One of the suspicious deaths of JFK assassination witnesses recounted in Richard Belzer’s best-seller “Hit List” is the murder of Sam Giancana, a Mafiia boss. Giancana was shot to death in his home in suburban Chicago on June 19, 1975, apparently by someone whom he admitted to his house. Giancana was scheduled to testify to the House Select Committee on Assassinations about his knowledge of events leading the death of President Kennedy.
Defenders of the official story deride Belzer’s thesis but suspicions that JFK witnesses faced retribution reached high into the CIA. In 1978, one veteran of the clandestine service testified under oath that he thought another CIA official might have been the killer of Giancana.
John Whitten, a retired CIA employee, said that he suspected his colleague William K. Harvey, one-time head of the CIA’s assassination program, might have been involved. Whitten was a rare CIA hero in the JFK story. He was deeply involved in the CIA’s first investigation of Oswald, only to be ousted for seeking to investigate Oswald’s Cuban connections. Whitten also knew Harvey well from their time working for the CIA in Europe in the 1950s.
Harvey served as chief of the CIA’s program to overthrow Fidel Castro in 1961-62 and openly derided Attorney General Robert Kennedy for what he regarded as the Kennedy administration’s weak Cuba policy.
Harvey also knew Giancana. In 1961, he enlisted Giancana and other organized crime leaders in a conspiracy to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Whitten, who served as chief of the Mexico desk in the clandestine service in 1963 told investigators in closed-door testimony in 1978 that, “Harvey was really a hard-boiled unsubtle, ruthless guy who was, in my opinion, a very dangerous man.”
Whitten went on:
“I have wondered–I wondered if the government ever looked into the possibility that Harvey did not knock off Giancomo [Giancana]. He lived in the same area when he retired. He was a great one with guns. I read it in the newspaper. I was overseas and I said to myself I wondered if they looked into Bill Harvey.”
Harvey lived in Indianapolis at the time of Giancana’s murder.
Bayard Stockton, another former CIA colleague turned journalist, wrote a critical biography of Harvey that examined allegations that he might have been involved in the JFK’s assassination. After an extensive review of the evidence, Stockton concluded that Harvey’s connection “to the assassination cannot be proven or disproven.”
Harvey died on June 9, 1976.