Waco, R.I.P.

Today is the 14th anniversary of the FBI’s finale at Waco.

This was the day that 80 civilians died as a result of a tank-and-toxic gas assault.   I thought Waco might be the most important public education lesson of the 1990s, but it seems to have  had scant impact.

Most Americans forgot or never undertstood Waco, paving the way for politicians to commit other grave abuses in the following years.  

Following are a few pieces I did on Waco back in ’95, when some members of Congress briefly acted like they gave a damn about the carnage.


 The New Republic

                                  MAY 15, 1995


BYLINE: James Bovard     James  Bovard  is the author of Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (1994).

   On last Sunday’s “60 Minutes,” when Lesley Stahl gingerly asked President Clinton if he had “any second thoughts” about the raid at Waco, he didn’t hesitate. “Before that raid was carried out,” Clinton fumed, “those people murdered a bunch of innocent law enforcement officials … and when that raid occurred it was the people who ran that cult compound who murdered their own children, not the federal officials. They made the decision to destroy all the children that were there.” You don’t have to sympathize with those seeking vengeance for the raid, though, to recognize that some second thoughts are in order.

   Start with last year’s trial in which a jury found five of eleven surviving Branch Davidians guilty of manslaughter (not, as Clinton said, murder) in the deaths of four agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The bureau claimed it had a video proving that the Davidians fired first during the ATF’s February 28, 1993, raid. Yet it never produced the video at the trial, and Rolland Ballestros, one of the first ATF agents out of the cattle trucks, told Texas Rangers and Waco police shortly after the raid that he thought the first shots came from agents aiming at the Davidians’ dogs. Besides, as Robert Cancro, chairman of the psychiatry department at the New York University Medical Center, commented in the Justice Department’s report on the Waco operation: “Certainly an armed assault by 100 agents had to be seen as an attack independent of who fired the first shot…. The law does not usually allow the potential attacker to fire first before a response can be called self-defense.”

   Nor is it clear that the government should be absolved of blame for the fires in which eighty-one Branch Davidians died. The fires could, as the Justice Department claims, have been started by the Branch Davidians themselves, but many doubts remain. Federal officials have insisted that the CS gas (a potent form of tear gas) they lobbed into the Davidian compound was nonflammable.  But according to U.S. Army manuals, there is a significant risk of inflammability from CS gas particulates. One U.S. Army Field Manual offers the following warning: ” When using the dry agent CS1, do not discharge indoors. Accumulating dust may explode when exposed to spark or open flame.” FBI officials testified after the April 19 fire that agents had thrown flash bang grenades–which can easily set off fires–into the compound during the gassing operation.

   Federal officials also misrepresented the potential effects of the CS gas on the Davidians. A 1975 U.S. Army publication on the effects of CS gas notes, “Generally, persons reacting to CS are incapable of executing organized and concerted actions and excessive exposure to CS may make them incapable of vacating the area.” According to Attorney General Janet Reno, the FBI hoped that pumping the gas into the compound would force people to flee outdoors. In fact, the gas itself may have prevented people from escaping.

   Harvard University professor of law and psychiatry Alan Stone was one of the experts brought in by the Justice Department in 1993 to evaluate the agency’s action at Waco. In a recent interview, Stone observed, “Some of the government’s actions may have killed people before the fire started. I cannot tell whether the tanks knocked down places where people were already. I don’t know if there were people in there crushed by the collapsing building as a result of FBI tanks plowing into the structure before the fire started.”             
   Neither the ATF nor the FBI has made any apologies for their actions at Waco. Indeed, the ATF recently rehired two agents (with back pay) who were fired for lying about whether they knew that Koresh was expecting the initial ATF raid; the agents ordered the raid to proceed even after they were informed that Koresh was expecting an attack. James Jorgensen of the National Association of Treasury Agents denounced the rehiring last February: “This most recent callous action by the government is disgraceful. It defiles the memory of the brave ATF agents who gave their lives doing their duty.”

   All of this adds up to reason for skepticism about the federal government’s version of what happened at Waco. It’s not only right-wing lunatics who have such doubts. A Treasury Department report written by outside experts and issued in September 1993 found “disturbing evidence of flawed decision making, inadequate intelligence gathering, miscommunication, supervisory failures, and deliberately misleading post-raid statements about the raid and the raid plan by certain ATF supervisors.” After the Justice Department issued its own considerably more favorable report on the FBI’s performance at Waco (it repeatedly praised the agency for “remarkable restraint” during its gassing operation), The New York Times published an editorial called, “the waco whitewash.” Even Justice Department investigators could find no evidence for the
rationale that Reno invoked for the FBI’s final assault: the need to use gas and tanks to prevent Koresh from abusing children.                 
   Yet the Clinton administration and some members of Congress, such as Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, have been adamantly opposed to any oversight hearings on the Waco raid. Last Saturday Schumer denounced one such hearing scheduled for next month: “We know what that was all about. That was an attack on the ATF. This planned hearing was simply some red meat to some of those extreme right forces.” During the 1960s, conservative members of Congress reacted similarly to proposed oversight hearings on FBI abuses. Unfortunately, some liberals are now picking up the mantle. 

                    The Wall Street Journal 
                        Monday, May 15, 1995
                    Waco Must Get a Hearing
                        By James Bovard

The Senate voted 74 to 23 last Thursday to indefinitely postpone
hearings on federal government actions in Waco, Texas, in 1993 and in
the Ruby Ridge, Idaho (Randy Weaver) case in 1992. Sen. Arlen Specter
had urged the Senate to set a specific deadline for the hearings. But
Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Judiciary Committee chairman, declared that any
hearings on Waco should be postponed until after the Oklahoma City
bombers have been caught, tried and punished — which could take several
years. This is a grave error.

Attorney General Janet Reno declared on May 5: “There is much to be
angry about when we talk about Waco — and the government’s conduct is
not the reason. David Koresh is the reason.” But public opinion polls
show that approval of the government’s action at Waco is plummeting —
down from 80% just after the final assault in April 1993 to barely 40%
now. There can be no justification for the terrorist attack last month
in Oklahoma City; but likewise there is no justification for delaying
asking serious questions about government misconduct. House Speaker Newt
Gingrich announced Thursday that the House would be having thorough
hearings on both cases by August, but no specific dates have been set.
The longer hearings are postponed, the greater the danger that the FBI
will repeat the same tragic mistakes that preceded scores of deaths at

Here are some of the issues that members of Congress must examine on

— Regarding the Feb. 28, 1993, attack on the compound by 100 Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents: Who shot first? Rolland
Ballesteros, one of the first ATF agents out of the cattle trailer that
morning, told Texas Rangers investigating the case that the first shots
came from agents shooting the dogs. (He recanted at the Davidian trial
last year, insisting instead that the Davidians shot first.) The ATF
claimed to have a video proving that the Davidians shot first, but
refused to make it public. Congress should require all ATF videotapes of
the initial battle to be made public.

— Regarding the April 19, 1993, final FBI assault on the Davidians:
When and why did the FBI decide to demolish the compound with its tanks?
Even before the fire started, roughly 20% of the compound had collapsed
as a result of tank incursions. Amazingly, despite graphic videotapes of
54-ton FBI tanks smashing through the compound’s walls, Ms. Reno
declared this past April 30: “We didn’t attack. We tried to exercise
every restraint possible to avoid violence.”

— Did any of the government tank incursions at Waco kill innocent
women or children? Attorney General Reno declared on May 5, “It is
unfair, it is unreasonable, it is a lie, to spread the poison that the
government was responsible at Waco for the murder of innocents.”
However, Harvard Prof. Alan Stone, one of the outside experts the
Justice Department brought in, concluded: “Some of the government’s
actions may have killed people before the fire started. I cannot tell
whether the tanks knocked down places where people were already. I don’t
know if there were people in there crushed by the collapsing building
[as a result of FBI tanks plowing into the structure] before the fire

— What effect did the CS gas pumped into the compound for six hours
have on the women and children? While Reno recently characterized the
gas as a mere “irritant,” Technology Review noted in October 1988 that
CS gas is far more potent than another widely used tear gas. CS gas can
kill: United Nation officials estimated that the use of CS gas resulted
in 44 fatalities in the Gaza Strip in 1988, as well as more than 1,200
injuries and numerous miscarriages.

— What did the FBI hope to accomplish by gassing the Davidians? FBI
Deputy Director Floyd Clarke told Congress nine days after the fire that
the FBI’s plan was to “immediately and totally immerse the place in gas,
and throw in flash-bangs which would disorient them and cause people to
. . . think, if not rationally, at least instinctively, and perhaps give
them a way to come out.” Flash-bang grenades temporarily blind people
and, according to a U.S. Army Field Manual, “Generally, persons reacting
to CS are incapable of executing organized and concerted actions and
excessive exposure to CS may make them incapable of vacating the area.”

— What role might the government have had in starting or spreading
the fires in the compound? Federal officials after the fire insisted
that the CS gas was nonflammable. But, according to U.S. Army manuals,
there is a significant risk of flammability from the CS gas
particulates. U.S. Army Field Manual FM-21-27 states: “Warning: when
using the dry agent CS-1, do not discharge indoors. Accumulating dust
may explode when exposed to spark or open flame.” Retired Army Col. Rex
Applegate, one of the nation’s foremost experts on riot control agents,
declared in a recent interview, “Any flash bang will start fires.”

— Congress should force the Justice Department and FBI to make
public all audio tapes from inside the compound at Waco and all
communications tapes between the tank operators and their commanders.

Ms. Reno told federal law enforcement officers on May 5 that the
Davidians’ “words were recorded while they were spreading the fuels to
ignite the fire.” However, controversy exists over the audio tapes from
inside the compound. At the trial last year, prosecutors presented a
transcript of tapes made from electronic listening devices inside the
compound, claiming that the tapes showed a Davidian suicide scheme. However, after challenges from defense attorneys, the government’s audio
expert conceded that he altered the transcripts after meeting with
Justice Department officials.

As the New York Times reported: “Defense lawyer Mike DeGeurin
demonstrated that more than 100 hours of FBI tapes from the compound had
been reduced to an hour of excerpts by the prosecution’s audio expert.
‘We didn’t hear things today from the earlier transcripts, such as
people praying as tanks were bashing in their homes, or children calling
for their parents.”‘

— Why does Janet Reno keep changing her rationale for the
government’s final assault at Waco? Immediately after the fire, she
justified the assault as needed to stop David Koresh from beating
babies. (The FBI later admitted that it had no information to indicate
that such accusations against Koresh were valid.) But on May 5 of this
year Ms. Reno announced that the “first and foremost” reason for the
tank/gas assault was that “law-enforcement agents on the ground
concluded that the perimeter had become unstable and posed a risk both
to them and to the surrounding homes and farms. Individuals sympathetic
to Koresh were threatening to take matters into their own hands to end
the stalemate [and] were at various times reportedly on the way.”

— How did Janet Reno lose 16 machine guns? The major justification
for the initial ATF raid was the allegation that the Davidians illegally
possessed machine guns. At the trial last year, the Justice Department
claimed that 48 machine guns were found at the Davidian compound after
the fire. Defense experts were prohibited from examining the weapons to
see if they had been tampered with by the government, as happened in at
least one other high-profile federal court case in recent years. On May
5, Ms. Reno said that the Davidians had only 32 machine guns. At this
rate, all the alleged machine guns will vanish by 1997.

— Why are President Clinton and Ms. Reno misrepresenting the jury
verdict as a vindication for the government? The jury verdict was
correctly characterized by the New York Times as a “stunning defeat” for
the federal government; a Los Angeles Times headline declared, “Outcome
Indicates Jurors Placed Most Blame on the Government.” Bill Johnston,
the lead federal attorney at Waco, burst into tears in bitter
disappointment at the verdict. The defendants received relatively light
sentences — until the Justice Department subsequently arm-twisted the
judge into reinstating charges that he had originally dismissed after
the jury verdict.

Mr. Clinton declared on April 23, “This is a freedom-loving democracy
because the rule of law has reigned for over 200 years now.” The
foundation of the rule of law is that government officials must obey the
same laws as private citizens. The ghosts of Waco will continue to haunt
the U.S. government until the truth is told about what the government
did and why.

— Mr. Bovard is the author of “Lost Rights: The Destruction of American
Liberty” (St. Martin’s Press).


Finally – an article  that came out the day after the congressional hearings ended. I was astounded that Janet Reno’s “rent-a-tank” comment did not prove inflammatory. But the Washington media covered for Big Janet – as it always did.


  The Wall Street Journal

                   Wednesday, August 2, 1995
              Hearings Show Waco Defense is Wacky
                        By James Bovard

The Waco hearings, which ended yesterday with testimony by Attorney General Janet Reno, were marked by administration obfuscation, Democratic pettifogging and far too much feeble, half-hearted questioning from Republicans. But enough new information has come out to make mincemeat of the Clinton administration’s Waco story.

Within 36 hours after the Feb. 28, 1993, initial assault on the Branch Davidian compound, the federal government abandoned routine law enforcement to avoid gathering evidence that might embarrass the government. A Sept. 17, 1993, Treasury Department confidential memo to Assistant Treasury Secretary Ronald Noble stated that on March 1, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms initiated a shooting review and “immediately determined that these stories [of agents involved] did not add up.” Justice Department attorney Bill Johnston “at this point advised [ATF supervisor Dan] Hartnett to stop the ATF shooting review because ATF was creating” exculpatory material that might undermine the government prosecution of the Davidians.

The coverup continued on April 14, 1993. That day, the Treasury Department assistant general counsel, Robert McNamara, sent a memo to several top-ranking Treasury officials stating that the Justice Department “does not want Treasury to conduct any interviews or have discussions with any of the participants who may be potential witnesses” because of fear of creating exculpatory material. The memo noted, “While we may be able to wait for some of [the witnesses] to have testified in the criminal trial, the passage of time will dim memories.”

The Justice Department also warned the Treasury Department not to contact outside experts to analyze the original raid: “DOJ does not want us to generate gratuitous ‘expert witness’ materials; the prosecutors are concerned that these people won’t have all the facts upon which to base a thoughtful opinion and could play into defense hands.”

Regarding the FBI’s April 19, 1993, gassing of the Davidians, the Justice Department official report on Waco stressed that the FBI intended to gas the compound incrementally over a 48-hour period. A few minutes after the FBI gas attack began, the Davidians fired upon the tank that was injecting gas into the compound. The FBI, following its official plan, greatly accelerated its gassing — effectively injecting all the gas it planned to use over two days over a three-hour period.

While the official report portrayed the speed-up of the assault as a regrettable reaction to the Davidians’ gun shots, FBI commander Jeffrey Jamar told the House committee that he believed before the final assault that the chances of the Davidians firing on the tanks was 99% — thus making the speedup of the gassing and subsequent demolition a virtual certainty.

Congressional Democrats, who spent the first days of the hearings denouncing David Koresh for child abuse, strove mightily to claim that the CS gas the FBI used on the 21 children and 60-plus adults at Waco was as innocuous as a Flintstone vitamin. But Bill Marcus, a senior science advisor at the Environmental Protection Agency, pointed out that the CS would effect children between eight and 20 times as harshly as it affected adults. Mr. Marcus observed: “The FBI failed to read and follow the label directions” on the CS gas and the methylene chloride that agents mixed it with.

Regarding the methylene chloride that the FBI inserted into the compound, former ATF fire expert Rick Sherrow testified, “The Dow Chemical Corporation Materials Safety Data Sheet specifically states that this chemical forms flammable vapor air mixtures [and] ‘[i]n confined or poorly ventilated areas, vapors can readily accumulate and cause unconsciousness and death.”‘

Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.) observed that even if the children didn’t die directly from the CS gas, “we sure as hell tortured them for six hours before they died.”

The briefing book the FBI gave Attorney General Reno on April 12, 1993, contained false information on the effects of the CS gas. The document stated, “Experience with the effects of CS on children including infants has been extensively investigated. Available reports indicate that, even in high concentrations or enclosed areas, long term complications from CS exposures is extremely rare.” However, Defense Department toxicologist Harry Shaw testified that only two studies were available on the effects on children. One study showed that an infant exposed to CS for a few hours had to be hospitalized for 28 days; the FBI intended to gas the children in the Waco compound for 48 hours.

Rep. John Shadegg (R., Ariz.) made a painfully short presentation on July 28 showing the massive portions of the Davidian compound destroyed by FBI tanks before the fire began. Under vigorous questioning, the FBI’s Floyd Clarke admitted, “The destruction of the building was part of the ultimate plan which was included” in the briefing book given to Attorney General Reno on April 12. Yet, though FBI officials admitted that they were far along in the process of destroying the building before the fire started, the official FBI statement to the hearing still bragged, “The FBI agents demonstrated remarkable restraint and did not fire a single shot during the entire standoff.”

And, while Mr. Clarke stated that the assault was intended to destroy the compound, former FBI commander Jamar insisted: “The intent was to hopefully get their attention to where they would engage in serious negotiations.” Destroying their home was an excellent means of getting the Davidians’ attention but was not the kind of good-faith gesture that could have advanced negotiations.

The highlight of Attorney General Reno’s testimony yesterday was her assertion that the 54-ton tank that smashed through the Davidian compound should not be considered a military vehicle — instead it was just “like a good rent-a-car.” Such an observation does not inspire confidence in the Justice Department’s moderation in its future operation.

The evidence of a coverup and gross federal misconduct is far stronger in the Waco hearings than in the Whitewater investigation. The Republican leadership in Congress should seize upon the recent revelations to demand a special counsel to be appointed to investigate possible federal crimes and coverups regarding Waco.

Postscript:  Alas, I admit I was cold sober when I wrote that appeal for the GOP leadership to demand a special counsel for Waco…..


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21 Responses to Waco, R.I.P.

  1. Original Steve April 20, 2007 at 12:05 pm #

    Thanks for posting this Jim. I well remember that morning. I was at the U of Southern Mississippi in my Junior year. A friend of mine and I had been watching the whole thing since the standoff started. Clinton had just taken office. I went to class and came back about two hours later. My friend came out and said “They are all dead. They all burned to death.” That’s how fast it was

  2. Jim April 20, 2007 at 10:00 pm #

    Steve – Thanks for the feedback.

    Yep, that was one helluva jarring day.

    I was busting tail to finish up Lost Rights – working in a basement office and poking my head up every now and then to catch the TV broadcasts. So utterly chilling.

    And within 24 hours, the Washington media has made a national hero out of Janet Reno.

  3. Original Steve April 21, 2007 at 4:28 am #

    Right because “she took responsibility.” Here are we are now all these years later and they are still doing that….all you have to do is admit to something and that makes you a hero.

  4. Mace Price April 21, 2007 at 10:26 am #

    …To be objective, David Koresh was deranged Religious Cult Leader with a taste for Thanatos along the lines of the Reverend Jim Jones. The Branch Davidians were further, completely indoctrinated, fanatical, and worse–Armed to the teeth with fully automatic weapons and ample stores of ammunition. Then, The Law enforcement Agencies of your Federal Government, instead of deescalating the situation and using a more intelligence oriented and/or negotiated approach, aggravated it with everything to flood lights, to simulated attacks by low flying Military Helicopters, to cutting water and power–Even to round the clock, high volume amplification of The Tibetan Chant of The Dead or something as disturbing. Knowing full well the types of deranged personalities they were dealing with they proceeded to made a bad situation—an irreconcilable one…Then, after exacerbating the Davidian’s paranoia to the point they thought they were facing an actual Armageddon–The incompetent, thoughtless Feds decided to do a Combat Assault on the ram-shackle place, supported by M-60 tanks and Chemical agents, as usual with Clinton’s Ogre of an Attorney General’s Janet Reno’s rationale of “Saving the children”…You saw what happened…Desperate, insane people do desperate insane things…While thoughtless and idiotic people in authority do thoughtless and idiotic things–Like wipe out 80 odd religious fanatics–all unnecessarily, and then lie about it. But that’s typical I suppose.

  5. Jim April 21, 2007 at 10:30 am #

    I don’t think it was ever proven that the Davidians had automatic weapons. The feds refused to permit independent verification of the guns that survived the fire – if my memory serves.

    The Davidians were neither threatening nor attacking outsiders.

    I don’t share the Davidians’ religious beliefs – but I don’t share the beliefs of most religious activists throughout the world.

    This was a completely unjustified federal preemptive attack.

  6. Mace Price April 21, 2007 at 12:48 pm #

    …Jim: I don’t need to tell ya that the Feds permit independent verification of anything on a Selective/Political basis. That, and if I remember correctly didn’t the whole damn thing start over a report that the children of the Cult Members were becoming malnourished? And then The County was trying to serve a Court Order for their removal, or conduct a Health and Welfare check? Then I think they pulled guns on the Marshals or the County Sheriff, ran ’em off, and then the Feds, ATF, FBI superseded the State’s authority and made in strength attempt to arrest them, ya know, clad in body armor, kevlars and carrying G-3 assault rifles. Then as they approached to effect arrests the Davidian’s cut lose on The ATF et al w/ full on M-16s and killed and wounded a few of ’em…They fell back, then had to come in for the wounded and dead…After that the issue was never in doubt. They surrounded the place for a couple days, then went in there and killed all of ’em. Then tried to say that the Cult started the fire which I’m sure you’ll concur is a bunch of shit. I think the ATF & FBI basically had an ax to grind for the Davidians act of shootin’ em up…In short: The way it was handled was a nothing short of disaster waiting to happen. You can discern that Cults horrify me, but the Feds reaction to the situation was corroboration of Washington’s Maxim that “Government is Force.” Particularly in Waco Texas on 19 Apr 93. But if ya want to discuss cold blooded murder at Tax Payer expense? There’s Lon Yaraguchi who’s devotion to duty and justice warranted his blowing an unarmed woman’s head off while she was holding an infant child at Ruby Ridge…I don’t share the beliefs of most Religious Activists and Fringe Groups throughout the world either. While the Feds? They’d be happy to paint in anyone they disagreed with such crowds. As you know they use a very broad brush to synthesise perceptions.

  7. Jim April 21, 2007 at 3:44 pm #

    Waco began with the no knock, guns-ablazing Waco raid.

    David Hardy did an excellent book on Waco – David Kopel and Paul Blackman have got a fine book out there on the subject – and there are other good folks that nailed it clean.

    The ‘Waco: Rules of Engagement’ documentary was a finalist for an Academy Award – I think that may have its own website.

  8. Mace Price April 22, 2007 at 4:50 am #

    …I’ll check it out…But as long as we’re discussing Federal abuse of Police Authority and the finesse and competence of their various Law Enforcement Agency’s; this including the vaunted FBI. The chop logic of their efforts in the ’96 Atlanta Olympic bombing, including the back asswards accusations levied against Richard Jewel is a perfect illustration of their investigative prowess, and worse techniques.

  9. Original Steve April 22, 2007 at 6:31 am #

    Dont forget they also could have grabbed Koresh in town at any time.

  10. Mace Price April 22, 2007 at 8:59 am #

    …I won’t, and now that you mention it, I wonder why they didn’t? Maybe they didn’t want to violate his Civil Rights. In any case the whole Cult would’ve come apart if they’d have been smart enough to grab him away from that Compound.

  11. Jim April 22, 2007 at 9:05 am #

    Koresh actually went target shooting with some of the federal agents who were investigating him less than two weeks before the raid. They were on very civil terms.

    But the ATF would not get big headlines from making a peaceful arrest.

    The feds profoundly deceived the American public on this after the fatal raid. David Hardy, a former federal lawyer, was a bulldog with Freedom of Information Act requests. He uncovered this bombshell long after the surviving Davidians had been convicted and sentenced by a kangaroo-court-style judge.

    Here’s the lead up to the raid, pulled from my book Feeling Your Pain (2000)
    The investigation of David Koresh by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) began in the final year of the Bush administration. ATF agent Davy Aguilera visited Koresh’s gun dealer, Henry McMahon, in July 1992 and raised questions about whether Koresh and his Branch Davidian followers were violating the National Firearms Act by illegally converting semiautomatic firearms to full automatic. The dealer sought to resolve the problem by picking up the phone and dialing Koresh. When Koresh heard the agent’s concerns, he invited the agent to visit the Davidians’ residence and carry out an inspection on the spot. Aguilera refused the invitation.
    Seven months later, agent Aguilera submitted an affidavit to a federal magistrate alleging that the Davidians were violating federal firearms laws. The affidavit dealt at length with the Davidians’ unusual religious practices and polygamy, as well as their hostility to the federal government. Aguilera mentioned reports that “clandestine” publications such as Shotgun News (a widely read gun publication) and a Gun Owners of America video criticizing the ATF had been spotted inside the Davidians’ residence.(A subsequent congressional investigation concluded that that “the affidavit… contained an incredible number of false statements.”)
    In early January 1993, the ATF rented a house near the Davidians’ poorly-built sprawling ramshackle wooden home to use as an undercover surveillance post. Eight ATF agents were stationed in the building as an undercover surveillance post. The Davidians immediately became suspicious when their new neighbors – who were in their 30s, carried briefcases, and drove late-model cars – claimed to be college students.
    The ATF could easily have arrested Koresh and, after he was in custody, carried out a peaceful search of the Davidians’ home. Koresh routinely went into nearby Waco on shopping trips and regularly jogged outside of the building. On February 19, nine days before the eventual raid, two undercover ATF agents (recognized as such by Koresh and other Davidians) knocked on the door of the Davidian residence and invited Koresh to go shooting. Koresh, two other Davidians, and the two agents proceeded to have a pleasant time shooting with two AR-15s (so-called assault rifles), an ATF agent’s .38 Super pistol, and two Sig-Sauer semiautomatic pistols. Koresh provided much of the ammo for the plinking. The undercover agents’ official report noted: “Mr. Koresh stated that he believed that every person had the right to own firearms and protect their homes.”
    Yet, the ATF still insisted that Koresh could not be arrested without a small army – and lots of accompanying television cameras. A congressional investigation subsequently concluded: “The ATF deliberately choose not to arrest Koresh outside the Davidian residence and instead determined to use a dynamic entry approach. The bias toward the use of force may in large part be explained by a culture within ATF… Management initiatives, promotional criteria, training, and a broad range of other cultural factors point to ATF’s propensity to engage in aggressive law enforcement.” The more force the ATF used in attacking the Davidians, the easier it would be to subsequently vilify them in the national press and in federal court.

  12. Mace Price April 22, 2007 at 1:11 pm #

    …Since “Dynamic Entry Approaches” make for salacious Headlines and “Breaking News Live!” on Television. It would then follow that such overblown contingencies, as Waco, would justify promotions and increase reputations for key and upper level personnel, which in turn warrant larger budgets for The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms…Who never have, and still do not enjoy the best reputation in Federal Law Enforcement. I get the idea the nucleus and intentions of this botched operation was an attempt to exploit a situation, that would begin elevating ATF’s status in the eyes of their peers, and moreover the public. This in the same manner J.Edgar Hoover made a legend of his FBI; not to mention himself–Complete with the Government opening Alcatraz as a “Super Prison” for the “Super Criminals” the FBI apprehended.

    Fast forward to 1993, and you have the same attempt, but initiated by a far less capable and intelligent staff; Hoover may have been a depraved, ruthless and perverted miscreant, but far from an idiot. Thus attempting to walk in the same path Waco was a bumbled effort by ATF et al, resulting in, pardon the expression once flaunted by DOD Bureaucrats: “Overkill.” Ya know you really keep me on the ball Jim.

  13. barbh April 22, 2007 at 2:20 pm #

    I just watched the google videos on Waco. I live and learn, that it doesn’t matter the political party, whether Iraq or Waco, there is no freedom in America.

  14. Mace Price April 22, 2007 at 4:31 pm #

    …Yeah, ya gotta point. But relative to places like say, Algeria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Burma,Cuba and very soon Venezuela? We’re squattin’ in some tall cotton—And me and a lotta other people wanna to keep it that way.

  15. Jim April 22, 2007 at 6:09 pm #

    Barbh – thanks for mentioning the Google videos.

    Any particular site you would recommend?

  16. Orville H. Larson April 22, 2007 at 11:05 pm #

    I don’t know who was the most despicable of these Attorneys General–Ashcroft, Gonzales, or Janet Reno. They’re all civil liberties-destroying horse’s asses.

    As to allegations that the children in the compound were being abused, hadn’t the Texas state authorities investigated that, and found no evidence of abuse?

    The ATF, like all law enforcement agencies, is not averse to self-aggrandizing behavior–even if it’s abusive or illegal.

  17. Mace Price April 23, 2007 at 7:23 am #

    …I mentioned being horrified by Cults, and reality is that worst cult of all is the Cult of Personality inherent to all Totalitarian States, and worship of their leaders. Their techniques and resulting malefactions are not dissimilar…If you ask me? The Rev. James Jones was a sub-piss ant emulation of Pol Pot, and other distinguished personnel to be found throughout History.


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    […] James Bovard, “Not So Wacko”, The New Republic, May 15, 1995. “Rolland Ballestros, one of the first ATF agents out of the cattle trucks, told Texas Rangers […]

  4. It’s Up to Us Now | Lew Rockwell - December 9, 2011

    […] Clinton — but the grounds for impeachment would have been very different, beginning with the abomination at Waco and including the “humanitarian” interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo. Of course, those […]