Many claims have been made about President John F. Kennedy over the years, with increasingly salacious stories grabbing the headlines as the years go by. But the latest explosive claims by journalist Bill Deane set a new high bar in dramatic claims about the assassinated former president.
According to Deane, Kennedy endorsed freeing rapists, drug dealers and even Mafia hitmen from prison so they could attempt to murder Communist leader Fidel Castro.
According to the Business Insider, in Deane's book Smooth Criminal the author claims that although JFK didn't explicitly order the convict assassin program, he was aware of an operation that allowed an ex-con to pretend to be a waiter at Castro's favorite restaurant in Cuba in order to slip the Communist leader poison tablets.
From examples like these Deane sets out his case.
'Criminals were ideal operatives as they were ruthless and willing to risk their lives during missions rather than be sent back to prison,' Deane told Daily Mail. 'They also couldn't be officially connected with the CIA so it didn't matter if they were captured - there was no risk of America's shady policies being exposed.'
In Smooth Criminal Deane focuses on the story of Dave Riley, an ex-con he calls a 'one-man American crime wave.'
'Riley was a typical recruit. Highly intelligent, ambitious and with no morals. The CIA sent him on many missions abroad, including to Cuba to assassinate Castro,' Deane said. 'Between missions he was allowed to do what he liked - which generally consisted of embezzlement, fraud, gunrunning and drug dealing - without fear of being arrested or prosecuted.'
JFK was allegedly aware of the CIA's bid to recruit 'untraceable' spies willing to risk their lives on dangerous missions rather than go back to jail, Deane's book claims. Willing to do America's 'dirty work,' they couldn't be linked back to his administration, Deane says.
Deane, the former assignment editor at American news networks ABC and CBS, says he uncovered the program, which he believes is still in operation today, after following what he calls the 'trail of destruction' left by one such operative.
JFK did not order the the top secret program, Deane explains, but as president Kennedy must have have been 'aware' of it.
'For over 50 years, the CIA and American government has been systematically releasing dangerous criminals back into society to work for them on secret missions overseas,' Deane said.
'The program started during the Kennedy administration at the start of the 1960s as a clandestine means of dealing with the Communist threat of Castro, and was given the seal of approval by JFK - who was still smarting following the political embarrassment of the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba in 1961.
'Criminals were ideal operatives as they were ruthless and willing to risk their lives during missions rather than be sent back to prison. They also couldn't be officially connected with the CIA so it didn't matter if they were captured - there was no risk of America's shady policies being exposed.
Deane recalled hearing hearing that Riley had hijacked a plane to Cuba in 1962. According to Smooth Criminal on Friday, April 13, 1962, Riley and an accomplice forced pilot Reginald Doan at gunpoint to fly them to Cuba where they planned to defect, only for the Cuban authorities to imprison them before sending them back to Miami.
Deane says he was contacted by Riley and during that meeting he revealed that he was working for the CIA and had been sent to infiltrate Cuba as a spy.
'The skyjacking was just a smokescreen conjured up by the CIA after the mission went wrong. Riley confessed that he'd been recruited by the intelligence agency while in prison for extortion of a public official back in 1960, and had been sent to Cuba to carry out a number of assignments - including one to assassinate Castro.
'He had posed as a waiter at one of Castro's favorite restaurants and been supplied with Botulinum tablets - an untraceable poison - by the CIA to drop into his soup, but Castro must have got wind of the plan as he suddenly stopped eating there.'
Deane admits that at first he thought that Riley was a 'fantasist' and forgot about him. It was only after his retirement from CBS in 2005, when he reportedly started writing Smooth Criminal, that Deane discovered Riley might have been telling the truth about the criminal operatives program all along.
Deane uncovered over 40 newspaper reports of Riley's various crimes in archives and was amazed by his seeming invulnerability to prosecution after tracking down several of his victims.
'Riley was a one-man crime wave who was allowed by the CIA, and indirectly the president, to consistently get away with his crimes in return for his occasional assistance,' Deane said.
'He has left a string of victims across the USA over the last 40 years, but the police and FBI have been powerless to act because he is protected by the CIA. The agency maintains a policy of complete secrecy and doesn't want to risk compromising operations by having one of their operatives involved in a public trial.
Deane says that he has evidence of Riley living in New York in 2005, but after that the scene goes cold. He suspects Riley, who would now be in his 70's, is either dead or has been placed into a Federal Witness Protection scheme to put him out of reach.
Daene concluded: 'America has lots of enemies and security has to be maintained if we are to prevent another 9/11 so I am not against a program that helps protect the nation. What I do object to is the CIA's insistence on complete secrecy. The rationale that a few Americans have to suffer for the sake of 315 million is not acceptable.'