In his teens, Giancana learned one of life's secrets that became the key to his fortune. He learned that if you can kill in cold blood, you have a tremendous advantage over most men. Even among men who kill, those who do it on their own initiative and for their own advantage in a dispassionate way are rare, and they have the advantage over the hit-men or soldiers who merely follow orders.
Giancana established a reputation for himself as someone who must be obeyed by personally murdering dozens of men over the years. He killed men who refused to comply with his demands and he killed men who tried, but failed to comply. It is important to "business" to make examples of those who do not meet their obligations. Giancana's reputation and "honor" were the most important business assets he had, and they both depended on his rare talent for murdering people without any pangs of guilt or the handicap of a conscience.
There is a godlike quality about the way he made life and death decisions about men based purely on his own interest and whims, his own "honor" and authority.
Giancana had a low opinion of human beings. He believed most so-called "good" men lack nerve and can be ruled as easily as sheep, and he believed most women were no better than whores, and they all have their price. The tremendous success that Giancana had in extorting money from working men and in having sex with hundreds of beautiful women proved the validity of his simple philosophy and the value of his talent. Men treated him with respect and deference, and women flocked to him.
Here is a sample of the views he passed on to his kid brother:
"Hollywood is just full of guys waiting to be used Chuck. All anybody out there cares about is whether they're gonna be a star or not. We help 'em along and we own 'em. That's how simple it is. And the broads, Chuck...beautiful and dumb. Shit, don't ever be star-struck by all the movie baloney...they're all worthless bums and whores. Hollywood is the only place I've ever been besides Washington, D.C., where everybody--men and women--are just beggin' for you to use 'em."He understood the nature of power better than most professors of political science. He never lost sight of its essence--murder. Consequently, he had a good understanding of politics and how the world works. He saw the government as the public side of organized crime, basically a protection racket. The dark side is where the real power struggles take place while the public is distracted by the speeches and the hoopla and the so-called issues of the day.
Enough of philosophy, let's get to the good dirt. The partnership between racketeers and the government was established long before Giancana was born. The book only reveals the history of it that Giancana experienced. When Giancana was young, Diamond Joe Esposito was the most powerful man in Chicago. All of the other hoodlums such as Al Capone, Johnny Torrio, and Paul Ricca were in his debt. Esposito's power extended beyond Chicago. He boasted of meeting with Calvin Coolidge and dispensing votes and favors at the President's request. In return, he got the President's promise not to interfere with the mob takeover of union operations--coast to coast. Also, Esposito requested that the men he supplied with sugar--Joe Kennedy in Boston for instance--receive special protection and all local rights to bootlegging. As a result, Al Capone and his boys went after unions totally unimpeded by law enforcement, and Esposito's sugar customers remained protected.
Later, when Al Capone took over the rackets in Chicago, he was viewed more as a public servant than a criminal because he gave people what they wanted--booze, sex, and gambling. Capone's popularity helped him to get his friend Mayor Thompson reelected. Before this Anton Cermak had been mayor of Chicago and he had persecuted Capone because Cermak was working on behalf of rival mobster Teddy Newburry. Capone got his revenge by having Cermak assassinated in 1933 while Cermak was riding in an open car with President-elect Roosevelt in Miami. Capone used Joe Zangara who had been sponsored from Sicily 5 years earlier by Joe Esposito and placed in Florida to work the sugar runs from Cuba. Zangara had been a sharpshooter in the Italian army. He was a heavy gambler and was deeply in debt to the Chicago bosses. He was given the choice to hit Cermak or die. After the assassination, Cermak immediately began spouting anti-capitalist propaganda, claiming his real target was Roosevelt. Zangara's connections to the mob were ignored by the press and covered up by the paid-off Miami police and investigators.
Senator Huey Long of Louisiana had worked closely with the Syndicate on everything from slot machines to casinos, becoming partners with Carlos Marcello in New Orleans; Frank Costello, Lucky Luciano, and Meyer Lansky in New York; Santo Trafficante in Florida; and Paul Ricca in Chicago. Unlike Cermak, Long was no turncoat traitor, he simply became too greedy. So the New York mob had him assassinated.
After the mob gained control of the unions, which gave them greater control over elections, they moved into the motion picture industry by financially backing fellow bootlegger Joe Kennedy's Hollywood investments. They combined financial investments with union activity in Hollywood, especially the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Motion Picture Operators. The move gave the mob control over the film industry and the theaters in which films were shown. They extorted millions from the major studios. Gang-sponsored stars who received big contracts included the Marx Brothers, George Raft, Jimmy Durante, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Jean Harlow, and Cary Grant.
Joe Kennedy used the leverage gained from obtaining campaign contributions for FDR--$100,000 from Chicago and New York alone-- to win an appointment from Roosevelt as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. And 4 years later, in 1938, FDR gave him the coveted ambassadorship to England in exchange for a similar amount.
In 1937, Joe Kennedy got in trouble with the Purple gang in Detroit for bringing bootleg rum through their territory without permission. They put a contract on him. Kennedy went to Chicago and begged Esposito to intervene on his behalf. Esposito made a telephone call to Detroit and saved Kennedy's life. Since then, Kennedy was in debt to the Chicago mob. (Footnote: Much of Joe Kennedy'd so-called fancy scotch, upon which the family fortune was derived, was not scotch whiskey at all, but rebottled still alcohol. So not only was Joe Kennedy a bootlegger, which is illegal but not immoral, but he was a dishonest and fraudulent trader, which is both illegal and immoral.)
The Syndicate funnelled $500,000 into Roosevelt's presidential campaign through Postmaster General Farley, who was later imprisoned for not paying taxes on $400,000 in payoffs he received from Chicago. Roosevelt repaid the mob by making labor gangster Sidney Hillman a frequent guest at the White House and a prominent labor advisor. Roosevelt also agreed to make Harry Truman (friend of the Kansas City mob) the chairman of the Democratic National Committee and his vice-presidential running mate.
Thomas Dewey made a name for himself in New York by prosecuting Lucky Luciano and putting him in prison. However, Luciano was released early from prison after making a $90,000 campaign contribution to Dewey and after Myer Lansky promised Dewey a part interest in a gambling deal in the Bahamas.
When the mob took over the juke box industry, it fit in nicely with their other entertainment investments and gave them more influence over the popular culture and great opportunities for payola. (Stars who benefited from mob connections included Joey Bishop, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr., Eddie Fisher, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Lawford, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, Shirley MacLaine, Warren Beatty, Angie Dickenson, and of course, Frank Sinatra.) Naturally, the mob took over the pinball and cigarette machines too. The cigarettes sold in the machines had often been high-jacked, so the profit was 100%.
The Syndicate began to go international when they bought most of the politicians in the Philippines and began installing their cigarette machines there.
Jack Ruby was sent to Dallas from Chicago to establish a mob beachhead in Texas. Meanwhile Giancana set up a new wire-service business called Trans-America, which provided betting odds to bookies across the country, and he used his strong-armed salesmen to persuade customers to transfer their business to his company from rival Continental. Finally, after offering to buy him out, Giancana had the president of Continental, Jim Ragen, murdered to eliminate the competition. It took them two attempts. First they shot him, but he didn't die. Then they poisoned him with mercury while he was in the hospital.
Sometimes things go wrong and an Attorney General prosecutes gangsters. This happened in 1946 when several of Chicago's top mobsters were sent to prison. So the mob pressured the major motion picture studios to contribute $5,000,000 to President Truman. In exchange, Attorney General Tom Clark granted the mobsters' parole and, as reward, was appointed by Truman to the Supreme Court. Additionally, Truman was promised Syndicate financial backing and the efforts of the Chicago political machine for the upcoming 1948 presidential campaign. According to Giancana:
"Truman owes everything he's got to us. Pendergast (mob-related mayor of Kansas City) made him judge and then, with the Italian muscle behind him, got him to the Senate. When the 44 election came up...Kelly here in Chicago got him on the ticket with Roosevelt. Shit, Chicago got Roosevelt and Truman nominated and elected. We were good to Roosevelt; he was good to us. He died and Truman's been our man in the White House ever since."Giancana had interesting things to say about the cold war and the communist threat:
"Chuck, nothin's ever what it seems. Chaing Kai-shek? He's mob. Goes back to General MacArthur. See, these guys up top know that, in the name of patriotism, Americans will do anything, go anywhere...they just gotta have that enemy. Shit, the guys up top'll make one up if they have to. So now the enemy is communism....the politicians know what's goin' on...mostly because half of 'em have some investment, just like we do, in countries with names you've never even heard of. You watch, this Commie crap will get people up in arms...If anything threatens business as usual over there...well, our great and powerful President will do somethin' about it. All he's gotta do is yell "Commie" and every red-blooded American will lay down their lives...and for what? So a few fat-cat politicians and businessmen...and a few guys like me can make a killing."And about King Farouk who gave Giancana a pinky ring worth $40,000:
"I'm workin' with him...Chuck, all these foreign bastards that are our fuckin' U.S. allies...all they care about is linin' their own pockets. They get paid off and they make sure things stay nice and quiet. All over the world it's like that...Nobody in the Syndicate or the government cares what the guy in charge really believes or how oppressed the people there are. Nobody cares about whether or not the people are living in some democracy. The bottom line is money and power. Just like it is here in this country."In the Philippines,
"The guy running the show in South Korea is part of the Oriental mob."
..."you can buy a girl there and do anything you want with her...kill her if you want...Nobody cares in those fuckin' hellholes. Life is cheap. And where life is cheap, politicians are cheap."During the 1950s the mob began working with the FBI and CIA and various rabid anti-communists such as Howard Hughes, Bob Maheu, Guy Bannister, and Richard Nixon in covert activities to sabotage communists. For instance,
"Our government wants an uprising in Guatamala...but they need guns for a rebellion. And we supply 'em out of our guys down south."Giancana's relationship with the Kennedy family dated back to the 1930s. In the late 1940s Joe Kennedy called on Giancana to help get his son Jack's marriage annulled without any publicity. In the 1950s, Joe Kennedy, trying to clean up his act so that his son Jack, who was now a senator from Massachusetts, could eventually run for President, refused to launder money for Frank Costello. Costello figured Kennedy owed him this favor and put a contract on him. Joe flew to Chicago to try to get Giancana to persuade Costello to lift the contract. He said,
"You help me now, Sam, and I'll see to it that Chicago...that you...can sit in the goddamned Oval Office if you want. That you'll have the President's ear...He'll be your man. I swear to that. My son...the President of the United States...will owe you his father's life. He won't refuse you, ever. You have my word."That night Giancana put in a call to New York and the contract on Joe Kennedy was lifted.
Giancana's opinion of Joe Kennedy:
"if there ever was a crook, it's Joe Kennedy....Joe Kennedy will sell anything to save his own skin. His liquor business, the Senate, the presidency...the White House...Even his own son."Joe's son Jack inherited his insatiable sex drive. In the early 1950s Jack frequented the same Cal-Neva chalet that his father used. Giancana himself had been to more than a few of the Kennedy Cal-Neva parties where the men had sex with prostitutes -sometimes two or more at a time--in bathtubs, hallways, closets, on floors, almost anywhere but in bed.
Giancana's idol was Frank Costello who was a smooth operator in New York and who had J. Edgar Hoover in his pocket. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, had been saying for decades that there in no organized crime in America. This was undoubtedly due, in part, to the fact that the mob had been helping him for years. They didn't give him cash outright, they gave him something better, tips on fixed horse races. Frank Costello would hear from Frank Erikson, the country's most powerful bookie, about an upcoming fix on a race. Costello would tell columnist Walter Winchell, and Winchell, in turn, would call Hoover. Hoover would hop in his car on the pretext that he was working on a case and head for the track.
When Bobby Kennedy, as the chief lawyer for the McClellan committee, uncovered and prosecuted racketeers, Hoover was embarrassed. To save face, he coined the term "La Cosa Nostra." This made it seem like he knew something about organized crime that had been hidden from even the McClellan committee. The name was so secret, even the mob had never heard it before.
When Castro was leading the revolution in Cuba, the U.S. government, certain American investors, and the Syndicate decided to play both sides of the fence by sending arms and ammunition to the rebels and giving public support to the Batista regime. In exchange for their underworld services, the CIA looked the other way and allowed millions of dollars worth of illicit drugs to flow through Havana into the United States. The CIA also received 10% on the sale of the narcotics, which they used for their undercover slush fund. Giancana sent Lewis McWille, one of his soldiers from Texas who had worked with Jack Ruby and Frank Sturgis running guns and smuggling drugs, to Havana to run the Tropicana casino and assist Johnny Roselli with smuggling operations. Giancana and the mob used money they skimmed from the Teamsters through Jimmy Hoffa to buy guns, which they stored in a warehouse in Texas and then smuggled into Cuba on planes and boats supplied by the CIA, where they sold the weapons to the CIA who then gave them to the rebels. The CIA used their percentage of the drug money to pay for the guns, so the mob got their 10% back plus a profit from the CIA. Trafficante oversaw the operation for Giancana, Jack Ruby handled the Texas end, and McWillie, Roselli, and one of Traficante's boys handled the delivery to the CIA agents in Cuba.
By 1958, Giancana was personally receiving more than $4,000,000 a month, tax-free, from his world-wide operations.
When Castro took over Cuba, he made Frank Sturgis (Frank Fiorini) Minister of Games of Chance. But later, Castro double-crossed the racketeers by kicking them all out of Cuba, closing the casinos, and ending the smuggling.
In 1959, Giancana met three times with Joe and Jack Kennedy and Mayor Richard Daley at Chicago's Ambassador East to finalize their agreement.
"It's pretty simple, really, I help get Jack elected and, in return, he calls off the heat...Bobby's taken care of. I asked them to get him off that damned McClellan committee...so they're gonna have him help run the campaign...You should have seen Jack's face when I told him about me workin' with the CIA. I wish I had a picture."Although Giancana had made a deal with the Kennedy's, he did not completely trust them. The Kennedy's were filthy rich, so they couldn't be bought. So for insurance, Giancana bought the Cal-Neva and had it wired from top to bottom.
Before the election in 1960, Giancana said,
"I've already got enough dirt on Jack Kennedy and his lousy old man to ruin ten politician's careers. I've got pictures, tape recordings, film, you name it, all safe and sound in a safe-deposit box. The American public would be real happy to see their President bein' serviced by three women and one of 'em a shine broad to boot."He also got Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford (who was married to Pat Kennedy) to find and introduce more girls to Jack.
"Frank's got it all handled with the broads for Kennedy. And there's more, all lined up, ready to go. Angie Dickinson's got a thing goin' with Jack...she's gonna go back and forth to Washigton. We got some other girls, one Frank says is a dead ringer for Jack's wife...if you can imagine that....We're gonna get Jack in real deep with Monroe, too...I hear he's been poppin' her. Hell, Frank tells me Bobby's even made a few remarks about wantin' to fuck her himself. Jesus, those Kennedy brothers are animals."Chuck asked if the broads know what the deal is.
"Hell no, they'll just think it's all coincidence or just a favor to Frank or me or that Frank's doin' them a favor introducin' them to the next President of the United States. You know, women eat that shit up...To tell you the truth, Frank doesn't know for sure what I'm up to...He thinks I just wanna make the Kennedy's happy."Meanwhile, Giancana gave Jimmy Hoffa permission to bug the places that Robert Kennedy liked to frequent.
When Frank Sinatra introduced Jack Kennedy to Judith Cambell Exner, she became one of his favorites. Giancana decided it would be good business to know her, so he had Frank introduce him to Judy and they began an affair simultaneously with her affair with Kennedy. Kennedy learned of Giancana's friendship with Judy, but assumed it was innocent.
"Jesus, what an ego...The guy thinks I'm just bein' a friend. He even suggested that maybe Judy could act as our go-between to set up meetings...What an idiot."The Kennedys were worried about winning the West Virginia primary. Giancana promised to deliver West Virginia for them if they would promise to allow Joe Adonis back into the country. The Kennedys quickly agreed. Later, at the request of Carlos Marcello, Giancana got the Kennedys to agree to choose Lyndon Johnson as JFK's running mate.
On the prospect of Kennedy running against Nixon for president in 1960, Giancana said,
"We can't lose with two candidates for President like that."Giancana favored Jack Kennedy over Richard Nixon because Giancana believed he had exclusive control over Kennedy, whereas a lot of bosses owned pieces on Nixon. Nixon was poor so he had to sell his favors to a lot of people to advance his career. Giancana had gotten favors from Nixon as far back as 1947 when he helped get Giancana's man in Texas, Jack Ruby, exempted from testifying in front of Congress by saying that Ruby worked for him (Nixon).
Kennedy won the 1960 election thanks to massive vote fraud in Illinois and Texas. It was the closest election in American history. Then he double-crossed Giancana by appointing Bobby Kennedy as Attorney General. When Giancana complained, JFK tried to appease him by sending him secret FBI documents by way of Judy Cambell Exner, Angie Dickinson, and Marilyn Monroe.
When the Kennedy's deported Carlos Marcello in April 1961, Giancana was sure he was being double crossed. Furthermore, Bobby Kennedy refused to allow Joe Adonis back into the country as had been promised prior to the West Virginia primary. Then JFK stopped seeing Judy Cambell Exner and the secret FBI reports stopped coming.
When a Las Vegas wiretap case against Bob Maheu and Giancana was filed, Giancana's CIA associates managed to get it dropped.
"They risked their jobs for me to get it handled...Now that's what I call loyalty."The CIA's top officials confessed to Attorney General Bobby Kennedy that they had bugged comedian Dan Rowen's apartment on behalf of Giancana because Rowen was suspected of having an affair with Phyllis McGuire (lead singer of the McGuire Sisters, the most popular singing trio in America), who was Giancana's girlfriend.
Giancana continued to work with the CIA, who were also disenchanted with the Kennedys after the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the purge of top CIA officers ordered by JFK. The mob, abetted by the CIA, made repeated attempts to assassinate Castro.
Marilyn Monroe had been used by the CIA to help forge alliances with various world leaders over the years. She was such an international sex symbol that even heads of state were eager to know her. She was willing to do her patriotic duty by accepting assignments to be friendly to these men. However, after a while the CIA became alarmed by her increasingly erratic behavior. (She was abusing alcohol and sleeping pills.) They came to regard her as a security risk. So the CIA asked Giancana to silence Marilyn before she revealed any secrets. Giancana had no personal grudge against Marilyn, he had sex with her himself on several occasions, but this was business. By this time Bobby Kennedy was having an affair with Marilyn. Giancana had many tape recordings of RFK and Marilyn in bed together, which would have destroyed RFK's career if made public. But the CIA would not allow Giancana to use these because it would expose the CIA's involvement with Monroe and the mob. So Giancana did the next best thing. He tried to kill two birds with one stone by having Monroe killed in such a way as to throw suspicion on RFK. Giancana used his inside knowledge of RFK's travel plans to set up the murder for a weekend when RFK would be in California, knowing RFK would manage to visit Marilyn sometime that weekend. Sure enough, RFK came for a visit. Minutes after he left, the hit men killed Monroe by inserting a specially designed Nembutal suppository (provided by a CIA doctor) into her anus (she had already been sedated by RFK's doctor).
Despite Giancana's best efforts to implicate and embarrass RFK in Monroe's death, RFK with all his power and connections was able to cover up his trail, destroy evidence, and retain his political prospects.
Unlike the murder of Monroe, which Giancana personally supervised, the assassination of JFK was a much larger, more cooperative effort involving the mob, the CIA, the FBI, the Secret Service, the Dallas Police Department, the Mayor of Dallas, and various business and political leaders. Each had responsibility for certain aspects of it, and nobody knew the details of the other aspects. After going to a preliminary meeting with Guy Bannister, Bob Maheu, and former CIA deputy director Charles Cabell, and some top brass from U.S. military intelligence, Giancana delegated the Miami and New Orleans aspects of the mob's role in it to Trafficante and Marcello and directed them to delegate the Dallas aspects of it to Jack Ruby. Johnny Roselli acted as liaison among the mob bosses and the CIA, and Jack Ruby worked with the Dallas police and local government agents. The financing for the operation came from right-wing Texas oilmen. Each man involved in the assassination received $50,000. Dozens of men were involved, and the hit had been planned for Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and finally Dallas. Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson both knew about it and met with Giancana several times in Dallas immediately before the assassination. Marcello sent Charles Harrelson and Jack Lawrence. Trafficante contributed two Cuban exile friends. Giancana sent Richard Cain, Chuckie Nicoletti, and Milwaukee Phil. (Cain and Nicoletti were actual gunmen for the hit. Cain, not Oswald fired from the 6th story window.) The CIA contributed Roscoe White and J.D. Tippit as actual gunmen (not to shoot JFK, but to shoot the scapegoat) and Frank Sturges (later made famous for the break-in at the Watergate Hotel) and Lee Harvey Oswald (unwitting fall guy).
Tippit wavered, allowing Oswald to escape, so White shot Tippit. Because of this screw up, Ruby had to shoot Oswald at the police station.
According to Giancana, the mysterious deaths of so many people who may have had knowledge of part of the conspiracy was not the work of the mob. The CIA did all the silencing of witnesses after Jack Ruby silenced Oswald.
After his brother's death, Bobby Kennedy never again met with his special task force on organized crime. But Giancana had him knocked off anyway when it looked like he might get the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency. The book offers few details of this hit because by this time Giancana was no longer in communication with his brother Chuck.
In 1968, Giancana traveled to Rome for a private audience with Pope Paul.
On June 14, 1975, at the request of the CIA and Richard Nixon, Giancana placed a contract on the life of Jimmy Hoffa. On June 19, 1975, Giancana was killed. On June 24, 1975, Giancana was scheduled to appear before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. One month later Jimmy Hoffa disappeared.
Year Read: 1993
Libertarian Essays by Roy Halliday
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