Conspiracy theory is a popular term that has emerged over the years. It suggests a theory that explains an event as being result of a plot by a covert group or organization; a belief that a particular unexplained event was caused by such a group. While there are still many unproven conspiracy theories of varying degrees of popularity, frequently related to clandestine government plans and elaborate murder plots, some conspiracy theories that were believed in the past actually turned out to be true, exposing the secret plots that were largely unknown to the general public.
So, let’s take a look at some of the major infamous conspiracy theories that weren’t just a result of someone’s wild imagination and ended up being true.
1. The Nayirah testimony
Back in 1990, a 15 year old Kuwait girl, Nayirah al-Sabah testified before Congress that helped US government in gaining the support of the American public for the first Gulf War. She claimed in her testimony that she herself has witnessed Iraqi soldiers removing babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital and leaving them to die but this allegation was later refuted by Amnesty International. The testimony was so successful that in 1991, US govt launched Operation Desert Storm against Iraq. After the war, a journalist had a theory about this testimony. He outed the CIA for for paying the witness. And it was later reported that Nayirah was actually the daughter of a Kuwaiti ambassador and even her testimony was fabricated by American PR firm, Hill & Knowlton.
In 1972, Republican officials were accused of spying on the Democratic National Headquarters, but the public was reluctant to believe it. Later, it turned out to be true. In 1974, evidences in form of audio recordings were discovered which proved that President Nixon knew exactly what was going on. Republican officials had wire tapped the Democratic National Headquarters and then, they used to spy from the nearby Watergate Hotel. This shocking incident resulted in President Nixon becoming the first president in US history to step down from office.
3. Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
This was an infamous clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service studying how untreated syphilis affected African-American men in comparison to white men under the guise of receiving free health care from the United States government. Around 400 black men became the victims of syphilis without even their knowledge or consent. They were told they had bad blood and the PHS even withheld treatment for the men as well. By the time it came to an end, only 74 of the total original participants were alive. In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton spoke about this study and apologized to the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Before that, it was just a horrific conspiracy theory which was too vicious to believe.
4. Project MK-ULTRA
Project MK-Ultra was launched by the CIA in 1953, involving secret mind control experiments on US citizens till 1973. In 1995, it was President Clinton who issued a formal apology to the human experiment victims on behalf of the US government and the conspiracy theory turned out to be true. The CIA gave oblivious human subjects drugs and even used electroshock therapy, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, subliminal persuasion, verbal and sexual abuse. In 1977, a Freedom of Information Act actually exposed 20,000 previously classified documents and stirred up a series of Senate hearings. CIA Director Richard Helms had most of the classified MK-ULTRA files already destroyed in 1973. This programme is even mentioned in the book The Men who Stare at Goats, which was later turned into a film starring George Clooney.
5. Operation Northwoods
Operation Northwoods was a cold war plan drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Military to create fake acts of terrorism on US public and blaming Cubans for it. The main idea was to drum up support from the American Public for a war against Cuba. The plan involved : innocent Americans being shot dead on the streets, boats on which refugees would fled to Cuba to be sunk in high seas, creating a wave of violent terrorism and framing Cubans for all the acts. Fortunately, President John F. Kennedy rejected the operation in 1962. For years, there were only rumors about the existence of Operation Northwoods. But in 1997, the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board publicized about 1500 pages of documents which even included records of Operation Northwoods, and evidences that it wasn’t a conspiracy theory after all.
6. CIA Drug Trafficking
In 1996, Pulitzer Prize Award winning journalist, Gary Webb published his investigative series Dark Alliance : The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion outlines. The report involved allegations on CIA claiming that the CIA facilitated the street gangs and drug deals of Los Angeles in order to profit off of them. His study stated how CIA smuggled cocaine to the CIA-backed Contra and they further distributed the crack to Los Angeles gangs, pocketing the profits. Finally, when CIA inspector general Frederick Hitz admitted that the CIA was indeed aware about the fact that Contra was dealing cocaine, it got largely overshadowed by the 1998 Monica Lewinsky scandal. In 2004, Gary Webb was found dead with two bullets shot in the head, and police ruled it as suicide.