15 Secret Government Projects You're Not Supposed To Know

It’s happened before... so how do you know it’s not still happening?

At the end of every year you, as a responsible citizen, sit down and pay your taxes (we assume!), secure in the knowledge that your money will be used to benefit your country. But do you really know what that money is being used for? The money you worked so hard to earn, what exactly is it being spent on? Schools, hospitals, roads, research, those sort of things right? Well maybe. Or maybe it’s being spent by mad scientists who are turning people into mindless killing machines or deranged paranoid men implanting listening devices in fluffy cats. Maybe your tax money is funding secret government projects that you aren’t supposed to know about. It’s happened before which means it’s probably still happening now.

The purpose of many of the projects we’re looking at today was for military applications. With almost unlimited budgets, top secrecy, and very minimal accountability you’ll be surprised what governments can get up to. Often when the cover of a project is blown they are discontinued but you should ask yourself whether or not this is just a diversion tactic on their part. Maybe the projects continue under new names and in even more secretive conditions? No one can know for sure.

15 Project Iceworm

Building a nuclear missile launch base in your own country is one thing, but doing it in another country, without their knowledge? Well, that’s just something else. But it really did happen and the name of the secret project was Project Iceworm.

During the Cold War, the Americans wanted easy access to strike targets in the Soviet Union so they decided to build a base closer to their enemy. They chose a site under the Greenland ice sheet and told Danish government officials that they wanted to build a research site that would study construction techniques in cold climates. The name given to this cover project was Camp Century. The project was canceled in 1966 because of unsteady conditions created by the ice sheet but the real purpose of the project was only revealed in 1995.

14 Operation Mockingbird

Controlling public opinion using mass media? That sounds pretty plausible for the CIA right? But whether or not it really happened is still under debate.

According to some, Operation Mockingbird was a huge program run by the CIA from the 1950s which sought to influence the news media for propaganda purposes. It’s alleged that the CIA funded multiple publications and magazines as front organizations to achieve this and they may have controlled as many as 25 major magazines at the time.

But none of these allegations have proven to be true – just yet. According to the CIA, Operation Mockingbird was a small operation that monitored just two journalists who were leaking information about top-secret projects and the agency used surveillance to try and identify their source. What you believe is up to you.

13 The Strategic Defense Initiative (AKA The Starwars Program)

The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) sometimes also referred to as the Starwars Program was a proposed missile defense system that could protect the United States against ballistic missiles. The program was first announced by President Reagan in March 1983. Although the project wasn’t a secret it was over-ambitious based on the technology of the time. The U.S. set its sights on combining ground-based units with orbital deployment stations – yes, in outer space, to be able to shoot down incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads. Part of the plan involved using X-ray lasers.

In 1993 the project’s named was changed to Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) and although the project was never fully developed or deployed the research conducted has paved the way for modern anti-missile systems. The BMDO was renamed to the Missile Defense Agency in 2002 and still continues to operate today.

12 Project Twinkle

Ufologists believe green fireballs to be among the best-documented examples of unidentified flying objects to date. Since the late 1940s hundreds of people have reported seeing mysterious green balls of light in the night sky, particularly over the state of New Mexico in the U.S. The military decided to investigate the matter further as the objects often appeared over military and research installations.

They launched Project Twinkle in December 1949 to study the balls in hopes of identifying them. At first, the research seemed to indicate that the balls were artificial, perhaps even some sort of Soviet surveillance, but after two years the project was shut down and it was announced that the balls had been identified as a natural phenomenon. But they were extremely reluctant to share their results which does make you wonder.

11 Project Rainbow

The Lockheed U-2 was an aircraft developed especially for the CIA, which was used to conduct aerial reconnaissance flights over the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, the aircraft was picked up by the Soviets on radar almost immediately. The agency then launched Project Rainbow, a research mission aimed at reducing the radar cross-section of the plane to avoid it being tracked. The team experimented with wires and absorbent materials (known as wallpapers) to improve the stealth capabilities of the airplane but ran into problems like overheating.

Eventually, too many people knew about Project Rainbow and the CIA didn’t want the information getting back to the Soviets so the work was moved to a new project called GUSTO, which operated on a need-to-know basis only. The result of this project was eventually a new stealth aircraft known as the Lockheed A-12 OXCART.

10 Project Orion

What would happen if mankind, for whatever reason, needed to get off the planet in a hurry? Well, in the 1960’s the Americans looked into building a spacecraft powered by atomic bombs which they hoped would be able to carry earth's survivors to a new planet. They called it Project Orion.

The main problem, even with testing such a spacecraft, was, of course, pesky nuclear fallout, but the danger to human life wasn’t the reason why the project was eventually canceled. In 1963 the United States, along with most other nations signed The Partial Test Ban Treaty, which prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, outer space and under water, which signalled the end of the road for Project Orion.

9 Project Insectothopter

You’ve got to hand it to those guys from the CIA – they certainly are inventive! In the 1970s their research office experimented with small unmanned drones that mimicked nature and were able to completely blend into the background. They planned to use these drones to take pictures in inaccessible places like high rise buildings. They began the project, using real pigeons, equipped with surveillance equipment, but soon realized that the added weight quickly tired out the birds.

During the next stage of the project, they developed the Insectothopter; which was a small aerial vehicle the size of a dragonfly, even hand painted to look like one as well. The idea seemed brilliant but the project was abandoned when it became clear that the miniature drone was too tricky to control in crosswinds.

8 Operation COINTELPRO

Operation COINTELPRO was a series of covert and often illegal projects conducted by the US FBI. The aim of these operations was to monitor American political organizations by way of infiltration and surveillance and to discredit and disrupt them if deemed necessary. The program was officially started in 1956 and by 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. was just one of many individuals under constant surveillance. They also targeted other black power movement groups, feminist organizations, white supremacist groups, anti-Vietnam War organizers, and anti-colonial movements, anyone they considered to be “subversive”.

The FBI Director of the time, J. Edgar Hoover, ordered his agents to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, neutralize or otherwise eliminate" the leaders and activities of these groups and gave them almost unlimited power and resources to do so. The program was successfully kept secret from the public until 1971 when documents related to the project were stolen from FBI offices. Within a year, the project was officially terminated.

7 Project 1794

Project 1794 was a secret U.S. military project conducted during the early years of the Cold War. The plan was to build a disk-shaped aircraft driven by thrust from a single turbo motor which would be capable of high speeds and altitudes. The U.S. Army planned to use the aircraft as a tactical combat craft, almost like a high-performance helicopter. In the air, it would have looked like a flying saucer or UFO.

During its development, the project took on many different names, including Project Y-2, Project Silver Bug, Project 1794 and finally Avrocar VZ-9. During the program, only two Avrocars were ever produced and eventually thrust and stability problems caused the project to be abandoned. If you want to see one of the vehicles you can visit the U.S. Army Transportation Museum in Fort Eustis in Virginia.

6 Project Acoustic Kitty

The goal of this $20 million CIA project was to use cats to spy on the Kremlin and Soviet embassies. The idea seems quite sound – I mean, you’re hardly going to expect a cat to be wearing a listening device right?

In the 1960s the CIA embarked on Project Acoustic Kitty believing that cats could be trained to move short distances and approach targets. A veterinary surgeon would implant a microphone into the cat’s ear canal and attach a small transmitter at the base of the skull in a procedure that took about one hour.

But, as we all know, cats are very unpredictable and difficult to train and after a few attempts to use the kitties in the field, the project was abandoned. The project was finally disclosed to the public 34 years later in 2001 when some classified documents were released.

5 Project MKUltra

This project is sometimes also referred to as the CIA’s “mind control program” and the storyline reads like something out of a dystopian sci-fi fiction movie. The program experimented on human subjects – who were for the most part uninformed about their participation – in an attempt to identify drugs and techniques that could be used for interrogations and torture. The program began in the 1950s and was officially terminated (or so they say) in 1973.

Most of the research centered around LSD and other drugs, but they also experimented with hypnosis, sensory deprivation, long-term isolation, and psychological torture. The majority of the paperwork related to this project was destroyed by CIA Director Richard Helms in 1973 so we will probably never know the true scale of this secret operation.

4 Project Bluebook

Project Bluebook was the third project of its kind, following Project Grudge and Project Sign. Within this secret project, the United States Air Force studied unidentified flying objects and reports of alien activity. Their goal was to assess whether or not aliens or UFO’s posed a threat to national security and scientifically analyze data. Project Bluebook ran from 1952 to 1970, and a report published after it was shut down stated that no evidence of UFOs had been found and that at no time have aliens ever posed a threat to the nation.

Conspiracy theorists believe that this program to study accounts of aliens and UFOs still continues to this day, just under a different name. Some even believe that the Air Force has contacted aliens! What do you believe?

3 Operation Gold

This operation was a joint effort by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) started in the 1960s. The goal of the mission was to tap into the landlines of the Soviet Army headquarters in Berlin. Remember this was way before the digital age, so hacking into a phone line wasn’t that easy, they had to physically reach the lines so they decided to build a tunnel. What the Americans and the British didn’t know at the time was that a Soviet mole informed the Soviets about the tunnel before they even began construction.

The tunnel cost $6.5 million to build and when it was complete it stretched out over 450 meters. The Soviets kept feeding the Americans and British false information via these lines and when the mole was finally transferred to another department they “discovered” the tunnel. Many details about this project are still classified.

2 Operation Northwoods

A false flag attack is where a country purposely commits terrorist attacks on its own people and then blames another country or group for the attacks. The goal is almost always to give the country an excuse to go to war. Some conspiracy theorists believe that the 9/11 attacks were actually orchestrated by the U.S government and when you read about Operation Northwoods it’s easy to see why they believe this could be possible.

Operation Northwoods, which was developed by the U.S Department of Defense, proposed committing a series of terrorist attacks on the American people which could then be blamed on Cuba. In 1962 the US was looking for a reason to invade Cuba, which was being run by communist dictator Fidel Castro, and they thought that the best way to get people behind a war was to drum up sympathy and make people hungry for vengeance. The plan was actually authorized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff but thankfully rejected by President John F. Kennedy. Documents related to this project were finally made available to the public in 1997.

1 The StarGate Project

During the 1970s the U.S. received information that foreign countries, including the Russians, were conducting psychic research. Not wanting to be left behind they launched a series of secret research programs to investigate the viability of using people with psychic powers to aid in military intelligence. Most of the work on the programs (that included code names like GONDOLA WISH, GRILL FLAME, and SUN STREAK) focused on remote viewing.

Remote viewing is the supposed ability for certain people to be able to psychically “see” events and people from a great distance away. All the small projects were eventually consolidated into one – The StarGate Project in 1991. The project was terminated and canceled in 1995 and the CIA released a report saying that although the program had yielded some interesting results no remote viewing report had ever provided information that could be acted on. The program is featured in the storyline of the 2009 movie The Men Who Stare at Goats although it is not referred to by name.

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15 Secret Government Projects You're Not Supposed To Know