You know it’s gotta be killing Whitey Bulger that his trial won’t be televised. He’s got an ego bigger than the deep blue sea. He’d like nothing better than to see his last stand preserved for posterity on film.
But his trial will take place with neither a video or audio feed from the courthouse named for his old neighbor Joe Moakley.
The chronicling of what Whitey calls The Big Show will be confined to the written word, though Whitey wants to control who gets to write those words, which is why my colleague Shelley Murphy and I find ourselves on Whitey’s witness list and possible sequestration.
The idea that we could provide exculpatory evidence for Whitey is a joke. He just wants to keep us out of the courtroom because he doesn’t like us or the book we wrote about him. Classic Whitey. Sublimely vindictive.
Those letters Whitey wrote from the jail in Plymouth show how much he likes to talk about his favorite subject, which is himself. The letters confirm that Whitey has many problems, but self esteem is not among them.
The letters also confirm that Whitey doesn’t like me or Shelley Murphy. He described Shelley in unprintable terms. He called me a lowlife, to which I say it takes one to know one.
Here’s hoping US District Judge Denise Casper agrees with prosecutor Brian Kelly that Whitey’s attempt to keep us out of the courtroom is a petty piece of payback.
But, if I am compelled to testify, I could always adapt the model used by Whitey’s hero, his little brother Bill, the former Massachusetts Senate and University of Massachusetts president.
When Bill Bulger was hauled before a congressional committee investigating the FBI’s corrupt embrace of Whitey, he kept telling his inquisitors that he didn’t recall anything. He didn’t remember anything.
But I can’t do that, because I remember plenty about Whitey, and I’ll be glad to submit some sample testimony right here so they can decide whether they really want to call me as a defense witness.
I believe Whitey Bulger is a deeply cynical and vicious criminal who made millions by killing and intimidating people while he was protected by a deeply corrupted FBI.
I believe he made millions from the drug trade, extorting money from drug dealers even as he and his apologists propagated the nonsense that he never was involved in drugs.
I believe that John Connolly, Whitey’s FBI handler, was made to answer for sins committed by an entire squad, an entire office, an entire agency, that the Justice Department has been engaged in damage limitation from the get go.
I believe that as much of a disgrace as it is that criminals have been given sweetheart deals in exchange for their testimony against Whitey, it’s a bigger disgrace that John Morris, Connolly’s equally corrupt FBI supervisor, was allowed to trade his testimony for a stay-out-of-jail card. Morris should have gone to prison, and many other FBI agents should have been indicted.
I believe that Whitey Bulger insisted on the loyalty of others but was loyal to no one but himself. He dragged his brother Jack into a scheme to get phony IDs, costing Jack his pension, not to mention a felony conviction.
I believe that this trial, for Whitey, is not about getting acquitted, it’s about getting even, and that’s why I’m on his witness list.
Whitey likes to remind you of how well-read he is, and in one of his letters, he compared himself to Philip Nolan, the protagonist from the Edward Everett Hale story “Man Without a Country.” Nolan is a noble if flawed character who felt unjustly persecuted by his government.
But Whitey isn’t Philip Nolan. He’s Gypo Nolan, the protagonist from the great Liam O’Flaherty story “The Informer.” Gypo Nolan sold out his friends for money. He was a tout. That’s Whitey Bulger.Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org