The Money and the Power


A review


John Hinderaker wrote the following passage about a year ago about Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid:


When a guy shows up at a Las Vegas emergency room on New Year’s Day with severe facial injuries and broken ribs, and gives as an explanation the functional equivalent of “I walked into a doorknob,” it isn’t hard to guess that he ran afoul of mobsters. Yet the national press has studiously averted its eyes from Reid’s condition, and has refused to investigate the cause of his injuries. To my knowledge, every Washington reporter has at least pretended to believe Reid’s story, and none, as far as I can tell, has inquired further.


No one who has read Sally Denton and Roger Morris's important and powerful 2001 book The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America would be at all surprised that something like this apparent beating of a prominent and ostensibly powerful government official could happen and even that the press would cover it up.  This is from page 336:


An FBI wiretap elsewhere caught Tropicana mobster Joseph Vincent Agosto bragging about his influence with the ranking state gaming regulator he called “Mr. Clean,” or “Cleanface,” an official widely believed by law enforcement to be the former Gaming Commission chairman and future congressman and senator Harry Reid, who of course loudly denied it. 


Nine pages further we encounter this revealing passage:


Four months later, also in part the result of [FBI agent Joseph] Yablonsky's relentless pursuit, the already convicted Joe Agosto turned government informant, sending a shudder through Nevada, and especially politicians like his “Cleanface.” “No one proved conclusively that Harry Reid was 'Cleanface,' Yablonsky recalled of the allegations against the rising Mormon politician and future U.S. senator, “but when Agosto became a federal witness, Reid freaked.” 


Denton and Morris’s book was made to look all that much better for understanding the real power in our country when this man from the very small state of Nevada rose to his position of great Senate power in 2006.  Until the Republicans obtained their own majority in 2015, Reid had been Senate Majority Leader since 2007.


The Mob in the Saddle


Anyone who has done no more than watch the movie Bugsy knows that organized crime made Las Vegas into a gambling and entertainment mecca.  With the passage of time, though, the city’s image, through various takeovers and makeovers, has slowly improved, as has that of the gambling industry.  Similarly, we are given to believe by the opinion molders of the country that organized crime in the country, primarily through its Mafia embodiment, is pretty much a thing of the past. 


Read The Money and the Power and you will realize that the opposite is more nearly the case.  One of the measures of the power of organized crime in the country, in fact, is that we see and hear so little about it these days.  Its power extends to the molders of public opinion, which explains like nothing else why they should be so credulous about Reid’s explanation of his injuries.


Here are some key passages that capture well the Las Vegas of the turn of this century:


Yet beyond the glamour and massiveness of the once again reinvented city, its essence never changes.  The new corridors of affluence and pretension still lead to the gigantic casinos that are the heart of the matter, the reason for all the rest.  However discreetly lit or adorned, electronically encased or programmed, the racket works now as it always has, with the single ultimate purpose of taking the public’s money in a manner no other industry in the world can match.  Those who see that reality most clearly, the few who knew the old Las Vegas, are unfazed by the new faćade.  “A joint’s a joint,” says a casino manager who came to the city with Meyer Lansky.


By any measure economic or political, the oligarchy that ruled Las Vegas at the millennium was—as it had been in essence for fifty years—an exclusive regime.  As always in the city, the juice belonged to a handful of prominent men, representing larger, less conspicuous interests behind them, and with their own power inseparable from their emblematic pasts.  The umbrella companies of end-of-century Las Vegas were with few exceptions traded on Wall Street.  “America, Inc. buys out Murder, Inc.,” was how David Johnston summed up the apparent advent of corporate chain ownership of casinos and what Las Vegas would officially celebrate as yet another cleansing crossing of casinos into “mainstream American business.” Yet, as in the earlier passages with Del Webb, Parvin-Dohrmann, Continental Connectors, Recrion, Argent, and dozens more publicly chartered entities, the corporate veil remained in many ways as thin and deceptive as it had always been.


[The five men in effective control] were mostly creatures of the city’s culture, or at least of its ethic practiced elsewhere.  Shadows of early Miami connections and securities schemes had hung over [Kirk] Kerkorian as he moved, without challenge, in and out of a Las Vegas in which the Syndicate was arbiter over nearly four decades.  [William] Bennett rose in the same milieu over the same span, from host and night manager to boardroom baron.  He had been an intimate of the infamous Allen Dorfman, his career entangled with Teamster-financed and Syndicate-controlled Jay Sarno.  [Steve] Wynn’s provenance was clear enough.  [Sheldon] Adelson, the billionaire promoter and right-wing Zionist with business and political ties to Israel, had gotten his start distributing vending machines in the fifties on the streets of Brockton, Massachusetts, where the Patriarca branch of the Syndicate rarely allowed competitors in the field, and his reactionary anti-unionism echoed the animus of the old mob toward independent organized labor.  A crass new mogul who behaved with the arrogance and impudence of an old boss, he went about the city in the nineties, even into the editorial offices of the Review-Journal, with ex-Mossad bodyguards brazenly carrying semi-automatic weapons.


[Arthur] Goldberg had made a fortune as an executive in the rarefied world of New Jersey trucking.  He had moved on to Bally’s with that company’s heritage of organized crime ties, and then engineered its merger with the casino-hungry Hilton, conditioning the agreement on his own enrichment by tens of millions in a questionable stock swap, and provoking a shareholder suit alleging kickbacks.  His deal created the world’s largest single casino operator, although conglomerate scale was no bar to hoary Strip methods.  At the end of 1999, New Jersey regulators scathingly censured Bally’s for political payoffs in Florida in a scheme in which Goldberg’s chief aide was a former head of the Newark FBI office.


Readers will notice in that list of names a man who has since risen in prominence to the position of virtual kingmaker of the national Republican Party, Sheldon Adelson.  Considering the source of so much of his wealth one might think that association with him would be political poison, but our opinion molders make nothing of it, so it is not. 


Et Tu, Donald?


If little is made about the associations of this would-be kingmaker, even more remarkably, little is also being made about those of the would-be “king,” real estate and casino magnate, Donald Trump.  Just the fact that he has been a major player in real estate in New York and New Jersey would have put him in close association with mobsters in the construction trade, as pointed out in this Federalist article.  The writer, David Marcus, who clearly deeply opposes Trump as a potential president appears to be completely exasperated by the failure of the major news media to make an issue of these associations.  Indeed, my local newspaper, The Washington Post, which I read daily, has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Trump, but underworld associations have so far been out of bounds.


Trump, with his casino investments in Atlantic City is outside the scope of the Denton-Morris book, but it is full of clues as to why his likely underworld connections would be out of bounds for The Post.  We begin with the authors’ use of the term, “Syndicate,” as opposed to “Mafia.” The focus on the latter term by the mainstream press, they say, is deliberate because it leaves the impression that organized crime is exclusively an Italian, mostly Sicilian-American enterprise.  To the contrary, they say, the older term “Syndicate” is more appropriate because the underworld of organized crime that they have seen in control of Las Vegas they estimate to be about half Jewish, a quarter Italian, and the rest of other ethnicities.  Among those other ethnicities, particularly involved in the financing of Las Vegas casinos, the Mormon Church and many of its devotees, like Harry Reid, loom large.


The Las Vegas gambling business from its inception to the present is also a lot dirtier in many ways than is generally known.  We had previously heard of pension funds from corrupt unions like the Teamsters being used to build casinos, but the degree to which money from drug trafficking built Las Vegas was a big eye-opener.  Casino gambling, as the authors point out, continues to provide an ideal way to launder ill-gotten profits of various kinds, particularly drug money.  The enormous profits are also used to buy political influence, that is to say, to corrupt the political system and buy protection so that the corrupt practices of the casino operators can continue unmolested by the law.


The Government Underwold


One cannot talk about power and corruption in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century without mentioning the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  We learn from Denton and Morris that the well-known collaboration between the CIA and the mob in the attempt to assassinate Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was hardly an anomaly.  As wielders of secret power, the mob—or the Syndicate if you prefer—and the CIA are in the same business, and they have found it in many instances to work together rather than to compete.  The cooperation has been so complete in such things as illicit drug smuggling and the laundering of money that it is often difficult to figure out where one of them stops and the other begins.  I lost track at a count of 30 pages as I was going through the various sub-categories in the index for mention of the CIA (e.g. assassination plots, 71, 174, 208, 209-10, 213, 246, 253, 293, 295-296, 297, 298, 299, 306-7, 307-12; drug trade and, 6, 52, 103, 143, 311-12, 329; JFK assassination and, 253-4, 297, 310), but none of those pages have any mention of the casino-owning company, Resorts International. The company is listed under the company’s name in the index with the pages 284, 285, and 353, and those pages also come up under Meyer Lansky, whose index listings make up almost half a column of the index.  In their various descriptions of the company and its activities, I can’t determine whether it was or is a CIA front company or whether Meyer Lansky controlled it.  In fact, it’s not an either-or thing as the late Michael Collins Piper described it in a 2013 American Free Press article:


Donald Trump’s rise to stardom came as a consequence of his having been a flamboyant front man for some unsavory behind-the-scenes sponsors. Here’s the story:


In his memoir, Trump proudly described how in 1987 he bought his first casino interests when he purchased 93 percent of the voting stock in the Resorts International (RI) gambling concern.


What Trump didn’t say was that RI was controlled by a clique of sordid, international big-money elements in alliance with the Jewish crime syndicate which was, in turn, collaborating with the CIA and Israel’s Mossad in an array of inter-connected money-laundering operations.


The casinos laundered money for the CIA and the Mossad. In return, these agencies used their influence to ensure the mob remained protected from interference by law enforcement…       


Piper doesn’t say that Trump knew of all the company’s criminal and governmental connections, but it’s hard to believe that he would have been completely ignorant in that regard.  His article is useful primarily for fleshing out Denton and Morris’s more sketchy description of the company and its origins.  


Front Man Howard Hughes


Though Piper states flatly in his first sentence that Trump was merely a front man, he provides no evidence for his claim in the article.  Everything is by inference.  One might add to the inference with the example of a similar man to Trump whom the authors examine in great length in Money and Power, Howard Hughes.  Hughes, like Trump, was born to wealth, but each took the family fortune to great new heights.  Each in his earlier years was also a high-living playboy.  Compared to Hughes, Trump has only dabbled in casinos.  At one point Hughes virtually bought up Las Vegas and much of Nevada:


In his grand gesture, it was to be believed, he bought out the disreputable elements that threatened the city’s prosperity.  Single-handedly, tycoon as hero, he ransomed Las Vegas from its unsavory past, staved off looming scandals, and made gambling at last a legitimate investment for reputable corporate America.  No Nevadan actually saw him behind the shuttered windows high above the Strip.  But respected men, leaders of the community—a senator, a governor, a publisher, a banker, prominent lawyers—all vouched for the story, saying Hughes was Nevada’s benefactor, its deliverer.


Almost none of it was true.


Hughes, according to Denton and Morris, was the ultimate front man.  Behind him were a number of top mobsters and the CIA.  Many of his top operatives were members of the secretive Mormon Church.  The authors don’t say it, but one gets the suspicion that much of Hughes’s business success even before he plunged into Las Vegas in his early sixties was operating as a front man for dirty money, and much of that could have been ill-gotten CIA money.  A large part of his fortune, after all, was built upon military contracts, contracts that might have benefitted from a favored inside track.  One of the sub-categories for the CIA in the index is “Hughes and.” It is discussed on pages 269, 279, 286, 289-90, 296, and 304.


Readers may gather at this point that Money and Power is about much more than gambling and the Mafia or even about the Syndicate.  It’s about the Deep State that really runs the country.  In a poem that I posted in 1998 that was based largely upon my close examination of the Vince Foster death case, I concluded that it is a criminal Deep State run by the “CCE,” the controlling criminal elite.  Money and Power, published three years later, confirms my every suspicion.


One of my suspicions concerns the frequent use of phony front men.  Number 16 of the Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression mentions the paying of rich people “who will pretend to spend their own money.” In the BCCI episode they were known as “nominees,” typically rich Arab businessmen who lent their name to the buyout of various banks, when, in fact, it was the corrupt Bank of Credit and Commerce International that was actually taking over the bank. 


Media Front Men?


Nowhere does the word “nominee” come to mind more than in the realm of opinion molding.  Why should supposedly astute businessmen create or take over newspapers and magazines that only lose money, and have no realistic prospects of ever making money?  What, one might ask, did the Reverend Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church gain from all the millions he ostensibly poured into the money-losing Washington Times?  Did Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch get rich making such business decisions as the founding of the Weekly Standard money pit?  And then there’s the man whose money, we are told, kept the “vast right-wing conspiracy” going against the Clintons, Richard Mellon Scaife, the man ostensibly behind Christopher Ruddy.   In that article about Resorts International, Michael Collins Piper writes of William Mellon Hitchcock of the “Mellon dynasty—one of America’s largest family fortunes which has collaborated closely with the CIA for years.” Seeking verification for Piper’s assertion, we quickly found on the Net this extraordinarily revealing article, “How organized crime, bankers and covert ops gave birth to hippies in Laurel Canyon.” Almost the entire sordid cast of characters is there, including Mary Carter Paints and Resorts International.  Hitchcock, we learn, was involved with Timothy Leary who had his own CIA connections, and Hitchcock also worked closely with Meyer Lansky.  It’s very depressing.


That brings us back to the matter of why The Washington Post is unlikely to be pushing the organized crime angle as a part of its ongoing onslaught against Trump.  What has Amazon’s Jeff Bezos gained from his ostensible takeover of this big money loser?  It continues to be exactly the same newspaper it was with the same writers and the same editorial policy as it was before he was said to have opened up his wallet to fund it.  Why would he do that?  What’s in it for him?  A personal anecdote might shed some light on what is going on.


I have an acquaintance who lives in the Washington, DC, area who is fond of talking about the achievements of one of his sons.  This son has an undergraduate degree from one Ivy League university and a Ph.D. from another.  Knowing how heavily the CIA recruits in the Ivy League, particularly Yale, and considering the son’s major and background, I casually asked the acquaintance one day if anyone at his college had tried to get him to join the agency.  “No,” he responded, “not at college, but when he was working at his summer job writing for The Washington Post.” One of the editors, whom he named and whose name I clearly remember but will not repeat here, had, over lunch, told him that if he wanted his career to flourish at the newspaper he should join the CIA.  The son took it as an invitation, which he declined, not over any matter of principle but because his career aspirations were in academia instead of journalism.  The acquaintance told me all this in a very matter-of-fact manner as if he didn’t see anything wrong with it.


More Fruits of Working in Washington


This information fits with what I have previously related from personal experience with respect to CIA influence and control of the media in “CIA Plots Puerto Rico Statehood.”  Another anecdote reveals, I think, some of their use of nefarious techniques in the protection of crooked finance of the BCCI variety.  It involves the phony investment firm of Bishop, Baldwin, Rewald, Dillingham and Wong in Hawaii.  The defense offered by its principal officer, Ron Rewald, was that it was a CIA company and that he was simply fronting for them.


A neighbor of mine at the time of Rewald’s trial was an Englishman who worked as a producer for the BBC.  He made an attempt to cover the trial in Hawaii.  Some months later he related to me over dinner at my home that upon return from Hawaii, he was called out of the baggage claiming line at Dulles Airport by police who told him that they had been given a tip that he was transporting illegal drugs.  His immediate fear was that drugs had been planted in his suitcase and his coverage of the Rewald trial would thereby be quickly neutralized as he was sent off to jail.  As it was, no drugs were found, but he definitely took the episode as a shot across the bow by very powerful people.  Jim DiEugenio reports that in order to neutralize ABC’s coverage, it took over the network.  He concludes:


The exposure of myriad illegal activities taken part in by Rewald and Bishop Baldwin—up to and including murder—form the backdrop for the [William] Casey-Cap Cities buyout of ABC. It also helps explain who owns and controls the major media in this country and why. And through that fact it helps give an appropriate background to why ABC is prolonging a lie about the murder of President Kennedy forty years after the fact. And why that particular lie is also publicly shared by the Central Intelligence Agency.


Governed by Gangsters


When we hear of some gangster who has met his end prematurely, we usually don’t spend a lot of time wondering why it might have happened.  It’s just the nature of the underworld.  Anyone who has read and comprehended the meaning of Money and Power doesn’t have the whole crime solved for him before he is skeptical of a “suicide” explanation for the death of someone like Vince Foster or an “accident” explanation for the death of former CIA director William Colby.  Colby had been acting as legal counsel to the corrupt Nugan Hand bank, which was connected to Rewald’s operation. 


Foster spent his last weekend meeting at the estate of real estate magnate and major Democratic Party contributor Nate Landow, who had been denied the ambassadorship he sought because of revelations about his Bahamian casino investments that he had made jointly with the Meyer Lansky organization and the Gambino family.  In his work for the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, where Hillary Clinton was a close associate, Foster was the main person in charge of the Jackson Stephens account.  Stephens is credited with bringing BCCI to the United States.  The autopsy doctor in the Foster case, Dr. James Beyer, had, as with Foster, rendered a corrupt autopsy in the case of a young man who had been coerced into doing undercover work for the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Bill Clinton’s former security chief in Arkansas, Jerry Parks, when he heard of Foster’s death turned pale, according to his wife and said, “I’m a dead man.” He was.  He was murdered gangland-style a few weeks later, and his murder is still unsolved.  Parks’ widow also told British reporter Ambrose Evans-Pritchard that Jerry and Vince Foster once returned from the notorious Mena Airport in Arkansas in a car whose trunk was filled with $100 bills.


Hillary Clinton no doubt spoke from the heart when she said upon hearing of Foster’s gunshot death, “Of a thousand people who might commit suicide, I would never pick Vince.” Ever since she has quietly gone along with the obvious cover-up of her friend’s murder, though.


“President Clinton—raised in Hot Springs, his family deeply involved in the backroom gambling there in the fifties when it rivaled Las Vegas, his own political career launched by the backing of his uncle Raymond, who ran slot machines in the town for the Marcello family—seemed to understand the city’s bipartisan politics as clearly as any politician of the century,” write Denton and Morris.


Read this book and you will see clearly the criminal nature of our current leadership.


David Martin

March 10, 2016




For more from Morris on the involvement of the CIA in drug smuggling, see this 2007 interview.  I reference that interview in an addendum to my article “Rotten Goulden/Corn.”


David Martin

March 14, 2016





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