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Morning Joe: The Story Of How The Mafia Became Hitmen For The CIA

"This is where we went when spying went from intelligence gathering to more covert, where we want to affect things by killing Castro," Thomas Maier said.
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Morning Joe welcomed Thomas Maier, author of "Mafia Spies: The Inside Story of the CIA, Gangsters, JFK, and Castro." (It's a nice change when they stop plugging Mika's latest opus and instead talk about real books.) Scarborough asked how it first happened.

"It was about 1960 that it happened. And Allen Dulles (CIA director), who we just saw, who's flat-out lying on national television, this was a super secret mission. This is where we went when spying went from intelligence gathering to more covert, where we want to affect things by killing Castro. He was perceived as such a danger, not only in Cuba, but throughout Latin America, that the decision was made to kill him," Maier said.

Scarborough asked him about the Kennedy connections with Mob boss Sam Giancana.

"There sure is. With Giancana, one of the more intriguing things, JFK was having an affair with a woman (Judith Campbell) who was also having an affair with Giancana at the same time. When we talk about kompromat these days, the Mob actually was manipulating this young woman to get the goods, if you will, on the Kennedys so they wouldn't go after the Mob. You know, all these things are played out in FBI files that I reviewed.

"My question, in the course of living this book, as you reported and wrote this book, do you think there is a truth out there that the American public does not know and might never know?" Mike Barnicle asked.

"Well, you know, Fidel Castro died at age 90 and you say, well, if there's all these CIA attempts to kill him, how did he avoid getting killed? One of the things I found out, you know, a lot of these JFK assassination papers came out in the last few years, when President Trump allowed them, and when you look at those papers, you can see the way in which Castro put a spy system that was -- he was trained by the Russians and had a lot of informants in Florida, and so Castro often knew in advance where there was going to be attacks on him, and that was one of the most intriguing things about him.


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"Of course right now when we talk about Khashoggi and the Russians in Ukraine, the question about the open-endedness of assassination, what are the rules for the United States with assassination? I think this book really underlines what happens when things get out of control. This was America's first foray into the assassination business. I think it's something that really speaks to us right now."

"From the papers that you've seen that were recently unearthed, did you draw any lines between the possibility of a Castro plot with the assassination of JFK or a Mob plot, because they had been betrayed because Bobby (Kennedy) went after them," Scarborough asked.

"Well, you know, this is the only conspiracy that the CIA has actually said yes, we actually did it. What we saw in that clip with Dulles, in 2007, finally, the CIA said, Dulles actually authorized this. So Johnny Roselli, one of the characters, he coughs up that he was involved with the Castro conspiracy, and he -- they find out his real identity. Roselli is not his real name. He tells the feds, don't deport me back to Italy if I can tell you something about JFK's assassination. It's right at that moment that he gets killed.

"And he kind of knew that he was going to get whacked. There's another guy who is like the last man standing, that's literally the name of the last chapter, his name is Santo Trafficante and he goes to dinner with him, Trafficante's nephew and he's pleading for his life, basically. Of course two weeks later, Johnny is dead.

"He's in a barrel and comes bubbling up in the bay right near the Fountainebleu Hotel, where the original conspiracy began."

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