Bastardizing the lyrics from an old
Jerry Lee Lewis Llyod Price popular crossover song seemed appropriate title for this post; by the way Lewis who nearing his 80s is still going strong in Memphis having last year tied the knot for the seventh time. Price wrote and sang the song “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” always one of my youthful favorites. It was one of the first songs I loved even though my memory tells me it was “Gee” followed by “Work With Me Annie” and the follow-up Annie and Henry songs.
After the sentencing of Whitey the law enforcement officials involved in the process paraded in front of the multitude of TV cameras lurking outside the Moakley Courthouse on the South Boston waterfront to congratulate each other on winning an unloseable case. Well deserved credit was heaped on the federal prosecutors and their team of investigators from the DEA, state police, the IRS and DOJ. Noticeably absent from the shower of praise was the FBI.
But to my surprise, an FBI poohbah had squeezed himself into the group and having done so was given his 15 seconds or so before the hungry cameras. It was Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Vincent Lisi who said:
“I’d like to echo the comments that were made previously and note that it was I think an appropriate sentence and hope that this will allow the families of the victims to get some closure and you know continue forward with the struggle they had in the past. I’d like to address some of the concerns that have been raised recently and in particular yesterday in regard from the families of the victims. I think it is important to note that the men and women of the FBI and I would venture to say all law enforcement get up and come to work every day and work on behalf of the victims and their families whether you’re the victim of Whitey Bulger or his crew or the victim of the Marathon bombers that’s what gets us up in the morning and gets us to work and I realize the actions of a small percentage of law enforcement many years ago caused some people to lose faith and confidence in us, you know, we will continue to move forward. And our job now is to regain the faith and confidence of those people.”
I wrote out his whole statement even though some of what he said is not relevant to this post, like his wish that the families continue with their struggle, so that you get a true sense of what the FBI is about. You’ll note that he had nary a word of congratulations for those other agencies or officials who brought Whitey to justice other than his suggestion he joins with the others who had spoken before him.
What he does, as all FBI SACs are trained to do, is to praise the FBI as to how they get up everyday intent on helping victims. But then he goes into the usual FBI mode of dissembling. We all know that Whitey was empowered by the FBI in Boston. As a Top Echelon Informant he was protected and kept safe by the FBI. It was not, as Lisi said, “actions of a small percentage of law enforcement” that made people lose their faith and confidence, it was the astounding revelation that the leaders of a criminal gang had been working with the FBI for upwards of 30 years as informants.
It was the realization that Steven Flemmi was an FBI informant even prior to 1970 during which time he was involved in the murders of at least 13 people; the knowledge that both Flemmi and Whitey were FBI informants when they continued their murders through the 1980s and into 1990. The only law enforcement agency involved was the FBI. As long as the FBI wants to ignore that fact, it will never face the demons that lurk inside its own house.
I pointed out recently how recent media reports no longer say Ibragim Todashev was killed by an FBI agent but use the term “law enforcement” personnel. The FBI has cleverly hidden it culpability The reports in the media have become muddled. The truth takes another hit.
Lisi, like all SACs, follows the FBI mandate to avoid embarrassment, as I’ve noted in my book, Don’t Embarrass the Family, and lumps the FBI sins onto all of law enforcement. Yet, the FBI never credits others in law enforcement on the occasions when it does things well.
You did note that Lisi said: “our job now is to regain the faith and confidence . . . .” My memory is that the Director of the FBI promised the same thing right after the Whitey/Stevie debacle. We hoped that would be the case although many had doubts. Then two and a half years ago an FBI agent was intercepted telling a high level Mafia figure, Mark Rossetti, who is believed to have murdered up to six people, that “my job is to keep you safe.” Ten years after telling us it changed it hadn’t.
Asked by members of Congress to explain why it was still doing what it promised not to do, the FBI said it was investigating what happened. That was back in the summer of 2011. Pray tell why has it taken so long for the FBI to investigated what the FBI did? Just that simple matter certainly doesn’t look like the FBI is working to regain our faith and confidence.
If things have changed, as Lisi suggests, maybe Lisi will tell us what the investigation disclosed and explain why was the FBI is using a Mafia boss as an informant and when an FBI agent tells a high level Mafia guy: “my job is to keep you safe,” what does that mean?
What Lisi who is new in town can’t get is that we’ve heard all this over and over again. We’re no longer being suckered by the FBI which has betrayed Boston long enough. Words don’t cut it anymore. Time for some action.