Conspiracy Watch: Funny Money

Illustration: Peter Hoey

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the conspiracy: The Secret Service claims that North Korea is churning out “supernotes” or “superdollars”—amazingly high-quality counterfeit $100 bills. Authorities have discovered an estimated $50 million worth of the phony Benjamins in the past two decades and think at least $22 million more are out there. But the presses needed to mimic the real bills’ anticounterfeit technologies cost around $50 million—not a great investment, even for Kim Jong Il. Next suspect? The Central Intelligence Agency, of course.

the conspiracy theorist: German journalist Klaus W. Bender, author of a book on banknote printing. He speculates that the cia prints the bills at a secret plant outside D.C.

meanwhile, back on earth: Doesn’t the cia get all the money it needs? But then, paying off Ahmed Chalabi with fake $100s would be brilliant.

Kookiness Rating: Tin Hat SmallTin Hat SmallTin Hat Small (1=maybe they’re on to something, 5=break out the tinfoil hat!)

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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