His brother’s keeper: RFK immediately suspected a plot

After his brother was shot dead in Dallas on Nov. 22 1963, the Attorney General suspected the CIA, the Mafia and anti-Castro Cubans, according to an excellent article in the The Boston Globe.

Interestingly, Bobby never for moment considered the now-fashionable “Castro did it” theory.

(If the link hits a paywall, click here for the story)

RFK in the shadow of assassination

The chief suspects, according to reporters Bryan Bender and Neil Swidey:

The Mafia

After hearing the news from Dallas, “Bobby picked up the phone and dialed a Chicago lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board by the name of Julius Draznin. Bobby knew Draznin had impeccable mob sources, so he asked him to do some digging to determine if there had been any Mafia involvement in the assassination. ‘I called him back in a couple of days,'” Draznin later told Evan Thomas, author of ‘Robert Kennedy: His Life.’ ‘There was nothing.'”


“When [Director John] McCone arrived from CIA headquarters, Bobby paced the lawn of his estate with him. As Bobby later told historian and aide Arthur Schlesinger, he asked McCone point blank if the CIA ‘had killed my brother, and I asked him in a way that he couldn’t lie to me, and they hadn’t.’ McCone was a devout Catholic, leading many to believe that their shared faith was behind Bobby’s confidence in the CIA director’s candor. McCone, according to Schlesinger’s biography, ‘Robert Kennedy and His Times,’ would come to believe that there had been two shooters in Dallas, though he didn’t think the American intelligence agency was in any way involved.

“But McCone almost certainly didn’t know the whole truth ….”

Anti-Castro Cubans

“In the time that Bobby had been overseeing his brother’s so-called Special Group team on Cuba, he had come to appreciate just how ungovernable the Cuban exile community could be. It hadn’t taken long on Nov. 22 for speculation to focus on the possible involvement of Fidel Castro, given the Kennedy administration’s repeated attempts to oust or assassinate the Communist leader. That speculation only intensified after the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, whose record of pro-Castro agitation quickly came to light. Yet it’s intriguing that Bobby’s suspicion of possible Cuban involvement seemed to focus squarely on the anti-Castro crowd.”

6 thoughts on “His brother’s keeper: RFK immediately suspected a plot”

  1. Bobby never considered the “Castro did it ” theory.
    Maybe he didn’t want to- because if true it would imply his own actions contributed to the assassination.Perhaps he did consider it, we will never know. We do know that would not be unique, as JFK’s closest advisor always blamed himself for setting up the Texas trip, a perception that almost certainly contributed to his alcoholism and early death.

    1. It wouldn’t make much sense to conclude that Bobby Kennedy would consider himself in any way but tangentially responsible for his brother’s death if it were at the hands of Castro. All the evidence we have states that the CIA wanted Castro dead before the Kennedy’s took over the White House and they neglected to even tell their ne Director McCone and the young President of their plans. Nor do we have credible evidence that Bobby Kennedy wittingly consented to the later assassination plots.

      If anything, he already knew he and the CIA were working with Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro (and that the CIA had tried to use the Mafia to kill Castro), he was vigorously pursuing the Mafia, and he knew there had been significant problems between his administration and the CIA…Is it a coincidence that he immediately suspects involvement of the Cuban exiles, Mafia and CIA, all of whom had working relationships?

      Anthony Summers work following in the footsteps of Gaeton Fonzi and the HSCA concludes what RFK probably started thinking about on 11/22/63:

      Anti Castro Cuban exiles posed as Castro sympathizers and recruited Oswald for an operation (killing the President, shooting at his car, etc). The Mafia facilitated the operation – Trafficante’s former bodyguard Herminio Diaz Garcia may have been a shooter. They then had Oswald killed. Oswald was not on the FBI Security Index because of multiple “failures” by James Jesus Angleton and his ilk at Langley.

      The same Angleton who felt it necessary to break into the home of one of JFK’s mistresses after she was murdered, and who felt it necessary to clean out the office of Win Scot after his sudden death.

      You have to wonder if he wasn’t behind the break-in at William King Harvey’s home after his death?

  2. In my estimation, McCone lied to RFK. How do I come to this conclusion? Because Dino Brugioni (the point man at NPIC for CIA photo processing projects–including the U-2, SR-71 aircraft as well as the CORONA and GAMBIT satellite programs) provided his bosses Lundahl and McCone with a set of poster boards from the original version of the Zapruder film on November 23, 1963–which according to Brugioni, definitely was different from the current Zapruder version now at NARA, as well as the poster boards also now currently with NARA.

    You can read all about it here.


    I will express this: Someone ought to make the effort to track down a 1963/1964 Kodak, Rochester, NY telephone directory, and find out who was in the department that dealt with film making and animation. And then attempt to track down these people, and find out who was in the said department on November 23 and 24, 1963, and who gave them their “marching orders” to do this mish-mashing of the Zapruder film.

  3. I think these are the three main elements involved in the plot, although I also think that the CIA part involved only a “rogue” element.

    All these groups had a weird relationship at that time encompassing political assassinations. They all hated the Kennedys and stood to gain from his murder. They had experience doing such killings. And there is a ton of circumstantial and other evidence that elements from these groups were all over the place.

    It would also explain the refusal to do a real investigation. While the investigators may not have been in on the plot, exposing the corruption of some CIA elements and the lengths they went through to interfere in foreign nations would have embarrassed the government and the intelligence community. I tend to doubt theories that involve LBJ or other senior officials such as George Bush with any type of operational foreknowledge.

  4. Walt Brown, Ph.D.

    I try, when possible, to keep up with your “JFK Facts,” although recent media scheduling has put a limit on my time. If you would like to help the cause go forward, you might mention the 32,000 page “JFK Master Chronology,” available on Kindle, Nook, and Apple iTunes, as a 7.5 year search for tens of thousands of “JFK Facts.” Many thanks.

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