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14 Declassified Government Documents That Are Actually Terrifying

"The CIA invested millions in a program that tried to make cat spies."

Recently, Redditor u/arod42 posed the question: What are some declassified government documents that are surprisingly terrifying? Here are some of the most bizarre, tragic, and terrifying answers:

1. Operation Midnight Climax

Fernandoquevedo / Getty Images

"The government hired sex workers to dose their clients with LSD for mind-control research purposes."


2. Acoustic Kitty

Asadykov / Getty Images

"The CIA invested millions in a program called Acoustic Kitty that tried to make cat spies by implanting microphones and a neurotransmitters into them and having them spy on foreign officials. However, it failed when the first and only spy cat was hit by a car."


3. The Nixon administration had a speech prepared in case the moon landing failed

"The speech is so chilling. It began with: 'Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.' You can read the whole thing here."

4. Devil Eyes

"After 9/11, the CIA launched a secret psychological warfare program called 'Devil Eyes' where they made figurines that looked like Osama Bin Laden and gave them to kids in South Asia. After the toy was left in the sun for a certain amount of time, its face would peel off to reveal a 'demon-like visage with red skin, green eyes, and black markings' β€” basically a demon. The objective was to scare kids and their parents so Bin Laden and Al Qaeda would lose support."


5. A German freedom fighter and her husband who spied on her

Gedachtnis Der Nation

"In East Germany, a committed freedom fighter Vera Lengsfeld and her husband had dealt with having her home raided while she was away, being arrested on the way to protests, and all sorts of state-sponsored harassment. After the wall fell, she was able to read the documents the Stasi had kept on her and found out her own husband was an undercover agent and had written many reports on her activities with a bloodless banality."


6. The "Heart Attack Gun"

"The CIA developed an assassination weapon that was essentially a poison gun β€” once it was shot, it was untraceable in the victim's bloodstream and left no mark on their body."


7. Project SUNSHINE

Motortion / Getty Images

"Project SUNSHINE was a secret program where the US Government bought remains of dead infants to test for radiation. When they took limbs from them, the parents were never told. One mother wasn't allowed to dress her daughter for her funeral because doctors had removed her legs and didn't want her to find out."


8. The findings of the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group

US Army

"After the My Lai massacre β€” the killing of around 400-500 innocent civilians in Vietnam after an army troop killed an entire village β€” the US government established a group to investigate other war crimes like this occurring in Vietnam called the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group. They found that US soldiers had committed 28 massacres of equal or greater magnitude than My Lai that the public was unaware of."


9. Toxic waste in Tonawanda, New York

10. The deaths of the Space Shuttle Challenger astronauts


"When the Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed, it was reported that all 7 astronauts were killed instantly. It was revealed decades later that some, if not all of the astronauts survived the initial explosion, as the cockpit cabin had enough protection to not be breached. For 2 minutes and 45 seconds, they were awake and aware as they plummeted toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Understandably, NASA knew that the news of their terrifying death would have crippled the space program even more than it already was."


11. Forced sterilization on Native American women

Filipefrazao / Getty Images

"Indian Health Services practiced female sterilization on Native American women all the way through the 1970s. Kinda sobering knowing that we were using tax dollars to suppress indigenous birth rates less than 50 years ago."


12. Operation PBSUCCESS

Central Intelligence Agency

"The CIA overthrew the democratically elected Guatemalan leader and armed, funded, and trained an army which killed and tortured many civilians. The war lasted 36 years and led to the genocide of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people."


13. Operation Northwoods

"The plan was proposed to JFK who ultimately turned it down β€” it called for the CIA to commit terrorist actions against US civilians across the United States and frame Cuba, allowing us the right to invade and depose Castro and the communist government there. Terrifying that no one knows or seems to care that this was suggested by our government to the President."


14. And lastly, the 1958 Tybee Island Mid-Air Collision

"One US bomber accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb a short distance from a Savannah, Georgia, but luckily it didn't detonate. It's still there, but it would be more dangerous to retrieve it than to just leave it alone."


H/T r/AskReddit

Note: Answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.