Friday 20 May 2022

Remote viewing the hostage William F Buckley 1984

Those connected with the US government sponsored remote viewing project during the 1980s often speak about their work on hostage crises. General Dozier, The Iranian Hostage Crisis and LTC Higgins are frequently cited as high-profile cases that the US intel agencies asked for help with.

But one name is rarely mentioned: William Buckley. He was a US Army office and CIA Station Chief who was abducted from Lebanon and the remote viewing team were assigned to it as part of a massive CIA-wide drive to find Buckley and rescue him.

But Buckley was never found. He was tortured and died after a year in captivity in the most harrowing circumstances. The remote viewing team worked on his case for about one month before dropping it due to insufficient new leads to work from.

William Buckley was abducted on the morning of 16th March 1984 from the basement car park of the Al-Manara apartment block where he lived in Beirut. He was hit on the back of the head with suitcase full of rocks and bundled into a white Renault. After this, his exact whereabouts are never properly established.

Given Buckley’s importance and the top secret documents he’d been carrying at the time, the Director of the CIA, William Casey, took a personal interest in the search for him, insisting that every resource be used.

The remote viewers, working under the project name Center Lane, were assigned to this case. They got the commission on Tuesday 20th March 1984 and the first sessions were run the following day. Joe McMoneagle worked on both sessions that day. The report of the session emphasises that RVer described a kidnapping without knowing the target, as evidence that Joe was on target. However, Joe was told to concentrate on a specific set of geographical coordinates on a specific date, 16 March 1984. This would have been enough to tell Joe who and what the target was, especially since Center Lane had already run a number of informal sessions targeting Buckley. In the Stargate Archive, there are a couple of documents containing handwritten notes dated 16 and 17 March which describe those sessions. On one, the RVer writes William’s Buckley name and date and place of birth. Clearly the team were familiar enough with the abduction that even the slightest reference would be enough to help them recognise the subject matter. Suffice to say that none of the remote viewers taking part in this project was truly blind to the target.

From a report written on 13 April 1984 emphasising 
how the first session was run blind.

McMoneagle’s description of the kidnapping on this day is wrong (he has Buckley getting into a black car parked in the street, not being knocked out in a basement car park) although in the second session, after Joe had been shown a photo of Buckley, McMoneagle says that Buckley’s health is poor.

The following week, the remote viewer Tom did a session (during which a reference was made to “yesterday’s session,” but I can’t find a copy of that in the archive). He was given a map of Beirut as cueing material. This would have been enough to tell him the target of the session. He drew a building connected to the abduction, but didn’t specify which city the building was in.

Further sessions were undertaken into April, with little progress. Potential locations were described and drawn, but never named or placed on maps.

Then on 20th April, something quite unexpected happened. Something that demonstrates how serious the CIA were in bringing in every possible resource on this project: Uri Geller was hired to do a session. At least, I strongly suspect he was. The name of the RVer is redacted, but it contains six characters. Mind you, this means the interviewer (#66) calls him “Geller” which seems a little abrupt to me. On the other hand, this mystery psychic also mentions that he knows Arabic and he calls the Lebanon “my backyard”. Plus, some of the exchanges between the two seem very Geller-esque.

The session notes are quite unlike the usual military notes. This remote viewer rambles and asks questions and, midway through, asks if he can be alone in the room while he tries to locate Buckley, communicating with the interviewer via the intercom. The interviewer is quite happy to answer any questions and the RVer gives out words in Arabic, often asking “do you recognise that” without giving a context. The notes last for 71 pages, which is also much longer than a usual session, perhaps because they knew they wouldn’t be able to work with this person again. This is the last session run by Center Lane on William Buckley [1] and a report dated 14 May 1984 summarised the sessions while mentioning that the information from the remote viewers had been passed to the CIA.

On 7 May the US Embassy in Athens was given a video tape of a silent recording showing Buckley, nude, being tortured. He showed signs of being drugged, tied up and he was blinking a lot, suggesting he was usually kept in darkness. This video, however, did not prompt further remote viewing. Then on 30 May, another video was released. This one had sound, and Buckley’s voice was slurred and his hands and legs shook.

Tom did another session one week after the second video. It contains the co-ordinates 33° 51’ 05” N, 30° 20’ 25” E but this is in the Mediterranean Sea, as far as I can tell. This doesn’t seem to have been part of the Center Lane project since there is a note beneath the co-ordinates reading “For Ingo to run” referring to the psychic Ingo Swann who was working for SRI at the time.

SRI, the non-military side of the remote viewing project, also showed an interest in this topic. In mid-July they ran three sessions. The first session put him 8.7 miles south of Beirut, in good health and not tortured. The second said he’d be released around 22 September. The third used a computer-controlled method of randomly cycling through areas of Lebanon until a user stopped it. This was done 50 times and the two most chosen areas were forwarded to the DIA.

After this, remote viewing on this case ceased. On 24 October a third video of Buckley was released. By now he was in a pathetic state, gibbering, drooling, and occasionally screaming. After this disturbing glance into his predicament, all info on Buckley ceased. In April 1985 the CIA tried to find out if it was possible to get him back as part of a prisoner swap, only to be told he had died.

The best guess for Buckley’s date of death is actually two months after that. A freed hostage, David Jacobson, had been held in the infamous “Beirut Hotel” where multiple hostages were kept and he thought Buckley was there too. "The man was an American. Of that I have no doubt. But he was in a very bad way, delirious and coughing. It was hard for me to make out what he was saying because I myself was hooded. Then, in the end there was just this long silence. After a while I heard the guards shouting in Arabic and then what sounded like a body being dragged away." Jacobson dates this event to 3 June 1985.

Looking at the tasks given to Center Lane from 1982-90 (at least, those I can identify), I can’t help but notice that they weren’t asked to remote view David Dodge, the first American to be taken hostage in the Lebanon in 1982, nor any of the hostages after Buckley until 1988 when LTC Higgins was abducted. I wonder if the poor results from the Iranian Hostage Crisis (which they remote viewed extensively) made Center Lane a less attractive proposition until a major push for intelligence gathering was undertaken, such as for Buckley and Higgins, and their advice was sought.

But the thing that I don’t understand is the reason given for ending the remote viewing project so soon. The aforementioned report from the 14 May, after mentioning how closely they were working with the CIA, concludes “No remote viewing interviews have been conducted on the Buckley case since 20 April because the ICLP [Inscom Center Lane Program] exhausted all current leads. Additional interviews will be conducted when the CIA provides information from other sources which needs to be confirmed or when additional EEI [Essential Elements of Information] are provided.”

But remote viewing was supposed to excel in just these circumstances: that it could get intel when otherwise there was nothing to work from. For the project to end its own involvement in the search for Buckley for those particular reasons strikes me as very odd, especially given that the information seemed to be treated seriously at the time. 

[1] Confusingly, the declassified archive contains handwritten notes from a session dated 24 April 1984, but the information contained is identical to the session conducted on the 20th.


Papers from the William Buckley project


SRI sessions summary

Summary of Center Lane sessions

Monday 2 May 2022

Remote Viewing the hostage LTC William Higgins 1988-1989

 The Lebanon Hostage Crisis lasted for a ten-year span of time in which foreign officials would be abducted in Lebanon by various Islamic groups for the purposes of ransoms or publicity for a cause or bargaining for a prisoner to be released. It began in 1982 with the disappearance of four Iranian diplomats and ended with the release of two German relief workers in the summer of 1992.
Of the many US citizens taken hostage, the remote viewing team focused mostly on LTC William Higgins. He was kidnapped on 17th February 1988 neat the city of Tyre in south Lebanon and he died in captivity, killed by his captors at an unspecified time. At no point was his location identified and out of all the hostages, his is the one case with least information to go on.

The project to try and locate Higgins continued for months. Over one hundred sessions were targeted at this kidnap victim. Trying to trace some kind of narrative through this is difficult, especially given that we know almost nothing about what actually happened to Higgins: the place he was held or how he died. These details are either still a mystery or classified.

Three anecdotes regarding this episode are worth quoting from. Lyn Buchanan relates his memory of remote viewing his murder during a session with Higgins as the target.

“One of the last hostage crises we dealt with was the abduction of Col Rich Higgins, who was yanked from his United Nations jeep and kidnapped in 1988 by Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. As a unit, we tracked his condition and situation for months.

One day, I was in the middle of a session when I was startled by an extremely strong impression: "RASAIN." "Where did that come from?" I asked myself. Knowing that you write down every impression that you get in session, I dutifully scribbled, and continued my session.

Not thinking about the sudden impression, I wrote up my report on the colonel's condition and a description of his immediate surroundings. I turned the session in and went home for the day.

A few days later, given the same task, I found Colonel Higgins standing in an outdoor location. He was on the slight slope of a sandy embankment. Then, suddenly, he was on the ground, head downwards on the slope, face down in the sand, dead. Some men with guns were walking away from the body, laughing and joking with one another. I reported my findings, and three other viewers were immediately tasked with his condition and situation, in order to confirm or disprove my findings. The other three viewers found him to be quite alive. But I was certain of what I had found. The next day we got the report that the Hezbollah had sent pictures of the colonel's dead body overnight. During that session I had evidently witnessed his execution. There was no joy in being right this time.”

Next is this except from an article “An Interview with Angela Ford” in the remote viewing magazine, Eight Martinis, issue 14

“Angela initially placed him physically in a specific spot on the map, and advised that he was being held in a building at that exact location. Unfortunately, photos of that specific location indicated that it was nothing but open and bare ground. No building. So the reaction by Dames and others to Angela’s initial effort was a smirk. Later, a released hostage who spent time with Higgins in captivity reported that Angela was absolutely right on the money. The photos which supported the psychics’ effort was outdated – old. In fact, Higgins had been held in a specially constructed shed in the exact location designated by Angela. Photographs might have revealed the building, if current photos had been used to support the psychics’ efforts.”

Third is this paragraph from Jim Schnabel’s 1997 book “Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America’s Physic Spies”

“In February 1988, a senior U.S. Marine Officer, Lieutenant Colonel William Higgins, was kidna[[ed from Beirut by the Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah. DT-S was asked to try and find him. Ed Dames, running a team of CRVers, came up with a description of a house where it seemed that Higgins was being held in South Lebanon. Angela Dellafiora, front-loaded with reconnaissance photographs of the area and monitored by Fern Gauvin, picked out instead a certain field near a road; she believed that Higgins was being held underground there, somehow. Several days later, the CRVers began to report that Higgins was dead. Angela reported that he was alive, and would soon be released. Both sets of data were sent downtown, but of course they conflicted, and were probably ignored.”

Going through the archive day by day, a slightly different narrative emerges.

On 18th February, the day after the abduction, the five remote viewers (Mel R, Angela D, Paul S, Lyn B and Gabrielle P) record their initial impressions. Oddly, this is the time when Lyn sees the word “Raisan” as described above. But in the story according to his book, a few days later he saw the execution of Higgins whereas in reality that session wouldn’t happen for over a year. Paul said Higgins was “Surrounded by land. Hills, valleys, farming” and Angela got the phrase “Bladd-ish” or “Blabd-ish.”

Map showing approx locations of predictions made on 18th February 1988

These were all in the southern part of Lebanon near the area he went missing. Interestingly, on the 22nd, the Lebanese radio station Voice of the Nation reported that, according to Hezbollah, Higgins had been moved out of the south of the country. Coincidence or not, future sessions placed Higgins’ location further north.

On the 25th Paul did a dowsing session, pin-pointing three locations, two of which were in the sea. The following day, he placed Higgins 20 miles SW of Lake Qaraoun. On the 4th of March both Lyn and Mel give sessions that locate him in a quarry. A couple of weeks later, different viewers give his location as South Beirut, Blazdah or Nabatieh.

In mid-March Angela made predictions of all of the hostages locations. I believe this session is the source of the “empty field” prediction mentioned twice in the anecdotes above. It appears that these locations were very close to where US intelligence believed Higgins was being held: the village of Arab Salim. 

Angela's predictions of hostage locations (numbers taken from declassified report)

As such, the DIA arranged a follow up session in which Angela (and two other RVers) was told to focus on that area. In the typed notes, the area she chose is labeled “Y” with the note that “(Y appears to be an open field).” However, Angela predicts his imminent move to another area. The next time she specifies an area for Higgins, it is a long way from Arab Salim.

The grey circle shows the approx location where the DIA thought Higgins might be

It’s also around this time that Angela starts to predict his release: she said 22nd April in mid-April, then in May this changed to “the near future” and “prior to 13 June 1988” and then at the end of June the prediction became late July or early August.

In fact, Angela seemed very invested in this case. She continued to target him in sessions long after the rest of the team had stopped. Indeed, apart from a flurry of team activity in January 1989, she is the only one working on Higgins between August 1988 and the news of his death in late July 1989.

On 21st April 1988, a photo of Higgins in captivity was released by his captors and after that, what happened to him remains a secret. In May, the DIA asked the RV team if Higgins was still alive. All of the sessions report him as living.

Photo of Higgins released 21st April 1989

Then, in May, came a number of sessions that all seemed to point to Higgins being in the sea. Looking at media reports on the hostage crisis leading up to this time, I can’t find any reason why this might be. Nevertheless, it’s a curious chapter that’s worth mentioning. On 18th, Lyn tries dowsing and gets two locations: one between Beirut and its airport and the other in the sea. The next day, Angela says Higgins is in a rowboat and on the 21st Gabrielle says he’s on a vessel, Lyn says it's a fishing boat and Angela calls it a skiff.

Whatever the reason for this, after a two week break, when the team reconvene, Higgins is no longer at sea. In June and July only Mel and Angela work on this target. Mel puts Higgins in South Beirut while Angela continues to cast her net much further field: Anan, Ayn Nub, Beirut Airport, Bsaba, Khadah are all mentioned.

After this, only Angela continues this project. Most of these session notes aren’t in the archive and one wonders if these sessions were officially requested or something Angela felt compelled to do. Looking at the list of sessions completed at a time when the intelligence services had all but given up on Higgins it resembles a vigil, to be honest, and I’m impressed at the dedication shown by Angela during these months.

Finally, on 31st July, a video showing Higgins’ dead body was released to CNN. On the week commencing 2nd August, three weeks since Angela’s last session about him, the team as a whole was asked to determine if Higgins was alive or dead.

On that day, Angela doesn’t answer that question and still can’t during another session the following day. Another remote viewer, Robin, said Higgins was alive and that wasn’t his body in the video. Lyn’s session is dated 4th August and his tasking is for the location where Higgins was last alive. Oddly, despite his later claim to have seen his execution on the 30th July, here he says Higgins’ date of death was 1st August: the day after the video was released. This clearly contradicts Buchanan's story about remote viewing Higgins’ execution. The final session on this project is dated 15th August 1989 and in it Robin still maintains that Higgins is alive.

In truth, although his captors said they’d executed him in revenge for the kidnapping by Israel of the imam Sheik Obied, Higgins had actually died long before his body was used in the video. His body was finally recovered in 1991, found in the streets of Beirut. The reason for death and his physical state have never been made public.

The remote viewing team clearly had little success on this project and the anecdotes that claim some kind of accuracy rely on reporting only the best guess, or inventing a best guess entirely, and also by changing the time involved from almost a year to just a few days. Below is a map of the predictions by the team that I can specify a location for, up to the summer of 1988.