I-Team: The Real Men Who Stare at Goats - 8 News NOW

I-Team: The Real Men Who Stare at Goats

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Psychics, seers and spoon benders don't sound like the troops of tomorrow, but for decades the U.S. military investigated all sorts of new age and paranormal disciplines in order to create super soldiers.

Some of that research is outlined in a film, "The Men Who Stare at Goats." And while the movie is a military satire, it's based on real people and real events, some of them with Las Vegas ties.

Could psychic super soldiers kill goats just by staring at them? Sort of.

"There were goats killed. In my experience, it was with dim mak. In other words, they hit the goat as opposed to just staring at it, but there was a goat lab and the rationale for it, that is true," said Las Vegan Col. John Alexander, retired Army intelligence. He knows more than most about the legitimacy of the new film, "The Men Who Stare at Goats."

Alexander was an Army intelligence colonel who worked on programs to create super soldiers and psychic spies. The impetus for the programs -- and now the movie -- came from two sources. First, the fact that the Soviets had their own psychic spy program. Second, the military needed something to shake off the bad vibes from Vietnam, where Alexander commanded a Special Forces unit.

"It was exactly like they say. The army was coming out of the doldrums, Vietnam made it hollow. They were willing to look at anything and that was part of what was going on at the time," Alexander said.

Another Vietnam vet who played a central role in the real programs is Jim Channon, today a strategic planner based in Hawaii, but back then a would-be super soldier who first had the idea of incorporating new age concepts into military training.

Channon created what was known as the first Earth Battalion. It was more of a think tank than an operational unit, and the concepts it explored were so far out of the box, there was no box. Not all of them worked, but some did. Remote viewing, for instance, the ability to project one's consciousness through space and time was real and was studied by both the Army and CIA for many years.

Paul Smith was one of the government's best psychic spies. He says remote viewers got the first glimpse of a new Russian warhead.

"It was pretty accurately described, maybe not down to the detail a nuclear physicist would want to know about what makes it work, but it was clearly a multi-targeted re-entry vehicle, which is a warhead," said Smith, remote viewer.

Another one was a Soviet phase array radar that was described and drawn. Col. Alexander says one group of remote viewers ran a counter-intelligence operation aimed at Nevada's impenetrable Area 51 classified base. The psychics not only detected the F-117 stealth fighter, which did not officially exist, but also the B-2 stealth bomber. It was a spooky moment for the CIA.

Reporter George Knapp: "The other guys must have been floored?"

Col. John Alexander: "Scared. Because the point was, we understand counterintelligence. We understand putting up programs to protect it, but how do you protect against something like this?"

Alexander says he is one of an amalgam of real people who are the basis for the George Clooney character in the film. Jim Channon is one of the principal inspirations for the Jeff Bridges flower child and, yes, they did delve into uses and effects of different drugs of the day.

Like most Hollywood offerings, the movie takes considerable liberties with truth. Goats died, but not from staring. Rather it was from dim mak, the death touch. As in the film, the real life programs were dismantled, though the research continues in the private sector, where remote viewing books and videos are hugely popular, and will likely grow more so if the movie is a hit.


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