Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

by Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill

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Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby Liz » Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:43 am

Taking into consideration everything you’ve read in this book, all you’ve read in the tidbits and referring back to our Public Enemies discussion and all that entailed, what is your opinion about the FBI?
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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:56 pm

Well, as a long time big fan of the X Files, I would like to say the FBI is a great organization. But I think from what I have seen and read over the last few years, it may have become too powerful. Certainly in J Edgar's day there was way too much personal vendetta and one man's twisted agenda involved in the organization. I am not clear really how much supervision there is of the FBI or if it has to abide by the same laws as other law enforcement organizations. Sometimes it appears to have a power unto itself, and that is disturbing.

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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:49 pm

I agree with you nebraska, using criminals to catch other criminals seems like a tactic that has probably been with us since the first crook caught tried to save himself. It is a very imperfect weapon.
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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby Liz » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:51 am

Nebraska, thanks for starting us off on this one.

I have to say, that after reading Public Enemies, Black Mass and hearing assorted stories over the years about their actions and bumblings, I'm just not real trusting of them.

I was a huge X-Files fan. But that was fictitious. And I love Blacklist. But aren't they using and protecting Red similarly to how they used and protected Whitey? I've got to admit, though, that I don't want to see them arrest Red.
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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:59 am

nebraska wrote:Well, as a long time big fan of the X Files, I would like to say the FBI is a great organization. But I think from what I have seen and read over the last few years, it may have become too powerful. Certainly in J Edgar's day there was way too much personal vendetta and one man's twisted agenda involved in the organization. I am not clear really how much supervision there is of the FBI or if it has to abide by the same laws as other law enforcement organizations. Sometimes it appears to have a power unto itself, and that is disturbing.
I love the way you put that, nebraska. Well said!! I don't know if the FBI's power has grown in recent years, but the lack of checks and balances in our intelligence agencies - all of them - is, as you said, disturbing to say the least.

fireflydances wrote:I agree with you nebraska, using criminals to catch other criminals seems like a tactic that has probably been with us since the first crook caught tried to save himself. It is a very imperfect weapon.
So speaking of TV, does anyone here watch Blacklist? James Spader is a powerful criminal being used by the FBI to catch other criminals. Or is he really using them? I just started watching it this year and I keep thinking how similar it is to Whitey's situation.

And then taking it back to Public Enemies, it makes me wonder if Dillinger would have found a way to work a similar deal, if he were alive today.

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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:01 am

Liz wrote:And I love Blacklist. But aren't they using and protecting Red similarly to how they used and protected Whitey? I've got to admit, though, that I don't want to see them arrest Red.
:lol: :highfive: I think you were reading my mind.

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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:16 am

I have not watched Blacklist, but in semi-off-topic terms, I fell completely under the spell of Breaking Bad on Netflix recently and could not contain myself until I had finished watching the entire series. What was unsettling about that was seeing myself so completely on the side of the criminals, holding my breath and crossing my fingers every time they were in danger of being caught, hoping for their success in their disgusting endeavor. What would I have been willing to do for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman if I was in a real situation and knew them personally? Perhaps that experience could help me understand how someone like Connolly, who must have been basically a decent man to begin with or he would not have joined the FBI, could become so close to Whitey and be so much under his spell that his idealism was destroyed. Would more checks and balances on the FBI itself have prevented this? :perplexed: Or was Whitey cunning and charismatic enough he would have found a way to work around that?

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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:55 pm

nebraska wrote:Would more checks and balances on the FBI itself have prevented this? :perplexed: Or was Whitey cunning and charismatic enough he would have found a way to work around that?


I like these two questions. In terms of the FBI, I can't help but wonder whether there were adequate supports for agents spending much of their time working with law-breakers. I don't mean oversight, not a system of checking up on them. No, I am thinking that it's such a hard thing to do, to work closely with someone who definitely isn't in your camp, and create the kind of relationship that benefits your organization and the opposite side. With the years of FBI experience doing this sort of partially uncover work, isn't there a group of agents who know what the temptations are, the emotional conflicts? You are asking people to let down their guard in order to create a productive relationship. Don't many people coming out of such are unscathed by the process.

Whitey as cunning and charismatic. I think both sides SHOULD have been cunning and charismatic. I get the sense that Whitey ran circles around his "handlers," which means they weren't the right guys to stand up against him. And playing this game, you gotta have a clear sense of purpose, an unflinching action plan. Whitey did -- protection--he never wavered. Did Connelly have his own bottom line?

At the same time, I think Whitey was also seduced by the relationship -- by the attention he received, but perceiving himself as important to those with power. Ultimately everyone was wiped out -- Whitey and his handlers.

Was what the FBI brass got for the deal -- the crushing of the New England Mafia worth what they paid? And how does an organization not understand that knocking off a fading bunch of goombas isn't worth the lives messed up, the damage to the agency's reputation etc?
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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby shadowydog » Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:15 pm

I think there have been multiple occasions when the government has be obsessed with bringing somebody or some organization down that they have ignored what illegal activities they have been involved with on their way. They were so mesmerized by the mafia that they were trying to catch, they were willing to ignore the crimes they were overlooking.
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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby Liz » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:14 pm

I think it goes back to J. Edgar. He was determined to get the mafia. I forget where I read it, but it was somewhat about saving face. And we know how J. Edgar was (from reading Public Enemies). It was all about him.
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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby Liz » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:14 pm

RamblinRebel wrote:
Liz wrote:And I love Blacklist. But aren't they using and protecting Red similarly to how they used and protected Whitey? I've got to admit, though, that I don't want to see them arrest Red.
:lol: :highfive: I think you were reading my mind.

A TZ Moment. We pretty much cross-posted.
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Black Mass Question #8 - The FBI

Unread postby Liz » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:17 pm

nebraska wrote:I have not watched Blacklist, but in semi-off-topic terms, I fell completely under the spell of Breaking Bad on Netflix recently and could not contain myself until I had finished watching the entire series. What was unsettling about that was seeing myself so completely on the side of the criminals, holding my breath and crossing my fingers every time they were in danger of being caught, hoping for their success in their disgusting endeavor. What would I have been willing to do for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman if I was in a real situation and knew them personally? Perhaps that experience could help me understand how someone like Connolly, who must have been basically a decent man to begin with or he would not have joined the FBI, could become so close to Whitey and be so much under his spell that his idealism was destroyed. Would more checks and balances on the FBI itself have prevented this? :perplexed: Or was Whitey cunning and charismatic enough he would have found a way to work around that?

Good analogy. I know so many people who just loved that show. I never began watching it. Couldn't imagine being interested in such a thing. BUT I never tried it. Now I'm thinking it would have the same effect on me.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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