Nov 14, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Spies of the Paranormal Kind: The Strangest Ways to Take Down the Enemy

For decades, numerous nations, all around the world, have done their utmost to try and harness the mysterious, supernatural powers of the human mind - and then go ahead and utilize them as nothing less than tools of secret espionage. Extra-sensory perception (ESP), clairvoyance, precognition, and astral-projection have all been utilized by the CIA, the KGB, and British Intelligence on more than a few occasions. As astonishing as it may all sound, the world of real life psychic 007’s is all too real. And all to wild, too. It’s a very weird subject that has been researched deeply, with varying degrees of success, and for decades. So far as we know, the earliest indication of serious interest on the part of the U.S. Government in the field of psychic phenomena can be found in a fascinating classified CIA document that was written in 1977 by a Dr. Kenneth A. Kress. Then, at the time, he was an engineer with the CIA’s Office of Technical Services. The title of his groundbreaking document went by the title of Parapsychology in Intelligence. According to Kress's memories: “Anecdotal reports of extrasensory perception capabilities have reached U.S. national security agencies at least since World War II, when Hitler was said to rely on astrologers and seers. Suggestions for military applications of ESP continued to be received after World War II. In 1952, the Department of Defense was lectured on the possible usefulness of extrasensory perception in psychological warfare."

The story continues from Kress: “In 1961, the CIA’s Office of Technical Services became interested in the claims of ESP. Technical project officers soon contacted Stephen I. Abrams, the Director of the Parapsychological Laboratory, Oxford University, England. Under the auspices of Project ULTRA, Abrams prepared a review article which claimed ESP was demonstrated but not understood or controllable.” Kress added: “The report was read with interest but produced no further action for another decade.” Indeed, it was in the early 1970s that the research began in earnest. In April 1972, Dr. Russell Targ, a laser physicist with a personal interest in parapsychology and the power of the human mind, met with CIA personnel from the Office of Strategic Intelligence, specifically to discuss paranormal phenomena." Things started to get bigger and bigger. And bigger. Of paramount concern to the CIA was the fact that Targ informed them that the Soviet Union was deeply involved in researching psychic phenomena, mental telepathy and ESP. It did not take the CIA long to realize that the purpose of the Soviet research was to determine if ESP could be used as a tool of espionage. As one of the CIA agents said very carefully:

(Nick Redfern) Who knows how many government remote-viewing files remain behind closed doors?

“Can you imagine if a bunch of psychic 007’s from Russia could focus their minds to short-circuit our missile systems or our satellite surveillance equipment and get access to classified information in this way? The possibilities – if it worked – would be disastrous.” It was this realization that galvanized the CIA into action. As the Kress report stated, in 1973: ‘The Office of Technical Services funded a $50,000 expanded effort in parapsychology.’ The initial studies utilized a variety of people who were carefully and secretly brought into the project, and who demonstrated a whole range of seemingly paranormal skills. Those same skills could not be reliably replicated on every occasion, however. As evidence of this, Kenneth Kress informed his superiors that, “One subject, by mental effort, apparently caused an increase in temperature; the action could not be duplicated by the second subject. The second subject was able to reproduce, with impressive accuracy, information inside sealed envelopes. Under identical conditions, the first subject could reproduce nothing.”

Similarly, some government-sponsored psychics in the period from 1973 to 1974 located secret missile installations in the Soviet Union, found terrorist groups in the Middle East, and successfully remote viewed the interior of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. Others, meanwhile, provided data that was sketchy and, at times, simply absolutely wrong. Those words demonstrated just how the program worked at times, but not at always. But, it was the continuing rate of success versus the frequency of failure that led to heated debates within the CIA's offices about the overall relevancy and validity of the project. In the pages of Parapsychology in Intelligence, Kenneth Kress confirmed this. Indeed, after the CIA’s remote viewing team attempted to broaden the range of its operation and secure extra funding in mid-1973, said Kress: “I was told not to increase the scope of the project and not to anticipate any follow-on in this area. The project was too sensitive and potentially embarrassing.” Despite all of this, the CIA’s research continued on and on, and with many of its advances due to a highly skilled psychic by the name of named Pat Price. He was someone who had achieved a number of extraordinary successes in the field of ESP, including successfully remotely viewing a sensitive installation that fell under the auspices of the National Security Agency and psychically penetrating missile sites in Libya. Price’s sudden and untimely death from a heart attack in 1975 indirectly led the CIA – according to the official story, at least - to minimize its research into psychic espionage. There is, however, a very sinister aspect to all of this:

Tim Rifat, who has deeply studied the world of top secret, governmental research into psychic spying, says of Pat Price’s death the following: “It was alleged at the time that the Soviets poisoned Price. It would have been a top priority for the KGB to eliminate Price as his phenomenal remote-viewing abilities would have posed a significant danger to the USSR’s paranormal warfare buildup. He may also have been the victim of an elite group of Russian psi-warriors trained to remotely kill enemies of the Soviet Union.” The scenario of research being minimized in the aftermath of Price’s potentially suspicious passing was reinforced when, in 1995 a CIA-sponsored report, titled An Evaluation of the Remote-Viewing Program – Research and Operational Applications, was produced by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). In essence the report stated that from an espionage and intelligence-gathering perspective, remote viewing and related phenomena were largely useless. Not everyone agreed with that conclusion, however, including W. Adam Mandelbaum, author of The Psychic Battlefield and a former US intelligence officer, who said: “The AIR report was US-intelligence-purchased disinformation intentionally formatted to misrepresent the true states of remote-viewing research, and the true operational utility of the phenomenon.”

It should be noted that, regardless of whether or not the CIA’s role in remote viewing operations was downsized, terminated, or simply hidden from prying eyes, it is an undeniable matter of fact that additional agencies within the US Government, military and Intelligence community took – and still continue to take, I should stress – a deep interest in the strange world of psychic espionage. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), for example, has had longstanding involvement and interest in understanding and using paranormal powers both on the battlefield and in the cloak and dagger world of espionage. As an illustration of this, a DIA report from 1972 titled Controlled Offensive Behavior – USSR, made an astonishing claim: “Before the end of the 1970s, Soviet diplomats will be able to sit in their foreign embassies and use ESP to steal the secrets of their enemies. A spy would be hypnotized, then his invisible ‘spirit’ would be ordered to leave his body, travel across barriers of space and time to a foreign government’s security facility, and there read top-secret documents and relay back their information. “The Soviets,” the report continued “are at least 25 years ahead of the U.S. in psychic research and have realized the immense military advantage of the psychic ability known as astral projection (out of the body travel).”

Similarly, in 1973 and 1975, the DIA commissioned two lengthy, classified  reports (classified at the time) that delved deep into the heart of Soviet research of psychic phenomena and included details of one extraordinary experiment undertaken by the Russian military in the 1950s. A somewhat disturbing extract from the DIA’s files on this particular experiment states: “Dr. Pavel Naumov conducted animal bio-communication studies between a submerged Soviet Navy submarine and a shore research station. These tests involved a mother rabbit and her newborn litter and occurred around 1956.” The author of the report continued: “According to Naumov, Soviet scientists placed the baby rabbits aboard the submarine. They kept the mother rabbit in a laboratory on shore where they implanted electrodes in her brain. When the submarine was submerged, assistants killed the rabbits one by one. At each precise moment of death, the mother rabbit’s brain produced detectable and record-able reactions.” It was also noted by the DIA that, “As late as 1970 the precise protocol and results of this test described were believed to be classified.” Nevertheless, the DIA was able to determine that the Soviets’ reasoning behind such experimentation was to try and understand the nature of ESP, astral projection, and the power of the mind – and even the existence of a soul - in animals such as dogs, rabbits and primates. And if eventually understood in the animal kingdom, said the DIA, the Soviets’ next step would be to focus on human beings and the way in which those same phenomena might be used as a weapon of war and espionage.

In the U.K., the situation was broadly similar: at the height of the Second World War, formerly classified files at the National Archives, Kew, reveal, elements of the British Police Force occasionally and stealthily employed the use of dowsers – normally associated with underground searches for water – to locate victims buried under the rubble of inner city destruction wrought by Nazi bomber pilots.    Such was the controversy surrounding this unique brand of psychic police work that even the Government’s wartime Ministry of Home Security became embroiled in the affair, urging caution in endorsing “support for the mysterious” at such a “particularly dangerous time” – this despite the apparent success of its “dowsing detectives.” Still on the matter of Britain’s secret spies, there is the matter of a “novel” titled The Psychic Spy. Written by Irene Allen-Block in 2013, it contains the following endorsement from me: “In late 1970s London, a young woman is secretly recruited to work for British Intelligence.

(Nick Redfern) Many thanks to Glannant Ty publishers and Irene Allen-Block, who provided me a copy of Irene's book to review

Her world soon becomes dominated by psychic-spying, enemy agents, assassinations, and suspicious deaths. Add to the mix, the Lockerbie tragedy, the Falklands War, and the classified world of MI6, and you have a great story filled with adventure, intrigue and shadowy characters. As Irene Allen-Block skillfully shows, the mind is a mysterious and dangerous tool.” The publisher of the book, Glannant Ty, notes: “The Psychic Spy tells the story of Eileen Evans, a beautiful young woman and talented psychic who is unwittingly recruited by MI6 to join their new top secret Remote Viewing program ‘Blue Star’ during the heart of the Cold War in the 1970’s and 80’s. Eileen quickly finds herself embroiled in excitement and danger as she quickly becomes a ‘psychic spy’ for British Intelligence. Finding forbidden love with another agent, Eileen descends into a dark world filled with political intrigue, danger and death. Not only must she cope with the possibility of losing her life, she must also struggle with the very real threat of losing her soul. 

“Smart, sexy and filled with humor and peril, The Psychic Spy is a thrilling adventure that explores a little-known but very real world where governments use actual psychics to spy on their enemies, and in some cases, even their allies! Using her own real-life experiences as a remote viewer, Irene Allen-Block has created a powerful tale that should entertain and educate readers on a piece of history that has been hidden in the shadows.” The Psychic Spy is made all the more intriguing by the fact that the book is actually a thinly veiled version of the real-life exploits of the author. And from the late 1970s onwards. Irene was in the secret employ of British Intelligence, in the field of psychic spying. In light of all that, who knows how far those strange programs went? And, maybe, still do.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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