The Jury in Boston has been out a few days. At trial, Bulger's defense did not deny most of the accusations, instead stating (correctly) that Bulger was given tacit permission for his crimes by two corrupt FBI agents that were his handlers.
Kevin Cullen has this article about the case in the Independent.
What is undeniable about the case is this: The FBI let Bulger and his crew run rampant through South Boston for almost three decades and then when his corrupt FBI handler John Connolly tipped off Bulger that there was indictment about to be unsealed, Bulger ran for over sixteen years and for much of that time the FBI did little to find him. An acquittal would be a stinging rebuke to the government.
And if you took our advice about reading the Whitey Bulger book by Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelly Murphy, then you could not help but be sickened by the way the justice department's civil division treated the families of the victims of Bulger's murderous rampages. In a nutshell, the DOJ threw up every possible roadblock to the families civil lawsuits in civil court, while in criminal court they sought the prosecution of FBI agent John Connolly. Essentially the DOJ in civil court denied what the DOJ in criminal court alleged. And the victims of this duplicity were the wives and children not of crooks, but of good men who were innocent bystanders and caught literally in the cross fire of Bulger's assassination attempts on his associates.
In Abrams v. US , The US Supreme Court affirmed the convictions of five Russians for violating the Espionage act of 1917 for their distribution of pro-Russian pamphlets criticizing the government's war effort during (what was called at the time) The Great War.
In 1919, just 363 days after the end of the great war, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes issued a dissent that more than stands the test of time:
Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care wholeheartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises.
But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system, I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.
The most remarkable aspect of Holmes's dissent is that just a few months before, Holmes had strongly written to uphold the criminal convictions in a series of free speech cases.
Then, in a maneuver that would have most current day conservatives calling for his impeachment if not his hide, Holmes....changed his mind!
Every DOJ prosecution against a Muslim in this country should be accompanied by a declaration by the prosecutor that he/she has read Holmes's dissent in Abrams and the prosecution in this case does not contradict those ideals.
And someday pigs will fly and we'll get a new criminal courthouse in Dade. But until then....
See You In Court.