As his apparent source also didn’t seem to understand, at least at first, there were two Bulger cars of note in the escape, not one. The “Whitey Bulger” Mercury Marquis registered to Bulger in Massachusetts had taken Bulger and his former girlfriend Stanley around the country before the indictment. In one of Bulger’s mistakes, he didn’t trade it in when he got the “Thomas Baxter” Mercury Marquis with the New York alias and plates. Instead, he left it in a garage with a family in Long Island, where it sat unused and unnoticed by the FBI — even after agents conducting surveillance came to the street looking for the “Thomas Baxter” car and spotted that one out front where the family had parked it after picking it up from Bulger in Chicago to use as its own (which was another major mistake by Bulger).
This is a very big and telling part of the story because it reflects on the poor quality of the FBI’s fugitive search for Bulger. Here is an insight into Carr’s omissions that may be far worse than his outright errors.
Giving the FBI a Pass
Howie is curiously silent on the breadth of corruption in the FBI, which went far beyond convicted ex-agent John Connolly. Connolly, after all, relied on the knowledge, criminal collusion, and silence of fellow agents and supervisors who have gone unpunished and unprosecuted, and whose identities have gone officially undisclosed despite public promises back in 2000.
Carr ignores the continuing incompetence of the bureau-led search for Bulger, whose criminal indictment the bureau long fought until a team consisting of a fearless federal prosecutor, the state police, and the DEA prevailed. Shockingly, Carr never even tried to interview these people, who made the case and interviewed the major witnesses.
You will not learn from Howie that the sighting of Whitey in London in 2002, which was much heralded by the bureau at a time when it was under pressure from critics, is now quietly considered a fiction, although the bureau hasn’t made that public.
Howie the author is not the fearless Howie who cried “corrupt midget” and “bum-kissers.” If you’ve ever heard Howie call the special agent in charge of the FBI a great guy, you might wonder whether sparing the bureau further embarrassment and trouble was the price Carr paid for the exclusive access he got and continues to get to the FBI’s photos and files.
Helping to peddle revisionist history is not becoming. If you don’t report the stain on the bureau’s motto — Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity — and instead help wash it off, you’re doing a disservice. To quote Orwell: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present, controls the past.”
Back to that Thomas Baxter car sitting in front of the house on Long Island. Spotting it, the FBI informed the Massachusetts State Police/DEA team that it would soon have Bulger in pocket. But the FBI wouldn’t say where, and then, to the disgust of several agents, a supervisor told the entire FBI organized-crime squad in Boston — which was already suspected of protecting Bulger — the location of Bulger’s car.