The Chicago Syndicate: Jack Ruby
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Jack Ruby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jack Ruby. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

John F. Kennedy Assassination a Mafia Conspiracy

Deputy Sheriff Harry Weatherford, the best shot in the department, was assigned to the top of the County Records Building by Sheriff Decker to protect the president. When Oswald's first shot struck Kennedy, Officer Weatherford saw the pigeons fly from the School Book Depository Building. But he had no target.

When Oswald fired his second shot, Weatherford saw the muzzle flash from the sixth floor window. Jacquelyn was scrambling from the limousine to escape the hail of bullets as Oswald's finger tightened on the trigger for his third shot, which was intended for her.

Just a micro-second before Oswald fired, Weatherford's bullet passed in front of Oswald causing his third shot to go high over Jacquelyn and hitting the curb on the south side of Elm Street.

John F. Kennedy Assassination a Mafia Conspiracy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Author of "John F. Kennedy Assassination: A Mafia Conspiracy" Discusses His Theory

Jim Gatewood, author of "John F. Kennedy Assassination a Mafia Conspiracy," as well as several other books, was the guest speaker for the Kilgore Rotary Club on Wednesday.

Gatewood spoke about the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, and discussed Mafia history and other facts which cement his theory that the Mafia was behind the assassination, in conjunction with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The Dallas historian gave historical facts about Mafia activity in Dallas, including details on the life of Benny Binion, now famous for opening the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas and a noted Dallas businessman around the time of the Depression.

Gatewood wove a tale which started back around the time of the Depression, and the path involved noted mobsters from New York, Dallas, Chicago and several other eastern U.S. cities, along with Texas historical figures such as Lone Wolf Gonzales and Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger who helped gun down Bonnie and Clyde in Louisiana.

He tied all of that history together with a story about Oswald and his involvement in the Mafia and his association with Cuban Freedom Fighters who were mad because JFK had supposedly issued an order to have Fidel Castro killed.

According to Gatewood, Oswald waited on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository with a look-alike, a Cuban Freedom Fighter who would take the shot if Oswald would not. There were also Cuban Freedom Fighters along the motorcade route to signal the pair when it was time to be ready to fire.

Gatewood said law enforcement in Dallas County knew about an assassination attempt and had their own shooter on the top of the County Records Building to look for snipers. That shooter fired on Oswald's gun after two shots had been fired at Kennedy, causing Oswald's third shot to hit the curb and ricochet into the guard rail.

Oswald hit the president and Texas Gov. John Connally with his first two shots and, according to Gatewood, was firing at Jackie Kennedy with the third shot to make an impact on the shooting that would earn him kudos with the mob.

Oswald missed his ride in a car to the Highland Park Airport, but his look-alike was able to get on the plane.

Jack Ruby, a noted mob figure in Dallas, told Oswald if he missed his plane he should meet him at his apartment, which was near the rooming house where Oswald lived. But, before he could get there, he met Dallas police officer J.D. Tippett and shot him. Then, Oswald was captured at the Texas Theater and Ruby was sent by mobsters to gun him down on Sunday morning, which was seen by millions on national television.

Ruby remained quiet, pleaded guilty to murder of Oswald and died of cancer in prison.

Gatewood offered to discuss his theory with anyone who wanted, and he said he has all of the documentation anyone would want to back up his theory.

Thanks to Greg Collins in 2009.

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.


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.


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 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.


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 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.


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.

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.

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, October 14, 2013

The Interloper: Lee Harvey Oswald Inside the Soviet Union

Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 remains one of the most horrifying and hotly debated crimes in American history. Just as perplexing as the assassination is the assassin himself; the 24-year-old Oswald’s hazy background and motivations—and his subsequent murder at the hands of Jack Ruby—make him an intriguing yet frustratingly enigmatic figure. Because Oswald briefly defected to the Soviet Union, some historians allege he was a Soviet agent. But as Peter Savodnik shows in The Interloper, Oswald’s time in the U.S.S.R. reveals a stranger, more chilling story.

Oswald ventured to Russia at the age of 19, after a failed stint in the U.S. Marine Corps and a childhood spent shuffling from address to address with his unstable, needy mother. Like many of his generation, Oswald struggled for a sense of belonging in postwar American society, which could be materialistic, atomized, and alienating. The Soviet Union, with its promise of collectivism and camaraderie, seemed to offer an alternative. While traveling in Europe, Oswald slipped across the Soviet border, soon settling in Minsk where he worked at a radio and television factory. But Oswald quickly became just as disillusioned with his adopted country as he had been with the United States. He spoke very little Russian, had difficulty adapting to the culture of his new home, and found few trustworthy friends; indeed most, it became clear, were informing on him to the KGB. After nearly three years, Oswald returned to America feeling utterly defeated and more alone than ever—and as Savodnik shows, he began to look for an outlet for his frustration and rage.

Drawing on groundbreaking research, including interviews with Oswald’s friends and acquaintances in Russia and the United States, The Interloper brilliantly evokes the shattered psyche not just of Oswald himself, but also of the era he so tragically defined.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

46 Years Ago Today - Jack Ruby Dies of Cancer

On January 3, 1967, Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who killed the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, dies of cancer in a Dallas hospital. The Texas Court of Appeals had recently overturned his death sentence for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald and was scheduled to grant him a new trial.

On November 24, 1963, two days after Kennedy's assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was brought to the basement of the Dallas police headquarters on his way to a more secure county jail. A crowd of police and press with live television cameras rolling gathered to witness his departure. As Oswald came into the room, Jack Ruby emerged from the crowd and fatally wounded him with a single shot from a concealed .38 revolver. Ruby, who was immediately detained, claimed he was distraught over the president's assassination. Some called him a hero, but he was nonetheless charged with first-degree murder.

Jack Ruby, originally known as Jacob Rubenstein, operated strip joints and dance halls in Dallas and had minor connections to organized crime. He also had a relationship with a number of Dallas policemen, which amounted to various favors in exchange for leniency in their monitoring of his establishments. He features prominently in Kennedy assassination theories, and many believe he killed Oswald to keep him from revealing a larger conspiracy. In his trial, Ruby denied the charge, maintaining that he was acting out of patriotism. In March 1964, he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

The official The Warren Commission Report: The Official Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy of 1964 concluded that neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy, either domestic or international, to assassinate President Kennedy. Despite its seemingly firm conclusions, the report failed to silence conspiracy theories surrounding the event, and in 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy" that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime. The committee's findings, as with the findings of the Warren Commission, continue to be widely disputed.

Thanks to The History Channel.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination

A new book has been released, Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination, was written by Lamar Waldron. In the book it proposes that Mafia Mobster Boss, Carlos Marcello from New Orleans had JFK killed.

This is not a new theory, but the book cites a testimony from Marcello where he said “Yeah, I had the son of a bitch killed. I’m glad I did. I’m sorry I couldn’t have done it myself.” It seems that Marcello does not care who knows that he orchestrated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The former mobster boss also claims that he knew Jack Ruby, and he had him kill Lee Harvey Oswald. The new book which has 848 pages also looks at the links between Marcello and the murders of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rumors of the Kennedy Family's Ties to the Mafia

Rumors of ties between the Kennedys and the Mafia go back to John F. Kennedy’s father, Joe Kennedy, who reportedly earned much of the family fortune as bootlegger and had connections to mobsters like Meyer Lansky. When JFK faced Hubert Humphrey in the Democratic primary in 1960, many claimed that the Kennedy clan called on their mob connections to ensure a favorable vote, and similar accusations were made during the presidential election against Richard Nixon, which Kennedy won by a slim margin.

Several theories tie JFK’s assassination to the Mafia. Jack Ruby, the man who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK’s accused assassin), was a known mob associate. One theory attributes motive to the Mafia through the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. The Mafia reportedly hated that Cuba was in the hands of Fidel Castro, who had thrown them out of their lucrative Cuban casino businesses when he came to power. The invasion was an utter failure attributed by some to Kennedy’s refusal to approve air support.

Another theory points to JFK’s brother, Robert, whom JFK appointed to the position of attorney general after he was elected president. Once appointed, Robert Kennedy immediately began a Mafia crackdown. Robert also died from an assassin’s bullet.

Another rumor plays on suggestions that JFK kept several mistresses and girlfriends, some of whom were known to associate with mobsters. Some evidence, including federal wiretaps, shows that mobster Sam Giancana may have set JFK up with various women, all the while recording proof of the President’s extra-marital affairs. Conspiracy theorists have speculated that it was hit men sent by Giancana who murdered Marilyn Monroe, one of JFK’s supposed girlfriends. Giancana himself was murdered shortly before he was due to testify on the Mafia/Kennedy connections.

Thanks to Nicks Free Info

Friday, April 11, 2008

FBI Secret Files on Mobster Ken Eto

Ken "Tokyo Joe" Eto died four years ago, but the secret files that were kept on him are being revealed for the first time.

The secret files on Tokyo Joe prove that Ken Eto was different than your normal, everyday Chicago mobster.

He ran an Outfit gambling racket in cahoots with black street gang leaders. But most memorable: 25 years ago he became the only Outfit boss to survive a mob hit. In 1983, Ken Eto became the first hoodlum ever to experience a gangland hangover when a half dozen bullets squeezed from a silencer-equipped pistol, somehow ricocheted off his skull. At the time of the botched assassination, FBI agents had been following Eto and typing reports on him since the early 1950s.

What grew into a foot-tall stack of files was just obtained for the first time by the I-Team under the Freedom of Information Act. The records reveal that hundreds of agents in dozens of cities had tried for decades to pin something on Eto, but failed. The FBI list of Eto's numerous aliases may be politically incorrect by today's standards, but tokyo joe's craftiness helped turn an illegal numbers racket into an illicit empire.

"We analyzed it. It was $150,000 to $200,000 a week he was managing," said Elaine Smith, former FBI agent.

We interviewed Smith as she retired from the FBI - her work as case agent on Ken Eto the highlight of her career. According to the secret files of Tokyo Joe, his gambling business known as Bolito thrived on payoffs to Chicago policemen totaling $3,000 a week.

Eto's criminal rap sheet in the file begins in 1942 in Tacoma, Washington, where he was among four Japanese Americans sentenced for violating a wartime curfew. After coming to Chicago in 1949, Eto grew into a mob sleeper boss believed the FBI on a par with the famous New York mafioso Meyer Lansky.

Shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, federal agents suspicious of a Chicago mob role in the JFK murder questioned Eto about Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. FBI reports say Eto claimed to know nothing.

In 1983 Outfit bosses tried to rub him out for one reason, according to the secret files. Mob bosses feared that since the FBI had caught Eto red-handed running Bolito wagers and he'd pleaded guilty, that he might be tempted to talk. So they gave Eto an invitation he couldn't refuse.

"He knew he had to go to this dinner meeting. He really was 90 percent sure he was going to be shot, so he took a bath and he put on his best clothes, and he told his wife where the insurance policy was," Smith said.

Files reveal Vincent Solano ordered the murder. He was an Outfit capo at the time and head of the corrupt laborers union Local One. After surviving the attack, Eto was hooded when he told a U.S. Senate panel what happened.

Solano died of natural causes, never charged in the Eto attack. The two gunman who tried to kill Tokyo Joe had used bad ammo and soon after were themselves disposed of in a car trunk. Eto then became the government's highest ranking hoodlum ever to turn government witness.

The FBI began a secret investigation that we now know from the files was code-named "Operation Sun-Up" a clever turn on the symbol of Eto's native Japan. And because of his testimony, dozens of top Chicago mob figures were convicted and put away.

Whether or not Eto got his outfit nickname from an old Bogart movie, there will soon be a new movie also called Tokyo Joe. The life story of Ken Eto is being made by Japanese filmmakers and due to be finished next month.

Eto died in 2004 at the age of 84. And even though he survived a gangland hit, he didn't live as long as he thought he would. When he was still in the mob, a smart-aleck Eto told federal agents that he'd be happy to discuss his Outfit business when he was 90 years old and living on a beach somewhere.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Did Bobby Kennedy Believe the Mob and Anti-Castro Backers Kill JFK?

One of the most intriguing mysteries about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, that darkest of American labyrinths, is why his brother Robert F. Kennedy apparently did nothing to investigate the crime. Bobby Kennedy was, after all, not just the attorney general of the United States at the time of the assassination -- he was his brother's devoted partner, the man who took on the administration's most grueling assignments, from civil rights to organized crime to Cuba, the hottest Cold War flash point of its day. But after the burst of gunfire in downtown Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, ended this unique partnership, Bobby Kennedy seemed lost in a fog of grief, refusing to discuss the assassination with the Warren Commission and telling friends he had no heart for an aggressive investigation. "What difference does it make?" he would say. "It won't bring him back." But Bobby Kennedy was a complex manBrothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, and his years in Washington had taught him to keep his own counsel and proceed in a subterranean fashion. What he said in public about Dallas was not the full story. Privately, RFK -- who had made his name in the 1950s as a relentless investigator of the underside of American power -- was consumed by the need to know the real story about his brother's assassination. This fire seized him on the afternoon of Nov. 22, as soon as FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, a bitter political enemy, phoned to say -- almost with pleasure, thought Bobby -- that the president had been shot. And the question of who killed his brother continued to haunt Kennedy until the day he too was gunned down, on June 5, 1968.

Because of his proclivity for operating in secret, RFK did not leave behind a documentary record of his inquiries into his brother's assassination. But it is possible to retrace his investigative trail, beginning with the afternoon of Nov. 22, when he frantically worked the phones at Hickory Hill -- his Civil War-era mansion in McLean, Va. -- and summoned aides and government officials to his home. Lit up with the clarity of shock, the electricity of adrenaline, Bobby Kennedy constructed the outlines of the crime that day -- a crime, he immediately concluded, that went far beyond Lee Harvey Oswald, the 24-year-old ex-Marine arrested shortly after the assassination. Robert Kennedy was America's first assassination conspiracy theorist.

CIA sources began disseminating their own conspiratorial view of Kennedy's murder within hours of the crime, spotlighting Oswald's defection to the Soviet Union and his public support for Fidel Castro. In New Orleans, an anti-Castro news organization released a tape of Oswald defending the bearded dictator. In Miami, the Cuban Student Directorate -- an exile group funded secretly by a CIA program code-named AMSPELL -- told reporters about Oswald's connections to the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee. But Robert Kennedy never believed the assassination was a communist plot. Instead, he looked in the opposite direction, focusing his suspicions on the CIA's secretive anti-Castro operations, a murky underworld he had navigated as his brother's point man on Cuba. Ironically, RFK's suspicions were shared by Castro himself, whom he had sought to overthrow throughout the Kennedy presidency.

The attorney general was supposed to be in charge of the clandestine war on Castro -- another daunting assignment JFK gave him, after the spy agency's disastrous performance at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. But as he tried to establish control over CIA operations and to herd the rambunctious Cuban exile groups into a unified progressive front, Bobby learned what a swamp of intrigue the anti-Castro world was. Working out of a sprawling Miami station code-named JM/WAVE that was second in size only to the CIA's Langley, Va., headquarters, the agency had recruited an unruly army of Cuban militants to launch raids on the island and even contracted Mafia henchmen to kill Castro -- including mob bosses Johnny Rosselli, Santo Trafficante and Sam Giancana, whom Kennedy, as chief counsel for the Senate Rackets Committee in the late 1950s, had targeted. It was an overheated ecosystem that was united not just by its fevered opposition to the Castro regime, but by its hatred for the Kennedys, who were regarded as traitors for failing to use the full military might of the United States against the communist outpost in the Caribbean.

This Miami netherworld of spies, gangsters and Cuban militants is where Robert Kennedy immediately cast his suspicions on Nov. 22. In the years since RFK's own assassination, an impressive body of evidence has accumulated that suggests why Kennedy felt compelled to look in that direction. The evidence -- congressional testimony, declassified government documents, even veiled confessions -- continues to emerge at this late date, although largely unnoticed. The most recent revelation came from legendary spy E. Howard Hunt before his death in January. Hunt offered what might be the last will and testament on the JFK assassination by someone with direct knowledge about the crime. In his recent posthumously published memoir, American Spy, Hunt speculates that the CIA might have been involved in Kennedy's murder. And in handwritten notes and an audiotape he left behind, the spy went further, revealing that he was invited to a 1963 meeting at a CIA safe house in Miami where an assassination plot was discussed.

Bobby Kennedy knew that he and his brother had made more than their share of political enemies. But none were more virulent than the men who worked on the Bay of Pigs operation and believed the president had stabbed them in the back, refusing to rescue their doomed operation by sending in the U.S. Air Force and Marines. Later, when President Kennedy ended the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 without invading Cuba, these men saw not statesmanship but another failure of nerve. In Cuban Miami, they spoke of la seconda derrota, the second defeat. These anti-Kennedy sentiments, at times voiced heatedly to Bobby's face, resonated among the CIA's partners in the secret war on Castro -- the Mafia bosses who longed to reclaim their lucrative gambling and prostitution franchises in Havana that had been shut down by the revolution, and who were deeply aggrieved by the Kennedy Justice Department's all-out war on organized crime. But Bobby, the hard-liner who covered his brother's right flank on the Cuba issue, thought that he had turned himself into the main lightning rod for all this anti-Kennedy static.

"I thought they would get me, instead of the president," he told his Justice Department press aide, Edwin Guthman, as they walked back and forth on the backyard lawn at Hickory Hill on the afternoon of Nov. 22. Guthman and others around Bobby that day thought "they" might be coming for the younger Kennedy next. So apparently did Bobby. Normally opposed to tight security measures -- "Kennedys don't need bodyguards," he had said with typical brashness -- he allowed his aides to summon federal marshals, who quickly surrounded his estate.

Meanwhile, as Lyndon Johnson -- a man with whom he had a storied antagonistic relationship -- flew east from Dallas to assume the powers of the presidency, Bobby Kennedy used his fleeting authority to ferret out the truth. After hearing his brother had died at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Kennedy phoned CIA headquarters, just down the road in Langley, where he often began his day, stopping there to work on Cuba-related business. Bobby's phone call to Langley on the afternoon of Nov. 22 was a stunning outburst. Getting a ranking official on the phone -- whose identity is still unknown -- Kennedy confronted him in a voice vibrating with fury and pain. "Did your outfit have anything to do with this horror?" Kennedy erupted.

Later that day, RFK summoned the CIA director himself, John McCone, to ask him the same question. McCone, who had replaced the legendary Allen Dulles after the old spymaster had walked the plank for the Bay of Pigs, swore that his agency was not involved. But Bobby Kennedy knew that McCone, a wealthy Republican businessman from California with no intelligence background, did not have a firm grasp on all aspects of the agency's work. Real control over the clandestine service revolved around the No. 2 man, Richard Helms, the shrewd bureaucrat whose intelligence career went back to the agency's OSS origins in World War II. "It was clear that McCone was out of the loop -- Dick Helms was running the agency," recently commented RFK aide John Seigenthaler -- another crusading newspaper reporter, like Guthman, whom Bobby had recruited for his Justice Department team. "Anything McCone found out was by accident."

Kennedy had another revealing phone conversation on the afternoon of Nov. 22. Speaking with Enrique "Harry" Ruiz-Williams, a Bay of Pigs veteran who was his most trusted ally among exiled political leaders, Bobby shocked his friend by telling him point-blank, "One of your guys did it." Who did Kennedy mean? By then Oswald had been arrested in Dallas. The CIA and its anti-Castro client groups were already trying to connect the alleged assassin to the Havana regime. But as Kennedy's blunt remark to Williams makes clear, the attorney general wasn't buying it. Recent evidence suggests that Bobby Kennedy had heard the name Lee Harvey Oswald long before it exploded in news bulletins around the world, and he connected it with the government's underground war on Castro. With Oswald's arrest in Dallas, Kennedy apparently realized that the government's clandestine campaign against Castro had boomeranged at his brother.

That evening, Kennedy zeroed in on the Mafia. He phoned Julius Draznin in Chicago, an expert on union corruption for the National Labor Relations Board, asking him to look into a possible mob angle on Dallas. More important, the attorney general activated Walter Sheridan, his ace Justice Department investigator, locating him in Nashville, where Sheridan was awaiting the trial of their longtime nemesis, Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa.

If Kennedy had any doubts about Mafia involvement in his brother's murder, they were immediately dispelled when, two days after JFK was shot down, burly nightclub owner Jack Ruby shouldered his way through press onlookers in the basement of the Dallas police station and fired his fatal bullet into Lee Harvey Oswald. Sheridan quickly turned up evidence that Ruby had been paid off in Chicago by a close associate of Hoffa. Sheridan reported that Ruby had "picked up a bundle of money from Allen M. Dorfman," Hoffa's chief adviser on Teamster pension fund loans and the stepson of Paul Dorfman, the labor boss' main link to the Chicago mob. A few days later, Draznin, Kennedy's man in Chicago, provided further evidence about Ruby's background as a mob enforcer, submitting a detailed report on Ruby's labor racketeering activities and his penchant for armed violence. Jack Ruby's phone records further clinched it for Kennedy. The list of men whom Ruby phoned around the time of the assassination, RFK later told aide Frank Mankiewicz, was "almost a duplicate of the people I called to testify before the Rackets Committee."

As family members and close friends gathered in the White House on the weekend after the assassination for the president's funeral, a raucous mood of Irish mourning gripped the executive mansion. But Bobby didn't participate in the family's doleful antics. Coiled and sleepless throughout the weekend, he brooded alone about his brother's murder. According to an account by Peter Lawford, the actor and Kennedy in-law who was there that weekend, Bobby told family members that JFK had been killed by a powerful plot that grew out of one of the government's secret anti-Castro operations. There was nothing they could do at that point, Bobby added, since they were facing a formidable enemy and they no longer controlled the government. Justice would have to wait until the Kennedys could regain the White House -- this would become RFK's mantra in the years after Dallas, whenever associates urged him to speak out about the mysterious crime.

A week after the assassination, Bobby and his brother's widow, Jacqueline Kennedy -- who shared his suspicions about Dallas -- sent a startling secret message to Moscow through a trusted family emissary named William Walton. The discreet and loyal Walton "was exactly the person that you would pick for a mission like this," his friend Gore Vidal later observed. Walton, a Time magazine war correspondent who had reinvented himself as a gay Georgetown bohemian, had grown close to both JFK and Jackie in their carefree days before they moved into the White House. Later, the first couple gave him an unpaid role in the administration, appointing him chairman of the Fine Arts Commission, but it was mainly an excuse to make him a frequent White House guest and confidant.

After JFK's assassination, the president's brother and widow asked Walton to go ahead as planned with a cultural exchange trip to Russia, where he was to meet with artists and government ministers, and convey an urgent message to the Kremlin. Soon after arriving in frigid Moscow, fighting a cold and dabbing at his nose with a red handkerchief, Walton met at the ornate Sovietskaya restaurant with Georgi Bolshakov -- an ebullient, roly-poly Soviet agent with whom Bobby had established a back-channel relationship in Washington. Walton stunned the Russian by telling him that the Kennedys believed Oswald was part of a conspiracy. They didn't think either Moscow or Havana was behind the plot, Walton assured Bolshakov -- it was a large domestic conspiracy. The president's brother was determined to enter the political arena and eventually make a run for the White House. If RFK succeeded, Walton confided, he would resume his brother's quest for detente with the Soviets.

Robert Kennedy's remarkable secret communication to Moscow shows how emotionally wracked he must have been in the days following his brother's assassination. The calamity transformed him instantly from a cocky, abrasive insider -- the second most powerful man in Washington -- to a grief-stricken, deeply wary outsider who put more trust in the Russian government than he did in his own. The Walton mission has been all but lost to history. But it is one more revealing tale that sheds light on Bobby Kennedy's subterranean life between his brother's assassination and his own violent demise less than five years later.

Over the years, Kennedy would offer bland and routine endorsements of the Warren Report and its lone gunman theory. But privately he derided the report as nothing more than a public relations exercise designed to reassure the public. And behind the scenes, he continued to work assiduously to figure out his brother's murder, in preparation for reopening the case if he ever won the power to do so.

Bobby held onto medical evidence from his brother's autopsy, including JFK's brain and tissue samples, which might have proved important in a future investigation. He also considered taking possession of the gore-spattered, bullet-riddled presidential limousine that had carried his brother in Dallas, before the black Lincoln could be scrubbed clean of evidence and repaired. He enlisted his top investigator, Walt Sheridan, in his secret quest -- the former FBI agent and fellow Irish Catholic whom Bobby called his "avenging angel." Even after leaving the Justice Department in 1964, when he was elected to the Senate from New York, Kennedy and Sheridan would slip back into the building now and then to pore over files on the case. And soon after his election, Kennedy traveled to Mexico City, where he gathered information on Oswald's mysterious trip there in September 1963.

In 1967, Sheridan went to New Orleans to check into the Jim Garrison investigation, to see whether the flamboyant prosecutor really had cracked the JFK case. (Sheridan was working as an NBC news producer at the time, but he reported back to RFK, telling him that Garrison was a fraud.) And Kennedy asked his press secretary, Frank Mankiewicz, to begin gathering information about the assassination for the day when they could reopen the investigation. (Mankiewicz later told Bobby that his research led him to conclude it was probably a plot involving the Mafia, Cuban exiles and rogue CIA agents.) Kennedy himself found it painful to discuss conspiracy theories with the ardent researchers who sought him out. But he met in his Senate office with at least one -- a feisty small-town Texas newspaper publisher named Penn Jones Jr., who believed JFK was the victim of a CIA-Pentagon plot. Bobby heard him out and then had his driver take Jones to Arlington Cemetery, where the newspaperman wanted to pay his respects at his brother's grave.

At times, this drive to know the truth would sputter, as Robert Kennedy wrestled with debilitating grief and a haunting guilt that he -- his brother's constant watchman -- should have protected him. And, ever cautious, Bobby continued to deflect the subject whenever he was confronted with it by the press. But as time went by, it became increasingly difficult for Kennedy to avoid wrestling with the specter of his brother's death in public.

In late March 1968, during his doomed and heroic run for the presidency, Kennedy was addressing a tumultuous outdoor campus rally in Northridge, Calif., when some boisterous students shouted out the question he always dreaded. "We want to know who killed President Kennedy!" yelled one girl, while others took up the cry: "Open the archives!"

Kennedy's response that day was a tightrope walk. He knew that if he fully revealed his thinking about the assassination, the ensuing media uproar would have dominated his campaign, instead of burning issues like ending the Vietnam War and healing the country's racial divisions. For a man like Robert Kennedy, you did not talk about something as dark as the president's assassination in public -- you explored the crime your own way.

But Kennedy respected college students and their passions -- and he was in the habit of addressing campus audiences with surprising honesty. He did not want to simply deflect the question that day with his standard line. So, while dutifully endorsing the Warren Report as usual, he went further. "You wanted to ask me something about the archives," he responded. "I'm sure, as I've said before, the archives will be open." The crowd cheered and applauded. "Can I just say," continued Kennedy, "and I have answered this question before, but there is no one who would be more interested in all of these matters as to who was responsible for uh . . . the uh, uh, the death of President Kennedy than I would." Kennedy's press secretary Frank Mankiewicz, long used to Kennedy ducking the question, was "stunned" by the reply. "It was either like he was suddenly blurting out the truth, or it was a way to shut down any further questioning. You know, 'Yes, I will reopen the case. Now let's move on.' "

Robert Kennedy did not live long enough to solve his brother's assassination. But nearly 40 years after his own murder, a growing body of evidence suggests that Kennedy was on the right trail before he too was cut down. Despite his verbal contortions in public, Bobby Kennedy always knew that the truth about Dallas mattered. It still does.

Excerpt from David Talbot's Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years.

Friday, March 04, 2005

JFK Connected to Mob DNA?

Solving a Mafia murder case is a tall order. Since the early 1900s, more than 1,100 murders have been linked to Mafia activities in Chicago but only 14 people have been convicted in those killings. Soon though, the FBI may be able to resolve dozens of mob hits, many with links to Las Vegas. It's a case that might even shed light on the assassination of a president.

The FBI calls it Operation Family Secrets, (Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob). The I-Team has reported on it in the past. It's been underway in Chicago for more than two years and may finally be getting close to the indictment stage. The targets include major figures in the Chicago mob. The victims include tough Tony Spilotro, once the king of the Las Vegas streets. If the FBI hits the jackpot though, this operation could resolve even bigger mysteries.

Lawmen in Las Vegas and elsewhere harbored all kinds of suspicions about Tony The Ant Spilotro. They suspected him in as many as 22 gangland murders. They indicted him for skimming Las Vegas casinos. And regarded him as the Nevada ambassador for the feared Chicago mob. But the law never managed to put Spilotro away. That job was carried out by his Mafia associates.

In 1986, Spilotro returned to Chicago to meet with the family. His body and that of his brother Michael Spilotro were found days later, buried in an Indiana cornfield. Both were savagely beaten. Spilotro's widow Nancy told the I-Team the FBI never tried to solve the murder, but she's convinced that her husband knew the people who did it. "When he went away like that, left all their stuff behind and they go -- you know. That's no good. They leave their watch and their wallet. They had to know somebody to get them to go to the place," said Nancy Spilotro, Tony Spilotro's widow.

Sometime later this year, someone may finally be charged in Tony Spilotro's murder. That someone will likely be Spilotro's former boss, Joey The Clown Lombardo, for decades a reputed top figure in the Chicago mob.

John Flood, former Chicago Police officer, said, "Lombardo in Chicago is the last of the major giants and in the United States few men have his stature in organized crime."

Former Chicago cop John Flood should know. For years, he was part of a Chicago Police team that chased the mob and says Lombardo once tried to kill him. Flood expects the FBI's Operation Family Matters to produce indictments soon.

The two-year probe reportedly has mob informants and is aimed at the top tier of the Chicago outfit, which means Joey The Clown. Tips have already led FBI agents to unearth the bodies of murder victims. DNA evidence has been obtained from crime scenes and is now being analyzed in forensic labs around the country. It is all but certain that the Spilotro murders are among the cases that are being analyzed. But there are many more unsolved cases in the Las Vegas-Chicago nexus and Lombardo, allegedly, was in a position to know about all of them.

John Flood says, "There is not a shadow of doubt that because he was such a young man involved with major mob figures going back to Al Capone, he would know anything that happened regarding assassinations, not only in Chicago but Las Vegas, across the country. He's a top guy and a tough guy."

Flood says Lombardo would have to know about the murder of teamsters pension fund executive Alan Dorfman, who loaned millions to Las Vegas casinos and was indicted with Lombardo for trying to bribe Nevada Senator Howard Cannon.

Former mob ambassador to Las Vegas, Johnny Rosselli was preparing to testify to Congress about mob plots to kill Fidel Castro. His body was found floating in a drum. Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, once the overlord of Las Vegas rackets, was murdered in his home just before he had to testify. Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in 1975 and is believed to have been murdered by Midwestern mob families. Lawmen think Lombardo knew about all of them, including one of the biggest murders of all time.

John Flood says, "Sam Gianacana, supposedly involved in the building of Las Vegas, his brother said Sam told him before he died it was Chicago organized crime guys that assassinated John Kennedy."

That's a whopper of a story, but there is other testimony hinting at a Chicago connection to the JFK slaying. Jack Ruby was a Chicago mob flunky before moving to Dallas. But Flood says he doubts Lombardo would talk, indictment or not.

Lombardo's Chicago attorney acknowledges that his client is a target of the FBI investigation, but he denies any wrong doing by Lombardo. Lombardo has given a DNA sample to the FBI. So have three other suspected mobsters.

Ex-cop John Flood says he doubts Lombardo would roll over or spill the beans about any murder, let alone the JFK assassination, but says it depends on who else might be indicted with him.

Stranger things have happened.

Thanks to George Knapp


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