Feb 26, 2023 I Nick Redfern

When Government Agencies Secretly Work in the Field of the Supernatural and the Occult

There's no doubt that when it comes to the matter of government agencies secretly dealiing with the worlds of the paranormal and the occult, the most visible example would be the field of Remote-Viewing. For decades, numerous nations, all around the world, have done their utmost to try and harness the mysterious powers of the mind and utilize them as tools of nothing less than 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 sound, the world of psychic 007’s is all too real. It’s a subject that has been researched, with varying degrees of success, for decades. 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 formerly classified CIA document written in 1977 by Dr. Kenneth A. Kress - then an engineer with the CIA’s Office of Technical Services - and titled Parapsychology in Intelligence.

According to Kress: “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. “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.”

Now, let's have a look at the Collins Elite: a secret government operation that believs the UFO phenomenon is demonic. Back in January 2007, I interviewed a man named Ray Boeche. He has an interesting background, as he is both a priest and a former state-director with MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network. At the time in question, I was thinking about writing a book on the infamous Rendlesham Forest UFO event of December 1980 . I already knew that Boeche had spoken to a couple of government insiders who had shared some pretty bizarre and amazing data with him on the incident. It was data that suggested at least a significant portion of the affair may have revolved around the use of sophisticated holograms, rather than anything extraterrestrial. As I continued to chat with Boeche, however, he told me something that I found even more intriguing. Boeche revealed that his insider sources said they were attached to a classified program within the military-intelligence-government world that was seeking contact with what they termed “Non-Human Entities.” Or, NHEs for short. At first, the group suspected that the entities were extraterrestrial. As time went on, however, that theory was replaced by a far more controversial one. The group came to believe that they were dealing with nothing less than demonic entities from a realm of the supernatural. But, apparently, that didn’t stop the group from trying to contact and interact with them.

(Nick Redfern) Demons in the Pentagon?

Reportedly, and as a result of the group trying to work with demons, there were various deaths in the program (Boeche told me that his sources personally showed him graphic photos of some of the dead), ill-health, and bizarre runs of bad luck. It was if the entire project was cursed. In fact, that is exactly what some of the members of the group came to believe. When Ray told me all of this I found it far more fascinating than the Rendlesham idea. And, so, I decided to dig further into what was clearly a much stranger story, interviewing Boeche at length and seeking out other sources, too. Most of the information I uncovered on this group – which used the nickname of “The Collins Elite” (I still don’t know its real name) – was published in my 2010 book, Final Events. I don’t personally think that the NHEs are literal demons, but I do believe they are dangerous and manipulative entities from other realms of existence. However, for me the most notable and fascinating aspect of all this was the fact that some element of the U.S. Government was (and still is…) covertly funding the group, primarily those in government who adhere to the “Satanic UFO” angle.

Now, to what was known as Operation Often. It all began in the latter part of the 1960s with one Dr. Sydney Gottleib. Having secured a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in the 1940s, Gottleib, in 1951, was offered the position of head of the Chemical Division of the CIA’s Technical Services Staff. Mind-control, hypnosis, the manipulation of the human mind, and the nurturing of “Manchurian Candidate”-style figures were very much the order of the day. It was work that Gottleib dedicated himself to for years. In 1968, however, life and work changed significantly for Gottleib. Welcome to the world of Operation Often. Without doubt the brainchild of Gottleib, Operation Often was kick-started thanks to the then-Director of the CIA, Richard Helms. Gottleib very quickly convinced Helms that the CIA should explore the fields of the paranormal, the demonic, and the occult, to determine if, and how, they could be used against the likes of the former Soviet Union and the Chinese. An initial grant of $150,000 was quickly provided. Investigative writer Gordon Thomas says: “Operation Often was intended…to explore the world of black magic and the supernatural.” It did precisely that.

In no time at all, and mirroring the Collins Elite, Operation Often became something of a secret order, one that was dominated by disturbing phenomena, the study of ancient and priceless books on the occult, and a long list of notable characters. As evidence of this, the personnel on-board with Operation Often were soon mixing with (among many others) fortune-tellers, mediums, psychics, demonologists, astrologers, Satanists, clairvoyants, and even those that practiced sacrificial rituals – such as the followers of Santeria.  In essence, Gottleib and his team were looking to hit and pummel the Russians and the Chinese with hexes, curses, bad luck, ill health, and even death – and all by engaging in Faustian-like pacts with paranormal entities from dark and disturbing dimensions beyond ours. Volunteers on the program were placed into altered states of mind, in the hope that doing so might provoke out-of-body experiences which, then, would allow mind-to-mind contact with anything and everything that might be on the other side, such as demons, devils, and who knows what else? To what extent the program worked is open to debate. Not because the data is sketchy. Rather, the data and the results of the work of Operation Often remain classified – decades after the program was initiated in the late-1960s. This begs an important question: if Operation Often achieved nothing of significance, why not let us know? Where’s the harm in that? That the CIA flatly refuses to release it files on the project strongly suggests that some success – maybe even a great deal of success – was achieved. Of course, when you deal with the Devil, there’s always a price to pay. Perhaps the nature of that price remains classified, too.

Moving on: In 1978, the Air Force’s Foreign Technology Division (FTD) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, USA, prepared a document titled Paraphysics R&D – Warsaw Pact for the Defense Intelligence Agency. It provided up to date information on the way in which the then-Soviet Union was looking at utilizing ESP and psychic phenomena in the field of warfare. In its report to the DIA, the FTD defined "paraphysics" as "the investigation of unusual (paranormal) mental functioning." One of the most fascinating mysteries investigated by the FTD that could conceivably have had vital and welcome Intelligence-related applications was, the DIA learned, reported at the Third International Psychotronics Conference by G. P. Krokhalev, a psychiatrist from Perm, Russia. "His experiments involve attempts to have 'mental images' appear on photographic film," recorded the FTD, adding: 'He claims to have recorded this effect under controlled conditions. As an example, a person who could visualize images well, even to the point of hallucinating, was able to specify the image beforehand that was later observed on the film.'"

The project continued: "Although much of his work appears to be very non-professional, his later experiments with the apparent recording of mental imagery appear reasonably well controlled. However, no firm evaluation can be made of his experimental procedure or results at this time. Other researchers, such as L. Vilenskaya, have apparently observed some of Krokhalev's experiments and judged them valid." The FTD continued: “This form of apparent psychoenergetic-type process is not new to parapsychological researchers. Krokhalev's investigations appear similar to those reported in the US by Dr. J. Eisenbud, who is a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado Medical School. Dr. Eisenbud conducted extensive controlled investigations into the alleged ability of a subject, Ted Serios, who appeared to cause specific images to appear on films when under intense concentration. Eisenbud's recent work appears to be valid but is subject to the same evaluation difficulty as most all investigations involving such phenomena."

The FTD concluded: "Since the early 1960's, USSR researchers have expressed an interest in Eisenbud’s work, along with all the other forms of apparent psychoenergetic processes. There has also been recent evidence of similar research, apparently with positive results, in a Japanese research laboratory." Now, let’s take a look at what the Brits have done in this field: In 2007, the British Ministry of Defense admitted that between 2001 and 2002 it had undertaken a secret, 168-page study to determine if remote-viewing and psychic phenomena might prove to be valuable in terms of intelligence-gathering. The documentation, declassified as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request submitted to the MoD by British UFO researcher and author Timothy Good, was heavily blacked-out by MoD censors upon its release. According to Nick Pope, who investigated UFOs for the MoD between 1991 and 1994, this was because "the MoD believes their release would compromise defense interests in relation to the working practices of the Defense Intelligence Staff."

Now, as we come to an end, let's have a look at one of the earliest examples of government-paranormal activity. When it comes to the matter of government agencies secretly working on the phenomenon known as Remote Viewing, most people will think of the CIA. That's not the case. It may come as a surprise to know that the FBI were involved, too, and as early as the mid-1950s. With that said, let's have a look at some of these other examples in which the CIA wasn't involved.  It scarcely seems feasible to imagine that in the summer of 1957, a secret and lengthy FBI file was opened on a young girl and an employee of the local railway company who, elements of the FBI believed, had perfected the ability to use ESP as a tool of espionage. Just occasionally, however, truth really is stranger than fiction. One month earlier, a document titled Extra Sensory Perception was prepared by the FBI that outlined the remarkable story: "One of our agents attended a private exhibition of extra sensory perception given by Mr. William Foos, resident of Richmond, Virginia, and a high school graduate employed in a minor capacity with the C. and O. Railway. About two years ago he became interested in extra sensory perception and began experimenting with members of his family. He claims to have achieved amazing success."

(Nick Redfern) When the FBI got involved in ESP.

In a partly blacked-out section of the document, the FBI recognized the seemingly endless applications that Foos’ talents offered the secret world of both international and domestic espionage: "Should his claims be well founded, there is no limit to the value which could accrue to the FBI – complete and undetectable access to mail, the diplomatic pouch; visual access to buildings – the possibilities are unlimited insofar as law enforcement and counter-intelligence are concerned. As fantastic as this may appear, the actuality of extra sensory perception has long been recognized – though not to the degree of perfection claimed by Mr. Foos. It is difficult to see how the Bureau can afford to not inquire into this matter more fully." And inquire into it the FBI most certainly did, as did the CIA. An additional FBI document provides additional data: "Mr. Foos explained that, in February 1957, he inadvertently discovered a method of teaching others to see through barriers. He explained that his hope and intentions were to use this discovery in teaching the blind to see through Extra Sensory Perception, and that in teaching his daughter, Margaret, how to perceive objects beyond physical barriers, he realized that this knowledge and ability had serious and dangerous implications as well as practical value in Military and/or Diplomatic operations." Ultimately, the agencies weren't sure if the experiments worked properly or there was fakery at work. But, either way, all of this demonstrates that more than a few agencies have delved deep into the world of the occult and the supernatural.

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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