I have a lot of respect for Thom Hartmann. I'm a regular listener of his radio program. But I'm unable to reconcile his contribution to the book Ultimate Sacrifice (by Lamar Waldron with Thom Hartmann, Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York, 2005), which lays exclusive blame for the JFK assassination on members of the Mafia. I know nothing about the principal author, Lamar Waldron, but I'm disappointed in Hartmann for supporting the book's conclusions.
Ultimate Sacrifice provides thorough documentation of the Mafia's collaboration with the CIA on various plots, assassinations, and acts of sabotage against Cuba. Maybe better than any other source, it details a long-classified Kennedy Administration plan to kill Castro and install a US-friendly regime in his place. And it gives extensive coverage of the activities of the intelligence agents, informants, Cuban Exiles, and Mafia figures in and around the JFK assassination. But the authors' allegation that three Mafia families (with some help from Jimmy Hoffa) killed JFK without substantial involvement of elements of the US government is na´ve, and detrimental to our long-term national interest in a legal and responsible government.
In explaining away our government's role in the JFK assassination there has always been a dilemma. If it's maintained that elements of the US government and powerful interests behind the government weren't involved in the assassination, either the lone gunman theory has to be defended (always a circus), or some compelling reasons have to be found for the cover-up of conspiracy. In opting for the latter, the authors have satisfied themselves with the discovery of various personal intrigues and secondary conspiracies. The centerpiece of Ultimate Sacrifice is the story of a Kennedy Administration plan for a "palace coup" in Cuba, including US military assistance - massive if need be - to guarantee success in overthrowing the Castro government. The authors argue that the involvement of the Mafia in the plan provided a cover for their conspiracy to kill JFK, and that issues of national security and policy, including protection of the plan, discouraged an in-depth investigation of the assassination.
But think about it: The authors claim that the US was prepared to engineer and support a coup against Castro with whatever military force might be necessary, but was supposedly concerned that the plan, if revealed, even after it was abandoned, would constitute a terrible threat to national security, and might even bring about a nuclear war with the USSR. This is so illogical that only a parochial American perspective could account for it. First, the use of force is obviously more provocative than a revelation of an unused plan to use force. Second, the existence of US plans, not to mention operations to overthrow the Castro regime may have been a secret to the American public, but it was hardly breaking news to Cuba and the USSR.
It's not just that the protection of the plan as an option is alleged to have led to a cover-up and obstructed the investigation of the conspiracy. The plan was quickly abandoned after JFK was gone and RFK was marginalized, but its continued suppression even up to the present time has supposedly been considered more important than bringing conspirators to justice for the murder of a President.
A secondary reason the authors give for the cover-up of the conspiracy and obstruction of justice for the high crime of JFK's assassination was the avoidance of embarrassment to various government agencies. Certainly, embarrassment would be the lot (at the very least) of those who were responsible for keeping the President safe but failed to do so out of incompetence or dereliction. But for embarrassment to be a prevailing factor in a cover-up there would have to have been no one in the various chains of command who was both beyond reproach and seriously disturbed about the murder of a President. Anyone beyond blame who was committed to accountability and justice, in a government innocent of the crime, would only be elevated, both morally and professionally, by insisting on full disclosure and punishment. The Director of the CIA John McCone, for one, who had been deceived about various CIA-Mafia collaborations, and also, no doubt, about CIA involvement in the JFK assassination, would hardly have been more concerned about his agency's embarrassment than about uncovering those who had deceived and betrayed him.
Another motive offered by the authors for the cover-up was protection of national intelligence secrets, agents, and informants. But investigations and prosecutions can and do regularly proceed with whatever safeguards are considered necessary. Closed-door sessions and presentations of evidence are a common and accepted remedy when national security is involved. The Warren Commission and the Congressional investigation of the assassination both used closed doors, without repercussions. And in fact the prosecution of Jack Ruby went ahead without public disclosure of his intimate ties with the Mafia. The government could have gone after the Mafia, and concealed any sensitive evidence at the same time; in the event, they chose only to destroy or bury the evidence. All this is fairly obvious. Frankly, one has to be in psychological denial to believe that a legitimate concern for secrets would preclude justice for a murdered President, and punishment for those involved in the treasonous act.
The implication of the theory offered in Ultimate Sacrifice is that any crime could be committed, even assassination of a President, so long as certain complications can be contrived. (Are you involved in law enforcement? A member or asset of an intelligence service? Under surveillance by a national security agency? Have some important dirt on someone or some several at the top? Hate the President? Got a patsy lined up? What's holding you back?)