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All the Right Enemies: The Life and Murder of Carlo Tresca.

All the Right Enemies: The Life and Murder of Carlo Tresca. Dorothy Gallagher. Rutgers University Press, $24.95 A United States intelligence agency was making deals with drug smugglers. In pursuit of foreign policy objectives, government officials sought the cooperation of mobsters, Washington bureaucrats pressured private citizens to cooperate with right-wing fanatics and with communists. It all happened during World War II and forms the backdrop for a riveting new historical detective story.

Carlo Tresca was one of the bestknown anarchists in America. Born to a wealthy family in Italy, he fled to the United States in 1904 to escape prosecution for criminal libel. Tall, handsome, a riveting and passionate speaker, he became one of the stars of the Industrial Workers of the Vorld, popping up to lead dramatic strikes from Lawrence, Massachusetts to Paterson, New Jersey.

Tresca was temperamentally and ideologically incapable of bending to authority or direction. He fought in alliance with and against such prominent figures as Bill Haywood, Emma Goldman, John Reed, and Norman Thomas, and played a key role in the unsuccessful attempt to save Sacco and Vanzetti.

When he was shot and killed on a New York sidewalk in 1943, the 63-year-old radical was, as usual, embroiled in numerous battles. A mass of circumstantial evidence led police to arrest a mobster named Carmine Galante as the triggerman. But Galante, who later became head of one of New York's Mafia families before his own execution in 1979, was never prosecuted. The question of who hired him has never been resolved.

There were plenty of suspects. Mussolini wanted his old friend and one of his most effective opponents dead. Vittoria Vidali, a leading Comintern operative implicated in the assassination of Leon Trotsky, was reported in New York; Tresca had long denounced him as a killer. Both Italian-American communists and fascists like newspaper publisher Generoso Pope hated Tresca; he was a passionate opponent of a government plan to include them in an Italian-American Victory Council.

Other, more byzantine, theories about the murder surfaced years later, after revelations of a sensitive agreement between a government agency and the underworld. Beginning in 1942, the Office of Naval Intelligence had established ties to imprisoned mobster Lucky Luciano. In addition to helping maintain Labor peace on the New York docks, the Mafia, according to Gallagher, may have put its narcotics smuggling apparatus at the service of American intelligence, which, in turn, averted its eyes from the traffic. Did Tresca learn about this deal, and was he silenced to prevent its exposure?

Gallagher scrupulously examines the evidence and sensibly refuses to stretch it to fit the elaborate web the conspiracy theorists weave. One or two new leads have convinced her that the simplest explanation is also the most likely.

Tresca had offended Frank Garofalo, a close associate of Pope's and a high-ranking Mafioso. Enraged at Tresca's insults, Garofalo, according to Gallagher, used one of his minions to kill his enemy. It is a plausible theory but not conclusive. The murder of Carlo Tresca will continue to provide conspiracy theorists with lent of grist for their mills.
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Author:Klehr, Harvey
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1988
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