In Part I yesterday I suggested that the information in the FBI files may support Whitey Bulger’s claim that he was not an informant. Even though that is the case, we still have to decide upon a definition of informant.
Whitey Bulger would consider one to be an informant in the sense the word is used by the Irish: it applies to one who undermines the cause or betrays his allies or the people he associates with in the fight. In the Irish mind it was anyone who cooperated with the British and gave information about the individuals who belonged to the Irish groups fighting for freedom which undermined The Cause of a free Ireland.
In Ireland it was easy to determine this. The Cause was clear. Things were black and white. The most recent enemy was the Black and Tan. It was the prototypical George Bush situation of “if you’re not with us you’re against us.”
It is now more difficult determining who is an informant when The Cause no longer exists and the Troubles are over. Things are gray. What now is the Cause that cannot be betrayed?
What does Whitey believe is the Cause. Was Whitey’s cause himself? Did he believe he could do whatever he wanted as long as he did not undermine himself? Or was it he and Stevie Flemmi and some other gangsters, especially those involved with Winter Hill or South Boston? Did it include the Mafia? Drug dealers? Or only those drug dealers who were allies? Was it as broad as not giving any information that would lead to an arrest or conviction of any person?
In other words Whitey could believe he was not an informer but others with a different definition could decide otherwise. More things have to be examined before a definite conclusion can be reached. Will we conclude after a closer examination of Whitey’s record that he seems not to have given the FBI any actionable information? We need not totally resolve the issue now.
To go on, let us concede that Whitey was not an informant. How then do we answer the question that so baffles the prosecution: why would O’Sullivan give immunity to Whitey in exchange for him not giving any information back in return for it. In other words there had to be a quid pro quo for the immunity and the only one that could be is Whitey’s giving O’Sullivan information.
We’d all agree O’Sulllivan was not handing out immunity deals as Whitey handed out Hoodsies on the Fourth of July at Columbia Park to any kid who wanted one. There would have to have been a very substantial reason for him to do that. I suggest it would have to be even more than agreeing to provide information since O’Sulllivan dealt with many informants and gave none immunity.
What is it that Whitey would do for O’Sullivan that O’Sullivan would deem of such great importance that it would warrant that kind of deal?
I’ve suggested before that O’Sullivan may have worried about the safety of law enforcement officers and told Whitey in exchange for preserving their safety he’d make sure Whitey wasn’t charged. We have heard that at least on two occasions Whitey did give information that got cops out of difficult situations. I now think though that’s a far stretch. That would not lead to O’Sullivan granting immunity. He’d figure the cops could take care of themselves without Whitey’s intercession or not even envision such a situation occurring.
We have to go back to the time in question. We have to find something that was supremely important to O’Sullivan that would justify him making the deal with Whitey. Whitey had to be the only one who could bring it about. Instinctively Whitey would recoil at doing it and would have to be induced to do it because if Whitey stuck to his guns O’Sullivan would have been put in a big bind.
In other words it had to be something Whitey would not want to do, that only he could do, and that O’Sullivan considered critical to his mission.
I’ll explain tomorrow.