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 TrekExploring
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
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
projectwhich was then called Grillflamein
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
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
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
envelopessometimes large brown ones, sometimes
small white onesand 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
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
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
rankchief 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?"