How Uri Geller convinced the CIA he was a 'psychic warrior'

Uri Geller apparently bends spoon with his mind. Photo / Getty Images
Uri Geller apparently bends spoon with his mind. Photo / Getty Images

For decades Uri Geller, the man famous for allegedly bending cutlery with his mind on UK television, was mocked over his claims to have paranormal powers.

But while the British public were always sceptical it has transpired that none other than the CIA believed the "spoonbender" was psychic all along.

In an extraordinary series of declassified documents the agency revealed the results of a week of experiments it conducted on Geller over eight days in 1973, during which he was tested for "clairvoyant" or "telepathic" abilities.

It was part of the "Stargate" programme which was aimed at weaponising what the CIA called "remote viewing," and trying to recruit "psychic warriors".

Elements of the bizarre secret research featured in The Men Who Stare at Goats, a 2009 Hollywood film starring George Clooney, which took its name from attempts by Stargate operatives to kill goats simply by looking at them.

In the newly released documents there was no mention of Geller being asked to stare down goats. But his handlers concluded: "As a result of Geller's success in this experimental period, we consider that he has demonstrated his paranormal perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner."

Stargate was terminated in 1998 amid distrust over its results and a conclusion that it has "never provided an adequate basis for actionable intelligence operations".

But, speaking to The Daily Telegraph from Israel where he now lives, Geller claimed the revelations represented the "tip of the iceberg" of what he had been asked to do by the CIA, Mossad and other intelligence agencies.

That included later being tested at a US radiation lab during the Cold War to see if he could trigger a nuclear bomb.

Geller said: "I'm mind-blown they've released this because there are still remote viewing programmes active, many intelligence agencies use them."

The details of his tests were contained in 13 million pages of declassified documents released by the CIA this week.

Read more: Inside the top secret CIA files on New Zealand - who they spied on and what they said

Geller was taken to Stanford Research Institute in California between August 4 and August 11, 1973, and placed in an "opaque, acoustically and electrically shielded room" with two locked doors.

In the first experiment agents and scientists opened a dictionary and picked a word at random. The word was "fuse" and a scientist drew a firecracker.

"Geller was notified via intercom when the target picture was drawn and taped on the wall outside his enclosure," the declassified documents stated.

"His almost immediate response was that he saw a 'cylinder with noise coming out of it'." He then drew an image that looked similar to the firecracker.

A second word was picked, which was "bunch" and a scientist drew a bunch of grapes.

Geller told them he saw "purple circles" and promptly drew a bunch of grapes.

"Both the target picture and Geller's rendition had 24 grapes in the bunch," according to the documents.

The following day Geller was locked in his room and a drawing was made in an office half a mile away. It was the devil in the form of a man with a trident.

Asked to guess what it was, Geller drew images including a trident, the Ten Commandments, an apple with a worm in it, and snake.

The CIA concluded: "The inability on Geller's part to draw the devil may be culturally induced. Geller did draw the trident from the target picture but he did not draw the man holding it.

"From this it seems clear that Geller does not just copy lines from the target picture, but does perform some mental processing on them before drawing them himself."


Other experiments deemed successful included the scientists drawing a flying seagull, to which Geller said he saw a "flying swan on a hill".

"He drew several birds and said he felt sure his drawing was correct, which it was," his handlers wrote.

They then recruited a scientist on the US east coast to make a drawing. He drew two mountains with a sun in the upper right. Geller, in his isolated room on the west coast, drew two arches with a circle in the upper right.

On another occasion they had a computer make a random image. It was a kite. Geller, who was 150ft away, around a corner in a shielded room, also drew a kite.

Geller did fail various tests when he said he could not get a "clear impression". The documents concluded that he did better when there were no "sceptical observers" present.

In 2013 a BBC documentary suggested Geller had long been a secret agent using his mental powers for the CIA and Mossad. At the time he said the claims were "absolutely true".

Following the release of the CIA documents he told The Daily Telegraph his spoon bending antics and role as a television entertainer had been a "good cover" for his espionage work.

"Vindicated? I don't care about the sceptics," he said. "I did many things for the CIA. They wanted me to stand outside the Russian Embassy in Mexico, and erase floppy discs being flown out by Russian agents.

"I had to get near someone signing a nuclear deal and bombard him with 'sign, sign, sign".

He said one international agency, which he wouldn't name, asked him to kill a pig with his mind.

"I was asked to stop the heart of a pig. It was probably so they could stop the heart of Andropov who was head of the KGB.

"George Clooney basically played me in that film (The Men Who Stare at Goats). It wasn't goat, it was really a pig."

Asked if he had ever been tested by MI6, Geller replied: "No comment'.

This article was originally published by The Daily Telegraph

- Daily Telegraph UK

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