From: Carol Moore
Subject: Massacre of Branch Davidians
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This is the Committee for Waco Justice's report "The Massacre
of the Branch Davidians."
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agents and officials for crimes against the Branch Davidians.
Also, we will be holding Vigils in front of the White House
February 28 and April 19, 1994 from 6-7:30 pm. For more
information about our committee contact Alan Forschler at
THE MASSACRE OF THE
A STUDY OF GOVERNMENT
VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS,
AND COVER UP
January 28, 1994
By Carol Moore
(c) 1994 
In consultation with:
James A. Long
Richard J. Sanford
COMMITTEE FOR WACO JUSTICE
P.O. Box 33037, Washington, D.C. 20033
Please Feel Free to Copy and Distribute!
Copying for non-commercial distribution encouraged.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Public Must Know the Truth
Justice Must Be Done
Past Wacos: Government's "Historic Interest in
Breaking Up Armed Groups"
BATF and FBI Persecution of Randy Weaver
Government Reliance on "Private Spies" and "Cult
The History of the Branch Davidians
Non-Weapons-Related Allegations Against David
BATF-TREASURY DEPARTMENT VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS, EXCESSIVE
FORCE AND COVERUP: THE FEBRUARY 28, 1993 RAID ON THE BRANCH
1. BATF Ignored Branch Davidians' Legal Gun Business
2. BATF Found No Evidence Weapons Were Purchased
3. "Probable Cause" Based on Biased Information About
4. "Probable Cause" Based on Religious and Political
5. Other Irregularities in the February 25, 1993
6. BATF Ignored Branch Davidian Attempts to Cooperate
7. Questionable Grounds for a Paramilitary Raid
8. Government Multi-Task Force Makes for "Partners in
9. Dubious Drug Allegations to Obtain Helicopters for
10. Chronology of the February 28, 1993 BATF
11. BATF Used Excessive Force to Serve Warrant
12. Allegations BATF Agents Shot First
13. Allegations Agents Shot Indiscriminately and from
14. Allegations Friendly Fire Injured or Killed Some
15. BATF Intimidation of the Press
16. BATF Coverup
17. Treasury Department Coverup
18. Committee for Waco Justice Conclusions
FBI-JUSTICE DEPARTMENT VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS, EXCESSIVE FORCE
AND COVERUP: THE 51 DAY SIEGE AND APRIL 19, 1993 ASSAULT ON
THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS
1. FBI Control of the Press and Media
2. Possible Illegal Use of Tanks
3 FBI Impatient with Conciliatory Measures
4. FBI Relied on Experts and Cult Busters Urging Tactical
5. FBI Pressure Tactics Replaced Negotiations
6. FBI Destroyed Crime Scene Despite Complaints
7. FBI Plan to Gas, Disassemble Mount Carmel
8. FBI Refused to Believe Final Koresh Promise to
9. FBI Misled Janet Reno on Need for and
Dangers of Assault
10. Questions About President Clinton's Hostility Toward
the Branch Davidians
11. Chronology of the April 19, 1993 Gassing, Demolition
12. Fatal Decision to Escalate to Demolition
13. Suspicious Activity by FBI Agents
14. Lack of Fire Precautions
15. Branch Davidian Statements that Demolition Trapped
16. Branch Davidian Statements that Demolition Started the
17. FBI Allegations that Branch Davidians Started the
18. FBI and BATF Crime Scene Coverup
19. "Independent" Fire Investigator Coverup
20. Justice Department Coverup
21. Committee for Waco Justice Conclusions
FEDERAL PROSECUTION OF THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS
Pre-Trial Motions and Jury Selection
The Prosecution Case
The Defense Case
Civil Rights and Wrongful Death Law Suits
SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL UPHEAVALS AND THE YEAR 2000
Millennialists and Survivalists
Economic Unrest and Tax Rebellion
Secessionists and Separatists
COMMITTEE FOR WACO JUSTICE RECOMMENDATIONS-
RESPECT THE BILL OF RIGHTS
1. Protect Right to Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press,
etc. 2. Protect Right to Keep and Bear Arms
3. Protect Right to Refuse Quartering of Soldiers
4. Protect Right to be Secure Against Unreasonable
5. Protect Right to Indictment by Grand Jury, Trial by
6. Protect Right to a Speedy Public Trial, Impartial
7. Protect Right to Trial By Jury In Civil Suits
8. Protect Freedom from Excessive Bail, Excessive Fines,
etc. 9. Protect Rights Retained by the People
10. Protect Powers Reserved to the States or the
DIAGRAMS AND PHOTOGRAPHS [Most not included in asci file]
Treasury Department and BATF Chains of Command
Diagram and Drawing of Mount Carmel Center
White House, Justice Department and FBI Chains of
April 19th Diagram of Tank Damage to Mount Carmel
April 19th Infrared Photo of 11:59:16 of
Tank Rammings and Collapsed Gymnasium
April 19th Infrared Photo of 12:10:40 Fires
THE MASSACRE OF THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS
A STUDY OF GOVERNMENT VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS, EXCESSIVE FORCE
AND COVER UP
THE PUBLIC MUST KNOW THE TRUTH
Several year end television reviews of 1993 portrayed
the deaths of 86 or more members of the Branch Davidian
religious group in Waco, Texas as a symbol of Attorney
General Janet Reno's "heroism" for taking responsibility for
their fiery deaths. Representative J.J. Pickle, chair of
the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Ways and Means
Committee, summed up the feelings of many when he said of
David Koresh, "The leader of that compound was a nut, and
his followers agreed to live with a nut." Many Americans
consider the Branch Davidians to be the religious fanatics,
child abusers and violent "gun nuts"
government and the press have portrayed them as being.
Footnote  Six Branch Davidians died during the
February 28, 1993 raid and, at least 80 during the April 19,
1993 fire. According to several Branch Davidians, in the
last few years the group had come to call themselves
"Students of the Seven Seals." However, survivors do accept
the use of the term "Branch Davidian" since it is so well
known at this point (private communication).
However, many other Americans believe that nothing the
Branch Davidians did, or were accused of doing, justified
either the February 28 or April 19, 1993 assaults against
them. Representative Harold Volkmer charged the initial
attack on the Branch Davidians was part of a pattern of
"Gestapo-like tactics" at the bureau. "I fail to see the
crimes committed by those in the Davidian compound that
called for the extreme action of BATF on Feb. 28 and the
tragic final assault."
Representative John Conyers branded the April 19th gas
and tank attack a "military operation" and called it a
"profound disgrace to law enforcement in the United States."
He told Janet Reno, "you did the right thing by offering to
resign. I'd like you to know that there is at least one
member of Congress who is not going to rationalize the
innocent deaths of two dozen children."
As the trial of eleven surviving Branch
Davidians for "conspiracy to murder federal officers"
proceeds in San Antonio, Texas, the public may finally learn
the disturbing and even shocking truth about U.S. government
violations of rights, excessive use of force and coverup.
There is a possibility that the jury will be so disgusted by
trial revelations it will acquit most of the Branch
Davidians on most or all charges.
The Committee for Waco Justice is a group of
individuals committed to ensuring that the public does learn
the truth about violations of rights, use of excessive force
and coverup of wrongdoing in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
and Firearms' (BATF) initial raid upon, and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) destruction of, the Branch
Davidians. Our report--"The Massacre of the Branch
Davidians"--is a systematic presentation of evidence of
government agents' and officials' misconduct and crimes.
Our sources include the Treasury Department's September 30,
1993 report, the Justice Department's October 8, 1993
report, Senate and House of Representatives hearings, news
reports and other published materials, news video tapes,
conference audio tapes and personal interviews. Our report:
* examines similar government actions towards
dissident groups and individuals and the government's
growing reliance on private spies and "cult busters";
* reviews the history of the Branch Davidians and the
questionable evidence used to support non-weapons
allegations against David Koresh;
* outlines the most important current evidence of BATF
and FBI violations of rights, excessive use of force and the
ongoing coverup, a coverup in which both the Treasury and
Justice Departments are participating;
* describes the charges facing the eleven Branch
Davidians, their expected defenses, and civil suits against
the government by surviving Branch Davidians and families of
* delineates an inevitable rise in the number and variety
of dissident religious and political groups as we approach
the "magic" year 2000;
* offers recommendations to ensure that local, state
and federal governments end violations of Americans' rights.
Despite the Committee's limited resources, and our
primary reliance on public sources, we have made some
important and startling findings which seem to be evidence
of official misconduct and crimes against the Branch
Davidians. Our most disturbing findings are:
* After BATF could find no evidence that weapons were
purchased illegally, it based its "probable cause" on biased
information about "intent" from "cult busters" committed to
destroying the Branch Davidians and former members
influenced by them and on words and deeds protected by the
* BATF ignored David Koresh's past cooperation with more
serious investigations as well as Koresh's 1992 invitations
to BATF agents and the local Sheriff's Department to inspect
his guns. BATF also engaged in flagrant "undercover"
surveillance which may have convinced the Branch Davidians
that the government was preparing to destroy them and that
armed defense was their only recourse.
* BATF decided to conduct a paramilitary raid because
of the overly-aggressive mentality of raid planners, biased
information from cult busters, shoddy intelligence, a need
to bolster BATF's image, and the desire to punish a BATF
* BATF knew former tenants probably had set up a
methamphetamine lab at Mount Carmel and that Koresh had
dismantled it years before; nevertheless, they used that
information to get free support from the Texas National
* Although the magistrate who signed the warrants did not
designate this a "no knock" raid, BATF had no plan to serve
the warrant peacefully and even expected a shootout! BATF
may have shot first and did fire indiscriminately. BATF
raid commanders in helicopters may have fired from them.
Attorney General Janet Reno has not completed an
investigation into 911 tapes whose time sequence was re-
ordered, possibly to discredit Davidians' claims helicopters
were firing at them.
* The savage BATF assault may have convinced some wounded
Branch Davidians the government meant to slaughter them, so
they committed suicide or had themselves shot.
* After the raid, BATF intimidated two important
witnesses who could attest to the Branch Davidians'
innocence. They tricked one into accepting "protective
custody" and then kept him away from the press and the FBI;
they brushed off another's offer of help and then put him on
the "armed and dangerous" list when he left town.
* The Justice Department knowingly violated its own
interpretation of the posse comitatus law by using tanks
against the Branch Davidians, including in the final, fatal
assault; it also misled President Clinton about their use.
* The FBI controlled, intimidated and lied to the press
and the media.
* Richard M. Rogers, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team
Commander at Waco, repeatedly sabotaged negotiations by
pressuring the siege commander to use harassment tactics and
later CS gas against the Branch Davidians. Rogers is now
under investigation and may be indicted for his overly
aggressive tactics in the 1992 standoff with Randy Weaver in
Idaho. The FBI's impatience to end the standoff may have
been related to their fear the upcoming Weaver trial would
bring out facts about FBI misconduct in that case.
* The FBI and Justice Department covered up its reliance
on "cult busters"--including a long-time FBI advisor--
because of criticism of their use, because one advisor was
indicted for "unlawful imprisonment," and because of a
lawsuit against the FBI and Attorney General Janet Reno
regarding the FBI's use of the term "cult."
* The FBI convinced Attorney General Reno to approve
their plan to gas and demolish Mount Carmel by evidently
withholding from her David Koresh's very credible April 14th
letter promising to surrender, even as they showed her his
defiant April 9th and 10th letters. Evidently this letter
also was withheld from the press and not mentioned to
Justice Department outside experts during FBI briefings. It
was included in the Justice Department report, but
mislabeled as a mere "request."
* The FBI convinced Attorney General Reno that April 19th
would not be "D-Day"--that they would proceed with a safe
operation and continue to negotiate. However, they obtained
authority to "return fire" and speed up demolition of Mount
Carmel and evidently never informed Reno of their
expectations there would be casualties.
Despite FBI and Justice Department statements to the
contrary, FBI agents were seen outside their tanks near the
building before the fire. Under the FBI rules of engagement
they had the authority to shoot Branch Davidians, may have
done so, and now may be covering up their acts.
The Justice Department and FBI are refusing to admit
that there was an order to begin the demolition of Mount
Carmel right before noon and have not revealed who--FBI
ground commanders or FBI or Justice officials--gave that
Nearly simultaneous FBI tank attacks from three sides
trapped Branch Davidians in the building and started some or
all of the fires from which most could not escape. There
was no mass suicide; there were desperate suicides by a few
trapped victims of the fire. If two or three despairing
Branch Davidians did light fires, as the government claims,
it was because government assaults had convinced them
martyrdom was preferable to capture and enslavement by evil
During the April 19th fire, FBI tanks destroyed
important evidence by bulldozing burning walls into the
rubble. BATF and FBI agents were all over the "crime scene"
during Texas Rangers investigation and may have destroyed or
even fabricated evidence.
* The BATF-influenced chief fire investigator issued a
biased fire report blaming the Branch Davidians for their
own deaths. The government then bulldozed the ruins of Mount
Carmel before defense attorneys could send in an independent
The Treasury Department and Justice Department reviews
of the BATF investigation and raid and the FBI siege and
final assault contain dubious assertions and leave too many
questions unanswered. Neither "review team" was authorized
to take under oath testimony of BATF and FBI agents and
Treasury and Justice Department officials. Many consider
these reviews and reports to be little more than systematic
coverups of official crimes.
* Despite Treasury Department report findings that
BATF's February 28, 1993 raid commanders lied repeatedly to
investigators and their superiors, and that BATF officials
covered up these lies, no one has been prosecuted.
* The Justice Department's review team is tainted by
conflicts of interest regarding Deputy Attorney General
Philip B. Heymann, and reviewers Edward S.G. Dennis and
* There are suspicions that cronyism among Arkansans
involved in Waco decision-making--President Clinton, Webster
Hubbell, Bruce Lindsay and the late Vince Foster--might
extend to covering up any errors or crimes related to the
massacre of the Branch Davidians.
* The trial of the eleven Branch Davidians is bringing
out important evidence of coverup such as missing vital
evidence, changing statements by several BATF agents, and
evidence that BATF agents were wounded by friendly fire--not
to mention prosecutorial misconduct in the form of
withholding evidence favorable to the defense.
JUSTICE MUST BE DONE
If our small committee could discover so much damning
evidence of wrongdoing, we believe an Independent Counsel
appointed by the Attorney General could discover much, much
more. The Independent Counsel would be empowered to
identify and prosecute government agents and officials
responsible for official misconduct, violations of rights,
and excessive use of force which resulted in the deaths of
over 86 people, and for any and all related crimes. She or
he would be empowered to investigate the actions of Treasury
Department and Justice Department officials, BATF and FBI
officials and agents, and officials and agents of any other
departments, agencies and law enforcement involved in the
incident. She or he could also investigate White House
officials and employees. She or he would have full power to
subpoena witnesses to give testimony under oath and to grant
immunity in exchange for evidence of criminal wrongdoing--
power which neither the Treasury nor the Justice
Department's "review teams" had.
The Committee for Waco Justice believes the facts
already available provide compelling evidence that BATF and
the FBI, through a combination of negligence and arrogance
bordering on intentionality, did indeed massacre the Branch
Davidians. No matter how the April 19th fires started,
those who gassed Mount Carmel Center and rammed it with
military tanks ultimately are responsible. This would be
the largest massacre of civilians by federal agents on U.S.
soil since the slaughter of 300 Native Americans--also
mostly women and children--at Wounded Knee in 1890.
Americans must ensure that law enforcement agents never
again initiate or participate in another such massacre.
PAST WACOS: GOVERNMENT'S "HISTORIC INTEREST IN BREAKING UP
The word "Waco" has become synonymous with two opposing
scenarios. To many Americans--and especially authorities--
it means crazed religious fanatics arming themselves to make
war on the U.S. government and committing mass suicide when
they lose the war. However, to other Americans "Waco" means
a questionable, clearly illegitimate or even vicious and
murderous government destruction of a dissident group.
Appendix G of the Treasury Department report, "A Brief
History of Federal Firearms Enforcement," states: "The raid
by ATF agents on the Branch Davidian compound resulted from
its enforcement of contemporary federal firearms laws. In a
larger sense, however, the raid fit within an historic,
well-established and well-defended government interest in
prohibiting and breaking up all organized groups that sought
to arm or fortify themselves. . .>>>From its earliest
formation, the federal government has actively suppressed
any effort by disgruntled or rebellious citizens to coalesce
into an armed group, however small the group, petty its
complaint, or grandiose its ambition. The collection of
large arsenals by organized groups lent itself, ultimately,
to the violent use of those weapons against the government
itself or portions of its citizenry. Indeed, federal agents
who tried to disband the groups frequently became the
targets." (TDR:Appendix G:7)
Footnote >>>From the Report of the Department of the
Treasury on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
Investigation of Vernon Wayne Howell also known as David
Koresh, September, 1993. All references from the report will
be included within the text, with the page number after the
colon, e.g., (TDR:#).
The report's history does not mention that both a
federal statute--Firearms Owners' Protection Act of 1986,
Sec. 21--and a judicial decision--United States vs. Anders,
885 F.2d 1248 [5th Cir. 1989]--hold that there is nothing
per se wrong with the ownership of large numbers of legal
arms. Obviously, the decision and the statute have not
reined in BATF.
Appendix G describes the following as examples of the
federal government's most successful tax, alcohol and
firearm law enforcement efforts: suppression of angry
farmers facing foreclosure in Shay's Rebellion (1786);
enforcement of tax and firearms laws during the Whiskey
Rebellion (1794); enforcement of a tax on houses during
Fries Rebellion (1799); suppression of those guilty of
"fugitive slave rescues" during the 1850s; thwarting of John
Brown's attempt to steal firearms from Harpers Ferry and
distribute them to slaves; suppression of the Ku Klux Klan
during the 1870s; suppression of old west outlaws during the
1880s; suppression of "violent" union organizing during the
1890s; enforcement of the 1918-1933 prohibition of alcohol;
and enforcement of the National Firearms Act of 1934 (a tax
on guns) prompted by the Prohibition-related rise in crime
and use of firearms. In 1972 the Treasury Department
created the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to
enforce gun, explosives and arson-related laws.
Appendix G notes that "In recent times, the federal
government has shown itself even less patient with armed
groups than it had historically. Radical extremists of both
the Right and the Left have been pursued aggressively once
they began breaking the law." (TDR:Appendix G:11.) The
appendix lists the following triumphs: destruction of the
Symbionese Liberation Army in a gun battle and house fire
that killed all members; pursuit and capture Gordon Kahl, a
tax protester who killed a police officer, in a gun battle
and house fire which killed him; pursuit and capture of
bank-robber and assassin Robert Matthews, leader of "The
Order," in a gun battle and house fire which killed him;
three-day siege of the heavily armed, 80-member Covenant of
the Sword and Arm of the Lord religious group. The appendix
closes with the line, "The raid on the Branch Davidian
compound occurred in the context of that historical
background." (TDR:Appendix G:4) Evidently, the Branch
Davidians' fiery deaths fit well within that "historical
background" as well. (Local Philadelphia police, not
federal agents, were responsible for the 1985 fire that
killed 11 members of the MOVE group and destroyed two city
Tony Cooper, a law enforcement consultant on anti-
terrorism and professor of negotiations and conflict
resolution at the University of Texas at Dallas, describes
"the formation of a curious crusading mentality among
certain law enforcement agencies to stamp out what they see
as a threat to government generally. It's an exaggerated
concern that they are facing a nationwide conspiracy and
that somehow this will get out of control unless it is
stamped out at a very early stage."
In its attempt to "stamp out" out fundamentalist
Muslim "conspiracies," the FBI may have allowed its hired
informant to build and plant the bomb that exploded at the
World Trade Center two days before the BATF raid on the
Branch Davidians. In tapes he secretly recorded, the
informant, former Egyptian army officer Emad Salem,
allegedly tells FBI agent John Anticey that his high April
expenses were due to the costs of his building the World
Trade Center bomb. The exact transcript reads: "We was
start already building the bomb, which is went off in the
World Trade Center. It was built, uh, uh, uh, supervising,
supervision from the Bureau and the DA and we was all
informed about it. . .And we know that the bomb start to be
built. By who? By your confidential informant." Defense
attorneys say Salem drove the van with the bomb in it to the
Trade Center garage and then stayed nearby until the
explosion. (Ironically, in his April 20, 1993, news
conference defending the FBI's assault on the Branch
Davidians, President Clinton boasted, "This is the same FBI
that found the people that bombed the World Trade Center in
lickety-split, record time.")
During the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary Committee
hearing on Waco, then-BATF Director Stephen Higgins defended
the tactics used at Waco by stating, "In the 18 months prior
to the Branch Davidian incident, ATF Special Response Teams
had carried out 341 actual activations to high risk
situations," including "diverse sects and survivalists."
However, many believe these figures are merely evidence that
BATF is out of control. In April, 1991, 23 BATF agents
raided the home of Del Knudson, endangering his wife and two
young children, but found only legal weapons and parts. In
December, 1991, BATF agents, with two television crews in
tow, raided John Lawmaster's home, broke up furniture,
doors, walls, and gun and filing cabinets. They found
nothing illegal and left without shutting the door, leaving
guns and ammunition strewn about the unsecured house. At
the request of the government, the court sealed the
affidavit that led to the search warrant and the break-in
and denied Lawmaster's request for its release. Lawmaster
appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals. BATF refused to pay
damages. In 1991, BATF agents also entrapped Randy
Weaver, an act which eventually led to the FBI's fatal
"standoff" described in the following section. On February
5, 1993, the BATF ransacked the home of a Portland, Oregon
black woman, and terrorized her children for several hours
in a case of mistaken identity.
BATF AND FBI CRIMES AGAINST RANDY WEAVER
The Justice Department and FBI are now investigating
possible criminal misconduct on the part of FBI agents and
officials in the killing of Idaho white separatist Randy
Weaver's wife and son. Significantly, these are many of the
same agents and officials who were in charge of the FBI's
actions against the Branch Davidians: former FBI Director
William Sessions, former FBI Deputy Director Floyd I.
Clarke, Assistant Director for the Criminal Investigative
Division Larry Potts and Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) Commander
Richard M. Rogers. This account includes the most recent
revelations about their irresponsible behavior, much of
which was repeated in Waco.
Randy Weaver had retreated to rural Idaho with his
wife, four children and a family friend, Kevin Harris. In
1990 a BATF undercover agent entrapped Weaver into selling
him two illegally sawed-off shotguns for $300. Weaver
alleges BATF charged him after he refused to inform on other
white separatists. The government then gave him the wrong
date for a court hearing, March 20 instead of February 20,
Rather than take immediate action when Weaver failed
to appear, U.S. Marshals began almost 18 months of
surveillance. Finally, on August 22, 1992, six Marshals,
one equipped with an assault rifle with a silencer,
approached Weaver's cabin and threw rocks at his dog in an
effort to lure Weaver closer so they could arrest him. When
the agents shot the dog, Harris and Weaver's 14-year-old son
Samuel, not knowing who the attackers were, ran towards them
shooting. Their shots killed U.S. Marshal William Degan.
Samuel was shot in the back and killed as he retreated. The
armed Weaver and Harris then refused to surrender to
The National Guard and the FBI Hostage Rescue Team
were called in. (The Hostage Rescue Team's motto is "To Save
Lives.") According to court records, the U.S. Marshals
falsely told the FBI that Weaver himself had ambushed them
and that the Weavers and Harris would kill anyone who
approached them. U.S. Marshals never did tell the FBI that
Samuel had been killed by a Deputy Marshal. They did tell
them Mrs. Weaver was a fanatic capable of killing herself
and her own children as an end to the siege. However, they
provided no evidence of this to FBI agents, who took the
Marshals on their word. FBI agents admit they actually
believed the Weavers had killed Samuel.
Finally, U.S. Marshals never told the FBI that they
knew that when the adults went outside the cabin they always
carried weapons. FBI HRT Commander Richard M. Rogers
authorized "rules of engagement" which gave snipers the go-
ahead to shoot any adult carrying a weapon outside the
cabin. (The standard FBI rules of engagement are "Agents
are not to use deadly force against any person except as
necessary in self-defense or the defense of another, when
they have reason to believe they or another are in danger of
death or grievous bodily harm. Whenever feasible, verbal
warnings should be given before deadly force is
applied.") However, the FBI never advised the Weavers
or Harris they would be in jeopardy if the FBI saw them
armed on the property.
The day after the first shootings, Harris and Weaver,
carrying their guns, left the cabin to visit Samuel's body.
FBI sniper Lou Horiuchi first shot Weaver in the shoulder
and then tried to shoot Harris. However, he accidentally
shot Vicki Weaver as she stood in the doorway of their cabin
holding her baby. She died instantly, dropping the baby to
the ground. Harris was wounded by shrapnel. During the
standoff the Rogers Hostage Rescue Team used psychological
warfare techniques. Court records show that the FBI taunted
the Weavers after Vicki Weaver's death, calling out over
their loudspeakers, "Good morning, Mrs. Weaver. We had
pancakes for breakfast. What did you have?"
Weaver and Harris surrendered nine days later, after
the FBI allowed Populist Party presidential candidate Bo
Gritz to serve as a "third party" negotiator. They were
charged with conspiracy to murder federal officers. Their
trial before a federal jury and U.S. District Judge Edward
Lodge began five days before the April 19th fire that killed
75 or more Branch Davidians.
Most of the above disturbing information came to light
during the trial. It was also revealed that FBI agents had
fabricated evidence (staged critical photographs), failed to
provide the defense with information they were legally
obligated to give it, and delayed in producing requested
information and evidence. Weaver's defense attorney was
Gary Spence, who had won notable trial victories for Karen
Silkwood's children and Imelda Marcos. Spence did not call
any witnesses or present a defense, but simply told jurors
the government had failed to prove its case.
In July, 1993, the jury acquitted Weaver and Harris for
Degan's murder, saying Harris had acted in self-defense.
The jury also rejected charges that the two men conspired to
provoke a confrontation with federal officers. Weaver was
convicted of failing to appear for the weapons charges trial
and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, with credit for
time already served. Spence told reporters, "A jury today
has said that you can't kill somebody just because you wear
badges and then cover up those homicides by prosecuting the
innocent." Juror Janet Schmierer of Boise, Idaho said, "I
think they built their whole scenario out of how they
perceived someone else should be living their lives, and if
someone believed differently. . .they must be abnormal."
Spence also said, "federal law enforcement agents should be
indicted for murder in the deaths of Mrs. Weaver and
Samuel." In November, 1993, Judge Edward Lodge rebuked
the FBI, saying its behavior in fabricating evidence and
delaying presentation of crucial evidence "served to
obstruct the administration of justice." He asserted, "the
Government, acting through the FBI, evidenced a callous
disregard for the rights of the defendants and the interests
According to a November 25, 1993, New York Times
article, the Justice Department inquiry, led by Deputy
Attorney General Philip B. Heymann, is "focusing on whether
officials misjudged the danger the agents faced and
knowingly violated the agency's limits on the use of deadly
force by killing Mrs. Weaver. The inquiry is also examining
whether officials failed to consider less aggressive tactics
and later closed ranks to avoid scrutiny of their actions."
Justice investigators are warning "top mangers, agents,
prosecutors and former officials that they could face civil
or criminal charges, including obstruction of justice and
violations of civil rights law." Further, "some FBI
officials said they also feared that a separate
investigation by a state prosecutor in Boundary County,
Idaho, where the incident took place, could lead to homicide
charges against FBI agents."
Some members of the Hostage Rescue Team, "including
Richard M. Rogers, its commander, have refused to cooperate
with investigators." Other agents have criticized Rogers
for being overly aggressive and failing to consider
negotiations. Larry Potts, the senior FBI official who
would have had to approve the new rules of engagement, told
FBI investigators he does not remember giving Rogers a clear
go-ahead to change them. According to the Washington
Times, in December, 1993, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh told
FBI agents that indictments against some FBI agents were a
GOVERNMENT RELIANCE ON "PRIVATE SPIES" AND "CULT BUSTERS"
Because of government spying upon and disruption of
peaceful political groups during the 1960s and 1970s, the
Justice Department set guidelines prohibiting investigations
of groups "based solely on activities protected by the First
Amendment or on the lawful exercise of any other rights
secured by the constitution or laws of the United
States." As an agency of the Treasury Department, BATF
does not work under such restrictions. Both agencies are
free to investigate groups suspected of engaging in criminal
Once an investigation is underway, most government
agencies, including BATF and the FBI, seem willing to
receive information from such groups as the Anti-Defamation
League of B'nai B'rith (ADL) and the Cult Awareness Network
(CAN). These groups, and others like them, clearly have
their own agendas. They keep copious files of biased and
prejudicial information on private individuals and
organizations and share these with law
The Anti-Defamation League keeps files on Arab-
American, Jewish peace, anti-apartheid, and other human and
civil rights groups. A year-long investigation by the San
Francisco District Attorney found that the ADL had
infiltrated groups, stolen membership lists and other
private documents, and swapped files with police, sometimes
illegally. However, the ADL escaped prosecution. "In an
unusual procedure, [District Attorney] Smith filed a civil
suit accusing the ADL and [ADL investigator] Bullock of
illegally possessing confidential documents, then promptly
accepted a settlement that contained no admission of
wrongdoing." Shortly after this, 19 individuals filed a
suit seeking damages for 1,100 people who allegedly were the
targets of illegal surveillance and seeking court orders
against such surveillance. The government's lenience
towards ADL suggests it does not frown on ADL's spying
The ADL supplied information about the Branch Davidians
to federal authorities. In a front page article about the
ADL, Herb Brin, publisher of Heritage, which serves the Los
Angeles Jewish community, wrote: "U.S. and Texas authorities
have precise documentation (from ADL, of course) on the
Branch Davidian cult in Waco and how it operated in the
The Cult Awareness Network (CAN) actively urges the
press, Congress and law enforcement to act against any non-
mainstream religious, psychological or even political
movement which it describes as a "cult." After interviewing
CAN's executive director Cynthia Kisser, a reporter wrote:
"no one knows how many destructive cults and sects exist in
the United States. Kisser's binder holds 1,500 names
gleaned from newspaper clippings, court documents and
thousands of calls to the network's hotline. Some of the
groups have legitimate purposes, Kisser says. But her
group's efforts show that most, despite wildly diverse
beliefs, share stunningly similar patterns of mind control,
group domination, exploitation and physical and mental
abuse." CAN critics point out that so-called "mind
control" techniques are not much different than the
techniques used in education and socialization efforts used
by all schools, churches, ideologies and philosophies.
According to CAN critic Dr. Gordon Melton of the
Institute for the Study of Religion in Santa Barbara,
California, CAN has used a number of means to try to destroy
small religious groups: they unsuccessfully tried to expand
"conservatorship" to allow families to remove members from
"cults"; they unsuccessfully tried to have laws passed
against "cults"; they unsuccessfully sued the American
Psychological Association for rejecting their views on
"brainwashing." However, they have found one successful
method of disrupting groups: false anonymous charges of
child abuse. Anonymous reports are legal under current
Priscilla Coates, former executive director of CAN,
told reporters, "I know how these types of groups work and
the children are always abused." CAN has been on a
crusade against the Christian religious group The Children
of God, known in the United States as "The Family." CAN
alleges the group practices indiscriminate sex, including
with children. Many Family members accuse CAN of making
false child abuse complaints which have resulted in dozens
of arrests in at least 10 countries. Most of the charges
are quickly dropped and there have been no convictions. The
Family has demanded a Congressional investigation of
The Cult Awareness Network's other successful approach
is referring relatives of group members to "deprogrammers"
who charge thousands of dollars for their services and,
according to a former national director of CAN's
predecessor, the Citizens Freedom Foundation, "kick back"
some of the money to CAN. Deprogramming often includes
kidnapping individuals, subjecting them to sleep and food
deprivation, ridicule and humiliation, and even physical
abuse and restraint until they promise to leave the alleged
cult. Because deprogrammers usually involve family members
in these kidnappings and deprogrammings, victims rarely
press charges. However, in the last few years 5
deprogrammers have been prosecuted for kidnapping or
"unlawful imprisonment." One such deprogrammer is Rick
Ross, a convicted jewel thief, who has boasted of more than
200 "deprogrammings." CAN executive director Cynthia Kisser
has praised him as being "among the half dozen best
deprogrammers in the country." In the summer of 1993 Rick
Ross was indicted in Washington state for unlawful
Nancy Ammerman, a Visiting Scholar at Princeton
University's Center for the Study of American Religion, was
one of the outside experts assigned by the Justice
Department to evaluate BATF and FBI's handling of the Branch
Davidians. She was particularly critical of Rick Ross and
the Cult Awareness Network. "Although these people often
call themselves `cult experts,' they are certainly not
recognized as such by the academic community. The
activities of the CAN are seen by the National Council of
Churches (among others) as a danger to religious liberty,
and deprogramming tactics have been increasingly found to be
outside the law. . .Mr. Rick Ross, who often works in
conjunction with the Cult Awareness Network (CAN), has been
quoted as saying he was `consulted' by the BATF. . .The
Network and Mr. Ross have a direct ideological (and
financial) interest in arousing suspicion and antagonism
against what they call `cults'. . .It seem clear that people
within the `anti-cult' community had targeted the Branch
Davidians for attention." (JDR:Ammerman:1)
Footnote  All references from the Justice
Department report will be included within the text, with the
page number after the colon. The report consisted of 4
books and an unbound paper. (JDR:#) refers to the largest
book, the factual report. All other references will include
the name of each specific contributor, e.g., (JDR:Dennis:#)
Nancy Ammerman compared Waco and Jonestown: "There,
too, an exceptionally volatile religious group was pushed
over the edge, inadvertently, by the actions of government
agencies pushed forward by `concerned families.'"
(JDR:Ammerman:8) What she may not have realized is that
CAN's President is Patricia Ryan, daughter of Congressman
Leo J. Ryan. It was he who threatened and hounded Jim Jones
and his Peoples' Temple members until they murdered him and
committed mass suicide in Guyana in 1978. Carrying on what
seems to have become a family tradition, on April 8, 1993,
Patricia Ryan told the Houston Chronicle, "Officials should
use whatever means necessary to arrest Koresh, including
Ross definitely deprogrammed one (and possibly more) of
the Branch Davidians who fed questionable but damaging
evidence to BATF. He also provided negative information to
the Waco Herald-Tribune for its February, 1993, series on
the Branch Davidians. The paper quotes Ross declaring, "The
group is without a doubt, without any doubt whatsoever, a
highly destructive, manipulative cult. . .I would liken the
group to Jim Jones." The authors write, "Ross said he
believes Howell [Koresh] is prone to violence. . .Speaking
out and exposing Howell might bring in the authorities or in
some way help those `being held in that compound through a
kind of psychological, emotional slavery and servitude.'"
Ross told the Houston Chronicle that Koresh is "your stock
cult leader. They're all the same. Meet one and you've met
them all. They're deeply disturbed, have a borderline
personality and lack any type of conscience. . .No one
willingly enters into a relationship like this. So you're
talking about deception and manipulation (by the leader),
people being coached in ever so slight increments, pulled in
deeper and deeper without knowing where it's going or seeing
the total picture."
CAN representatives made numerous television and radio
appearances during the siege. Ross bragged on the "Up to
the Minute" public television program that he "consulted
with ATF agents on the Waco sect and told them about the
guns in the compound." On April 19th he told the "Today
Show," "I was a consultant offering ideas, input that was
filtered by their team and used when they felt it was
appropriate." The Justice Department report mentions a Rick
Ross television appearance during the siege where he
declared he hoped Koresh would be a coward and surrender
rather than end up as a corpse. (JDR:167) After the April
19th fire, CAN associate Louis West said on a MacNeil/Lehrer
Newshour broadcast that the FBI "knew they were dealing with
a psychopath. Nobody is more dangerous or unpredictable
than a psychopath in a trap."
After the fire, CAN "counselor" Brett Bates tried to
arrange contacts with survivors by meeting with their
families. He told the N.Y. Daily News, "Before they can
become productive witnesses in the prosecution, they have to
realize they were victims of mind control." Columnist
Alexander Cockburn wrote, "the deprogrammers are demanding
that they be allowed to exercise their dark arts on the
burned Davidian survivors so that they testify correctly and
desist from maintaining--as they have--that no mass suicide
was under way. The FBI says `this is worth considering,'
but the decision is up to the U.S. attorney." The only
Branch Davidian to turn state's evidence is Katherine
Schroeder who was confined in a mental institution after
leaving Mount Carmel in March, 1993 (private communication.)
It is unknown if she was "deprogrammed."
After the April 19th fire Methodist Minister Joseph
Bettis wrote Attorney General Reno, "from the beginning,
members of the Cult Awareness Network have been involved in
this tragedy. This organization is widely known for its use
of fear to foster religious bigotry. The reliance of
federal agents on information supplied by these people, as
well as the whole record of federal activity deserves your
careful investigation and public disclosure. . .Cult bashing
must end, and you must take the lead." Larry Shinn, a vice
president of Bucknell University wrote to the chair of the
House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights,
"media, legal institutions, and law-makers too often rely on
the word of self-styled cult experts like C.A.N. whose
overly negative agenda often slides into purely anti-
religious attack." And in early May, a coalition of 16
religious and civil liberties organizations, including the
American Civil Liberties Union, the American Conference on
Religious Movements, Americans United for Separation of
Church and State, the Episcopal Church, the General
Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, the National
Association of Evangelicals, the National Council of
Churches of Christ and the Union of American Hebrew
Congregations issued a statement which read in part, "We are
shocked and saddened by the recent events in Waco. . .Under
the religious liberty provision of the First Amendment, the
government has no business declaring what is orthodox or
heretical, or what is a true or false religion. It should
steer clear of inflammatory and misleading labels. History
teaches that today's `cults' may be tomorrow's mainstream
religions." President Clinton seems to have jumped on
the anti-cult bandwagon. On April 23, 1993, Clinton said,
in what some see as a thinly veiled threat, "I hope. . .that
others who will be tempted to join cults and become involved
with people like Koresh will be deterred by the horrible
scenes they have seen. . .There is, unfortunately, a rise in
this sort of fanaticism all over the world. And we may have
to confront it again."
Attorney General Janet Reno also has expressed anti-
cult sentiments. During the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary
Committee hearing, Representative William Hughes advised
Janet Reno to consult groups like the Cult Awareness Network
for advice on "mind control." Reno replied that she was
concerned about the negative affect of cults on children,
that "if a child is in a cult situation for any length of
time," he or she might experience "permanent damage."
BATF is still investigating so-called cults. In
November, 1993, acting director John W. Magaw stated that he
was determined that other religious "cults" not develop into
"armed compounds." He said, "They're out there. They don't
yet have the kind of weaponry that we saw in Waco. . .but
they will develop if society allows them to." Magaw said
BATF is keeping tabs on "cult-like organizations" in "three
or four places around the country. . .We're trying to
monitor way early in the game."
In his November 22, 1993, American Academy of Religion
presentation, Dr. Melton condemned the government's calling
on groups like the Cult Awareness Network for information on
"cults." He compared it to the government calling on Nazis
for information on Jews or Ku Klux Klan members for
information on African-Americans.
At least one group is fighting FBI use of the "cult"
term and its reliance on private spies. In May, 1993, the
New Alliance Party, its presidential candidate Dr. Lenora
Fulani, and other members of the party sued the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, Janet Reno, and other officials.
Referring to "cult," the party is "seeking a declaratory
judgment that defendants' description as the predicate or
justification for investigative activities, use of force,
criminal prosecution, or governmental regulation is a
violation of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the
Constitution of the United States." The suit also claims
the FBI excused its "virtual liquidation of the" Branch
Davidians as "appropriate law enforcement action to take
against a `cult'." And the suit attacks the FBI's having
"consulted with one or more persons associated with a
Chicago-based organization, the Cult Awareness Network."
THE HISTORY OF THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS
To provide a fuller perspective on government action
against the Branch Davidians, we present a history of the
group and analyze former members' most damning non-weapon
related allegations. The Branch Davidians are an offshoot
of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Like the church, they
believe in the "advent" or "Second Coming" of Jesus Christ,
complete with the end of the world in a fiery apocalypse,
the death of all sinners and the salvation of true
believers. In 1935 Seventh Day Adventist Victor Houtoff
declared himself a prophet, formed the Shepherd's Rod Church
and established the first Mount Carmel Center in Waco. In
1955 Houtoff died and his wife Florence took over and
established the current Mount Carmel further outside Waco.
When the Second Coming of Christ did not occur on April 22,
1959, as she predicted, the group split. The largest
contingent followed another "prophet," Ben Roden, who
changed the Church's name to the Branch Davidians.
In 1978 Ben Roden died and his wife Lois Roden, a
woman well-known in evangelical circles because of her
pronouncement that the Holy Spirit was female, became the
new Branch Davidian prophet. However, she soon found
herself in power struggles with her son George Roden, whom
most Branch Davidians considered too poorly versed in
Scriptures and too erratic to lead the group. In
1981, after being "disfellowed" from the Seventh Day
Adventist Church for proclaiming himself a prophet, rock
musician and handyman Vernon Howell joined the Branch
Davidians. His knowledge of Scripture and personable manner
quickly gained him the confidence of Lois Roden and many
Branch Davidians. It also earned him the enmity of George
Roden, who saw Howell as his prime rival for Branch Davidian
leader and prophet. In 1984 Howell married 14-year-old
Rachel Jones. The battle between Roden and Howell escalated
until finally, in 1985, a gun-toting George Roden drove
Howell and his followers out of Mount Carmel. They
established a community in shacks and buses on property they
purchased in Palestine, Texas.
Howell visited Israel in 1985 and studied the Bible
with several rabbis. There he had, as he explained in a
February 28, 1993, KRLD radio interview, "an encounter" or,
as he told FBI negotiators, "a miraculous meeting with God,"
(TDR:43) which instructed him to study and fulfill the
prophecies of the Seven Seals of the Book of Revelation.
The rivalry with the paranoid and gun-obsessed Roden
heated up after Lois Roden's death. In late 1987 Roden dug
up the coffin of a long-dead Branch Davidian and challenged
Howell to raise her from the dead. Howell complained to
authorities about "corpse abuse," but they demanded proof of
a crime. When Howell and seven armed followers snuck onto
the property to photograph the coffin, Roden caught them and
a gunfight ensued. All eight were tried for attempted
murder of Roden; seven were acquitted and Howell's trial
ended in a hung jury.
By now George Roden had lost most of his followers,
was in debt, and was renting out Mount Carmel's ramshackle
houses, including to at least two drug traffickers.
After writing threatening letters to a Texas Supreme Court
Justice, Roden was jailed for six months. Howell took this
opportunity to encourage the county to put a lien on Mount
Carmel for 16 years of unpaid taxes. Howell paid the taxes
in 1989, thereby gaining control of Mount Carmel. By this
time he also had full use of a follower's large house in
LaVerne, California and travelled back and forth between the
two locations. George Roden continued to threaten Howell
and his followers. In 1989 Roden murdered a man with an ax
and was incarcerated in a mental institution. Nevertheless,
Branch Davidians feared he would return and attack them and
therefore remained armed and alert. Roden did escape
briefly in late 1993.
In early 1990 Vernon Howell legally changed his name
to David (for King David) Koresh (Hebrew for Cyrus, the
Persian king who freed the Jews from Babylon). Koresh
collected even more followers, almost half of whom were of
African, Hispanic or Asian descent. They all believed that
he was a prophet--the "Lamb of God"--destined to unlock the
secrets of the Seven Seals, show the way of repentance to
society and thereby hasten the return of Jesus Christ. And
they concurred with his view that he must create a "House of
David" where his many wives would bear him children who
would become the rulers of a purer new world.
During the siege Wayne Martin, a Harvard-educated
African-American attorney, told negotiators his view of
Koresh's importance. The Justice report describes it
thusly: "America's political system was in decay and in
conflict with God's law, and that Koresh had been chosen by
God as `the Lamb' to rule over his kingdom on earth. Martin
claimed that America and the world were witnessing the birth
of a new nation founded on the Seven Seals." (JDR:41)
Koresh asserted his prophetic greatness would inevitably
attract evil authorities--the "Babylonians" or "Assyrians"--
who would try to crush him. If the Branch Davidians died
defending Koresh's prophecies, they would be resurrected and
return to conquer the Babylonians and rule the world.
Some have said that Koresh's first prophesizing the
government would come to attack him and then collecting a
lot of weapons--including allegedly illegal ones--just
"invited" a government attack. They call it a "self-
fulfilling prophecy." However, intelligent law enforcement
should be able to deal with such situations without violence
and without massive loss of innocent lives.
At the November 22, 1993, American Academy of
Religion panel Jamaican Branch Davidian Janet McBean
summarized David Koresh's appeal: "We are spiritual people.
And we feel that God is watching what happens to this world.
That's the reason why David protected his people and David
felt the way he did. . .He felt compelled to give us the
revelation as he did. And you can't blame him for that.
And we studied it for ourselves. Now if you people study
revelations and you see something different, then it is your
responsibility to show it to the nation and show it to the
world. . .David could speak to anyone on any level, from
fourth grade to doctorate."
In 1989 Koresh began having troubles with breakaway
members, especially Marc Breault, a follower from 1984 to
1989, who left and joined his wife in Australia. Breault
claims that he became disillusioned because power had
corrupted Koresh. He charged Koresh manipulated members
through fear of hellfire, physically abused adults and
children for minor infractions of capricious rules, seduced
and impregnated young girls, took other men's wives, and
demanded a willingness to die for him and his
Branch Davidians admit Koresh devised various "tests"
of his followers' faith in God and his prophecies--from long
study sessions, to communion twice a day, to food
deprivation, to relinquishing wives to Koresh. However,
they assert Breault's claims are exaggerations or lies and
that he had challenged Koresh for control of the group.
Breault replied to such charges in November, 1993. "If I was
trying to take over the group I wouldn't have gone to the
authorities. I wouldn't have tried to have justice done and
had the group dismantled." In his book Breault admits
he "became a cult buster." For the next three years Breault
devoted himself to the destruction of the Branch Davidians.
Breault's often confused, contradictory or emotionally
dishonest statements, in his book and elsewhere, reinforce
the view that his motives were less than pure.
During 1990 Breault managed to convince a dozen or so
discontented Branch Davidians in Australia, New Zealand,
England and the United States to join his efforts. The
Australians hired a private detective, Geoffrey Hossack, and
signed affidavits alleging that Koresh was guilty of the
statutory rape of two teenage girls, tax fraud, immigration
violations, harboring weapons, child abuse, and exposing
children to explicit talk about sex and violence. However,
Hossack's visits to California and Texas local police, the
Texas Department of Public Safety, the Immigration and
Naturalization Service, and the Internal Revenue Service
resulted in no action. Breault and his wife's visits to
California and Waco in 1991 were also fruitless. He laments
that McLennan County Sheriff Gene Barber said that
"Breault's complaints, along with the others, stemmed from
Linedecker writes in Massacre at Waco, Texas that in
October, 1990, Robyn Bunds told Koresh she was leaving the
group with their son. They were in LaVerne, California at
the time and he immediately sent the child back to Waco.
She reported the child missing to LaVerne Police who gave
Koresh 48 hours to bring the child back, which he did.
Bunds also told police that Koresh was having sex with the
underage Aisha Gyarfas, but when they returned to
investigate, Gyarfas and Koresh had returned to Texas.
(Bunds also instigated an INS investigation of illegal
immigrants, as Breault later did in Texas, but neither
investigation led to government action.) In September,
1991, Jeannine Bunds, who like her daughter Robyn Bunds was
Koresh's lover, left the Branch Davidians, claiming that she
was upset that Koresh had asked her if she was "capable of
killing her children." Her husband Donald Bunds
remained a member of the group.
Breault brought his allegations about Koresh and the
Branch Davidians to the Australian television producers of
"Current Affair." Reporter Martin King, who co-wrote
Breault's book, visited Mount Carmel and interviewed Koresh
in January of 1992. The program that eventually aired
portrayed Koresh as a sex-crazed, gun-loving religious
fanatic. Breault alleges Koresh saw it and was furious.
Breault also informed Kiri Jewell's father, David Jewell,
that Kiri was slated to become one of Koresh's wives.
Jewell sued for custody and in January, 1992, Breault and
other former Branch Davidians testified at the custody
hearing in Michigan. Kiri's mother Sherri relinquished
primary custody and promised to keep Kiri away from Koresh
during visitations. (As we shall see, Jewell used his
daughter in continuing attacks on the Branch Davidians.)
Breault claims that the custody trial "panicked" Koresh and
that he began planning for mass suicide over Easter
weekend. Breault and Jewell wrote Michigan
Representative Frederick Upton with this allegation and
Breault contacted the U.S. consulate in Melbourne which sent
warning wires to Washington, D.C.
According to Linedecker, when Kiri Jewell told her
father that two other young girls were also slated to become
Koresh's brides, Jewell called the Texas Department of Human
Services, which instigated the February-April, 1992, child
abuse investigation. Many of the Branch Davidian
"defectors" eagerly cooperated with BATF and FBI
investigators in 1992 and 1993.
That a number of former members were willing to make
these allegations certainly suggests that there were
problems with Koresh's leadership of the Branch Davidians.
However, most of these individuals were influenced by either
amateur cult buster Marc Breault or by professional cult
busters Rick Ross and Patricia Coates, individuals committed
to turning former members' genuine concerns or personal
disappointments into action by law enforcement to destroy
the alleged "cult."
NON-WEAPONS ALLEGATIONS AGAINST DAVID KORESH
The allegations against Koresh have been so
sensationalized that Koresh's alleged crimes seem to excuse
the massacre of 86 or more Branch Davidians. The use of the
most damning allegations to demonize the group necessitates
that the allegations be explored. As we shall see, there is
much truth in Dr. Gordon Melton's statement to the American
Academy of Religion panel on the Branch Davidians: "As I
examined the evidence of all the horrible things that Koresh
had allegedly done, those horrible things began to melt
away; they were unsubstantiated charges from witnesses who
were biased and whose credibility was very low. The various
accusations made had no foundation in fact. . .The question
shifted to why did the government misuse its power in such a
Child Abuse: The Justice Department report quotes
just two 1990 affidavits by former members. Ian and Allison
Manning alleged that Koresh insisted disobedient children be
spanked with a wooden paddle and that such beatings
sometimes severely bruised the children's bottoms. Michelle
Tom alleged that Howell spanked her eight-month-old daughter
for forty minutes because she would not sit on his lap and
once threatened to kill a child if her mother gave her a
On February 27, 1992, Texas Department of Human
Services social worker Joyce Sparks visited Mount Carmel
with two other Human Services employees and two McLennan
County Sheriff's deputies. They made two more visits and
Koresh visited their offices. The case was closed on April
30, 1992. The Department offered this summary of the nine-
week investigation: "None of the allegations could be
verified. The children denied being abused in any way by
adults in the compound. They denied any knowledge of other
children being abused. The adults consistently denied
participation in or knowledge of any abuse to children.
Examinations of the children produced no indication of
current or previous injuries."
Dr. Bruce Perry, who interviewed children released
from Mount Carmel during the siege, told the FBI on March
26, "these children had a number of strict behavioral and
verbal prohibitions. Violations of these resulted in
punishment, sometimes severe. The children, for example,
expected to be hit when they spilled. The style of
discipline often involved being beaten with what these
children labeled `the Helper'. . .some variation on a wooden
spoon. Other forms of discipline included restrictions of
food, sometimes for a day. . ." (JDR:224) Steve Schneider's
attorney Jack Zimmerman says that members never used the
word "beatings" to describe the discipline. "The term they
used was `Christian discipline'. . .Discipline is not
abuse." At a May, 1993, press conference Perry
confessed: "We can't say, `Aha, physical abuse,' that's the
crux of the issue. President Clinton and Janet Reno say
`child abuse.' Child protective services say, `Well, we
didn't see any.'. . .It's very complicated. It is an
ongoing dilemma for what is the threshold for saying what is
Sex with Minors: According to Daniel Wattenberg,
Texas statutory rape laws are rather confusing, since the
age of consent is 14 if the girl is promiscuous, but 17 if
she is not. Nationwide, because so many young girls are
having sex today, statutory rape laws frequently are not
enforced; when they are, the sentences are usually light,
assuming the girl fully consented. Hillary Rodham Clinton
herself has criticized "the so-called status offenses,"
including for "sexual precociousness". There are, of
course, serious moral questions about the authenticity of a
14-year-old girl's consent to sex with an adult in any small
community which considers sex with the leader to be a
privilege. Government agencies found that Koresh's alleged
victims were unwilling to cooperate and therefore they did
not have enough evidence to convict Koresh of sex with
minors. More importantly, civilized societies do not deal
with sexual abuse of minors by attacking the perpetrator and
his victims with heavily armed officers and then burning
them to death when they refuse to surrender!
BATF agent Davy Aguilera's February 25, 1993
affidavit, which was used to secure search and arrest
warrants against Koresh, states: "Mrs. [Jeannine] Bunds also
told me that Howell had fathered at least fifteen (15)
children from various women and young girls at the compound.
Some of the girls who had babies fathered by Howell were as
young as 12 years old. . . He also, according to Mrs. Bunds,
has regular sexual relations with young girls there. The
girls' ages are from eleven (11) years old to adulthood."
There are no other allegations he had children with girls
Mrs. Bunds herself had made love to Koresh and told
Newsweek that being chosen by Koresh was an eagerly sought
honor. Koresh "wouldn't do it unless you wanted it. . .It
wasn't about sex, but he was a very appealing, sexual
person." Robyn Bunds, who first slept with Koresh when she
was 17, said, "he's perfect, and he's going to father your
children. What more can you ask for?" According
to 1990 affidavits by former members Ian and Allison
Manning, and Marc Breault in his book, Koresh had bragged in
Bible study about having sex with Michelle Jones and Aisha
Gyarfas when they were 14. (JDR:219-221) However, even Marc
Breault admitted that Aisha Gyarfas was "completely
captivated by Vernon. She was like his little puppy dog
tied to his leash. Aisha would do anything for Vernon."
Both girls, then ages 17 and 18, died with their children in
the April 19th fire.
According to the Justice report, on February 22, 1993,
a young girl told Texas Child Protective Services social
worker Joyce Sparks "that on one occasion, when she was ten
years old, her mother left her in a motel room with David
Koresh. He was in bed and he told [her] to come over to
him. She got into the bed. David had no pants on. He took
off her panties and touched her and got on top of her. . .We
talked about how she was feeling when this happened and she
responded. . .scared. . .scared but privileged." (JDR:219)
The Justice report concedes, "This evidence was insufficient
to establish probable cause to indict or prove beyond a
reasonable doubt to convict." (JDR:215)
Evidently this is the same girl the Treasury Department
report states was "unwilling to testify about what
happened." (TDR:64) Similarly, the Washington Post reported
that a LaVerne, California sergeant said that "one of the
underage girls alleged as a victim was out of the cult, in
her father's custody. . .she eventually confirmed she had
sex with Koresh." The sergeant also admitted that while
he'd garnered enough evidence to arrest Koresh, he doubted
he had enough to convict him.
Both reports and the sergeant are probably talking
about the same young girl--who may be Kiri Jewell.
According to Linedecker, in mid-February David and Kiri
Jewell flew to Texas at the BATF's expense to speak to
agents. Kiri had been given over to her father's
custody. And David Jewell was in constant contact with Marc
Breault who, according to his book, had been working closely
with a LaVerne, California sergeant. If this is indeed Kiri
Jewell, one wonders if Mr. Jewell had joined the "cult
busters" committed to destruction of the group and even was
using his daughter in that effort. He even exposed her to
public scrutiny by allowing her to appear on a March, 1993
"Donahue" show to talk about her experiences with the Branch
Polygamy: In 1879, Reynolds vs. United States, the
U.S. Supreme Court ruled that polygamy could not be
protected by freedom of religion because it was "subversive
of the public order" due to mobs rioting against hated
polygamous Mormons. It is questionable whether
criminalizing bigamy and polygamy would stand such a
questionable court ruling today. Nevertheless, individuals
are still prosecuted for bigamy and polygamy, be they
liberals promoting plural marriage as a more fulfilling
lifestyle or Christian, Mormon and Muslim fundamentalists,
citing Scriptures. Further, those who practice "plural
marriage" are open to the charge they are abusing children
exposed to the lifestyle.
Koresh and Branch Davidian Paul Fatta have admitted
publicly that Koresh was a polygamist. On February 28,
1993, Koresh told CNN, "There are a lot of children here.
I've had a lot of babies these past two years. It's true
that I do have a lot of children and I do have a lot of
wives." On the same day he told KRLD radio, "I'm a
polygamist. Which is not according to your laws, I
understand that, but according to the laws of God."
Paul Fatta told reporters that Koresh did believe he
had a right to take any consenting Branch Davidian woman as
wife. "Mr. Fatta said that Mr. Koresh presented this
behavior as a test of faith for the men who had lost their
wives." However, Branch Davidians deny that Koresh
controlled the sex lives of the members. Ruth Riddle told
an interviewer, "No. Not true. It was totally up to the
couples what they wanted to do." She said she and her
husband were planning to have children. Stan Sylvia,
who was forced to go through a parental training course to
regain custody of his son, calls the allegations that his
daughter Holly was really Koresh's child "government and
tabloid lies." Involuntary Servitude: Davy
Aguilera's February 25, 1993 affidavit contends that Poia
Vaega alleged that in June, 1991, Koresh and Stan Sylvia
"falsely imprisoned" and physically and sexually abused Mrs.
Vaega's sister, Doreen Saipaia, for three and a half months.
Despite this allegation, Ms. Saipaia's relatives Neal and
Margarida Vaega remained at Mount Carmel and died in the
April 19th fire. Moreover, the FBI opened and closed a
possibly-related investigation on "involuntary servitude"
during 1992 but did not press charges. (TDR:Appendix D:4)
Charges of "involuntary imprisonment" or "involuntary
servitude" are frequently made by those influenced by cult
busters. The fact that BATF and FBI failed to make this
allegation to the media indicates even they questioned it.
Mass Suicide: As mentioned above, Marc Breault
claims that Koresh planned mass suicide during Easter, 1992.
In his book, he asserts that members began calling families
to say goodbye, selling assets, and returning to Mount
Carmel. Linedecker writes that David Jewell wrote
Representative Upton that Steve Schneider had told his
family goodbye and that a young woman fled the group with
her children because of her fear of a slaughter.
Surviving Branch Davidians who heard these allegations at
the time say those at Mount Carmel laughed them off as
absurd (private communication). And Koresh told Waco
Tribune-Herald reporter Mark England, "I'm not ready to die.
It's all lies. Every year we've gathered for Passover.
Every year. Look, the place is being built up. We're
spending lots of money. A lot of people are putting time
and effort in. . .I've got the water-well man coming in. I
mean, two weeks in a row we're supposed to be committing
suicide. I wish they'd get their story straight."
The Treasury Department report states that a child had
told a California police officer that she had been trained
by Koresh and his advisers "to commit suicide in several
different ways, including placing the barrel of a handgun in
her mouth and pulling the trigger." (TDR:46) Edward Dennis
identified this child as Kiri Jewell. (JDR:Dennis:37)
(Reportedly, she said the same thing on the Donahue
television show.) According to Edward Dennis, after the
fire, former member Dana Okimoto alleged that "Koresh's
biggest fear was someone would take his wives away and that
he felt that rather than letting someone take his wife, the
wife should kill herself and if she could not do so one of
the `Mighty Men' should do it, since this was one of their
Despite the statements of some former members that the
Branch Davidians might commit suicide, the FBI had collected
statements from many more Branch Davidians that they would
not. FBI spokesperson Bob Ricks said after the April 19th
fire: "We went thought the world and interviewed former cult
members, associates of cult members, the number that I last
checked was 61 people. The vast bulk, the substantial
majority of those believed that they would not commit
Propensity Towards Violence: During the siege,
numerous neighbors and acquaintances of the Branch Davidians
were interviewed. Most made statements like that of A.L.
Dreyer, an 80-year-old farmer living near Mt. Carmel: "I've
never had no trouble with them people. . .I have no fear of
those people." McLennan County Commissioner Lester
Gibson was shocked that Branch Davidian Wayne Martin was
involved in any violence. "He was very friendly and quiet.
It was common knowledge that he was a Davidian, but he never
Nevertheless, Koresh and the Branch Davidians, like
many Christian fundamentalists, firmly believed that the
"advent" or "Second Coming" of Jesus Christ would be
accompanied by violence. Millions have studied the Book of
Revelations and believe that 144,000 devout Christians will
be called up into heaven just before the end of the world
and that the sinful remainder of humanity will die horrible
deaths. Millions believe that before Jesus appears there
will be natural, economic and political disasters for which
Christians should be prepared with food stocks and weapons
to fight off the "Babylonians"--government agents, evil
doers and hungry hordes from the cities.
A reporter who interviewed Lonnie Kliever, professor
of religion at Southern Methodist University wrote: "Koresh
was typical of the leaders of the millennarian sects who use
their ability to interpret Biblical prophecy to gain power
and influences. But Koresh's style also should be familiar
to millions of Americans, Kliever said after listening to
the 58-minute message broadcast the first week of the siege.
`I listened to the tape,' Kliever said. 'I grew up in a
fundamentalist Baptist church. I heard that preaching all
my childhood. You can hear that same sermon in thousands of
churches any Sunday or Wednesday night in this
Koresh was convinced that he was the "Lamb of God" who
would "break" the Seven Seals and bring on the Apocalypse
and the Second Coming of Christ, as prophesized in the Book
of Revelation. These prophecies are very bloody and
violent. As the Lamb breaks each of the Seals, the Book of
Revelation prophesizes, in summary: 1--a rider on a white
horse rides forth to conquer; 2--a rider on a red horse
takes away peace so men may slaughter; 3--a rider on a black
horse is holding a pair of scales; 4--a rider of a pale
horse named death has power over a quarter of the earth to
kill by sword, famine, pestilence and wild beasts; 5--those
slaughtered for God's word are told to rest a little longer
until all brothers in Christ's service are put to death; 6--
after a violent earthquake the great day of wrath comes; 7--
"now when the Lamb breaks the seventh seal, there was
silence in heaven for about half an hour." When BATF
raided Mount Carmel and killed six Branch Davidians, Koresh
and his followers were convinced that they had to wait a
little longer, and then they too would be put to death, as a
fulfillment of the Fifth Seal.
Former Branch Davidians claimed that Koresh was
obsessed with members proving their loyalty to him and his
prophecies by promising to kill or die for them. David
Block told BATF agents that he "left the cult group because
[Koresh] would always remind them that if they were to have
a confrontation with the local or federal authorities, that
the group should be ready to fight and resist." (TDR:45)
Branch Davidian Kathryn Schroeder, who has agreed to
testify for the prosecution to obtained reduced charges,
claims that Koresh "told his followers that soon they would
have to go into the world, turn their weapons on individual
members of public, and kill those who did not say they were
believers. As he explained to his followers, `you can't die
for God if you can't kill for God.' Koresh later canceled
the planned action, telling his followers that it had been a
test of their loyalty to him." Some former members
claim Koresh had a "hit list to eliminate former members who
were complaining to law enforcement authorities and the
media." (TDR:28) Breault, Jeannine and Robyn Bunds and Dana
Okimoto also alleged that Koresh believed "law enforcement
officers have to be the vehicle for his death in order for
his prophesies to come true." (JDR:Dennis:38)
It is true that after the raid and during the siege
Koresh several times challenged negotiators to fight and
even claimed that he and his followers had been preparing
for battle with authorities since 1985. (JDR:51) If
Koresh's statements had been merely "all talk" before the
February 28, 1993 BATF raid, they certainly began to appear
much more threatening once he and his followers vigorously
defended themselves against the raid. Nevertheless, it was
government action that prompted their violent reaction.
These allegations of (non-defensive) violence
certainly would be alarming to the public if made by a
criminal or a radical political group--even though the First
Amendment protects such "alarming" speech. However, these
statements must be viewed differently when made within a
Christian apocalyptic framework. In her recommendations to
the Justice Department, Nancy Ammerman wrote that
authorities responsible at Waco "should have understood that
new or dissident religious groups are often `millennialist'
or `apocalyptic.' That is, they foresee the imminent end of
the world as we know it and the emergence of a new world,
usually with themselves in leadership roles."
"They should have understood that new groups almost
always provoke their neighbors. . .They defy the
conventional rules and question conventional authorities. .
.Not surprisingly, then, new groups often provoke
resistance. . .organized `anti-cult' response that make
predictable charges (such as child abuse and sexual
`perversion') against groups that are seen as threatening. .
.The corollary to their provocation of neighbors is that
they themselves are likely to perceive the outside world as
hostile. This almost always takes the form of rhetoric
condemning the evil ways of non-believers, and that rhetoric
can sometimes sound quite violent. It may also be
supplemented by rituals that reinforce the group's
perception that they are surrounded by hostile forces. . .as
the [Branch Davidians] talked about the evils of the federal
government and went through the ritual motions of rehearsing
a confrontation with their enemies, they may have been
reinforcing their own solidarity more than they were
practicing for an anticipated actual confrontation. The
irony, of course, is that their internal group rhetoric did
eventually come true." (TDR:Ammerman:5-6)
Branch Davidian Stan Sylvia expresses the duty
incumbent on all of us to study the massacre of the Branch
Davidians. "Let's have mercy for the people who died there.
Let's examine what really happened there. Regardless of
what your opinion of us is. Whether we were bizarre.
Whether we were inhumane. Whatever you think of us. It
doesn't give anybody a right to come in and kill helpless
women and children."
THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS
Outside Mount Carmel
Paul Fatta, 35
Arrested on Feb 28, 1993:
Delroy Nash, 29
Woodrow Kendrick, 63
Left Mount Carmel
Brad Branch, 34
Livingston Fagan, 34
Nahara Fagan, 4
Renae Fagan, 7
Oliver Gyarfas, 19
Victoria Hollingsworth, 59
Heather Jones, 10
Kevin Jones, 11
Mark Jones, 3
Margaret Lawson, 75
James Lawten, 70
Christyn Mabb, 8
Jacob Mabb, 10
Scott Mabb, 12
Daniel Martin, 7
Jaime Martin, 11
Sheila Judith Martin, 46
Catherine Matteson, 77
Natalie Nobrega, 11
Gladys Ottman, 67
Anita Richards, 64
Rita Fay Riddle, 35
Ophelia Santoya, 62
Bryan Schroeder, 3
Kathryn Schroeder, 34
Angelica Sonobe, 6
Crystal Sonobe, 3
Joshua Sylvia, 7
Landon Wendel, 4
Patron Wendel, 1
Tamara Wendel, 5
Kevin Whitecliff, 31
Survived April 19th Fire
Renos Avraam, 29
Jamime Castillo, 24
Graeme Leonard Craddock, 31
Clive Joseph Doyle, 52
Misty Ferguson, 17
Derek Lloyd Lovelock, 37
Ruth Ottman Riddle, 29
David Thibodeau, 24
Marjorie Thomas, 30
Died February 28, 1993:
Winston Blake, 28
Peter Gent, 24
Peter Hipsman, 28
Perry Jones, 64
Michael Schroeder, 29
Jaydean Carnwell Wendel, 34
Died April 19th, 1993**:
Katherin Andrade, 24
Jennifer Andrade, 19
Aldrick Bennett, 35
Susan Benta, 31
Mary Jean Borst, 49
Pablo Cohen, 38
Yvette Fagan, 34
Doris Fagan, 60
Lisa Marie Farris, 26
Ray Friesen, 76
Dayland Gent, 3
Diana Henry, 28
Paulina Henry, 24
Phillip Henry, 22
Stephen Henry, 26
Vanessa Henry, 19
Zilla Henry, 55
Novellette Hipsman, 36
Floyd Houtman, 61
Cyrus Howell, 8
Rachel Howell, 23
Star Howell, 6
Sherri Lynn Jewell, 43
David Michael Jones, 38
Michelle Jones, 18
Serenity Sea Jones, 4
Bobbie Lane Koresh, 16 months
David Koresh, 33
Jeffery Little, 31
Nicole Elizabeth Gent Little, 24
Livingston Malcolm, 26
Douglas Wayne Martin, 42
Lisa Martin, 13
Sheila Martin, 15
Abigail Martinez, 11
Audrey Martinez, 13
Juliete Santoyo Martinez, 30
Crystal Martinez, 3
Joseph Martinez, 30
Alison Bernadette Monbelly, 31
Melissa Morrison, 6
Rosemary Morrison, 29
Sonia Murray, 29
Theresa Noberega, 48
James Riddle, 32
Rebecca Saipaia, 24
Judy Schneider, 41
Mayanah Schneider, 2
Steve Schneider, 48
Laraine B. Silva, 40
Floracita Sonobe, 34
Scott Kojiro Sonobe, 35
Aisha Gyarfas Summers, 17
Gregory Allen Summers, 28
Startle Summers, 1
Isiah Martinez, 4
Lorraine Sylvia, 40
Rachel Sylvia, 13
Joanne Vaega, 4
Margarida Joanna Vaega, 47
Neal Vaega, 37
Martin Wayne, 20
Mark H. Wendell
This is not a complete list.
* Several dozen more Branch Davidians lived elsewhere or
were temporarily outside Mount Carmel on February 28, 1993.
** Most of those not named were children, including two
Source: Associated Press, Justice Department Report and
BATF-TREASURY DEPARTMENT VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS, =20
EXCESSIVE FORCE AND COVERUP: THE FEBRUARY 28, 1993 RAID ON
THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS
In May of 1992 the United Parcel Service informed the
McLennan County Sheriff's Department that the Branch
Davidians were receiving "suspicious" deliveries, including
shipments of firearms worth more than $10,000, inert grenade
casings, and a substantial quantity of black powder. (Like
the Anti-Defamation League and Cult Awareness Network, UPS
evidently turns over information about citizens' legal
activity to authorities.) The Sheriff's Department
contacted BATF and Special Agent Davy Aguilera was assigned
to investigate. Around the same time, the Waco Tribune-
Herald, which had been contacted by former members, began
researching an expos=82 about the Branch Davidians' alleged
arms stockpiling. =20
>From June until August, Aguilera investigated
companies which had sold weapons to David Koresh and
discovered the Branch Davidians bought about $43,000 worth
of weapons from March 26 to August 12, 1992, after which
such purchases virtually ceased. The case effectively was
dropped for more than two months. It was picked up again in
November, after the "60 Minutes" television show contacted
BATF about a planned expos=82 of the agency, and after the
Waco Tribune-Herald contacted BATF about their planned
expos=82 of the Branch Davidians' arms buildup
In November Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston held
that "there already was sufficient evidence of illegal
activity to meet the threshold of probable cause for a
search warrant. . .and tactical planning for an enforcement
operation began in earnest." (TDR:37) However, BATF
Director Stephen Higgins admitted to the House Judiciary
Committee on April 28, 1993, that despite the information
collected about Koresh's 1992 weapons purchases, "We had a
review here at headquarters office in December with respect
to whether we had probable cause. We decided at that point
that we did not, and we continued to gather information. We
brought people in from Australia; we got the undercover
agent in; we interviewed any number of people." Higgins
was referring to the December 24, 1993 meeting in Washington
where BATF Associate Director of Enforcement Daniel Hartnett
and his Deputy Director Edward Conroy demanded that more
probable cause should be developed and tactical plans should
be slowed down. (TDR:Appendix D-7) =20
What BATF did in early December was to begin
interviewing disgruntled former members and to set up an
undercover house across the street from Mount Carmel Center.=20
However, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians were aware
throughout the investigation that some agency was monitoring
them. At different points they invited the BATF and the
Sheriff's Department to look at their guns, complained to
the Sheriff's Department about blatant undercover activities
and purposely befriended individuals they knew were
undercover agents. Meanwhile BATF went forward with plans
for a full scale paramilitary raid on Mount Carmel.=20
On February 12, 1993, BATF Director Higgins was first
fully briefed on the plan. (TDR:Appendix D-11) On February
25th, BATF agent Davy Aguilera, with the assistance of U.S.
Attorneys Bill Johnston and John Phinizy, produced a
"Probable Cause Affidavit in Support of Search Warrant." On
the basis of that affidavit, Magistrate Judge Dennis S.
Green signed a search warrant for illegal weapons and
explosives for Mount Carmel and the "Mag Bag" garage and an
arrest warrant for David Koresh for possession of an
unregistered destructive device. However, Treasury
Department officials nixed the raid plan when they
discovered its existence Friday, February 26th. BATF
Director Higgins convinced officials that because of the
Waco Herald-Tribune series on the Branch Davidians, February
28th might be the last opportunity to, as one put it, "catch
the cult members unprepared and away from their stockpile of
heavy weaponry." And Higgins told officials that raid
planners had assured him that the raid would be called of if
the element of surprise was lost. They did not tell him
they were expecting a shootout. =20
Saturday, February 27th the Waco Herald-Tribune began
their series, "The Sinful Messiah." And on Sunday, February
28th, despite their knowledge that the Branch Davidians had
been forewarned, 76 armed BATF agents stormed Mount Carmel
Center. The assault left four BATF agents and five Branch
Davidians dead. Another Branch Davidian would be killed
later that afternoon trying to return home. =20
In this section the Committee for Waco Justice report
describes BATF violations of constitutional rights and
excessive use of force in their investigation of and
February 28th raid upon the Branch Davidian religious group
and the subsequent BATF and Treasury Department coverup.=20
The report then presents the Committee for Waco Justice
conclusions: that BATF agents drove the Branch Davidians to
violent self-defense, resulting in the deaths of four agents
and six Branch Davidians, and that the Attorney General
should appoint an Independent Counsel to identify and
prosecute responsible agents and officials for official
misconduct, violations of rights, and negligent homicide.=20
We will present further recommendations in the last section
of this report. =20
It should be noted that none of the testimony given to
Treasury Department "review teams" or to Congress was given
under oath. Also, the Treasury Department report does not
include information which might effect the prosecutions of
the Branch Davidians now on trial.=20
TREASURY DEPARTMENT AND BATF CHAINS OF COMMAND =20
FEBRUARY 28, 1993@@TREASURY DEPARTMENT
Lloyd Bentsen - Secretary of the Treasury
John P. Simpson - Acting Assistant Secretary=20
Ronald K. Noble - unconfirmed Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement=20
(a consultant at this point)
BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS
Daniel Hartnett - Associate Director of
Edward Conroy - Deputy Associate Director of
David Troy - Chief of Intelligence Division@@"National
Response Plan" Assignments for "Waco Operation"
SAC Philip Chojnacki - Incident Commander
ASAC Chuck Sarabyn - Tactical Coordinator
SAC Pete Mastin - Deputy Incident
ASAC Jim Cavanaugh - Deputy Tactical
SA Sharon Wheeler - Public Information
RAC Bill Buford - Special Response=20
Team 1 leader=20
SAC Curtis Williams - Special Response
Team 2 leader
SAC Gerald Petrilli - Special Response
Team 3 leader
SAC Ted Royster - planner, untitled raid
SA Earl Dunagan - investigator
SA Davy Aguilera - investigator
SA Robert Rodriquez - undercover agent@@Note:
ASAC-Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge
1. BATF IGNORED BRANCH DAVIDIANS' LEGAL GUN BUSINESS =20
These first five sections will review the process by which
BATF agents gathered evidence of probable cause to serve a
search warrant on the Branch Davidians and to arrest David
Koresh. Some might consider this detailed review
unnecessary, given government assertions that illegal
weapons were found after the fire. However, it is important
to understand that a raid was conducted despite the facts
that Branch Davidians ran a legal business, BATF found no
evidence of illegally purchased weapons, and the Branch
Davidians attempted to cooperate with investigators.=20
Moreover, the "probable cause" to obtain a search warrant
was based largely on biased information, information used to
excuse a full paramilitary raid by 76 armed agents. Such
unnecessary paramilitary raids on any American undermines
all our rights.
Some Branch Davidians "confirmed that they
stockpiled weapons in preparation for what Mr. Koresh long
prophesized would be an apocalyptic firefight with law
enforcement officials that could be a precursor to the end
of the world. But they insisted that the weapons were
obtained legally." However, others will testify during
the trial that only certain members of the group had known
about the weapons or handled them. In any case, it is
not illegal to stockpile guns for defense against some
future illegal attack by government agents. =20
More importantly, BATF investigative agents either
never discovered--or completely ignored--the fact that the
Branch Davidians ran a profitable legal gun business.=20
According to the Washington Post, its "biggest moneymaker
was its thriving trade in guns and ammunition, bought from
mail-order firms and local gun stores and resold at a profit
at gun-fancier fairs throughout Texas. Among the products
it marketed at these fairs were souvenir plaques made of
hand grenade casings mounted on wood." Even Marc
Breault mentions that of the Branch Davidian businesses, the
"most important of all" was trade in weapons. Clifford
L. Linedecker writes, "[Paul] Fatta was a regular at gun
shows in Austin, Dallas, Forth Worth, San Antonio, and other
cities in Texas and sold everything from camouflage clothing
to military-type ready-to-eat meals, gun grips, and
weapons." The September, 1993, indictment against Fatta
and other Branch Davidians admits that "Paul Fatta acquired
a Texas Sales and Use Tax Permit in the name of "The Mag
Bag." (JDR:Indictment:4) =20
Koresh and the Branch Davidians were working with gun
dealer Henry McMahon, who held a Class III dealer's license
allowing him to legally own, sell, and buy, any type of
weapon. In April of 1993, McMahon told the Pensacola
television show "Lawline" that Koresh had purchased a large
number of legal military-style semi-automatics as an
investment, assuming that their value would increase if the
government somehow restricted their manufacture or sales in
the future. Considering that this had happened with other
guns in the past, this was a reasonable business investment.=20
McMahon said most of these guns were kept boxed and never
fired, to enhance resale value. During the first days
of the Branch Davidian trial, Paul Fatta's attorney Mike
DeGeurin told the jury: "Koresh and Fatta saw that a
tremendous investment could be made by buying these guns
(semiautomatic rifles). They thought the guns may be
outlawed in Washington and that they would triple or
quadruple in price." =20
BATF Agent Davy Aguilera wrote in his February 25,
1993, affidavit: "June 9, 1992, I requested a search of the
records of the Firearms Licensing Section of the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Atlanta, Georgia, to
determine if Howell, Fatta or the `Mag-Bag' Corporation were
licensed as Firearms dealers or manufacturers. The result of
this search was negative." He did not search under the
names David Koresh or Michael Schroeder, who also signed for
guns, or any of a number of other adults who lived at Mount
Carmel. Nor did he do a second search when the case was
reactivated in late November. =20
Aguilera's affidavit mentions that David Block said
that "he attended two gun shows with Vernon Howell, Mike
Schroeder, Paul Fatta, and Henry McMahon who is a Federally
licensed firearms dealer." Yet Aguilera was unable to
discover they all had legal business dealings. If he had,
perhaps BATF might not have been so alarmed by the Branch
Davidians buying $200,000 in weapons over a 16 month
2. BATF FOUND NO EVIDENCE WEAPONS WERE PURCHASED
Davy Aguilera's investigation of shipments from
various arms vendors to the "Mag-Bag" and of gun dealer
Henry McMahon's records indicated that during 1992 the
Branch Davidians acquired the following firearms and related
explosive paraphernalia: one hundred four (104) AR-15/M-16,
upper receiver groups with barrels; eight thousand, one
hundred (8,100) rounds of 9mm and .223 caliber ammunition
for AR-15/M-16; twenty (20), one hundred round capacity drum
magazines for AK-47 rifles; two hundred sixty (260),
M-16/Ar-15, magazines; thirty (30) M-14 magazines; two (2)
M-16 EZ kits; two (2) M-16 Car Kits; one M-76 grenade
launcher; two hundred (200) M-31 practice rifle grenades;
four (4) M-16 parts set Kits "A"; two (2) flare launchers;
two cases (approximately 50) inert practice hand grenades;
40-50 pounds of black gun powder; thirty (30) pounds of
Potassium Nitrate; five (5) pounds of Magnesium metal
powder; one pound of Igniter cord (A class C explosive);
ninety-one (91) AR/15 lower receiver units; twenty-six (26)
various calibers and brands of hand guns and long guns; 90
pounds of aluminum metal powder; 30-40 cardboard tubes. The
amount of expenditures for the above listed firearm
paraphernalia, excluding the (91) AR-15 lower receiver units
and the (26) complete firearms, was in excess of $44,300."=20
All these guns, gun parts, powders, inert grenades, and
other equipment were lawfully purchased and may be legally
owned. None per se established probable cause that Koresh
had violated or was about to violate federal law. As has
been noted, the seemingly large amounts are not illegal
either according to the Firearms Owners' Protection Act of
1986 and the Supreme Court decision United States vs.
Anders, nor are they unusual for someone dealing in weapons
or holding them as an investment.
Aguilera did not investigate the one dealer who
might possibly have sold Koresh illegal arms. In the
affidavit he states, "because of the sensitivity of the
investigation" he did not contact "vendors with questionable
trade practices" who had sold to Koresh, including one
suspected of "unlawful possession of machineguns, silencers,
destructive devices, and machinegun conversion kits." In
effect, Aguilera refused to check to see if Koresh had
bought illegal items from this source and instead inferred
probable cause. This is blatantly unconstitutional. =20
Aguilera suspected the Branch Davidians were breaking laws
regarding machineguns and explosives. It is only legal to
own a machinegun--or machinegun conversion kit--
manufactured before May 19, 1986. Both must be registered
and one must also pay a $200 transfer tax upon buying the
machinegun. Uncertainty arises because these conversion
kits can be used to turn other guns into machineguns.=20
According to former enforcement chief Robert Sanders, this
area remains so unclear that, "There are no published
rulings telling you what is and what isn't [a
What would probably be illegal is: a) buying a
registered machinegun without paying the $200 tax; b) owning
unregistered conversion kits; c) using a registered
conversion kit to convert a gun into a machinegun, but not
paying the $200 tax; d) using an insufficient number of
parts from a registered conversion kit to convert a gun into
a machinegun, even if the tax is paid; e) owning an
unregistered conversion kit; f) owning all parts necessary
to assemble a brand new machinegun, even if the parts are
not assembled; g) unregistered manufacturing of conversion
parts; h) using illegally manufactured parts to convert guns
into machineguns; i) buying an illegal machinegun produced
in any of ways above. =20
As of December, 1992, Aguilera's only evidence that
the Branch Davidians were doing one or more of these things
was that they had bought a number of legal weapons and legal
gun parts which, with the help of a few parts they did not
have, can be converted into machineguns. Aguilera states
that Firearms Enforcement Officer Curtis Bartlett told him
that the firearms parts which Howell had received, and the
method by which he had received them, was consistent with
findings in other BATF investigations which resulted in the
seizure of illegal machineguns. However, BATF's suspicions
remained pure conjecture. =20
It is also legal to own all the destructive device-
related items Aguilera listed--the grenade launcher, M-31
practice rifle grenades, inert practice hand grenades, black
gun powder, potassium nitrate, magnesium metal powder,
aluminum powder, and igniter cord. What would not be legal
is to manufacture these materials into grenades or other
destructive devices. Aguilera asserted in the affidavit
that BATF explosives expert Jerry A. Taylor had concluded
that these materials could be used to manufacture
explosives. However, according to Paul H. Blackman, Ph.D.
"the assertion that possession of the black powder and inert
grenades constitutes an explosive grenade because it is
possible to make one is misleading. Not only are more
materials needed, along with the machinery to drill and plug
a hole, but without intent, there is no violation of the
law." Blackman asserts the Branch Davidians were using the
explosive materials for construction projects and for
refilling ammunition, both legal uses. It was because
of this lack of probable cause that in December BATF
officials instructed Aguilera to gather information about
3. "PROBABLE CAUSE" BASED ON BIASED INFORMATION ABOUT
The credibility and reliability of witnesses in an
affidavit is very important. Yet all Aguilera's witnesses
as to Koresh's "intent" had some credibility problems.=20
Neighbor Robert L. Cervenka, who alleged to Aguilera he
actually had heard machinegun fire on the property, had been
involved in a property dispute with the Branch
Davidians. Joyce Sparks' evidence on intent was
delivered to Aguilera through another BATF agent and, as we
shall see, was probably a garbled transmission. All other
evidence on intent came from disaffected former Branch
Davidians, all of whom were influenced by "cult busters"
Marc Breault and Rick Ross.
a. Rick Ross =20
Aguilera began contacting former members in
November, 1992. He obtained their names from the 1990
affidavits Breault and other former members left with the
local Sheriff's Department and from Rick Ross. Nancy
Ammerman, who had access to all BATF and FBI files, wrote
"The ATF interviewed the persons [Ross] directed to them and
evidently used information from those interviews in planning
their February 28th raid." (JDR:Ammerman:Addendum) Rick
Ross "deprogrammed" David Block, who lived at Mount Carmel
only three months, in the summer of 1992 in the home of CAN
national spokesperson Priscilla Coates in Coates' home in
California. He or California CAN representatives were
probably in close contact with Jeannine, Robyn and Debbie
Sue Bunds, all of whom gave BATF information. (Linedecker
writes that in 1991 California police said Robyn was being
Evidence that Rick Ross had a financial
motivation for inciting BATF against the Branch Davidians is
contained in Marc Breault's January 16, 1993, diary entry,
where he describes a conversation with Branch Davidian Steve
Schneider's sister. "Rick [Ross] told Sue that something
was about to happen real soon. He urged her to hire him to
deprogram Steve. Rick has Sue all scared now. The
Schneider family doesn't know what to do. Rick didn't tell
them what was about to happen, but he said they should get
Steve out as soon as possible. I know that Rick has talked
to the ATF." It is unknown how many other families Ross
contacted offering his expensive services "before it's too
b. Former Members' Allegations About Intent =20
Marc Breault, David Block, Poia Vaega and
Jeannine, Robyn and Debbie Sue Bunds provided Aguilera with
the following evidence of "intent" about illegal
machineguns: Robyn Bunds said she found what David Bunds
called a "machinegun conversion kit" in their LaVerne home
in 1991, but Aguilera did not interview David; Jeannine and
Debbie Sue Bunds said they saw a Branch Davidian shooting a
gun that must have been a machinegun because it shot so
fast; Debbie Sue said she head Koresh say he wished he owned
a machinegun; Poia Vaega said that Koresh had passed an
"AK-47 machinegun" around at a meeting (AK-47s also come in
legal, semi-automatic versions); Marc Breault said Koresh
told him how easy it was to convert a gun to a machinegun;
David Block told Aguilera that Donald Bunds, a mechanical
engineer, who remained with the group after his family left
it, operated a metal lathe and milling machine that had the
capability to fabricate firearm parts and that he had
observed Bunds designing a machinegun on a computer.
Jeannine Bunds, Breault and Block provided
Aguilera with the following evidence of intent to produce
illegal explosives: Jeannine Bunds said she had seen one
"grenade", but not that she knew it contained explosive
materials; Marc Breault said that sometime before 1989
Koresh said he wanted to "obtain and/or manufacture"
grenades; David Block said he had heard Koresh ask if anyone
"had any knowledge about making hand grenades" and another
time he "heard discussion about a shipment of inert hand
grenades and Howell's intent to reactivate them"; both
Breault and Block asserted that Koresh had expressed
interest in the (legally available) book Anarchist Cookbook
which explains how to make explosives.
While such allegations might be credible in
most witnesses, they must be regarded skeptically when
coming from individuals involved with professional or
amateur cult busters. The Treasury report itself notes,
"the planners failed to consider how Block's prior relations
with Koresh, and his decision to break away from the Branch
Davidians at the Compound, might have affected the
reliability of his statements. Although the planners knew
Block had met with a self-described `deprogrammer,' Rick
Ross, they never had any substantive discussions with him
concerning Block's objectivity about and perspective of
Koresh and his followers." (TDR:143-144) All those who gave
BATF the all important "evidence of intent" had similar
c. BATF and Treasury Department Use of Former
Members' Allegations =20
It is interesting to note that none of the most
inflammatory allegation's about Koresh's violent criminal
intent made by former members--that he had made up a "hit
list" against former members, that he had once "tested" them
by saying they would have to turn their guns on the public,
that Branch Davidians were considering "mass suicide," or
that they had renamed Mount Carmel Center "Ranch
Apocalypse"-- were included in the Aguilera's February
25th affidavit. Yet the Treasury report claims these
allegations--some of which may not have been made until
after the raid--were a prime excuse for the raid because
Koresh "might soon have been inspired to turn his arsenal
against the community of nonbelievers." (TDR:127) =20
It is particularly disturbing to see that these
cult buster stories even convinced top Treasury Department
officials to support the plan. Assistant Secretary of the
Treasury for Enforcement Ronald K. Noble told the April 9,
1993, House Appropriations subcommittee hearing that from
what BATF officials had told him, the Branch Davidians were
"people who were feared to be gathering machineguns and
automatic weapons and explosives for either a mass suicide
or for some kind of assault near Waco, Texas; that they had
bad intentions, evil intentions."
4. "PROBABLE CAUSE" BASED ON RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL
In his February 25th affidavit Aguilera includes
third hand information--from social worker Joyce Sparks to
Special Agent Carlos Torres to himself--that "during her
conversation with Koresh, he told her that he was the
`Messenger' from God, that the world was coming to an end,
and that when he `reveals' himself, the riots in Los Angeles
would pale in comparison to what was going to happen in
Waco, Texas. Koresh declared that it would be a `military
type operation' and that all the `non- believers' would have
to suffer." However, it is likely Sparks misinterpreted
Koresh's Biblically prophetic statements, statements fully
protected under the First Amendment freedom of religion
The affidavit also used other statements fully
protected under the First Amendment freedom of speech
provision as evidence of criminal intent. These include
Koresh's talk about the desire to own machineguns and the
fully legal Anarchist Cookbook and his telling undercover
Agent Robert Rodriguez it is possible to purchase a "drop-
in-sear" to convert an AR-15 rifle into an illegal
machinegun. Former member Robyn Bunds said that "she and
the other residents were subjected to watching extremely
violent movies of the Vietnam War which Howell would refer
to as training films." However, the movies alluded to were
popular Hollywood films "Hamburger Hill," "Platoon" and
"Full Metal Jacket."
Particularly disturbing is the affidavit's
mentioning Koresh's assertion of his right to bear arms and
his criticism of BATF as evidence of criminal intent. "David
Koresh stated that the Bible gave him the right to bear
arms. . .David Koresh then advised Special Agent Rodriguez
that he had something he wanted Special Agent Rodriguez to
see. At that point he showed Special Agent Rodriguez a
video tape on ATF which was made by the Gun Owners
Association (G.O.A.). This film portrayed ATF as an agency
who violated the rights of Gun Owners by threats and lies."=20
A later March 9, 1993 affidavit signed by BATF agent Earl
Dunagan actually listed as objects for which BATF wanted to
search audio and video tapes which criticized "firearms law
enforcement and particularly the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms (ATF)." BATF wanted to present these as
"evidence of Howell's or other cult members' motive for
wanting to shoot and kill ATF agents."
5. OTHER IRREGULARITIES IN THE FEBRUARY 25, 1993
Davy Aguilera's February 25, 1993 affidavit
contains stale, inaccurate and misleading information and
presents an "indefensible" probable cause theory.=20
Considering the sloppiness of Aguilera's February 25, 1993
affidavit, it is not surprising that the Treasury report
does not bother to include a copy as one of its several
a. Stale Information =20
All Aguilera's supporting information regarding
the purchase of possibly suspicious weapons was more than
eight months old. According to David Koresh's attorney Dick
DeGuerin, the February 25th affidavit contained "stale
information" under the 1932 Supreme Court case Sgro v.
United States which holds: "the magistrate [has to] conclude
that what they are searching for is there now, not that it
was there at some time in the past." Similarly, United
States v. Ruff, 984, F.2d 635 [5th Cir., 1993] holds that
evidence must be fresh. Most former members'
allegations that they had heard Koresh discuss machineguns
or seen Koresh use alleged machineguns came from 1989 and
1991. David Block's allegations that he'd heard Koresh
discuss making machineguns and grenades were also more than
six months old.
b. Inaccurate Information =20
Aguilera's affidavit contained glaring errors of
fact that attest to the shoddy nature of the "supporting
information." Despite Aguilera's swearing to be familiar
with federal firearms and explosives laws, he confused the
legal definition of "destructive devices" and "firearms."=20
He called E-2 Kits, "E-Z kits" and did not mention that they
are legal gun parts kits, not machinegun conversion kits.=20
He claims that the AK-47 has an upper and lower receiver,
when in fact it has a one-piece receiver. And he claims
the legal .50 caliber rifle Block describes is probably an
illegal .52 caliber Boys rifle, though Paul H. Blackman
believes it is unlikely such a gun even exists. (In its
discussion of the probable cause investigation, the Treasury
report corrects Aguilera's errors without mentioning it has
done so.) =20
It is important to note that none of the former
Branch Davidians who claimed they had seen or heard
machineguns were knowledgeable about firearms, nor did
Aguilera swear that they were. All identified the guns from
pictures and from the fact that they fired more rapidly than
normal shotguns. And none seemed to be aware the Branch
Davidians owned "hellfire" devices that make the guns sound
like machineguns. David Bunds, who Aguilera claims had
arms' expertise, was never even interviewed.=20
Two non-weapons factual errors are of note. The
affidavit states a former member "observed at the compound
published magazines such as, the `Shotgun News' and other
related clandestine magazines." However, Shotgun News is a
legal, aboveboard publication with a distribution of
150,000. Also, the affidavit repeats Joyce Sparks'
inaccurate statement that Koresh made comments about the Los
Angeles riots on a date three weeks before the riots began.=20
The Treasury report claims that, despite this error, Sparks'
records show she did visit Koresh at Mount Carmel the day
after the beginning of the riots. (TDR:125-126)
c. Misleading Information =20
In 1978 the Supreme Court held in Franks vs.
Delaware that a search warrant is invalid if the agent has
misled or lied to the magistrate in order to get it.=20
Aguilera's affidavit describes child abuse allegations and
the Texas Department of Protection and Regulatory Services
investigation, but does not mention that the case was closed
on April 30, 1992, with no evidence of child abuse.=20
Similarly, the affidavit states that a relative of an ex-
member alleges "a false imprisonment for a term of three and
one half (3 1/2) months," but does not mention that the FBI
opened a (probably-related) case for "involuntary servitude"
in April, 1992, and closed it in June, 1992. =20
The affidavit states that Branch Davidian
neighbor Robert L. Cervenka reported what sounded like
machinegun fire in February, but does not mention that the
Branch Davidians discussed this allegation with a McLennan
County Sheriff who assured them the "hell fire" devices they
were using were legal. It states that a Deputy Sheriff
heard a large explosion and saw smoke at Mount Carmel on
November 6, 1992, but does not mention that the Sheriff
didn't consider it important enough to investigate--or that
the Branch Davidians were excavating for a large underground
tornado shelter at the time. =20
The affidavit states that INS records show most
foreign nationals had overstayed their entry permits or
visas and that "it is a violation of Title 18, United States
Code, Section 922 for an illegal alien to receive a
firearm"; it does not provide evidence that any illegal
alien was using a firearm. The affidavit states, "Howell
forced members to stand guard at the commune 24 hours a day
with loaded weapons," but does not mention that in 4 weeks
of observation from the undercover house, agents saw no such
armed guards. (TDR:53) =20
BATF experts told Aguilera that Koresh's
gunpowder and igniter cord "were themselves explosives
requiring proper registration and storage--neither of which
Koresh provided." (TDR:124) However, Paul H. Blackman
writes that since there was no attempt to contact Koresh to
ask him what kind of storage he was providing, BATF did not
know if it was being illegally stored. Moreover, the amount
of gunpowder Koresh had was expressly exempt from the law,
and no registration is required for igniter cord (U.S. Code,
Title 18, Sec. 841 et.seq.; Title 26, Sec.5845(f)
d. Indefensible Probable Cause Theory =20
Aguilera's February 25th affidavit includes
several serious allegations related to matters which are not
under BATF's authority to investigate: child abuse,
involuntary servitude, illegal drugs, and tax avoidance.=20
The Treasury report defends Aguilera's presenting this
inflammatory material to the Magistrate. "While reports
that Koresh was permitted to sexually and physically abuse
children were not evidence that firearms or explosives
violations were occurring, they showed Koresh to have set up
a world of his own, where legal prohibitions were
disregarded freely." (TDR:27) Paul H. Blackman writes,
"Such a theory would allow law enforcement agencies to allow
any allegations of any serious criminal activity to help to
establish probable cause that all other criminal activities
were also being engaged in. In law, the theory is currently
6. BATF IGNORED BRANCH DAVIDIAN ATTEMPTS TO COOPERATE
The Treasury report alleges: "Aguilera wisely sought to
keep his investigation a secret from Koresh and his
followers. . .[and]. . .sharply circumscribed his inquiries
about Koresh to third parties, including arms dealers and
former cult members." (TDR:123) However, the Branch
Davidians clearly knew that they were under surveillance,
were worried about it and even tried to cooperate to with
authorities. Evidence of their worry comes from Marc
Breault's February 18, 1993, diary entry where he writes
that Steve Schneider told his sister Sue: "Vernon is worried
about the arms he has and what the Government might do about
them. I asked Sue whether Steve mentioned illegal weapons.=20
She assured me that Steve did not mention illegal weapons,
but only arms in general. Steve also said Vernon is
searching Reuters and AP news services to find out anything
about Government involvement in arms cases. . . Steve said
Vernon is particularly interested in the Randy Weaver
case." The Branch Davidians were wise to worry that the
fate that befell the Weaver family might befall them.
a. Koresh Had Cooperated with More Serious
The Treasury report claims, "There was, in fact,
no evidence that Koresh was prepared to submit to law
enforcement authorities or that he had done so in the past."
(TDR:135) In fact, Koresh had been investigated on more
serious charges than gun law violations and had cooperated
fully with law enforcement. In 1987, when Koresh and seven
Branch Davidians were indicted for attempted murder after
the shoot out with George Roden, the Sheriff called Koresh
and told him they should turn themselves in and surrender
their weapons. When Deputies showed up to arrest them, they
complied. Former McLennan County District Attorney Vic
Feazell, who prosecuted Koresh in that case criticized
federal agents, and said, "If they'd called and talked to
them, the Davidians would've given them what they
wanted." In his February 25th affidavit Aguilera
reports on the shootout but not Koresh's full cooperation
with authorities. The Treasury report dismisses this
evidence, given Koresh's "disdain for fire arms laws and
hatred for those charged with their enforcement." (TDR:135)=20
The report includes a photograph of Koresh and followers
dressed in fatigues and armed with weapons, allegedly right
before the shootout. (TDR:19-20) =20
In 1991, when LaVerne, California police demanded
Koresh return their child to Robyn Bunds, he did so
immediately. Koresh and Sherri Jewell cooperated fully with
the Michigan court which awarded custody of Kiri Jewell to
her father. And between February and April, 1992, Koresh
allowed Texas Department of Protection and Regulatory
Services and McLellan County Sheriff's Department personnel
to inspect Mount Carmel on three occasions and visited their
b. Koresh Invited Sheriff to Inspect Weapons in
As mentioned above, in February, 1992, Robert
L. Cervenka complained to the Sheriff's office that he had
heard machinegun fire at Mount Carmel. According to
Aguilera's affidavit, he even "offered to allow the Sheriff
to use his property as a surveillance post." Several months
later Branch Davidians contacted the local Sheriff about
this. The New York Times reports, "According to Mr. Fatta,
the weapons the Davidians were firing at that time were
legal AK-47s and AR-15s outfitted with a `hellfire trigger'
that allowed for rapid firing without converting the rifles
into fully automatic weapons. `We had heard that one of the
neighbors had been approached about using their property as
a listening post,' Mr. Fatta said several weeks ago, `and we
went to the local sheriff's department and asked them if the
hellfire triggers were legal, just to make sure. We were
told that they were legal.'" According to another
article, they told the Sheriff, "why don't you come and ask
us what we've got."
c. Koresh Invited BATF to Inspect Weapons in 1992 =20
The Treasury report alleges: "During the
compliance inspection of Henry McMahon. . .Special Agent
Aguilera deliberately led McMahon to believe that the
inspection was a routine administrative inquiry."
(TDR:186-188) However, it fails to mention McMahon's
version of the visit. Because Aguilera and another BATF
agent were asking Henry McMahon a lot of questions about
Koresh, he immediately called Koresh to inform him.=20
According to McMahon, "He said, `If there's a problem, tell
them to come out here. If they want to see my guns, they're
more than welcome.' So I walked back in the room, holding
the cordless phone and said, `I've got [Koresh] on the
phone. If you'd like to go out there and see those guns,
you're more than welcome to.' They looked at each other and
Aguilera got real paranoid, shaking his head and whispering,
`No, no!' And so I went back to the phone and told David
they wouldn't be coming out." =20
After Koresh's attorney Dick DeGuerin mentioned
the incident during a media panel in September, 1993,
reporters from two Houston papers contacted Jack Killorin,
Chief of BATF's Public Affairs. He told one reporter he was
not surprised that a federal agent rejected an offer to
inspect weapons. "The preferred method by the law is going
with the standard of getting a warrant before entering a
home. We execute such warrants." He told the other
reporter, "Koresh's learning of the investigation in July
1992 had no effect on the raid or the resulting standoff
between agents and cult members."
d. Lieutenant Lynch Statement on Another Service of
McLennan County Sheriff's Lieutenant Larry Lynch
told the June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee
hearing about having visited Mount Carmel with only a few
officers to serve a warrant on an individual who no longer
resided there. One lawmaker asked BATF Chief of
Intelligence David Troy about Lynch's statement. "Did you
have a conversation with the local law enforcement officials
regarding their previous service of arrest warrants and
search warrants?" Troy replied, "That is the first time I
had ever, myself, had heard that there had been an attempt
that was not related to that shootout that occurred in 1987,
to serve any type of legal document at the compound by any
other enforcement agency. . .I don't believe they ever
considered seriously driving up in that front yard and
telling him we had a Federal search warrant for the
This attests to the BATF's failure to consult
adequately with local authorities. BATF Associate Director
Daniel Hartnett informed the subcommittee that at least one
McLellan County Sheriff's Lieutenant was assigned full time
to BATF planners. This may have been Lieutenant
Barber, who had had numerous contacts with both former and
current Branch Davidians. Lieutenant Larry Lynch stated
during the hearing that Lieutenant Barber was his superior
during the February 28, 1993 raid. Marc Breault claims
it was Lieutenant Barber who called his complaints "sour
grapes." Clifford L. Linedecker writes that Branch
Davidians discussed the Cervenka complaint and the hellfire
devices with Lieutenant Barber. It is unknown if the
officer assigned to BATF--be it Lieutenant Barber or someone
else--conveyed information about Branch Davidians past
cooperation to BATF planners or if BATF ignored such
information. One reason for any "communications breakdown"
might be found Marc Breault's allegation, "ATF believes
there might be a leak to Vernon from the McLennan County
Sheriff's Department. They are bypassing the local
e. Koresh Befriended Undercover Agents =20
On January 11, 1993, eight undercover agents were
assigned to pose as students living in the two bedroom house
across the street from Mount Carmel Center. Branch
Davidians immediately visited that house, but undercover
agents refused to let them come in, despite their repeated
requests. A few days later Koresh visited the family next
door to the undercover house and told them he thought the
"students" were FBI agents and that he was expecting a visit
from the FBI. (TDR:Appendix D:8-9) Koresh said he doubted
the men were students because they were too old, their cars
were too new, they carried brief cases, and the owner had
previously refused to rent the house to anyone. However,
Koresh remained unsure as to which government agency had him
under surveillance. (TDR:187) =20
Koresh then went out of his way to befriend
agent Robert Rodriguez (who was working under the name
"Gonzales"). He invited him to visit Mount Carmel Center,
listen to music, and shoot guns in the back of Mount Carmel.
(TDR:D-11) Koresh invited Rodriguez to take Bible studies
and even invited him to join the Branch Davidians. After
the fire Rodriguez admitted to reporters that Koresh's
teachings did affect him. "`He was close,' he finally said,
his voice cracking at the memory." Koresh told KRLD
radio reporters February 28th that he was disappointed that
after his talks with Rodriguez, he and his superiors did not
"understand" that Koresh was a serious religious person
worthy of "respect." On Sunday, February 28th, Koresh was
in a Bible study with Rodriguez when he was told that BATF
and National Guard were approaching. Rather than take
Rodriguez hostage, as he easily could have, he told
Rodriguez that he knew BATF and the National Guard were
coming and shook Rodriguez' hand as the agent left. =20
f. Koresh Complained to Sheriff about UPS
On January 27, 1993, a special agent posed as
a UPS trainee and accompanied a UPS delivery person to the
MagBag and Mount Carmel Center. His attempts to get into
the buildings made Koresh suspicious. He told the delivery
person "I know we're being watched." According to the
Treasury report, "This undercover effort was so transparent
that Koresh complained to the local sheriff's department.=20
He accused the department of trying to infiltrate the
g. After Raid, Koresh Stated He Would Have
The above evidence lends credence to Koresh's
claims on the publicly released February 28, 1993, "911"
tape that he would have cooperated with authorities if they
had contacted him. On the 911 tape Koresh told 911 operator
Lieutenant Larry Lynch, "You see, you brought your bunch of
guys out here and you killed some of my children. We
told you we wanted to talk. No. How come you guys try to
be ATF agents? How come you try to be so big all the time?"=20
Later in the tape he says, "Now, we're willing, and we've
been willing, all this time, to sit down with anybody.
You've sent law enforcement out here before. . .And I've
laid it straight across the table. I said, if you want to
know about me, sit down with me and I'll open up a book and
show you Seven Seals."
After the February 28 raid, Koresh said to
KRLD radio reporters, who asked how he felt about the 4
agents who died, "Unnecessary, my friend. These men, they
don't know anything about me. They don't know what I teach.=20
I respect law enforcement. I loved the Waco Sheriff
Department. They treated me good. When we had the child
accusations against us, some Sheriff department guys came
out and they treated us with the highest respect. . .Larry
Abner. I loved the guy. I took him and I showed him around
and everything. They took the children off where they can
talk to them personally. Those kind of people I can deal
with." When a reporter asked if he would have gone to town
and discussed the weapons with the Sheriff's Department,
Koresh answered, "I would have come. I would have come. I
would have come." =20
The Houston Chronicle obtained tapes of telephone
conversations between Koresh and BATF agent Jim Cavanaugh
shortly after the assault. Koresh told the agent, "It would
have been better if you just called me up or talked to me.=20
Then you could have come in and done your work."
7. QUESTIONABLE GROUNDS FOR A PARAMILITARY RAID =20
Former New York City Police commissioner Benjamin Ward
said of the BATF's February 28th raid on Mount Carmel, "They
did it backwards. The accepted way is to talk first and
shoot second." Dr. Robert Cancro, one of the outside
experts the Justice Department asked to review BATF and
FBI's actions, wrote, "David Koresh asked why they did not
serve him the warrant directly rather than through an armed
assault. . .The issue is why was this not considered and
evaluated more thoroughly and with adequate behavioral
input." (JDR:Cancro:2) =20
One explanation is BATF's negative attitude towards
what Time called "determined and fanatical groups." BATF
spokesperson Jack Killorin declared, "We've gone about them
in a number of different ways--ruse, ambush, siege and talk.=20
In almost every one we lose law enforcement officers."=20
That BATF had no intention of allowing Koresh to cooperate
is evidenced by Aguilera's rejection of Koresh's invitation,
via gun dealer Henry McMahon, to look at his guns. Also,
Marc Breault writes in his book that in December, 1992,
Aguilera told him "that he felt Vernon was a lunatic and
needed to be put away."
The Treasury report admits that BATF planners decided
immediately that their only options were a siege
(surrounding Mount Carmel until residents surrendered) or a
"dynamic entry" or paramilitary raid. (TDR:38-43) Below are
the highly questionable reasons BATF rejected both a simple
search and a more complicated but less dangerous siege and
went forth with a paramilitary raid by 76 heavily armed
a. Paramilitary Raids Are Preferred BATF Modus
As BATF Director Stephen Higgins told the
House Judiciary Committee, BATF "Special Response Teams"
(SRTs) had made hundreds of similar "activations" during the
last several years. Such "dynamic entry" raids--armed
agents busting down doors and otherwise smashing into
unsuspecting individuals' homes and businesses with barely a
moment's notice of "search warrant"--are clearly BATF's
preferred modus operandi. The Gun Owners of America video
tape Koresh showed Agent Rodriguez criticized these Gestapo-
Two BATF top planners were noted for their raid
and siege experience. Dallas Special Agent-in-Charge Ted
Royster had led many high profile raids, including the
destructive and controversial raid on John Lawmaster's
home. And William Buford, Resident Agent-in- Charge of
the Little Rock BATF office, had planned and participated in
the 1985 siege of the white supremacist group "The Arm and
Covenant of the Sword." (TDR:38) SAC Chuck Sarabyn, who
would become co-commander of the February 28th raid, may
have favored such a raid because it would be the first
opportunity to test the "National Response Plan" which he
had "played a significant role in drafting." This would
also be only the fifth time more than one Special Response
Team had been used in an operation. (TDR:62) BATF
grandiosely named the operation "Operation Trojan Horse,"
because the agents were to be hidden in cattle trailers.
b. Cult Busters Advised Against Simple Search=20
Considering BATF's bias in favor of paramilitary
raids, it is easy to understand why BATF investigators Davy
Aguilera and Bill Buford accepted so uncritically cult
buster "scare stories," which reinforced their commitment to
such a raid. Marc Breault writes in his diary entry of
January 8, 1993, that "ATF" asked him, "If Vernon received a
summons to answer questions regarding firearms, would he
show up?" Breault answered, "No way." ATF asked, "If the
good guys came with a search warrant, would Vernon allow
it?" Breault answered, "If Vernon were not expecting it,
no. If Vernon had prior warning, yes. He'd have time to
shift all the firearms. . .There is a considerable amount of
danger because Vernon feels that since he is Jesus Christ,
he has already died. Therefore he can skip that phase of
things. Since he does not have to die, there is no
resurrection and therefore he may well feel he can start
Breault similarly had informed the U.S. Embassy
in Australia in February, 1992, that "there would be a
shootout with authorities if they attempt to enter the
cult's Waco property to take away any of the children now
living there, or investigate living conditions." This
had not happened when social workers and local sheriffs
visited Mount Carmel, yet BATF heeded Breault's questionable
advice. Doubtless, Rick Ross also was telling BATF
investigators what he told the Waco Tribune-Herald--that
Koresh was violent and dangerous.=20
The "deprogrammed" David Block told agents that
he "left the cult group because [Koresh] would always remind
them that if they were to have a confrontation with the
local or federal authorities, that the group should be ready
to fight and resist." The Treasury report admits, however,
"as far as former cult members knew, Koresh had not
specifically trained his followers to repulse law
enforcement officers or other visitors perceived to be
This cult buster-induced belief that Koresh
would not cooperate was communicated all the way to the top.=20
Chief of Public Relations Jack Killorin claimed after the
raid that Koresh was "sworn to resistance" and it was only
prudent to have firepower. And David C. Troy, chief of
BATF's intelligence division, told a House Ways and Means
subcommittee: "Once we had probable cause (to arrest him),
he was so kinked up over government. . .that he would not
come off the compound. . .And the people behind Vernon
Howell (Koresh's birth name) were just as violent."
c. Cult Buster Mass Suicide Scare Stories=20
The Treasury report mentions a legitimate reason
for not implementing a siege--the Branch Davidians might
destroy evidence. However, it goes into greater detail
about a more questionable reason--former Branch Davidians'
concerns about the possibility of mass suicide should the
government attempt a siege. Not surprisingly, Marc Breault
promoted this idea "most forcefully." (TDR:46) In fact, the
Treasury report admits, "The planners ultimately rejected
the siege option mainly because the intelligence obtained in
January from former cult members. . .Most significantly,
they noted the distinct danger that Koresh would respond to
a siege by leading his followers in mass suicide." (TDR:141)=20
Doubtless, Rick Ross promoted his "Jim Jones" comparison.
d. Shoddy Intelligence=20
BATF planners decided they could only consider a
siege if Koresh was arrested away from Mount Carmel when he
was out jogging or in town. Agents believed that without
Koresh's leadership, the other members would offer little
resistance to a BATF search of Mount Carmel. The Treasury
report admits agents received inaccurate information from
social worker Joyce Sparks and undercover agent Robert
Rodriguez that Koresh rarely left Mount Carmel. It also
admits that the agents at the undercover house could not
identify who left and entered by automobile. (TDR:136-140)=20
Only after the raid did BATF receive information that Koresh
had left Mount Carmel a number of times during December,
January and February, 1993. BATF did attempt to
convince Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory
Services to summon Koresh to town for a meeting so that BATF
could arrest him, but they refused to become involved. BATF
also tried obtain a Texas arrest warrant for Koresh for
sexual activities with a young girl, but that fell through
when the girl refused to
e. Publicity Stunt to Bolster BATF's Image=20
In early 1993, BATF was a beleaguered agency.=20
Ronald Reagan and others had been calling for its abolition
since the early 1980s. A newly elected liberal Democrat
just might try to do it. The Waco Tribune-Herald was
calling to find out why BATF wasn't doing something about
the Branch Davidians weapons build up. And in mid-November,
1992, CBS's "60 Minutes" contacted BATF about an upcoming
expos=82 about female BATF agents who charged routine sexual
harassment and even attempted rape. The expos=82, which aired
January 10, 1993, included damning statements by BATF
agents. Agent Bob Hoffman exclaimed, "the people I put in
jail have more honor than the top administration in this
organization." Agent Lou Tomasell said, "I took an oath.=20
And the thing I find abhorrent and disgusting is that these
higher-level people took that same oath and they violate the
basic principles and tenets of the constitution and the laws
and simple ethics and morality." A few weeks later, 15
black agents accused the agency of discrimination in hiring
Facing Congressional appropriations hearings
on March 10, 1993, BATF leadership may have felt it needed
some good publicity to illustrate its effectiveness,
something like the sight of BATF agents arresting dozens of
religious fanatics and displaying a big weapons cache. Any
later story that the guns were found to be legal and that
charges had been dropped would never go beyond the local
papers. Mike Wallace reran this January episode May 23,
1993, and declared, "Almost all the agents we talked to said
that they believe the initial attack on that cult in Waco
was a publicity stunt--the main goal of which was to improve
the ATF's tarnished image."=20
During the June 9, 1993, House Appropriations
subcommittee hearings lawmakers grilled BATF Public
Information Officer Sharon Wheeler to determine if BATF
Washington or local offices had been concerned with "the
BATF image and whether or not this operation would impact on
that image?" (Committee members did not ask the same
question of Wheeler's superior David Troy, who was also at
the hearing.) Wheeler denied two reporters' contentions
that when she called them for weekend phone numbers she had
told them, "we have something big going down" on Sunday.=20
She also asserted that she was told not to send out a press
release "until we knew if there was significant things found
in the compound, you know, evidence of violations."=20
The Treasury report contends it was not BATF, but a private
ambulance driver who tipped off the local television station
KWTX. Their cameraman inadvertently tipped off a Branch
Davidian to the impending raid. (TDR:159)
f. Desire to Punish BATF Critic=20
Aguilera's February 25th affidavit asserts:
"David Koresh stated that the Bible gave him the right to
bear arms" and then showed undercover agent Robert Rodriguez
a video tape which "portrayed ATF as an agency who violated
the rights of gun owners by threats and lies." During the
January, 1992 interview with Martin King for the Australian
television program "Current Affair," Koresh gave his opinion
about guns: "This is not Europe, not where a country
overthrows a bunch of people, takes away their weapons so
the people cannot argue any issues. Guns are the right of
Americans to have. Yeah, we've got a gun here and there.=20
Most of the guns were sold. A lot of people say: `He's got
guns, that makes him bad, that makes him a cult.'" When
asked if he would use a gun if "someone" trespassed, Koresh
answered, "They come in here with a gun and they start
shooting at us, what would you do?. . .Our constitution
states every citizen in American has the right to rebuttal
the government. Guns? Yes, we have guns."=20
It may well be that the Branch Davidians
perceived "secessionist" tendencies disturbed BATF--and
later the FBI. Sheriff Harwell said, "They were like living
in another little country out there. They had their
property line and they were basically good people. All of
`em were good people. . .I don't know about Vernon Howell.=20
I think he really believed he was what he told everybody he
was, and I think he was probably sincere in everything that
he taught. But the other thing that he did was to teach the
philosophy that once anyone crossed that property line out
there it would be just like someone invading the United
States." Columnist Joseph Sobran wrote: "We are
already being told how threatening David Koresh is to
society at large, when apparently all he ever wanted to do
was to secede from it. And this, I think, is the real
nature of a cult: its desire to withdraw. Even before its
physical isolation, it has rejected the moral and cognitive
authority of the larger society. This disturbs everyone who
feels wholly at home in that society and dependent on
8. GOVERNMENT MULTI-TASK FORCE MAKES FOR "PARTNERS IN
The Treasury report describes the "multi-task
force" of federal, state and local authorities used to carry
out the BATF's February 28th raid. While BATF agents from
three Special Response Teams carried out the actual raid,
support was provided by the National Guard, Texas Department
of Public Service employees, including the Texas Rangers,
and the McLennan County Sheriff's Department. (TDR:79) At
the June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee
hearings, BATF Associate Director Hartnett explained that a
Drug Enforcement Agency team was on hand to disassemble any
methamphetamine laboratory which might be found, something
not mentioned in the Treasury report. He also said that the
Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S Marshals
Service were involved.=20
The problem with such federal, state and local
"multi-task forces" is that they make all participants
defacto "partners in crime," should crimes be committed
against citizens--especially if federal agents commit the
crimes. National legislation and federal funding for state
and local law enforcement ensure that many state and local
authorities may not be very aggressive in preventing or
investigating federal crimes against citizens.
The Treasury report states, "The Texas Rangers
[were] deputized as U.S. Marshals for the criminal
investigation and prosecution." (TDR:7) and "opened a formal
homicide investigation" of the murder of federal agents by
Branch Davidians. (TDR:116). (According to a Texas Rangers
public affairs representative, they were deputized by the
U.S. Attorney's office in Waco, Texas.) As we shall see,
BATF and FBI interfered with Texas Rangers' attempts to
conduct a complete and impartial investigation. After the
fire, several Texas residents tried to file formal
complaints with the Texas Rangers regarding what they
believed to be the FBI murder of the Branch Davidians.=20
Texas Rangers and a representative of the Texas Attorney
General told them that since all Texas Rangers investigators
were deputized as U.S. Marshals, there was nothing that the
state of Texas could do.
9. DUBIOUS DRUG ALLEGATIONS TO OBTAIN HELICOPTERS FREE=20
The 1878 posse comitatus law, Section 1385 of the U.S.
code, states U.S. military forces and state national guards
cannot be used as police forces against civilians. However,
courts have given law enforcement wide leeway in using
military and national guard equipment and facilities. As
BATF Associate Director Hartnett told Congress, "We use the
military all the time for support with reimbursement."=20
More recent modifications of the posse comitatus law (32
U.S.C. =15112 and 10 U.S.C. =15371) allow the military and
national guard to provide "non-reimbursable" (i.e., free)
support to civilian law enforcement if they are engaged in
The Treasury report states BATF wanted to use
military training facilities and equipment at Fort Hood, and
Texas National Guard aerial reconnaissance before, and
diversionary helicopters during, the raid. "However, in the
absence of a drug nexus, ATF was told by both the U.S.
military and the National Guard that the assistance would be
reimbursable." (TDR:213) To get that free assistance, BATF
constructed drug allegations from extremely shaky and dated
Marc Breault had told BATF that Koresh claimed that
after he took over Mount Carmel from George Roden, "he had
found methamphetamine manufacturing facilities and recipes
on the premises." Koresh told Breault he had asked the
local Sheriff to take them away, but the Sheriff had no
record of doing so. (TDR:30) Breault never alleged having
seen such a lab in his years at Mount Carmel. Undercover
agent Robert Rodriguez told BATF, "Koresh had told him that
the Compound would be a great place for a methamphetamine
laboratory because of its location." Also, one Branch
Davidian had a "prior conviction for possession of
amphetamines and a controlled substance" and 10 others had
been either arrested or investigated for drug violations in
the past. (TDR:212)=20
However, as revealed to Congress, BATF admitted it
knew the identity of the individuals most likely responsible
for building this lab. "Roden allowed others to stay on the
property and pay rent. Convicted narcotics trafficker Donny
Joe Harvey and his associate, Roy Lee Wells, Jr., were
verified by the McLennan County Sheriffs Department as
residing at the compound. Both Harvey and Wells are
incarcerated." BATF also admitted that it knew the last
Branch Davidian to be convicted on drug charges was Brad
Branch, back in 1983. Finally, the statement Koresh
allegedly made to the agent may well have been made within
the context of George Roden tenants' former activities.=20
On the basis of this shaky information, Army
Lieutenant Colonel Walker, who advised BATF on obtaining
"training or equipment or support in a counter-drug
operation," recommended BATF solicit Texas National Guard
services. BATF convinced the Texas National Guard to
do two overflights of the buildings to look for "hot spots"
that might indicate drug laboratory activity. A hot spot
was found but, since it could indicate construction, cooking
or other activities requiring heat, "no official
interpretation of the `hot spot'" was provided.
Given this dubious evidence, it is not surprising
that in the month after the raid, BATF denied to reporters
that it had used allegations of a drug laboratory to obtain
the helicopters. After press reports that BATF had obtained
the helicopters under "false pretenses" angered Texas
Governor Ann Richards, Hartnett sent her a March 27, 1993
memo to assure her that there had been sufficient evidence
to invoke the drug "nexus" exception to the posse comitatus
law and obtain free use of Texas National Guard helicopters.
10. CHRONOLOGY OF FEBRUARY 28, 1993 BATF RAID
@ This chronology has been assembled largely from
Appendix D of the Treasury Department report on Waco, other
parts of the report and the February 28, 1993 "911" audio
7:30 am--BATF convoy arrives at Bellmead civic center.
7:45--KWTX television reporter and cameraman arrive nearby
8:00--Undercover agent Robert Rodriguez enters Mount Carmel
for Bible study.
--Raid Commander Chuck Sarabyn briefs ATF convoy at
Bellmead Civic Center.=20
8:30--KWTX cameraman warns postman David Jones, a Branch
Davidian, that a "shootout" is about to occur. Jones
returns to Mount Carmel and warns Koresh.=20
8:45--Three Waco Tribune-Herald cars arrive nearby Mount
9:05--Rodriguez leaves Mount Carmel, hurries to undercover
house across the street, calls raid, Commander Sarabyn and
tells him that Koresh knows BATF and National Guard =20
are coming. Commanders Sarabyn and Philip Chojnacki and SAC
Ted Royster decide to go ahead with raid.
9:10--Chojnacki calls BATF National Command Center in
Washington and informs them operation is a go.
9:25--Sarabyn arrives at Bellmead, announces operation is to
proceed, tells agents "Hurry. They know we're coming." ATF
agents board cattle trailers.=20
9:29--Helicopters carrying Chojnacki and Royster are on the
way to Mount Carmel to create a "diversion."
9:30--A long convoy of cars, vans and 3 cattle trailers
heads towards Mount Carmel.=20
9:45--Cattle trailers enter drive way of Mount Carmel,
followed by KWTX television vehicle.
9:47--Sarabyn and Chojnacki end cellular telephone contact. =20
--Raid begins; helicopters and agents "taken under fire". =20
--KWTX video crew takes cover behind bus.
9:48--Wayne Martin calls 911 to report 75 armed men are
attacking Mount Carmel. "Attempts continue (19 times) to
reach ATF. Contact is finally established via TSTC =20
Patrolman `197' at 10:20 am."
9:55--Associate Director Hartnett and Director Higgins are
informed agents are under fire.
10:03--911 Lieutenant Lynch calls back Mount Carmel after
disconnection and talks continue.
Martin complains about shooting from helicopters.
10:20--911 finally contacts ATF and Lieutenant Lynch helps
Chojnacki and Royster negotiate cease fire.
10:34--Koresh calls 911, soon disconnects.
10:42--Koresh calls 911 again, soon disconnects.
10:46--Schneider and Koresh call 911 and discuss cease fire.
10:49--911 call disconnects. Lynch gives Koresh's cellular
phone number to Royster who passes it to agent Cavanaugh at
10:59--Lynch negotiates with Martin and Schneider on one
line and Chojnacki and Royster on the other.
11:27--Cavanaugh finds telephone number on undercover house
refrigerator door and calls into Mount Carmel and continues
11:30--Hartnett unilaterally requests FBI Hostage Rescue
11:39--Agents move in to pick up wounded and dead agents.
11:54--Ambulance moves in to pick up agents.
12:45pm Approx.--ATF agents physically assault KWTX
cameraman taking pictures of dead agents.
12:37--Lynch gives Schneider Cavanaugh's phone number and
direct contact is established.*
Mid-afternoon--Branch Davidian Donald Bunds arrested as
tries to return to Mount Carmel by car.
4:55--Agents fire on three Branch Davidians trying to re-
enter Mount Carmel, Michael Schroeder
killed, Delroy Nash arrested, Bob Kendrick escapes.
4:00-12:00--David Koresh gives KRLD and CNN radio interviews
and tape of his sermon is played several times over KRLD.=20
Four children leave Mount Carmel.=20
5:30--FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey Jamar arrives at
--Royster holds first press conference.
10:00pm--Hartnett and FBI Hostage Rescue Team arrive via FBI
HRT plane. FBI takes charge at 10:00 am March 1, 1993.@@*=20
Seeming conflicts occur between accounts in Treasury
report text and Chronology in Appendix D.
Diagram and Drawing from Treasury Department Report -
Not to Scale Drawing includes undercover house, the lake,
Mount Carmel Center and hay barn. Altered to include
concrete room, water tower, buried bus, missing room
11. BATF USED EXCESSIVE FORCE TO SERVE WARRANT=20
BATF's executing search and arrest warrants upon the
Branch Davidians with 76 heavily armed agents utilizing a
plan which provided no opportunity for the Branch Davidians
to cooperate peacefully by itself constituted an excessive
use of force. As we shall discuss in the section on the
Branch Davidians' defense, their attorneys can make a strong
argument that BATF's excessive use of force alone gave the
Branch Davidians the legal right to shoot back in self-
a. Excessive Numbers of Agents and Weapons=20
During the June 9 House Appropriations
subcommittee hearing, BATF Chief of Special Operations
Richard L. Garner described the arms carried by 76 agents:
every agent had a Sig Sauer 9mm semiautomatic pistol; 27
agents carried tactical carbine MP-5 9mm semiautomatics;
snipers were equipped with .308 caliber high power sniper
rifles; agents also carried 8 AR-15s and 12 shotguns.=20
Agents also carried "flash bang" percussion grenades. 9mm
rounds in submachine guns are highly-penetrating rounds
available only to law-enforcement special operations teams
and the military, and are specifically designed to cut
through body armor. James L. Pate alleges that it was not
humanitarian concerns or negotiations that ended the hour-
long assault, but the fact that agents ran out of
ammunition. They had only 40 rounds left when they finally
b. Evidence BATF Did Not Properly Serve Warrants =20
Nothing in Aguilera's affidavit indicated that
Koresh or his followers would use force to resist service of
search and arrest warrants. Nor did the Magistrate give the
necessary explicit permission for such a "no knock" warrant
which would permit agents to bypass giving notice that they
were serving a search warrant. Title 18, U.S.C. 3109 states
that an officer must give notice of his legal authority and
purpose before attempting to enter the premises. Only if an
officer is refused entry is it legal for him or her to use
force to gain entry.=20
Before the trial there was much suspicion that
BATF never properly served the warrants. BATF spokesperson
Jack Killorin told USA Today, "We needed 60 seconds of them
not being prepared and we would have neutralized the
compound and gotten the children out." However, 60
seconds is barely time for an agent to walk to the front
door of a large building, knock, wait for an adult to answer
the door and formally announce that he was there to serve a
search warrant. What BATF had planned was more like a
military search and destroy mission than any constitutional
News reports describe an armed attack.=20
"According to witnesses, federal agents hid in livestock
trailers as they drove up to the compound. As three
National Guard helicopters approached, the 100 law officers
stormed the main home, throwing concussion grenades and
screaming `Come out!' For a moment, there was no response.
Then the shooting began. `It was a large barrage of gunfire
from several places in the house at once,' said Dan
Mulloney, a KWTX-TV news photographer who followed the
agents onto the compound." Koresh's attorney Dick
DeGuerin asserted Branch Davidians alleged, "these two
cattle trailers roar up, and people start screaming out of
the back of them, screaming at the tops of their lungs, not
anything like, `This is a search' or `We're agents' or `Put
up your hands' or anything like that. It was just
screaming, yelling, like Marines storming the beach."=20
An FBI spokesman explained to a reporter why BATF agents
would not have identified themselves, "you don't want to
give these guys a chance to get their guns. In Waco, there
was no announcement of who was there and the fact they're
there for the lawful purpose of executing a warrant."=20
It is obvious from Koresh's 911 conversation that even
though he had heard it was BATF that was about to raid him,
and even though he answered the front door himself, a half
hour after the raid he was still confused about who was
attacking him and why. He told Lieutenant Larry Lynch of
the Sheriff's office, alluding to past talks with the
office, "We told you we wanted to talk. No. How come you
guys try to be ATF agents?"=20
On the fourth day of the trial BATF Special
Agent Roland Ballesteros, the first to arrive at the front
door, took the stand for six hours. Ballesteros
acknowledged that BATF planners had never had a plan for
peacefully serving the search and arrest warrants. He said
no agent had been designated to announce the purpose of the
raid. "Basically, we all announced. We practiced knocking,
announcing, and then going through the front door." Asked
if he ever rehearsed a peacefully entry, he answered, "No,
we did not." Ballesteros was armed with a 12 gauge shotgun,
9mm pistol, and a 38 caliber handgun. He and two other
agents were also armed with a battering ram.=20
Ballesteros testified he saw Koresh in the
doorway, and yelled, "Police, lay down!" He said Koresh
answered, "What's going on?" He yelled back, "Search
warrant, lay down." However, defense attorneys pointed out
that this was the first time he had mentioned seeing Koresh
in the door or announcing he was serving a search warrant.=20
During his February 28, 1993 interview with the Waco
police, his March 10th interview with the Texas Rangers, and
a September 30th pre-trial hearing, he did not mention these
facts. Ballesteros testified he had changed his story
because during earlier testimony pain killers from a wound
he suffered during the raid had dulled his memory.=20
What "jogged" Ballesteros' memory was a meeting
with U.S. Customs agents who interviewed him as part of the
Treasury Department's review of the raid. As a result of
this interview, "He changed that version of the incidents. .
.His Tuesday account of the early minutes of the bloody raid
agreed with the account he gave customs agents."=20
Considering that the Treasury Department was interested in
exonerating BATF, it seems likely that U.S. Customs agents
"helped" Ballesteros remember a version more consistent with
the Treasury Department's version of events. Two
days later another BATF agent, Robert Champion, testified
that agents had identified themselves as police with a
search warrant--something he also did not tell Texas Rangers
in March. When questioned by defense attorneys, Champion
said the Texas Rangers had not specifically queried him
about that issue. Branch Davidians and their attorneys
see Ballesteros and Champion's new testimony as one more
example of a massive government coverup.
12. ALLEGATIONS BATF AGENTS SHOT FIRST=20
The Treasury report describes a slightly different
version of events than Ballesteros' version: "Koresh
appeared at the front door and yelled, `What's going on?'
The agents identified themselves, stated they had a warrant
and yelled `freeze' and `get down.' But Koresh slammed the
door before agents could reach it. Gunfire from inside the
Compound burst through the door. The force of the gunfire
was so great that the door bowed outward." (TDR:96) Branch
Davidians tell the opposite story: Koresh told BATF he
wanted to talk and agents started shooting at him, hitting
the front door. (Note that the front door was actually a
set of two doors, not a single door.)
a. Agents Expected A "Shootout"=20
The Branch Davidians learned of the impending
raid when KWTX camera man James Peeler asked directions of
Branch Davidian David Jones, who was driving his mailman's
truck. (Something which would BATF would not reveal to the
public until six months after the raid.) Two slightly
different versions of what Jones told Dick DeGuerin about
the incident confirm the idea that agents were actually
expecting a shootout. According to a news account, DeGuerin
said Peeler told Jones, "Well, you better get out of here
because there's a National Guard helicopter over at TSTC and
they're going to have a big shootout with the religious
nuts." According to the Treasury report, Jones told
DeGuerin that Peeler told him there were going to be "60 to
70 TABC (Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission) guys in
helicopters and a shoot-out would occur." (TDR:85) Since
KWTX's initial information came from a private ambulance
driver working with BATF (TDR:189), BATF agents'
expectations of a shoot-out were indirectly transmitted to
the Branch Davidians.=20
Moreover, the morning of the raid, many agents
read the Waco Herald-Tribune's February 27th story about the
Branch Davidians and raid co-commander Chuck Sarabyn
discussed the article with them during a briefing. (TDR:82)=20
The story was filled with cult buster accusations that the
Branch Davidians were dangerous fanatics. Finally, at the
trial, BATF agent Ballesteros admitted that BATF agents had
been briefed that they would encounter 20 to 30 or more
"Mighty Men." He said, "We anticipated we would be met with
b. Over Sixty Agents Knew Branch Davidians Were
Warned of Raid=20
After Jones discovered that a raid was
imminent, he rushed back to Mount Carmel and told Koresh.=20
Koresh then told Rodriguez that he knew "ATF and National
Guard" were coming and Rodriguez hurried across the street
and called raid co-commander Chuck Sarabyn. After
consulting with co-commander Philip Chojnacki, Sarabyn
decided to go forward with the raid anyway and dashed out to
the staging area shouting, "Get ready to go, they know we're
coming!" and "Koresh knows the ATF and National Guard are
coming!" (TDR:91) "Over sixty agents who heard Sarabyn on
the day have since recounted" they heard him given these
warnings. (TDR:195) On top of the propaganda they had
absorbed about the Branch Davidians' alleged ferocity, this
information must have unnerved many agents.
c. Agents Confused by Poor Planning=20
Besides expectations of a "shootout" and
knowledge that the Branch Davidians knew they were coming,
obvious flaws in the planning may have heightened agents'
anxiety. According to the Treasury report, there had never
been a contingency plan for bad weather, the loss of
surprise, armed resistance or retreat. The commanders of
the raid were in a helicopter and a cattle truck where they
could not communicate effectively with agents. Two-way
radio communications quickly broke down between agents.
(TDR:143-156) The Houston Post wrote, "Unless you have a
very disciplined group, you can expect all hell to break
loose once any shot is fired; and according to Charles
Beckwith, a retired Army colonel and founder of the
military's anti-terrorist Delta Force, the ATF's raid was
d. Branch Davidians Did Not Use "Tactical
Despite an excellent opportunity to shoot at
oncoming vehicles--perched as they were in a large building
on a hill with an excellent view of all oncoming vehicles--
the Branch Davidians did not do so. Justice Department
outside expert Alan A. Stone commented, "The BATF
investigation reports that the so-called `dynamic entry'
turned into what is described as being `ambushed'. As I
tried to get a sense of the state of mind and behavior of
the people in the compound the idea that the Branch
Davidians' actions were considered an `ambush' troubled me.=20
If they were militants determined to ambush and kill as many
ATF agents as possible, it seemed to me that given their
firepower, the devastation would have been even worse. .
.The ATF agents brought to the compound in cattle cars could
have been cattle going to slaughter if the Branch Davidians
had taken full advantage of their tactical superiority."
Agent Ballesteros testified that BATF was
"ambushed" because the Branch Davidians didn't shoot at them
until they were up close to the compound. Needless to say,
this is a rather nefarious way of describing what was more
likely their prudently waiting to see if BATF's intentions
were violent. Defense attorney Dan Cogdell dismissed the
theory BATF was "ambushed" by dozens of heavily armed
Davidians. "If there were 46 individuals that used fully
automatic weapons we wouldn't have four agents dead, we'd
have 100 dead," said Dan Cogdell In fact, "another
Branch Davidian survivor who asked not to be named
acknowledged that some people inside began to return fire:
`People were running around everywhere, asking if anybody
had any guns. Nobody had any handy. Most of what we had
was new, still in the box.'"
e. David Koresh's Allegations =20
On the evening of the February 28 raid Koresh
described the first shots to a KRLD radio reporter: "I
begged these men to go away. I had wives and I had
children. But they didn't listen. . .They came out. I was
at the front door. I had the front door open so they could
clearly see me. And then what happened was, I told them, I
said `Get back. There's women and children here. Get back.=20
I want to talk.' and all of the sudden 9mm rounds started
firing at the front wall." The reporter asked, "Was that
when you got wounded?" Koresh answered, "No. They hit the
metal doors which deflected them. I had my face out where
they could see me. And then I moved back and all of a
sudden the guy started firing." That evening Koresh told
CNN, "They fired on us first. Like I said, they were
Deceased Branch Davidian Steve Schneider's
attorney Jack Zimmerman says of Koresh's version, "That was
confirmed by a number of people who heard him say that" and
that ATF's version "is a lie." One evidence of this is
that just 15 minutes after the raid began, Wayne Martin told
911 Sheriff's Deputy Larry Lynch, "I have a right to defend
myself. They started firing first." According to a news
report, "On his way to a court hearing Wednesday, cult
member Livingston Fagan, who left the compound Tuesday, told
reporters ATF agents fired the first shots--a charge the ATF
f. Agent Ballesteros' Previous Allegations BATF
In earlier testimony to Waco police and Texas
Rangers Agent Ballesteros said he thought that agents
shooting at the Branch Davidians' dogs fired the first shot.=20
At the trial, he changed his story and testified that the
Branch Davidians did so, shooting through the front door.=20
Again, he blamed medication for impairing his memory.=20
(The only non-agent to testify that the Branch Davidians
shot first was Waco Tribune-Herald reporter Marc Masferrer,
who was about 300 yards away at the time. He testified that
he thought the first shots came from inside the building. A
defense attorney commented, "At that distance, those people
would look like ants.")
g. Photos of Agents Firing Before Bullet Holes
Appear in Front Door=20
Waco Tribune-Herald photos introduced at the
trial show agents firing before any holes can be seen in the
front door. This certainly contradicts BATF agents'
story that the Branch Davidians fired first, out through the
front door and that "the force of the gunfire was so great
that the door bowed outward," as the Treasury report puts
h. Evidence Gun Shots Were Fired Inward through the
Contrary to BATF and Treasury assertions the
Branch Davidians fired out through the door, Branch
Davidians claim the first shots were fired at David Koresh
and entered inward through the front door. Attorney Jack
Zimmermann, who had an opportunity to examine the hollow
metal front doors before the fire, stated that Branch
Davidians would have fired out through windows, not the
door. "What would cause that front door to be peppered with
holes like that?" The door was first rammed by tanks
and then burned in the fire. Nevertheless, at the trial a
Texas Ranger testified they did find one of the two front
doors. One news report said the door was "crumpled, bullet-
pocked"--but did not mention in which direction the bullets
had entered. The Texas Ranger said "that while other doors
and many metal objects had survived the fire, he believed
that the missing door was destroyed in the intense heat."=20
When asked if FBI or BATF agents had access to the site
immediately after the fire, he answered, "I'm sure they were
both out there." The possibility that BATF or the FBI
destroyed this evidence after the fire must be investigated.
i. Unreleased BATF Video Tape =20
Waco television station KWTX had not yet set up
their camera when the first shots were fired. According to
an Associated Press wire press story, "ATF associate
director Conroy said a video tape taken from an ATF
helicopter during the raid may help clarify the question of
who fired the first shots in the deadly shootout that left
four ATF agents and at least two cult members dead."=20
Supposedly BATF was operating more than one video camera,
but it has refused to release any tapes.=20
U.S. District Court Judge Walter A. Smith, Jr.
ordered that all BATF audio and videotapes be persevered and
presumably these will be released during the trial of the
eleven Branch Davidians. However, "the judge stopped
short of ordering what the lawyers for Koresh and his
lieutenant, Steve Schneider, had requested, which was that
they be held by the court and not federal officials."=20
(Judge Smith is the judge who will be presiding over the
Branch Davidian trial.) If the government does not release
these tapes during the trial, attorney's for Branch
Davidians suing the government may subpoena them, or other
individuals may seek to obtain them under the Freedom of
j. Audio Analysis from Video Tapes=20
Even if video cameras were not focused on the
scene of the first shots as they were fired, the audio
portion of the videotapes can still provide valuable
information, such as, who shot first, whether a "flash-bang"
grenade was thrown through a window, and whether there was
shooting from helicopters. Because the audio comes from
video tapes, the exact location from which the recordings
were made will be easy to gauge and therefore the exact
"geometry" of many of the echoes will be ascertainable with
great accuracy. The sounds of shooting from inside the
building, as opposed to from outside it, will be
significantly different and provide useful evidence. Today
IBM-compatible sound-analysis software is available which
will allow anyone to do such analysis with great
k. Law Enforcement Allegations=20
James L. Pate writes that two law enforcement
sources confirmed to him that BATF shot first, Texas Ranger
"sources," and "federal law enforcement sources." The
latter said that a BATF agent had an accidental discharge as
he got out of the cattle trailers in front of Mount Carmel.=20
He wounded himself in the leg and cried out, "I'm hit!"=20
Everyone then opened fire, thinking it was a signal to
initiate fire. Pate also states that Steve Willis, one of
the BATF agents killed in the raid, was assigned to "take
out" Koresh if necessary and did fire an MP5 SD submachine
gun at him from the passenger side of the lead pickup
truck. While this story may sound far fetched, it is
certainly one of many allegations that must be explored by
an independent investigator.
13. ALLEGATIONS AGENTS SHOT INDISCRIMINATELY AND FROM =20
The Treasury report states that BATF agents "returned
fire when possible, but conserved their ammunition. They
also fired only when they saw an individual engage in a
threatening action, such as pointing a weapon." (TDR:101)=20
However, Branch Davidians claim BATF agents fired
indiscriminately, including through walls, and that
helicopters sprayed the building with bullets. News video
tapes clearly show agents exercising little control over
their firing as they fire over vehicles with little or no
view of what they were shooting at. Both BATF Director
Higgins at an April 2nd Congressional hearing and Treasury
Secretary Bentsen during the September 1993 Treasury
Department press conference denied allegations that agent
fired indiscriminately. BATF may allege that any
firing down through roofs was done by Branch Davidians
firing from the building tower or from the water tower.
a. Bullet Evidence in Doors, Walls and Roof=20
Branch Davidians, and attorneys Dick DeGuerin
and Jack Zimmerman who visited Mount Carmel during the
siege, insist that there was extensive evidence that BATF
agents shot indiscriminately through Mount Carmel Center's
front door, walls and roof. They were very concerned with
preserving this evidence of an out-of-control assault.=20
The New York Times reported, "both lawyers
clearly believed that helicopters flying over the compound
during the raid had fired into upper floors of the main
building from above." ATF Spokesperson Jerry Singer denied
that the helicopters had flown over the compound or fired
upon it. "The helicopters did not overfly the compound on
Feb. 28 and I have no information that anyone fired from the
helicopters." However, Jack Zimmerman stated, and Dick
DeGuerin concurred, "an expert will be able to tell from the
angle of the trajectory plus the pattern whether there are
entry or exit holes. If it's in the ceiling and it's
clearly an exit hole, it had to come from above. How else
could it have come in?" Except for half the front
door, all this evidence was destroyed by the April 19 tank
rammings, the fire, and the bulldozing of still burning
walls into the rubble.
b. Wayne Martin Allegations on 911 tape=20
Wayne Martin and an unidentified Branch Davidian
complain frantically to Lieutenant Lynch 15 minutes after
the start of the raid about the continuing gun fire from
BATF agents, even as they themselves withhold fire. Nearly
continuous gunfire can be heard in the background of the
Martin: Another chopper with more people; more guns going
off. They're firing. That's them, not us.=20
Unidentified Davidian: There's a chopper with more of
them. Lynch: What!?=20
Davidian: Another chopper with more people and more guns
going off. Here they come!=20
Lynch: All right, Wayne, tell . . .=20
Davidian: We're not firing. That's not us, that's them!=20
Lynch: Okay. Tha . . . All right. Are you, are you
ready to come out and give up? Are you ready to
terminate this Wayne? Martin: We want to cease fire!=20
Lynch: Standby. [he then tries to get in touch with BATF
radio van. There is more sound of gunshots]=20
Lynch: Sta . . . Who's firing now?=20
Davidian: They are!=20
Wayne: They are!=20
Lynch: All right. Standby. I'm tryin' to reach 'em.=20
Stand. Don't return fire, okay?=20
Davidian: We haven't been.
Davidian: We haven't been. [sounds disgusted] =20
During the June 9, 1993, House Appropriations
subcommittee hearing, an FBI agent gave a staff member an
excerpted tape of the "911" calls between Lieutenant Larry
Lynch and Branch Davidians David Koresh and Wayne
Martin. The tapes, which the Waco Police Department
sells to the public, were edited into a 30 minute tape. The
FBI claimed the tape was a "sampler of voice changes."=20
Lawmakers were led to believe the tape was verbatim.=20
However, Waco police said the tape gave a "false impression
of how the events occurred." If one compares the
transcript of the tape in the hearing record to the Treasury
Department's chronology, one finds that the section where
Wayne Martin complains about helicopters shooting at him has
been moved towards the end of the tape, which would have
been well after the helicopters withdrew from the scene.=20
This might be evidence that someone wanted to discredit
Martin's claims and cover up BATF's illegal actions.=20
c. Agents Shot from Undercover House=20
The first days of the Branch Davidian trial
confirmed what has been long suspected--that agents in the
undercover house 300 yards from Mount Carmel were firing at
the building. A Texas Ranger testified they had collected
40 used shell casings found in and around the undercover
house. The Texas Ranger also said that "friendly fire"
could have struck the driver's door of one of the BATF
pickup trucks that pulled cattle trailers on February
d. Catherine Matteson Allegation "I
seen (sic) those trailers drive up. I was downstairs. I
thought it strange, but I figured they were delivering
firewood or something. I picked up the Sunday paper and went
upstairs to my room, and started reading. When next,
bullets came through the roof. I could hear the helicopters
overhead, I got under my bed."
e. Children's Pictures of Bullets Through Roof =20
A story about psychologist Bruce D. Perry's interviews
with Branch Davidian children who left Mount Carmel after
the raid mentions, "Still another child created a picture of
a house beneath a rainbow. When Perry asked, `Is there
anything else?' the child calmly added bullet holes in the
roof. That was an allusion to the Feb. 28 shootout with
federal agents that marked the beginning of a 51-day
standoff and left the compound near Waco scarred with bullet
holes." A May 19, 1993 Newsweek story shows this
picture with the caption, "A girl drew her home's dotted
roof. `Bullets,' she said."
f. Questions about Deaths of 6 Branch Davidians =20
In opening statements on January 12, 1994, lead
prosecutor U.S. Assistant Attorney Leroy Jahn said, "On
February 28 the occupants of Mount Carmel (the cult
compound) not only killed ATF, they killed their own.=20
People who were too wounded to fight were put out of their
misery." Prosecutors are referring to the deaths of
Peter Hipsman, Winston Blake and Koresh's father-in-law,
Perry Jones. The Treasury report alleges Peter Hipsman
received a number of allegedly non-fatal wounds and was
"later killed by a cult member who shot him at close range
in the back of his skull--an apparent mercy killing."
(TDR:101) It alleges Winston Blake's death by a shot to the
head from two to three feet was from a "cult member."
(TDR:104) However, it describes no other wounds. Neither
does it describe other wounds to Perry Jones, who it states
committed suicide with one shot to the mouth. (TDR:101)=20
However, Rita Riddle, who was at Mount Carmel during the
BATF raid, stated Jones was shot in the stomach by bullets
piercing the building walls.=20
If these individuals did commit suicide or were
shot in mercy killings, it may have been because they
believed that the BATF raid was in fact the beginning of a
prophesized government massacre. They may have wanted to
die quickly rather than suffer before being killed by the
"Babylonians." BATF retains direct responsibility for their
The Treasury report conflicts with statements by
Branch Davidians that some dead members were not even armed
at the time of the attack. Brad Bailey and Bob Darden write
that the "official version"--which agents are not supposed
to discuss--is that Peter Gent was carrying a gun on top of
water tower, shot Steven Willis, and was then shot by a
sniper--"possibly Rodriguez"--from the undercover house.=20
They note that the government denies Gent was shot from a
helicopter. However, attorney Dick "DeGuerin recounted
how witnesses reported Gent was working, unarmed, in the
water tower. `He was scraping the sides of the tank. There
was very little or no water in it. He heard all the noise,
came up and stuck his head out to see what was going on and
he was shot through the heard. He fell within the water
tower onto a platform.'"=20
Branch Davidians also claim Jaydean Wendell had
just finished nursing her baby when a bullet shot from a
helicopter came through the ceiling and penetrated her
skull, killing her. The New York Times repeated Rita
Riddle's allegation a woman had been shot in her bed.=20
The Treasury report offers no explanation for Jaydean
Wendell's death from a distant shot by agents. Michael
Schroeder, who was trying to return to Mount Carmel the
afternoon of February 28, was shot six times, several times
in the back. (TDR:104) More details about all these deaths
may emerge during the trial.
14. ALLEGATIONS FRIENDLY FIRE INJURED OR KILLED SOME
BATF Chief of Intelligence David Troy told the
press that "in the first two minutes, 16 agents were injured
and four were killed." It is certainly possible that
in those first minutes terrified agents firing wildly from
the ground and from helicopters injured and killed some of
their own. During the trial a defense attorney asserted
agents firing from the undercover house could also have
killed or wounded some agents.
a. Two Different BATF Versions of Where Two (or
Three) Agents Died=20
The Treasury report states two teams of agents
climbed the roof to Koresh's second floor living quarters--a
bedroom on the west side and allegedly an arms room on the
east side. Agents Conway LeBleu and Todd McKeehan "were to
enter Koresh's bedroom from the west side of the roof."
(TDR:98) They were killed, but the report does not explain
whether it was on the roof or inside the bedroom, who killed
them, from what angle the bullets came, what kinds of guns
killed them and how their bodies were removed from the
roof or room. During the trial BATF Agent Petrilli said
that agents climbed to the roof and removed LeBleu and
McKeehan's bodies from it.=20
The Treasury version of two agents killed near
or in the bedroom is substantially different from the
version BATF originally released, which held that three
agents were killed in the arms room. The report
admits, "Contrary to some publicly disseminated reports,
none of the agents that entered the armory were killed."
(TDR:100) The fact that BATF changed its story has given
rise to speculations BATF is trying to cover up that
McKeehan and LeBleu were killed by friendly fire, either
from helicopters, ground fire, or agents shooting from the
roof into the armory. The choppily edited KWTX video
tape of the entry into the arms room shows an agent
throwing a device into and then firing into the room after
three agents enter. Some claim this firing really killed
the two agents; some claim it killed all three in the arms
room, as BATF originally told news reporters. =20
However, the Treasury report claims that the
agents threw the device into the window before entering and
does not mention the agent firing into the room. "At the
arms room, Agent Jordan managed to `break and rake' [i.e.
break the window and clear glass shards] the window and
Agent Buford threw a distraction device into the room.=20
Buford, Constantino and Jordan entered. Inside, Agent
Buford saw a person armed with an assault rifle backing out
of a doorway in the far left corner of the room. That
individual began firing into the room from the other side of
the thin walls." Buford was shot twice in the upper thigh
and Constantino provided cover as Buford and Jordan escaped
the room. "As Constantino was deciding whether to hold his
position or make a run for the window, a cult member entered
the room aiming an assault rifle at him. He fired two or
three shots at Constantino. Constantino returned fire and
the man fell." (TDR:98-100) There is no mention of whether
Constantino was in or out of the room when he shot.=20
Some of this confusion was clarified on February
25, 1994 when Agent Constantino testified at the Branch
Davidian trial. He said that a portion of the bullet
removed from Agent Jordan was 9mm "hydroshock" bullet like
his own and acknowledged "it's possible" he may have shot
Jordan. He did not know if a ballistics test had been done
to determine if the bullet was from his gun. More
investigation of this incident and a careful study of the
full KWTX videotape of this incident remain
b. "Federal Sources" Admit Evidence Exists =20
The April 5, 1993 Newsweek reports, "A federal
source involved in the Waco situation says that `there is
evidence that supports the theory of friendly fire,' and
that during the assault "there was a huge amount of cross-
fire." Another highly placed federal source told James
L. Pate "about half of ATF casualties in the raid apparently
resulted from `friendly fire'."
c. Agents Allege Friendly fire=20
According to the New York Times, "One agent said
that some people involved in the raid believed that some
agents had been hit by so-called friendly fire, although the
agent and others said they knew of no evidence to support
that belief. The agency has strongly denied the possibility
that any agents were wounded by other agents." During
January 25, 1994 trial testimony both Agents Constantino and
later Agent Buford admitted that they suspected or had heard
of friendly fire incidents.
15. BATF INTIMIDATION OF THE PRESS=20
BATF agents and officials were originally convinced
that the press had purposely tipped off the Branch
Davidians. They accused KWTX reporter John McLamore and
cameraman Dan Mulloney of making a deal with the Branch
Davidians that they would tip them off if they were allowed
to hide in a tree and tape the raid. Some BATF agents
and families accused the publisher of Waco Herald-Tribune of
being a "murderer" for running his series on the Branch
Davidians, despite BATF requests to hold it off until after
the raid. Later they blamed Waco Tribune-Herald
reporter Mark England because undercover agent Rodriguez
heard a Branch Davidian tell Koresh "England" was on the
phone just before he learned of the raid.=20
On March 17, 1993, BATF agent John T. Risenhoover
filed a lawsuit claiming that an unnamed Waco Tribune-Herald
employee called David Koresh and warned him about the
impending BATF raid. Risenhoover, who was wounded in the
ankle and hip, sought damages for hospital costs and mental
anguish. According to the Treasury report, BATF agents had
tried to convince the newspaper not to publish their expos=82
of the Branch Davidians until after the raid and mistakenly
thought they had an agreement to that effect. (TDR:69)=20
Risenhoover's lawsuit also claimed the newspaper reneged on
an agreement to withhold its series on the Davidians until
BATF completed its investigation. One assumes this is
something higher-up BATF officials would have to have told
Risenhoover. However, the editors denied ever making such
an agreement, and SAC Chojnacki was very angry or "hot,"
because editors said they were unconcerned about how their
series would affect raid plans. (TDR:71) BATF immediately
distanced itself from Risenhoover's lawsuit. "This is
strictly between the agent and the newspaper," said BATF
spokeswoman Sharon Wheeler. However, many suspect that
this was just part of a broader government effort to
intimidate the press and the media.
16. BATF COVERUP =20
The Treasury Department report admits only that BATF
commanders tried to cover up their decision to go ahead with
the raid despite the loss of surprise, and that several
officials disregarded evidence that they were covering up.=20
Below we list evidence that this admitted coverup is but one
a. Dubious Allegations about Koresh Statements =20
Undercover agent Robert Rodriguez alleged in the
second, March 5, 1993 affidavit that when Koresh learned of
the impending BATF assault he said to Rodriguez, "Neither
ATF or the National Guard will ever get me. They got me
once, and they will never get me again." However, neither
the BATF or the National Guard had ever arrested or "gotten"
Koresh before, so this statement would seem to be either a
fabrication or a misunderstanding of a Koresh statement. =20
b. Unverified Reports of Machine Gun Fire and
The Treasury report alleges "unrelenting
automatic and semiautomatic weapons fire" from the Branch
Davidians. (TDR:101) However, according to Paul Blackman,
"firearms experts who have heard videotapes of the incident
have heard no such regular rapid fire." Also, news
reports state, "Officials said today that two of the wounded
agents were hit by fragments of hand grenades lobbed from
the compound." Again, we will not have certain
evidence until the government releases all audio and video
tapes. We do not know if it is possible to distinguish
between BATF "flash-bang" grenades and explosive ones.=20
c. False Report Members Try to "Shoot their Way
At 4:55 p.m. on February 28 Branch Davidians
Michael Schroeder, Delroy Nash and Woody Kendrick together
approached Mount Carmel in an effort to re-enter it. They
came upon BATF agents Dyer, Brigance and Appel who were
moving away from the hay barn and towards the evacuation
point. The agents claim that when they identified
themselves, the three shot at them and the agents returned
fire. (TDR:111, Appendix D:19) Schroeder was shot six times
but escaped into the brush where he died. His body was not
recovered for several days. Nash was arrested and Kendrick
escaped; he was arrested a few days later. =20
Initially, BATF told the press these individuals were shot
trying to shoot their way out of Mount Carmel. BATF's
original, inaccurate story has raised suspicions that BATF
agents are trying to cover up an improper attack on the
three Branch Davidians. Evidently, BATF never adequately
corrected this story. As late as April 20, the Washington
Post reported in a sidebar, "Sunday, Feb. 28. . .6 p.m.
Three cult members storm out of the compound." During
the trial, Bob Kendrick and Delroy Nash, who were with him
at the time, will present the Branch Davidian's side of the
story about their meeting with federal agents near the "hay
d. BATF Denies Branch Davidians Captured and
Released Four BATF Agents=20
Dick DeGuerin and Jack Zimmerman assert that
four BATF agents were captured inside the compound in the
gun battle, disarmed, then released during a cease-fire.=20
"They had their arms up, threw down their guns, and were
taken into custody. That much is clear from the videotape.
Their release and the entire cease-fire was a suggestion of
the Branch Davidians." Waco television video tapes of the
raid show people coming out of the compound with their hands
up, but, according to news reports "it was not clear whether
the people had been caught in the crossfire or had come from
inside the compound." However, BATF spokesperson Jerry
Singer "denied that agents of the bureau were captured and
then released. `No,' he said, `It did not happen.'" =20
However, during the June 9, 1993, House
Appropriations subcommittee hearing, McLennan County
Sheriff's Lieutenant Larry Lynch mentioned his negotiations
with Wayne Martin regarding "ATF wounded." "I still had
Wayne on the line and was working with Wayne to get ATF into
the--back into the compound to get their wounded. . .I would
talk to Wayne and get Wayne's assurance that there would not
be firing, that ATF was coming in to retrieve their
wounded." Perhaps BATF prefers to consider its agents
"wounded," rather than "captured." However, if government-
issued weapons had been found after the fire, it would
support the Branch Davidians' contention and show that BATF
told yet another lie. We do not know if such guns were
e. BATF Takes Gun Dealer McMahon Into "Protective
On March 1, 1993, BATF agents took custody of
gun dealer Henry McMahon and his woman friend Karen
Kilpatrick who had recently moved to Florida. In September,
1993, Dick DeGuerin told the Freedom of Information
Foundation media panel on Waco: "They told these two people
they were in danger from Branch Davidians who were not
inside Mount Carmel who might try to kill them and convinced
them to ask for protective custody. Mr. McMahon and his
friend soon realized they'd been tricked into asking for
protective custody but ATF flew them to Oregon. . .flew them
down to Waco. The purpose of that was to prevent you from
talking to them." In late April, 1993, McMahon and
Kilpatrick were interviewed on a Pensacola television show
"Lawline." They stated that during these weeks BATF agents
tried to keep them away from both the FBI and the
James L. Pate alleges that BATF agent Davy
Aguilera lied when he stated that McMahon had referred to
Koresh as "my preacher" and when he alleged McMahon tried to
hide from him the fact that Howell and Koresh were the same
person, allegations repeated in the Treasury report.
(TDR:26, Appendix D:5) Pate writes: "Interviewed by phone
about the Treasury report's claims, McMahon told SOF that he
and his girlfriend/business partner Karen Kilpatrick
informed Aguilera truthfully that Koresh was `a' preacher,
not their preacher. `We were never members of that church--
never went to a single church service out there,' Kilpatrick
told SOF. . .As for properly identifying Koresh to the ATF,
McMahon said gun dealers are required to check drivers'
licenses for identification on paperwork documenting gun
purchases. McMahon did so, using a Texas driver's license
for identification on paperwork identifying the buyer as
Vernon Wayne Howell." Knowing Koresh had changed his name,
McMahon wrote "in parentheses after Howell's name on the ATF
yellow forms: `AKA David Koresh.' Henry McMahon wasn't
trying to hide anything from anyone and Aguilera knew this.=20
But Aguilera lied. . .in an effort to discredit McMahon's
knowledge of ATF wrongdoing." McMahon has not been
charged with conspiracy to manufacture machineguns, despite
his selling many weapons to the Branch Davidians.
f. Paul Fatta Charged After Leaving Waco=20
Another individual who could attest to the
Branch Davidians' legal gun business was Paul Fatta, who ran
the business. He was in Austin with his son at a gun show
on the morning of February 28. When he returned to Waco
that afternoon, Fatta called radio station KRLD, which had
been interviewing David Koresh. The station broadcast Fatta
telling the radio interviewers that authorities had refused
to give him information, and that he wanted to get back to
According to Ron Engelman, who talked to Paul
Fatta several times during the siege, Fatta then offered his
assistance in bringing about a peaceful end to the standoff.=20
However, authorities refused his help and were abusive
towards him. After a week he left Waco for Oregon. BATF
immediately issued a warrant for his arrest on the charge of
conspiracy to manufacture and possess unregistered machine
guns and stated that he was "armed and dangerous." Engelman
said this action frightened Fatta into believing that BATF
would murder him if he surrendered to them. Fatta
finally surrendered to Texas Rangers in Houston on April 26.=20
"Mike DeGuerin, Mr. Fatta's attorney, said his client did
not surrender earlier because of his mistrust of federal
g. Raid Commanders and BATF Officials Covered Up
Loss of Surprise =20
Part Two, Section Seven of the Treasury report
is entitled "ATF Post-Raid Dissemination of Misleading
Information About the Raid and the Raid Plan." (TDR:193-209)=20
The report states, "raid commanders Chojnacki and Sarabyn
appear to have engaged in a concerted effort to conceal
their errors in judgement. And ATF's management, perhaps
out of a misplaced desire to protect the agency from
criticism, offered accounts based on Chojnacki and Sarabyn's
statements, disregarding clear evidence that those
statements were false." (TDR:193)=20
When BATF finally informed higher Treasury
Department officials of the planned raid Friday, February
26, 1993, then Acting Assistant Secretary of the Treasury
John P. Simpson decided the action was too dangerous and
"directed that the operation not go forward." Also
expressing reservations was Ronald K. Noble, the designated
but unconfirmed Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Law
Enforcement, who was acting as a consultant. In a Friday
night conference call, Higgins told Simpson and Noble that
he had obtained reassurance from raid co-commander Philip
Chojnacki that the "raid could be executed safely" and that
"the raid would be aborted. . .if things did not look
right," i.e., if there was any evidence of a "change in
routine." Simpson allowed the raid to go forward, "after
these assurances were given." (TDR:75-76) During the June
9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee hearing Higgins
stated he "instructed Dan [Hartnett]. . .if there is any
indication that we have lost that element of surprise,
simply do not do the raid. And I was assured that would be
the case." Noble told the same committee Higgins told
him, "if for any reason they lose the element of surprise. .
.express orders or directives to call off the
However, even after Chojnacki learned from his
co-commander Chuck Sarabyn that the Branch Davidians knew
BATF was coming, and after consulting briefly with SAC Ted
Royster--who did not have an official title for the raid,
but was still a raid leader, he allowed the raid to go
forward. Chojnacki even called the National Command Center
in Washington and reported that the raid was commencing. He
did not report that the Branch Davidians knew about the
raid. When Rodriguez learned that the raid was underway he
was "distraught." (TDR:89-91, 165)=20
It would be almost two months before this
account of what really happened that morning would be
related to the press and public. >From the start, BATF
officials denied reports like the Los Angeles Times that an
agent was heard shouting, "We've gotta move. He's been
tipped off." BATF's Law Enforcement Associate Director
Daniel Hartnett, Deputy Associate Director Edward Conroy,
and Intelligence Division Chief David Troy, who became the
principal BATF spokesperson, immediately interviewed
undercover agent Rodriguez and three other agents who were
with Rodriguez when he made the important call to Sarabyn.=20
All confirmed that Rodriguez had told Sarabyn that Koresh
knew that BATF raid was imminent.=20
However, Hartnett and Troy gave less credence to
their stories than to commander Chuck Sarabyn's story that
Rodriguez "was not real descriptive as to the ATF-National
Guard statement" and commander Philip Chojnacki's claim that
Sarabyn hadn't told him anything about Koresh's
foreknowledge. So Troy continued to deny to the press that
the commanders knew that Koresh had been alerted to the
impending raid. (TDR:196-199)
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers were
gathering even more evidence, including from 60 BATF agents,
that raid commanders Sarabyn and Chojnacki knew that they
had lost the element of surprise. They passed this along to
Hartnett and Conroy. However, "Hartnett and Conroy failed to
keep [BATF Director] Higgins informed about the mounting
weight of evidence that Sarabyn and Chojnacki's account was
false," so Higgins continued to mislead the press and
public. In late March Director Higgins wrote a memo to BATF
agents denying there was a coverup of "mistakes in planning,
leadership or both" after he discovered some agents were
planning to make coverup allegations to the media.=20
Finally in early April, after a number of
agents contacted Higgins directly to complain about these
misstatements, did Higgins ask for a copy of Rodriguez
statement. Yet for another month he allowed Hartnett and
Conroy to instruct Troy to keep misleading the press. Only
under pressure from the Treasury review team did Sarabyn,
Chojnacki, Hartnett and Conroy finally admit to their roles
in the coverup. (TDR:199-206) SAC Ted Royster also
participated in the coverup, claiming he did not know that
surprise had been lost. When Noble threatened him with
disciplinary action, "Royster then sent agents a three-page
letter outlining personal pressures and career problems that
caused his memory lapse."=20
Chojnacki and Sarabyn also tried to cover up
their lack of professionalism and errors by altering the
written plan of the raid, which they had not issued before
it took place. They did not tell the Texas Rangers or the
Treasury review team that it had been altered. They then
tried to blame the alterations on a lower ranking agent who
had assisted them and finally admitted the truth to the
review team. (TDR:208-210)
Immediately after the release of the Treasury
Department report on Waco, Treasury Secretary Bentsen put
Hartnett, Conroy, Troy, Chojnacki and Sarabyn on
administrative leave. Hartnett and Conroy immediately
resigned. Bentsen also removed BATF Director Higgins, who
had another month to go before retirement.=20
The Treasury Department is willing to admit to
this coverup because so many disgusted and vocal agents had
complained about it. However, both BATF agents and the
Treasury Department continue to defend BATF's slipshod
investigation and excessive use of force in serving the
search and arrest warrants. Therefore we cannot rule out
the possibility of other coverups which only an Independent
Counsel investigation can discover.
h. Raid Commanders May Have Lied about Firing from
According to the Treasury report raid commander
SAC Philip Chojnacki was in one of the three National Guard
helicopters "at the outset of the firefight." (TDR:154)=20
According to Clifford L. Linedecker, Ted Royster was also in
one of the helicopters. Both Chojnacki and Royster
would go on to lie to their superiors about whether they
knew if the element of surprise had been lost. Therefore,
we must wonder if they also lied about whether there was
firing from helicopters.
i. Government Keeps Warrants Sealed After Koresh
On February 28, 1993 BATF had the Magistrate
seal the contents of the affidavit and search and arrest
warrants "to ensure the integrity of an ongoing criminal
investigation against Vernon Wayne Howell and others. It is
believed that evidence may be altered should the direction
of the investigation become evident." This prevented the
public from discovering the grounds for the raid. "One
problem with either criticism or support for the government
is that the reasons for the raid remain largely secret. The
original search and arrest warrants remain sealed, and the
ATF won't say exactly what it was looking for, or what
information it has. The agency has insisted that it has a
legal right to keep the warrants sealed until they have been
On March 19th the FBI delivered to Koresh
"copies of legal documents concerning the ATF warrants."
(JDR:74) Despite the fact that Koresh now knew the contents
of both the February 25th and the later March 5 affidavit
and search warrant, the government refused to release these
to the press and public until April 20, 1993, the day after
j. Possibility BATF will Tamper with Audio/Video
Above we noted that U.S. district court Judge
Walter A. Smith, Jr. ordered that all BATF audio and
videotapes be preserved. However, defense attorneys had
requested that the judge retain the tapes to prevent any
tampering to delete evidence of government wrongdoing or
create evidence of Branch Davidian wrongdoing. With modern
audio and video techniques, such tampering can go virtually
undetected; therefore, the government's keeping the tapes
assures that many will continue to doubt whatever evidence
k. BATF Involved with Texas Rangers' Investigation=20
As we have seen the U.S. Attorney's office in
Waco deputized the Texas Rangers as U.S. Marshals for the
criminal investigation and prosecution. Nevertheless, there
is evidence of continued BATF interference with the
investigations--including after the fire. The Justice
report states, "a memorandum of understanding between the
FBI and ATF gave the ATF jurisdiction in cases involving the
injury or death of their own agents." (JDR:23) It was BATF
agents Aguilera and Dunagan who continued to issue search
and arrest warrants during the siege.=20
The Texas Rangers took charge of the ruins of
Mount Carmel the afternoon of the fire. During the first
days of the trial, a Texas Ranger "recounted barricading the
site after the standoff to assure there would be no
coverup." Nevertheless, during the next few days BATF
and FBI agents had access to the crime scene--and ample
opportunity to tamper with evidence. News video tapes and
photos clearly show that BATF agents hoisted a BATF flag
over Mount Carmel's still smoldering ruins. And the
Treasury report admits "after the Compound was ravaged by
fire, ATF firearms explosives experts collected
evidence of the firearms and other destructive devices
Koresh and his followers had possessed." (TDR:128) Again,
many believe that deputizing state investigators as U.S.
Marshals prevented them from fully investigating possible
BATF and FBI crimes against the Branch Davidians.
l. Questions About Weapons Found After the Fire =20
The Treasury report states, "based on the materials
recovered, the experts concluded that Koresh possessed: 57
pistols, 6 revolvers, 12 shotguns, 101 rifles, 44+
machineguns, 16+ silencers, 6 flare launchers, 3 live
grenades plus numerous components, and 200,000 rounds of
unused ammunition." (TDR:128) Two 50 caliber rifles were
among the rifles found. Among these items, only the
machineguns, the live grenades, and the silencers would have
been illegal. During the third day of the trial, Texas
Rangers reported finding 48 machine guns, one silencer, six
pieces of tubing being converted into silencers, but no live
grenades among the many grenade parts. Also, the expert
said there was no way of knowing if any of the machineguns
actually had been fired.=20
As we have seen, BATF--and FBI--agents had
access to the ruins of Mount Carmel for 24 hours after the
fire. BATF had the time and opportunity to tamper with
evidence. And they certainly had the motive--excusing the
February 28 raid which killed four of their agents and set
in motion the 51 day siege and caused the death of 86 or
more Branch Davidians. These facts, and BATF agents'
history of coverup in this issue, have prompted wide
speculation that BATF "planted" evidence in the form of
burned illegal weapons. However, news reports have not
mentioned defense attorneys questioning the authenticity of
the weapons found.=20
Further, there has been little discussion of
whether the illegal machine guns, grenades and silencers
were assembled from legal parts before the February 28th
raid by 76 armed BATF agents, or after it, by Branch
Davidians, in self-defense. Papers filed at the time
Schroeder agreed to plea bargain state that she "admitted
being an armed guard from the day of the initial raid until
March 12th, when she left the compound. Though she was
unarmed during the actual shootout, she admitted that after
the standoff began, she carried a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle
and later a fully automatic AR-15 machinegun when she took
up her guard posts." The fact that she admitted to
carrying automatic weapons only "later" might be evidence
that they were manufactured after the BATF attack.
17. TREASURY DEPARTMENT COVERUP=20
The Treasury Department report does expose inept
planning and execution of the BATF raid on the Branch
Davidians. However, it defends the probable cause basis for
the search and arrest warrants and excuses the decision to
go forward with a paramilitary raid. There is other
disturbing evidence of coverup which support the argument
that an Independent Counsel must be appointed to investigate
the federal government's destruction of the Branch Davidian
a. Ronald K. Noble Conflict of Interest=20
In late April, 1993, Treasury Secretary Lloyd
Bentsen selected Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Law
Enforcement Ronald K. Noble to head the investigation of
BATF's handling of the raid on the Branch Davidians. As we
know, Noble approved the decision to go ahead with the raid.=20
Since he had not been confirmed, Noble had no formal
authority at that point. However, he still retains moral
responsibility. So Noble would seem to have little interest
in issuing a report that would either
challenge significantly BATF's investigation or operations
modus operandi or energetically seek evidence of criminal
behavior on the part of BATF agents or officials.
b. No Testimony Taken Under Oath=20
There is no indication that any individuals gave
testimony under oath to those who conducted the review. In
fact, the Treasury's "review team" seems to have been
hampered in getting at the whole truth by "employment
contracts," the "Privacy Act" and the "Federal Advisory
Committee Act." (TDR:6) There is also no evidence that any
of the BATF officials who testified before Congressional
committees were sworn in, though they still could be
prosecuted were it proved they had lied to a Congressional
committee. Therefore, much of the truth about what really
happened at Waco will come out only during the trials of the
Branch Davidians, civil law suits against the government or
through an independent investigation.
c. Treasury Department Attempts to Seal
In mid-August 1993 the Treasury Department
proposed a rule to exempt the Treasury Department's report
from public scrutiny. "In accordance with the requirements
of the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, Departmental
Offices, Office of Enforcement is proposing to exempt a
system of records, the Waco Administrative Review Group
Investigation (DO/.207) from certain provisions of the
Privacy Act. The exemptions are intended to increase the
value of the system of records for law enforcement and
investigative purposes, to comply with legal prohibitions
against the disclosure of certain kinds of information, and
to protect the privacy of individuals identified in the
system of records. The exemptions are intended to increase
the value of the system of records for the fact finding
investigation and administrative review performed by the
Waco Administrative Review Group so as not to reveal local,
state or Federal law enforcement techniques, sources and
methods or affect the ability of law enforcement agencies to
prosecute people for criminal wrongdoing."=20
The Treasury Department gave the public a month
to comment. It received 5,150 telegrams and letters, most
in the last few days before the deadline. Representative
Pat Schroeder wrote: "I strongly oppose this rule. While I
can appreciate the Treasury Department's desire to complete
a successful investigation and prosecute people for
wrongdoing, the public and media's right to know should not
Austin's Freedom of Information Foundation sent
out a press release supporting the Reporters Committee for
Freedom of the Press. It said "any reporters who were
targeted in the investigation should have access to the
findings and be allowed to amend any records about
themselves. . .In addition, the committee said the notice of
the exemption is too broad and would exempt all records of
the review group, not just those that are withheld for the
purposes outlined in the exemption." David Kopel,
director of Firearms Research Project in Denver said, "I
think it is a scandalous attempt to cover up the facts
surrounding one of the greatest governmental disasters in
the 20th century." Larry Pratt of the Gun Owners of
America--which has protested the fact that BATF considers
Koresh's showing its videotapes as evidence of criminal
intent--asserted, "I think this means that not only is the
fox in charge of the chicken coop, he's not going to let
anyone inside to see how many bones he's picked clean."
d. Treasury Department Report Demonizes Koresh and
The Treasury report excuses any errors in
BATF's investigation or affidavit of probable cause and its
overly aggressive paramilitary raid by demonizing Koresh and
the Branch Davidians. "The extraordinary discipline that
Koresh imposed on his followers, which enable him, for
example, to obtain all their assets and to establish
exclusive sexual relationships with the Compound's female
residents, while not itself cause for ATF intervention, made
him far more threatening than a lone individual who had a
liking for illegal weapons. The Compound became a rural
fortress, often patrolled by armed guards, in which Koresh's
word--or the word that Koresh purported to extrapolate from
the Scriptures--was the only law. And the accounts of the
former cult members, including an abused child, that Koresh
was sexually abusing minors made it clear that Koresh
believed he was beyond society's laws. Were Koresh to
decide to turn his weapons on society, he would have
devotees to follow him, and they would be equipped with
weapons that could inflict serious damage." (TDR:127)=20
Branch Davidians deny Koresh took all their assets and
controlled their sex lives. And government is not empowered
to assault individuals or groups merely because they could
conceivably "decide" to attack others.=20
It is interesting to note that despite the
government's assertion the Branch Davidian's were under
Koresh's spell, BATF Associate Director Daniel Hartnett told
the June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee hearing
that it would have been difficult to lure Koresh away from
Mount Carmel because he "feared that some of the people in
side the compound, his followers, were going to turn against
him," and "he was almost paranoid--at least the way it was
being described to me--that something was going to happen to
him by his followers."
e. Evidence of Coverup in the Treasury Department
Throughout this report we have noted where
the Treasury report has failed to provide information--even
when it would not seem necessary to "redact" it per law--or
has provided questionable information. The examples most
indicative of coverup are: no mention of the Branch
Davidians legal weapons business; ignoring or correcting
Davy Aguilera's misleading or inaccurate statements without
mentioning he made them; not including Aguilera's affidavit
in the Treasury report; supporting Aguilera's contention
that McMahon lied to him about Koresh and Howell being same
person; no acknowledgement of Koresh's past cooperation with
law enforcement; not discussing whether publicity was a BATF
motivation for the raid; not admitting that BATF knew that
George Roden's former tenants were known drug traffickers;
not admitting that BATF initially denied they had made a
claim of a drug nexus to obtain free military and National
Guard support; not admitting that no agent was assigned to
announce the search warrant, that a battering ram was to be
used, or that Chuck Sarabyn warned agents to expect gunfire;
no mention of allegations of friendly fire or agents firing
from helicopters; no mention of the false initial report
that three Branch Davidians tried to shoot their way out of
Mount Carmel; no mention of Henry McMahon being taken into
protective custody or of Paul Fatta being put on the "most
wanted list" after offering his help to BATF.=20
f. Treasury Department Has Taken No Further Action
Against Agents or Officials=20
In early October, 1993, Robert Cesca, Treasury
Deputy Inspector General, was reviewing whether to launch a
full scale investigation of agents and officials actions.=20
As we have seen, two BATF agents and two BATF officials were
immediately put on administrative leave and Director Higgins
was dismissed one month before the end of his term. Any
charges the inspector general's office might recommend would
be referred to the Justice Department. In late September,
Representative Charles E. Schumer, chair of the House
Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime said he thought "those
involved should be fully prosecuted." However, a call to
his office revealed he was only calling for prosecuting
agents for official misconduct, such as lying to superiors.=20
Similarly, these are probably the only prosecutions the
Treasury Department might consider. As of January, 1994,
there had been no action to prosecute anyone.
g. No Recommendations to Prevent Future Tragedy =20
What lessons has BATF learned from Waco? Only two,
it would seem--they need better guns and better spies. An
official at the Treasury Department's September 30, 1993,
press conference can be heard to utter a comment about the
need for better guns. And John W. Magaw, acting director of
BATF, stated he was determined that other religious "cults"
not develop into "armed compounds." "They're out there.=20
They don't yet have the kind of weaponry that we saw in
Waco. . .but they will develop if society allows them to."=20
Magaw said ATF is keeping tabs on "cult-like organizations"
in "three or four places around the country. . .We're trying
to monitor way early in the game." During an October,
1993 House Appropriations subcommittee hearing Philip K.
Noble told lawmakers: "Although we cannot prejudge all
future situations, we must be open to the possibility that a
dynamic entry--exposing agents, innocent persons and
children to gunfire--may simply not be an acceptable law
enforcement option. Time will tell if BATF ends its
aggressive modus operandi.
18. COMMITTEE FOR WACO JUSTICE CONCLUSIONS
a. BATF Drove Branch Davidians to Armed Defense =20
The Committee for Waco Justice believes that the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms drove the Branch
Davidian religious group to self-defense because of its
conspicuous surveillance, its refusal to acknowledge Branch
Davidian attempts to cooperate, its collusion with "cult
busters" committed to destruction of the group, and its use
of excessive force in executing search and arrest warrants.=20
Given their religious views that the government was intent
on massacring them, it is understandable why the Branch
Davidians resorted to armed defense. While we believe this
was not the wisest choice, we believe that it was legal
b. Independent Counsel Should Prosecute
Responsible BATF Agents and Officials =20
Under current law the Attorney General can
appoint an Independent Counsel to identify and prosecute any
BATF agents and officials suspected of committing any and
all relevant crimes, including the following: * =20
Official Misconduct for disobeying superior's orders and
covering up their disobedience; this would apply to anyone
found participating in any other to-be-discovered coverups.
* Negligent Homicide for carrying out an
unnecessary and ineptly planned paramilitary raid, against
specific orders, which resulted the deaths of four BATF
agents and five Branch Davidians;=20
* Homicide or Manslaughter in the death of Branch
Davidian Michael Schroeder should it be learned that the
alleged "shootout," on the afternoon of February 28, 1993
was in fact an unlawful and/or excessive use of force
* Conspiracy against the Rights of Citizens U.S.
Code Title 18, Section 241 reads: "If two or more persons
conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any
inhabitant of any State, Territory, or District in the free
exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to
him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or
because of his having so exercised the same; or if two or
more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the
premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his=20
free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so
secured- they shall be fined not more than $10,000 or
imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both: and if death
results, they shall be subject to imprisonment for any term
of years or for life."=20
* Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law U.S.
Code Title 18, Section 242 reads: "Whoever, under color of
any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom,
willfully subjects any inhabitant of any State, Territory or
District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws
of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or
penalties, on account of such inhabitant being an alien, or
by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the
punishment of citizens, shall be fined not more than $1,000
or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily
injury results shall not be fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death
results shall be subject to imprisonment for any term of
years or for life."
FBI-JUSTICE DEPARTMENT VIOLATIONS OF RIGHTS,
EXCESSIVE FORCE AND COVERUP
THE 51 DAY SIEGE AND APRIL 19, 1993 ASSAULT
ON THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS
On the evening of February 28, 1993, the Treasury
Department and BATF agreed to turn over control of the scene
to the FBI. By that time Special Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey
Jamar of the San Antonio office, who had been put in charge
of the operation, had already driven up to Waco. The FBI
Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) and several Special Weapons and
Tactics Teams (SWAT) also began arriving that day.
Meanwhile, Koresh and the Branch Davidians were
convinced that BATF's attack was the opening of the Fifth
Seal: that those six Branch Davidians slaughtered February
28th were killed for "preaching God's word" and the
surviving Branch Davidians only would have to "rest a little
longer" until the remainder were also put to death. Thus
would begin the countdown to Apocalypse and the Second
Coming of Christ. They also believed that the siege was an
opportunity to spread Koresh's message to the world that God
was giving humanity its last opportunity to repent.
The FBI regarded the Branch Davidians' resistance as "a
direct challenge to lawful federal warrants and to duly
authorized law enforcement officials" (JDR:12) and had
little sympathy with either the Branch Davidians' religious
beliefs--or their complaints about BATF's excessive use of
force. Doubtless, Koresh was looking for a way to come out
that would be consistent with his religious views and his
sense of dignity. However, during 51 days of the siege,
negotiators' efforts to convince them to surrender were
continually undermined by HRT Commander Richard Rogers'
persuading siege commander SAC Jeffrey Jamar to allow him to
escalate pressure tactics and psychological warfare.
As early as March 1, 1993, there were predictions that the
government's intentions towards the Branch Davidians were
violent. Former McLennan County District Attorney Vic
Feazell, who had unsuccessfully prosecuted the Branch
Davidians for the shootout with George Roden, criticized
federal agents for "storm trooper" tactics in laying siege
to Mount Carmel and predicted a grim end to the standoff.
"The feds are preparing to kill them," he said, noting the
mobilization of military equipment. "That way they can bury
their mistakes. And they won't have attorneys looking over
what they did later at a trial."
In this section the Committee for Waco Justice report
describes the FBI's violations of constitutional rights and
use of excessive force in its handling of both the siege and
the April 19th destruction of Mount Carmel and the
subsequent FBI and Justice Department coverup. The report
then presents the Committee for Waco Justice conclusions:
that the FBI effectively massacred the Branch Davidians and
that the Attorney General should appoint an Independent
Counsel to identify and prosecute responsible agents and
officials for official misconduct, violations of rights, and
negligent--or even intentional-- homicide. We will present
further recommendations in the last section of this report.
It should be noted that none of the testimony given to
the Justice Department "review teams" or to Congress was
given under oath. Also, the Justice Department report does
not include information which might affect the prosecutions
of the Branch Davidians now on trial. (The Justice report
specifies where material is being withheld by using the
notation [material redacted as required by statute].)
The "Justice Department report" issued October 8,
1993, consists of 5 separate documents. Assistant to the
Attorney General Richard Scruggs compiled the largest
report, the Justice Department factual report. Deputy
Attorney General Philip B. Heymann issued the short report
"Lessons of Waco: Proposed Changes in Law Enforcement."
Edward S.G. Dennis, Jr. issued an "Evaluation of the
Handling of the Branch Davidian Stand-off in Waco, Texas."
Finally, nine outside experts submitted recommendations
compiled in "Recommendations of Experts for Improvements in
Federal Law Enforcement After Waco." The tenth outside
expert, Alan A. Stone, M.D., submitted a separate report one
WHITE HOUSE, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND FBI CHAINS OF COMMAND
FEBRUARY 28 - APRIL 19, 1993
WHITE HOUSE Bill Clinton - President
Thomas McLarty - Chief of Staff
Bernard Nussbaum - White House Counsel
Vince Foster - Deputy White House Counsel
Bruce Lindsay - Presidential Advisor
George Stephanopolous - Communications Director
Stuart M. Gerson - Acting Attorney General
(>From Feb. 28-March 12)
Webster Hubbell - Assistant to Acting Attorney General
Gerson, liaison between Clinton and Justice Department
Janet Reno- Attorney General (>From March 12)
Richard Scruggs - Assistant to the Attorney General
Philip B. Heymann - Deputy Attorney General
Webster Hubbell - Associate Attorney General
Carl Stern, Director of the Office of Public Affairs
Mark Richard - Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Ronald Ederer - U.S. Attorney
(James DeAtley, his assistant)
Bill Johnston - Assistant United States Attorney in Waco
John Phinizy - Assistant Untied States Attorney in Waco
LeRoy Jahn - Assistant United States Attorney in Waco and
lead Prosecutor of Branch Davidians
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Officials in Washington
William S. Sessions - Director
Floyd Clarke - Deputy Director
Doug Gow - Associate Deputy Director for Investigations
Larry Potts - Assistant Director of the Criminal
Danny Coulson - Deputy Assistant Director of Criminal
E. Michael Kahoe -- Section Chief of Criminal Investigative
Division Violent Crimes
Agents in Waco
Jeff Jamar - Special Agent-in-Charge (SAC) of the Waco
Operation SAC Robert Ricks, SAC Richard Schwein, SAC Richard
Swensen, aides to Jamar
Richard M. Rogers - Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge and
commander of Hostage Rescue Team
Byron Sage - Supervisory Special Resident Agent, Chief
negotiator, in charge of 24 negotiators.
1. FBI CONTROL OF THE PRESS AND MEDIA
According to Mad Man at Waco authors Brad Bailey and
Bob Darden, the FBI used its daily press briefings as a way
of "controlling" the media and the public's perceptions of
David Koresh so that they would consider him an
unpredictable psychopath. The FBI's other goal was
"inflaming the already beleaguered cult leader."
a. FBI Restricted the Press and Media
The FBI imposed a number of harsh rules on the
media. It prohibited reporters from getting closer than
three miles to Mt. Carmel, claiming the Branch Davidians'
.50 caliber rifles could hit anyone closer. The FBI
strictly controlled its daily press briefings, prevented
agents and officials from granting media interviews.
Speaking at the September 10, 1993, Freedom of
Information Foundation panel on "Mt. Carmel: What Should the
Public Know," John O. Lumpkin of the Associated Press
described other examples of government restrictions on the
media. The FBI refused to allow Koresh to speak to the
media. It refused to divulge information such as: on whose
authority they made the original raid, who was alive or dead
at Mount Carmel, the contents of the warrant against David
Koresh, and why building walls were bulldozed into the fire.
Months after the end of the siege, FBI representatives
continued to refuse to talk to the press. Lumpkin said, "it
is my personal opinion. . .the argument could be made [that]
the situation could have turned out differently, and
certainly not tragically, if there had been much more open
Lumpkin asserted that because of FBI control of
information, the public still does not know the truth about
what happened in Waco. He said a reporter told him it
reminded him of U.S. government control of the American
press in Vietnam. Panelist Shelly Katz, a Time Magazine
photographer stationed in Waco during the siege, said this
was the worst suppression of media he had seen in 27 years
b. FBI Intimidated the Press and Media
Federal agents intimidated the media by
arresting members on flimsy pretexts. Federal agents
assaulted and arrested a reporter who had merely asked about
a Branch Davidian arrested after the BATF raid and illegally
confiscated his film. When journalist Louis Beam, who had
valid press credentials for the right-wing publication
Jubilee, asked whether the country was "witnessing a fascist
takeover," he was whisked out of the press room. When he
tried to return the next month he was arrested on charges of
criminal trespass. After state troopers arrested two
news photographers and confiscated their film near the ruins
of Mount Carmel on April 22, 1993, Tony Pederson, managing
editor of the Houston Chronicle, protested: "In a situation
already marred by tragic loss of life and questionable
actions, this seems to be a rather sorry follow-up. One has
to wonder seriously if the Bill of Rights has been suspended
in McLennan County." During the Freedom of Information
Foundation media panel Dick DeGuerin asserted that the press
should have done civil disobedience and continued getting
arrested until they were allowed to get closer to the scene
of the action.
c. FBI Lied to the Press and Media
Louis Alaniz, a Christian sympathizer who snuck
into Mount Carmel for several days during the siege and left
just before the fire, said the Branch Davidians listened to
the FBI press conferences. "What really got them is they
constantly heard the story changing-another lie, another
lie, another lie. These people were saying, `Why are they
saying all this about us?' I didn't see anything that [the
FBI] was telling the press that was true."
We will discuss these various lies as we
proceed. One glaring example was media spokesperson SAC Bob
Ricks' telling the public that operations were costing $2
million a day. During the April 22, 1993, Senate
Appropriations Committee hearings it was revealed that
actual costs for the operation as of April 22, 1993, were
$6,792,000, an average of $130,000 a day.
Another example was the FBI's describing the
rickety wooden buildings of Mount Carmel Center as a
"fortress" built for war. They alleged that the old
concrete building around and on top of which the new
building had been built was a "concrete bunker;" that the
tornado shelter under construction was an "underground
bunker;" and that the underground bus which was used as a
tunnel to the tornado shelter, and a practice shooting
range, was particularly sinister. The disinformation grew
as the siege continued, to end in a crescendo of falsehoods
immediately after the April 19th fire.
d. Press and Media Repeated Government Propaganda
During the media panel attorney Dick DeGuerin
condemned journalists for engaging in "pack journalism" and
for regurgitating BATF and FBI propaganda by repeating
charged words like "cult," "compound," "fortified bunkers,"
"Ranch Apocalypse," etc. He also criticized journalists for
merely waiting for the Treasury and Justice Department
reports as if they would be a final "Warren Commission
Report" and not doing any investigative reporting to find
out the truth.
The FBI's tight control of the news left many
media people with only government allegations and
disinformation about child abuse, arms buildups, mass
suicide, etc. to write about. Few bothered to dig deeper to
discover the dubious sources of these allegations. Even
fewer examined their own prejudices against deeply committed
religious groups. Much of the media merely repeated Cult
Awareness Network propaganda and gave CAN spokespersons
ample "cult busting" forums.
e. Press and Media Practiced Self-Censorship
Worse than merely repeating government
propaganda was the self-censorship in which some media
engaged, including suppressing criticism of the government.
In his media panel comments, Dick DeGuerin chastised the
national media for ignoring two important stories: BATF's
refusing Koresh's invitation to view his guns before the
raid and BATF's taking Koresh's gun dealer and business
partner Henry McMahon into "protective custody" after the
raid and forbidding him to speak to the press or the FBI.
The national media still has not reported either story. The
producers of Pensacola's television show "Lawline" even sent
copies of their April 21, 1993, interview with McMahon,
titled "Fiasco in Waco," to television stations all over the
country. However, stations ignored McMahon's
After the April 19th fire there were other
incidents of self-censorship. Ron Engelman hosted a mid-
morning talk show on KGBS radio in Dallas from February
through June, 1993. The Branch Davidians listened to his
show and even requested that he be made a negotiator.
(JDR:Appendix C:3) Even after the fire, Engelman's callers
wanted to talk about the destruction of the Branch
Davidians. Management demanded Engelman move his show to 6
a.m., take a co-host and make the show "light and fluffy."
Engelman refused and resigned.
NBC, which had aired the television movie
"Ambush at Waco" about the BATF raid on Mount Carmel,
originally planned to do a sequel about the ending of the
siege. However, it canceled the sequel, claiming it would
be "too violent." Perhaps NBC network executives did not
want to offend government officials by vividly portraying
government tanks gassing the Branch Davidians and ramming
away at the building until it caught fire, killing more than
While some newspapers like the New York Times
and the Washington Times called the Justice report a
"whitewash," others applauded it. An October 12, 1993
Washington Post editorial declared: "In hindsight, it is
tempting to say that anything that turned out so badly must
have been the result of serious error. But it is difficult
to cast blame after reviewing the evidence. . .[A]n earnest
effort was being made to talk the group's members out of the
buildings. . .The finding of mass suicide and/or murder is a
2. POSSIBLE ILLEGAL USE OF TANKS
The Justice report is not as forthcoming as the
Treasury report regarding the FBI's obtaining military tanks
without violating posse comitatus prohibitions on the use of
the military as a police force. First, the report does not
reveal whether the FBI used the allegation of a "drug nexus"
at Waco to obtain the tanks from the military on a no
charge, "nonreimbursable" basis. However, a Legal Times
reporter wrote, "Much of the equipment used at Waco was
provided by the Army, under an agreement that all costs
would be reimbursed."
Next the report states: "the FBI requested Bradley
fighting vehicles from the U.S. Army. Nine of these--
without barrels, pursuant to an agreement between the FBI
and the Army to avoid posse comitatus prohibitions--were
ultimately provided." However, when Koresh claimed he had
weapons that could blow these vehicles into the air, the FBI
"sought and obtained from the Army two Abrams (M1A1) tanks
and five M728 Combat Engineering Vehicles (CEVs)."
(JDR:123-124) The report does not state if these also were
"without barrels," but many claim that the tanks do have
barrels--which even the Justice Department itself admits
would be illegal.
Upon learning that tanks had been brought to Waco,
"the President called [Acting Attorney General Stuart]
Gerson, requesting an explanation for the deployment of
military vehicles. Gerson assured the President that no
assault was planned. . .[and] that it was legal for the FBI
to use the military vehicles for safety purposes." (JDR:239)
Evidently, this means that it was illegal to use the tanks
for actions like the April 19th assault. However, no
government agency seems willing to challenge what the
Justice report itself infers is the illegal use of the
Fire survivor Ruth Riddle expressed shock at the use
of the tanks. "Who ever heard of Americans using tanks
against Americans on American soil?"
3. FBI IMPATIENT WITH CONCILIATORY MEASURES
The federal government has successfully negotiated
past sieges. The 1973 siege at Wounded Knee lasted 70 days
and, despite the fact that two FBI agents had been killed,
the siege ended peacefully. Similarly, a Native American
takeover of Alcatraz (after it was no longer used as a
prison) was allowed to play itself out peacefully. BATF and
the FBI had negotiated a peaceful surrender after 3 days
with the Covenant of the Sword and Arm of the Lord group in
1985. And despite the deaths of Samuel and Vicki Weaver,
after Bo Gritz became a third party negotiator, Randy Weaver
did surrender without further bloodshed.
Nevertheless, FBI Hostage Rescue Team commander
Richard Rogers--evidently an individual with little patience
for negotiations--convinced siege commander SAC Jeffrey
Jamar to allow him to use pressure tactics against the
Branch Davidians. Justice Department outside expert Alan A.
Stone, M.D. notes that "pushed by the tactical leader [i.e.,
Rogers] the commander on the ground [i.e., Jamar] began to
allow tactical pressures." (JDR:Stone:9) These tactical
pressures--cutting off power, harassing the Branch Davidians
with bright lights and loud music, destroying property--went
against the recommendations of FBI behavioral scientist and
Dr. Stone criticized these actions: "I have concluded
that the FBI command failed to give adequate consideration
to their own behavioral science and negotiation experts.
They also failed to make use of the Agency's own prior
successful experience in similar circumstances. They
embarked on a misguided and punishing law enforcement
strategy that contributed to the tragic ending at Waco."
(JDR:Stone:1) He holds: "What went wrong at Waco was not
that the FBI lacked expertise in behavior science or in the
understanding of unconventional religious groups. Rather,
the commander on the ground and others committed to
tactical-aggressive, traditional law enforcement practices
disregarded those experts and tried to assert control and
demonstrate to Koresh that they were in charge. . .[T]he
FBI's own experts recognized and predicted in memoranda that
there was the risk that the active aggressive law
enforcement mentality of the FBI--the so-called `action
imperative'-- would prevail in the face of frustration and
delay." (JDR:Stone:14-15) (It should be noted that the
Justice report quotes statements from audio tapes of
negotiations. The full transcripts of these tapes must be
investigated by independent reviewers.)
a. Smerick and Young Advised Against Tactical
The FBI consulted its own behavioral
scientists, whose specialty was applying psychology to law
enforcement situations, but ignored their recommendations.
Pete Smerick and Mark Young recommended in several March 5th
to 9th memos that this was not a typical hostage situation
since the Branch Davidians insisted on staying with their
leader. They wrote that "tactical presence. . .if carried
to excess, could eventually be counter productive and could
result in loss of life." They advised, "If the followers
could be made to see that the government had no intention of
engaging them in an apocalyptic final battle, then perhaps
they would begin to question the validity of Koresh's
predictions about the inevitability of such a battle."
Smerick and Young recommended that the FBI
"establish some trust with Koresh" and even suggested
"moving back from the compound, not to show law enforcement
weakness, but to sap from Koresh the source of his powerful
hold over his followers--his prediction that the government
was about to start a war against them." They concluded
by saying that the FBI could "always resort to tactical
pressure, but it should be the absolute last option we
In their last memorandum Smerick and Young did
recommend mild pressures, like sporadic cutting off of
power, sudden movements of equipment and manpower, and
downplaying Koresh's importance to the press, but only if
exercised with "extreme caution." (JDR:179-183) After
reviewing Smerick and Young's recommendations, Alan A.
Stone, concludes "decision-making at Waco failed to give due
regard to the FBI experts who had the proper understanding
of how to deal with an unconventional group like the Branch
b. FBI Rejected Family and Third Party Intervention
FBI commanders rejected two important negotiation
tactics: allowing direct communication between families and
Branch Davidians and allowing third parties to negotiate a
surrender. While the FBI would send in video and audio
tapes from families, in order to "drive a wedge" between
Koresh and his followers, they forbid them to speak directly
to family members. Months after the massacre, Balenda
Gamen, mother of fire survivor David Thibodeau, recalled: "I
originally came to Waco because I was challenged by the FBI
when they said to me `there is no room for family in this
operation. Perhaps we'll do it in the future.' When I heard
those words I knew that the writing was on the wall for this
community. They had a very good chance of never coming
out." Despite Gamen and other family members'
continual entreaties to the FBI and Janet Reno via fax and
registered letter that they be allowed to negotiate directly
with relatives inside Mount Carmel, the FBI would only allow
them to send in and receive occasional audio and video
tapes. During the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary Committee
hearings Reno admitted that she had never heard about the
families' attempts to reach her.
A number of third party negotiators were
considered and rejected. On March 6th FBI Director William
Sessions had discussions with Koresh's former attorney Gary
Coker--who happens to be a personal friend of Sessions from
his days in Waco--about negotiating with Koresh.
However, FBI commanders refused to allow Coker to act as a
negotiator because they thought he merely was looking for a
client. (JDR:131). Sessions himself offered to negotiate,
but Acting Attorney General Gerson forbid it. (JDR:239-241)
On March 7th David Koresh declared he would
surrender if some theologian could convince him his
interpretation of the Seven Seals was incorrect, but the FBI
made no attempt to pursue that avenue. (JDR:58) During the
April 28, 1993, House Judiciary Committee hearing SAC Jamar
declared that having theologicians--especially renowned
ones--negotiate with Koresh would just make him more
egomaniacal. After the Branch Davidians expressed respect
for McLennan County Sheriff Jack Harwell, the FBI allowed
him to participate in some mid-March negotiations. They did
not give him a free hand as a third party negotiator.
(JDR:133-134) They also rejected the Branch Davidians'
request for radio talk show host Ron Engelman as a
negotiator and Bo Gritz' offer to be a third party
On March 16th frustrated Branch Davidians used
flashlights to send a Morse code to reporters reading, "SOS,
SOS, SOS, SOS. FBI broke negotiations. Want negotiations
from the press." The FBI soon started flashing bright
lights at the compound at night, perhaps in part to end such
communications. Only after the Branch Davidians were in
Mount Carmel for a full month did the FBI allow David Koresh
and Steve Schneider to meet with their attorneys. As we
will see in a later section, peaceful efforts by third
parties--attorneys and theologians--did result in a credible
promise by Koresh to lead the Branch Davidians out of Mount
Carmel despite FBI tactical pressure.
c. Conflicts between Tactical Agents and
The Justice report admits that negotiators
criticized the tactical commanders for undercutting
negotiations: "the negotiators felt that the negotiating and
tactical components of the FBI's strategy were more often
contradictory than complementary. . .negotiators emphasized
to Branch Davidians the `dignity' and fair treatment the
group would receive upon its exit from the compound. By
contrast, the negotiators felt that the efforts of the
tactical personnel were directed toward intimidation and
harassment. . .some of the negotiators lamented the absence
of joint strategy sessions with the on-site commander and
the tactical commander." (JDR:139-140)
The Justice report alleges that negotiators did
not believe negotiations alone could have avoided the April
19th fire. (JDR:142) Alan A. Stone, who made special
efforts to conduct his own interviews, found many of these
individuals had a different opinion. "FBI's behavioral
scientists and negotiators. . .share my belief that mistakes
were made. . .[and]. . .expressed their determination to
have the truth come out, regardless of the consequences."
Nancy Ammerman, another outside expert, agreed
that the FBI did have negotiators and experts giving them
good advice. However, this advice was not heeded because
these individuals were "outranked and outnumbered by the
tactical types." The tactical leaders had more pull
than the negotiators because of the FBI's action-oriented
ethos and because negotiators usually were stationed several
miles from the site, while the Hostage Rescue Team and
Richard M. Rogers were stationed at the site with SAC Jamar.
Also, some of the FBI negotiators were as
hardnosed as the tactical agents, insulting Branch Davidians
over the phone, calling Koresh a "child molester," and
abruptly hanging up when they quoted Scriptures. One
"negotiator" betrayed his true feelings when, after urging
Branch Davidians to come out over a loudspeaker, he
inadvertently left the microphone on and was heard to say:
"I've been in the FBI for 27 years and I've never seen
anything like these people. They think they can get away
with murder. Well, they'll have another thing coming as
soon as they come out of there."
4. FBI RELIED ON EXPERTS AND CULT BUSTERS URGING TACTICAL
The Justice report states, "The FBI has questioned
whether its negotiations with Koresh could even be
characterized as `negotiations' at all, but rather as
Koresh's attempt to convert the agents before it was too
late and God destroyed them." (JDR:17) Yet despite Koresh's
obsession with the Seven Seals, they never allowed anyone
who was an expert on the subject to have direct contact with
Nancy Ammerman believes FBI agents had such a
negative view of Koresh's religious views for three reasons:
some individuals didn't understand religion, others were
antagonistic towards religion in general, and others were
antagonistic towards Koresh's specific views, which differed
from their own. She noted FBI officials' and agents'
"tendency to discount the influence of religious beliefs and
to evaluate situations largely in terms of a leader's
individual criminal/psychological motives" and that their
"consensus" was that "when they encountered people with
religious beliefs, those beliefs were usually a convenient
cover for criminal activity." (JDR:Ammerman:5) For example,
siege Commander SAC Jamar expressed his contempt for Koresh
when he declared at the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary
Committee hearing that Koresh had merely "corrupted people"
and "corrupted religion to his own ends" and that there was
"no way to convince Koresh that he was not the Messiah."
It is evident from the Justice report's description of
its consultations with seven theologians (JDR:186-189) that
the only one they took seriously was Dr. Glenn Hilburn of
Baylor University. Not surprisingly, the report mentions
that "Baylor University has one of the largest `cult'
reference and research facilities in the country." However,
even Dr. Hilburn had little substantive impact on FBI
thinking or actions. (JDR:186-189)
Several times the Justice report mentions theologian
Philip Arnold--an expert on the Seven Seals and apocalyptic
groups--but never acknowledges his crucial impact on
Koresh's decision to come out. We will review that in
detail in a later section. A study of the Justice report
makes it clear that psychologists, psychiatrists
(JDR:158-185) and "cult busters" (JDR:190-193) who
reinforced the FBI's own prejudices had the greatest impact
on the FBI's decisions.
a. Psychologists and Psychiatrists
The FBI was particularly attentive to the advice
of psychologists and psychiatrists who asserted that Koresh
was mentally unbalanced and would not surrender voluntarily.
Dr. Park Dietz held that, "continuing to negotiate in good
faith would not resolve the situation, because Koresh would
not come out." (JDR:168) Dr. Anthony J. Pinizotto said,
"Koresh displayed psychopathic behavior, that he was a `con
artist' type, and he had narcissistic tendencies." Dr. Mike
Webster opined, "Koresh appeared to be manifesting anti-
social traits." (JDR:170) Dr. Perry and social worker Joyce
Sparks, who interviewed children released from Mount Carmel,
agreed that "Koresh was stalling for time, to prepare for
his `final battle' with authorities."
Dr. Joseph L. Krofcheck (with FBI psychological
profiler Clinton R. Van Zandt) held that Koresh appeared to
be a "functional, paranoid-type psychotic," that he was
unlikely to "give up the power and omnipotence he enjoyed
inside the compound," that there was the possibility of a
"mass-breakout. . .with women carrying a baby in one arm
while firing a weapon from the other," and that "the only
way the FBI could influence Koresh's exit from the compound
would be some form of tactical intervention." (JDR:176-179)
b. Cult Busters
There is evidence that in response to Nancy
Ammerman's sharp criticisms, to Rick Ross's being indicted
for "unlawful imprisonment" in the summer of 1993, and to
the New Alliance Party suit against the FBI for its abuse of
the word "cult," the FBI and Justice Department have tried
to cover up its association with professional or amateur
"cult busters." The Justice report asserts the FBI "did not
solicit advice from any `cult experts' or `cult
In mid-April the FBI asked Dr. Murray S. Miron,
a Professor of Psycholinquistics at Syracuse University, to
analyze five letters that Koresh sent out of Mount Carmel.
After reading the first and third letters, he concluded that
they bore "all the hallmarks of rampant, morbidly virulent
paranoia. . .In my judgement, we are facing a determined,
hardened adversary who has no intention of delivering
himself or his followers into the hands of his adversaries.
It is my belief that he is waiting for an assault."
What the FBI either did not know--or did not
admit--is that Dr. Miron is an outspoken cult critic.
Reportedly, during the 1970s he had been involved with the
Citizens Freedom Foundation, the anti-cult group which
evolved into the Cult Awareness Network. During the week of
April 14-21--even while he was consulting with the FBI--
Miron published an article called "The Mark of the Cult" in
the Syracuse New Times. The article contains stereotypical
anti-cult propaganda: "The totalitarianism of the cult
banishes dissent and fosters dependence upon fallible,
power-mad leaders. It is the system of every dictator,
whether benign or benevolent."
In typically media-savvy cult buster fashion,
Miron managed to make himself one of the few FBI consultants
quoted in major media right after the fire--thus using his
FBI connections to promote his anti-cult propaganda. He
told the Los Angeles Times, "I advised the FBI that all of
his promises as to giving up were only subterfuges,
deceptions and delaying tactics." He told the
Washington Post, "There was every indication in my mind that
he was not prepared to commit suicide." His comments
occupied eight paragraphs of a New York Times article: "Dr.
Miron said that Mr. Koresh had become so delusional" that he
and his followers may have believed that after they set the
fire "either that they were invulnerable and that the fires
would consume the authorities while leaving them untouched,
or that they were about to ascend to glory no matter what
happened to their bodies."
Rick Ross' contention that he was in close
contact with BATF and the FBI is backed up by Nancy
Ammerman's September 10, 1993 one page addendum to her
report. (Which the Justice Department did not bother to
include in its report.) In it she wrote, "The interview
transcripts document that Mr. Rick Ross was, in fact,
closely involved with both the ATF and the FBI. . .He
clearly had the most extensive access to both agencies of
any person on the `cult expert' list, and he was apparently
listened to more attentively." However, after reviewing
Ross's contacts with the FBI, the Justice report states:
"The FBI did not `rely' on Ross for advice whatsoever during
the standoff." (JDR:192)
The Justice report claims that the FBI
determined Breault was talking to the media and therefore
only accepted his affidavits and electronic mail from him,
but decided "not to contact him." (JDR:192) However,
Breault asserts: "as soon as the siege began. . .the FBI
tried for hours to contact us. . .they almost sent the
police to drag us to police headquarters. Just before they
took that drastic action, the negotiators broke through."
Breault gave them detailed information about the Seven
Seals, Koresh and his followers. Breault also writes: "The
FBI contacted us throughout the siege. They showed us
Koresh's letters." Clearly, either Breault is lying or
the FBI and Justice Department are trying to cover up their
reliance on him.
During the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary
Committee hearing FBI Director William Sessions admitted
that the FBI had consulted "cult experts," though he got
confused about the advice they had given the FBI. And SAC
Jamar admitted, "we had a white paper on cults that was
very, very useful to us." The white paper outlined the
traits of cults with one "dynamic, manipulative,
egomaniacal, psychopathic leader" and Jamar asserted that
the traits fit Koresh "to a T." Jamar did not tell the
committee what individual--or organization--gave him the
white paper. However, considering that it contained typical
anti-cult stereotypes, one might guess either Dr. Murray
Miron or Rick Ross gave Jamar the white paper. Despite the
Justice report denials, it is evident that there was a
definite cult buster influence on--and justification for--
decisions to replace negotiations with pressure tactics
against the Branch Davidians.
5. FBI PRESSURE TACTICS REPLACED NEGOTIATIONS
Alan A. Stone, M.D. writes: "By March 21st, the FBI
was concentrating on tactical pressure alone. . .This
changing strategy at the compound from (1) conciliatory
negotiation to (2) negotiation and tactical pressure and
then to (3) tactical pressure alone." (JDR:Stone:10) Below
is a description of these escalating tactical pressures and
the Branch Davidians' response to them, grouped into Dr.
Stone's three phases.
a. Conciliatory Negotiations--February 28-March 6
During this period 23 of the 35 individuals to
leave Mount Carmel did so. The FBI did not punish Koresh
after he reneged on his promise to surrender on March 2nd
because "God had spoken to him and told him to wait." And
they dealt gingerly with his various threats of violence
against federal agents. When the U.S. Attorney's office
enraged the Branch Davidians by charging with murder the two
elderly women who had left Mount Carmel, negotiators quickly
convinced them to drop the charges. However, much to the
Branch Davidians dismay, the FBI did cut off their phones to
everyone but the FBI and sent armored vehicles onto Mount
Carmel Center's property. (JDR:21-57)
The FBI also "bugged" Mount Carmel. "A federal
law enforcement official said that tiny recording devices
had been sent in. . .with deliveries of milk, news
magazines, a typewriter and various other items
requested. The Justice report admits there was "court-
ordered electronic surveillance." (JDR:107-108) A Sunday
Times of London article asserted that the FBI even used
aircraft to pick up conversations, infrared devices to
pinpoint individual's positions, and tiny fibre-optic
microphones and cameras inserted in walls to relay audio and
visual images back to the command center. This
information has not been confirmed.
b. Negotiation and Tactical Pressure--March 7-21
During this period 11 more people left Mount
Carmel. While negotiators remained conciliatory, they did
try to drive a wedge between Koresh and his followers by
ridiculing Steve Schneider because his wife had born
Koresh's child and by playing family and negotiation tapes
over loudspeakers. The FBI began exposing the "negative
part of [Koresh's] personality"--including his most
inflammatory threats--during press conferences because "it
is important for the American people to know what we are
dealing with." The FBI turned the electricity on and
off as a pressure tactic, turning it off for good on March
These pressures made the Branch Davidians more
distrustful. Koresh and Schneider called this "bad faith"
by the government and Steve Schneider claimed on March 13th
that "the government wanted to kill all of them and burn
down the building." (JDR:68) On March 15th negotiators made
it clear they would refuse to listen to any more "Bible
babble." However, they did allow a "cordial and positive"
face-to-face meeting between chief negotiator Byron Sage and
McLennan County Sheriff Jack Harwell and Branch Davidians
Steve Schneider and Wayne Martin. (JDR:70)
After the FBI sent in lawyers' letters and an
audio tape from theologian Phil Arnold, Koresh told the FBI
on March 19th that "he was ready to come out and face
whatever might happen to him." He even joked, "When they
give me the lethal injection, give me the cheap stuff."
(JDR:70-75) Between just March 19th and 21st alone ten
people left Mount Carmel.
c. Tactical Pressure Only--March 22-April 19
Despite these obvious successes, SAC Jamar,
influenced by HRT commander Rogers, decided it was time to
increase tactical pressures and "demonstrate the authority
of law enforcement." (JDR:135) On the evening of March 21st
the FBI started blaring music over its loudspeaker system
and kept it up despite Branch Davidian complaints. At 11:45
p.m. Koresh sent out the message, "Because of the loud
music, nobody is coming out." The next day Schneider
claimed "that the music had been counterproductive." On
March 22nd the FBI promised Koresh that if he surrendered
immediately he could communicate with his followers in jail,
hold religious services and make a worldwide religious
broadcast. He angrily threw their letter away. (JDR:78-80)
The last Branch Davidian left Mount Carmel on March 23rd.
The Justice report states the negotiating team
recommended escalating harassment and the eventual gassing
of the compound. (JDR:138) (As we know, not all of them
agreed that was the best approach.) Except for finally
allowing Koresh and Schneider to meet with their attorneys,
over these four weeks the FBI's strategy consisted mostly of
harassing, insulting and punishing the Branch Davidians.
During the March 24th press briefing, as the
Branch Davidians listened, "the FBI increased its `verbal
assault' against Koresh, calling Koresh a liar and coward,
and accusing him of hiding behind his children." (JDR:83)
It may have been during this time that an FBI spokesperson
declared that Koresh was just a "cheap thug who interprets
the Bible through the barrel of a gun." The FBI
harassed the Branch Davidians by blaring loud music night
and day and playing back audio tapes of negotiation, family
members and released members greetings tapes. It shined
bright lights all night long.
Some of the harassment was quite violent. The
FBI declared deadlines by which Branch Davidians were to
exit on March 23rd, 24th, 27th, and 28th. When these were
not met, the FBI removed and often crushed and destroyed
automobiles, vans, go-carts and motorcycles. Also,
"Bradleys [tanks] were run up and down in front of the
compound in what negotiators believed was a show of force"
(JDR:Dennis:44); individuals who left the building without
permission were "flashbanged," i.e. had loud smoke grenades
thrown near them; helicopters brazenly buzzed the building;
and loudspeakers blared sounds of screeching rabbits being
slaughtered and played the song "These Boots are Made for
Walking" which contains the line, "and if you play with
matches you know you're going to get burned." (JDR:79-109)
Louis Alaniz, who snuck into Mount Carmel for
several days, described "these Bradley's running around and
the guys in them shooting the finger at these kids, and one
incident where they actually mooned some of the girls.
These people were scared. They only thing they saw was a
bunch of people coming and shooting at them." Outside
expert Dr. Robert Cancro told reporters: "the threats
implicit in the use of armored vehicles, razor wire, and a
tightening perimeter tend to negate the positive and
friendly tone attempted by negotiators. . .Even a person who
isn't paranoid would interpret that as lack of consistency
and good faith in negotiations. A paranoid individual needs
more reassurance, not less."
Edward Dennis wrote, "Some negotiators believe
that as a result of these actions the Davidians concluded
that the negotiators had no influence over the decision
makers and that the FBI was not trustworthy."
(JDR:Dennis:45) Dick DeGuerin told reporters, "They're
still intimidated by the FBI. We're not coming out until we
know the media are going to be there." And Balenda
Gamen explained why many Branch Davidians did not exit or
send their children out after this point: "Because we're a
very arrogant, proud nation of people. You challenge
Americans to defend their property, and they're probably
going to do that. The bottom line is, if you truly believe
in what you are doing that passionately, you don't send your
children out to the enemy." According to Louis Alaniz,
"Koresh kept members in line by threatening to force them to
leave the compound."
To show his lack of concern about the
government's harassment, at one point Steve Schneider
declared "you can burn us down, kill us, whatever." (JDR:87)
According to news reports Koresh told the FBI, "If they want
blood, then our blood is here for them to shed. . .We are
not afraid of the government. If we have to die for what we
stand for, we're going to. I don't mind if I die."
Dick DeGuerin said, "There was a collective feeling that the
harassment was making them more stubborn." During the
April 28, 1993, House Judiciary Committee hearings SAC Jamar
dismissed Representative Don Edwards question about whether
these pressures only brought the Branch Davidians closer,
saying there was "no way to drive them closer than they
When Representative William Hughes asked SAC
Jamar which experts had recommended they use pressure
tactics like blasting loud noises all night long, Jamar did
not answer; he merely repeated his claim the purpose of the
noise was sleep deprivation. Outside expert Nancy Ammerman
also could not get a straight answer about who had
recommended these pressure tactics. She notes that Drs.
Miron, Krofcheck and Dietz were the most frequently
consulted experts. She then complains: "It is unclear which
of these consultants (if any) recommended the psychological
warfare tactics (Tibetan chants, sounds of rabbits dying,
rock music, flood lights, helicopters hovering, etc.). None
of the persons associated with [National Center for the
Analysis of Violent Crimes] with whom I have talked claims
to have favored these tactics, but no one was willing to say
who recommended them or how the decision was made to use
them." (JDR:Ammerman:2) Who gave these orders should be
6. FBI DESTROYED CRIME SCENE DESPITE COMPLAINTS
One form of harassment which had important legal
implications was the FBI's moving and destroying vehicles.
This enraged the Branch Davidians because they believed the
vans and automobiles would prove that they had done
relatively little firing at the agents hiding behind them
and that BATF was responsible for most of the shooting,
including of its own agents. The vehicles might also
provide evidence that helicopters had shot from the air. As
early as March 6th Steve Schneider had expressed fear that
the government wanted to destroy evidence that would prove
BATF's guilt. He told negotiators: "It wouldn't surprise me
if they wouldn't want to get rid of the evidence. Because
if this building is still standing, you will see the
evidences of what took place." (JDR:53) Schneider's
attorney Jack Zimmerman said, "There is no question that the
FBI is destroying evidence. If nothing else they've moved
the location of physical objects from a crime scene before
they had been photographed." DeGuerin agreed. "They're
destroying evidence with the bulldozers."
The Texas Rangers were put in charge of investigating
the February 28th raid. For ten days, SAC Jamar refused to
allow the Texas Rangers to finish investigating the area
behind Mount Carmel Center where the shootout between BATF
agents and three Branch Davidians occurred. By then
footprints which might help clarify who shot first had been
eliminated by rain. Both Texas Rangers and BATF opposed FBI
removal of the vehicles from the compound. (JDR:229) On
March 23rd Assistant U.S. Attorney William Johnston wrote
Janet Reno to complain. (JDR:81) The FBI then agreed to
"photograph, graph and grid the portion of the compound
where the vehicles sought to be moved were located" in order
to preserve evidence. (JDR:255) However, the Justice report
does not mention if the FBI told the Branch Davidians about
this new policy.
7. FBI PLAN TO GAS, DISASSEMBLE MOUNT CARMEL
The FBI Hostage Negotiation Training Manual asserts,
"Time is always in our favor," and urges personnel not to
grow impatient in hostage situations. London Times
bureau chief James Adams, author of a number of books on
covert warfare, wrote about the government's handling of the
standoff: "Every professional in the hostage rescue business
knows that the best chance of survival for all the innocents
held captive is to play out a waiting game. The theory,
which has been proved again and again, is that the longer
you wait, the better the chances of a peaceful resolution."
In his article he quotes counter-terrorism expert Noel Koch
who wrote, "If nothing is happening, that is good. The
heart of negotiation is patience, and if it takes 41 or 151
days it should make no difference. To depart from that
central idea is crazy." Adams questions whether the deaths
were necessary and ends by saying, "those responsible must
be held accountable."
In early April Hostage Rescue Team commander Richard
Rogers, who was continuing to push for more aggressive
action, gave visiting FBI officials "a briefing on the use
of CS gas and suggested an operation plan for such use," a
plan which was soon approved by FBI Director Sessions.
(JDR:256-258) The plan was to "introduce the liquid CS into
the compound in stages. . .eventually walls would be torn
down to increase the exposure of those remaining inside."
(JDR:262-263) The report notes, "While it was conceivable
that tanks and other armored vehicles could be used to
demolish the compound, the FBI considered that such a plan
would risk harming the children inside." (JDR:260)
Nevertheless, Rogers' plan clearly included defacto
demolition of Mount Carmel. "If all subjects failed to exit
the structure after 48 hours of tear gas, then a modified
CEV would proceed to open up and begin disassembling the
structure at the location that was least exposed to the gas.
The CEV would continue until all the Branch Davidians were
located." (JDR:277-78) The FBI had their plan--and they
probably did not intend to let anything stand in their way
of convincing Attorney General Janet Reno to approve it.
8. FBI REFUSED TO BELIEVE FINAL KORESH PROMISE TO
As noted above, in mid-March, after the FBI sent in
the letters from lawyers and an audio tape from theologian
Phil Arnold, Koresh stated that he was ready to come out.
However, FBI harassment made him change his mind. A few
weeks later the FBI allowed Koresh and Schneider to meet
with their attorneys and they brought Koresh a 30 minute
tape by Drs. Phil Arnold and Jim Tabor. There is solid
evidence that as a result of these contacts, in mid-April
David Koresh did indeed receive his "message from God" and
that he and all Branch Davidians would have left Mount
Carmel had the FBI waited only a few more days.
a. DeGuerin and Zimmerman Visited Mount Carmel
The FBI initially refused to allow the Branch
Davidians to consult with attorneys. In mid-March U.S.
District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. rejected requests from
lawyers contacted by Branch Davidian family members to enter
the compound and negotiate for them, writing, "One simply
cannot point a gun, literally or figuratively, at
constitutional authority and at the same time complain that
constitutional rights are being denied." (Judge Smith
is now presiding over the Branch Davidians' trial.)
However, a number of attorneys, including "radicals" like
Kirk Lyons of North Carolina's Cause Foundation, had filed
habeas corpus suits, and the FBI may have feared some
appellate judge might let them have access to Koresh.
Koresh's mother retained Houston criminal
defense attorney Dick Deguerin who was well known for
clients he'd defended in highly publicized homicides,
including Muneer Deeb who was acquitted on charge of killing
three teenagers in Waco. The Schneider family retained
another respected criminal attorney, Jack Zimmerman. Both
DeGuerin and Zimmerman have frequently told the press that
the Branch Davidians had very "triable" cases, might have
been acquitted by juries on the grounds of self-defense, and
were committed to leaving Mount Carmel and facing juries.
Koresh even allowed DeGuerin to meet with New York attorneys
to discuss film and book rights to Koresh's story.
b. Drs. Arnold and Tabor Convinced Koresh to Write
Dr. Philip Arnold, executive director of
Houston's Reunion Institute and an expert in apocalyptic
studies and the Seven Seals, read a newspaper transcript of
David Koresh's February 28th sermon on KRLD and immediately
resolved to be of assistance. He drove to Waco and
explained his expertise to SAC Bob Ricks, chief aid to SAC
Jeffrey Jamar. However, Ricks put Arnold off several times
saying, "You could never talk Book of Revelation with him.
You've never heard anything like this." An FBI agent did
take Arnold's number and contacted him a few days later.
Arnold returned to Waco and spoke with the agent over the
phone but was never contacted by the FBI again. This is not
surprising considering negotiators March 15th decision to
refuse to listen to any more "Bible babble." Dr. Arnold has
lamented that the FBI "took that to be a big joke, all that
talk about the Seven Seals. The Seven Seals was [Koresh's]
language, and if you didn't speak that language, there was
no way of showing him what he had to do."
On March 17th Branch Davidians happened by
chance to hear Dr. Arnold's five minute radio show during
which he discussed the Book of Revelation. They immediately
told the FBI they wanted to speak with him, but the FBI
"denied the request." (JDR:Appendix C:3) Edward Dennis
notes that Steve Schneider had specifically mentioned Phil
Arnold as possibly being a "theologian [who] could convince
the people that Koresh was wrong" about their being in the
Fifth Seal of death. (JDR:Dennis:15) The FBI's only
concession was to send in a March 19th tape of Arnold's
radio show. (JDR:186)
On April 1st Phil Arnold and Dr. Jim Tabor, a
professor of religious studies at the University of North
Carolina who also specializes in apocalyptic studies, did a
telephone interview on the Ron Engelman show. During it
they explained to Koresh that the "little season" that the
Branch Davidians needed to wait was not merely a couple of
months, but might be a much longer time. They also talked
about how great prophets like Jeremiah, John, and Paul had
gone to prison--and had produced great literature there.
Dr. Arnold gave this tape to Dick DeGuerin who
brought it to Koresh on April 4th. Koresh told his
attorneys everyone would be coming out after Passover, which
would last 10 days. On April 9th and 10th he delivered to
the FBI two defiant letters filled with Biblical allusions--
ones which the FBI has used to excuse their assault on Mount
However, on April 14th Koresh wrote a very
different letter. In it he revealed that God finally had
spoken to him and that they all would come out as soon as he
had completed a short book on the Seven Seals. The letter
to Koresh's attorney Dick DeGuerin reads, in part:
As far as our progress is concerned, here is
where we stand:
. . .I am presently being permitted to document, in
structured form, the decoded messages of the Seven Seals.
Upon the completion of this task, I will be freed of my
"waiting period." I hope to finish this as soon as
possible and to stand before man to answer any and all
questions regarding my actions.
I have been praying so long for this
opportunity; to put the Seals in written form. Speaking
the truth seems to have very little effect on man.
I was shown that as soon as I am given over into
the hands of man, I will be made a spectacle of, and people
will not be concerned about the truth of God, but just the
bizarrity of me - the flesh (person).
I want the people of this generation to be
saved. I am working night and day to complete my final
work of the writing out of the "these Seals."
I will demand the first manuscript of the Seals
be given to you. Many scholars and religious leaders will
wish to have copies for examination. I will keep a copy
with me. As soon as I can see that people, like Jim Tabor
and Phil Arnold have a copy I will come out and then you
can do your thing with this Beast.
I hope to keep in touch with you by letter, so
please give your address.
We are standing on the threshold of Great
events! The Seven Seals, in written form are the most
sacred information ever!
On April 16th Koresh told the FBI he had
finished the First Seal (JDR:107) and "asked for a word
processor and batteries to speed production of the other six
chapters." At an October 15, 1993, congressional
briefing sponsored by the Ross & Green consulting group, Dr.
Tabor said that Koresh and Ruth Riddle, who was typing it
for him, worked until 9 p.m. Sunday night, April 18th,
putting the final touches on the First Seal, which was also
the longest. That meant they would be leaving Mount Carmel
in a few days. Tabor said, "they were so happy that night,
shades of the last supper."
During the April 19th fire Ruth Riddle managed
to jump from a hole in the second floor wall. She carried
Koresh's First Seal on a computer disk. The FBI immediately
confiscated the disk, but later released it. Having read
it, Tabor declared, "It's intriguing. It's not my own faith
system, but it's coherent, logical and quite moving to read.
What he lived and died for."
After the April 19th FBI assault and the death
of Koresh and 80 or more other Branch Davidians, Drs. Arnold
and Tabor severely criticized the FBI. "I think they were
convinced from the start that he was evil, horrible and
wicked. . .They didn't take his religion seriously enough.
They needed to have input from people who are trained in
c. FBI and Cult Busters Ridiculed Koresh Promise
According to Tabor, as soon as they got Koresh's
April 14th letter, the FBI began ridiculing Koresh, saying
things like, "How long will it take a high school dropout to
write a book." The April 26, 1993, Time (which went to
press before the fire) devoted a whole article to Koresh's
promise to write the book, including a long paragraph
explaining Dr. Arnold's views on Koresh's possible
interpretation of the Seven Seals. However, it also
described the FBI's frustrations because it had taken Koresh
4 days to write 30 pages. "So, FBI men sourly note, a
surrender may be months off, even if Koresh keeps his word.
. .`No one at our place is holding his breath.' said FBI
special agent Dick Swensen." An FBI official, speaking on
the condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post, "Were
we going to sit there and wait for this guy to finish his
treatises on the Seven Seals?. . .Were we going to sit there
status quo for another month, another two months, another
six months?" Bob Ricks' statement on April 16th sums
up the FBI attitude: "We are going to get them. . .to bring
them before the bar of justice for the murder of our agents.
They're going to answer for their crimes. That's the bottom
line to this whole thing, they're going to come out."
d. FBI Excuses After the Fire
After the April 19th fire the FBI claimed that
it had evidence that Koresh's contacts with his attorneys
were just stalling techniques. SACs Jamar claimed that
listening devices heard cult members joking about DeGuerin's
involvement being a ruse, a claim the Justice report
repeats (JDR:143-144) Koresh attorney Dick DeGuerin
"disputed claims by FBI spokesman Bob Ricks that cult
members had called meetings with the attorneys `a fiasco'.
`The real fiasco was the attack on the compound with tear
gas and ripping the walls apart. . .If you consider that we
got an absolute agreement signed that they would come out
peacefully. . .'"
Jamar also told the press, "This latest business
with the Seven Seals, we have intelligence that it was just
one more stalling technique." Dr. Phil Arnold
challenged the FBI's allegation that electronic monitoring
of Koresh's conversations proved he wasn't serious. He said
Koresh's "vocabulary was not formed by high school, college
or television. It's formed by the King James Version of the
Bible, which he had memorized. It would take those of us
who are similarly familiar or trained in its constant usage
to be able to understand him on a depth level where the
subtleties of the language come through." Many have
commented that the FBI's monitoring devices must not have
been very good if they could not hear Koresh's loud
dictating of his book to Ruth Riddle.
The only evidence the Justice report presents
that Koresh's writing his book on the Seven Seals was a
stalling technique was provided by (defacto cult buster) Dr.
Murray S. Miron. Concerning the all-important April 14th
letter, "Dr. Miron noted that Koresh's discussion in the
letter appeared to be a ploy designed to buy more time for
Koresh." He concluded that he did not believe "there is in
these writings any better, or at least certain, hope for any
early end to the standoff." (JDR:175-176) Marc Breault
alleges the FBI "showed us Koresh's letters, which were
nothing more than scriptural ramblings written down. After
reading those we became more and more convinced that Koresh
had no intentions of coming out. We told the FBI as much. .
.We told the FBI that Koresh was starting to lose his grip
and that he would probably end the siege violently."
After DeGuerin, Arnold and Tabor held an October
press conference to announce the release of Koresh's book,
"Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman, said the agency could not
comment on the tract because of pending cases against 11
Branch Davidians." More disturbing than the FBI's
reliance on Miron, and possibly Breault, to interpret
Koresh's April 14th letter is strong evidence that the FBI
never showed Attorney General Reno the April 14th letter so
she could judge for herself whether Koresh intended to
9. FBI MISLED JANET RENO ON NEED FOR AND DANGERS OF
On April 12, 1993, the FBI presented the tear gas
plan to Attorney General Janet Reno for approval. "Why now?
Why not wait?" she asked. On April 16th she still
disapproved the plan--until an all important conversation
with FBI Director William Sessions. Whatever he said to her
swayed her to the point that she asked for a documented
statement of why the plan should go forward. On April 17th
she received the documents. "She read only a chronology,
gave the rest of the materials a cursory review, and
satisfied herself that `the documentation was there'."
(JDR:272) She then approved the gassing plan. The next day
she informed President Clinton of her decision. Below are
the known and admitted arguments the FBI used to break down
Reno's resistance to the plan. Despite Janet Reno's
assertions to the contrary, we can see that the FBI clearly
did mislead, and perhaps even bully, her into approving
a. FBI Misinformed Reno about Progress of
On April 15th Associate Attorney General
Webster Hubbell had a two hour conversation with chief FBI
negotiator Byron Sage. "Hubbell recalls that Sage said
further negotiations with the subjects in the compound would
be fruitless. . .Sage further advised Hubbell that Koresh
had been disingenuous in his discussions with Sage about the
`Seven Seals.'. . .Hubbell recalls Sage saying he believed
there was nothing more he or the negotiators could do to
persuade Koresh to release anyone else, or to come out
himself. . .Hubbell advised the Attorney General about this
conversation." (JDR:270-271) It is unknown if Sage told
Hubbell about the April 14th letter or read him its
Outside expert Alan A. Stone, M.D. writes: "It
is unclear from the reports whether the FBI even explained
to the AG [Reno] that the agency had rejected the advice of
their own experts in behavioral science and negotiation, or
whether the AG was told that FBI negotiators believed that
they could get more people out of the compound by
negotiation. By the time the AG made her decision, the
noose was closed and, as one agent told me, the FBI believed
they had `three options - gas, gas, and gas.'"
This is not surprising, since Hostage Rescue
Team commander Richard Rogers himself met with Reno.
"Rogers and others offered the following additional reasons
[for the assault]: Koresh had broken every promise he had
made; negotiations had broken down; no one had been released
since March 23rd; and it appeared that no one else would
surrender." (JDR:269) In effect, HRT Commander Rogers, who
had pushed SAC Jamar to use the tactical harassment that had
so disrupted negotiations, now informed Attorney Janet Reno
that negotiations were not working! Janet Reno told the
April 28, 1993, House Judiciary Committee hearing:
"Throughout this 51-day process, Koresh continued to assert
that he and the others inside would at some point surrender.
However, the FBI advised that at no point did he keep his
word on any of these promises." It is not known if Rogers'
and higher FBI officials' impatience to end the standoff was
related to their possible fear the upcoming Weaver trial
would bring out facts about FBI misconduct in that case--
however, that should be investigated.
b. FBI Withheld April 14th Promise to Surrender
Letter from Reno
Dr. James Tabor lamented at both the October 15
congressional briefing and the November 22, 1993, American
Academy of Religion panel that, as far as he knew, the FBI
never gave Janet Reno the details of Koresh's decision to
write the his book about the Seven Seals or a copy of his
April 14th letter. As we can see below, there is no
evidence that the FBI showed this document--what Dick
DeGuerin called "an absolute agreement signed that they
would come out peacefully"--to Attorney General Janet Reno.
Nor does it seem to have been shown to FBI Director Sessions
or FBI Deputy Director Clarke before the April 19th assault-
-or to reporters or even to outside experts after the fire.
Evidence of this follows.
* The Justice report states only, "The FBI
provided the Attorney General with copies of the memoranda
prepared by Dr. Miron and Dr. Krofcheck and SSA Van Zandt
analyzing Koresh's April 9th letter." (JDR:274)
* At the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary Committee
hearing, FBI Director Sessions insisted that the last Koresh
letter was related to Passover, which would have been much
earlier in April.
* At the same hearing, FBI Deputy Director Clarke
mentions only Koresh's April 9th and 10th letters when he
declares that Koresh had "his own game plan" and the "snare
had been set."
* On April 21, 1993, senior FBI officials held a
background briefing for reporters to explain their decision
to gas Mount Carmel. They included Koresh's April 9th and
10th letters as examples of "his irrational and `insane'
behavior during negotiations." However, there is no
indication they showed reporters the April 14th letter.
(The only publication we found which mentioned or quoted the
letter after the fire was Time, in it's May 3, 1993 issue.
However, Time had been in touch with Dr. Phil Arnold and
quoted him extensively in an earlier article.)
* The Justice report does include the April 14th
letter after the April 9th and 10th letters in an appendix.
However, only Koresh's April 14th phone call is mentioned in
the chronology for that date (JDR:105), while the April 9th
letter is quoted extensively (JDR:99-100) and the April 10th
letter is analyzed. (JDR:102) The Justice report only
mentions the letter in the section where Dr. Miron dismisses
it as a "ploy." The report inaccurately describes it as
"Koresh's request that the FBI give him time to finish his
manuscript about the Seven Seals." (JDR:174)
* Outside expert Lawrence E. Sullivan quotes at
length from Koresh's April 9th and 10th letters to the FBI,
trying to find evidence that Koresh would have come out--yet
he never mentions the April 14th letter! He does quote
extensively from the earlier, defiant letters, ending, "In
the briefing the letter seems to play the role of a last
straw, measuring Koresh's intransigence and provoking the
FBI to escalate their interventions." (JDR:Sullivan:5-6)
Sullivan's reference to the "briefing" indicates that the
letter was not discussed during the Justice Department's
briefing of the outside experts! Even Edward Dennis, who
was appointed to be the most prominent reviewer of the
Justice report, refers only to the April 9th and 10th
letters and Koresh's April 14th phone call. (JDR:Dennis:26)
Only one outside expert, Nancy Ammerman, even refers to the
letter. However, it is unknown if she got it from the
Justice Department or directly from Dr. Philip Arnold.
Whoever withheld the April 14th letter from the FBI Director
and the Attorney General Reno ultimately may be responsible
for the massacre of the Branch Davidians.
c. FBI Told Reno CS Gas is Safe
CS gas is a white crystalline powder that
causes involuntary closure of eyes, burning of the skin,
respiratory problems and vomiting. Amnesty International in
October of 1992 said that CS is "particularly dangerous
when. . .launched directly into homes or other buildings."
The United States was one of 100 countries that signed an
agreement banning the use of CS gas in war during the
Chemical Weapons Convention in Paris in January of 1993.
FBI officials did not know this when they recommended
The goal of the gassing was to drive Branch
Davidians out of the house. However, the U.S. Department of
the Army manual on Civil Disturbances (October, 1975,
FM19-15) 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
Alan A. Stone was particularly critical of the
FBI's decision to use CS gas against the Branch Davidians,
especially the children: "When asked, the Justice Department
was unaware whether the FBI had even questioned whether
these intentional stresses would be particularly harmful to
the many infants and children in the compound. Apparently,
no one asked whether such deleterious measures were
appropriate, either as a matter of law enforcement ethics or
as a matter of morality, when innocent children were
involved. . .I can testify from personal experience to the
power of C.S. gas to quickly inflame eyes, nose, and throat,
to produce choking, chest pain, gagging, and nausea in
healthy adult males. It is difficult to believe that the
U.S. government would deliberately plan to expose twenty-
five children, most of them infants and toddlers, to C.S.
gas for forty-eight hours. . .The official reports are
silent about these issues and do not reveal what the FBI
told the AG about this matter. . .Based on my own medical
knowledge and review of scientific literature, the
information supplied to the AG seems to minimize the
potential harmful consequences for infants and children."
Dr. Stone quotes a case of an unprotected
child's two to three hour exposure to CS gas which resulted
in first degree facial burns, severe respiratory distress
typical of chemical pneumonia and an enlarged liver. "The
infant's reactions reported in this case history were of a
vastly different dimension than the information given the AG
suggested. . .Whatever the actual effects may have been, I
find it hard to accept a deliberate plan to insert C.S. gas
for forty-eight hours in a building with so many children.
It certainly makes it more difficult to believe that the
health and safety of the children was our primary concern."
As for whether CS gas is flammable, "one
manufacturer of CS gas. . .said. . .he was not certain if
the chemical--when spread as a fine powder throughout
buildings and exposed to fire--would act as a catalyst for
flames." Chemical consultant Dr. Jay Young said that a
mixture of CS gas and air could be ignited, but only if the
ratio of the gas and air was within a very narrow
range. Attorney Jack Zimmerman, who spoke with
military experts, asserted, "All three types of CS can
spontaneously ignite if occurring in a high-enough
concentration in a confined space that is exposed to open
flame." Nevertheless, "the FBI informed [Reno] that
the tear gas would not cause a fire." (JDR:266)
The two methods of delivery which the FBI used
are also dangerous. The Mark-V system, "a liquid tear gas
dispenser that shoots a stream of liquid tear gas (propelled
by noncombustible carbon dioxide) approximately 50 feet for
a duration of approximately 15 seconds," (JDR:287) might
suffocate a child in direct line of fire. Even more
dangerous were the "ferret liquid tear gas rounds", more
than 400 of which were used to deliver gas.
The Justice report admits the ferret tear gas
rounds, which it claims are not "pyrotechnic," are "launched
by a M79 grenade launcher," and that, "when fired from 20
yards or less the rounds are capable of penetrating a hollow
core door." (JDR:277) According to Dick DeGuerin, survivors
claim that during the gas attack the grenades did in fact
penetrate multiple walls before exploding.
d. FBI Pushed Reno's Child Abuse "Hot Button"
The Justice report states: "during the week of
April 12, someone had made a comment in one of the meetings
that Koresh was beating babies. When Reno inquired further,
she had the clear impression that, at some point, since the
FBI had assumed command and control of the situation they
had learned that the Branch Davidians were beating babies.
She had no doubt that the children were living in
intolerable conditions. Moreover, she had been told that
Koresh had sexually abused minors previously, and that he
continued to have sex while recovering from his wounds."
(JDR:275) Dr. Park Dietz wrote in a memorandum: "Koresh may
continue to make sexual use of any female children who
remain inside." (JDR:223)
FBI Director Sessions went on at length during
the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary Committee hearings about
Victoria Hollingsworth's allegation that her 13- or 14-year-
old daughter, who she had left inside Mount Carmel when she
left in March, was one of David Koresh's child brides. We
must wonder if this is one of the things Sessions told Reno
during the private phone conversation which evidently
convinced her to accept the gassing plan. To our knowledge,
no other government agent or official has made this specific
allegation. Despite all this discussion of child abuse, the
Justice report relates that in retrospect Reno "did not
believe that anyone at the FBI deliberately played up the
issue of child abuse." (JDR:275-276)
e. FBI Threatened to Withdraw Hostage Rescue Team
On April 14th Hostage Rescue Team commander
Richard "Rogers advised that his team had received
sufficient breaks during the standoff that they were not too
fatigued to perform at top capacity in any tactical
operation at the time. He added, however, that if the
standoff continued for an extended length of time, he would
propose that the HRT stand down for rest and retraining.
When Reno asked about using SWAT teams to take the place of
the HRT, she was told that the HRT's expertise in dealing
with the powerful weapons inside the compound, driving the
armored vehicles, and maintaining the security of the
perimeter was essential." She was also discouraged from
using the Army's "Delta Force" or other forces because of
posse comitatus restrictions. (JDR:268) The FBI warned Reno
that "Koresh might actually mount an offensive attack
against the perimeter security, with Branch Davidians using
children as shields. This would have required the best
trained forces available to the FBI." (JDR:269)
On April 15th FBI chief negotiator Byron Sage
told Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell that "law
enforcement personnel at Waco were getting tired and their
tempers were fraying." Hubbell passed this information on
to Reno. Upon hearing on April 16th that Reno had turned
down the gassing plan, Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Mark Richard told Hubbell "that the FBI would not be
pleased, that they would nonetheless accept the decision,
and that they may then talk in terms of withdrawal."
(JDR:271) Despite these threats to withdraw the FBI Hostage
Rescue Team, the Justice report asserts Reno believes, "The
FBI did not try to `railroad' her." (JDR:275-276)
f. FBI De-emphasized Suicide
BATF had used rumors that the Branch Davidians
might commit suicide to excuse a paramilitary raid against
the Branch Davidians. And the FBI had alluded to the
possibility of mass suicide, as when SAC Bob Ricks told the
press in March, "We're very concerned that part of Koresh's
grand scheme is he would like to see a large number of his
people die, which would be justification for his
pronouncements of the fulfillment of the Scriptures."
However, when it came to promoting their gassing plan, mass
suicide suddenly became a minor issue. "[T]he FBI told the
Attorney General they regarded the possibility of mass
suicide as remote." (JDR:274) Attorney General Reno told
the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary Committee hearing "she
would not have given the go-ahead if she thought cult
members would commit suicide. She said the FBI had
interviewed former Branch Davidian members throughout the
world and had concluded Mr. Koresh would not kill himself or
lead a mass suicide effort." She also asserted during
the October 8, 1993, Justice Department press conference on
Waco, "I don't think there were any misleading statements
about suicide because we talked about it..." FBI
Director Sessions also has said "none of us expect them to
The Justice report does not mention if FBI
agents ever told Sessions or Reno that: "one former resident
who left during the standoff told investigators that on
March 2nd Koresh intended to leave the compound with his
followers and commit mass suicide, until Koresh changed his
mind when God told him `to wait.'. . .On March 5th, 1993,
released child Joan Vaega had a note pinned to her clothes
stating that her mother (Marguerite Vaega) would be dead by
the time other relatives had read the note." Nor is it
known if FBI agents had told Sessions and Reno they were
aware of Kiri Jewell's allegations about having been taught
to commit suicide. (JDR:Dennis:37)
Even if there was no mass suicide, the FBI's
withholding such evidence of potential suicide from Sessions
and Reno certainly misled them. Moreover, the FBI's mere
plan to gas and demolish the building was as irresponsible
as yelling "jump" to a person threatening to jump from a
ledge or waving a red flag at a raging bull. Dr. Stone, who
believes the Branch Davidians did commit suicide, wrote he
is "convinced that the FBI's noose-tightening tactics may
well have precipitated Koresh's decision to commit suicide
and his followers to this course of mass suicide. The
official reports have shied away from directly confronting
the possible causal relationship." (JDR:Stone:15)
g. FBI Assured Reno "This Is Not D-Day"
The Justice report states: "The action was
viewed as a gradual, step-by-step process. It was not law
enforcement's intent that this was to be `D-Day.' Both the
Attorney General and Director Sessions voiced concern for
achieving the end result with maximum safety. [FBI Deputy
Director Floyd] Clarke made it clear that the goal of the
plan was to introduce the tear gas one step at a time to
avoid confusing the Branch Davidians and thereby maintain
the impression that they were not trapped." (JDR:267) Reno
asserted at her April 19th press conference, "Today was not
meant to be D-Day. We were prepared to carry it out
tomorrow and the next day, and do everything we could to
effect a peaceful resolution of this matter." In her
April telephone briefing of President Clinton, Reno
"emphasized that the operation was intended to proceed
incrementally, and that it might take two or three days
before the Branch Davidians surrendered. The Attorney
General told the President that Monday, April 19th was not
The Justice report states that during planning
of the assault, Reno said she "made it clear that if
children were endangered, i.e. if they were held up to
windows and threatened to be shot, the FBI was to `back
off.'" She recalls her exact words were "Get the hell out
of there. Don't take any risks with the children."
(JDR:273) Reno told the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary
Committee hearing: "I directed that if at any point Koresh
or his followers threatened to harm the children, the FBI
should cease the action immediately. Likewise, if it
appeared that, as a result of the initial use of teargas,
Koresh was prepared to negotiate in good faith for his
ultimate surrender, the FBI was to cease the operation."
h. Reno's "Rules of Engagement" Authorized "D-Day"
Despite Janet Reno's concern for the safety of the
Branch Davidians and their children and her desire to
"effect a peaceful resolution of this matter," she
authorized rules of engagement which ensured the resolution
would be violent.
It is unknown if the FBI told Reno about
Koresh's early threats to "blow the tanks to pieces" if
agents attacked Mount Carmel again. He had threatened, "if
something messes up on this side or on your side, then World
War III again." (JDR:45) As late as April 18th, when tanks
were moving Koresh's favorite automobile, agents reported
seeing a sign in the window reading, "Flames await."
(JDR:109) However, Reno did tell the House Judiciary
Committee hearing she thought the possibility of the Branch
Davidians firing on the tanks was the most important
"contingency." If they did so, she had authorized the FBI
"to return fire." She also said that she thereafter would
leave decisions up to the FBI because she was not "an expert
in tactical law enforcement."
The Justice report states, "If during any tear
gas delivery operations, subjects open fire with a weapon,
then the FBI rules of engagement will apply and appropriate
deadly force will be used," (JDR:288) and "It was also
agreed that once she approved the overall plan, decisions
would be made on the scene. Although she had the specific
authority to stop the action and tell the FBI to leave,
tactical decisions were to be made by law enforcement
officers in Waco." (JDR:273) It is difficult to believe
that Janet Reno meant that once the Branch Davidians fired,
the FBI could do what it pleased, women and children be
damned--yet, in effect, that is what she authorized.
Evidently, Reno did not make the rules of
engagement clear to President Clinton. He told reporters
during his April 20th press conference: "The plan included a
decision to withhold the use of ammunition, even in the face
of fire, and instead to use tear gas that would not cause
permanent harm to health, but would, it was hoped, force the
people in the compound to come outside and to surrender. .
.I was further told that under no circumstance would our
people fire any shots at them even if fired upon."
FBI agents have not admitted to firing any guns
on April 19th--but they did fire over 400 dangerous ferret
grenades. However, Reno's instructions gave the FBI enough
leeway to begin the aggressive gassing and dismantling of
Mount Carmel. Evidently, ground commanders Jeffrey Jamar
and Richard Rogers did not fully explain to Reno or even
their FBI superiors what kind of "tactical decisions" they
might make if fired upon. Even FBI Assistant Director Larry
Potts told reporters, "We thought we could induce the gas,
get some people out and get the rest of the people to
negotiate. We always had a fear that maybe there's going to
be a few of the people who would fight with us to the very
end." On the other hand, Potts is also the official
who doesn't remember approving Richard Rogers' changing the
rules of engagement in the Weaver case. Whether this
indicates incompetence on his part or duplicity on Rogers'
part should be investigated.
If Potts or his aide Danny Coulson communicated
the Attorney General's final directives that the operation
be a safe one and that negotiations remain an option to the
siege commanders, the directives did not "take". According
to one news report: "The F.B.I. has acknowledged that it
foresaw a high probability of casualties. Bob Ricks, one of
the agents in charge at Waco, said the day after the fire
that the assault had two basic goals: rescuing the children,
and doing so without injuries to any Federal agents. `We
knew that the chances were great that the adults would not
come out unharmed,' Mr. Ricks told the Dallas Morning News.
`So we felt that if we got any of them out safely, that
would be a great bonus.'" And despite the Branch
Davidians signalling they wanted to negotiate that morning,
during the 10:30 a.m. FBI press conference on April 9th, SAC
Ricks said, "We're not negotiating. We're saying come out.
. .this matter is over."
10. QUESTIONS ABOUT PRESIDENT CLINTON'S HOSTILITY TOWARD
THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS
The Justice report devotes a section to describing
President Clinton and the White House's involvement in the
siege and the FBI decision to assault Mount Carmel. Clinton
initially supported negotiations. When his chief counsel
Bernard Nussbaum first told Clinton about the plan to gas
Mount Carmel he reminded the President that the decision was
"a Department of Justice call, not a White House call," and
Clinton responded that he had great confidence in the
Attorney General and the FBI. When Janet Reno called him on
April 18th regarding the plan he told her he supported her
What we wonder about is Clinton's hostility towards
the Branch Davidians. In his April 20th news conference he
growled that Janet Reno should not have to resign "because
some religious fanatics murdered themselves." Two days
later he asserted, "I do not think the United States
government is responsible for the fact that a bunch of
fanatics decided to kill themselves." Also, Janet Reno told
the House Judiciary Committee hearing that early April
20th, "The second call I got was from the president of the
United States, saying, `That-a-girl'." If this was an
exact quote, it would also seem to be a highly insensitive
One explanation might be Clinton's having been
influenced by anti-cult propaganda, evidenced by this anti-
cult comments quoted in an earlier section. Another
explanation might be Clinton's past association with agents
wounded and killed on February 28th. In a March 18th, 1993
speech before employees of the Treasury Department Clinton
said, "My prayers and I'm sure yours are still with the
families of all four of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
agents who were killed in Waco--Todd McKeehan and Conway
Lebleu of New Orleans, Steve Willis of Houston, and Robert
Williams from my hometown of Little Rock. Three of those
four were assigned to my security during the course of the
primary or general election." The Wall Street Journal
reported that Clinton wanted "to know the condition of one
particular ATF agent who was wounded at Waco: Jay William
Buford, an acquaintance of his from Arkansas." As we
know, Resident Agent-in-Charge Buford was a primary
investigator and planner in the botched February 28th raid
on Mt. Carmel. Also, Clinton may have been angered by
potential criticism of Clinton family friend Associate
Attorney General Webster Hubbell. He was deeply involved in
Waco decision-making and the highest ranking official in the
FBI Operations Center during the last fatal April 19th
The New York Times wrote in its October 12, 1993,
editorial, "The Waco Whitewash," "the report is silent on
the most glaring deficiency of the tragic episode: the lack
of judgement at the top and the reasons for it."
11. CHRONOLOGY OF APRIL 19TH GASSING, DEMOLITION AND FIRE
During the morning of April 19, 1993 five tanks
flying American flags began the attack on Mount Carmel
Center. Ironically, the Branch Davidians were flying the
Star of David on this day, the 50th anniversary of the Nazi
attack on the Warsaw ghetto. This was also "Patriots' Day"-
-the 217th anniversary of the first battle of the American
Revolution, when a British expedition to raid Revolutionary
Minutemen weapons stockpiles in Concord, Massachusetts
resulted in the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
This chronology only outlines the FBI's prolonged and
brutal attack on the Branch Davidians. Because the
Committee for Waco Justice did not have the resources to
obtain from news networks the full seven-hour footage of the
tank attack and fire, and because the Justice report's
account is very sketchy, this chronology may contain gaps
and inaccuracies. Our chronology was assembled from what
the Justice report text did reveal, from its infrared
photos, and from newspaper accounts, survivors' reports, and
news video tapes. Unless otherwise noted, all times and
events are from the Justice report.
The FBI took aerial infrared video tapes of the
gassing, demolition and fire at Mount Carmel. On infrared
photos, heat shows up as light, but the light may not show
up for a minute or more after a fire first erupts. We
include here two of the eight still shots of the infrared
video tape from the Justice report. When the government
finally releases all this footage, the public will finally
see the true savagery of the assault that led to the deaths
of 80 or more people.
5:55 a.m.--CEV1 goes to front left and CEV2 to right side of
5:59--FBI tells Steve Schneider gas attack is about to
begin. He throws phone out the window.
6:00--FBI announces over loudspeakers "If you come out now,
you will not be harmed." and "You are under arrest."
6:00--CEV1 ordered to inject gas using Mark-5 system.
6:00 Approx.--Bradley vehicle delivers ferret tear gas
rounds into "unoccupied construction area near the main
structure" (tornado shelter) [Justice report and video
6:04--Agents allege the Branch Davidians are firing on the
tanks. FBI opts to speed up delivery of gas and demolition
of building. Tank punches first hole, 8 feet high and 10
feet wide in middle front building, left of the front
6:07-6:31--CEVs poke holes in building and insert gas at
front left and right side of building; 4 Bradleys deploy
ferret tear gas rounds through the windows. Tanks run back
and forth over buried bus tunnel leading to tornado shelter
and collapse debris over the tunnel, denying access to it.
[Videotape and Fire Report]
6:24--FBI told Davidians to hang out a white flag if phone
is not working; they hold a white banner, pull it back and
replace with dark blanket. FBI gives them two minutes to
6:45-7:04--Tanks deliver more ferret tear gas rounds to
every part of the building.
7:30--CEV1 rips hole in front right first floor of building
and inserts gas.
7:58--CEV2 breaches a hole in the second floor back right
corner of building. CEV rips into second floor womens'
9:10--Branch Davidians hang out banner, "We want our phones
9:17--CEV1 breaks through the front door and agents can see
both the upstairs and the downstairs.
9:28-10:00--CEV1 enlarges the opening in middle front of
building. CEV2 breaks down and a new CEV2, which is not
equipped with tear gas, replaces it and breaches the rear
side of the building near the gymnasium.
9:49--FBI says phone will be connected only if there is a
clear signal it is for surrender purposes. The Davidians
give no signal.
9:54--Graham Craddock gets the phone, indicates it has been
severed. FBI does not reconnect it.
10:00--Attorney General Janet Reno leaves the Justice
Department for a speech in Baltimore.
10:00-11:00--Bradleys continue delivering ferret tear gas
rounds through various openings.
11:00--Janet Reno calls President Clinton.
11:30--Agents try to call into compound. New CEV-2 breaches
back side of compound near the gymnasium. [Justice report]
Tank rams middle front of building and something that looks
like flame is seen comes from boom of tank. [Assistant to
Attorney General R. Scruggs 10/8/93 press conference.]
11:40--Last ferret tear gas rounds delivered.
Unknown time--Tank boom rams through window and wall of
David Koresh's second story bed room.
11:45--12:05 p.m. Approx.--Tank rams whole north back of
gymnasium, collapsing half of its roof at approximately
11:59. [Justice report account, infrared photos and news
footage] Tank rams back wall of concrete room and dining
room and blocks back exits. [Survivors' reports] Tank may
have started a fire here. 11:59-12:02 Approx.--Largest tank
smashes through front door. (See Infrared Photo #1)
Survivors say tank knocked over lanterns and crushed a
propane tank. Survivors say tank started a fire here.
12:00 Approx.--Removal of part of the southeast corner of
exterior wall, ground floor level. [Fire Report, news
report and photos]
12:01--A loudspeaker message mocks Koresh: "David, we are
facilitating you leaving the compound by enlarging the door.
David, you have had your 15 minutes of fame. . .Vernon
is no longer the Messiah. Leave the building now."
12:06 (12:08 in Justice Report)--Tank rams second story,
right front. "A few minutes later, from the section of the
building, a flicker of orange could be seen." Video
footage shows smoke coming from the building and what
appears to be an agent riding on top of this tank. Survivor
says tank started a fire here.
12:07:41--Infrared photo indicates fire on second floor,
12:08:11--Infrared photo shows large fire on back wall near
dining room. Tank can be seen sitting behind collapsed
12:09:25--Infrared photo shows fire in front door/piano
12:09--CNN announcer says "This is a roaring fire. This
fire is really burning out of control."
12:09:50--Infrared photo shows fire near window of chapel;
fire in front door/piano area is well-developed. (See
Infrared Photo #2)
12:10--An agent 300 yards from building reports seeing man
start fire near piano, near front door.
12:10:22--Gymnasium engulfed in fire. [Fire Report]
12:10:40--Infrared photo shows room between chapel and
collapsed gymnasium on fire and wall near dining hall fully
inflamed. 12:13--FBI calls fire department.
12:20--A Houston Chronicle April 20, 1993, photo shows more
than half of building fully engulfed in fire.
12:25--Agents report sounds of gunfire inside Mount Carmel
Center. 12:34--Fire vehicles arrive.
12:40-1:20 Approx.--Tanks with plows push remaining walls
and debris into rubble of Mount Carmel.
12:41--Fire vehicles approach remains of building. A
Houston Chronicle April 20, 1993, photo shows most of Mount
Carmel is completely destroyed.
12. FATAL DECISION TO ESCALATE TO DEMOLITION
As we have seen, Attorney General Janet Reno directed
that the operation was to proceed incrementally. She had
specified that negotiations should remain an option and that
the FBI should pull back if there was a chance the children
would be harmed. However, she also had agreed that if the
Branch Davidians fired on the tanks, the FBI would be
allowed to return fire and the ground commanders could make
tactical decisions. The Attorney General or, it is assumed,
anyone delegated that power, could still call off the
assault at any time. Again, it is unknown if she knew of
FBI expectations that "the chances were great that the
adults would not come out unharmed."
The Justice report mentions, "On Monday morning, the
Attorney General and several senior Justice Department
representatives gathered with senior FBI officials in the
FBI SIOC [Strategic Information Operations Center], where
they monitored events throughout the morning via CNN footage
and a live audio feed directly from the FBI forward command
post in Waco." (JDR:285) The report does not mention who
these officials in the Washington FBI Operations Center
were--nor did a number of news reports we read. It was
revealed during the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary
Committee hearing that two of them were Associate Attorney
General Webster Hubbell and Assistant Deputy Attorney
General Mark Richard. After Reno left for a speech at 10:00
a.m., they were the highest ranking officials in the FBI
Operations Center. They remained in phone contact with
ground commanders throughout the siege. Despite Justice
Department claims that the ground commanders would make
tactical decisions (JDR:273), it is difficult to believe
that these high officials were not consulted at crucial
junctures. a. FBI Believed April 19th Was "D-Day"
It seems clear that FBI siege commander Jamar, HRT
commander Rogers and chief negotiator Sage did have every
intention of making April 19th "D-Day." The text of the
script that chief negotiator Sage read to the Branch
Davidians over the loud speaker throughout the gassing
illustrates this. (Emphasis below is ours.)
"We are in the process of placing tear gas into the
building. This is not an assault. We are not entering the
building. This is not an assault. Do not fire your
weapons. If you fire your weapons, fire will be returned.
Do not shoot. This is not an assault. The gas you smell is
a non-lethal tear gas. This gas will temporarily render the
building uninhabitable. Exit the compound now and follow
instructions. You are not to have anyone in the tower. The
tower is off limits. No one is to be in the tower. Anyone
observed to be in the tower will be considered to be an act
of aggression and will be dealt with accordingly. If you
come out now, you will not be harmed. Follow all
instructions. Come out with your hands up. Carry nothing.
Come out of the building and walk up the driveway toward the
Double-E Ranch Road. Walk toward the large Red Cross flag.
Follow all instructions of the FBI agents in the Bradleys.
Follow all instructions. You are under arrest. This
standoff is over. We do not want anyone hurt. Follow all
instructions This is not an assault. Do not fire any
weapons. We do not want anyone hurt."
b. FBI Alleged Branch Davidians Shoot Back
It is questionable whether the Branch Davidians
could have understood the FBI saying that "this is not an
assault." Fire survivor Ruth Riddle explains, "I remember
hearing crackling-type voices coming over the speaker. It
was hard to make out what they were saying. Some kind of
warning. And the next thing we knew they were ramming into
the building." Whether or not they could hear what the
FBI was saying, the Branch Davidians must have considered
the gas, the rampaging ferret rounds, and the tanks smashing
into the building to be an assault--and the fulfillment of
the 5th Seal, where they all would be killed. Some Branch
Davidians may have decided to fight what the saw as a
murderous assault by "Babylonians." Surviving Branch
Davidians deny that they fired at the tanks. The New York
Times reported that FBI "eavesdropping devices picked up
someone saying `don't shoot until the very last minute' and
`Stay low, stay ready and loaded' and `have you been gassed
yet?'" These alleged statements were not mentioned in
the Justice report. No FBI agent who alleges hearing shots
has been questioned under oath about their statements.
As soon as FBI agents reported automatic and
semi-automatic gun fire, the "FBI"--who actually made the
decision is not revealed--immediately moved to apply the
Reno-approved "rules of engagement," i.e., "appropriate
deadly force will be used" and "opted to escalate the
gassing operation." The Justice report emphasizes that: "In
fact, the FBI did not fire a shot during the entire
operation." (JDR:288-289) (Their emphasis.) The FBI
obviously does not consider the more than 400 ferret tear
gas rounds that grenade launchers shot into the building to
be artillery, even though they are "capable of penetrating a
hollow core door."
The Justice report admits: "Some observers,
including FBI employees who were not privy to the operations
plan, have questioned whether it was proper for the FBI to
escalate the operation once the Davidians opened fire, given
that the HRT agents were not threatened by the gunfire while
they were inside the CEVs and Bradleys" and then notes the
Attorney General's prior approval, danger to tanks' drivers
from rounds penetrating tank openings and the fact that the
FBI had "exercised remarkable restraint" during 51 days.
Fire survivor David Thibodeau recalled he was
listening to the Ron Engelman radio show in the chapel as
the tanks gassed and rammed the building. When Engelman
reported that the FBI alleged the Branch Davidians had fired
on the tanks, Thibodeau's reaction was: "I knew it was over.
I didn't hear any shots from my side of the building. . .I
could see they were setting up the American people for a
disaster. I was prepared to die at that point."
c. FBI Refused to Negotiate
As we have seen, Reno told Congress she
instructed the FBI that "if it appeared that, as a result of
the initial use of teargas, Koresh was prepared to negotiate
in good faith for his ultimate surrender, the FBI was to
cease the operation." However, SAC Bob Ricks stated the
FBI's opinion on negotiations during the 10:30 a.m. press
conference on April 19th: "We're not negotiating. We're
saying come out. . .this matter is over."
At 6:24 a.m., a half hour after Steve Schneider
threw the phone out the window, FBI loudspeakers instructed
the Davidians to fly a white flag to signal "their phone was
not working and they wanted to reestablish phone contact."
They did so, but quickly replaced it with a non-surrender
dark blanket. Chief negotiator Sage then gave them two
minutes to surrender. They did not. At 9:10 the Davidians
hung out a white banner reading, "We want our phones fixed."
It is not known if Janet Reno, who was at the Washington FBI
Operations Center, saw the banner or inquired about the
Branch Davidians' willingness to negotiate. At 9:49 the FBI
negotiators announced over loudspeakers that "the phone
would be reconnected only if the Davidians clearly indicated
they intended to use the phone to make surrender
arrangements." However, this would require an agent walking
on foot near the building. "The FBI was unwilling to expose
its agents such a risk (sic) absent a clear signal from the
Davidians that they would use the reconnected phone to make
surrender agents (sic) with the FBI. The Davidians never
provided such a signal." Graeme Craddock retrieved the
phone but never gave the "signal." (JDR:289-293)
SAC Jeffrey Jamar told reporters that although the
signs coming from the compound seemed to indicate that the
cult members were willing to talk, "We tried to figure out a
way to get a line, but we couldn't figure out a way to do it
safely." Obviously, it never occurred to the FBI to
stop its gas attack and pull back its tanks. What does seem
clear is that the FBI interpreted Reno's "ultimate"
surrender to mean "immediate" surrender.
Diagram from Treasury Department Report - Not to Scale
Altered to include concrete room, water tower, buried bus,
missing room names, tank damage
Infrared photo page
Infrared photo page
d.FBI Did Begin Demolition of Mount Carmel
The FBI did not expect gassing alone to work.
One reporter wrote that SAC Bob Ricks "did not expect cult
members to begin leaving the complex, despite the power of
the tear gas." In fact, the FBI described the next
step--the plan to demolish Mount Carmel--to the press during
an April 19th morning press briefing. Besides the gassing,
"A secondary plan, according to authorities, was to knock
the compound down building by building. Some of the armored
vehicles that surrounded the Branch Davidian complex had
been fitted with battering
Just before noon, the FBI began demolition of
the building. Edward Dennis calls this "an apparent
deviation from the approved plan" because the FBI did not
wait 48 hours before it "dismantled" the building.
(JDR:Dennis:59) However, speeding up demolition was
implicit in Reno's approving the new rules of engagement.
Despite Dennis' acknowledgement that the tanks began
demolition, Justice Department and FBI officials have been
reluctant to admit that the tanks smashing through walls and
into the building--what the FBI calls "breaching
activities"--was in fact the beginning of demolition. They
have given differing explanations for the accelerated tank
During an April 21st press briefing, unnamed
senior Justice Department officials told reporters, "agents
began battering the walls of the compound to make bigger
holes so long booms or `arms' attached to the vehicles could
inject the gas deeper into the building to counteract high
winds outside that appeared to be dispersing it." And
FBI Deputy Director Floyd Clarke told the April 28, 1993,
House Judiciary Committee hearing that in the final assault
the FBI drove the tank in through the front door, the side
of the building and the back of the building, "to give these
people ways to exit the building, which some later used."
Whether FBI ground commanders Jamar and Rogers unilaterally
began demolition of Mount Carmel, or first consulted with
officials in the Washington FBI Operations Center, has not
Justice Department officials did admit to the
press that "the net result was that the actual operation may
have appeared more threatening to Koresh and his followers
than the more cautious plan approved by Reno. Asked
yesterday if agents in Waco had exceeded the plan she
approved, Reno said `I don't think so,' according to
department spokesman Carl Stern." We have not found a
specific comment from Attorney General Reno herself on this
13. SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY BY FBI AGENTS
Indianapolis attorney Linda Thompson created a
controversial and widely distributed video tape called
"Waco, the Big Lie." It details important BATF and FBI
violations of rights, use of excessive force and coverup in
the massacre of the Branch Davidians. The video tape
footage clearly shows suspicious activity by agents (or
suspected agents) which the Justice report does not explain
and which must be explained by FBI agents and personnel
a. Agents Jumping in and Out of Tanks
The Justice report frequently mentions that FBI
agents were in constant danger of being shot at by Branch
Davidians. According to Newsweek, "HRT was under orders not
to leave its tanks or enter the compound on foot. . .HRT
agents did have authority to leave their tanks but only in
the rarest circumstances, such as children being killed or
held hostage." During the April 19th, 10:30 a.m. press
conference SAC Bob Ricks stated, "We are not exposing any of
our agents individually to firearms." The Justice
report never mentions such directives, only that during the
fire agents left their tanks to arrest Branch Davidians who
were exiting the burning building and to look for survivors
in the buried bus.
However, in one portion of the "Waco, the Big
Lie" agents clearly can be seen jumping in and out of the
swung-open back of a tank, near the buried bus and a large
hole in the building, during the gassing and before the
fire. The Fire Report states that the M79 grenade launchers
were "hand held." (JDR:Fire Report:8) Therefore, to use
them agents would have to open the hatches of, or even
leave, their tanks to fire the grenades. Neither the FBI
nor the Justice report admits that agents left their tanks
until after the fire was well underway.
Later video footage shows what looks like a
dark-clothed individual riding on top of a tank which is
pulling away from right side of the building as wisps of
smoke are seen coming from second floor. (However, some
think it may not be a person but either debris or the tank's
boom.) If it is a person, his activities, and those of all
the agents outside their tanks, must be investigated.
The agents being outside their tanks, plus news
reports that survivors last saw David Koresh at 10:00 a.m.
and Steve Schneider at 10:30 a.m. and autopsy reports
that both died of gunshot wounds, have fueled speculation
that agents may have killed Branch Davidians inside the
building. The Reno-approved rules of engagement--fire only
if fired upon--still would have given FBI agents wide leeway
to fire at Branch Davidians, since allegedly they were
firing out of Mount Carmel. This would be especially true
if any agents decided to apply the rules of engagement
Richard Rogers approved in the Weaver case--fire if you see
anyone with a gun. The hostility expressed by Jamar, Ricks,
Rogers and Sage may have communicated the message that FBI
agents were permitted to use "any means necessary" to end
Pathologist Cyril H. Wecht, who conducted an
independent autopsy on the body of David Koresh, said
because the bullet wound was in the middle of the forehead,
he did not "`rule out' the possibility that Koresh and
Schneider were shot by outside snipers." Dick DeGuerin
admitted, "I have heard a rumor that six or eight specially
trained [men] were sent in to shoot people. . .when you look
at some of the wounds, they were not suicide wounds. Not
typical suicide wounds." Darren Borst, son of Mary
Jean Borst who died from gunshot wounds in the back,
insisted that an "FBI hit team" killed his mother and other
Branch Davidians found with gunshot wounds. Some even
speculate one or more Branch Davidian fire survivors will
testify they saw government agents shooting Branch
Davidians--accusations they will have withheld for their own
safety's sake until the trial.
b. Questions About Individual Who Jumps Off Roof
There are also questions about the individual
seen jumping off the front roof, and, untouched by fire,
walking away almost nonchalantly. He takes off a hood and
then the walks at least 150 feet away from the burning
building with his hands at his side, seemingly carrying a
long stick or a rifle. These actions are contrary to the
FBI's repeated instructions to individuals to put up their
hands and not carry anything.
Only one Branch Davidian male, Renos Avraam,
jumped off the roof. The Justice report states, "Avraam
then jumped off the roof, and walked toward one of the
Bradleys with his hands up." (JDR:298) Newsweek reports,
"One cult member, Renos Avraam, appeared on top of the
burning roof. He fell to the ground, and FBI agents rescued
him." Time reports, "A man appeared on the roof,
clothes aflame, rolling in pain; he fell off the roof, and
the agents ran over, tore off his burning clothes and got
him safely inside the armored vehicle." And during the
April 28, 1993, House Judiciary Committee hearing, FBI
Deputy Director Floyd Clarke said HRT members had seen a man
"consumed by fire" fall off the roof and ran over to help
him into a vehicle. Considering that these accounts do not
describe the individual seen on "Waco, the Big Lie," further
investigation of who this individual was must be done.
14. LACK OF FIRE PRECAUTIONS
According to the Justice report, "In one of the
meetings held in Waco in early April. . .[Assistant U.S.
Attorney] LeRoy Jahn raised the possibility of fire at the
compound and suggested to the FBI that fire fighting
equipment be placed on standby at the scene. . .[Deputy
Assistant Director Danny] Coulson explained . . .due to the
range of the Branch Davidians' weapons, fire fighting
equipment could not be brought into the proximity of the
compound. Coulson further explained that structural fires
cannot be fought from the outside. The only way a fire
could have been fought at the compound would have required
fire fighting personnel to enter the compound. That option
would have posed an unacceptable risk to the fire fighters."
(JDR:302-303) (Again, one wonders why the FBI was concerned
about fire fighters and not about the agents seen jumping in
and out of tanks on "Waco, the Big Lie.")
Janet Reno admits she gave little thought to the
possibility of fire. Her worse case scenario "would be an
explosion, not a fire. . .She recalls lying awake at night
asking herself. `Oh my God, what if he blows the place up?'"
(JDR:274) Reno did assert at the April 28, 1993, House
Judiciary Committee hearing: "I was concerned about
intentional or accidental explosions and ordered that
additional resources be provided to ensure that there was an
adequate emergency response." During her April 19th press
conference, "Ms. Reno said she thought that the fire
department had been" given advance notice. However, the
Waco fire department said it had not been given advance
notice of the assault by Federal agents. Reports
that the FBI had called Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas
about its burn unit were confirmed in November, 1993, when
Parkland announced it was planning to sue the federal
government for refusal to pay $370,000 in medical bills of
three Branch Davidians in the hospital's burn unit.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Tom Cox, Parkland's
legal director "said he thinks the government should be held
responsible because federal authorities called the hospital
the day of the assault on the cult compound, asking about
the burn unit and available bed space. He said a call was
made to the hospital about 6 a.m. that day, but it was
unclear if it was during that call or a later call that day
that the burn unit was mentioned. The FBI began its tear-
gas attack about 6 a.m.; the fire did not begin until
shortly after noon. . .[and]. . .the Davidians `certainly'
were in federal authorities' custody when they were taken to
Fire trucks were not summoned until 10 minutes after
the fire broke out. The FBI then held them up for 16
minutes after they arrived. "Although the fire crews did not
approach the burning building until 31 minutes after the
fire had first been reported, it would not have been safe
for them to do so earlier given the reports of gunfire from
inside the compound." (JDR:303) Of course, Houston
Chronicle photos and video tapes show that 31 minutes after
fire was first reported, the building is entirely gone! SAC
Ricks "conceded, officials in charge of the operation had
not expected a fire." After the fire, Representative
James Traficant commented on the FBI plan. "When you have
100 TV crews but not one fire truck, that's not a well-
thought out plan, that's box office."
15. BRANCH DAVIDIAN STATEMENTS THAT DEMOLITION TRAPPED
PEOPLE The streams of gas from the Mark-V delivery
system, the rampaging ferret tear gas rounds and the ramming
tanks drove Branch Davidians into the interior of the
building where they were trapped when the fire started.
a. Effects of the Gas
The gassing had relatively little effect on the
Branch Davidians because they wore gas masks and because
stiff winds rushing through the large holes created by tanks
quickly dispersed the gas. Some children's masks were made
to fit with the help of wet towels; other children were
placed in the concrete room with wet blankets over their
heads to protect them from the gas. "During the hours
before the fire, when the building was under assault,
[attorney Jack] Zimmerman said, cult members donned gas
masks and went about their normal routines while Koresh
checked to see if everyone was all right. . .It bothered
them, but it didn't cause pandemonium," he said of the tear
gas. "People remained calm." Zimmerman also said:
"They thought they were going to spray some tear gas and
retreat," and added that the survivors thought Koresh would
be allowed to finish his book about the Seven Seals, after
which they'd go to court. What was terrifying was the
dangerous ferret tear gas rounds smashing through the
building which drove most Branch Davidians into the concrete
room or to the second floor hallways. And those who were
most severely affected by the gas may have been too
debilitated to leave the building once the fire began.
b. Effects of the Tanks
At the April 19th 10:30 a.m. press conference
SAC Ricks told reporters, "The pounding of the compound that
you see is really a necessary function of the insertion of
the gas. . .So, it's not necessarily, at this point, one of
destruction to the compound." When reporters asked if they
warned those inside each time a tank was about to smash into
the building, Ricks answered, "We are not advising them
ahead of time. We are continuing to advise them to please
exit the compound." (Remember it was Ricks who also told
the Dallas Morning News, "we felt that if we got any of them
out safely, that would be a great bonus.")
According to the Justice report, "Members of the
HRT were assigned to be tank drivers, tank commanders,
Bradley vehicle crew, snipers, and sniper's support. . .An
orbiting helicopter with SWAT personnel aboard would
apprehend and arrest subjects attempting to flee from the
crisis site." (JDR:279) Well before April 19th FBI agents
had been criticized for their sloppy tank driving
techniques, especially after a Bradley Personnel Carrier
driver trying to move a Waco Tribune-Herald vehicle stranded
on the property, ran over and crushed it. Doubtless,
the tanks were driven with similar carelessness as they
rammed their way into the building.
Tanks rammed the front staircase, pushed in the
bullet-riddled front door, collapsed the walls and then the
roof of the gymnasium as they pushed their way back towards
the back of the building where they bashed in the dining
room walls and the back doors. And then, around noon, the
tanks began the final, fatal round of tank attacks. FBI
Deputy Director Floyd Clarke told the April 28, 1993, House
Judiciary Committee hearing admitted to simultaneous tank
attacks when he said: "at this time we made some openings in
the building where we actually drove the tank in here
through this door, through this side of the building and
through the back side here to give these people ways to exit
the building--which some later used." That the FBI believed
it needed to punch out new "ways to exit" indicates they
knew they already had blocked the existing exits.
News reports provide more details of the damage
caused by the tanks. "By noon, whole sections of the
exterior walls had been demolished. Portions of the roof
were collapsing. Cult members inside had been forced into
an ever-narrowing circle of interior rooms." According
to Associated Press, "Then the FBI sent in its biggest
weapon--a massive armored vehicle larger than the
others and headed for a chamber lined with cinder
blocks where authorities hoped to find Mr. Koresh and Mr.
Schneider and fire the chemical irritant directly at them.
When the tank rumbled in, it produced such trembling it felt
like an earthquake. The tank took out everything in its
path. The front door went. So did an upright piano
standing as a barricade behind it." "[E]very assault
by a tank rattled the poorly constructed buildings, and cult
members dodged falling sheet rock and doors."
Attorney Jack Zimmerman said, "People were
trapped: the building was falling down, the damn tanks had
just destroyed the structure and nobody knew where they were
because the ceiling had fallen in." He also said the
big tank's "concussion tipped everything over on the second
floor, collapsed the walls and stairwells, trapping women
and children upstairs." Dick DeGuerin told the
television show "Prime Time" that those who sought shelter
in the second floor hallways were trapped because doors were
twisted and jammed by the tanks ramming the building and
they could not get into rooms that had windows from which
they could escape.
Fire survivor Jaime Castillo "tried to move
around the building, but the repeated pounding on the
exterior had left piles of rubble everywhere. The central
stairway between the first and second floors was littered
with plasterboard and wood and had partially
collapsed." Ruth Riddle explained why people didn't
get out when the fire started: "I believe that they couldn't
get out. Where the buildings were rammed is where the
staircases were." David Thibodeau told "Good Morning
America," "I could see people being trapped, 'cause when the
tanks did go in there, there were hallways, there were
places that were cut off." Survivors recall that after
the fire started, even those who had been in the outside
rooms "fled them for interior areas, but within a few
minutes these were ablaze, too." David Koresh's mother
Bonnie Haldeman told a television interviewer that a
survivor told her that "all the back exits had been blocked.
The whole back building had been pushed in. The back doors
had been pushed in. There was no way for anyone to get out
After the fire SAC Jeffrey Jamar said: "Mr.
Koresh obviously intended for the children to die or he
would have put them in a safe place--such as the buried bus
beneath the compound. . .`When our [hostage rescue team] was
able to get down into the bus, hoping we could find the
children. . .in that bus, the air was cool--and no gas. Had
Koresh wished those children to survive, that was one place
they could have been put safely when he had the fire
started." President Clinton also mentioned this "fact"
during his April 20 press conference. However, as we know--
and Jamar should have--during the morning tanks had been
running back and forth over the tunnel and part of the house
had been pulled down on top of it. The Fire Report also
admits that "a significant amount of structural debris was
found in this area indicating that the breaching operations
could have caused this route to be blocked." (JDR:Fire
c. Position of Bodies and Autopsy Reports
The Justice report confirms that most of the 80
or more people who died were found in the furthest interior
areas: inside the concrete room (32), in front of it (3), in
the nearby kitchen (16), in hallways (6), in the
communications room (3). During the April 28, 1993, House
Judiciary Committee hearings, Representative James
Sensenbrenner, who himself had barely escaped a disastrous
house fire, questioned why so many bodies were found near
the middle front of the building, which caught fire later
than the back and the side. Assistant Director for the
Criminal Investigative Division Larry Potts answered that
the FBI had "statements from people in there who chose to
come out" that others had "chosen not to come out."
However, no such statements were included in the Justice
The Justice autopsy report notes that one
unidentified 30-50 year old female "died of multiple
fractures of the cervical spine, caused by blunt force
trauma probably associated with a fall. Her body was found
in front of the bunker." (JDR:322) It is possible the woman
was either crushed by a tank or that the tank brought down
part of the second floor, killing her. There may be no
survivors from this area of the building to testify as to
what happened to the woman.
Despite all this evidence, the Justice report
refuses to admit the possibility that the gassing attack--
including more than 400 ferret rounds--and tanks ramming the
building trapped the Branch Davidians. "While the fire was
burning the negotiators repeatedly broadcast repeated
messages to the compound, pleading with the residents to
leave. Only a few of the Davidians heeded those pleas."
16. BRANCH DAVIDIAN STATEMENTS DEMOLITION STARTED THE FIRE
Below we detail the statements of fire survivors that
FBI tank activity caused the fire that consumed Mount Carmel
and killed 80 or more people. Later sections will present
FBI and fire investigators' conclusions that the fires were
started by Branch Davidians.
a. Building Filled with Flammable Fuel
After the FBI cut off the building's
electricity, the Branch Davidians became totally dependent
on flammable fuel for light and heating. Attorney Jack
Zimmerman noted that "almost every room had a coleman
lantern." These lamps use kerosene as fuel. Renos
Avraam's attorney Dick Kettler said of that morning, "As
they awoke, kerosene lamps hanging on the outside walls were
lit." According to the same news account, "Some of the
upper rooms also contained butane gas heaters, and propane
gas tanks were located throughout the compound."
b. Ferret Rounds and Tanks Dispersed Fuel
A Branch Davidian survivor told Dr. James Tabor
that rocketing ferret rounds knocked over the kerosene
lamps, spilling so much kerosene and making the floor so
slippery, they sometimes had to go down on "all fours" to
get around (private communication). The Fire Report does
admit that due to "structural damage. . .it is possible that
some flammables were spilled inside the building as a
result. These flammables could have contributed to the
destruction of the building as the fire spread to them.
There is no positive proof of this but it cannot be
eliminated." (JDR:Fire Report:9)
c. Allegations Final Tank Assaults and Demolition
As our chronology illustrates, there were major
tank assaults in the areas where the fires started just
minutes before fires were first seen by outsiders. The
assaults on the back of the compound--at the dining room and
concrete room--and the collapse of half of the huge
gymnasium were never shown in television news reports and no
newspapers included them in their diagrams. Television
footage and newspaper photographs did show clearly the fire
which began on the second floor, the fire in the back of the
building, once it reached the second story of the tower, and
the fact that the middle and left front of the building
caught fire later than either of those sections. The
Justice report does not include a very clear description--or
any graphics--of these last tank assaults before the fire,
leaving anyone who has not studied the full aerial infrared
video tape of the tank attack somewhat confused.
The two "official" descriptions of the tank
attacks below seem to describe tank attacks at the rear of
the building that collapsed the gymnasium. Evidently the
tanks were blocked by fuel tanks from reaching the back of
the building from the left side of the building, so they
tried to squeeze through the narrow space between the
swimming pool and the gymnasium walls. In so doing, they
brought down those walls, and half the gymnasium roof.
Justice Department report reviewer Edward Dennis writes that
the "CEV2 was ordered to clear a path through the compound
in order to clear a path to the main tower so that CEV-1
could insert tear gas in that area. In that endeavor the
CEV started to knock down a corner of the building and a
portion of the roof collapsed. Very shortly after this
happened, fire was observed in several locations in the
compound." (JDR:Dennis:59) (The "tower" was the three
stories built on top of the concrete room.) During the
Justice Department press conference October 8, 1993,
Assistant to the Attorney General Richard Scruggs, who
compiled the factual report, explained: "Four to five
minutes before the fire broke out the vehicle went through
the tower area and breached a hole in there and saw what he
believed to be a group of people inside, he believed women
and children." (Because we do not have a video tape of
the press conference, we assume that Scruggs was pointing to
photographs of the back of the building; however, he may
have been pointing to entry of the tank through the front
The Associated Press account in a section above
describes the entry through the front door. "Then the FBI
sent in its biggest weapon--a massive armored vehicle larger
than the others and headed for a chamber lined with cinder
blocks." i.e., the concrete room. "[Survivors] said the
tank took out a barrel of propane, flattening the container
and spilling its contents. And as the tank thundered
through the house it tipped over lit camping lanterns,
spitting flames that ignited the propane and other
flammables. . .The building erupted. It happened too fast
to pull fire extinguishers from the walls." Although
Branch Davidian survivors claim it was this tank entry which
started the fire, the Justice report does not mention its
entry in its section on the final tank attacks. (JDR:294)
The report does include the 11:59:16 infrared photo of the
tank at the front door.
"Jack Zimmermann, who said he spoke Wednesday
with four survivors and attorneys for two others, said all
six survivors say an armored vehicle that smashed through a
wall hit the propane tank and started the fire. `One person
heard someone screaming from the area where the tank was, `A
tank has come in! There's a fire started!' They said the
smoke was so black, that one of them said within seconds he
couldn't see where he was.'" According to the New York
Times, "The survivors said that the fire began after an
especially violent tank collision plowed far into the
building. The [tank] crushed a container of propane,
according to the account that lawyers gave the news agency.
It also tipped over lighted camping lanterns, which spit
flames that ignited the propane and other flammables. .
.escape attempts were hampered because gas masks clouded up
in the smoke and heat."
It is possible that the tank which rammed the
second story at about 12:06 p.m. also started a fire--the
"flicker of orange" one reporter described shortly after the
ramming. Attorney Dick Kettler reported his client Renos
Avraam "was with a number of people squeezed into a hallway
on the second floor when the fire started. He heard a tank
crashing against the wall in a room near them. Then that
room caught fire. He said it was terrifying. The tanks
were crashing into the walls, and the whole building was
shaking. He thought he would get crushed between the walls.
Others in the hallway didn't have time to escape. The fire
went too fast. It was total blackness and confusion. In
seconds, everybody was disoriented." The story notes that
Avraam was apparently the only survivor from that hallway,
having found a window to crash through that led to the front
Even with this sketchy evidence, we can see that
the tank that rammed through the back wall near the dining
room clearly could have started the fire seen minutes later
which quickly consumed and collapsed the tower above the
concrete room. And the big tank that rammed through the
front door towards the tower could have started both the
second story fire and fires deeper inside the chapel,
including near the dining room. Alternately, the tank
ramming the second floor may have started that fire. Either
the second story fire or any other internal fire could have
spread rapidly through the puddles of spilled lantern fuel
into the chapel area to the back of the stage where infrared
photos show flames raging a few minutes later.
The collapse of half the huge gymnasium's roof
also could have started a fire in that back area. A
California gun rights organization obtained CBS footage of
the April 19th attack and found that news footage clearly
shows the gymnasium collapsing sometime between 11:55 and
11:59 a.m. The group claims that a heat plume indicating
fire in the gymnasium area can be seen in the 11:59:16
infrared photo included in the Justice report.
d. Questions about "Flaming" Tank
The most controversial part of the video tape
"Waco, the Big Lie" is a scene of a tank pulling out of the
middle front of the building (not the front door) which
appears to be shooting flames from the end of a boom.
Thompson claims this is "proof" that the government
intentionally started the fire. A number of FBI critics,
including some Branch Davidians, doubt the tank is shooting
flame, based on other footage of the same scene which makes
the alleged "flames" look like a reflection from building
debris or from escaping gasses. Others claim that no such
light can be seen on high resolution tape of the same
Because Thompson had distributed her video to
television stations and politicians all over the country,
the Justice report answers Thompson's allegations in a
section entitled "False Accusations that the FBI Started the
Fire." (JDR:304-307) Note that the Justice Department did
not bother to address survivors' more credible accounts of
how FBI tanks "started the fire." Right after the fire,
Justice Department spokesperson Carl Stern's dismissed the
six survivors' statements saying, "That stuff is
The report asserts that the time when that shot
was filmed is "unclear." (JDR:305) However, earlier the
report mentioned the existence of "split-screen video
prepared by the FBI laboratory, containing the infrared
footage from the air on one side, with the televised footage
from the ground on the other." (JDR:296) Analysts should
have been able to ascertain the time through the videos'
"time meters." The report also asserts that infrared photos
show no indication of heat coming from the front of the tank
(they do show heat from the exhaust at the back of the
tank). Evidently, Justice report experts did not watch the
whole tape for signs of heat coming from the front of all
The Justice report asserts that the army "has
examined all the CEVs used on April 19th to see if they had
been outfitted with a flame-emitting device or if there was
any evidence of charring or fire. "No such evidence was
found." Of course, this investigation probably was not
launched until mid or late summer, when "Waco, the Big Lie"
began to have political impact. By that time, the tanks,
some of which had pushed burning debris into the fire, would
probably have been cleaned, refitted and repaired. The
report does not mention if maintenance or repair records
A reporter asked about the "flaming tank" at the
Justice Department's October 8, 1993 press conference.
Richard Scruggs provided more information from "preliminary
assessments" by University of Maryland "experts." Scruggs
speculated that a flame could have come from a "busted
hydraulic line or something like that" but said that the
Justice Department had inspected the CEV's and found no
evidence of broken parts. During his statement Scruggs
asserted that "carbon monoxide"--a poisonous and sometimes
flammable gas--was used to propel the CS gas into the
compound. Because the Justice report states the
dispersant was carbon dioxide (JDR:287), this prompted
speculation that the Scruggs had accidently "let the cat out
of the bag." However, Scruggs later told Washington Times
reporter Jerry Seper that he had in fact made an error
(private communication). (The fact that the Fire Report
labels "CS" gas "CN" gas (JDR:Fire Report: 8) has also
prompted speculation.) Further, investigation is in order
as to whether any tanks were somehow spewing flames or
casting off sparks that caused one or more of the fires that
consumed Mount Carmel Center.
e. Evidence Fire Drove Some to Suicide
Because gun shots were heard during the fire and
twenty-one Branch Davidians died from gun shot wounds,
various FBI and Justice Department officials, and the mass
media, have alleged the fire and shootings were either "mass
suicide" or "mass murder" as a few Branch Davidians set the
fires and shot those who tried to escape. SAC Jeffrey Jamar
said, "maybe some were forced to stay" because gunshots were
heard as fire started and one body bore a bullet hole in the
However, given the fact that most exit routes
were blocked by debris from the tanks when the fire roared
through the building, survivors and others believe that some
of those trapped in the fire chose suicide over asphyxiation
or burning to death. Fire experts who viewed video tape of
the fire opined, "it was a text-book example of a deadly
fire involving a unsafe building and a 30-mile-an-hour wind.
Cult members may have had less than five minutes to escape
after the fire began. . .Once one room had become engulfed
by fire, a point referred to as flashover. . .the fire
produces an enormous amount of toxic gases that cause
When asked about the fact that bodies had been
found with gunshot wounds to the head, Branch Davidians
denied there was a suicide pact. David Thibodeau said, "No,
there was not a suicide pact. . .I know that if I were
trapped in a fire and there was a fire next to me, and I
was. . .it was very probable that I was going to burn, that
I may, I may just taken the easy way out." When the
interviewer asked why people didn't try to get out,
Thibodeau answered, "I believe some people did try to get
out or else I wouldn't be sitting here. . .obviously."
Fire survivor Ruth Riddle said, "Given the fact
that they may have been trapped, they may have opted for
that rather than burning to death, that's a terrible way to
die." Jaimie Castillo told a reporter, "If I was in
that situation, where I couldn't get out and the fire was
coming my way, I'd probably take myself out." Derek
Lovelock said Koresh "didn't want to commit suicide and he
didn't want to be killed. . .We knew the end was coming, but
we honestly thought it would all pass peacefully, David
included." Louis Alaniz, the "visitor" who left Mount
Carmel a few days before the fire, also agreed that there
was no suicide pact.
Pathologist Dr. Rodney Crowe told the Maury
Povich audience, "I think they did what you would have done,
what I would have done and I've put myself in that position.
If I was on fire, if my child was on fire, if the heat was
so unbearable, I'd shoot my child. I would hope I'd have the
strength to shoot myself. As we were examining these people
we hoped that we would find gunshot wounds because we knew
that they went out quickly that way rather than suffer the
horrible death that we knew some of them did."
Dr. Crowe was also incensed by some newspaper
interpretations of the autopsy findings. "In our local Fort
Worth paper on the front page it said `Cultist Children
Executed'. . .and mentioned that children were shot,
stabbed, beaten to death. . .[The paper wrote] `It is
apparent that the parents turned on their children in favor
of David Koresh's teachings.' This is why I'm here because
our product has been twisted. . .Nowhere did we say
execution. Nowhere did we say beaten to death. It was
blunt force trauma. Three children had blunt force trauma.
But it was from the falling concrete in the bunker that fell
on them. There's an opening in the top of the bunker eight
feet approximately in diameter and large chunks of concrete
fell on these people. And to say these children were beaten
to death is unconscionable."
The Justice report alleges (JDR:7), and some
papers repeated, that one child had been stabbed to death.
Dr. Crowe later told an audience member that the child who
reportedly had been stabbed may also have been hit by
falling concrete or other materials; the mark on a rib which
suggested stabbing might also have been an old wound from a
childhood accident (private communication.)
17. FBI ALLEGATIONS BRANCH DAVIDIANS STARTED THE FIRE
As soon as the fire started, SAC Ricks, who earlier in
the day had assured reporters the FBI was confidant there
would be no mass suicide, proclaimed, "Oh, my god, they're
killing themselves!" as if that was the only possible cause
of the fire. Below is evidence the government presents that
the Branch Davidians started the fire, plus comments on that
evidence. Discussion of the Fire Report follows in a later
a. Testimony by Agents
The Justice report states, "At 12:10 p.m.
another HRT agent, who was 300 yards away from the compound
at Sierra One post, actually saw a Branch Davidian start the
fire. The agent later reported to investigators what he had
seen: `. . .he noticed the man was moving back and forth
behind the piano and the individual then assumed a kneeling
position. [The HRT agent] noticed the man's hands moving
and immediately after that [he] noticed that a fire started
in that position. The man immediately departed the area of
the piano. At the same time [the HRT agent] noticed a fire
start on the red or right side of the building." (JDR:296)
However, as the Justice report's own 12:09:50 p.m. infrared
photos show, by the time the agent made that report the
whole front and right of the building were fully aflame.
The report goes on to say, "The HRT agent
reported what he had seen over the radio. Two HRT snipers
simultaneously noticed fire breaking out in two different
parts of the building -- at the front-right corner, and at
the third or fourth floor of the tower on the back-left
side." (TDR:297) However, at that time they would have seen
well-developed fires. The report adds, "Another HRT sniper
thought it odd that, from his vantage point, the fire
appeared to spread in the opposite direction of the wind,
which was blowing from the right side to the left side of
the complex." (TDR:297) The implication seems to be that
the fires were deliberately started, since they go against
the direction of the wind. However, fires started by tanks
also could go against the direction of the wind.
The Justice report does not mention SAC Jeffrey Jamar's
April 20th allegation to reporters that, "At least 3 people
observed a [cult member] spreading something. . .with a
cupped hand and then there was a flash of fire." (Two
other reporters also mentioned Jamar's claim: one described
it as "three FBI sharpshooters had seen a fireball shortly
after they had watched cult members sprinkling liquid
inside." The other described it as "three snipers,
peering through binoculars from a station 100 yards away
from the compound, could see a cult member start the
blaze.") Nor does the Justice report mention Bob
Rick's account of an agent's version reported in the
Washington Post: "someone appeared on the second floor of
the compound wearing a gas mask and made a throwing motion.
Flames erupted, and the person signaled to agents he did not
want to be rescued." There is no evidence either
version was "redacted" in the Justice report. SAC Jamar and
these agents must be interviewed under oath so that we may
discover if any agents fabricated stories about seeing
Branch Davidians start the fire.
b. Surveillance Recordings
During his opening statement in the Branch
Davidian trial, lead prosecutor LeRoy Jahn alleged that
surveillance devices had picked up voices saying, "spread
the fuel," and "light the fire." Jahn told jurors that
they would hear an audio tape in which one individual asks,
"What's the plan?" A second individual laughs and answers:
"Haven't you always wanted to be a charcoal briquette?"
However, the prosecutor will have to prove that
the individuals speaking are Branch Davidians (since we know
FBI agents were outside their tanks); that they are
referring to spreading fuel to start a fire--not moving fuel
out of the way of tanks to prevent one; that the individual
says "light the fire" and not something indistinguishable--
or something closer to "a tank's light a fire". In relation
to the "charcoal briquette" joke, the prosecution will have
to prove that this is a statement of intention to light a
fire--not a joking response about what will inevitably
happen if they don't leave the building--a firetrap
surrounded by rampaging tanks! One reporter writes that the
FBI has admitted that the listening devices "had yielded
only fragmentary and inconclusive information about Mr.
Koresh and the conditions inside the complex." This
may well be true of these surveillance tapes as well.
c. Alleged Testimony By Fire Survivors
FBI agents interviewed surviving Branch
Davidians as they escaped the burning buildings. "During
those interviews three of the survivors made statements
about the cause of the fire. Renos Avraam told the agents
that he had heard someone inside the compound say, `The fire
has been lit, the fire has been lit.' Clive Doyle told the
Texas Rangers that the fire was started inside the compound
with coleman fuel. Doyle said the fuel had been distributed
throughout the compound in specific, designated locations."
(JDR:300) However, on April 20th Renos Avraam called to the
press as he was led into court, "The fire was not started by
us. There were no plans for mass suicide."
The report describes at length only Graeme
Craddock's alleged comments to the FBI: "Craddock advised
that when the Bradley came in through the front entrance,
they started moving fuel. Craddock believes that the
compound had a total of approximately one dozen, one gallon
containers of lantern fuel and that they had been located in
the lobby area. He said he saw a lot of people grabbing
fuel containers and moving them to other areas. Craddock
believes that possibly three or four of these containers had
been put next to the window that had already been knocked
out by the Bradley on the southern side of the chapel area.
Craddock said he had heard someone talking about shifting
the fuel from the hallway near the chapel . . .He said he
had heard someone complain about fuel being spilled inside.
. .Craddock indicated that he had heard shouts about
starting the fire. . .Craddock also said that he had heard
someone say, `Light the fire,' and that he had also heard
someone else say, `Don't light the fire.'"
Craddock allegedly told the Texas Rangers: "He
said he went into the chapel area with several other people.
He heard the word passed to `start the fires.' He said that
someone said `make sure.' He said that word was then passed
to not start the fires . . .Craddock said that if there was
a suicide pact, he knew nothing about it. He said that he
knew nothing about a plan to burn the building until he
heard someone pass the word to start the fire."
(JDR:300-301) However, Craddock has told the press, "No one
inside set any fires. The tanks knocked over the gas
lanterns. . .There was no suicide pact."
18. FBI AND BATF CRIME SCENE COVERUP
The FBI's disinformation campaign--and their disregard
for preserving the "crime scene"--only increased after the
April 19th fire.
a. FBI Disinformation After the April 19th Fire
SAC Jeffrey Jamar's claim that some Branch
Davidians may have shot others trying to escape is just one
example of the kind of disinformation the FBI, and
especially SAC Bob Ricks, disseminated after the fire.
Other examples are:
* On April 19th, Ricks told the press: Koresh
"wanted to have as many people killed as possible. That's
why it was called Ranch Apocalypse."; and "David
Koresh, we believe, gave the order to commit suicide and
they all followed his order." and Koresh "was demanding
provocation to get in a fight with us. . .We believe they
were preparing for another armed standoff."
* On April 19th, "Mr. Ricks said it was only
speculation at this point, but that authorities had received
reports, apparently from some of the survivors, that the
children had been injected with some kind of poison to ease
their pain." However, the Justice report made no such
* During the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary
Committee hearings, Ricks told lawmakers that when a
released child heard his father and Koresh were dead he
said, "I don't care. No more beatings." and the children
had asked if their new home had a "beating room." The
social workers have not revealed publiclly that any child
making such a statement. During the hearing Texas
Representative John Bryant said that he was bothered that
the FBI seemed to make a lot of statements whose purpose was
to create public opinion supportive of the FBI.
* In August of 1993, in a speech before a Tulsa,
Oklahoma civic group, Bob Ricks speculated that David Koresh
ordered the cult compound burned down to kill followers and
federal agents, but screamed, "Don't light it up!" when he
realized agents were retreating. However, the order to hold
back came too late. "What we think was in his mind was that
he expected us to come in and mount a frontal tactical
assault against the compound. Once we were inside, he would
light it up and burn us up with his own people." Ricks
added, "I never wish ill will on anybody, but he's one guy
I'm glad who was in there." A later news report quoted
Ricks' speculation that Steve Schneider had shot Koresh out
of anger. "In the end, he probably realized he was dealing
with a fraud. After [Koresh] had caused so much harm and
destruction, [Koresh] probably now wanted to come out, and
Mr. Schneider could not tolerate that situation." Officials
familiar with the evidence questioned Ricks' comments and
FBI officials refused to comment."
b. April 19th Destruction of Evidence and the Crime
News videotapes like those in "Waco, the Big
Lie" clearly show tanks equipped with plows pushing burning
walls into the flaming rubble. These walls might have
contained evidence that BATF agents had shot
indiscriminately and illegally through them. The FBI may
assert this was done to prevent injuries from detonating
ammunition and explosives. However, news video tape shows
agents walking close to the building as it burns and walking
through the rubble the evening of the fire with little
concern for their safety. At the end of "Waco, the Big
Lie," Branch Davidian Brad Branch cries out over a phone
from jail, "They're destroying the crime scene, this is the
biggest lie ever put before the American people."
c. FBI and BATF Assisted Texas Rangers In Search
As we have seen, the Texas Rangers took
"official" control of the scene after Mount Carmel burned to
the ground. "Immediately following the April 19th fire the
Texas Rangers, working with the FBI, arranged to take
command of the remains of the compound. . .The Texas Rangers
assumed primary responsibility for combing through the crime
scene and recovering evidence. The FBI provided substantial
assistance to the Rangers in performing this task."
(JDR:308) The Justice report notes that during the search,
"The Rangers divided the physical area of the compound into
sectors, rows and grids, then formed teams comprised of
Rangers, FBI and other technicians, and other law
enforcement agents." (JDR:309) The Justice report does not
mention the presence of BATF agents, as does the Treasury
report which states, "after the Compound was ravaged by
fire, ATF firearms and explosives experts collected evidence
of the firearms and other destructive devices."(TDR:128)
Defense attorney Dan Cogdell commented that it
was mere "window dressing" to have the Texas Rangers put in
charge of the criminal investigation. "The Texas Rangers
are very respected around here, but it's stretching it to
say they are bringing any kind of true independent
judgement. They are in charge, but Federal agents are
dissecting the crime scene and cross-checking all the
evidence." Also some legal experts called for greater
separation between the Texas Rangers, FBI and BATF,
including "a completely independent panel. . .to do the
criminal investigation. `When the Challenger exploded, we
didn't have NASA investigate the accident.' said Bruce Fein,
a Washington lawyer who was an associate deputy Attorney
General in the Reagan Administration and wrote guidelines of
the Federal Bureau of Investigation on procedures for
Whatever little separation there was between
state and federal officials quickly ended. The New York
Times reported: "State officials overseeing the
investigation announced, in an apparent shift in policy,
that once the voluminous amount of evidence from the
compound is all collected, it would be shipped to Federal
laboratories. `Our crime laboratory in Austin has to be
available to handle criminal matters that come up in Texas,'
said Mike Cox, a spokesman with the Texas Department of
Public Safety. Earlier, officials conducting the
investigation into how the fire started said that they were
using private laboratories in an effort to avoid any
appearance of conflict of interest that might arise from a
Federal laboratory making conclusions about evidence in a
case in which Federal agents' actions were being
questioned." Cox told reporters, "The Texas Rangers are
investigating the crime scene and if you are concerned about
a conflict of interest, you should talk to the U.S.
Attorney's office." However, the reporter writes that when
he tried to do so: "The U.S. Attorney referred inquiries to
the Department of Justice, and Carl Stern, a department
spokesman, said, `All the shifts in police (sic) I know of,
are the ones you invented,' referring to the news
d. May 12th Destruction of the Crime Scene
Two weeks after the release of the "independent"
fire investigators' report, but before Branch Davidian
attorneys could send in their own fire investigators,
bulldozers rolled across the burned rubble of Mount Carmel
Center, filling in all the holes with dirt and burned
rubble. SAC Jeffrey Jamar defended this action. "They're
just filling holes so people won't fall in the pits. That's
just part of taking care of the scene." And Mike Cox,
spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said
bulldozing was necessary so the Texas Health and Water
departments could begin work at the site. However, attorney
Jack Zimmerman said, "I guess what it does, it forever
prevents any checking on the ATF's rendition that the fire
was intentionally set." Defense Attorney Jeffrey
Kearney told local reporters: "Government agents can say
what they want now and there's little physical evidence to
e. Possibility FBI will Tamper with Audio/Video
There exists a full record of what happened
during the siege and on April 19th--news footage, aerial
infrared and other video tapes, and surveillance audio
tapes. However, as we have said, because modern audio and
video techniques allow tampering which can go virtually
undetected, any such taped evidence the prosecution uses
against Branch Davidians will remain suspect.
19. "INDEPENDENT" FIRE INVESTIGATOR COVERUP
The head of the so-called "independent" fire
investigation team was Paul C. Gray, Assistant Chief of the
Houston Fire Department. However, Gray had very close ties
to BATF. BATF officials recommended him. He had served as
a member of the BATF's National Arson Response Team and
taught classes for BATF agents. And his wife was a
secretary in BATF's Houston office." Attorney Jack
Zimmerman revealed, ">From 1982 to 1990, [Gray's] office was
on Imperial Valley Drive, in the ATF office. . .He carried a
card that identified himself as a special agent of ATF. He
handed that card out to people when he interviewed
witnesses." Finally, Gray had socialized with BATF
agent Steve Willis, who was killed February 28th, and
attended his funeral.
Zimmerman criticized Gray's selection and his
conclusions that Branch Davidians set the fires. "Until I
see the evidence from an independent, impartial expert, I
choose to believe the firsthand account of eyewitnesses who
were in the center who said there was no fire started by the
The Fire Report does not mention if investigators
interviewed any of the fire survivors, something which would
be done routinely in other fires. In fact, the Fire Report
rejects "media" accounts of the survivors very similar
statements about how the fire started--despite the fact
survivors left the building at different exit points, were
immediately arrested, and had little opportunity to get
together to "concoct" similar stories.
a. Fire Report Asserts People Not Trapped In
Despite the extensive testimony about people
being trapped by falling debris, blocked stairways, jammed
doors, caved-in walls, and rapidly spreading smoke and fire,
the Fire Report concludes, "Considering the observable means
of exit available, we must assume that many of the occupants
were either denied escape from within or refused to leave
until escape was not an option." (JDR:Fire Report:9) The
report does not mention what other fire experts would
emphasize: "Cult members may have had less than five minutes
to escape after the fire began. . . the fire produces an
enormous amount of toxic gases that cause confusion."
b. Fire Report Implies Flammables Present for
Purpose of Arson
The Fire Report notes, "the physical evidence
collected at the scene included the remains of several metal
containers commonly used for the storage of flammable
liquids." (JDR:Fire Report:3) It does not bother to mention
that the 90 or more inhabitants of Mount Carmel were totally
reliant on coleman lanterns fueled by kerosene, on butane
gas heaters, and on propane gas for heat and light. Again,
the Fire Report does admit that, "it is possible that some
flammables were spilled inside the building as a result" of
the tanks activities. (JDR:Fire Report:9)
The report also exhaustively lists all the
flammable materials found on survivors' shoes and clothes,
as if this is evidence of arson. However, since fire
investigators evidently did not interview survivors, they
had no way of knowing that Davidians sometimes had to crawl
on their hands and knees because of fuel knocked over by
According to Newsweek, just after the fire arson
investigators found "metal lantern-fuel containers with what
appeared to be deliberate punctures." However, neither
the Justice factual report or the Fire Report mentions such
punctures in the containers and this may have been more FBI
disinformation. The Fire Report also denies that the "CN"
gas, as it mistakenly calls CS gas, could have started or
contributed to the fire.
c. Fire Report Asserts Accidental Fire Impossible
The report attempts to debunk what it calls
"another theoretical explanation reported by the media,"
i.e., that tanks rupturing "a propane cylinder or flammable
liquid container" started the fire. Again, it does not
admit that this is survivors' testimony. The Fire Report
claims, "if this had happened, an immediate vapor air
explosion or flash fire would have occurred involving the
vehicle itself. It did not happen. All law enforcement
vehicles were well away from the building prior to the start
of the fire." (JDR:Fire Report:9) However, one assumes that
the tanks are sufficiently well armored to withstand
proximity to such a relatively small fire. And, as we have
seen, tanks smashed into the building minutes before the
d. Fire Report States Separated Points of Origin
The report states, "Fires were set in three
separate areas of the structure identified as points of
origin 1, 2, and 3. This investigation establishes that
these fires occurred in areas significantly distant from
each other and in a time frame that precludes any assumption
of a single ignition source or accidental cause." (JDR:Fire
Report:3) In an April 26, 1993, news conference, Gray told
reporters, "We believe it was intentionally set by persons
inside the compound. . .It is the opinion of the
investigative team that this fire started in the interior of
the building in at least two separate locations, at
approximately the same time." These locations "were
significantly distant enough from each other that they
couldn't have been set by the same source at the same
time." He asserted "evidence showed a time gap between
the last battering of the compound by an FBI armored vehicle
and the appearance of the blaze."
Again, the fire investigator is denying what we
can plainly see, that a last barrage of tank attacks
occurred in separate locations within the six to eight
minute period during which the fires began. He also rejects
simple common sense: if even one massive tank smashes deep
inside a rickety wooden building filled with dozens of
lighted lanterns, propane tanks and other flammable
containers, that one tank alone could start two or three
fires in widely separated parts of the buildings. If two or
three tanks do so within a short time period, all three
could start fires. Also, the further inside the building
the fire starts, the longer it will take after tanks have
withdrawn for outsiders to see the fire. And even if
outsiders see fires appearing at about the same time, it
does not mean they started at the same time. Depending on
how great the "fire load" of flammable materials in each
room, fires could have started several minutes apart, but
appear to outsiders to start virtually simultaneously.
e. Fire Report Downplays Breaching's Role in
The report lists as "contributory factors" to the
fire's spread: poor construction; highly combustible stored
products such as baled hay, large quantities of paper, and
other flammables; strong wind; and "breaching operations."
The report admits "the FBI removed several large sections of
the building's exterior walls. . .these openings are
contributory to the fire's spread." However, it asserts
that the "fresh air" the openings let in ". . .while fanning
the flames. . .would have also lowered the concentration of
carbon monoxide. . .increasing the amount of time a person
might have survived if trapped inside." This weak apology
for the breaching operation's contribution to spreading the
fire at least admits that people might have been trapped
inside. (JDR:Fire Report:6)
f. Gray Inaccurately Claimed Escape Tunnel Was
During his press conference Paul Gray claimed,
"I do believe that a person could have survived the fire. I
could speculate that there was ample room in the open pit
area for everybody to have gotten into." However, this
statement directly contradicts what Gray put in his own
report regarding the buried bus that served as a tunnel
system connected to the open pit: "It is also possible that
the escape route planned included the aforementioned tunnel
system accessible through an opening in the floor at the
west end of the building. A significant amount of
structural debris was found in this area indicating that the
breaching operations could have caused this route to be
blocked." (JDR:Fire Report:10)
20. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT COVERUP
Because Justice Department officials were involved
more deeply in the disastrous decisions at Waco than were
their Treasury Department counterparts who approved the
original BATF raid, the Justice Department coverup is much
more systematic than the Treasury Department coverup. The
Treasury Department had to explain only ten deaths and the
Department could easily blame several agents and officials
for going against orders and covering up their misdeeds.
However, the Justice Department had to explain away the
horrible deaths by fire of more than 80 people--25 of them
children--who had made a very credible promise to surrender
within a few days. The Justice Department did dismiss FBI
Director Sessions shortly after the April 19th fire, but on
other grounds related to incompetence and misconduct, not on
his handling of the Waco standoff.
a. Conflicting Statements About Reasons for the
In the days after the fire, Attorney Janet Reno
and her representatives, and President Clinton and his
representatives, emphasized "humanitarian" reasons for the
assault, ones that presumably would play well with the
public. Janet Reno began a media blitz where she repeatedly
said in a press conference and on several television
programs: "I approved the plan. I am responsible. The buck
stops here." She explained the prime reasons for the
assault were the "fatigue" of the hostage rescue team and
ongoing evidence that "babies were being beaten."
Reno's efforts were extremely successful. Justice
Department spokesperson Carl Stern asserted that while on
April 19th the reaction from those who contacted the Justice
Department was 10 to 1 against the assault, on April 20th, 8
out of 10 said they agreed with Janet Reno!
In his April 20th news conference Bill Clinton
emphasized that Reno had told him that the primary reason
for the assault was: "It's because of the children. They
have evidence that those children are still being abused,
and that they're in increasingly unsafe conditions."
White House communications director George Stephanopoulos
said, "I think there is absolutely no question that there
was overwhelming evidence of child abuse in the Waco
compound." He alleged David Koresh was "marrying children"
and "sexually abusing children" and that children were
"being taught how to commit suicide, how to put guns in
their mouths, how to clamp down on cyanide. That is child
abuse by any definition of the word. It was continuing, it
was going on." However, in the months after the
assault, Attorney General Reno has come to admit that "she
may have misunderstood [FBI] comments to her and that there
was no evidence of recent child abuse by the
Clinton also attacked Koresh. "The bureau's
efforts were ultimately unavailing because the individual
with whom they were dealing, David Koresh, was dangerous,
irrational and probably insane. . .Mr. Koresh's response to
the demands for his surrender by Federal agents was to
destroy himself and murder the children who were his
captives as well as all the other people there who did not
survive." Reno agreed. "I have absolutely no doubt at
all that the cult members set [the fire], based on all the
information that has been furnished to me."
However, while Janet Reno and Bill Clinton may have
stressed "humanitarian" concerns and Koresh's "wickedness,"
it is obvious that the FBI had other concerns. In a
briefing for reporters FBI Director William Sessions said
his agency had "no contemporaneous evidence" of child abuse
during the siege. A reporter writes that Larry Potts,
Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal Division, asserted
that the FBI's prime reason for going forward with the
assault was that Koresh had "treated their efforts to
negotiate with contempt," he was never going to surrender
voluntarily, and "it was not in the nature of law
enforcement officials who had seen the Federal agents killed
during the initial raid on Feb. 28, to let the cult go on
with its way of life." Potts told the reporter, "These
people had thumbed their noses at law enforcement."
Columnist Paul Craig Roberts wrote of the true concerns
underlying the government's action: "If the Branch Davidians
could hold out, others might get the same idea. Heavens,
people might stop paying their taxes. There was too much
rebellion in the defiance of authority."
b. Justice Department Attempted to Forgo Full
During his April 20th news conference President
Clinton said: "We want an inquiry to analyze the steps along
the way. Is there something else we should have known? Is
there some other question they should have asked?" He
appointed Philip B. Heymann, a Harvard Law School professor
who had been nominated to be Deputy Attorney General, to
lead the Justice Department investigation of the incidents
at Waco. The New York Times reported that not-yet-confirmed
Heymann told an interviewer that "investigators would not
look at the decision to assault the compound with tanks and
tear gas, which was made by Attorney General Janet Reno and
William S. Sessions, Director of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation. Department officials have not yet decided
whether even to pose questions to Ms. Reno, he added. `I
never wanted us to claim that we're doing a Warren
Commission report that will try to stand for the agents, or
that this will be the ultimate truth about what happened,'
said Mr. Heymann." Because Congress and Americans
overwhelmingly supported Reno and blamed the Branch
Davidians for the fire, other unnamed officials "concluded
that nothing could be gained by looking more closely at her
order to carry out the assault." The article also reports,
"Ms. Reno urged that there be `no recriminations,' and
Justice Department officials involved in the investigation
have interpreted that to mean that the decisions of the
department and the FBI would be immune from review."
The day after the story appeared, and after
several Congressional representatives criticized this
revelation, the Justice Department contended that Heymann
"had erred" and that there would be a full investigation.
Officials gave different reasons for Heymann's inaccurate
statement, including his not being fully briefed, his
attempt to reduce expectations about the review, and, most
revealingly, that his "remarks reflected a division within
the Justice Department about how closely it should look at
the events, with some high officials arguing forcefully that
the inquiry should be more limited, to focus only on what
should be done in future cases."
c. No Testimony Taken Under Oath
Deputy Attorney General Philip B. Heymann told
reporters the review group did "not have the authority to
issue subpoenas or grant immunity but could refer findings
of wrongdoing for criminal prosecution." Presumably,
this means that agents and officials were not interviewed
under oath. The Justice Department report makes no
reference at all to these issues. There is also no evidence
that any of the FBI agents or officials who testified before
Congressional committees were sworn in, though they still
could be prosecuted were it proved they had lied to a
Congressional committee. As we noted in the BATF section,
much of the truth about what really happened at Waco will
come out only during the trials of the Branch Davidians,
civil law suits against the government or through an
d. Review Team and Outside Expert Conflicts of
First, it is questionable whether Deputy
Attorney General Heymann or Assistant to the Attorney
General Richard Scruggs, working as they do under Attorney
Janet Reno, could do any "independent" investigation of
errors in the Justice Department decision-making or in the
actions of the FBI. Heymann was also the head of the
Criminal Division under President Jimmy Carter, so he has a
long history of loyalty to the institution, as well as to
The most noted conflict of interest is Heymann's
appointing another former Chief of the Justice Department's
Criminal Division, Edward S.G. Dennis, Jr., to review the
procedures, decisions and actions of the Justice Department
in the Waco matter. This choice came under scathing attack
by William Safire who noted that Dennis was in charge of the
botched investigation of Banca Lavoro and its relation to
Iraq-gate: "Ms. Reno's Criminal Division directed Atlanta
prosecutors to shoot down the explosive case with a plea
bargain, avoiding a public trial that would have exposed the
machinations of the Bush- Thornburgh-Dennis crowd. How
could Ed Dennis not be grateful? His judgment about the
Waco fiasco: `there is no place in the evaluation for blame,
and I find no fault.' One hand whitewashes the other."
Mary McGrory also criticized the decision to end the Iraq-
gate inquiry: "During the campaign, Bill Clinton indignantly
promised to get to the bottom of it. But a deep incuriosity
has set in, and so far his Justice Department has accepted
the finding of an in-house whitewash headed by retired Judge
According to James L. Pate, as U.S. Attorney in
Philadelphia, Dennis also oversaw the investigation of the
Philadelphia police department's bombing of MOVE in 1985.
Another MOVE veteran assigned to review the Waco disaster
was Los Angeles Police Department Chief, who was formerly
Philadelphia's police commissioner. Pate writes: "If one
was looking for two guys who might empathize with heavy-
handed cops who screwed up, the phone numbers of Willie
Williams and Eddie Dennis would be a must."
Another questionable Heymann appointment was
Israeli professor Ariel Merari of Tel Aviv University as an
outside expert. Professor Merari currently has a contract
with Mr. Heymann to write a book, something which
technically does not violate federal guidelines. Professor
Merari's report does not offer any criticisms, only
suggestions for improving future law enforcement efforts.
Another former Heymann associate was more critical.
Harvard's Alan A. Stone, M.D. first requested a "complete
record of the events at Waco." When he finally issued
his report it was extremely critical.
Former FBI director William Webster also was
asked to be an outside expert and review the Justice
Department's action. Since Webster authorized the creation
of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, it is not surprising he
writes, "the unfortunate tragedy at Waco does not in any way
diminish my admiration for the men and women who serve in
HRT." However, he does urge that such "special response
teams," including BATF's, should not be used without the
approval of the Attorney General. (JDR:Webster:4)
e. Possible Clinton-Hubbell-Lindsay-Foster Coverup
Associate Attorney General Webster L. Hubbell, the
third ranking official in the Justice Department, was the
liaison for Waco between the Attorney General's office and
the White House and attended meetings there. He passed on
FBI chief negotiator Byron Sage's negative assessment of
negotiations to Attorney General Reno and was involved in
decision-making regarding gassing Mount Carmel. He was with
Janet Reno in the FBI Operations Center on April 19th and
was the highest ranking official there after she left. On
April 19th Janet Reno told television viewers that Hubbell
had called President Clinton the afternoon of the fire.
During the April 28, 1993, House Judiciary Committee
hearing, Representatives Hughes and Sensenbrenner expressed
great interest in Hubbell's role in decision-making and
about Reno's assertion Hubbell had spoken with Clinton April
19th. One even asked "whether Sessions and Reno were `out
of the loop' with Hubbell." Reno told the Committee she had
been in error and the Justice report claims Hubbell called
White House Chief of Staff Thomas McLarty. (JDR:245)
Webster Hubbell was one of Hillary Rodham
Clinton's law partners in the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock
as was Clinton's Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster,
who was also involved in Waco decision-making. Foster's
July suicide may be linked to mismanaged or even illegal
Clinton business dealings associated with the Madison
Guaranty Savings and Loan Association and the Whitewater
Development Corporation. Hubbell's father-in-law also
received a questionable loan from the savings and loan.
Another Clinton-Hubbell-Foster crony,
Presidential Advisor Bruce Lindsay, also was involved in
Waco decision-making with Hubbell. Lindsay was a senior
partner at a law firm which, like the Rose Law firm,
received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bond counsel
fees from the Arkansas Development Finance Authority.
Allegedly doing business with the Authority was a form of
"payoff" for Clinton supporters. Many suspect that
Clinton-Hubbell-Lindsay-Foster cronyism would certainly
extend to covering up any errors or crimes related to the
massacre of the Branch Davidians. Therefore, the matters of
whether Hubbell had some outside-the-chain-of-command
contact with Clinton, whether Hubbell helped withhold
Koresh's April 14th letter from Reno, whether he was
involved in a decision to proceed with the demolition that
led to the April 19th fire, all might be subject to
investigation as part of Independent Counsel Robert Fiske's
probe of obstruction of justice in the "Whitewater" affair.
f. No Fault Finding for FBI and Justice Department
Errors or Crimes
At the October 8, 1993, press conference where
the Justice Department presented its report on FBI actions
at Waco, outside "reviewer" Edward Dennis stated, "I find no
fault in the performance of law enforcement during the
standoff and the tear gas assault," and asserted
"speculation regarding them coming out is irresponsible."
Likewise, Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann said, "We
can't come out with a scapegoat when there's no severe blame
to be placed." However, outside expert Alan M. Stone
disagreed, writing: "There is a view within the FBI and in
the official reports that suggests the tragedy was
unavoidable. This report is a dissenting opinion from that
Reporters at the press conference asked Heymann
if the Justice report was a "whitewash," especially compared
to the Treasury Department report. Heymann answered that
the Treasury report found "recklessness (in the initial
raid) followed by a coverup," and that in the FBI and
Justice Department's handling of the Branch Davidians, the
"underlying facts are different." Attorney General
Janet Reno said: "I'm always concerned about the perception
of a white-wash. But I don't go out to seek mea culpas and
I don't go out to seek [a report that says] we didn't do
anything wrong. I go out to seek the truth..." When
Alan M. Stone issued his highly critical report of the
FBI/Justice Department handling of the siege, Janet Reno
refused to comment. The FBI released a statement defending
Despite Reno and Heymann's denials that the
Justice report was a whitewash, a number of publications and
respected columnists called it just that: the New York Times
("The Waco Whitewash," 10/12/93); the Washington Times ("The
truth about Waco, still untold," 10/13/93); Paul Greenberg,
editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette;
Leonard E. Larsen, a columnist for Scripps Howard News
Service; columnist Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant
secretary of the U.S. Treasury; and many others.
g. Evidence of Coverup in Justice Department Report
Throughout this report we have noted where the
Justice report has failed to provide information--even when
it would not seem necessary to "redact" it per law--or has
provided questionable information. The examples most
indicative of coverup are: no mention of disinformation
spread by SACs Jeffrey Jamar and Bob Ricks; failure to
specify whether the use of the tanks was illegal; refusal to
admit FBI reliance on Rick Ross and Marc Breault or
knowledge of Dr. Miron Murray's anti-cult sympathies;
failure to name those who recommended and ordered the use of
harassment techniques; failure to admit that Koresh's letter
was a promise to surrender; failure to state whether the
letter was shown to FBI Director Sessions or Attorney
General Reno and if not, who withheld the letter from them;
failure to mention whether the ground commanders kept
control of the whole operation or were given any orders from
the FBI Operations Center regarding the speed up of gassing
and the order to proceed with demolition; refusal of factual
report and Justice Department officials to admit there was
an order to proceed to demolition, as Dennis does; no
mention of whether agents used "handheld" grenade launchers
and why agents were outside their tanks; no mention of
discrepancy between Jamar's April 19th comment that three
agents saw Branch Davidians starting fires and Justice
reports' account of only one; no mention that both Renos
Avraam and Graeme Craddock deny the statements the Justice
report says they made about Branch Davidians starting fires;
no mention of tanks pushing burning debris into the fire; no
mention that BATF agents aided in the post-fire
investigation; no mention of the chief fire investigator's
ties to BATF.
h. No Justice Department Report on Tampering with
As indicated earlier, during the June 9, 1993,
House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, an FBI agent gave
a staff member an excerpted tape of the "911" calls between
Lieutenant Larry Lynch and Branch Davidians. Waco police
said it gave a "false impression of how the event occurred"
and Janet Reno promised the department would investigate the
editing and dissemination of the tape. In the tape,
the section where Wayne Martin complains about helicopters
shooting at him has been moved to a time period after the
helicopters withdrew from the scene. The Subcommittee Clerk
told us that as of January 19, 1994 the Justice Department
had not reported back on this possible tape tampering.
i. Weak Recommendations to Prevent Another Tragedy
Representative Don Edwards, chair of the Judiciary
subcommittee that oversees the FBI, expressed
dissatisfaction with the results of the Justice Department
report. "This is essentially an in-house review. It seems to
me there is nothing in the report to indicate that if the
same crisis arose tomorrow we wouldn't have the same tragic
results." Outside expert Alan Stone wrote: "One might
think that the highest priority after a tragedy like Waco
would be for everyone involved to consider what went wrong
and what would they now do differently. I must confess that
it has been a frustrating and disappointed experience to
discover that the Justice Department's investigation has
produced so little in this regard. (JDR:Stone:37)
Deputy Attorney General Philip B. Heymann's
report, "Lessons of Waco: Proposed Changes in Federal Law
Enforcement," recommended increasing the size of the Hostage
Rescue Team, closer consultations between Hostage Rescue
Team tactical people and negotiators, better behavioral
science understanding of non-traditional groups, better
crisis management training for special agents-in-charge, and
replacing them with more highly trained managers in some
crisis situations. (JDR:Heymann:5-14) The new FBI Director
Louis Freeh has instituted many of these measures and even
insisted that Janet Reno undergo "dramatic tactical
training" to help improve the Justice Department's response
to crises like the 51-day standoff" with the Branch
Davidians. However, according to news reports, Freeh
continues to defend the FBI's handling of the tragic episode
j. Refusal to Consider Discipline or Prosecution
of Agents or Officials
During the October 8, 1993 Justice Department
press conference, Deputy Attorney General Heymann said that
the report had been given to the FBI's new Director Louis J.
Freeh who would decide if any disciplinary action was
needed. A few days later Freeh said a final review of
the bureau's handling of the incident was continuing.
However, he added, "I do not know at this time or
contemplate at this time that any disciplinary action would
The FBI has been conducting investigations into
the overly aggressive and irresponsible actions of the FBI
Hostage Rescue Team, and its commander Richard Rogers, in
the Randy Weaver case, and of the officials who supported
them. Freeh has even spoken to agents about possible
prosecutions in the matter. And Freeh suspended Assistant
FBI Director James Fox for violating repeated judicial
admonitions to refrain from commenting on the World Trade
Center bombing to the news media. Therefore, Freeh's
refusal to look at the overly aggressive and irresponsible
actions of the very same FBI agents and officials at Waco
must be questioned in terms of a larger, ongoing Justice
21. COMMITTEE FOR WACO JUSTICE CONCLUSIONS
a. FBI and Justice Department Actions Responsible
for Branch Davidians Deaths
The Committee for Waco Justice believes that FBI
gassing and demolition actions trapped Branch Davidians in
fires caused by massive military tanks, causing the deaths
of more than 80 people. Therefore, FBI agents and FBI and
Justice Department officials responsible for the decision to
gas and disassemble Mount Carmel are legally responsible for
the deaths of the Branch Davidians. Even if it should be
proved beyond a doubt that any fires were started by one or
more Branch Davidians, we still believe these decision-
makers remain legally responsible for driving the
perpetrator(s) to this desperate act and for causing the
destruction that trapped so many people in the building when
the fires started.
b. Independent Counsel Should Prosecute
Responsible FBI Agents and FBI and Justice Officials
Under current law, the Attorney General can
appoint an Independent Counsel to identify and prosecute any
FBI agents and FBI and Justice Department officials
suspected of committing any and all relevant crimes,
including the following:
* Official Misconduct for giving the Attorney
General misleading information that led to the decision to
gassing and demolishing Mount Carmel Center and for any role
in covering up any irresponsible or illegal acts.
* Multiple Counts of Intentional or Negligent
Homicide or Manslaughter for carrying out an unnecessary and
violently executed gassing and demolition of Mount Carmel.
Decisions of whether to charge FBI agents with intentional
or negligent homicide would depend on further
* Conspiracy against the Rights of Citizens U.S.
Code Title 18, Section 241 reads: "If two or more persons
conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any
inhabitant of any State, Territory, or District in the free
exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to
him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or
because of his having so exercised the same; or if two or
more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the
premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his
free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so
secured- they shall be fined not more than $10,000 or
imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both: and if death
results, they shall be subject to imprisonment for any term
of years or for life."
* Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law U.S.
Code Title 18, Section 242 reads: "Whoever, under color of
any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom,
willfully subjects any inhabitant of any State, Territory or
District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws
of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or
penalties, on account of such inhabitant being an alien, or
by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the
punishment of citizens, shall be fined not more than $1,000
or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily
injury results shall not be fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death
results shall be subject to imprisonment for any term of
years or for life."
Footnote  John McCaslin's August 4, 1993 Washington
Times column quotes Stacy Koon, one of the two Los Angeles
policemen convicted in federal court of felony violations of
Rodney King's civil rights: "The government used the same
arguments in Waco--the suspect(s) set the tone and the
officers responded to it. . .The difference is that we had
82 seconds; the federal government had 50-plus days in Waco.
. .They had time to think and analyze and come up with game
plans and they had the ability to wait out--we didn't have
that. They used the same argument, and, in that case, people
died, multiple people died." Speaking of Janet Reno, he
said, "She, like I, took responsibility. . .Then there was a
negative outcome--50 people died. The state of Texas should
try her for multiple cases of murder. If the state of Texas
then does not find her guilty, the federal government should
come in and try her for civil rights violations."
Similarly, Paul Craig Roberts wrote in his April 22, 1993,
syndicated column, "If Rodney King's civil rights were
violated, what happened in Waco?. . .If a billy club is
excessive force, what is a tank?"
FEDERAL PROSECUTION OF THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS
The federal prosecution of eleven Branch Davidians
began January 10, 1994 in San Antonio, Texas. The trial was
moved to San Antonio from Waco because of the "notoriety" of
the case in that town. In his opening statement, lead
prosecutor Assistant U.S. Attorney LeRoy Jahn claimed David
Koresh expected his disciples to "kill for God." The
defense blamed the raid on a faltering government agency
that had "declared war on its citizens."
Many people believe that the government has "rigged"
the trial to prevent a repeat of the Randy Weaver case,
where a disgusted jury found the defendants innocent of most
charges. The trial judge, U.S. District Judge Walter Smith
of Waco, has already announced that he will not allow the
defense to "put the government on trial." >From the
evidence of the first days of the trail, suspicions that
BATF and FBI will withhold, delay and even fabricate
evidence, as they did in the Randy Weaver trial, appear to
be well founded. A crucial piece of evidence--one of Mount
Carmel's two front doors--is missing. At least two BATF
agents have made different statements during the trial--
after they spoke to the Treasury Department review team and
prosecutors--than they made earlier to Waco police and Texas
Rangers. The prosecution did not warn the defense it had a
witness who could identify a defendant--and only later told
the defense it had withheld evidence that the witness was
previously uncertain he could in fact identify the
Below we review the charges, pretrial motions and jury
selection, and the cases the prosecution and defense can be
expected to make. Finally, we will briefly describe Branch
Davidian law suits against the government.
Between March 30 and July 20, 1993, a series of
indictments were returned against several Branch Davidians.
On August 6, 1993, the United States Attorney's office in
Waco, Texas obtained a "superseding" indictment from a grand
jury that combined all previous indictments into one.
Charged with conspiracy to murder federal officers were:
Paul Fatta, who was in Austin on February 28th; Norman
Washington Allison (aka Delroy Nash) and Woodrow "Bob"
Kendrick who tried to return to Mount Carmel on February
28th; Brad Branch, Livingston Fagan, Kathryn Schroeder and
Kevin Whitecliff who left Mount Carmel during the 51-day
siege; and Renos Avraam, Jaime Castillo, Graeme Craddock,
Clive Doyle, and Ruth Riddle who survived the April 19th
fire. Conviction on conspiracy charges could mean up to
life in prison and a $250,000 fine for each defendant.
On September 9, 1993, Kathryn Schroeder pled guilty
to one count of armed resistance to a federal officer, which
still could result in 10 years in jail. She also agreed to
testify against the remaining eleven defendants in return
for the government dropping the original charges against
her. A Washington Post reporter commented on this fact:
"Originally, 12 Branch Davidians were expected to face
trial, a fact not lost on those who draw parallels between
Koresh and Jesus Christ--son of a carpenter, dead at 33,
survived by 12 disciples, one of whom turned against
him." Below is an outline of the ten counts of the
August 6, 1993, indictment against the eleven Branch
Count One--Conspiracy to Murder Federal Officers: This
is the most detailed count against all twelve defendants.
The charge reads, in part, "It was part of this conspiracy
that Vernon K. Howell, also known as David Koresh, would and
did advocate and encourage an armed confrontation, which he
described as a `war' between his followers and the United
States government." Other parts of the conspiracy included:
creating the "Mighty Men" unit, establishing the "Mag Bag"
business location; acquiring or assisting in the acquisition
of weapons to be used in this "war," assisting in converting
legally purchased semi-automatic rifles to fully automatic
rifles and inert hand grenade shells into live grenades,
preparing for the arrival of Federal agents on February
28th, endeavoring to enter Mount Carmel after the shootout,
forcibly resisting the execution of a search warrant from
February 28th until each individual left Mount Carmel,
firing upon tanks on April 19th, co-conspiring with David
Koresh and Steve Schneider to spread flammable liquids
throughout Mount Carmel and to start the fires within Mount
Carmel. The remaining counts below are quoted directly from
the Justice Department report.
Count Two--Aiding and Abetting the Murder of Federal
Officers: All twelve defendants were charged with aiding
and abetting the murders of the four ATF agents on February
Count Three--Using a Firearm During a Crime of
Violence: Schroeder, Branch, Whitecliff, Castillo, Fagan,
Fatta, Craddock, Avraam and Riddle were charged with using a
firearm during a crime of violence in connection with the
first ATF shootout on February 28, 1993.
Count Four--Aiding and Abetting the Attempted Murder
of a Federal Officer: Allison (Nash) and Kendrick were
charged with aiding and abetting the attempted murder of an
ATF agent during the second shootout on February 28.
Count Five--Using a Firearm During a Crime of Violence:
Kendrick was charged with using two firearms in connection
with the second ATF shootout on February 28.
Count Six--Using a Firearm During a Crime of Violence:
Allison (Nash) was charged with using a firearm during the
second ATF shootout on February 28.
Count Seven--Possession of an Unregistered Destructive
Device: Craddock was charged with possessing an explosive
grenade on April 19, 1993.
Count Eight--Conspiracy to Possess an Unregistered
Destructive Device: Craddock was charged with conspiring
with Koresh to possess an explosive grenade during the 51-
Count Nine--Conspiracy to Possess and Unlawfully
Manufacture Machineguns: Fatta was charged with conspiring
to manufacture and possess machineguns during 1992 and early
Count Ten--Aiding and Abetting the Unlawful
Possession of Machineguns: Fatta was charged with aiding
and abetting Koresh in the unlawful possession of
machineguns during 1992 and early 1993.
The government's "conspiracy theory" is based on the
"Pinkerton doctrine" that holds that a person involved in
only a minor part of crime, like driving a getaway car, is
as responsible for a crime like robbery or murder as the
person doing the crime. Robert Dawson, a professor of
criminal law at the University of Texas Law School, said
that if the government is using the Pinkerton standard, then
the standard will be the "`should have anticipated'
standard--should the Branch Davidians have been able to
anticipate that stockpiling weapons and other firearms
violations could result in the death of those Federal
Defense attorney Tim Evans insisted, "Conspiracy has
become the darling of the government's nursery. It allows
the Government to throw a huge net over everyone connected
to a case and makes the jury sort it all out. The danger of
that is that sometimes people get convicted based upon guilt
by association." Graham Craddock's attorney Stanley Rentz
said, "If their theory is `in for a penny, in for a pound,'
then they should have indicted everyone who was in the
compound. They've left some people out of the indictment
altogether. The sad thing is that most of the people who
were really active leaders perished in the fire. So now the
Government is going after whoever is left just to placate
themselves. I guess it's just hard for them to walk away
>From currently available evidence, it would seem the
government has pursued a strategy of selective prosecution.
Three individuals especially seem to have been spared
prosecution, even though evidence against them may be as
strong as that against some of those being prosecuted.
* Donald Bunds: One of BATF Agent Davy Aguilera's most
convincing evidences of "intent" to manufacture illegal
weapons mentioned in his February 25, 1993 affidavit was
David Block's allegation that Donald Bunds, a mechanical
engineer, operated a metal lathe and milling machine that
had the capability to fabricate firearm parts. Block said
he had observed Bunds designing a machinegun on a computer.
Prosecutors have already entered into evidence equipment
that one Texas Ranger said could have been used to fabricate
firearm parts. Bunds drove towards Mount Carmel on
February 28th, but was prevented by police from returning.
It is quite possible he was not prosecuted because his wife
Jeannine and daughter Robyn may be two important prosecution
witnesses. Even if they are not, this may be a "reward" for
their cooperating with BATF Agent Aguilera in the original
* David Thibodeau: Earl Dunagan's April 18, 1993
affidavit does not list him as being seen carrying a gun
during the February 28th shootout or standing guard after
it. It is quite possible he was not prosecuted because his
mother, Balenda Gamen, was the most vocal and articulate of
the Branch Davidian family members. She appeared on
numerous television shows and surely would have conducted a
damaging media campaign against the government had her son
* Rita Riddle: Earl Dunagan's April 18, 1993 affidavit
does list Rita Riddle as having carried a gun on February
28th. She has been an active organizer for the defense
since the fires. It is possible she was not prosecuted
because her daughter Misty Ferguson was seriously disfigured
during the April 19th fire and the government feared the
girl would appear at the trial, displaying her wounds.
Riddle's sister-in-law Ruth Ottman Riddle has been charged,
even though Dunagan's April 18, 1993 affidavit mentions only
that she was seen sewing tactical vests. It is possible she
is being prosecuted because, as David Koresh's typist during
his writing of the First Seal, she could testify
convincingly about his efforts to finish his book so that he
and his followers could leave Mount Carmel. She was a very
effective spokesperson on television following the April
PRE-TRIAL MOTIONS AND JURY SELECTION
Certainly the early stages of the trial have only
reinforced beliefs that the trial is rigged. A prejudiced
judge seems to have "handpicked" the jury--and done all he
can to ensure the jury does not see any literature that
might persuade them to "vote their conscience."
In December of 1993, Judge Smith "ordered that jurors'
identities be kept a secret and attorneys not talk to the
media. [He] indicated that he is taking unusual steps to
ensure the safety of the defendants, jury members and
witnesses in the trial." Defense attorneys Joe Turner
and Terry Kirk immediately filed an objection to Smith's
order for an anonymous jury, believing it would hurt the
jury's presumption of innocence. Their motion stated, "The
prospective jury members are likely to assume that because
their names are being kept secret, they must have reason to
fear the defendant or her fellow Branch Davidians." In
January Smith explained to the press he was concerned Branch
Davidian jurors might be mistaken for "jurors in an
organized crime trial going on at the courthouse."
However, it turns out that the real reason Judge Smith
demanded an anonymous jury was his fear that the jury would
receive information from an organization called the Fully
Informed Jury Association (FIJA). FIJA intended to send
jurors leaflets containing general and well-documented
information about jury rights--including the right of the
jury to find defendants innocent if they disagree with the
law or feel that the government acted improperly. They had
done the same thing in the Randy Weaver case and some
believe this helped win acquittal for Weaver. Smith had
first taken the unusual step of restricting public access to
the names of all potential jurors in the federal jury
"wheel" for the Western District of Texas. On December 30,
the judge admitted "The Court is not as concerned about the
possibility of the Defendants or their associates
threatening the jury members," instead, it was concerned
with protecting the jury panel because, "It [has] been
reported that an organization plans to attempt to hand out
leaflets to potential jurors about how they should ignore
the law and follow their conscience."
Some believed Judge Smith silenced the eleven
defendants' numerous attorneys so that their statements to
the media could not affect potential jurors. Once the trial
started, television news broadcasts showed some attorneys
speaking freely to the press. However, in late January
Judge Smith again barred defense attorneys from speaking to
the press, saying "statements or information intended to
influence public opinion regarding the merits of this case"
would not be tolerated. Smith said he would monitor media
sources and threatened daily contempt proceedings for any
comments he found attorneys had made. This is just one
more evidence of a prejudiced judge participating in a
government coverup of crimes against the Branch Davidians.
During the jury selection process, Judge Smith
demanded defense attorneys submit questions to him and
disallowed their directly questioning potential jurors.
Instead, he asked the questions. The only choice left for
the attorneys was a limited number of "strikes." This
selection process makes it more difficult for the attorneys
to weed out prejudiced individuals. Meanwhile the
Dallas Morning News filed a motion seeking to overturn
Smith's decision to bar most of the media and public during
juror questioning, stating the public and the media have a
"constitutional right of access to the examination of
potential jurors in a criminal trial." The fact that
Judge Smith interviewed potential jury members in his
shirtsleeves, without his judicial robes, so that he would
not "intimidate" them was widely reported by the press.
Jury selection was complete in two days--an unusually short
period for such a complicated trial with so many defendants-
-and the trial began on January 12, 1994. Should any Branch
Davidians be convicted, the restrictive jury selection
process might provide grounds for appeal.
Paul Fatta's attorney Mike DeGeurin requested Judge
Smith prohibit prosecutors and witnesses from using the word
"cult" because it has a "negative and dangerous" connotation
that might influence a jury against the defendants. The
motion noted that Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Ray Jahn has
already stopped using the word. The judge rejected the
request. Defense lawyers then asked Judge Smith to
prohibit prosecutors from using prejudicial words like
"compound," "Ranch Apocalypse," and "Mighty Men." We
assume he also rejected this request because some of the
terms have been used in the trial.
As in all trials, the prosecution will first present
its evidence of the defendant's guilt. Defense attorneys
will have the opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses.
Assuming the case is not dismissed for lack of evidence, the
defense will then present its case. The prosecutors will
also have the opportunity to cross-examine defense
witnesses, including the defendants, should they decide to
testify. Below is an outline of the expected cases to be
presented by the prosecution and the defense--and some
questions likely to be asked and points raised in cross-
THE PROSECUTION CASE
The eleven Branch Davidians were charged with
conspiracy, in part, because there was little or no solid
evidence that any of them shot at or killed any of the four
BATF agents who died February 28, 1993. Nor was there
evidence that any of them shot at tanks on April 19th or
started the fires that destroyed Mount Carmel. Listed below
is the evidence the U.S. Attorneys are expected to present
to support the ten counts of the indictment:
Physical Evidence: Weapons distributors invoices and
United Parcel Service records of legal weapons purchases;
hundreds of legal guns, grenade casings and explosives plus
any illegal machineguns, silencers and live grenades found
after the April 19th fire; any remaining evidence of the
February 28th raid, including photographs and charts of
bullet ridden vehicles and their positions before being
moved by FBI tanks; explosives-related materials allegedly
found at the LaVerne, California home; clothing, shoes,
other materials soaked with fuel taken from fire survivors;
other "evidence" of arson such as fuel containers, wood
Undercover Eavesdropping Devices: While the
government admits these recordings are of poor quality,
prosecutors will try to use them to prove that the Branch
Davidians started the April 19th fire, and probably to prove
other aspects of the "conspiracy."
Video tapes: KWTX and BATF footage of the BATF raid,
including--if it exists--BATF aerial videotape evidence that
Branch Davidians fired first; television news footage and
any government video tape of the siege; video tapes of
Koresh and other members made inside Mount Carmel during the
siege and sent out to be shown to the FBI and family
members; television news footage; and aerial infrared video
tape and any other government video tape of the April 19th
assault and fire. Should the government introduce Gun
Owners of America video tapes which are "derogatory to ATF"
as evidence Branch Davidians were "indoctrinated" to kill
federal agents, the defense can argue both the First
Amendment right to free speech and the Second Amendment
right to bear arms.
Audio tapes: These might include tapes of the 911
calls, of Koresh's negotiations with BATF agent Cavanaugh,
of negotiations during the 51 day siege, of KRLD and CNN
radio interviews, and tapes of Koresh's sermons which
allegedly show his propensity towards violence.
Documents: These would include any relevant Koresh or
Branch Davidian correspondence and Koresh's April 9, 10 and
14th letters to the FBI. (Will the prosecution, like the
FBI and Justice Department, only present the first two
letters and ignore the last?)
Witnesses--BATF and FBI Agents: Prosecutors will ask
them to testify about the planning and execution of the
February 28th raid, during the siege, during the April 19th
destruction of Mount Carmel, and during the investigation of
the pre-and post-fire "crime scene." Defense attorneys are
challenging these agents' credibility by exposing
inconsistencies in their testimonies and asking them about
the lies told by BATF raid commanders.
Gerard E. Lynch, a Columbia University law professor
and former Federal prosecutor said, "The defense will
clobber them with every mistake everyone ever made in
pursuing the case. They will make it a trial on the
Government's tactics." Former Koresh attorney Gary
Coker, who is now representing some Branch Davidian material
witnesses, told reporters, "I think people see that almost
everybody from (former BATF Director Stephen) Higgins on
down has at one time or another lied about this case. And
if they would lie about those matters, why wouldn't they lie
about other matters that are specific as to criminal
charges?" David Thibodeau's attorney Gary Richardson
asserted, "Our clients said the Feds were lying all along,
and they were. . .What our clients were telling us was true.
Heads would roll when the truth eventually came out. That's
just what happened." Some defense lawyers told a
reporter privately that they relished the idea of cross-
examining the government's witnesses, particularly the
BATF's February 28, 1993 raid commanders. Said one
attorney, "It'll be the old `Were you lying then and are you
lying now routine.'" Judge Smith has so far refused to
let the defense introduce as evidence the Treasury
Department report that criticizes BATF's handling of the
raid. However, the judge has allowed defense attorneys to
ask questions which have resulted in Texas Ranger and BATF
agent testimony that BATF raid commanders lied to them about
Witnesses--Paul Gray and other Fire Investigators:
Chief fire investigator Paul Gray's close ties with BATF
will lower the credibility of his testimony.
Witness--Former "Co-conspirator" Kathryn Schroeder:
Prosecutors may call Kathryn Schroeder, whose husband
Michael Schroeder was killed on February 28th and whose four
children left Mount Carmel early in the siege. She also
left during the siege. Papers filed at the time Schroeder
agreed to plea bargain state that she "admitted being an
armed guard from the day of the initial raid until March
12th, when she left the compound." She probably will
testify about Koresh's alleged plan to have his followers
turn their weapons on the public in Waco, Texas.
Defense attorneys may question Schroeder's motives: her
desire to ensure that she will be able to see her children
again; the fact that she was incarcerated in a mental
institution for two months and possibly "deprogrammed"; her
possible fear that her September, 1990 arrest in El Paso,
Texas, for possession of marijuana and cocaine might have
influenced the jury, sentencing judge or future parole
boards against her.
Witnesses--Branch Davidians Who Left Mount Carmel
after February 28th, i.e. "Material Witnesses": Any of
those who were at Mount Carmel on February 28th or during
the siege may be called. Most probably may not be very
cooperative witnesses. However, some may be. Davy Aguilera
states in his April 18, 1993 affidavit that on March 6th he
talked to a "cooperating individual" who had lived at Mount
Carmel for long period of time. This individual claimed to
have seen machineguns, grenades and silencers manufactured
and had "observed that Howell was attempting to construct a
radio-controlled aircraft which can be used to carry
explosives." Dunagan's affidavit states that released
Branch Davidians claimed that on February 28th they had seen
two boxes of hand grenades and Wayne Martin wearing a string
of grenades around his neck. It also lists Branch Davidians
seen wearing fatigues and carrying rifles, before and during
the shooting. Defense attorneys will give these witnesses
an opportunity to speak about their religious convictions
and the savagery of the BATF attack and the FBI siege
Witnesses--Branch Davidian Children: Defense lawyers
believe that if few or none of Mr. Koresh's adult followers
prove to be valuable witnesses, prosecutors may call some of
the 21 children who left Mount Carmel during the standoff.
The law does not shield children from being forced to
testify against their parents.
Witnesses--Breakaway Branch Davidians: To prove
"conspiracy" prosecutors may call some former Branch
Davidians. Since most of those who made the most damning
statements about Koresh and the Branch Davidians--especially
Marc Breault, the Bunds and David Block--have been
associated with cult busters, defense attorneys may attempt
to undermine their credibility by probing their motivations
and their association with "cult busters" committed to
destroying "cults" like the Branch
Witness--Joyce Sparks: Prosecutors may ask her to
repeat her allegations about Koresh's statement about
"military action" against Waco. Defense attorneys would
question her to discover if she misunderstood a Biblical
Witness--Henry McMahon: Prosecutors may demand
Koresh's arms dealer and sometimes partner Henry McMahon
testify about the weapons he sold to Koresh and about
Koresh's motivations. Davy Aguilera's April 18, 1993
affidavit repeats McMahon's story that Koresh had "observed
the `ATF S.W.A.T. Team' training at a vacant house
approximately 500 yards toward the compound next to the `Mag
Bag'" and that Koresh believed it was "conducted by ATF to
assault the compound/Mount Carmel property." The government
claims this police training was Koresh's motivation for his
In cross-examination, the defense will ask McMahon to
repeat his stories that Koresh keeping guns as an
investment, that Koresh invited BATF to see his guns, that
Aguilera lied when he said McMahon tried to confuse him
about how many guns he had sold to Koresh, and that BATF
lured McMahon into "protective custody" and kept him away
from the press and the FBI. If the prosecution does not
call McMahon, the defense surely will.
Witnesses--Government Experts: The prosecution may
call government "experts" to defend the BATF raid, to
testify about David Koresh and the Branch Davidian's alleged
mental problems, or to defend the pressure tactics used
during the siege and the final assault on Mount Carmel. The
defense will try to expose their prejudices and/or lack of
competence in dealing with committed religous groups like
the Branch Davidians.
THE DEFENSE CASE
Below we list the various counts and the defendants'
expected defenses against the charges. Since the main
defense is "self-defense" against excessive government
force, it will be important to show that the government
violated Branch Davidians rights, used excessive force and
then tried to coverup their mistakes throughout the whole
tragic operation. Attorneys and defendants pray that, as in
the Weaver case, a disgusted jury will find the defendants
innocent of murder and most or all other charges. Weaver's
attorney Gary Spence said at that time, "A jury today has
said that you can't kill somebody just because you wear
badges and then cover up those homicides by prosecuting the
Count One--Conspiracy to Murder Federal Officers,
Count Two--Aiding and Abetting the Murder of Federal
Officers, Count Three--Using a Firearm During a Crime of
Violence, all related to initial February 28, 1993 shootout,
forcible resistance of arrest, firing on tanks, and starting
the April 19th fire. Attorneys' arguments will probably
include the following defenses:
* Legal Right to Shoot Back In Self-Defense Against Out-
of-Control Law Enforcement--Defense attorneys may argue that
BATF's lack of a "no knock warrant" and obvious use of
excessive force in sending 76 heavily armed agents to serve
simple search and arrest warrants gave the Branch Davidians
the legal right to shoot back in self-defense. They may
point to evidence: that BATF raid commanders had done a
sloppy job of investigating and were overly influenced by
"cult busters"; that they had ignored Koresh's past
cooperation with law enforcement, that they planned an
unnecessary and dangerous paramilitary raid; that they
disobeyed orders and proceeded with a raid despite the loss
of surprise; that agents were expecting and prepared for a
shootout; that agents shot first and indiscriminately--
including from helicopters; and that agent friendly fire
even injured or killed their own. This evidence of an out-
of-control government agency will support the case that the
Branch Davidians had a right to shoot back in self-defense.
The fact that the FBI ground commanders also may have
exceeded orders in proceeding with the demolition of Mount
Carmel despite Branch Davidians' willingness to negotiate
will point to an FBI that is similarly "out-of-control." If
Justice Department officials are implicated in that fatal
command, the defense can argue that "Gestapo"-like action
against citizens starts right at the top.
The self-defense argument may also be used regarding
the Branch Davidians' resisting arrest during the siege and
allegedly shooting at the tanks. It should be noted that
the Randy Weaver jury acquitted Weaver and Kevin Harris of
charges of resisting arrest, despite the eleven day
standoff, because they evidently considered it part of their
self-defense against government violence.
Regarding the right to self-defense, one former
senior BATF official said, "Irrespective of the situation
inside, the notice of authority and purpose must be given. .
.Unless the occupants of a dwelling are made aware that the
persons attempting to enter have legal authority and a legal
warrant to enter, the occupants have every right to defend
themselves." The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986
recognizes the Common Law rule of self-defense, which is
that the defender must have reasonable belief that the
circumstances of immediate danger warrant self-defense.
Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Codes states: "The use of
force to resist an arrest or search is justified: (1) If,
before the actor offers any resistance, the peace officer
(or persons acting at his direction) uses or attempts to use
greater force than necessary to make the arrest or search;
and (2) When and to the degree the actor reasonably believes
the force is immediately necessary to protect himself
against the peace officer's (or other person's) use or
attempted use of greater force than necessary."
Whether or not the Branch Davidians knew the law at that
moment, they may well have been acting within it.
Even one of the Justice Department's handpicked
outside experts, Dr. Robert Cancro, suggested the Branch
Davidians were within their rights to defend themselves.
"Certainly an armed assault by 100 agents had to be seen as
an attack independent of who fired the first shot. If an
armed individual enters your home by force and you have
reason to believe that person represents a mortal threat,
you are allowed to fire a weapon in self-defense in most
states. The law does not usually allow the potential
attacker to fire first before a response can be called self-
Dick DeGuerin, who believed he would have obtained an
acquittal of David Koresh had he lived, explained, "if a
warrant is being unlawfully executed by the use of excessive
force, you or I or anybody else has a right to resist that
unlawful force. If someone's trying to kill you, even under
the excuse that they have a warrant, you have a right to
defend yourself with deadly force, and to kill that
person." A reporter wrote, "several lawyers said they
expected to see a defense of self-defense, and possibly a
claim that residents of the compound were unaware that the
attackers were law-enforcement officers."
Defense attorneys can provide witnesses and tapes to prove
Koresh had a sincere fear of attack by George Roden, by
others who had threatened the Branch Davidians, and even by
government--especially as it continued its surveillance of
him even as he tried to cooperate. On February 28th Koresh
told KRLD interviewers, "Let me explain the weapons from the
beginning. The weapons were bought originally because in
the prophecies. . .2000 years ago Christ tried for three and
a half years to present the Gospel, right? And the night of
his Crucifixion he told his servants, he said, before I sent
you out without cloak nor purse nor sword so now I say unto
you, if you do not have a sword go sell your cloak and buy
one. The Christian Church was not to stand idly by and be
Koresh told Dick DeGuerin in an audio taped March
28th telephone conversation: "I don't care who they are,
nobody is going to come to my home, with my babies around,
shaking guns around, without a gun back in their face.
That's just the American way." Branch Davidian Stan Sylvia,
who was in California the day of the raid, expressed his
feelings on national television. "These people were on their
own property. That didn't give the government right to come
in shooting. . .For once in people's lives they stood up for
God and what they believed."
* First Amendment Rights to Freedom of Speech, Religion
and Association--The defense certainly could raise the issue
of the rights of religious minorities to arm themselves for
the Second Coming. Kelly Shackleford, an attorney for the
Rutherford Institute, said of groups arming themselves for
the Apocalypse, "There are a ton of these groups out there,
and part of their faith is to ready themselves for the end.
They have to be ready to fight on the side of the Messiah.
There is nothing illegal about that."
The defense may argue that defendants are being
prosecuted merely for associating with Koresh; it does not
mean defendants necessarily agreed with all his ideas, were
in on all his plans or followed all his orders. According
to the New York Times, pretrial motions showed a split in
the defense team about whether to depict Koresh as a
"sincerely motivated teacher of Scripture, whose talks and
writings were greatly misunderstood; others have suggested
that he cruelly led his innocent followers astray. Still,
no defendant has pleaded temporary insanity or suggested. .
* Government Tanks Started Fire: The government argues
setting Mount Carmel on fire was part of the conspiracy. If
the prosecution shows the complete infrared video tapes of
the tank assaults and resulting fire, the jurors--and the
public--finally will have a chance to study the full details
of this brutal attack. Defense attorneys and the
prosecution probably will differ in their interpretations of
the video tapes. Defense attorneys will try to discredit
the prosecutions' evidence--surveillance audio tapes, FBI
Hostage Rescue Team agents, the "independent" fire
investigator--that the Davidians started the fire. If any
Branch Davidian survivors take the stand, they will describe
how tanks knocked over lighted kerosene lamps and crushed a
propane tank, starting the fires in one or more different
areas within a few minutes. The defense may provide experts
who will explain just how the tank rammings easily could
have trapped people in the building and started one or more
Count Four--Aiding and Abetting the Attempted Murder
of a Federal Officer and Counts Five and Six--Using a
Firearm During a Crime of Violence, all related to Bob
Kendrick, Delroy Nash and Michael Schroeder's attempts to
reenter Mount Carmel on February 28, 1993. The prosecution
will have to convince the jury that Kendrick and Nash
resisted arrest by BATF agents. The defense may argue the
Kendrick and Nash did not fire at agents or that if they did
so they fired in self-defense.
Count Seven--Possession of an Unregistered Destructive
Device on April 19, 1993 and Count Eight--Conspiracy to
Possess and Unregistered Destructive Device related to
Graeme Craddock's carrying a live grenade. The prosecution
will have to prove Craddock was indeed carrying a live
grenade; Craddock's defense may argue he was not, that
someone planted a live grenade on him, or that he carried
the grenade in self-defense.
Count Nine--Conspiracy to Possess and Unlawfully
Manufacture Machineguns and Count Ten--Aiding and Abetting
the Unlawful Possession of Machineguns Paul Fatta's defense
attorney may assert he had no knowledge of machineguns
produced or planned for production before February 28, 1993.
The defense will try to call witnesses who can prove
their defense points. Considering that Judge Smith is
obviously prejudiced against the Branch Davidians and has
announced he will not let the defense put the government on
trial, he may reject many of their requests to call specific
witnesses. Those they may try to call include:
Witnesses--Sympathetic: In addition to cross-examining
sympathetic witnesses called by the prosecution, the defense
will try to call Branch Davidians and other witnesses who
can provide information to discredit prosecution witnesses
or provide evidence that the Branch Davidians were not
crazed fanatics totally under David Koresh's control. They
will call individuals who can testify that the Branch
Davidians knew they were under surveillance and tried to
cooperate and to talk about their experiences during the
February 28th raid or during the siege. Doubtless, they
will also try to call David Koresh's attorney Dick DeGuerin
and Steve Schneider's attorney Jack Zimmerman, both of whom
saw evidence of BATF damage to the building during the raid,
and experts like Dr. Phil Arnold and Dr. James Tabor who
convinced David Koresh to exit despite the FBI's ignoring
his efforts. They may even try to call the Justice
Department's most critical outside experts--Dr. Nancy
Ammerman, Dr. Lawrence E. Sullivan, Dr. Robert Cancro and
Dr. Alan M. Stone.
Witnesses-former BATF Director Steven Higgins, former
FBI Director William Sessions, Attorney General Janet Reno,
Other High Government Officials: Defense attorneys have
asked that these individuals be called as witnesses. They
may be used to discredit lower ranking officials and agents
who lied to them or to show that governmental incompetence,
violations of rights and excessive force were approved by
Witnesses--The Defendants: Under the Fifth Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution, the prosecution cannot compel
defendants to take the stand or testify. If any defendant
agrees to testify, he or she can not take the Fifth
Amendment in response to any questions about alleged crimes
relevant to the case but must answer honestly. It is
unknown whether any defense attorneys will call their
clients to protest their innocence or to describe their
self-defense against an out-of-control goverment assault on
February 28, 1993.
CIVIL RIGHTS AND WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUITS
On May 3, 1993, attorney John P. Coale filed three
notices of claim against the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms. He is seeking $18.06 million for the
deaths of his wife, Lorraine, and two daughters, Rachel, 14,
and Hollywood, 2. Questions about who started the fire, or
deaths by gunshot, are irrelevant to the case, Mr. Coale
asserted. "We're alleging no matter what happened to these
children and this woman, it was foreseeable." Sylvia
said the survivors should regroup and build a school at the
site. Referring to possible forfeiture of the property, he
declared, "Why should the FBI of all people be awarded that
land, with what they did to my people, to my wife and
children? Their lives were lost on that land, and I don't
want to see that done in vain."
In October the first of numerous lawsuits under the
Federal Civil Rights Act was filed in Waco by North
Carolina's Cause Foundation on behalf of Oliver Gyarfas, Sr.
and Elizabeth Gyarfas. Their daughter Aisha Gyarfas
Summers, 18, and her child Startle Summers, 1 year, died in
the April 19th fire. According to Kirk D. Lyons, attorney
and executive director of the Cause Foundation, the suits
are intended less to compensate the victims of the
government's excessive use of force, as they are to defend
the Constitution from government encroachment and to see
that another situation like Waco never happens again. The
Foundation intends to file more suits after the conclusion
of the Branch Davidian trials. Both suits should shed
additional light on the governments' violations of rights,
excessive force and coverup.
It is possible that some BATF and FBI agents and
officials could be held individually liable in such law
suits. In January, 1993, a U.S. District judge ruled that
the city of Philadelphia and senior officials would have to
face trial in a civil law suit brought by survivor Ramona
Africa. Philadelphia police fire bombed MOVE headquarters
to drive members out of their home, killing 11 members of
the group. While former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode was
immune from the lawsuit because he was not involved in the
decision to fire bomb the MOVE house, his three top
lieutenants can be sued.
SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL UPHEAVALS AND THE YEAR 2000
Justice Department outside expert Lawrence E. Sullivan
wrote in his report: "If history be any judge, the change
of millennium only seven years from now will be viewed as a
momentous, highly charged turning point in history for many
religious communities. The shift of millennia will likely
be viewed as a seismic rupture in time, a break through
which one may glimpse powers that transcend time, and
provoke many to act in unconventional ways as they respond
to messages read in the signs of an unconventional time."
(JDR:Sullivan:11) We cannot ignore indications that
religious zealots, survivalists, gun-toting drug gangs, gun-
loving "right to bear arms" activists, tax protesters, and
even secessionists will all begin or increase challenges to
local, state and federal authorities as we approach the year
MILLENIALISTS AND SURVIVALISTS
Religious believers put the "Laws of God"--or some
spiritual entity--above laws made by governments. Most
consider government, and especially the federal government,
to be enemies of religious freedom. In America millions of
Christians are apocalyptics or millenialists convinced that
Jesus will return in the midst of violent apocalypse, very
possibly in the year 2000. There are also "new age"
millenialists. Elizabeth Clare Prophet's Church Universal
and Triumphant has predicted nuclear war as a precursor to a
new age of enlightenment. And tens of thousands who
celebrated the "Harmonic Convergence" in the late 1980s
believe that as the millennium approaches we will experience
economic collapse and the dissolution of nation states,
followed by a rebirth of civilization. Many millenialists
are survivalists, preparing for the inevitable collapse of
law, order and food distribution networks during the time of
tribulation. Many millenialists and survivalists arm
themselves out of fear that governments, roving gangs, or
hungry hordes from the cities will attack them during these
One millennialist movement which particularly alarms
law enforcement is the Christian Identity movement, also
called Christian patriots, who believe that Northern
European whites are the racial descendants of the Biblical
people of Israel and want to break up the United States into
racially and culturally separate nations. The movement has
about 25,000 hardcore adherents and another 150,000 hangers-
on. One of its leaders, Pete Peters, has a cable television
show, "Truth for Our Times," which promotes their
Many millennialist groups regard the government's
destruction of the Branch Davidians to be a symbol of the
government's eagerness to destroy their religious groups as
well. Some may even believe it was indeed one in a series
of prophesized events that will lead to the Second Coming of
Christ--especially because, much in line with the Book of
Revelation, floods ravaged the midwest and fires and
earthquakes ravaged California after Koresh's death.
Millennialist groups surely will arise in other parts
of the world. In November of 1993, thousands of followers
of self-styled messiah Maria Devi Khrystos, leader of the
"White Brotherhood," poured into Kiev, Ukraine. They were
expecting the end of the world, to be marked by her
crucifixtion, resurrection and ascension in to heaven in a
ball of flame. Authorities arrested hundreds of followers,
who promptly went on hunger strikes, and then arrested
Khrystos and her husband for hooliganism and seizing state
Sociologist James Aho of Idaho State University
predicts, "As we get closer to the millennium, there will be
more and more people arming themselves for the end of the
world." The Washington Post writes, "Experts on
millennial groups said that if there is a lesson to be
learned from Waco, it may well be that law enforcement
officials ought to be aware of the potency of millennial
beliefs. Throughout the 1990s, interest in end-of-time
prophecy will grow, as the current millennium draws to a
The Treasury Department appendix which reviews the
history of BATF mentioned the "prohibition-related rise in
crime and use of firearms" during the 1920s and 1930s. Much
of today's violent crime is also prohibition-related, but
now it is related to the prohibition of psychoactive drugs,
not alcohol. The twenty-five-year-old "War on Drugs" has
suppressed supplies of the popular and relatively safe drug
marijuana and ensured that dealers promote dangerous and
addictive--but more easily smuggled and transported--drugs
like cocaine and heroin. The attraction of hefty illegal
profits has led to just the sort of struggles over territory
and violence between armed gangs that occurred during
alcohol prohibition. (Rising taxes on cigarettes also
increases cigarette-bootlegging-related crime!)
Because such a high percentage of criminal arrests and
imprisonments are related to non-violent drug crimes, the
justice system must give early paroles to violent rapists,
thieves and murderers to make room for those given long
mandatory sentences for using or distributing small amounts
of marijuana or cocaine. There is little doubt that 25
years of drug prohibition has created far more prohibition-
related violence than 15 years of alcohol prohibition.
Moreover, there is far greater random violence and violence
by children than ever experienced under alcohol prohibition.
Gang violence is decimating the young black male population
since poor, inner-city black males see few opportunities as
lucrative as dealing illegal drugs.
Some consider drug prohibition itself to be a form of
religious persecution against new religious movements which
arose during the 1960s and advocated using psychoactive
drugs as a path to spiritual enlightenment. It was a case
related to Native Americans' use of peyote which led to the
U.S. Supreme Court's Oregon vs. Smith ruling that so
undercut religious rights. In response, hundreds of
religious groups of every description joined together to
pressure Congress to pass the 1993 Religious Restoration
Act. However, even this act provides scant protections for
those who want to use psychoactive drugs for religious
The War on Drugs has led to serious abuses of
American's constitutional rights and freedoms by law
enforcement: use of unreliable informants, inadequate
investigations of alleged crimes, increasing use of
entrapment, judicial rubber-stamping of search warrants,
improper use of deadly force, growing use of unjustified "no
knock" warrants, increasing violations of due process of
law, improper use of forfeiture proceedings to augment law
enforcement budgets, and growing use of the military in
domestic law enforcement.
One tragic forfeiture-motivated case is that of Donald
Scott, a California millionaire who owned property bordered
on three sides by a national park. On October 2, 1992, Los
Angeles Sheriffs, National Park and Forest Service
representatives, national and California Drug Enforcement
agents and the National Guard raided Donald Scott's home, on
a tip that marijuana was located on the property. Hearing a
commotion, Scott ran to the living room, gun in hand, and
was killed as he obeyed demands he drop his weapon. The
local District Attorney's office admitted that one reason
for the raid was the "desire to seize and forfeit the ranch
for the government." Drug prohibition has fostered
accelerating gang and police violence.
Alcohol-prohibition-related gun violence led to the
first national gun laws. Likewise, drug-prohibition-related
gun violence is prompting calls for more and stricter
enforcement of these laws. After many years of effort, the
Brady Bill handgun registration law was recently passed.
Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen has proposed putting 80 per
cent of gun dealers out of business by raising the annual
licensing fee by 2000%. Many politicians call for banning
"assault weapons" and President Clinton has discussed
registering all guns.
The "right to bear arms" community is furious.
Nationwide its organizing efforts are mushrooming. Unlike
outlawing drugs, regulating and restricting gun ownership
goes against a powerful American mythology--that only an
armed citizenry can protect itself against an oppressive
government. (Members of the Committee for Waco Justice
believe that during this century non-violent action has
proved to be more successful; nevertheless, individuals
should not be deprived of their right to defend themselves
in extreme situations where they have no other choice.)
Many groups nationwide currently are planning demonstrations
for April 19th, "Patriots' Day." That it is also the
anniversary of the government's destruction of the Branch
Davidians in its attempt to enforce gun laws is not lost on
gun owners' rights activists.
The tragedy in Waco may be just a foretaste of what
will happen as the government tries to restrict the
ownership of guns in the United States. While some
columnists and politicians said Waco was an example of why
we need gun control, the Committee for Waco Justice is one
of many groups that insist that it was the enforcement of
gun laws that triggered the disaster. We fear that we may
someday see a "War on Guns" more terrifying than the current
War on Drugs. Gun prohibition will only expand the already
huge black market in illegal guns and bring about a rise in
gun-prohibition-related crimes and gangs. The same
attitudes and practices that have undermined the rights of
drug users and dealers are undermining the rights of gun
owners and gun dealers. More and more innocent legal gun
owners--as well as individuals merely accused of owning
illegal guns--may find themselves raided and assaulted by
out-of-control law enforcement.
The massacre of the Branch Davidians is an
important factor in bringing together those who oppose drug
prohibition with those who oppose gun prohibition. On
January 10, 1993, the date of the opening of the trial of
the eleven Branch Davidians, a coalition consisting of two
leading drug legalization groups, four gun owners' rights
groups, and four civil liberties groups wrote President
Clinton requesting he create a commission to review unlawful
policies of all federal law enforcement agencies. We
include more details about the coalition in a later section.
ECONOMIC UNREST AND TAX REBELLION
Disorganized economic protest, like the Los Angeles
riots, remains a continuing threat. However, government
often is less concerned about these crisis than about
organized economic protest, especially tax resistance.
Today the average individual pays almost 50 per cent of his
or her income in local, state, and federal taxes, a
percentage which will only continued to rise. Already 18
percent of Americans fail to file tax returns and many more
grossly underreport their incomes. Most are people without
political ideology. However, many are religious or
political ideologues convinced that the government is
ripping them off, that the income tax is illegal, or that
God has better purposes for their wealth than sending it to
"Godless" politicians. Some are libertarians who believe
taxation is theft and others are war tax resisters who will
not pay for war or for government violence against citizens.
A small percentage are "20 somethings" convinced that the
social security system will fold before they receive a cent.
Meanwhile, millions of people who do pay taxes have
joined local, state and national anti-tax groups which
recommend and engage in lobbying to bring taxes down.
America's growing federal deficit, ever rising taxes, and
economic stagnation are already giving rise to radical anti-
tax movements. However, it is unlikely they will be able to
effect the kind of change they want through the electoral
system because the majority of those who bother to vote are
recipients of tax benefits: government employees, social
security, medicare and medicaid recipients, pensioners, and
employees of government contractors. If national health
care is passed even more people will be drawn into the
SECESSIONISTS AND SEPARATISTS
In fact, the passage of any compulsory national health
care program might be the last straw not only for tax
protesters, but for millions of Americans who still abhor
what they consider to be socialist solutions. One
indication of this is an October, 1993 column by libertarian
conservative columnist Walter Williams: "Bill Clinton's
efforts to forcibly impose socialized medicine on our nation
has answered a question gnawing at me for quite some time.
The question is whether we have reached a point where those
of us who love liberty, private property rights, rule of law
and the Constitution given us by our Founding Fathers should
organize to make preparations to secede from the Union. .
.The fundamental question totally ignored is whether
federalized medicine is authorized by the U.S. Constitution.
My thorough reading of our Constitution found no
authorization for Mr. Clinton's plan. . .The only peaceful
resolution is that of secession. . .After all, the right to
part company is the most effective human safety valve, no
matter whether it's divorce, quitting a job or secession.
If there's a ban on parting company, somebody's likely to be
treated like a dog. . .I hope that secession wouldn't be
bloody. And it wouldn't be if the nation's socialists
adopted the attitude of live and let live. But if they
don't, liberty-loving people shouldn't roll over, play dead
and take socialists' abuses without imposing high costs in
Williams read this column to millions of people when
he filled in for vacationing talk show host Rush Limbaugh
during the last week of 1993. During the show he explained
that the moral justification for secession is found in the
Declaration of Independence which contains in its first
paragraph the sentence: "Whenever a government becomes
destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to
alter or abolish it."
On the December 28, 1993 show, Williams described the
Utah-based Committee of 50 states, which is chaired by
former governor Jay Bracken Lee. The Committee has proposed
"The Ultimate Resolution," a resolution which--if endorsed
by 38 state legislatures--would dissolve the entire federal
apparatus when the federal debt reaches $6 trillion. The
president, Congress and the federal judiciary would be
fired. Each of the 50 states would become a separate and
sovereign nation, free to come together to form a new
confederation. The Ultimate Resolution contains a provision
whereby any attempt to suspend or eliminate the U.S.
Constitution would automatically cause the states to take
back all the powers they have delegated to the federal
government. Williams endorsed this resolution.
A number of ideological groups--anarchists,
libertarians, greens, bioregionalists, states' rights-ists
and African- American, Hispanic-American and white
separatists--endorse secession or recommend the break up of
the United States into a number of nations or into
confederations of communities. Many citizens of Hawaii,
Texas, Alaska, and Vermont already have strong secessionist
sentiments. Should economic and political turmoil increase
in the future, American secessionist movements might grow as
well. Should Quebec break away from the rest of Canada, it
doubtless will further inspire secessionists in this
Demographics also has secessionist implications.
Demographers predict that by the year 2050 the population of
the United States could be more than 50% African-American,
Hispanic, and Asian. In 1992 Columnist Carlos Alberto
Montaner wrote: "It would be interesting to predict the
United States' reaction if faced with a possible ethnic
secession. Would it be necessary, like in Yugoslavia, to
send in U.N. troops to keep the peace, or would the country
react in a civilized manner like
Czechoslovakia? Fortunately, this question won't have to be
answered for 50 years. We shall see then."
COMMITTEE FOR WACO JUSTICE RECOMMENDATIONS
RESPECT THE BILL OF RIGHTS
How will politicians and law enforcement react to
growing social, political and economic unrest? Will they
return to surveillance and disruption of legal, non-violent
political and religious groups? Oregon's Backwoods Home
Magazine reports that U.S. Senate Bill 8, the Crime Control
Act of 1993 would allow the seizure of homes, computers,
vehicles and other property used to plan or stage any
activity that results in violence, even if that violence is
done by hooligan passerbys or political opponents.
Will the federal government continue to entrap innocent
citizens into breaking laws, as it did Randy Weaver? Should
the federal government detect any hint of illegal action,
will it continue making forceful executions of search and
arrest warrants on shaky and biased evidence, as it did
against the Branch Davidians? Will the federal government
continue to persecute any political or religious group that
merely discusses armed self-defense against potential
illegal violent state attacks upon them? Or will it reform
law enforcement practices so that citizens no longer have to
fear such illegal attacks?
Finally, will the FBI expand its program of hiring
informants and "agents provocateurs" to infiltrate
potentially violent groups, even to the point of helping
them carry out their violent acts? Will it be proven that
the FBI's hired informant did in fact build and plant the
World Trade Center bomb? Law enforcement has a legitimate
role in stopping violent attacks against citizens or
government facilities once it has credible evidence that
such an attack is imminent. However, law enforcement should
not be paying informants to use violence against Americans!
Federal agents' murder of Vicki and Samuel Weaver,
Donald Scott, 86 or more Branch Davidians--and possibly the
six World Trade Center bombing victims--demonstrates that
federal law enforcement agencies are out of control. The
Committee for Waco Justice believes that these violations of
Americans' rights are inevitable with the growth of "big
government." For big government needs ever growing power to
enforce more and more laws, to intervene in more and more
foreign nations' affairs, to levy more and more taxes--and
to handle public discontent with these laws, interventions
and taxes. Barring the unlikely event of a rapid and
thorough downsizing in the scope, size and taxing powers of
local, state and federal governments, how can we protect
ourselves from governmental violations of rights, excessive
use of force and collusive coverups of those crimes?
Below, the Committee for Waco Justice presents a list of
recommendations for protecting citizens against abuses of
government power. Perhaps the most important way to stop
government crimes against citizens is to revive respect for
the Bill of Rights. The BATF and FBI assaults on the Branch
Davidians violated eight of the ten sections of the Bill of
Rights. Therefore we present our recommendations
categorized under each of these first ten amendments to the
U.S. Constitution. These recommendations are based on
lessons learned from government excesses in the above-
mentioned incidents and other, less prominent, ones. While
this is not an exhaustive list, enacting these suggestions
would certainly prevent another government massacre like the
massacre of the Branch Davidians.
1. Protect Right to Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press,
Assembly and to Petition the Government
* Issue a Presidential Executive Order to ensure that
only the President or the Attorney General may approve any
law enforcement actions against "non-traditional" religious
or political groups in order to ensure that there is
credible probable cause, that non-coercive avenues of
resolving possible violations are explored and that
excessive force is not used. (As proposed by Justice report
outside experts Lawrence E. Sullivan and Richard J. Davis.)
* Ensure that only the President or the Attorney General
may designate a group or category of groups suspected of
breaking federal laws as being "violent" and therefore
subject to governmental surveillance. Such groups should
also have the right to appeal to these highest authorities
if they discover such surveillance and want to challenge it.
* End all governmental spying on peaceful political and
religious groups, including new religious movements some
call "cults." Ensure that acting BATF director John W.
Magaw ends his monitoring of "cults."
* End the use of the term "cult" as a category
justifying investigative activities, use of force, criminal
prosecution, or governmental regulation or liquidation of
any group labeled a "cult."
* Release all currently classified files relating to
Reverend Jim Jones and the Jonestown incident in Guyana.
* Prevent law enforcement agencies from receiving
information from organizations--such as the Anti-Defamation
League and the Cult Awareness Network--bent on harming or
destroying other groups with which they have political or
religious differences. * Consider Justice Department
investigation of the Cult Awareness Network, its
representatives and any allied groups for "conspiracy
against the rights of citizens" for possible false
allegations to law enforcement regarding various religious
groups, including the Branch Davidians and The Family.
* Make no laws or regulations restricting the press and
media from covering law enforcement actions. Allow them
access to allegedly dangerous situations on an "at-your-own-
risk" basis. (During the June 9, 1993, House Appropriations
Subcommittee meeting, WNBC reporter John Miller said "having
an ongoing cooperative mechanized procedure for bring the
media on such operations where appropriate. . .lessens the
potential of having stragglers.") 2. Protect Right
to Keep and Bear Arms * Repeal all laws regulating or
banning the ownership, manufacture, transfer, or sale of
firearms and munitions, except those prohibiting individuals
certified to be mentally unbalanced or felons convicted of
violent crimes from owning weapons. However, private
homeowners, businesses, and communities should retain the
right to ban such weapons from their private property. *
Abolish the Bureau of Tobacco, Firearms and Firearms and
turn any of its legitimate functions over to state and local
* Ensure all agencies enforcing regulations and laws
regarding firearms and munitions act in accordance with and
be held accountable to provisions of the Firearms Owners'
3. Protect Right to Refuse Quartering of Soldiers
* Repeal all laws which permit government to quarter
soldiers in wartime; while the U.S. Constitution allows
this--"in a manner to be prescribed by law"--such laws are
* Repeal any existing laws or regulations permitting
federal agents to occupy private property for surveillance
or other law enforcement activity without the express
permission of the innocent property owner.
4. Protect Right to be Secure Against Unreasonable
Searches and Seizures, including Necessity for Probable
Cause before Issuance of Warrants
* Include in all statutory and administrative
regulations "first warning" provisions insuring
investigators first warn individuals and corporate entities
of possible violations; this insures individuals are not
investigated, searched, arrested, tried and punished for
violations of arcane, confusing and
* Establish a method by which individuals discovering
themselves to be under investigation regarding violations of
administrative regulations or non-violent crimes may
cooperate with such investigations to prevent warranted
searches and arrests with the potential for employing
* Require federal agents assure the judge or magistrate
not only that they have probable cause but: (a) that local
and/or state authorities have been consulted about any
suspect's past cooperation with law enforcement; (b) that
agents justify the use of extraordinary force or
unconventional entry methods, and explain why these do not
constitute a "no knock" raid; (c) that agents certify that
abandonment of any ongoing negotiations in a siege situation
are merited; (d) that agents report if any jurisdictions
involved in, or informed of, any action against a property
subject to forfeiture have attempted to purchase the
property in the past.
* Establish disciplinary procedures to prevent judges
and magistrates from simply "rubber stamping" search and
* Educate law enforcement agents regarding individuals'
common law and statutory right to self-defense against
excessive police force or against searches where the police
do not announce who they are or provide the citizen with
sufficient identification. Because of the national spate of
break-ins by criminals claiming to be police, this right to
self-defense might need to be strengthened by appropriate
* Do not ease restrictions on the use of illegally
obtained evidence--the exclusionary rule--as the 1993 Crime
Control Act would do.
5. Protect Right to Indictment by Grand Jury, Trial by
Jury, Avoid Double Jeopardy, Refuse to Bear Witness against
Oneself, Due Process of Law, and Just Compensation for
Public Taking of Property
* Require judges to inform jurors of the common law
right to judge the law, as well as the facts of the case,
and to acquit a criminal defendant, or to find against the
government in a civil trial, whenever they consider the law
unjust or oppressive.
* Require judges to inform jurors of the common law
practice that if the jurors find the government's conduct
unacceptable, even if the law is valid, they may acquit the
* Offer just government financial restitution for all
losses suffered by persons who suffer searches and property
damage where no crime has been committed or where damages
are disproportionately high in relation to the alleged
* Offer just government financial restitution to those
arrested, indicted, tried, imprisoned, or otherwise injured
in the course of criminal proceedings that do not result in
* End the practice of pre-conviction seizures of
property in civil and criminal cases.
6. Protect Right to A Speedy Public Trial, Impartial
Jury, Knowledge of Accusations, Confront Witnesses, Compel
Favorable Witnesses, and Assistance of Counsel
* Permit criminal defendants and civil parties in a
court of law a reasonable number of peremptory challenges to
proposed judges, similar to the right to challenge proposed
* Educate all law enforcement agents, including members
of "elite" special response teams, to the fact that loyalty
to the unit does not excuse the violation of individual or
constitutional rights or participation in coverups of same.
They frequently must be reminded that they have taken an
oath of loyalty to the constitution, not to their unit.
* End the increasingly common practice of charging
attorneys as co-conspirators to justify violations of the
7. Protect Right to Trial By Jury In Civil Suits
* Eliminate the doctrine of "Sovereign Immunity" which
holds that the State--or its agents--may not be sued without
its permission or held accountable for its actions under
civil law; replace it with the principle of full liability
for damages. Government employees and agents should be held
personally legally and financially liable for any violations
of citizens rights, including excessive use of force.
8. Protect Freedom >From Excessive Bail, Excessive Fines,
or Cruel and Unusual Punishment
* Repeal the Racket Influenced and Corrupt Organizations
(RICO) laws which have been applied too indiscriminately,
used to compel excessive fines and jeopardize First
Amendment rights of all Americans to organize political
demonstrations, and, especially, civil disobedience. Crimes
like repeated trespass and destruction of property should be
dealt with through existing local and state laws.
* It should not be considered an "excessive fine" for
any government employee or agent involved in rights
violations, excessive use of force, and other illegal
activity to lose not only their jobs, but all law
enforcement-related government pensions and benefits.
9. Protect Rights Retained by the People
* Facilitate the people's access to government
information by ending secret classifications which prevent
the public from obtaining information regarding government
policies and actions (exceptions being such matters as
private information coerced by government agents and
defensive military plans). Government should expedite the
processes by which individuals may obtain such information.
* End restrictions on the people's right to use some or
all currently restricted psychoactive drugs. (This should
also be considered under First Amendment religious rights.)
* Repeal the drug exemption to the posse comitatus law.
* Work for non-violent resolution of conflicts over
sovereignty should communities, regions or states assert
their right to secede from the United States of America.
10. Protect Powers Reserved to the States or the People
* End the practice of creating local-state-federal
"multi-task forces" which override local powers so that
local and state authorities cannot protect their citizens
from excessive federal power.
* Ensure that the people retain the power to prevent
local and state involvement in federal law enforcement
actions and to press criminal and civil suits against local
and state law enforcement which participates in any federal
violations of rights.
* Restrict the Federal Bureau of Investigation to
investigating only narrowly defined federal crimes like
espionage, kidnapping across state lines, etc.; it should
not become a national police force overriding the authority
of local and state governments.
* Pass an Independent Counsel law to prosecute crimes in
the executive branch of government--including any massive
governmental violations of citizens rights, as occurred in
Waco, Texas--if the Attorney General refuses to appoint one.
The Committee for Waco Justice encourages civil
liberties, political and religious organizations and the
media to re-educate the public and politicians about the
necessity for protecting individual liberty and restraining
governmental power. We therefore support the January 10,
1994, letter to President Clinton from the American Civil
Liberties Union, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep
and Bear Arms, the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, the
Drug Policy Foundation, the Independence Institute, the
International Association for Civilian Oversight of Law
Enforcement, the National Association for Criminal Defense
Lawyers, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association,
the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative
Affairs, and the Second Amendment Foundation. The letter
calls for "a national commission to review the policies and
practices of all federal law enforcement agencies and to
make recommendations regarding steps that must be taken to
ensure that such agencies comply with the law"--and, we
would add, the Bill of Rights.
The letter's signers note that "federal police
officers now comprise close to 10 percent of the nation's
total law enforcement" and that "some fifty-three separate
federal agencies have the authority to carry firearms and
make arrests." The signers recommend that the national
commission be composed of law enforcement experts,
constitutional scholars, criminal defense lawyers and
prosecutors, judges, representatives of federal law
enforcement professional and labor organizations, and
representatives of organizations that monitor police
practices. They end their letter by asserting that "the
creation of a high level national commission will contribute
greatly to the continued improvement of federal police
agencies by helping to ensure that federal police not only
enforce the law in an effective, humane and constitutional
manner, but that they also serve as models for local and
state law enforcement agencies."
The Committee for Waco Justice believes all local,
state and federal law enforcement agencies must overhaul
their investigative and enforcement procedures to prevent
another massacre like that of the Branch Davidians. We
believe strict adherence to the Bill of Rights will help
accomplish this. However, we also believe that our
citizenry and our political culture must become more
tolerant of unconventional religions and lifestyles. And we
believe our government must be more willing to apply non-
violent conflict resolution to the inevitable challenges to
the social, economic and political status quo as we approach
the year 2000.
1/ (c) 1993 Carol Moore. Copying for non-commercial
2/ Six Branch Davidians died during the February 28, 1993
raid and, at least 80 during the April 19, 1993 fire.
According to several Branch Davidians, in the last few years
the group had come to call themselves "Students of the Seven
Seals." However, survivors do accept the use of the term
"Branch Davidian" since it is so well known at this point
3/ April 22 and 28, 1993 House Ways and Means subcommittee
hearing, p. 5.
4/ Associated Press wire story, April 26, 1993, 01:26 EDT.
5/ Michael Isikoff, "Reno Strongly Defends Raid on Cult,"
Washington Post, April 29, 1993.
6/ >From the Report of the Department of the Treasury on the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Investigation of
Vernon Wayne Howell also known as David Koresh, September,
1993. All references from the report will be included within
the text, with the page number after the colon, e.g.,
7/ Louis Sahagun and Doug Conner, "Pair Acquitted of Murder
in Idaho Mountain Shootout," Washington Post, July 9, 1993.
8/ "Informant said he built Trade Center Bomb," Washington
Times, December 15, 1993, A5.
9/ Stephen Millies, "Did Government Agent Set World Trade
Center Bomb?" Workers World Service, New York, NY 10011,
10/ All quotations from Clinton press conferences are from
electronic mail transcripts.
11/ >From BATF Director Stephen Higgins written statement to
the April 28, 1993 House Judiciary Committee hearings.
Because the hearing transcripts are still in draft form, no
page numbers are given.
12/ >From National Rifle Association April 19, 1993 Press
Release, "NRA Calls for Congressional Inquiry into Waco
Raid," and James L. Pate, "No Longer Untouchable," American
Spectator, August, 1993, page 35. Pate also notes in the
article that on April 19, 1993, the day of the fatal fire in
Waco, 1500 BATF agents celebrated their hero Eliot Ness's
birthday in Baltimore.
13/ McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, July, 1993.
14/ Account drawn from following articles: Associated Press
wire story, "U.S. plods on in case against 2 white
separatists in Idaho," May 10, 1993; Jerry Seper, "White
separatist acquitted in marshal's murder," Washington Times,
July 9, 1993; David Johnston and Stephen Labaton, "F.B.I.
Shaken by Inquiry into Idaho Siege," New York Times,
November 25, 1993; Jerry Seper, "FBI's Idaho firefight
linked to misinformation from marshals," Washington Times,
December 1, 1993.
15/ FBI Legal Handbook for Special Agents, Section 3-6.4.
16/ Jerry Seper, "FBI Agents waged war on minds,"
Washington Times, September 22, 1993.
17/ Michael Hedges, "FBI fined for delays in trial of
Weaver," Washington Times, October 29, 1993.
18/ David Johnston and Steven Labaton, November 25, 1993.
19/ Jerry Seper, "FBI agents likely to face charges in
deadly siege," Washington Times, December 14, 1993, A14.
20/ "Attorney General's Guidelines on General Crimes,
Racketeering Enterprise and Domestic Security/Terrorism
21/ "Anti-Defamation League Still Faces Legal Action,"
Washington Post, November 28, 1993, A12.
22/ Herb Brin, "ADL's travails bring glee to enemies of the
Jews," Heritage, April 16, 1993, p. D.
23/ Associated Press wire story, April 23, 1993, 10:25 EDT.
24/ Dr. Gordon Melton presentation at American Academy of
Religion panel on the Branch Davidians, Washington, D.C.,
November 22, 1993.
25/ Gustav Nieguhr and Pierre Thomas, "Abuse Allegations
Unproven: Koresh Was Investigated in Texas, California,"
Washington Post, April 25, 1993, A20.
26/ "30 Members of Children of God Arrested," Washington
Post, September 2, 1993.
27/ December, 1993 Letter to Senators from Charles Russell
of The Family, Los Angeles, CA.
28/ Information on CAN and unfootnoted quotes are from the
Ross & Green Report "What is the Cult Awareness Network and
What Role Did It Plan in Waco?", 1993. Available from Ross
& Green, 1010 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 118, Washington,
D.C., 20005. ("Ross" is no relation to Rick Ross.)
29/ All references from the Justice Department report will
be included within the text, with the page number after the
colon. The report consisted of 4 books and an unbound
paper. (JDR:#) refers to the largest book, the factual
report. All other references will include the name of each
specific contributor, e.g., (JDR:Dennis:#) or (JDR:Stone:#).
30/ A description of Representative Leo Ryan's actions
against Jim Jones and their similarity to the Cult Awareness
Network's actions against the Branch Davidians is contained
in Peter McWilliams Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do in the
chapter on "Unconventional Religious Practices," pgs. 621-
639. (Santa Monica: Prelude Press, 1993).
31/ Steven R. Reed, "Would-be Messiah gave death, not life,"
Houston Chronicle, April 20, 1993, 18A.
32/ Alexander Cockburn, ">From Salem to Waco, by Way of the
Nazis," Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1993.
33/ Scott Shepard, "ATF chief vows to keep an eye on
religious cults", Washington Times, November 2, 1993, A3.
34/ Information from Clifford L. Linedecker, Massacre at
Waco, Texas, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993) and Brad
Bailey and Bob Darden, Mad Man in Waco, (Waco, Texas: WRS
35/ June 9, 1993, House Appropriations Subcommittee on the
Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government
Appropriations, p. 189.
36/ Unless otherwise noted, material on or attributed to
Marc Breault is from his book, Inside the Cult, co-authored
by Martin King, (New York: Signet Books, 1993).
37/ Maury Povich television show, November 9, 1993. Povich
presented two interview shows about the Branch Davidians on
November 8 and 9, 1993.
38/ Marc Breault and Martin King, p. 245.
39/ Clifford L. Linedecker, pgs. 144-147.
40/ Newsweek, May 3, 1993, p. 27.
41/ Gustav Nieguhr and Pierre Thomas, April 25, 1993, A20.
42/ Clifford L. Linedecker, p. 144.
43/ Gustav Nieguhr and Pierre Thomas, April 25, 1993, A20.
44/ "Cult kids' discipline tough, but wasn't abuse, says
doctor," Washington Times, May 6, 1993.
45/ Sue Anne Pressley, "Waco Cult's Children Describe
Beatings, Lectures, War Games: Experts Fail to Confirm Abuse
of Cult's Children," Washington Post, May 5, 1993, A17.
46/ Daniel Wattenberg, "Gunning for Koresh," American
Spectator, August, 1993, p. 38.
47/ Newsweek, May 17, 1993, p. 50.
48/ Marc Breault and Martin King, p. 92.
49/ Gustav Nieguhr and Pierre Thomas, April 25, 1993.
50/ Clifford L. Linedecker, p. 153.
51/ Associated Press wire story, March 1, 1993.
52/ Louis Sahagun and J. Michael Kennedy, "FBI places full
blame on Koresh for Tragedy," New York Times, April 20,
53/ Ruth Riddle interview on "Dateline NBC", June 15, 1993.
54/ Maury Povich television show, November 8, 1993.
55/ Clifford L. Linedecker, pgs. 151-152.
56/ Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 152.
57/ Michael deCourcy Hinds, April 20, 1993, A20.
58/ Houston Post, March 8, 1993, p. A10.
59/ Houston Post, March 9, 1993, A13.
60/ Steven R. Reed, "Would-be Messiah gave death, not life,"
Houston Post, April 20, 1993.
61/ "Seven Seals rich in imagery," Houston Post, April 20,
1993, 16A. This version is from the Oxford Study Bible.
62/ The fact that Kathryn Schroeder made the allegation is
from Associated Press wire story, October 2, 1993, 12:18
EST. The actual quotation is from the Treasury report, p.
63/ Maury Povich television show, November 8, 1993.
64/ Paul H. Blackman report, "Affidavit to Kill," Institute
for Legislative Action, National Rifle Association, p. 9.
65/ Federal Search Warrant Case Number W93-15M: issued on
the probable cause to believe that unregistered machineguns
and destructive devices concealed in violation of 18 and 26
USC.; Federal arrest warrant for Vernon Wayne Howell Case
Number W93-17m issued in the belief he was in unlawful
possession of an unregistered destructive device in
violation of 26 USC. >From June 9, 1993, House
Appropriations subcommittee hearing, p. 93.
66/ Michael Isikoff, "Treasury Balked at First At ATF's Raid
on Cult," Washington Post, May 1, 1993. Then consultant,
now Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement, Philip K. Noble
made the comment.
67/ Sam Howe Verhovek, "Scores die as cult compound is set
afire," New York Times, April 20, 1993.
68/ "Cult Had Illegal Arms, Expert Says," New York Times,
January 15, 1994.
69/ Jim McGee and William Clairborne, "The Transformation of
the Waco 'Messiah'," Washington Post, May 9, 1993, A19.
70/ Marc Breault and Martin King, p. 223.
71/ Clifford L. Linedecker, p. 10.
72/ Paul H. Blackman report, p. 4.
73/ Associated Press wire story, January 13, 1994, 12:36
74/ Hugh Aynesworth, "President calls for investigation,"
Washington Post, April 21, 1993.
75/ Daniel Wattenberg, p. 33.
76/ Paul H. Blackman, report, p. 51.
77/ Ibid. 23.
78/ Ross and Green report, p. 12.
79/ Clifford L. Linedecker, pgs. 144-147.
80/ Marc Breault and Martin King, p. 317.
81/ Clifford L. Linedecker, on pgs. 17-18, presents the only
available evidence of the alleged name change. Member Perry
Jones allegedly paid a bill at "Central Rental" in Waco and
said Mount Carmel's new name was "Ranch Apocalypse."
However, this seems to have been an in-house joke, not an
official name change.
82/ June 9, 1993 House Appropriations subcommittee hearing,
83/ Daniel Wattenberg, p. 36.
84/ Daniel Wattenberg, p. 33.
85/ Paul H. Blackman report, p. 10.
86/ Ibid. pgs. 12-13.
87/ Ibid. p. 17.
88/ Larry Pratt, Gun Owners of America Special Report,
"Could a Search Warrant Be Your Death Warrant?," 1993, p. 2.
89/ Paul H. Blackman report, p. 6.
90/ Ibid. p. 21.
91/ Marc Breault and Martin King, pgs. 317-318.
92/ Roy Bragg, "Ex-prosecutor laments agents' `storm
trooper' tactics," Houston Chronicle, March 2, 1993.
93/ Dirk Johnson, "40 Bodies of Cult Members are Found in
Charred Ruins," New York Times, April 22, 1993, B12.
94/ Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, March 7, 1993, A2.
95/ James L. Pate, "Waco: Behind the Cover-Up," Soldier of
Fortune, November, 1993, pgs. 36-41, 71-72.
96/ Marc Smith, "Agent allegedly refused Koresh's offer,"
Houston Chronicle, September 11, 1993.
97/ Associated Press, "Gun Dealer Alerted Koresh to ATF
Probe, Lawyer Says," Houston Post, September 11, 1993.
98/ April 9, 1993 House Appropriations subcommittee hearing,
99/ Ibid. pgs. 163-164.
100/ Ibid. p. 77.
101/ Ibid. pgs. 130, 137-138.
102/ Marc Breault and Martin King, p. 245.
103/ Clifford L. Linedecker, p. 16.
104/ Marc Breault and Martin King, p. 318.
105/ Dallas Morning News, May 13, 1993, 8A.
106/ While here he may have meant "children" in the larger
sense of his followers, Koresh's claim elsewhere on the tape
that his 2-year-old daughter had been killed was not true,
according to his attorney Dick DeGuerin and surviving Branch
107/ "Koresh to agents: Should have called me," Washington
Times, May 26, 1993.
108/ Newsweek, March 15, 1993, p. 55.
109/ Time, March 15, 1993, p. 39.
110/ Marc Breault and Martin King, p. 299.
111/ Larry Pratt report, p. 15.
112/ Marc Breault and Martin King, p. 306-307.
113/ Gustav Nieguhr and Pierre Thomas, April 25, 1993, A20.
114/ "A Botched Mission in Waco, Texas," U.S. News and World
Report, March 5, 1993.
115/ Associated Press wire story, April 22, 1993, 13:04 EDT.
116/ Stephen Labaton, "Firearms Agency Struggles to Rise
>>From Ashes of Waco Raid," New York Times, November 5, 1993,
117/ June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee
hearing, pgs. 144-145.
118/ Marc Breault and Martin King, p. 106.
119/ Daniel Wattenberg, August, 1993, p. 32.
120/ Joseph Sobran, "Applying the Cult Label," Washington
Times, March 22, 1993.
121/ June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee
hearing, p. 77-78.
122/ Private communication with Terry Liberty Parker of
123/ June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee
hearing, p. 342.
124/ Ibid. p. 189.
125/ Ibid. pgs. 177-178.
126/ June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee
hearing, p. 175.
127/ James L. Pate, "Gun Gestapo's Day of Infamy," Soldier
of Fortune, June, 1993, p. 62.
128/ USA Today, April 21, 1993, A4.
129/ Associated Press wire story, February 28, 1993.
130/ Daniel Wattenberg, p. 40.
131/ Scott Pendleton, "Waco Siege Prompts Scrutiny of
Agency," Christian Science Monitor, April 8, 1993, p. 8.
132/ Account from four January 19, 1994 news stories: Kathy
Fair, "ATF agent testifies about cult ambush," Houston
Chronicle, 8A; "1st Eyewitness Testifies at Branch Davidian
Trial," Washington Post; Chip Brown, "Davidians fired first,
agent says," Washington Times; "Witness Says Cult Ambushed
Agents but Acknowledges Blunders," New York Times.
133/ Kathy Fair, "Witnesses testify Koresh cultists fired
first," Houston Chronicle, January 21, 1994, 23A.
134/ Lee Hancock, "Television Photographer Says He Tipped
Waco Cult," Washington Post, August 28, 1993.
135/ Washington Post, January 19, 1994.
136/ Houston Post, March 4, 1993, A20.
137/ Kathy Fair, "Cult assembled weapons in compound, FBI
says," Houston Chronicle, January 15, 1994, 36A.
138/ James L. Pate, "What the Feds Don't Want you to Know
about Waco," Soldier of Fortune, October, 1993, p. 102.
139/ James L. Pate, October, 1993, p. 10.
140/ Associated Press wire story, March 24, 1993, 20:09 EST.
141/ "Witness Says Cult Ambushed Agents but Acknowledges
Blunders," New York Times, January, 19, 1994.
142/ Scott W. Wright, "Agents at Branch Davidian Trial
Describe Blitz of Bullets at Raid," Austin American-
Statesman, January 21, 1994, B3.
144/ James L. Pate, October 1993, pgs. 93 and 101.
145/ "Much Evidence and Conflict in Branch Davidians'
Trial," New York Times, January 17, 1994.
146/ Stephen Labaton and Sam Howe Verhovek, "U.S. Agents Say
Fatal Flaws Doomed Raid on Waco Cult," New York Times, April
28, 1993, A20.
147/ Order, April 20, U.S. v. Vernon Wayne Howell, U.S.
District Court of the Western District of Texas, Waco
148/ "FBI Places Full Blame on Koresh for Tragedy," Los
Angeles Times, April 21, 1993, A6.
149/ Information from letter to editor of Portland Oregonian
submitted by Jim Bell, November, 1993.
150/ James L. Pate, June, 1993, pgs. 51-52.
151/ "Sect's Lawyers Dispute Gunfight Details," New York
Times, April 5, 1993, A10 and transcript of September 30,
1993 Treasury Department press conference.
152/ New York Times, April 5, 1993, A10.
153/ June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee
hearing, pgs. 99-129.
154/ Associate Press story, "FBI tape of Waco talks probed,"
Washington Times, June 17, 1993.
155/ "Much Evidence and Conflict in Branch Davidians'
Trial," New York Times, January 17, 1994.
156/ Kathy Fair, "Cult assembled weapons in compound, FBI
says," Houston Chronicle, January 15, 1994, 36A.
157/ Interview with Catherine Matteson, August 30, 1993, on
file at Gun Owners of America.
158/ Sue Anne Pressley, May 5, 1993, A17.
159/ Kathy Fair, "Cult members `executed' injured,
prosecutors say," Houston Chronicle, January 13, 1994, A6.
160/ "3 Waco Cultists Shot Point-Blank, Autopsies Show,"
Washington Post, July 15, 1993, A4.
161/ Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, pgs. 172-173.
162/ James L. Pate, October, 1993, pgs. 101-102.
163/ New York Times, April 5, 1993, A10.
164/ Roy Bragg, "Ill-fated ATF raid: the beginning of the
end," Houston Chronicle, April 20, 1993, 17A.
165/ New York Times, January 17, 1994.
166/ On page 104 the Treasury Report does describe in detail
the type of guns which killed Branch Davidians.
167/ "ATF agent tells of retrieving dead," Washington Times,
January 25, 1994.
168/ Dallas Morning News, March 3, 1993; Newsweek, March 15,
1993, p. 54.
169/ On December 7, 1993 KWTX's Ray Deaver told us station
employees had edited the tape and that it had not been
impounded by the government. Nor had the tape been
subpoenaed for the Branch Davidian trials.
170/ "ATF agent says he may have shot comrade," Washington
Times, January 26, 1994.
171/ "Was It Friendly Fire?", Newsweek, April 5, 1993, p.
172/ James L. Pate, July, 1993, 53.
173/ Stephen Labaton and Sam Howe Verhovek, March 28, 1993.
174/ Washington Times, January 26, 1994.
175/ John McLamore and Dan Mulloney statement on Maury
Povich television show, November 9, 1993.
176/ >From audio tape of John O. Lumpkin, Texas Bureau Chief
of the Associated Press, speaking at September 10, 1993
Freedom of Information Foundation panel on "Mt. Carmel: What
Should the Public Know."
177/ Associated Press wire story, March 13, 1993, 02:57 EST.
178/ Paul H. Blackman report, p. 51.
179/ Mary Jordan and Sue Anne Pressley, "Cult Leader Wants
to Die a Martyr in `All-Out Firefight'," Washington Post,
March 9, 1993.
180/ "The Seven Week Siege," Washington Post, April 20,
181/ New York Times, April 5, 1993, A10.
182/ June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee
hearing, p. 137.
183/ >From audiotape of September 10, 1993 Freedom of
Information Foundation media panel.
184/ Paul H. Blackman report, p. 50.
185/ James L. Pate, "Government's Waco Whitewash," Soldier
of Fortune, January, 1994. p. 69.
186/ Ron Engelman, "Ron's Waco Update," The Freedom Report,
187/ Hugh Aynesworth, "Koresh followers set fires,"
Washington Times, April 27, 1993.
188/ June 9, 1993, House Appropriations subcommittee
hearing, p. 60.
189/ Ibid. p. 18.
190/ Newsweek, March 15, 1993, p. 55.
191/ Jerry Seper, "ATF chief denies Waco cover-up,'
Washington Times, April 19, 1993, A3.
192/ Kathy Fair, "Report on Waco cult raid likely to be
scathing," Houston Chronicle, September 26, 1993, 9A.
193/ Clifford L. Linedecker, p. 27.
194/ Associated Press wire story, March 11, 1993, 16:23 EST.
195/ "Jury Told of Gunfire and Horror in Texas Siege," New
York Times, January 13, 1994.
196/ "How David Koresh Got All Those Guns," U.S. News and
World Report, June 7, 1993, p. 42.
197/ "Cult had illegal Arms, Expert Says," New York Times,
January 15, 1994 and Kathy Fair, "Jurors see a parade of
cult weapons," Washington Times, January 14, 1994, 26A.
198/ "Koresh Follower Pleads Guilty to Resisting Officer,"
New York Times, September 12, 1993.
199/ Lee Hancock, "Thousands protest proposal to limit
access to cult data," Dallas Morning News, September 23,
200/ Freedom of Information Foundation Press Release,
September 25, 1993.
201/ Jerry Seper, "Treasury wants to hid reports on Waco
raid," Washington Times, September 2, 1993.
202/ June 9, 1993, House Appropriations Subcommittee
Hearings, pgs. 69 and 84.
203/ Scott Shepard, "ATF chief vows to keep an eye on
religious cults", Washington Times, November 2, 1993, A3.
204/ Jerry Seper, "New ATF chief tells panel his bureau will
be ready for Waco-like situations," Washington Times,
October 23, 1993.
205/ In the coming weeks law enforcement agencies would
deploy the following number of personnel: FBI-668, ATF-136,
U.S. Customs-6, Waco Police-18, McLennan County Sheriff's
Office-17, Texas Rangers-31, Texas Dept of Public Safety
Patrol-131, U.S. Army-15, Texas National Guard-13. (JDR:10)
206/ Dr. Philip Arnold and Dr. James Tabor, "Comments and
Clarifications" section of "The Decoded Message of the Seven
Seals of the Book of Revelation" by David Koresh.
207/ "Ex-prosecutor laments agents' `storm trooper'
tactics," Houston Chronicle, March 2, 1993.
208/ Audio tape of the September 10, 1993 Freedom of
Information Foundation media panel on Waco.
209/ Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 232.
210/ Paul McKay, "Photographers for Chronicle, AP arrested,"
Houston Chronicle, April 22, 1993.
211/ Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 206.
212/ Mary Jordan and Sue Anne Pressley, May 9, 1993, A1.
213/ April 22, 1993, Senate Committee on Appropriations
hearing, p. 122.
214/ Paul H. Blackman report, p. 56.
215/ Libertarian Party of Dallas 1993 promotional materials
on Ron Engelman talk video tape.
216/ Naftali Bendavid, "The Costs of Cult Standoff: Were
Estimates Too High?" Legal Times, May 3, 1993, p. 18.
217/ Interview on "Dateline NBC," June 15, 1993.
218/ During the April 28, 1993 House Judiciary Committee
hearings probably-confused FBI Director William Sessions
asserted that "cult experts" had advised the government to
leave the area and give up on arresting the Branch
219/ Maury Povich television show, November 8, 1993.
220/ James L. Pate, October, 1993, p. 73.
221/ Associated Press wire story, March 16, 1993, 4:42 EST.
222/ Nancy Ammerman presentation at November 22, 1993
American Academy of Religion panel on Branch Davidians.
223/ "Bad Attitude Turns Fatal," The Balance, August, 1993.
224/ Nancy Ammerman presentation, November 22, 1993.
225/ Information from Dr. Gordon Melton talk at the November
22, 1993 American Academy of Religion panel on the Branch
Davidians and private communication.
226/ Louis Sahagun and J. Michael Kennedy, "FBI Places Full
Blame on Koresh for Tragedy," Los Angeles Times, April 21,
227/ Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, "Reno, FBI Took
Fatal Gamble," Washington Post, April 21, 1993, A15.
228/ Sam Howe Verhovek, "F.B.I. Saw the Ego in Koresh But
Missed Willingness to Die," New York Times, April 22, 1993,
229/ Marc Breault and Martin King, pgs. 335-336.
230/ Sam Howe Verhovek, April 21, 1993, A20.
231/ "FBI brings out secret electronic weapons as Waco siege
drags on," Sunday Times of London, March 21, 1993.
232/ Mary Jordan and Sue Anne Pressley, March 8, 1993.
233/ "Primetime Live" television special on Waco, January
234/ Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 246.
235/ Dan Friedman, "Wealth of advice seen as costly to FBI
at Waco," Washington Times, October 8, 1993.
236/ New York Times, April 5, 1993, A10.
237/ Maury Povich television show, November 8, 1993.
238/ JoAnn Zuniga, "Outcome shocks compound visitor,"
Houston Chronicle, April 20, 1993, 16A.
239/ Associated Press wire story, March 25, 1993, 03:53 EST.
240/ Dirk Johnson, "Inside the Cult: Fire and Terror on the
Final Day," New York Times, April 26, 1993, B10.
241/ New York Times, April 5, 1993, A10.
242/ Paul Craig Roberts, "Unsettling questions in probe of
Waco," Washington Times, June 1, 1993, E3.
243/ James Adams, "They Could Have Waited: A Lesson in How
Not to Play the Hostage Game," Washington Post, April 25,
244/ Associated Press wire story, March 16, 1993, 04:25 EST.
245/ Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 233.
246/ Clifford L. Linedecker, p. 215.
247/ Much of information about Dr. Arnold's experience from
November 22, 1993 interview at Reunion Institute dinner in
248/ Time, May 3, 1993, p. 42.
249/ Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, "Reno Says, `I Made
the Decision,'" Washington Post, April 20, 1993, A9.
250/ Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, April 20, 1993, A9.
251/ Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 205.
252/ U.S. News and World Report, May 3, 1993, p. 30.
253/ Mark Smith, "Cult leaders lawyers urge probe of FBI,"
Houston Chronicle, April 20, 1993, 13A.
254/ Sue Ann Pressley and Mary Jordan, "Cultist may have
been forced to stay," Washington Post, April 21, 1993.
255/ Associate Press wire story, April 21, 1993, 18:24 EDT.
256/ Marc Breault and Martin King, pgs. 336-337.
257/ Associated Press wire story, October 10, 1993, 15:23
258/ Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, "FBI Negotiators
Detail Koresh's Threats to Avoid Being Captured," Washington
Post, April 22, 1993, A14.
259/ Jerry Seper, "FBI used chemical banned for war,"
Washington Times, April 22, 1993.
261/ Malcolm W. Browne, "Chemical Isn't Meant to Cause
Fire," New York Times, April 20, 1993.
262/ James L. Pate, October, 1993.
263/ Associated Press wire story, March 18, 1993, 21:40 EST.
264/ Jerry Seper, "House Panel Looks at FBI's assault on
Waco cultists," Washington Times, April 29, 1993.
265/ Michael Isikoff, "FBI Clashed Over Waco, Report Says,"
Washington Post, October 9, 1993, A10.
266/ James L. Pate, July, 1993.
267/ Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, "Reno Says, `I Made
the Decision,'" Washington Post, April 20, 1993, A9.
268/ David Johnston, "U.S. Saw Waco Assault as Best Option,"
New York Times, April 25, 1993, A32.
269/ Dirk Johnson, April 26, 1993, B10.
270/ James L. Pate, July, 1993.
271/ Hugh Aynesworth, "President calls for investigation,"
Washington Post, April 21, 1993.
272/ Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "A Week in the Life," Wall Street
Journal, March 9, 1993.
273/ Sue Anne Pressley, April 20, 1993, A20.
274/ Carol Moore, primary author of this report, is the
great-great-great-great grand daughter of Colonel James
Barrett, commander of the militia at Concord. Most of the
weapons were stored at Barrett's farm, which was the primary
target of the British expedition. Barrett later gave the
order to fire upon the British, should they fire first.
275/ Dirk Johnson, April 26, 1993, B10.
276/ Ibid. B10.
277/ Newsweek, May 3, 1993, p. 24.
278/ Ross E. Milloy, "An Angry Telephone Calls Signals the
End of the World for Cult Members," New York Times, April
20, 1993, A21.
279/ Graphics box, New York Times, April 20, 1993, A20.
280/ Interview on Dateline NBC, June 15, 1993.
281/ Dirk Johnson, April 26, 1993, B10.
282/ Comments at Reunion Institute Dinner, November 22,
283/ James L. Pate, July, 1993.
284/ Dirk Johnson, April 26, 1993, B10.
285/ Sue Anne Pressley, April 20, 1993, A20.
286/ "Reno cleared FBI's assault on cult complex,"
Washington Times, April 20, 1993.
287/ Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, April 22, 1993, A14.
288/ Ibid. A14.
289/ The 1993 video tape is a dramatic and effective
introduction to the subject. However, it does include
several inaccurate or dubious assertions. To obtain the
tape contact WACO, P.O. Box 14, Beech Grove, IN 46107,
290/ Newsweek, May 3, 1993, p. 28.
291/ Transcript of the April 19, 1993, 10:30 a.m. FBI press
292/ Newsweek, May 3, 1993, p. 26 and Sue Anne Pressley and
Mary Jordan, "Cult survivors offer glimpse inside waco
inferno," Washington Post, April 24, 1993.
293/ Sue Anne Pressley, "Koresh Wound Not Typical of a
Suicide, Doctor Says," Washington Post, May 18, 1993, A3.
294/ James L. Pate, October, 1993.
295/ "Mark Potok, "Davidian trial's hoopla mirrors strange
case," USA Today, January 11, 1994, A3.
296/ Newsweek, April 5, 1993, p. 26.
297/ Time, May 3, 1993, p. 31.
298/ Stephen Labaton, "Reno Says Suicides Seemed Unlikely,"
New York Times, April 20, 1993, A21.
299/ Laura Bell, "Parkland to Sue Over Davidians' Medical
Bills," Dallas Morning News, November 4, 1993.
300/ Sam Howe Verhovek, "Scores Die as Cult Compound is Set
on Fire," New York Times, April 20, 1993.
301/ Louis Sahagun and J. Michael Kennedy, "FBI Places Full
Blame on Koresh for Tragedy," Los Angeles Times, April 21,
302/ Associated Press wire story, April 22, 1993, 08:26 EDT.
303/ Sue Anne Pressley and Mary Jordan, April 24, 1993, A7.
304/ Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 211.
305/ Ross Milloy, April 20, 1993, A21.
306/ The Abrams is the largest tank used against the Branch
Davidians. HRT Commander Richard Rogers was in the one
Abrams tank used on April 19. Whether he was in fact inside
the tank which survivors claim started the fire should be
investigated. (JDR:281,285) (Also, one former Army enlistee
told us that because of its huge weight, the tank has brake
problems which are exacerbated if the tank is exposed to
particulate matter, like CS gas.)
307/ Associated Press story, "Tanks, chemicals couldn't
break resolve of cultists," Washington Times, April 23,
308/ "Workers Pick Through Cult's Compound," New York Times,
April 23, 1993, A20.
309/ Associated Press wire story, April 22, 1993, 08:26 EDT.
310/ James L. Pate, October, 1993, p. 75.
311/ Newsweek, May 3, 1993, p. 26.
312/ Interview on "Dateline NBC," June 15, 1993.
313/ Interview on "Good Morning America," May 15, 1993.
314/ Time, May 3, 1993, p. 42.
315/ Interview on "Good Morning America," June, 1993.
316/ Hugh Aynesworth, "President calls for investigation,"
Washington Post, April 21, 1993.
317/ Newsweek, May 3, 1993, p. 25.
318/ Mary Jordan and Sue Anne Pressley, "Examiners Work to
Identify Bodies," Washington Post, April 23, 1993.
319/ >From audio tape of October 8, 1993, Justice Department
320/ Associated Press story, "Tanks, chemicals couldn't
break resolve of cultists," Washington Times, April 23,
321/ Associated Press wire story April 22, 1993, 08:26 EDT.
322/ New York Times, April 23, 1993, A20.
323/ Mary Jordan and Sue Anne Pressley, April 23, 1993.
324/ James L. Pate, "Waco Whitewash Continues," Soldier of
Fortune, February, 1994, p. 59-60.
325/ Sue Ann Pressley and Mary Jordan, April 23, 1993, A16.
326/ Jerry Seper, "FBI still probing video of tank at Waco,"
Washington Times, October 9, 1993, A9.
327/ Sue Anne Pressley and Mary Jordan, April 21, 1993, A1.
328/ Michael deCourcy Hinds, "Fire Experts, Fire Tapes
Provide Rare Evidence," New York Times, April 28, 1993, A16.
329/ Interview on "Good Morning America," May 17, 1993.
330/ Interview on "Dateline NBC," June 15, 1993.
331/ Sam Howe Verhovek, "Investigators Puzzle Over Last
Minutes of Koresh," New York Times, May 5, 1993, A18.
332/ Michael Hedges, "Search for corpses starts," Washington
Times, April 22,1993, A1.
333/ JoAnn Zuniga, April 20, 1993.
334/ Louis Sahagun and J. Michael Kennedy, April 21, 1993,
335/ Sam Howe Verhovek, April 21, 1993, A1 and A20.
336/ Dirk Johnson, April 26, 1993, A1.
337/ "Waco Siege Ends in Dozens of Deaths as Cult Site Burns
After FBI Assault," Washington Post, April 20, 1993, A8.
338/ Sue Anne Pressley, "Waco Cult Adept in `Theology of
Death,' Trial Told," Washington Post, January 13, 1994.
339/ Kathy Fair, "Cult members `executed' injured,
prosecutors say," Houston Chronicle, January 13, 1994, 6A.
340/ Stephen Labaton, "Officials Contradict One Another on
Rationale for Assault on Cult," New York Times, April 21,
341/ Sam Howe Verhovek, April 21, 1993, A1.
342/ Louis Sahagun and J. Michael Kennedy, April 22, 1993.
343/ Sue Anne Pressley, April 20, 1993, A8.
344/ Michael deCourcy Hinds, April 20, 1993, A20.
345/ Sue Anne Pressley, April 20, 1993, A20.
346/ Sam Howe Verhovek, April 20, 1993, A1.
347/ Associated Press wire story, August 26, 1993, 05:29
348/ "FBI Agent Suggests Koresh Was Killed by Vengeful
Aide," Dallas Morning News, September 5, 1993.
349/ Michael deCourcy Hinds, "Arson Investigators Say Cult
Members Started Fire," New York Times, April 27, 1993.
350/ Michael deCourcy Hinds, "For Experts, Fire Tapes
Provide Rare Evidence," New York Times, April 28, 1993, A16.
351/ "Cultist's lawyer calls bulldozing of site a cover-up,"
Washington Times, May 13, 1993.
352/ Sue Anne Pressley and Mary Jordan, April 21, 1993.
353/ J. Michael Kennedy, "Waco Cult Set Fire, Texas
Officials Say," Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1993, A7 and
Michael deCourcy Hinds, April 27, 1993.
354/ James L. Pate, October, 1993.
355/ James L. Pate, "Waco:Behind the Cover-Up," Soldier of
Fortune, November, 1993, pgs. 74-75.
356/ Associate Press wire story, April 27, 1993, 04:10 EDT.
357/ Michael deCourcy Hinds, April 28, 1993, A16.
358/ Newsweek, May 3, 1993, p. 26.
359/ Hugh Aynesworth, "Koresh followers set fires,"
Washington Times, April 27, 1993.
360/ Sue Ann Pressley, "Cultists Started Fire in Waco,
Probers Say," Washington Post, April 27, 1993.
361/ "Cultists had tunnel to escape fire, arson prober
says," Washington Times, May 1, 1993, A5.
362/ Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, "Reno Says, `I Made
the Decision,'" Washington Post, April 20, 1993, A9.
363/ Stephen Labaton, "U.S. Opens Up to Avoid Backlash on
Cult Attack," New York Times, April 22, 1993, B13.
364/ Stephen Labaton, "Officials Contradict One Another on
Rationale for Assault on Cult," New York Times, April 21,
365/ Associated Press wire story April 21, 1993, 18:15 EDT.
366/ Michael Isikoff, "Waco Siege Prompts Crisis Training
for Top Justice Department Officials," Washington Post,
December 9, 1993.
367/ Federal News Service transcription of April 20, 1993
368/ Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, April 20, 1993, A9.
369/ Stephen Labaton, April 21, 1993, A21.
370/ Paul Craig Roberts, "Rallying Round Reno," Washington
Times, May 7, 1993.
371/ Stephen Labaton, "Inquiry Won't Look at Final Waco
Raid," New York Times, May 16, 1993, A20.
372/ Stephen Labaton, "Justice Inquiry Will Now Examine
Assault on Cult," New York Times, May 18, 1993.
373/ Michael deCourcy Hinds, "Toll is Lowered for Sect Dead
to Around 72," New York Times, April 30, 1993, A12.
374/ William Safire column, "Waco, Reno, Iraq-gate", October
375/ Mary McGrory, "Clinton Closes the Iraqgate," Washington
Post, November 14, 1993.
376/ James L. Pate, "One Hand Whitewashes the Other,"
Soldier of Fortune, February, 1994, pg. 60.
377/ Stephen Labaton, "Report on Siege to Blame Agents, Law
Officials Say," New York Times, October 2, 1993, A8.
378/ Jerry Seper, "Whitewater probe grows to include state
agency," and "State agency Major Source of funds for Clinton
backers," Washington Times, January 24, 1994, A1, A9.
379/ Jerry Seper, "Tragedy Blamed on Cult: Reno Says Report
is Not A Whitewash," Washington Times, October 9, 1993.
380/ Michael Kirkland, "Justice Department rejects charges
of Waco `whitewash,'" United Press International, October
381/ Michael Isikoff, "FBI Clashed Over Waco, Report Says,"
Washington Post, October 9, 1993, A10.
382/ Stephen Labaton, "Harsh Criticism of F.B.I. in Review
of Cult Assault," New York Times, November 16, 1993.
383/ Associated Press story, "FBI tape of Waco talks
probed," Washington Times, June 17, 1993.
384/ Michael Isikoff, October 9, 1993.
385/ Associated Press wire story, 12/08 18:31 EST.
386/ Jerry Seper, "Tragedy Blamed on Cult," October 9, 1993.
387/ "No sanctions expected in Waco raid," Washington Times,
October 14, 1993.
388/ John McCaslin's August 4, 1993 Washington Times column
quotes Stacy Koon, one of the two Los Angeles
policemen convicted in federal court of felony violations of
Rodney King's civil rights: "The government used the same
arguments in Waco--the suspect(s) set the tone and the
officers responded to it. . .The difference is that we had
82 seconds; the federal government had 50-plus days in Waco.
. .They had time to think and analyze and come up with game
plans and they had the ability to wait out--we didn't have
that. They used the same argument, and, in that case, people
died, multiple people died." Speaking of Janet Reno, he
said, "She, like I, took responsibility. . .Then there was a
negative outcome--50 people died. The state of Texas should
try her for multiple cases of murder. If the state of Texas
then does not find her guilty, the federal government should
come in and try her for civil rights violations."
Similarly, Paul Craig Roberts wrote in his April 22, 1993,
syndicated column, "If Rodney King's civil rights were
violated, what happened in Waco?. . .If a billy club is
excessive force, what is a tank?"
389/ "Jury Told of Gunfire and Horror in Texas Siege," New
York Times, January 13, 1994.
390/ Hugh Aynesworth, January 7, 1994, A7.
391/ Hugh Aynesworth, "Prosecution to begin for Davidian
cultists," Washington Times, January 7, 1994, A7.
392/ Sue Anne Pressley, "An Opportunity for the Branch
Davidians," Washington Post, January 9, 1994, A4.
393/ "Prosecutors Expand Case Against Texas Cult," New York
Times, August 22, 1993.
394/ New York Times, January 15, 1994.
395/ "Branch Davidian judge wants anonymous jury,"
Washington Times, December 14, 1993.
396/ Associated Press wire story, December 29, 1993, 21:22
397/ Associate Press wire story, January 11, 1994, 18:00
398/ Lone Star FIJA Press Releases, January 3, 1994 and
January 11, 1994. To contact Lone Star FIJA on this matter
call Larry Dodge (214)357-0902 or Ruth Claus or San Antonio
FIJA at (210)349-1897.
399/ Mark Smith, "ATF agent admits he may have shot
colleague," Houston Chronicle, January 26, 1994, 19A.
400/ December, 1993, report from Larry Dodge of Lone Star
401/ Associated Press wire story January 11, 1994, 14:08
402/ "Lawyer doesn't want to hear the term `cult' at trial,"
Houston Chronicle, December 30, 1993.
403/ Sam Howe Verhovek, "Texas Sect Trial Spurs Scrutiny of
Government," New York Times, January 10, 1994, A10.
404/ "An Anonymous Jury is Seated in Trial of Branch
Davidians," Washington Post, January 12, 1994.
405/ Richard Perez-Pena, "U.S. Braces for a New Test by
Branch Davidians, in Court," New York Times, April 30, 1993.
406/ Jennifer Lenhart, "Report on flawed raid may aid
Davidians' defense, lawyer says," Houston Chronicle, October
407/ Sam Hone Verhovek, "Criticism of Raid Heartens Cult
Members," New York Times, October 1, 1993.
408/ Hugh Aynesworth, January 7, 1994, A7.
409/ New York Times, September 12, 1993.
410/ Associated Press wire story, October 2, 1993, 12:18
411/ BATF information submitted to June 9, 1993 House
Appropriations subcommittee hearing, p. 188.
412/ Richard Perez-Pena, "U.S. Braces for a New Test by
Branch Davidians, in Court," New York Times, April 30, 1993.
413/ Michael Hedges, "FBI fined for delays in trial of
Weaver," October 29, 1993.
414/ James L. Pate, "Waco's Defective Warrants," Soldier of
Fortune, August, 1993, page 74.
415/ Larry Pratt report, page 6.
416/ Houston Press, July 22, 1993.
417/ Richard Perez-Pena, April 30, 1993.
418/ Maury Povich television show, November 8, 1993.
419/ Howard Schneider, "Waco Cult Lawyers Prepare Themselves
for Long Legal Siege," Washington Post, March 26, 1993.
420/ Sam Hone Verhovek, "Texas Sect Trial Spurs Scrutiny of
Government," New York Times, January 10, 1994, A10.
421/ Andrew Blum, "Waco Tragedy Spawns Litigation," National
Law Journal, May 17, 1993.
422/ Associated Press wire story, May 11, 1993, 10:25 EDT.
423/ "Philadelphia faces trial in MOVE fire suit,"
Washington Times, January 5, 1994, A9.
424/ Leonard Zeskind, "And Now, The Hate Show," New York
Times, November 16, 1993.
425/ Associated Press story, "Ukraine cult waits in vain for
end of world," Washington Times, November 15, 1993 and
"Ukraine Seizes Chiefs of End-of-World Cult," New York
Times, November 12, 1993.
426/ "A botched mission in Waco, Texas," U.S. News and World
Report, March 15, 1993, page 26.
427/ Gustav Nieguhr, "Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: To Cults,
Badges Can Signal the End of Time," Washington Post, April,
428/ Larry Pratt report, pgs. 25-26.
429/ A copy of the letter can be obtained by contacting the
American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C.
430/ Walter Williams, "When Love of Liberty Lapses,"
Washington Times, October 22, 1993.
431/ Committee of 50 States, 4808 Quailbrook Circle, Salt
Lake City, UT 84118. Or contact Tom Wood, an attorney who
helped draft it, at 801-561-2200.
432/ Carlos Alberto Montaner, "Tribal conflicts and the U.N.
role", Washington Times, August 25, 1992.
433/ June 9, 1993, House Appropriations Subcommittee
hearing, pgs. 221-226.