Opening Pandora's Box

1984 BBC Special Channel 4
David Jones producer, Fulcrum Central Productions

Mind Justice Home Page

Many thanks to Harlan Girard for finding a copy.
Transcription by Teresa Bergen, May 2011. project. Not for reposting.


Narrator: Since the 1950s, the Soviets have been irradiating the embassy with a mysterious microwave signal. Although the American government knew about the signal, they kept it a secret from the world, and from their own embassy staff. When they finally got around to installing protective screens, they did so in a hurry. At the height of the Moscow winter, with the temperature 30 degrees below zero, the list of equipment they requisitioned included arctic clothing for the workers who were going to install the screens. [noise] 1959, the youthful vice president Richard Nixon visits Moscow, where he gets involved in the famous kitchen debates with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev about the relative virtues of communism and capitalism.

TV Announcer: Khrushchev is coming, Mr. Nixon, that Russia will catch up to America, and wave as she passes us by, so he says in words and actions.

Narrator: While the Americans are busy showing off the best product capitalism had to offer, the Soviets were quietly using some technology of their own. When Nixon's secret service men checked out his room at the American embassy for electronic bugs, they found the mysterious microwave signal coming from across the street, aimed straight at the embassy building and its personnel.

To find out what the Soviets were trying to achieve, the Americans set up a top secret multimillion dollar program which they called Project Pandora. They appointed many of their top scientific experts in microwave radiation. But not all of them are happy with the way the investigation was conducted.

Milton Zaret: It's never really been fully explained then to the people who were there and were irradiated, let alone to the rest of us. For example, there were some secret studies done on the people who had been irradiated. They weren't told they were being irradiated. And there wasn't any reason for them not to have been told. The only thing that made this secret was it was a Soviet clandestine operation. It wasn't an American clandestine operation.

Narrator: To carry out these secret studies, members of the Pandora team deceived the staff and told them they were taking blood samples as part of a viable study to find out the cause of a stomach complaint which was common among the embassy personnel. Back home, other Pandora scientists took part in microwave experiments with animals. Their results were disturbing. Monkeys exposed to microwave radiation showed a marked decline in their ability to perform simple tasks. Rather than go public with these results and demand that the Soviets switch off the radiation, the American government remained silent. The man who ran Pandora, Dr. Sam Koslov.

Koslov: Why this thing was still retaining all the security it was by 1976, I went to Moscow in 1974 to try to negotiate with the Russians on getting that radiation turned off. Why it was still [classified at] the time, we had periods when this thing broke open. Why that was still classified at that time is utterly incomprehensible to me. That's all I can tell you. I can't tell you why. I don't know. I think it's simply a typical governmental phenomena. It fell into the crack.

Narrator: The crack Pandora fell into was so deep that five presidents, their intelligence services, and their closest advisors managed to keep it a secret. But throughout the ‘60s and the ‘70s, it was on the agenda on the various summit meetings between East and West. President Lyndon Johnson thought he could personally solve the problem when he met Soviet Premier Andrei Kosygin face to face in 1967.

TV Announcer: Away from the corridors of power, it seemed the [scientists] could talk like [nonpolitical scientists.]

Zaret: Friends of mine in the intelligence community told me after the meeting that members from the American Embassy or the others that this radiation was going on. And my understanding was that Premier Kosygin was embarrassed by that, and didn't know anything about it. And said that when he got home, if he found out it was so, he was going to stop it. And I was told that after he got home, he did stop it, so I didn't have to worry about this anymore.

Narrator: Kosygin failed to stop it, and the radiation continued. The Americans monitor this on a day-to-day basis. They're still keeping it a secret from the next generation of the embassy staff. But a member of the American intelligence community knows it. This was an interesting example of détente. The Soviets providing the radiation, and the Americans providing the guinea pigs. Then, in 1975, the signal suddenly changed. The Soviets began to irradiate the embassy through two new transmitters.

After many exchange of telexes between Washington and Moscow, the American government eventually took a more positive initiative. They decided to put up the aluminum screen to protect the embassy, even though this meant that they would have to finally share their embarrassing secret with the embassy staff.

Surely that will increase a lot in worry I mean, if I was in the building and somebody put some aluminum shielding up over the windows, I would then firmly believe that something had been coming in that might have damaged me.

Koslov: You're now dealing with sociology and not the science of the situation.

He has a point. If you want to make your point to the Soviets, therefore you say, “Well, I've got to cut it down.” You also want to make your point to people, “Look, whatever there was, I don't think it was harming you. But it's now a factor of ten less.” And I would agree with you. If you think that things were mishandled in the first place, you're going to worry more about it. I don't know what you can do about that. But the simple fact was, there wasn't a hazardous level before the screen was put in, and there was one-tenth less than a non-hazardous level when the screen was put in. (laughs)

Narrator: The embassy staff were unimpressed by this line of reasoning, and a number of them complained to the press. After subsequent publicity, Henry Kissinger, whose department had consistently lied to the embassy personnel, delivered a short, if ironic homily on the virtues of trust and confidence amongst government employees.

Why do you think the Soviets did it?

Koslov: I would prefer not answering this question, okay? Because none of us will ever know. Because Soviets aren't going to discuss this in public. And neither will the people in my government discuss this in public. I have my own personal ideas as to what they're doing, which I would rather not discuss, okay? And you say why would you rather not discuss it? I think I'd get into security.

It's been disturbing to see that it still continues. Even though I have been told that the Soviets could stop it.

Narrator: Officially, it has stopped, hasn't it?

Koslov: Officially, it never started. I think according to the Soviets, they've never been doing this.

Narrator: Over two and a half thousand Pandora papers, including telexes, telegrams, secret reports and internal memos are now being released by the American government under the Freedom of Information Act. They make interesting and enlightening reading, except for the fact that they've all been carefully edited to exclude any reference to the most important question of all: Why did the Soviets do it? Certainly, after the signal changed in 1975, it could have been used for surveillance. From that year, the Soviets started irradiating the embassy with two separate microwave beams at right angles, whose paths met in the ambassador's office, very close to his secretary's golf ball typewriter. Alarmed by the thought that everything typed on this machine might be going straight to the KGB, the Americans spent several frantic months investigating this possibility before concluding that it was technically feasible for the Soviets to monitor every single letter and number as it was used by analyzing the beam that had been reflected off the golf ball.

The Americans then checked to see exactly what had been typed on the ambassador's machine, only to find that it had never been used for anything really intelligence value. So that all that panic and effort were not over whether or not the signals were being used for surveillance, or if its true purpose was to affect the health, either mental or physical, of the embassy staff.

Dr. Robert Becker, another of the eminent scientists consulted by the American government about the embassy radiation.

Becker: I believe that there is very little question in that you do produce central nervous system disturbances by microwave exposure. I don't believe that you could at the present level of technology put someone to sleep instantaneously like that. But one could interfere with decision making capacity. One could do, produce, say, a situation of chronic stress in which your embassy personnel do not operate quite as efficiently as they should. This would obviously lead to the Soviets' advantage.

Narrator: Although never officially admitting that there was a hazard, the American government designated the Moscow embassy as a stressful post, and gave the staff a 20 percent hardship allowance. The government knew that a 1975 survey had shown that the embassy staff's white blood cell count was on average 40 percent higher than normal. Two of the last four ambassadors had died of cancer. Stossels suffers from a rare blood disorder. Today, a number of former embassy staff are taking legal action against their government, whose official line remains that there were no health risks.

Is it possible that another game is going on?

Becker: Well, even though we found out, what difference will it make? The American standard for exposure to microwave radiation was set, that figure, let's call it a thousand, so many microwatts per centimeter squared. Now the embassy was doing irradiation at a much lower level. So this was a figure, and the radiation from the energy source that should have no effect. If we admitted that it had a biological effect, then we would throw into doubt the standard that we had set, rather arbitrarily, for exposure of the entire American civilian population.

Narrator: Trapped in this dilemma, the Americans could not complain publicly about the Moscow signal without raising doubts about the microwave radiation levels in their own towns and cities. The Pandora scientists' findings were a potential source of embarrassment. All of the biological effects they found occurred at half the level the American government said was safe.

For the Pandora team, their first priority was to use these findings to set a proper microwave safety standard, but their government wouldn't agree. Modern military systems depend on the unrestricted use of microwave for radar, surveillance and communication. In Operation Big Boy, the Pandora team measured the microwave levels onboard American navy ships. They found they were 100 times greater than the embassy radiation. The team's hopes of establishing a proper microwave safety standard were never realized. Instead, the government terminated the project and tried to close the lid on Pandora's box.

The electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun has always been essential to life. But it's the effects of the exploded growth from other sources of electromagnetic radiation which is now being questioned. [weird noise]

Becker: You have to look at this historically. What we are living in today, from the electromagnetic point of view, all began, and all developed, around the theory, the dogma, that there were no possible biological effects. When new power lines had to be built, the biological question doesn't enter the picture. It didn't until we raised that question in 1976, ‘75. The growth of this industry, the power industry, the communications industry, was all accompanied by a complete lack of information, and a complete lack of even consideration that there were any possible biological hazards.

Narrator: Joe Towne used to repair radar equipment on American spy planes. Now, after two heart attacks, he's confined to a wheelchair. According to his doctors, the cataracts in his eyes were caused by exposure to microwave radiation.

Towne: They never gave us any warning that these things would cause cataracts in our eyes, or other health damage. We didn't know anything about it. And I know in many ways my working days are over, and I won't be able to get a job again that requires use of my eyes. And that's a little discouraging, that I have to look forward to something like that.

Narrator: More than 25 servicemen who flew on spy planes in the 1960s with the American Air Force, but now Joe Towne was paid $75,000 by the plane's manufacturer, Lockheed. They also wanted him to keep the details secret.

Were you really prepared to have your silence bought?

Towne: No, I wasn't.

Narrator: Can you say why not?

Towne: Because I have an obligation to these other men. And when you finish your service, that does not end your obligation to other men as an NCO, as a non commissioned officer. You still, the responsibility still goes on, the way I feel about it. We have a loyalty amongst us where we take care of each other.

Narrator: America's military power in the Pentagon, and the company that supply their radar communications and other electronic equipment, also believe in protecting each other. They met here in secret, at the little holiday resort of Hot Springs, Virginia, in October, 1982. Over three days, they discussed how they could best combat the growing public fears of microwave radiation. And in particular, how to stop the steady increase in injury claims from former servicemen.

And they settled out in court, did they accept liability?

Towne: No. They settled with the stipulation that they weren't accepting liability. They sure as hell weren't giving me $75,000 for nothing.

Narrator: It's not just servicemen who are at risk. Sam Yannon used to repair the microwave telephone communications dishes on the roof of the Empire State Building. Until he contracted Alzheimer's Disease, a painful, wasting disease of premature aging. By the time of his death at the age of 62, he weighed just five stone. In a recent and historic case, a New York court ruled that he died of overexposure to microwave radiation.

Since the mid 1970s, other forms of electromagnetic radiation have also come under attack, particular the fields produced by electricity power lines. Three surveys in the United States and Sweden have shown families who live near the power lines have more cases of cancer among both children and adults. Four separate studies have also found that electrical workers and other groups exposed to electromagnetic fields are twice as likely to get leukemia as the rest of the working population. Further study of England showed that people living near the high voltage power lines, underground cables, the cables which supply high-rise flats, are more likely to commit suicide.

Taking these findings into consideration, the state of Montana in the United State has now decided to ban all future housing developments within 210 feet by the side of their power lines.

More recently, video display units have come under suspicion, specifically from the public services union in Canada, which is worried that the radiation coming out of the sets is damaging their workers, particularly pregnant women.

What's began to emerge among our own members and many other union membership is the emergence of women who are giving birth to children with birth defects, or losing their children early in their pregnancy. These were occurring in clusters where you would have, for example, over 50 to 80 percent of the pregnancies terminating in adverse outcomes.

Narrator: The first cluster which caught the union's attention was at the Toronto Star newspaper, where four women working with video display units had babies with birth defects: a hole in the heart, a clubfoot, a cleft palate and a child with a damaged eye which had to be removed surgically. This was followed by a cluster at the old City Hall, where 11 out of 19 pregnancies were either terminated prematurely through spontaneous miscarriages, or resulted in birth defects. Since then, the union has collected details of a further six clusters in Canada and the United States. As far as the manufacturers are concerned, there are no health risks from the video display units.

The evidence that exists suggests that it is not even fruitful to do research in that area, because there have never been any observable effects, either in a laboratory in a situation where in their epidemiological research that would home back in on a particular thing that was common to everybody. There are no common elements. And that's not to say that somebody won't find some kind of connection but again, I think looking at the VDT is the wrong place to look, simply because there are other sources of radiation of the same type which are much stronger, and which are more pervasively ubiquitous. And they've been around for years and years. We don't read about or hear about clusters of adverse pregnancy outcomes among operators, or other kinds of groups. And from what we've been hearing so far from people who call us up we feel that there's even more out there than meets the eye.

Narrator: When radar was first introduced in World War Two, it was such an important factor in the Allies’ victory, few questioned that it might also be damaging the health of the troops using it. When the American and British governments established their microwave safety standard for radar and communications in the 1950s, they set them high enough to allow the military for the unrestricted use of microwave radiation.

Zaret: American scientific reports from the time, which suggested that microwaves might cause leukemia, cataracts, brain tumors and heart conditions were ignored. But the military was itself the main source of funds for research in this area. These reports were not followed up.

The validity of these standards has never been challenged, both within the scientific community, and increasingly in the courts. A recent issue of the magazine Microwave News showed that cases in the legal pipeline include opposition to the siting of microwave towers, satellite stations, and broadcast transmitters, as well as personal injury claims from former servicemen, air traffic controllers, and police officers. These actions all revolve around the validity of the present standards, were actually unchanged since the 1950s, when the scientific competence of the people serving on the various government safety committees.

It's not just my country; it's every country. The Canadian government, the British government, the Soviet government, the Soviet Union, all governments create these committees in relatively similar manners. And the problem that you run into is that for a safety committee to put a restriction on, or constriction of use on anything, immediately cuts down on the efficiency . . . or . . . their [ability to meet national security needs,] it cuts down on the usage of . . . radiation. And it takes a special kind of people to be able to ignore the harmful effect it could have on their personal careers to speak out loudly.

Narrator: Unlike the West, the Soviet Union has avoided this dilemma. Although their safety standard is a thousand times stricter than the Americans, the Soviet armed forces are conveniently excluded from its requirements, despite being the biggest producers of electronic pollution, and despite the fact that at the time of the irradiation of the American embassy, Soviet scientists were well aware of the potential biological effects.

Dr. Karel Marha was a top Czech scientist who defected to the West in the early 1970s. he devoted a lifetime's work to the effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on humans and animals.

Dr. Karel Marha: In seconds, the animals come out of the field. They are looking how to go out, how to escape. they jump up and jump. But it's unbelievable. They're jumping up [they say three minutes they get [up] and if you're counting, out of three and a half minutes, [it looks as if] all were killed in the field. . . . [Nevertheless] . . . Oh, most of them recovered in five minutes. After five minutes, you cannot say okay, this was an animal just before the death. And this one, it was a control animal. Nothing. [In the autopsy] section, . . . you cannot find anything, or see any, [there is no difference between the control and the experimental animal] nothing. Absolutely nothing. No, only one thing, much bigger [this unusual animal behavior], that's only one thing that you could find. And yeah, that was why I started to study this. Because it was needed. It was such an experiment which was very interesting, sure.

Narrator: When did you actually do this experiment?

Marha: 1968 1969. Twenty-five years ago.

Narrator: So you've known quite well for 25 years that pulsed [electromagnetic fields] . . .

Marha: Yes, this whole time I studied why do pulsed fields have much more [effect?] And it was very interesting [the results were].

Narrator: This is an atmospheric nuclear explosion, banned since the early 1960s. In any future nuclear war, it's likely to be the first strike used by either side. Not for its destructive power, or for its biological effects, but because of its impact on electronic equipment. A single nuclear bomb, detonated high up in the atmosphere, will produce a 50,000 volt pulse which will hit the earth in a second, taking out electricity power grids, electronic communications, and all computers and electronic equipment which depend on magnetic tape or silicon chips for storing information. Military vehicles, which include computerized guidance systems, will also be neutralized. [electronics] in planes, and other military hardware, will be severely damaged. The United States is currently spending $450 million a year trying to harden its military equipment against the effects of such a pulse.

The Soviet Union has probably already done so. In 1976, a Soviet pilot defected to Japan in his MIG 25 Foxbat. The Americans’ initial amusement on discovering that old-fashioned [valves], rather than silicon chips, were used throughout. It was some time before they realized that the plane was specifically designed to withstand the effects from electromagnetic pulse. Once again, it seemed, that the Soviet knowledge of the effects of electromagnetic radiation had placed them well ahead of the Americans.

But the question high on the agenda will be [how] intelligence services [will] use this knowledge to develop a new generation of electromagnetic weapons. [The] Soviet Union must want to know whether the West has its own top secret project, operating behind the official smokescreen of public conversations. But by and large, this type of radiation is not biologically active.

Becker: All I can see are very definite [problems] for the American military in this regard. The United States is the most highly developed country in the world from the point of view of power transmission lines. I think we have a much more extensive power grid than, in most of the United States than anywhere else in the world, and we make greater use of microwave communication systems, etcetera [for military use].

Now if the Soviets should begin to embark upon a program desiring to develop an electromagnetic weapons system, the effect of which would be to alter the vision of an opposing army, let's just think broadly in this term. Any modality that they would apply to that from an electromagnetic point of view would be one to which the civilian population of the United States is currently being exposed. You have a conundrum there. How could you be developing a weapon when you are exposing your own people to the same modality?

Narrator: This is an early example of behavioral modification. This fighting bull has electrode implanted in its brain. Its movement is under remote control by a small radio transmitter held by the man on the right, Dr. Jose Delgado. Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, he lived in the United States, experimenting with the electrical stimulation of the brain, much of this work being financed by the American Navy. The American military intelligence services have a long standing interest in behavior modification. [beep]

From its inception shortly after World War Two, the CIA has been fascinated by the possibility of controlling behavior, both human and animal. These [electromagnetic weapons] relate to the CIA's MK-ULTRA or mind control program. From the 1960s, the CIA spends an estimated 10 million dollars on experiments with LSD and other similar mind-expanding drugs. [The CIA was] investigating the possibility of using remote-controlled animals. This memo, for example, shows that they planned to use radio-controlled dogs to direct the executive action type operations [covert] CIA assassinations. The program also included the possibility of using radio-controlled dogs and cats to [carry] bugging devices in buildings to which the agency could not get access. As a member at the time mentioned, “This gets very exotic very fast. There are numerous thing that can be done within the state of this particular art.”

Another member commented that the behavior control experiments could be used for enhancing consciousness, or rearranging it. On the other side of the world, the Soviets had realized the same possibility.

And this machine is known as Lida, L-i-d-a. And it was developed in the Soviet Union for therapeutic purposes. These two lights are capable of producing [light] flashes at a rate independent of the rate of the two little loudspeakers producing the clicks. And the central area here produces waves of [electromagnetic] heat. These two pegs are actually correlated, have coiled wires inside that form the antenna. And the pulses last about one-tenth of a second. They claim for considerable therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of emotional disorders and psychoneurotic illness.

Narrator: Apart from its therapeutic value, the Lida machine can also be used to rearrange consciousness. According to one account, the Lida was used for brainwashing American prisoners during the Korean War. What effect has it had on the animals?

Adey: It certainly produces a very marked relaxation and animals that are here for testing in a rather excited condition have been amenable and quieted them down very, very effectively.

Narrator: The technology of brainwashing has advanced significantly since the Korean War. If the possibility of changing a person's mental state without them realizing it [could be accomplished, it would have a tremendous impact] on the world intelligence services.

The theory is, if human brainwaves can be tuned to a different frequency, then it should be possible to change a person's mood, and ultimately their character.

Becker: In the early ‘60s, I received a visit from a representative for the Central Intelligence Agency who informed me that there were two events that had occurred. One was that the United States Embassy in Moscow was being irradiated with microwave radiation at a power density considerably lower than the standard set for exposure of American citizens. That had begun, I think, in 1959. That in the early years of the 1960s, the American states, as part of its confrontation with the Soviet Union was operating aircraft that would fly along the borders [and] occasionally intruded into their air space, attempting to stimulate the electronic detection systems that the Soviets could be used so these could be studied.

But these were [noncombat] aircraft, but occasionally they would get shot down. Occasionally their crews would get captured. That the crews on these aircraft were carefully chosen personnel who before they went into this area received intensive psychological testing to determine their readiness to do this sort of thing. That on several occasions crews had been captured within the Soviet Union, they were always later exchanged and brought back to American control on some sort of quid pro quo with the Soviets.

In the debriefing process they would indicate that they had not received any bad treatment whatsoever in the hands of the Russians, but that their psychological testing would be considerably different when they returned from their internment than it was before. The period of time would be relatively short. Two weeks to six weeks, on the average. The question was asked then, is there a relationship between the microwaves irradiating the embassy, and the possibility that these crews had personality alterations induced in them by exposure to electromagnetic radiation which they would not be aware of. This was a question posed to me at that point in time by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Narrator: And what did you tell them?

Becker: I told them that I thought there was a distinct possibility that no one could give them that answer for sure at this present time, at that time.

Narrator: Were the crews themselves aware of any brainwashing?

Becker: No. No. There was no, you use the term “brainwashing,” and that's a term that implies long periods of interrogation, things of this nature. This did not happen. These crews were treated quite well. They were fed, clothed, housed, not subjected to long periods of interrogation or to any attempt to reeducate them. no psychological force of any type was used. And yet they returned, changed.

Narrator: The mechanics of this sort of personality change fall into an area of science shrouded in the greatest secrecy, and which is at the center of mind control programs in both East and West.

Dr. Robert Beck is one of America's most brilliant electronic engineers and a former member of an elite corps of scientists recruited by the government to work in this area. His published work talks of specific frequencies producing confusion, fear and anxiety. His unpublished work [included] bizarre experiments in which he [tested unwitting] scientists, change their moods from elation to depression, and have shown that he can make fellow diners in restaurants talk more loudly or quietly by emitting a magnetic pulse from a device which looks like an ordinary wristwatch.

In terms of affecting a person's behavior, what is technically possible? At low levels.

Beck: There I'd rather not discuss some of the work that I've seen. It is quite possible, it has been done, it has been replicated, and that subject is totally dark.

We've certainly had stories of people being disorientated. Is this sort of—

Beck: Yes, I've done some of that myself, and I'll never do it again. There are ethical considerations.

There was really no mystery to it.

Beck: No. It's part of our physical universe, like germs and pollution. It's part of reality.

It's also possible to replicate experiments in which people in restaurants talk more quietly.

Beck: Yes. Simply.

That area of work, as you say, has gone dark. Why hadn't you gone with it and gone dark with it?

Beck: I don't approve of it. I think it's another tool to manipulate human beings. I think we've seen too much of this already. I'm primarily interested in enhancing consciousness and helping people, not making more weapons of war. It's simply a moral consideration on my part.

TV Announcer: But when governments want to develop new weapons systems, moral considerations are almost invariably one of the first casualties.

The last time scientific ethics clashed so directly with the [goals] of governments and politicians was in the 1940s, when Einstein and a group of other scientists decided to tell President Roosevelt about the scarcely believable destructive power of a theoretical device known as the atom bomb. The result of that fact was Hiroshima, Nagasaki and, a few years later, when the Soviet Union began to catch up, the establishment of the present system of reciprocal terror known as nuclear deterrence.

Unlike the nuclear arms race, however, where the West enjoyed an early lead, it's more than likely that as far as electromagnetic weapons are concerned, it's the Soviets who are [in the lead.]

This 1976 American intelligence report noted that the Soviets saw great potential in use of microwaves for disorientating military and diplomatic personnel. It also noted that the Soviets had found a microwave frequency to cause heart seizure in animals. They added that a frequency could be found to do the same to human beings.

Narrator: For scientists, there seem to be two major possibilities. [First, that] people's behavior, that their health can be affected by low level fields. And the second one is that there's a potential for creating a new genre of weapons that presumably are extremely sensitive areas for government. It seems to me inconceivable that there isn't an area of research that is totally black.

Koslov: You know back in 1965, there were a lot of hypotheses and conjectures about the [Pandora] classified program to find out what the hell was going on in [the American Embassy] Since then, I think we have found generally that there doesn't seem to be very much possibility here. I don't know of any US government program that is seriously looking at that. I cannot exclude, you know, someone, for example, in the navy department we here have something like 7,000 test units in research and exploratory development. And each of those test units perhaps consists of two or three or more separate scientific program projects. Somewhere buried somewhere, there could be somebody doing it. But I think in general, at this point in time, we don't think there is too much possibility in [an electromagnetic] weapons potential.

Becker: The United States Navy may very well not have any program whatsoever. On the other hand, it's equally valid to have such a program being conducted in even greater secrecy than the Manhattan Project was conducted. And the best cover I could think of for that would be for the United States to portray itself to the rest of the world as a nation that was discounting the possibility of electromagnetic weapons entirely, based upon its best scientific evidence.

Narrator: You were somebody who was at the center of—

Koslov: That's correct. For many years.

For many years.

Narrator: I suppose you know all the work that's being done—

Koslov: We've thought about it. Don't misunderstand me.

Narrator: But you were never privy to an operation that might be [intended to influence humans with EMR remotely.]

Koslov: I ran an operation that looked at this. It was called Pandora. (laughs) [unclear] it doesn't [unclear] that in order to produce an effect that would have any military utility, the amount of power used would be such that you would be in the famous position of Mr. [unclear], who discovered [unclear], as you recall. He had to burn the barn down.

TV announcer: According to recent intelligence reports, the American army now has a major program to develop electromagnetic weapons. The Americans predict that by the 2000, armies could use low level microwave beams as a battlefield weapon to disorientate and immobilize opposing troops. This sort of psychological attack would be particularly effective when used against the pilots of high performance aircraft. There are no doubts about its potential in the Soviet Union. This belief is reflected in the high priority given to such weapons in their military budgets.

In 1976, a mysterious Soviet signal came on the air, disrupting shortwave radio transmissions throughout the world. Its nickname is Woodpecker.

It's the most powerful electromagnetic radiation that has ever been manmade on this planet. The peak estimated power is 14 million watts per pulse. It normally has a pulse repetition rate of ten per second. And we have here a shortwave radio with a Panasonic, we're going to see if we can find it, because they move around, the frequency changes every few seconds. [static noise] Here we are. [Woodpecker noise] And let's make this official. Two hours, 48 minutes, which means it's 6:48 Pacific time. And it started the Woodpecker at about 18.75 megahertz. Now this signal was so strong that we can either collapse the antenna entirely, remove it, and pick it up on this method. [No] antenna, you can use a paper clip and get it, which you can't for any other signal on the air that they know of, unless it's right next to it.

Narrator: So you wouldn't even get it off a radio.

Beck: You would get it off a radio on this set with the antenna collapsed. And what we're listening to is an electromagnetic signal that's being generated in the Soviet Union, many thousands of miles away, that's permeating everything in this country. It's being picked up by power grids, [electrical] lines, re-radiated into homes.

[There are three] suggestions as to why they're actually doing this. The first is that this is an over-the-horizon radar. It would be a relatively crude over-the-horizon radar that could possibly detect the launch of all of our missiles simultaneously on a first strike against the Soviet Union. But in point of fact, the Soviets have much better detection systems for that, see, geo-stationary satellites in orbit and so forth.

The second one is that this is a submarine communication system similar to the proposed American Sanguine system. There's two schools of thought on that. One school says it can't be, because this is simply, a high-frequency carrier which cannot penetrate water. The other school of thought says that the modulation will penetrate the water. I can't answer that one way or another.

The third school, and it's not very well accredited at the present time, is that the intent here is a biological effect upon citizenry of the United States and Canada. Now the Russians have thought about this in 1976, and they have increased their commitment to this all the time until there are now seven transmitters. These are the most powerful radio transmitters in the world. It costs a lot of money. So [rumors are that] to do this. There's got to be a good reason for doing it. And there's a persistent rumor that the United States is sending a similar, but not identical, signal back to the Soviet Union. We have constructed a number of very large, very powerful radars, ostensibly as portions of our air defense system, in which it's my understanding are modulated at 16 cycles per second. And that these are aimed at the ionosphere over the Soviet Union. If this is, in truth, not an over-the-horizon radar but a technology aimed at producing the same effect as the Soviet technology, then what we really are in the middle of is electronic warfare aimed at the citizens of both nations.

Beck: We established a number of years ago that there is a magnetic component to this Woodpecker signal that can penetrate anything. Salt water, [sealed] rooms, etcetera. And we picked this magnetic component up on our [magnetronic] type devices. If we can pick it up, it's highly, highly likely that this thing is causing neurological changes in certain people who are sensitive to this type of energy. Fortunately, not everyone. But perhaps 30 percent of the world's population can have neural alteration because of the presence of this particular electromagnetic interference. And that's affecting the way they behave and the way they feel. I think it's [clear.]

Narrator: Woodpecker doesn't just cover the United States. The signal can also be picked up loud and clear throughout Britain, Western Europe, Australia and the Far East. It cannot be heard in the Soviet Union.

Beck: We've been watching the Woodpecker now for six or seven years, and believe that we have decoded intelligence on the signal that is certainly in the range that has been demonstrated to be psychoactive in animals. Since 10 hertz is a more or less benign frequency, the joke is that maybe the Soviets think that we're the imperialistic warmongers, and they're trying to detoxify us. At any rate, we're not sure what they're really doing with it, but we do know that it can be psychoactive. Whether this is intentional or an unfortunate byproduct of their technology, we don't know. We do know that they know about psychoactivity and magnetic fields.

Narrator: Soviet scientists were fully aware of the psychoactive potential of electromagnetic fields well before the Moscow signal was first beamed at the American Embassy in the 1950s. Published research papers detailed the long-term effects of microwaves, including extreme fatigue, loss of coordination and sensory control. Within the American intelligence community is a group which believes that one of the most important purposes of the signal was to alter the brainwaves of the embassy staff. In this sense, they believe that the Moscow signal was a prototype of Woodpecker.

Becker: It can be highly psychoactive. All they have to do is drop this frequency by several hertz. From 10 hertz to another slot that's known to be psychoactive, and I think we'd have a number of basket cases in this country.

Narrator: My feeling is that electromagnetic weaponry is in some ways even more terrifying and frightening than the nuclear weapons.

Beck: I totally agree. It's a brand new concept. We haven't adapted to the concept anymore than we really have adapted to the nuclear concept. You can't imagine the destructive power of these things. And having done the number of experiments without benefit of the National Institute of Health guidelines, and know what some of these things can do within the nervous system. And that's, since most wars are fought over real estate, that would be ridiculous to use fusion or fission weapons. The psychological weapons would be a lot cleaner and leave a lot more of the terrain.

Narrator: It could be worse than psychological [damage] with an electromagnetic weapon, you could actually just kill people, couldn't you?

Beck: Oh, probably.

Narrator: And there's no defense.

Beck: None that I know of.

[End Program.]

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