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Whitey: When organized crime and the FBI became indistinguishable

Written By | Aug 26, 2021

Photos of Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger. Screen shots from the documentary “Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger.”

WASHINGTON. The old 2014 documentary “Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger,” now streaming on Amazon Prime, is worth a second look. That’s because it’s illustrative of the US government’s ability to outshine organized crime when it comes to murder and extortion.

Many on the right of the political spectrum only became aware of the federal government’s criminal proclivities when the FBI joined forces with the Democratic National Committee and the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. They sought to paint candidate – later President – Donald J. Trump as an intelligence agent of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

President Trump meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. NBC News screen capture.

The Justice Department piled on by appointing Robert Mueller as special counsel to spearhead a three-year investigation of the specious allegation. When it concluded its inquiry, exonerating Trump, members of the special counsel’s team suspiciously destroyed their office cellphones and other digital devices.

Mueller had served as FBI director (2001-2013) under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Years earlier, he also served as an assistant and acting US attorney in Boston, Massachusetts. All this at a time his office wrongfully prosecuted four men for a murder committed by Bulger lieutenant and fellow FBI associate, Vincent Flemmi.




When attorneys representing the wrongfully convicted demanded the release of their clients, Mueller swung into action.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller. ABC News screen capture.

As the Boston Globe observed, Mueller …

“… wrote letters to the parole and pardons board throughout the 1980s opposing clemency for the four men framed by FBI lies.  Of course, Mueller was also in that position while Whitey Bulger was helping the FBI cart off his criminal competitors even as he buried bodies in shallow graves along the Neponset …”

Another lucky FBI associate features prominently in the documentary. That’s Bulger’s former enforcer, John Martorano. He admits to committing 20 cold-blooded murders on the orders of James “Whitey” Bulger, notorious head of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang. For his many brutal crimes, Martorano served only 12 years in prison and was released in 2007.

As the Boston Globe’s Adrian Walker observed, “That’s less than half a year a corpse.”

Hitman John Martorano speaks with “60 Minutes.” CBS News screen capture.

On his release from lockup, the US Department of Corrections generously gave Martorano $20,000 to help jumpstart his new life on the outside.

His luck stemmed from his association with corrupt agents of Boston’s FBI field office. Those who sanctioned Bulger’s racketeering and murders and, on occasion, were willing participants. And when it came time for federal prosecutors to make their case against these corrupt FBI agents, they turned to Boston’s Irish mobsters for help – granting sweetheart deals, like that given John Martorano, in exchange for their testimony.

Clearly, there are no good guys in that bag of snakes.

The documentary records a conversation between Bulger and his lawyer. In it, Bulger rails against federal prosecutors and a compliant and propagandist press:

“Jesus Christ almighty! This is baloney. And that’s why I says this is a sham trial. I think the feds had the greenlight. Nobody ever checks on them. The media is not there, like they would like the public to believe they are. These reporters are hand-fed stuff from FBI agents. And then they write crime stories. They write books and everything else. They’re hand-and fist-with them.”

The documentary ends with Whitey Bulger’s conviction in 2013. But, as we know, the Bulger saga continued after the cameras stopped rolling.

Bulger’s life came to a horrific end in 2018 when fellow prisoners at the high-security Hazelton penitentiary in West Virginia managed to get their hands on the 89-year-old convict. They beat the wheelchair-bound Bulger beyond recognition, gouging his eyes from their sockets.



The documentary suggests that the true purpose of Bulger’s prosecution was to establish his status as an FBI informant.

Also, to establish that FBI agents working on behalf of the Winter Hill Gang were rogue handlers seduced by their confidential informant.

The Justice Department and its FBI paramilitary wing were just good-natured dupes.

The perception thus established by his conviction, the US government sealed James Bulger’s fate as a no-good, squealing rat. Meanwhile, the FBI, like the ambitious Robert Mueller himself, moved on to bigger if not better things.

The Whitey Bulger/FBI crime alliance, the Obama Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious sale of weapons to the Sinaloa drug cartel, and the FBI’s attempted coup against President Trump are realizations of fears among members of Congress from the agency’s inception in 1908.

Recovered weapons from Operation Fast and Furious. ABC News screen capture.

According to Athan Theoharis’ book “The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide”:

“Members of Congress had articulated their fears that a federal police force might be abused by the president and attorney general. Congress worried that a federal investigative division could become a spy agency – not unlike that of czarist Russia – infringing on the rights and liberties of Americans.”

These fears are certainly something to consider while watching “Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger,” now streaming on Amazon Prime. It can also be seen on YouTube Movies.

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Read more from Steve Lopez

About the Author:

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area, and now resides in South Florida. A cigar and bourbon aficionado, Steven is a political staff writer for Communities Digital News and an incredibly talented artist.

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Steven M. Lopez

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area and now resides in South Florida.