The Central Intelligence Agency this week announced that it had posted more than 12 million pages of declassified documents online.
One name included in the massive batch of records might stand out — Uri Geller.
Geller is an Israeli who claims to have telepathic, remote viewing and psychokinetic abilities. You might know him from his claims of spoon and metal bending.
Included in the newly online CIA documents are details of an experiment involving Geller — and a drawing of a bunch of grapes.
Geller told The Washington Post that he became involved with the CIA in the early 1970s. The agency, he said, had grown concerned that “there were people like me in Russia.”
“There was a woman there who could move things with her mind, and they were concerned,” he said.
According to Geller, a CIA scientist received a letter from Israel, which came from another scientist who had seen Geller perform. So he wound up in America, he said, and began to undergo testing for the agency.
“I found it fascinating but very grueling, because I became almost like a guinea pig,” he said of the testing.
These experiments with Geller took place during an experiment conducted in August 1973, in which officials wanted to see if a sequestered Geller could replicate artwork.
To put it another way, here’s how the documents explain the goal: “The objective of this group of experimental sessions is to verify Geller’s apparent paranormal perception under carefully controlled conditions and to head toward an understanding of the physical and psychological variables underlying his apparent ability.”
The experiments stretched on for a few days, and Geller was isolated in different ways, according to the records.
“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,” the documents state.
On one day of the experiments, Geller was “closeted in an opaque, acoustically and electrically shielded room,” the documents state. Two drawings were randomly selected, by searching a large dictionary and picking the first word that could reasonably be drawn.
“The first word obtained in this manner was ‘fuse’ and the object drawn was a firecracker,” they read. “All target selection and picture drawing was done with Geller already in the shielded room. Geller was notified via intercom when the target picture was drawn and taped to the wall outside his enclosure.
“His almost immediate response was that he saw ‘a cylinder with a noise coming out of it’. (He was continuously monitored by a one-way audio circuit.) His drawing to correspond to the target was a drum, along with a number of other cylindrical-looking drawings.”
The next word was “bunch.” The target drew a bunch of grapes. Geller told officials that he saw “drops of water coming out of the picture.” Then, he talked about “purple circles.”
“Finally, he said that he was quite sure that he had the picture,” the documents state. “His drawing was indeed a bunch of grapes. Both the target picture and Geller’s rendition had 24 grapes in the bunch.”
Geller wasn’t always able to replicate the picture, according to the records. (He remembered this differently in his phone interview, saying: “every time I was tested, I passed.”) But for example, in one experiment, called a “pure clairvoyance task,” a picture was drawn by a scientist who was from outside the usual group. That picture was locked in a room before Geller arrived. He was then led into a room and asked to draw it.
“He drew a number of pictures, all of which he rejected as not being applicable,” the documents state. “He said he got no clear impression and passed.”
The documents note more of a backstory to that particular experiment, though.
“It should be added that the picture was drawn by a scientist of whom Geller is not fond, and Geller asked at the outset if this was the case,” they state. “The experimenters said that this was not the case, since they did not know who had drawn the picture. Geller felt vindicated to some extent when he found out that his initial guess as to the artist had been correct.”
When asked if he thought the CIA wanted to use his powers for good, or whether they had other motives, Geller said: “I cannot answer that. I can’t, because I cannot deny and I cannot confirm certain missions that I was given to do.”
“But because I am ideological tailored and I’m honed to love my country, Israel, and Israel had long relationships with America, and the CIA, and the NSA, the National Security Agency, I cannot answer that to you,” he said. “But I can tell you one thing for sure. The CIA, NSA, are in the business to protect the American people. And they have been in that business for decades. And I have nothing negative to say about the CIA.”
The documents posted online this week were previously available to the public, according to a CIA news release, but anyone who wanted to check out the files had to visit the National Archives Records Administration in Maryland and view them in person. The records cover a load of different of topics, including CIA history, the Cold War, the Berlin Tunnel project and the “STAR GATE remote viewing program files.”
“Access to this historically significant collection is no longer limited by geography,” the CIA’s director of information management, Joseph Lambert, said in a news release. “The American public can access these documents from the comfort of their homes.”
You can find the documents published online by the CIA here. Below you’ll find the documents relating to the Geller experiment that is described above.