Prior to the mid-1960's, the term 'conspiracy theory' was a neutral expression. However, in the aftermath of the JFK assassination, it acquired a derogatory meaning, implying a paranoid tendency to see the influence of some covert agency in events. In 1967, the CIA released the document titled, Countering Criticism of the Warren Report, which laid out a series of techniques for "countering and discrediting the claims of conspiracy theorists" in order to protect the reputation of the American government. The CIA effectively 'weaponized' the term 'conspiracy theory' and to this day, it still retains its negative connotation. Despite its derogatory meaning, a 2015 study conducted by political scientists, Eric Oliver and Thomas Wood, found that 50% of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. Perhaps, the reason for the large number of conspiracy theory believers is that a number of conspiracy theories have been proven true. Maybe they aren't so crazy after all - especially since, these ten shocking conspiracy theories turned out to be true.
10 CIA Assassinations
After the Watergate Scandal unfolded in the early 1970’s, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence investigated CIA and FBI intelligence gathering for illicitness. The Committee uncovered that the CIA had violated its charter to perform gathering of intelligence, among many other things. Assassinations of Allende in Chile, Mossadegh in Iran, and assassinations against Central and South American leaders and revolutionaries were discovered. The CIA’s ‘Heart Attack Gun’ was declassified in the process, which was a weapon they had made for the use of killing someone without being detected. Common assassination methods used by the CIA were also declassified, which included cancer, car accidents, suicide, boating and skiing accidents, heart attacks and being shot.
9 CIA Pays for False Testimony
Nayirah al-Sabah was a Kuwait woman who testified to the House of Representatives in 1990, that she had personally witnessed Iraqi soldiers invade Kuwait hospitals, take newborn infants out of their incubators, and throw them on the floor to freeze to death. Nayirah’s testimony helped sway American public opinion in favor of military force against Iraq. However, it was discovered two years later that Nayirah’s story wasn't true, and that the CIA had not only paid her to lie, but they were also responsible for mass-marketing her testimony. In 1992, John MacArthur of the New York Times uncovered Nayirah was the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador of the U.S, and that the CIA used her to assist in waging war with Iraq for the purpose of oil. The CIA paid Nayirah for her fabricated testimony and even paid for her to attend acting classes to appear convincing. It worked – in January 1991; the U.S. launched a military operation against Iraq known as Operation Desert Storm.
8 Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the code name for the 1945 recruitment and smuggling of German scientists from Nazi Germany into the U.S. after VE Day. President Truman authorized Operation Paperclip in August 1945; however he ordered that anyone found to have been a member of the Nazi party would be excluded. A group of gifted scientists from the Nazi rocket industry, medicine and chemical weapons division were cleared to work in the U.S. after having their background “bleached” by the military. False employment histories were provided and their previous Nazi affiliations were expunged from their records. American Special Forces believed that their knowledge and experience could potentially serve the interests of the United States.
7 The Gulf of Tonkin Never Happened
On August 4, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared to the nation that North Vietnam had attacked U.S. ships. This event known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident was a major escalator of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The incident involved the destroyer USS Maddox engaging three North Vietnamese Navy Torpedo boats as part of a signal intelligence patrol. As a result of the attack, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which afforded Johnson with pre-approved authority to carry out military operations against North Vietnam. By 1969, over 500,000 troops were fighting in Southeast Asia and by 1973, when the war finally ended; more than 3 million people had been killed in the conflict. In 2005, the NSA released previously classified information, revealing that North Vietnam had not attacked the US Maddox and that there were no North Vietnamese naval vessels even present during the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The truth is that President Johnson deceived congress and the American people in order to justify military involvement in Vietnam.
6 Watergate Scandal
The Watergate Scandal is now widely considered a part of American history; however, at one point in time - the idea that Republican officials would spy on the Democratic National Headquarters was just another crazy conspiracy theory. Starting in 1972, in an effort to get Nixon reelected, Republican officials spied on the Democratic National Headquarters from the Watergate Hotel. They were able to do this after having the place broken into several times and wiretapped. Conspiracy theories suggested that political corruption was taking place; however, it wasn't until 1974 that White House tape recordings linked President Nixon to the break-in. The Watergate Scandal forced Nixon to become the first U.S. president to resign from office. Watergate is now an all-encompassing term used to refer to a complex web of political scandals and most of all; it’s synonymous with abuse of power.
5 CIA Smuggled Cocaine Into The U.S.
In August 1996, the San Jose Mercury News published Pulitzer Prize Award winning journalist, Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance, a 20,000 word, three-part investigative series on the distribution of crack cocaine in Los Angeles during the 1980s. Webb’s series alleged that CIA-backed Contras smuggled cocaine into the U.S. and then distributed crack to Los Angeles gangs, pocketing the profits. Webb wrote, “This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the 'crack' capital of the world. The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America . . . and provided the cash and connections needed for L.A.'s gangs to buy automatic weapons.” In 1998, CIA inspector general Frederick Hitz, released a report admitting that the CIA had known all along that the Contras had been trafficking cocaine. However, the confession received little media attention – thanks in part to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In 2004, Gary Webb was found dead from two gunshot wounds to the head. Police ruled it a suicide.
4 Tuskegee Syphilis Study
The Tuskegee Syphilis Study is now taught in U.S. History classes, but at one point in time, it was just another conspiracy theory. The experiment was a 40-year clinical study conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service on rural African American men who had contracted syphilis. The PHS never informed the men that they had a sexually transmitted disease, nor were they offered treatment, even after penicillin became available as a cure in the 1940s. Instead, the men were told they had “bad blood.” When WWII began, 250 of the men registered for the draft, and for the first time - they were informed they had syphilis. However, the U.S. PHS denied them treatment. By the early 1970s, 128 of the original 399 men had died of syphilis, and 40 of their wives, as well as 19 of their children had the disease. In 1997, President Bill Clinton issued a public apology to the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.
3 Operation Northwoods
In the early 1960s, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Military drafted plans to create public support for a war against Cuba. The plans included committing acts of terrorism in Washington, D.C., Miami and other major cities, killing innocent people and U.S. soldiers, blowing up an American ship, hijacking planes, sinking boats of Cuban refugees, and a staged NASA disaster that would take the life of astronaut John Glenn. Fortunately, the plan was rejected by President John F. Kennedy in March 1962. For nearly 40 years, Operation Northwoods was kept secret and considered a ludicrous conspiracy theory. However, in 1997, the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board declassified over 1500 pages military records, including documents pertaining to Operation Northwoods.
2 Operation Fast and Furious
In 2011, the Obama administration smuggled weapons to Mexican drug lords in an apparent effort to trace the guns and bust the drug gangs. It was known as Operation Fast and Furious. However, CBS News obtained documents in December 2011, which proved that ATF agents had discussed how they could tie guns involved in Mexican violence to gun dealers based in the U.S. as a way to pass stricter gun control regulations. A law enforcement source told CBS News, “It’s like ATF created or added to the problem so they could be the solution to it and pat themselves on the back. It’s a circular way of thinking,”
1 1.U.S. Government Assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Although the U.S. government has wrapped Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in the American flag, using his words to symbolize racial harmony and patriotic unity – very little is spoken of the fact that a Memphis jury found the U.S. government guilty of conspiring to assassinate Dr. King, on April 4, 1968. The family of Dr. King filed a civil suit in 1999 in Memphis, Tennessee. After four weeks of testimony and over 70 witnesses, twelve jurors reached a unanimous verdict on December 8, 1999, that Dr. King was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The King family was awarded $100. The jury found that local, state and federal U.S. government agencies, and the mafia were all involved in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and that James Earl Ray, who pleaded guilty to assassinating King, was an unknowing scapegoat.