“Being an informant does not give you a license to kill or run roughshod over the city of Boston,” explains Berlinger. “The government should not be choosing who should live and who should die, which is precisely what they did in deciding to go after the Italian mob and look the other way as they empowered the Irish mob.”
The crazed pursuit of the Mafia in the early days may have made the FBI reluctant to realize that the power vacuum they were creating was being filled by an even more ruthless Irish mob, the film suggests.
Not surprisingly, this idea is not popular among Boston’s upper echelons or among its investigative journalists who see it as a sideshow to the main event, which was capturing and convicting Bolger.
“The film is not saying that Bulger was not an informant. It’s looking into troubling questions like if he was an informant, it doesn’t permit you to kill people with impunity,” Berlinger says.
“If he was an informant why does his file look so fabricated? Why was he never paid? And why did the FBI break its own rule to never approach the king of a crime syndicate instead of his low level wingmen?”
Berlinger freely admits he doesn’t know what the whole truth of this saga is, but neither does anyone else yet. “I can only tell you what people are saying and what the problems are with those versions of the truth.”
Kevin Weeks, one of Bulger’s right hand men, gets one of the last sound bites in the film when he says, “We’re not going to know the truth until everyone starts telling the truth. Everyone keeps shifting things to suit themselves.”
Berlinger knows that includes Bulger himself.
“Am I saying that what’s coming out of Bulger’s mouth is the unadulterated truth? Absolutely not. But a lot of what he’s says is disturbing even if it’s only half true. I will leave it to the audience to decide for themselves.”
Until there’s a real government inquiry into Bulger’s own claims about the conspiracy of silence that allowed him to wage war for so long, we may never know.
“You can’t empower one set of criminals to take down another,” Berlinger concludes.
"Whitey: United States of America versus James J. Bulger" opens in theaters and on iTunes on June 27.