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When the NSA Thought Mind Control Would Be an Actual Military Concern

It was the ’80s.

An illustration from a government document.
An illustration from a government document. DIA/Public Domain

A version of this story originally appeared on Muckrock.com and Glomar Disclosure.

Last week, we looked at the early days of the CIA’s foray into extrasensory espionage. Today we’ll be following up with the veterans of the NSA’s psychic wars, which they foresaw being waged well into the ’90s and beyond.

The NSA document, dated from early 1981, calls for a number of steps to be taken, including identifying the potential for mind control.

Once the individuals had been identified, the Agency wanted to create “cadre’s of talented synergized gifted people … for special problem solving tests.” However, the NSA was afraid that these people could be hard to control “Consciousless [sic] or morbid people of talent must be strictly screened out of active programs because of the danger of severe mental illness and unscrupulous violation of security.”

Beyond personnel available to the NSA, the Agency wanted to build a database of psychics around the world.

Additional NSA documents, produced by the government later in the year after MKULTRA had been shut down and all mind control programs had been disavowed, show the government’s continued interest in researching mind control techniques, no matter how esoteric they seemed.

A number of predictions were made about the development of psychic warfare, including that subconscious mind control through telepathy would be possible “by 1990.” The report concluded grimly that “there is no known countermeasure to prevent such applications.”

At least one prediction came true - CREST documents show psychic trials still being performed as late as 1992.

The rest of the NSA’s guidelines can be read here.