Government Guinea Pigs?
Investigating the Claims of ‘Targeted Individuals’ Who Insist They’re Being Stalked, Tortured
BY KIM WHITING
Jack arrived at my office looking like the Hollywood version of a science professor. He was in his late 40s, with slightly unruly, longish hair, a buttoned-up shirt with a pen in the pocket, jeans, and well-made leather shoes.
I asked for his level of education and he told me that he had a PhD in engineering. He went on to say that he’d invented some highly classified technology for a U.S. Department of Defense contractor. He also told me he’d been put on suspension several months prior, due to excessive drinking.
The contractor that had suspended him was paying for his therapy sessions with me and with his psychiatrist. I assumed that his bosses hoped he’d get the help he needed and be able to return to work. If he had indeed invented highly classified technologies, they’d obviously be concerned about his drinking, because he might divulge information while under the influence.
Jack (not his real name) talked about his passion for technology-related projects, and the discussion was fascinating—and plausible—until he told me that he believed the U.S. government was monitoring his every move, via satellite.
He said that’s why he had to stay drunk, to numb his brain against the government’s mental torment.
When I asked Jack what made him believe the government was tracking or surveilling him, he said a government official, who had taken a liking to him, had leaked it to him.
The year was 1988, and I was fresh out of graduate school in the first months of my job as a psychotherapist. But it didn’t take a keen professional eye to see that Jack was dealing with more than alcohol abuse issues.
Still, where did the facts end and the fantasies begin? Did he really work on technology that was sensitive enough to warrant the government’s attention? I assumed, as most of us would, that Jack’s belief that he was under surveillance was a delusion, as was the “government official” whistleblower who supposedly exposed the secret.
But could I be wrong?
The U.S. government spends a mind-blowing amount of money on the development of technology and weaponry designed to protect our country and put us ahead in “the game.” Maybe Jack and other inventors like him really were being monitored, to ensure they weren’t leaking secrets or working for the “other side.”
Within a month of his intake, Jack was on antipsychotic medication and said he no longer felt so tormented. He did continue to believe that he was being watched, however. While on medication, he described the alleged monitoring as an unpleasant, but not unbearable aspect of working in a highly classified environment.
Still, Jack didn’t always take his medication. When off his meds he again felt as if he was being tortured by surveillance and now believed that his psychiatrist and I were in on the conspiracy—that we were medicating him in order to make him susceptible to the government’s spying. At these times he would nearly drink himself into a stupor, end up in a psychiatric hospital where he’d again be stabilized on medication, and then repeat the cycle.
Jack was a good man, an intelligent man who was often so tormented that he wanted to die, and who never rose above discomfort. My heart hurt for him.
* * * * *
When I’ve worked with clients like Jack, I’ve tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, because sometimes it seems there’s a very thin line between sanity and insanity.
Jack’s claims were similar to people today who call themselves “Targeted Individuals,” or “TIs.” It’s believed that there are thousands of TIs across the globe. They include people from all walks of life—doctors, lawyers, engineers, military service personnel, artists, housewives—potentially anyone.
In the past couple of decades, many have found solace and solidarity by sharing their stories in online support and chat groups. (This, despite the fact that many TIs also claim they’re being monitored via computer.) They post videos on YouTube and have self-published dozens of books, with titles like My Life Changed Forever and Tortured in America. Some believe “the government” or “the military” is behind their predicament. Others blame aliens, strangers, or any number of other sinister culprits.
Despite the significant number of TIs, there are few substantive studies on the subject. Those that have been done conclude that TIs are most likely paranoid, delusional, psychotic. In terms of studies on TIs, there is little to be found that gives their stories of mind control and harassment any credence.
According to many of those writing in TI blogs, “the government” engages in invasive mental torture for the purpose of research that will not only give it the upper hand in war, but ultimately give it total mental control of the masses. They say they’re being fed harmful, hurtful and painful thoughts to make them appear delusional—so that no one will give their claims credibility and conclude they’re simply crazy.
Taking a deeper look into the claims of TIs is like traveling down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole—a confusing, sometimes fantastical ride in which it’s often hard to discern truth from conspiracy theories, facts from fiction. Plausible governmental motives, historical governmental misbehaviors, and documented atrocities that make mind control seem possible can be found. There is strong evidence of technological advances that, in the wrong hands, could truly harm and manipulate individuals, as well as large swaths of the general population.
Recent events in the news raise even more questions. Specifically, revelations that U.S. officials are concerned foreign adversaries may be aiming microwave-radiation and other energy-emitting devices at Americans, in order to collect intelligence from their electronic devices—and to harm them—only serve to deepen my concerns. More on this a bit later.
* * * * *
Karen is a middle-aged White woman living in the Midwest, a married mother who’s had a long, successful career in public relations. Her case first came to my attention several years ago. She would appear to be “normal” to anyone she passes on the street, or with whom she might engage in superficial pleasantries. But Karen (not her real name) also believes the government is stalking and mentally torturing her via an array of techniques. She believes she’s just a small part of a much broader secret program, one that involves what she calls the U.S. government’s ongoing “victimization” of innocent and unknowing citizens.
“I’ve been under surveillance by the NSA [National Security Agency] for at least a year, and possibly longer” she says. “More frightening than that is the fact that the electricity in my apartment has been tampered with, causing me low-level shocks. I’m also being burned at night by what I believe to be one of the new directed-energy weapons or DEWS.” Karen says DEWS are “invisible, soundless weapons, such as radiation, that emit highly focused energy, transferring that energy to a target to damage it.”
Karen says that one of the residents in her building is a military contractor specializing in electronics. “For at least a year, he was the only person to have access to the empty unit next to mine,” she claims. “That’s where I believe the surveillance and harassment is taking place.”
She believes her email address was included on a secret list that supposedly identified WikiLeaks’ financial supporters. “I think I gave a total of $150 to them,” she says. “My crime is that I practiced what I believed were my First Amendment rights. It’s terrifying knowing that I’m being targeted because of this.”
Karen says she’s written to numerous members of Congress and civil liberties groups—all to no avail. “Why won’t they investigate these claims?” she asks. “The situation is escalating. I fear for my future and my family’s future.”
Karen points to information published by the American Civil Liberties Union several years ago, in which the ACLU essentially acknowledges the claims of targeted individuals.
It reads, in part, “In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, the CIA has released a slew of documents concerning CIA surveillance.”
Some highlights from the documents include:
* A key CIA regulation—titled AR 2-2—governs the conduct of the CIA’s activities, which include domestic intelligence collection.
* AR 2-2, which has never been publicly released before, includes rules governing a wide range of activities, including surveillance of U.S. persons, human experimentation, contracts with academic institutions, relations with journalists and staff of U.S. news media, and relations with clergy and missionaries.”
“Of course, no one believes me,” Karen says. “My husband wants desperately for this to be a mental health issue instead of reality,” she continues. “He says, ‘You can do something if it’s mental illness—what options do you have if it’s not?’ He’s ready to run—and a part of me wants him to because he refuses to believe me! I am most concerned for my children. They’re the most important things to me and I fear being hurt and having them lose their mother.”
Karen has taken dozens of photos to prove that her claims are true. A few of them show overnight shipping labels on boxes, sent to one of her neighbors. She says she’s traced the origin of the boxes to government and military websites.
Another photo, she says, is of a smoke detector that was installed in her apartment building “about the time I started to be shocked.” One picture, she says, “clearly shows electric coil being fed through a hole in the ceiling and added to the electrical box of my unit.”
* * * * *
As was the case with Jack, Karen’s stories make me wonder. On one hand, everything she says seems straight out of a spy novel—or the movie A Beautiful Mind. Yet she comes across as coherent and self-aware. And while it’s not unheard of for people to develop mental illness later in life, it’s far more common to see the onset of delusional symptoms in the late teens and early 20s.
A major life stressor is often the reason for the onset of mental illness as one ages. Karen, however, can’t cite a major event or calamity before her TI experiences began. And my client Jack, who was in his late 40s, reported a relatively low-stress life before his symptoms emerged.
A woman with a warm and sunny demeanor, Sue (not her real name), is a 67-year-old White married woman. Before retiring several years ago to care for her ailing mother, Sue worked within various departments of a West Coast state government for almost 30 years. She and her husband have been together 26 years.
In 2018, in her early 60s, Sue says she began experiencing what she describes as “gang-stalking surveillance” and, like Karen, reports feeling as if her body is being “burned.” Sue calls the sensation “direct energy weapon torture” and she believes those responsible for this harassment are Native American tribal entities, in league with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Like Karen, Sue describes being surveilled and then tortured. For Sue, she says it began with a well-dressed man (with a patch on his jacket that she recognized as the name of a motorcycle gang) who approached her at a concert. She explains, “I was dressed casually and shouldn’t have stood out, but apparently I did. My husband said, ‘That man is circling you like a shark.’”
Sue says the man eventually touched her on the shoulder, leaned in, and demanded that she speak to him alone. “I ignored him and turned back around. But he didn’t leave. He must have followed us home, because we later realized he knew where we lived.”
Sue says she and her husband started seeing the man at a nearby golf course, or revving his motorcycle in front of their house. She says, “He’d never say anything to us, he’d just be there.”
Soon, Sue reports, there were other strange men loitering in her presence. “They used drones around our house, sending them right outside our large back windows,” she explains. “They burned out some of our appliances. They controlled our air conditioning, turning it on and off, and they turned the volume on our television up or down. Anything electrical, they can do.”
Sue says her husband has been “very supportive throughout this ordeal.” And he backs her up.
Says her husband, “It’s been terrible because there’s nothing I can do about it. I see the burns on her body. They’re there all the time, all over her body. She’s also got little pinpoint burn marks on her. She’ll cry out in pain at times.”
He continues, “When this started, I began seeing guys in vehicles or on motorcycles. The guys on motorcycles would rev their engines in front of our house. I didn’t see the people in the cars, but I’d see the same cars repeatedly. And there were men who looked into our house, about 100 yards away on the golf course behind our house, and they’d stay there for 5-6 hours. We called the police, but they said there really wasn’t anything they could do about it. They’ve burned out the main circuit board on the fridge, our microwave, and possibly our dryer. They cause our light circuits to go brighter or dimmer–any smart lightbulb they can manipulate remotely.”
“I see Sue’s sleeplessness,” her husband explains. “It’s every night. And our furniture noticeably vibrates in the night. Sometimes it’s bad enough that she cries in pain. Her tongue gets swollen several times throughout the day and night. Her right breast also got smaller over the course of a few months.”
Sue continues, “One day I was raped electronically. This is an experience that many TI females report, which involves being electronically burned and ‘stabbed’ vaginally. They started using directed energy on me on a regular basis. They burn the bottom of my feet and when they direct energy at my stomach, it feels like a burning volcano and my stomach swells. When directed at my head, I feel like it’s got a vise on it, and it burns. I almost continuously have marks on my body that look like burns. What they’re doing to me makes my ankles swell and disfigure and I often have sores on the soles of my feet. Sometimes I’m attacked non-stop. They dismantle your physical being. My mental state is strong because that’s who I am, but someone not as strong would fall apart. They try to make people crazy.”
Sue says she and her husband tried moving away, but discovered there was no escape. “They can get to you wherever you go,” says her husband.
“My tormentors work in shifts,” Sue claims, “so for about 15 minutes every eight hours, I’m free from attack. Also, when I’m with friends I often feel some relief. But sometimes it happens even then. One day I was with my best friend and we were standing in our kitchen and I said, “They’re attacking right now’ and she said, ‘How do you know?’ I pointed out that the counter top was vibrating. She felt the counter and said, ‘I can feel it, too!’”
Sue and her husband both believe that the government lures people into this torture with money and other compensation, like paid vacations. Like many TIs, their theory is that the tormentors coordinate through a massive cell phone network and use those same phones to direct microwave energy. According to them (and many Tis), cars can also be adapted with directed energy weapons.
When asked why she believes that she’s being attacked, while her husband is not, Sue says, “The vast majority of TIs are women who are 50 or older. I think this is because older females are easier to break down. They are physically more vulnerable and often more socially isolated because many are no longer in the workplace.”
What comes across most clearly in both Karen and Sue’s stories is their suffering. Their despondency at not being believed seems to be almost as painful as the “burns” they describe
Many of the websites and blogs Karen and other TIs recommend are created or written by people who claim to be scientists, doctors and mental health professionals—but many (if not most) espouse ideas and information that seem to be rooted in science fiction and conspiracy theories, as opposed to actual scientific research and hard evidence. Many are difficult to follow or understand. In TI chat rooms, there are hundreds of posts, most of which (again) seem, in my professional opinion, delusional—and also full of pain.
Here are excerpts of some of the more coherent posts:
* I’m a Targeted Individual. The way they work, they use mind reading and virtual technology. Through the mind reading they hear everything you’re thinking. Through virtual technology they see everything you think. Virtual technology can torture and create illusions, so when you hear somebody talking about you it could be illusions.
* Everyone on the planet ought to read the book by ex-CIA consultant Dr. Robert Duncan entitled Project: Soul Catcher. My bizarre symptoms matched what he describes in the first few pages. These are: (high decibel) swishing sounds, flickering in my vision, pulsing tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Other things I’m 100 percent sure about: 1) I was microwaved like a piece of meat…and forced to sleep. 2) I was exposed to radiation for months 3) I was gang-stalked. 4) The perps surrounded my apartment by moving into adjacent apartments.
* I’ve been targeted since 2007 and I’ve lost everything, except my relationship with my daughter. I do believe they choose people who already are dealing with emotional difficulties and who are struggling through life. But most of what I’m reading is that they go after people who are very successful in their chosen fields.
* All they want is to get you to kill yourself or hurt someone. We are their entertainment except we don’t get money or fame. A lot of the things that go wrong in our lives could be just life, or it could be them. In the end there really isn’t anything we can do right now to stop them.
* * * * *
Still struggling to make sense of how TIs come to think and believe as they do, I looked further into Karen’s case.
“I’ve learned how corroded our government is,” she says. “It’s performing widespread experimentation on U.S. citizens with neuro-weapons that are comprised of energies on the radio wave spectrum—microwaves, electromagnetic fields. There are many writings about this, but none in mainstream media.”
Karen claims to have “numerous Bio-MEMS implants that track/torture me.” She says that “telemetry wires” have been inserted into her chest unbeknownst to her, “when I was put under for a different minor surgery.” She had an X-ray image taken of her chest and she says it reveals some kind of foreign obstruction near her rib cage. “These devices give off radio waves that are activated several times a day,” she claims, explaining that the waves could then “relay biological information on me.”
“I’m basically a DARPA lab rat,” she continues. “I’ve been shocked, burned, radiated and poisoned.” She has images purporting to show “dangerous radiation levels in my home” and even says she has “an RFID chip in me” that allows military satellites to follow her for a “black ops campaign.”
Karen referenced many terms I was unfamiliar with, so I did some research to better understand what she was talking about, and here’s what I found:
Black Ops is short for “black operation” and defined as a covert operation by a government, a government agency, or a military organization.
Bio-MEMS can be used to refer to the science and technology of operating at the micro-scale for biological and biomedical applications, which may or may not include electronic or mechanical functions.
Telemetry is an automated communications process by which measurements and other data are collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring.
RFID stands for radio frequency identification and is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects. There are several methods of identification, but the most common is to store a serial number that identifies a person or object, and perhaps other information, on a microchip that is attached to an antenna. RFID have many tracking uses, but a well-known use is the locator chip that can be implanted in pets.
DARPA is the Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which has made public in recent years that it’s developing brain implant chips and computer-to-brain communication technology with the aim to “develop an implantable neural interface able to provide unprecedented signal resolution and data-transfer bandwidth between the brain and the digital world.”
DARPA also aims to develop and test “a wireless, fully implantable neural-interface medical device for human clinical use. The device would facilitate the formation of new memories and retrieval of existing ones in individuals who have lost these capacities as a result of traumatic brain injury or neurological disease.”
And DARPA’s “Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3)” program aims to develop a “safe, portable neural interface system capable of reading from and writing to multiple points in the brain at once. Whereas the most advanced existing neurotechnology requires surgical implantation of electrodes, N3 is pursuing high-resolution technology that works without the requirement for surgery.”
Entrepreneur Elon Musk has taken brain-machine interface technology research to the private sector with his Neurolink company. In a 2019 CNet article, Musk said they’d developed a system to feed thousands of electrical probes into a brain, and hoped to start testing the technology on humans. Said Musk, “And it’s working already in animal tests. A monkey was able to play a computer game with his brain.” In August of 2020, Neurolink livestreamed footage of brain activity in pigs as they received brain chip implants. Neurolink awaits government approval to test the technology on humans.
And so, it could be argued, the technologies that some TIs claim are being used on them do indeed exist, to a degree, or are being heavily researched. Their proponents say they’re being developed for noble and worthwhile purposes. However, it’s also true these advancements could become exceedingly dangerous in the wrong hands, or if used for less than honorable purposes.
Karen, meanwhile, describes some of her more recent experiences as an alleged TI:
“I’ve started getting dizzy while sitting at my computer,” she explains. “I’ve started hearing buzzing, knocking, and whistling sounds in my left ear. I never once doubted that they were coming from a source outside my head.”
Karen says she searched for answers on the internet and discovered information about “the microwave auditory effect,” something she describes as “the whistling, knocking and pinging in the skull that occurs when someone is extremely close to microwave signals.”
Karen says she keeps seeing “beat up old cars with out-of-state license plates” parked directly in front of her apartment. “When they’re there, I’m awakened by the sensation of being cooked. My bones hurt; my eyes cloud, and it didn’t take long to figure out that I was being hit with some new kind of directed-energy weapon (DEW).”
Karen says she called 911 and demanded the cars be removed. “I explained they were serving as platforms for directed-energy weapons. The operators bounced me around to different departments in some sort of twisted game of telephone tag, repeating my request to each new dispatcher in a mocking way. I kept my cool and repeated my request. After being transferred for a third or fourth time, I hung up, but those cars were never there again.”
Karen also says she hears “someone crawling between the floorboards at night,” followed by “heightened electric currents” that fill her apartment. She believes some of the residents in her apartment complex are government agents and “involved in the conspiracy.” Other neighbors, she claims, are “just greedy slobs who want money, tickets to sporting events and household upgrades in exchange for spying and enabling the torture of me. This realization was sickening. My neighbors have become accessories to my attempted murder.”
Karen says the “most extreme abuse happens when I’m alone. I get electrocuted with what I’ve come to realize are manipulated cable, phone and electric lines.” After repeatedly hearing “static noise” on her telephone land line, she says a technician told her that her line was “testing constantly busy” and appeared to have a “recorder” on it. Karen says she disconnected both her phone and computer line as a result.
“They always find another way to reroute the burn in,” Karen explains. “Apparently they call it being ‘boxed in.’ I learned that phrase when I went to an electrical supply store and the guy on duty told me his father worked for the CIA. He said I’m being boxed in and burned by radio waves created from electromagnetic fields. And apparently this wire in my chest acts as an amplifier to the radio waves.”
Karen continues, “It’s what they did to Myron May, the attorney in Florida who shot three people at a university in a desperate attempt to make the media pay attention to what’s going on. But the country’s media is hypnotized or drugged or under the spell of—I don’t know what. God bless Mr. May’s soul.”
* * * * *
I looked up Myron May. Just as Karen said, in November 2014, 31-year-old May shot and wounded three students (leaving one paralyzed) with a .380 semiautomatic pistol inside a Florida State University library. Daring the responding Tallahassee police officers to kill him, he fired in their direction—and they shot him dead.
An attorney and Florida State graduate, May described himself as a Targeted Individual on social media and told others that he believed government stalkers were harassing and using a directed-energy weapon to hurt him. Police said May was in a paranoia-fueled “state of crisis” at the time of the shootings.
Shortly before his rampage, he sent an email that said, “I’ve been getting hit with the direct energy weapon in my chest all evening. It hurts really bad right now.” He left a voice mail that said, “I am currently being cooked in my chair. I devised a scheme where I was going to expose this once and for all.” May also made several posts on a Facebook page for Targeted Individuals, including one that asked, “Has anyone here ever been encouraged by your handler to kill with a promise of freedom?”
I found there were other cases, eerily similar to that of Myron May.
In September 2013, when 34-year-old Aaron Alexis killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard in southeast D.C., he left behind documents in which he claimed the Navy had been attacking his brain using “extremely low frequency” electromagnetic waves. “And to be perfectly honest, that is what has driven me to this,” he wrote. He was killed in a shootout with police.
And then there was 29-year-old Gavin Long, a former Marine who ambushed law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in July 2016, killing three and injuring three others. Long, who was also killed in a police shootout, had written online that he, too, was a TI and claimed the government had been watching him for 11 years. He appeared to fixate on law enforcement as his persecutors.
Long, Alexis, and May are all Black men, almost the same age, claiming to be victims of electronic attacks by the government (or in Long’s case, police), who say they killed people because of the effects of those attacks. Their crimes were committed within a period of less than three years. Did coverage of Alexis’ attack, along with his claims of government torture, feed the paranoid delusions and impulses of the other two men? Did internet TI groups feed their delusions—or do their claims of electronic attacks have some merit?
* * * * *
“I now set off metal detectors when I’m not wearing metal,” Karen explains. “I feel pain in my upper left arm at certain odd times. My wrist has developed a permanent swelling. I worked up the nerve to go to a walk-in clinic for an X-ray of my arm. After seeing my x-ray, a radiologist said, “You have something in your arm.”
Karen continues, “It all sounds crazy, I know. But you should look up “COINTELPRO” or “MK-ULTRA” before discounting my experiences.”
And so, there was more research to be done. Here’s what I found:
MK-ULTRA is listed in the Central Intelligence Agency Library under “MK-ULTRA mind control experiments.” According to info I found on that site, “MK-ULTRA came to public light in 1977 as a result of hearings conducted by a Senate committee on intelligence. The operation began in 1953 and was officially halted in 1974. During that time, hundreds of unwitting Americans and Canadians were subjected to LSD, extreme electro-shock therapy and other drug therapy in research undertaken at 80 institutions, including 44 colleges and universities, as well as hospitals, prisons, and pharmaceutical companies.”
According to a 1984 MK-ULTRA segment on CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes, “unwitting subjects were subjected to mind control experiments that left them crippled for life.”
In CIA v. Sims 471 U.S. 159 (1985), the Supreme Court summarized MK-ULTRA as “the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.”
MK-ULTRA reminded me of an experiment (found in most university psych textbooks) conducted in the 1960s by Stanley Milgram, a professor at Yale University. In his studies, a volunteer who was designated as the “teacher” read out strings of words to his partner, “the learner,” who was hooked up to an electric-shock machine in the other room. Each time the learner made a mistake in repeating the words, the teacher was to deliver a shock of increasing intensity, starting at 15 volts (labeled “slight shock” on the machine) and going all the way up to 450 volts (“danger: severe shock”). Some people stopped the experiment early and wouldn’t comply with the supervisor’s urging to go on, but others continued up to 450 volts, even when the learner screamed in pain. In the most well-known variation of the experiment, a full 65 percent of people went all the way. Participants didn’t know that the shocks and cries of pain weren’t real until after the experiment. Milgrim’s theory was that people, under the direction of an authority figure, would obey just about any order they were given, even to torture—and that is precisely what they did.
Milgram’s experiment makes me wonder, “Would government employees, under the direction of ‘higher ups,’ follow instructions to use technology, even to inflict torture?” The MK-ULTRA experiments point to an answer of “yes.”
As for COINTELPRO, it stands for Counter Intelligence Program, and was a series of covert projects conducted by the FBI beginning in 1956, aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting and disrupting American political organizations—groups like the Communist Party of the United States, the Ku Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Black Panthers. Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered FBI agents to expose, misdirect, neutralize or eliminate the activities of these movements, and especially their leaders, such as Martin Luther King and Black Panther Party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, who were shot by Chicago police during what is believed by some to have been an FBI orchestrated operation. According to the FBI website, all COINTELPRO operations ended in 1971.
While these programs and research don’t directly support Karen and other TIs’ claims of governmental mind surveillance and torture, they do show the U.S. as capable of engaging in operations that are underhanded, illegal and tortuous.
In January 2007, The Washington Post tackled the subject with an in-depth article entitled, “Mind Games New on the Internet: a community of people who believe the government is beaming voices into their minds. They may be crazy, but the Pentagon has pursued a weapon that can do just that.”
The Post wrote: “In 1965, according to declassified Defense Department documents, the Pentagon, at the behest of the White House, launched Project Pandora, top-secret research to explore the behavioral and biological effects of low-level microwaves. For approximately four years, the Pentagon conducted secret research: zapping monkeys; exposing unwitting sailors to microwave radiation; and conducting a host of other unusual experiments (a sub-project of Project Pandora was titled Project Bizarre). The results were mixed, and the program was plagued by disagreements and scientific squabbles and Pandora ended in 1970. And with it, the military’s research into so-called non-thermal microwave effects seemed to die out, at least in the unclassified realm.
The article continued: “But there are hints of ongoing research: An academic paper written for the Air Force in the mid-1990s mentions the idea of a weapon that would use sound waves to send words into a person’s head. ‘The signal can…warn the enemy of impending doom, or encourage the enemy to surrender,’ the author concluded.
“In 2002, the Air Force Research Laboratory patented precisely such a technology,” the Post article continued, “using microwaves to send words into someone’s head…In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed for this article, the Air Force released unclassified documents surrounding that 2002 patent—records that note that the patent was based on human experimentation in October 1994 at the Air Force lab, where scientists were able to transmit phrases into the heads of human subjects, albeit with marginal intelligibility. Research appeared to continue at least through 2002. Where this work has gone since is unclear — the research laboratory, citing classification, refused to discuss it or release other materials.”
* * * * *
The more I investigated, the more I concluded that some of what Karen and Sue claimed to be experiencing was, if not actually real, then perhaps at least plausible.
I returned to Karen’s descriptions of her ordeal:
“I’m in an electronic prison and my jailers know me better than any person alive. They watch me bathe, relieve myself, crack bad jokes and dance while I’m alone. They read my mind, for God’s sake. They know I’m not violent and that after two and a half years of torture, I still happily chat with strangers, try to stay positive, stop my car to tend to a dying chipmunk. They know better than anyone that I’m a good person.
“I haven’t heard from my brother for a year because he says he just can’t wrap his brain around what I’m telling him. My sister says, ‘You’re just an average, everyday Jane Doe. Why would they do this to you? I mean, why YOU?’
“Dr. Robert Duncan, who claims to have been involved in developing these technologies for the CIA, says these programs are carried out in “game theory”— meaning to the target’s death. Supposedly, there is no way out for me.”
This was the second time Karen had brought up Dr. Robert Duncan. Many of the Targeted Individual blogs pointed to Duncan as the source of their knowledge about secret research and technology. He’s the author of books like How to Tame a Demon: A Short Practical Guide to Organized Intimidation Stalking, Electronic Torture and Mind Control and Project Soul Catcher: Secrets of Cyber and Cybernetic Warfare Revealed.
Robert Duncan, and his books
Duncan claims to have worked on projects for the Department of Defense and the CIA related to artificial intelligence and neuroscience.
When I contacted him for an interview, he thanked me for my interest in Targeted Individuals, but said that he was very busy and only had time for a few very brief questions.
I first asked him about the purpose and intended use of the technology that he says he worked on with the CIA. He responded, “[It’s for] accelerated learning and perhaps a weapon to break the psychology of the enemy.”
Duncan told me that he’s personally talked with around 5,000 Targeted Individuals. When asked what led him to believe that TIs are experiencing something other than paranoid delusions, he told me, “If you have worked on the technologies and studied the abuse of them on the public as long as I have, the patterns become obvious. Many of the TIs’ minds have been trained to become paranoid schizophrenics. In fact, any mental illness can be induced. The weaponized version is called a ‘mind virus.’”
At that point, Duncan said he was too busy to speak further, and when I later emailed him hoping to get answers to a few follow up questions he replied, “Sorry, I’m working on helping to alleviate their suffering. No time for interviews this year.”
* * * * *
In 2008, WIRED Magazine reported that the United Nations was also taking the possibility of electromagnetic terrorism against people seriously. The article cited a European Symposium that included a session on the social implications of non-lethal weapons, with specific reference to “privacy-invasive remote interrogation and behavioral influence applications. Those who believe they are being targeted are getting a bit of official recognition.”
In a 2009 WIRED article entitled “Court to Defendant: Stop Blasting That Man’s Mind!”, the magazine reported, “Late last year, James Walbert went to court to stop his former business associate from blasting him with mind-altering electromagnetic radiation. Walbert told the Sedgwick County, Kansas panel that Jeremiah Redford threatened him with ‘jolts of radiation’ after a disagreement over a business deal. Later, Walbert said he began feeling electric shock sensations, hearing electronically generated tones, and getting popping and ringing sounds in his ears. On December 30th, the court decided in Walbert’s favor and issued a first-of-its-kind order of protection, banning Redford from using ‘electronic means’ to further harass Walbert.”
The WIRED article continued, “In some legal, policy, and business circles, electromagnetic brain assaults are being taken seriously. Walbert’s cause is supported by Jim Guest, a Republican member of the Missouri House of Representatives. He’s working on proposed legislation to address electronic harassment, including a bill against the forced implantation of RFID chips.”
(This bill appears to have made it to a rules committee in Missouri but no further action was ever taken by lawmakers. However, a narrower ban on forcing implants as a condition of employment was later passed in the state.)
Walbert maintained that a doctor, experienced in reading MRIs, confirmed to him that a foreign body—most likely a micro-chip—was present in his body. That doctor, Dr. John Hall, is an anesthesiologist in San Antonio, Texas, and he confirmed that assertion when contacted by The Reporters Inc.
“Many TIs think they’ve got chips in their bodies,” Hall says. “But chips aren’t necessary, and newly targeted individuals will waste a lot of time and money trying to get people to find chips in them.” He adds, “The government can conduct the torture without chips.”
In 2014, Hall authored a book entitled Guinea Pigs: Technologies of Control. The synopsis reads, in part, “For years the federal government has sought to remotely control human behavior…the American public has been unwitting guinea pigs in a multitude of non-consensually performed experiments that have continued into the 21st century.”
John Hall, and his books
Hall believes that, over the course of the last 15 years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people coming forward with complaints of this experimentation, specifically with electromagnetic weapons. He maintains these weapons are designed to target a human being’s central nervous system.
In fact, Hall says that because so many people around the world now claim to be victims of this experimentation, it can no longer be attributed only to delusional disorders, schizophrenia, or any other mental illness.
Hall says the safeguards and laws against experimenting on United States citizens without their consent, referred to in the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects (‘Common Rule’) are lacking, and the policy contains several loopholes for the allowance of non-consensual experimentation, mostly by intelligence agencies.
Hall told The Reporters Inc., “The root reason for this is experimentation is more than likely for the government to ultimately have control of us all, because almost none of these people have reason to be targeted. A few have been former whistleblowers, but most are normal everyday folks.”
Hall continued; “Over the course of a decade I have examined a couple thousand targeted individuals and every morning there are probably about 10 new victims on my voicemail. I now discourage them from coming into my office for that issue because my office is for anesthesia, pain management and stem cell work and my schedule is full. If I were handling targeted individual cases as well, it would be unmanageable.”’
Hall reports that almost all targeted individuals report the same pattern:
* They say they’re being stalked
* They claim to hear voices that sound like they’re from an outside source
* The believe they’re being internally burned
Hall believes the burning sensation is a direct result of remotely-controlled electrical waves. In his experience, the majority of people claiming to be TIs are over 35-years- old, female, and single or divorced.
As for the medical experts who insist TIs are simply mentally ill, Hall counters, “If I hadn’t been presented with thousands of the same complaints, I would have thought the same thing. But most people suffering from schizophrenia show signs of being somehow ‘off’ earlier in life and develop full blown symptoms by early adulthood. By contrast, targeted individuals are, for the most part, high functioning, educated, have never been diagnosed with a mental illness, and they can pinpoint the moment when things started to change.”
Hall continues, “I’m a doctor and see things scientifically. If there were 10 of these cases reported in Texas, I would say, “There are 10 people suffering from a similar mental illness in Texas.’ But when you have 1,000 high functioning middle-aged people say that they’ve heard something like ‘She’s walking into the front yard I’m going to zap her’ and then claim to feel a burning in their chest, or head or labia, there’s something going on. The story of why they think they’re being targeted varies, but all report the same physical progression.”
In addition, “The voices TIs report hearing are often like a whisper coming out of vibrations in the room,” Hall explains, “like hearing voice patterning in an aquarium pump or box fan. As they focus, the voices become clearer and describe who they are, what they are, and what they’re going to do to the person. It’s not like hearing something in your head, it’s an external sound and there has to be a vibratory source that enhances it.”
But couldn’t other people around the TI hear the voices as well? Hall says no. “The voices are directed and individualized so that someone right next to the TI can’t also hear it—and this makes the TI seem crazy.”
Not surprisingly, Hall says a TI’s family and friends almost never believe their claims. ”It’s hard for them to believe something is really going on, even if they’re watching their loved one wincing in pain, because they themselves don’t hear or feel a thing,” he says, adding, “Most family members do report that the victim was high functioning and then suddenly had complaints.”
Hall says that most TIs complain of stalking slightly before the burning attacks. “It’s a psychological thing,” he says. “I would call it harassment. They park in front of your house in plain sight or stand there. It’s usually 24/7 stalking.” But Hall believes the primary goal of the stalking is to get biometric and GPS parameters in order to “direct the burn.”
Hall was first introduced to the world of TIs when his former fiancé began being tormented. “I had known her for 15 years before the attacks began. She wasn’t a druggie or alcoholic or mentally ill and then suddenly she said that she was hearing voices and being burned.”
Hall’s account of his fiancé’s experiences of supposed stalking by neighbors and tampering of electrical wiring, is eerily similar to Karen’s experiences, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this was simply because the flames of TI tales are being fanned by social media and online stories—that they all bounce around in the same information (or disinformation) echo chambers.
Hall says “terror techniques” were used on his fiancé to keep her in line. “She said to me, ‘They’re threatening my parents with death if I don’t comply, so I have to go along with it.’” He says that after he’d filed police reports and tried to intervene, he too was followed and intimidated. At one point, he claims, the hood on his car flew up and he discovered parts inside of it had been removed. At that point, he says he reluctantly decided he needed to break up with his fiancé, in part because she believed his presence in her life was causing her tormentors to torture her all the more.
Hall says he then hired a private investigator and discovered that his now ex-fiancé’s apartment manager and the building’s security guard were involved in her torture. This private investigator also supposedly discovered that a different private investigator, who Hall says had once been employed by the CIA, was heading up the torture scheme.
Hall says he brought all of the private investigator’s findings to the attention of authorities in San Antonio, but was told by police that there was nothing they could do. “Texas stalking laws were very weak at the time,” Hall claims, “and they couldn’t go after a former CIA agent for stalking when that was what he did for a living. They told me, ‘He’s a private detective, stalking is his job!’”
Hall wrote of these experiences in detail, in his 2009 book, A New Breed: Satellite Terrorism in America, and is now working on a film based on the same story. He speaks extensively about it here in a 2015 YouTube post.
* * * * *
As Hall readily points out, the descriptions of his fiancé’s experiences, as well as those of Karen and Sue, also seem similar to the series of so-called “health attacks” on personnel at the American Embassy in Cuba in late 2016, now known as the “Havana Syndrome.”
As described in a December 2020 report by the National Academies of Sciences, the American personnel in Cuba experienced “a sensation of head pressure or vibration, dizziness, followed in some cases by tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties.” It continued, “Other personnel attached to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China reported similar symptoms and signs to varying degrees, beginning in the following year. As of June 2020, many of these personnel continue to suffer from these and/or other health problems.” As for the cause, the report stated that, “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases.”
A 2019 study of 40 of those government personnel in Cuba concluded that they had been exposed to “uncharacterized directional phenomena of unknown etiology, manifesting as pressure, vibration, or sound.” The study also revealed “significant differences in whole brain…matter” in comparison to people with “healthy” brains and concluded “the clinical importance of these differences is uncertain.”
The U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba
According to a May 23, 2021 Associated Press report, at least 130 cases of similar Havana Syndrome attacks across the U.S. government are now under investigation, including two new cases in Washington D.C.—one of them just steps from the White House.
A day later, on May 24, 2021, The New Yorker published an investigation headlined “Are U.S. Officials Under Silent Attack?”, in which it reported top officials in the Biden administration now privately suspect that Russia is responsible for the Havana Syndrome. They believe agents of the GRU, the Russian military’s intelligence service, “have been aiming microwave-radiation devices at U.S. officials to collect intelligence from their computers and cell phones.”
On June 9, 2021, NBC news reported that the victims’ resulting health issues may initially have been an unintentional byproduct of the “intense electromagnetic energy waves”—but there is now fear the tactic has been weaponized.
The NBC report stated, “Though inflicting harm may not have been the original intent, U.S. officials increasingly believe that whoever may be responsible is now well aware that the devices can cause debilitating symptoms and will seek to use them to target and physically harm individuals, a weapon that is difficult to trace.”
On June 10, 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We are in the midst, at the president’s direction, with the National Security Council in the lead, of coordinating a government-wide review, including the intelligence community, the State Department, the Defense Department, to try to get to the bottom of what caused them.”
Eight days earlier, The Guardian published a piece revealing that “portable microwave weapons capable of causing the mysterious Havana Syndrome brain injuries in U.S. diplomats and spies have been developed by several countries in recent years.”
According to the article, a U.S. company called WaveBand made a prototype of such a weapon in 2004. The weapon, code-named Medusa, was intended to be portable, and “be able to switch from crowd to individual coverage, cause a temporarily incapacitating effect, have a low probability of fatality or permanent injury, cause no damage to property, and have a low probability of affecting friendly personnel.”
The Guardian interviewed “the leading U.S. authority on the biological impact of microwave energy” who said the directed energy technology could create a “thermoelastic pressure wave” that travels through the brain, causing damage to soft tissue.
And WaveBand’s former president and CEO, Lev Sadovnik, stated that the immediate effects of its prototype were disorientation and the impression of hearing sounds. He said of the technology, “It’s quite conceivable that you can hide it in a car or in a van, but it would not work over a long distance,” he said. “You can do it through a wall, say, if you are in the next room in a hotel.”
* * * * *
Increasingly desperate for help, Karen says she found and hired a “countermeasures expert” to run “bug sweeps” and other tests inside her apartment. “But he canceled on me twice, after I’d paid him $7,000. He refuses to return the money,” she says.
Did Karen fall for a scam?
The July 2009 WIRED article contained this tidbit, “For some, this opens up a new business opportunity. There are already quite a few companies out there offering Technical Surveillance Counter Measures, or sweeps, to determine if you are the victim of electronic harassment. As well as detecting the usual bugging devices, they can check if you are being covertly bombarded by microwaves which may be the cause of ‘headache, eye irritation, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, facial swelling, weakness, fatigue, pain in joints and/or muscles, buzzing/ringing in ears.’ Much of this trade may come from people with symptoms caused by something less exotic than high-tech military hardware. But companies will no doubt be willing to sell them expensive protection measures, anyway.”
Sue says she, too, has been taken advantage of by someone claiming to be able to help. “This source told me that he knew the dark web, and people who could get me off the government’s terrorist list,” she explains. “They said I was the most challenging type of case because I am on the ‘Level 4’ list, which I believe is true. They had us stay out of town for a week while they did their ‘TI audit’ for the area. They promised that if it didn’t work out for me, they’d refund all the money, but that was a lie. They had me recruit other TIs and I had to apologize to everyone afterward, letting them know they were scammers. I fell for it and lost over $100,000.”
* * * * *
My deep dive down the Targeted Individual “rabbit hole” brought a few definitive conclusions but, ultimately, more questions than answers.
Having learned that technology enabling the remote torture and control of people exists, I’m certain there are those prone to abuse it. However, as someone who’s worked professionally with people suffering from delusions, I can easily understand how paranoid individuals could easily latch onto and adopt the stories and claims of the online TI community as their own.
Just as someone with a myriad of physical or psychological symptoms can find an illness that matches those symptoms on sites like WebMD (whether it’s an accurate diagnosis or not), internet tales might convince some mentally ill individuals that they, too, have become TIs.
What’s more, just as finding a WebMD diagnosis provides a person with courses of action to take, and possible remedies, when delusional people identify themselves as TIs they become part of an entire community of activists, and already established action plans, bent on eradicating the supposed torture. They get hope.
And once a person who’s delusional has decided that his or her symptoms are caused by government torture, read dozens of blogs and hundreds of posts in support of this belief, and received sympathy and support from a large online community, it’s very unlikely that they’re going to believe they have a mental illness, or that their suffering can be alleviated with medication.
And yet, again, there are indications that the experiences of some TIs fall within the realm of possibility and plausibility.
I think back to my 1980s client, Jack. About 18 months after his intake session, Jack was officially diagnosed as “chronically mentally ill” and “disabled.” He was suffering from paranoid delusions and transferred to case managers who could more adequately help with his day-to-day support needs. Jack was also cycling through near-death alcohol use and wasn’t expected to resume his previous level of functioning.
Yet today, in light of everything I’ve now learned about TIs, those tiny doubts creep back in and I wonder if in fact there was some truth to his claims of being under government surveillance.
Sue says her situation has worsened. “We’re surrounded on all four sides by gang stalkers,” she says. “They have a national cellphone network that they use to organize. They also use their cell phones to make directed microwave energy attacks.”
As for Karen, she insists, once again, that she isn’t crazy. “The weapons being used are radio waves in all their various forms—microwave cable dishes, cell phone towers, electromagnetic fields created with the use of oscillators and commingled electric lines, lasers, scalar waves shot from drones,” she says. “Because audio waves are invisible, and because these weapons frequently require the target’s prior implantation of military technology by complicit medical personnel working with the DOD and CIA, this is a highly covert and widespread program that requires thorough research and investigation.”
Karen and Sue would also be considered, by most professionals, to be suffering from some form of mental illness. Yet while each has differing theories about who’s harming her and why, it’s definitely curious that both women describe similar symptoms.
Granting their claims even the slightest bit of credence means that still more questions—key and crucial questions—must be answered:
* If what they’re experiencing is a real byproduct of some external source, is the cause intentional perpetration, or something environmental (in this highly electronic and technological world) that adversely affects those who are sensitive.
* If the government, or a private company, has the technology to control minds (either now or in the future), will it only be used for noble purposes?
* And finally, and perhaps most perplexingly, if mind control technology can indeed be tested on unsuspecting people, doesn’t it just make sense that these victims would be made to appear crazy—so that nobody ever looks too deeply into the matter?
My mind spins.
Kim Whiting can be reached at
Editor’s Note: The Reporters Inc. published a follow-up to this investigation in January 2023.
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