Whitey: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger
On November 14, 2013, notorious Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger was sentenced to life in prison. A ruthless gangster is behind bars for good. Justice was finally served.
Or was it?
When he was convicted, Whitey Bulger was 84 years old. When he was arrested outside his humble Santa Monica apartment, he had been living peacefully in retirement. For 16 years, he didn’t have so much as an unpaid parking ticket on his record.
I’m not saying “Free Whitey” here. But I am wondering how it is that the Feds were able to track down and convict a quiet old man but were unable to put a stop to his 25-year reign of terror while it was happening. It turns out that they were absolutely able to; but they were unwilling.
In “Whitey: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger,” Joe Berlinger explores in excruciating detail how Whitey Bulger built a criminal empire under Uncle Sam’s nose and why we should be furious about it.
Early on in the movie, a retired detective tells what should have been a triumphant tale of how he tracked down Bulger and found him at a South Boston garage. Apparently, Bulger met there regularly to conduct business with his Winter Hill Gang cohorts.
The detective got a warrant to bug the garage and gleefully waited for the incriminating evidence to pile up. The first morning after the wiretaps were set up, Whitey and his gang came to the garage as usual – and had a casual conversation about how much they love and appreciate Boston cops.
Someone inside the force had tipped Whitey off. And very quickly.
Whitey Bulger was quite open about the fact that he had contacts in the Boston Police, the State Police, and in Federal Government. And he paid them all handsomely for their information and their in-action.
The film says that the two most valuable men on Whitey’s vast payroll were his FBI handler John Connolly and federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan.
Whenever someone in law enforcement began building a case against Whitey, Connolly ordered them to back off. Whenever the notion of bringing Whitey into court arose, O’Sullivan always said that he was too busy stamping out the real threat — the Mafia. So the Italian Mob was crushed in New England, leaving the Winter Hill Gang in total control of organized crime.
Basically, Whitey Bulger was the brutal dictator of South Boston and crooked law enforcement officials voted him in.
Joe Berlinger argues that the most disturbing part of the story is that the government never admitted its greedy misdeeds. In fact, the main thing that federal prosecutors tried to prove in the 2013 trial is that the FBI was only working with Whitey because he was a valuable informant.
The FBI fought desperately to prove that Whitey Bulger was a rat and that the Feds were cooperating with him all those years because they needed his valuable inside information. Whitey denies ever giving the government a thing besides fat envelopes of cash and Berlinger believes that he’s telling the truth.
The truth is that the government is eager to waste your tax dollars hunting down and prosecuting a feeble old man but they were delighted to let him run a deadly crime syndicate when he was able to pay them off.
Those who believe in justice are worshipping a false god. Wise people who yearn for justice look to the afterlife for divine reward and punishment. There is no justice in this world.