Posts Tagged ‘William Harvey’
Although the area around Dealy Plaza was loaded with important witnesses who picked up fragmentary clues on who killed JFK, many of the most important ones were culled out and never interviewed by the Warren Commission. In hindsight it appears the more important an eyewitness testimony was, the more likely it would be flushed down a rabbit hole early in the game.
Several people claimed to have seen men acting strangely on the fifth and sixth floors of the Texas School Book Depository that tragic afternoon, and Richard Carr was one of the most important. He was interviewed by the FBI, although the report filed by the agents left out important details. This was not Carr’s fault, obviously, but evidence of FBI manipulation of the case. During his FBI interview Carr was told something along the lines of: “If you didn’t see Lee Harvey Oswald with a gun on the sixth floor, you didn’t see anything and better keep your mouth shut.” So Carr did exactly that until the Garrison investigation emerged several years later.
Although Garrison wisely tried to launch his investigation in secret, it was immediately exposed and denigrated by the media. Immense efforts were made to shut it down, and when that didn’t succeed they surrounded Garrison with spooks on all sides and snowed him under with useless leads to nowhere.
Although some honest journalists appeared early on the scene, there were eight or nine secret agents sowing disinfo for every honest researcher like Penn Jones. The center of gravity was quickly handed off to suspicious characters, two of whom were lawyers: Mark Lane (former army intelligence) and Mary Ferrell (attorney for Mobil). While the FBI and CIA were busy destroying and hiding evidence, fake researchers were snowing the case under with inconsequential details and rabbit holes.
One of the most effective items floated out was Nomenclature of an Assassination Cabal by William Torbitt, a pseudonym for a Texas lawyer with intelligence connections. Like most disinfo, it established its bona fides by revealing something real: the participation of a Swiss Corporation named Permidex in helping fund the assassination. From there, it went on to blame the FBI’s Division 5 working with NASA and others. Torbitt implicated many people, most of whom did not play any role in the event. Yet for decades, many researchers took it as unbridled truth, while in reality, it was designed to steer researchers away from the obvious culprit needing investigation: the CIA.
Here is Carr’s original FBI report documenting the two individuals he saw on the sixth floor during the shooting. As he moved closer to the scene, he saw three men flee in a Rambler station wagon, easily recognized by a unique mini-luggage rack. Carr began receiving death threats telling him to leave Texas. He moved to Montana, where Garrison tracked him down.
When Carr testified in New Orleans, many important details were added to the sketchy FBI statement. He managed to miraculously survive two murder attempts, one by gun and one by knife. When stabbed in Atlanta, he managed to kill one of his two assailants, a remarkable feat. He died in West Virginia on August 4, 1996, and was never located by the Congressional investigation, although they did make note of his contributions to the case.
The part I find fascinating is his description of the team on the sixth floor. One was a stocky Cuban or Spanish man, and the other a taller man with distinctive thick-framed glasses.
Over the decades, the secret of Permidex was finally uncovered. The company was a cut-out deployed by the Italian CIA officers. At the time of JFK assassination, the head of the CIA in Italy was William Harvey. Harvey was supposed to have been fired after his assassination plots against Castro were called off. Instead, James Angleton and Allen Dulles moved him to Rome, where he no doubt began assisting the secret plans to eliminate JFK.
JFK and RFK tried to get control over anti-Cuban operations and RFK got into a heated argument with Harvey in the White House, resulting in Harvey being removed. Ted Shackley, Harvey’s longtime cohort remained, however, with Ed Landsdale put in charge. In the fall of 1963, the White House created a new entity inside the CIA for the covert Cuban operations, naming it SAS. Because JFK had promised not to invade Cuba as part of his post-missile crisis agreement with the Soviets, anti-Cuban operations needed to be cloaked to insure deniability.
Six weeks before the assassination, documents about Lee Harvey Oswald began floating through the intelligence community. Strangely, the memos made no reference to Oswald’s recent altercations in New Orleans or his participation in pro-Castro organizations, only his defection to and return from the Soviet Union. In fact, they went further indicating that Oswald’s Soviet sojourn had matured his political views. Many signing off on this memo had to realize the information was fraudulent. The appearance of the suspicious Oswald memo may indicate the beginnings of a JFK assassination plot.
Two of the key players in this plot are Ted Shackley and David Morales, the two key individuals working under Harvey in Miami prior to his removal. It appears Harvey enlisted them along with his friend Johnny Roselli and others from the Chicago outfit, as well as at least one assassin from Europe, and I say this because Shackley went on to run Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, the biggest assassination program in the CIA’s sordid history, and from there became a major player in the international heroin trade.
Morales became a suspect in the RFK assassination before retiring in 1975. He returned to his native Arizona, and died of a heart attack in 1978. A Congressional investigator tracked Morales to Wilcox, Arizona shortly after his death, and talked to his friend Ruben Carbajal and a business associate of Morales’ named Bob Walton. Walton revealed Morales once went into a tirade about Kennedy at a bar after several drinks, and finished by saying “Well, we took care of that son of a bitch, didn’t we?” Carbajal, who had been present at this confession, corroborated it.
Harvey, Shackley and Morales were all named as participating in the event by Howard Hunt’s death bed confession. It’s unfortunate that Morales and Shackley were never investigated, nor were they ever put in the same room with Carr to find out if they were the mystery couple he saw flee the scene.
You’d think all the JFK assassination records would be public after 50 years but did you know CIA files on seven individuals are withheld for reasons of “national security?” The CIA may be withholding as many as 50,000 pages of documents related to the assassination. But it doesn’t take much imagination to realize what they don’t want released might help reveal what they are trying to hide, so let’s look into these seven mysterious people.
1) George Joannides.
Joannides was head of Psychological Warfare at JM/WAVE in Miami, the CIA’s largest and best-funded satellite station, although he apparently lived in New Orleans much of the time, where two training camps were located north of Lake Pontchartrain. One of his primary duties was supervising the Cuban Student Directorate (DRE), an anti-Castro exile group. When Oswald first arrived in New Orleans, he attempted to infiltrate the DRE before starting a one-man chapter of the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba. Soon Oswald had a confrontation with some members of the DRE in the streets of New Orleans that led to newspaper and radio coverage, sheep-dipping Oswald as being pro-Castro.
Immediately after the assassination, all information the press initially received about Oswald was released through DRE members in Miami on orders of Joannides. In other words, in his role as a propaganda expert, Joannides shaped initial press coverage on Oswald. Keep in mind, the assassination was essentially organized through JM/WAVE’s ZR/RIFLE Program. So Joannides’ work in this area must be viewed as psychological warfare conducted on the unsuspecting American public.
When the House Committee on Assassinations was formed in the 1970s, Congress sent two researchers to investigate the CIA files on the assassination, which could not be removed from Langley. Strangely, Joannides was brought out of retirement to stonewall and block those two investigators so all trails into JM/WAVE could not be followed. But how transparent can you get, really? There should have been massive objection to Joannides as anything but a suspect in this case, and he certainly should not have been allowed to become the primary gatekeeper on CIA files.
Harvey became the go-to guy at the CIA’s Berlin station after he engineered the building of a tunnel under the Berlin Wall used to tap into Soviet communications. But after the fall of the Soviet Union, it would be revealed the Soviets had been tipped off to Harvey’s operation and manipulated this listening post to leak disinfo, once again proving the KGB was often somewhat strangely one step ahead of the CIA throughout the cold war.
After Ted Shackley was moved from Berlin to Miami to direct the war against Castro, he brought Angleton’s star agent with him. The code name given to their new Executive Action Program was ZR/RIFLE and Bill Harvey was put in charge because he was the most ruthless go-to guy at CIA. But after JFK converted to work on world peace and wanted all anti-Castro operations shut down, he soon discovered Harvey didn’t respond to Presidential directives he didn’t agree with. JFK ordered Harvey sacked, but instead James Angleton moved him to Italy and his assassination squad, featuring handsome Johnny Roselli and other made members of the Chicago outfit, was soon directed towards a new target: JFK.
Harvey instructed his wife to burn all his papers upon his death. When asked why this was done, John M. Whitten, who briefly investigated the assassination before being replaced by Angleton himself, replied: “He was too young to have assassinated McKinley and Lincoln. It could have been anything.”
Strangely, Harvey’s obvious connections to this case have never really been been explored in the mainstream media.
3) David Morales
Morales was already the CIA’s top assassin in Central America when Harvey recruited him into the ZR/RIFLE project to become his number one go-to assassin after Johnny Roselli. According the E. Howard Hunt’s deathbed confession, Morales tried to recruit Hunt into the assassination plot, but Hunt apparently turned it down, which may be why he became an official CIA fallback patsy backstop.
There’s a famous quote Morales gave while drunk one night, taking credit for being on the scene when both Kennedy brothers were killed.
4) David Atlee Phillips.
Phillips was one of the few CIA officials seen in the company of Oswald prior to the assassination (under the name Maurice Bishop). This sighting occurred while he was Mexico City’s anti-Cuban officer, working under Winston Scott, but not really reporting to Win in regards to Oswald. After the assassination Phillips would quickly rise to become head of the western hemisphere operations and later created the anti-conspiracy propaganda operation known as the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), which became an important tool for holding back citizen researchers from uncovering the truth about the CIA’s involvement in killing JFK.
Goodpasture had an interesting trajectory through the CIA. She became a special agent of James Angleton’s and eventually ended up down in Mexico City working for Win Scott. Whether Scott fully trusted her, I can’t say, but she was involved in hiding evidence of Oswald in Mexico and later became very close with David Phillips. Although she looked like a librarian, she was a master spook and wrote a 500-page secret history of the CIA in Mexico that hopefully will one day be released.
As team leader on the Bay of Pigs, nobody seemed to hate JFK more than Hunt. And Hunt did become Angleton’s patsy in a way because he was falsely ID’d as one of the three tramps and then an Angleton memo placed him in Dallas that day. I suspect Hunt had little to do with this case, however, and was used more as a backstop than anything else. However, his close association with David Phillips may have afforded him a window on what was going on, although spooks are often left in the dark when it comes to covert operations. But of all the people listed so far, Hunt seems the most removed from the central core.
In April 1964, Nosenko tried to defect to the USA. He was a high-ranking KGB official who had recently reviewed the files on Oswald, someone the Soviets always suspected was an American agent and not a true defector. The CIA is hiding over 2,000 pages on Nosenko and his torture under the orders of James Angleton, who sought to break down Nosenko’s personality because he was contradicting Antoliy Golitsyn, a previous KGB defector who had become Angleton’s pet project. Golitsyn was also favored by British intelligence, but his material was wildly unreliable. Meanwhile, the more believable Nosenko, a true defector, was treated as harshly as possible, possibly in part due to his efforts to brand Oswald an American agent. You see, Oswald was an American secret agent, and he worked directly under James Angleton, which completes this circle of info and hopefully reveals some shadows of the team that killed JFK as well as some of the major players who helped cover up that event.
After Kennedy was killed, CIA chief Richard Helms put John Moss Whitten in charge of the CIA’s internal investigation of the assassination, which probably goes to show how little knowledge had seeped into the agency outside Miami.
Whitten was doing a good job, despite being initially swamped by a blizzard of crackpot material provided by the FBI. If you want to understand why so much crazy material appears immediately after an event like JFK or 9/11, just realize it’s manufactured as chaff to be tossed out of a jet shaking off a heat-seeking missile. But once Whitten spoke to Win Scott, CIA chief in Mexico, who had been conducting his own secret investigation, he realized CIA files on Oswald were being withheld by Helms and Angleton.
Whitten’s investigation was narrowing down to the CIA’s anti-Cuban office in Miami known as JM/WAVE. The key figures posted there were Ted Shackley, David Morales, George Joannides, Rip Robertson, Thomas Klines and William K. Harvey. In fact, Harvey had been put in charge of the “Executive Action” program for the assassination of foreign heads of state. But JFK ordered that program halted and was furious when Harvey kept moving forward with terror operations against Cuba, so he ordered Harvey sacked. Instead, Angleton quietly moved Harvey to Italy, while his team re-assembled for a new target: JFK.
Funny how just when Whitten started figuring out what happened, Helms took him off the project and arm-chaired him out of the picture. And guess who replaced Whitten? Why, James Angleton, of course. Now watch the dead bodies pile up around Angleton, starting with Win Scott.
Funny how George Joannides was brought out of retirement to act as the CIA’s liason with the Congressional investigation? But you can probably understand why they keep putting the fox in charge of the hen house when it comes to this story.
You know Sam Giancana got whacked while alone with someone he trusted, making breakfast when he got a unexpected bullet in the back of his skull. According to some highly placed CIA officials, the shooter was William K. Harvey, who would have been covering his tracks on the Kennedy killing.
After Giancana was gone, Roselli lost his power base and fled to Florida seeking refuge with the Trafficante organization. Before long, however, he wound up diced up in little pieces in a barrel in Biscayne Bay, but in his case the CIA may have just hired some Sicilian men of honor to handle that messy assignment, as I just can’t imagine Harvey cutting up his good buddy Handsome Johnny like that.
Marita Lorenz was 19 when she first met Fidel Castro, having just arrived in Cuba from her homeland in Germany. She soon became Castro’s lover and met an American named Frank Forini who was working with Castro. Forini’s comrade-in-arms E. Howard Hunt wrote an espionage book detailing Forini’s true life exploits as a spook using “Sturgis” as his cover name. Within a few years, Forini legally changed his name to Sturgis.
Sturgis had an interesting life, having been a Marine and served in Army intelligence, been a policeman, then become a pilot, and he’d also run some bars and nightclubs in his hometown in Virginia. Eventually, Sturgis became a full-time spook working with the CIA and claimed to have helped trained Fidel and Che’s 400 initial troops, but later turned against them after they went Communistic. Pretty soon Sturgis and Lorenz were plotting how to poison or blow up Castro with a cigar filled with TNT.
Sturgis was involved in Operation 40, a CIA assassination squad, and certainly knew some details of the Kennedy assassination, as did Lorenz. However, both were played by the CIA and used as counterintelligence tools to seed rabbit holes and misdirections. Although Sturgis was initially identified as one of the three tramps, along with Hunt, this turned out to me an immense rabbit hole. Decades would pass before researchers began to fathom the truth. Hunt and Sturgis were used as backstops.
But after Sturgis was caught at the Watergate complex and convicted, he sued the Committee to Re-elect President and the case was settled out-of-court. Sturgis believed he was acting on orders from the White House in a matter of deep national security, looking for evidence involving the JFK assassination supposedly held in a safe by the heads of the Democratic Party. According to Sturgis, this evidence had been collected by Cuban spooks investigating the case for Castro.
One of the major misdirections employed with the JFK operation had been to blame the assassination on Castro, which is why the designated patsy was sheep-dipped as a Castro supporter who’d just recently visited the Cuban embassy in Mexico. Sturgis was part of the plan leaking info pointing towards Castro, but he also became a major suspect in the case himself.
Apparently, Sturgis was in Miami that day, or at least he had two family members willing to swear to that alibi. I believe he probably was. Hunt had been brought into Dallas, but I don’t believe he played a major role, and he certainly wasn’t an assassin, as he was only involved in propaganda. On his deathbed, Hunt would finally assert the truth: JFK was killed by the same CIA team initially formed to kill Castro, a team headed by William Harvey. But there were probably several teams put together for this mission, and it was very clever to blame the hit on Sturgis because his team likely wasn’t used. I suspect both Sturgis and Hunt were floated as patsies by James Angleton, who engineered the coverup. Oswald was likely an undercover agent for Angleton, as were many major players in this drama.
Of course, Hunt wants to blame the JFK hit on LBJ, which is ridiculous. Angleton was a Yale grad and very close to Allen Dulles and the Rockefellers, and this Eastern Establishment does not take orders from a corrupt Texas politician like LBJ, who had enough secrets he could easily be blackmailed or paid off in cash.
I guess you know Dealey Plaza was flooded with spooks 50 years ago. One young spook at the scene was George H.W. Bush, who was working deep cover for the CIA through his fledgling oil company Zapata, building platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, some of which were designed as resupply depots for the anti-Castro network operating out of Miami. The Miami CIA office had become the biggest in the world outside Langley and they had been training an army of refugees to re-take Cuba from the commies. Check out the picture of Bush in front of the School Book Depository (left).
A very important and very secret CIA operation against Cuba involved CIA assassin William Harvey teaming up with Mafia assassin Johnny Roselli to kill Castro, a mission JFK apparently decided to shut down after the Bay of Pigs debacle. But when JFK discovered the CIA’s anti-Castro operations weren’t shut down, he forcibly closed the training camps and told James Angleton to fire William Harvey. Instead, Harvey was quietly moved to Italy and then possibly secretly brought back for the JFK hit. There were a lot of CIA people in Dallas that day, although most may not have know much about what was about to happen. In the CIA everything tends to get compartmentalized and very much on the “need to know” basis.
The first piece of evidence to tie Bush to the assassination was a memo written by J. Edgar Hoover the day after the assassination that revealed “George Bush of the CIA” reported by phone on the activities of some “misguided Cubans.” One wonders what the purpose of this memo was? Was Hoover tying a Bush family member into the scene to cover his own ass? I guess you know CIA Cuban exiles provided the support team that assisted JFK’s CIA-mob assassination team? And it’s only because of the testimony of some mob figures and Cuban exiles that we know what happened that day as no one from inside the CIA has ever spoken out, or at least spoken out and lived. But then something even more interesting turned up more recently.
This memo was written the day of the assassination and claims private citizen George Bush called the FBI immediately after the assassination to point a finger at a student named James Parrott. Was this call really placed from Tyler, Texas, and how easy would it have been to place a call from a hotel in Dallas and route it through an office in Tyler for the sole purpose of giving Bush an alibi? Or maybe just to put mud in the water on the investigation? Right after a major operation like the JFK hit, propaganda teams will put out a bunch of fake info, sort of like chaff being dumped from a jet with a heat-seeking missile on its tail. This disinfo dump is intended to create just enough confusion after the event to allow the real tracks to be quietly disappeared.
Considering Bush’s father Prescott was very close with fired CIA chief Allen Dulles (and the Rockefellers) and Nixon was Prescott’s protege and Prescott was involved in profiteering off WWII by trading with the Nazis, one imagines the Bush family is pretty deeply embedded into the Eastern Establishment power structure. Which is why I suspect their possible involvement in the murder of JFK, Jr., something that happened just as another Bush was getting ready to take the Presidency. Do you have any idea of how easy it would have been for JFK Jr. to become President? And once President do you realize how easily JFK Jr. could have gotten to the bottom of his father’s murder using the power of the presidency? And that is why a Kennedy will never be President in our lifetime. The CIA and the Pentagon are simply not ready for information about the assassinations to leak out to the public, not yet, not until all the principle characters are long dead and buried.
He was an adopted kid who worked his way up through the Canadian military, eventually becoming a top aerial ace with 12 shoot-downs to his credit. After WWI he moved to England and suddenly became very wealthy, eventually even marrying a tobacco heiress from the States. He became a player in the emerging British film industry and one wonders if Stephenson wasn’t already a operating as a spook long before this happened and what role spook activities may have played in his sudden rise to wealth.
He was spying on Germany before WWII broke out, but as soon as it did, Winston Churchill sent him back to the States to run the British Security Coordination (BSC), which was located in room 3603 in Rockefeller center. The BSC was England’s eyes and ears in North America and Stephenson’s primary secret agent, located a few doors down the hall, was a cousin of the Rockefellers by marriage named Allen Dulles.
Dulles had already launched a diplomatic career right out of college and was the first person to claim the Protocols of the Elders of Zion a forgery. The document was being used to scapegoat the entire Jewish culture for the worldwide depression of the 1930s. Dulles’ attack on the document may have been designed to paint him as a Knight in Shining Armor for future propaganda ops. Many decades later, disinfo artist William Cooper would claim the document was not about the Jews, but about Freemasons, once one of the world’s most powerful secret societies, and one long used as a safe haven for British intelligence.
After the war, Stephenson served a key role in helping set up the CIA, which was modeled off MI5-6. Many ex-Nazi’s were recruited for key covert roles inside the new agency. When Allen Dulles was put in charge of the newly formed CIA, that was Stephenson’s handiwork. And for the key position of head of counterintelligence, Dulles selected James Angleton, another spook with a close relationship with MI5-6.
Thus the tentacles of British intelligence were embedded at the highest levels of the US security state, insuring the two countries’ covert action teams would be closely aligned for many years to come.
Maybe you know Angleton ran the Executive Action Team that assassinated JFK? And even though Kennedy had fired Dulles from running the CIA after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Dulles was inexplicably brought back to public service as the head of the Warren Commission to run the investigation of that murder, insuring Angleton’s team would be shielded from discovery, a team that included William Harvey and Johnny Roselli?
Many years later, after losing his CIA position and being forced into retirement, Angleton confessed he got his plum position running CIA counterintelligence after promising not to put Allen Dulles and his Wall Street cronies on lie detectors regarding their relationship with the Nazis before and during the war. Apparently, Dulles was close with Prescott Bush and others who were running the Union Bank in New York, which had helped set-up Hitler in power, and continued doing business with Germany throughout the war, which technically made them war criminals and traitors.
How does that work when an American citizen like Dulles becomes a British spy and then quickly rises to the top of American intelligence, and when exactly did that relationship with MI6 end, if ever? There was another dude who worked for BSC, by the way, and his name was Ian Fleming. He and Stephenson hung out in the Bahamas a lot and it was Fleming who really immortalized the super spook by fashioning Stephenson into James Bond.
Stephenson died in 1989, but he did live long enough to watch himself in the BBC miniseries A Man Called Intrepid, starring David Niven.
Most people think the mafia was first exposed in 1957, when hundreds of members were discovered meeting at a private estate in Appalachia, New York. Until then, FBI Director Hoover claimed essentially there was no “organized crime” in America, while concentrating most of his efforts harassing communists and pot-smoking jazz musicians. However, a little research quickly reveals that story is a fantasy. In fact, the mafia was named and identified before the turn-of-the-century, long before Hoover arrived on the scene. The “mafia” became a household word in 1888, after the murder of newly-appointed New Orleans police chief David Hennessy.
“The dagoes did it” mumbled the police chief before dying. People today have no idea of the racism that confronted the average Italian immigrant in those days. Even in a melting pot like New Orleans, Italians were not trusted nor respected by the average white citizen. At the time, unloading the banana boats was considered the worst work on the wharfs, reserved for the lowliest of stevedores, the Italians. At first, the Provenzano family controlled fruit unloading in New Orleans, but soon a rival group, the Matranga family, greatly undercut their prices and hired away their foreman, Jim Caruso. One night, the Matgrangas were attacked by some Italians with shotguns and the Provanzanos were arrested and put on trial, which ended in mistrial.
Days before the second trial was set to begin, Hennessey was murdered. A mass roundup of Italians took place, with representatives of both clans being jailed as they each pointed fingers at each other, claiming the other side was involved in a secret brotherhood of death, the mafia, with representatives in major cities across North America.
Problem is, no one could figure out which side was telling the truth.
And Hennessy had a very complicated history. He’d executed former police chief-of-aids Thomas Devereaux with a bullet to the back of the head, a murder witnessed by many but ultimately forgiven because Devereaux had just shot his cousin Mike, who’d later be found executed anyway. In 1881, the two Hennessy cousins pinched Giuseppe Esposito in New Orleans. Esposito was wanted in Sicily and is considered one of the earliest of the mafios to migrate to North America. But Hennessy belonged to a working man’s social club with both rival clans, and seems to have been sincerely trying to negotiate a truce between them.
Most of the testimony about the mafia would quickly be forgotten, however. One thing Sam Giancana used to say: if you want to know the killer, look for who survives. (Using this logic, his brother Chuck believes Santos Trafficante accepted the hit that killed his brother Sam, and even thinks Johnny Roselli pulled that trigger, as he had just defected from the Giancana outfit. I tend to believe William Harvey is Giancana’s real killer, however. And Harvey may have even killed Roselli as well, both hits to cover his own ass and make sure the trail didn’t track higher, into Angleton’s office, and from there into the private clubs and board rooms of the Oligarchy.) Both hits (Giancana, Roselli) took place just before scheduled testimony was about to take place, just as in the case with Hennessey.
Employing Giancana’s logic, the Matranga family represented the real mafia, since they eventually morphed into Carlos Marcello’s well-connected outfit. So even though a Sicilian family was already installed on the docks of the Big Easy, they were swiftly pushed aside by a better-connected group that devastated wages being paid to Italian stevedores, cutting their daily pay almost in half.
But after this murder of the chief, innocent victims from both clans were shot, beaten, dragged and hung in the streets of New Orleans by a howling, blood-thirsty mob. The best book on the subject The Crescent City Lynchings was written by Tom Smith. I particularly enjoyed reading the testimony of Joe Provenzano, as he described the initiation ceremony as told to him by his ex-foreman Caruso. At the time, there already was a national murder incorporated, operating all across the country, and, apparently, the price for murder wasn’t even that high. And the ceremony for the made men wasn’t all that different from the one Joe Bonnano would undergo in New York City forty years later. When Hoover took power at the Department of Justice, however, he dismissed all this talk as unfounded conspiracy theory? Makes you wonder what Hoover was really up to, doesn’t it? Especially since the Sicilians were helpful in pushing the Communists out of the labor movement, just as the Matrangas pushed out the Provenzanos.
Unlike some immigrant cultures, the Sicilians clung together after immigration and kept their tribes united, even in the New World. They did not join the local political machines, but preferred to create their own. The Sicilians were so tight, in fact, that soon after establishing their communities, the most respected leaders took steps to organize on a national level. Eventually, they set-up a “Commission of Peace” to deal with conflicts like the one that had broken out in New Orleans. But in 1888 that commission was not yet functioning. And the Sicilians always broke down to one of two styles: the first rooted in the working class poor “Black Hand” extortion societies, and the other based on the landed, old money traditions and their concepts of honor and revenge. The former tended to get involved with prostitution and drugs while being completely ruthless, while the later preferred gambling and alcohol and a code of ethics that kept the animals under control.
After the Hennessey murder trial failed to convict a single murderer, however, New Orleans demanded street justice. Around 250 Italians had been rounded up, including members of both families. Eventually, a grand jury indicted 19 people, nine of whom were immediately put on trial for the murder, but the prosecution was filled with obvious perjuries and the trial ended in acquittals for all. A mob led by William Parkinson and the town blue bloods marched on the jail, busted through a wall and savagely beat, shot, dragged and lynched 11 Italians, most of whom had already been found not-guilty or acquitted and several of whom were clearly not involved in the crime. “The Italians have taken the law into their own hands, and we had no choice but to do the same,” explained Mayor Shakespeare after the savagery was over. But in 1892, President Benjamin Harrison ordered the payment of $25,000 to each of the families of the victims who were Italian citizens.
Meanwhile, in the early 1900s, the New York Police created a special undercover Italian squad to investigate the Sicilians in New York, led by Joe Petrosino. The police knew almost nothing about the inner workings of these families, so strong was the rule of omerta. Petrosino undertook a fatal mission to Sicily in an attempt to find out whether the North American families were, in fact, taking orders from Sicily. He was murdered soon after arrival, creating yet another intense wave of anti-Italian sentiment in America.
These two murders, in fact, were the reason the Sicilians set up a Commission of Peace in the first place and it was also the reason why they put a ban on the murder of policemen and politicians (a ban that held until Giancana and Roselli accepted an offer from William Harvey of the CIA to assassinate JFK). After Don Peppino (Joseph Bonnano), the most respected of the Sicilian godfathers, heard about the JFK assassination he was deeply troubled and felt nothing like that could have happened had the Commission been able to hold firm. After all, Peppino had successfully thwarted Dutch Schultz’s plot to murder crusading prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, which would have provoked an all-out war with the establishment. The Commission wasn’t just about organizing criminal enterprises, it was about protecting their fellow Italians from racism and preserving their unique cultural identity.
Law enforcement has long been obsessed with finding the Capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses), even though that position seldom existed except in fantasies. Even though the clans were organized in Sicily as an underground army to resist their invading oppressors, the families were run mostly as private fiefdoms and did not interfere with each other. When a New York don attempted to anoint himself Capo di tutti capi, he was typically assassinated by rivals. Giancana eventually evolved into the closest thing to Capo di tutti capi, just based on the reach of the Chicago outfit.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that insiders began to reveal how the clans operated internally. The film “The Godfather” was one of the first peeks inside the culture, but Puzzo was not a true insider and that book and film are rife with false rumors. A better picture began to emerge after several books were published by members of the Bonnano family. Don Peppino had led the opposition to drug dealing and supported a ban on both prostitution and drug dealing that was routinely ignored throughout the culture. But the young Turks running the newer families wanted the drug money, and they plotted against Don Peppino, eventually attempting to assassinate his son, who had been put in charge of the family’s day-to-day operations after the Don moved to Arizona to escape what he called “The Volcano” (New York City). His son had been raised in Arizona, attending private schools and ROTC and he was not really accepted by some of the street thugs. Persecution of the Bonannos, the most respected family, led to the breakdown of omerta and the Commission of Peace. Reading Don Peppino’s book (A Man of Honor), the best book of the bunch, one can’t help but feel there are good and bad elements in both cultures, and after retiring, Don Peppino was hounded by some of the worst elements in the FBI until his death. The FBI attempted to turn almost every friend he made out west into a secret informer against him. Don Peppino was like an old gunslinger trying to retire but young bucks (from both cultures) wanted to make a name for themselves and wouldn’t let him. One of these was named Rudy Guiliani, who used the book to prove the existence of a Mafia Commission and successfully put the heads of the Five Families of New York in jail, using the book as a blueprint of who to go after. Despite this, Don Peppino lived long enough to die of old age at age 97 in Arizona, on May 11, 2002. His first born son, Salvatore (Bill), who had been the first to break omerta by speaking to Gay Talese, died a few years later in 2008, at 76. Bill became a successful Hollywood producer of films and TV specials about his family. Don Peppino had survived numerous heart attacks; Bill succumbed to his first.
(Excerpted from Dirty Money, Secret Societies and Killing JFK, link below.)