THIS IS NOT an obituary. What interests us about Allen M. Dorfman--the longtime Teamster's consultant who died in a hotel parking lot last Thursday--is not the details of his life, but the manner and circumstances of his death.

Mr. Dorfman died of natural causes--natural that is for someone who has spent a life in close contact with the mob. He was shot several times in the head by one of two men who accosted him in broad daylight. Mr. Dorfman's companion and other witnesses were unharmed. The assailants escaped without impediment.

This is what is known in the trade as a "gangland-style execution." For those who are interested in records, it is said to be Chicago's 1,081st since they started counting such things back in 1919. In one respect, the Chicago police did find Mr. Dorfman's fate surprising. The Chicago Crime Commission's executive director remarked, "I'm surprised he wasn't hit long ago. The conviction sealed his fate."

Mr. Dorfman, at 60, faced the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence after having been convicted last month of plotting to bribe a U.S. senator. He faced trial on two other unrelated charges. Making a deal with the government might have kept him from spending the rest of his life in jail. After a lifetime of intimate involvement in the financial affairs of the Teamsters and organized crime figures, Mr. Dorfman had much to tell.

The FBI cannot, of course, watch every convicted person who might have useful information until he is in prison. It would cost too much, and most of them wouldn't become witnesses anyway. Nor would a high level of police surveillance suit an open society such as ours. Mr. Dorfman reportedly had not requested police protection or indicated any willingness to become an informant. He probably wouldn't have accepted protection even if it had been offered, since that might give the mob the idea that he was thinking of talking. The government could have put him under surveillance without his cooperation, though, of course, that's much more difficult.

Still, what happened seems senseless. The FBI had invested a great deal in the mammoth wire-tapping operation that ultimately led to Mr. Dorfman's recent conviction. For years, the authorities have been scrutinizing his activities. He had been indicted many times but only once before convicted, and that was on a relatively minor kickback charge. Federal money is scarce, but keeping an eye on Mr. Dorfman could surely have been justified as prudent behavior.