Yesterday I told how Connolly sat as silent as a lamb going to slaughter when those he accused of being in a conspiracy to hide the the full story worked assiduously to put him away forever. Connolly also made some other inane statements to T. J. English in the midst of his babble, then, perhaps without realizing it, Connolly in a moment of lucidity spelled out in three sentences what he should have been shouting to the world from both outside and inside the courtroom, it is the only real defense he has and it may be the truth.
He told T. J. English: “My role was to protect Bulger and Flemmi so we could make cases against criminals based on information they gave us. That was my job. Everyone knew that they were top criminals and murderers.”
There is no doubt in my mind Connolly thought that was his job when he was authorized to handle Whitey Bulger, Stevie Flemmi and other Top Echelon informants. He encountered nothing on his job that told him otherwise. His actions as an agent in tipping them off as to who was informing on them, or keeping them advised who was investigating them, acting affirmatively in going after people he thought were threats to them, covering for them by filling out false 209s and 302s to have suspicion fall on others, and doing nothing when he was called upon to do something all point to that conclusion. By protecting them Connolly felt he could take any step he deemed feasible while at the same time closing his eyes to any suggestion that he was empowering their evil.
That’s how he acted. That’s what the facts showed he did. That’s what he’s in prison for doing. I just don’t understand why he didn’t tell everyone that back in 1997.
My book Don’t Embarrass The Family is about my experience at John Connolly’s trial in May 2002. On one of those days I went up to Connolly in the corridor. I figured that things were not going so well for him at that point. I said to him something to the effect, “you know what they [the feds] want, they want you to give them Billy Bulger.” With respect to Billy, Connolly replied, “I don’t have anything on him. He’s a man of integrity.” He then went on saying he could have probably gotten a deal if he gave them someone higher up in the FBI. He said he couldn’t do that because no one did anything wrong and he wasn’t going to lie about anyone just to save himself. In effect he was telling me he was doing the job he was required to do, those above him knew and approved of what he was doing and what was expected of him, and from his perspective nothing of a criminal nature occurred.
This is not a new theme of Connolly that he dreamt up when in prison or during his trial. Acccording to Deadly Alliance on page 305 the day before St. Patrick’s day in 2000 Connolly told correspondent Dennis Murphy of Dateline NBC in a discussion about Judge Wolf’s decision:
“The judge has obviously never developed a Top Echelon criminal informant and he’s never destroyed a Mafia family, and it’s easy for him to sit back and speculate about what the right and wrong is twenty years later. Agents of the FBI had the authority to allow their informants to participate in criminal activity. I did the job that I was told and authorized to do by my superiors. These were priorities that were set on Pennsylvania Avenue by the Department of Justice and the FBI. John Connolly just did his job.
You have to understand the business that I was in. I was in the murder and mayhem business. When I was developing a Top Echelon informant, by the very definition of that program, I was developing a murderer. Do I know what murders they committed? You suspect. But it was never confirmed, and you never discussed it with those guys.”
John Connolly suggests he was only doing his job. Whether he was or not was never decided. He didn’t bring this up as an issue in his trials. He hid.
Let’s cut to the chase. Connolly is saying that the full story is that an FBI agent’s job with a Top Echelon informant is to protect him even if he knows he is murdering people or even if he knows the information he gives that type informant will lead to the murder of a person.
I talked previously about the right of the president to authorize people to kill other people. Obama has a “hit list” containing names of terrorists who he has said can be killed whether they are American citizens or not; the DEA has killed defenseless people who it believes are transporting drugs. The former president has authorized CIA and FBI agents to torture people some who end up dying. Just the other day Senator McCain glibly spoke of how Vice President Cheney had no problem torturing people.
The only reason Connolly did not bring up the full story (aside from faulty advice from his defense lawyers who may have feared taking an outlier defense but Connolly had the last word to his lawyers so the lawyers can’t be faulted) has to be that he doesn’t believe what he had been saying. When looking at his actions in the cold light of day he must have second guessed himself. He doubted his right to let his Top Echelon informants murder or extort people and to continue to provide them cover.
When the pressure built he began to waffle. After Judge Wolf issued his report he was approached by Peter Meade of WBZ-AM who asked him if the FBI condoned violence by noting a necessary part of loan-sharking involves violence. Connolly answered according to Black Mass, at page 307 “Yeah, I mean, you know, violence is an explicit part of loan-sharking. But, um they, the deal with these two individuals and anyone else was — no violence. No murders. No violence.”
Flemmi testified before Wolf that the deal was they could do whatever crimes they wanted but they couldn’t hit anyone. Yet both Flemmi and Bulger continued to hit people and continued to be protected by Connolly.
There’s an old saw: “your actions thunder so loud I can hardly hear what you are saying.” We judge people by their actions more so than their words. As Harry Truman would say: ”Show me!”
Connolly protected people he knew were murdering other people, as he said, “Everyone knew they were . . . murderers.” This is the issue that is squarely on the table that everyone seems to run from: May the FBI as part of the executive authorize its agents to commit murder? Connolly at times seems to allege it can. He has yet to have the issue decided.
It may be decided soon because it is Whitey’s only defense.