The Boston media and some federal judges flew into tantrums when it learned that Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi were FBI informants. These guys were two major criminals and no one could understand how the FBI would be in bed with them. What they didn’t know was the FBI had a secret program called the Top Echelon Informant (TEI) program where they gave protection to the TEIs in exchange for them giving them information against other criminals.
It would actually turn out that the TEI program which was aimed at the Mafia may have been a big success. The Mafia is a shell of itself compared to what it was at the time the TEI program was started back int 1962. But its difficult to credit all the demise of the Mafia solely on the TEI program since law enforcement was given oodles of other tools including the RICO law to end the Mafia’s influence and rule.
The TEI program is an example of the end justifying the means; since it is obvious that the means: protecting some criminals who continued to commit crimes while going after others is not really the way things should be done. As many who sit behind media desks and pose as experts in criminal matters never having tried a criminal case or even investigated one would point out, you were letting the TEIs victimize some people in exchange for grabbing other criminals. The basic question was what right do you have to pick one vicious criminal over another; isn’t your job to protect everyone from them?
It’d turn out that while Whitey and Stevie were TEIs they murdered some people. Had they not been protected then maybe those people would still be alive. However on the other side of the coin, those who they ratted out would not have been arrested and they may have murdered other people. The thing is that you can’t show that a person who wasn’t murdered would have been murdered if things were different.
None of that mattered in the outrage of the media; no one looked at the other side of the coin which is the lives and fortunes saved by locking up the people the TEIs were providing information about. The outrage fit the desires of the moment which was to vilify Whitey who was elevated into some type of Professor Moriarty who may have bested Sherlock Holmes in their fight on the cliffs. Truth be told, Whitey was no more than a vicious Southie hoodlum who strayed little from his home turf killing most of his victims within a mile or so of Castle Island. He never terrorized Boston, as some have it, since most never heard of him until long after he went on his 16 year flight from the law.
As for the TEI program I’ve always said it was corrupt and probably unnecessary. I could never get my head around the idea that the FBI would choose to use such men as Whitey and Stevie as support staff. It seemed it was protecting the killer whales while getting the minnows.
Unlike the media that was up in arms over the Whitey and Stevie and other TEIs but is silent when an equivalent program is run by the Justice Department’s (DOJ) prosecutors, I happen to think the DOJ program is equally corrupt as the TEI one. Its program, sort of like the TEI, is to protect some criminals in exchange for prosecuting others.
What got me thinking about this was the Epstein case. Epstein had these women who served as pimps scouring the sad and impoverished homes of the West Palm Beach area for young girls to come to his house and be molested. He was eventually arrested and entered into a plea agreement with the federal prosecutors that provided: “the United States agrees that it will not institute any criminal charges against any potential co-conspirators of Epstein, including but not limited to Sarah Kellen, Adriana Ross, Lesllie Groff or Nardia Marcinkova.” (My emphasis) How does blanket agreements not to prosecute criminals differ from giving some criminals the right to commit crimes.
There’s hardly a peep from the media about the U.S. protecting all these people who may have been engaged in white slave trafficking of young girls. The federal appeals court in Boston says the FBI can’t give immunity from prosecution but the DOJ attorneys can. That does not make the consequences any different. We’ve seen in the Whitey case how persons alleged to have murdered other people such as Howie Winter, Pat Nee, and James Marotorano were given passes for their crimes as part of plea deals with other people.
All of which brings me to my question is Whitey right? I’ve always pooh-poohed the idea that Whitey met with federal prosecutor O’Sullivan and O’Sullivan gave him a pass for all his past, present and future crimes. I did it for two reasons: I never believed the meeting took place and such a promise was given; and, I didn’t believe anyone had the power to make such an agreement.
I still cling to the first part; but as to the second I may be wrong. If the federals can agree not to prosecute anyone for crimes they might have committed even, as in the case of Epstein, they have no idea who else conspired with him or what it involved, what is it that prevents them for also agreeing not to prosecute for future crimes. To put it more bluntly, the accused says “I will plead guilty to extortion if you agree never to prosecute Jim, Johnny and Jonus for any crime they have or will have committed.” If the federals go along with it are the trio free to wreak havoc in our community?