Welcome to the tenth installment in my epic examination of the strange netherworld of high weirdness and the far right. Over the course of this series I've used the phrase "high weirdness" as a catch-all for a host of arcane topics including psi, human potential, psychedelics, UFOs, Tesla weapons and so on. As for far right, I've primarily examined this grouping through the prism of various think tanks closely linked to the American military-industrial complex such as the Committee on the Present Danger Mach I and the American Security Council (ASC).
With the first installment I considered the deep political implications of the bizarre 2012 Sikh temple shooting and the general high weirdness behind the 2016 US presidential election. Part two considered the origins of the military-industrial complex and the curious groups surrounding it such as Skull and Bones and the alleged Majestic 12 group (probably a hoax, but something resembling it almost surely did exist).
Part three considered the rise of the far right in the military-industrial complex, a takeover largely driven by a group of military officers that had served under General Douglas MacArthur in the Pacific Theater of World War II and/or Korea. Many of these military officers would end up playing keys roles in the ASC during the Cold War and have long been linked to the Roswell incident, a connection a further explored in part four as well as my theories as to what exactly happened with said incident.
The fifth installment considered the American Security Council's longstanding links to the National Investigative Committee on Unexplained Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), for years the premier civilian UFO organization, as well the curious theories of one of the most bizarre prophets of the far right, Peter Beter. With part six I considered the role of the ASC in spawning the Hangar 18 mythos as well as its patronage of Jacques Vallee, J. Allen Hynek and other leading Ufologists who developed a most esoteric take on the matter.
The seventh installment was a bit of a digression, considering the extensive influence far right sugar daddy William Penn Patrick had on Werner Erhard's est movement, one of the most prominent (and sinister) offshoots of the Human Potential movement. Part eight returned to the old ASC network, focusing on the curious interests of one of its most powerful members, Stefan T. Possony. For years Possony had ample dealings with the UFO question and psi research. Beginning in the 1970s he became a major proponent of space-based weapons, leading many to hail him as the father of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, better known as "Star Wars). Possony also had a keen interest in Tesla weapons, which may have been the ultimate purpose of SDI and projects allegedly related to it such as HARRP.
|Stefan T. Possony|
Also somewhat related is a recent post I did that focused on the role the Unification Church and The Family has played in various New Age topics as well as the dark life of William Shockley. Shockley is the individual widely credited as the inventor of the transistor (a device long reputed to have actually come from the Roswell crash, as was noted in part four) who later became a leading propagandist for the Pioneer Fund, the organization that almost single-handedly kept the eugenics movement alive in these United States in the post-WWII years.
|Jeff Bridges as "Bobby Django" in Goats|
"... Alexander is a former Green Beret. From 1966 through 1969 he commanded Special Forces A-teams in Vietnam and Thailand, earning the moniker Assassin Six. After the war he engaged in a variety of pursuits that kept his brain and body challenged. He climbed mountains in Nepal and swam with whales in Tonga. In an effort to understand human belief systems he studied superstition, sorcery, and witchcraft around the world, interviewing witch doctors in Zimbabwe, shamans in Siberia, and tribesmen in New Guinea who still practiced cannibalism. What interested him most was how people faced fear, and how people feared death. For his PhD in near-death studies, working under the celebrated physician Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Alexander was a founding board member of the nation's first Children's Hospice International, where he facilitated the development of protocols to help terminally ill children face death without fear."
(Phenomena, Annie Jacobsen, pg. 277)Alexander is often described as having participated in the Phoenix Program, but this is sketchy. Special Forces A-Teams seem to have been primarily concerned with cross border actions in Vietnam and Alexander's descriptions of his time there in The Warrior's Edge seem to confirm this. Phoenix was primarily concerned with pacifying Vietnam itself, though there was some overlap with the objectives of the A-teams. But certainly Alexander's work with these A-Teams, often commanding foreign mercenaries outside of declared zones of conflict, would have been of a hazy legality at best.
It was in the early 1980s that Alexander's career in the weird and unexplained really took off. It all began after he published a curious article in Military Review entitled "The New Mental Battlefield" in 1980. The piece, which addressed remote viewing (when Alexander was allegedly unaware of the Army's own remote viewing program) and "psychotronic" weapons (among other things). created a buzz in certain military circles. Colonel Michael Aquino and Colonel (later General) Paul E. Vallely were partly inspired to author the infamous "From PSYOP to MindWar" by Alexander's article, for instance.
By 1981 Alexander was in the midst of several of the Army's most esoteric pursuits. One such project was a think tank referred to ask "Task Force Delta" (no relation to the Delta Force). Task Force Delta, while only officially consisting of five members, received patronage from several powerful generals, including General Maxwell Thurman and General Colin Powell. It had many practical, real world purposes, such as developing ways for the Army to rebrand itself after generating intense public loathing in the wake of Vietnam. Reportedly the legendary "Be All That You Can Be" recruiting slogan was developed by Task Force Delta, for instance.
But beyond helping the Army with its image, Task Force Delta went down some truly New Agey roads. Consider:
"Taxpayer dollars were also lavished on something called Task Force Delta, an Army War College project whose mission was to investigate alternative philosophical realms for anything militarily useful. A Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon and several other like-minded officers from the task force soon came up with an idea for something called the 'First Earth Battalion,' an eco-friendly politically correct warrior-monk vision of the future soldier. Before long, Channon and the others were into role-playing games, acting out the New Age fantasy...
(Remote Viewers, Jim Schnabel, pg. 277)More on the legendary First Earth Battalion in a moment. For now, let us consider some of the darker avenues Task Force Delta potentially went down.
While I have not been able to definitively confirm this yet, it would appear that Task Force Delta was responsible for introducing neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to the Army. As might be expected, Alexander was a major proponent of this project:
"Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is defined as a set of techniques used to facilitate individual pattern changes. Techniques found useful by many senior U.S. Army officers are based on this trademarked program. NLP teaches ways to modify behavior patterns that are not useful as well as to install useful behavior patterns.
NLP, formulated by Richard Bandler (a mathematician and computer expert) and John Grinder (a linguist), was introduced to the U.S. Army via a program called New Patterns of Influence. In addition to the NLP basics, this program contains information from the U.S. Army's Organizational Effectiveness School (dissolved in 1984 due to budget constraints), as well as original thinking by Lieutenant Colonel Frank Burns and Bob Klaus on skills required for military leadership.
"This course, carefully packaged as a three-day intensive, was presented to selected general officers and Senior Executive Service (SES) members. Among the first generals to take the course was then-Lieutenant General Maxwell Thurman, who later went on to receive his four-star and become Vice-Chief of Staff of the Army (VCSA) and Commander, U/S/ Southern Command. General Thurman, who distinguished himself as SOUTHCOM's leader during the Dec. 20, 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, is well known as bright, forward thinking, and innovative.
"It was General Thurman's support that allowed the NLP training group to make inroads with many other generals. In fact, he commissioned a study of human performance by the National Academy of Science, monitored by the Army Research Institute. General Thurman has kept interest allied through his personal influence.
"This program was considered effective by a great majority of the several hundred who attended over a period of four years. In 1983, the NLP training group, along with John Alexander, was engaged to teach these skills to several members of Congress, including Al Gore, Jr. and Tom Downey, under the auspices of Congressional Clearinghouse on the Future, a bipartisan activity established to provide information to congressmen when they request it. Gore went on to become a serious candidate in the 1988 presidential primary race."
(The Warrior's Edge, John Alexander, Richard Groller, Janet Morris, pgs. 47-48)
|Al Gore at the 1988 Democratic National Convention|
But the real point of interest here is neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). NLP is a highly controversial practice, often described a form of self-help and linked to the human potential movement, that has been accused of being a pseudoscience, a quasi-religion and a form of mind control. It purports to use a combination of visualization, mimicry and a selective use of language to influence people and bend them to your will. It is believed to work in a similar fashion as hypnosis, targeting an individual's subconscious after a connection has been established by copying the target's body language, speech patterns, breathing rate and so on. This classic scene from the original Star Wars was almost surely influenced by NLP techniques:
As noted above, Richard Bandler and John Grinder are generally credited as the creators of NLP, but the highly controversial Walter H. Bowart has insisted that the methods originated with the legendary hypnotist Milton Erickson.
"...NLP practitioners, Bandler and Grinder modeled successful therapists who were Fritz Perles (father of Gestalt therapy), Virginia Satir (a remarkably talented family therapist) and Milton Erickson (a victim of polio, genius hypnotist and the true father of the basic NLP breakthrough information = communication is 90% behavioral, 5% tonal and 5% content."
(Operation Mind Control, Walter H. Bowart, pg. 469)Bowart is not always the most reliable source. But he did, however, know many of the key early personalities in the NLP movement such as Bandler, Erickson and Tony Robbins personally and trained under them for a time. On the whole Bowart seems to have been quite taken with the movement in the 1970s as it was emerging and would continue to use NLP methods as a means for understanding CIA/Pentagon behavior modification techniques up until the time of his death.
|Walter H. Bowart|
As was noted before here, Estabrooks also had a keen interest in the paranormal. He had been involved in the study of psi since at least the 1920s. Erickson never seems to have been quite as publicly interested, but NLP techniques have frequently been linked to shamanism and folk magic, with critics arguing the process is little more than thinly veiled sympathetic magic.
|Milton H. Erickson|
"The military as well as major corporations have been very interested in putting NLP to use. The Ford Motor Company, Westinghouse, and the Calvin Klein Fashion House are among scores of major companies that have sent employees for training, according to the New York Times: 'Kevin Garby, an author and researcher on New Age topics in Carlyle, Pennsylvania, sites an army recruiting slogan "Be All That You Can Be" as evidence of what he contends has been the significant influence' of NLP-like disciplines. In the early 1980s, Garby said, 'officers of the Army War College in Carlyle, some of whom were graduates of EST, and were former members of The Radical Students for Democratic Society, conducted a study aimed at creating a "New Age Army." The slogan, a derivative of the "You Create Your Own Reality" orthodoxy of New Age groups, grew out of this work."
(Operation Mind Control, Walter H. Bowart, pg. 255)Anti-nuclear activist Remy Chevalier has insisted that Task Force Delta member Lt. Col Jim Channon derived much of his inspiration for the First Earth Battalion from est training. This would seem to confirm Bowart's claims, via The New York Times, that est graduates had also introduced NLP to the Army, likely through Task Force Delta. Est apparently appealed to Channon because it reminded him of Army boot camp.
This is hardly surprising. As was noted in part seven of this series, est grew out of two programs launched in the late 1960s/early 1970s era: Mind Dynamics and Leadership Dynamics. The latter, which is recognized as one of the earliest versions of Large Group Awareness Training, was especially brutal and appears to have been based in part upon military basic training as well. It was the inspiration of right wing sugar daddy William Penn Patrick, who was involved with a host of right wing organizations such as the Minutemen and the John Birch Society with extensive ties to the US intelligence community.
So, to recap: est grew out of Mind Dynamics and Leadership Dynamics in the early 1970s just as founder William Penn Patrick was beginning to run afoul of legal authorities, offering a more watered down version of the highly controversial Leadership Dynamics course. By the mid-1970s NLP becomes popular in the same Human Potential Movement that embraced est. Many NLP practitioners dabble in est training and vice versa in this era. Then, in the late 1970s, NLP is introduced to the Army, likely by est practitioners.
And looming overall of this is the possibility that est and NLP were both based upon CIA/Pentagon behavior modification techniques that were released into the general public in the late 1960s for refinement and were then reincorporated back into the Army after a decade in the wild. It should also be noted here that there were extensive links between the CIA's Office of Security, which directed ARTICHOKE, and the old American Security Council network (noted before here and here). Keep this last point in mind.
"... Alexander received word that the deputy undersecretary of defense, a retired Army four-star general named Richard G. Stilwell, wanted to see him. A lieutenant colonel being asked to meet with a four-star general was an uncommon occurrence, since it bypassed the chain of command. Alexander was unsure what to expect. Stilwell was an Army legend. He participated in the Normandy invasion in World War II, served as head of the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Thailand, during the Vietnam War, served in the CIA and as commander in chief of the United Nations Command in Korea. What did Stilwell want to see John Alexander for? he wondered.
"At 12:30 p.m., that same day, Alexander made his way to the general's office, located in the elite E-ring of the Pentagon, for the meeting. 'It was oddly informal,' he recalls. 'The general wanted to discuss various forms of phenomenology I'd written about in my paper.' The conference ended without a specific request, which also struck Alexander as unusual. Walking back to his desk in the Pentagon's C-ring, Alexander wondered what the real purpose of the meeting might have been.
"That afternoon, at a little after 4 p.m., an executive officer approached Alexander and told him this was his last day in the Office of the Inspector General. General Stilwell had arranged for his transfer to INSCOM, at Arlington Hall, Virginia. His new commanding officer would be Major General Albert Stubbleline. 'I'd been moved formally into the psychic realm,' says Alexander."
(Phenomena, Annie Jacobsen, pgs. 280-281)
|the insignia of INSCOM|
At the time Stilwell was a member of the American Security Council, hence his interest in "unusual topics" is hardly surprising. He had originally cut his teeth in intelligence work during the Second World War, when he operated out of China and Burma with the OSS. Many of the intelligence officers with a background in China prior to the Revolution were referred to as "China Cowboys" because of their freewheeling ways. At the time two other OSS China Cowboys, General John Singlaub and Ray S. Cline, were deeply involved in the ASC as well (more on the China cowboys can be found here).
On the whole, Stilwell is one of the most mysterious and influential deep state players of this era. Consider some of his accomplishments:
"From the start of the Reagan administration, Gen. Richard Stillwell, who helped form the ISA, promoted the build-up of Special Operations Forces, the official military supplement to the 'private' covert networks. Stilwell, another Asian OSS veteran, took charge of the Far East Division of the CIA's Office of Policy Coordination during the early 1950s' raids against China, but was dismissed when the Nationalist Chinese drug running through Civil Air Transport was exposed. He returned to Southeast Asia to direct the secret war in Laos as commander of U.S. forces in Thailand, where the military leadership had been heavily involved in the opium trade."
(Rollback!, Thomas Bodenheimer & Robert Gould, pg. 99)
|General Richard G. Stilwell|
For our purposes, his role in creating the ISA and building up Special Operations Forces is even more interesting. For those of you unaware, ISA stands for Intelligence Support Activity, more commonly referred to as The Activity. The Activity is a highly secretive component of the US Army, originally subordinated to INSCOM and tasked with providing intelligence exclusively to Special Operations Forces. It had its origins in an outfit known as the Field Operations Group (FOG) that was launched in the wake of the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw, the failed bid to rescue US hostages from Iran in 1980. Eagle Claw convinced military officials that Special Operations Forces needed more reliable intelligence on the ground if another rescue operation was to be attempted and FOG was the result.
Another rescue mission was never initiated, but the Army was impressed enough to make FOG a permanent unit and it was given its current name and a greatly increased budget in 1981. For the next twenty plus years it would work closely with Special Operations Forces while operating out of INSCOM. In 2003, The Activity was removed from the authority of INSCOM and transferred to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Presently it is the primary intelligence service of the JSOC and has become extremely powerful in the intelligence community as a result. General Michael Flynn, who oversaw The Activity while directing intelligence for the JSOC, later advanced to Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and, briefly, as Donald J. Trump's National Security Advisor.
|the insignia of The Activity|
As was noted before here, the JSOC even appears to have taken the lead role in Copper Green, which may well be a new version of Project ARTICHOKE and other CIA/Pentagon behavior modification experiments. But Copper Green may not have been the extent of the JSOC's forays into consciousness exploration, not by a long shot. In point of fact, the JSOC may have been exposed to some very esoteric concepts at its inception. For these concepts, we will now need to turn our attention to a rather curious project Colonel John Alexander oversaw during his time at INSCOM.
|the famed General Albert Stubblebine|
"In 1983, the Jedi master provided an image and a name for the Jedi Project, a human-performance modeling experiments based on neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) skills. Sponsored by a U.S. government interagency task force, Jedi used advanced influence technologies to model excellence in human performance. The subjects involved in Jedi were willing to be influenced to acquire desirable skills.
"The Jedi Project grew out of the New Patterns of Influence Program, developed during the early eighties to disseminate NLP skills throughout the U.S. Army, under the auspices of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command and, until 1984, the Organizational Effectiveness School.
"The number of human subjects involved in the Jedi Project was not statistically significant. The experiment was run as a proof-of-principal and, standing alone, the results are impressive."
(The Warrior's Edge, John Alexander, Richard Groller & Janet Morris, pgs. 72-73)Alexander indicates that this experiment was rather tame, largely focusing on things like mental cues and techniques to help soldiers improve their marksmanship. For this reason perhaps many researchers do not appear to have paid much mind to Jedi until the early '00s, when journalist Jon Ronson interviewed a former Special Forces member who indicated that Jedi was far more ambitious than simply improving marksmanship:
"In the mid-1980s, he told me, Special Forces undertook a secret initiative, codenamed Project Jedi, to create supersoldiers – soldiers with superpowers. One such power was the ability to walk into a room and instantly be aware of every detail; that was level one."
(The Men Who Stare At Goats, Jon Ronson, pg. 14)Level two was intuition, level three was "invisibility." The soldier then indicated that the level that came after that was the ability to kill a goat or another living thing with one's mind. As you may have guessed, this is what ultimately inspired of Ronson's classic book and the film loosely based upon it.
While it is generally assumed this form of lethal psychokinesis was explored in GRILL FLAME, it appears that this curious pursuit in fact grew out of Alexander's Jedi Project, which was based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. As many of you are no doubt aware, Fort Bragg is the training center and home for the bulk of America's Special Operations Forces, and the headquarters of both the Joint Special Operations Command and the Special Forces (more commonly referred to as the "Green Berets").
Another individual involved in the project, Dr. Jim Hardt (who for years ran an office out of William Shockley's old office space in Silicon Valley; as was noted before here, Shockley has his own curious ties to high weirdness and the far right), further confirmed the prior allegations given to Ronson:
"It all began with a visit from a colonel named John Alexander, who turned up one day at Jim Hardt's door with a few other military men. Alexander had headhunted Dr. Hardt, having been deeply moved by Jim Channon's First Earth Battalion Operations Manual. He wanted to know if Dr. Hardt could really turn ordinary soldiers into advanced zen masters in just seven days, and give them the power of telepathy simply by plugging them into his brain machine.
"Dr. Hardt said it was indeed true, and so the quest to create a supersoldier, a soldier with supernatural powers, was set in motion right there in that building in Silicon Valley.
"The colonel told Jim Hardt that Special Forces had, ever since the publication of Jim's manual, invited one peak-performance guru after another from the new-age and human-potential movements of California to lecture the soldiers on how to be more attuned with their inner spirits..."
(The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jon Ronson, pgs. 44-45)So, to recap: in the early 1980s Colonel John Alexander became involved with the curious Task Force Delta, which received patronage from powerful generals such as Maxwell Thurman and Colin Powell. While nominally involved in more practical projects, such as re-branding the Army after the disastrous Vietnam years, it also explored some very arcane topics. Out of these pursuits emerged Colonel Jim Channon's infamous First Earth Battalion, which Alexander appears to have used as a basis for the Jedi Project he ran out of INSCOM for General Albert Stubblebine.
|Colonel John B. Alexander|
The JSOC is headquartered out of Fort Bragg and was just getting off the ground as Alexander was reportedly launching his Project Jedi there circa 1983. Project Jedi was based upon neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), a practice widely linked to mind control. It was reportedly brought to the Army by est graduates, another off shoot of the human potential movement linked to right wing extremism and mind control (noted before here). Using this as a basis, Alexander simply sought to incorporate other New Age-derived techniques to induce telepathy in Special Operations Forces with an aim towards lethal psychokinesis.
Its important to note, however, than these techniques have only been likened to Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets, which Alexander was a member of), rather than other Special Operations Forces (such as those in the JSOC). But given that the JSOC is far more concerned with assassinations (and mind control, if Cooper Green is any indication) than Special Forces, it seems likely that components of the JSOC would have also been exposed to Jedi. Certainly both Special Forces and JSOC members are well represented at Fort Bragg.
But the American Security Council connection via Stilwell makes this chain of events even more incredible. Keep in mind dear reader that in part four I noted Christopher Knowles's linkage of the Roswell incident with an ancient Greek myth involving the creation of supersoldiers. As was noted in that installment, and part three, many of the military officers linked to Roswell ended up sitting on the National Strategy Committee of the ASC.
The same National Strategy Committee Stilwell was sitting on in the 1980s when he arranged for Alexander's transfer to INSCOM and thus set him on the path to Jedi and the creation of supersoldiers.
Ah, but there's more. As I noted in a prior series on the CIA's Office of Security (OS), there was extensive overlap between the OS and the American Security Council (noted before here and here). And as noted above, the OS was also the outfit within the CIA that ran Project ARTICHOKE. Specially, it was operated out of the OS's Security Research Staff (SRS), which for many years was overseen by General Paul Gaynor. And Gaynor just happened to be very close to several high ranking ASC officials, as was Morse Allen, the OS-SRS official who oversaw the day to day function's of ARTICHOKE.
This makes for an interesting chain of events:
- the Roswell incident (or "working", as Christopher Knowles has dubbed it) unfolds in 1947
- that same year, the US military initiates the first formal post-WWII behavior modification experiments with Projects CHATTER and Pelican
- eventually all of these projects are rolled into Project BLUEBIRD, later ARTICHOKE, which was very much a joint CIA-Pentagon project. As was noted before here and here, these experiments were deeply concerned with psi. The creation of supersoldier was also an objective, as noted in part four of this series.
- after the Rockefeller-sponsored MKULTRA eclipsed ARTICHOKE in 1955, many of the more "out-there" aspects of these experiments were downgraded for over a decade.
- meanwhile, the American Security Council is launched around this same time. By the early 1960s it has acquired a National Strategy Committee staffed with numerous generals linked to Roswell and other deep state figures involved in the UFO question as well as maintaining links to various ARTICHOKE personnel
- In 1966, the CIA and Pentagon launch MKOFTEN, allegedly the most extensive foray into the occult these agencies had ever ventured. Not long afterwards, curious movements such as est and NLP sporting methods reminiscent of behavior modification techniques begin springing up in California
- in the early 1970s, the famed SRI remote viewing experiments are launched. Numerous figures linked to the far right loom in the background of these experiments and at least one ARTICHOKE veteran (noted before here) also particiapted
- around 1977, the Army launches what will eventually become Project GRILL FLAME
- in 1981, John Alexander is transferred to INSCOM on behalf of the ASC's General Richard Stilwell. He and General Albert Stubblebine waist no time in initiating a host of arcane projects based upon recommendations from the mysterious Task Force Delta while also overseeing GRILL FLAME
- in 1983, Alexander launches the Jedi Project, potentially initiating the final stage of ARTICHOKE's old objective of creating supersoldiers, a quest that may have begun with Roswell
|the fruits of our efforts to create Jedi...|
And with that I shall wrap things up for now dear reader. With the next installment we'll consider Alexander's curious pursuits after leaving the Army. Stay tuned.