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

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