The Whitey Bulger obsession is back in full flow with a new movie, "Black Mass," starring Johnny Depp, and a book, "Where the Bodies Are Buried," a forensic look inside the Bulger trial by T J English, who has made Irish mobs his specialty and who started his career at the Irish Voice.
The New Yorker has high praise for both creative works this week, making clear the full truth of the Bulger depravity (a serial killer as well as everything else) and the corrupt cops who kept him in power.
Suffice to say the new cinematic expose and English's book are replete with incredible, in-depth insights into what has to be one of the most lawless periods of big city mobs and crime in the history of the U.S.
The English book goes further, asking the profound question of whether it was just a small group of rogue FBI agents who protected Bulger in order to kill off the Italian mob, which was actually far less powerful in Boston, or whether the entire law and order apparatus from top prosecutors on down were in on the sting.
It is a profoundly depressing thought, yet you put down the English book believing the worst. His first chapter tells the story of an innocent man sent to jail for his adult life because the feds built an entirely bogus case against him in order to protect a mob informer who had done the actual killing.
If they were capable of convicting completely innocent men, what else did they do? The New Yorker likens it to the My Lai massacre and burning the village to save it during the Vietnam war days.
Bulger liked to act as the Robin Hood of South Boston, helping old ladies with their groceries and aiding some down and outs.
However, he was much more comfortable strangling the daughter of a crime associate who had gone public with the fact that her father had molested her.
Bulger even had his own killing field, a house he called “Haunty” in South Boston where victims were regularly garroted, shot and tortured to death.
The incredible thing was that the FBI charged with eliminating the far less powerful Italian mafia in the area approved and endorsed Bulger’s heinous acts.
Indeed, his chief FBI contact, John Connolly, was a fellow son of Southie which meant there was an ever deepening bond between them, with all the advantages to Bulger that flowed.
When a Bulger soldier offered to turn evidence and name Whitey, the FBI tipped Bulger off and the serial killer had the man killed.
English’s thesis is that Whitey ran the FBI more than the FBI ran him – and large parts of the Justice Department too. Bulger bribed individual agents and always ensured he had the latest information from their files.
Bulger eventually went on the lam when the feds could no longer ignore his murderous ways. He was variously reported in Ireland, mainland Europe and many other locations but was tracked down in sunny Santa Monica just yards from the beach in a nondescript apartment.
Bulger’s victims’ families had their day in court in the end, but it afforded little satisfaction knowing that while Whitey might have pulled the trigger the feds were right behind him helping him take aim.
He is now doing life and the final chapter in the life of one of the most savage gang leaders in American history will get written. Future generations will surely be astonished at what he got away with, starting as a minor Irish hood from Southie.
But Bulger was no ordinary street creep. He corrupted an entire system in a way that surely could never happen again – or could it?