It wouldn’t really be a disaster if “the clowns were running the circus,” somewhere.  Our society could probably survive a corrupted circus.  But when criminals run law enforcement organizations, the outcomes can be very sinister.

Whitey Bulger and his enforcer Kevin Weeks surveillance photo

Beginning in the 1960’s, Irish Mob gang leader James J. ‘Whitey’ Bulger rose to power and dominated the Boston underworld like no one has before, or since.  Extremely sly and extremely brutal, he blended the two key ingredients to maintain power in the jungle of organized crime.  Among his triumphs: he conned the Justice Department officials in the area, and the local FBI, into giving him ongoing immunity for years.  In return he gave them some, limited help in nailing rival gangs, increasing his own power and dominance of crime in the region, while he murdered by the dozens.

When his high-wire act could be sustained no longer and his fall was imminent, FBI agent John Connolly tipped him off and he disappeared, for sixteen years, until his arrest in California in 2011.  He’s since been convicted and shipped off for life, but the courtroom scene wasn’t pretty.  It revealed countless accusations, and counter-accusations, of low and duplicitous dealing between and among law enforcement, prosecutors, and criminals.  After putting Whitey away for good, the DOJ response was to prosecute 76-year-old FBI whistleblower Robert Fitzpatrick for perjury, after his damning testimony about perceived FBI complicity with Bulger years ago.  The Fitzpatrick prosecution appears, at least on the surface, to be ugly retribution, reminiscent of the Hoover era, for anyone who speaks ill of the FBI brethren.

So the mystery is multi-faceted.  In the street vernacular, just what the hell happened in the twisted case of Whitey Bulger versus the Department of Justice?