CIA, Sicily and Rio Grande do Norte



Lessons to Block Brazilian Fascism

The article that Seymour Hersh published this week on his blog at Substacks, this time no longer about the terrorist act committed by the US government against Nord Stream Pipelines, which brought Russian gas to Germany, but about the secret operation launched by the CIA against the mafia in Sicily, as determined by the Kennedy brothers. At the time, John was president and Bobby was attorney general.[I]

In addition to mentioning several attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, Seymour Hersh describes the long journey through the labyrinth of contacts, silences, false leads, canceled interviews and encrypted messages, until he discovered what happened in 1962. within the limits of this brief article, I record only the summary: with a view to weakening mafia groups in the USA, especially in Chicago, the agent Charley Ford was sent to Italy. It was the resumption of an anti-mafia offensive, which had marked Robert Kennedy's performance as an advisor to an important investigation commission in the Senate, in 1959. An offensive followed by a retreat, at the time inexplicable, now elucidated.

I quote Seymour Hersh in free translation: "Another factor in Bobby's decision to drop the charges against Giancana [prominent mobster] had to be the widespread belief that his father, with the approval of Jack (John's nickname), had made a deal with Giancana, whose political connections in Chicago were wide, for their support in the 1960 election. Furthermore, Jack Kennedy and Giancana were sleeping with the same woman, a fact that would only become public after her name, Judith Exner, was leaked during the Church Committee hearings. Bobby certainly knew that too.”[ii]

Bobby regained the initiative and dared a risky move: he demanded that the CIA deploy an agent to carry out a mission that he himself would determine and sent him to Italy. His task was to wiretap the leadership of two Mafia families, both faithful to Naples-based Camorra society, and sow discord between them, with targeted and selective leaks of untrue betrayals and mutual thefts, until they provoked the violent conflagration.

The counter-intelligence plan had the support of the Carabinieri and would not have been possible without the knowledge already accumulated by the CIA, which was monitoring the Camorra from Rome, taking advantage of the precarious means of communication used by the criminals. Seymour Hersh claims that, since the end of World War II, American agents were infiltrated and kept Christian Democratic politicians on their payroll.

In the words of Seymour Hersh, which I transcribe below: “The CIA threw its money at the corrupt Christian Democrats, the Mafia and the Media after the second world war, fearing that the left – that is, the Communist Party –, with its emphasis in social programs and stability at work, could conquer power”.[iii]

The fratricidal war between rival factions caused many losses among the mobsters, but ended up also affecting the Italian military and police, murdered in an attack, once the story reached the ears of the Camorra, which swore revenge, including against Bobby and John. The president was assassinated in November 1963, but the possible participation of the mafia was never even considered and this plot never came to light. WarrenCommission, responsible for investigating all the lines associated with the homicide.

What lessons can we draw, today, in Brazil, from a distant and distant fact in time? From my point of view, several: (i) In 2023, 60 years later, target monitoring does without the rudimentary technology of “taps”, as Snowden showed us. Resources are much more powerful. (ii) The idea of ​​mobilizing criminal groups against their competitors, partners or potential opponents, with a view to weakening each or all of them, is not new and has been proven to work. (iii) It works according to a narrow and socially irresponsible perspective, since, as the case in question demonstrates, it is not fully controllable: the developments were (and are) unpredictable, since the dynamics triggered did not meet a systemic policy, compatible with legality and the rule of law, but, on the contrary, it only carried out the logic of war (Proxy) exported to foreign territory, in ostensibly imperialist geopolitical conditions.

(iv) The CIA does not only corrupt politicians, as is well known. (v) The arena in which it operates does not end in the criminal field, of course. (vi) The criminal issue can shift the focus, but the matrix of interventions is political, and even geopolitical, if not directly economic. Therefore, just as the stage of operations in a war confrontation can move to a third country, actions can also move from one sphere to another. For example, if the objective is to eliminate a leftist leader, one can try to neutralize him through justice, instead of killing him, as in previous decades - as was the case with Lula. There are several spheres in which strategic actions of a transnational nature take place, from the media to economic blackmail itself - it is not by chance that specialists speak of hybrid warfare.

(vii) Finally, the most relevant lesson, at the present time: if Brazilian fascism wants to destabilize the government, produce crises and bring the Armed Forces back to the forefront, restoring to them the protagonism that the victory of democracy took away from them, it cannot it will be surprising if it adopts a stratagem analogous to that described by Seymour Hersh, employed by the CIA in Italy, in 1962: stimulating conflagrations between criminal factions to provoke chaos. The National Force would hardly be able to guarantee public safety if local demands multiplied. The pressure to launch an operation to guarantee law and order (GLO), which was wisely discarded on January 8 and again refuted in Rio Grande do Norte – despite the request of some political agents, including the president of the Senate –, can become unavoidable.

Conclusion: it is urgent to formulate a plan B, which does not involve the military. Preferably a preventative plan. And a plan of this nature will necessarily involve a public security policy, or rather, the structural reform of security. Given the political context, I would take the liberty of recommending starting with the penitentiary system, creating conditions for the LEP (Penal Execution Law) to be fulfilled and the State, not the factions, to dominate the units.

To do so, it will be necessary to stop the mass incarceration of small retailers selling illicit substances. Such measures would correspond to the end of the perverse, iniquitous and racist war on drugs. See how, preventing us from fascist blows, we would end up benefiting the anti-racist struggle.

* Luiz Eduardo Soares is an anthropologist, political scientist and writer. Former national secretary of public security. Author, among other books, of Brazil and its Double (However, 2019) and Within the Fierce Night; fascism in Brazil (Boitempo, 2020).



[ii] “Another factor in Bobby's decision to drop the charges against Giancana had to be the widespread belief that his father, with Jack's approval, cut a deal with Giancana, whose political ties in Chicago were extensive, for political support in the 1960 election. It was also the case that Jack Kennedy and Giancana were sleeping with the same woman, a fact that would not be known to the public until her name, Judith Exner, was leaked during the Church Committee hearings. Bobby surely knew that, too.” (Hersh, Seymour. The Kennedys' secret sicilian operation; What the CIA didn't tell the Warren Commission. Mar 29 at Substack)

[iii] “The CIA had thrown its money into the corrupt Christian Democrats, the Mafia, and the media after World War II in fear that the left—that is, the Italian Communist Party—with its emphasis on social programs and worker stability, would gain power ”. (Ditto, ibidem)

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