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A Strategic Review:

Waco: Up From the Ashes

by John Loeffler

World Affairs Editor

The performance was called "Showtime."  It lasted 51 days and when it was over, more than three score Branch Davidians lay dead in their church home in Waco, Texas: dead from gunfire, smoke inhalation, fire and cyanide poisoning - dead by their own hand according to the federal government.  Many, however, doubted the official story, including the coroner, the sheriff, the Texas Rangers, the psychiatrist hired by the federal government to help prevent future Wacos, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, as well as a handful of news and talk commentators around the country.  Their investigation revealed a different story that the media didn't want to publish for six long, agonizing years: the years of the Waco whitewash.

Following the assault, the FBI bulldozed what was left of the compound, destroying evidence, much as they did at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.  Even the metal front door, a key piece of evidence in establishing who fired first, has never been found or if it was found, no one knows who has it.  Furthermore, the FBI confiscated evidence from local law enforcement agencies and attempts to obtain evidence for legal actions was met with stonewalling.
Last month, the FBI reversed its long-held claim that no incendiary devices were fired at the Branch Davidian church complex.  Until now the FBI maintained the Davidians set the fires that destroyed their home.  But now it seems, some expended devices were found in the ashen rubble of the compound!  This new revelation opens up the question: If the FBI lied about this one serious piece of evidence, how many more lies has it told regarding Waco?

The FBI's change of heart was probably not due to a nagging conscience.  This month, the Davidian survivor wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government goes to trial.  Much evidence implicating the FBI in criminal behavior at Waco has been surfacing during pre-trial discovery, and it was poised to become public knowledge during testimony.  The FBI's announcement seems to be more of a preemptive defensive strike.  Up to this point, the Justice Department has been stringently attempting to suppress evidence the Texas Rangers were struggling to enter into record regarding the federal government's role in the Waco siege.

During the siege, Americans were fed a continuous diet of tightly controlled information by the FBI.  Some reporters at the press meetings who asked hardball questions had their press credentials revoked.  No direct contact with the Davidians was allowed - they might shoot the reporters, of course.  The media diet consisted of the demonization of Koresh and the Davidians,  pronouncements that David Koresh was not cooperating (which FBI tapes of negotiations show to be false), as well as a series of statements which audits of government and media tapes have shown to be blatant lies. The mainline networks were more than happy to repeat the FBI's position in lock-step narrative.

For the record:  The whole affair started with a "knock" warrant to search for illegal firearms.  To serve this "knock" warrant, an army showed up.  This was unusual.  David Koresh had previously complied with other search warrants to inspect the church buildings, including investigations from child protective services.  He had actually offered to meet with the BATF to iron out any problems they might have and had been target shooting with two BATF agents just a few weeks before the raid.  Koresh was known to be in town frequently shopping, so he could have been picked up at any time without a struggle.

The BATF warrant made a large issue of child abuse.  However, child abuse is not under federal jurisdiction and the State of Texas had already investigated such charges twice with no charges or action.  This is confirmed by the local sheriff who knew the Davidians.

In starting the final assault, the FBI announced by loudspeaker that they were not making an assault and then proceeded to use a tank to break into and pump massive amounts of flammable CS gas into the compound. The FBI claims the Davidians started the fires.  However, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) footage shows tanks physically penetrating the buildings and demolishing sections, with fires breaking out shortly thereafter in those locations.  Given the incredible quantities of flammable CS gas, plus kerosene the Davidians used for cooking, by the time the tanks actually broke into the buildings, the place was a powder keg.

That the church has been so silent on this issue is tragic.  One may not agree with David Koresh's theology, but he was most definitely not the insane whacko that he was demonized to be.  In an age when politically correct thinking prevails and Christian beliefs are increasingly demonized as "hateful," how long will it be until other religious groups are subjected to similar treatment if the wrongs at Waco are not righted?  This may sound like paranoia, but let's face it, it already happened to one religious group.

*  *  *

To fully appreciate the issue, one needs to view the Academy Award-winning documentary, Waco: Rules of Engagement.  It should be noted that the jury at the Davidian criminal trial ruled the whole affair legitimate self-defense.  Jury foreman, Sarah Bain, said it was the federal government that should have been on trial and not the Davidians.

 


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