"This is not a monarchy…. We've got a dictatorial President and a Justice Department that does not want Congress involved…. Your guy's acting like he's king."
That stentorian denunciation of the Administration came last week not from a Democrat but from conservative Republican Congressman Dan Burton. The reason for such strong language from Burton, once the relentless pursuer of Clinton and Gore: President Bush had for the first time in his presidency invoked executive privilege. Was it to protect the Al Qaeda investigation at a delicate moment? No: That executive order kept Burton's Government Reform Committee from seeing Justice Department memos detailing the sickening thirty-five year partnership between Boston criminals and senior FBI agents.
The war in Afghanistan may be entering its mop-up phase, but as that assertion of executive privilege suggests, the Bush Administration's information lockdown is widening. To understand how far this White House will go in its mania for secrecy, forget for five minutes about Kabul and Osama bin Laden. Look instead at the working-class precincts of South Boston and its local Osama, a mobster named Whitey Bulger, whose weapons of mass destruction included drugs and hit squads, and whose patron was not Mullah Omar but a senior agent in the Boston FBI field office named James Connolly. From the 1960s through 1995, it is well established through court hearings and newspaper stories, Connolly and other agents and federal prosecutors all protected Bulger and his South Boston mujahedeen as they went about drug-running and murder, in return for information about Bulger's rivals.
For sheer sordidness nothing in FBI history, not even Robert Hansson's sellout to Russia, matches the body-count in the Boston scandal. Senior partner Bulger, now on the lam, stands charged in nineteen separate killings. Four innocent men went to prison for life based on perjured testimony by the hit man who actually did the job–and FBI agents, who had that hit man on their payroll as an informant, knew it. Two of the innocent men died in prison, and two, Joseph Salvati and Peter Limone, were only released after thirty and thirty-three years respectively, as the hideous details of this railroad job finally emerged last year. Two generations of kids on the streets of South Boston and other neighborhoods were hooked on drugs run by Bulger's government-protected Winter Hill Gang. As South Boston-raised chronicler and activist Michael Patrick MacDonald puts it in his vivid, unsparing memoir All Souls (Beacon), "The FBI had sponsored the parade of caskets that passed through the streets of Southie."