Nothing like it has ever been seen as far as I can tell. For days I’ve been asking one question and no one is able to answer it straight out. I know I promised that this week I would set out my opinion of the presentation by the five men at BC Law School panel after the showing of the movie Whitey. I’ll get to that soon.
Now I have to wrap up the TEI matter. Do understand though, the men on the panel, like everyone else I have written about, avoids the answer like the Ebola virus.
No one wants to tell us what was on the other side of the coin in the FBI’s Top Echelon Informant (TEI) program. The one side we all agree on is that the FBI sought out high level criminal informants who would give them information against other informants. The other side is what was the FBI giving to these men in return. After all by using them along with other tactics, they were successfully able to destroy the Mafia.
Judges wrote about TEIs; Congress talked about them; the prosecutors in the DOJ mentioned them. They told us the FBI used them to get information. None told us what was given in return. How can that be that none wanted to know what it was the FBI was doing to get the information?
One agent who had more TEIs than any other special agent in the FBI, John Connolly, told us what he thought the FBI said was all right to give the TEIs in return for their information. He said it was protection. I know there are other things informants want like money, revenge, destruction of rivals and easy deals on sentencing if they get caught committing crimes. But that is not in play here. Connolly forthright said his job was to give them protection. No one has said that was not his job.
Whitey Bulger through his attorney said he paid Connolly hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don’t believe it but suppose he did. What would he have expected for so much money? Understand it now, it would have been for protection. That is why Whitey’s claim of money payment is bogus, he had the protection without paying.
Protection means to provide information so that the TEIs will know what is happening from inside law enforcement. That is the enemy to them. It is not from fellow criminals as some suggest. The TEIs to reach their level in the criminal element have proven themselves quite capable of taking care of themselves. It is not protection against misdemeanors; the TEIs don’t worry about the minor stuff since they are not involved in it at the street level.
The bottom line is the one thing that threatens a high level criminal as a TEI is law enforcement. Connolly’s supervisor John Morris said he was told the TEIs wanted “a head start.” That was not limited to telling them when a criminal charge was coming down against them, it would include telling them when any other law enforcement agency, or even fellow FBI agents, had them in their sights. Another way to say it was it included a “heads up.”
Morris gave us an example of that. The new unit he was supervising the political corruption unit was about to go up on a wire on a big bookie in the South End. He worked for one of the FBI’s TEIs. To protect the TEI, Morris told the TEI to stay away from the phone and location where the electronic surveillance was occurring. Morris testified that to protect TEIs they would include information from them in applications for electronic surveillance and then tell them to avoid those places being surveilled.
That is the type of protection that the TEI wanted. The FBI believed it was all right to provide it. Morris was doing it. Others knew it was an accepted practice. The FBI wanted to keep its TEIs on the street to get the information that they could provide. It authorized its agents to do whatever was necessary to do that.
Connolly ended up being convicted for murder because it is alleged he told a TEI that a witness the FBI was looking at might not stand up. That witness was murdered by a friend of the TEI. Connolly was also convicted of obstruction of justice for telling a person to tell a TEI that an indictment was coming down. That allegedly caused a TEI to flee.
If Connolly’s job was to protect TEIs then what he did was part of what the FBI wanted him to do. Not one of the judges, prosecutors, lawyers, or the FBI bosses have answered whether in doing that he was doing the job he was authorized to do by the FBI. They want to pretend the TEIs were giving the FBI information and expecting nothing in return. The colossal failure in the Whitey saga is the failure to address the white elephant stomping about in the middle of the room.
Even more, this failure is compounded by the FBI that let him hang out to dry; by the special agents of the FBI who ran and hid knowing the truth; and the few special agents (only about 100 or so backed him up) who have come out in support of Connolly. How can all the others knowing he has been railroaded remain silent?
An innocent man may die in prison because the FBI is hiding the truth. It is time to end the pretend. Aren’t there more than just a few good men in the FBI?