6 Hilariously Dumb Ways Confidential Secrets Got Revealed
In today's world, with Chinese hackers and NSA surveillance programs, the basic concept of "confidentiality" seems like an impossible dream. Still, there are a few simple things we can do to reduce the chances of our private information finding its way into some meth-head's pocket, such as not tossing it into the air all willy-nilly at the goddamn Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Police Employee Tosses Sensitive Information Into The Air All Willy-Nilly At The Goddamn Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
There's a lot of confetti thrown at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, because what says "we're thankful for all we have" better than throwing all that shit straight on the ground? Most people don't give that litter a second thought. Well, there are at least a few undercover cops who wish the folks in attendance at the 2012 parade were more like you.
And not just because of your aversion to pooping on the sidewalk.
Back in 2012, if you were to pick up the confetti scattered around one section of the parade route and get creative with some Scotch tape, you'd have gathered information detailing then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney's motorcade to the final presidential debate, which could conceivably have resulted in tragedy (like a poor person getting within 1,000 yards of his perimeter). You might even have information revealing the identity of undercover police officers. And getting creative with Scotch tape is, of course, just what some parade-goers did.
Now, to be clear, this wasn't the official confetti provided by parade organizers -- the official confetti was just bits of generic colored paper manufactured by grinding our idyllic woodlands to pulp and packaged specifically for use as confetti, just as Mother Nature intended. No, this ... special confetti was spread by the friends and family of a particularly resourceful employee of the Nassau County Police Department, who looked at the giant bags of shredded records at the office one day and said, "Hey, festive!"
Unlike all the undercover officers whose covers were blown and had to be subsequently offered protection, the department refused to reveal Confetti Guy/Gal's identity, because "payback's a bitch" is not official police protocol. To their credit, however, once they discovered that the shreds could easily be reassembled to reveal the Social Security numbers of police employees and official incident reports, they did opt to drop the extra 50 bucks for a cross-cut shredder.
U.S. Congressman Holds A Press Conference To Tell The Japanese How To Sink American Submarines
You've no doubt heard the old idiom "loose lips sink ships," made famous on propaganda posters during World War II. What you may not have heard, though, is just how explosively literal it was.
You thought it was just an anti-VD slogan, didn't you?
We're referring to the "May Incident," so named for U.S. Congressman Andrew Jackson May, then-chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee. In 1943, smack dab in the middle of the war, May visited the Pacific Rim to attend confidential briefings. One of the most interesting tidbits revealed to May was why the Japanese were finding it nigh impossible to fend off American submarines: They hadn't the slightest idea what diving depth our subs were capable of, causing them to fuse their depth charges to explode too early. They were suffering from explosive premature ejaculation.
May headed back to Washington, where he immediately arranged a press conference to inform the American people how our boys underseas were faring. He wasted no time blurting out the entire reason that the survivability rate of U.S. submarines was so good. The press, in turn, wasted no time disseminating the information in newspapers from New York to Honolulu. Quicker than you can say, "The enemy can read too, you rock-fucking dunderhead," the Japanese were downing our subs like a child predator.
This man killed twice as many American soldiers as the Gulf War did.
The commander of the U.S. Pacific submarine fleet, Charles A. Lockwood, was rightly pissed, telling his superiors that "the congressman should be pleased to know that the Japs set 'em deeper now." He directly attributed the loss of 10 submarines and 800 crewmen to the leak. Something to keep in mind the next time you accidentally blab something that was supposed to be secret -- at least you didn't murder 800 soldiers with it. Or maybe you did. We shouldn't presume to know how juicy your gossip is.
Bank Of England Emails Their Top-Secret Plan To Leave The European Union To A Newspaper Editor
Autocomplete is the best thing to happen to email since the @ symbol. Once you've emailed a contact a single time, from then on you simply start typing their name and Gmail frees up that precious human memory for more important stuff, like remembering all the words to the Oscar Mayer wiener song. This can lead to complications, however.
Like this song about to be stuck in your head for the next three days.
No one knows that better than the Bank Of England, who in May of 2015 sent off their secret plans to the worst possible recipient. "Brexit" is currently a hot topic in England -- it refers to the fact that a number of the conservative political parties in the nation want to make like a tree and get out of the European Union. This is obviously a contentious subject, so the fact that the country's central bank is secretly making contingency plans on what to do when the inevitable financial exodus happens would be a big-time news story if it ever got out. Which, as you've likely already deduced from the fact that we're talking about it right now, is exactly what happened.
The project, dubbed Project Bookend, was headed by Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor for financial stability. An email from Cunliffe's private secretary to four senior executives at the bank inexplicably detailed the fact that the team was not to discuss the project by email, or even openly in front of any underlings. It went on to instruct the schemers on how to dance around the topic should it ever come up in the press. Upon receiving this email that probably had a subject line of "TOP SECRET DO NOT FORWARD," the bank's head of press, Jeremy Harrison, promptly forwarded it. To the wrong recipient. But he didn't just mistakenly send it to his wife in place of a shopping list -- no, he sent it to an editor at The Guardian, easily Britain's most well-known left-leaning newspaper.
"I was TRYING to forward it to Daily Mail so everyone could safely ignore it!"
The Guardian, of course, printed the details of Project Bookend forthwith. Parliament was quite intrigued to learn that the U.K.'s main financial regulator was conducting secret studies without bothering to inform them about it and openly questioned if the bank had any other cloak-and-dagger operations that they ought to know about.
The Bank Of England responded to this humiliating breach in the most conscientious manner possible: They fully embraced accountable governance and their role as public servants. Just kidding -- they simply ordered their employees to turn off autocomplete and instead manually type every single letter of every single email address, like a bunch of cyber-cavemen.
Secret Nazi Bank Account Information Is Left Lying Out For A Security Guard To Find
Switzerland's self-proclaimed neutrality during World War II has been shrouded in speculation. So imagine you're an official at the Union Bank Of Switzerland and you happen across some dusty old ledgers straight-up confirming that your bank had been profiting from assets stolen from Jewish victims of the Nazis for the last half-century. Assuming you uphold the company morals that would have enabled such an act to occur in the first place, you'd probably try to keep them under wraps, right?
"I mean, on the one hand, Nazis. On the other-"
"THERE IS NO GODDAMN OTHER HAND."
Hopefully that's not what you'd personally do, but it is what some supervillainesque banker at the bank's headquarters in Zurich did in 1997. The problem was that the giant, leather-bound equivalent of a deal with the Devil tends to be the kind of thing that garners attention. The attention garnered in this case was that of night watchman Christoph Meili, who, during his regular rounds of keeping the Swiss gold and chocolate vaults safe and secure, noticed a number of antique-looking documents piled into bins, waiting to be shredded. Thinking that the documents should be preserved as historical artifacts if nothing else, he decided to take a closer look.
What he found were handwritten ledgers, contracts, and details of mortgaged properties in major German cities during the 1930s and '40s. In other words, he was holding irrefutable proof of secret Swiss bank involvement in forced real estate sales of Jewish property during the Nazi persecution era. Not only that, the documents also corroborated post-war claims by Jews who had deposited money in "neutral" Switzerland to avoid having it confiscated by the Germans, only to have the Swiss banks shrug their shoulders about said deposits after the war.
Suddenly, subprime mortgages seem at best subprime evil.
Even though he knew it would cost him his job, with which he was supporting a wife and two small children, Meili heroically smuggled the records out and called the Israeli embassy. When the documents eventually made their way to the proper officials, the Swiss government and media were less than happy with Meili (who was immediately canned from the bank), and he became the first Swiss citizen ever given political asylum in the United States. But his actions weren't for naught, as they directly resulted in the Union Bank Of Switzerland and Credit Suisse agreeing to pay a $1.4 billion settlement to Holocaust survivors and their families, not to mention forcing them to pen an entirely new shredder policy.
FBI Agent Registers A Top-Secret Interrogation Manual With The Library Of Congress
Every government has its secrets -- plans for the next great superweapon, where they keep all their extraterrestrial carcasses, the security code to the president's Starbucks app, a manual outlining the most effective ways to brutally extract information from those suspected of terrorism ...
Not to be confused with the most brutal ways to ineffectively extract information
from those suspected of terrorism.
If you were a high-ranking FBI agent, one thing you most certainly wouldn't do with the aforementioned interrogation manual is leave it where any member of the public could waltz right in and thumb through it like a cheap romance paperback on a drugstore bookshelf. But one unnamed FBI agent did just that in January of 2010, by dropping the manual off at the Library Of Congress to try to get it copyrighted. By law, any document deposited at the U.S. Copyright Office can be reviewed by any-damn-body who walks in and requests such.
Why the hell would the agent even do such a thing, you ask? No one has the slightest idea. Official government documents aren't even subject to copyright, and since this was a top-secret torture manual that the public would never have access to anyway, there was precisely zero need to allay concerns of plagiarism. Plus, the agent used his own name to register the manual, meaning that had the copyright been granted, the rights would have belonged to him, not the FBI. Was he planning to sell copies to freelance sadists and retire on the proceeds?
"24 Seasons 5 through 7 now legally belong to ME!"
No one was more confused by all of this than the American Civil Liberties Union, who'd been trying to get their hands on the manual for years. They had finally managed to obtain a heavily redacted version in 2011, which you may recognize as the year after the full version was registered at the Library Of Congress. In 2013, a Mother Jones editor compared the ACLU's Lite Version to the unredacted version and discovered that, among many other things, the FBI had tried to cover evidence of their dependence on the Reid Technique ("a common law enforcement interview method that has been known to produce false confessions," their article says) and tips such as taking a "date-stamped full-body picture" of a detainee holding a bottle of water to later use as a Get Out Of Torture Allegations Free card.
ISIS Member Reveals The (Now Former) Location Of A Secret Base In A Selfie
Put yourself in ISIS's shoes for a moment: You're an evil shithead, your shoes look stupid, and you're attempting to battle the world's most advanced air force while armed with the finest Soviet-era weaponry that Iraqi rubble has to offer. Meanwhile, you have to maintain a massive social media presence in order to entice dumbass teenagers with a parental bone to pick to join your cause. At the same time, secrecy is of the utmost importance, because your state-of-the-art enemy is already exceedingly adept at finding and subsequently blowing your collective ass up. How do you juggle all that?
The answer is "not very well."
"Hope your retweets were wor-"
As anyone who's done any work whatsoever with social media knows, the key to keeping your audience interested is to keep the content a-flowing. ISIS knows this as well as anyone. The problem is that keeping your feeds scrolling with content doesn't necessarily lend itself well to properly vetting said content. And that leads to situations like the one in the summer of 2015, in which a single selfie brought down a secret ISIS headquarters building.
In the words of the commander of Air Combat Command, the fucking fantastically named General Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, Air Force intelligence officers were combing through ISIS's social media when they noticed a photo of "some moron standing at this command ... bragging about command and control capabilities," he said. That photo was enough to allow analysts to locate the headquarters.
"We're now combing through their acoustic rap covers
on YouTube. You never know."
Less than 22 hours later, three joint direct attack munition bombs leveled the entire building. It seems the Air Force has developed some type of selfie-seeking missile technology. Watch your duck faces, everybody.
Thankfully there are people in this world who know how to keep a secret. Like the mud (yes, mud) that the MLB depends on or else it would go tits up. See what we mean in 7 Secrets Only Two Living People Know (For Some Reason). Or ever wonder what ZoSo is? We'll probably never find that out or any of the other stuff on 5 Ridiculous Secrets Only Two Living People Know: Part 2.
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