Often the product of overactive imaginations, conspiracy theories range from mildly disturbing to outright terrifying. The scariest part is that many of them hit the nail on the head. Below are a few conspiracy theories that couldn’t have been more real.
CIA Mind Control
During the Cold War, the CIA stopped at no expense to expose Communist spies. Under the codename Project MK-ULTRA, agents administered drugs, torture, electric shock therapy, sensory manipulation, and hypnosis to unwilling subjects. Hundreds of experiments were conducted across dozens of hospitals, prisons, universities, and other institutions. Many suffered injury, and some lost their lives, including biochemist Frank Olson. It wasn’t until 1973 that the Rockefeller Commission uncovered MK-ULTRA, but by then CIA Director Richard Helms had destroyed most of the documents. No one faced judgment, and we still don’t know exactly what went on.
CIA Drug Trafficking
In the 1980s, the CIA streamlined the trade of cocaine between Colombian cartels and L.A. street gangs, with the profits going to Latin American guerrilla forces. The influx of cocaine turned L.A.’s predominantly African-American neighborhoods into a hive of drugs and violence. With the CIA’s nod of approval, gangs amassed massive weapon arsenals to expand their territory and influence. Author Gary Webb exposed through a series of Pulitzer-winning articles published in the San Jose Mercury News during the 1990s. He was found dead in 2004 with two bullet wounds in his head.
During the 1960s, the U.S. military concocted an elaborate plan to drum support for war against Fidel Castro. Under the guise of Cuban terrorists, they would kill U.S. civilians and soldiers, sink a U.S. navy ship and Cuban refugee boats, murder Cuban émigrés, and hijack airplanes. The plans sat in obscurity until the turn of the millennium when James Bamford’s “A Pretext for War” revealed all.
FBI Political Warfare
Under an anti-communist pretense, the FBI tried to scare multiple political groups into disarray. Dubbed “COINTELPRO,” the program’s number one target was the civil rights movement headed by Dr. Martin Luther King. Agents sent fake messages, published false stories about key activists, planted cameras, and tried to turn members against one another. They might have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for a brave band of eight conspiracy theorists who infiltrated an FBI station in 1971 and seized a goldmine of incriminatory evidence.
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