Aug 21, 2009
J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar’s Hoover’s homosexuality compromised him and made him vulnerable to blackmail by the Mafia. Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s crackdown on the Mob put Hoover between a rock and a hard place.
by Don Fulsom
J. Edgar Hoover was in the hip pocket of America’s godfathers, reputedly because they had pictorial proof of his homosexuality. So the FBI director put the Mafia on a low level of his crime-fighting priorities. That is until 1961, when John and Robert Kennedy put potent muscle behind the government’s drive against organized crime—and Hoover reluctantly began paying more than just lip service to battling the Mob.
As President John F. Kennedy’s attorney general, Robert Kennedy became a menace to the Mafia—and his take-no-prisoners tactics trickled down not only to Hoover, but also to top local and state cops, district attorneys and judges.
In JFK: The Second Plot,Kennedy expert Matthew Smith observes: “Never before had such success been obtained by the forces of law against mobsters who, for years, had evaded prosecution. It had also a gathering momentum, for law enforcement agents in many cities in the United States were so impressed by Robert Kennedy's campaign they began bringing cases against their local mobsters (whose) past experience of failures had made them reluctant to prosecute.”
Of course, this angered the godfathers—who had played a key role in John Kennedy’s ascent to the White House. The dons of the Cosa Nostra felt deeply betrayed.
Because he was a major bootlegger during Prohibition, Kennedy family patriarch Joseph Kennedy rubbed elbows, and shared handsome illegal profits with some of the nation’s most notorious mobsters. And Old Joe turned to some of these same men in 1960, when his son, Senator John Kennedy, faced Vice President Richard Nixon for the presidency. There was evidence of massive voter fraud by mobsters in Illinois and Texas. Those states threw the election to JFK.
The Mafia was now looking for major favors, or at least leniency, from the Kennedys. But, under Bobby, by 1964 the Justice Department had increased Cosa Nostra convictions by 700 percent over 1960—according to Burton Hersh in Bobby and J. Edgar.
Bobby had federal agents arrest New Orleans godfather Carlos Marcello and physically deport him to Guatemala. And he initiated action that landed mobbed-up Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa in a prison cell.
As historian Anthony Summers notes: “If top Mafia bosses felt double-crossed, their law—the law of the Mob—might demand vengeance.”
Thus did angry Mafia chieftains and Hoffa conclude that one or both of the Kennedy brothers had to be killed. Early on, Hoffa threatened to break Bobby Kennedy’s back. But he later said President Kennedy would make a better target for death because “when you cut down the tree, the branches fall with it,” according to Facts on File.
In 1994, Hoffa’s longtime lawyer, Frank Ragano, confessed that he had carried a 1963 message from Hoffa to New Orleans godfather Carlos Marcello and Florida godfather Santos Trafficante that Hoffa “wants you to get rid of the President right away.”
Significantly, Ragano added that Trafficante, on his deathbed in 1987, confessed that he and Marcello had, indeed, followed through on Hoffa’s demand. Ragano reported this in Mob Lawyer.
How had such plotting escaped the attention of FBI chief Hoover? Apparently, it hadn’t.
In September 1972, according to Hoover biographer Mark North in Act of Treason, America’s top cop had already learned through electronic surveillance that Marcello “had put out a contract on the life of President Kennedy … Hoover did not inform his superiors within the Justice Department or warn the Secret Service.”
If that weren’t enough evidence of the godfathers’ bloody intentions, Jose Aleman—a rich Cuban exile and an associate of Trafficante—had tipped off two FBI agents that the Florida godfather had confided to him that President Kennedy was “going to get it” before the 1964 election, according to author Hersh.
Whether J. Edgar Hoover had advance indications of an underworld plan to assassinate the President, he certainly knew about Lee Harvey Oswald before November 22, 1963. And yet he did nothing to keep Kennedy’s alleged sole assassin from going to his job in a building overlooking the presidential motorcade route on that fateful day in Dallas.
Hoover and his G-men had actually been keeping their eyes on Oswald since 1959, when the young ex-Marine defected to the Soviet Union. When he returned to this country in 1962, several CIA divisions tracked Oswald’s movements and regularly reported on this “possible security risk” to the FBI.
Lo and behold, however, it turns out that Oswald had become a paid FBI informant on his return, according to Burton Hersh:
Apart from the claim by former FBI security clerk William Walter that he processed documents to that effect, there was the revelation in chambers by Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr and Henry Wade, the Dallas district attorney (to top Warren Commission officials) that Oswald had been on the FBI payroll for $200-a-month since September of 1962 with the informant number S-172.
Hersh adds that FBI “counterintelligence veterans have since confirmed Oswald’s FBI employment.” And the author notes that when Oswald was arrested for disturbing the peace in New Orleans in the summer of 1963, he demanded and was granted the right to see an FBI agent.
Former BBC correspondent Anthony Summers later discovered a Dallas garage manager, Adrian Alba, who witnessed Oswald accept a “good-sized … white envelope” from a G-man in a green FBI-owned Studebaker he serviced. Summers reported his find in Not in Your Lifetime.
Oswald spent only one night in jail in New Orleans. A representative of none-other-than crime boss Carlos Marcello bailed him out.
As the chief investigator of the JFK assassination, Hoover failed to adequately probe many other ties between Oswald and Marcello, including these:
·Oswald buddy David Ferrie was a pilot for Marcello’s drug- trafficking operations;
·Oswald’s uncle and father figure “Dutz” Murret was a major bookmaker for Marcello’s gambling network;
·Oswald himself was a “runner” and “collector” for Marcello’s gambling operation; and
·Oswald’s mother, Marguerite, dated several members of Marcello’s gang.
Why did Hoover ignore Marcello and other Mafia godfathers as suspects in his investigation of the JFK assassination? And why did he overlook even tighter connections between the Mafia kingpins and Jack Ruby—the Dallas strip club owner who shot Oswald to death two days after the President’s murder?
Could it be that the Mob was blackmailing Hoover over his reported homosexual relationship with his right-hand man at the bureau, Clyde Tolson? Sounds plausible.
Especially in light of the disclosure by Anthony Summers that gangster Meyer Lansky had obtained compromising photos of Hoover and Tolson. In Official and Confidential, Summers quotes former Lansky associate Seymour Pollock as saying in 1990 that Hoover’s homosexuality was "common knowledge" and that he had seen evidence of it for himself:
I used to meet (Hoover) at the racetrack every once in a while with lover boy Clyde, in the late forties and fifties. I was in the next box once. And when you see two guys holding hands, well come on! . . . They were surreptitious, but there was no question about it.
Summers says top CIA counterintelligence official James Angleton possessed similar photos, and once showed them to CIA electronics expert Gordon Novel—who later reported:
What I saw was a picture of (Hoover) giving Clyde Tolson a blowjob. There was more than one shot, but the startling one was a close shot of Hoover's head. He was totally recognizable. You could not see the face of the man he was with, but Angleton said it was Tolson. I asked him if they were fakes, but he said they were real, that they'd been taken with a fish-eye lens. They looked authentic to me . . .
Novel said Angleton displayed the photos to him in 1967 and told him they were taken in 1946, at a time when Angleton was engaged in a bureaucratic feud with Hoover.
J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson may or may not have been blackmail-prone lovers, but they deeply shared one emotion—an avid hatred of Robert Kennedy. In Brothers, David Talbot reports that when RFK announced his run for the White House in 1968, Tolson shocked a group of FBI officials by declaring: “I hope that someone shoots and kills the son of a bitch.”
In an interview promoting his book that can be found on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEEsddcHBmE, Talbot concludes that John F. Kennedy was the victim of crossfire in a choreographed ambush, and that Hoover conducted a cover-up of the crime. He adds that the conspiracy was not an all-Mob job, but also “included the top people in the CIA and the Pentagon.” Talbot’s including the Pentagon in the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy – something he does not do in his book – is a new twist that begs for amplification.
Talbot specifically mentions former CIA Director Allen Dulles, who was fired by President Kennedy after the ill-fated 1961 CIA-backed invasion of Cuba and simultaneous attempt to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro, as “probably an accomplice if not the mastermind” in the CIA/Mafia plot.
Ironically, Lyndon Johnson appointed Dulles to the presidential commission that rubber-stamped Hoover’s fishy finding that President Kennedy was slain by a lone Communist nut with a cheap rifle—and that the assassin of the presidential assassin was just another wacko acting on his own.
A vast majority of Americans did not then—and still do not—believe the results of Hoover’s investigation into one of the darkest days in our history.
Meanwhile, the CIA continues to withhold from public scrutiny an estimated one million JFK assassination documents. At least one House member—New Jersey Democrat Rush Holt—has proposed a full-fledged, in-depth congressional review of all past CIA practices. Perhaps such a probe might help shake loose some major JFK assassination secrets and help President Obama make good on his pledge to make government more open and transparent.
Another potential avenue for getting the CIA to declassify at least some of its JFK assassination files is through the work of a special task force appointed by President Obama in May. The group was given 90 days to study the handling of classified information.
In announcing the move, the President directed his national security advisor and senior cabinet officials to examine whether the government keeps too much information secret. And he said he is "committed to operating with an unprecedented level of openness."
Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, praised the action as a way to "set the wheels in motion." Aftergood told The Washington Post Obama’s move “is music to the ears of many of us, but the hard work remains to be done—how to translate these goals into policies."