Answer by Ankush Saxena:
1. The CIA's false witness who kick-started the Gulf War
Iraq and Kuwait had been involved in a conflict over the oil fields in Kuwait, which Saddam Hussein accused the Kuwaiti of stealing from Iraq.
On October 10, 1990, a 15-year old Kuwaiti girl who went by the name Nayirah, testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
Her emotional eye-witness testimony involved copious tears and horrific narrations of atrocities committed by the Iraqi army. The most memorable of them being the Iraqis storming Kuwaiti hospitals, tearing more than 300 babies from incubators and leaving them out to die.
Her moving testimony stirred the hearts of people worldwide. It was initially corroborated by Amnesty International and by various Kuwaiti nurses and doctors. The incubator story was cited by numerous US politicians as the reason for America's intervention in the Gulf War.
A conspiracy theory had started doing the rounds, though. That Tom Lantos, the head of the Congressional Human Rights Foundation, who had made no secret of his support for US involvement in the Gulf conflict, was behind Nayirah's moving testimony.
A New York Times journalist, John MacArthur, decided to investigate Nayirah and in 1992, he revealed some shocking facts.
"Nayirah" was Nayirah al-Sabah, daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, Saud bin Nasir al-Sabah. She had been paid by the CIA for her false testimony. They had also had her take acting classes to ensure that her performance would be moving enough.
As the can of worms opened up further, it was also revealed that a US public relations firm, Hill & Knowlton, had been hired by Kuwaitis who were backing the "Citizens for a Free Kuwait" campaign to raise awareness in the US about the dangers Iraq posed to Kuwait.
Hill & Knowlton spent $1 million to carry out studies to discover a way to create maximum impact among US citizens. The incubator story was discovered to be the most effective method in doing so.
The rest, as they say, is history.
2. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study
An inhumane scientific experiment that lasted 40 years, conducted by the US government on African-American men suffering from syphilis.
In the words of former US President, Bill Clinton –
"The United States government did something that was wrong—deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens… clearly racist."
The US Public Health Service (PHS), headed by Taliaferro Clark at the outset of this experiment, was behind this study. It was meant to discover the effects of syphilis on African-Americans as opposed to Caucasians—the underlying theory being that Caucasians were susceptible to neurological complications from syphilis, while African-Americans were more likely to suffer cardiovascular damage.
How the outcome of this experiment would have affected clinical treatment of syphilis, is extremely debatable.
The study began in 1932, with 600 impoverished African-American males who were enrolled for the program. They were given free medical care, meals, and free burial insurance. They were never told they had syphilis, nor were they ever treated for it. All they were told was that they were being treated for "bad blood".
Most of these poor people had never visited a doctor before. Presented with the incentives given to them, they were pleased to be a part of this study. However, the real purpose of the study was to let these men die and then autopsy their syphilis-ravaged bodies.
“As I see it,” one of the doctors involved explained, “we have no further interest in these patients until they die.”
By the end of the experiment, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis.
The cover was blown wide open off this shocking experiment when the story was released to the public in 1972.
President Bill Clinton formally apologised and held a ceremony for the surviving Tuskegee study participants: "What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry … To our African American citizens, I am sorry that your federal government orchestrated a study so clearly racist."
In effect, all the experiment ever was, in the words of news anchor Harry Reasoner, "an experiment that used human beings as laboratory animals in a long and inefficient study of how long it takes syphilis to kill someone.”
3. Operation Northwoods
Operation Northwoods was the code name given to the US military's plan to attack their own people and conduct massive, targeted terrorist strikes on American soil.
In 1962, the US Military was frustrated with President Kennedy. The fiasco of the Bay of Pigs report was the final straw and pushed the Joint Chiefs of Staff over the edge, who believed Kennedy to be a "no-win" President.
Out of this frustration originated an unscrupulously Machiavellian "false-flag" proposal. The proposal called for the CIA or other agencies to carry out targeted strikes on US soil, against US citizens and military installations.
The intended outcome of this alarming proposal was to rally public support for war against Fidel Castro's communist Cuba. In order to do this, the Join Chiefs of Staff planned to –
- Bomb high pedestrian-traffic areas in major American cities, including Miami, New York, Washington D. C. and possibly Chicago and Los Angeles
- Frame U.S. citizens for these bombings
- Shoot innocent, unarmed civilians on the streets in full view of hundreds of witnesses
- Order napalm strikes on military and merchant vessels in port, while people were aboard
- Sink vessels carrying Cuban refugees bound for Florida
- Hijack planes for ransom
All the Joint Chiefs ratified this proposal and sent it to the Secretary of Defense and the President's office for their approval. Kennedy, however, was rightfully horrified and rejected it outright. He called in all the Joint Chiefs and brutally castigated them, threatening to court martial and incarcerate each one of them.
However, he desisted in actually instigating this, so as to avoid irreparable disrespect for the US military.
Many conspiracy theorists also claim that the military may have had a role in Kennedy’s assassination as a result of his blistering rebuke of the Joint Chiefs. This, however, remains unproven.
The scans of the unclassified documents related to Operation Northwoods can be viewed on this site –
In the light of recent events, I can't possibly overlook this one, so I'm adding this to my original answer
This one has been a favourite of conspiracy theorists for a long time – The government being privy to all your online communications and keeping a watch over you at all times.
The Orwellian Big Brother has been revealed to be real. Whistleblower Edward Snowden of the NSA (National Security Agency) has come forward with reports of the NSA having direct access to the data of all major tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, Skype, AOL, PalTalk, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile.
The program can access live communication data and stored information of all users of the above companies, based on "reasonable suspicion". Anyone in the US can be targeted for surveillance if they communicate with anyone outside the country. Also, anyone outside the US who uses services from the above companies can be monitored.
According to reports, Microsoft was the first to be involved, in 2007. It was followed by Yahoo in 2008. Facebook, Google and PalTalk followed suit in 2009. YouTube came onboard in 2010, Skype and AOL in 2011. The latest entrant is Apple, in 2012. The program continues to grow and more online providers are expected to follow suit.
Although the companies themselves deny any involvement in this program, their credibility has taken a hit and nobody knows how much further this can of worms will open up.