Published June 23, 2011
Embarrassment, publicity, and money make for strange yet effective bedfellows.
The capture of mobster James "Whitey" Bulger after 16 years on the run proves my thesis.
First, lets look at... embarrassment: the FBI was, by most accounts, lax in pursuing the infamous Boston mobster. Bulger was a man connected to 19 murders and became the inspiration for the 2006 Martin Scorsese blockbuster "The Departed. But maybe more importantly to the agency's eyes, Bulger also helped the Boston FBI by providing information on other mobsters at a time when, as the Associated Press put it, "bringing down the Mafia was one of the FBI's top national priorities."
Whether the FBI covered for Bulger, looked the other way when tips about him surfaced, or just plain bungled the case, the agency had proverbial egg on its face as time marched on and Bulger was never caught.
Publicity: Much like John Walsh's famous TV show "America's Most Wanted," the FBI finally started a publicity campaign to capture Bulger, spurred on no doubt by the embarrassment of having let one of its "Ten Most Wanted" criminals sip chardonnay for 16 years.
The campaign began on Monday with a public service announcement asking people, particularly women, to look out for Bulger's longtime companion Catherine Greig. As the Associated Press also reported, "the 30-second ad started running Tuesday in 14 television markets to which Bulger may have ties and was to air during programs popular with women roughly Greig's age."
And, finally there's... Money: We're talking about $2 million to be exact. That was the reward for information leading to Bulger's arrest.
The combination of embarrassment, publicity and money worked. Bulger and Greig were arrested Wednesday evening in Los Angeles. Justice (albeit delayed) will finally be done.
I applaud the capture to these two, but I worry that not every fugitive will be "blessed" with the magical combination of embarrassment, publicity, and money to make sure law enforcement gets the job done.
Lis Wiehl is a Fox News legal analyst. She is a former federal prosecutor.