Opening STAR GATE
Fort Meade lies about halfway between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland, just off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. We found ourselves in the middle of rush-hour traffic on the I-495 Capital Beltway north of Washington, D.C., late on a Friday afternoon. My wife and I and the three kids had been on the road a couple of weeks in our VW bus pulling our popup trailer. We were all tired, stressed by the day’s drive and the cacophony of the beltway traffic. But less than thirty minutes away was Fort Meade and what would be our home for the next ten years (although we didn’t know that at the time).
We spent the weekend at the guest house on post, and on Monday I found out where the 902nd Headquarters, Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), building was located. My orders were waiting, just as had been promised. (To get military housing for my family, I needed written orders officially assigning me to Fort Meade.) I was told to take as much time as I needed to get my family settled and then report to Major Keenan, Commander of the Systems Exploitation Detachment or SED.
I went over to Post Housing immediately. I was offered a choice of two different neighborhoods and three different sets of quarters. I selected a townhouse on Buckner Avenue because it had more square footage of living space, was close to work, and was nearest to all the usual military facilities like the commissary, the post Exchange, the bank, etc. The townhouse had an unfinished basement, which I completed and, at first, became a playroom for the kids. Later, as the kids grew, it became our master bedroom and the kids each had their own bedroom upstairs.
By the end of the week, the family was beginning to get settled and I sought out Major Keenan, who turned out to be a gruff, battlefield-commissioned officer, proud to have been from the era of the old brown-shoe army. I found that the SED worked behind the green door and I would need a special identification badge depicting my Top Secret code-word security clearance to gain access. This work area was one of those
special places the instructor back at Fort Holibird some ten years ago had talked about.
Highly classified information drove the work product here. Keenan told me that I was to become a member of a SAVE Team. The acronym SAVE meant Sensitive Activity Vulnerability Estimate. I’ll explain a little bit about all this so that you will understand later how the remote-viewing surveillance issue fits.
This was the day and age of OPSEC—Operations Security—when commanders were expected to do more than just safeguard their classified material. Due to the increased sophistication of intelligence collection methods, military commanders were required to take measures to protect all critical aspects of their operational capabilities. (Remember my interesting questions about satellite photography back in the Fort Holibird days!)
An inspection by a SAVE Team was the ultimate survey of a command’s OPSEC status. Once a verifiable threat (a proven hostile-intelligence effort against an installation or organization) was identified, a SAVE Team targeted the installation or organization using sophisticated U.S. intelligence assets, thereby testing the vulnerability of the surveyed facility to hostile intelligence methods. The entire array of photo intelligence (PHOTINT), signal intelligence (SIGINT), and human intelligence (HUMINT) was employed against a designated army facility or command to give a complete OPSEC profile.
[Of note here is the fact that there was no consideration of cybersecurity. Why? At this time, the late 1970s, the cyberworld was just getting started and cybersecurity was not yet a problem.]
I spent a couple of weeks meeting and visiting with people around the office. I wasn’t assigned a desk or cubicle, so I just shuffled around from place to place. My peers were sizing me up to see how I might be best utilized within the unit. Because of my teaching background and the fact that I was a brand-new lieutenant, one of my first jobs was to brief visitors on the overall mission and functions of SED. For me, it was just a typical lieutenant-type duty.
Finally, one day Major Keenan ceremoniously told me that it was about time that I got my own desk. The open floor space in this area of the building had been divided into individual work areas, or cubicles, with movable partitions. He walked me over to a cubicle with a typical, gray office desk, a safe, a typewriter (this was in the days before office workers had desktop computers), and a couple of chairs. Keenan said that this had been Lieutenant Colonel Skotzko’s desk back in the days when the unit worked directly for General Thompson, the army’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI), and I would need to clean it out and make it my own.
This gesture, giving me my own workspace, was symbolic of my acceptance within the office. Keenan could have found me unsuitable for the SED job and had me reassigned elsewhere with INSCOM. The SED personnel were an elite assemblage of army intelligence professionals, and I had been accepted by them in less than a month.
I looked through the drawers of the desk in my new work area and found old pens and pencils, rubber stamps for marking classified documents, dated memos, old notebooks, and assorted leftover paraphernalia.
Next, I turned my attention to the only safe in the cubicle and began to look through the drawers. As I pulled open each heavy drawer, I found empty folders and file hangers. The file folders were still labeled and marked with security classifications, but the documents they once contained, Lieutenant Colonel Skotzko’s work, had since been moved or destroyed. There were four essentially empty drawers until I came to the fifth, the bottom drawer. There, in the bottom drawer, were three Department of Defense classified documents. Two of the reports detailed various aspects of Soviet interest in parapsychology, and the third was about remote viewing at SRI-International.
I had put the whole remote viewing thing out of my mind back in Fort Huachuca when my orders to the Pentagon were changed. And yet, here I was thumbing through two classified documents about Soviet parapsychology research and another prepared by Puthoff and Targ, the authors of that Mind-Reach book I had read back at Fort Huachuca! At least one of the two classified documents about Soviet parapsychology oricinally came from the Medical Intelligence Office of the Army Surgeon General. Apparently, in the early 1970s somebody considered the Office of the Surgeon General a competent authority in the area of parapsychology and assigned their intelligence resources as the lead agency on this issue.
One of the classified documents was published in 1972 and was called Controlled Offensive Behavior—U.S.S.R.. (now declassified via FOIA) The document focused on the concept that the Soviets were interested in modifying human behavior through the use of telepathy or telekinesis. This wasn’t exactly the same as remote viewing as described by Puthoff and Targ, but it was in the ballpark. What got my attention was that the document said that parapsychology research in the Soviet Union was probably being conducted at more than twenty separate institutions with an operating budget of more than twenty-one million dollars per year. In 1972, twenty-one million dollars was a lot of money and the principal source of their funding was from the KGB, what was then the Soviet equivalent of our CIA. If the Soviet KGB was spending this kind of cash, they were either being very foolish or they were having some promising results from their research efforts.
The other classified document from the Defense Intelligehce Agency, was published in 1975, detailed Soviet and Czechoslovakian Parapsychology Research. (now declassified via FOIA) The report was divided into two sections. The Bioinformation section concerned things like telepathy, precognition, and clairvoyance (all of which sounded a lot like remote viewing to me). The Bioenergetics section talked about psychokinesis and telekinesis.
The third classified document from the safe drawer was called Project SCANATE. It told about classified U.S. Government remote viewing research, conducted mostly by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park, California. This convincing report demonstrated the ability of remote-viewing surveillance to acquire and report information of interest to the intelligence community. The Project SCANATE report has not been declassified as have the other two, but for years I have had an unclassified draft of the report.
Both of these documents have been redacted and declassified and are available under the Freedom of Information Act. The authors of the Project SCANATE report were the same researchers, Puthoff and Targ, who had written the book Mind-Reach, which had earlier fascinated Rob Cowart and myself. Without any conscious effort on my part, I had been guided to this moment of discovery all along, even when I felt as though only earthly forces were controlling my military career.
I told Major Keenan that I had found three classified documents in the safe in my cubicle and described their subject matter. He said that Lieutenant Colonel Skotzko had been looking into remote viewing for General Thompson. Keenan said that General Thompson thought that there might be something to this phenomenon of remote viewing and took the subject quite seriously. Keenan asked if I knew anything about remote viewing and I told him that I did. He instructed me to keep the documents in my safe since I was familiar with the concept. He also told me that Staff Sergeant Riley, a photo interpreter assigned to SED, had an interest in this area as well. I had met Sergeant Riley before but until this moment didn’t know of his interest in remote viewing. Riley impressed me as a professional soldier who was an expert in his field and who took great pride in his accomplishments.
So, for the next couple of weeks, I read and reread the documents I had found in the bottom drawer. I thought back to the days at Fort Huachuca when Rob Cowart and I talked about the counterintelligence implications of remote viewing. In my mind, I replayed the scenario with Lieutenant Colonel Webb and how I had showed him the remote-viewing book written by the researchers Puthoff and Targ. I wondered how and why my orders had been changed from the Pentagon assignment to the SED at Fort Meade. I couldn’t tell my wife about finding these documents because of my security oath, and I didn’t know Sergeant Riley well enough yet. So there was no one with whom I could discuss this twist of fate, this serendipitous happenstance. Most interestingly, the loop wasn’t quite closed yet.
The U.S. Army Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, had formally requested OPSEC support, and several members of SED were selected to go to Alabama to answer the request. Since I was the junior officer in the unit, it was decided that this would be a good opportunity for me to learn, hands-on, about OPSEC support. I was invited go along to observe and play a small role. The missile command was concerned about security because much of their testing involved ground-to-air missile telemetry, the radio signals that guide a ground-fired missile to an airborne target. They wanted to know the actual hostile-intelligence threat posed and what OPSEC measures should be taken to counter this threat.
Much of the data supporting our recommendations was assembled prior to visiting Redstone Arsenal. The on-site visit to the missile command was to better understand ground operations, interview personnel about security procedures, and occasionally challenge those security procedures. For example, if we were told during the official tour inspection that only personnel wearing a certain type of security badge could enter into an area, we might come back (uninvited) that night or the next day and see if we could penetrate their security without a badge or with an obviously bogus one.
When we completed the on-site phase of the survey, we sat down to provide the command with an exit briefing, to be followed later by a formal, written report. I sat quietly as the senior members of our SED entourage talked of the threat posed by Soviet satellites, which passed over Redstone Arsenal at regular intervals. The OPSEC solution was to schedule critical telemetry tests during periods of time when the satellites were in orbit over a different part of the planet. We also discussed the hreat posed by Soviet ships in the Gulf of Mexico that could intercept telemetry signals. We told them that the missile command’s OPSEC office could be provided with information about Soviet ships and which ones were known hostile-intelligence assets.
Human agents presented an additional threat, because Redstone Arsenal offered a NASA display for tourists. We informed the missile command that U.S. Immigration could provide the declared travel plans of foreign visitors. By matching this information with a list of names provided by classified sources of known hostile-intelligence agents, their OPSEC officer could develop a system to alert personnel when known hostile agents were in the immediate area.
The exit briefing contained many more details and several suggestions for OPSEC, counterintelligence, and physical security measures common to nearly every survey. Just before we all got up from the conference table, one of the project managers sitting directly across from me said,
I appreciate all that you have told us, but how are we supposed to protect ourselves from this? He pulled a book out of his briefcase and slid it across the table to me. I reached out for the book, wondering what he could be asking about. It was Mind-Reach! As I held the book in my hand, staring at the title, the missile command OPSEC officer at the head of the table abruptly asked,
What’s this all about? The project manager had surprised him, and I could tell from the sound of his voice that he was befuddled. A hush fell over the room; I turned to address the OPSEC officer’s question and spoke slowly and deliberately, the words coming from somewhere deep inside me,
Your project officer is worried about the threat posed by remote viewing, a human perceptual ability being investigated under classified government contracts at the prestigious Stanford Research Institute. He wants to know what OPSEC measures we recommend to counter this threat. This subject is beyond the scope of this survey and today’s briefing. I will have to get back to you later on this, Sir. For those few, brief moments, I commanded the attention of everyone in the room. I handed the book back to the project manager and he put it back in his briefcase. I glanced over to the SED team leader and nodded.
Well, he said, as he turned to the OPSEC officer and offered a departing handshake,
I guess we’ll be in touch with you later.
Dumbfounded, the OPSEC officer smiled and thanked us for our time and effort. We departed Redstone Arsenal without any further mention of remote viewing or the curious incident during the exit briefing. On the trip back to Fort Meade, I couldn’t stop thinking about all that had been happening. Less than three months prior to this Alabama trip, I had been asking Lieutenant Colonel Webb, back at Fort Huachuca, for an assignment involving the security threat posed by remote viewing. Even when he had arranged for me to be assigned to the Pentagon, I was unexplainably redirected to Fort Meade and the SED. Just a couple of weeks prior to this OPSEC survey, I had discovered the secret remote-viewing documents in my safe. This was amazing. A warm smile filled my face. I was on course. Although this might be inappropriate to write about here, the truth is that with all these thoughts swiming through my mind when I got home, I was so excited that my wife and I had a very good time in bed that night.
I didn’t want to offend the senior member of the SED team that had traveled to Alabama as team leader by going over his head, so I first asked him if I should tell Major Keenan about the remote-viewing question that had come up in the exit briefing. He told me he was glad to have me do it because he didn’t know what to say. The following week, I asked for a meeting with Keenan to tell him about the exit briefing at Redstone Arsenal. Since Keenan knew that I had the secret remote-viewing documents in my safe, I felt comfortable bringing up the subject with him.
I had been in Major Keenan’s office before, and his desk abutted a small conference table so that he could have several staff members in his office at the same time. As I entered his office carrying an armful of documents and a yellow legal pad, he said cordially,
What can I do for you, Lieutenant? I set the papers on the small conference table and began to explain that during the exit briefing at Redstone Arsenal an unusual OPSEC request was made. Keenan invited me to sit down and tell him more. And, rather than sitting behind his desk, he joined me at the conference table. This gesture indicated a willingness to talk as peers. Had he gone around behind his desk as the boss, the discussion that followed might have had a different flavor altogether. I started off slowly, explaining how well things had gone in Alabama and that I was sure the U.S. Army Missile Command would be very appreciative of INSCOM and the efforts of SED. I also thanked him for sending me along so that I could learn the how to of OPSEC support provided by SED. I casually told him that at the end of the exit briefing one of the project managers had asked for OPSEC recommendations to protect themselves from hostile surveillance by remote viewing. As I was talking, I leafed through the documents I had set on the small conference table, and with perfect timing, just as I finished
speaking, I fanned out the secret remote-viewing documents from my safe on the table in front of us.
asked Major Keenan as he glanced at the documents, the government's available scientific (evidence) of remote viewing, on the table before him. I explained to him that I told the missile command OPSEC officer that the concerns of his project manager about remote viewing were genuine but that his query was beyond the scope of the present survey.
What did you tell him?
Good, said Keenan.
But how are you going to answer his question, Lieutenant?
Yes, Sir, I said. I know his question needs to be answered, and that’s why I asked to meet with you.
I explained that first we needed to determine if hostile exploitation of the remote-viewing phenomenon posed a probable threat. It was obvious from open-source material (newspapers, magazines, books, etc.) and published classified documents that remote viewing constituted a possible threat but that until we could demonstrate its probable exploitation by hostile intelligence, there was no need to address the concept of countermeasures.
Keenan smiled and said,
You’ve been thinking about this, haven’t you, Lieutenant? He asked what I planned to do next. I told him that I needed to see if there were more, or more up-todate, classified documents on remote viewing, and that I needed to check to see if there were any outstanding Intelligence Collection Requirements (ICRs) for the hostile exploitation of remote viewing. (The CIA compiled a list of ICRs, as they were called back then, to address the identified needs of the intelligence community. This list sometimes chartered specific agencies to obtain the information, but many ICRs invited contributions from any appropriate organization.)
I explained that if I could demonstrate the probable exploitation of this unique, human perceptual ability by hostile intelligence services, we had an obligation to address countermeasures with our OPSEC expertise and policy. Keenan brought our short meeting to a close by saying,
You’re probably right, Lieutenant. Find out what you can and get back to me when you’ve got something substantial.
Yes, Sir. I picked up my papers and left his office.
My course had been set—in more ways than I was aware. The classified documents that I had listed the publishing offices, and it took little effort to query those offices for updated material. In my search, I found another secret document prepared by the Air Force Systems Command, Foreign Technology Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, and published by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). This document was called Paraphysics R & D—Warsaw Pact. (now declassified via FOIA) This was a very comprehensive review on the state of the parapsychology research in the Soviet Union and Warsaw-Pact countries. It detailed personnel involved in the research, institutions, and funding.
I reviewed the classified ICRs and found that the air force was responding to a list of requirements for information on remote-viewing and psychic phenomena. I discovered that there was a civilian employee at DIA by the name of Jim Salyer who was the point of contact with DIA on this subject, among other things. Jim was a somewhat standoffish fellow, but he had been involved with DIA’s remote-viewing interests for some time. He was the first government official that I met who knew what was going on in this field. When I asked him about the work at SRI by Puthoff and Targ, Mr. Salyer explained that in response to outstanding ICRs published by the CIA, information about Soviet remote-viewing experiments, and those of other nations as well, had been collected. He said that in the case of intelligence information about foreign remote viewing experiments, one way to determine the probable truth of the information was to replicate the reported experiments. Salyer said that this was the basis for the government funded remote-viewing research at SRI. They were reproducing the experiments to see if the reported successes in remote viewing by Soviet and other foreign research facilities were valid. And . . . from time to time, the CIA itself would task SRI’s remote viewers against the CIA’s own foreign targets of interest. Some of those test results have been published elsewhere.
I learned from Mr. Salyer that an air force civilian employee by the name of Dale Graff was the point of contact at Air Force Systems Command, Foreign Technology Division. Dale was the principal author of Paraphysics R & D—Warsaw Pact. Before leaving DIA, I asked Mr. Salyer how to get in touch with Dale and he provided the necessary contact information. I took a trip out to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to meet Dale Graff. Dale was a soft spoken, mid-level civilian employee whose intellect far exceeded his job assignment. He had been investigating remote viewing on his own for years. He was genuinely interested in my inquiry and candidly reviewed the material about foreign research on remote viewing and other psychic phenomena with me without holding anything back.
It was clear from what Dale showed me that, as far as the Soviet Union was concerned, the principlal-funding source for this research was the KGB. The presumption was that the KGB was investigating remote-viewing surveillance as a possible source of intelligence information. Coupling this hypothesis with the remote-viewing success in the government-funded SRI research, it looked to me as though I had found evidence to demonstrate the probable exploitation of remote viewing by hostile intelligence services. As I made inquiries around the intelligence community, I found others who agreed with me. But how was I going to explain all this to Major Keenan? If he understood the OPSEC implications of what I had discovered, then what would he have me do next? I decided the best course of action would be to ask the authoritative Mr. Salyer from the DIA if he would come to Fort Meade and brief Keenan.
Within in a week, Mr. Salyer, Major Keenan, and I were sitting around that small conference table in Keenan’s office. Salyer explained that the U.S. Government had been following remote-viewing research for some time but only recently had taken an increased interest when evidence of KGB funding of the Soviet effort came to light. He reviewed the efforts of SRI to replicate Soviet experiments and showed us some results. I confirmed, for discussion purposes, that researchers Puthoff and Targ, the authors of Mind-Reach, were the ones under government contract. Salyer showed several startling examples in which SRI’s remote viewers had correctly described strategic military facilities in the Soviet Union. The implication for OPSEC was vividly clear. If KGB remote viewers were targeted against U.S. facilities, similar results could be expected.
The DIA briefing lasted about forty-five minutes and after courteous handshakes all around, Mr. Salyer and I left Major Keenan’s office. I walked Salyer to the door and thanked him for the briefing. Watching him descend the stairs on his way out of the building, I wasn’t sure if this would be the end of my involvement with military remote viewing or perhaps the beginning of an even deeper participation. As I was returning to my desk, Keenan leaned out of his office doorway and said,
Lieutenant Atwater, be in my office at 0900 hours tomorrow morning. The next morning, I woke up earlier than usual. I thought the briefing had gone well. Rather than me, Lieutenant Atwater, the junior officer, telling my commander that I had found evidence that remote viewing constituted a probable threat to national security, an official representative of the DIA had presented the argument for me. In pursuit of this evidence, I had made several contacts within the Department of Defense (DOD) and in turn revealed to them that INSCOM had an interest in the security implications of remote viewing.
At the same time, my fellow officers and coworkers in SED saw that not only was I busy with some special project but that I was getting an unexpected amount of attention from the boss: This junior lieutenant, this new guy on board, seemed to be moving pretty fast. Why did Keenan want to see me? Why did he announce from his doorway, in a voice that everyone in the office could hear, I was to meet with him the next morning? From my office cubicle, I kept a watchful eye on the coat rack outside Major Keenan’s office until I saw that his braided, fieldgrade officer’s hat sat on the shelf above the hangars. Once I could see his hat, I knew he was in his office. At 0900, I showed up at the doorway outside Keenan’s office with a yellow legal pad in hand, looking as much as I could like I was interested but not anxious to hear what he had to say to me.
Lieutenant Atwater, he said,
come in and have a seat. As I sat down at the small conference table, he went around behind his desk and assumed a commanding position.
Would you like some coffee?
No, thank you, I replied. In this dance, the junior officer was not expected to accept the coffee. The offer was just setting the social dynamics for the meeting.
I want to thank you for the meeting with Mr. Salyer yesterday.
I was impressed.
Yes, Sir, I replied cautiously.
But you still haven’t answered my question.
In a rather stern voice, he said,
I asked you what you were going to tell the missile command down at Redstone Arsenal. They asked what they could do to protect themselves, their military operations, from remote-viewing surveillance.
Yes, Sir, that’s correct, I continued,
and as I told you before, it seemed to me that in keeping with the SED mission, our first step was to determine if remote viewing presented a probable threat.
And with yesterday’s DIA briefing it would appear that it is.
[Unknown to me at the time, Keenan had reported the meeting we had with Mr. Salyer to General Thompson. The investigation of remote viewing was of interest to General Thompson and Keenan wanted to keep him informed of recent SED activity. Apparently, General Thompson was fascinated by what Keenan told him and wished for SED to continue the OPSEC effort and interest in remote viewing.]
Yes, Sir, I went on.
In keeping with SED's way of providing OPSEC support, our next step would be to use remote-viewing surveillance on the missile command ourselves to demonstrate its vulnerability to this form of hostile-intelligence collection to the commander, U.S. Army Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
And how do you propose we do that, Lieutenant?
Well, Sir, at SRI they have some remote viewers who would seem to be capable of performing such a task, but there is a problem with using them.
What do you mean? What problem?
It would seem to me, Sir, that for us here at SED the issue is larger than just the missile command in Alabama. If remote viewing is in fact a hostile-intelligence threat, then the OPSEC posture of all army installations, operations, and assorted facilities are vulnerable.
What are you saying, Lieutenant?
Sir, the remote viewers at SRI are basically research subjects, and they work as independent consultants or subcontractors to SRI. They do not have the appropriate security clearances or the proverbial need-to-know for much of the sensitive classified information at the missile command or other army facilities. And if we genuinely see remote viewing as a probable threat, we will need to include it in our OPSEC vulnerability estimates for many of the army commands for which we provide service.
Yes. I see what you mean, Lieutenant, he said slowly.
The SRI remote viewers wouldn’t have security clearances for any of that. Coming out from behind his desk, he sat down at the small conference table across from me and asked,
So what are we going to do now?
I leaned back in my chair and glanced down at the blank, yellow legal pad on the table in front of me. As my eyes slowly rose to meet his, my mind raced for an answer to his question.
Major Keenan, I said carefully,
we need to train some of our own people—intelligence professionals with appropriate security clearances—to be remote viewers. In the back of my mind, I thought this sounded pretty good. I continued,
Once trained, these assets could be used repeatedly to provide remote viewing in support of SED’s OPSEC-support mission. Just as we use other intelligence-surveillance assets such as satellites, communications intercepts, and facility penetration agents to demonstrate OPSEC vulnerabilities to army commanders, we could use these trained remote viewers to demonstrate vulnerabilities to this unique form of surveillance.
A pensive stillness filled the room as Keenan gathered his thoughts.
Lieutenant Atwater, he announced,
you’re right! And then he asked,
How do we train our people to be remote viewers?
I didn’t know exactly how to answer his question. How do you train someone to do something that to me seemed to be a natural aptitude? And yet, that’s what training was all about, bringing out or developing natural aptitudes. You can’t train people to play the piano, for example, unless they have some inherent aptitude. Maybe remote viewing worked the same way. But how could I identify people with this natural aptitude? I would want to select people for training who had some chance of being successful. I would want to have several people trained so I would have backup and multiple sources. As my thoughts raced on, very little objective time passed back at the small conference table. The wisdom from within that was always with me emerged and I answered Keenan’s question.
Sir, I said with authority,
I’ll need to check with the researchers at SRI in Menlo Park and several other organizations about available training programs. We may be able to train personnel with these organizations initially with an eventual goal of in-house training. But first, we need to decide or determine our responsibility and commitment to remote-viewing surveillance as an issue of national security.
That, Major Keenan said,
will be a decision for General Smith, Deputy Commander, INSCOM. Keenan spoke slowly as he thought it through,
This area of inquiry is beyond the scope of our planned budget, and the deputy commander must approve any expenditures on new projects. If he were to approve our looking into this, it would, in turn, be setting policy—official authority for INSCOM to consider the OPSEC ramifications of remote-viewing surveillance. He stood up.
Lieutenant, prepare a briefing for General Smith during his visit next week. Work up a travel budget for yourself covering the rest of the fiscal year. Prepare a document for General Smith’s signature, providing us the authority to train our personnel in remote viewing. Make sure you review with General Smith the threat information covered in Mr. Salyer’s visit.
I rose from my chair and stood across the table from Keenan and obediently responded,
Yes, Sir. He smiled and extended his arm, inviting a handshake, a gentleman’s agreement that we were taking the appropriate action. I took his hand and smiled back. He gestured, tossing his head toward the door and said,
Now get out of here, Lieutenant, and get to work. I picked up my yellow legal pad and headed out of his office and back to my own cubicle.
I knew that when my time finally came to brief the General, if I was on course with my spiritual journey through life, my briefing the deputy commander would best serve those interests. As the moment approached, I stood in the hall outside the conference room with my fellow intelligence officers on the briefing schedule, and one by one we were called in turn to brief the general on a variety of subjects. My name came up early on the list, so I didn’t have to wait very long. I didn’t bring any graphics or briefing notes, but I did carry the classified remote-viewing documents in case the general asked for them.
In an attempt to bolster my professional deportment and knowledge of the subject matter, I made sure that those in the conference room saw that I was carrying several officially published classified documents. (I was fighting the all-day-in-the-army-lieutenant factor here.) I set the documents on the conference table next to the podium and when my eyes met the general’s, I smiled and attempted to establish some rapport by asking,
Are you enjoying your briefings this morning, General?
Get on with it, Lieutenant, he barked.
Yes, Sir, I said.
This briefing concerns a subject about which you have not been kept fully informed.
Major Keenan glanced at the general to see his reaction.
General Smith didn’t bark again, so I continued.
More importantly, Sir, this is a decision briefing. We here at SED are soliciting a policy decision from you as deputy commander affecting the future of Army OPSEC procedures, INSCOM’s support responsibilities, and, from a larger perspective, a broad range of national defense issues.
He held up his hand, motioning me to stop, and turned to Keenan,
What’s this all about, Major?
Lieutenant Atwater has had ten years of experience as a counterintelligence special agent and has unique knowledge of this particular topic. I have asked him to bring you up to speed on this subject so you can sign off on our action plan.
As I stood there waiting, General Smith shuffled through the papers on the heavy, mahogany conference table in front of him. When he finally found the briefing schedule, he took a moment to peruse it and then looked up at me and said,
Lieutenant Atwater, tell me about remote viewing. This sounds like it’s going to be interesting.
Well, there I was. I hadn’t been thrown out. I stood there in a secure conference room before General Smith, the Deputy Commander of INSCOM, prepared to tell him about remote viewing. It had only been a few months since I had mentioned to Lieutenant Colonel Webb, back at Fort Huachuca, that I wanted to be involved with remote viewing and its obvious impact on national intelligence and security issues. It had been less than a year since Staff Sergeant Rob Cowart and I had last discussed and mused over the counterintelligence ramifications of remote viewing. Somehow I knew this was another one of those pivotal times in my life. There was a sense, an overwhelming feeling, that all my previous life focused on this one moment and that in the future this briefing would be thought of as crucial in tracing the history of army remote-viewing operations. Deep inside, I knew somehow that years into the future there was to be a history of army remote-viewing operations. This experience, this outside-of-time knowingness, filled me with self-confidence. So without trepidation or even the slightest inkling of a doubt about my future, I told General Smith about remote viewing.
Remote viewing, I began,
is a natural, perceptual faculty defined as the human ability to describe locations, activities, or objects using the power of the mind without the use of our conventional senses.
What do you mean, Lieutenant? Give me an example.
Yes, Sir. If Major Keenan, for example, were asked as an intelligence officer to describe the current activities at a particular Soviet weapons depot, he would probably want to review current intercept traffic and look at any overhead satellite surveillance that might be on file. If activity at the depot was considered a particularly critical target, perhaps having been identified as an indicator of hostile intentions, there might even be some HUMINT (informants or agents paid by U.S. intelligence) available as well.
Still another way for him to find out about the current activities at this supposed Soviet weapons depot would be through remote viewing. An experienced remote viewer might be able to accurately describe, by mental means alone, elements or goings-on at this Soviet depot. These descriptions could provide corroborative or additional information to intelligence analysts.
Is this remote viewing some sort of mental telepathy sort of thing?
I went on, adjusting my comments to address his question.
The concept of telepathy implies some sort of mind-to-mind exchange of information. Remote viewing, as presently understood, would appear to be different. If, by way of example here, we were able to contact a Soviet soldier at this supposed weapons depot by means of telepathy, any intelligence provided through such contact would be limited to that soldier’s knowledge of the site. It would seem, however, that remote viewing does not have this limitation. An experienced, reliable remote viewer could describe aspects of the depot, perspectives and activities beyond the confines or perceptions of personnel located there.
But, Lieutenant, is such a thing possible? the General asked as he leaned forward in his chair.
Yes, Sir, it is, Keenan interrupted and then pointed at me.
You only have a few minutes with the general, so move along, Atwater.
I replied. Structuring my remaining time, I continued,
General, I will be discussing four topics of interest to you. First, scientific evaluation and proof of remote viewing; second, KGB funding of Soviet research, which implies hostile intelligence
exploitation of the phenomenon; third, INSCOM’s OPSEC responsibilities; and finally, Major Keenan’s proposed course of action for SED. Our purpose here is to get your approval for this proposed course of action.
I don’t have time for all that, Lieutenant. Do those documents there on the table in front of you cover all that stuff, the scientific proof, and the Soviet activities and all that? he asked bluntly.
Yes, Sir, with the exception of our proposed course of action, I said slowly and pensively.
Well, he barked,
what do you propose to do about all this?
Cautiously, I continued,
During a recent survey at the missile command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama . . .
Yes, he snarled,
I know where the U.S. Army Missile Command is.
Sir, I raised my voice and looked directly at him,
the missile command has officially asked us here at INSCOM what OPSEC measures should be taken to counter the threat of Soviet remote-viewing surveillance.
Oh. He turned toward Major Keenan.
What are we going to do about this, Major?
Keenan gestured toward me with a nod and said with a go-get-'em wink,
Tell him, Lieutenant. Tell him what we are going to do, and get the general’s signature on that budget document you brought with you.
[Considering that Keenan and I had not rehersed any of this, this dance performance was going quite well.]
General Smith turned and looked me right in the eye as I told him what we would do.
SED will train professional intelligence personnel with high-level security clearances, people like those here in the conference room right now, in this remote-viewing skill. Once trained, these trusted personnel will be able to provide remote-viewing descriptions of U.S. Army installations and commands. These descriptions will provide us with an accurate means to assess OPSEC vulnerabilities to hostile remote-viewing surveillance of these same organizations.
It is our opinion, General Smith, that this issue is of vital importance to national security and that INSCOM has a responsibility to provide the appropriate OPSEC support to U.S. Army activities. Further, because Major Keenan’s detachment, SED, is the lead element in INSCOM’s OPSEC effort, it is the logical and appropriate national-level organization to head this operation.
This sounds like a good idea, the general said,
but how are you going to train these folks?
With that, I picked up the budget request I brought with me and, avoiding his direct question, replied,
Since this training clearly falls outside the parameters of this fiscal year’s budget, you as deputy commander need to approve this course of action.
How much are we talking about? he asked, as I walked out from behind the podium to hand him the SED remote-viewing action plan, cloaked as a budget request.
Just a couple of thousand to cover travel expenses until the end of the fiscal year, I said casually. Having handed him the budget request, I returned to the podium, turned, and began to speak,
If we . . . and he cut me off midsentence.
Here’s your approval, Lieutenant,
he said, while handing the budget request to Keenan. The general had apparently signed it while I was returning to the podium. Looking at Keenan, he asked,
What’s next, Major? Keenan looked up at me and gruffly ordered,
Atwater, tell Captain Cole out in the hall he’s next with his briefing on personnel security issues.
Yes, Sir, I replied and without another word picked up my documents. As I headed out of the conference room, Keenan passed me the remote-viewing action plan that the general had signed. As I left the conference room, I could see Captain Cole waiting patiently in the hall. I smiled at him and told him that Major Keenan said he was up next. After Cole went into the conference room, everyone else waiting wanted to know how it went for me. I just smiled and waved the signed budget authorization and action plan in the air.
As I walked back to my cubicle, I began to realize how fast things were moving and how far I had come in just the several weeks since I got assigned to Fort Meade. My plan was to use the funds the general had just authorized to visit SRI and other organizations and come up with a training plan to teach professional intelligence personnel remote viewing.