these things "true" in the same sense that the Tooth Faery is proven "true" to a child who wakes up in the morning to find his tooth has been removed from under his pillow and replaced with pocket change.
If you found your government spending millions of dollars on tracking down a giant rabbit because the nation`s children all declared themselves to be finding chocolate eggs in their rooms on a specific day of every year, would you then conclude that there must be truth in the Easter Bunny fable?
The money wasted on these foolish projects does underscore, however, what we already know about legislators: a) most are not scientifically literate and b) most dole out cash on many occasions just to ensure themselves votes at the next election. In short, the willingness of a government to spend money on projects such as these show that credulity and stupidity run deep in any institution where the basic tenets of science are unknown or ignored.
Your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs speak volumes, Judyth, to your journalistic integrity. You do no justice to your profession by admitting that you are quite happy pandering to the bottom-feeder fauna of society. (Your honesty in the matter is, however, appreciated).
If I read your words in their correct context " I might be misreading them, as they are not terribly clear " they read to me as saying that you, bluntly put, don`t give a damn about the honesty, accuracy, or veracity of that which you publish " much like those who write the dross published in National Enquirer.
If that be, then I would challenge you to ask yourself what motivates you to go into journalism, because, it seems to me, journalists can only do one of two things with their work:" inform the public, or misinform the public. If you are happy to write dross so that your name becomes known, then you do a disservice to society.
You have the opportunity to spread the light of knowledge and education upon the minds of society, and you have the choice to gravitate down to the bottom-feeder fauna of our society just to make some quick cash and get your name known. In what circles do you want your name to be known?"Those of the ilk of Jerry Springer, et al, or those educators, scientists, and people of affluence who do what they can to make our world a better place?
Finally, a few sentences on your closing regarding Randi. James Randi, though I go out on a limb here in "speaking for him," does not owe his popularity to anyone. If you took the time to research the man, that would become self-evident to you. Randi does what he does because of something that is foreign to most people, and to the minds of most journalists:"altruism."
Yes, in his early career, he sought popularity as a professional conjuror/magician."However, unlike how you describe yourself in paragraphs 2 and 3, Randi has never sought popularity in what he is now doing. It has come to him by virtue of what he presents to the public in his knowledge, integrity and his candor. And if there was ever a lesson for a fledgling journalist trying to get their name known, it would be in seeing his example:"that one can write about the hard facts of reality without pandering to the dross of society and make for themselves a well-known (infamous!) career and held in the highest respect by ones peers as an educator and decent human being.
Popularity should be the result of a job well-done, not the result of pathetic appeals to the credulity and ignorance of the public; a public you could instead be seeking to educate and inform about the fantastic wonders of the scientific discoveries occurring every day around you.
While I appreciate the designation of myself as an "altruist," I must deny that label. An altruist would be doing this work without thought of any reward; to be frank, I receive great rewards for what I do. The appreciation from those who have been helped by what the JREF publishes and promotes, the letters of thanks that arrive from individuals who are now better able to present their own skeptical notions to those they believe have been wronged or hindered by belief in supernatural notions, and the support given the JREF through donations, grants, and attendance at our functions " these all add up to my great satisfaction, I assure you.
But I`ll share with you how I cautioned a reader just today when he thanked me for helping him to "see the light":
Eric, thank you for your encouraging note. Much appreciated, among the insults and threats that pepper my mail box".!
Please bear in mind that I`m not the only individual waging this battle. Michael Shermer and CSICOP fight the same foes as the JREF does " in differing styles, it`s true, but toward the same goal.
I hope that you`ll not only continue to check in at our web site, but will also consider subscribing to the online Skeptic newsletter " and their magazine! " by going to email@example.com and requesting to be put on their list. Also look in at www.csicop.org/list/#subscribe and send CSICOP your name " and of course ask about Skeptical Inquirer magazine.
Though your note specified that you`d freed yourself of religious beliefs, remember that we at the JREF are not primarily concerned with that aspect; we fight superstition in general, concentrating on the aspects that we can directly show to be fraudulent and dishonest.
So, I`m no saint, but I have good companions on this battlefield who just might qualify".!
Returning to Shawn: When you write, "Governments spend millions every year on foolish, nonsensical `scientific research,`""I get a bit uncomfortable. Yes, your statement is true; consider the present example: a fortune was spent on the "remote viewing" notion, and it should have cost not more than about $30,000 to obtain a good-sized data base to establish whether or not there was any substance in those claims. The end result of the overly-funded research was that further investment in the idea was just not a good investment, and that there had been no significant results obtained.
The agencies involved understandably turned to other matters.
However, Shawn, even before the money was dedicated to that research, it was very obvious that there was no precedent in science for such phenomena, no theoretical framework existed upon which to place the claims, no hard evidence was in place to support those claims, and only the nagging fear that other governments might find something in it to their advantage, impelled our government to put up the funding.
Yet there actually was a good reason to look into the notion, simply because there just might exist a new force, or a hitherto-unsuspected sensing mechanism, or some other subtle ability, that could account for the reports. If Henri Becquerel had ignored the unexpected fogging of a photographic plate, or Fleming had tossed out moldy Petri dishes, we`d have delayed the discovery of radioactivity and of penicillin; for a scientist, "unlikely-to-be-true" is not a feature that should discourage curiosity.
My point is that such weird, unfamiliar, foreign claims can and should be properly investigated, and just as Nature Magazine called in a magician to aid in their investigation of bizarre claims made by a French researcher back in 1988, scientists would do well to look beyond academe and enlist specialists who do not necessarily place letters after their names".
The saving of tax money would be very rewarding, the benefits in time alone would be appreciable, and the public would be better and more directly informed. I admit that pork-barreling might be seriously impeded, but that`s not all bad.
Well how are you Judy. I read the response you sent to Mr Bishop and his to you. I can only say one thing Judy, he is right and you know it. But hey, if your little stories pay the bills"Im sure you`re happy with it. Take care Judy.
Florida International University
From Sean Stubblefield
First of all, I want you to know that I approve of your handling of the
Stargate article, and agree with your presentation of the topic. You didn`t explicitly endorse remote viewing, you merely presented the fact that such paranormal research has occurred.
Here`s my favorite part, which summed up the point I think you tried to make:
If Henri Becquerel had ignored the unexpected fogging of a photographic plate, or Fleming had tossed out moldy Petri dishes, we`d have delayed the discovery of radioactivity and of penicillin; for a scientist, "unlikely-to-be-true" is not a feature that should discourage curiosity.
In your stargate article (http://www.calder.net/jpiazza/2004-08-18-operation_stargate.php) that I accessed on the internet there is (at least) one glaring mistake. The picture labelled Stanford Research Institute is in fact a picture of the church on the Stanford University campus (Palo Alto,CA). SRI is a completely different institution unaffiliated (as far as I am aware) with the university and physically located some distance away in Menlo Park, CA. This obvious error, that a proper journalist would not wish to make, decreases the believability of the rest of the article and reflects badly on your credentials as a real journalist. I suggest you correct this error (and any others that you may discover or that have been brought to your attention).
Dr David Ware
Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre and
Department of Chemistry
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland, New Zealand
Tel: +64 9 373 7599 ext 88270
Fax: +64 9 373 7422