Suspicious JFK deaths: CIA colleague suspected Bill Harvey in mobster murder

John Whitten, a top CIA official in 1963, had suspicions about a colleague.

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:

Flawed Patriot

A biography of Harvey by a former colleague.

“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.



  1. Ted Rubinstein says:

    Can anyone corroborate the allegation that Giancana’s lawyer at the Senate hearing where RFK chided Sam about “only little girls giggling” was John Bates whose house in Gilroy was where Kennedy by his own claim stayed all day , the day Marilyn Monroe died in 1962?

  2. Gerry Simone says:

    Just saw the Mob Story episode on AMC about the rise and fall of Giancana which ignored his intelligence connections.

    Giancana pled the 5th while laughing at RFK in the early days.

    Sam Giancana’s godson in the book Double Cross also claimed that Giancana was no snitch or rat, and felt that the CIA was probably responsible to make it look like a mob hit.

    Gerry Simone

  3. Kennedy63 says:

    I think Harvey is a prime suspect in both the JFK and RFK deaths. White-heat murderous passion was what Harvey felt about the Kennedy’s. JFK was a traitor and soft on Communism RFK was a tyrant and piss ant rich kid who, had his brother not been President, Bobby would be just another lawyer in Washington, DC. Harvey knew Dulles, Angleton, Helms, Hunt, Giancana, Roselli, and many others who have been a part of the Kennedy assassinations. Harvey may well have been the mastermind behind the to crimes. Maybe. More likely, the people who killed JFK needed to silence RFK as a way of keeping him out of the Presidency in 1968. Harvey should always be a suspect, just as Marcello and Trafficante, Roselli, and Giacana are suspects. Like CIA insiders are susect. Like certain Generals are suspect. Like certain oil men from Texas. Like certain Cubans from the Bay of Pigs. Like all of them working together in a network against Communism.

  4. Harvey died on June 9, 1976.

    No he didn’t! He died of a heart attack the year 1993 in New Rochelle, New York witnessed by E Howard Hunt both men were my friends.

  5. Shirley anne moore says:

    William King Harvey in the late forties or early fifties. Hid my mother and I, giving us fake documents, including a fake marriage certificate, with the date he resigned from the FBI,

  6. Philip Zozzaro says:

    I believe that in Bloody Treason by Noel Twyman, the author states that Robert McNamara believed that a CIA employee most likely Bill Harvey killed Sam Giancana

  7. LMB says:

    Santo Trafficante would have been my first suspect since he had a reputation for getting rid of anyone in anything he didn’t like or if it could implement him.

  8. Alan Dale says:

    The murders of high-profile mob figures and associates during the brief period of official congressional investigations made news. It would hardly be unreasonable to conclude that those notorious figures may have been killed because of what they might have been able to reveal.

    Or, maybe it was just made to look that way.

    It’s reasonable to note that a figure such as William King Harvey would have been one of a very few to have had unguarded access to someone such as Sam Giancana. I believe they shared a rather exclusive familiarity with important secrets. So, the fact that Angleton was busying himself making sure to promote the “Look what the mob did because of the Church Committee” explanation, I have to wonder if there was an ulterior motive.

    There aren’t many people around whom Sam Giancana felt he could turn his back in his pajamas while frying sausage and peppers.

    • grant marcus says:

      Please read the “Devil’s Chessboard” by Mark Talbot, that might provide an update for you on JFK’s assassination, and the CIA’s motives for doing so. According to this author, both the CIA and the Mafia, which often worked together on other crimes against humanity, were working together on the JFK assassination. Ironically, it was Bobby Kennedy who came down hard on the CIA for using mafioso types for their dirtiest jobs. RFK despised the ruthlessness of the Mafia, and didn’t feel it belonged anywhere close to government. If he knew there were Mafia connections in the killing of his brother, before he, himself was assassinated, he’s probably still rolling over in his grave today. The CIA loved to hire Nazis,
      thousands of them, to also do their dirty work, mostly abroad.
      Even though the CIA has used the Mafia, and catapulted Nazis to the highest ranks of its organization, while being suspect to the murder of one of our presidents, the CIA remains the only unchecked agency in government, and with a million members strong, has become a country within a country, and a government within our government.

  9. jeff pascal says:

    That really is interesting.In Hit List & the book JFK & Sam, family members and Associates are wondering the same thing, thst is- the mob didn’t kill Giancana.I’ve always thought the plots to kill Castro were extremely important in understanding the Assassination of JFK and are often overlooked.

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