Washington Post, 04 December 1995
Washington Post staff writer
Up Close & Personal with a Remote Viewer
Joe McMoneagle Defends the Secret Project
Joseph McMoneagle may be watching you read this.
After all, that was his job for 15 years— watching people he could not see for the Pentagon. He was called a “remote viewer.”
Remote Viewers have been in the headlines recently because it’s come to light that several of them worked on the “Stargate” program, a top secret, multimillion-dollar project at Fort Meade, Md., using their supposed paranormal know-how— and know-where— to help locate American hostages, enemy submarines, strategic buildings in foreign countries, and who knows what else. A new report, commissioned by the CIA, was critical of Stargate and called further expenditures unjustified.
Yesterday, at his light and airy home in Nelson county Va., McMoneagle [?] defended remote viewing, which he explained as the act of describing or drawing details about a place, person or thing without having any prior knowledge of that place, person or thing. He said that true remote viewing, unlike crystal-ball gazing and tea-leaf reading, is always conducted under “strict scientific protocols.”
Granted, it still sounds squirrelly. And it doesn’t really help to know that McMoneagle, a retired Army officer, has also trafficked in near-death experiences, out-of-body travel and unidentified flying objects. In 1993 he wrote a book called “Mind Trek—Exploring Consciousness, Time and Space through Remote Viewing.”
But he put his skills on the line last week on national television— when ABC became, for an hour, the other psychic network— and the demonstration was impressive. Since then the phone’s been ringing.
Despite a bad back and the exhaustion that comes with flash-point celebrity, he was eager to talk about his expertise. He was stretched out flat on his living room couch, wearing a green V-neck sweater, bluejeans and brown loafers. He’s got a thick neck, gray-white hair and a trace of bitterness in his voice.
“My career was destroyed in the Army,” said McMoneagle, who joined in 1964 and was severely injured in a helicopter accident in Vietnam. He said he knew when he first joined the Stargate project—which was then called Grillflame—in 1978 that he would never again be taken seriously for any other job in the military. But he felt the assignment was too important to national security to decline.
“Everybody’s got it all backward,” he said of the criticism and ridicule the project is receiving today. He explained that the government was not using psychics to find people or things. They were using remote viewers, about 15 of them, who operated under strict guidelines developed in the laboratories at SRI International, a California contractor, to provide additional information to be used in conjunction with intelligence gathered by satellites or spies or any other traditional means.
He said the reported cost of $20 million for the 20-year product was minuscule compared to its value, and estimated that remote viewers saved the government about $240 million by helping find lost Scud missiles in the Persian Gulf War. Research has shown that remote viewing works 14 percent of the time or more, he said, “There is a huge percentage of intelligence collection systems that don’t do as well.”
The information provided by remote viewers, he reiterated, was never used without other types of corroboration. He said nearly every agency with an intelligence wing–including the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secret Service, the Coast Guard and Customs— employed remote viewers at some time or another.
On a typical workday, McMoneagle said, he reported to an old, leaky wooden barracks at Fort Meade, where he went into a one-person office. He sat at a desk with a typewriter and a mug of coffee. The cup said This End Up and had an arrow pointing the wrong way. He was then presented with sealed envelopes—sometimes large brown ones, sometimes small white ones—and he was asked to supply information about whatever was inside.
There might be a photograph of a person, he said, and he would be asked to describe where the person was locateed. In that way, he said, he helped the Army locate hostages in Iran. He said he predicted almost precisely where Skylab was going to fall, 11 months before the spacecraft returned to Earth in 1979. He named the city in Italy— Padua— and described the second-floor apartment where Brig. Gen James Dozier was held hostage by the Red Brigades in 1981. The information arrived in Italy on the day Dozier was released.
Over the years, McMoneagle said, he was involved in about 450 missions. One of his favorites was in 1980, when CIA personnel captured a suspected KGB agent in South Africa. They wanted to know how the agent was communicating with the Soviet military. They put an envelope on McMoneagle’s desk, and without knowing anything of the man, McMoneagle told the CIA that the man liked to use a small pocket calculator. The calculator turned out to be a disguised shortwave radio.
McMoneagle retired from the Army in 1984, but continued to work as a Stargate consultant.
Last week he appeared on “Nightline” and on the ABC special “Put to the Test.” “It’s not like he handed me a perfect photograph of the location,” said independent producer Ruth Rivin, of Elemental Productions, when asked about McMoneagle’s performance. “Some of the descriptions were pretty remarkable,” she said. “We followed all the scientific protocol laid out by Edwin May, a nuclear physicist [at SRI] who’s been researching remote viewing for the last 20 years.”
Rivin flew McMoneagle to Houston, a city he had never visited. She hired a location scout and instructed her to take photos of several Houston landmarks. One of the spots was chosen by a roll of the dice, and Rivin sent an official of the Houston tourist bureau there. McMoneagle was locked in a windowless room, shown a photo of the tourism official and asked to describe where the woman was. He spoke of a natural river that had been improved by man and of a bridge with foot traffic. The woman was standing near the ship channel in Houston. A bridge— for automobiles— was in the distance.
Today, McMoneagle runs his one man-company, Intuitive Intelligence Applications, from a bedroom equipped with a Zeos computer, windows facing the Blue Ridge mountains and a color photo of the Sphinx. He said he can help a wildcatter find an oil well or a quarry operator know where to mine.
But he’s still quietly angry about the way his service to his country is being portrayed. He said he was never paid more than a man of his rank—chief warrant officer. And as a consultant until 1993, he made even less.
“The project was approved on a year-to-year basis,” he said. “This approval was based on our performance. So why the hell are they running for cover now?”