In the summer of 1947, something mysterious crashed in the desert of Roswell, New Mexico, and the UFO phenomenon took on a new mythology that’s still raging today. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the incident, and to mark the occasion, COMET is celebrating with a series of alien and conspiracy-related stories called THE COMET ARCHIVES. This installment in the series will take a look at one of the most mysterious — and weirdest — secret operations the government has undertaken: Star Gate Project.
Despite the name, the project didn’t actually have anything to do with utilizing a gateway to travel to alien worlds, but it’s almost as weird. Founded in 1978 as a small army intelligence unit at Fort Meade, Maryland, the project’s main goal was to locate and exploit people with psychic powers in order to use them as spies. Yes, really. They planned to do this via remote viewing, which is the process of psychic observing events happening elsewhere, sometimes very far away, in real time, often by hijacking the mind of someone who’s at the location. If you’ve seen Stranger Things, this this is what the shady government agency was training Eleven to do before she escaped.
The project also researched other supposed psychic abilities such as psychokinesis, psychometry, telepathy and ESP, dowsing, and even clairvoyance, and its officially stated purpose was as follows:
“To provide an overview on remote viewing focusing on definitions, operations, management, participation, benefits, primary and secondary methodologies, categories of taskings, types of targets, and operational methodology.”
The program went by a number of names during its near-two decade run, and it started life as the oddly-named Gondola Wish program. It then became Grill Flame, Inscom Center Lane, Sun Streak, and then finally in 1991, Star Gate. The program has its roots in the early ’70s, when research into psychic spies began thanks to rumors that the Soviet Union was making progress with their own psychic spy program, and the U.S. didn’t want to fall behind in the psychic race. And while the program would receive millions of dollars in funding over the years, it was always controversial among many in the government who were lucky enough to know of its existence.
Those involved say that people wanted to be involved with the program but didn’t want others to know, thanks to the stigma associated with researching psychic powers — which of course, many people don’t believe exist. The project also received an early black eye when the two pioneering researchers who first looked into remote viewing in an earlier government project in the ’70s for the Stanford Research Institute, Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, were largely discredited for believing that noted fraud and celebrity spoon-bender Uri Gellar had legitimate psychic abilities after conducting their tests on him. The program was bounced around between defense-related government agencies over the years before being sent to the CIA in 1995, who quickly canceled it after their evaluation found it to be without merit. Or maybe that’s just what they want us to think.
Some believe Star Gate was never really canceled, but just rolled over to a new, even more secretive program. And that would kind of make sense because, despite the project’s ultimate cancellation, there were some pretty intriguing findings throughout its 17-year run as a classified government project. I mean, you’ve got to believe that something encouraged these scientists and military officials to continue spending so much money and years of time on their research, and thanks to some de-classified documents released by the government in January of this year, we can see what some of those intriguing findings were. For instance, one document regarding the program as a whole states that, while it didn’t prove psychic abilities, it didn’t disprove them either. The document concludes that “some remote viewing experiences are difficult to explain on the basis of presently known science.” Curiously, a CIA meeting document with handwritten notes from 1995 — the same year the agency canceled the program — records that “remote viewing is inherent to all – can be developed.” There are also highlighted pieces of literature and news reports in the files relating to mystical healers, poltergeists, and other paranormal phenomena, suggesting that the suits involved in the research were very open-minded indeed.
The project was mainly focused on research and development, but there were also several hundred top-secret intelligence-gathering missions that used remote viewing. Most of these missions are believed to have failed, but some supposed notable successes include remote viewers having correctly identified the locations of Soviet submarines, downed airplanes, hostages, and even former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in the ’80s. The most well-known of these remote viewers is Joseph McMoneagle, who was one of the project’s first participants in 1978, worked as one for five years, and remained with Star Gate as a consultant in 1993. He claims to have participated in several successful missions with a success rate of around 25 percent, and he continues to be involved with remote viewing today. He’s even written a book on his experiences in Star Gate called The Stargate Chronicles: Memoirs of a Psychic Spy.
It’s not a portal to another world, but the Star Gate project is still awfully interesting. If you’d like to learn more, you can comb through the thousands of official documents on Star Gate that the government has released, where you’re sure to find more strangeness than you’ll know what to do with. In the meantime, be careful what you’re looking at, because someone from the government may be looking at it, too — through your own eyes.