Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Whitey: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger" airs on CNN

Whitey: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger,”  a documentary by Joe Berlinger, aired on CNN Thursday night as one of a series of CNN Films.  In fact, this 90-minute documentary will have a limited release from Magnolia Pictures. A typical CNN link is here. James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger, Jr. was one of history’s most famous “godfather” figures, of sorts, but was the brother of Massachusetts state senator Billy Bulger.
Bulger, born in 1929 and now 84, is serving five life terms for organized crime, including many hits and murders.  But he had been on the run for sixteen years before he was recaptured in Santa Monica CA in June 2011, where he had lived in hiding for most of that time, a lot of it in a rent-controlled apartment.
Bulger's intention at the end was to show that he had never behaved as an informant, and to show the US government and Justice Department as corrupt.  He did not know if he would live through the trial. In his mind, with a background from "Southie" or "The Town", a "snitch" was the lowest thing he could be.  But the government needed to show his actions as a "double agent".
The brutality of Bulger's actions is well described. 
The documentary got into the mechanics of witness protection, which can end “life as you know it’ for a targeted person.  It’s not available to someone who has made himself a public figure, and it would sound much harder to pull off in a world of social media.  Bugler was almost caught after being sighted at a theater showing “The Departed”.  The style of the documentary is more like that of an extended news reel, with many interviews.  

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