#1: The government is watching me and ruining my reputation.
Truth: The FBI’s COINTELPRO did it for 15 years.
FBI has never been a fan of critics. During the second Red
Scare, the Bureau fought dissenters, launching a covert
program called COINTELPRO. Its mission? To “expose, disrupt,
misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” rebellious
people and groups.
COINTELPRO, the FBI oversaw 2000 subversive smear operations.
Agents bugged phones, forged documents, and planted false
reports to create a negative public image of dissenters.
COINTELPRO targeted hate groups like the KKK, but it also
kept close watch on the “New Left,” like civil rights marchers
and women’s rights activists. It tracked Muhammad Ali, Malcolm
X, John Lennon, and Ernest Hemingway.
however, were watched as closely as Martin Luther King Jr.
After MLK gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, this
memo floated through FBI offices:
the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech yesterday
he stands heads and shoulders over all other Negro leaders
put together when it comes to influencing great masses
of Negros. We must mark him now, if we have not done so
before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this
nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and
became an unofficial Enemy of State. Agents tracked his
every move, performing a “complete analysis of the avenues
of approach aimed at neutralizing King as an effective Negro
leader." When a wiretap revealed King’s extramarital affair,
the FBI sent him an anonymous
letter, predicting that blackmail was in his future.
“You are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that,”
the letter said. A month later, MLK accepted the Nobel Peace
shut down in 1971, although the FBI continued to monitor
certain groups. In the 1990s, it tracked PETA
and put members of Greenpeace
on its terror watch list.
#2: The government is trying to control my mind.
Truth: The government has invested millions in mind control
doesn’t want a telepathic ray gun? The U.S. Army sure does.
It’s already researched a device that could beam words into
your skull, according to the 1998 report "Bioeffects
of Selected Nonlethal Weapons." The report says that,
with the help of special microwaves, “this technology could
be developed to the point where words could be transmitted
to be heard like the spoken word, except that it could only
be heard within a person’s head.” The device could “communicate
with hostages” and could “facilitate a private message transmission.”
2002, the Air Force Research laboratory patented a similar
microwave device. Rep. Dennis Kucinich seemed concerned,
because one year earlier, he proposed the
Space Preservation Act, which called for a ban of all
“Psychotronic weapons.” It didn’t pass.
mind games don’t stop there. The CIA’s massive mind control
experiment, Project MKUltra, remains the pet project of
paranoid people everywhere. Beginning in the early 1950s,
the CIA started asking strange questions in memos, like:
we get control of an individual to the point where he
will do our bidding against his will and even against
fundamental laws of nature, such as self-preservation?”
April 1953, the CIA decided to find out. The Agency wanted
to develop drugs that could manipulate Soviet spies and
foreign leaders essentially, a truth serum. The CIA
brimmed with other ideas, too, but Director Allen Dulles
complained that there weren’t enough “human guinea pigs
to try these extraordinary techniques.”
lack of test subjects drove the CIA to wander off the ethical
deep-end, leading the Agency to experiment on unwitting
80 institutions 44 of them colleges housed
MKUltra labs. There, the CIA toyed with drugs like LSD and
heroin, testing if the substances “could potentially aid
in discrediting individuals, eliciting information, and
implanting suggestions and other forms of mental control.”
The CIA tested LSD and barbiturates on mental patients,
prisoners, and addicts. It also injected LSD in over 7000
military personnel without their knowledge. Many suffered
CIA tried its hand at erasing people’s memories, too. Project
ARTICHOKE tested how well hypnosis and morphine could induce
amnesia. And when the CIA wasn’t trying to develop a memory-killing
equivalent of the neurolyzer from Men in Black, it studied
Chinese brainwashing techniques: Project QKHILLTOP examined
ancient mind-scrambling methods to make interrogations easier.
the wake of the Watergate scandal, the CIA destroyed hundreds
of thousands of MKUltra documents. Only 20,000 escaped the
shredder, and the CIA shifted its efforts from mind control
to clairvoyance. In the mid 1970s, it launched the Stargate
Project, which studied the shadowy phenomenon of “remote
viewing.” (That is, the CIA investigated if it were possible
to see through walls with your mind.) The project
closed in 1995. A final memo concluded:
though a statistically significant effect has been observed
in the laboratory, it remains unclear whether the existence
of a paranormal phenomenon, remote viewing, has been demonstrated.”
#3: The government is poisoning me.
Truth: It poisoned alcohol supplies to curb drinking during
the '20s roared, alcoholism soared. Booze was banned, but
speakeasies were everywhere. Few people followed the law,
so the Treasury Department started enforcing it differently
by poisoning the watering hole.
liquor in the 1920s was made from industrial alcohol, used
in paints, solvents, and fuel. Bootleggers stole about 60
million gallons a year, redistilling the swill to make it
drinkable. To drive rumrunners away, the Treasury Department
started poisoning industrial hooch with methyl alcohol.
But bootleggers kept stealing it, and people started getting
dealers noticed something wrong, they hired chemists to
renature the alcohol, making it drinkable again. Dismayed,
the government threw a counterpunch and added more poison
kerosene, gasoline, chloroform, and higher concentrations
of methyl alcohol. Again, it didn’t deter drinking; the
booze business carried on as usual.
1928, most of the liquor circulating in New York City was
toxic. Despite increased illness and death, the Treasury
didn’t stop tainting industrial supplies until the 18th
amendment was repealed in 1933.
#4: The government is germ-bombing its own people.
Truth: It was a common practice during the Cold War.
1940 to 1970, America was a giant germ laboratory. The U.S.
Army wanted to assess how vulnerable America was to a biological
attack, so it spread clouds of microbes and chemicals over
populated areas everywhere.
1949, the Army Special Operations released bacteria into
the Pentagon’s air conditioning system to observe how the
microbes spread (the bacteria were reportedly harmless).
In 1950, a U.S. Navy ship sprayed Serratia Marcescens
a common bacteria capable of minor infection from
San Francisco Bay. The bacteria floated over 30 miles, spread
through the city, and may have caused one death.
later, during Operation DEW, the U.S. Army released 250
pounds of cadmium sulfide off the Carolina coast, which
spread over 60,000 square miles. The military didn’t know
that cadmium sulfide was carcinogenic, nor did it know that
it could cause kidney, lung, and liver damage. In the 1960s,
during Project 112 and Project SHAD, military personnel
were exposed to nerve agents like VX and sarin and bacteria
like E. coli without their knowledge. At
least 134 similar experiments were performed.
Nixon ended offensive tests of the US biological weapons
program in 1969.
#5: The government is spreading disease with insects of