Here’s my takeaway from the Whitey Bulger trial. What was broken has not been fixed.
The FBI secretly abetted murder during Bulger’s reign of terror. Only one FBI agent, John Connolly, paid the price for pervasive FBI corruption. Now it’s 2013. The FBI still won’t come clean.
Most of us, happily, will never have our teeth pulled out in a South Boston basement or our businesses extorted by Bulger, like Stephen Rakes, just murdered by cyanide poisoning in a gruesome side twist to a summer of gruesome courtroom tales.
But many of us were shattered in April when two brothers killed four and wounded 260 at the Boston Marathon.
Three months later, we still don’t know if the FBI could have prevented that horror. More incredible: neither do the people charged with keeping us safe. Congressman William Keating, who’s still trying to get FBI answers, told me in an interview last week that the FBI twice refused to answer questions about the bombing before the House Homeland Security Committee. He said the FBI refused a third request to be questioned even in a closed-door session, no media present. Such stonewalling, and refusal to share information, is what got us into trouble before 9/11, Keating said — a discomforting thought as the U.S. State Department has closed several embassies and issued a month-long travel alert to Americans because of al-Qaeda threats.
We do know that the FBI has a long history of investigating itself, and declaring itself not guilty. And, according to a New York Times report, between 1993 and 2011, FBI agents shot and killed about 70 “subjects” and wounded about 80 others. The FBI investigated itself, and, again, found every single one of those shootings justified.
This claim looks particularly suspicious considering the FBI’s continued stonewalling over the shooting death in Florida of Ibragim Todashev, who had ties to Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Todashev’s father says his son, unarmed, was shot six or seven times, once in the top of the head. Although we’d all like answers, the FBI again likely will not provide them and Attorney General Martha Coakley now says she won’t investigate because the shooting occurred outside her jurisdiction. Yet two Massachusetts state troopers were present. Why can’t she question them?
Here’s what I’ve learned about the government: federal, state or local. When they’ve done themselves proud, they tell you. When they’ve goofed up, they hide behind “the ongoing investigation” or “privacy laws.” Yet Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis relieved an officer of his detective badge before the ongoing investigation into the murder of Amy Lord had even produced an arrest. Kudos to Davis, a rare, stand-up guy.
You know Patricia Donahue, the widow who called Whitey Bulger “a coward” after he refused to testify Friday, sued the Justice Department years ago when she finally realized that a corrupt FBI was complicit in the murder of her husband, a young father of three and yet another Bulger innocent victim. But the federal government would not settle, and another court later blamed the Donahues for not suing sooner even though they had no way of knowing, sooner, how completely and thoroughly the FBI had lied — for decades.
So why should we believe the FBI now?