5 Ridiculously Huge Crimes America Covered Up
Everyone has something in their past they'd like to keep hidden. Not paying for those Cokes in the bottom of your grocery cart, an ill-advised breakdancing phase, a secret second family, etc. But whatever horrible sin you may think you've gotten away with (we know, Li'l B; we will always know), it's nothing compared to some of the enormous crimes the U.S. government pulled off ...
President Warren G. Harding's Henchmen Invented The "Cover Up A Prostitute's Death" Trope
Warren G. Harding's most presidential moment was when he said, "I am not fit for this office, and should have never been here." He punctuated that statement by selling the Department Of Interior to big oil. It's no "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," but it's not bad for a guy who looks like he was designed to be a mid-sized statue that someone neglects to clean pigeon shit off of.
The Teapot Dome scandal was Harding's largest public incident, but he was also guilty of bribery, extortion, blackmail, jury tampering, and probably jaywalking. The man even gambled away the White House china. But thanks to the Ohio Gang -- Harding's personal mafia -- all of that got covered up.
The Cover Up:
When Harding took office in 1921, alcohol and prostitution were illegal. Harding circumvented these laws with a little-known loophole called "not giving a fuck." Harding's crew would outright hire prostitutes for orgies at the White House. The Attorney General, Harry Daugherty, would supply them with booze that the Justice Department had confiscated.
At one of these orgies, a prostitute slipped, hit her head, and died. The Ohio Gang shuffled Harding out of the fuckpile and washed the sex stank off of him. They destroyed the evidence, did away with the body, and paid the remaining women for a job well done. The Ohio Gang actually spent a lot of time buying silence from women. During the 1920 campaign, Carrie Fulton Phillips, one of Harding's many mistresses, threatened to leak their love letters. Harry Daugherty, not yet the Attorney General, paid her $25,000 to go live in Japan and keep quiet. They covered it up so well that those letters stayed sealed until 2009. Another mistress had his illegitimate child, which was only recently proven in 2015. Can you imagine scientists making public pleas for your DNA, so that historians could find out whether or not the president banged your grandma? That's one hell of an awkward Thanksgiving dinner discussion.
The US Government Gave An International Assassin And Terrorist Witness Protection
On September 21st, 1976, Orlando Letelier's car exploded in the middle of Washington DC, killing him. Letelier was an exiled Chilean Foreign Secretary who had made some enemies. It was Augusto Pinochet, the President of Chile, who ordered the attack. Cuban extremists, led by American ex-CIA agent, Michael Townley, carried it out. The DINA, Chile's version of the CIA, hired Townley to kill Letelier, and had him smuggle nerve gas into the U.S., but Townley changed his mind and used a car bomb, presumably because this was all super crazy enough without adding nerve gas to the equation.
"Yeah, that'll probably do."
The Cover Up:
Letelier's killing was part of Operation Condor, a top-secret gathering of South American despots, whose main goal was to kill dissidents and communists in their respective countries. And the U.S. supported several aspects of Operation Condor because, goddammit, we just loved killin' communists. Really, if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.
Pinochet, who ordered the hit, came into power as a result of a U.S.-orchestrated coup. Henry Kissinger promised Pinochet that America would ignore his human rights violations in Chile, and it's possible that the CIA knew about the Letelier hit beforehand, because they were funneling money into DINA. That's speculation. But they certainly knew about it after the fact, and chose not to make a big deal about it.
So the United States didn't punish Chile, but what about Townley, the American who carried out the bombing? Killing Letelier wasn't his only crime: Townley was a comic-book caliber international assassin, who worked all over Europe and South America. He hired Italian fascists to shoot Bernardo Leighton. He even helped blow up an airplane, killing 78 people and the entire national Cuban fencing team.
Surely smuggling nerve gas into the country and committing terrorism on American soil was the last straw.
The U.S. granted him immunity from prosecution and a spot in the witness protection program. He's actually still alive today, and the U.S. is refusing attempts to extradite him.
If you're having a bad case of deja vu, that's because there's a character named Michael Townley in Grand Theft Auto V. In the game, Townley ... blows up a plane, steals nerve gas, gets granted immunity, and is put in witness protection. Look at that: GTA V really is educational.
Due To Sheer Incompetence, A Quarter Of The Entire United States Army Was Slaughtered In An Afternoon
In 1791, the U.S. gathered roughly half of its entire army into one big, armed, fuck-you expedition. And General Arthur St. Clair sent them off ... to experience what is proportionally the single-worst military defeat in the American Indian war.
A Native American tribe near the current Ohio-Indiana border couldn't help but notice the massive army stomping around their territory, and figured an ambush sounded like a fun way to kill some time. And some people. A lot of people. The Native American forces inflicted a 97.4 percent casualty rate, wiping out one quarter of all the soldiers in the entire United States Army in three hours.
The Cover Up:
On the heels of their defeat, the U.S. government had concerns about, you know, a quarter of their army disappearing in an afternoon. The United States launched the first ever congressional investigation and cabinet meeting. The founding fathers were serious about getting to the bottom of who was responsible for this defeat ... right up until they realized they were investigating themselves. The government had done fuck-all in the way of training, supplying, or supporting the army. They sent their level-5 Riflemen out to be slaughtered by level-99 Wood Elves.
Since these were senior administration officials that fucked up, it became a huge political concern for George Washington. As the House Of Representatives was probing the issue, Washington invented the idea of executive privilege. He declared that, according to his interpretation of the law, Congress could mind their own goddamn business. The House Of Representatives' final report said that everyone except General St. Clair, one of the few to escape the battle, was to blame. Unfortunately for him, the public at large didn't read the report. Instead, they named the battle "St. Clair's Defeat."
Washington and his government called General Anthony Wayne out of retirement, and tasked him with forging a new army. In the follow-up expedition, Wayne crushed that Native American tribe at the Battle Of Fallen Timbers. It is hard to feel good about that victory, in retrospect.
The Worst Attack on LGBT People (Before Orlando) Was Barely Investigated
One summer night, the buzzer to the UpStairs Lounge gay bar wouldn't stop buzzing. When someone opened the door, a wall of fire shot out of the stairwell and spread throughout the club. The flames engulfed the bar and cut off the escape routes. Thirty-two people died, making this the deadliest attack on LGBT people until the 2016 Orlando massacre. A tragedy of this magnitude must have been front-page news for days as the police hunted down those responsib- wait, what year was this? 1973? In New Orleans? Oh boy.
The Cover Up:
Technically speaking, the New Orleans Police Department can't ignore mass murders. What they can do is twiddle their thumbs until enough time has passed for them to give up and go back to cosplaying Kojak. The police "investigated" the fire for "two months." In reality, they ignored evidence and declared the deaths "accidental fire fatalities." The NOPD chief investigator all but admitted it when he said, "Some thieves hung out there, and you know this was a queer bar."
Chief Wiggum could have solved this case: The night of the fire, Rodger Nunez got into a fight at the bar. He announced to the entire crowd, "I'm gonna burn y'all out," and stormed off. Minutes later, a "mysterious" person "burned them all out." In the investigative world this is what we call a "clue." When survivors told the police about Nunez's comments, they were immediately dismissed. Before he committed suicide a year later, Nunez admitted to two different people that he started the fire. Now, we're going out on a limb here -- but what if Nunez was the killer?
Even finding a spot to hold a memorial service was tricky. The Archdiocese of New Orleans refused to help, and Baptist churches wouldn't even answer the phone. Some churches went so far as to refuse to bury the dead, presumably because, like Nazi-zombies, gay zombies are a double threat. Now that society has progressed, we commemorate the massacre with ... its very own plaque on the sidewalk!
The United States Covered Up Japan's Atrocious Human Experiments In Exchange For The Resulting Data
Japan's World War II biological warfare Unit 731 was ... well, you know this article ain't about kitten sanctuaries. Unit 731 operated a horror-lab in Harbin, China. They conducted involuntary human experiments on POWs and civilians, including live human dissections. They even dropped bombs packed with bubonic plague on cities just to see if they could cause epidemics.
All in all, Unit 731 killed or maimed an estimated one million people.
Seen here dressed exactly like comic book super-villains.
When the war ended, Unit 731 murdered any survivors in their camps, blew up their headquarters, and completely got away with it. That is, until good old-fashioned American justice caught up with them ...
The Cover Up:
... and gave them total immunity wrapped in thick wads of money.
Unit 731 may have spent years conducting wildly unethical biological experiments, but that meant they had a ton of wildly unethical data. Lo and behold, the U.S. and Soviet Union were starting a biological arms race around this time. This may come as a shock, but sometimes the U.S. overlooks pesky things like "morality" if it means sticking it to the commies.
Obviously Unit 731 refused to hand over the data unless they got immunity, and America gave it to them, so they could engineer more piss for the pissing match with Russia. The U.S. was so pleased with the bargain that they also threw in stipends and monetary rewards for Unit 731, just to keep them from even thinking about jumping into bed with the Soviets.
Since Unit 731 already covered their tracks back in China, with the murders and explosions and all, there wasn't much evidence to fret over. All the U.S. had to do was keep everything in classified channels, away from investigative eyes. When the Soviets released their own report on Unit 731's crimes, the U.S. denounced it as communist propaganda. When it came out that Unit 731 experimented on Allied soldiers, the U.S. suppressed it. If it were revealed that Unit 731 nailed your mom, the U.S. would have high fived them and called you a nerd.
Unit 731 veterans got off so scot-free they were able to hold annual reunions, and build a memorial shrine to their unit in Tokyo. Many went on to enjoy careers as leading politicians and academics, even serving in such esteemed positions as President of the Japanese Medical Association, head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, and the freaking Governor of Tokyo. So there you go: Don't commit war crimes, or else you might wind up respected and esteemed, running the largest city in the world.
You know what crime America hasn't covered up? This crime against fashion. Get it here to stand out at your next 4th of July bbq or Presidents Day mattress sale.
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