Sixwise reports on The Most Shocking Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out to be True.
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
While intelligent cynicism certainly can be healthy, though, some of the greatest discoveries of all time were initially received (often with great vitriol) as blasphemous conspiracy theories -- think of the revelation that the earth was not the center of the universe, or that the world was not flat but actually round.
What follows are some of these most shocking modern conspiracy theories that were apparently right all along.
MK-ULTRA: In the 1950s to the 1970s, the CIA ran a mind-control project aimed at finding a "truth serum" to use on communist spies. Test subjects were given LSD and other drugs, often without consent, and some were tortured. At least one man, civilian biochemist Frank Olson, who was working for the government, died as a result of the experiments. The project was finally exposed after investigations by the Rockefeller Commission.
[For more, see Google archive news results for "MK-ULTRA" ]
Operation Mockingbird: Also in the 1950s to '70s, the CIA paid a number of well-known domestic and foreign journalists (from big-name media outlets like Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times, CBS and others) to publish CIA propaganda. The CIA also reportedly funded at least one movie, the animated "Animal Farm," by George Orwell. The Church Committee finally exposed the activities in 1975.
[For more, see Google archive news results for " "Church Committee" CIA covert media " ]
Watergate: Republican officials spied on the Democratic National Headquarters from the Watergate Hotel in 1972. While conspiracy theories suggested underhanded dealings were taking place, it wasn't until 1974 that White House tape recordings linked President Nixon to the break-in and forced him to resign.
[For more, see Google archive news results for " Watergate" ]
The Tuskegee Syphilis Study: The United States Public Health Service carried out this clinical study on 400 poor, African-American men with syphilis from 1932 to 1972. During the study the men were given false and sometimes dangerous treatments, and adequate treatment was intentionally withheld so the agency could learn more about the disease. While the study was initially supposed to last just six months, it continued for 40 years. Close to 200 of the men died from syphilis or related complications by the end of the study.
[For more, see Google archive news results for "Tuskegee Syphilis Study" ]
Operation Northwoods: In the early 1960s, American military leaders drafted plans to create public support for a war against Cuba, to oust Fidel Castro from power. The plans included committing acts of terrorism in U.S. cities, killing innocent people and U.S. soldiers, blowing up a U.S. ship, assassinating Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees, and hijacking planes. The plans were all approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but were reportedly rejected by the civilian leadership, then kept secret for nearly 40 years.
[For more, see Google archive news results for “Operation Northwoods” ]
The Iran-Contra Affair: In 1985 and '86, the White House authorized government officials to secretly trade weapons with the Israeli government in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages in Iran. The plot was uncovered by Congress in 1987.
[For more, see Google archive news results for “Iran-Contra” ]
1990 Testimony of Nayirah: A 15-year-old girl named "Nayirah" testified before the U.S. Congress that she had seen Iraqi soldiers pulling Kuwaiti babies from incubators, causing them to die. The testimony helped gain major public support for the 1991 Gulf War, but -- despite protests that the dispute of this story was itself a conspiracy theory -- it was later discovered that the testimony was false. It was actually the creation of public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for the purpose of promoting the Gulf War.
[For more, see Google archive news results for “1990 Testimony Nayirah” ]
Mediapost reports about 2 Dead Presidents And Operation Mockingbird.
2 Dead Presidents And Operation Mockingbird
by Tom Siebert, Friday, January 5, 2007, 8:01 AM
Watching the mainstream and online media begin to "confuse" Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama with Al Qaeda terrorist scum Osama bin Laden reminded me of Operation Mockingbird, the CIA's ultra top-secret project.
Operation Mockingbird came to light in the U.S. Senate's Church Committee investigation, led by Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) in 1975, during the Gerald Ford Administration. It was launched following Watergate, which not only revealed that Richard Nixon was a paranoid borderline fascist, but that the CIA and FBI were full of rogue agents doing lots of illegal things.
One of those illegal things was a successful CIA effort to influence domestic and foreign media called Operation Mockingbird. Begun in 1948, it recruited top publishers and reporters throughout the media, including Washington Post Publisher Philip Graham, managing editor Ben Bradlee, The New York Times' publishing patriarch Arthur Hays Sulzberger and CBS CEO William Paley. These are just the biggest names; there are many, many more. Do a Google search and some names will surprise (or perhaps sicken) you.
Understandably, there has not been a lot of coverage--past or present--about Operation Mockingbird. The journalists who would be writing about it would be exposing and embarrassing the very news organizations they work for. Some of the best investigative reporting on Operation Mockingbird was done by Carl Bernstein, the other half of the Washington Post's Watergate team, when he left the paper in an October 1977 issue of Rolling Stone.
The Time-Life empire got a lot of play from Operation Mockingbird, and I thought of it while reading one of my Christmas presents, the well-balanced investigative tome "The JFK Assassination Debates," by Michael Kurtz.
I'd forgotten that for a long time, the now notorious Zapruder film, which shows Kennedy's murder in excruciating detail--and all but destroys the notion of a lone gunman--was kept from public viewing. The exclusive rights to the short snuff film were purchased by Time-Life magazine. The public was only allowed to see stills from the film until it was subpoenaed by attorney Jim Garrison in 1969 for his conspiracy trial against Clay Shaw, charged with participating in the JFK assassination.
[For more, see Google archive news results for “Zapruder film” ]
The Zapruder film was the close-to-concrete proof that the results of the Warren Commission, which investigated the JFK murder, was built around a central lie: the so-called "Magic Bullet." The theory: one bullet caused all Kennedy's wounds but the head wound, as well as all the wounds on Texas Governor John Connelly.
How do we know the Warren Commission lied?
Commission member Gerald Ford said so in an Associated Press story from 1993. He didn't really want to, of course, but the Assassination Review Board--which reopened the JFK assassination investigation after the Church Committee's report--discovered handwritten notes from Ford, which revealed that he changed the phrasing and omitted several key words from the Warren Commission's original draft that altered the facts about where the "Magic Bullet" entered Kennedy's body, making sure it supported the lone gunman theory.
Is Operation Mockingbird back in business? Beats me. If it were, and even if some members of the media knew about it, perhaps they are being kept quiet because it might affect matters of national security. I do find it interesting that the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy recently removed all its material about the project. The center has not returned my phone call or email asking about that development.
One final thing: Here's a great, on the record quote from William Colby, former director of the CIA: "The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media."
Colby--you probably don't remember--was replaced as director of the CIA by the first president Bush. He died in a freak boating accident in 1996. His body, sans lifejacket, was found 20 yards from his canoe, more than a week after he was reported missing, and after the area where he was finally found had been thoroughly searched several times.
One other thing: The Church Committee revealed a ton of other information that few people remember: JFK's attempts to use the Mafia to kill Castro, for example. It also mentions one of the other CIA projects, Operation Chaos
[For more, see Google archive news results for “CIA Operation CHAOS”, and the article below].
Serendipity reports about The History of Operation CHAOS.
Domestic Surveillance: The History of Operation CHAOS
by Verne Lyon
from Covert Action Information Bulletin, Summer 1990
Verne Lyon is a former CIA undercover operative
who is now a director of the Des Moines Hispanic Ministry.
For over fifteen years, the CIA, with assistance from numerous government agencies, conducted a massive illegal domestic covert operation called Operation CHAOS. It was one of the largest and most pervasive domestic surveillance programs in the history of this country. Throughout the duration of CHAOS, the CIA spied on thousands of U.S. citizens. The CIA went to great lengths to conceal this operation from the public while every president from Eisenhower to Nixon exploited CHAOS for his own political ends.
One can trace the beginnings of Operation CHAOS to 1959 when Eisenhower used the CIA to "sound out" the exiles who were fleeing Cuba after the triumph of Fidel Castro's revolution. …
This activity led the CIA to establish proprietary companies, fronts, and covers for its domestic operations. So widespread did they become that President Johnson allowed the then CIA Director, John McCone, to create in 1964 a new super-secret branch called the Domestic Operations Division (DOD), the very title of which mocked the explicit intent of Congress to prohibit CIA operations inside the U.S.(2) This disdain for Congress permeated the upper echelons of the CIA. Congress could not hinder or regulate something it did not know about, and neither the President nor the Director of the CIA was about to tell them. Neither was J. Edgar Hoover, even though he was generally aware that the CIA was moving in on what was supposed to be exclusive FBI turf. (3)
With the DCS, the DOD, the old boy network, and the CIA Office of Security operating without congressional oversight or public knowledge, all that was needed to bring it together was a perceived threat to the national security and a presidential directive unleashing the dogs. That happened in 1965 when President Johnson instructed McCone to provide an independent analysis of the growing problem of student protest against the war in Vietnam. Prior to this, Johnson had to rely on information provided by the FBI, intelligence that he perceived to be slanted by Hoover's personal views, which often ignored the facts. Because Hoover insisted that international communism was manipulating student protest, Johnson ordered the CIA to confirm or deny his allegations. All the pieces now came together.
…Helms became DCI in June 1966. As Deputy Director, he had allowed the CIA slowly to expand its domestic intelligence operations and understood his orders from President Johnson were to collect intelligence on college and university campuses with no governing guidelines other than "don't get caught." Helms now had a free hand to implement Johnson's orders and, by August 1967, the illegal collection of domestic intelligence had become so large and widespread that he was forced to create a Special Operations Group (SOG). The SOG was imbedded in the DDP's counterintelligence division and provided, data on the U.S. peace movement to the Office of Current Intelligence on a regular basis. (5)
As campus anti-war protest activity spread across the nation, the CIA reacted by implementing two new domestic operations. The first, Project RESISTANCE, was designed to provide security to CIA recruiters on college campuses. … The CIA's Office of Security also created Project MERRIMAC, to provide warnings about demonstrations being carried out against CIA facilities or personnel in the Washington area. (7)
Under both Projects, the CIA infiltrated agents into domestic groups of all types and activities. It used its contacts with local police departments and their intelligence units to pick up its "police skills" and began in earnest to pull off burglaries, illegal entries, use of explosives, criminal frame-ups, shared interrogations, and disinformation. CIA teams purchased sophisticated equipment for many starved police departments and in return got to see arrest records, suspect lists, and intelligence reports. Many large police departments, in conjunction with the CIA, carried out illegal, warrantless searches of private properties, to provide intelligence for a report requested by President Johnson and later entitled "Restless Youth." (8)
In July 1968, Helms decided to consolidate all CIA domestic intelligence operations under one program and title. The new operation was called CHAOS and Ober was in charge. (11) Its activities greatly expanded from then on at the urging not only of President Johnson, but also his main advisers Dean Rusk and Walt Rostow. Both men were convinced that Hoover was right and foreign intelligence agencies were involved in anti-war protests in the U.S. Johnson was not convinced and wanted the CIA's intelligence in order to compare it with that provided by the FBI.
The Nixon Administration
After Richard Nixon took office in January 1969, Helms continued operations with the assurance that nothing would ever be leaked to the public. But he began to face pressure from two opposing factions within the CIA community.
One wanted to expand domestic operations even more, while the other reminded him that Operation CHAOS and similar activities were well "over the line" of illegality and outside the CIA's charter. To put a damper on this internal dissent, Helms ordered Ober to stop discussing these activities with his direct boss in counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton. The internal protests continued, however, as White House aide and staunch anti-Communist Tom Charles Huston, pressed for ever increasing domestic operations.
Even Helms began to have second thoughts about how large CHAOS had grown, but Nixon made it clear to him that the CIA was a presidential tool he wanted at his disposal. Helms got the message, yet he also understood the growing uneasiness in other government circles. In 1972, the CIA's Inspector General wrote a report that expressed concern about Operation CHAOS in the following way: "... we also encountered general concern over what appeared to be a monitoring of the political views and activities of Americans not known to be or suspected of being involved in espionage ... Stations were asked to report on the whereabouts and activities of prominent persons ... whose comings and goings were not only in the public domain, but for whom allegations of subversion seemed sufficiently nebulous to raise renewed doubts as to the nature and legitimacy of the CHAOS program." (14)
Helms was being squeezed by White House demands to expand Operation CHAOS and the fear that the whole question of domestic operations was going to become public knowledge, as Hoover feared. Helms found himself constantly shoring up one lie with another and then another. He found himself deceiving Congress and lying to the public as well as CIA employees. In March 1971, a group of young CIA executives known as the Management Advisory Group (MAG) protested Operation CHAOS and similar domestic operations by issuing a statement saying, "MAG opposes any Agency activity which could be construed as targeted against any person who enjoys the protection of the U.S. Constitution ... whether or not he resides in the United States." (15)
The Collapse of the House of Cards
The web of deception, misinformation, lies, and illegal domestic activities began to unravel with speed in the summer of 1972 when Howard Osborn, then Chief of Security for the CIA, informed Helms that two former CIA officers, E. Howard Hunt and James McCord, were involved in a burglary at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. The house of cards was about to come crashing down and Helms now wanted to salvage what he could and distance himself from not only Watergate but also the domestic operations. He appointed CIA Executive Director William Colby to handle any investigations into the Agency's domestic operations and began to prepare for the inevitable.
… In an effort at damage control, Colby decided that Operation CHAOS and Project RESISTANCE should be terminated.
In 1975 the CIA underwent public investigation and scrutiny by both the Church and Rockefeller committees. These investigations revealed considerable evidence showing that the CIA had carried out its activities with a tremendous disregard for the law, both in the U.S. and abroad.
During the life of Operation CHAOS, the CIA had compiled personality files on over 13,000 individuals including more than 7,000 U.S. citizens as well as files on over 1,000 domestic groups. (17)
The CIA had shared information on more than 300,000 persons with different law enforcement agencies including the DIA and FBI. It had spied on, burglarized, intimidated, misinformed, lied to, deceived, and carried out criminal acts against thousands of citizens of the United States. It had placed itself above the law, above the Constitution, and in contempt of international diplomacy and the United States Congress. It had violated its charter and had contributed either directly or indirectly to the resignation of a President of the United States. It had tainted itself beyond hope.
Of all this, the CIA's blatant contempt for the rights of individuals was the worst. This record of deceit and illegality, implored Congress as well as the President to take extreme measures to control the Agency's activities. However, except for a few cosmetic changes made for public consumption such as the Congressional intelligence oversight committee nothing has been done to control the CIA. In fact, subsequent administrations have chosen to use the CIA for domestic operations as well. These renewed domestic operations began with Gerald Ford, were briefly limited by Jimmy Carter, and then extended dramatically by Ronald Reagan.
Any hope of curbing these illegal activities is scant. …
Given the power granted to the office of the presidency and the unaccountability of the intelligence agencies, widespread illegal domestic operations are certain. We as a people should remember history and not repeat it. It is therefore essential that the CIA be reorganized and stripped of its covert operations capability. Effective congressional oversight is also an important condition for ending the misuse of the intelligence apparatus that has plagued every U.S. administration since the formation of the CIA. A great deal is at risk our personal freedoms as well as the viability of this society. The CIA must be put in its place. Should we demand or allow anything less, we will remain vulnerable to these abuses and face the risk of decaying into a lawless state destined to self-destruction. [too late]
My reaction: America' s “conspiracies theories” aren' t a natural phenomenon. From 1880 to 1963, conspiracy theories were barely even mentioned in the press. Then, after the Kennedy assassination in 1963, something started to go seriously wrong.