Far Out Magazine's Preview: Al Pacino and John Travolta set to star in new JFK thriller
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New Hollywood Version of The Assassination
Hollywood is getting set to produce “The Assassination,” a JFK assassination movie that has been ten years in the making and finally set to begin production in September, starring Al Pachino, John Travolta, Viggo Mortensen and Shia LeBeouf. It will be directed by David Mamet (House of Games and Wag the Dog) and produced by Gary Hamilton of Arclight Films.
The movie will attempt to portray the assassination of President Kennedy from the mob’s point of view, with a script written by Mamet and Nicholas Celozzi, grandnephew of Chicago mobster Sam Giancana.
Giancana was a key player in the CIA-Mafia plots to kill
Castro, two of which – code named Valkyrie and Pathfinder, were redirected to
JFK in Dallas. But Giancana certainly wasn’t the mastermind behind the assassination operation, and his “orders,” if he gave them, were not what led to the murder any more than Carlos Marchello’s
confession can be taken as real, or Clay Shaw or Castro were responsible.
Add The Assassination to Executive Action, JFK, The Irishman, and other JFK assassination films, though one stands out as it was basically missed - simply called Ruby, it delves into the life of Jack Ruby and as former reporter and mayor Wes Wise told me, Ruby best portrays the city of Dallas as it was at the time of the assassination. It also gets into the mob life and the mob molls who play a key role in the story.
Giancana is a good starting point, as the mob boss of Chicago, heir to the Capone outfit, and chairman of the board of the National Syndicate of Organized Crime that was established in Atlantic City, NJ in the spring of 1929 to non-violently settle disputes among mobsters and avoid another St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
In Atlantic City the mobsters, led by Lucky Luciano, took Meyer Lansky’s suggestion to get heavily involved in casino gambling after the end of prohibition. They established casinos in Saratoga, NY, Dade County, Florida and Havana, where Lansky brokered a deal with Batista, the dictator, to allow the mob to control casinos in hotels with 500 rooms or more.
Although the mob had covered their bets and doubled down by supporting Fidel Castro early on, when he took over on New Year’s Day 1959 and threatened the casinos, they turned against him, as did the U.S. government.
When Eisenhower was still president, the CIA’s chief of covert operations Richard Bissell, who handled the U2 program, sent CIA officer James “Big Jim” O’Connell to Las Vegas to see if the mob was interested in working with the CIA in killing Castro. O’Connell went to former FBI agent and top Vegas attorney Robert Mahu, who in turn contacted John Rosselli, Sam Giancana’s man in Vegas.
Rosselli had to get Giancana’s permission, which was no problem, but Giancana insisted Havana and Tampa mob boss Santos Traficante, who Jack Ruby had previously visited in a Cuban detention center, be brought into the operation.
At first they decided to try to poison Castro when he dined at one of his favorite restaurants where Traficante had an associate who was paid ten grand in cash and given the poison, but Castro was a no-show, so the first CIA-Mob attempt to kill Castro failed. The CIA and the Mobsters weren’t through however, and then JFK was elected president.
Giancana certainly was a major player in politics and the assassination game. As a friend of Frank Sinatra he helped get John Kennedy elected by having Sinatra’s good friend Skinny D’Amato, owner of the 500 Club in Atlantic City, to get the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association to back Kennedy in the primary there, said to be the most pivital primary election ever. Giancana also helped JFK carry Illinois in the general election.
Sinatra had introduced both Giancana and Kennedy to Judyth Campbell Exner, who they both bedded, and used as a messenger moll between them. Sinatra and Giancana also bought the Cal-Neva Lodge and casino in Nevada, where old man Joe Kennedy used to live away from home. It’s also where Giancana brought singer Phyllis Maguire that led to Sinatra losing his Nevada gaming license. And Giancana, suspecting Maguire was also having an affair with comedian Dan Rowan, had an electronic bug placed n Maguire’s Vegas suite that was discovered by the police. But Giancana pulled out his Get Out of Jail Card because he was also working with the CIA in the plots to kill Castro. And it worked.
After the Bay of Pigs, O’Connell was replaced as John Rosselli’s case officer by William Harvey, who was in charge of the CIA’s assassination program code named ZR/RIFLE. When President Kennedy asked to see “America’s James Bond” who was licensed to kill, he was presented with William Harvey, who checked his pistols with the Secret Service at the Oval Office door.
Harvey and Rosselli got along famously together, matched each other drink for drink, though Harvey did not get along with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who was also responsible for overseeing the CIA’s Cuban operations.
They devised other ways to kill Castro, with Traficante being dropped out of the loop, though since Rosselli was Giancana’s right hand man, the Chicago mob boss was still in the hunt.
Besides ZR/RIFLE, Harvey was put in charge of the CIA’s Cuban Desk and the CIA Task Force on Castro, that Harvey renamed Task Force W and set up shop in the basement of the CIA’s new Headquarters at Langley, Virginia. Harvey also controlled the CIA’s Miami Station JMWAVE, at the University of Miami, where the remnants of the Bay of Pigs brigade were trained as commandos and infiltrated into Cuba on sabotage missions approved by the National Security Council. When RFK visited JMWAVE, he took a teletype out of a machine, and Harvey ripped it out of his hands saying he wasn’t cleared to read it, thus antagonizing their already strained relations.
JMWAVE was home of the Pathfinders, the best of the Bay of Pigs brigade, who were given special training and sent into Cuba weeks before the invasion to lay the groundwork, but once it failed, they were either killed, captured or escaped back to Florida where they were the elite commandos trained and run out of JMWAVE.
As far as I could tell there were at least three Pathfinder teams, each with its own boat, and each with its own private sponsor, giving it an air of independence from the CIA – with William Pawley, Clare Booth Luce and John Rosselli each having their own team. At JMWAVE, Rosselli was known as “Colonel Rawlins,” and was dressed in a US Army colonel’s uniform. He worked with one of the three teams that was trained by former US Marine Carl Jenkins, CIA explosives and sniper expert John “I.F.” Harper, and US Army Ranger Captain Edward Roderick.
Roderick, along with US Army Ranger Captain Bradley Ayers, was cross posted to the CIA from the Army by General Victor Brute Krulak, the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACSA), with offices in the White House and the Pentagon, where he was responsible for supplying the CIA with military support for covert operations, especially against Cuba and Vietnam.
Roderick told Ayers that Rosselli was a mobster who like to drink, and was supplying the Pathfinder unit with “strategic” advice. Rosselli also arranged for Harvey to supply his team with a U-Haul trailer full of special arms, sniper rifles, ammo and explosives that were infiltrated into Cuba to use against Castro.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, Harvey ordered the Pathfinder teams into Cuba, but when Attorney General Robert Kennedy learned this, he ordered them recalled. Once the Cuban Missile Crisis was peacefully resolved, RFK had Harvey fired as head of the Cuban desk and JMWAVE, and replaced by Desmond FitzGerald, who had the Kennedy looks and charisma but was not related to them, as many believed.
Harvey was made CIA chief of station in Rome, Italy, where James Jesus Angleton had served in the 0SS during WWII and Clare Luce Booth had been ambassador, but Harvey remained as case officer for John Rosselli, who was still Sam Giancana’s right hand man and running one of the Pathfinder teams out of JMWAVE, hell bent on killing Castro.
The last time Harvey and Rosselli met, according to the official CIA records, was in Florida in June, 1963, when Harvey wined and dined Rosselli in Miami, and put the hotel bill on his ZR/RIFLE assassination project account.
Of the hundreds of plots to kill Castro that were hatched, and dozens of plans developed by the CIA, the one most likely to succeed was called the Pathfinder Plan, that was to utilize a team of Pathfinders to infiltrate into Cuba near Veradero, a plush resort town on the north shore where Castro was known to visit the former DuPont estate called Xandu. The plan was directed by Carl Jenkins and called for Castro to be shot in the head by snipers as he drove by in an open jeep, a plan that according to CIA records, “was disapproved by higher-authority,” and the plan that I believe was redirected to “higher authority” in Dealey Plaza.
As soon as Giancana learned that JFK had been killed, he flew to Mexico where he hid out at a desert lodge for a few weeks with Richard Cain Scalzitti, a Chicago policeman, mobster and Giancana associate.
When Sam Giancana was asked about the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro, he said that they would “get us all killed,” and he was right, as he was killed by someone he knew shortly before he was to testify before Congress about his role in the Castro plots. His main man, John Rosselli, did testify in closed, secret session twice, but went to see Jack Anderson afterwards and told him what he had to say – that his JMWAVE commando team was sent in to Cuba to kill Castro but were captured and turned around by Castro to kill Kennedy.
Well they didn’t need to have Castro convince them to kill Kennedy as they hated JFK as much as they wanted to kill Castro, and if they turned on JFK they did it on their own, and were protected by their team leader, the still living Carl Jenkins and JMWAVE director Desmond FitzGerald, who wondered, when he learned of JFK’s death, if his Cubans were involved. And I wonder too.
Rosselli was then found dismembered in an oil drum, his bodily fluids more powerful than the chain and cement used to weigh him down in Biscayne Bay. Both the murders of Giancana and Rosselli remain unsolved, though we know why they were killed, as we know why JFK was killed.
Now if the new movie The Assassination tells that story, it might get close to the truth, but knowing how Hollywood operates, they aren’t interested in the truth, just box office recipts, but I will give them the chance to do it right.