Saturday, April 13, 2013
Gangster Whitey Bulger and FBI Special Agent John Connolly / an Unholy Alliance (Part 2)
I’m not excusing John Connolly in any way, but I must say that his actions do not necessarily surprise me. Connolly was raised in the same neighborhood with Whitey Bulger. He harbored a certain idealized image of Whitey, the older, tough kid in the neighborhood. And, as adults, Connolly, the FBI Agent, was allowed / focused / directed by the FBI to use his past associations and upbringing to cultivate Whitey as an informant against the Mafia. Commonsense supervisory practices would seem to demand that Connolly’s actions would be very closely monitored. But they were not. In fact, the Bureau largely gave Connolly a freehand. Furthermore, his supervisor, Special Agent John Morris was taken-in by the gangster’s charisma, and accepted substantial gifts, including money. Morris was later to turn 'state's evidence' for immunity – his career and his personal life in shambles. However, there were others in the Bureau – right up the chain – who skated free.
According to evidence presented in court, Connolly took advantage of his official FBI access to furnish Whitey with the names of other informants and potential witnesses; that, not surprisingly, were quickly terminated by Whitey et al. For this service, Whitey paid Connolly generously for the information. No quid pro quo, according to Connolly – ‘just gifts to a pal – perhaps, not a good idea, but certainly not criminal.’ The jury felt otherwise.
The question remains: Who exactly was the informant? Maybe both, maybe neither, just two criminals, business as usual. Connolly will probably spend the remainder of his life in prison – a convicted accomplice to several murders. I suppose he might say, ‘I didn’t know.’ Nonetheless, it was his job to know. More likely, he might opine that ‘the end justifies the means.’ My response would be you’re either a good guy, or your not. Connolly appears to have never asked himself that question, getting an adrenaline rush and numerous benefits (wine, women and song) while he walked the line between good and bad.
As we might say, it’s complicated. And, resultingly, we might ask, ‘Was Connolly thrown to the wolves by the Bureau in much the same way he threw others to the wolves in Whitey’s pack?’ And, did the Bureau’s means justify that end?
Again, I recommend the book, Whitey Bulger,