THE MAFIA – ma-fi-a (noun) A secret criminal organisation operating mainly in the United States and Italy. Engaged in illegal activities such as gambling, drug-dealing, protection and prostitution.
Did you know that in 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) became the first (and only) official investigation to conclude that President John F. Kennedy’s murder was probably the result of a conspiracy? On the back of this finding, the committee recommended that the Justice Department further investigate the incident to delve deeper into the mystery. Instead of explicitly naming those involved with this, the HSCA implied that individual members of the Mafia and individuals of the anti-Castro Cuban movement were possibly to blame. This idea has some credibility to it, as the man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald whilst he was in Police custody (the man accused of shooting JFK) was in fact a minor Mob associate called Jack Ruby. It would appear that Ruby may have carried out the will of organised crime bosses i.e. the Mafia.
To understand the significance of the Mafia in JFK’s Presidential reign, you need to go back to before he was voted in. JFK’s Father, Joe Kennedy, utilised his contacts within the Mafia to leverage his son into power. Drawing upon his influence with Chicago Mob boss Sam Giancana to secure noteworthy support, this friendship saw Giancana persuaded to help in the Texas and Chicago vote frauds that eventually won JFK the 1960 presidential election. After JFK was sworn in, he appointed his brother Robert F. Kennedy as Attorney General. RFK’s first point of call was to target the Mafia and bring them down, which caused issues with F.B.I boss J. Edgar Hoover who had previously stated that “There is no such coalition known as the Mafia”.
As you’d expect, the Mafia didn’t like RFK’s attack on them. He even banned Mafia associate Frank Sinatra from the White House and all family gatherings. An incident, called the ‘Bay Of Pigs’ Invasion, furthered tensions between both parties. Prior to his appointment as President, JFK has received a top-secret CIA briefing on a proposed invasion of Cuba in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro. After advice from CIA senior members, Kennedy had continued to back the invasion and was unaware that Soviet radio stations were predicting the plot a week before its launch. As a result of being lied to by the CIA, the mission was a complete and utter disaster. Following this embarrassment, JFK was reluctant to back and CIA missions and changed his policy in regards to Cuba. This fuelled the Mafia’s hatred, which when combined with his brother’s actions towards the group, led to FBI reports claiming that members had threatened to “take care” of RFK by killing JFK. The FBI did not follow up these reports, which isn’t surprising considering there was a great deal of friction between the President and Hoover.
The Mafia definitely had a motive to kill JFK and definitely had the means, as they had access to CIA-trained assassins. What’s more, in the days before JFK’s murder the Mafia had a significant number of members in Texas (the place of Kennedy’s death). To add further fuel to the fire, following the President’s assassination, Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana was due to give evidence to the Church Committee regarding his possible involvement in the incident and Mob links with the CIA. He was conveniently murdered shortly before he was due to testify, however it is difficult to ascertain whether his death was at the hands of the Mafia or the CIA, who feared he may reveal too much.
Whilst many people dismiss the idea of the Mafia being able to pull off, and hide, the assassination of the President it wouldn’t be too crazy to believe they had some involvement. As we already know, they did have links with the CIA and anti-Castro Cuban groups. Even though the Mafia themselves did not have the means to be able to destroy evidence and ensure a cover up so intricate, they did have contacts who would have been able to mastermind this. I think we can all be certain that, if the Mafia were involved, it would have been at the lowest level. In fact, one could argue that they were the hand used to pull the trigger; a pawn used in a much bigger game of power, corruption and lies.
In ‘The JFK Conspiracy: Part 2’, I will assess the famous 26.6 seconds of film that depicted the President’s final moments of life.
By: Laura Hindley -@LauraHindley2