Tea’s Weird Week: Project COUCHSURF, my New Hobby of Hanging Out in the CIA Virtual Reading Room
Quarantine continues! What have I been doing with all this spare time? I’m enjoying catching up on some reading. I’m working on some writing projects. I’m continuing to write in my quarantine journal every day. I’m watching shit tons of sci-fi movies and shows. I’m getting pissed off watching the news. I’m getting excited about my new book American Madness. I’m occasionally trying to be helpful around the house. I’m having good days and bad days.
I also picked up a new hobby. Every Sunday morning/early afternoon, I spend an hour or three drinking coffee and hanging out in the CIA’s Virtual Reading Room, reading declassified documents. In 2017, the famous clandestine organization uploaded about 13 million documents to their online reading room. I’ve wanted to take a look at these ever since, but didn’t have the time. Well, now I do– but I’m carefully limiting this to 2-3 hours a week on Sunday. This is to prevent me from falling down a stark raving mad rabbit hole. I’m prone to do that sometimes, so this is a preventive measure so I keep working on other projects. But still, if I read 10-20 documents every Sunday, that’s 500-1,000 files a year. Not close to 13 million, but I’m searching for some specific things. I’m calling this Project COUCHSURF.
What I’m looking for– files related to UFOs, conspiracy classics, programs related to mind control like MK/Ultra, weird ideas like their remote viewing program (more on that in a minute), and their many failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro (for more on that, I recommend the documentary 638 Ways to Kill Castro).
What will I find? Who knows, that’s the exciting part! I’ll be posting here in future columns, probably as a short blurb at the end of the column, or, if I’m onto something good, future columns might be based on Project COUCHSURF research. We’ll see.
The first files I dug into were ones related to Project STARGATE (sadly not related to finding portals to other worlds like in the movie/ TV shows). The program included other projects over the years (GRILL FLAME, GONDOLA WISH, CENTER LANE, STAR STREAK) but was consolidated into STARGATE. I’ve been interested in this since reading an entertaining account of the program in Jon Ronson’s book The Men Who Stare at Goats.
One of the main focuses of the program was to test the possible effectiveness of “remote viewers,” which are people that claim the ability to see things at a far away distance. They have a sort of out-of-body experience with psychic flashes that give them a vision of past, present, and future events unfolding across the globe. You can see why the military would love to have this ability– the program was used to try to peek on potential terrorists, espionage agents, and drug smugglers. There is, however, no indication that any part of the program was successful.
Here’s a few files I found that were of interest. I linked to the files on the report dates, so you can check them out if you want.
Project 8122: Sept.3-8, 1981 remote viewers described a “jeep like vehicle” that arrived at a bunker somewhere in Stuttgart and stole explosives. The vehicle had a tag on it with the number “862 or 863” The file reads: “source reported possible future use of explosives in ‘some kind of raid on airbase,;” scheduled “for the period 1-5 May 1982.”
The report goes on to give vague details on where the suspects work and live, and the remote viewers determined that the stolen explosives were hidden in the basement of one of the suspect’s house, which had a red tile roof and “was marked 718 or 719,” with this sketch included in the report:
A report on a Project SUN STREAK remote viewing session with Remote Viewer 095 from June 26, 1989 describes how they were trying to zero in on a drug boat with a cargo of contraband in waterproof containers in the hold. Viewer 095 was able to see the boat’s journey from Tobago to the Dominican Republic and looking to the future could see that “the final destination of the vessel is a long (N-S orientated) island due east of Lake Okeechobee. A weaker feel was a location on the coast of Florida directly south of Tallahassee.”
In another SUN STREAK session we find that Remote Viewer 032 visualized a UFO on September 13, 1989. One thing I love are seeing handwritten notes and parts deemed important circled or underlined:
Viewer 032 turns out to be quite a character, I’d love to find out who it was and interview them. Just over a week after the UFO remote viewing, we get another report from Viewer 032 on September 22, 1989. This one reads like a sexy spy adventure.
I was able to access this woman almost directly. She was in a place on the coastline. It was a village that had small shops and residences lining streets that were narrow. I was drawn to the many canopies that covered each of the openings of the dwellings. The woman had been here many times.
This village is somewhere along the Mediterranean coastline. I watched the sun rise to my left as I faced the sea. For this reason I sense that the village is on the northern shore.
There was a man– who was very handsome. This man is much younger than the woman. Look for a man with dark skin, hair and eyes. He combs his hair straight back and it is groomed close to his head.
The man works for someone and listens to the woman routinely. I think that this woman is married but frequents this place under the guise of work and meets this man. She has been many other places with him also all over Europe. There have also been other men before this one. I don’t know what she tells him but it is with reluctance that she does. She feels bad most of the time– other times she doesn’t even realize [rest of sentence obscured by CIA approval stamp.]
It’s hard to put out an APB on a “man with dark skin, hair and eyes” who works for “someone” located “somewhere along the Mediterranean coastline,” which shows the problem with the whole program. Even if the remote viewer’s skills were legit, would any of their information be useful?
In addition to notes on the remote viewing sessions, there are several reports that SRI International (a scientific research institute in Menlo Park, CA) was paid to research on remote viewing. “An Effort to Improve Remote Viewing Quality Using Hypnosis,” October 1989 was a 17-page report where they describe an experiment where remote viewers were hypnotized and then asked to describe pictures cut from magazines hidden in envelopes (“in summary, hypnosis does not appear to be an effective way to enhance remote viewing quality.”) Other reports by SRI include “A Remote Action Experiment with a Piezoelectric Transducer,” December 1987 and “A Remote Action Investigation with Marine Animals,” also from December 1987.
I look forward to bringing you more reports from Project COUCHSURF in the future!American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness by Tea Krulos from Feral House on Vimeo.
My upcoming book American Madness features a journey through conspiracy culture. It’s out August 25, 2020 from Feral House. To pre-order: CLICK HERE
It’s on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52486773-american-madness
“Tea Krulos has forged a fascinating collection of work by immersing himself in various sub-cultures that exist on the fringes of society.” —Cult of Weird