|For 10 years
at the end of his Army career, Joseph McMoneagle says, he
dressed in civilian clothes, rarely saluted and went to
work most days in a numberless, converted mess hall at
Fort Meade, Md.
Neither his wife
nor his closest companions had any inkling of his
mission. Only his immediate superiors knew that he was
part of a highly classified group of psychics that the
federal government paid to conjure up the whereabouts of
friend and foe alike literally.
"No one knew anything, so nobody
really asked questions," said McMoneagle, now
retired and living in Nelson County.
This week, the heavyset 49-year-old
former intelligence officer is embarking on a highly
visible publicity campaign intended to preserve the
dignity of his little-known unit and to buttress the
murky scientific basis beneath it.
"People are trashing 20 years of
scientific work. It's unconscionable," he said
On network television last night, in
interviews and in a one-hour special scheduled tomorrow
night on ABC, McMoneagle is trying to champion a
little-understood, still-secret military intelligence
program that he says has wrongly become a target of
Disbanded only recently, according to
McMoneagle, the team of psychics with "remote
viewing" abilities fell into disfavor as the
military began recruiting people from the private sector
that McMoneagle describes as too zealous and too warped
by a blind belief in their abilities.
"Things were getting sort of
goofy," he said.
Instead of using known psychic
abilities for specific suitable objectives, the military
tried to adapt their abilities inappropriate missions.
"They began putting the cart before the horse,"
Revelations that the Army, CIA and
other govenrment agencies used psychics "will floor
a lot of people," McMoneagle said.
"There will be some people who
will be very offended . . .
"But it's amazing how people will
simply not believe that there is another reality out
there beyond the one they see in the mirror."
A CIA spokesman confirmed the use of
the psychics yesterday, according to The Associated
Press, which also quoted researchers who said the
government spent as much as $20 million over two decades.
Missions ranged from psychic searches for Libyan leader
Moammar Gadhafi to searches for plutonium in North Korea.
McMoneagle was one of the major players
in the project and continued working for the government
on a contract basis long after his 1984 retirement.
Code named "Stargate," the
psychic team was so secret that a Legion of Merit awarded
to McMoneagle describes it only as "a unique
intelligence project that is revolutionizing the
McMoneagle is going public in response
to studies that are labeling the project as ineffective.
Tomorrow night on the taped ABC
special, McMoneagle gives an eerily specific description
of a location in Houston after he's shown a picture of a
woman located there. He had never been in the Texas city.
A news release describes McMoneagle's
performance as "one of the most spectacular
demonstrations of paranormal abilities ever presented on
network television. ...
performance should create a sensation."
It's hardly old hat to the Miami native
even he was stunned by the accuracy of his taped
television appearance but he said he gained a
reputation as one of the military's best practitioners of
His involvement, many details of which
are still secret, never fit a cloak-and-dagger image,
much less one of a roadside palm reader.
He did his job in a Spartan office
decorated with nothing more than a drawing of the crab
nebula that he did himself; he made standard Army wages
of $2,500 a month.
"I lived in the barracks; got up
and showered and got dressed and went to work," he
Ever major missions rarely amounted to
anything more than being handed an envelope with a
picture of someone and trying to sense a related
Failures as learning
"We'd go out on the town when we
had a good day," McMoneagle said. Failures were
regarded as learning experiences, examples of improper
The loneliness of the job destroyed
marriages and ruined careers, said McMoneagle, who lasted
longer than most. "I really have the feeling that I
was doing something to help our country; I had a real
sense that what I was doing was important."
McMoneagle enlisted in the Army after
high school and was a chief warrant officer when he
retired, frustrated by the isolation his job demanded and
by the disrespect traditional intelligence operatives
held for the band of remote viewers.
There was nothing unusual about
secretiveness in the intelligence community, McMoneagle
said. "But to be suddenly and totally compartmented
away for something so abnormal is to hear the death
During the Iranian hostage crisis,
McMoneagle and other viewers were asked to look at
black-and-white pictures of people known to be inside the
American Embassy, McMoneagle said.
'We were quite accurate'
From those, the viewers were able to
develop psychic images of the embassy's damaged interior,
land mine locations and other data.
"We were quite accurate, it turned
out," McMoneagle said, stressing that the psychic
intelligence was never relied on exclusively.
Since his retirement, McMoneagle has
worked with scientists studying the paranormal, notably
at the Cognitive Sciences Lab of SRI-International in
California, which once was associated with Stanford
He also operates Intuitive Intelligence
Applications, a consulting company. Clients have ranged
from individuals looking for relatives to petroleum
companies looking for reserves.
In a recently released book about his
experiences, "Mind Trek," McMoneagle traces his
ability to a near-death experience in 1970 and then
charts the gradual development of his remote viewing
It's been a remarkable path.
"I wouldn't do it again for $10
million, but you couldn't pay me $30 million for the
experience," said McMoneagle, who spends $5 a week
on the lottery but so far hasn't hit the jackpot.
"I use whatever numbers come to
mind," he chuckled.