STAR GATE was one of a number of "remote viewing programs" conducted under a variety of code names, including SUN STREAK, GRILL FRAME, and CENTER LANE by DIA and INSCOM, and SCANATE by CIA. These efforts were initiated to assess foreign programs in the field; contract for basic research into the the phenomenon; and to evaluate controlled remote viewing as an intelligence tool.
The program consisted of two separate activities. An operational unit employed remote viewers to train and perform remote viewing intelligence-gathering. The research program was maintained separately from the operational unit.
This effort was initiated in response to CIA concerns about reported Soviets investigations of psychic phenomena. Between 1969 and 1971, US intelligence sources concluded that the Soviet Union was engaged in "psychotronic" research. By 1970, it was suggested that the Soviets were spending approximately 60 million rubles per year on it, and over 300 million by 1975. The money and personnel devoted to Soviet psychotronics suggested that they had achieved breakthroughs, even though the matter was considered speculative, controversial and "fringy."
The initial research program, called SCANATE [scan by coordinate] was funded by CIA beginning in 1970. Remote viewing research began in 1972 at the Stanford Research Institute [SRI] in Menlo Park, CA. This work was conducted by Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, once with the NSA and at the time a Scientologist. The effort initially focused on a few "gifted individuals" such as New York artist Ingo Swann, an OT Level VII Scientologist. Many of the SRI "empaths" were from the Church of Scientology. Individuals who appeared to showed potential were trained and taught to use talents for "psychic warfare." The minimum accuracy needed by the clients was said to be 65%, and proponents claim that in the later stages of the training effort, this accuracy level was "often consistently exceeded."
GONDOLA WISH was a 1977 Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI) Systems Exploitation Detachment (SED) effort to evaluate potential adversary applications of remote viewing.
Building on GONDOLA WISH, an operational collection project was formalized under Army intelligence as GRILL FLAME in mid-1978. Located in buildings 2560 and 2561 at Fort Meade, MD, GRILL FLAME, (INSCOM "Detachment G") consisted of soldiers and a few civilians who were believed to possess varying degrees of natural psychic ability. The SRI research program was integrated into GRILL FLAME in early 1979, and hundreds of remote viewing experiments were carried out at SRI through 1986.
In 1983 the program was re-designated the INSCOM CENTER LANE Project (ICLP). Ingo Swann and Harold Puthoff at SRI developed a set of instructions which theoretically allowed anyone to be trained to produce accurate, detailed target data. used this new collection methodology against a wide range of operational and training targets. The existence of this highly classified program was reported by columnist Jack Anderson in April 1984.
In 1984 the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council evaluated the remote viewing program for the Army Research Institute. The results were unfavorable.
When Army funding ended in late 1985, the unit was redesignated SUN STREAK and transferred to DIA's Scientific and Technical Intelligence Directorate, with the office code DT-S.
Under the auspices of the DIA, the program transitioned to Science Applications International Corporation [SAIC] in 1991 and was renamed STAR GATE. The project, changed from a SAP (Special Access Program) to a LIMDIS (limited dissemination) program, continued with the participation of Edwin May, who presided over 70% of the total contractor budget and 85% of the program's data collection.
Over a period of more than two decades some $20 million were spent on STAR GATE and related activities, with $11 million budgeted from the mid-1980's to the early 1990s. Over forty personnel served in the program at various times, including about 23 remote viewers. At its peak during the mid-1980s the program included as many as seven full-time viewers and as many analytical and support personnel. Three psychics were reportedly worked at FT Meade for the CIA from 1990 through July 1995. The psychics were made available to other government agencies which requested their services.
Participants who apparently demonstrated psychic abilities used at least three different techniques various times:
- Coordinate Remote Viewing (CRV): the original SRI-developed technique in which viewers were asked what they "saw" at specified geographic coordinates
- Extended Remote Viewing (ERV): a hybrid relaxation/meditative-based method
- Written Remote Viewing (WRV): a hybrid of both channeling and automatic writing was introduced in 1988, though it proved controversial and was regarded by some as much less reliable.
By 1995 the program had conducted several hundred intelligence collection projects involving thousands of remote viewing sessions. Notable successes were said to be "eight martini" results, so-called because the remote viewing data were so mind-boggling that everyone has to go out and drink eight martinis to recover.
The US program was sustained through the support of Sen. Claiborne Pell, D-R.I., and Rep. Charles Rose, D-N.C., who were convinced of the program's effectiveness. However, by the early 1990s the program was plagued by uneven management, poor unit morale, divisiveness within the organization, poor performance, and few accurate results. The FY 1995 Defense Appropriations bill directed that the program be transferred to CIA, with CIA instructed to conduct a retrospective review of the program. In 1995 the American Institutes for Research (AIR) was contracted by CIA to evaluate the program. Their 29 September 1995 final report was released to the public 28 November 1995. A positive assessment by statistician Jessica Utts, that a statistically significant effect had been demonstrated in the laboratory [the government psychics were said to be accurate about 15 percent of the time], was offset by a negative one by psychologist Ray Hyman [a prominent CSICOP psychic debunker]. The final recommendation by AIR was to terminate the STAR GATE effort. CIA concluded that there was no case in which ESP had provided data used to guide intelligence operations.
Addendum: some of the people involved with the project: Retired Major General Albert N. Stubblebine, John B. Alexander, Major Edward Dames, Major David Morehouse, Ron Blackburn.