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The Other Significance of Thanksgiving Day, 2012

The 49th anniversary of what’s been termed by some the American coup d’etat, I mean. I’m hardly alone in believing it “highly probable” that members of Southern-based organized crime families with connections to Jimmy Hoffa were the conspirators in the murders of JFK, RFK, Hoffa himself and perhaps Martin Luther King, Jr (although the connections here grow more tenuous).

Scientific acoustical evidence establishes a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John F. Kennedy. Other scientific evidence does not preclude the possibility of two gunmen firing at the President. Scientific evidence negates some specific conspiracy allegations.

The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee is unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy

Certainly, the organised crime figures had plenty of motive, especially related to RFK, who put both the mob and the Teamsters on the hotseat while serving in as Chief Counsel to Congress a congressional commmittee investigating ties between racketeering and labor, then later as Attorney General. Kennedy had Carlos Marcello, the head of organised crime in New Orleans, kidnapped and deported to Central America on more than one occasion after he could not obtain eyewitness evidence enough to convict Marcello on racketeering charges.

After becoming president John F. Kennedy appointed his brother, Robert Kennedy, as U.S. Attorney General. The two men worked closely together on a wide variety of issues including the attempt to tackle organized crime. In March 1961, the Attorney General took steps to have Marcello deported to Guatemala (the country Marcello had falsely listed as his birthplace). On 4th April, Marcello was arrested by the authorities and taken forcibly removed to Guatemala.

It did not take Marcello long to get back into the United States. Undercover informants reported that Marcello made several threats against John F. Kennedy….

Just before Kennedy was assassinated on 22nd November, 1963, Jack Ruby made contact with Marcello, and another Mafia leader, Santos Trafficante, about a problem he was having with the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA). Ruby also visited New Orleans that summer. So also did the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.”

Marcello is a little known, yet crucial actor in several 20th Century Democratic Party tragedies. As a lieutenant to New York mobster Frank Costello, Marcello helped introduce slot machines to New Orleans, which remain a staple of the local economy’s tourist-luring vice industry to this very day. From the report of the Estes Kefauver congressional investigation into organised crime:

Huey Long’s welcome to Costello and his slot machines when they were banished from New York gave the impetus to the present alignment of interstate and local operators in slot machines, gambling houses, bookmaking, and related activities, Mayor Morrison testified. From 1936 to 1946, the companies of the transplanted New Yorker, Phil Kastel, and his New York partners, Frank Costello, Jake Lansky, in cooperation with local gentry such as the narcotics vendor, Carlos Marcello, operated slot machines illegally and openly throughout New Orleans. They created a monopolistic arrangement whereby only the machines of their syndicate were permitted. They built up a business with a profit in the millions. Costello and Kastel were tried in 1939 on charges of trying to evade payment of $500,000 in Federal income taxes on 1936-37 income from the slot machines approaching $3,000,000, but were acquitted.

Proving the point that one should never view historical political heroes through too finely shaded a rose coloured lens, Costello himself had a chequered career of influencing Democratic policy and politicians during the Great Depression, most notably FDR and that other great examplar of the political crime family, Huey Long.

Costello had also continued to grow his political network. He attended the 1932 Democratic National Convention with NY City Mayor Jimmy Hines and met Presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt. When FDR took office and repealed Prohibition Costello was prepared, having diversified into gambling, numbers and slot machines – pulling in millions of dollars a year. When Fiorella LaGuardia became NY City Mayor in 1934 and very publicly went after organized crime and specifically Costello’s slot machines, Costello had a contingency plan – specifically a Louisiana politician he had met under less than auspicious circumstances. At a gala several years earlier, Costello had entered the Men’s Room and found a very drunk Huey Long, who frustrated at the single toilet facility was attempting to relieve himself by urinating between the legs of the gentleman if front of him. Inevitably a heated if not dampened fracas began, but Costello – living up to his nickname “The Prime Minister” – was able to calm both parties before any serious trouble ensued. Now in 1934 he contacted Long, who greeted him with open arms and Costello moved his slot machine operation to the state of Louisiana. So without missing a beat and partnering with Lansky and Siegel, the three now built a gambling empire that stretched down to Louisiana, Florida, then Las Vegas and Cuba.

Indeed, Costello testified to Congress what had long been known in the local wards of New Orleans: Huey Long, erstwhile hero of many present day internet-fed progressives, allowed the New Yorkers free reign to his fiefdom in exchange for 10 percent of the take.

And oh, yeah, the tail of the dog too was cut off, also, shortly after Hoffa was sentenced to prison for racketeering. And of course, Hoffa was later disappeared, as well.

But according to the Chief Counsel for the House Select Committee on assassinations, Marcello astutely surmised that JFK had to be rubbed out first, in order for the criminals to escape the never ending recriminations of the federal government.

    (7) Robert G. Blakey, House Select Committee on Assassinations (September, 1978)

Becker stated that Marcello had made his remarks about the Kennedy brothers after Becker said something to the effect that “Bobby Kennedy is really giving you a rough time.”) He could not recall the exact words Marcello used in threatening President Kennedy, but believed the account in Reid’s book “is basically correct. “Marcello was very angry and had “clearly stated that he was going to arrange to have President Kennedy murdered in some way.” Marcello’s statement had been made in a serious tone and sounded as if he had discussed it previously to some extent. Becker commented that Marcello had made some kind of reference to President Kennedy’s being a dog and Attorney General Robert Kennedy the dog’s tail, and had said “the dog will keep biting you you only cut off its tail,” but that if the dog’s head were cut off, the dog would die.

Becker stated that Marcello also made some kind of reference to the way in which he allegedly wanted to arrange the President’s murder. Marcello “clearly indicated” that his own lieutenants must not be identified as the assassins, and that there would thus necessity to have them use or manipulate someone else to carry out the actual crime.

Becker told the committee that while he believed Marcello had been serious when he spoke of wanting to have the President assassinated, he did not believe the Mafia leader was capable of carrying it out or had the opportunity to do so. He emphasized that while he was disturbed by Marcello’s remarks at the time, he had grown accustomed to hearing criminal figures make threats against adversaries.

Becker stated that the only error in Reid’s published account the meeting related to the statement that Becker had informed two Government investigators of it. Becker said that he never told any Government Investigator of Marcello’s remarks about President Kennedy; he “would have been afraid” to repeat Marcello’s remarks to anyone during that period, out of concern that Marcello or his associates might learn he had done so.

Coincidence, I guess. Now, I’m not a tin foil hat guy and normally I would agree that since no one has stepped forward there was no conspiracy. However, organised crime conspiracies are the one instance where it is likely that the perpetrators would remain silent. Especially back in those days, when men of the “Greatest Generation” were still men, and as their sons recall with memories of warmed belt buckled bottoms, often brutally so, products of the Great Depression and World War II that they were.

Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane. Embedding not available

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