The Daily Beast
Over the past 30 years, thousands of people who identify as “targeted individuals” claim the government is engaging in covert war on their minds.
Cheryl Welsh has been the target of a secret U.S. government mind-control experiment for almost 30 years.
Or, so she believes. A former medical receptionist in Sacramento, Welsh was a freshman at the University of California, Davis in 1987 when she noticed electrical appliances were “remotely targeted to harass” her. Phones, cars, typewriters, and TVs would stop working at inopportune times.
“Streetlights would go on and off as I walked by, and this was before the sensor technology of today,” Welsh told The Daily Beast. “I traveled to Wisconsin and went to Europe, but wherever I went, the strange harassive things would occur.”
Soon, Welsh became convinced that her thoughts were being read by unknown external forces, “24/7, with precision.” She says staged situations played out on the street in front of her, engineered by strangers who appeared to know exactly what she was thinking.
Welsh was terrified. But she was too embarrassed to say anything to anyone for fear of sounding crazy.
“I’ve always trusted my mental health, and I don’t believe in the supernatural, or UFOs, or anything like that,” Welsh said. “So I knew I wasn’t imagining these things.”
She set out to find others who had experienced similar phenomena, and found that she was not alone. Welsh eventually came to the conclusion that she was the subject of covert U.S. government testing. After all, she explains, who but the government possessed the technological know-how to cause what she was experiencing?
When asked what she has done to try and stop the harassment, Welsh responds, “What haven’t I done? I’ve hired scientists, electronics experts, private investigators, and more. I was interviewed on CNN and they had their electronics expert come out and test my home, but they didn’t find anything. Well, of course they didn’t find anything—they didn’t look for military signals.”
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People like Welsh, who started a nonprofit called Mindjustice.org in 1996, call themselves “targeted individuals” or “TIs.” Kevin Bond, an unemployed bartender in Palm Springs, California, says he believes a local family drugged him, implanted a microchip in his head while he was unconscious, and now controls his thoughts and behavior. “H.D.,” a tenured professor at a West Coast university who wished to keep his real name private, is convinced his brain is being manipulated by electronic frequencies coming from a nearby government installation.
The phenomenon is nothing new, but has taken off in recent years.
“It’s undeniable that the technology exists, but if you go to the police and say, ‘I’m hearing voices,’ they’re going to lock you up for psychiatric evaluation,” one TI told Sharon Weinberger of The Washington Post in 2007.
Since then, conspiracy culture has only seeped further and further into the mainstream. Arizona Sen. John McCain’s challenger in the 2016 Republican primary was state senator and osteopathic physician Kelli Ward, who once organized a townhall meeting focused on “chemtrails,” described by conspiracy theorists as nefarious, aircraft-borne “plasma weapons system[s]…carrying out mind control against the human population on a global (as well as national, regional and individual) scale.” (Ward has denied believing in chemtrails, which are in fact nothing more than condensation produced by planes under certain atmospheric conditions.)
The number of people who identify as TIs, though difficult to pin down definitively, has been estimated to exceed 10,000. Yet, according to The New York Times, which this summer profiled a woman who believed the NSA had brainwashed her friends and neighbors into believing she was a terrorist, “the phenomenon remains virtually unresearched.” At the same time, a fairly extensive market has emerged to make a quick buck off of sufferers.
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Roger Tolces, a former Los Angeles audio-visual equipment salesman, now runs a “professional private investigative agency with the ability to find and then help you to eliminate Electronic Harassment.”
“I don’t talk too much about what we do, we try to fly under the radar,” Tolces explained, saying that he employs “several” people, but declining to elaborate further. “You’ve got to understand who’s behind this stuff.”
On his website, Tolces sells an “Electrostatic Active Shield System” for “about $1,000.”
“Any directed energy attack is deflected off this energy field giving the targeted individual the ability to get ongoing relief,” the product description reads.
Others capitalize on the fact that TIs are often told that their problems are psychiatric. “No, you’re not crazy! We listen and care,” Chicago’s Total Security Inc. tells prospective customers.
“We perform non-invasive body scans to identify implanted microchips and other forms of electronic tracking GSP/Cellular/ chips,” Total Security’s website explains. “We check with high-gauge TSCM (Technical Surveillance Counter Measures) equipment that will locate and identify if one is subject to internal microelectronic implants. Please note: We are not medical professionals, we simply scan without any harm to a person and identity if in fact one is subject to an electronic possible threat.”
TIs also spend considerable sums of money on products that promise protection from things like “remote brain manipulation,” “psychotronic weapons,” and “psychic and spiritual attacks.”
One such item is the QuWave Defender, which comes in four versions: Personal ($297), Tabletop ($499), Triple Tabletop (now on sale for $997), and Briefcase Sentinel ($1,197). It supposedly generates what the Los Angeles-based company calls a “Scalar Wave Field,” a special frequency possessing the “unique property of being able to interfere with harmful rays, reduce the effect and functioning of implants, and act as a barrier to psycho-electronic harmful signals aimed at the individual.”
The personal unit, which is about the size and shape of a pager, features a lanyard so it can be worn around one’s neck for constant protection. The Sentinel adds “a special unique circuitry which cyclically varies the generated frequencies as a countermeasure so that the perpetrators can’t lock on to the unit’s frequency in order to circumvent its operation and defeat the unit.”
QuWave, which appears to operate as a multi-level marketing operation, with distributors who buy products in bulk then resell them, did not reply when asked about sales figures and the size of the company. However, Amy Kimball, a QuWave sales rep, agreed to speak briefly by phone. Many people who order Defenders—or any of QuWave’s 21 other, similar products, including ones for pets—are concerned that their units will be disabled by nefarious forces before they even arrive, Kimball explained.
“You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff we’ve had to do for customers,” Kimball said. “They don’t trust the Post Office, they don’t trust the government. It’s—interesting.” (For an extra $10, customers can add a “Tamper-Evident Security Seal” to any order.)
A foil-lined fabric called MagnetShield is recommended by StopBeamWeapons.com, which advises wrapping one’s head and neck in it “to minimize partial brain disablement from covert anti-brain beam weapons by partially shielding the target (themselves) from covert EMF anti-brain beam weapons.”
MagnetShield is distributed by LessEMF.com, a 20-year-old company in upstate New York with eight employees. Emil DeToffol, LessEMF.com’s president, said there are “many thousands of people who are genuinely sensitive to electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) and do require shielding and meters,” he says. (The assertion that EMF fields are harmful to humans is contested by almost all mainstream scientists.) “But there is a subset who claim or believe that they are being targeted by the government or aliens or whomever it may be.”
“They’re looking for shielding materials, garments, fabrics, metals, paints, and meters for measuring, but oftentimes they can’t really articulate what they’re trying to shield from or trying to measure,” said DeToffol.
That’s because none of what these people are trying to protect against actually exists, says Benjamin Radford, a fellow at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a New York think tank that promotes science-based reasoning. Further, this sort of “thought broadcasting”—which is known among conspiracy theorists as “Remote Neural Monitoring,” or “RNM”—is a classic manifestation of paranoid schizophrenia, says Dr. Michael Sacks, an attending psychiatrist at NewYork Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
The delusions tend to reflect the cultural and scientific zeitgeist of the time. The subjects of Victor Tausk’s seminal 1919 paper, “On the Origin of the ‘Influencing Machine’ in Schizophrenia,” described the same sorts of things as people do today. But instead of bleeding-edge technology utilizing electromagnetic rays and microchips, the faceless thought monitors of a century ago utilized mechanical contraptions consisting of cranks and levers.
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A good deal of the current support for the existence in RNM can be traced back to the misinterpretation of an oft-cited 1994 government report that made mention of futuristic systems that could “electronically scramble or erase” people’s minds through TV broadcasts.
It was co-written by Dr. Steven Metz, then an associate research professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute (SSI). Metz, who is now SSI’s director of research, says it was a totally speculative thought experiment, which included the overthrow of Fidel Castro and assorted other world events that hadn’t, and still haven’t, happened.
According to Metz, the project was intended to spur debate and discussion among readers—senior military leaders, not the general public—about the very dangerous implications of technologies that could influence people’s behavior, were such a thing ever to exist at some point in the future.
“To illustrate this, I concocted a hypothetical future scenario where the military had what I called thought control technology which led it to some dark and highly undesirable positions,” said Metz said in an email. “But here’s the rub—I totally made that scenario up while driving to work. It was pure fiction that I was using to make a point.”
When the internet started to become widely available in the late 1990s, Metz’s paper began reaching not only the defense community, but the general public. Metz soon found his name being mentioned in online forums and chat rooms, blogs, and conspiracy sites.
Long, florid tracts posted across dozens of sites purport to “prove” the existence of secret government mind control programs using official documents are now available on the web. Some seemed to think Metz had inadvertently stumbled onto a secret government program. Others thought he was part of it. Another group didn’t believe Metz existed at all, and was himself a government illusion.
Metz points out that his paper was loaded with disclaimers, making clear that he was not referring to existing technology or making predictions. Nevertheless, Metz began getting increasingly unhinged phone calls, emails, multi-page letters, and faxes chronicling government campaigns to take over the writers’ brains.
Metz, who had young children at the time, says he installed a home security system and got a concealed carry permit.
“Of course since it’s impossible to logically prove a negative, I can’t say categorically that there is no ‘Men Who Talk to Goats’ program or technologies out there,” Metz says. “But if there is, I don’t know anything about it.”
Cheryl Welsh, for one, isn’t convinced.
“I continue to find substantiating evidence of what I think is going on with secret neuroweapons,” she argues, adding that none of the various products and services she has purchased have been any help at all. “They promise these amazing results, but it’s really just phony baloney stuff.”
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