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the rebels were to be greeted as liberators and march on Havana, where they would topple Castro’s revolution. The Eisenhower administration had produced the low-budget thriller, but left it for airing during the new president’s prime time. In turn, for John Kennedy the Bay of Pigs reaffirmed everything he suspected about military incompetencesomething he may have witnessed firsthand on lonely patrols among the choppy waters around the Solomon Islands during World War II. He might have devoured James Bond novels and bought into the myths of the Green Berets, but he also had qualities, in the words of social critic Paul Fussell, of a “pissed-off infantryman,” a junior officer who thought the military brass had conducted the war to gloss their reputationsat the expense of those at the sharp end. Kennedy had little love for Castro or the Cuban revolution, but his personal after-action account of that battle was to conclude that the more dangerous foe was his own government’s militarism. Talbot describes JFK raging after the Bay of Pigs: “I have got to do something about those CIA bastards?’ Later JFK said about the Army: “They always give you their bullshit about their instant reaction and splitsecond timing, but it never works out. No wonder it’s so hard to win a war:’ The Bay of Pigs debacle may have ended Kennedy’s confidence in the Joint Chiefs and their intelligence brethren, but it did not cover the family’s political side bets that Castro-baiting was a way to carry Florida’s electoral votes. Jack thought of Cuba as a “good, safe menace” to be exploited for political gain. He assigned Bobby to monitor Operation Mongoose, yet another back channel tuned to a frequency that might somehow overthrow Castro’s regime, partly with the help of Mafia assassins. One reason, according to Talbot, that Bobby never took his conspiracy investigations too far publicly was the chance that they might have revealed not just his role in the CIA’s Cuban adventures, but the cooperation of the same mobsters whom Bobby had devoted his career to investigating. In an interview, former Kennedy Justice official Nicholas Katzenbach tells Talbot: “I think the idea he could be responsible for his brother’s death might be the most terrible idea imaginable.” One tragedy of the Kennedy assassination is that while one part of JFK’s administration is prosecuting and deporting gangsters, other bureaus of the same government are recruiting exactly the same hit men to whack Castro. Indeed, Talbot concludes that one incentive for the mobsters to play Cuban games was the hope that it might earn them immunity from Robert Kennedy’s prosecutions. But its consequence was to align two rogue elements that hated the Kennedy administrationthe anti-Castro wolf pack and the Mafiaand place them under the loose leadership of the CIA, which had its own elements that despised the president. In a further tragic irony, after the Bay of Pigs, Jack had assigned Bobby to rein in the darker impulses of the CIA, where he would stop many mornings on the way to the Justice Department. Bobby, whom Adlai Stevenson nicknamed “the black prince,” was atop the house of cards in which both kings and jokers were wild. According to Talbot, the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 collapsed the deck. In exchange for the withdrawal of the Russian warheads, Kennedy pledged not to invade Cuba and decommissioned missiles in Turkey. Ironically, the confrontation brought Kennedy closer to Khrushchev, because both of whom felt themselves hostage to militarism. But it severed any civil relations the president had with certain intelligence and military circles. Air Force Gen. and Joint Chief Curtis LeMay said: “We had a chance to throw the Communists out of Cuba. But the administration was scared to death [the Russians] might shoot a missile at us.” Talbot develops this thesis: “For those militants who were part of the massive juggernaut organized to destroy the Castro regime, the peaceful resolution of the missile crisis was a betrayal worse than the Bay of Pigs?’ The rogue elements, which Bobby and Jack thought could be maintained at a slow boil for political purposes, were suddenly steaming. Talbot concludes: “The assassination conspiracy against Castroa three-headed Gorgon featuring the CIA on top, flanked by the Mafia and its Cuban accompliceswas again in motion?’ Little wonder that on November 22, 1963, Bobby Kennedy called one of his own Cuban conspirators and said accusingly: “One of your guys did it.” Talbot adds that RFK might well have said: “One of my guys did it.” “I think the idea [Bobby] could be responsible for his brother’s death might be the most terrible idea imaginable.” Reading about the assassination, I sometimes get the feeling that chartered buses were shuttling gunmen to Dallas because, by November 1963, so many diverse elements saw their survival in Kennedy’s demise. “In the weeks preceding Dallas,” Talbot writes, “he was informed of two serious assassination plots against him one in Chicago and the other in Tampa. We can now conclude that Kennedy was, in fact, being methodically stalked in the final weeks of his life.” Talbot describes many of the groups harboring murderous grievances, such as a New Orleans mobster, Carlos Marcello, whom Bobby Kennedy was trying to deport: “Marcello told his visitors that he had made up his mind that President Kennedy had to go, but his assassination had to be arranged in such a way that a ‘nut’ would be set up to take the blame`the way they do it in Sicily.'” Talbot also delves into Kennedy family history to explain how some of these confrontations had evolved, writing about Joseph Kennedy Sr.’s liquor dealings with the mob and Bobby’s later crusade against racketeering: “In his role as the scourge of organized crime, Bobby had found a way to combine his father’s raging will with his mother’s religious purity. AUGUST 10, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13