Strategic Analysis

Strategic Analysis:
A Monthly Journal of the IDSA

Jan-Mar 2002 (Vol. XXVI No. 1)


Clairvoyant Remote Viewing: The US Sponsored Psychic Spying
M. Srinivasan * , Former Associate Director, BARC



’Remote Viewing,’ popularly known as Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) is the ability of human being to perceive information and imagery of remote geographical targets. Advanced practitioners of the Indian Yoga system were well acquainted with ‘Divya Drishti.’

This paper deals with experiments conducted in USA in which certain individuals were trained to acquire such ‘Remote Viewing’ capabilities for collecting military intelligence.



During the Cold War years, the USA and Soviet Union are known to have been spying on each other using the services of psychic ‘remote viewers’, with the specific objective of gathering intelligence information of military significance. In simple terms ‘remote viewing’ is ‘the ability of human participants to acquire information about spatially (and temporally) remote geographical targets otherwise inaccessible by any known sensory means’.

There were two complementary components to the US Remote Viewing programme:

(a) A research programme on ‘Anomalous Cognition (AC)’ directed initially by physicists Hal Putoff and Russell Targ at the laboratories of Stanford Research International (SRI) at Menlo Park, California which was shifted in 1988 to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), under the direction of Edwin May. The findings of their early studies have been reported in prestigious scientific journals during the 1970s. 1-3

(b) Mission-oriented operational assignments overseen by various intelligence agencies of the US Government, code-named Project STARGATE.

Information regarding this top-secret programme was partly declassified by the CIA in July 1995 following the thaw in the Cold War. Since then, several research articles 4 and many books 5-10 have been published by some of the persons who were closely associated with this programme. These authors have however expressed regret that they had not been permitted to reveal much of the ‘sensitive’ details of the programme. The present brief account is based on the published sources of information.


Background to Remote Viewing Faculty

The faculty of Remote Viewing is popularly also known as Extra Sensory Perception (or ESP for short), a term coined by the pioneering parapsychology researcher J.B. Rhine in 1934. Students of Indian Yogic lore are however well acquainted with it. Aphorism 3.26 of Patanjali’s classic work Yoga Sutras (400 B.C.) describes the first of the ashta-siddhis (or psychic powers) that a serious practitioner of Yoga can acquire as ‘obtaining knowledge of the small, the hidden or distant by directing the light of superphysical faculty’. Russell Targ, has commented that the techniques used by the US viewers for ‘looking into the distance and the future’ are ‘strikingly similar to the detailed instructions given in the Yoga Sutra!’

Most ancient civilisations appear to have been acquainted with the knowledge of this particular faculty of the human mind. In both Indian and Chinese scriptures there are instances of the clairvoyant skills of people being used as a tool for obtaining relevant military information in the battle-ground.

It is learnt that the US Government authorities started paying serious attention to investigating the possible applicability of ‘remote viewing’ techniques for military purposes only when a book titled Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, authored by Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder, was published in 1970 11 . This book appears to have jolted the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) into action, triggering what one journalist has dubbed as the ‘Race for Inner Space’! Hal Puthoff, the founder and first Director of the SRI Studies has given a graphic account of how it all began in his recollections of the programme. 6


Laboratory Investigations of Remote Viewing

Systematic scientific investigation of telepathy and ESP had been carried out 12 in the US by J.B. Rhine and his associates during the 1930s and the 1940s at Dukes University, using a set of five ‘Zener Cards’ containing symbols such as square, circle, star, plus sign, and a wavy pattern. One of these cards selected at random would be kept open in one room and a ‘transmitting agent’ would focus his mental attention and concentration on the same. A ‘receiver’ or ‘viewer’ sitting in an adjacent room would try to guess which card is open. The success rate in such ‘card guessing’ tests would be recorded. If the experimental hit rate was statistically more significant than the ‘chance expectation’ rate of one in five (or 20 per cent) it would be interpreted as evidence of a telepathic or ESP mode of information transfer.

Unfortunately, to obtain statistically significant results the experiment had to be repeated thousands of times and this led to ‘decline effects’ due to boredom (or tiredness) on the part of the remote viewer. To overcome this problem, parapsychology researchers at SRI started using a set of pictures taken from the National Geographic magazine instead of the zener cards. A ‘rank order’ method of quantifying the success rate was developed for this.

The focus of research then shifted to assessing the success rate in ‘test bed’ or field trials where a remote viewer was asked to sense and describe a natural scene or a military site where an ‘agent’ or ‘beacon’ was located. Both the ‘transmitting agent’ at the site and the ‘viewer’ or ‘receiver’ sitting in the lab would be asked to fill out an identical 30 point questionnaire with a yes (’1’) or no (’0’) marking. This method of assessment was first developed by Princeton University researchers in their Engineering Anomalies Research Programme 13 while investigating ‘Precognitive Remote Perception’. Using advanced mathematical methods developed in the field of artificial intelligence and pattern recognition, the degree of success of the remote viewer was quantified.

In the next stage of research simulating military spying missions, the presence of the transmitting ‘agent’ at the target site was dispensed with and the remote viewer was encouraged to view relevant military targets within the US, given only the latitude and longitude of the target site. A brief summary of the outcome of the research on ‘anomalous cognition’ sponsored by the US Government is available in Edwin May’s website <>. Dr. May was the Director of this research at SAIC when the programme was officially terminated in 1995.


Examples of Some “Test Bed” Trials

In the course of their investigations the SRI researchers identified at least six ‘star performers’ with an extraordinary inborn remote viewing talent. While the names of some of them have been revealed, others are only identified by a code number. Those revealed are briefly mentioned below:

(a) Remote Viewing of a High Technology Site (May 7, 1987)

Viewer: Receiver # R-372 (Now known to be Joe McMoneagle)

Primary Target Site: Electron Accelerator at The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

Cue Supplied: Name and Social Security Number of an Intelligence Officer (’target person’) unknown to the remote viewer or others stationed at SRI Labs.

Assignment: Describe the target person’s movements and the ambience of his surroundings at eight-hour intervals during a span of 24 hours.

Target Person’s Actual Movements: Besides moving in the LLNL site, the target person also visited the windmill farm just outside the LLNL premises at 4 P.M.

Results: “Fuzzy Set Analysis” of the various descriptions provided by the receiver showed that the overall accuracy of the remote viewing was 77 per cent and overall reliability 78 per cent. The reliability of the description of the windmill farm was 100 per cent (accuracy is defined as the ‘percentage of target elements described correctly by the viewer’ and reliability as ‘percentage of receivers response that is correct’.)

(b) Swimming Pool Complex at Rinconada Park, Palo Alto (1974)

This viewing was carried out by Pat Price who was described by Russell Targ as one of their ‘psychic treasures’. The target was selected randomly from out of a ‘target pool’ of sites, unknown to Pat Price and Russell Targ who were stationed inside a ‘Faraday Cage’ in the Radio Physics Building of SRI International Labs. Hal Puthoff and an associate Bart drove off to the target site, which was five miles away. After the alloted time of 30 minutes, Pat Price was asked to view and describe the target site.

Pat said he saw ‘a circular pool of water about a hundred feet in diameter’ (it was actually 110 ft); he also saw ‘a rectangular pool 60 ft by 80 ft’ (it was actually 75’ by 100’); he went on to describe a concrete block house which was also at the site. He drew a diagram of the complex. Pat said that the site seemed to be a water purification plant and drew two water storage tanks and some rotating machinery such as pumps etc.

After completing the drawing and description, all of them drove to the site to assess the accuracy of Pat’s viewing. Everything was remarkably accurate except for the two water tanks and the water purification plant, which were absent.

Pat Price’s inclusion of the non-existent tanks remained a puzzle for 21 years. However, the mystery was unexpectedly solved in March 1995 when, as part of the ‘centennial celebrations’ of the city of Palo Alto, a commemorative volume was published. This brochure carried a picture of the Rinconada Park site taken in 1913 on the occasion of the inauguration of the city’s new water works showing two water tanks exactly at the location indicated by Pat Price in his 1974 viewing!

This amazing example brings out one of the remarkable features of remote viewing, namely the ability of consciousness to access the past. In RV literature it is referred to as ‘retro cognition’ while in ancient Indian texts it is described as accessing the ‘akashic records’!

(c) Discovery of Rings around Planet Jupiter

Ingo Swann6 the famous psychic who was in fact responsible for getting Hal Puthoff and his colleagues at SRI Labs interested in ‘investigating the boundary between the animate and inanimate’ in 1972, suggested carrying out an experiment to remote-view the planet Jupiter before the upcoming NASA Pioneer-10 flyby. Much to the “chagrin of Ingo Swann and the SRI researchers, he found a ring around Jupiter and wondered if perhaps he had remote-viewed the planet Saturn by mistake”. But when the Pioneer-10 flyby did take place it confirmed the existence of rings around Jupiter.

(Interestingly, a Pune based medical doctor by the name of Dr. P.V.Vartak has contacted this writer and sent newspaper clippings describing his astral visits to the Moon, Mars and Jupiter.)


Examples of Operational Assignments

The following are brief summaries of some very interesting operational assignments as reported in the declassified remote viewing literature.

(a) Radio Listening Post: Urals (1974)

A ‘receiver’ volunteered to ‘scan’ the Soviet Union for a radio listening post and claimed to have found one located at Latitude 65-degrees, 0-minutes, 57-seconds (North) and Longitude 59-degrees, 59-minutes, 59-seconds (East) (note the astonishing precision in pinpointing the geographical coordinates!). The receiver then described the detailed geographical features of the surroundings of the site as follows:

“Elevation, 6200 ft. Scrubby brush, tundra-type ground hummocks, rocky outcroppings, mountains with fairly steep slopes. Facing north for about 60 miles, ground slopes to marshland. A mountain chain runs off to the right, about 35-degrees east of north. Facing south, mountains run fairly north and south. Facing west, mountains drop down to foothills for 60 miles or so: some rivers running roughly north. Facing east, mountains are rather abrupt, dropping to rolling hills and to flat land. Area site underground, reinforced concrete, doorways of steel of the roll-up type. Unusually high ratio of women to men, at least at night. I see some helipads, concrete. Light rail tracks run from pads to another set of rails that parallel the doors into the mountain. 30 miles north (5-degrees west of north) of the site is a radar installation with one large (165 ft) dish and 10 small fast-track dishes.”

The above report was verified by personnel in the sponsor organisation as being substantially correct.

(b) Nuclear Research Centre at Semipalatinsk, in the former Soviet Union (July 1974)

This was CIA’s very first operational viewing assignment. The viewer was Pat Price. Pat was asked to describe what was located at a suspected underground nuclear testing site in the former Soviet Union known by the code name PNUTS. CIA indicated that it was of great interest to them. They had in their possession a spy satellite photograph of the site.

The viewer was given only the geographical coordinates of the site in degrees, minutes and seconds (This type of viewing has been referred to as ‘Coordinate Remote Viewing’). Pat was also told that the site was an R&D test facility. The government’s representative decided that if the viewer described either the known multi-story crane or odd structures resembling oil well derricks, then they would continue.

Pat’s description of this remote site in his own words was, “I am lying on my back on the roof of a two or three storeyed brick building. It’s a sunny day. The sun feels good. There’s this most amazing thing. There is a giagantic crane moving back and forth over my head . . . As I drift up in the air and look down, it seems to be riding on a track with one rail on each side of the building. I’ve never seen anything like that”. This viewing assignment continued for a couple weeks during which he drew pictures of the gigantic gantry crane and many other items at the site such as “a cluster of compressed gas cylinders” which were also visible in the satellite pictures. The gantry crane was moving on eight large wheels, two on each of the four legs. This unique feature was confirmed by the satellite photos. (The remarkable similarity of his drawing of the crane and the satellite photo can be seen in Ed May’s website <>).

In later sessions, Pat described the activities in the interior of the building on top of which he was lying earlier. He explained that “people were assembling a giant 60 ft diameter metal sphere using thick metal ‘gores’ like sections of an orange peel, but the workmen were having trouble welding it all together as the pieces were warping; they were therefore looking for a lower temperature welding material”.

SRI researchers were later told that the site was the super-secret Soviet atomic bomb laboratory at Semipalatisk. They also learnt three years later from a news item published in Aviation Week magazine that “the sphere which was about 58 feet in diameter was intended to capture and store energy from nuclear driven explosives or pulse power generators”. (Russell Targ has commented that ‘the accuracy of Price’s drawing is the sort of thing that I as a physicist would never have believed, if I had not seen it for myself.)

(c) A Spectacular Example of Precognitive Remote Viewing

(Carried out by Joe McMoneagle in September 1979)

Mission: Spy satellite photographs had shown suspicious heavy construction activity around a building located 100 meters from a large body of water, somewhere in northern Russia. The National Security Council (NSC) wanted to know what was going on there.

Assignment: Joe was given only the geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude) and asked to describe the site.

When Joe said it was a “cold location, near a body of water with large buildings and smoke stacks etc”, NSC was satisfied that he was probably at the right site. They then showed him the satellite photograph in their possession and asked him to find out what was going on inside the building. Joe said, “The interior is very large and noisy; active working area, full of scaffolding, girders and blue flashes probably arc welding.” He took a break and continued in another session, ”Probably a huge submarine under construction (Draws a sketch with dimensions, etc). A long flat deck; strangely angled missile tubes, about 18 to 20 in number. A new type of mechanism to drive the submarine (nuclear powered?); a double hull.”

At this point the NSC representatives figured that Joe must be wrong because if what he said was true, it would be the world’s biggest submarine! No US intelligence agency had ever heard of it. The US did not possess a submarine this large. Besides, who would build a submarine in a building so far from water? How would they launch it? But since Joe had acquired the reputation of being very accurate, NSC asked him to ‘view the future’ and find out when it would be launched!

Joe ‘scanned the future month by month’ and said the Russians would blast a channel to connect the building with the body of water and launch the submarine in four months.

Confirmation : In January 1980, exactly as predicted by Joe, spy satellite pictures confirmed the launching of the world’s biggest submarine after construction of an artificlal channel connecting the building to the water. It had 20 missile tubes, a large flat deck etc exactly as described by Joe!

(This example brings out spectacularly the ‘non local nature of consciousness’ not only in space but also in time, even into the future!)

(d) Location of hostage being held in Lebanon (February 1988)

The US Defense Intelligence Agency asked where Marine Col.William Higgins was being held as hostage in Lebanon. A viewer said Higgins was in a specific building in a specific South Lebanon village. A released hostage later confirmed that Higgins had probably been in that building at that time.

(c)Another example of Precognitive Remote Viewing (1989)

Pentagon asked a viewer about possible Libyan response to U.S. criticism of chemical weapons work at Rabta.

The viewer’s response: A ship named ‘Patua’ or ‘Potua’ would arrive in Tripoli to transport chemicals to an eastern Libyan port.

Verification: A ship named ‘Batato’ in fact arrived in Tripoli and loaded undetermined cargo, which was transported to an eastern Libyan port.


Implications and Conclusions:

The intelligence community in the US clearly seems to value RV data whenever it is available, as a very useful additional input, complementing information gathered through various other means and methods. For example, in the present war against terrorism there is every reason to speculate that the agencies involved in tracking down Osama Bin Laden must have sought the help of some of their reputed ‘remote viewers’ for whatever value it may be.

However, the more important implication of the findings of RV research to humanity as a whole perhaps is that it serves to validate the age-old concept of many Eastern wisdom-traditions that have always emphasised the non-local nature of human ‘consciousness’. Thus it serves to provide some degree of scientific validity to various forms of spiritual and distant healing practices as emphasised by Russell Targ himself in his 1997 book titled Miracles of Mind. 9

Another very important aspect emerging from RV research is the question of precognition and its implications. It again seems to give a measure of ‘scientific credence’ to various stunning but anecdotal stories of premonitions and remarkably successful ‘predictions’ such as that of Edgar Casey. Princeton University’s PEAR group and others have discussed these implications in depth. 13 Precognition touches on some very fundamental philosophical questions regarding free will and causality.

In view of the importance and implications of the subject of Remote Viewing to our understanding of Consciousness and considering that Remote Viewing had already been discussed in considerable depth in our ancient scriptures, it is high time that the subject be taken up for systematic evaluation at some reputed academic institution(s) in India. In particular, it would be of great interest to verify if appropriate yogic/meditation/or other training practices can help to train subjects in developing Remote Viewing skills as claimed by some yoga scholars in India. 15



Note *:   Dr. M. Srinivasan was formerly Associate Director, Physics Group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai. He is an experimental Physicist who has specialized in fast breeder reactor physics and Cold Fusion. Since retirement, he has been studying anomalous phenomena not explainable currently by Science. Back.

Note 1:   R.Targ & H.E.Puthoff,”Information Transmission Under Conditions of Sensory Shielding, Nature Vol. 252 (1974) pp. 602-607. Back.

Note 2:   H.E.Puthoff & R.Targ, “A Perpetual Channel for Information Transfer Over Kilometer Distances: Historical Perspective and Recent Research”, Proc IEEE, Vol. 64,(1976) pp. 329-354. Back.

Note 3:   C.T. Tart, H.E. Puthoff and R.Targ (Eds) “ Mind at Large: IEEE Symposium on the Nature of Extra Sensory Perception” New Yok (1979) Praeger Special Studies. Back.

Note 4:   Reports on Government Sponsored Remote Viewing Programs, A set of seven papers in the Journal of Sci. Exploration, Vol. 10, No. 1, (1996). Back.

Note 5:   H.E.Puthoff & R.Targ, Mind-Reach 1977, Delacorte, New York (1977). Back.

Note 6:   Ingo Swann, Natural ESP, 1987, Bantum, New York (1987). Back.

Note 7:   Dean Radin, The Conscious Universe, 1997, Harper Edge Publishers (1997). Back.

Note 8:   Jim Schnabel, Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America’s Psychic Spies, 1997, Dell Books, New York. Back.

Note 9:   Russell Targ & Jane Katra, Miracles of Mind: Exploring Non-Local Consciousness, 1999, New Word Library. Back.

Note 10:   Joe McMoneagle, “Remote Viewing Secrets: A Handbook” (May 2000). Back.

Note 11:   S. Ostrander & L.Schroeder, Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, 1970 Prentice Hall. Back.

Note 12:   K.R. Rao, Basic Experiments in Parapsychology, McFarland, Jefferson, North Carolina. Back.

Note 13:   R.G. Jahn & B.J. Dunne, Margins of Reality: The Role of Consciousness in the Physical World, 1987, Harcourt Brace & Co, Florida. Back.

Note 14:   Courtney Brown, “Cosmic Explorers: Scientific Remote Viewing, Extra Terrestrials and a Message to Mankind” (Aug 2000). Back.

Note 15:   B.J. Rao, Practice of Telepathy Made Easy: Harnessing Extra Sensory Perception, 1992, Occult Publishers, Guntur, India. Back.