Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy was the first attorney general of the United States to make a serious attack on the Mafia and organized crime. Many hold he was also the last one. As Harry J. Anslinger, former U.S. Commissioner of Narcotics, put it:
“Many former attorney generals . . . would let loose a blast against the underworld and then settle back in their chairs and let it go at that. They seemed to think they had performed their duty merely by calling attention to the problem. Not so with Bob. He followed through. He knew the identity of all the big racketeers in any given district, and in private conference with enforcement officials throughout the country he would go down the line, name by name, and ask what progress had been made.”
Quite naturally Anslinger’s opinion differed from J. Edgar Hoover’s, with whom he had a less than cordial relationship. For years, Hoover had asserted there was no such thing as a Mafia or organized crime. Because of the Apalachin Conference bust of 1957, Hoover finally had to alter his line, and when Bobby Kennedy became attorney general in 1961, Hoover was further forced to expand the FBI fight against the Mafia.
On John Kennedy’s assassination, Hoover slacked off on the Mafia investigation. Neil J. Welch, a retired special agents in charge of several top FBI offices, and David W. Marston, former United States attorney from Philadelphia, note in their book Inside Hoover’s FBI: “When Kennedy stepped down as attorney general, Hoover moved immediately to undo all that he had done and perhaps never realized that one Kennedy accomplishment was indelible: When the FBI finally penetrated organized crime, agents gave the credit not to J. Edgar Hoover, but to his nemesis, Robert F. Kennedy.” The assassination of Robert Kennedy came as a shock to everybody, and occurred in 1968 while running for president of the United States in Los Angeles.