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It was some thirty years ago on the big screen that we watched Darth Vader kill a subordinate with sheer force of will. Displeased with the performance of Admiral Ozzel because he brought his ships out of hyperspace too soon, alerting the Rebels to their presence, Darth Vader held up his hand and pinched the air. Moviegoers will recall the hapless admiral choking for air and falling over dead. Darth Vader killed the admiral with a look, employing some unseen force of Mind.
It was pure science fiction. Or was it? At about this same time, a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier was felling goats in much the same manner. Now this story is coming to the big screen.
"The Men Who Stare At Goats" is a soon to be released major motion picture starring George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, and Ewan McGregor. It is a lighthearted look at how the U.S. Army explored paranormal powers, "new age" parapsychology and psychic functioning in the late 1970's and early 80s. The film portrays all of this in a whimsical and comical tone, but the real story is deadly serious.
The character portrayed by George Clooney is based on retired Special Forces Intel First Sergeant Glenn Wheaton. In real life Wheaton is a character far too complex to portray in a two-hour movie. In his Army career Wheaton was a stone cold killer, a Green Beret door-knocker as well as a remote viewer, a type of psychic spy who could readily displace his awareness to remote locations across space and time to bring back actual intelligence grade data using only his mind. He's also a boy from the Louisiana Bayou, a southern gentleman, a kind and caring teacher.
The title of the upcoming movie, "The Men Who Stare at Goats" is based on an incident in which a Green Beret instructor killed a goat by staring at it. Glenn Wheaton witnessed the event and recounted it to author Jon Ronson, who wrote about it in his book "The Crazy Rulers of the World." Glenn Wheaton sat down and talked about the goat incident recently during an interview for a documentary planned for release in conjunction with the movie "The Men Who Stare at Goats." His interview will also be included in the "Extras" in the home DVD version of the movie.
At the Special Warfare Center and School at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina they had what the Green Berets called "The Goat Lab." Special Forces medics were required to learn how to treat gunshot wounds, trauma cases, broken bones, and other types of battlefield injuries. It may sound cruel to members of PETA, but they shot goats and subjected them to numerous traumatic injuries, and then tried to revive and stabilize them. Soldiers also slaughtered the goats, learning so they would be able to teach people in third world countries how to butcher and dress an animal and prepare it for food. So they brought in goats from Honduras, and at least one of the goats became a victim of a Darth Vader type mental energy killing.
"I was there the day the first goat died," recalls Glenn Wheaton. He remembers it was in the dead of winter at Ft. Bragg. The Special Forces students had finished their usual ten to fifteen mile predawn run and headed to the woods for hand-to-hand combat training. At that time the 5th Special Forces Group hand-to-hand combat instructor was a martial arts expert named Mike Echanis.
"We got to the training area," Wheaton says, "and there was a dagger stuck in a tree." That meant Echanis was in the Bear Pit. The Bear Pit was hole in the sandy North Carolina soil, 8 to 10 feet deep and 60 to 80 feet wide. The instructor would wait in the pit. The students couldn't see him. It wasn't that he was actually invisible, but he could blend in, using both camouflage and mental trickery, that they couldn't spot him. He was able to adapt and blend into the environment so well that those looking down into the pit just could not see him. A trainee would jump into the pit, and suddenly Echanis would come out of nowhere and be upon him, and the hand-to-hand combat would ensue. The students were certain to endure a severe beating.
On this particular day, Echanis had brought a goat with him down into the pit. As the soldiers fought the goat would scamper and jump about, trying to avoid the combatants being hurled around the pit.
At the completion of the class, Echanis challenged the soldiers: "Where is your mind?"
Then the demonstration none of them would ever forget. Wheaton recalls that the instructor "grabbed the goat by the horns. He dragged him to the middle of the pit, pushing a green stake to the bottom of the pit, attaching the goat to it. Then he asked us again 'Where are your minds?' Michael had recently completed a lot of training in Qigong, the force you couldn't see that moves like a train."
Glenn Wheaton witnessed the incredible feat. The instructor never touched the goat. "Michael focused on the goat pretty intensely," he says. "It started to bray like a donkey or horse. It dropped down to its forelegs; blood began to drip from its nose. About 20 to 30 seconds later red suds began to froth from the goat's mouth. The goat lost its equilibrium and passed away in a fit."
There was nothing done physically to the goat. Wheaton says, "Michael never had to touch the goat, other than dragging him and sinking the anchor in the sand. A demonstration we required he repeat."
They tested Echanis several times under less brutal circumstances. They filled balloons with ink and the balloons were suspended in an aquarium. "He was able to successfully break or rupture three balloons filled with ink suspended in an aquarium filled with water," Wheaton recounts. "He was able to rupture each one of those balloons, causing the ink to contaminate the water."
Wheaton says it was "a lot to think about." And he goes on to say, "as an adaptation it has immediate applications. Could anyone do it, or could only Michael do it? That's what we investigated after that."
Wheaton does not talk about whether this technique was ever employed against humans, but he says Green Berets did study so called "paranormal powers" as part of a program called Project Jedi. What kind of techniques did they study in Project Jedi? Wheaton answers, "Can you be warm when everyone else around you is freezing cold? Can you regulate your respiration and heart rate so that when everyone else is huffing and puffing because you're running up a really long hill, can you manage your own body? Can you keep going when everyone else will stop?
That's what the empowerment portion of Project Jedi was for. You had to be perfectly able to control yourself, because if you couldn't control yourself you couldn't control anything else. So being able to control your blood pressure is a good thing. Being able to send heat to an exposed part of your body by will alone is a good thing. Being able to hear when there is only a cacophony of noise, a single thing. If I turned on a vacuum cleaner and gave a lecture that you couldn't hear, after a while could you hear? You learn to filter your environment so that you can accomplish any mission."
Glenn Wheaton is currently the president and chief instructor at the Hawaii Remote Viewers' Guild. He has been teaching advanced communication skills and mental focus techniques to civilians, for free, for the past 12 years.
"The Men Who Stare at Goats" currently in theaters. There will be a documentary released soon about the true story behind the movie, and the home DVD version will contain interviews with Glenn Wheaton and Jim Channon.
- Dick Allgire
FAIR USE NOTICE.
Section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, . http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
I will say that I was more impressed by the history behind the movie, but I imagine the guys would like it more than I did.
I didn't "hate" it, but I think it could have been done better........
But hey...........see for yourself!
George Clooney did an excellent job, as did Jeff Bridges, but the script could have been better.
All in all I am glad I watched it though.............if not just to satisfy my curiosity!
Kevin Spacey was a real dick in the movie I might add...............the kind of character you love to hate!
The Real Men Behind The Story
Here is a list of a few of the more prominent characters in the movie, The Men Who Stare At Goats, and the real people and composites they might represent:
The George Clooney character ("Lyn Cassidy"):
* "Loosely based" on Special Forces remote viewer Glenn Wheaton (closing credits).
* Is named "Lyn" (a reference to remote viewer Lyn Buchanan).
* Is nicknamed both "Skip" and "Skipper" (a reference to Army RV program founder F. Holmes "Skip" Atwater).
* Caused Army computers to go on the fritz as he walks by (Lyn Buchanan again).
* Kills a goat by staring at it (based on an account related by Glenn Wheaton).
* Finds a NATO general kidnapped in Italy (based on an action by legendary Star Gate remote viewer Joe McMoneagle).
* Uses mind powers to "burst" clouds (a reference to Col. John Alexander, staff officer in charge of exploring human potentials for the Army's Intelligence and Security Command).
* Goes to Iraq (could be remote viewer Bill Ray, since he is the only former Star Gate member to go to Iraq during the current US involvement there -- or it could instead just be a plot device inspired by the book).
* Holds the rank of sergeant first class (Lyn Buchanan and Glenn Wheaton).
The Jeff Bridges character ("Bill Django"):
* "Loosely based" on Jim Channon (closing credits). "Django" is clearly Jim Channon, of "First Earth Battalion" fame, though a case could be made that the character has some elements of John Alexander.
The Nick Offerman character ("Scotty Mercer"):
* In a remote viewing trance, "Mercer" says to ask a certain prominent female television personality for further information (something Lyn Buchanan did)
The Kevin Spacey character ("Larry Hooper"):
* "Hooper" does off-the-books LSD experiments on "Norm Pendleton" (played by Arron Shiver), an unwary remote viewing recruit. The recruit flips out and eventually walks onto a military parade field firing a .45 pistol into the air, then shoots himself. "Hooper" is reminiscent of Ed Dames, who pursued off-the-books remote viewing tasking of viewers on weird targets such as UFOs -- though none of Dames's viewers flipped out. The suicidal "Pendleton" is a caricature of of a real lieutenant who was called by the pseudonym "Pemberton" in both Jim Schnabel's book, Remote Viewers and in Paul H. Smith's Reading the Enemy's Mind. But in real life "Pemberton" never threatened anyone with a gun, and he did not commit suicide; he returned to active duty and finished out an honorable career.
* Long after the psychic spy program's demise, Hooper starts up his own version of it to get government contracts. (Again reminiscent of Ed Dames, who started his company Psi Tech to commercialize remote viewing techniques.)
The Stephen Lang character ("General Hopgood"):
* Is an over-the-top portrayal of Major General Bert Stubblebine, the commander of the Army's Intelligence and Security Command during the early 1980s, who did try to walk through a wall once (not run through it, and certainly didn't try to do it more than once). The real-life Stubblebine fought corageously to try to keep the military remote viewing program alive, even at the cost of his own career.
Finally, there is one lone remark in the film about a remote viewer named 'Mel' -- a reference to Master Sergeant Mel Riley, the only remote viewer to be assigned to the Star Gate program more than once.
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