The government's top secrets are only classified until they're not. Over the years countless files have been declassified, made public and, thanks to the internet, are now readily available for anyone on earth who wants to open his or her mind and learn the truth.
The documents reveal mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, face-melting evidence of seemingly unfathomable events and projects that make even the craziest conspiracy theories sound completely believable.
This article explores everything from UFOs, paranormal science and psychic mind control, to animals trained as spies and even secret military bases, both underground and on the moon.
It's hard to imagine how any of these things were ever thought of, let alone how they actually came to be. These secrets feature work done by the CIA, FBI, NSA, DOD, DOJ, NASA, USAF, NATO, and more.
Proceed with caution, and prepare to never think about the government, the world or your mind the same way ever again.
The Cold War was a desperate time that called for desperate measures. None more desperate than Acoustic Kitty, a $20 million program launched in 1967 by the CIA Directorate of Science & Technology. The goal was to train domesticated cats to spy on the Soviet Union, their embassies, and even the Kremlin. With the use of advanced, custom-built technology, the felines would be able to gather information that human agents couldn’t. The first mission was to eavesdrop on two men in a park outside the Soviet compound on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C. But it failed miserably and the program was cancelled. Despite attempts to train, the cats would get hungry and distracted, mainly because they're animals and not government spies. And as ridiculous as this sounds, it's not even the craziest government program involving cats used during wartime. Makes sure to stick around to the end to see what was.
A lot of crazy ideas came about during the Cold War, and Project 1794 was definitely one of them. This ambitious, secret program tasked a team of engineers to construct an aircraft that looked like a flying saucer. Documents declassified in 2012 reveal U.S. Air Force plans to not only build this UFO-style vehicle, but also make it capable of reaching supersonic speeds, as fast as Mach 4 (four times the speed of sound) at high altitudes up to 100,000 feet with a range of over 1,000 nautical miles. No big deal right? Wrong. Project 1794 was as expensive as it was unrealistic. Adjusted for inflation, this then $3 million program would cost almost ten times that today. It was canceled in 1961 after tests revealed that its disc shape wouldn't be aerodynamically stable or controllable at even close to the speeds they’d wanted. While this ridiculous plan failed in the air, the government wasted no time thinking of something just as weird for down on the ground...
Prepare and Protect
Declassified documents surfaced in 2014 detailing Operation Washtub, a project that came about due to the fear of a Soviet invasion. The plan was to recruit and train secret armies consisting of ordinary Alaskan civilians (there ended up being 89 total "stay-behind agents") to become spies capable of covert intelligence, coding, decoding, evasion and escape, as well as other espionage techniques. The government continued to explore these types of concepts, some of which are discussed later in this article.
Some declassified government secrets, including Project Horizon, sound like they’re straight out of science fiction. Almost a decade prior to NASA's 1969 moon landing, the U.S. military made plans to build a strategic, manned lunar base. The Army’s chief of research and development, along with physicist Leonard Reiffel and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, worked on this idea that would have also featured potential weapons capabilities. Crazy, but not nearly as insane as what the CIA was doing back on Earth...
In what is easily one of the most controversial government operations, Project MK-Ultra was a top secret mind control program. During the 50s and 60s the Central Intelligence Agency experimented with questionable methods ranging from hypnosis, biological agents and even drugs to train and program human subjects. In the 70s the then-CIA director Richard Helms tried to destroy all evidence of the project, but it was eventually revealed through a formal investigation.
Named after the Roman God of the Underworld, the Cold War era program Project Pluto used an aircraft engine to power a ramjet cruise missile. The weapon, which was also know as “the Flying Crowbar,” would employ nuclear fission and was designed to have an unlimited range. Two working prototypes were built, the Tory-IIA (pictured above) and the Tory-IIC, and successfully tested in the Nevada desert. But it was revealed that they spewed the fission material as exhaust.
There’s nothing like a good heist story. In the early 1960s the CIA led a mission to steal a Soviet spacecraft. At the height of the space race, the Soviets took the lead with the launch of their Lunik satellite program. To keep up, four undercover U.S. agents "borrowed" one to deconstruct and photograph its components before swiftly returning it the next day. According to declassified documents, the Soviets had no idea this even happened. But they do now.
The Cold War didn’t just reach outer space, it also went underwater. In 1971 the U.S. Navy, CIA, and NSA founded Operation Ivy Bells, a joint mission to wiretap the Soviet’s subaquatic communication lines. With the use of the U.S.S. Halibut, a purpose-modified submarine (pictured above), divers went deep into the Sea of Okhotsk where they found a cable and installed a recording device, which was designed to detach if the cable was raised for repair.
U.S. Air Force / CC
Beyond the Outer Space Treaty, there aren’t many laws in the cosmos. The US Air Force decided to capitalize on this with Project Thor, a weapons system built to launch kinetic projectiles from Earth’s orbit. The system uses 20-foot-long, 1-foot-diameter tungsten telephone poles, or the "Rods of God," with small fins and a satellite-controlled computer. While this idea came about in the 1950s, it’s still being tested today (as seen in the image).
Pictured above is an actual FBI surveillance plane. Since 2015 it has been public knowledge that the government is using these small aircrafts, which are registered to fictitious companies and operate all over the country without judicial approval. While they carry advanced video and cellphone technology to spy and gather intel, details about what information the planes collect is highly censored in publicly available documents. If this isn't being kept secret, it's scary to think about what is...
This Is The Story Of...
In 1946, the first atomic explosions since World War II happened as weapons tests at Bikini Atoll. Declassified documents reveal the debate between scientists and military officials prior to the bombings, which forced locals to relocate due to radiation safety concerns. Interestingly enough, fashion designer Louis Reard named his two-piece swimsuit after the tests because "like the bomb, the bikini is small and devastating." Keep reading for another strange connection between government secrets and pop culture...
During the Cold War the CIA did everything in its power to shake things up throughout the Soviet Union. In 1958 they spread around roughly 1,000 copies of Boris Pasternak's book Doctor Zhivago, which was banned there due to its anti-communist message. With help from Dutch Intelligence and even the Vatican, the books were distributed to visiting Soviets at the World's Fair in Brussels. They eventually tried this with other novels, or, as they called them, “propaganda tools."
Some government secrets have become urban legends. The Silent Zone, a bizarre tourist trap located in the desert around Durango, Mexico, got its name because, apparently, radio waves cannot be transmitted there. Imagine the Bermuda Triangle, but on land where people can visit hoping to experience some sort of extraterrestrial or paranormal activity. According to documents declassified in 2013, an Air Force rocket carrying cobalt 57 (a radioactive isotope) crashed there, which might explain the phenomena.
In the 1960s, under the guise of a research project called "Camp Century," the U.S. Army embarked on a secret Cold War mission to engineer and build a series of mobile missile launch sites below the Greenland ice sheet. The main entrance (pictured above) led to an elaborate underground base, including living quarters and a nuclear power plant. It was abandoned in 1966 after shifting ice created unstable conditions, but it still exists deep beneath the surface.
In one of the most bizarre government secrets ever revealed, Operation Popeye was a highly classified weather modification program during the Vietnam War. The idea was to extend the East Asian Monsoon season in order to flood areas of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and disrupt the movement of Vietnamese troops. The cloud seeding project, which used silver iodide in roughly 2,000 runs, was conducted from 1967-1972. It is still unknown how effective the program actually was.
Atomic Heritage Foundation
In 1939, American scientists began secretly researching the potential power of atomic weapons. These studies, led by theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, a.k.a. "the father of the atomic bomb," resulted in the creation of the world’s first nuclear bombs. On July 16, 1945 at New Mexico's Alamogordo Air Base the explosion created a mushroom cloud that stretched over 7 miles. The Manhattan Project changed the world forever. (above is an actual billboard from the government's secret Atomic City)
U.S. Air Force
Speaking of bombs, sometimes they drop while they’re still inside the plane. One such crash happened when a U.S. B-52 bomber went down while transporting four hydrogen bombs (just like the ones in the image) to Greenland's Thule air base in 1968. U.S. Officials attempted to recover all the radioactive debris, but the extent of the damage was never fully-determined. This has also happened in Spain and the U.S, and those are just the ones we know of.
Before the CIA, there was the Office of Strategic Services. In 1946, with authorization from President Truman, Operation Paperclip recruited around 1,500 scientists from Nazi Germany. In exchange for their help and loyalty, the U.S. government falsified employment histories and expunged Nazi affiliations from the public record. The most notable was rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, who was instrumental in NASA’s Apollo moon missions. He was eventually denied the Presidential Medal of Freedom because of his Nazi past.
Just last year the CIA released almost a million files online. One of the more unusual documents features recipes for how to make and use invisible ink. It includes all of the different surfaces on which the substance can be applied, from paper, to the metal walls of planes and ships and even the human body. It is now public knowledge that this practice has been happening for decades. We'll never look at paper the same way again.
One of the most recent, and public, government scandals happened in 2003. Bush administration officials disclosed to reporters the identity of a then-classified, covert CIA officer named Valerie Plame, putting her and her overseas sources at risk. A grand jury convened to launch a federal investigation of the leak after the U.S. Department of Justice was notified. She chronicled this in her book Fair Game, which was made into a movie in which she was portrayed by Naomi Watts.
Alaska's secret army (discussed earlier) was just the tip of the iceberg. Back during the Cold War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, developed a classified plan to prepare Europe for a Soviet invasion. Clandestine armies in Italy, Belgium and France trained in espionage and the hoarding of ammunitions. In 1990, the Prime Minister of Italy divulged information about Operation Gladio, becoming the first NATO leader to publicly acknowledge the existence of these secret forces.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
In 1962, a high-altitude nuclear test was conducted by the United States. A Thor rocket was launched over the Pacific Ocean carrying a W49 thermonuclear warhead. Immediately following the explosion (captured above), three satellites in low-earth orbit were disabled by the blast, but that was just the beginning. The radiation belt went on to cripple a third of all the satellites in low-earth orbit, including Telstar, the first commercial relay communication satellite. Continue for more like this...
Declassified documents have revealed the details of extensive secret weapons tests gone wrong. Thankfully, in the 1950s, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, with the help of the U.S. Air Force, conducted studies on the global health effects of fallout from such tests and weapons. The AEC focused on Strontium-90, a radioactive isotope, collecting over 1,500 samples from all over the world. Unfortunately, the methods used were highly illegal, and in some cases, also extremely immoral.
One of the earliest and most notable celebrity chefs was Julia Child. But before she became famous for her work in the kitchen, she was a government operative in the Secret Intelligence (SI) division of the Office of Strategic Service (OSS) during World War II. She initially tried to join the Army and the Navy, but was too tall at a staggering six feet, two inches. And she's not the only famous celebrity to be involved with secret government operations...
Meet The Beatles For Real
The Beatles are arguably the most popular band of all time. And John Lennon was the most outspoken, especially when it came to his sociopolitical views. This led the FBI to put him on a watch list, terminate his visa, attempt to deport him, and monitor aspects of his life as well as television appearances and concerts. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, the files were released and featured in the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon.
The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 was one of the most terrifying times in U.S. history. A high-ranking Soviet military intelligence officer named Oleg Penkovsky, who was actually a spy for the United States and Great Britain, supplied the government with valuable information. But due to declassified documents, some believe that he was just a decoy who was relaying false intel and that his loyalty never left the Soviet Union. Who knew espionage could be so complicated?
Shocking declassified information has revealed that the CIA helped facilitate drug smuggling in the early 1980s. They sold guns and drugs to the Nicaraguan contras, a guerrilla force backed by the Reagan administration. This would eventually lead to the widespread epidemic of cocaine on both sides of the border. The devastating effects are still being felt today, and show no sings of stopping. (above is a small plane fumigating over a Columbian cocaine plantation)
The Gulf of Tonkin Incident led to America's involvement in the Vietnam War. But did it really happen? Documents declassified in the mid-2000s revealed that the attacks on two U.S. Navy destroyers, the U.S.S. Maddox and the U.S.S. Turner Joy, may have been fabricated. In Vietnam nearly 60,000 U.S. servicemen lost their lives, along with nearly 250,000 South Vietnamese troops, 1.1 million Viet Cong and North Vietnamese fighters and more than two million civilians across the country.
In the 1950s the FBI, led by J. Edgar Hoover, began a Counter Intelligence Program aimed at surveying, infiltrating and disrupting the U.S. Communist Party. Throughout the 1960s the covert operations expanded to other domestic political organizations including civil rights groups (The Black Panthers), leftist organizations (The Socialist Workers Party), and also some far-right groups (The Ku Klux Klan). COINTELPRO was cancelled in 1971 and eventually criticized for multiple reasons including its abridging of first amendment rights.
While the existence of chemtrails is still a highly debated conspiracy theory, Operation LAC, or Large Area Coverage, is eerily similar. Starting in the 50s, the U.S. Army Chemical Corps (using planes like the one picture above) dispersed microscopic zinc cadmium sulfide (ZnCdS) over many parts of America. These operations were designed to determine and assess the threat of biological and chemical attacks. While once thought of as harmless, the safety of the tests has since been heavily challenged.
Many declassified government secrets are crazy, dangerous, and downright wrong. But this one is just weird. During the Cold War the CIA enlisted then-America's most famous magician John Mulholland to write a training manual for covert field agents. It features step by step instructions on sleight of hand and trickery designed to thwart the enemy. The legendary document was once thought lost forever, but was eventually found and made available to everyone. But wait, there’s more...
According to a series of extraordinary declassified documents, the CIA's fascination with magic didn't end there. In 1973, following secret psychic experiments like replicating random drawings from another room, they concluded that controversial spoonbender Uri Geller possessed convincing paranormal, clairvoyant, and telepathic abilities. Geller claims that he ended up doing many things for the CIA, but his skeptics disagree and question the extent of the CIA's involvement with the "psychic warrior."
Five years later at Fort Meade, Maryland the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) investigated the potential for psychic phenomena in military and domestic intelligence applications. These operations went by various code names like GONDOLA WISH, GRILL FLAME, CENTER LANE, SUN STREAK, and SCANATE before being consolidated into the Stargate Project. It focused on remote viewing, or the ability to psychically see events, sites, or information from a great distance. It was terminated and declassified in 1995 because obviously.
Area 51 is a favorite of conspiracy theorists and sci-fi writers. The secrecy surrounding the location is commonly linked to paranormal activities. In 2013, declassified CIA documents finally acknowledged the existence of the experimental airbase that has been used to house and test military vehicles and weapons. The government claims it's so closely guarded because of its contents' potential to change warfare on a fundamental level. But this is just scratching the surface. Proceed to dig a little deeper...
The U.S. government has studied UFOs since 1948. These inquiries were first disclosed by retired Air Force Captain Edward J Ruppelt in his book The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects. He confirmed the projects existed, but claimed that, in an effort to debunk UFO reports, very little actual research was conducted and standard intelligence procedures were not followed. But there was one incident that has lived on to challenge even the most skeptical deniers...
Roswell, New Mexico is maybe the most famous UFO incident. The actual subject of the crash was declassified in the early 90s. Scientists discovered an atmospheric layer where a loud enough sound, like a nuclear detonation, can travel around the globe. Before this project was made irrelevant by the invention of satellites, a high-altitude cluster balloon with a radar reflector developed to listen for such sounds was deployed and, apparently, that's what crashed. Or was it?
Other countries have also experienced UFOs. Britain's Ministry of Defense released files, including some written by the grandson of a Royal Air Force (RAF) member who'd served as one of the former Prime Minister's bodyguards. The scientist claimed that during World War II, Churchill, intending to avert "mass panic," covered up an encounter between an aircraft and a mysterious flying object. Outside the U.S. and the U.K., UFOs have been spotted all over the world...
The supposed existence, or at least potential evidence, of aliens and UFOs dates back centuries. This has been explored in countless books, programs and fierce internet debates. But beyond all the research, there is actual documented evidence from all across the globe. People in Germany, Spain, Africa, Asia, and seemingly everywhere in between have claimed to witness extraterrestrial spacecrafts. Hopefully one day human beings will know for sure whether or not humanity is alone in the universe.
With the promise of an even weirder declassified secret involving cats, comes what is possibly the craziest yet. During World War II, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services was apparently desperate enough to consider putting parachutes on cats and strapping them to bombs. Due to the felines' fear of water, the hope was that they would instinctively swim the bomb to the nearest naval target. It's good to know that this never got past the testing phase.