Jimmy Carter And The Psychics

2 Jul

Admittedly, a somewhat over-dramatised title for a post that is about a couple of paragraphs in a single government document, but there you go.

While ploughing through the many thousands of documents that I collected during my recent research trip to the U.S., I came across a rather odd report to the President. Each day, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski would send a ‘Daily Report’ to President Jimmy Carter. This report would outline in brief salient matters of national security interest. In this case, the report for March 31, 1979, gave comment on the visit of Soviet statesman Alexei Kosygin to India, the situation in the Yemen and Iran, developments if Soviet Afghanistan policy, and…remote viewing and psychokinesis.

Brzezinski relates that he has had a briefing from “two laser physicists turned psychic researchers at Stanford Research Institute (SRI.)”[1] It is safe to assume that the two “laser physicists” referred to by Brzezinski are Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff (who was – at least until the late 1970s – a highly ranked Scientologist.) The National Security Adviser then goes on to comment that:

“DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] and CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] personnel have supported what SRI told us, and we have found out that remote viewing is well documented and now under study at more than a score of U.S. universities. The CIA has reason to believe that substantial work is going on at some 10 secret Russian facilities.”[2]

There are then two redacted paragraphs, apparently outlining “what we have learned so far.” The report that goes on to talk – with all the appearance of seriousness – about an allegedly successful psychokinesis experiment.

Brzezinski concludes:

“As far a we can ascertain, there is no coherent research program within the government on psychic phenomena. Recognizing that we do not want to be pinned on the ‘mind control’ label, my staff is discussing with the appropriate agencies the possibility of formulating a plan to give overall direction to a research program on the subject.”[3]

It is fascinating to find such a senior figure in government reporting with apparent conviction on such pseudo-scientific, not to say barmy, activities. So-called remote viewing has long been the subject of widespread speculation and comment. spawning a huge number of conspiracy theories and wild stories. The funniest bit of this entire thing? Carter’s hand-written note at the side of the page: “This report is one day early.”[4]

Good old Jimmy.


[1] ‘Memorandum for the President from Zbigniew Brzezinski, Daily Report’, March 31, 1979, Remote Archives Capture system, Jimmy Carter Library, p.2

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, p.3

[4] Ibid, p.2

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