9 Of The Sketchiest CIA Operations You’ve Never Heard Of That Probably Weren’t Even Legal

The CIA are the good guys, right?


9. Operation Popeye

We’re going to start off big. We’re going to start off with the fact that the CIA did some next level, totalitarian, freaky shit.

During the Vietnam War, the CIA launched Operation Popeye which was an attempt to extend the monsoon season, specifically over a trail that was used by the Vietnamese to transport goods. In fact, the CIA was so successful with this operation that they were able to induce rain, extend the monsoon period by an average of 30 to 45 days, and the continuous rainfall slowed down truck traffic. The operation was considered a success…until it wasn’t. The rain lead to an unpredicted amount of flooding near the Song Con River and is blamed for the move of some POWs at a prison camp near Son Tay, which lead to the failure of Operation Ivory Coast.

Of course, it isn’t a sketchy CIA operation until they lie to the general public about what they are doing – which is exactly what happened. Knowing that the international scientific community would raise objections, the CIA knowingly denied the existence of a weather modification program to Congress.

However, once the name Operation Popeye entered the public media sphere after being

briefly mentioned in a New York Times article, the military operation ceased the following day on July 4, 1972.


8. Modern Art

Do you know anyone that thinks that modern art is a beautiful, genuine form of expression? Good news, then: You get to wipe the smug look off their face after they tell you that you just don’t ‘understand’ art when you tell them that the abstract expressionism was one big lie.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union were having a bit of a spat. Each country was trying to show to the world, and their citizens, that they were the more powerful country. This came through many forms, whether it was trying to flex and show off the many nuclear weapons they have, how advanced their technology was, and, in the United States case, who had the better art.

Soviet art at the time was roughly all the same. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the CIA wanted to show how free the United States was by putting the Abstract Expressionism movement into the global field of view. The two forms of art were polar opposites. The Soviet art form was very calculated and precisely executed, and the new American form of art was, well, not.

In order to do this, the CIA recruited a series of rich art collectors to purchase modern artworks from artists like Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko, for absurd prices…despite the fact that the general public found these paintings unappealing. The idea was to change the way the art world viewed modern art, because if these famous art collectors were spending millions of dollars (of the CIA’s money), people would just think they were missing something.

And well, it worked. Look how prominent modern art is in our world today. Some people find it revolting, but a lot of people in the art world view it as beautiful.


7. Nicaraguan Cocaine Business

During the height of his drug dealing career, Rick Ross (not the rapper) is reported to have sold $3 million worth of crack cocaine in a day. It is estimated he made more than $600 million between 1983 and 1984. While it’s impressive that someone from such a poor area was able to create such a large empire, one journalist suggested that there was no way Rick Ross was able to do it himself.

Gary Webb is a journalist who went on to write a book titled Dark Alliance: The Cia, The Contras, andTthe Crack Cocaine Explosion that was based on his three-part investigative series into the crack cocaine business. Webb publicly wrote about a connection between one of Ross’ cocaine sources, Danilo Blandon, and the CIA.

In as few words as possible, Webb believed that the CIA supported cocaine trafficking into the US by the top members of the Nicaraguan Contra Rebel organizations in order to raise funds against the Nicaraguan Sandinista National Liberation Front Sandinista government. Webb doesn’t think that the CIA thought to flood poor areas of Los Angeles with crack cocaine, but instead, he thinks that they were looking for the quickest way to raise money, and they more or less tried to turn a ‘blind eye’ to the whole operation.

Eventually, Webb was condemned by his publishers for making bold claims (and at the time, what people believed were false claims) against the CIA. Eventually, he was driven out of journalism, and in 2004, he was found with two gunshot wounds to the head. His death was ruled a suicide.

Ironically, even before Webb came forward with his claims, Senator John Kerry launched an investigation into the matter. His report, released in 1989, revealed not only that there was ‘considerable evidence’ linking the Nicaraguan Contra to drug and weapons trafficking, but that the U.S. government knew about it.

The CIA hasn’t actually acknowledged their involvement in trafficking drugs into Los Angeles, because let’s be honest, imagine the riots when (if) they do. Regardless, pilots involved in the trafficking and countless people involved in all ranks of the operation have made claims that the Contra, and the CIA, knew how exactly their missions were being funded.


6. Slight of Hand Training

At the height of the Cold War, while the United States and the Soviet Union were having a “who has the bigger dick” competition, while the general population was fearing for their lives, the CIA was trying to teach its agents magic.

John Mulholland was hired to create a guide for CIA agents to learn sleight of hand techniques to use during missions. The manual was allegedly destroyed, but has since been recovered, declassified, and reprinted as “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception.”

Former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin wrote in the manual that as best as he knows, the drink-spiking techniques mentioned in the book were never actually used. That sounds reassuring, but there were actually quite a few government programs that revolved around secretly drugging unsuspecting people to study the effects.

Which brings us to…


5. Operation Midnight Climax

Operation Midnight Climax was a sub-project for the highly controversial Project MKUltra, which we will get into a little bit further down in this article. Midnight Climax was established by Sidney Gottlieb and operated under the direction of Narcotics Bureau officer George Hunter White under the alias of Morgan White.

Basically, the CIA selected a few prostitutes to put on the payroll and lure unsuspecting clients back to safe houses. While at these safe houses, the clients were secretly drugged by the prostitutes, usually with LSD. The clients were then monitored on how they had sex with the prostitutes, while unknowingly high, through one-way glass. Creepy,right? As if secretly drugging innocent dudes just looking for a good time wasn’t bad enough.

The CIA used the information they gathered during this operation and developed a few operational techniques, such as sexual blackmail, surveillance technology, and using mind-altering drugs during field operations.

The safe houses in San Francisco were closed in 1965 after being dramatically scaled back in 1962.In 1966, the safe house in New York City was closed, and the operation allegedly ended.


Do you know how in spy movies, the good guys always use some sort of dart gun to knock an unsuspecting guard unconscious? Yeah, those are real.

Project MKNAOMI was the codename given to a joint research program between the Department of Defense and the CIA. This program started in the 1950s, and lasted through to the 1970s.

Project MKNAOMI focused biological warfare, specifically to create a weapon that could incapacitate or kill a test subject. One such weapon was a dart gun that fired a biological agent that could incapacitate dogs, allowing the CIA to infiltrate an area the dogs were guarding and wake them up as the operatives were leaving the facility.

Another weapon that the CIA developed was a modified Colt 1911 that would shoot a dart and cause a heart attack once it entered the bloodstream. The dart could pierce through clothing without leaving any signs of impact on the skin except for a small red dot.

The technology was revealed to the public in 1975, probably after the CIA had come up with something much more terrifying.


3. MKUltra


This is where shit gets fucked. Do you remember the sleight of hand techniques the CIA were studying? Yeah. Here’s why.

Project MKUltra, often referred to as the CIA’s mind control program, was an illegal set of experiments on human subjects that were developed and performed by the CIA. The experiments on humans were intended to help develop different techniques and procedures that could be used during interrogations and torture, with the end goal of having the subject reveal secrets to the CIA through mind control. Ideally, the CIA wanted to bring out deep confessions and wipe a person’s mind clean and reprogram them as a robot agent. I’m not even making this up. This actually happened.

The program began in the early 1950s, and focused heavily on manipulating people’s mental states, specifically by slipping unsuspecting U.S. and Canadian citizens drugs, such as LSD and other chemicals. These drugs were almost always administered without the person knowing or consenting.

Other forms of torture included sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, and many others. In one extreme case, one mental patient was administered LSD continuously for 174 days

Project MKUltra is hands down, one of the most evil things the CIA has ever done, and if you think there were no real consequences to the program, you would be wrong. In one study as part of MKUltra, a 17-year-old university student was the victim of “vehement, sweeping and personally abusive attacks.” His ego was attacked, and he was forced to suffer high levels of stress and distress for days on end. This teenage boy’s name was Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. He killed three people and injured 23 others in a mail bombing spree that lasted nearly 20 years.

I’m not saying MKUltra was the sole reason Kaczynski did this, but I’m saying it definitely did help.


2. Kyshtym Disaster

The Chernobyl disaster was rated as a Level 7 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale and is considered one of the worst nuclear disasters of all time. Chernobyl is pretty much a household name, which is unfortunate that such a horrendous event brought such a small community the level of notoriety that it has. That said,there is one nuclear disaster that sort of slipped through the cracks of history.

In 1957, there was a Level 6 nuclear disaster at Mayak, a Soviet plutonium production site that was created without regard for safety concerns because the Soviet Union was trying to play nuclear catch up with the United States. It is the third most serious nuclear accident ever recorded, and for almost twenty years the CIA helped cover up the event.

The CIA found out about the nuclear leak just under two years after it happened, and even though the CIA could have used this information in the propaganda war against the Soviet Union, they didn’t. It wasn’t because the CIA wanted to help the Soviet Union out. Instead, it was because the CIA thought that if people in the United States found out about this horrendous event, people would protest the nuclear industry even more than they already were.

There were an estimated 8,000 deaths in the 32 years following the nuclear leak. That said,radiation-induced cancer is indistinguishable from any other form of cancer, meaning it’s almost impossible to say how many people actually died because of this disaster. Some estimates are as low as 200.

The Soviet Union, trying to cover up their general lack of safety procedures taken when building the factory, held off evacuating the communities near the nuclear site for weeks, and in some villages case, over a year.

The CIA knew about it all, and they just bit their metaphoric tongue.


1. Operation Northwoods

Operation Northwoods is the wet dream of every conspiracy theorist, or anyone convinced that Bush was responsible for 9/11.

In short, Operation Northwoods was a plan that originated in the Department of Defense, that would require the CIA to commit acts of terrorism against American civilians and military targets, then blame the attacks on the Cuban government. If these attacks were blamed on the Cubans, the American public would support a war against Cuba, and America would be able to invade the country without any serious repercussions.

Some proposed targets included areas close to Cuba, such as the Miami area, and other Florida cities, and there was even mention of staging an attack in Washington.

However, although the proposal was accepted by just about everyone in the government, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, it was only rejected by President John. F Kennedy. Had he signed on to the agreement, who could know what would have happened?

The reason conspiracy theorists, and “9/11 was an inside job” enthusiasts are so fascinated by Operation Northwoods is because they believe that if the American government was so close to staging a domestic terrorist attack in the past, who’s to say they wouldn’t try it again?