Monthly Archives: July 2012

Playing With Fire – FBI’S Looming Redux

J. Edgar’s long reign taught us one fundamental thing.  It is a bad idea having one person in charge of an investigating agency for 48 years.  Some called him the closest thing to a dictator America has ever seen.  We will never know the extent of his evil doings because his secretary. Helen Gandy, who had worked with him for 54 years, and close friend and daily companion of over 40 years, Clyde Tolson, took control of all his files and destroyed them.

Once J. Edgar was no longer in power the FBI had to adjust to his  absence.  As expected, there were several pretenders to the throne among them Mark Felt, also known as Deep Throat.  Seeing the FBI vulnerable some in Congress ginned up enough courage to investigate it.  The result was the formation of the Church Committee.   The FBI was so revered that the idea Congress was thinking of looking at its actions was called treasonous by some.

The Church Committee’s report told of years of abuses by the FBI.    One thing that came from it was a recommendation limiting the term of the FBI director to 8 years.  Legislation was enacted limiting it to 10 years.  We did not want to see another J. Edgar even though it is uncertain his spirit has ever gone away.

Whitey Bulger — Another Take on the Case

T.E. English on June 18, 2012 wrote about Whitey’s case.  It’s an interesting take on the case because he has written some good books about other criminals usually connected to New York City so he has a feel for a good crime story.  But it does point out that even a good writer can make some fundamental errors when he is not close to the situation and doesn’t know the terrain or the players and their biases.

He’s on the same page as I am that the FBI wants this to go away but he shows some confusion when he tries to explain it.

Early on he brings up Harvey Silverglate whom he calls “a prominent Boston criminal-defense attorney.”   He omits mentioning Silverglate’s strong animosity to all things Bulger.  Silverglate is Dershowitz’s big buddy who along with Dershowitz opposed one of Billy’s friends for a judgeship causing a minor ruckus at the State House.

Silverglate’s point is there is a cover-up going on.  Silverglate says the feds could have tried Whitey quickly in California on gun charges and locked him up for 30 years but they brought his back to Boston to prevent exposing “a pattern of secrecy and cover-up going back generations.”  Unfortunately Silverglate has it ass-end-backwards.    If they tried him on the easy gun charge case in California and they never  tried him in Boston that was the way to do an effective cover-up.

Posting Schedule

I will adhere loosely to the following schedule when making posts.

I’ll post once a day (hopefully).  If something of note occurs then I will post about it even if I’ve already posted.

The following are general guidelines that I hope to follow but they are not carved in stone.

Sunday —          I’ll post about books covering these subjects

Monday —         Whitey’s Case and Legal Matters of Interest

Tuesday —         FBI, State Police, DEA, Local Police

Wednesday —   John ‘Ivan’ Naimovich

Thursday —       Whitey and Other Gangsters

Friday —            John Connolly

Saturday —        Catch All – open subjects such as Billy Bulger, Southie, Prosecutors, etc.

Thanks for your interest.


Whitey Bulger’s Nemesis — Howie Carr’s — The Brothers Bulger

The Boston Daily a blog of Boston Magazine said in one of the great understatements of the last 20 years:  “As those who follow Boston politics well know, there is no love lost between Billy Bulger and Alan M. Dershowitz . . . .”

Carr asked Alan to write  a blurb in the inside flap of his  book The Brothers Bulger.  Dershowitz can hardly contain his glee and vile.  He proceeded to launch a vitriolic attack on Billy without mentioning Whitey.  You’d think it was Billy who was charged with the 19 murders.

Using Dershowitz pretty much sums up what Carr’s book is about: an intemperate attack against Billy based on his sibling connection to Whitey.  All of Billy’s actions are twisted and distorted.  Carr tells us in the beginning that much of the book is regurgitation of other books and newspaper articles.  It does have an index which is good, it has not footnotes or anything else to back up his assertions.

Defining Dignity Down – The Fate of Whitey Bulger and Others

Writing of Whitey and his trial naturally encompasses a broad swath of subjects: his relationships, his environment, his actions, how law enforcement agencies worked for or against him, the way our justice system works, and how others think of Whitey.  I use Saturday to talk about some of these things more generally.

As a career prosecutor I’ve been instrumental in having people incarcerated, some through plea bargaining and others by recommendations I made after trial.  For the most part, a plea bargain involves a defendant weighing the chances of acquittal, considering the penalty after conviction, and then trying to mitigate the punishment by pleading guilty when the odds of acquittal do not favor him.  If the penalty does not vary as in a murder charge or other mandatory minimum cases the defendant will usually go to trial regardless of the odds.  Otherwise, if the case looks like a loser he’ll try to ease his punishment.

In those cases the prosecutor suggests a couple of things: his recommendation after trial and his recommendation if the defendant pleads guilty.   Defense counsel suggests what her client will accept.

Whitey’s Handler John Connolly — Blind Man or Con Man?

Edward MacKenzie in his book Street Soldier tells about US Attorney Mike Sullivan stating after Connolly was convicted that he was “a Winter Hill Gang operative masquerading as a law enforcement agent.”  MacKenzie then wrote, “Welcome to the club, Johnny.  You’ve officially been outed” expressing his satisfaction with Connolly’s conviction.

He goes on to write:  “I actually have mixed feelings about the former FBI agent.  He was always respectful to me, though I understood he would sacrifice me at any time to get a star on his forehead.  But I believe the FBI was as much to blame as he was.  After all, where did they stick him?  His old neighborhood! That’s entrapment as far as I am concerned.  How could he betray his childhood buddies?”  

MacKenzie believes a cop who thwarts the criminal activity of a gangster he was friendly with as a youngster amounts to a betrayal.  It’s a skewed notion of a criminal mind but a good insight into how even a self labeled reformed criminal thinks.

Defining Whitey – Unique or a Copy – A Quest for An Answer

John “Red” Shea served twelve years for drug offenses.  At age 21 he claims he was Whitey’s top lieutenant in the drug distribution business.  A Golden Gloves boxing champion he was good with his fists which came in handy while in prison.

He avers in his book Rat Bastard there is nothing worse in the world than a rat.  When learning Whitey was a rat he says he became physically sick.  In the book’s epilogue he writes of his confused feelings toward Whitey:  ”On the one hand, Whitey Bulger was a hero to me, someone who taught me the streets, the code, someone who was respected and feared by everyone, with a few notable exceptions.  He was a man’s man, and what I learned from him made me what I am today.  I wanted to be like Whitey Bulger.  . . .  On the other hand, Whitey was a total fraud.  He took care of himself and gave the rest of us up.  He couldn’t face the music.  He didn’t practice what he preached.  It is still incomprehensible to me that a guy of his character, who presented himself as he did, who schooled me so well, could be a rat.”