Month: June 2016

cia jfkOctober, 2017, will mark a turning point in American history.  Pursuant to the JFK Records Act of 1992, all remaining classified files relating to the assassination of President John Kennedy  are slated to be released to the American public.  If no opposition is received from the FBI, CIA or any government agency with a vested interest in the files, more than 3,000 pages of once classified documents will be disclosed more than 50 years after Kennedy’s tragic death on the streets of Dallas, Texas.

While the news of this possible release of thousands of documents is uplifting, it also raises concerns about the U.S. intelligence community and its prior actions under Kennedy’s administration. Researchers of JFK’s murder have long suspected the involvement of the CIA of having a role in the murder.  And although no one at the CIA was ever officially charged or prosecuted for Kennedy’s death, there were many actions of the agency that were not only strange but deeply disturbing.  The House Select Committee on Assassinations served to shed light on the mysterious agency whose cover had been slowly lifted as a result of the Watergate investigation and the failed counterintelligence activities James J. Angleton, arguably the most mysterious figure in CIA history.  The American public learned of the infamous actions of the agency in places such as Nazi Germany, Iraq, Guatemala and Cuba.  The alliance with Italian-American gangsters and the smuggling of arms and ammunition to Cuban rebels opened the eyes of many Americans unaware of the true activities of the secretive agency.  If the documents are released next October, just what exactly could that mean for the CIA and the American public?  Jefferson Morley seeks to answer those questions in this short analysis of the many unanswered questions regarding the CIA and the death of John F. Kennedy.

A study of the assassination produces an endless amount of names, places, times and locations.  Like a never-ending puzzle, it’s a mystery that has grown deeper over time.  But as the layers of complexity have been peeled off, names and faces have been matched putting together crucial pieces of the crime.  Among those faces which are known to long-term investigators, assassination researchers and mentioned in this book are David Morales, David Atlee Phillips, Richard Helms, and the legendary and infamous William Harvey.  While none of the aforementioned were ever charged with any crime relating to Kennedy’s death, their names have come up more than once over the years as suspects who may have taken part in the plan to murder Kennedy or in the actions to cover up the crime.  The documents slated for release contain pages of information relating to most of these complex figures. Morley touches briefly on the lives of these former intelligence legends giving a primer of what could possibly come forth with the release of the once classified records.

The murder of John F. Kennedy continues to haunt the United States and is by far the most infamous murder of a government official in United States history.  To the young generation of America, Kennedy is a remnant of a very distant past, but for older Americans, his death was a turning point in the direction and history of the United States.  Some have speculated that the truth about JFK’s murder would never been known, at least not in this lifetime.  The release of the records in October, 2017 gives hope that the truth may eventually come out and possibly in this lifetime.  And as Morley has pointed out, the CIA may have serious cause for concern.

 

 

 

 

Assassinations Uncategorized

garveyIn the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn lies Marcus Garvey Blvd, a street named after the late iconic figure in the African-American struggle for civil rights in the United States and abroad. The native son of Jamaica and former resident of London, England,  made his name famous on the streets of Harlem, New York through the formation and activities of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).   The organization’s purpose to build up the moral, economical and social status of Black Americans, combined with his “back to Africa” movement, remain defining movements in the African-American experience.  At the time of his death on June 10, 1940,  Garvey was a shadow of his former self after several severe strokes had taken their toll on his aging body.  His death dealt a sever blow to the strengthening movement for equality.  And 76 years after his death, his writings, speeches and life, are still remembered, quoted and analyzed for they  remind us of the importance of standing up for what we believe in.  Garvey remains one of most magnetic figures of the 20th century.

The rise and fall of the Black Start Line is often the focus of many articles about Garvey.  And while the history of the line is unfortunate, the real Marcus Garvey typically remains hidden in the shadows.   But who was Marcus Garvey and why is his story so important to the history of the United States and the movement for civil rights? Colin Grant presents to us the definitive biography of the late icon and his controversial and tragic life.  Born in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, on August 17,1887, to the late Malchus Garvey, he would leave his native Jamaica many times throughout his life,  making his mark across the world.   Grant takes us back in time to witness the rise of the most gifted orators to speak directly to the soul of African-Americans. Garvey’s fiery rhetoric and inviting personality, earned him a legion of believers, intent on following him all the way back to Africa by way of Liberia.

But behind the speeches and mass congregations, the personal life of Marcus Garvey was nothing short of complex, filled with stress, fear, disappointment & violence.  As leader of the UNIA, he would face continuous battles with other leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois.  His success and influence also earned him the watchful eye of the Bureau of Investigation, the predecessor of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, headed by a young J. Edgar Hoover.  Once shot and wounded and suspected in the violent deaths of others, Garvey was no stranger to violence and death.  Grant has carefully researched the episodes and revisits them here showing the behind the scenes movements that helped Garvey rise to fame and which also caused his demise. At many points throughout the book, the reader is forced to confront the fact that Garvey, for all of his good deeds and intentions, was also a seriously flawed person at heart.  But his shortcomings in no way detract from his vision for the complete freedom of Black Americans from the brutal system of racial injustice.

To the youth of today, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement and even apartheid are old terms relating to an era to which they could never relate. But for many older Americans and people abroad, the dark periods that exemplified some of the worst actions humanity has ever witnessed, remain fresh in the mind as if they happened yesterday.  While it will be rare to find someone alive today from Garvey’s generation, there are those among us who can relate to us the importance of his life.  Many years after his death, he was named a national hero in his native Jamaica and across the world his name is still remembered.  He is no longer with us, but left us many writings and speeches to remind us of the importance of self-preservation, respect and the well-being of all of our brothers and sisters from all backgrounds.  For those interested in Garvey’s life to see who the man behind the speeches was, this book is an excellent place to start.

 

Biographies Civil Rights Movement Uncategorized

chin2On December 19, 2005, Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, died at the age of 77 at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.  The late mafia boss gained notoriety on the streets of Little Italy as he walked about in a bathrobe speaking incoherently to himself and those around him.  He became known in the media at the “Oddfather”.  His death marks the end of an era as the late Gigante is considered to be among the last of the old-fashioned Mafioso who controlled the streets of New York City.  The former boxer, trigger man and boss remains a legend in organized crime history.

But just who was the true Vincent Gigante? And what really went on behind the bathrobe and mystifying ramblings?  Larry McShane, a writer for the NY Daily News, presents to us an inside look into the life of one of the most intriguing mob bosses to have ever lived.  Based on interviews with those who knew him, including his younger brother Father Louis Gigante, court records, investigation records and testimonials of mafia members,  McShane has composed a definitive account of Gigante’s life from his beginnings on the lower East Side all the way to his final confession that his “demented” state was an act to throw off authorities.  And what has resulted, is an incredible life story of a complex character committed to the life of La Costra Nostra.

Before reading this book, I had little knowledge of Gigante’s vast family, including several siblings and the two women in his life with whom he created two separate families while at the same time, ruling a Mafia family with an iron fist.  The careful don evaded conviction through several decades due to impeccable street smarts and a cloak of privacy that confused and threw off investigators for years before the final curtain call.  Once a confederate of such names as Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello and Vito Genovese, the late Gigante was a walking history book having witnessed some of the most important events to have taken place within the American Mafia.  And even among some of the most hardened members, his name evoked fear and images of murder and other acts of vengeance.

Today, the Genovese crime family is far different from under the leadership of the Chin.  The big names are either deceased or in prison and the family no longer has the power it once did.  The RICO act combined with the testimony of cooperating witnesses served as the final nail in the family’s coffin.  But while the family has lost a large portion of its aura, the Gigante name lives on as does the Chin’s legacy.  Some of us will feel that he was nothing more than a street thug who came up with a ridiculous gimmick while others will look back on their time with him and remember a loving relative and good friend.    His past deeds and life aside, he remains a crucial figure in New York City and American history.  For those who are interested in the Italian-American Mafia and the life of one of its most colorful bosses, this book is a must read.

 

Biographies Uncategorized

good-copThe arrest and subsequent conviction of former NYPD Police Officer Michael Dowd highlighted the perils of decades long corruption that plagued many precincts in the New York  City Police Department.  Dowd and several other officers had engaged in a multitude of crimes ranging from narcotics trafficking and possession, armed robbery and accessories to murder . Several had even violated department protocol by appearing for work under the influence of alcohol or narcotics or sometimes both.  When the scandal in the 75th precinct made headlines, a whole city was stunned and for many, it confirmed many of their beliefs about the NYPD being a corrupt agency full of crooked cops.  The fallout from the scandal would force Mayor David Dinkins and Police commissioner Lee Brown to act quickly.  The Mollen Commission was created to investigate the pattern of police corruption that had been plaguing the City of New York. Its final report was published in July, 1994 and remains freely available for those interested in one of the darkest periods in New York City history.

One nagging question that never went away was how was Dowd and the other cops allowed to operate for so long without being noticed?  The official story was that their activities were well hidden from prying eyes.  However, the late Mike McAlary (1957-1998) who worked for the NY Daily News for 12 years, brings us the story of retired officer Joseph Tromboli who pursued Dowd for several years before he was apprehended by Suffolk County detectives in a separate drug trafficking case.   And what we learn in Tromboli’s story sheds light on the repeated failures of the Internal Affairs Division of the NYPD to remove Dowd from the NYPD and formally charge him with the many crimes he had been freely committing. A seasoned investigator and no-nonsense officer, Tromboli dedicated his life to catching down and in the process sacrificed his own happiness and many important parts of his life.   His efforts however, were not in vain and upon the publishing of the scandal in the City’s newspapers and the Mollen Commission that followed, Tromboli would be vindicated as the cop who had tried but was prevented from bringing down the most corrupt cop in New York City history.  This is his story and the good, the bad and the ugly side of the blue wall.

Investigative Report

murder machineDeMeo and his crew of psychopathic killers engaged in killing on a scale that rivaled the actions of the former crew of contract killers out of Brownsville, Murder, Inc., during the early half of the 1900s.  And although he’s been deceased since 1983, his name and reign of terror remain legendary in mafia history.  Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci bring us their account of DeMeo’s reign of terror in this excellent investigative report that gives the full story of the rise and fall of one of the most violent street crews in New York City history.   Carefully researched and aided by firsthand accounts of former associates and witnesses, the duo revisits the past and the early lives of Antonio “Nino” Gaggi, Roy DeMeo and Dominick Montiglio, the only surviving member from DeMeo’s crew.

While society tends to glorify stories about the mob through films and documentaries, this book is anything but that.  What we learn in these pages is that the characters we follow, operate in a completely different world.  The majority have limited education, are prone to acts of violence and often fall victim to the many vices that lie in wait on the gritty streets of the inner city.  Deceit, suspicions, greed and homicidal urges take center stage revealing a complex web that devours nearly all of its participants.  The crimes are grisly and the crew’s “disposal” of bodies borders on the macabre.  The book is not for the faint of heart but it is the definitive account of the murderous reign of one of Brooklyn’s most feared killers next to the grim reaper himself, Greg Scarpa.

Similar to Goodfellas, the stories are entertaining and thrilling, the fallout is tragic and in the end we are able to see the dark side of a life in crime and the many victims, both living and deceased that are created in the pattern of dysfunction filled with the worst traits a person can have.  The authors did a phenomenal job of covering the trials and convictions of the major players.  The private and mysterious Walter Mack also makes an appearance and his role and importance in the convictions is on full display.  And the heroic efforts of the many detectives that spent countless hours in their investigations are rightfully profiled.  Nearly all of the gangsters in the book are gone with almost every single one having met a violent end.  However, their names are still mentioned today and their stories continue to be told.  Their stories are a critical part of the history of New York and will remain with us until the end of time.  For those who enjoy true crime and are fascinated by the inner workings of the American mafia, this book is among the best.

ISBN-10: 0451403878
ISBN-13: 978-0451403872

 

 

Investigative Report Uncategorized