Collusion: Whitey Bulger and the FBI’s international trade off for domestic information

Fascinating piece by Ed Moloney on Whitey Bulger, an Irish Boston gangster who was ‘turned’ by the FBI relatively early in his long career of domestic crime, was later allowed a little international sideline:

In 1975, Bulger agreed to become an FBI informer and was largely left alone by the authorities, who were mostly interested in what he knew about rival Mafia gangs. In 1994, his FBI handler tipped him off about an impending indictment and he fled Boston.

For 12 of the next 16 years Bulger was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. In June 2011, Bulger, by then 81 years old, was recaptured in Santa Monica, California, and returned to Boston, where he now faces charges of involvement in 19 murders.

His FBI handler, John Connolly, acceded to Bulger’s precondition not to investigate his IRA activity when he signed him up as an informer, but this wasn’t, according to the authors, the only example of the FBI being soft on the IRA.

In the early 1980s, another FBI agent gave Bulger more than 18kg of powerful C-4 plastic explosives for the IRA, which were then smuggled to Ireland in a van.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty