We filed formal written reports of these crimes with the following parties, most of them acknowledged receipt of our reports and demands for compensation and reparation in writing. Many of these parties (but not all) were ordered not to respond to us because their supervisors were implicated in these crimes. To date, we still have not received any action, settlement offer, confirmation of law enforcement prosecution of the subjects or relief.
Dianne Feinstein - U.S. Senator (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by her office in writing)
Nancy Pelosi - U.S. Senator (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by her office in writing. Met with Melanie at her office)
Jared Huffman - U.S. Senator (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by his office in writing)
Ken Alex - Jerry Brown’s Justice Department Lead (in-person and in writing)
Barack Obama - Per his White House email (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by his office in writing)
Eric Holder - U.S. Attorney General (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by his office in writing)
James Comey- FBI Director (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by his office in writing)
Department of Energy Inspector General's office (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by their office in writing)
Steven Chu - Secretary of Energy (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by his office in writing)
Robert Gibbs - White House Press Secretary (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by his office in writing by multiple staff)
David Axelrod - White House Staff Lead (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by his office in writing)
Kamala Harris - California Attorney General (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by her office in writing)
Senator Barbara Boxer
California Secretary of State’s Office
California Crime Victims Board – vcgcb.ca.gov
Rahm Emanual - Chief Of Staff, White House (In-person meeting with his staff in Washington, DC)
David Johnson - West Coast Office FBI Director (In person to his office)
Patricia Rich - Agent , San Francisco FBI (In person via telephonic interview)
Duty Officer - San Francisco FBI Office (In-person, 13th Flr, 450 Golden Gate Ave)
United States Department of Justice – Obama Administration
FBI – Obama Administration and Trump Administration
SEC – Obama Administration and Trump Administration
CFTC – Obama Administration and Trump Administration
Secret Service – Obama Administration and Trump Administration
San Francisco Police Department - Case Number Provided by SFPD
U.S. Federal Courts - Via multiple case records submitted and filed on public record at www.pacer.gov
Robert Simon - Investigative Reporter, CBS News 60 Minutes
Carol Leonnig - Investigative Reporter - Washington Post
Inspector General - Social Security Administration (in-person and in writing)
Legal offices - The White House (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by his office in writing)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Receipt Confirmed)
email@example.com (Receipt Confirmed)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Receipt Confirmed)
Catherine McMullen - Office Of The Special Counsel <email@example.com> (Multiple communications)
Tracy Biggs - Office Of The Special Counsel <TBiggs@osc.gov> (Multiple communications)
Leslie Gogen - Office Of The Special Counsel <firstname.lastname@example.org> (Multiple communications)
The FEC (Multiple communications)
The office of The Special Counsel - Case Number Provided
Jackie Speier - Congresswoman (In-person meeting and communications with her staff. Written response from her that things are being investigated)
The European Union Investigations group including: email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com (time-stamped and receipt acknowledged by their office in writing)
The Senate Judiciary Committee by phone at 202-224-5225
...and many other official parties and "official channels" who have done nothing but prevaricate cover-ups and stone-walling because prosecution of these crimes will cut-off their pieces of the taxpayer pig trough they feed at!
A cover-up is an attempt, whether successful or not, to conceal evidence of wrongdoing, error, incompetence or other embarrassing information. In a passive cover-up, information is simply not provided; in an active cover-up, deception is used.
The expression is usually applied to people in positions of authority who abuse power to avoid or silence criticism or to deflect guilt of wrongdoing. Perpetrators of a cover-up (initiators or their allies) may be responsible for a misdeed, a breach of trust or duty, or a crime.
A cover-up involving multiple parties is a kind of conspiracy.
When a scandal breaks, the discovery of an attempt to cover up the truth is often regarded as even more reprehensible than the original deeds.
The mildest case, not quite a cover-up, is simply to release news which could be embarrassing but is not important enough to guarantee attention, at a time when other news is dominating the headlines, or immediately before a holiday or weekend.
Initially a cover-up may require little effort; it will be carried out by those closely involved with the misdeed. Once some hint of the hidden matter starts to become known, the cover-up gradually draws all the top leadership, at least, of an organization into complicity in covering up a misdeed or even crime that may have originally been committed by a few of its members acting independently. This may be regarded as tacit approval of that behaviour.
It is likely that some cover-ups are successful, although by definition this cannot be confirmed. Many fail, however, as more and more people are drawn in and the possibility of exposure makes potential accomplices fearful of supporting the cover-up and as loose ends that may never normally have been noticed start to stand out. As it spreads, the cover-up itself creates yet more suspicious circumstances.
The original misdeed being covered may be relatively minor, such as the "third-rate burglary" which started the Watergate scandal, but the cover-up adds so many additional crimes (obstruction of justice, perjury, payoffs and bribes, in some cases suspicious suicides or outright murder) that the cover-up becomes much more serious than the original crime.
Cover-ups do not necessarily require the active manipulation of facts or circumstances. Arguably the most common form of cover-up is one of non-action. It is the conscious failure to release incriminating information by a third party. This "passive cover-up" is often justified by the motive of not wanting to embarrass the culprit or expose them to criminal prosecution or even the belief that the cover-up is justified by protecting the greater community from scandal. Yet, because of the passive cover-up, the misdeed often goes undiscovered and results in harm to others ensuing from its failure to be discovered. Real cover-ups are common enough, but any event which is not completely clear is likely to give rise to a thicket of conspiracy theories alleging covering up of sometimes the weirdest and most unlikely conspiracies.
The following list is considered to be a typology since those who engage in cover-ups tend to use many of the same methods of hiding the truth and defending themselves. This list was compiled from famous cover-ups such as Watergate Scandal, Iran-Contra Affair, My Lai Massacre, Pentagon Papers, the cover-up of corruption in New York City under Boss Tweed (William M. Tweed and Tammany Hall) in the late 1800s, and the tobacco industry coverup of the health hazards of smoking. The methods in actual cover-ups tend to follow the general order of the list below.
- Initial response to allegation
- Flat denial
- Convince the media to bury the story
- Preemptively distribute false information
- Claim that the "problem" is minimal
- Claim faulty memory
- Claim the accusations are half-truths
- Claim the critic has no proof
- Attack the critic's motive
- Attack the critic's character
- Withhold or tamper with evidence
- Prevent the discovery of evidence
- Destroy or alter the evidence
- Make discovery of evidence difficult
- Create misleading names of individuals and companies to hide funding
- Lie or commit perjury
- Block or delay investigations
- Issue restraining orders
- Claim executive privilege
- Delayed response to allegation
- Deny a restricted definition of wrongdoing (e.g. torture)
- Limited hang out (i.e., confess to minor charges)
- Use biased evidence as a defense
- Claim that the critic's evidence is biased
- Select a biased blue ribbon commission or "independent" inquiry
- Bribe or buy out the critic
- Generally intimidate the critic by following him or her, killing pets, etc.
- Blackmail: hire private investigators and threaten to reveal past wrongdoing ("dirt")
- Death threats of the critic or his or her family
- Threaten the critic with loss of job or future employment in industry
- Transfer the critic to an inferior job or location
- Intimidate the critic with lawsuits or SLAPP suits
- Murder; assassination
- Publicity management
- Bribe the press
- Secretly plant stories in the press
- Retaliate against hostile media
- Threaten the press with loss of access
- Attack the motives of the press
- Place defensive advertisements
- Buy out the news source
- Damage control
- Claim no knowledge of wrongdoing
- Scapegoats: blame an underling for unauthorized action
- Fire the person(s) in charge
- Win court cases
- Hire the best lawyers
- Hire scientists and expert witnesses who will support your story
- Delay with legal maneuvers
- Influence or control the judges
- Reward cover-up participants
- Hush money
- Little or no punishment
- Pardon or commute sentences
- Promote employees as a reward for cover-up
- Reemploy the employee after dust clears
- The Dreyfus Affair.
- The Iran–Contra affair.
- The Luzhniki disaster.
- The My Lai Massacre.
- The Roman Catholic sex abuse cases of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
- The Watergate scandal.
- The Russian doping scandal.
Conspiracies to cover up the facts of a number of prominent events have been alleged in the following cases:
- John F. Kennedy assassination
- TWA Flight 800 conspiracy theories
- Korean Air Lines Flight 007 alternate theories
- M/S Estonia
- New World Order
- Pusztai affair
- Roswell UFO incident
- 11 September 2001, terrorist attacks
- Attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi
- UFOs in general
- Mamasapano clash
- "Define snow job at dictionary.com". dictionary.com. Retrieved 6 November 2013.
- Herbert Mitgang (25 May 1992). "Books of The Times; Nixon's Enemy in 1950 Had the Last Laugh in '74". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 April 2008.
- The systematic classification of the types of something according to their common characteristics. See Wiktionary.
- Ackerman, K. D. (2005). Boss Tweed: The rise and fall of the corrupt pol who conceived the soul of modern New York. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 0-7867-1435-2.
- See biography of the whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand
- McGrory, Mary (25 April 2002). "From Rome, A 'Limited Hangout'". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- See also List of whistleblowers.
- "DREYFUS CASE ("L'Affaire Dreyfus")". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters (Walsh Report) March 2010.
- Katell, Andrew (10 July 1989). "'82 Moscow Soccer Tragedy Is Exposed". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
- Doug Linder. "The Peers Report on the My Lai Massacre". Law.umkc.edu. Archived from the original on 15 November 2008. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- "Boston Globe / Spotlight / Abuse in the Catholic Church / Scandal and coverup". The Boston Globe. 31 January 2002. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- "TRANSCRIPT OF A RECORDING OF A MEETING BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND H.R. HALDEMAN IN THE OVAL OFFICE ON JUNE 23, 1972 FROM 10:04 TO 11:39 AM - Watergate Special Prosecution Force" (PDF). Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- Ostlere, Lawrence (9 December 2016). "McLaren report: more than 1,000 Russian athletes involved in doping conspiracy". The Guardian.
- Mark Lane (1966). Rush to Judgment: A Critique of the Warren Commission's Inquiry Into the Murders of President John F. Kennedy, Officer J. D. Tippit and Lee Harvey Oswald. Holt Rinehart & Winston
- Henry Hurt (January 1986). Reasonable Doubt: An Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
- Michael L. Kurtz (November 2006). The JFK Assassination Debates: Lone Gunman versus Conspiracy. University of Kansas Press
- Rabe, J(2002) Die Estonia: Tragödie eines Schiffsuntergangs, Publisher: Delius Klasing
- Goldberg, Robert Alan (2001). Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09000-5.
- Rowell, Andrew (2003). Don't worry, it's safe to eat: the true story of GM food, BSE, & Foot and Mouth. Earthscan. ISBN 1-85383-932-9.
- Dirk Vander Ploeg, Wainfleet, Ontario, Canada. "2002 SEALED AFFIDAVIT OF WALTER G. HAUT". Ufodigest.com. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- "Hypotheses: Principal Alternative Theories of the Attack retrieved March 2010". Stj911.org. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- "Docs Back Up Claims of Requests for More Security in Benghazi". News.yahoo.com.
- Lawrence Fawcett & Barry J. Greenwood, The UFO Cover-Up (Originally Clear Intent), 1992, Fireside Books (Simon & Schuster), ISBN 0-671-76555-8. Many UFO documents.
- "Critics hit Palace's 'new script' on PNoy's involvement in Mamasapano operation". GMANews.tv.
10 Cover-ups That Just Made Things Worse (as cover-ups always do)
It's easy to dismiss conspiracy theorists who claim that the 9/11 attacks were staged by the U.S. government or that Princess Diana was actually murdered. But just because some accusations are far-fetched, that doesn't mean that conspiracies don't ever happen.
To the contrary, history is filled with examples of real-life conspiracies. Recently, forensic scientists used a computerized tomography (CT) scan to examine the mummy of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses III, who died in 1155 B.C., and spotted a wide, deep wound in his throat, probably caused by a sharp blade. That confirmed what Egyptologists already had discovered by perusing ancient papyrus scrolls — that Ramesses had been the victim of a conspiracy by members of his harem, who murdered him in an attempt to seize power [source: ScienceDaily].
But it's also revealing that the conspirators against Ramesses didn't get away with their deed, apparently because they were overheard discussing their plot. Before long, they were arrested and eventually executed [source: Records of the Harem Conspiracy].
As former Nixon White House aide G. Gordon Liddy — a key figure in the notorious Watergate scandal and cover-up — noted, the big problem with conspiracies is that people can't keep their mouths shut [source: Shermer]. That tendency to blab may stem from a desire to take credit for an ingenious plot, but it also may have something to do with the stress of duplicity. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that secret-keeping exacted a physical toll on subjects, increasing the effort needed to perform tasks, and even making hills that they had to climb feel steeper.
So it's no wonder that the bad stuff gets out, eventually. Here are 10 examples of cover-ups that backfired.
10 - The Dreyfus Affair
In 1894, France's government and army already were struggling with a series of damaging scandals when a janitor discovered papers in the wastebasket of a German military attaché indicating a traitorous French officer was spying for the Germans. French military leaders quickly found what seemed like a perfect way to weasel out of the mess. They framed an obscure army officer, Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, as the traitor, possibly figuring that he made a good fall guy because he was Jewish. (Anti-Semitism, sadly, was rampant in 19th-century France). Despite his protestations of innocence, Dreyfus was sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil's Island in South America.
When the chief of military intelligence, Lt. Col. Georges Picquart, uncovered evidence that a Maj. Ferdinand Walsin-Esterhazy was the real spy, his superiors removed Picquart from his post. That's when Emile Zola, the famous French writer, published an expose, "J'Accuse," which irked the military so much, it had him indicted and convicted of libel, forcing him to flee the country.
But the public outcry stirred by Zola grew more intense after another army officer discovered that the conspirators had planted a forged document in the file with the authentic evidence to help convict Dreyfus. He finally got a new trial, and despite a confession from the forger, a military court convicted him again and sentenced him to 10 years' detention. The French premier finally stopped the absurdity by pardoning Dreyfus in 1899 [sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Jewish Virtual Library].
The Dreyfus affair didn't totally eradicate anti-Semitism, but it marked the beginning of a new, more egalitarian French society [source: BBC News].
9 - The Teapot Dome Scandal
Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall (2nd from left) shakes hands with American oil magnate Edward Doheny, flanked by their lawyers, after their acquittal during the Teapot Dome scandal. Fall was subsequently sentenced. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall (2nd from left) shakes hands with American oil magnate Edward Doheny, flanked by their lawyers, after their acquittal during the Teapot Dome scandal. Fall was subsequently sentenced. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
If you think politics is dirty and corrupt today, it's a good thing you weren't around in the 1920s. That's when the White House was occupied by Warren G. Harding, a charming but dim-witted fellow who privately admitted to friends that the job was beyond his abilities. While not personally dishonest, Harding — who once gambled away the White House china set in a card game — filled his administration with poker and golf buddies, many of whom turned out to be crooks.
Take Harding's Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall. He secretly allowed oil companies to tap the Teapot Dome oil reserve in Wyoming and the Elk Hills oil reserve in California in exchange for several hundred thousand dollars in bribes [source: Miller Center]. After the Wall Street Journal published a 1922 expose revealing that the oil had been sold without competitive bidding, a crusading senator from Wisconsin, Robert La Follette, arranged for the Senate Committee on Public Lands to investigate [source: U.S. Senate].
Harding's attorney-general, Harry Daugherty, who was getting heat for failing to investigate corruption, turned to then-FBI director William J. Burns. Burns sent one of his agents to ransack La Follette's office, to search for anything that might be used to blackmail the senator into silence [source: Jeffreys-Jones]. But that only convinced La Follette that he was on to something, and the investigation pressed on, exposing Fall's shady dealings. Eventually, Fall became the first U.S. cabinet secretary in history to go to prison.
8 - The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
Of all of the breaches of medical ethics in history, it's hard to think of one more heinous than the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male," which was conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), working with the Tuskegee Institute, from 1932 to 1972. Researchers initially recruited 600 men, including 399 who tested positive for syphilis [source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. This sexually transmitted bacterial disease can occur over decades and causes paralysis, blindness, dementia and damage to the brain, heart, bones and other organs and even death [source: CDC].
Researchers didn't tell the infected men that they had the disease or that the purpose of the study was to document how the disease destroyed their bodies. The men were only told they would receive free medical care for "bad blood," a vague term that didn't imply a specific medical condition. And even when penicillin, an effective treatment for syphilis, became available in 1947, the researchers didn't offer it to them [source: CDC]. Between 28 and 100 of the participants died from syphilis, but the death toll may have been higher, since they may have infected others unknowingly [source: Tuskegee Syphilis Legacy Committee].
In the mid-1960s, Pete Buxton, a government social worker came across internal government reports of the study, and protested to higher-ups that it was unethical. After several years of inaction, he handed over proof of the study's existence to a friend at the Associated Press. The resulting outcry forced PHS to shut down the study in 1972 [source: Beech].
But that wasn't the end of the repercussions. The following summer, the government settled a $10 million lawsuit brought by survivors and their families and provided them with lifetime medical care [source: CDC].
7 - The Tobacco Industry Denies Health Risks of Smoking
In 1950, a physician and epidemiologist, Dr. Ernst Wynder, published a landmark study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, pointing to cigarette smoking as a cause of lung cancer [source: Blakesbee]. In response, six major cigarette makers funded a massive research effort of their own — not so much to find out whether their product did indeed pose a risk, but to "blow smoke" in the public's face.
In January 1954, the Tobacco Institute Research Committee, which later changed its name to the Council for Tobacco Research, ran full-page ads in 400 newspapers claiming that "eminent doctors and research scientists have publicly questioned the claimed significance of these experiments" and asserting that although the industry believed that smoking wasn't hazardous to health, it pledged to assist "the research effort into all phases of tobacco use and health" [source: Boyle et al.].
In truth, the industry's own scientists already knew there was a possible link to cancers; a 1953 survey of scientific literature by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco chemist Claude Teague, for example, concluded that "studies of clinical data tend to confirm" a link between heavy smoking and lung cancer. Yet they continued to try to cloud the issue. A 1972 industry memo described an ingenious strategy of "creating doubt about the health charge, without actually denying it" [source: Cummings, Brown and O'Connor].
Eventually, though, attorneys-general from 46 states in the U.S. joined in a massive lawsuit against the industry. The tobacco companies agreed in 1998 to pay out a staggering $10 billion annually – indefinitely – to make up for the damage they'd done, especially in health care costs [source: Public Health Law Center].
6 - The CIA Plot to Kill Castro
On Nov. 22, 1963, the nation was traumatized by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Two days later, a second shock followed, when suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was ambushed and shot to death by Jack Ruby while in police custody before he could be brought to trial. Kennedy's successor, President Lyndon Johnson, appointed a special commission, headed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, to figure out what had happened. The Warren Commission's report, issued in September 1964, concluded that Oswald not only had fired the shot that killed Kennedy from a window in the Texas Book Depository, but also that he had acted alone — as had Ruby, his killer [source: Lewis].
But in the years that followed, skeptics attacked the massive Warren Commission report as an incomplete investigation. They were right. In 1967, an article by syndicated columnists Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson posed the theory that Kennedy had been killed not by a lone gunman, but in retaliation for U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plot to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro [source: Select Committee]. The CIA somehow had neglected to inform the commission of those plots, even though both Oswald and his killer Ruby had a number of conspicuous links to Cuba. For example, Oswald had attempted to contact the Cuban embassy in Mexico City at one point [source: Warren Commission Report].
Those and other omissions led a House committee to conclude in 1979 that Kennedy "was probably killed as a result of a conspiracy," though it could not determine who was involved [source: Select Committee]. The mystery continues to this day.
5 - Watergate
Watergate is the gold standard of botched cover-ups with disastrous consequences. In June 1972, police arrested five burglars at the Watergate hotel and office complex in Washington, where they were attempting to place listening bugs in the offices of the Democratic National Committee. It quickly became apparent that the burglars had links to President Richard Nixon — one of them, Bernard Barker, had a $25,000 check from Nixon's campaign in his bank account.
By October, an FBI investigation had determined that the break-in was part of a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage on behalf of Nixon — who, somehow, still managed to win re-election in a landslide. But as Congressional investigators started digging into the case in 1973, Nixon and his aides dug in their heels —even after former White House counsel John Dean revealed that he'd had 35 discussions with the president about the cover-up.
Nixon resisted turning over secret tapes of White House meetings, and even fired Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor that his administration had appointed to at least give the appearance of trying to clean house. Eventually, when Nixon turned over a crucial tape, it had a mysterious 18-and-a-half minute gap in it. At that point, despite his earlier protestations of "I am not a crook," nobody believed him. In July 1974, after the House of Representatives passed the first of three articles of impeachment against him, Nixon finally quit. His successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him, ensuring that he would avoid being the first U.S. president to go to prison [source: Washington Post].
4 - The Ford Pinto
Except for cigarettes and thalidomide, it's hard to think of a product with a worse reputation for safety than the Ford Pinto, introduced in the 1971 model year [source: Motavalli]. But even though the car sold well, Ford knew that it carried inside it a serious design problem. When the car had been deep into its development cycle, low-speed rear-end crash testing had revealed that the fuel tank's filler neck had a tendency to tear away and spill gasoline under the car. Additionally, the tank itself was easily punctured by bolts protruding from the differential and nearby brackets.
It would have cost an additional $11 per car to fix the problems, but Ford management decided to do nothing, figuring that it cost less to pay off Pinto owners whose cars caught on fire [source: Wojdyla]. Unfortunately for them, a dogged investigative reporter, Mark Dowie of Mother Jones magazine, was willing to sift through the mountain of paperwork in the U.S. Department of Transportation's file cabinets where the company had buried the problem. He unearthed a memo in which the company calculated that settling burn victim lawsuits would save the company $70 million over installing the parts in the Pintos [source: Motavalli].
After Dowie's expose was published, a jury in Orange County, Calif. awarded $125 million in damages to a man who'd been injured in a burning Pinto. Though the penalty was later reduced to $3 million, it was the beginning of the end for the car and the start of a public-relations disaster that took Ford years to get past [source: Wojdyla].
3 - Chernobyl
In April 1986, a crew at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine —then part of the Soviet Union — ran a seemingly routine test to see how long a reactor's turbines would continue to supply power to its circulating pumps in the event of a loss of electrical power. The reactor malfunctioned due to an inopportune power surge, and the fuel rods got stuck, overheating the water inside the reactor and causing a buildup of steam. The resulting explosions caused massive amounts of radioactive gases and debris to spew into the atmosphere for 10 days — the biggest such uncontrolled release in history not from a nuclear bomb.
Two workers died immediately from the explosion. Twenty-eight more, including six firemen who struggled to put out fires on one of the plant's rooftops, died later from radiation exposure, and winds carried the radiation far and wide across the Soviet Union and even to other European countries [source: World Nuclear Association]. But despite the magnitude of the disaster, Soviet officials didn't publicly admit that the accident had occurred until two days later, when Swedish officials sounded the alarm about increased levels of radiation drifting westward.
Then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev waited an astonishing three weeks before even mentioning the accident publicly. He later claimed, somewhat implausibly, that the Kremlin had difficulty getting the full story, and "we realized the entire drama only later." But the rest of the world responded with such scathing criticism that Gorbachev felt compelled to lift information restrictions, not just about the disaster but other government misdeeds as well. That period of "glasnost," or openness, ultimately hastened the end of the Soviet regime itself a few years later [source: Associated Press].
2 - Pedophile Priests
In 1973, Massachusetts-based Roman Catholic priest James R. Porter, sent a disturbing letter to Pope Paul VI. Porter admitted that he had been sexually abusing children for years, and asked that he be relieved of his duties before he hurt anyone else. "I know in the past that I used to hide behind a Roman collar, thinking that it would be a shield for me," he said.
But Porter's personnel file, obtained in 1992 by the Boston Globe, revealed that Porter had considerable help covering up his crimes against roughly 100 young boys and girls. In the course of his 14-year career, Porter had been removed from his duties at least eight times by superiors because he had assaulted children, and sent to receive mental health treatment for pedophilia — only to be allowed to resume his work after they were satisfied that had been cured of his predatory predilections [source: Butterfield].
For decades, the Catholic hierachy — both in the U.S. and in other countries — engaged in a systematic effort to cover up crimes by its clergy. But when victims of priestly abuse finally began going public in the 1980s, widespread outrage led the truth to come out.
A study commissioned in the 2000s by church officials in the U.S. revealed that between 1950 and 2002, 4,392 priests had been accused of sexual abuse. Some, such as Porter, ultimately were convicted and sent to prison. But the church itself also paid dearly for the cover-up. By one estimate in the late 2000s, various U.S. archdioceses have paid out more than $3 billion to settle lawsuits by victims [sources: Chinnici, Boston Globe].
1 - Fleet Street Phone-Hacking
Nick Denton and British tabloid journalists don't exactly have a sterling reputation for ethics. But even so, the scandal about their hacking the phones of celebrities, politicians, sports stars and crime victims was a shock. The first revelations emerged in November 2005, when Clive Goodman, royal editor at the tabloid News of the World, wrote a story about a previously unrevealed knee injury suffered by Prince William. The Royal family quickly guessed that someone had hacked into the prince's mobile phone voicemail to get the scoop. Scotland Yard arrested Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator employed by the paper [source: BBC News].
The pair was sentenced to jail in 2007 after revealing that they'd obtained back-door codes used by network operators and used them to listen in on several hundred messages [source: BBC News].
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. In 2009, the Guardian, a rival newspaper, revealed that News of the World's parent company, News Group International, had paid out more than $1 million British pounds (about U.S. $1.5 million) to quietly settle lawsuits that might reveal the use of phone hacks and other data thefts to obtain inside information about important people [source: Davies]. In 2011, the Guardian further reported that police had discovered that the phones of more than 5,800 people — including celebrities such as actor Hugh Grant — had been hacked by Mulcaire [source: O'Carroll].
As a result of the scandal, international media baron Rupert Murdoch shut down News of the World in 2011 [source: Sky News] In 2012, he admitted that there had been a cover-up and publicly apologized, claiming that had he understood the depth of the misdeeds, he "would have torn the place apart" [source: Greene].
Author's Note: 10 Attempted Cover-ups That Just Made Things Worse
I have a certain fondness for revelations about cover-ups, because in the 1980s, I worked as a newspaper reporter. One of my big stories was a Sunday Magazine piece on the leak of a toxic cloud from a chemical plant in West Virginia. The company that owned the plant insisted that local residents had no reason to fear harm from the release. But that assurance wasn't so comforting to the residents. I discovered that there had been a long history of leaks from plants in the area, and that many residents suffered from diseases that they blamed on them.
Associated Press. "Chernobyl cover-up a catalyst for 'glasnost.'" Nbcnews.com. April 24, 2006. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/12403612/#.USy7g6VOR8E
BBC News. "Pair jailed over royal phone taps." Bbc.co.uk. Jan. 26, 2007. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6301243.stm
BBC News. "The Dreyfus Affair: 100 Years On." July 11, 2006. (Feb. 27, 2013) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5166904.stm
BBC News. "Royal phone-tap probe 'widened.'" August 9, 2006. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5258918.stm
Beech, Bettina. "Race and Research." American Public Health Association. 2004. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=tRzXJAFODuwC&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=jean+heller+buxton&source=bl&ots=uGfq91L3UC&sig=GwXyKTiXn_I80YQ0hVukC6xi2jk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=fw0sUeKXJJK40gHF7YDIDg&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=jean%20heller%20buxton&f=false
Blakesbee, Alton. "Scientists Link Cancer of Lung To Cigarettes." Associated Press. July 17, 1950. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2EgpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=V2gFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1083,1413672&dq=ernst+wynder&hl=en
Boston Globe. "The Boston Area's First Predator Priest Case." (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/extras/porter_archive.htm
Boyle, Peter et al. "Tobacco: Science, Policy and Public Health." Oxford University Press. 2010. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=OC3merCRJmMC&pg=PA80&dq=tobacco+industry+research+suppressed&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yhMsUcCGMO-00QGTsoDYBA&ved=0CGgQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=tobacco%20industry%20research%20suppressed&f=false
Butterfield, Fox. "Paper Says Ex-Priest Admitted Sex Abuse to Pope." The New York Times. October 25, 1992. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/25/us/paper-says-ex-priest-admitted-sex-abuse-to-pope.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Syphilis—CDC Fact Sheet." Feb. 11, 2013. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The Tuskegee Timeline." Cdc.gov. June 15, 2011. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/timeline.htm
Chinnici, Joseph P. "When Values Collide: The Catholic Church, Sexual Abuse, and the Challenges of Leadership." Orbis Books. 2010. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://books.google.com/books?id=vuggS8HlUO8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=catholic+church+sex+abuse+history&hl=en&sa=X&ei=K8YsUbCDMuXl0QGW4ICwCQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA
Cummings, K. Michael; Brown, Anthony; and O'Connor, Richard. "The Cigarette Controversy." Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Protection. Dec. 15, 2006. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/16/6/1070.long
Davies, Nick. "Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims." Guardian.co.uk. July 8, 2009. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jul/08/murdoch-papers-phone-hacking
Dowie, Mark. "Pinto Madness." Mother Jones. September-October 1977. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness
Encyclopedia Britannica. "Alfred Dreyfus." Britannica.com. Undated. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/171509/Alfred-Dreyfus
Greene, Richard Allen. "Rupert Murdoch admits phone-hacking 'cover-up,' apologizes." CNN. April 26, 2012. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/26/world/europe/uk-phone-hacking-murdoch
Jewish Virtual Library. "Alfred Dreyfus and "The Affair." 2013. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/Dreyfus.html
Katz, RV. et al. "The legacy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study: assessing its impact on willingness to participate in biomedical studies." Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. Nov. 2008. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19029744
Lewis, Anthony. "Warren Commission Finds Oswald Guilty and Says Assassin and Ruby Acted Alone; Rebukes Secret Service, Asks Revamping." The New York Times. September 27, 1964. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0927.html#article
Miller Center, University of Virginia. "Warren Gamaliel Harding." Millercenter.org. 2013. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/harding/essays/biography/1
Motavalli, Jim. "At the Toyota Hearing, Remembering the Pinto." The New York Times. Feb. 25, 2010. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/at-the-toyota-hearing-remembering-the-pinto/
National Archives. "JFK Assassination Records—Frequently Asked Questions." Archives.gov. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/faqs.html
National Public Radio. "From Enron To Penn State, How Cover-Ups Happen." July 26, 2012. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.npr.org/2012/07/26/157432737/from-enron-to-penn-state-how-cover-ups-happen
O'Carroll, Lisa. "Phone hacking: number of possible victims is almost 5,800, police confirm." The Guardian. Nov. 3, 2011. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/nov/03/phone-hacking-victims-police
Public Health Law Center. "Master Settlement Agreement." Publichealthlawcenter.org. 2010. (Feb. 25, 2013)http://publichealthlawcenter.org/topics/tobacco-control/tobacco-control-litigation/master-settlement-agreement
Records of the Harem Conspiracy against Ramses III. Reshafim.org.il. Undated. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/texts/judicial_turin_papyrus.htm
Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy. "Chapter 7: Lee Harvey Oswald: Background and Possible Motives." Archives.gov. 1964. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/warren-commission-report/chapter-7.html#cuba
ScienceDaily. "Pharaoh's Throat Was Cut During Royal Coup, Study Shows." Sciencedaily.com. Dec. 17, 2012. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217190641.htm
Select Committee on Assassinations, U.S. House of Representatives. "Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives." Archives.gov. 1979. (Feb. 25, 2013)http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/select-committee-report/part-1c.html
Senate.gov. "April 15, 1922—Senate Investigates the Teapot Dome Scandal." Senate.gov. Undated. http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Senate_Investigates_the_Teapot_Dome_Scandal.htm
Shermer, Michael. "Why People Believe in Conspiracies." Scientific American. September 10, 2009. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-people-believe-in-conspiracies
Sky News. "Murdoch Folds News Of The World Over Hacking." Sky.com. July 8, 2011. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://news.sky.com/story/867672/murdoch-folds-news-of-the-world-over-hacking
Tuskegee Syphilis Legacy Committee. "Final Report of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study Legacy Committee—May 20, 1996." University of Virginia. May 20, 1996. (Feb. 27, 2013) http://www.hsl.virginia.edu/historical/medical_history/bad_blood/report.cfm
Washington Post. "The Watergate Story (Timeline)." (Feb. 25, 2013) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/watergate/timeline.html
Wojdyla, Ben. "The Top Automotive Engineering Failures: The Ford Pinto Fuel Tanks." Popular Mechanics. May 20, 2011. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/industry/top-automotive-engineering-failures-ford-pinto-fuel-tanks
Slepian, Michael L. et al. "The Physical Burdens of Secrecy." Journal of Experimental Psychology. Nov. 2012. (Feb. 25, 2013) http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/a0027598
World Health Organization. "Health effects of the Chernobyl accident: an overview." April 2006. (Feb. 27, 2013) http://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/chernobyl/backgrounder/en/index.html
World Nuclear Association. "Chernobyl Accident 1986." World-nuclear.org. Dec. 2012. (Feb. 26, 2013) http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/inf07.html