The Missing Link InThe Connolly Case

The Fatal Flaw In The Government's Case Against John Connolly
The Fatal Flaw In The Government’s Case Against John Connolly

Yesterday I wrote about the ill-considered Top Echelon (TE) Informant Program. Today I want to talk about the TE who is the top Government witness against Whitey. He is Stevie Flemmi. He probably was one of the longest-serving informants for the FBI.

He was so vicious a murderer that he was kept off the books for much of his time. In 1974 he became FBI Agent John Connolly’s TE stool pigeon (SP). In 1975 he told Whitey he was an FBI SP. He continued as such until 1995.

Under the protection of the FBI he brutalized and murdered people and became rich. Whitey was with him all the way. We’ve been told so was Connolly. Or was he?

When Flemmi got jammed in, to momentarily save his soul from the hands of the Devil, he became a cooperating witness for the Government. His testimony is replete with self-serving lies going back to the time before Judge Wolf in 1998 to the trial of Connolly in Florida in 2008. He’d tell a lie as quickly as he’d take a bite out of a cannoli.

During all that time and among all those lies Flemmi never said he discussed any murder with Connolly. The common belief Connolly knew he or Whitey were murdering people has not been substantiated by Flemmi. The closest he came is Connolly’s alleged suggestion to Whitey prior to Callahan’s murder that Callahan could tie them into the Wheeler murder.

He testified in Miami that Connolly was part of their team. They met many times and had many discussions, even dining together over bottles of wine on countless occasions. Yet he fails to point to one instance where he and Connolly discussed any murders. None.

This, of course, is what one would expect. Murderers don’t go around talking about the people they have murdered except among themselves. We’ve read in Week’s book how Whitey told him about his past murders and gangster battles. Why is it then that Flemmi can’t point to one instance when one murder was discussed after the fact?

Even with the Callahan murder, which according to Flemmi may never have happened had not Connolly made the suggestion to do it, as if gangsters don’t know who can sink them, does he point to one instance from 1982 to 1995 where this murder was discussed afterwards. We don’t even get a “good job” guys or a wink and a blink in over a dozen years.

I suppose I shouldn’t write about this. Flemmi’s glaring omission can be quickly rectified in his next appearance. But assuming he  told the whole package of damaging evidence against Connolly up to this time, Flemmi’s inability to point to one instance where a murder by him or Whitey was discussed with Connolly is a dagger in the heart of all we’ve been told.

We know Connolly was required to work with murderers,. He admitted this. (The FBI waffles on the issue because of its embarrassment over the TE program.) We are supposed to believe that  because of that he knew they were murdering people even though Connolly said had he known of one instance where he had evidence to connect them with a murder he would have locked them up.

Flemmi’s silence on the issue shows Connolly is telling the truth. He never knew. He never knew they were murdering people since he wasn’t privy to the murders or told about them afterwards. The Government has not shown any evidence of this yet wants us to believe it.

If Connolly never knew, how is it that Catherine Greig has been deemed to know and sentenced as if she was harboring a murderer? How is it that the family of Whitey’s murder victims were allowed to vilify her at her sentencing hearing without a showing she knew Whitey murdered someone. Anyone.

Why then is Billy Bulger, actually the last one who would ever know about his brother’s alleged stunning depravities, considered to have this knowledge? He has been defamed by many with their innuendos assuming and suggesting this knowledge.

Where’s the meat?  When we seek the truth we get fairy tales.




55 thoughts on “The Missing Link InThe Connolly Case

  1. Other than sitting in a Fl prison, where is John Connolly now? Does he have any appeals pending or available to him?

    1. Walter:
      He’s in a Florida prison as you said. He appealed his conviction, the parties filed their appeal papers and made their arguments, and the appeals court issued a one sentence decision saying little more than judgment affirmed. Because they issued no opinion, his appellate rights in Florida seem to be at an end.

  2. Dear Mr. Connolly:

    Does a Judge have a duty to provide exculpatory evidence (or even possible exculpatory evidence) to a party in case B, if a Judge comes across it while sitting on Case A as he was in a position to know or reasonable should have known?

    If not, should that be changed by Senator Grassley’s legislation?

    1. Alex:
      I’d put it this way, a judge has to insure that any exculpatory evidence in the hands of the prosecutors which he knows about he should make available to defense counsel. In your example you’d have to show that the judge in case B knew about case A and knew the evidence he just heard had not been given to defense counsel.
      Most judges aren’t going to know what is happening in other court rooms so unless it is something sensational a witness could testify to one thing before Judge A and to another before Judge B and get away with it. It is up to the prosecutors to see that doesn’t happen but not all prosecutors are up to the job of doing that.
      You’ll have to refresh my recollection on what Senator Grassley is proposing for legislation.

      1. Thank you mtc9393.

        I guess I wasn’t clear and needed to rephrase my “hypothetical”. To be more clear, let’s say Judge “C” was sitting on Case A (a civil case) while he was also dealing with Case B (a criminal case)from the same courthouse at virtually the same timeframe although he reported out on Case A a few months before he reported on Case B. But since Case B was taking a long time, say about 10 long months, the timeframes do overlap. Notably, both cases did deal with, as you put it, “something sensational” Really, really sensational…and they had connections.

        S348 is Senator Grassley’s bill titled “Judicial Transparency and Ethics Enhancement Act of 2011.” It establishes an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to (1) conduct investigations of alleged misconduct in the judicial branch including the Supreme Court; (2) conduct and supervise audit investigations; (3) prevent and detect waste, fraud and abuse; and (4) provides whistleblower protections.

        1. Alex:
          If one judge knows of exculpatory evidence being withheld by a prosecutor in a case he is sitting on then he has a moral, if not legal, obligation to disclose it to defense counsel. Judges, as difficult as it is for some, must not be cheerleaders for one side over the other. Many judges come from one side of the criminal defense bar and find it difficult to don the robe of a neutral. It must be hard to see a person you know as a sleazy type who committed a heinous crime being represented by good counsel and the prosecutor screwing up the case. Or even the opposite, seeing a strong prosecutor running rough shod over a pitiable defendant represented by a lawyer who seems to be day dreaming and going through the numbers. I was a defense lawyer for ten years and then a prosecutor for over twenty. When I left the prosecutor’s position I thought I could represent defendants again like I had done before. I couldn’t. Had I gone into a judicial position, I don’t know if I wouldn’t have been too much of a prosecutor to be a good judge.

          Grassley’s legislation is needed but the judge will prevent it from happening. If it passed they’d say it was a violation of the separation between the judiciary and the legislative since the judges decide what legislation is valid. Grassley is even running into problems trying to rein in the FBI with the executive saying he is encroaching on their territory.

          1. Okay one more brain teaser…If the Judge did not do that, can the whole case (and subsequent cases that were based on that ruling) be tossed out as a mistrial with the subsequent cases being treated similarly to that whole notion of “fruit of the poisonous tree” and thereby tossed out, as well?

            1. Alex:
              Good question. That’s a real puzzler. Judges stick up for each other. Who is going to throw it out and say one of his fellow judges messed up. Maybe at the appellate level something could happen but judges are like cops, they bind together when an attack comes from outside. Few dare directly challenge the authority of the court so as to suggest a judge in possession of exculpatory evidence had a duty to disclose it. We know she should have done it but to show she had the information and deliberately hid it would be difficult.
              It wouldn’t be a fruit of the poisonous tree argument. That applies to information the cops got illegally and then they used that to get more information. Everything traceable to the original act can be suppressed in evidence.
              Here you present a situation of a judge hearing a criminal and civil case dealing with similar issues. In one case she has evidence that is exculpatory of a defendant in the other case. I’ve assumed a judge has an obligation to alert the parties of that information. I assumed also the prosecutor knew of the information. If the prosecutor doesn’t know and the judge knows there’s no Brady case covering that situation but the judge should still have to disclose it, even if the judge didn’t believe it.
              So the issue is not the use of evidence obtained illegally, but rather the failure to disclose exculpatory evidence. Even if it were determined the judge had that information and should have disclosed it the courts would then have to decide whether anything would have changed as a result of of not doing it.

  3. Matt. It’s important for your readers to remember that Connolly was acquitted of all charges he “leaked” info. His allegedly telling Weeks in 1994 (December)(4-5 years after he retired) (in a walk-in freezer) that indictments were coming down against Bulger, Flemmi, Salemme, was not “a leak”. He was a private citizen. Someone in the FBI or at the GRand Jury allegedly leaked info to him, which he allegedly passed on!(perhaps 20 or more people from South Boston were subpoened to give testimony before that grand jury investigating OC in Southie). You don’t “leak” something you heard through the grapevine or on the boardwalk or street. Just an important semantic point!
    Remember, too: Always distinquish between the criminal charges and the subsequent civil trial. Civil Trials don’t prove guilt! They assign liability for, usually, negligent actions, or actions done recklessly.
    Finally, the Civil jury (F3d case cited by Souter) found Connolly at all times acted “within the scope” of FBI official authority. Lawyers know this means his acts were not ultra virus, but sanctioned by the FBI/DOJ, which means the Supremacy Clause should have protected him from State Prosecution, as you’ve repeatedly pointed out, Matt. This is another chink in Wyshak’s battered armor: He must have known the District Court found FBI agents were acting within the scope of their authority, their actions were sanctioned by higher-ups, and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (as I read the decision) reaffirmed that fact. End of story: Supremacy Clause should have barred Connolly’s trial in FLA in the first place.
    Just some ideas!

    1. Bill:
      From Martorano’s book: “Once we know the questions they’re asking in the grand jury, it’s pretty obvious where the feds are going with their theory.”
      There is no doubt Whitey and his cohorts knew everything the feds were doing. In fact, Flemmi’s cop connection Schneiderhan who had retired from the State Cops had a daughter working in the office of the US Attorney who was feeding information to him to give to Flemmi. That’s why when Weeks ran into Flemmi over Christmas when Whitey decided to get out of town for a while knowing the feds might be interested in doing a raid around New Years, that was a good time to do raids, Flemmi told Weeks he wasn’t worried. His guy was on top of things.
      You’re absolutely wrong believing the “walk-in freezer” story. It never happened. It was needed to beat the statute of limitations and get the Rico charge so that they could throw in all those 30 year old incidents against Connolly.
      I’ve been suggesting for months the Supremacy Clause defense should have been raised by the DOJ.

      1. Matt, Playing devil’s advocate here. What would be legitimate reasons for not raising th Supremacy defense? And, why would Feds be so intent on allowing the State trial to go forward? There are pieces to the puzzle that are missing from that I am not seeing, yet.

        1. Jean:
          The FBI was in a bag of trouble when the public heard of it having Bulger and Flemmi as informants. Flemmi came in and said the feds couldn’t prosecute him for the racketeering charges (no one knew about the murders at the time) because he had a deal with Connolly and Morris, two FBI agents, that he could do anything he wanted but hit someone. The feds couldn’t let that claim stand without being rebutted. They had to decide who to use, either Connolly or Morris.
          Morris was the worse one of the two. He was the supervisor who should have controlled the situation. Morris was also friends with the Globe reporters. Connolly was connected to Billy Bulger and more directly to Whitey. Wyahak and company never liked Billy and were anxious to get something on him. Remember he said Connolly’s problem was he got too close to the Bulgers.
          They decided to go after Connolly hoping to squeeze him into a position where he’d give them evidence against Billy. He had none to give. He got hit in Boston and it was put out that he was a rogue agent when he was actually doing what the FBI wanted him to do. The trial in Boston was sort of a bust. The feds didn’t get the big numbers they wanted since Connolly beat the most serious charges. Still thinking they could squeeze him, they went after him in Florida.
          The Supremacy defense has to be raised by the Justice Department (DOJ) or perhaps Connolly’s lawyers. I have no idea why his lawyers didn’t do it. The feds were the ones who wanted to squeeze him so they weren’t going to go into federal court and raise the defense for him because they using the cover of a Florida prosecutor were the ones prosecuting him. The FBI let Connolly swing because it did not want anyone doing anything beyond Connolly against all the other agents Judge Wolf claimed were also to blame for the fiasco with Flemmi and Bulger.
          The feds got their big numbers in Florida. However, the trial has several important legal issues that made Connolly believe he could win on appeal. As you know he had his appeal but the Florida court just dismissed it without telling him why.

  4. lets talk about the rico withdrawal defence. did you read about john jr gotti having 4 mistrials in a row (06-10)until the ny fbi said anuff they even indicted him in florida after the first 3 ny mistrials, the florida rico was the exact same case as the first 3 ny trials and got transferd back to ny. how do they connect whitey bulger to anything happening in boston after 2000, the rico cons ends no mob winter hill or southie gang. isn’t there limitations on the rico conspiracy. jurnior gotti thing was he left or quit the gambino family after the first time he went to jail 1998 , do you not about the withdrawal defence. some other mobsters tried, one guy grew a beard which is like a rule in the lcn you cant have he got found guilty for a ton of crap but he went all the way threw trial saying he quit the life.

    1. Pat Mac:

      Connolly was jammed in on the RICO charge a couple of days before the expiration of the five year statute of limitations. The Feds alleged Connolly was part of a conspiracy with Flemmi and Whitey as far back as 1976 with the murder of Castucci. They used Weeks to come up with a cock and bull story about John Connolly coming to his liquor store in 1994 and asking him to tell Whitey and Flemmi to flee. This meant the conspiracy was still in effect on December 23, 1994. Connolly would have trouble withdrawing from something he did not know he was in. It’s like a group of mugs wanting to jam you in and they say you were a member of their gang while they were holding up liquor stores twenty years ago and as recently as last year you kept them informed about investigations against them. The the worst part is that a couple of guys you never met could come in and testify that a guy you happened to see every once in a while told them you were the boss of the outfit but wanted to remain in the background. How would you withdraw from that liquor store robbing gang if you weren’t in it?

  5. Be aware: For the very first time in his life, as far as the evidence I’m aware of shows, Flemmi says in 2003 that Connolly said something that led him, Whitey and Martorano to kill Callahan (Martorano in 1982goes to FLA, kills, then leaves the body in a car in a Latino neighborhood, making it look random.) Ask yourself: Of the forty or fifty people these killers are involved in killing and trying to kill, how many did they kill because of an unintended FBI leak. The answer is ZERO! Now ask yourself, Who else did Flemmi tell these stale stories about RICO (30 years stale) or about Connolly (20 years stale)? Answer: Apparently No One; but Wyshak may try to “refresh” their memories and they’ll lie once again. Their tales are looking like Swiss Cheese. Then remember, a Boston jury heard Salemme, Martorano,and Weeks make similar allegations in 2002, trying to link Connolly to leaks, and the Boston jury rejected all of them. NOT GUILTY OF ANY INVOLVEMENT IN ANY MURDERS! HOW MANY PEOPLE KNOW THAT WAS THE VERDICT IN BOSTON? JOHN CONNOLLY WAS ACQUITTED OF ANY INVOLVEMENT IN ANY MURDERS IN BOSTON. HOW MANY ARE AWARE THE FEDS, THE WYSHAK/DURHAM TEAM, TRIED CONNOLLY TWICE FOR THE SAME CRIME, ONCE IN BOSTON, AGAIN IN MIAMI? Where’s the National Uproar about the deprivation of an American citizen’s Constitutional Equal Protection, Fair Trial and Due Process Rights? You may not agree with me, but what happened to JOhn Connolly proves to me beyond the shadow of a doubt that our federal judiciary and DOJ areis corrupt to the core. I thought that with teh St. Pat’s Parade case I had seen the end of Judicial, legal and administrative tyranny. The fish rots from the head down! The stench is from both the Boston waterfront and the Potomac River.

    1. The essential point seems to me (I apologize for my ignorance or failure of recollection from my own research) that Flemmi was the sole or primary source of the information about the alleged leak by Connolly. If so (is this what you have claimed?), this is a very significant point. Thank you.

      1. Jon:
        Martorano never met or talked to John Connolly. He was allowed to testify to what Flemmi or Bulger said to him about Connolly. It’s called hearsay evidence and there is no way to defend against it other than showing the person is of such decrepit character he is not worthy of belief in anything that he says. If I’m on the stand testifying and I say Whitey told me Jon was a member of Al Qaeda, how do you cross examine me about that. All I have to say, “hey, I’m just telling you what he said.” I made up the whole thing but there is no way to show that unless I relent but I can’t relent because I’ve already made my deal with the Feds to say that so I have to stick with it. The only true evidence against Connolly on that issue is Flemmi.

        1. Well, there are plenty of ways to defend against hearsay. The Gitmo lawyers often defended against hearsay allegations by doing what you suggest: to undermine the credibility of the person making the hearsay claims. But they would also rely on a lot of material in the evidence/intelligence material gathered – classified and public – to defend against hearsay claims. So for example, someone would make a claim that their client was a member of AQ, and then the lawyers would turn around and not only attack the credibility of the guy making the claim, but, in one of the better examples, argue that the guy went to Afghanistan not to train in AQ camps but to do charity work, without going into the nature of charitable fronts for Al Qaeda (e.g. al Wafa, al Haramain, Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, etc.), or that the travel plans were made by AQ facilitators, or that the client stayed in known AQ guesthouses. But that’s a matter for another blog.

          In this example, the takeaway seems to be that Martorano claimed Stevie told him that Connolly told Stevie that if Callahan talked they could all go to prison. And Stevie first revealed this supposed leak by Connolly in 2003. Which means, if it ever happened, then Connolly made what seems like an off the cuff remark to Stevie about going to jail if Callahan talks. Stevie passes this along to Martorano and then never says another word about it until 2003. Does that sound right?

          1. Jon:
            You note some of the ways to defend against hearsay but the point is when hearsay evidence is allowed to permeate a trial the fact finder can disregard all the contrary evidence and make its decision on the hearsay evidence alone. That’s its danger.
            In this saga keep in mind Connolly never or rarely spoke with Stevie — it was usually with Whitey. Whitey has never testified. When Stevie testifies about Connolly he is telling us what Whitey told him. These are gangsters, strangers to the truth unless it helps them. So to believe Stevie you have to believe that Whitey actually told him what he said he told him, and, you have to believe Whitey is accurately conveying the truthful information. Then throw into the mix Martorano who was in contact mainly through Flemmi. You have to believe Whitey wasn’t lying, Flemmi wasn’t lying, and then Martorano isn’t lying. That’s a heavy burden.
            What undermines the whole story of Callahan’s murder is that Martorano was Callahan’s friend and dealt directly with him. Callahan hired Martorano to do the murder. Martorano murdered Wheeler for his buddy Callahan. He didn’t need the others. He didn’t need to have anyone tell him that Callahan was a threat to him. Stevie testified in 1998 and said nothing about the Wheeler murder. The evidence of Connolly have an involvement can only come in through the most outrageous hearsay.
            But assuming he was involved, wouldn’t Stevie had been able to tell us something that Connolly said about the murder? Or, at least what Whitey told him what Connolly said after Wheeler was murdered.

    2. Bill:
      Martorano was on the lam in Florida. Martorano in his book tells about murdering people because of things he heard on the street. That’s how gangsters operate but the judges think they only make up their judgments on things after considering briefs on both sides of the argument.
      Flemmi testified in front of Wolf. He mentioned nothing about Connolly being involved in Wheeler’s murder.
      In 1999 Judge Wolf wrote: “questions remain regarding the role, if any, played by Flemmi and Bulger in the Wheeler, Halloran and Callahan murders.” Where’s Connolly’s name?
      I don’t believe our judiciary is corrupt by any means. They make an honest effort to do their best. Like the rest of us they err. I don’t see you getting anywhere if you want to help John Connolly get out of prison saying they are corrupt for it is through them he will gain his freedom.

  6. n connolly: nice reference to the Soviets. Just a curiosity: have you read the Mitrokhin archives? If not, he was a Soviet defector who brought with him a mass of KGB files that lend great insight into the KGB’s disinformation campaigns, among other things, during the Cold War.

    1. Jon:
      It seems the Mafia has read the Mitrokhin archives. They’ve been engaged in a disinformation campaign in Boston for years.

  7. This could explain Stevie’s Houdini act, he’s out of custody marinating until showtime in June.

    1. Rather:
      For all we know the feds might already have a deal to let Stevie out to enjoy all his properties after Whitey’s case is over. Here’s a question for you: who do you think the average Joe would feel safer about after an argument: Connolly or Martorano?

  8. If a murderous KGB agent states in 2013 that Reagan and Pope JP were agents of the Soviets would it be believable? For three obvious reasons it would be rejected. First it is not timely. It is decades old and stale. There is no way to corroborate it or validate it. Secondly one would look at the source and try to determine if it were reliable. The KGB were masters of lies and disinformation. So the source would be per se unreliable. Thirdly the objects of the claim were the very people who undermined and crippled the Soviets. It would be a complete contradiction to say those who were their greatest existential threat were also helping them . 2. Use the above approach is evaluating the claims against Rico and Connolly. The charges of wrongdoing are decades old. The source is Mafia assassins( Flemmi, Martorano and Salemme) thus no reliability whatsoever. Thirdly the objects of the charges are the very agents that did the most to infiltrate and stop the Mafia enterprises. 3. If we are going to discuss terrorism shouldn’t we look at the Fitzgerald bombing. Isn’t placing a bomb in a lawyers car an act of terror. If so why are Whyshak and the prosecutors rewarding the terrorists ( Flemmi and Salemme). It was reported there was a war on terror. Evidently not in Boston. Was the Fitzgerald family ever given twenty five million by the judges at the Moakley Courthouse. Don’t recall reading that. Do recall reading that the people who ordered the bombing ( Limone, Tameleo etc.) got millions. Will judge Gertner order the top Al Quaeda guys be paid? 3. What’s more believable. Rico had five FBI agents armed and ready to kill McLaughlin or according to Weeks, Whitey had six FBI guys with machine guns to kill any one Whitey wanted? According to Pretzie Whitey had the entire Delta Force at his disposal, along with the 82nd Airborne. He could have taken over half of Europe.

    1. Neal:
      All good points. We just have to ignore all those things. Unfortunately, the more I look at these matters and ask if what I believed going in, the more I seem to agree with you (not with respect to Tauro, though)that I had not looked closely enough at things. We live and survive in a world where we rely on things that are expected to happen do happen. In what I’ve been seeing in the Whitey saga, nothing fits into what should happen.
      It is absurd that the three Mafia or Mafia connected guys were calling the shots against the FBI agents most responsible for its destruction. The guys facing murder raps decide the only way out is to make someone else a king pin. Whitey was an easy target and with him Connolly. Two micks.
      It’s like Halloran going around saying Whitey and Flemmi were involved in the Wheeler hit because they asked him to do it. Why would anyone have to get Halloran involved (it really defies common sense to think these professional assassins would want a wild card like him brought in to kill a guy in Tulsa) when they had the John Martorano sitting in Florida anxious to do the hit.
      I learned that Pretzie was the person who modeled for the Shawmut Indian. Pretzie had a close connection with one of my relatives and fought professionally. So I can tell you that I never heard the story about Whitey getting the Delta Force although he did talk about Whitey getting him a Delta Oldsmobile 88; and he never mentioned the 82nd Airborne; what he said was when the Bronx Bull Jake LaMotta hit him he felt like he was airborne for 82 seconds. Get your facts straight.

  9. Very interesting post. A question that probably reflects my ignorance: how long before Connolly learned that Callahan was murdered? Did he know soon after Callahan’s body was discovered? If Connolly told Flemmi/Whitey that Callahan was about to “talk”, and then learned that Callahan was murdered, it would seem reasonable to expect Connolly to see the link between his information and the murder. Not that he committed the murder, but it seems a clear violation of FBI rules to tell informants (Flemmi/Bulger) that another informant (Callahan) was informing on them. If he were to notify his superiors at the FBI about his tip about Callahan after the Callahan murder, he would be, at the very least, embarrassed by the revelation, and perhaps even concerned about disciplinary procedures that might result from a rules violation of tipping off his informants. It would seem all the more severe a situation because it would be impossible for the FBI not to follow up with disciplinary procedures given the political fallout that would result from not doing so after a murder. So it seems quite plausible that once Callahan was murdered, everyone (Flemmi, Bulger, Connolly) just shut up and never mentioned it. Again, not to say Connolly is guilty of murder. He did not pull the trigger, and I’m beginning to think it seems a stretch to think he was ever giving his okay to commit murder. But if my hypothetical has any bearing on reality, it would seem to make him accessory to some degree (keeping in mind I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know the standard for “accessory”).

    I seem to recall in the Wheeler murder that Mike Huff in Oklahoma went to interview Rico in Florida to seek investigative leads but found Rico to be unhelpful and even evasive. I don’t know what we’re supposed to make of Mike Huff and the Wheeler story, but the implication would seem to be that when Wheeler was murdered it wasn’t too hard to know who was involved – at least to those “in the know”. I may be stretching things here since: even though he worked for the Jai Alai company, Rico was retired by then and would not have been “on the street” with Bulger and Flemmi, or so I would think. But it’s another example of what seems a pattern in which the “rogue agents” understand that bad things have happened that could implicate their sources on the street and end up getting in the way of the pursuit of justice for the victims.

    Thank you again for the great posts. Really helping me think through this complicated history.

    1. Jon:

      No one had to tell Martorano that Callahan was the guy who could do him in. He and Callahan had set up the murder together. Callahan was the only one who could connect him to it.

      There is no suggestion in the case Connolly said Callahan was about to talk. The best that can be said is Connolly told the hoodlums, according to my understanding, is that if Callahan testified they’ll all be going to prison. For me that made no sense. No one ever alleged Connolly had the slightest knowledge of the Wheeler murder before it happened. Some suggest there is reason to believe that afterwards he knew there was information that Whitey and Stevie may have been involve. No one knows if he believed it or not.

      Here’s the situation. Wheeler is murdered. Halloran murders George Pappas. Halloran is out on bail on a first degree murder charge. He’s looking for a deal to get him out of the murder charge so he goes to the FBI. He tells them that Callahan asked him to murder Wheeler. He said Whitey and Flemmi were there when he was asked. Now step back and think. Why would they have been asking Halloran to do something that Martorano was capable of doing on his own and did do on his own. Callahan had Martoran as his friend. Halloran’s story made no sense especially when he’s known as a loose cannon and dope head. Halloran was desperately trying to get the FBI to get him out of the murder rap.
      The FBI tried to get him in the witness protection program but Suffolk would not bite. The agents wired up Halloran to go talk to Callahan but nothing incriminated came out of it. They wired his telephone calls and again the conversations did not support his allegations. While Halloran is doing this other FBI agents are brought in to give him cover.

      Whitey and Flemmi learn Halloran is implicating them in the Wheeler murder and Callahan told Halloran the “Johnny did it.” Martorano finds out. From that moment on Martorano has to murder Callahan because he is already telling other guys including the FBI of his involvement in it. I don’t see Connolly implicated in it at all.

      Now plug in the TE program. If the purpose of the TE program is to protect the TE informants, it is not improper to tell a TE informant someone is giving information against him. That is the deal you made when you got the guy to be a TE. That’s why the program is so rotten. You suggest after the Callahan murder, if Connolly were involved, he, Whitey and Stevie just shut up and never mentioned it. Why? If they were all involved they’d surely have talked about it among themselves — that’s what gangsters do. If Connolly was not involved, they wouldn’t have told him.

      Mike Huff found everyone suspicious that he talked to from what I can see. Suppose Rico knew nothing about how Wheeler was murdered, how could he be helpful to Huff. Why would Rico be involved in murdering Wheeler? Martorano testified Callahan gave him a slip of paper with Wheeler’s handwriting on it. Why would Callahan have to get the information from Rico. Callahan knew Wheeler himself as did his friend who was the president of Jai Alai. Rico is thrown into the mix out of nowhere’s. Other than Martorano’s word, there is no evidence he met Rico as far as I know. What experienced FBI agent is going to write out information about a person who is part of a murder conspiracy?

      None of the stories hold water especially since Martorano is the one who took the contract, made the murder, and then found out that Callahan had been talking about it with Halloran, and knew that Callahan was a weak link..

      1. Thank you. As I’ve been saying, this blog is tremendously helpful and well-informed. Some very good insights in this reply. Will think some more and maybe get back to you, but gotta split right now. Look forward to tomorrow’s post.

      2. It’s a bit jarring, in light of this post, to recall the part in the Howie Carr book when Martorano describes how crummy he felt in having to murder Callahan because Callahan was a friend he liked.

        1. Jon: The New York Times reported today the findings of a report by an independent group of Americans. They noted: “The use of torture, the report concludes, has “no justification” and “damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive.” The task force found “no firm or persuasive evidence” that these interrogation methods produced valuable information that could not have been obtained by other means. While “a person subjected to torture might well divulge useful information,” much of the information obtained by force was not reliable, the report says.

          1. I saw that. I don’t really delve into the torture debate. Though some abuses happened early on at Gtmo, they have been more than sufficiently addressed. Gtmo is more about the intelligence gathered from detainees and about what to do with bad guys who can’t or shouldn’t be tried in US courts.

            1. Jon:
              There is no torture debate. We did engage in torture. Torture is not abuses. It’s torture. If Gitmo is about intelligence gathering, what possible intelligence could people who have been incarcerated for 10 years have. Most of the Yemeni prisoners at Gitmo are not bad guys. They have all been cleared for release as having nothing to do with terrorist attacks on the US. We just won’t try them or release them. That’s not what our country should be about. You seem to think it is all right to seize people, not charge them with anything, find they have not done anything but hold them in prison for the rest of their lives. What is it about our court system that we are unable to try people. We do it every day. Don’t you see something is wrong?

          2. As I said, I don’t really delve much into the torture debate. Too much legal sophistry, too many counterfactuals and hypotheticals about what we got and what we could have gotten without it, etc. That said, I don’t dispute the claim that it undermines our ability to engage in moral censure, as the report says, though I don’t really think it helps the recruiting efforts of terrorists all that much (Israel-Palestine, the Western way of life (jahilliya), imperialism, etc. are far more prevalent in their propaganda).

            But I’m reminded of something I wrote up a few years ago after reading an article by Marc Thiessen about a meeting Thiessen had with CIA interrogators in 2006 in which the CIA interrogators described the difference between interrogation and de-briefing.

            As the files on Guantanamo detainees reveal in great detail, the intelligence gathered in Guantanamo over the years has been extremely valuable, not simply information on pending attacks, but also information on the building blocks of the terror network – travel routes, guesthouses, recruiters, training, facilitators, financiers, charitable fronts, and more. This information is not based on “torture” but on piecing together information from interrogation of detainees and cross-checking with different kinds of information such as computer databases from safehouse raids or information gained from foreign intelligence agencies.

            But Thiessen’s article also points out that, beyond Gitmo, the enhanced interrogation techniques, or “torture” as many say, were not used to gain information, but to break down resistance and gain cooperation. Only in subsequent de-briefings did interrogators seek to find out what a detainee knew.

            It might be objected that de-briefing still entailed a measure of coercion, because the memory of enhanced interrogation presumably makes a detainee believe that de-briefing will resort back to enhanced interrogation if he resists and stops talking. Thus, the threat of enhanced interrogation means that de-briefing still amounts to interrogation under duress.

            However, the article contains an interesting nugget about the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah:

            “Indeed, the first terrorist to be subjected to enhanced techniques, Zubaydah, told his interrogators something stunning. According to the Justice Department memos released by the Obama administration, Zubaydah explained that ‘brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship.’ In other words, the terrorists are called by their religious ideology to resist as far as they can — and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know.

            Several senior officials told me that, after undergoing waterboarding, Zubaydah actually thanked his interrogators and said, ‘You must do this for all the brothers.’ The enhanced interrogation techniques were a relief for Zubaydah, they said, because they lifted a moral burden from his shoulders — the responsibility to continue resisting.

            The importance of this revelation cannot be overstated: Zubaydah had given the CIA the secret code for breaking al-Qaeda detainees. CIA officials now understood that the job of the interrogator was to give the captured terrorist something to resist, so he could do his duty to Allah and then feel liberated to speak. So they developed techniques that would allow terrorists to resist safely, without any lasting harm. Indeed, they specifically designed techniques to give the terrorists the false perception that what they were enduring was far worse than what was actually taking place.”

            The article then proceeds to delineate a number of plots that were disrupted. Would those plots have been disrupted without waterboarding? Probably. But the point is that Zubaydah himself described the effect of enhanced interrogation as releasing him from a duty to resist, thus freeing his conscience to then subsequently tell what he knew during de-briefing. Which, of course, would have to be cross-checked against other information.

            No one can reasonably argue that EITs alone led us to Bin Laden. The investigation took years and involved all kinds of investigative leads and information. But there is a case I believe some have made – I’m not vouching for it – that the first, or one of the first, great lead came when intelligence officers got the name of the courier, I believe from KSM (would need to double check), one of the three detainees confirmed to have been waterboarded (today’s report says there were more – from Libya). Could we have gotten it without KSM or without subjecting KSM to EITs? I don’t know.

            In sum, I do not take a position on the torture debate to the extent it involves the issue of the so-called EITs. Too much uncertainty. But of course, in retrospect, it’s probably a good thing that we’ve moved away from EITs. And, of course, I’ve never been interested in pulling fingernails.

            1. Jon”
              Marc Theissen according to Wickipedia argued that the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA, which the Obama administration has characterized as torture,are not torture by any reasonable legal or moral standard and “were not only effective, but lawful and morally just”. He seems to be running up hard against the conclusion of the independent commission. He also wrote a book that had as part of its title ” How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack.”

              You are listening to advocates of torture trying to justify their actions when independent people tell you they are wrong. Torture is wrong and the results from torture have not been proven to be good. We have to take the words of people who engaged in torture to tell us they got good information from torture but when they are asked to prove it they can’t. You can believe them if you wish but you’re relying on people who have to justify their evil actions without looking behind their bald statements.

              You still seem afraid to call torture by its correct name. If you don’t think waterboarding and hanging people by the arms in stress positions is torture what can I tell you other than you’re on a slippery slope where you’ll accept any violation of civil rights or liberties as long as the people you follow tell you it is all right. You seem too inquisitive and intelligence to me to just gobble up propaganda like “enhanced interrogation techniques” a term that didn’t exist prior to the time we began torturing people.

              How can you not take a stand on the torture debate but say it is good we moved away from it? Let me suggest something to you. Start reading some of the people on the other side.

    1. Walter:
      I’m saying that in Boston John Connolly was correctly committed of lying to an FBI agent and obstructing justice by sending Judge Wolf a letter alleging that there were illegal wires that provided the evidence against Flemmi and others. For those crimes he was committed ten years in prison. He was acquitted by a Boston jury of all the serious charges including tipping off the gangsters that Callahan may be a weak link. He was convicted by the Boston jury of tipping off the gangsters to flee, which I believe the evidence shows he didn’t do. He was also convicted of giving his supervisor a box of wine with $1,000 in it. I agreed with that at the time but listening to the small part of Morris’s testimony in Florida seems to cast doubt on it. Even had he been rightfully convicted of those crimes, then the sentence he received was still at the top end of what he could receive.

      The Florida prosecution I believe is a travesty of justice. First, he was again tried by the same prosecution team that had lost the same charges in Boston. A person is supposed to be tried once for a crime. We have a theory that in the US we have two sovereigns, the federal government and the states. Therefore technically the state can prosecute him. But here the state was used by the feds to prosecute him a second time. Although done under the auspices of the state, the spirit of the double jeopardy provision was violated.

      That doesn’t end it. We have a long held doctrine that person working for a federal agency can’t be prosecuted for any action done while working for that agency by a state. It is called the Supremacy Doctrine. It should have been raised in Connolly’s case but for some reason the Department of Justice refused to do this.

      Connolly was convicted on a charge murder with a gun which was barred by the statute of limitations. His lawyers failed to file the motion on time to raise this issue. Also, the judge explained to be convicted of that crime you had to be the one who had the gun and shot the person. The prosecutor argued that Connolly as an FBI agent in Massachusetts would have had a gun without showing any evidence that he had one at the time of the murder.

      I could go on and talk about using guys like Martorano who never met Connolly to testify against him but there’s plenty without that. Then to top it off, when Connolly appeals the Florida appeals court issues a one sentence statement “Judgment affirmed.” A guy gets 40 years for murder which has some serious legal issues attached to it and can’t get an opinion by the appeals court.

  10. My consistent question to all of the above is “What is the motivation?”

    If you read Jon’s postings, one gets the idea that those of us who have been POOFed are somehow deserving. Who makes those decisions, and why? And, more importantly who corrects those WRONG decisions? It would appear from what Jon has written, that the Gitmo detainees have more rights than I have, and as we all know its not going so well for the detainees. Being classified incorrectly as a terrorist, albeit an environmental one, and being deprived my day in court, tells me that I have no HOPE. Pandoras Box is empty.

    1. Jean:

      Not saying anything of the sort. The Gitmo detainees clearly do not have the same rights as U.S. citizens under the Constitution. We can disagree on this matter, but I do not believe they should. As for the detainees, there were a few detainees who did not belong there and they are no longer there. But most of the guys there were “bad guys”, i.e. connected to the jihadi network and “guilty” of hostilities toward the U.S.

      I will not bore everyone with another long post on a matter peripheral to this website. But the material is out there. Unfortunately, much of the media has been intellectually dishonest or lazy and largely bought into a narrative told by the “Gitmo lobby”. If anything, Gitmo detainees have had more than their share of a “voice”, and out of about 800 original detainees, only about 150 of them currently remain. A good chunk of them right now are Yemenis who can’t be released because of the instability in the Arabian peninsula.

      Btw, being “cleared for release” is not a determination of innocence.

      1. Jon,

        I believe that you are a new commenter, and I personally welcome your insights. I would refer you to nhjustice,net (NO WITNESS = NO CASE). This is the site where I have posted my complaints that I have reason to believe involve the government’s protection of its TE agents at the expense of the victims – to include my family.

        In our case one of the motivations was money, but I am certain there is more to it. Since I have been Ordered as not competent by the State of New Hampshire, my testimony is currently not recognized. At this time, it would appear from what you write that i do have less rights than the Gitmo detainees. I have also been deprived of my US ssn since 2003 without due process. You can read the rest of the situation on nhj.

        1. I think I understand what you’re saying now. As for Gitmo: sorry I bring that topic up. Just comes to mind when matters of intelligence and informants come up. And sometimes I can’t help myself 🙂

        1. The question in Gtmo is: what to do with these guys? Sometime in mid-2000s, Joint Task Force Gtmo began drawing up detainee assessments that are still classified but were released by Wikileaks. Thomas Joscelyn (google him) reviewed them and wrote about them. Basically, detainees were evaluated as high, medium, or low risk. Based on these assessments, decisions were made about moving detainees to home countries or countries that would accept them, with the agreement that the detainees would be monitored or semt into rejabilitation programs or whatever. Obama would like to close Gtmo, but the best he can do is reduce the population as much as he can. But releasing guys carries the risk they return to terrorism. So releasing guys is a risk assessment.

          1. If you’re interested ( I know, we don’t have the time for everything), you should read up on Tom Joscelyn and Gtmo. I like his stuff (full disclosure: he’s a friend of mine) for the same reason I like this site. He focuses on the facts and has a lust for truth that makes him ask a lot of great questions challenging accepted “truths”.

            1. Jon:
              Keep an open mind about what you read. Don’t look at things from a political perspective. American is the sum of its parts. Neither the neo-cons or progressives have a monopoly on the truth. Always try to turn the coin over and look at the other side. After you do that whatever conclusions you come to are fine. The great thing about America is that we can all have a voice.

              1. Jon writes, “The great thing about America is that we can all have a voice.” I beg to differ. Those of us who have been POOFED, like me, and then illegally diagnosed as ‘non competent’ without due process have lost our voice. And, if we as we are learning from Jon that the Gitmo detainees under military law have more rights than an average American citizen that has been POOFED under the rules of US Jurisprudence, what does that say about US civil society.

                Also, I read somewhere that a person can be categorized as being tortured if she loses an organ in the process. I am not certain whether an appendix would fit that definition, but if it does then I too have been undergoing torture for many years now. One of the ‘incapacitation’ methods was heavy metal poison. At this time I can see no ‘path to freedom’ in sight for me.

          2. Jon
            I Googled Joscelyn. He writes for the neo-conservative Weekly Standard. The neo-conservatives brought us Iraq and now are seeking to get us into Iran. They love the word “enhanced interrogation.” They don’t want us to know we have tortured people and some we have tortured have died at our hands. Obama does not want to close Gitmo. He only said he did. If he could he would have transferred the prisoners to another Gitmo type prison in the mainland. That would have accomplished nothing. What he should do is to release those we have no evidence against like this person who wrote the op-ed in the New York Times

            Of course releasing a person carries a risk. But releasing an innocent person does not involve a risk assessment it involves right and wrong. It is wrong to hold an innocent person or any person in prison for ten years without charges. The risk assessment that should have been done is what the rest of the world would think of us when we decided to undertake such actions as imprisoning people without evidence and without charges and torturing people.

          3. Mtc:

            I’m replying to your post below about WS and Moqbel. First, forget the WS and neocons and Iraq and all that. All the WS is is a venue for Tom to convey analysis.

            Focus on facts. The NYT piece is quite typical of how the media deals with Gtmo. It tells a story as conveyed by lawyers at the very biased Reprieve legal charity in a phone call and has several errors of omission. Moqbel was captured as part of the infamous “dirty 30” (which included Bin Laden bodyguards and Mohamed Qhatani, the “20th hijacker” who btw was abused at Gtmo) escaping from the Tora Bora
            mountains in December 2001. He was assessed as being a member of Bin Laden’s elite 55th Arab Brigade. A Pentagon analysis concluded he participated in
            hostilities against US & coalition forces at Tora Bora. His information was found on several Al Qaeda documents. He admitted to being recruited by an AQ member. He admitted he was a paid terrorist fighter who knew Bin Laden.

            He has also been deemed deceptive and has claimed he was tricked into going to Afghanistan. JTF Gtmo deemed him high risk and he is not on a list of detainees approved for release.

            We are dealing with intelligence assessments. We have to come to our own conclusions based on facts and analysis. Unfortunately, the media, as evidenced in the nyt piece, offers fragments at best.

            1. Jon:
              All the evidence you state against Moqbel hs never been tested in any forum. Why is that? He’s been in custody all this time and you cite all this evidence that seems to indicate he is a bad guy but the Government has not had any forum determine whether it is true or not. Explaine= that.
              I don’t know what you find wrong with the NY Times piece. It give a person or his lawyers the chance to tell their side of the story. That’s what a free press is supposed to do.
              And calling lawyers biased because they represent noxious people I don’t think is appropriate. I used to represent an unpopular client and people would tell me that I was wrong in doing it. I wasn’t. That’s how the system operates.
              Whoever the dirty thirty is, you have to admit that within any group of thirty people there are going to be leaders and followers. That not all are equally culpable. The 55th Arab brigade was formed long before 9/11 and was part of the people under Osama who were helping the Taliban. It had up to 2,000 men of varying ranks and responsibilities. It was not a threat to America.
              You got to keep in mind that we invaded Afghanistan. We did that because the Taliban refused to turn over Bin Laden. Had they, we might never have considered the Taliban an enemy. When you invade a country you will find people will resist you. The 55th Arab brigade did resist us. That doesn’t make them terrorists. When we invaded Germany in WWII we didn’t consider those who fought against us as terrorists. When we invaded Iraq the first time we didn’t consider the Iraqi army terrorists.
              The media will always offer fragments. That is what it should do. It is up to us to look elsewhere to see the full picture. It’s when the media tries to placate everyone by trying to be totally neutral is when it fails.

    2. Jean:
      The motivation behind all of the Bulger saga has been to take down Billy Bulger. The Globe and the prosecutors and their friends came up with this theory back in 1988 courtesy of two FBI agents and gangster testimony that the light at the end of the tunnel would be the incarceration of the Bulger brothers. Thus were laid all the traps. Once the decision was made heaven and earth was moved to prove they were right. They weren’t but none want to admit their folly.

      1. The information has been tested, just not in a U.S. court of law. There are lots of reasons for that. The 055 brigade is one data point among many, and an important one.

        Anyway, if you don’t mind, let’s put it to rest for now. Not because I’m turning away or frustrated, but for the simple reason that I don’t have the time. I’ve been away from the gtmo issue for a while to focus on other things, in particular this whole fbi-winter hill-boston mafia saga. That’s why I came to this website, which is proving exceptionally useful.

        If I did have more time and fewer obligations, I would be more than happy to engage further. Maybe that time will come 🙂

          1. Excellent. I have a bit of an obsessive personality, and when I get into something I really get into it. Sufficiently addressing the Gtmo stuff would take a lot of time and reawaken yet another obsession of mine 🙂

            Right now, though, I’m really
            focused on the subject matter of this site. And I can’t thank you enough for tending to this well-informed and thoughtful site.


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