The 5 Dumbest Cover-Ups By The People In Charge

The motive? Stupidity. The method? More stupidity.
The 5 Dumbest Cover-Ups By The People In Charge

Conspiracies are tough to plan. You have to construct the perfect cover, destroy evidence, threaten snitches -- and that's just for organizing a surprise birthday party. So if you are going to weave a tangled web of lies that might one day drag down a whole country, you better know what you're doing and have a good reason for doing it. Not like these idiots ...

The New Zealand Government Sent A Would-Be Assassin On A Kayaking Trip

In 1981, 17-year-old New Zealander Christopher Lewis took a rifle, climbed to the fifth floor of a Dunedin office, and tried to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II. But the shot went wide. Real wide. So wide that the queen didn't even notice. So instead of creating a fuss, the ever-polite New Zealand authorities simply decided not to tell anyone. After all, if Her Majesty found out they let some corgi-hating maniac almost kill her, she might not want to visit again!

So began the most genteel cover-up of an assassination attempt in history. Somehow, the police managed to convince 1,000 witnesses that the gunshot had been a falling street sign. They then easily apprehended Lewis and, to keep up appearances, only charged him with possession and illegal discharge of a firearm. Court reports failed to mention he had illegally discharged it at the queen's face.

But the government quickly discovered that keeping their adolescent assassin quiet was going be harder than expected. A mentally ill white supremacist, Lewis believed he was part of a nonexistent Nazi militia lead by "The Snowman," and that he had been selected to assassinate the monarch in "Operation: Ass Queb."

The 5 Dumbest Cover-Ups By The People In Charge
NZ Herald
It was a plot so serious that we're only going to laugh at that a little bit.

They decided to lock him away in a mental hospital, but it wasn't enough. When Lewis found out that Prince Charles was visiting New Zealand in 1983, he attacked an orderly with a knife trying to break out. The cops even found plans to murder the prince hidden in his room -- and since this was a mental ward, we don't know want to know what he wrote them with.

A decade passed, during which Lewis went from Nazism to Buddhism and from dissident to plain ol' crazy criminal. But when the queen planned to visit again in 1995, the government took no chances. Police went to his domicile, told him to pack a bag, offer no resistance, and come with them ... on a fabulous ten-day all-expenses-paid vacation to the remote Great Barrier Island! There, Lewis and his girlfriend spent the entire time blowing taxpayer money on fishing and kayaking. He even wrote that he "almost felt like royalty" -- which in retrospect could've been a suicide note.

But you can't keep this kind of bumbling conspiracy a secret forever. The cover-up was partially exposed in 1997 by a former cop, but the New Zealand government only admitted to it in 2018, after Stuff wrote an expose on the whole ridiculous affair. As for Lewis? Well, he gave up trying to assassinate royals and mellowed out a bit. By which we mean he robbed a bank with a ninja sword, led police on an epic chase into the Outback, jumped a 30-foot gorge with his car, and finally escaped capture by clinging to the underside of a bus for 200 miles.

Related: 4 Horrific Incidents The Military Tried To Cover Up

Universal Music Didn't Let Artists Know Their Music Had Been Lost In A Fire

In 2008, a huge fire erupted at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles. The flames coming from the animatronic King Kong ride were so intense that they melted parts of the firetrucks. Firefighters spent so long subduing the blaze that they had to pump the lagoon from the Creature From The Black Lagoon ride dry because they ran out of water. The whole scene sounds like it was pulled right from a movie itself. It's just too bad it was lacking a soundtrack, since all the good music had gone up in flames.

See, Universal Studios was also the home of the Universal Music Group's vault, which contains a priceless collection of master tapes from legends like Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Limp Bizkit (time will cement their place in history). Or it used to contain them. Every single one of the roughly 500,000 original song titles in the vault went up in flames. And because Universal preferred to not to get slapped with 500,000 lawsuits and contract disputes, they decided to keep it quiet.

While privately acknowledging that "lost in the fire was, undoubtedly, a huge musical heritage," Universal went to great lengths to pretend it was not that big of a deal. In public, UMG only admitted to losing a handful of tapes from artists nobody remembered anyway. Plus, all those tapes had been backed up elsewhere (in fact, not even 10% had been digitally copied). And when artists like Steely Dan and Bryan Adams started getting suspicious, Universal gave them the ol' runaround -- switching tapes, lying to their sound engineers, the whole nine yards.

The cover-up worked for years, but UMG made two mistakes. In 2014, when Universal Studios was split from the rest of the company in an acquisition, the greedy record group sued the estranged studio for destruction of property, creating a lot of incriminating paperwork. Even more hare-brained, UMG then fired its chief archivist, who simply walked that paper trail straight to The New York Times. The newspaper exposed the disaster in June 2019, and the suing hasn't slowed down since.

The 5 Dumbest Cover-Ups By The People In Charge
David McNew/Getty Images
You can see the full list here just to confirm that yes, every band you like was affected.

Related: 5 Horrifying Ways Scandals Were Covered Up

Peruvian Police Invented A Gang Of Human Fat Thieves To Hide Their Own Corruption

One day in 2009, Peruvian police announced they had broken up a notorious trafficking ring. And here's the terrible twist: They weren't trafficking blow, but blubber. According to the cops, this bloodthirsty band of ghouls were murdering people up and down Huanuco Province solely to extract their fat. These lipids were then bought for $15,000 per liter by a mysterious high-end European skin cream manufacturer, because they believed mixing human fat into their products could reverse the aging process.

Police recounted in great detail how poor innocent country folks were chopped up into pieces, their severed torsos hung above lit candles for days, their fat dripping into containers like they were on a George Foreman grill in the Zodiac Killer's house. To seal the deal, police showed off a blurry photo of a decapitated head, as well as two bottles of Inca Kola (now with 12% less conquistador) filled to the brim with a thick yellow liquid they claimed to be farmer fat. "We are not making this up," said lead prosecutor Jorge Sanz Quiroz -- something only ever said by people making things up.

National Police Of Peru
They even released this grisly photo which in no way could've been faked in five minutes with Halloween decorations.

This tale of rampaging cellulite vampires became the only talking point in the country for weeks. But some remained skeptical, especially those who remembered their folklore. Except for the plastic bottles, this lard larceny was almost beat-for-beat the same story as the old Peruvian legend of the Pishtacos -- a murderous band of fat-stealing demons who prowled the South American countryside during the time of the Incas.

Eventually, the whole greasy house of cards came crashing down when investigators discovered that all evidence of these fat-filching fiends had been fabricated. The scandal rocked Peru and caused the suspension of lead investigator Felix Murga. And while the real reason for the tall tale was never uncovered, many officials noted that the story came out remarkably close to allegations that Peruvian police had murdered 47 suspects in a single town in two years. Surely, it's better to be known as the cops who cried wolf than the cops who're actually a bunch of wolves in sheep's clothing.

Related: 5 Ridiculously Huge Crimes America Covered Up

A Surgeon Accidentally Cuts Off A Man's Testicle, Tries To Convince Him It Just Got Smaller

In 2014, Dr. Marwan Farouk of the Chiltern Hospital in Buckinghamshire, England was operating on a patient to repair his hernia and remove a cyst near his right testicle. But it must've been too close to pub time, because instead of carefully removing the cyst, Farouk lopped off the entire ball.

Maybe Dr. Farouk had cause to sever the testes -- something easily verified by sending it to the proper lab for investigation. But that sounds like a lot of hassle, so he told his attending nurse to "chuck it" into the nearest medical waste bin, preferably with one hand while yelling "Jordan!" When the patient woke up, Faroud decided it best/easiest not to inform him of the unforeseen orchiectomy, attributing the man's slightly unbalanced feeling to him having an unusually small right testicle all of a sudden.

But a man will only buy that explanation for so long until, for one reason or another, he finds cause to check. For his Gordian Knot approach, Farouk was dragged in front of a medical tribunal, which ruled that the doctor had embarked upon "a series of deliberate acts designed ... to cover up the fact you had made an error." And so, for messing with a man's scrotum, he was given the sack in 2016. He deserved that pun, but you, gentle reader, did not.

Related: The 5 Most Ridiculous Screw-Ups In Recent Medical History

A U.S. General Was Dismissed For Trying To Clean Up A Pee Scandal

In April 2019, the head of the California Air National Guard and another senior officer were relieved of duty for failing "to maintain a positive command climate." But there was something more sinister at the heart of their dismissal. A tangled web of intrigue, reprisals, and false flags. And piss. Lots and lots of piss.

Four years prior, Jennifer Pineda, a staff sergeant with 15 years of service, woke up to find her boots filled with urine, even though she specifically requested piss-free boots on the turndown service sheet. Pineda reported the incident to her superiors, Major General Clay Garrison and Colonel Sean Navin, who promised to launch a thorough investigation.

But Pineda was later told that the investigation had turned up zilch, and that the commanders had decided to destroy all of the evidence, including the samples of urine that were supposed to be tested for DNA. Then a second investigation was launched after evidence came to light that on the night of the pissening, a group of airmen had been drinking heavily in the vicinity of the boots. Among them was none other than (dun dun dun) Colonel Navin.

Air National Guard
Seen here getting promoted, because that's never not how these stories go.

At that point, Pineda and her colleagues started suspecting a cover-up -- a "Piss-Gate," if you will (no, not that one). Rumors about Pissgate engulfed the base, including wild conspiracy theories that Pineda herself was the pee-sniper, having watered her boots to set up her superiors. Kind of like a version of A Few Good Men you'd only find in the water sports section behind the beaded curtain of a video rental store.

Officers claimed that supporting Pineda was met with reprisals, including withheld pay. Similarly, when a major filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that the base's head of security had been ordered to end the case and destroy the evidence (since it pointed at Colonel Navin), he was told to back down. Another officer ordered a meeting to warn the base that soldiers who ask questions aren't "honorable, red-blooded Americans." With that kind of authoritarian talk, morale quickly took a nosedive.

It wasn't long before someone leaked the scandal to the press, which at last prompted a proper investigation from the U.S. Air Force Inspector General's Office. And while Pineda never truly got answers, inspectors did establish "a culture of reprisal, or at a minimum the perception of reprisal" in her wing, and forced a disgraced Major General Garrison to step down. Hopefully right into a suspiciously wet boot.

E. Reid Ross has a book called BIZARRE WORLD that's on store shelves as we speak. Or you could order it now from Amazon or Barnes and Noble and leave a scathing/glowing review.

For more, check out How Trump's Pardon Of Joe Arpaio Is Normal And Also Super F***ed Up:

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