Back in the olden days, as I was working on my doctoral degree, I spent a lot of time in the University of Iowa’s psychology library doing research. While there I noticed that, at one time, there were a number of peer reviewed journals devoted to parapsychology and there were many universities, some of them quite prestigious, that had majors in parapsychology and related fields. I also noticed that many of those journals were no longer published and that now very few universities and colleges offered courses of study in parapsychology. Most of them were not top flight schools.
I note all this as preamble to something I read in the newspaper in the last few days which is to say on February 13. It seems (and many of us already know about it) that various governmental agencies had, at one time, employed psychics as intelligence agents which is to say they were gathering information using their psychic abilities in an attempt to learn more about what our enemies and often our allies were doing.
|Fort Meade, Maryland|
Now the CIA has released many once classified documents that relate to this period in our history. According to a story in the Miami Herald, there was an operation known as Grill Flame based at Fort Meade, Maryland, in which they attempted to locate where the hostages taken in Iran after the embassy was seized were being held. A dozen psychics tried more than 200 hundred times to gather intelligence about the situation including how closely the hostages were guarded and what their general health was.
Although the psychics apparently worked for the Army, it was in the CIA documents that this was revealed. These documents made it clear that the psychics efforts were monitored by a number of intelligence agencies and the top officials, civilian and military, at the Pentagon. They also showed that before the attempted rescue of the hostages in April 1980, the psychics were consulted by an officer representing the Joint Chiefs of Staff in an effort to ascertain if a situation existed that might require the mission be aborted. All of this, including if the psychics had been of any useful information, became a heated debate.
Once the hostages had been released and debriefed about their experiences, that information was compared to what had been developed by the Grill Flame psychics. According to the story published by the Miami Herald, “‘Only seven reports’ were proved correct wrote an Air Force colonel on the staff of the Joint Chiefs.”
He also noted that more than half were entirely incorrect but that 59 contained information that was partially correct or that might have been correct, but they also contained information that was wrong.
Army officers who supervised Grill Flame responded by claiming that 45 percent of the reports by the psychics contained some accurate information. They added that such information was unavailable through normal intelligence channels… except, if you are saying that 45 percent of the reports contained some accurate information, how do you decide which information is accurate? I suppose the argument is that you couple this with information through other intelligence sources, which might also contain inaccurate information or might be wholly inaccurate to draw proper conclusions. It would be just one more tool in the arsenal of intelligence weapons.
According to the Miami Herald, one of the psychics from Grill Flame, Joseph McMoneagle said that the stuff declassified was garbage. He claimed that they hadn’t declassified the stuff that worked.
I will note, apropos of nothing, that any excuse using the cloak of classification as the reason for disbelief or failure seems to be just that, an excuse. We are unable to evaluate the success, or lack thereof of Grill Flame because the good stuff is allegedly still classified. That may or may not be true, but until or unless more information is released, we simply don’t know how successful this might have been… or maybe do because it seems that this program has been concluded.