(Jim Schnabel is the author of the book Remote Viewers: the secret history of America's psychic spies, and was the originator and narrator of the British Channel Four documentary The Real X-Files, recently broadcast in the U.S. on the Discovery Channel. Schnabel was commissioned to write a piece on Dave Morehouse for Esquire in 1994, when Morehouse began to claim that remote viewing and Army harassment had landed him in Walter Reed. Schnabel discovered a different story. However, the piece was not what Esquire's editor wanted, and it was killed. Schnabel decided to write this, as a once-for-all statement, after receiving queries from other journalists about Morehouse.)
It is a gray, uncomfortable day in May 1994 and I am through the doors and into Ward 54, one of the psychiatric units at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in north Washington D.C. A sergeant in fatigues is behind the desk, shuffling papers.
"I'm here to see Major David Morehouse," I say.
"Major Morehouse, Major Morehouse," says the sergeant in a tone of genial reflection. "A visitor for Major Morehouse . . ."
The sergeant, who apparently is also a trained nurse, opens a visitor's log for me to sign, and sends a lower- ranking soldier, a thin young man also in fatigues, around a corner to fetch the major. As I sign the logbook a woman quietly enters the room and stands beside me. She is watching me write. I look up at her. She is pretty, in her late thirties, with a certain intensity etched around her eyes.
"I'm Debbie Morehouse," she says, shaking my hand. "I'm here to see Dave, too."
It is not the happiest of coincidences. I've come to Walter Reed in hope of getting an interview with Morehouse - - there is no other way to reach him, I've been told -- but now his loving wife will occupy his attentions. He'll want to spend time with her alone.
I remain several cautious paces behind when she rounds the corner in search of her husband. And there he is, trailing behind the orderly in fatigues. He's dressed in civilian clothes, walking slowly, frowning. Short, muscular, but getting heavy, he has a nose that looks like it was broken once or twice. He greets his wife not with a smile but with a contemptuous deepening of his frown and a slight lifting of his head, as if to say, "Not you again."
She does not seem to mind the coldness of it. It is obvious that she's used to this. In any case, Dave Morehouse has much to be unhappy about. He is about to be court-martialed by the Army for a range of offenses involving the wife of an enlisted man who was under his command. Other investigations are underway by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division and counter-intelligence units, involving his apparent disclosures of classified information. Morehouse's Army career is over, and he faces a possible jail sentence. He is here in Walter Reed because he apparently had had some kind of breakdown a few months ago. He is stable now, but tells friends that he still speaks to angels now and then.
Morehouse listens to a few quiet words from his wife, words that I do not hear, and then for the first time he turns his head slightly and looks in my direction.
I explain that I am writing a book about the secret military project he was once part of. The project trained military personnel as "remote viewers," psychics who tried to spy on intelligence targets around the globe. Morehouse, from 1988 to 1990, was one of those remote viewers. And now he is blaming the program, in part, for his mental breakdown. He also is claiming that the government has mounted a secret campaign to harass him: There have been strange packages sent to his wife, with tape-recordings of his phone conversations. Strange people have been following him -- disappearing into crowds as soon as they're spotted.
Explaining to Morehouse that it is a coincidence that his wife and I arrived at the same time, I ask whether it is possible for me to interview him on a later day.
He looks at me sideways. His eyes seem to be locked on something well to the left of mine. Some ghost, or some calculation. Finally he says, "Have you talked to Sandra?"
Sandra -- Sandra Martin -- is not his lawyer, or his doctor. She is his agent.
For the past five years, in fact almost from the start of my career as a journalist, I have occasionally written about people with wild tales to tell. There have been spirit- mediums, UFO abductees, inventors of perpetual motion machines, and would-be shamans touched by God. Some of these people, despite being outrageous, half-demented liars, have managed to make a decent living from their stories. A few have even become celebrities. But none of these storytellers, with their campaigns for fifteen minutes of fame, has ever seemed as . . . breathtaking is the best word I can think of -- as David Morehouse. To me, his story is not just about the depths to which one human can sink. (Morehouse is, in the end, perhaps only a sleazier, crazier version of the old Sgt. Bilko character.) Somehow his story also reflects the current state of things in America -- a country that seems to be going insane.
Insane is the right word: What else to call a people who feed hungrily, via The X-Files and other forms of that hugely popular genre, on paranoid conspiracy-fantasies otherwise found only on psychiatric wards? What else to call a people who, according to polls, increasingly believe that the X-Files picture of the world is an accurate one? Let us not be too harsh on Morehouse, when his book mounts the bestseller list and is followed in a year or two by a summer-blockbuster film. He is merely telling America what it wants to hear.
Morehouse, despite several promises to do so, never let me interview him in person. I had only a half-hour conversation with him by phone in August 1995, in which he talked fast at me about remote viewing and psychiatric issues, and then switched to a discussion of his book project and all the publicity it had attracted.
So I know relatively little about Morehouse from Morehouse himself. But then, Morehouse is perhaps not the best source on such matters.
About Morehouse's background I have been told only a few things: He grew up in Carlsbad, California. In high school he was a wrestler, and a member of the cheerleading squad. Between high school and university he joined a company that trained cheerleaders. Ed Dames, who was his closest friend in the remote-viewing unit (and was still Morehouse's friend when I interviewed him in early 1994) remembers talking with Morehouse about those days: "He travelled with this company and its president. They had a big bus, with about 16 females and 7 males, and they travelled from campus to campus, training cheerleaders. Dave has pictures of this; they would bring tears to any healthy man's eyes: extremely nubile females, in great numbers, both within the troupe, and at each campus where they had fresh meat."
Morehouse attended Brigham Young University on an Army ROTC scholarship, converted to Mormonism to marry Debbie, and graduated in 1979 with a commission as a second lieutenant. His Army career was promising. Morehouse's superior officers regularly praised his intelligence and energy. In the early 1980s, as a first lieutenant, he served briefly in Panama as the aide de camp for Brigadier General Kenneth Leuer, commander of the 193d Infantry Brigade. Leuer wrote in Morehouse's officer efficiency report:
It was apparently at ISA that Morehouse's career began to run into trouble. According to a source familiar with the case, Morehouse was stressed by a situation involving the wife of a colleague. Morehouse's version was that he was merely counselling the woman. The colleague's version, apparently, was different. In any case, things were getting hot. Morehouse himself sought counselling, and also sought a new assignment. He heard about the remote-viewing program, which was then under the management of the DIA, and asked Col. Dennis Kowal, an Army psychologist who had knowledge of the program, about it. The project, labelled DT-S within the DIA's bureaucracy, was code-named Sun Streak. Morehouse wasted no time applying for a job there.
Morehouse's application was reviewed by remote viewer Paul Smith, an Army captain of similar age, who was also a Mormon. To Smith, Morehouse seemed like a high flier, a good choice for the program. In Morehouse's application there was no mention of any prior paranormal ability, but none was expected. As Dennis Kowal put it later, in testimony for the court martial at Fort Bragg:
Unfortunately DT-S, which had always been controversial, had by this time been pushed to the outer margins of the intelligence community. Only a few intelligence consumers took it seriously, and those few had to conceal their interest by saying their use of DT-S was merely "experimental." For most of the time in those little buildings at Fort Meade, a somnolent atmosphere prevailed. DT-S's remote-viewers read books, did crosswords and logic puzzles, and otherwise tried to occupy their time. "It was that or sit around and stare at the walls," remembers former remote viewer Lyn Buchanan.
Morehouse managed to keep himself busier than most. He had a small home-improvement business, House Tech, that he ran on the side. As time went by, he began to spend more and more of his days away from the office, doing House Tech work. Former remote viewer Paul Smith told me: "I remember many times when Dave would have been useful and he wasn't there." Lyn Buchanan has a similar recollection. "He was taking a lot of time off to do his own work -- his homebuilding business. He'd call in a lot, and would get in late, and leave early." When Morehouse did bother to turn up, remembers Buchanan, he still spent much of his time on private business. "He'd do all his House Tech paperwork there in the office."
At some point, Morehouse helped build a wood deck in Ed Dames's backyard. Dames and Morehouse were by this time best friends. One day, when Dames was away at the office, Morehouse arrived to work on the deck. Dames's wife was there. She remembers: "Dave said, `I really miss your cooking.' Then he said, `I really miss you, too.'" She just laughed nervously, and was grateful when Morehouse didn't press the matter. She never told her husband that his best friend had made a pass at her.
Thanks to exaggerated officer efficiency reports, Morehouse continued to look good on paper at Fort Meade. But by the end of his stay there, his colleagues were disgusted by his long absences from work, as was DT-S's branch chief. When Morehouse finally left in mid-1990, hardly anyone noticed. And no one ever asked him to come back.
Following Ed Dames, who had left DT-S in June 1988, Morehouse jumped to another hush-hush, sexy unit known as Team Six, based in Baltimore. Dames told me it was a "strategic deception" unit, and said it had originally been set up to deceive the Soviets on major strategic issues, for example involving ICBMs and Star Wars technology. (In conversation, Tim Wiener of the New York Times called it a "mind-fuck" operation.) Morehouse's officer efficiency reports from the period make clear that it now had an anti- narcotics role, and closely coordinated with the U.S. Southern Command in Panama as well as the special operations community. Apparently it was one of the Army's many recent attempts to play James Bond games. The woman at the center of Morehouse's court-martial case -- let's call her Angela Connor -- remembers Morehouse describing his life at Team Six:
According to Angela Connor's testimony at the court- martial, Morehouse in those days was stressed for another reason: Through his Team Six "undercover" work, he had met a Maryland woman named Mary R---, and was having an intense affair with her. For a while (according to Angela Connor) he had planned to divorce his wife Debbie and marry Mary instead.
While all this was going on, Morehouse managed to keep House Tech going. He and Dames also started a company called Psi Tech, which offered the moonlighting services of Morehouse and DT-S remote viewers to private and commercial clients. There were only a few takers, and the targets they provided tended to be a bit flaky. One client asked Psi Tech to uncover the truth about the mysterious "crop circles" in English fields. Dames's analysis of the remote viewers' data suggested that the circles were being made by small, fast-moving extraterrestrial vehicles. How far Morehouse went along with this extraterrestrial enthusiasm is unclear, but during one official visit to Los Alamos on behalf of Team Six, Morehouse and Dames took a few days out to venture into the high deserts of northwestern New Mexico, apparently convinced that an alien base was somewhere out there under the mesas.
Morehouse lasted only briefly at Team Six, then worked at the Army's Personnel Command before heading in 1992 to Fort Leavenworth, to the Army's Command and General Staff College. He graduated in early 1993 and was assigned to the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.
On the surface, Morehouse's life and career seemed to be back on solid ground again. He had a traditional assignment, as executive officer of an airborne battalion, and with Command and General Staff College behind him, seemed destined for early promotion to lieutenant colonel. But beneath the surface, things were still slipping.
Some time in 1992 or 1993, Ed Dames -- now retired from the Army -- had decided to write a book about remote viewing. He had been put in touch with New York literary agent and infomercial producer Sandra Martin, who specialized in popular, often New Ageish projects. Morehouse was invited to join the effort, although ultimately the writing was handed over to Jim Marrs (author of the bestselling conspiracy thriller Crossfire, which had helped give rise to Oliver Stone's film JFK). Some time in late 1993, Martin sold Marrs' proposal for $100,000 to Harmony Books, a division of Crown Publishing. According to Dames, the money (after Martin's commission) was split equally among Marrs, Dames, and Morehouse. Morehouse's share came either in lump sums or in less direct disbursements (one document from the time shows that Morehouse claimed $1,500 per month income from "Night Vision Films, Inc.," which perhaps was Martin's production company). In any case, the book would be the Dames and Morehouse story, and they would jointly have editorial control over its content. Morehouse heard about the Harmony deal over his field phone while on exercises with his battalion in the wilds of North Carolina. Later, he went out and leased a Mercedes. "It's for you, babe," he told one of his girlfriends of the time.
That girlfriend was Angela Connor. Angela Connor was the wife of Alan Connor, an enlisted man who until recently had been Morehouse's driver, but was now at another posting. He had told Morehouse about his marital problems, and Morehouse had briefly served as an unofficial counselor in this regard. Not long after Alan Connor left Fort Bragg for a post in Texas, in the spring of 1993, Morehouse invited Angela to dinner, drove her home, and seduced her. The method he employed was one which might make even hardened womanizers wince. According to Angela Connor, Morehouse invited himself into her house, saying he needed to use the bathroom. Then:
When Morehouse had merely been her husband's boss, Angela Connor had admired and respected him. Now she fell in love with him. She listened with fascination to his tales of remote viewing and other secret "spook" projects, and the sensational book he was working on with Ed Dames. She believed him when he told her that he loved her and would marry her. She even agreed, eventually, to his requests to have unprotected anal sex with her: "He called me, quote, `my little virgin ass.'"
In the throes of love, Angela tried not to think about some of Morehouse's stranger behavior. At dinner, he liked to cut her food for her, and "sometimes asked if he could feed me." On a few occasions, he bragged that he could kill her. Once during sex:
Toward the end of 1993, Angela Connor learned that Morehouse was about to leave for a new post in the Washington DC area. It was clear now that he was not in love with her. He was not going to marry her. She also came to the conclusion that Morehouse had all along been sleeping with other women, including two waitresses at local franchise restaurants (one later admitted to Fort Bragg investigators that she had spent the night in a hotel room with Morehouse, but she said that they had merely "watched movies").
Connor was so angry -- "he had manipulated me and [was] using me and my husband, and everything was a game to him" -- that she took the unusual step of complaining, first to a Fort Bragg chaplain and then to Fort Bragg military prosecutors.
click continue to part two