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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-13-08 08:07 AM
Original message
CIA's 'Iron Bob' hired Chicago mob to kill Castro -- Robert Maheu, RIP
Howard Hughes' public front, Robert Maheu, has died. He's on the right in the photo.

Here's a great backgrounder on the man the CIA ordered to hire the Mafia in order to assassinate Fidel Castro.

CIA'S 'Iron Bob' hired Chicago mob to kill Castro

By Chuck Goudie | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 8/10/2008 11:58 PM

For one simple reason, nearly all of the notable and notorious from Robert Maheu's life couldn't make it to his funeral over the weekend.

They were dead.

At age 90, Maheu outlived the oddballs and Outfit members who made him a legend in law enforcement circles. Howard Hughes, the richest-man recluse with fingernails as long as his bank statement; Anthony "The Ant" Spilotro who ended up 6-feet under; Johnny Roselli, the crafty gangland killer; and Sam "Mooney" Giancana of Chicago mobdom fame. They were all Maheu associates who preceded him in death.

The one surviving celebrity from Mr. Maheu's storied past who might have shown up in the pews at St. Viator Catholic Church in Las Vegas on Saturday, didn't come.

Fidel Castro.

Of course Mr. Castro is preoccupied back in Cuba with his own health problems, those pesky reports of his personal demise and that continuing U.S. trade and travel embargo.

The fact is if Maheu's biggest professional project had succeeded, Cuba today would be more a popular tourist haven than the Bahamas and Castro would be a name carved onto an ornate Havana gravestone.

Maheu (pronounced May-hew) worked for the FBI during World War II in counter-espionage. He opened his own private-eye firm in 1954 and the Central Intelligence Agency was his best client, paying him a $500 retainer. The CIA handed him "cut-out" assignments that involved illegal tactics, which if exposed would be untraceable to the federal agency.

Maheu's most spectacular cut-out assignment from the CIA was to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro by murdering him. Thirteen million was budgeted to instruct paramilitary soldiers outside of Cuba for a guerrilla assault.


Mr. Maheu's passing is important on many levels -- from privatized intelligence to government by Mafia to the rise of Texas Oil. In short, his life helped create modern America.
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-13-08 08:17 AM
Response to Original message
1. So nice his life and career are given the ho, ho, ho treatment
Octafish is right; Maheu's extra-legal activities laid the groundwork for a whole lot of what's gone wrong in America since the end of World War II. Unaccountable, untraceable, unconstitutional crap that prepared the ground for today's excesses by the Bush administration, including torture, secret courts, subversion of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments, violations of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter on Human Rights.

But he hobnobbed with "oddballs" and "the Outfit"! Ho, ho, ho. If his operations had succeeded, Cuba would be a tourist haven. Ho, ho, ho.

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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-13-08 09:32 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. The Puppet and the Puppetmasters
Thank you for understanding, gratuitous!

A great article on the subject from a better source, Playboy:

The Puppet and the Puppetmasters

an investigative report by Larry DuBois and Laurence Gonzales

Editors note: In September 1976 Playboy published a remarkable and extensive two-part article that delves into one of the Watergate break-ins great mysteries: the principal motive for the break-in itself. In the course of investigating part one of The Puppet and The Puppetmasters (posted below), reporters Larry DuBois and Laurence Gonzales uncovered many backroom deals between Howard Hughes, the CIA and Richard Nixon. In the piece, former Hughes executive John Meier contends that the Watergate burglars were looking for what Democratic National Chairman Larry OBrien -- who was once Hughess chief lobbyist in Washington, D.C. -- knew about the Hughes-Nixon connection and whether OBrien was in a position to reveal unsavory details before the 1972 election. The reason for Nixons paranoia? OBrien was friends with Meier and with another former Hughes executive, Robert Maheu. In fact, Maheu corroborated the Playboy account during an episode of 60 Minutes aired on February 28, 2005.

Nearly 30 years later DuBois and Gonzaless article remains fascinating reading, particularly in light of the publics renewed interest in the subject in the wake of W. Mark Felts admission that he was Deep Throat.

The Puppet and the Puppetmasters

an investigative report by Larry DuBois and Laurence Gonzales

Of all the mysteries surrounding the Watergate affair, perhaps the strangest is that in this, the most thoroughly investigated burglary in history, no publicly accepted motive for the break-in itself has ever been established. A vague notion that a group of Republican-sponsored burglars decided to get some dirt on the Democrats and did so without knocking is still widely believed. Lost in the bonanza of books and movies about who did it and how it was done is the central question: Why did it happen?

In the recent past, some accounts -- notably, J. Anthony Lukas massive Watergate study, Nightmare -- have suggested that both the Howard Hughes organization and the CIA had connections with Watergate. And some important pieces of the puzzle were put in place by a few of the investigators on Sam Ervins Senate Watergate committee. But the puzzle was never made whole, the pieces never seemed to fit.

A set of unusual circumstances led PLAYBOY to undertake an investigation of Hughes and the CIA and to get a fuller picture of Watergate. This report will examine the links between Hughes and the CIA and the events leading up to Watergate.


To sort of take the term Watergate and link it to Howard Hughes, I think, is really unfair.
-- BOB WOODWARD, April 25, 1976

IN THE SPRING OF 1975, a man named Virgino Gonzlez (no relation to Laurence Gonzales) drafted an affidavit that was executed in Mexico City. In the sworn document, he claims to be an ex-CIA agent who was assigned by the agency to monitor the activities of John Meier, a former Hughes executive. At the end of 1971, Virgino Gonzlez wrote, I was ordered to an assignment that included monitoring the activities of John Meier and was shown a file on him.... This file showed that Meier came from New York, his early business life and how he joined Hughes and evaluated the underground testing in Nevada. He was giving the AEC a hard time on behalf of Hughes.

Meier, a computer expert and environmentalist who had worked for Hughes off and on since 1959, was sent to Las Vegas by Hughes to evaluate environmental problems. Before Hughes moved to Vegas in November 1966, he wanted Meier to give him a full report on the effects of atomic testing at the Nevada Test Site, about 100 miles from the city. During three of Hughess four years there (1966-1970), Meier was his scientific advisor and one of the few Hughes executives who communicated directly with the boss. Hughes had chosen Meier to handle his personal pet projects, such as his fierce campaign against nuclear testing. Secretly -- not even known to others in the organization -- Meier managed Hughess investigations into areas that appealed to the farthest reaches of Hughess imagination: parapsychology, LSD, mysticism, cryonics (the science of freezing human bodies with the hope of later reviving them) and other equally unlikely subjects.


Hughes was extremely anxious to get himself into an alliance with the CIA that would protect him from investigation by other Government agencies.

A CIA cover organization is a strange and very useful thing. It's like having a magic box. You can put things in and you can take things out. You can take things out that you never put in and you can put things in that will never come out. Or you can get into the box yourself and go away somewhere -- or perhaps ago away forever. If the box is large enough, you can put an entire country inside it and no one will ever know.

The Hughes organization is such a box, the biggest and most useful of its kind. According to information given to us by a highly placed intelligence source, there is nothing else like it in the world, as far as intelligence fronts go. It is no secret to most foreign governments, most of which stand in awe of its ineffable, elegant vastness. From within this magic box, an important part of the United States' covert intelligence operations emanate. But by 1971, it had begun to crack. So much had been put into the box that things were beginning to come out. The magic was fading.

Hughes's alliance with the agency started as early as 1949. Only two years after the CIA got its charter, it began giving contracts to Hughes.

April 1, 1975, The Washington Post reported, "Hughes Aircraft has been mentioned as a potential hotbed of interrelationships with the CIA." The New York Times on March 20, 1975, quoted high Government officials as saying the HAC had been building satellites for intelligence purposes for years and "employs a number of high-ranking CIA and military men." As early as 1960, Maheu had Hughes's blessing in taking on one of the agency's most sensitive assignments: the assassination of Fidel Castro. Maheu worked out several unsuccessful plots with gangsters Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli.

The affinity between Hughes and the agency was natural: America's most secretive billionaire and the most secretive part of America's Government. In a way, Hughes was a kind of modern-day Leonardo da Vinci, an eccentric genius who pushed to the cutting edge of the 20th Century, whether in early talking movies or in space satellites. Just after his death was reported, Newsweek quoted a top-ranking Washington intelligence official as saying, "Hughes gravitated into areas that other people refused to go into or didn't believe in." HAC pioneered the synchronous-orbit satellite, built the first Early Bird satellite and the Surveyor spacecraft that made the first soft landing on the moon and sent pictures back to NASA in preparation for the manned moon shots. Without Hughes's signal-amplifying microwave tubes, pictures from Mars would have been impossible. HAC is responsible for three-dimensional radar that is used for tracking hundreds of planes simultaneously. And the world's first operating laser arced across the labs of HAC. Laser weapons are now one of the hottest topics within the Pentagon -- they may someday make nuclear weapons obsolete. The secrets of laser-weapon technology are so closely guarded that Pentagon insiders will discuss it only in state-of-the-art terms.


Sorry, the link is busted and I got no pictures ... I'll forward the entire article to those who are interested.
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AntiFascist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-14-08 03:35 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. Nixon, Mobsters, the CIA, Cuba and Kennedy...,1014.htm


Nixon confidant Robert Maheu fronted for the CIA on the Mob plots. A high-end private eye (and ex-FBI undercover operative) who functioned in the shadowy realm between U.S. intelligence services and the national criminal syndicate, Maheu had performed previous "dirty tricks" for both Nixon and Giancana. Hoffa had also been a client of Maheu, who would eventually become the top aide to Mob-and CIA-connected billionaire and Nixon financial angel Howard Hughes.

The hit on Castro was to have been carried out at the same time as the secret Nixon-Hunt plan for the invasion by CIA-trained exiles. The invasion was a military debacle when later ordered by President Kennedy who publicly accepted full responsibility for the April 17, 1961 landing in which 1,500 exiles were quickly overwhelmed by some 20,000 Cuban troops. Convinced, however, that the CIA set him up, Kennedy fired CIA chief Allen Dulles an old Nixon friend and swore he'd dismantle the agency.

Nixon, Hunt, and many CIA and Cuban exile leaders pinned almost complete blame for the military catastrophe on Kennedy for not providing adequate air cover. At the time, Nixon told a reporter it was "near criminal" for Kennedy to have canceled the air cover. Privately, he must have been just as upset that Castro had not been bumped off. In one of his many books, Hunt later accused the president of "a failure of nerves."

Nixon's secret Mafia buddies, already enraged by Kennedy's anti-crime crusade in this country, were furious that their lucrative gambling casinos shuttered by Castro would not be returning to Cuba.

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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-15-08 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. That is one HELL of an article.
Here's another on the subject from the great writer, Don Fulsom:

The Mobs President:

Richard Nixons Secret Ties to the Mafia

by Don Fulsom

During the height of the Watergate scandal, Atty. Gen. John Mitchells wife, Martha, sounded one of the first alarms, telling a reporter, Nixon is involved with the Mafia. The Mafia was involved in his election.


In the mid-50s, Batista designated Lansky the unofficial czar of gambling in Havana. This was so Batista could stop some Mob-run casinos from using doctored games of chance to cheat tourists. A shrewd, master manipulator whose specialty was gambling, Lansky was also known among mobsters as honest. It wasnt necessary to rig the gambling tables to make boatloads of bucks. Lansky directed all casino operators to clean up, or get out.

Lansky, in turn, was very generous with the Cuban dictator. As former Lansky associate Joseph Varon has said: I know every time Myer went to Cuba he would bring a briefcase with at least $100,000 (for Batista). So Batista welcomed him with open arms, and the two men really developed such an affection for each other. Batista really loved him. I guess Id love him too if he gave me $100,000 every time I saw him.


Nixons best buddy Bebe Rebozo were part owners of Lanskys glittering Hotel Nacional in Havana. In fact, during the Batista regime, as recalled by Mafia hit man Angelo Gyp DeCarlo, The Mob had a piece of every joint down there. There wasnt one joint they didnt have a piece of.

In a noteworthy reversal of that situation, the Cuban dictator owned part of at least one Mob-run gambling operation in the United States. Batista was partners with New Orleans godfather and future Nixon benefactor Carlos Marcello of a casino in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana called The Beverly Club.


Small world. And very, very bad.
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ForrestGump Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-15-08 09:26 AM
Response to Reply #2
8. Thanks for the "Playboy" article snippet, but we don't need the pictures.

We only read it for the articles. :D

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MinM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-14-08 08:47 AM
Response to Original message
3. RFK and "The Hoax"
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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-14-08 09:29 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. i liked that movie...
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-14-08 02:52 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. The Sins of Robert Maheu
Excellent background from the good folks at Education Forum:

The Sins of Robert Maheu

By Pat Speer
The Education Forum
Feb. 17, 2005

I think Robert Maheu is perhaps the smelliest fish in the whole post WW2 ocean.


Maheu investigated the case of an OSS officer accused of killing his superior in Italy during the war. The officer was convicted in Italian courts but the case was thrown out in the U.S. when Maheu's long-time crony Edward Bennett Williams pulled a rabbit out of his hat. That Maheu was able to get a drunken Italian communist to inexplicably confess to the crime may have been a factor.

Maheu was hired to scuttle Ari Onassis's deal with the Saudi's by Ari's brother-in-law and ended up meeting with VP Nixon and convincing the CIA to foot the bill. After wiretapping Ari's phone calls he was able to pressure the Saudi's to back out of the deal.

Maheu made a soft-core porno film featuring lookalikes of Indonesian President Sukarno and a Russian woman. The more-believable frames were distributed in Indonesia to discredit Sukarno. The director of the film???? Bing Crosby.

Maheu was tied to the kidnapping and murder of a Dominican Republic dissident when his company was revealed to have paid for the plane used to fly the man out of the country and he was seen in the company of a Dominican agent. This was within a few years of CIA puppet Carlos Castillo-Armas of Guatemala agreeing to murder dissidents in Guatemala in exchange for financial backing from the Dominican dictator Trujillo. One might wonder then what Maheu or the CIA received in exchange for the death of Galindez (the dissident).

Maheu was the first man the CIA thought of when the idea was brought up of killing Castro in 1960. That one of Maheu's partners was traveling with Richard Nixon on the campaign trail couldn't have had anything to do with it, could it? While ostensibly a middleman and cut-out he quickly blew the CIA's cover with the mob and gave Johnny Rosselli and Sam Giancana blackmail-ability over the CIA, which Rosselli at least tried to use. Maheu himself used his connection to the hits and his relationship to the CIA to evade legal difficulties related to his wiretapping Sam Giancana's girlfriend's room.

The wiretap charges stemmed from Maheu's hiring of men to bug the room of Phyllis McGuire so Sam could tell what she was up to. In what was clearly a cover story to evade prosecution, Maheu told the FBI he was bugging her to see if she was leaking details about the CIA/Mafia hits on Castro. Details she presumably would not have known. He therefore compromised the whole operation to save his butt since he knew Hoover hated the CIA and might very well talk. If Sam had actually been talking to his girlfriend, this again reflects badly on Maheu since it was at his urging that Giancana was brought into the loop as "back-up" to Rosselli. He also told Howard Hughes about the attempts on Castro, in order to get time off from his ongoing operations for Hughes, which included signing beauty queens to exclusive personal contracts.

In Robert F Kennedy and His Times, Arthur Schlesinger recounts that Maheu's buddy Edward Bennett Williams was told about the assassination attempts by Giancana, while Giancana was attempting to engage him as his lawyer for a fight against the Government. When asked by Williams to confirm Giancana's role, Maheu confirmed, thereby giving his buddy Giancana (and his buddy Williams) a shot at blackmailing the government. Some cut-out!

Maheu arranged for Howard Hughes to buy up Las Vegas, rewarding his friends and members of the mob with substantial "finder's fees." Finder's fees went to people such as lawyer Edward P. Morgan, newspaper publisher Hank Greenspun, and Johnny Rosselli.

Maheu's buddy Greenspun printed the first "Bobby tried to kill Castro but it backfired" story some time before the infamous Drew Pearson story.

The Drew Pearson story went to print of course right after Bobby came out against the Vietnam war. Morgan told the story to Pearson a few months earlier. Morgan testified that his source for the story was not Rosselli, but Maheu, and that Maheu had told him so that Morgan could pressure the government to kill an investigation of Maheu's wiretapping.

When James Phelan infiltrated Jim Garrison's office and gained access to documents he thought could blow Garrison's case against Clay Shaw, he turned to a trusted ally, Robert Maheu, to help him make copies of the documents.

Phelan would eventually write a book about Howard Hughes using inside sources, including Maheu. One might wonder then if Phelan's exposure of Garrison wasn't done on behalf of Maheu, and that Maheu paid him back with the book on Hughes. Due to Maheu's long-time relationship to the CIA, and the CIA's interest in the Clay Shaw trial, this is not so far-fetched.

Maheu delivered cash to various political figures on behalf of Hughes, including Richard Nixon. Maheu also hired Larry O'Brien (the future basketball commissioner) to represent Hughes in Washington.

When Hughes fired Maheu, accusing him of conspiring with the mob to rob him blind, O'Brien, who had since become chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was also let go. This led the paranoid Nixon to assume that Maheu had told O'Brien about the illegal cash contributions. Howard Hunt, who was, strangely enough, working for both Nixon and Hughes, proposed a joint White House/Hughes break-in into Hank Greenspun's safe to see what kind of dirt Maheu might have given Greenspun. In an attempt to find out exactly what O'Brien knew, some guys broke into the Watergate Hotel and bugged O'Brien's phone. The result: Watergate and the downfall of Richard Nixon. The one man on the scene to escape without prosecution? Lou Russell, a former employee of Maheu's. ( I'm gonna double-check this.)

The lawyer hired by the Democratic Party to keep the break-in in the news and assure the fall of Nixon????? Maheu's buddy Edward Bennett Williams...

Former Warren Commission member Gerald Ford's first pick as the new CIA Director after firing Colby for talking too much--a position eventually handed over to George HW Bush--Edward Bennett Williams.

Jimmy Hoffa's, Richard Helms', and John Connally's attorney??? (All possibly connected to the JFK assassination) Edward Bennett Williams.

And who hired up Robert Kennedy's secretary, Angie Novello, the last person known to have JFK's missing brain, after he was killed? Edward Bennett Williams.

This really makes me scratch my head. Isn't it time someone really digs into Maheu and Williams and their ties to both the CIA and the mob? With their resumes, I continue to view them as top suspects in the JFK assassination.

This post has been edited by Pat Speer: Feb 26 2005, 04:01 PM

For those new to the subject: Maheu was the guy who was supposed to give the ''green light'' to the internal Cuban uprising that would support the Bay of Pigs Op in 1961. Maheu's contact would, in turn, notify his network in Cuba who were to poison Fidel with cyanide pills provided by CIA. Unfortunately, the person he was supposed to notify had been sequestered by other CIA agents and that part of the plan never took off because no one in Maheu's part of CIA knew where.

Thank you, MinM. Your posts are required reading. Big Business, Texas Oil, NAZI henchmen, the CIA and the Mafia all come together in Hughes. For some, there's safety in numbers.
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MinM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-18-08 12:22 AM
Response to Reply #5
10. Thanks, Octafish...
Here's more about the 'Battle of the Bobs' for the Hughes Empire:

Keep up the great work. :patriot:
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MinM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-16-08 09:34 AM
Response to Original message
9. Iron Bob v Senator Bob
Another interesting tidbit is that Robert Maheu ended up losing the power struggle for Howard Hughes' Estate to the current junior Senator from Utah:

Sen Robert Bennett (R-UT) and the Mullen Company
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