The Stargate Project was terminated in 1995 after a CIA report concluded that it was never useful in any intelligence operation. Information provided by the program was vague, included irrelevant and erroneous data, and there was reason to suspect that its project managers had changed the reports so they would fit background cues. The program was featured in the 2004 book and 2009 film entitled The Men Who Stare at Goats, although neither mentions it by name.
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The CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency decided they should investigate and know as much about it as possible. Various programs were approved yearly and re-funded accordingly. Reviews were made semi-annually at the Senate and House select committee level. Work results were reviewed, and remote viewing was attempted with the results being kept secret from the "viewer". It was thought that if the viewer was shown they were incorrect it would damage the viewer's confidence and skill. This was standard operating procedure throughout the years of military and domestic remote viewing programs. Feedback to the remote viewer of any kind was rare; it was kept classified and secret.
Remote viewing attempts to sense unknown information about places or events. Normally it is performed to detect current events, but during military and domestic intelligence applications viewers claimed to sense things in the future, experiencing precognition.
In 1977, the Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACSI) Systems Exploitation Detachment (SED) started the GONDOLA WISH program to "evaluate potential adversary applications of remote viewing." Army Intelligence then formalized this in mid-1978 as an operational program GRILL FLAME, based in buildings 2560 and 2561 at
In 1984 the existence of the program was reported by Jack Anderson, and in that year it was unfavorably received by the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council. In late 1985 the Army funding was terminated, but the program was redesignated SUN STREAK and funded by the Defense Intelligence Agency Scientific and Technical Intelligence Directorate (office code DT-S).
In 1991 most of the contracting for the program was transferred from SRI to SAIC, with Edwin May controlling 70% of the contractor funds and 85% of the data. Its security was altered from Special Access Program (SAP) to Limited Dissemination (LIMDIS), and it was given the name STAR GATE.
In 1995, the defense appropriations bill directed that the program be transferred from DIA to CIA oversight. The CIA commissioned a report by American Institutes for Research that found that remote viewing had not been proved to work by a psychic mechanism, and said it had not been used operationally. The CIA subsequently cancelled and declassified the program.
The Stargate Project created a set of protocols designed to make the research of clairvoyance and out-of-body experiences more scientific, and to minimize as much as possible session noise and inaccuracy. The term "remote viewing" emerged as shorthand to describe this more structured approach to clairvoyance. Stargate only received a mission after all other intelligence attempts, methods, or approaches had already been exhausted.
It was reported that there were over 22 active military and domestic remote viewers providing data. When the project closed in 1995 this number had dwindled down to three. One was using tarot cards. People leaving the project were not replaced. According to Joseph McMoneagle, "The Army never had a truly open attitude toward psychic functioning". Hence, the use of the term "giggle factor" and the saying, "I wouldn't want to be found dead next to a psychic."
In 1995, the project was transferred to the CIA and a retrospective evaluation of the results was done. The appointed panel consisted primarily of Jessica Utts and Ray Hyman. The psychologist David Marks noted that as Utts has published papers with Edwin May "she was not independent of the research team. Her appointment to the review panel is puzzling; an evaluation is likely to be less than partial when an evaluator is not independent of the program under investigation." A report by Utts claimed the results were evidence of psychic functioning, however Hyman in his report argued Utts' conclusion that ESP had been proven to exist, especially precognition, was premature and the findings had not been independently replicated. Hyman came to the conclusion:
A later report by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) also came to a negative conclusion. Joe Nickell has written:
Based upon the collected findings, which recommended a higher level of critical research and tighter controls, the CIA terminated the 20 million dollar project, citing a lack of documented evidence that the program had any value to the intelligence community. Time magazine stated in 1995 three full-time psychics were still working on a $500,000-a-year budget out of
David Marks in his book The Psychology of the Psychic (2000) discussed the flaws in the Stargate Project in detail. Marks wrote that there were six negative design features of the experiments. The possibility of cues or sensory leakage was not ruled out, no independent replication, some of the experiments were conducted in secret making peer-review impossible. Marks noted that the judge Edwin May was also the principal investigator for the project and this was problematic making huge conflict of interest with collusion, cuing and fraud being possible. Marks concluded the project was nothing more than a "subjective delusion" and after two decades of research it had failed to provide any scientific evidence for remote viewing.
According to the American Institute for Research, which performed a review of the project, no remote viewing report ever provided actionable information for any intelligence operation.
The Stargate Project was claimed to have been terminated in 1995 following an independent review which concluded: