|Superpowered individuals, superhumans, or "supers," as they're known in modern society, have existed throughout the record of history. They started off in smaller numbers, and went virtually undetected. Small happenings here and there were correctly attributed as being supernatural in origin, but placing the blame on creatures which didn't exist. They posed as gods in the olden days, when they could get away with it. They were known as witches, as ghosts, as all manner of mythological creatures. In reality, they were all human with certain special abilities.
It was in more recent history that the number of supers increased. What was once an exceptionally rare recessive gene, that could skip any number of generations, became increasingly common. However, even as the numbers of supers rose, they still remained the minority, and always would. It did become harder for them to hide themselves in society, especially as the population grew and the rise of technology gave light to a variety of new powers which had previously been unexpressed.
Scientists have speculated that the rise of supers could be attributed to an increased presence and usage of various types of radiation, though they have not been able to pinpoint precisely which type (or types) are more responsible for the genetic modification.
As the world entered the 20th century, there became a distinct epidemic of super-related crimes, to varying degrees of violence and destruction. They could no longer hide in the shadows as more and more stories emerged of people walking through walls, controlling the minds of others, causing explosions without he detectable presence of a bomb, and so forth. The spread of the news caused more supers to take action. Not all supers took on criminal activities, of course; in fact, the majority of supers resisted such temptation and preferred to live their lives more quietly. Some even tried to aid in stopping and apprehending the guilty parties. Even so, public opinion turned against them, and so did the authorities.
There wasn't much that could be done about the super population at first. Anger and fear went on the rise worldwild, but the fact remained that there was simply no way to contain the ones who had proven that they needed containment. The CIA began looking into the matter in secret alliance with the military. When they were able to jointly develop prisons that were capable of withstanding any known powers, the politicians aware of the progress took to Congress to make some changes on a national level.
Because so many non-powered humans were fed up with the loss of lives and money, they were able to push a bill through Congress. Dubbed the Debility Act of 1984, it criminalized the possession and use of superpowers, effectively making outlaws out of certain citizens over their genetics--something beyond their control. There were no exceptions made for those whose powers were not harmful to people or property; all were treated as equally dangerous and unpredictable. The public was too concerned with keeping itself safe to riot. Propaganda ensured that they believed this move remained for the best.
Concerned members of the public, friends, and even family began reporting their superhuman loved ones to the government. They were then arrested and taken to a black site, never to be seen by their old acquaintances again. Some were taken even before they had a chance to say their goodbyes and set their affairs in order. Not long after these arrests began, however, the CIA privately unveiled its secondary purpose for the Debility Act: living weapons.
In 1986 they created a subgroup with the sole intention of harnessing these powers for use by the United States government. Because the agents in question were effectively dead in the eyes of the public, they dubbed this agency the Ghost Corps. They would do the tasks other agencies couldn't, or that were too risky. The supers were considered disposable assets. After all, their only alternative was to sit in a jail cell for the rest of their natural lives. Only a small number of people, including the employees of Ghost Corps, high level officials within the CIA, and a handful of politicians, knew about the existence of the program.
Offers were extended to captured supers with useful abilities: they could spend their days rotting in a secret prison where they would never again see the outside world, or they could join Ghost Corps as an agent and experience limited freedoms in return for their service. For many, this was an offer they couldn't refuse.
In 2008, the scientific branch created a device capable of detecting superhuman DNA in an individual. It was too expensive and time-consuming to use on all individuals, but became useful in confirming suspected supers.
In 2011, after decades of research, that same branch began conducting experiments in an attempt to replicate superhuman DNA in previously unpowered individuals. Test subjects ranged from willing volunteers pulled from various governmental agencies, including military branches, to criminals plucked from death row after faking their execution, to even a few "lucky" civilians.