The Squad: The U.S. Government’s Secret Alliance With
Michael Milan (1989) Shapolsky, New York, 304 pp.
Michael Milan is a pseudonym for a person who claims to be a former hit
man on a death squad of Mob killers organized by J. Edgar Hoover and run outside
the FBI. While on the squad, Milan’s day job was selling automobiles on Long
Island. His night job was to rub out undesirable for Hoover. He would get orders
with his serial number in the upper right-hand corner of the page, and would
then “foreclose the loan,” “deliver the package,” or “terminate the
employment” of someone he had never met—all euphemisms for rubbing out a
stranger. The book consists of a series of breathless tales of such adventures.
On the back cover is the photo of a guy, presumably Milan, who looks an awful
lot like Pat Boone.
This is not the only report of dangerous alliances between Hoover and the Mob. Ralph Ranalli has told many details in his 2001 book Deadly Alliance, The FBI’s Secret Partnership With The Mob, which describes the FBI’s “Top Echelon” informant program. The Squad proposes to be a first-person account by a killer in a similar program. Milan does not use the words “Top Echelon,” however, and so we cannot tell whether he and Ranalli as describing the same thing.
This review concerns itself solely with Milan’s chapter entitled “Dallas,” in which he describes a killing immediately after the JFK assassination. I have no idea about the credibility of the rest of the book, but this chapter certainly lacks it. It comes across as pure fabrication, a pulp crime novel run wild.
On the day of the assassination, Milan was busy enough selling cars that he didn’t hear the immediate news of the killing. Instead, he saw people milling around and crying, and eventually found out from them. Upon hearing the news, he first was shocked that anyone would hit the president, and then wondered whether he would become involved. Then he realized that he was surprised that Kennedy hadn’t been hit earlier, because he had so many enemies and didn’t know how to properly protect himself from them.
He had the manager close the shop, and he went down to the precinct station, where he found an urgent call waiting for him. It came from his contact inside the FBI, a person code-named “Pencil.” Milan was to proceed immediately to Dallas and rub out a cab driver named Gerald Brinkman. He told his wife that he had to leave for two days on “business,” but she saw through the ruse and started to worry about him. He got to Dallas, met the cab driver the next morning at seven, and drove to a building outside the city where he was alleged to meet someone. Along the way, the driver told him he could have some real action by going to Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club. (You just know that Ruby somehow had to be worked into this story.) At the destination, Milan tried to beat information out of the driver before killing him with one clean pistol shot to the head. Thinking that he would be allowed to live, the driver revealed that he had been working for Jack Ruby, whom he had been introduced to at the Carousel Club by a woman, that he didn’t shoot anyone, that he and two others were really trying to shoot Governor Connally, that he didn’t know who had let the original contract, but that Ruby, in need of money to pay off “some of the boys in Chicago,” had used this way to earn it. The driver further revealed that he had become part of the hit because he needed money to pay off gambling debts and because Governor Connally had fired him from a job. He was promised that he could walk away clean. When Milan later met Hoover in Washington National Airport, the “Old Man” simply said to him, “You already know too much. So I’ll just say: Johnson. No doubt. We stand away. Do you get it?” In other words, Vice President Lyndon B. John commissioned the hit, hired the Mob to do it, and Hoover cleaned up for him.
Should we believe this juicy story? We cannot, because Milan offers not one shred of evidence for his tale. We can do nothing but write it off as an exercise in pulling together a few loose strands into a crime fiction story, period, yet another variant in the seemingly endless line of washed-up conspiracy theories that have been with us for nearly four decades but have not progressed any closer to a “solution.” Somebody out there used an overactive imagination with this one, throwing in a bit of Elliot Ness for jollies. We can them some points for creativity, but that’s all.