CIA offered Chicago mob boss $150,000 to kill Castro
By Laura Myers, Chicago Sun_Times, 2 July 1997
WASHINGTON--The CIA offered the late Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana $150,000 to assassinate Fidel Castro in the early 1960s, but the mob insisted on taking the job for free, according to a newly declassified document.
"We were at [ideological] war," says Robert Maheu, who as a Las Vegas private investigator on the CIA payroll in 1960 hired Giancana for the hit. "Would it be folly to go after Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War or to go after Hitler during World War II?"
The underworld murder-for-hire contract was detailed in a summary of a May, 1962, CIA briefing for Attorney General Robert Kennedy. By then, the Kennedy White House had launched its unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and several assassination attempts against Castro had failed. The memo is among 450 documents, nearly all newly declassified, that are included in a soon-to-be released State Department volume, "Cuba, 1961-62." Only two copies of the three-page memo were made, one each for the attorney general and CIA headquarters.
In the memo, former CIA director of security Sheffield Edwards wrote that senior agency officials had approved plots to kill Castro between August, 1960, and May, 1961.
The memo said Maheu contacted John Rosselli, a top Giancana lieutenant, to arrange the hits on Castro.
"A figure of $150,000 was set by the agency as a payment to be made on completion of the operation," the memo said. Rosselli and Giancana "emphatically stated that they wished no part of any payment," it added. Still, $11,000 in expenses was paid.
Rosselli and Giancana, both later victims of mob hits, weren't told the U.S. government put the contract out on Castro, but they "guessed or assumed that CIA was behind the project," the memo says.
After the Bay of Pigs invasion failed to oust Castro in April, 1961, President John F. Kennedy and his brother, the attorney general, tacitly approved a renewed CIA effort to kill the Cuban leader.
At least two assassination attempts were made with CIA-supplied lethal pills and organized-crime support in early 1961, according to the memo and congressional hearings in 1975. Lawmakers counted a total of eight CIA tries to kill Castro in the early 1960s.
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