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John Simkin

Organized Crime and the Assassination of JFK

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There have been several minor debates over the last couple of weeks on a variety of threads about the involvement of the Mafia in the assassination of JFK. I thought it might be a good idea to start a new thread on the subject.

Trafficante, Giancana and Roselli plotted against Castro with the CIA and who knows  what more (f.e. Guatemala)

It is of course true that the CIA did recruit members of the Mafia via Robert Maheu to assassinate Fidel Castro. Some researchers use evidence of this plot to suggest that the same people were involved in the assassination of JFK. I have never seen the logic of this argument. Why could they not have been two different operations?

Anyway, I do not believe there was a serious CIA/Mafia plot to kill Fidel Castro. Johnny Roselli, the Mafia link man in the plot, admitted soon after the contract was taken out, that the killing of Castro would not cause the Cuban government to be overthrown. It was generally accepted that Fidel’s brother Raul would become the new leader if the assassination plot succeeded. Raul was more left-wing than Fidel and would have not invited the Mafia back to run their gambling and prostitution industries. This is why organized crime was so upset with Castro. He had cut them off from a vast source of profitable revenues. Castro had done what Hoover and the FBI had been unwilling to do in the United States. It was one of the main reasons that Castro was popular in Cuba (especially over the issue of prostitution). Santo Trafficante, Carlos Marcello and Sam Giancana knew that the only way of getting back into Cuba was by persuading the American government to overthrow the Castro government.

Rosselli admitted in 1961 that organized crime realised that the Cuban revolution could not be reversed by simply removing its leader. However, they continued to play along with this CIA plot in order to prevent them being prosecuted for criminal offences committed in the United States.

The CIA also knew that the assassination it itself would now bring down the Castro government. The objective of the CIA was a combined plot of assassination and invasion. They realised that an assassination on its own would backfire and turn Castro into a martyr. This what happened with the Bay of Pigs invasion. This failed attempt to overthrow Castro resulted in his power being strengthened.

As David Atlee Phillips pointed out in his autobiography. The assassination of Castro “couldn’t change anything in Cuba, except put power in the hands of people even more pro-Soviet and less predictable” (The Night Watch, page 178)

Yet the CIA in the form of William Harvey and Desmond FitzGerald continued to try and organize the assassination of Castro. This apparently happened right up until the day JFK was assassinated. What were they up to? Isn’t possible that the whole thing was part of setting up Castro as the man behind the killing of JFK? They already had Castro on record as threatening JFK if these plots continued. Plan A was to blame the communists. Plan B was to blame organized crime. It is only by grasping this can you understand what people like Phillips, Morales and Harvey were up to in 1963.

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John,

Who controlled Jack Ruby and ordered him to eliminate Oswald? Also why was Ruby making unusual phone calls to henchmen or associates of Marcello and Hoffa in the days before the assassination?

Ron

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Yes John, I would hope you would try and answer Ron's question this time.

If your answer would not be Giancana, Marcello, Trafficante or all three, then I would be most curious to your other options.

Wim

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Trafficante, Giancana and Roselli plotted against Castro with the CIA and who knows  what more (f.e. Guatemala)

Anyway, I do not believe there was a serious CIA/Mafia plot to kill Fidel Castro. Johnny Roselli, the Mafia link man in the plot, admitted soon after the contract was taken out, that the killing of Castro would not cause the Cuban government to be overthrown. It was generally accepted that Fidel’s brother Raul would become the new leader if the assassination plot succeeded. Raul was more left-wing than Fidel and would have not invited the Mafia back to run their gambling and prostitution industries. This is why organized crime was so upset with Castro. He had cut them off from a vast source of profitable revenues. Castro had done what Hoover and the FBI had been unwilling to do in the United States. It was one of the main reasons that Castro was popular in Cuba (especially over the issue of prostitution). Santo Trafficante, Carlos Marcello and Sam Giancana knew that the only way of getting back into Cuba was by persuading the American government to overthrow the Castro government.

Rosselli admitted in 1961 that organized crime realised that the Cuban revolution could not be reversed by simply removing its leader. However, they continued to play along with this CIA plot in order to prevent them being prosecuted for criminal offences committed in the United States.

The CIA also knew that the assassination it itself would now bring down the Castro government. The objective of the CIA was a combined plot of assassination and invasion. They realised that an assassination on its own would backfire and turn Castro into a martyr. This what happened with the Bay of Pigs invasion. This failed attempt to overthrow Castro resulted in his power being strengthened.

As David Atlee Phillips pointed out in his autobiography. The assassination of Castro “couldn’t change anything in Cuba, except put power in the hands of people even more pro-Soviet and less predictable” (The Night Watch, page 178)

Yet the CIA in the form of William Harvey and Desmond FitzGerald continued to try and organize the assassination of Castro. This apparently happened right up until the day JFK was assassinated. What were they up to? Isn’t possible that the whole thing was part of setting up Castro as the man behind the killing of JFK? They already had Castro on record as threatening JFK if these plots continued. Plan A was to blame the communists. Plan B was to blame organized crime. It is only by grasping this can you understand what people like Phillips, Morales and Harvey were up to in 1963.

John,

This was a very good post. I believe the twist in understanding the Mafia role with regard to CIA estimates of a post-Castro Cuba and the questionable legitimacy of Mafia plots to kill Castro, is that Trafficante stands out from the rest. My analysis of this is that Trafficante had his own side deal with Castro that would enable him to play both sides.

Tim

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Amongst all of this, it must be remembered that Mob money from Carlos Marcello and to a lesser extent Santo Trafficante was being funnelled into Alpha 66 via bagman Rolando Masferrer. Masferrer was closely associated with Col. William Bishop. Masferrer held the lease on No Name Key with Lawrence Howard.

Does anyone want to connect the dots?

James

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Trafficante, Giancana and Roselli plotted against Castro with the CIA and who knows  what more (f.e. Guatemala)

Anyway, I do not believe there was a serious CIA/Mafia plot to kill Fidel Castro. Johnny Roselli, the Mafia link man in the plot, admitted soon after the contract was taken out, that the killing of Castro would not cause the Cuban government to be overthrown. It was generally accepted that Fidel’s brother Raul would become the new leader if the assassination plot succeeded. Raul was more left-wing than Fidel and would have not invited the Mafia back to run their gambling and prostitution industries. This is why organized crime was so upset with Castro. He had cut them off from a vast source of profitable revenues. Castro had done what Hoover and the FBI had been unwilling to do in the United States. It was one of the main reasons that Castro was popular in Cuba (especially over the issue of prostitution). Santo Trafficante, Carlos Marcello and Sam Giancana knew that the only way of getting back into Cuba was by persuading the American government to overthrow the Castro government.

Rosselli admitted in 1961 that organized crime realised that the Cuban revolution could not be reversed by simply removing its leader. However, they continued to play along with this CIA plot in order to prevent them being prosecuted for criminal offences committed in the United States.

The CIA also knew that the assassination it itself would now bring down the Castro government. The objective of the CIA was a combined plot of assassination and invasion. They realised that an assassination on its own would backfire and turn Castro into a martyr. This what happened with the Bay of Pigs invasion. This failed attempt to overthrow Castro resulted in his power being strengthened.

As David Atlee Phillips pointed out in his autobiography. The assassination of Castro “couldn’t change anything in Cuba, except put power in the hands of people even more pro-Soviet and less predictable” (The Night Watch, page 178)

Yet the CIA in the form of William Harvey and Desmond FitzGerald continued to try and organize the assassination of Castro. This apparently happened right up until the day JFK was assassinated. What were they up to? Isn’t possible that the whole thing was part of setting up Castro as the man behind the killing of JFK? They already had Castro on record as threatening JFK if these plots continued. Plan A was to blame the communists. Plan B was to blame organized crime. It is only by grasping this can you understand what people like Phillips, Morales and Harvey were up to in 1963.

John,

This was a very good post. I believe the twist in understanding the Mafia role with regard to CIA estimates of a post-Castro Cuba and the questionable legitimacy of Mafia plots to kill Castro, is that Trafficante stands out from the rest. My analysis of this is that Trafficante had his own side deal with Castro that would enable him to play both sides.

Tim

I believe Tim Carroll is absolutely right here. If as many suspect Trafficante had made a deal with Castro before he left Cuba (see the 1961 report of the BNI linked below) (which permitted Trafficante to run drugs fromm Marseilles through Cuba and thence to Miami in exchange for providing assistance to Castro in the US) then) Trafficante was in a perfect position to "play both sides" as Tim puts it. We must also consider Trafficante's connections with both Jack Ruby (see link attached below) and with Rolando Cubela (there were reports that it was Cubela who had assisted in obtaining Trafficante's temporary release from detainment at Trescornia Prison in 1959 so he could attend his daughter's wedding and also reports that Trafficante had been in touch with Cubela in 1963).

If Trafficante was actually in bed with Castro (allegorically, of course: not in the same sense as JFK being in bed with Judith Campbell, Ellen Rometsch and a few other lovely ladies) that would explain why the Mafia was never able to kill Castro on behalf of the CIA.

It has been reported that Jimmy Hoffa had, through their mutual attorney Ragano, encouraged Trafficante, in 1963, to kill JFK.

So it is possible that Trafficante had received requests in 1963 to kill JFK not only from Jimmy Hoffa but also from someone acting to benefit (if not on behalf of) Castro. He could have orchestrated the assassination and obtained credit from both Hoffa and Castro.

In a court of law the jury can be instructed that flight can be considered as evidence of guilt. Trafficante fled to his estate in Costa Rica to avoid testifying before the Church Committee. As we all know, Giancana was murdered only five days before his scheduled testimony. Although Rosselli did testify, he did not tell the Church Committee anything they did not already know.

The next summer, when demands for a new investigation into the assassination were increasing, Rosselli was murdered. A day or two before his murder, Rosselli's friend Fred Black called Rosselli to warn him that "Trafficante's Cubans" were after him. There were FBI informants who linked members of Trafficante's organization to the slaying of Rosselli.

Trafficante did testify before the HSCA (only, of course, after Giancana and Rosselli were disposed of). As I recall, incredibly, he was never asked directly aboout his participatiion in the Kennedy assassination. He did deny under oath any involvement in the CIA plots against Castro, a clear case of perjury.

The fact that Trafficante never spent a day in an American prison speaks volumes, I believe, for his criminal intelligence. And, the 1961 BNI report states that Trafficante may have been the "mastermind" of all of the Mafia casinos in Havana.

It is therfore possible that Trafficante was even smart enough, through his friend Rosselli, to involve Rosselli's CIA associates in the assassination, thereby guaranteeing a coverup. of the assassination.

1961 BNI report re Trafficante:

http://cuban-exile.com/doc_126-150/doc0126.html

(See Paragraph 14 on page 6 and paragraph 6 on Page 7)

Ruby's 1959 meeting with Trafficante in Cuba:

http://www.webcom.com/ctka/pr795-ruby.html

Trafficante's testimony to HSCA:

http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/jfkinfo2/jfk5/traff.htm

Query: did you know that Trafficante was a prime suspect in the famous 1957 barbershop murder of Albert Anastasia? (It's in the 1961 BNI report.)

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Amongst all of this, it must be remembered that Mob money from Carlos Marcello and to a lesser extent Santo Trafficante was being funnelled into Alpha 66 via bagman Rolando Masferrer. Masferrer was closely associated with Col. William Bishop. Masferrer held the lease on No Name Key with Lawrence Howard.

Does anyone want to connect the dots?

James

James, I have great respect for your intelligence and have appreciated all of your posts.

There is an article in the Key West Citizen re who owned the No Name Key property used by Interpen. (It was, as I recall, a gentleman from Key West). It was not Masferrer or Howard. I will try to relocate the article. Of couse, he could be the owner/lessee.

Query the source for your information that the property was leased to Masferrer and Howard?

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Query the source for your information that the property was leased to Masferrer and Howard? (Tim Gratz)

Hi Tim,

That information came direct from Howard K. Davis.

Cheers,

James

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Query the source for your information that the property was leased to Masferrer and Howard? (Tim Gratz)

Hi Tim,

That information came direct from Howard K. Davis.

Cheers,

James

Thanks, and cheers (and holiday wishes) to you!

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Who controlled Jack Ruby and ordered him to eliminate Oswald? Also why was Ruby making unusual phone calls to henchmen or associates of Marcello and Hoffa in the days before the assassination?

Yes John, I would hope you would try and answer Ron's question this time.

After the failure to kill Oswald after the assassination, it was necessary for him to be eliminated. As I explained earlier, the original plan was to blame pro-Castro communists for the assassination. However, Johnson vetoed this idea and insisted on the lone gunman theory. The conspirators now decided to go with Plan B: “JFK had been assassinated by organized crime”. Oswald clearly could not be allowed to live. Even if he had not been involved in the assassination he knew far too much about the conspiracy. To save his life he would have revealed the work he had been doing with the FBI and the CIA.

Oswald was in police custody and his killer would obviously be apprehended. Therefore it was necessary to select someone for the task who could be linked with organized crime. The person also needed to be linked with the crime bosses who were going to be set up as the organizers of the assassination. The conspirators obviously had good contacts within the FBI and the Dallas Police Department. It would not be too difficult to identify Jack Ruby as the ideal man to do the job.

However, Johnson remained the stumbling block to Plan B. His strategy was to insist on the lone gunman theory. He believed that the admittance of any conspiracy, whether it was the right or wrong one, would inevitably mean a full and open investigation into the assassination of JFK. He rightly concluded that this investigation would eventually reach LBJ and the Suite 8F network. Therefore he set up the Warren Commission with the prime purpose of confirming that Oswald was the lone gunman. To do this they had to portray Jack Ruby as a man who acted alone. This meant they had to conceal his relationship with organized crime.

In the long run Johnson’s strategy helped the conspirators with Plan B. The Warren Commission was clearly a cover up. To most researchers, it was an attempt to cover up the role played by organized crime in the assassination. Some have asked the obvious question: why would LBJ, the Warren Commission, the CIA, and the FBI cover up the role played by organized crime? The answer most researchers have given is that the conspirators employed Mafia people to carry out the assassination. However, this makes no sense at all. This would have given power to the Mafia over the conspirators.

Even if the conspirators had been foolish enough to have tried recruiting members of the Mafia to kill JFK, they would have automatically realised they were being set up. Even if the conspirators bypassed the leaders and went directly to the foot soldiers, they would have had a similar reaction. As Charles Harrelson told Nigel Turner during the filming of his series, The Men Who Killed Kennedy, he would not have accepted such a contract as he knew that if he had, he would have ended up, like Oswald, being killed by the people placing the contract.

Of course people like Wim are desperate to believe that JFK was killed by the Mafia. Otherwise the confessions made by James Files and Chauncey Holt are worthless. Maybe researchers interested in finding the truth should turn this question round. If is because of the fact that researchers have insisted that organized crime was behind the assassination of JFK that you have characters such as James Files, Chauncey Holt, Loy Factor, Charles Harrelson (later withdrawn), Christian David, Robert W. Easterling, etc. coming forward claiming they were part of the plot. This has fooled some researchers into believing this is evidence that the Mafia was involved in the assassination.

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Whatever

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Who controlled Jack Ruby and ordered him to eliminate Oswald? Also why was Ruby making unusual phone calls to henchmen or associates of Marcello and Hoffa in the days before the assassination?

Yes John, I would hope you would try and answer Ron's question this time.

After the failure to kill Oswald after the assassination, it was necessary for him to be eliminated. As I explained earlier, the original plan was to blame pro-Castro communists for the assassination. However, Johnson vetoed this idea and insisted on the lone gunman theory. The conspirators now decided to go with Plan B: “JFK had been assassinated by organized crime”. Oswald clearly could not be allowed to live. Even if he had not been involved in the assassination he knew far too much about the conspiracy. To save his life he would have revealed the work he had been doing with the FBI and the CIA.

Oswald was in police custody and his killer would obviously be apprehended. Therefore it was necessary to select someone for the task who could be linked with organized crime. The person also needed to be linked with the crime bosses who were going to be set up as the organizers of the assassination. The conspirators obviously had good contacts within the FBI and the Dallas Police Department. It would not be too difficult to identify Jack Ruby as the ideal man to do the job.

However, Johnson remained the stumbling block to Plan B. His strategy was to insist on the lone gunman theory. He believed that the admittance of any conspiracy, whether it was the right or wrong one, would inevitably mean a full and open investigation into the assassination of JFK. He rightly concluded that this investigation would eventually reach LBJ and the Suite 8F network. Therefore he set up the Warren Commission with the prime purpose of confirming that Oswald was the lone gunman. To do this they had to portray Jack Ruby as a man who acted alone. This meant they had to conceal his relationship with organized crime.

In the long run Johnson’s strategy helped the conspirators with Plan B. The Warren Commission was clearly a cover up. To most researchers, it was an attempt to cover up the role played by organized crime in the assassination. Some have asked the obvious question: why would LBJ, the Warren Commission, the CIA, and the FBI cover up the role played by organized crime? The answer most researchers have given is that the conspirators employed Mafia people to carry out the assassination. However, this makes no sense at all. This would have given power to the Mafia over the conspirators.

Even if the conspirators had been foolish enough to have tried recruiting members of the Mafia to kill JFK, they would have automatically realised they were being set up. Even if the conspirators bypassed the leaders and went directly to the foot soldiers, they would have had a similar reaction. As Charles Harrelson told Nigel Turner during the filming of his series, The Men Who Killed Kennedy, he would not have accepted such a contract as he knew that if he had, he would have ended up, like Oswald, being killed by the people placing the contract.

John, respectfully, I do not think your post answers Mr. Ecker's "short-and-to-the-point" question: who, but organized crime, had the "clout" to "order" Ruby to kill Oswald?

(I don't think you even attempted to answer his question re the Ruby phone calls.)

Jack Ruby certainly would not have agreed, for financial remuneration only, to kill Oswald at short range, risking being killed himself in the process, and if not facing capital punishment in Texas. Moreover, as a member of organized crime, presumably Ruby would not have agreed to commit a "for-hire" murder without the prior approval of his Mafia bosses.

The "Mob", however, had the authority over Ruby to order him to silence Oswald. Indications are that he was promised "the best lawyer" and that it was a Mafia associate in Vegas who first contacted the Belli firm to obtain Belli's representation of Ruby.

The participation of Ruby in the conspiracy virtually compels a conclusion that, at least in some way, organized crime was involved in the JFK assassination.

Your quote from "What Interests You the Most" thread: "At the beginning is the political viewpoint of the researcher. From this ideology emerges a theory. The theory is tested by looking at the evidence." There is no doubt in my mind that many assassination researchers employ just the methodology you suggest: fashion a theory consistent with their ideology and then look for evidence to support the theory. This turns the search for truth on its head. One must START with the evidence and follow it wherever it leads. One's political idelogy is irrelevant to the investigation of even a political murder.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Whatever

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This thread shows that some researchers develop a theory and then start to believe it so much, that it becomes the irrefutable truth.

That may be the case but I am trying to answer the questions by examing the evidence. If you are not satisfied with my answers, ask follow-up questions. I will then try to deal with them. Note the way that Tim and I debate the issue.

John, respectfully, I do not think your post answers Mr. Ecker's "short-and-to-the-point" question:  who, but organized crime, had the "clout" to "order" Ruby to kill Oswald? 

(I don't think you even attempted to answer his question re the Ruby phone calls.)

Jack Ruby certainly would not have agreed, for financial remuneration only, to kill Oswald at short range, risking being killed himself in the process, and if not facing capital punishment in Texas. Moreover, as a member of organized crime, presumably Ruby would not have agreed to commit a "for-hire" murder without the prior approval of his Mafia bosses.

The "Mob", however, had the authority over Ruby to order him to silence Oswald.  Indications are that he was promised "the best lawyer" and that it was a Mafia associate in Vegas who first contacted the Belli firm to obtain Belli's representation of Ruby.

The participation of Ruby in the conspiracy virtually compels a conclusion that, at least in some way, organized crime was involved in the JFK assassination.

.

I am sorry my earlier reply has not satisfied you. Of course I accept that figures associated with organized crime were recruited to become part of the conspiracy. John Martino and Johnny Roselli fall into that category. This was done in case they had to resort to Plan B. No doubt non-Mafia figures who were recruited into the conspiracy were told that the assassination was being paid for my organized crime bosses (they would hardly be told the truth).

Nor did I dispute that Ruby was connected to organized crime. In fact, I have argued the opposite. The evidence clearly suggests that Ruby was in trouble in the days leading up to the assassination and that he was in contact with leading crime bosses. I have no doubt that Ruby was recruited from within the underground crime network. That person would have been involved in some sort of deal with the conspirators. However, this person was unlikely to be aware of who was pulling the strings.

Your quote from "What Interests You the Most" thread:  "At the beginning is the political viewpoint of the researcher.  From this ideology emerges a theory.  The theory is tested by looking at the evidence."  There is no doubt in my mind that many assassination researchers employ just the methodology you suggest: fashion a theory consistent with their ideology and then look for evidence to support the theory.  This turns the search for truth on its head.  One must START with the evidence and follow it wherever it leads.  One's political ideology is irrelevant to the investigation of even a political murder.

What I said is true of all researchers (including yourself). The problem is that most researchers are unaware of it. Here are two quotations from historians (both conservatives) that make this point very well:

“There will always be a connection between the way in which men contemplate the past and the way in which they contemplate the present.” (Thomas Buckle).

“History free of all values cannot be written. Indeed, it is a concept almost impossible to understand, for men will scarcely take the trouble to inquire

laboriously into something which they set no value upon." (W. H. B. Court)

However, this view of “ideology directed” research does not mean that the theory cannot be changed. As I have already pointed out, I originally believed that organized crime was involved in the planning of the assassination. However, by carefully looking at the evidence, I have discovered that I was wrong about this. I will explain this in later postings.

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