When governments and corporations are accused of shenanigans, an easy line of defence for them is to accuse their attackers of being conspiracy theorists. After all, everyone knows conspiracy theorists are just a bunch of paranoid, tinfoil hat-wearing nutjobs. Except when they aren’t. History shows us that those with power have repeatedly and gratuitously abused their powers for one spurious motive or another. I was honestly spoiled for choice when compiling this list, even limiting it to those incidents which are indisputable facts. Given all this historical precedent, of which I am only presenting a tiny selection of examples, I’d be very surprised if at least one contemporary conspiracy theory didn’t turn out to be true… maybe David Cameron really IS a lizard.
Corporate Price Fixing (and related pursuits)
This happens so often I reckon most people take it as par for the course, right? Whether it’s De Beers and their bloody diamonds or more homely concerns like supermarket milk price fixing, no-one is truly surprised, even when it’s companies we think of as mortal enemies like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. After colluding with BA to raise fuel surcharges for like a year and a half, Virgin blew the whistle in 2007 and gained immunity from prosecution. BA paid over £50million in fines in the UK and way more in the US, while Virgin, as the whistle blowers, paid nothing. That’s what BA get for colluding with a company that they had spent most of the early 1990s enthusiastically slandering.
At the end of World War Two, it occurred to the government of the US to wonder what to do with all the German boffins who had been using their brainly powers for the benefit of the Third Reich. Such knowledge and skills couldn’t be left lying around for the Soviets to find. Or even for the British. They certainly couldn’t be allowed to run off and lead a life of smug obscurity in South America. Although Operation Paperclip had rules which excluded members of the Nazi party or those who had shown more than a nominal allegiance to the Reich, they were pretty much ignored and Hitler’s intellectual minions were eagerly welcomed to the States, with some of the German scientists going on to contribute greatly to America’s space programme. Immunity from war crimes prosecution was also granted by the US to members of Japanese Unit 731, biological warfare researchers who were also not above a bit of human experimentation.
Dodgy Arms Dealing
The most famous example of this was in 1986, when Ronald Reagan’s administration found itself in trouble as its dodgy arms deals with Iran (under an arms embargo) came to light. Initially intended to be a back door method of freeing American hostages, by late 1985 part of the proceeds were being used to fund the Contras, Nicaraguan anti-communist rebels, support of whom had been banned by Congress. The Iran-Contra affair, as it came to be known, seriously dented Reagan’s approval ratings – for a while. He became known as the “Teflon President” afterwards, with it still being unclear to what extent he knew about it all. Although several of his staff and assorted high-ranking scapegoats were indicted, only one person actually went to prison as a result of the whole sordid mess: Bill Breeden, a former minister who stole a street sign bearing the name of one of the officials indicted and held it to ransom in protest. The guy named on the sign, John Poindexter, was found guilty in 1990 for his role in the affair, but had the convictions reversed on appeal the following year. Bill Breeden was sentenced to eight days and served four.
CIA Mind Control Experiments
All of the modern conspiracy theories about mind-controlled celebrities and terrorists have their roots in a conspiracy fact: Project MKUltra. For at least twenty years until 1973, with the sanction of both the American and Canadian governments, the CIA experimented on unwitting citizens of both the US and Canada. The victims were given large doses of mind-altering drugs like LSD, if they were lucky. Some were subjected to torture and sexual abuse. Among the participants of MKUltra were 44 universities, several hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and prisons, although many of these were unaware of the true nature and purpose of the project. Due to the destruction of most (but far from all) of the records, it’s not known for certain how many people died under the project, but several people are known to have been killed, such as a tennis player called Harold Bauer who died in an Army experiment into the drug MDA. Combine this with the fact that they can beam words into your head, and it’s probably not quite time to retire the tinfoil helmet.
Who Controls the Media?
While we’re on the subject of the CIA really wanting to control your mind, it would be remiss of me not to mention Operation Mockingbird, another project born in the 1950s. The scope of this also went beyond the borders of the US, as it involved wire agencies and respected journals read by the world. Journalists were recruited and the CIA generously funded many organisations and publications to ensure that their propaganda was presented as news and stories that exposed or criticised the CIA’s unsavoury activities never saw the light of day. They also funded the 1954 animated movie of George Orwell’s Animal Farm and dabbled in foreign politics, giving large sums of money to promote their favoured candidates or to silence those they did not approve of. Not even J. Edgar Hoover was safe from Mockingbird; when his anti-communist fervour and delusions of omnipotence led him to threaten high ranking Mockingbird officials, they kicked back with their highly-skilled propaganda machine and the negative coverage affected Hoover’s political prowess. These days, of course, we all know the media is controlled by the Stonecutters.
The Streetcar Conspiracy
We love our public transport over here in Europe, and in many countries our cities have sleek, modern and efficient systems of buses, trams and trains. You’d think that a country like America would have similar systems, given its technological advancement and skilled industrial workforce who would be more than able to create systems to rival the European ones, especially if you saw footage of early public transport systems in America. What on earth happened? As anyone who has seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit? can tell you: it was a conspiracy by bad guys more interested in freeways and cars: led by GM alongside other automotive companies, they bought up the mass transit systems and dismantled them or replaced them with buses. Naturally, there were other factors involved, but the actions of GM and the companies in cahoots with them contributed to America being so dependent on the motorcar.
St Louis Chemical Testing
I’d heard of the Pruitt-Igoe estate of public housing in St. Louis, Missouri before I started researching this list, as I’m interested in modernist architecture, and it was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center. Pruitt-Igoe was completed in 1954 and consisted of concrete apartment blocks. Within a few years it was starting to become apparent that the project had failed and that cramming people into such complexes caused more problems than it solved. It was demolished in 1972, a time when other cities were still building such monstrosities for their citizens. What I didn’t know was that not long after it was built, the US Army fitted devices to the roofs of the buildings and sprayed the residents with biowarfare agents made by US Radium, previously known for the tragedy of the Radium Girls. This experimentation on the poor people of St. Louis did not become known until 1994, and although follow-up studies were promised, nothing seems to have been done, leaving former residents wondering about the seemingly high number of cancer deaths they observed in their friends and families.
The Police Really Are Bastards
In 1993, a young man called Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death by racist thugs in Eltham, London. It wasn’t really news to us local residents that there were murderous, racist thugs living in our midst, but within a short time of the murder we started hearing that the police officer first on the scene had turned his back and let Stephen die. It soon became apparent that the police had no interest in bringing his killers to justice, as they too were racist. It was all so obvious that even the Daily Mail was outraged, and they dramatically supported his mother Doreen’s long fight to bring out the truth about Stephen’s murder, in 1997 and 2006 using their front page to publicly name and accuse the bastards who everyone knew had done it. In 1997 the government-ordered Macpherson enquiry proved that police were institutionally racist, had not investigated the crime properly and had indeed failed to give first aid at the scene. It was not until 2012 that two of the thugs were convicted of their role in the killing. A new report was presented to the government just last week, proving that not only had the racist police let Stephen die, then failed to investigate the attack, they had also sent undercover operatives into the justice campaign and made efforts to smear Doreen and the rest of the Lawrence family. Of course, the police these days aren’t racist at all.
The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
In the 1930s, the US government decided it needed to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis. Working with the Tuskegee Institute, it started a study of 600 impoverished African American men, of whom two thirds already had syphilis. Telling the subjects that they were getting free medical treatment, the men actually received no treatment at all, enabling the boffins to observe the progression of the disease. By the 1940s, penicillin was readily available to completely cure syphilis, but rather than end the study, it simply carried on as before. It was not until 1972 that the study was ended, after details were leaked to the press. As well as the original male subjects, the study included women who had contracted the disease from their husbands and children who had been born with congenital syphilis. Bill Clinton formally apologized in 1997, but it turns out Tuskegee wasn’t unique: in 1940s Guatemala, prisoners, soldiers, and patients in a mental hospital were deliberately infected with syphilis and gonorrhoea by American doctors for another study.
1953 Iranian Coup
In August last year, the CIA formally admitted, for the first time, their role in the 1953 Iranian coup, which ousted democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadeq. He had had the nerve to try and nationalise his country’s oil industry, in an effort to stop the company now known as BP from taking most of the profit for themselves. Fearing for their oil supplies during post-war rebuilding, and suspecting socialist shenanigans like nationalisation were a prelude to going behind the Iron Curtain, the US and Britain initiated a plot to get rid of Mossadeq. They stirred up dissent, spread propaganda (see Operation Mockingbird) and threw money at anyone who disliked Mossadeq. As a result, the anti-Mossadeq army were able to seize control and restore to full power the Shah of Iran, who was a bit of a despot but happy to do what the US wanted. The Shah’s despotism led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the manipulation of Persian politics is one reason why the US and Britain are viewed with such suspicion by many in the region today.