At a meeting in Washington D.C. meeting senators Senator Pete Domenici,
Former Senator Alan Cranston (CA)(deceased), Senator Fritz Hollings (So. Carolina)
Geller with Vice President Al Gore, Yuli M. Vorontsov,
First Deputy Foreign
Minister of the Soviet Union
and Anthony Lake, then the National Security
advisor, later the head of the CIA,
Senator Claiborne Pell, Chairman of the
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee
was as surprised as anybody else to open the 4 May 1987 issue of US News &
World Report and read the following on the 'Washington Whispers' page:
Relations Chairman Claiborne Pell last week reserved a vault in the attic of the
Capitol - a room often used to examine top-secret documents. Purpose: Assemble
government officials to hear Israeli psychic Uri Geller reveal what he has divined
of Soviet strategic intentions. Geller, who claims to be able to bend spoons with
mental force, once briefed former President Jimmy Carter.
was not surprised by yet one more untrue story about me in the press. This one
was true. What surprised me was seeing it in print.
do not know who leaked the story. I only know that it was not me. As many eminent
people in all walks of life could testify, when I am asked to keep quiet on a
sensitive matter, I keep quiet.
was no indication in the brief item of why anybody would have thought I had anything
useful to say about Soviet strategic intentions. Not surprisingly, the world's
media decided to find out for themselves. First off the mark was Newsweek,
which sent a reporter to my home in England, where I had only just returned
after a very tiring three-week promotion tour for the hardcover edition of this
book in the US, and where I was hoping for some days of recuperation in the spring
had no such luck. By the time the 11 May issue of Newsweek was on the stands
(several days before the cover date) there had also been a full-page feature in
the News of the World (3 May) and even a fifteen-column-inch story on the
front page of Britain's leading Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Times. Again,
all three of these major stories were substantially accurate, though again most
of the information they contained did not come from me.
truth was gradually emerging: that I had met the head of the Soviet arms negotiating
team in Geneva and also his US counterpart, Ambassador Max Kampelman, in addition
to the highly respected five-term US Senator Claiborne Pell, plus quite a distinguished
cast of supporting characters.
was even given the honour of an item in the weekly BBC radio satirical programme
'Week Ending' (1 May) in which I was supposedly introduced to President Reagan
as the fellow who was going to use 'his awesome psychic powers against the Soviets'.
Reagan: Baloney! I bet you can't tell what
I'm thinking right now.
Me: You're thinking, 'Bet you
can't tell what I'm thinking right now'.
good. This guy's genuine. OK, Geller - you're on!
It was all good fun,
although the actor playing my part did not sound like me. (I also never met President
Reagan and I never use my 'awesome powers' against anybody or anything except
The New York Post published the cartoon reproduced
opposite, with its row of contorted Soviet missiles.
I enjoy a good joke,
including those made at my expense. World peace and nuclear disarmament, however,
are serious matters, and now that a good deal of the story of my brief involvement
in this area has been made public by others, let me tell you what really happened.
I particularly want to set the record straight in order to avoid speculation that
might harm the careers of some of the finest public servants of the United States
- and maybe also of the Soviet Union.
I do not know how it all started. I
do not know who said what to whom, when or where, so I cannot tell you the whole
story. I can only put on record what I know.
With the first publication of
this book in Britain in October 1986, I soon learned that there was a sudden revival
of interest in me. Scraps of information coming my way from friends, and from
friends of friends, led me to believe that some of my former colleagues in the
US defence and intelligence communities were asking themselves why they had let
me go, and why they no longer asked me to do anything for them.
GORBACHEV, I THINK URI GELLER HAS MADE AN ARMS DEAL WITH THE AMERICANS'
Cartoon from the New York Post, May 1987.
Then, late in December 1986,
I received a most unusual telephone call. The dialogue, to the best of my recollection,
went like this.
'Mr Geller? My name is Casey. You may have read about me
in the papers lately. I've known about you for many years.'
to be kidding me. The only Casey I had been reading about was the newly appointed
director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the late William Casey. I forget
what I replied, but my voice must have betrayed my suspicions.
psychic you'll know this isn't a joke,' said the caller. He sounded to me like
an elderly man of some authority. He could well have been the CIA chief, so I
decided to go along with him and see what developed.
'OK,' I replied. 'I
believe you. How can I help you? I'm quite astonished and flattered that you're
calling me out of the blue like this. Did anybody tell you to get in touch with
'No, no, Mr Geller. I just wanted to ask if you could do something for
me over the 'phone, just for my personal satisfaction?'
'Well, I've done
it in the past, but I don't know if it'll work.' I gathered he wanted to do some
kind of telepathy test, and I remembered that my first contact with the CIA had
been very similar to this one.
'I'm looking at something,' he went on. 'Can
you describe it for me?'
I closed my eyes and went through my usual visualisation
method. Then I drew what I had picked up and described it to my caller. I told
him I had seen a dagger with an ornamental tortoise-shell or ivory handle.
There was a long silence. I wondered if we had been disconnected. Then came the
'I'll - be - darned! You got it. OK, OK, that was enough for me. It
was nice talking with you, Mr Geller.' And that was that.
I had already met
Senator Claiborne Pell socially. He and I turned out to have close friends in
common, so there was nothing unusual about our initial meeting. It came about
when an old friend of mine, Princess Luciana Pignatelli, introduced me to a member
of the British Royal Family, the German-born Princess Michael of Kent.
my conversation with the Princess (which was private and as far as I am concerned
will remain so) she mentioned the Senator as an old friend who not only had a
very distinguished public career - he was now chairman of the US Foreign Relations
Committee - but was also very open-minded towards psychic and spiritual matters.
Although I did not know it at the time, the Senator's interests were on the record
back in 1984, when an article in the New York Times (10 January) quoted
him as having 'discussed the parapsychology field with Soviet researchers during
a visit to the Soviet Union in August . . .'
We got along very well from
the start. I found Senator Pell to be a man of great dignity and wisdom, and although
he could be described as a member of the old school of politics, he also struck
me as one of the most forward-looking and open-minded statesmen I had ever met.
What especially impressed me was that he wanted above all to know if I thought
psychic power could be used for peaceful purposes.
We had a very pleasant
meeting. I bent a spoon for him and reproduced a drawing he had made out of my
sight, of a smiling face. Nothing specific was arranged, and I never imagined
that we would meet again so soon or in such sensitive circumstances.
long after that mysterious telephone conversation with a man who claimed to be
the head of the CIA, another call came out of the blue into my home. The caller
was secretary to Ambassador Kampelman, who told me very formally that the ambassador
would like to meet me, and could I suggest a suitable venue?
I assumed he
would not want our meeting to be too public, to put it mildly, so I hastily arranged
to borrow the boardroom of a London company owned by a friend I could trust to
keep quiet, and that was where we duly met - just the two of us.
was one of the few people who have asked to see me and then not asked me
to bend a spoon or read his mind. He struck me as a man not fond of wasting time,
and I believe he had been well briefed on what I could do. He was particularly
keen to know if I thought that a human mind could influence others at a distance
in a positive way, and as with Senator Pell I found him to be a person of great
warmth and constructive intentions. Our talk lasted about an hour, during which
we also touched on the question of Soviet Jews, which was naturally of interest
to us, and when we shook hands out on the pavement nothing was said about any
By February 1987, the German-language edition of this book
had been published by Ariston, a publisher with its headquarters in Geneva. They
arranged an extensive promotion tour for me in Germany, Austria and the German-speaking
areas of Switzerland, and it was while I was in Zurich that I received yet another
of those out-of-the-blue 'phone calls inviting me to come at once to Geneva.
The US/Soviet disarmament talks were already under way, and I was to attend a
function at the US Mission. The date was 27 February, and the invitation came
from Ambassador Kampelman's aide. (Whether the invitation originated with the
ambassador, I do not know:) It was agreed that if the press spotted me I was to
be described as an entertainer, although whoever heard of entertainers at disarmament
So, almost as soon as I stepped from the plane at Geneva, I found
myself on centre-stage in a real-life drama that could have had immense international
The formal business of the day was over (I had not been invited
to that) and a reception was held at the US Mission for American and Soviet delegates
and their wives. It may have been no more than an informal social event on the
surface, but as any diplomat will know these affairs are not held just for fun.
The serious business continues at them, and I did not have to be psychic to know
that I had walked into a room where some very heavy stuff was going on amid the
social chatter and raising of glasses.
I was delighted to spot two familiar
faces, those of Senator Pell and Ambassador Kampelman, and to be introduced to
no less than five other senators: Ted Stevens, Richard Lugar, Arlen Spector, Don
Nickles and a man who could well be a future US president - Albert Gore.
I was even more honoured and pleased then to be presented to the First Deputy
Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union and head of his mission, Yuli M. Vorontsov.
I had come
a long way in a short time, for the man I was meeting just a couple of months
after that enigmatic telephone call from somebody claiming to be William Casey
(I still have no proof that it was) was one of the three most influential men
in Soviet foreign affairs, together with his minister, Edward Shevardnadze, and
party secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
liked Mr Vorontsov at once. I felt no trace of hostility from him, and we soon
began a pleasant and informal conversation, ranging over world affairs in general
and the abilities of individuals to alter the course of events by no more than
the state of their minds and their real desire for peace.
was sure he had such a desire. For all their history of wars, revolutions and
massacres, I feel that there is a peaceful side to the Russian personality (though
not perhaps to all nationalities in the Soviet Union), together with an energy
and enthusiasm for life not often found in other peoples.
knew who I was, and since I had been brought along as an entertainer, I thought
I had better do some entertaining. I began by making a seed sprout, and then picked
up a spoon and began to bend it in my usual way, handing it to Vorontsov and telling
him it would go on bending while he was holding it. To his delight, and my great
relief, it did.
manner towards me after my little show became even more cordial. He smiled, and
said, 'I know these powers are real', then went on to tell me about the Soviet
healer Dzhuna Davitashvili, who is thought to have treated the late Mr Brezhnev
- though this was not the time to ask about that alleged incident.
the reception, I was invited to join a group for dinner at Roberto's restaurant,
where I was seated opposite Vorontsov at the table that also included Kampelman,
Pell and two other senators.
Like the reception, the dinner was more than
a purely social affair, and I will not repeat any of the dialogue that buzzed
around my ears during the meal. It soon became clear to me - by perfectly normal
means - that both sides had come to Geneva to bargain, negotiate and discuss,
not to present previously established fixed positions, as might have been the
case under earlier Soviet administrations. History was being made all around me,
and the well-being of tens of millions of people would depend on how well my fellow-diners
got along with each other.
the meal, I kept up a steady bombardment of my own form of negotiation: intense
images of peace. The previous year, I had only had a few minutes with the first
'victim' of my peace campaign, Adnan Khashoggi, and, as I have described, I am
sure he received the message. With Vorontsov I had three or four hours, and I
really let him have it. I am convinced that he too got the message.
signed a copy of my book for Vorontsov and his wife, telling him he would have
a good laugh when he read it, because he was going to think, 'How come the US
is still using him, because the book is fairly derogatory about the CIA?'
'Don't worry,' he said. 'They never read books!'
days later, on Monday 2 March 1987, the story hit the world's headlines. 'West
Welcomes Gorbachev Nuclear Weapons Proposal' (Financial Times) and 'Urgent
Missile Talks Today on Soviet Offer' (The Times) were two typical ones
from the British press. In a front-page column headed 'Soviet Offer is Genuine
Article', The Guardian's Jonathan Steele summarized two explanations of
what he called 'Mr Gorbachev's dramatic U-turn' in the form of a no-strings-attached
offer to remove all medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe, East and West.
'hard-line' version was that it was a clever Soviet ploy to lure President Reagan
into an unwise deal at a time when he faced difficulties in other areas. The 'optimistic'
theory was that 'Gorbachev is making an important concession', and Steele commented:
'I accept the second theory . . .'
would love to claim all the credit for this, but I should point out that Gorbachev's
surprise offer was made the very day after my dinner party at Geneva. It is true
that when I said good-bye to Vorontsov, I told him to tell Mr Gorbachev what had
happened, which he assured me he would and I have no doubt that he did. However,
there were many indications that the Soviet leader had been planning a major initiative
of this kind ever since the 1986 Reykjavik summit with Reagan - and I had nothing
to do with that!
so, the Sunday Times' headline in its 3 May issue was: 'Did Uri Bend the
Will of Gorbachev?' Maybe I did? Who knows? Only Vorontsov and Gorbachev, and
they are not telling.
home after my brief plunge into international affairs, I had plenty to do. The
French edition of my book came out, calling for more promotion, and I had little
time to prepare myself physically and psychically for my three-week tour of the
US in April.
7 April, less than a week after the start of my US tour, I found that the authorities
had not finished with me. I received a very high-powered invitation to a dinner
party at the house of a prominent and influential industrialist in the Washington
area, whose other guests included such prominent political figures as Milton Friedman,
House Speaker James Wright, Representative Charlie Rose, and a handful of senators
including Alan Cranston. It was a private and informal affair, and I was sure
I had not been invited just to bend the spoons.
took the opportunity to say my piece on world affairs and the ability of individuals
to influence them for the general good. My little peace lecture was pretty well
rehearsed by now, and I already had reason to believe that it had opened quite
a few minds in recent weeks. I hope it opened one or two more that evening.
Perhaps it did, for towards the end of my coast-to-coast tour I received yet another
of those invitations of the kind you cannot refuse. This was to the meeting at
the Capitol at which, as US News & World Report put it, I was asked
to reveal to US government officials what I had 'divined' of Soviet strategic
I flew in from Minneapolis, and was met at the airport by Senator
Pell's aide, who drove me straight to the Capitol. As we rolled into the parking
lot, I realised I was still in my usual sports clothes, and felt I ought to change
into something more suitable for a top-level meeting with some of the leaders
of the world's most powerful nation. Time was running short, so I stripped right
down there in the Capitol parking lot and managed to get my suit and tie on, hoping
a curious cop would not stop by and wonder exactly what was going on!
was not an unqualified success for me. The audience, according to Newsweek,
consisted of 'forty government officials, including Capitol Hill staffers
and Pentagon and Defense Department aides, gathered in a high-security room to
hear Geller hold forth on his abilities'. That was not quite correct - I did not
hold forth on my abilities, but on my usual theme of world peace and the need
to invest more in the development of mental abilities. I reminded the officials
that I now knew what I was talking about from first-hand experience when I said
that top Soviet officials were aware of the psychic dimension. I had only recently
spent an evening with the Number Three man in the Soviet foreign affairs hierarchy,
and I had, I thought, left him with something to think about.
far, so good. Then, as Newsweek reported quite correctly, 'the psychic
tried guessing - unsuccessfully - the shapes that the assembled guests had drawn
on bits of paper'. I just had a bad day as far as telepathy was concerned. I was
really worn out after barnstorming around the country. I had been on the promotion
bandwagon since October, with very few rest breaks, and on top of that I had suddenly
been hauled into a major international affair. All I could concentrate on by then
was getting back to my wife, my children and my home.
after the start of my April promotion tour in the United States, I was contacted
by an Israeli. He did not tell me who he was, and I did not ask him.
was very well informed about my recent activities in areas other than those for
which I am best known, and his message to me was very brief. What it amounted
to was this: I could be in serious trouble, and I should watch my step.
Maybe he overstated
his case, but knowing the people I assume he was working for, I would not bet
on it. I became paranoid. Was somebody out to kidnap me, or to 'terminate' me,
as they say in intelligence circles? It seemed ridiculous, but . . .
things do happen. My good friend John Lennon was gunned down outside his own home
by a mentally disturbed young man. That great man of peace Terry Waite disappeared
in the labyrinths of Lebanese political intrigue after setting out on another
of his brave one-man peace missions. What really happened to those three British
scientists working in a sensitive defence-related industry who were all found
dead in most unusual circumstances? People do get kidnapped. They do disappear.
They do get terminated. There are some really sick people out there. There are
also some powerful and well-financed individuals who have vested interests in
preventing world peace. The victims of these perverts and warmongers always seem
to be those most dedicated to peace, love and spiritiual progress.
as I got home, I wrote three short letters, put them in an envelope and had this
delivered to the Soviet Embassy in London. I enclosed a covering letter to the
ambassador asking him to pass on the letters. One was to Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev,
one was to Yuli Vorontsov, and the third was to the director-general of the Soviet
Committee for State Security, better known as the KGB. The contents of the letters
were identical, and this is what I wrote:
my demonstration at the US Mission in Geneva for the US and Soviet delegations,
I heard rumours that the KGB might be planning to either kidnap me or kill me.
I am just a good showman and an entertainer, and I am harmless. I do hope
the rumours are false.
My best wishes,
Was I over-reacting, or was that cryptic message from the
nameless Israeli genuine? Knowing how people in Israeli security circles operate,
I would doubt that he was wasting either his own time or mine.
Had I written
to the right people, though? Did somebody else want me out of the way? I could
not think of anybody, but all the same I carried out a thorough check of my security
and improved it in a number of ways, making use of the best advice available anywhere.
I tried to visualise the scene when Vorontsov reported back to his government
after the Geneva talks. Maybe he really did believe that the US had signed an
arms deal with me? There must have been some confusion in the Kremlin - entertainers
do not normally show up at disarmament talks. What was the US up to? Did they
have a secret weapon: me?
To add to their confusion, I had made it perfectly
clear what I was up to. I told Vorontsov more or less what I told all the other
people mentioned in this chapter - that the mind is mightier than the missile,
and instead of spending billions on missiles, we should put some real money into
It is already clear that I am not the only one to believe this, for
when the story of my visits to Geneva and the Capitol hit the headlines, there
was an interesting development: I received official invitations from no less than
four major countries. All of them wanted me to visit them in order to discuss
ways of achieving peace with top government officials including heads of state.
When I received these invitations, I accepted them all and included a selection
of articles and items about my recent activities from the press. I also included
a fair selection of derogatory material written by my detractors and other sceptics.
All four countries replied to the effect that after carefully studying the
material I sent them, they would still like me to visit them. Previous 'peace
conferences' have focused on ways of reducing war. We are now putting the emphasis
on ways of increasing peace, which is not quite the same thing.
my file of anti-Geller articles, I cannot help feeling once again that I have
come a long way. For instance, here is the 1977 issue of The Humanist with
the cover story entitled 'Psychics Debunked'. I was one of them. of course, And
here is the New Scientist (16 April 1987) admitting just ten years later
that 'despite CSICOP's attempts to discredit Uri Geller, the spoon-bending psychic
from Israel, Geller has earned up to $250,000 a day telling mining companies where
to look for oil and gold.' In 1978, you may remember, the same magazine described
me as a 'fake'. Now, at least, I have been promoted to the status of a 'psychic'!
The issue today is no longer whether Uri Geller is real or not. It is one
of much more importance: whether a wider understanding of the real power of the
human mind can make for a better world.
I am proud of what I did at Geneva,
and I am grateful to those courageous public figures who invited me there regardless
of the ridicule they knew they could expect from their own press (although as
it turned out, the episode was very objectively and fairly reported). Two of them,
incidentally, wrote to thank me for my services after the story had become public.
I do not know who was ultimately responsible for getting me to Geneva, and
it will be some time before we can say what effect, if any, I had on the minds
of the Soviet officials I met.
My guess is that they went home with plenty
to think about, and that as soon as they were back at their desks quite a number
of urgent messages flew around the country, from Moscow and Leningrad to Minsk,
Kharkov, Kiev, Pushchino, Krasnodar, Novosibirsk, Alma-Ata, Taganrog, Yerevan
and Tbilisi - in fact, everywhere that 'bioelectronics' (their word for psychic
functioning) is already being studied. A research budget would be increased here,
a new laboratory added there, more staff taken on somewhere else . . .
next peace summit talks could be really interesting.