CIA and Maia: Partners in crime
By GORDON ATCHESON
WASHINGTON--The sparkly blue eyes
and balding head fringed with white hair
make Robert Maheu look quite grand-
fatherly-a guy who loves little kids and
never says a sour word to anyone.
But the former FBI agent and close
associate of billionaire Howard Hughes
helped develop an assassination plot
aimed at Cuban Premier Fidel Castro in
the early sixties.
Maheu claims that Castro could have
been killed then, except the "go" signal
never came from some unknown Mr.
Big in the organization.
Such are the frustrations of being a
Last week, Maheu testified behind
closed doors to the Senate select com-
mittee probing the CIA about the plot
and how he recruited two alleged gang-
sters to help pull it off.
After testifying, Maheu talked with re-
porters and spun a tale that seemed a
bit hard to believe. But frankly, in light
of all that has been revealed about the
CIA, it fit right in with the rest of the
clandestine, illegal goings on.
He didn't embellish the story with
colorful language or emotional inflec-
tions of the voice. It didn't need those
extra touches to be dramatic. He just
told it straight and simple. And it goes
something like 'this:
In 1960, Maheu contacted a long time
friend John Roselli and asked him to lend
a hand in designing a plot to bump off
Castro, who had, of course, just come
to power in Cuba.
At this point Maheu was employed by
the CIA in a number of ways-his public
relations firm occasionally provided a
"cover" for agents going abroad and
once he had helped spy on a foreign stu-
dent in this country whonwas suspected
of being an operative for another power.
Anyway, his boss at the CIA told him
that Roselli could be of some assistance
because he might still have "contacts"
in Cuba-a carry-over from the days
when Roselli had gambling interests in
Maheu made the connection and in-
vited Roselli and one of his friends to
Miami to talk about details of the, opera-
"At first Mr. Roselli was very reluc-
tant, but when I explained to him that
this (the assassination plan) was a nec-
essary ingredient to perpetrate a suc-
cessive invasion of Cuba, he finally
agreed," Maheu told reporters last week.
of this year, shortly before he was due
to testify in the Senate CIA hearings.
Roselli did testify four days later and
apparently outlined a plan that matches
with that sketched by Maheu.
While in Miami, the three - Maheu,
Giancana and Roselli-hatched a plot
that involved slipping a potent poison
been part of a much larger plan to in-
vade Cuba including extensive U-2 re-
connaissance followed by high altitude
bombing coordinated with a seaborne
attack by'anti-Castro forces.
After the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs in-
vasion, Maheu said he was told by Col.
Sheffield Edwards of the CIA that "there
came a time that Mr. Castro could have
been administered the poison." Edwards
died several years ago and thus cannot
vertify that statement.
Maheu added that he knew of no other
assassination plots against Castro, al-
-though admitting it was conceivable he
and the gangsters discussed the use of
For about nine months in 1961, Maheu
stayed with Giancana and Roselli in
Miami, as he describes it "because some-
one had to be there to hold their hands
and to make sure they didn't leave."
During that peripd, Maheu, hired a
private detective - at CIA behest - to
monitor the activities of Dan Rowan of
"Laugh-In" fame, who Giancana sus-
pected of seeing actress Phyllis McGuire,
the mobster's close companion.
Also, Maheu, at that point, described
the whole operation to Howard Hughes
who had earlier retained Maheu's public
"I had to tell Mr. Hughes the reason
I couldn't leave Miami and return to
Los Angeles," Maheu said. "Hughes was
vehement that I return-he was an im-
portant client and, selfishly, I didn't
want to lose him-so I told him."
Later Hughes decided he wanted a
CIA project of his own so that he could
"use it as muscle" if he had disputes
with other government agencies, accord-
ing to Maheu.
Maheu's association with Hughes dis-
solved several years ago and he claims
that the billionaire-with a helping hand
from the CIA-has been trying to dis-
credit and intimidate him ever since.
Now, why would they want to do that
to such a nice-looking gentleman?
Gordon Atcheson is Co-editor-in-
chief of The Daily and a summer
intern for the Knight Newspapers
UNDER A PLAN developed by Howard Hughes protege Robert Maheu and
Mafia figures Sam Giancana and John Roselli 15 years ago, Castro was targeted
for death from food poisoning. Though the plan was never carried out, the
Maheu/Mafia linkup did its part to eliminate the Cuban leader and serve the
interests of both the U.S. government, then eager to see the island's Communist
regime thwarted, and the syndicate, which possibly saw a chance to revitalize
its once thriving Havana gambling empire.
The friend who accompanied Roselli
to Florida was none other than Chicago
Mafia kingpin Sam Giancana.
"They agreed to join because they
truly thought that this mission would
contribute to the national security of
this country," Maheu said. "In all fair-
ness to these men I know of no money
paid them for this . . . we felt we were
involved in a just war."
Giancana was found dead-shot once
through the head with a .22 caliber re-
volver-in his Chicago home on June 20
into Castro's midnight snack.
As Maheu recounted the affair last
week, the pills were given to an opera-
tive with access to Castro and his mun-
chies and could have been used.
"The steps to be taken were always
subject to a 'go' signal that never came,"
Maheu said. "I never asked from whom
the signal was to come and I never
"In many respects I felt a lot like the
pilot who delivered the atomic bomb
The assassination was supposed to have
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