Project SCANATE: The CIA and the Birth of Remote Viewing
(AC) In 1972, during the height of the Cold War, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) embarked on a project that would last for over 20 years and be run by a number of high-level governmental organizations, including the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) and the United States Army. The project was the investigation of parapsychological abilities and the potential of using such abilities in intelligence gathering operations.
Although this was the first time that the CIA would fund any sort of true investigation into psychic abilities, the Agency had been interested in the subject in the past. During Word War II there were rumors of Nazi Germany developing such capabilities. In 1961 the Chief of the Office of Technical Services (OTS) within the Agency contacted Stephen I. Abrams, the head of the Parapsychological Laboratory at Oxford University in England on the question of ESP (Extra-sensory perception). Abrams sent back a report that ESP appeared to exist but could be neither understood or controlled.
After this report little investigation into the world of the psychic was undertaken by the CIA. In the 1970’s, however, interest in the subject was given new life by Drs. Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). They expressed knowledge of Soviet investigations into psychic abilities, including video of a man who could move inanimate objects with his mind. This caught the attention of the CIA and a working relationship between the Agency and SRI in the investigation of psychic abilities began.
Ingo Swann and Remote Viewing
Although SRI would investigate a number of psychic phenomena under the CIA funded project, its central core was the process of remote viewing. Remote viewing involves the process of a subject moving away from its body and observing places and objects distantly removed from the viewer.
A common term among fans of the psychic today, remote viewing was practically unheard of in 1972. In fact, the term was coined by a well-known psychic and artist, Ingo Swann, while working with a project at the American Society of Psychical Research (ASPR) in New York in 1971
Swann and his associates at ASPR wanted to create a concrete definition of a certain array of psychic abilities that would allow for the proper testing of these powers in a scientific setting. From this desire the idea of remote viewing was born. Remote viewing’s accuracy could easily be tested, since one could always observe the location or object being remotely viewed to compare with the subject’s results.
Wanting to further this research, Swann contacted Puthoff at SRI, expressing his interest in the idea. Puthoff agreed to work with Swann. Their relationship began only a few months before the CIA entered the picture as the sponsor for their joint project.
Puthoff, Targ and Swann worked together to more fully develop the remote viewing system, and refined it to a new idea: Coordinate Remote Viewing (CRV). The idea behind this was that geographic coordinates would be given to the viewer, who would then use his abilities to view the location. This could then be tested against known maps of the area. Geographic coordinates were seen as the perfect medium to tell the viewer where to look, as it would reveal no clues as to where or what the subject was looking at. They would have to rely completely upon their own abilities.
Original testing between Swann and SRI achieved mixed results (as almost always occurs with any testing of psychic abilities). However the achievements made during testing were considered significant, and it was decided that CRV would become the center of their research into psychic abilities.
With the CIA now on board as sponsor (although Swann himself would know the sponsor only as an east coast scientist) with $50,000 support, studies into remote viewing could truly begin. This project became known as Project SCANATE (scanning by coordinate).
In early 1973, a new subject became associated with Project SCANATE. This man’s name was Pat Price. Throughout the investigation of these abilities, Price proved to be the most promising subject, and would ultimately become the focal point of the project.
Initial experiments in this full-fledged project involved the remote viewing of areas within the United States by both Price and Swann. The initial target was a vacation property eastern United States. When given the coordinates of the location, however, both Pat Price and Ingo Swann gave details of a military like facility, which was completely wrong.
However, there was a secret military facility not far from the vacation property. Price’s description in particular seemed to somewhat match this facility, and he was made to view it again. In the second viewing he gave a number of accurate details, including physical layout of the site, the names of some of the projects that had been going on and were going on at the facility as well as the codename for the facility. Not all of his data was accurate, however, including the names of people in the facility and some of the physical details of the site.
Thus, once again results were a mixed bag. The Agency decided to go one step further in the experiments, however. Pat Price would be told to view coordinates within the USSR, at a facility known the CIA as URDF-3 (Unidentified Research and Development Facility-3), which the CIA had knowledge of. Two items in particular would be watched for: a crane and four objects that appeared to be oil derricks. If Price could identify these two objects, it was decided that he could at least see some of what was going on at the site.
Price was given the coordinates, it’s approximate location mapped on a world atlas map and told that it was a Soviet R&D site. Price then proceeded to view the area. While he accurately targeted the crane and described it in some detail, he completely missed the oil derricks.
Despite the failure to reveal the derricks, it was decided to continue the experiment with Price. Price now met with a CIA official for the first time: Dr. Kenneth Kress, an engineer with OTS who had worked intimately on the project. Kress asked Price why he had not seen the derricks. Price responded that they used to be there but had since been dismantled. New reconnaissance of area was done. It was shown that the derricks were in fact still there.
Again, despite this setback experiments continued. Price was then asked to view the interiors of certain embassies of which the CIA had knowledge. Again and again Price provided some exceedingly accurate details combined with a number of errors. Unfortunately during these experiments Pat Price passed away of a heart attack.
The End of Project SCANATE
Throughout this time period of the CIA’s work with SRI on studying paraspychological abilities the project was controversial. Many within the CIA felt it a waste of time and a potential embarrassment to the Agency if it was ever discovered they were wasting taxpayer dollars on the idea. However despite the mixed results the returns seemed significant enough to continue further testing.
With the death of Pat Price, however, a new review of the situation had to be taken. His work had been the most promising, and even then it was not of the greatest use. While it did seem that he might actually possess some sort of psychic ability, the data collected was relatively minor and completely inconsistent.
Because there was no way to determine good data from bad, the intelligence gathered from such remote viewing would be unusable. Remote viewing seemed to be of no operable use, and with the best subject dead there was little reason to continue at all.
Thus CIA involvement in the study of psychic abilities essentially ended with the death of Pat Price. Other agencies would eventually pick it up and the project would continue under one name or another until 1995, when Project Stargate was done away with. Its greatest height came in the 1980’s and in fact gave birth to a private company known as Psi Tech, created by some of the top heads of the project at that time funded by the Army. Psi Tech took some of the technology created under the project with them, and is still in existence today.
Despite 20 years of research and the beliefs of a select few, remote viewing experiments continued to have the same mixed results, with no significant progress being made in the subject. While proponents say that these experiments have shown that there is some reason to believe in parapsychological phenomena, they are so spotty and inconsistent as to serve no practical purpose. It seems unlikely that such projects will begin again any time in the near future.