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RFK Testifies before Senate Committee on Organized Crime

Sept. 25, 1963 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (pictured with Senator Edmund Muskie) said today that organized crime had become a grave national problem despite Justice Department reports of Government gains in coping successfully with syndicated lawlessness. He called again for changes in Federal laws that would strengthen the Government in its efforts to wipe out organized crime. Mr. Kennedy urged Congress to give the Justice Department the right to grant immunity to witnesses in racket investigations. He also asked for revision of the anti-wiretapping statutes to permit law enforcement agencies to intercept such messages and divulge their contents legally. In a grim presentation of the national crime picture to the Senate Investigations subcommittee, he named the Cosa Nostra, or Mafia, as the “private government” in charge of organized lawlessness in country. “It is a government with an annual income of billions, resting on a base of human suffering and moral corruption,” he said. Mr. Kennedy sent a shudder through the room when he described what had happened to Vincent Squillante, former head of the $50 million annual garbage collecting racket in the New York area. Squillante disappeared in 1960 on the eve of his trial in Nassau County for extortion. Mr. Kennedy said Squillante, who had been a witness before a Senate investigations subcommittee in 1957 and questioned at that time by Mr. Kennedy, had been “tortured, chopped up, burned, and then disposed of in Connecticut. That’s why they never found him.”


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