Before Accepting Whitey Bulger Hoover Journeyed From Denial To Understanding To Desperation

Hoover’s first act after the roof fell in on his denial of a Mafia was to institute a Top Hoodlum Program.  Each office in the country was supposed to come up with the names of the ten top hoodlums in their jurisdictions.  It was an ill-conceived program.  Some of the field officers had dozens to pick from, some had only one or two, and others couldn’t figure out how to tell if someone was a Mafia guy or just a member of an Italian social club.

Hoover had dealt with the famous gangsters back in the Thirties on a targeted basis. In and out, get the publicity and get away. He and his men went after “Pretty Boy” Floyd, “Baby Face” Nelson, “Ma” Barker,  Alvin “Old Creepy” Karpis and John Dillinger.  Hoover referred to the gangster type criminals as “scum,” “rats,” “vermin,” and “vultures.”  He believed they might infect his men if they got too close to them so he took a hit and run approach at big names leaving most of the hoodlums to the local cops. But now under pressure Hoover had to push his field offices to start learning more about the LCN.

Judge Wolf in his 661 page treatise said that when Bobby Kennedy arrived at the Justice Department Hoover did not believe there was a national crime syndicate.  Wolf indicated that in 1962 Hoover was still being dragged to the altar of recognizing the Mafia’s existence when he stated, “no single individual or collation of racketeers dominates organized crime across the nation.”    That quote did not support Judge Wolf’s conclusion.  Hoover could very well have meant there were other organized crime groups aside from the Mafia.  For by 1962 unlike what Wolf wanted to believe, Hoover had long since come around to accepting the Mafia’s existence and understanding its methods.

The facts on the ground show how well-informed Hoover had become.  Chicago had a group of young agents who were bored with doing background checks and arson investigations who jumped at the chance to get involved in the Top Hoodlum program by doing something about it.  At the end of July 1959 they had put a bug in a tailor shop which was the headquarters of the Chicago outfit which they would call “Little Al.”   For six years this bug taught the FBI more about organized crime than it would learn in all the other bugs it placed in other LCN meeting places throughout the country. Hoover received a daily report of its activities.

All the bugs were put in by doing black bag jobs (illegal breaking-ins) in order to secretly listen to the conversations of the people in the location another act of questionable legality.  It is estimated that Hoover had up to a thousand bugs in operation at the same time gathering evidence which was not admissible in court but extremely useful in setting the groundwork for getting admissible evidence.

With these bugs who needed informants?  The FBI certainly didn’t.  It could keep its hands clean and not associate with any of the people who Hoover disdained. More information on the Mafia came to Hoover in 1963 when Joseph Valachi started to tell his agents the story of life. There was so much information pouring in that Hoover had a solid grasp of the actions of the Mafia. Hoover wrote in September of 1963 that Valachi’s information “corroborated and embellished the facts developed by the FBI as early as 1961 which disclosed the makeup of the gangland hordes.”

That was Hoover’s stock-in-trade ever since he was a young man.  If he set his mind to finding something out he persisted until he had the answer. Bobby Kennedy may have thought little about Hoover’s knowledge of organized crime because Hoover might have purposefully deceived him. They weren’t friends and Hoover hung on to his job because he had the pictures. Objective facts show he was deeply knowledgeable about the Mafia by 1963,

William Roemer the famous FBI agent who wrote four books about the FBI’s war against the Mafia was in the forefront of the Chicago bugging operation.  He tells how all the information they had been gathering was proving helpful throughout the United States. They knew where every big gangster was going and who he was meeting with.

Like with the Apalachin meeting, again the roof fell in on the FBI.  It was on July 11, 1965 a day Roemer called “the fatal day!”  He said it “was a heinous slaughter, destroying our coverage of the mob.

Apparently the FBI in DC had placed a bug on Fred Black who was a friend of Bobby Baker who was LBJ’s buddy and bag man.  LBJ a man who entered public life poor, spent his whole career there, and emerged with 43 million dollars felt the FBI was getting a little too close to him. As a result that July day LBJ entered an executive order requiring that the FBI stop using all the electronic bugs.

Roemer said the FBI “had three primary avenues of investigation — electronic bugs, informants and physical surveillance.  Mr. Hoover did not allow undercover work by his agents due to his belief that u.c. tended to corrupt agents.”   After the bugs came out, the FBI was left with no good way to investigate organized crime.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you what the FBI did in this desperate situation.

2 thoughts on “Before Accepting Whitey Bulger Hoover Journeyed From Denial To Understanding To Desperation

  1. Interesting. So the only way the FBI was able to investigate the so called LCN was by breaking the law themselves with illegal bugs and wiretaps, of course all in the name of Justice.

    The problem is once law enforcement breaks the law to enforce the law they simply become criminals themselves.

    Once they cross the line then they can justify almost anything to themselves. Because the government not only allows cops and prosecutors to commit felonies but encourages it, they all become, in their minds, above the law.

    There’s numerous examples nationwide and locally of the “good guys” being not so good.

    From BPD planted fingerprint scandals to numerous false murder convictions, prosecutors subjorning perjury to cops making up evidence and perjuring themselves and now the JP lab scandal all to get the “bad guys” !!

    No punishment is ever meted out to the Good Guys who lie, cheat and ignore the Constitution on a regular basis even when they are caught !

    AUSA Auerhain subjorned perjury, lied to the court and even filed fake reports. When it all came out his punishment by the Boston US Attorney’s office was a promotion !!

    State Troopers, Boston cops and federal agents have all been caught in Federal and state court (Quincy court specifically) and nothing was done.

    So when you can lie, cheat and make up evidence and your punishment ranges from nothing to a promotion your going to continue. When you can do what you want with no fear of punishment you are above the law.

    Thats the problem and why most people have little to no faith in the so called criminal justice system and less in the FBI. Whitey is the perfect example of their actions, numerous cops were on the take, innocent people murdered, careers destroyed and nothing happened and knowing Massachusetts nothing ever will.

    1. You’re on the mark with your comment. It was not just the Mafia but most of the radical groups that the FBI investigated it did a lot of illegalities. You point that it is a great problem when the cops think the laws apply to other people and not themselves or that their ends are good so they can use illegal means to get there. When the Supreme Court came down with the exclusionary rule for police misconduct it pointed noted it would not do any good to punish the cops so they punished everyone by setting the criminals free.
      The best thing to be said for the criminal justice system is to avoid it. If you get caught up in it then it becomes a crap shoot, you really don’t know how anything will turn out. I’ll be posting in a couple of days about people being above the law. There is no doubt about it. Where it gets confusing is in a case like Connolly’s where if you did what he did you’d be where he is; but why is he there when his job was to do what he did. The FBI put him in that position just like it put all the other agents into positions where they were breaking into homes and business offices planting bugs. None of those others were punished – in fact Roemer brags about how he did it – but Connolly was punished.

Comments are closed.