By Kevin Cullen
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Joe Berlinger made a pretty good documentary about Whitey Bulger, but it is seriously undermined by his treating far too seriously Bulger’s claim that he was never an informant for the FBI.
Whitey insists he had no idea that when he sat there, all those years, telling John Connolly stuff about other criminals, that Connolly was writing it down back at the office. Whitey wants you to believe the FBI — not just Connolly, but other agents and supervisors who protected him and, unlike Connolly, got away with it — took care of him because he paid them and saved the life of a federal prosecutor. It’s all jive. Insulting jive.
But Joe Berlinger takes it very seriously. And his film, “Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger,” suffers for that.
In the 26 years that have gone by since I was part of the Globe Spotlight Team that exposed Bulger as being a protected FBI informant, I have repeatedly stressed that Bulger was a lousy informant, one not deserving the FBI’s protecting him from prosecution and helping him murder potential witnesses against him. It was all a scam. His handler, John Connolly, just lumped Whitey in with his partner in crime, Steve Flemmi, pretending that Whitey had inside information on the Mafia, with which the FBI was obsessed.
The Mafia wouldn’t tell Whitey if his pants were on fire. But the Mafia did talk to Stevie, and Stevie talked to Whitey, and Whitey went along with the charade, that he really knew what the Mafia was thinking, because it was good business.
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