When Government Meets Organized Crime

Corrupt FBI let mobster Whitey Bulger keep killing—and it cost innocent lives.

You'd hardly know it from the wall-to-wall coverage of the George Zimmerman case, but there's another trial going on that's at least as worthy of national attention. That's the 32-count federal racketeering indictment against James "Whitey" Bulger, a Boston mob kingpin linked to at least 19 murders, captured in 2011 after 16 years on the lam.

Bulger, a former "Top Echelon Informant" for the FBI, is a monster, but he's hardly the only villain in a story where "gangster government" leaves the realm of metaphor. As Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy explain in their riveting new biography of Bulger, the Irish mobster ruled South Boston for nearly two decades, "protected by the arrogance and corruption of an FBI and a Justice Department that tolerated murder as an acceptable price of doing effective law enforcement."

Federal rules ban cameras in most criminal trials, which is one reason the Bulger case hasn't gotten the national attention it deserves. So Court TV junkies missed last Wednesday's explosive exchange between the Bulger and his former henchman-turned-federal-witness, Kevin Weeks, when Weeks called Bulger a "rat:"

Whitey: "You suck!";

Weeks: "F--k you!" (So much for the fabled "gift of gab.")

But the public's missing something more valuable than mob drama: "This trial is not just about organized crime," writes the Boston Herald's Margery Eagan, it involves "the corruption of the federal government — the same government banning you from this trial — in the form of a disgraced FBI. It's a civics lesson worthy of us all."

Indeed, from 1975 to 1990, in its quest to bring down the Italian mob, the FBI's Boston office became partner in crime to Bulger's "Winter Hill Gang." A 2004 House Committee on Government Reform report, "Everything Secret Degenerates," found that "a number of men were murdered because they came to the government with information incriminating informants" and the FBI tipped them off.

"When you give us information on one person and they got killed," then a second, and a third, Bulger's partner Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi testified in 2008: "I mean, he's an FBI agent, he's not stupid."

Innocents died in the crossfire. Last week, the court heard from the widow of one of them, Pat Donahue, who was left to raise three sons on her own when her husband gave a ride to the wrong guy in 1982. Michael Donahue, who died in a hail of bullets on the Southie waterfront, "had no idea that Halloran was marked for death because he had shopped Whitey Bulger to the FBI and Whitey's corrupt FBI handler had tipped Whitey off."

That agent, John Connolly, is behind bars, but the federal government has gone to great lengths to avoid a proper reckoning for other officials who aided and abetted Bulger's reign. In 2001, the Bush administration invoked executive privilege for five months to shield FBI documents about the Bulger affair, in what then-Rep. Dan Burton called "an utterly unprecedented" attempt to drape DOJ in a "veil of secrecy."

Meanwhile, instead of promptly settling the Donahue family's wrongful death suit, "the government spent millions on 10 years of litigation, flying Justice Department lawyers up from Washington and putting them up at four-star hotels."

Cullen and Murphy quote Tommy Donahue, eight years old when his father was murdered: "Our own government, the FBI, the Justice Department, has never said to my mother, to me and my brothers, 'We're sorry.'"

President Obama continually derides "cynics" whose distrust of government stands in the way of all the good things it can do for us. It's wrong, Obama told college graduates in May, to think of government as "some separate, sinister entity."

Try telling that to the Donahues.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.

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  • anon||

    wait, I thought government was organized crime.

  • ||

    Touche

  • ||

    The headline from the first post was better.

  • sarcasmic||

    You'd hardly know it from the wall-to-wall coverage of the George Zimmerman case, but there's another trial going on that's at least as worthy of national attention.

    Unless you live in New England and have Howie Carr on the radio.

  • Tim||

    He's great!

  • ||

    Irish mobster! Where is Irish we should be pillorying him for his group membership.

  • Killazontherun||

    Probably has his elbows around a plate of fried cabbage and potatoes with his head hung sullenly, drinking a shite overly dry stout, cursing his wife, crying about his mother, writing terribly metered and laterally rhymed verse, or whatever else his people do.

  • ||

    cursing his wife

    Is that a euphemism for impregnating and/or beating that I'm not familiar with?

  • Hugh Akston||

    I also assumed by 'cursing' he meant 'beating'

  • Killazontherun||

    Too deep into his cabbage and potatoes to physically assault her at the moment.

  • Raston Bot||

    or whatever else his people do.

    Mud farming.

  • Killazontherun||

    And riding around naked on a bicycle to buy his lottery tickets. What other things have I have seen those people do in the movies? Oh yeah, painting his face in blue make up, screaming about the British and charging them with swords. Or, was that the Scottish? Hard to tell them apart.

  • Killazontherun||

    I have seen those people

  • Killazontherun||

    The oddest thing about the local Kluxers in this part of Carolina is their Celtic supremacist beliefs. If you see someone wearing a kilt, he is either going to a hall to join in drinking with fellow racist buddies, or he is a hipster. You really can't tell them apart until you talk to them, and sometimes not even then.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    Klan Hipsters?! Is death an option?

  • Killazontherun||

    I have got to find the Joe Sobran (RIP) article where he stated he knew he was in an entirely different world than the one he grew up in when he heard a neo-nazi interviewed saying, 'National Socialism may not be for everyone, but its the philosophy that best fits me.'

  • Loki||

    Klan Hipsters?!

    They're ironically racist.

  • NeonCat||

    They burn artisanal crosses.

  • Inigo M.||

    Instead of white hoods, they prefer to wear plaid hoods, especially "finds" from the thrift shop, or else they'll wear hoods with vintage graphics such as the original Star Wars movie posters.

  • Tonio||

    Damn...

  • ||

    fried cabbage? pshaw!

  • Lord Humungus||

    Irish Alzheimer's: They forget everything but the grudges.

  • John||

    http://justiceforjohn.com/

    And don't forget, hundreds of current and former FBI agents want John Connolly released.

    The bottom line is that the FBI consciously decided that letting Bulgur run wild in return for information was a great way to do business. They didn't give a shit what Bulger did because all they wanted was numbers and to make cases. And this happens all of the time, although Bulger is the most extreme example. All over America FBI informants are running criminal enterprises with no worries of prosecution.

  • Raston Bot||

    The justification used by Feds profiting from the corruption is, "Better the killer we know than the one we don't. The next one could be worse." Yeah, and the next one might not cut you in on the action either.

  • Gray Ghost||

    All over America FBI informants are running criminal enterprises with no worries of prosecution.

    Isn't this what happened with the House of Death in Juarez, an informant allowed to continue doing absolutely hideous things, so that a potential drug case wouldn't be undermined?

  • Mike M.||

    You'd hardly know it from the wall-to-wall coverage of the George Zimmerman case, but there's another trial going on that's at least as worthy of national attention. That's the 32-count federal racketeering indictment against James "Whitey" Bulger, a Boston mob kingpin linked to at least 19 murders, captured in 2011 after 16 years on the lam.

    Yeah, but Whitey only killed a bunch of white guys (pretty appropriate, huh), and the lives of 19 whites killed by a white guy named Whitey aren't worth nearly as much as the life of 1 black kid killed by a white Hispanic.

    Bulger simply doesn't provide Obama, Holder, and America any good opportunities to have a "national conversation on race."

  • anon||

    "national conversation on race."

    If only we could have a national conversation on our Dear Ruler shutting the fuck up.

  • ||

    You really are just a one-dimensional KULTUR WAR moron, aren't you. Yes you are.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Is what he's saying inaccurate? Whether you want to frame it as "culture war" or simply better fitting a predetermined narrative that favors their political agenda is ultimately beside the point.

  • Mike M.||

    Bill, you're never going to get any remotely serious answer to that question, because you're asking a complete clown and nitwit.

    He has no serious opinion about the issue of how our media covers the "news" and determines what is and isn't newsworthy. In fact, he has no meaningful, intelligent opinion of anything of substance at all, and his debating ability is completely limited to responding "team red, team blue, culture war" to everything.

    His small, childlike mind is filled up with nonsensical crap like old Star Trek episodes and cartoons. Basically, he's the guy you put off in the other room at the kids' table while you talk to the adults.

  • sarcasmic||

    He killed some pretty white girls as well. His favorite method of killing women was asphyxiation. Men he usually shot, but with women it was a bit more personal. He liked to choke them and watch them die.

  • John||

    I have also heard he liked fucking young boys, seriously. He was even disgusting for a mobster.

  • Inigo M.||

    I don't know about young boys, but he apparently did like to hang around in Boston gay bars -- NTTAWWT -- and not because he was shaking down the owners.

  • ||

    The government is indeed an evil entity because it can, without much accountability, destroy lives - sometimes arbitrarily. They say the government is a force of good but that's offset by a lot bad shit they pull.

  • sarcasmic||

    If you define injustice as having your life, liberty and/or property violated by force, then justice is simply an absence of injustice.

    So justice is not proactive. It is reactionary.

    Whenever government is proactive in the name of justice, chances are it's committing injustice.

    When government a government tasked with issuing justice becomes an instrument of injustice, then evil reigns supreme, because there is no one who will help you. Except the A-Team. But they're not real.

  • Art Vandelay||

    "Except the A-Team. But they're not real."

    NOW you tell me!!!!!

    [runs out of the room crying]

  • Hugh Akston||

    Just because you haven't been able to find them, it doesn't mean they aren't real.

  • ||

    Sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit, these men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem--if no one else can help--and if you can find them, maybe you can hire...the A-Team.

  • ChrisO||

    Mr. T was clearly doing his best to remain incognito.

  • Enough About Palin||

    SHUT UP, FOOL!!

  • Dweebston||

    So were they mercs, or vigilantes? I never watched the show, it looks unwatchable even by today's standards. Unless it's purposefully kitschy.

  • sarcasmic||

    I liked it. Then again I was ten when it came out.

  • Tonio||

    I liked it. Then again I was ten when it I came out.

    FTFY. NTTAWWT.

  • ||

    It was a good, fun show.

    Murdoch was a character.

    Loved the one when they convinced pacifists the only way to get rid of the bad guys was to use violence. Sometimes it's the only way.

  • ||

    They were the A-Team. Hannibal, Faceman, Howling Mad Murdock, and B.A. Baracus.

    Don't watch the show now; it's terrible. But when I was a kid and there were only three channels, the A-Team was awesome.

  • Pro Libertate||

    They were really into destruction without consequences back then. Like the Dukes blowing up everything with dynamite without actually killing anyone.

  • Dweebston||

    What about cheesy wire effects for hurling bodies during explosions? I love that.

  • Pro Libertate||

    They didn't have computers back then, see.

  • OneOut||

    They would have recruited McGiver to the A-Team but they were up against the salary cap.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't think they started doing those wire effects until the mid 90s, though I could be wrong.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Both, actually. It was a running reference in the show that they kept taking on pro bono missions versus actually getting paid.

  • Paul.||

    Bulger's brother was also one of the most powerful members in the Mass. State senate. While he's never been directly linked to any crimes, it was implicit (as spoken from other former senators) that you dared not cross him, because everyone knew his brother was Whitey Bulger.

  • John||

    What a cesspool that state is.

  • sarcasmic||

    "You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy"

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    D.C.?

  • Paul.||

    My vegetable drawer.

  • Swiss Servator - past LTC(ret)||

    I laughed at that. Really.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    OK, we've criticized Massachusetts, can we go back to bashing the South now?

  • ||

    Anyone catch Devall Patrick's take on Zimmerman?

    Shocking.

    Also shocking...reprisals are taking place.

    /sad eyes.

  • John||

    True story. My wife has an uncle by marriage who grew up in the worst parts of Summerville. He was such a tough guy and known as such a good fighter, the winterhill gang offered him a spot. No kidding. Fortuenately, he is also a great guy and politely said no, ended up serving in the Marine infantry in Korea, and becoming a high school shop teacher. But even today in his 80s, I wouldn't cross him.

  • Killazontherun||

    I know a veteran of the Korean War who witnessed the Chinese assault first hand. His retelling of them just flowing through with single shot rifles and bayonets and not giving a damn if the hundreds of corpses of comrades before them were bullet riddled corpses at their feet sent shivers down my spine.

  • John||

    I think I would rather have been in World War II in the infantry than Korea. Korea was fucking brutal.

  • Paul.||

    And cold... stories of soldiers freezing to death in foxholes also sends shivers down my spine.

  • OneOut||

    The ground was frozen so hard the GIs couldn't dig foxholes so they built mini forts with the bodies of dead Chinese soldiers.

    My father was there not long after the cease fire. He told me this and other stories after I complained about how bad the Nam Vets had it.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I used to do bricklaying and drink at the VFW with this guy who was a champion boxer and a POW in Korea. At seventy years old he was still duking it out in the parking lot with guys less than half his age.

  • Dweebston||

    But does he have charming nicknames for his fists?

  • Paul.||

    Spirit and Opportunity.

  • mb||

    As Irish southie residents, the Donahues would unfortunately probably still agree with Obama.

  • Dave Krueger||

    ...Cullen and Murphy quote Tommy Donahue, eight years old when his father was murdered: "Our own government, the FBI, the Justice Department, has never said to my mother, to me and my brothers, 'We're sorry.'"...

    Even if they did, they'd be lying.

    Government is never having to say you're sorry.

  • Killazontherun||

    I thought that was what love meant, but to a proggie, government is the embodiment of love, and any criticism of it undermines its humanitarian mission.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    ...but to a proggie, government is the embodiment of love...

    And they'd like nothing more than to send you to the Ministry of Love to prove it.

  • ||

    Corrupt FBI let mobster Whitey Bulger keep killing—and it cost innocent lives.

    But, if we bring down even just one mobster, don't we have to let the informant keep killing people?

  • OneOut||

    well, one point of view is that "most" of those that he killed saved us having to arrest, try, and house them.

    Just sayin'

  • crashland||

    When Government Meets Organized Crime, It's time for a killer P-A-R-T-Y.

  • geo1113||

    Pussy Bonpensiero: Thanks for looking the other way on that Bevilaqua beef.
    FBI Agent Skip Lipari: I told you, Sal...no violence!

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