Had Howard Hughes not been so phobic he might have taken over the world. Hughes became a real threat to the Eastern Establishment after his companies began dominating the CIA and defense department contracts. Hughes was stunned when that Eastern Establishment moved to yank TWA airlines away from him, right after he’d transformed it into the greatest jet fleet in America. Maybe it was part of the oil companies desire for a monopoly on all phases of their industry, although the excuse given was that Hughes was unfit to command such a sensitive national security position, and had squandered immense resources on his Spruce Goose boondoggle. There was also talk of England having superseded the USA in jet technology, intimating that Hughes had lost his technological edge. But the problems really started when Hughes announced TWA was going global and would commence transatlantic flights, competing against Pan Am.
The real power center of gravity in the United States appears to reside with those oil companies, the seven sisters, the monopoly that transformed into the energy cartel. Because his grandfather invented a drill-bit essential to oil drilling, Hughes maintained one of the few hick-ups in their dream of controlling all phases of the industry. (Aristotle Onassis would also provoke similar ire when he captured a near-monopoly on the trans-ocean shipments of Arabian oil, but that’s another story.)
Hughes fought tooth and nail to keep TWA, even to the point of calling out the Rockefeller Trust as the true instigators of the plot against him in open session of Congress, but Hughes eventually lost this war against the Eastern Establishment. He responded by taking the half a billion dollars in buy-out in cash and moving to Las Vegas, where he intended to buy the state, a masterful plan well on its way to success. (Just as Onassis survived his assault by investing in Monte Carlo, Hughes wisely saw the Vegas casinos as the most secure way to insure profits.) Hughes already maintained one of the largest private security forces in the world. He picked Robert Maheu, formerly FBI, possibly CIA, as his underboss.
One day, however, Hughes disappeared in the middle of the night. In an elaborately scripted getaway, dual caravans departed simultaneously to two airports, one of which held a drugged Hughes, the other, a decoy. Both planes were flown out of the country, one eventually landing in the Bahamas, where the occupant took up residency in a hotel owned by Hughes’ business rival, Resorts International, a firm connected with both the CIA and the Sicilian men of honor. No one ever saw Hughes again. He did appear by phone once in what many people believe was a staged impersonation by a skilled actor. Likely he was maintained somewhere as a near vegetable until he finally wasted away. There was never any attempt for any independent agency to investigate Hughes’ sudden midnight move, forsaking a hotel he owned, to eventually live inside a hotel owned by his principle rival in the casino business. Maheu went to court convinced Hughes had been abducted by a conspiracy involving his Mormon staff, who had seized day-to-day operations away from Maheu and were rapidly replacing the entire top layer of all his corporations with Mormon controllers. Over the phone, the Hughes double accused Maheu of “stealing him blind,” as the excuse for his midnight move, but Maheu won a libel case after Hughes’s handlers failed to produce any evidence of theft whatsoever. Despite never having met Hughes in person, Maheu had been drawing a salary of $500,000 per year, the equivalent of several million a year today.
Hughes was a spook at heart. Unfortunately, he was also a racist, and a lot of the super rich seem afflicted with that disease.