The American public still debates the true nature of John F. Kennedy’s death and whether or not they believe in the existence of Area 51. Conspiracy theories drive the plot of television shows, documentaries, and books alike.
While we may never know the verdict on the potential second JFK shooter or meet extraterrestrial lifeforms, there are a few United States government conspiracies that really happened, and you’ll be shocked to find out who was behind some of them.
On April 13th, 1953, the then-Director of Central Intelligence officially approved project MKUltra. The project continued for over a decade with the purpose of developing drugs and procedures for use in interrogations and torture. These would ideally weaken the individual and force confessions through mind control.
The CIA library published a 60 Minutes interview from 1984 about MKUltra. Ed Bradley relayed that the CIA never denied MKUltra and the mind control project. The terrifying truth, however, is that Dr. Ewen Cameron, the researcher, never told his patients they were being used as guinea pigs. Many were left emotionally crippled for life.
Next: This real-life experiment knowingly killed hundreds of men.
Tuskegee syphilis experiment
This study left the participants with plenty of bad blood; the opposite of what they thought they were being treated for. The infamous clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 told the 600 black men they were being treated for “bad blood,” when actually they weren’t receiving proper treatment to cure their illnesses. While 201 of the men had no ailment, 399 tested positive for syphilis.
The researchers never told the men they weren’t being treated; instead, they were letting them and examining their bodies to see what the disease did. The study was conducted without the patients’ informed consent. Researchers promised the participants free health care from the U.S. government, including free medical exams and burial insurance.
Next: This Amendment for “safety” led to thousands of deaths.
Poisoned alcohol during Prohibition
The glamour and intrigue of the 1920s was enhanced by the 18th Amendment; Prohibition banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol – but not the consumption. Alcoholism skyrocketed during the Prohibition era, much to the government’s dismay, and the bootlegged whiskies and other tainted liquors often made people sick.The deaths, investigators shortly realized, came courtesy of the U.S. government.
By the mid-1920s the U.S. government became frustrated with the elevated consumption. Federal officials ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols with chemicals like chloroform and acetone. New York City’s chief medical examiner, Charles Norris, tried to publicize the dangers to no avail. By the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.
Next: The terrorist attacks that leaders wanted to rally support.
In 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved planned terrorist attacks in the U.S. to rally support for a war against Cuba that would oust communist leader Fidel Castro. Operation Northwoods‘ declassified government documents show that the military leaders considered taking a number of actions including host funerals for “mock-victims,” “start rumors (many),” and “blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba.”
“There really was a worry at the time about the military going off crazy and they did, but they never succeeded, but it wasn’t for lack of trying,” James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, told ABC News. The advisers presented the plan to Robert McNamara, President Kennedy’s secretary of defense. A few days later, Kennedy told U.S. Army Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer that the U.S. would never use overt force to take Cuba.
Next: This country’s freedom led to their leader’s execution.
CIA plot to murder Patrice Lumumba
In June of 1960, Patrice Lumumba began serving as the first legally elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Six months later, he was killed by an execution squad by an inter-related assassination plot by the American and Belgian governments.
Gulf of Tonkin Incident
The Pentagon Papers reported that the USS Maddox engaged three North Vietnamese boats in the Gulf of Tonkin on both August 2 and August 4, 1964. NSA historian Robert J. Hanyok argued that while SIGINT confirms that North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked a U.S. destroyer, the USS Maddox, on August 2, 1964, it was under questionable circumstances.
However, the SIGINT shows that the second attack on August 4 did not occur despite claims made by the Johnson administration. President Johnson and Secretary of Defense McNamara used the claim to support retaliatory air strikes and White House freedom of action in Vietnam. The NSA resisted commenting for decades and finally released declassified documents in 2005, admitting the incident on August 4 never happened.
Next: The contaminated vaccine that could kill.
The tainted Polio vaccine cover-up
Many of the patients seeking their polio vaccination in the late 1950s unknowingly acquired cancer, according to the American Journal of Cancer. Researchers estimate that 98 million U.S. citizens received vaccines contaminated with simian virus 40 (SV40).
Researchers know SV40 causes cancer in animals, however they’re torn on the possibility that the virus can cause cancer in humans. Independent studies have identified SV40 in brain and lung tumors found in both children and adults. While the federal government changed oral-vaccine stipulations in 1961, medical professionals allegedly continued to administer tainted vaccines until 1963.
Next: The conspiracy to cover a conspiracy theory.
What the CIA describes as a “highly secret six-year effort to retrieve a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean floor during the Cold War,” may have actually been much more. The likely reasons the project was undertaken include the recovery of an intact nuclear missile and cryptological documents and equipment.
A few publications and people have presented conspiracy theories that suggest the project goal of raising a Soviet submarine was itself a coverup for an even more secretive mission. Time magazine and a court filing on behalf of the Military Audit Project are among them. The possible motivations for a secret mission included tapping of undersea communication cables and the installation of an underwater equivalent of a missile silo.
Next: The complicated controversy that may have involved a U.S. President.
The Iran-Contra affair, a U.S. political scandal that took place during President Ronald Reagan’s second term, was illegal under the Boland Agreement. Congress prohibited further funding of the “contras,” who were fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, under the agreement, while Reagan instructed the National Security Council (NSC) to “keep the Contras together ‘body and soul,'” regardless of Congress’ vote.
What began as an effort to free American hostages held in Lebanon transpired into a complicated network of controversy. The plan entailed Israel shipping weapons to Iran that the U.S. would then replace while receiving the Israeli payment. In return, the Iranian recipients promised to do everything they could to release the hostages. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the NSC made modifications to the plan in 1985 that diverted a portion of the money from the weapon sales to fund the contras.
Next: The landowners the government stole from.
The U.S. government stole from the Bureau of Indian Affairs
PR firm organized testimony from Kuwaiti
“It’s plainly wrong for a member of Congress to collaborate with a public relations firm to produce knowingly deceptive testimony on an important issue. Yet Representative Tom Lantos of California has been caught doing exactly that,” the New York Times wrote in 1992.
Lantos concealed the identity of the ambassador’s daughter that helped garner support for Persian Gulf War from both the public and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus co-chairman, Representative John E. Porter. While Lantos claimed the fact that “Nayirah” was the Ambassador’s daughter didn’t alter her credibility, the NYT stated that had her identity been known, her accusations surely would have faced greater skepticism and been questioned more closely.
Next: The money that vanished into thin air.
The missing $2 billion of Iraq War Money
In 2003 the Bush administration sent money to, “provide a quick financial infusion for Iraq’s new government and the country’s battered economy,” according to the New York Times. While somewhere between $12 and $14 was sent to Iraq by airlift and $5 billion by electronic transfer over the next year and a half, what happened to the money remained a mystery.
Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general appointed to investigate corruption and waste in Iraq, was determined to find where the money went. Bowen said that the investigation began when Wael el-Zein, a Lebanese-American member of his staff, received a tip about stolen money hidden in a Lebanon bunker. Mr. Bowen thinks at least some of the money has been moved, and said it is impossible to say whether any of it is still in the bunker.
Next: The firearm controversy with recent developments.
Operation Fast and Furious
The U.S. government passed the Federal Housing Act in 1934. For the next 30 plus years, the FHA mortgage insurance requirements utilized redlining to segregate neighborhoods by denying loans to African Americans.
If a black family could afford to buy into a white neighborhood without government help, the FHA would refuse to insure future mortgages even to whites in that neighborhood, because it was now threatened with integration, according to The American Prospect. The federal government was able to prevent school integration as through The Underwriting Manual that established the FHA’s mortgage lending requirements.
Next: The coup that’s still in question.
The overthrow of Chile’s Salvador Allende
The 1973 Chilean coup d’état that overthrew Chile’s legally elected president, Salvador Allende, is still shrouded in unconfirmed details. The U.S. Senate opened an investigation into possible U.S. interference in Chile following an incriminating New York Times article. The United States Intelligence Committee report stated that the CIA didn’t instigate the coup but was aware of coup-plotting by the military.
Robert Dallek, author of Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, reviewed recordings of phone conversations between President Nixon and Henry Kissinger and concluded that they used the CIA to purposefully damage the Allende government. Kissinger complained about the lack of recognition of the American role in the overthrow of a “communist” government, upon which Nixon remarked, “Well, we didn’t – as you know – our hand doesn’t show on this one.”
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