The Chicago Syndicate: JFK
Showing posts with label JFK. Show all posts
Showing posts with label JFK. Show all posts

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sam Giancana Ordered JFK Whacked!!

"Mafia Princess" Antoinette Giancana, daughter of the late Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, claims in her book that her father ordered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. If true, this would make Sam Giancana guilty of one of history's worst crimes. But that doesn't trouble Antoinette Giancana. "The Kennedys were not kind to my father," she said. "They were just as evil and corrupt as any mafioso."

Giancana teamed up with two University of Illinois at Chicago doctors to write JFK and Sam: The Connection Between the Giancana and Kennedy Assassinations. The 217-page book was published by Cumberland House Publishing. Giancana's co-authors are Dr. John Hughes, a neurologist, and Dr. Thomas Jobe, a psychiatrist.

Jobe earlier wrote Lyndon Baines Johnson: The Tragic Self, a Psychohistorical Portrayal. He and Hughes then teamed up on a book about the JFK assassination, and enlisted Giancana's help. Hughes said he did the bulk of the research and writing. But he said Giancana is getting top billing in the list of authors because she's better known.

Giancana's best-selling 1984 memoir, Mafia Princess, was made into a TV movie starring Tony Curtis as Sam and soap opera star Susan Lucci as Antoinette. Now 70, Giancana lives in Elmwood Park. She's a sales associate for a retail chain and markets Giancana Marinara Sauce ("Just Like Dad's, Maybe Better").

Hughes said he read more than 40 books on the JFK assassination and spent almost every weekend for 13 years writing and rewriting the book. He wrote that he used his expertise in neurology to analyze how Kennedy's body moved after he was shot. This led Hughes to conclude that there must have been a shooter on the infamous grassy knoll to Kennedy's right.

The mafia, Hughes wrote, helped Kennedy carry Illinois in the close 1960 election, assuring his victory. In return, JFK was supposed to go easy on the mob. Reneging on the deal, Kennedy unleashed his brother Bobby, the attorney general, on organized crime, the authors claim.

In 1975, Sam Giancana was gunned down while cooking sausage in the basement kitchen of his Oak Park home. The book says the CIA killed Sam Giancana to prevent him from telling a congressional committee about his role in CIA plots to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

These theories, scoffs Sam Giancana biographer Bill Brashler, "are as old as the Easter bunny. It's just silliness." Brashler said Kennedy owed his election to the first Mayor Daley, not to the mob. And even if Sam Giancana felt betrayed, it wasn't the mob's style to murder politicians, much less the president. Finally, it was a trusted bodyguard who killed Sam Giancana, not the CIA. "It was a classic mob hit," Brashler said. Brashler said he interviewed Antoinette Giancana for his book, The Don: The Life and Death of Sam Giancana. He concluded she knew next to nothing about her dad's business.

Antoinette Giancana said that for her book she was able to recall long-buried memories during extensive interviews conducted by Jobe.

Conspiracy buffs have proposed 250 theories to explain what "really" happened Nov. 22, 1963, said Ruth Ann Rugg of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, a JFK assassination museum in Dallas. But Rugg said the only credible explanation is that Lee Harvey Oswald alone shot Kennedy. Conspiracy theorists simply can't accept that such an insignificant drifter changed history by himself. "We want to believe that there was more to it, that there were huge forces involved," Rugg said.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The JFK-Marilyn Monroe Blackmail Hoax

IT WAS AN INVESTIGATIVE reporter's dream come true: a trove of documents apparently marked up with John F. Kennedy's distinctive scrawl, showing that Marilyn Monroe had blackmailed the late president. According to a series of signed agreements between March 1960 and January 1962, the Kennedys paid the actress more than $1 million for her silence--not just about a long-rumored sexual affair between Kennedy and Monroe, but about JFK's purported relationship with mobster Sam Giancana and, in the document's phrase, other ""underworld figures.'' The papers even hint, says a source who has read them, that Kennedy asked J. Edgar Hoover to arrange Monroe's murder (the actress committed suicide in 1962). For months the documents, obtained by legendary reporter Seymour (Sy) Hersh, have been a subject of gossip in media circles. The papers helped Hersh snare a $2 million TV package. If true, they would not only further tarnish the Kennedy myth but, as Hersh has claimed, ""change some elements of the history of my time.''

If true. Last week ABC News, which had bought the rights to Hersh's upcoming Little, Brown book, "The Dark Side of Camelot," admitted that the documents were fakes. ABC's ""20/20'' played the story as an expose; Peter Jennings confronted the man who had given Hersh the documents--Lawrence (Lex) Cusack Jr.--with an accusation of forgery. Visibly shaken, a trickle of sweat rolling down his face, Cusack denied the charge--and did so again to NEWSWEEK. But the documents were clearly forged by someone.

""Big deal,'' Hersh told NEWSWEEK. Plenty of good reporters chase promising leads that fail to pan out; Hersh says he has cut the phony story from his book and from a TV documentary scheduled to appear in November. Maybe so, but Hersh made an awful lot of money before he began entertaining serious doubts, and how he parlayed the documents into a multimillion-dollar media package reveals a great deal about the continuing fascination with the Kennedy legend and the unrelenting pressure for the big score in the worlds of both publishing and TV. The tale of Hersh's failed scoop has enough intrigue to fill a made-for-TV movie--and will be the source of big-name recriminations for years to come.

Sy Hersh, 60, is, aside from The Washington Post's Bob Woodward, the most famous name in investigative journalism. Beginning with his Pulitzer Prize-winning revelations about the massacre of Vietnamese civilians by U.S. troops at My Lai in 1970, Hersh has broken a number of big stories about spying and international intrigue, including the full account of how the Soviets shot down KAL 007 in 1983. Like many investigative reporters, he has an interest in conspiracy theories, but he is extremely persistent--so much so that his sources sometimes complain he browbeats them. In August 1993 Hersh signed a million-dollar contract with Little, Brown to do a book on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The focus of the book shifted, however, when he found Lex Cusack, a New York paralegal who had a cache of truly explosive papers--and, as Hersh would later discover, a severe credibility problem.

The son of a lawyer who represented the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Cusack told Hersh that he had found a store of 300 documents in his father's files. According to Cusack Jr., his dad did some work for Joseph Kennedy, the patriarch of the clan. The elder Cusack's most interesting duty: cover up JFK's trysts with Marilyn Monroe, as well as family ties to the mob. In March 1960 the actress agreed to keep quiet about Kennedy's relationship with ""any political or underworld personalities.'' Over time, according to the papers, the deal was amended and enlarged. Frequently mentioned is Sam Giancana, the Chicago mob boss who was being used by the CIA in a failed attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro. On Jan. 7, 1962, for instance, Monroe and JFK purportedly signed an agreement requiring Monroe to surrender to a ""designated representative'' (supposedly Robert Kennedy) ""any and all notes and letters'' about any meetings she may have observed between Kennedy and Giancana. Other notes--apparently in Kennedy's handwriting--refer to ""Chicago friends'' and ""meeting with Sam G.'' And in one document, Hoover threatens to blackmail Kennedy after discovering that father Joe had deducted $600,000 of the Monroe payments from his income tax.

Historians have long speculated about ties between Kennedy and the mob. FBI wiretaps indicate that JFK, while president, was having an affair with Judith Campbell Exner, who was a Giancana girlfriend. From his bootlegging days in the 1920s, Joseph Kennedy was said to have kept connections to the Chicago mob, which supposedly helped Jack Kennedy steal both the West Virginia primary in April 1960 and, in the general election, the state of Illinois. But Cusack's documents would have been the first tangible proof that Kennedy and Giancana had actually met. By the same token, though Kennedy clearly flirted with Monroe, who seductively sang ""Happy Birthday, Mr. President'' to 20,000 people in Madison Square Garden in 1962 while wearing a sequined dress--and little else--no one has ever been able to say for sure whether the relationship was consummated. Probably the most responsible account, by Monroe biographer Donald Spoto, indicates that JFK and Marilyn met four times between October 1961 and August 1962; Monroe later told her closest confidant that she and the president had had one sexual encounter in that period. Despite years of rumors, Spoto says there is no evidence that Robert Kennedy and Marilyn ever had a tryst.

Throwback to October, 1997, courtesy of Evan Thomas, Mark Hoseball and Michael Isikoff.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

These Who Killed JFK? Conspiracy Theories Will Not Die

He defected to the Soviet Union, returned to the United States with a Russian-born wife, and tried to get Soviet and Cuban visas before assassinating President John F. Kennedy. Fifty-plus years later, only a quarter of Americans are convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Instead, nearly 60 percent say there was a conspiracy to kill the president, according to a poll by The Associated Press-GfK.

Other theories cropped up almost immediately and have endured: the Soviets murdered Kennedy or the CIA, Cuban exiles, Fidel Castro, the country's military-industrial complex, even President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Warren Commission Report found in its 879-page report on the assassination that Oswald acted alone -- but it is still being criticized from all sides. The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979 that it was likely Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy.

What did happen in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963? Who killed Kennedy? Here are a few of those theories.

ONE BULLET OR TWO?

The Warren Commission Report concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald fired three bullets, all from the Texas School Book Depository. But disagreements persisted over whether Texas Governor John Connally was wounded by one of the bullets that had already hit Kennedy in the neck. Skeptics pounced on the single-bullet theory and got a boost from Connally himself who testified before the commission that he had been hit separately. Tapes released by the National Archives in 1994 show that President Lyndon B. Johnson thought so too. And if the men were hit at about the same time by different bullets, there had to have been a second gunman.

This year a father-and-son team Luke and Michael Haag took another look at the controversy using the most up-to-date technology and concluded on a PBS "Nova" documentary that the one bullet could have hit both men.

A SNIPER ON THE GRASSY KNOLL?

Witnesses reported hearing shots from the now famous grassy knoll ahead of the president's limousine in Dealey Plaza. In his book, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato reports that some Dallas policemen who ran up the knoll encountered people with Secret Service credentials. Who were they? The policemen let them go, and only later discovered that there were no Secret Service agents still in Dealey Plaza, said Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and author of "The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy." Conspiracy theorists, meanwhile, poured over the amateur film made by Abraham Zapruder, frame by frame, and insisted that it showed the president being shot from the front.

In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations challenged the Warren Commission's conclusions and decided that an audio recording -- from a motorcycle policeman whose microphone was stuck in the "on" position -- caught the sound of four gunshots being fired, one possibly from the grassy knoll. The finding was discounted three years later by the National Academy of Sciences which said that the noises were made after the assassination. Sabato had the recording re-examined and says the sounds are not gunshots at all, but an idling motorcycle and the rattling of a microphone.

THE MAFIA

The Mafia is a favorite culprit because the mob disliked Kennedy's brother, Robert. The aggressive attorney general had gone after James Hoffa, the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters with his own connections to the Mafia. Plus the crime bosses were angry over Kennedy's failed attempts to overthrow Fidel Castro, who had closed their casinos in Havana. Some accounts have crime bosses bringing over hit men from Italy or France for the job; others accuse the CIA of hiring mobsters to kill the president.

Then there was Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who shot Oswald in the basement of the Dallas police station two days after the assassination. Ruby was connected to the Chicago mob and allegedly smuggled guns first to Castro and then to anti-Castro groups. The Associated Press reported the morning of the shooting that police were looking into the possibility that Oswald had been killed to prevent him from talking.

Oswald had mob connections too. In New Orleans before the assassination, he stayed at the home of an uncle who was a bookmaker with ties to the Mafia.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that organized crime as a group did not assassinate the president, but left open the possibility that individual members might have been involved. It singled out Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante as two men with "the motive, means and opportunity," though it was unable to establish direct evidence of their complicity.

FIDEL CASTRO

The Cuban dictator had no lack of motive to want the American president dead: the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA's attempts to kill him -- with Mob help. Only two months before the assassination, Castro said: "United States leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe."

In Philip Shenon's book, "A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination," Shenon reports that a Warren Commission staff member, William Coleman, was sent to meet with Castro and was told that the Cuban regime had nothing to do with the assassination.

A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy AssassinationNot in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the J.F.K. Assassination


A former BBC journalist and author of "Not in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the J.F.K. Assassination," Anthony Summers, writes on his blog that he first heard the story from Coleman in 1994, though Coleman would not describe the assignment, saying it was confidential. Summers later recounted it and Coleman's denial in a 2006 article in the Times of London. Summers says Coleman brought back documents, which he said were in the National Archives.

THE SOVIETS

The country was deep in the Cold War and Oswald had myriad connections to the Soviet Union. After a stint in U.S. Marines, he had defected there in 1959, and had married Marina Prusakova, whose uncle worked for Soviet domestic intelligence. Later while in Mexico, Oswald tried to get visas for Cuba and the Soviet Union.

Plus Nikita Khrushchev's gamble to place missiles in Cuba had failed. But KGB officer Vacheslav Nikonov told "Frontline" in 1993 that Oswald seemed suspicious to the KGB because he was not interested in Marxism.

THE MILITARY-INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY

Various versions have the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon or the Secret Service turning on Kennedy as a traitor and plotting his death. James W. Douglass in his 2008 book "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters," argues that Kennedy was killed because he had moved away from a Cold War view of the world and was seeking peace.

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters


Oliver Stone's movie, "JFK," centers on New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who conducted his own investigation of the assassination. Garrison told Playboy magazine in 1967 that Kennedy was killed not by Oswald but by a guerrilla team of anti-Castro adventurers and the paramilitary right. The CIA had plotted the assassination together with the military-industrial complex because both wanted to continue the Cold War and the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam, he said.

The Warren Commission staff members who are still living say that to this day no facts have emerged undercutting their conclusions: Oswald was the assassin and neither he nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy. But the conspiracy theories are likely to linger.

Thanks to Noreen O'Donnell.

Did the Mob Assassinate Kennedy? The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination

It's been 50+ years since bullets were fired at the presidential motorcade as it wended its way through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, killing U.S. President John F. Kennedy and spawning decades of speculation on whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or was part of -- or victim of -- a conspiracy with tentacles in Havana, Washington and perhaps Moscow.

Did the CIA do it? Was it the mob? The Kremlin? How about a consortium of businessmen?

What if Oswald thought he was a double agent working for the CIA who planned to infiltrate Cuba and work for the overthrow of Fidel Castro?

Lamar Waldron makes the case Oswald was tangled up in CIA-Mafia machinations against the Castro regime in "The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination."

Waldron said it actually was New Orleans mob godfather Carlos Marcello who masterminded the Kennedy assassination -- something Robert Kennedy believed -- but much of the evidence was either destroyed or is still classified because of the CIA's anti-Castro activities.

The first investigation into the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination by the Warren Commission, headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded 10 months later in its 889-page report Oswald acted alone, firing three shots at Kennedy from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 concluded Kennedy was killed as the result of a conspiracy but ruled out the Soviet Union, Cuba, anti-Castro Cubans and organized crime -- but not individual mobsters -- as complicit.

Waldron said Marcello, in a fit of rage during a rant about Kennedy and his brother, Robert, blurted out in the prison yard at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas, that he had Kennedy killed and wished he could have done it himself. The remark was made in front of two other inmates, one of them Jack Van Laningham, who became his cellmate and eventually wore a wire for the FBI, getting Marcello's alleged confession on tape.

Waldron said Marcello, who was incarcerated at Texarkana for his role in the BriLab insurance bribery scheme, hated the Kennedy brothers because of their war on organized crime and their efforts to have him expelled from the United States for good. He was particularly incensed about his deportation to Guatemala -- based on fake documents saying that's where he was born -- and his struggle to slip back into the United States, which took him on a trek through the jungle.

Waldron, who reviewed declassified FBI and CIA files and interviewed many of the parties involved, said Marcello's alleged confession is backed by corroborating evidence not available to Laningham or his FBI handlers at the time.

Similar confessions came late in life from Marcello's alleged co-conspirators Johnny Rosselli, an underboss for Chicago mobster Sam Giancana, and Santo Trafficante, who controlled the Tampa, Fla., mob and had run casinos in Havana during the heyday of the Batista regime.

What makes Waldron so sure Marcello's statements weren't just boasting?

"Most mobsters ... haven't ruled unchallenged an empire the size of General Motors for three decades. ... Carlos Marcello ruled Louisiana, Texas and parts of Mississippi. One way Marcello kept that empire so long was by avoiding the limelight, publicity. ... It's a totally different kind of godfather than John Gotti [the New York mobster who headed the Gambino crime family and was known as the 'Dapper Don']," Waldron said, adding because the New Orleans mob was the oldest Mafia organization in the United States, Marcello did not have to go to the national commission to clear hits on government officials.

Marcello, he said, actually planned two other attempts on Kennedy in the days preceding Dallas -- one in Chicago and one in Tampa. Like Dallas, two men -- one an ex-Marine and the other a Fair Play for Cuba member -- were positioned to be blamed for the shootings once Kennedy was dead.

Waldron said both the Warren Commission and the House select committee investigations were hampered by CIA reluctance to turn over files concerning U.S. efforts to overthrow Castro. Hundreds of thousands of pages related to those plots remain secret despite legislation requiring all files related to the Kennedy assassination be released and Waldron has started a petition on whitehouse.gov (http://wh.gov/lZurV) seeking their declassification.

Waldron said it is unlikely Marcello would have left the assassination to Oswald because the former Marine was not an experienced killer. Waldron said Marcello imported two hit men from Europe to handle the shooting.

"He [Marcello] liked to use war orphans for hits," Waldron said, "because if you killed them afterward, there was no one to ask questions."

As for evidence the fatal bullets came from the Texas School Book Depository, "the angle is in huge dispute. It varies by 20 degrees," Waldron said.

The Warren Commission said the bullet that injured Connolly, the so-called magic bullet, went in the back of Kennedy's neck and exited just below his Adam's apple. But Waldron said that's false. The bullet actually went in 6 inches below the top of Kennedy's collar -- something Waldron said the late Sen. Arlen Specter, then an investigator for the Warren Commission, changed to make the trajectory line up. Additionally, an exit wound generally is larger than an entrance wound and the hole beneath Kennedy's Adam's apple was smaller than the back wound.

Waldron said Kennedy aides riding in the chase car were convinced at least one shot came from the grassy knoll but were pressured to change their stories for national security reasons.

History Professor Randy Roberts of Purdue University, who has written about the assassination's effect on American culture, argues conspiracy theories "always sound good" but they don't hold up.

"It sounds really persuasive but then when you read the documents, they don't really say what you think they say," Roberts said.

Roberts, who will appear on the History channel's "Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live" Friday, said the ballistics evidence "is pretty convincing" and he doesn't think Oswald's calling himself "a patsy" means much, considering he was seen carrying a package that investigators said was likely the Mannlicher Carcano rifle (Waldron said the package was too small to be the rifle and never made it to the book depository in any event) used to shoot the president and injure Connolly.

"If Oswald was a patsy, why did he shoot a policeman and try to shoot more policemen [as he was cornered at a movie theater]?" Roberts asked. "Why did he leave his ring with his wife ... on his way out? ... There's so much logical evidence."

Waldron said the evidence implicating Oswald in officer J.D. Tippit's killing is questionable and there are indications Oswald already was inside the movie theater at the time. As for resisting arrest, Waldron said at that point Oswald probably had figured out things weren't going down the way he had been led to believe they would.

Best-selling author Robert Tanenbaum, a former New York City prosecutor who served as chief assistant counsel to the House select committee, said he doesn't think the assassination has yet been adequately investigated. He quit the panel when he became convinced members weren't that interested in what really happened.

"I don't believe Oswald could have been convicted based on the shoddy evidence they had, particularly with all the other evidence," he said, citing, for example, the statements of Dr. Charles Crenshaw, a young doctor who treated Kennedy when he was brought to Parkland Hospital.

Crenshaw said one of the bullets entered Kennedy's throat from the front right while a second bullet entered his head from the side "consistent with [a shot fired from the] grassy knoll," Tanenbaum said. But Crenshaw was never even questioned by the Warren Commission and his testimony was ignored by the House committee.

"I believe without question there were shots that came from the side, the grassy knoll," he said.

Roberts doesn't buy it though, especially since there are so many conspiracy theories.

"If there was a conspiracy, only one of [the theories] can be right. They can't all be," he said.

Misconceptions about the assassination still affect U.S. foreign policy. Waldron said the reason the United States never normalized relations with Cuba is because high-ranking officials still are convinced Castro was behind the assassination based on trumped up evidence periodically trotted out by the CIA.

"[Secretary of State] John Kerry is only the latest government official to say there was a conspiracy, but he pointed a finger at Fidel Castro," he said. "The mob planted a lot of phony evidence pointing to Castro. [Former President Lyndon] Johnson elieved Castro killed Kennedy. [Former CIA Director John] McCone believed Castro killed Kennedy. People like [former Secretary of State Alexander] Haig -- they didn't know all of the evidence implicating Fidel was debunked in 1963 and 1964. ... It can all be traced back to the mob."

Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House

Some fifty years after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, presidential historian Robert Dallek, whom The New York Times calls “Kennedy’s leading biographer,” delivers a riveting new portrait of this president and his inner circle of advisors—their rivalries, personality clashes, and political battles. Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House, Dallek analyzes the brain trust whose contributions to the successes and failures of Kennedy’s administration—including the Bay of Pigs, civil rights, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam—were indelible.

Kennedy purposefully put together a dynamic team of advisors noted for their brilliance and acumen, including Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and trusted aides Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger. Yet the very traits these men shared also created sharp divisions. Far from being unified, this was an uneasy band of rivals whose ambitions and clashing beliefs ignited fiery internal debates.

Robert Dallek illuminates a president deeply determined to surround himself with the best and the brightest, who often found himself disappointed with their recommendations. The result, Camelot's Court: Inside the Kennedy White House, is a striking portrait of a leader whose wise resistance to pressure and adherence to principle offers a cautionary tale for our own time.

FBI Agent James Hosty's "Assignment: Oswald" provides fascinating, shocking details that shed definitive light on the JFK Assassination

Special Agent James Hosty began investigating Lee Harvey Oswald in October 1963, a full month before the JFK assassination. From November 22 on, Hosty watched as everyone from the Dallas Police, the FBI, the CIA, Naval Intelligence, and the State Department up through the Warren Commission to J. Edgar Hoover, Robert Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson reacted to and manipulated the facts of the president’s assassination—until Hosty himself became their scapegoat. After seeing his name appear in three inconclusive federal investigations and countless fact-twisting conspiracy theories (including Oliver Stone’s motion picture), Hosty decided to tell his own story.

Assignment: Oswald is the authoritative insider’s account of one of our country’s most traumatic events. Combining his own unique, intimate knowledge of the case with previously unavailable government documents—including top secret CIA files recently released from the National Archives—Hosty tells the true story behind the assassination and the government’s response to it, including the suppression of a documented Oswald-Soviet-Castro connection. Hosty offers an exclusive insider’s knowledge of the mechanisms, the power structures, and the rivalries in and among the various intelligence and law enforcement agencies and why they have determined who knows what about the assassination. Here, at last, is an unmistakably expert and responsible account of the murder of President Kennedy.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

US Attorney General and the Director of the FBI Battle over the Mob

In Washington, turf warfare can be blood sport. Colin Powell versus Dick Cheney in the W years. Nancy Reagan versus Don Regan in the 1980s. Henry Kissinger versus everyone in the Nixon and Ford days. But eclipsing these power feuds is the titanic clash between Robert Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover. This grudge match entailed much more than personality or policy. It was, in a way, a fight over the meaning of justice in America.

In “Bobby and J. Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and J. Edgar Hoover That Transformed America,” Burton Hersh, a journalist and historian, chronicles a struggle that began years before Bobby Kennedy became attorney general in his brother’s administration and — in nominal terms — Hoover’s superior. The story is familiar. While Jack Kennedy thrived in the 1950s as a sex-crazed, drug-dependent, ailment-ridden party-boy politician, Bobby, the family’s complicated sourpuss, hooked up with the redbaiting Joe McCarthy, then spun off as a crusading and corners-cutting scourge of labor corruption. He pursued mobsters and was obsessed with Jimmy Hoffa. But there was a problem. Bobby’s father had built a fortune the old-fashioned way — by hook and by crook. As a banker and bootlegger, Joseph Kennedy had nuzzled with the not-so-good fellas Bobby wanted to hammer.

There was another problem as well. Hoover, the entrenched F.B.I. chieftain and pal of McCarthy, was not so keen on catching mobsters. He even denied the existence of organized crime and kept his agents far from its tracks, partly because, Hersh contends, Hoover knew too well that the mob had infiltrated the worlds of politics and business. Hunting the thugs could have placed Hoover and the F.B.I. on a collision course with the powerful. Communists were easier prey. So when Jack became president and appointed his ferocious brother attorney general, combat was unavoidable.

As Hersh describes it, this duel of leaks, blackmail and power plays occurred against the backdrop of Kennedy excess and pathos. The stakes were higher than the individual fortunes of Hoover and Bobby Kennedy. America was racked with crisis: the civil rights movement was challenging the nation’s conscience, a war was growing in Vietnam and an arms race was threatening nuclear war. Bobby may have had presidential prerogative on his side, but Hoover could wield files full of allegations about Jack and others. How this pas de deux played out helped define the nation at this transformational moment.

It was quite a story, with a supporting cast that was A-list — Martin Luther King Jr., Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Sam Giancana, Gloria Swanson, Lyndon Johnson, Roy Cohn — history as a Don DeLillo novel. But sad to say, Hersh, who years ago wrote a much-regarded book on the origins of the C.I.A., fails his material.

Bobby and J. Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and J. Edgar Hoover That Transformed America” is little more than a recycling of previously published books. Hersh lists 54 people he interviewed, but about a quarter of them are authors and journalists who have tilled the overworked Kennedy field. The rest offer little that is new. Worse, Hersh appears to regard all sources as equal. If an assertion, particularly a sleazy one, has ever appeared in a book, that’s apparently good enough for him. Some eye-popping tales of Kennedy sex and corruption have indeed been confirmed by reputable authors. (Yes, Jack shared a mistress with Sinatra and the mob man Giancana. Yes, Bobby bent to Hoover’s request to wiretap King.) But mounds of Kennedy garbage have also been peddled over the years, and Hersh does not distinguish between the proven and the alleged (or the discredited). Did Bobby really tag along on drug busts in the 1950s and engage in sex with apprehended hookers? Well, one book said he did. Covering the death of Marilyn Monroe, Hersh maintains that she and Bobby were lovers and that the Mafia had Monroe killed hours after Bobby was in her company in order to frame him. For this, Hersh relies on two unreliable books, one written by Giancana’s brother and nephew, the other by a deceased Los Angeles private investigator. Monroe’s death remains an official suicide, and as Evan Thomas notes in his biography of Bobby, “all that is certain” regarding his interactions with Monroe is that he “saw her on four occasions, probably never alone.” But it’s when the book reaches Nov. 22, 1963, that it truly jumps the rails. The assassination of John Kennedy is the black hole of contemporary American history, and Hersh doesn’t escape its pull. He repeats the well-worn claims of the it-wasn’t-just-Oswald partisans and brings nothing fresh to the autopsy table. Citing one book of uncertain credibility, he claims former President Gerald Ford publicly confessed he had covered up F.B.I. and C.I.A. evidence indicating that Kennedy “had been caught in a crossfire in Dallas” and that two Mafia notables “had orchestrated the assassination plot.” An Internet search I conducted turned up no confirmation of such a momentous confession.

Hersh fares better when it comes to the bigger picture. Hoover and Kennedy, he notes, possessed profoundly contrasting views of midcentury America. For Hoover, Hersh writes, “America amounted to a kind of Christian-pageant fantasy of the System” that was threatened by “Commies and beatniks and race-mixers ... hell-bent to eradicate this utopia.” Kennedy saw “gangsters” undermining unions, corporate America and, yes, even politics. Here was the nub of their quarrel: subversion versus corruption. Though Hersh goes soft on Hoover toward the end, his book renders a clear judgment: Bobby Kennedy was closer to the mark than his rival. That he did not live long enough to better Hoover and, more important, prove the point compounds the tragedy of his sad death.

Thanks to David Corn

Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba ... And Then Lost It to the Revolution

Cuban writer Jose Lezama Lima's description of Havana - "an unnameable feast" - fits the city's last great era like the flawless suits from Pepe Sastre fit the best-dressed mobsters of the glittering casino years.

Here was a posh gambling scene not glimpsed outside James Bond flicks, with hot dance music, seductive showgirls, fast cars, naughty pleasures and, if you cared to look, serious culture, all set in a beautiful city some called "the Paris of the Caribbean." But, as we know, all was not well. Even as revelers rumbaed in the nightclubs an escalating syndrome of rebellion and repression bloodied the streets, triggered by an illegitimate government's corrupt relationship with ruthless gangsters from "el norte." A firebrand politico put on fatigues, set himself and his guerrilla fighters in the mountains at the opposite end of Havana, and that unnameable feast headed for a hangover that would last at least half a century.

T. J. English's engaging book "Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution" about the era covers the same ground as such novels as Mayra Montero's masterful "Dancing to Almendra" and Ace Atkins' intriguing "White Shadow," as well as films by Francis Ford Coppola, Sidney Pollack and Andy Garcia. A scene that bad was just too good to pass up. But English's brand of narrative is history, and he aims to set the record straight, even pointing out artistic liberties taken in "Godfather II."

Meyer Lansky, for example, was not the venerable old man of the underworld portrayed in the movie but frisky enough to carry a serious and atypical romance with a Cuban woman (an important aspect of Montero's novel). Still, Coppola was on point: gangsters from the United States set up business in Havana in cahoots with Cuban strongman Fulgencio Batista.

These mobsters were protected from U.S. law enforcement in Havana, but, even so, a cautious Lansky never appeared on the casinos' books as anything other than a minor administrator. And it was in Havana that U.S. organized crime got organized, English explains, becoming a de facto government in what was meant to be the first stage of a serious international empire. But in its nationalistic zeal, the Cuban revolution wrecked the mob's plans, as casinos, associated with government corruption, were first ransacked and finally closed down. The gangsters never recovered.

What English calls "the Havana mob" was composed, at different stages, of such gangsters as Santo Trafficante, the dapper Tampa kingpin whose experience with Spanish and Cuban culture in his native city gave him an insight his colleagues lacked. The mob also involved key figures in Batista's government, including the putative president himself.

A parade of characters moves through "Havana Nocturne": George Raft, who came down as a casino "greeter," acting out in real life the mobster roles he made famous on film; Frank Sinatra, already a mob favorite; Marlon Brando, a party animal loose in the greatest party city; John F. Kennedy, indulging his taste for orgiastic sex courtesy of his unsavory friends; Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt and other top black entertainers. Also striking is the story of the lesser-known but fondly remembered showgirl who, in a strike of promotional genius, publicized her upcoming performance by parading through Havana in a transparent raincoat and little else.

English makes clever use of period pop-culture highlights, such as "La Enganadora" (The Deceiver), a hit song about a curvaceous woman who drove the street guys wild until people learned her form was nothing but cleverly placed padding. "I am not La Enganadora," the raincoat beauty told the authorities when they stopped her, claiming truth in advertising trumped indecent exposure.

"Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution" is thoroughly researched. English's list of sources is impressive, and each chapter is as heavily footnoted as a doctoral thesis. Fortunately, the book doesn't read like one. English, the author of "Paddy Whacked" and "The Westies" and a college professor of organized crime (!), keeps the motor running on his narrative, in one case acknowledging an early nickname for the mixed-blood Batista, "el mulato lindo" (the pretty mulatto), and then using it instead of his name at different points to flavor the story.

Describing Raft's role in the Havana mob, English uses the phrase "gangster chic." Although there is plenty of ugly violence in the book, those words characterize the era's continuing appeal. Bad things ended with the downfall of the mob. But tropical architecture, the glamour of the Caribbean's most sophisticated city and bespoke tailoring would never be the same.

Thanks to Enrique Fernandez

"The Go-Between: A Novel of the Kennedy Years" by Frederick Turner

It is important that the reader recognize this is presented as a work of fiction, although there will always be a tremendous and probably natural temptation to treat all the details it presents as historical fact, for they certainly ring true.

The author's method is an exceedingly verbose and sometimes even tedious monolog. In sympathetic fashion he tells the story of the young woman who became notorious as the mistress of not only handsome young President John F. Kennedy and singer Frank Sinatra but also, significantly, of Chicago mob boss Sam Giancanna. Sinatra and other entertainers owed considerable loyalty to Giancanna, who was also was carrying on an affair with popular singer Phyllis McGuire.

Judith Campbell Exner also is remembered as the woman who, innocently or otherwise, served as the courier between the newly elected Kennedy in Washington and the mobster in Chicago. JFK and his brother, Robert - his attorney general - thought Giancanna could help dispose of the threat to national security posed by the revolutionary Fidel Castro in Cuba.

By the time Exner - who was a household name in the early '60s - died of breast cancer in 1999, she had long vanished from the nation's headlines. She's remembered as a woman who knowingly and willingly had a sexual relationship with a married president - a glamorous president at that. Hers was a shadowy presence at Camelot, although when that era is remembered the dominant female figure is always Jackie Kennedy, barely present in this novel.

If this fictional account is to be believed, Exner's liaison with JFK and her courier role preceded and contributed to his election. There has long been speculation that the vote results in Illinois and West Virginia, results that helped Kennedy win the Democratic primaries in those states and ultimately propelled him into the Oval Office in 1960, may have been "arranged" by the Chicago mob.

Giancanna and his goons were enlisted (if this novel is to be believed, the transaction was carried out in a Chicago courtroom) on the candidate's behalf by his father, former ambassador Joseph Kennedy, a notorious wheeler-dealer with heavy political ambitions for Jack. His first hope had been that an older son, Joseph, would become president; Joe, however, died in a World War II airplane crash in England.

The author's approach is deceptively simple and effective (despite his verbosity and his excessive use of the first person singular): He imagines he is a down-on-his luck newspaper hack who accidentally gains access to Exner's diaries. As he pores over them, he tells his readers, as if he's talking across a dinner table, what he thinks her sometimes cryptic entries in those diaries must have meant. The result is a narrative that will appeal to readers who have an interest in national politics and in particular the Kennedy administration.

Thanks to Al Hutchison

The Crazy Story Of Frank Sinatra Playing A Club For A Week Straight Because Sam Giancana Was Mad At JFK

The Mafia detested the administration of John F. Kennedy as Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy raised the number of mob convictions from 35 in 1960 to 288 in 1963. But there may be a much deeper connection between the Kennedys and the mob, and legendary entertainer Frank Sinatra reportedly served as a key intermediary and whipping boy in one case.

According to "The Dark Side of Camelot" by Seymour Hersh, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. (JFK's father) set up a meeting with Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana to obtain Giancana's support for Jack Kennedy's run for the White House — thereby combining the sway of Chicago crime syndicate with that of Mayor Richard J. Daley's Democratic machine.

Hersh also reported, along with others, that Giancana also helped funnel cash to buy votes and endorsements for the West Virginia Democratic primary election in May 1960.

The book "The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy" by University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato highlights the connection by citing the story that Joseph Kennedy asked for Giancana's help over a dispute with another mobster, Frank Costello, and offered "the president's ear" in return.

Sabato also writes that "when JFK began having an affair with a black-haired beauty named Judith Campbell while he was still a U.S. senator, Giancana slept with her as well, reportedly so that he would eventually have a direct link to the White House."

It turns out, according to Sabato, that Sinatra introduced Senator Kennedy to Judy Campbell and also "served as the go-between for the West Virginia primary shenanigans."

After JFK reached the White House, however, the mob boss was not welcome near the president's ear. And Sinatra was the one that ultimately paid for it.

From "The Kennedy Half-Century":

When the Kennedys turned on Giancana once they were in the White House, Sinatra had to work hard to deflect the mobster's wrath at Sinatra on account of the Kennedys' unfaithfulness. In atonement, the singer played at Giancana's club, the Villa Venice, with his "Rat Pack" of fellow entertainers, for eight nights in a row.

Sabato notes that "Sinatra worked his way back into Giancana's good graces, but the Kennedys never did."

Thanks to Michael Kelly.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"C-1 and the Chicago Mob" Provides an Insider’s Look at the War on Organized Crime

In 1957, J. Edgar Hoover instituted the Top Hoodlum Program in response to the raid on the New York State Police in Apalachin, NY in 1957. This was a time for unchartered territory in the FBI in the war against organized crime.

Retired FBI Special Agent Vincent L. Inserra was at the forefront of this war, heading Chicago’s organized crime unit known as the C-1 Squad from 1957-1976. As tribute to these agents, “C-1 and the Chicago Mob” shares the resourcefulness, ingenuity and determination these agents displayed during a time when the FBI did not have the necessary tools or legislation to combat organized crime.

“These agents were pioneers,” Inserra said. “They were required to wage war against one of the most powerfully entrenched organized crime organizations in the country since the days of Al Capone.”

“C-1 and the Chicago Mob” shares the unique challenges confronting these dedicated agents and the incomparable results achieved which resulted in severely disrupting and curtailing the activities of the Chicago mob. It was at a time when the FBI did not have all the tools or legislation necessary to combat organized crime but they accomplished their goals aggressively with whatever means were available.

In addition to Inserra’s insights on the Chicago Mob during this period in history, readers are exposed to one of America’s great-unsolved mysteries from 1966 and to Warren Commission’s findings that determined the killing of President Kennedy was not a conspiracy.

“Many of the C-1 agents have passed away, but their unbelievable accomplishments against the corruptive and destructive forces of the Chicago crime syndicate should never be forgotten, Inserra said. “This book is a tribute to them.” “C-1 and the Chicago Mob” by Vincent L. Inserra

Vincent L. Inserra, a first generation Italian, was born and raised in the Boston area. He served as a Navy Fighter pilot during World War II and achieved the rank of Lieutenant. He graduated from Boston College with a degree in Business Administration. In 1951, he joined the FBI as a Special Agent and served for 25 years. In 1957, he was assigned to Organized Crime matters for 19 years combatting the Chicago Crime Syndicate. He was in charge of the C-1 Organized Crime Squad for a period of 13 years where they compiled an impressive record of convictions against the Chicago mob. He received more than 100 personal letters of commendation from the Director of the FBI for outstanding investigative achievements. Following retirement from the FBI, he became Corporate Security Director for Kemper Insurance in Long Grove, Illinois for 27 years. He has had two profoundly successful careers.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sam Giancana Memorabilia Subject of Courtroom Fight in Las Vegas

A defunct Mafia museum claims an auction house sold dozens of articles once owned by Sam Giancana, though the museum owns them - having bought them from the late Chicago boss's daughter.

The Mafia Collection LLC sued Munari Auctions and William Woolery on Monday, in Clark County Court. The Mafia Collection claims that it warned Munari that it owned the Giancana collection, but Munari auctioned them off on Nov. 22 anyway. It's a rather tangled tale.

The Mafia Collection claims in the lawsuit that it paid $23,300 to buy the artifacts from Giancana's daughter, Antoinette McDonnell, in 2009, and that has the bill of sale. It bought the articles for the now-closed Las Vegas Mob Experience, which featured artifacts from many prominent gangsters. The artifacts include photographs, court documents, furnishings and personal effects once owned by Giancana and passed on to his daughter.

McDonnell initially was a paid consultant for the Las Vegas Mob Experience, which was owned and operated by Murder Inc., according to a Las Vegas Review article on a previous lawsuit 2011.

The Las Vegas Mob Experience was an interactive exhibit housed in the Tropicana Las Vegas hotel and casino from 2011 to 2013. It featured artifacts from Giancana, Bugsy Siegel, Anthony Spilotro and others.

Before that exhibit opened, McDonnell sued Murder Inc. and the Mafia Collection in Clark County Court. McDonnell claimed the Mafia Collection never paid her for Giancana's items and that the selling price was too low.

In the present lawsuit, the Mafia Collection calls that lawsuit "frivolous," and says that a judge ruled against McDonnell in July this year and ordered her not to get rid of the artifacts in question. But McDonnell turned over the stuff to Munari Auctions, according to the lawsuit, and Munari sold some or all of them in November.

The Sam Giancana Estate Auction featured 152 "lots," including photos, documents, furniture and police and coroner reports about the mobster's 1975 murder in his Chicago home, according to the auction catalog.

The Mafia Collection claims that Munari's auction was "reckless and done in circumvention of the law, court order and the directive of the artifacts' owner" and done "for the gain and profit of both McDonnell and itself."

Some or all of the artifacts are housed and controlled by McDonnell's "appointed agent in fact," William R. Woolery, according to the lawsuit.

Mafia Collection seeks declaratory judgment that it owns the articles, possession of it, and damages for conversion.

Giancana was boss of the Chicago mob from 1957 to 1966. His alleged ties to President John F. Kennedy and the CIA are the stuff of legend. The CIA allegedly sought his help to assassinate Fidel Castro. Giancana was shot in the head in his Chicago home in 1975. He was 67.

Thanks to Mike Heuer.

Friday, November 21, 2014

5 things you might not know about JFK's assassination

This year will mark 51 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Whether you were alive at the time or not, you probably know that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the President, only to be fatally gunned down by Jack Ruby two days later.

You probably also know there are hundreds of conspiracy theories about who was behind the assassination, and whether Oswald was the lone gunman or if there was another shooter on the infamous grassy knoll.

Here are five things you may not know about the assassination of the 35th president of the United States:

1. Oswald wasn't arrested for JFK killing

Lee Harvey Oswald was actually arrested for fatally shooting a police officer, Dallas patrolman J.D. Tippitt, 45 minutes after killing Kennedy. He denied killing either one and, as he was being transferred to county jail two days later, he was shot and killed by Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby.

2. Assassinating the president wasn't a federal crime in 1963

Despite the assassinations of three U.S. presidents -- Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley -- killing or attempting to harm a president wasn't a federal offense until 1965, two years after Kennedy's death.

3. TV networks suspended shows for four days

On November 22, 1963, at 12:40 p.m. CST -- just 10 minutes after President Kennedy was shot -- CBS broadcast the first nationwide TV news bulletin on the shooting. After that, all three television networks -- CBS, NBC, and ABC -- interrupted their regular programming to cover the assassination for four straight days. The JFK assassination was the longest uninterrupted news event on television until the coverage of the September 11 attacks in 2001.

4. It led to the first and only time a woman swore in a U.S. president

Hours after the assassination, Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president aboard Air Force One, with Jacqueline Kennedy at his side, an event captured in an iconic photograph. Federal Judge Sarah Hughes administered the oath, the only woman ever to do so.

5. Oswald had tried to assassinate Kennedy foe

Eight months before Oswald assassinated JFK, he tried to kill an outspoken anti-communist, former U.S. Army Gen. Edwin Walker. After his resignation from the U.S. Army in 1961, Walker became an outspoken critic of the Kennedy administration and actively opposed the move to racially integrate schools in the South. The Warren Commission, charged with investigating Kennedy's 1963 assassination, found that Oswald had tried to shoot and kill Walker while the retired general was inside his home. Walker suffered minor injuries from bullet fragments.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mel Ayton, Author of "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" Guests Tonight on Crime Beat Radio

Mel Ayton discusses his latest book, "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: The Warren Report and Lee harvey Oswald's Guilt and Motive 50 Years On", tonight on Crime Beat Radio.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt examines how conspiracy theories developed after publication of the Warren Commission's 1964 report into the circumstances surrounding the JFK assassination. Using the evidence compiled by the commissioners, the authors demonstrate how and why the report was rejected by the American public over the past five decades. The book also provides new and compelling evidence which reveals not only Oswald s guilt, by this clear motive which was never satisfactorily addressed by the Warren investigation. The book also looks at the way in which conspiracy writers have succeeded in persuading a majority of the American public that Lee Harvey Oswald was either an innocent Patsy or acted in conjunction with others to assassinate the president. In an examination of the modus operandi of conspiracy writers, Ayton and Von Pien reveal how the public was manipulated into accepting conspiracy allegations and of how their theories were built around nothing more than misinterpretations and misrepresentation of the evidence and crude speculation.

Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Mafia Involvement in JFK's Killing Investigated in Assassination Theater

After decades of controversy, investigating the Kennedy assassination has earned a reputation as bad news for many reporters, a radioactive topic no one wants to approach.

“It’s one of the black holes of journalism,” said investigative reporter/playwright Hillel Levin. “It’s the sort of story reporters get sucked into and are never heard from again.”

That, however, hasn’t stopped him from spending seven years working on “Assassination Theater,” a theatrical investigation making a case for an organized crime conspiracy to kill JFK. The play debuts with a one-night-only staged reading Aug. 9 in the Arts Center of Oak Park.

Levin, an Oak Park resident and former editor of Chicago magazine, has made a specialty of true-crime books since co-authoring 2004’s “When Corruption Was King: How I Helped the Mob Rule Chicago, Then Brought the Outfit Down” about the ’90s Gambat trials exposing the Chicago mob’s rigging of the city’s legal system.

After that book and a 2007 Playboy article about the burglarizing of Chicago mafia boss Tony Accardo’s home (a movie version starring Robert De Niro will be shot this fall in Chicago), Zachariah Shelton, an FBI agent featured in that story, asked Levin why he didn’t write the real Chicago mob story. Namely, their active involvement in the Kennedy assassination.

“I admit that I cringed a bit when he said that,” Levin said. “But having leaned about the mob here, about their power and influence, I couldn’t easily dismiss it. And I could understand why they might have been motivated to do it, since they were very involved in building Las Vegas in 1963 with funds from the Teamsters Central States pension — and the Kennedys, especially Bobby Kennedy as attorney general, were threatening that by going after Jimmy Hoffa.”

Levin said he was never a believer in the official story that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted as a lone assassin, but he had never thought of the mafia as a likely suspect until Shelton showed him FBI evidence he had discovered by accident, along with corroborating evidence the agent uncovered in a private investigation. And even then, he wasn’t convinced until he’d spent years going over the official evidence, including medical reports and statements from witnesses unsealed in the ’90s.

His findings are dramatized by four actors in “Assassination Theater,” one playing himself, one playing Shelton and two playing various characters including Oswald, LBJ, Jack Ruby, autopsy morticians, mob figures and more. A large screen shows photos supporting their statements, including one purporting to show an assassin walking away from the grassy knoll immediately after the shooting.

“I’m not a zealot and I’m not saying everyone has to believe me,” Levin said. “But I think anyone who looks at the evidence with any attention will realize Oswald couldn’t have done it alone. My central thesis is that it was theater in a lot of ways and part of the show was putting the blame on only one actor, when in fact he was part of a much bigger production.”

Hence, in large part, Levin’s decision to present his findings on stage instead of writing a book. That, plus his belief that theater provides an immersive experience that will help people process the information and come to an understanding of it.

“The thing about the assassination I’d most like to dispel is people simply accepting the idea that this is a mystery that can never be known. I believe a great deal of it can in fact be known — that it is not unfathomable,” he said.

“That’s the way I hope everyone will feel when they leave the theater.”

Thanks to Bruce Ingram.

Monday, November 25, 2013

FBI Whistleblower and Author of "To Kill a President", M. Wesley Swearingen, Skewers Former Warren Commission Member on #JFK Assassination

FBI Whistleblower and Author of TO KILL A PRESIDENT, M. Wesley Swearingen, finds considerable fault with the Warren Commission's investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Richard M. Mosk, a former member of the staff of the Warren Commission, is now a justice on the California Court of Appeal. Chief Justice Earl Warren hired Richard Mosk, the son of the late Stanley Mosk, who was then Attorney General of California, to work for the commission when Richard was about 25 years of age.

In a Los Angeles Times article dated October 27, 2013, entitled "NOV. 22, 1963: 50 years later, and still no conspiracy," Richard Mosk writes that, "with a top-secret clearance I had full access to the work of the staff, and I never saw anything untoward." Richard writes of the Warren Commission investigation, "it may still stand as the most extensive and thorough criminal investigation in history."

It is retired FBI agent Swearingen's opinion that the only thing thorough about the Warren Commission investigation was the cover-up. Swearingen, well trained in firearms and at the top of his New Agent's Training Class with the Springfield rifle, claims the single-bullet theory is preposterous.

Swearingen has personal knowledge of Kennedy's assassination that no other insider had during his years in Chicago when he was in charge of Cuban Counterintelligence during Fidel Castro's overthrow of Cuba in 1959.

One of Swearingen's Cuban sources, whom he cannot identify by law, told him in 1962 that the CIA was plotting to kill President Kennedy with the assistance of certain Chicago Mob figures and that an unidentified patsy would be blamed for killing Kennedy.

When President Kennedy was killed, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover prohibited any agent from speaking out about a conspiracy. Assistant Director In Charge (ADIC) of the Training and Inspection Division W. Mark Felt, aka "Deep Throat," personally told Swearingen, the day Kennedy was killed, not to mention a CIA conspiracy. Swearingen was in Washington, D.C. at the time JFK was murdered and had volunteered to go to Dallas, but Felt instructed Swearingen to return to his office of assignment.

Swearingen also disagrees with Bill O'Reilly's version in O'Reilly's book Killing Kennedy as stated on his website at www.fbisecrets.com. Bill O'Reilly claims "the spin stops here," but in Swearingen's opinion O'Reilly has done nothing but shift the spin into high gear when he tells the world in a book and in a movie that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin killing Kennedy with a single bullet as proclaimed by the Warren Commission.

Kirkus Reviews writes of Swearingen's first book that, "All in all, he turns in a ringing and entirely convincing indictment," against FBI wrongdoing.

Kirkus Reviews writes of Swearingen's second book TO KILL A PRESIDENT, "The author unleashes his experience-fueled intuition to detail the motive of other players in the conspiracy, including the Chicago Mob.
Names are named, associations are made, reasonable conjectures are served and Swearingen comes across as the real deal."

Following publication of Swearingen's book on JFK, another FBI agent, who worked in Dallas, has come forward claiming Oswald did not kill JFK. See website www.oswalddidnotkilljfk.com.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Not in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the #JFK Assassination

Updated with the latest evidence, the essential, acclaimed account of President Kennedy’s assassination by Pulitzer Prize finalist Anthony Summers.

“He was holding out his hand . . . He looked puzzled . . . Then he slumped in my lap . . . I kept bending over him saying, ‘Jack, Jack, can you hear me? I love you, Jack . . .’ The seat was full of blood and red roses . . . .” —Jacqueline Kennedy, recalling the fatal moment in Dallas.

Fifty years on, most Americans still feel they have not been told the truth about President Kennedy’s death. Chief Justice Warren, who chaired the first inquiry, said “some things” that “involve security” might not be released in our lifetime. Millions of pages of assassination records were finally made public in the late 1990s. Yet the CIA is withholding more than a thousand documents under “national security”—until 2017.

Why? Why hold these records back if—as we were told half a century ago—Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin? Anthony Summers set out to write a reliable account of the murder mystery that haunts America. Not in Your Lifetime, in this fresh edition, is one of the finest books written on the assassination.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dallas 1963 - Climate of Hatred Leading to Assassination of #JFK

In the months and weeks before the fateful November 22nd, 1963, Dallas was brewing with political passions, a city crammed with larger-than-life characters dead-set against the Kennedy presidency. These included rabid warriors like defrocked military general Edwin A. Walker; the world's richest oil baron, H. L. Hunt; the leader of the largest Baptist congregation in the world, W.A. Criswell; and the media mogul Ted Dealey, who raucously confronted JFK and whose family name adorns the plaza where the president was murdered. On the same stage was a compelling cast of marauding gangsters, swashbuckling politicos, unsung civil rights heroes, and a stylish millionaire anxious to save his doomed city.

Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis ingeniously explore the swirling forces that led many people to warn President Kennedy to avoid Dallas on his fateful trip to Texas. Breathtakingly paced, DALLAS 1963 presents a clear, cinematic, and revelatory look at the shocking tragedy that transformed America. Countless authors have attempted to explain the assassination, but no one has ever bothered to explain Dallas-until now.

With spellbinding storytelling, Minutaglio and Davis lead us through intimate glimpses of the Kennedy family and the machinations of the Kennedy White House, to the obsessed men in Dallas who concocted the climate of hatred that led many to blame the city for the president's death. Here at long last is an accurate understanding of what happened in the weeks and months leading to John F. Kennedy's assassination. DALLAS 1963 is not only a fresh look at a momentous national tragedy but a sobering reminder of how radical, polarizing ideologies can poison a city-and a nation.

The Chicago Public Library @chipublib Observed the 50th Anniversary of Kennedy's Assassination Today

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon, schoolchildren, and special guests today at the Harold Washington Library Center to observe the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The event celebrated the life and legacy of President Kennedy, as well as his and the Kennedy family’s long standing connection to Chicago.

“President Kennedy challenged all Americans to answer the call of public service, inspiring generations of Americans to serve others and work for the greater good of their fellow humans," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Today, as we observe the fiftieth anniversary of his tragic death, we remember his life and legacy and the profound impact he had on our nation and our city."

As part of the program, author Ilene Cooper spoke about the Kennedys’ decades-long ties to Chicago, beginning in 1945 when the Kennedy patriarch and President’s father Joseph Sr. purchased the Merchandise Mart, which soon became a trade show mecca known across the country. From that time on, the Kennedy family has played a prominent role in Chicago. Several Kennedy family members have made the Chicago area their home and still play a major role in the operation of the Merchandise Mart.

Jazz musician Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band paid homage to President Kennedy’s love for cultural arts and jazz music. In 1962, the President and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy hosted the first White House jazz concert, starting a tradition that still exists today. The concert featured music selected from that first jazz concert in 1962, along with selections from subsequent White House concerts.

The Chicago Public Library encourages lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through materials, programs and cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults.  For more information, visit chicagopubliclibrary.org or call the Chicago Public Library at (312) 747-4050.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Top Five Conspiracy Theories on JFK Assassination

As the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination draws nearer, the debate over who actually pulled the trigger rages on. Did Lee Harvey Oswald, as the The Warren Commission Report: The Official Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, concluded, use an Italian bolt-action Mannlicher-Carcano rifle to fire three shots from the Texas School Book Depository building, hitting President John F. Kennedy once in the neck and once in the back of the head? Or were there larger forces at work?

The belief that there was conspiracy to assassinate the president has only become more widespread with the passage of time.  As ABC News reports, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1978 that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.” A 2003 ABC News poll showed that 70 percent of Americans believed the JFK assassination was “not the act of a lone killer,” with 7 percent believing that Oswald was not involved at all.

So what is the truth? What really happened on Nov. 22, 1963, at Dealey Plaza in Dallas? We’ll probably never know, but we can continue to speculate. Below is a list of the top five JFK assassination conspiracy theories that have been bandied about over the years.

1.) The CIA Killed JFK

The Central Intelligence Agency has always been shadowy, mysterious organization, which lends itself perfectly to a conspiracy theory involving the JFK assassination. According to the Mary Ferrell Foundation, Kennedy made an enemy out of the CIA after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961. As a result of that failed operation, CIA Director Allen Dulles (who would later serve on the Warren Commission) was forced to resign and many allegedly began to see JFK as a threat to CIA interests.

As the New York Post reports, author Patrick Nolan surmises that the CIA wanted “power, self-preservation and to stop the Kennedys’ plan to make peace with Cuba and the Soviets.” Nolan theorizes that a group of rogue CIA agents, including Richard Helms (who became CIA director a few years later), James Angleton, David Phillips and E. Howard Hunt (of Watergate infamy), used three shooters placed at different locations in Dealey Plaza -- the Book Depository building, the Grassy Knoll and the Dal-Tex building -- to pull off the assassination. In his book, “CIA Rogues and the Killing of the Kennedys: How and Why US Agents Conspired to Assassinate JFK and RFK,” Nolan uses physical, medical and film evidence, as well as eyewitness accounts, to reach his conclusion.

2.) The Mafia Killed JFK

The relationship between organized crime and the Kennedy family stretched back decades prior to the assassination, as President Kennedy’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy, allegedly engaged in bootlegging during the Prohibition era of the 1920s. As the Los Angeles Times points out, it’s also believed that Joseph Kennedy used his Mafia connections to help his son win the crucial state of Illinois during the 1960 presidential election against Richard Nixon. However, the mutually beneficial relationship between the Mafia and the Kennedy family would soon come to an end.

According to ABC News, one version of this theory posits that Mafia was angered with JFK after the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, as they had hoped to re-exert their presence in Cuba, which had been erased after Fidel Castro rose to power. Additionally, JFK’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, had become a crusader against the Mafia in his position as the nation’s top cop.

As the Post reports, Lamar Waldron, author of the book “The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination: The Definitive Account of the Most Controversial Crime of the Twentieth Century,” theorizes that the assassination was masterminded by New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello, with help from Santo Trafficante of Florida and Johnny Roselli of Chicago. According to the Waldron, Marcello used Italian hit men, smuggling them into the country from Canada, to commit the crime. Marcello reportedly bragged about pulling off the assassination to an inmate at a prison where he was serving time in 1985. “Yeah, I had the son of a bitch killed,” he allegedly said. “I’m glad I did. I’m sorry I couldn’t have done it myself.”

3.) Lyndon B. Johnson Killed JFK

If one wants a definitive answer as to who killed JFK, look no further than the man who benefited the most from his assassination. At least, that’s what author Roger Stone says in his new book, “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.” In an interview with Voices of Russia, Stone says that LBJ -- who was sworn in as president on a plane in Dallas just hours after the JFK assassination -- used longtime associate and hit man Malcolm Wallace to do the deed. As the Post points out, Stone alleges that Wallace’s fingerprints were found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository Building, where the Warren Commission says Oswald fired his fatal shots.

According to Stone, Johnson insisted on both the trip to Dallas and the route through Dealey Plaza, where none of the buildings in the area were sealed off. Stone thinks LBJ both reduced the number of police officers on motorcycles on either side of the president’s car and ordered off the Secret Service agents that would have been riding on the rear bumper of the car.  In the interview with Voices of Russia, Stone believes that LBJ can be tied to as many as eight murders in Texas prior to the JFK assassination, in order to cover up his corruption, voter fraud and more.

4.) The Russians Killed JFK

To examine the theory that the Soviet Union killed President John F. Kennedy, one must look at the geopolitical situation in 1963. This was the height of the Cold War and the peak of anti-Communist sentiment in the United States. According to ABC News, conspiracy theorists frequently cite the notion that Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev was incensed at having to back down to JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis the year before, and had the president killed by the KGB in retaliation.

Another interesting connection is Oswald’s time spent in the Soviet Union. In October 1959, Oswald -- a former Marine -- defected to the Soviet Union, where he met his future wife, Marina. Marina’s uncle was a colonel in the MVD, which is the Russian Interior Ministry service.

According to Stratfor, there are numerous anomalies about Oswald’s time in Russia, including how the two were able to get permission to marry (a requirement for any Soviet citizen marrying a foreigner), as well as why Marina, an upper-middle class woman with an uncle in the government, would agree to marry an American defector with little prospects whom she had just met one month before.

In early 1962, Oswald, Marina and their daughter left the Soviet Union for the United States. As Stratfor points out, Marina Oswald was granted permission to leave the the country with an American defector within weeks of her request, an extremely rare, if not completely unheard of, turnaround. Why? Conspiracy theorists point to questions like these as evidence of Soviet involvement in the assassination of JFK.

5.) The Cubans Killed JFK

There are two separate sub-theories surrounding Cuba and the JFK assassination. The first, as ABC News points out, is that Castro had JFK assassinated in retaliation for the numerous attempts on his life during the Kennedy administration, courtesy of both the CIA and the Mafia. In 1968, Johnson told ABC News that “Kennedy was trying to get to Castro, but Castro got to him first.”

During an interview with Bill Moyers in 1977, Castro said the theory was “absolute insanity.”

The second, perhaps more plausible, theory involves a mixture of militant anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Miami, the Mafia and the CIA. As the Mary Ferrell Foundation points out, the anti-Castro Cubans were enraged by Kennedy’s failure to provide crucial air support during the Bay of Pigs invasion. This could have been seen as emblematic of Kennedy’s “soft” approach to communism, a charge that had already been leveled at him after he chose not to invade Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Did anti-Castro Cubans, working in conjunction with the CIA and the Mafia, assassinate JFK?

Thanks to Andrew Berry.




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