Waco Siege

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Waco Siege

The Mount Carmel Center in flames during the assault on April 19, 1993.
Date February 28 - April 19, 1993
Location Mount Carmel Center, Waco, Texas, United States
Result Raid: Shootout resulting in the ATF retreat
Assault: Buildings burned to the ground resulting in a massive number of deaths. Walls damaged by the FBI and the Davidians' stored ammunition and explosives increased the casualties
Flag of the United States United States Government
(ATF, FBI, Texas National Guard)
Flag of the Branch Davidians Branch Davidians
Stuart M. Gerson until March 12, 1993.
Janet Reno
Phil Chojnacki
Jeff Jamar
David Koresh (died during fire)
Raid (February 28):

75 ATF agents,
3 helicopters manned by 10 Texas National Guard counterdrug personnel as distraction during the raid and filming[1] [2]
ballistic protection equipment, fire retardant clothing, regular flashlights, regular cameras (i.e. flash photography), shotguns and flash bangs[3]

hundreds of federal agents,
100 PVF7B5 Night Vision Goggles[4]
2 UH-1 Helicopters[4]

Assault (April 23):
Hundreds of federal agents,
military vehicles (with their normal weapon systems removed): 9-10 M3 Bradleys, 4-5 M728 Combat Engineering Vehicles (CEVs) armed with CS gas, 2 M1A1 Abrams tanks, 1 M88 tank retriever[1][4]

1 Britten-Norman Defender surveillance aircraft [5],
unknown number of Texas National Guard personnel, for maintenance of military vehicles and training on the use of the vehicles and their support vehicles (Humvees and flatbed trucks),
surveillance from Texas National Guard Counterdrug UC-26 surveillance aircraft and from Alabama National Guard,
2 members of the 22nd Regiment of the British Army's Special Air Service (SAS) as observers,
10 active duty Special Forces soldiers as "observers" (sic) and trainers, also present during assault,
Two senior Army officers as advicers

50+ men (trained in the use of weapons)[6],

75+ women and children

243 total firearms, including two 50 caliber semi-automatic rifles, numerous tactical rifles (semiautomatic AK-47s and AR-15s), shotguns, revolvers and pistols[6]
46 semiautomatic firearms modified to fire in full automatic mode (included on above list): 22 M-16 Type Rifles, 20 AK-47 Type Rifles, 2 Heckler and Koch SP-89, 2 M-11/Nine[7]
two AR-15 lower receivers also modified to fire in full automatic mode[7]
4 Live M-21 Practice Hand Grenades[7]

Material bought prior to raid:[8][6]
16 handguns,
10 rifles
39 "full auto sears" devices used to convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons,
parts for fully automatic AK-47 and M16 rifles,
30 round magazines and 100 round magazines for M-16 and AK-47 rifles,
pouches to carry large ammunition magazines,
substantial quantities of ammunition of various sizes (including .50 caliber armor piercing ammunition, 10,000 rounds of 9 mm ammunition and 10,000 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition),
grenade launcher parts,
flare launchers,
K-bar fighting knives,
night vision equipment,
hundreds of practice hand grenades hulls and components (including 200+ Inert M31 Practice Rifle Grenades, 100+ Modified M-21 Practice Hand Grenade bodies, 219 Grenade Safety Pins, 243 Grenade Safety Levers found after the fire[7]),
kevlar helmets,
bullet proof vests
other similar equipment.
88 lower receivers for the AR-15 rifle
21 Sound suppressors or silencers (found after assault)[7]

Casualties and losses
raid: 4 dead[9]and 16 wounded

assault: none[citation needed]

raid: 6 dead[9] and 3+ wounded[citation needed]

assault: 80 dead [10](fire, falling roofs and death by gunshot)

The Waco Siege[11] (also known as the Waco Massacre[12] ) began on February 28, 1993 when the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) attempted to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel, a property located nine miles (14 km) east-northeast of Waco, Texas. An exchange of gunfire resulted in the deaths of four agents and six followers of David Koresh. A subsequent 51-day siege by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ended on April 19 when fire destroyed the compound. Seventy-six people (24 of them British nationals) [13] died in the fire, including more than 20 children and two pregnant women, along with Davidian leader Vernon Wayne Howell, better known as David Koresh.


[edit] History

The Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists (also known as "The Branch") are a Protestant sect that originated in 1955 from a schism in the Davidian Seventh Day Adventists ("Davidians"), a reform movement that began within the Seventh-day Adventist Church ("SDA") around 1930. As the group gained members, the leadership moved the church to a hilltop several miles west of Waco, which they named Mount Carmel, after a mountain on Israel mentioned in Joshua 19:26 in the Bible's Old Testament. A few years later, they moved again to a much larger site east of the city.

In 1959 Florence Houteff (widow of founding Prophet Victor Houteff) announced that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ was about to take place, and members were told to gather at the center to await this event. Many built houses, others stayed in tents, trucks or buses, and most sold their possessions.[14]

Following the failure of this prophecy, control of Mt. Carmel fell to Benjamin Roden, and on his death to his wife, Lois. Lois Roden considered their son, George, unfit to assume the position of prophet and groomed Vernon Howell, later known as David Koresh, as her chosen successor. On the death of Lois, George Roden ran Vernon Howell and his faction off Mt. Carmel at gun point. After George Roden was jailed for murder, the Howell faction paid the back taxes on Mt. Carmel and took control.

By 1992, most of the land belonging to the group had been sold, and most of the buildings had been removed, or were being salvaged for construction materials to convert much of the main chapel and a tall water tank into apartments for the resident members of the group. Many of the members of the group had been involved with the Davidians for a few generations, and many had large families.[15] The new Mount Carmel Center consisted of a main church building (constructed primarily of thin plywood, taking advantage of a lack of building codes at the time), administrative and storage buildings, and homes for the leadership and important visitors.

There is an ongoing controversy concerning whether or not David Koresh and his followers truly represented the reform movement that had been in existence for over 60 years at the time of the siege, and whether or not they had a right to use the name and property of the church. Though his followers numbered around 140 at the time of the siege, only about 20 of them and their children were associated with the church before he drew them away to follow his unique teachings and practices. A much greater number of the loosely organized church rejected his claims.

[edit] Accusations

On February 27, 1993 the Waco Tribune-Herald began the “Sinful Messiah” series of articles. It began, "If you are a Branch Davidian, Christ lives on a threadbare piece of land 10 miles east of here called Mount Carmel. He has dimples, claims a ninth-grade education, married his legal wife when she was 14, enjoys a beer now and then, plays a mean guitar, reportedly packs a 9mm Glock and keeps an arsenal of military assault rifles, and willingly admits that he is a sinner without equal."

The article alleged that Koresh had physically abused children in the compound and had taken multiple underage "brides" amounting to statutory rape. Koresh was also said to advocate polygamy for himself, and declared himself married to several female residents of the small community. According to the paper, Koresh declared he was entitled to at least 140 wives, that he was entitled to claim any of the females in the group as his, that he had fathered at least a dozen children by the harem and that some of these mothers became brides as young as 12 or 13 years old.

Reports from Joyce Sparks, an investigator from the Texas agency responsible for protective services, stated she had found significant evidence that the allegations were true in her visits to the Mount Carmel site over a period of months. However, she said the investigation was difficult, as she wasn't permitted to speak with the children alone, nor was she permitted to inspect all areas of the site. She noted that safety concerns over construction sites at Mount Carmel were either ignored or slowly corrected.

During the siege, the deprogrammer Rick Ross said, "[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." Rick Ross also advised the ATF that arresting Koresh at Mt. Carmel would likely provoke a violent response; Joyce Sparks also advised ATF against such action.

Besides allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, Koresh and his followers were accused of stockpiling illegal weapons. Authorities investigated these charges and obtained a warrant to search Koresh's compound.

Interviews with Koresh's surviving followers reveal that David Koresh was intimately versed in the Bible and "knew it like he wrote it". Koresh taught that the U.S. government was the enemy of the Davidians, and that they would have to defend themselves against it with weapons.

In a video made by Koresh's followers and released during the siege, Koresh stated he'd been told by God to procreate with the women in the group to establish a "House of David," his "Special People." This involved married couples in the group dissolving their marriages and agreeing that only Koresh could have sexual relations with the wives. On the tape, Koresh is also shown with several minors who claimed to have had babies fathered by Koresh. In total, Koresh had 14 children who stayed with him in the compound.

A video clip of an interview between Koresh and an Australian television station notes that he was accused of impregnating the aged widow of the founder of Branch Davidianism. He sarcastically said that if the charges were true, if he had "made a 62 year-old woman pregnant... I do miracles, I'm God!" He also stated at that time that he had not had any relationships with her, and called her "an ugly old hag".

[edit] Prelude

In May 1992, Chief Deputy Daniel Weyenberg of the McLennan County Sheriff's Department called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) notifying that his office had been contacted by the local United Parcel Service regarding a driver seeing a package that had broken open on delivery to the Branch Davidian residence, revealing that it contained firearms, inert grenade casings, and black powder. On June 9, 1992 a formal investigation was opened and a week later it was classified as sensitive, "thereby calling for a high degree of oversight" from both Houston and Headquarters (italics on the original).[16][17]

The documentary Inside Waco claims that the investigation started when in 1992 the ATF became concerned over reports of automatic gunfire coming from the Carmel compound.[18]

The ATF began surveillance from a house across the road from the compound several months before the siege, but their cover was noticeably poor (the "college students" were in their 30s, not registered at the local schools, and they did not keep a schedule which would have fit any legitimate employment or classes).[19] Subsequent investigations, including sending in one agent, Robert Rodriguez, undercover (whose identity Koresh learned, though he chose not to reveal that fact until the day of the raid), revealed that there were over 150 weapons and 8,000 rounds of ammunition in the compound. The weapons were in fact legal semi-automatics; however, the ATF alleged there were also a number of firearms that had been illegally modified to fire full-automatic.[18]

Davy Aguilera, the ATF agent that had prepared the affidavit, testified later in the trial that a neighbor heard machine-gun fire, but Aguilera failed to tell the magistrate that the same neighbor had previously reported the noise to the local Waco sheriff, who investigated the report. Koresh went to the sheriff and showed him a lawful item called a hellfire device, which allows a semi-automatic firearm to fire at a rate approaching that of fully automatic firearms. The affidavit was approved by a U.S. magistrate and was used as a basis for warrants.[20]

Alleging that the Davidians had violated federal law, the ATF obtained search and arrest warrants for Koresh and specific followers on weapons charges due to the many firearms they had accumulated. ATF had planned their raid for Monday March 1, 1993, with the code name "Showtime".[21] The ATF would later claim that the raid was moved up a day, to Sunday Feb 28, 1993, in response to the Waco Tribune-Herald "Sinful Messiah" article (which the ATF had tried to prevent from being published).[18] However, the plain text of the search warrant said it expired 28 Feb 1993 10:00pm and the Waco Herald Tribune had held off publishing "Sinful Messiah" at the request of the ATF for a month: when the Herald Tribune informed ATF they were finally publishing the series that weekend, the ATF did not request an extension of the delay or raise any objection to the publication. (Many of the ATF press releases on the Waco Siege were written at HQ and given to the news media without consulting the agents actually on the raid.)

Although ATF claimed that Koresh stayed inside the compound and could not be served with a warrant, Koresh was regularly seen jogging along the Waco roads and ate at local restaurants every week.

Despite being personally invited by Koresh on several occasions as early as July 30, 1992 to inspect the Davidians' weapons (eight months before the raid), and refusing, the ATF pursued a strongly confrontational policy. McClennan County Sheriff Harwell was convinced that if ATF had simply called Koresh, he would have shown at the county courthouse with his lawyer, Wayne Martin. Koresh told people that the Ruby Ridge Standoff of 21-31 Aug 1992 convinced him that the reason ATF refused his request was they were planning a raid regardless of what he did. Between July 1992 and Feb 1993, Koresh's sermons became increasingly apocalyptic.

The Davidian members were well known locally and had cordial relations with other locals. The Davidians partly supported themselves by trading at gun shows and took care always to have the relevant paperwork to ensure their transactions were legal.[22] Davidian Paul Fattah was a federal firearms licensed dealer (FFL) and the Davidians operated a retail gun business called the Mag Bag: the morning of the raid, Paul Fattah and son Kalani were on their way to the Austin, Texas, gun show to conduct business.

[edit] The raid

The ATF attempted to execute their search warrant on a Sunday morning, February 28, 1993. Any advantage of surprise was lost as a reporter, who had been tipped off about the raid, asked for directions from a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier who was Koresh's brother-in-law.[18] Koresh then told the ATF agent Robert Rodriguez, who had infiltrated the Branch Davidians (to his astonishment as he was not aware that his cover had been blown), that they knew a raid was coming. The agent made an excuse and left the compound. When asked later what the Davidians had been doing when he left the compound, Rodriguez replied, "They were praying". When the ATF rolled up to the front door of the compound, Koresh emerged unarmed and asked what they wanted. For unknown reasons, possibly the accidental discharge of a weapon by a member of the ATF personnel, the ATF opened fire with automatic weapons and Koresh disappeared back inside, injured.[23] Koresh and his male followers then began arming and taking up defensive positions, while the women and children were told to take cover in their rooms.[18] (Agents approached the site in cattle trailers pulled by pickup trucks owned by individual ATF agents. It is not known who fired the first shots, but perhaps understandably, each side later claimed it had been the other.[18] It is reported that the first firing occurred at the double front entry doors. (One door, riddled with bullet holes, was removed and lost very shortly after the siege's end). ATF agents stated that they heard shots coming from within the compound, while Branch Davidian survivors claimed that the first shots came from the ATF agents outside.)

Despite being informed that the Davidians knew the raid was coming, the ATF commander ordered that the raid go ahead, even though their plan had depended on reaching the compound without the Davidians having been armed.[18] While not standard procedure, ATF agents had their blood type written on their arms or neck after leaving the staging area and before the raid because it was recommended by the military to facilitate speedy blood transfusions in the case of injury.[24][9]

Within a minute of the raid starting, the Davidian Wayne Martin, a Harvard-educated lawyer with a wife and 7 children, who for 7 years was an assistant professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law, called Emergency services, pleading for them to stop shooting. The resident asked for a ceasefire, and audiotapes record him saying "Here they come again!" and "That's them shooting, that's not us!"

The local sheriff then attempted to contact the ATF force, but initially could not get through because the ATF communications officer had turned his radio off. Eventually the sheriff got through and negotiated a ceasefire.[18] This conflicts with Gazecki's documentary, where the sheriff of McLennan county at the time states that the ATF agents withdrew only once they were out of ammunition."[25]

After the ceasefire, the Davidians, who still had ample ammunition, allowed the dead and wounded to be removed and held their fire during the ATF retreat. ATF agents Steve Willis, Robert Williams, Todd McKeehan and Conway LeBleu were killed during the raid. Another 16 were wounded. Surviving Davidians claim that some ATF deaths and casualties were caused by 'friendly fire'. The Davidians killed were Winston Blake, Peter Gent, Peter Hipsman, Perry Jones and Jaydean Wendel. Michael Schroeder was shot dead by ATF agents who alleged he fired a pistol at agents as he attempted to re-enter the compound around 5 p.m. with Woodrow Kendrick and Norman Allison.[18] His wife claims that he was merely returning from work and had not participated in the day's earlier altercation."[25]

The local sheriff, in audiotapes broadcast after the incident, said he was not apprised of the raid.

Alan A. Stone's report states that the Davidians didn't ambush the ATF, that they "apparently did not maximize the kill of ATF agents" and that they were "willing to kill but not cold-blooded killers". It explains that they were rather "desperate religious fanatics expecting an apocalyptic ending, in which they were destined to die defending their sacred ground and destined to achieve salvation."[26].

[edit] Chronology of events February 28

Time Event
05:00 76 agents assemble at Fort Hood for the drive to the staging area at the Bellmead Civic Center. According to a later Treasury Department Review, the agents drove in an 80-vehicle convoy that stretched for a mile (1.6 km) with a cattle trailer at either end.
09:45 ATF agents move in on the compound. A gun battle begins.
09:48 Branch Davidian Wayne Martin, a Waco attorney, calls 9-1-1.
11:30 Ceasefire reached.
16:00 (4:00 p.m.) The first message from Koresh is relayed over KRLD Radio In Dallas.
16:55 (4:55 p.m.) Michael Schroeder is shot dead returning to the compound.
17:00 (5:00 p.m.) ATF spokesman Ted Royster says gunfire has continued sporadically through the afternoon.
19:30 (7:30 p.m.) David Koresh is interviewed by CNN. The FBI instructs CNN not to conduct further interviews.
20:15 (8:15 p.m.) ATF spokesperson Sharon Wheeler says negotiations continue with Davidians and gunfire has ended.
22:00 (10:00 p.m.) By now 4 children have exited (2 Sonobe children, 2 Fagan children).
22:05 (10:05 p.m.) Koresh talks for about 20 minutes on KRLD, describing his beliefs and saying he is the most seriously wounded of the Davidians.

[edit] Koresh and the media

Prior to the ATF siege, relatively few people had heard of the Branch Davidians. During the course of the siege, the media, relying on the input of a host of experts who volunteered services, portrayed the Branch Davidians to be fanatical and, at times, criminal. Interviews conducted within the compound, as well as reports from family members, contradicted this image. Some believe the media hype influenced both the FBI and the ATF and the strategies they employed during the siege.[citation needed]

Carol Moore, author of the 1994 online report "The Massacre Of The Branch Davidians — A Study Of Government Violations Of Rights, Excessive Force And Cover Up", writes about one of the "experts" quoted by the media, Rick Ross:

One such deprogrammer is Rick Ross, a convicted jewel thief, who has boasted of more than 200 "deprogrammings." ... In the summer of 1993 Rick Ross was indicted in Washington state for unlawful imprisonment. ... Ross definitely deprogrammed one (and possibly more) of the Branch Davidians who fed questionable but damaging evidence to ATF. 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 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 19 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.

[edit] The siege

ATF agents established contact with Koresh and others inside the compound after they withdrew. The FBI took command soon after as a result of the deaths of federal agents. They placed Jeff Jamar, head of the Bureau's San Antonio field office, in charge of the siege. The tactical team was headed by Richard Rogers, who had previously been criticized for his actions at the Ruby Ridge incident.

For the next 51 days, communication with those inside was by telephone by a group of 25 FBI negotiators.[18] The final Justice Department report found that negotiators criticized the tactical commanders for undercutting negotiations.[27]

In the first few days the FBI believed they had made a breakthrough when they negotiated with Koresh an agreement that the Davidians would peacefully leave the compound in return for a message, recorded by Koresh, being broadcast on national radio.[18] The broadcast was made, but Koresh then told negotiators that God had told him to remain in the building and "wait".[18]

Despite this, soon afterwards negotiators managed to facilitate the release of 19 children, ranging in age from five months to 12 years old, without their parents.[14] These children were released in groups of two. This was considered an allusion to Noah's Ark by Koresh, while 98 people remained in the building.[18] The children were then interviewed by the FBI and Texas Rangers, allegedly for hours at a time.[14] The children had been physically and sexually abused long before the standoff[28], and it was one of the key reasons given to both President Bill Clinton and Janet Reno as justification for launching tear gas on the compound to force the Davidians out.[29]

On day nine the Davidians released a video tape to show the FBI that there were no hostages, but in fact everyone seemingly was staying inside on their own free will. This video also included a message from Koresh.[18] Videos also showed the 23 children still inside Ranch Apocalypse, and child care professionals on the outside prepared to take care of those children as well as the previous 21 released.[14]

As the siege continued, Koresh negotiated more time, allegedly so he could write religious documents he said he needed to complete before he surrendered. His conversations, dense with biblical imagery, alienated the federal negotiators who treated the situation as a hostage crisis.

As the siege wore on, two factions developed within the FBI,[18] one believing negotiation to be the answer, the other, force. Increasingly aggressive techniques were used to try to make the Davidians leave. Outside the compound nine disarmed Bradley Fighting Vehicles and five M-60 combat engineering vehicles (CEVs) obtained from the US Army began patrolling.[18] The armored vehicles were used to destroy perimeter fencing and outbuildings and crush cars and children's bicycles belonging to the Davidians. Music (heavily distorted) and disturbing sounds including the squeals of a rabbit being slaughtered[29] were played at very high volume.[18] Eventually all power and water was cut to the compound and 2 of the 3 water storage tanks on the roof of the main building were shot at and holed, forcing those inside to survive on rain water and stockpiled United States Army Meal, Ready-to-Eat rations.[18]

Criticism was later leveled at the tactic of using sleep and peace-disrupting sound against the Davidians by Schneider's attorney, Jack Zimmerman:

The point was this - they were trying to have sleep disturbance and they were trying to take someone that they viewed as unstable to start with, and they were trying to drive him crazy. And then they got mad 'cos he does something that they think is irrational![30]

Despite the increasingly aggressive tactics, Koresh ordered a group of followers to leave. Eleven people left and were arrested as material witnesses, with one person charged with conspiracy to murder.[18]

The children's willingness to stay with Koresh disturbed the negotiators who were unprepared to work around the Davidians' religious zeal. However, as the siege went on, the children were aware that an earlier group of children who had left with some women were immediately separated, and the women arrested.

During the siege a number of scholars who study Apocalypticism in religious groups attempted to persuade the FBI that the siege tactics being used by government agents would only create the impression within the Davidians that they were part of a Biblical "end-of-times" confrontation that had cosmic significance.[31] This would likely increase the chances of a violent and deadly outcome. The religious scholars pointed out that while on the outside, the beliefs of the group may have appeared to be extreme, to the Davidians, their religious beliefs were deeply meaningful, and they were willing to die for them.[31]

Koresh's discussions with the negotiating team became increasingly difficult. He proclaimed that he was the second coming of Christ and had been commanded by his father in heaven to remain in the compound.[18]

[edit] The final assault

Remains of a swimming pool are left on the grounds

The FBI suggested that the Davidians might commit mass suicide, as had happened at Jonestown where 900 people killed themselves at their leader's behest, although Koresh had repeatedly denied any plans for this when confronted by negotiators during the standoff, and people escaping the compound hadn't seen any such preparation.[32] The newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno approved recommendations by the FBI to mount an assault after being told that conditions were deteriorating and that children were being abused inside the compound.[28] Because the Davidians were heavily armed, the FBI's arms included .50 caliber (12.7 mm) rifles and armored vehicles (CEVs). The assault took place on April 19.

Combat Engineering tanks used booms to puncture holes in the walls of buildings of the compound so as to pump in CS gas ("tear gas") and try to flush out the Davidians without harming them. The stated plan called for increasing amounts of gas to be pumped in over two days to increase pressure. Officially, no armed assault was to be made, and loudspeakers were used to tell the Davidians that there would be no armed assault and to ask them not to fire on the vehicles. When several Davidians allegedly opened fire, the FBI's response was to increase the amount of gas being used.[18]

After more than six hours no Davidians had left the building, sheltering instead in a cinder block room within the building or using gas masks.[33] The official FBI claim is that CEVs were used to punch large holes in the building to provide exits for those inside. Most Davidians dispute this claim because the "exits" were blocked by debris, structurally unstable, elevated and largely inaccessible due to smoke and large quantities of tear gas.[citation needed] Several Davidians were blocked when a floor above collapsed, and nearly all Davidians said they feared being shot were they to leave.[citation needed]

At around noon, three fires were deliberately started by Davidians almost simultaneously in different parts of the building.[34][18] As the fire spread, Davidians were prevented from escaping; others refused to leave and eventually became trapped. In all, only nine people left the building during the fire.[34][18]

The remaining Davidians, including children, were either buried alive by rubble caused by the fire, or shot by their own side (the position of the bodies suggests that some of them were 'mercy killed' by their own Davidian people).[citation needed] Only one person shooting from the tower was shot by a ATF sniper[34]). Many suffocated by carbon monoxide inhalation[34] and other causes[34] as fire engulfed the building. Footage of the incident was being broadcast worldwide via television. In all, 75 died (50 adults and 25 children under the age of 15), 9 survived the fire, 5 were killed and buried between the initial assault and standoff, and 35 had already left during the standoff.[34]

Nothing remains of the buildings today, as the entire site was bulldozed by the ATF two weeks after the end of the siege. Only a small chapel, built years after the siege, stands on the site.[18] Despite significant primary source video, much dispute remains as to the actual events of the siege.

[edit] Chronology of events April 19

Time Event
05:50 Agents call Davidian compound to warn they are going to begin tank activity and advise residents "to take cover". Agents say the Davidian who answered the phone didn't reply, but instead threw the phone and phone line out of the front door.
05:55 FBI Hostage Rescue Team deploys two armored combat engineering vehicles (CEV) to the buildings. CEV1 goes to the left of the buildings, CEV2 to the right.[35]
06:00 Surveillance tapes[specify] record a man inside the compound saying "Everybody wake up, let's start to pray", then, "Pablo have you poured it yet" ..."Huh" ... "Have you poured it yet"... "in the hallway"... "things are poured, right?" CEV1 receives orders to spray two bottles of tear gas into left corner of building.[35]
06:04 Armored vehicle with ram and delivery device to pump tear gas into building with pressurized air rips into front wall just left of front door leaving a hole 8 feet (2.4 m) high and 10 feet (3.0 m) wide. Agents claimed the holes not only allowed insertion of the gas, but also provided a means of escape. Agents allege that 75 rounds are fired from inside building at this time.[citation needed] Agent sees shots from inside the compound directed at CEVs.[35]
06:10 Surveillance tapes[specify] record "don't pour it all out, we might need some later"... "throw the tear gas back out" FBI negotiator Byron Sage is recorded saying "It's time for people to come out." Surveillance tapes[specify] records a man saying "what?" then, "no way."
06:12 Surveillance tapes[specify] record Davidians saying "They're gonna kill us", then "They don't want to kill us."
06:31 The entire building is gassed.[35]
06:47 FBI fires plastic, nonincendiary tear gas rounds through windows.[35]
07:23 Surveillance tapes[specify] record a male Davidian saying, "The fuel has to go all around to get started." Then a second male says, "Well, there are two cans here, if that's poured soon."
07:30 CEV1 is redeployed, breaching the building and inserting tear gas. Davidians fire shots at CEV1.[35]
07:48 On tapes of the siege, FBI agent requests permission to fire military-style tear gas shells to break through underground concrete bunker. Gets permission, fires two shells.[35].
07:58 CEV2, with battering ram, rips hole into second floor of compound and then minutes later another hole is punched into the backside of one of the buildings of the compound. The vehicles then withdraw.[35]
08:08 Agent in CEV reports that one military shell bounced off bunker, did not penetrate.[35]
08:24 Audio portion of FBI videotape ends, at request of pilot.[35]
09:00 The Davidians unfurl a banner which reads "We want our phone fixed."
09:13 CEV1 breaks through front door to deliver more gas.[35]
09:16 Surveillance tapes[specify] record conversation between two males identified as David Koresh and Steve Schneider[citation needed].
Koresh: "They got two cans of Coleman fuel down there? Huh?"
Schneider: "Empty"
Koresh: "All of it?"
Schneider: "Nothing left."
10:00 A man is seen waving a white flag on the southeast side of the compound. He is advised over loudspeakers that if he is surrendering he should come out. He doesn't. At the same time a man believed to be Schneider comes out to retrieve the phone and phone line.
11:30 More gas inserted through front, punching another big hole;[citation needed] original CEV2 has mechanical difficulties (damaged tread), replacement breaches through back side of compound.[35]
11:43 Another gas insertion takes place, with the armored vehicle moving well into the building to reach the concrete interior room where the FBI believe Davidians are trying to avoid gas.
11:45 Wall on right rear collapses.[35]
12:03 Armored vehicle turret knocks away first floor corner on right side.
12:07 First visible flames appear in two spots in the front of the building, first on the left of the front door on the second floor (a wisp of smoke then a small flicker of flame) then a short time later on the far right side of the front of the building, and at a third spot on the back side. Agents say Branch Davidian members ignited the fires, alleging that observers saw a man dressed in black bend over with cupped hands and then saw flames as he lifted his hands.
12:09 Ruth Riddle exits with computer disk in her jacket containing Koresh's Manuscript on the Seven Seals. Third fire detected on first floor.[35]
12:10 Flames spread quickly through entire building, fanned by high winds. The building burns very quickly.
12:12 Emergency telephone number call placed for fire department. Two Waco FD trucks are dispatched. Shortly after, Bellmead FD dispatches two trucks.
12:22 Waco fire trucks arrive at checkpoint where they are halted;[citation needed] Bellmead follows shortly after.
12:25 There is a large explosion on the left side. One object hurtles into air, bounces off the top of white bus and lands on grass.
12:30 Part of the roof collapses. Around this time there are several further explosions and witnesses report the sound of gunfire, attributed by the FBI to live ammunition cooking off throughout the buildings because of fire.
12:43 Fire trucks arrive in compound according to fire department logs.
12:55 Fire begins to burn out, compound leveled.
15:45 Law enforcement source says David Koresh is dead.

[edit] Aftermath

Various gun-control groups, such as Handgun Control Incorporated and the Violence Policy Center have claimed that the Branch Davidans had used .50 caliber rifles and that therefore these types of firearms should be banned.[36][37] Nevertheless, the evidence of this is unclear; the US Treasury Department, in a memorandum to the press dated July 13, 1995 titled "Weapons Possessed by the Branch Davidians", provided an inventory of all the firearms and firearm-related items that were recovered from the Branch Davidian's compound, which claims no .50 caliber rifles or machine guns were recovered, only 4 magazines, 3 magazine springs and belt links for .50 caliber weapons were listed.[7] Several years later, the General Accounting Office in response to a request from Henry Waxman released a briefing paper titled, "Criminal Activity Associated with .50 Caliber Semiautomatic Rifles" which claims that the Branch Davidians used .50 rifles.[38] The GAO's claim is based on an unsourced BATF claim that the Branch Davidians fired on the BATF with a .50 rifle. There has not been a reconciliation between the Treasury Department's account and the GAO's.

[edit] Trial

The events at Waco spurred both criminal prosecution and civil litigation. On August 3, 1993, a federal grand jury returned a superseding 10-count indictment against twelve of the surviving Davidians. The grand jury charged, among other things, that the Davidians had conspired to, and aided and abetted in, murder of federal officers, and had unlawfully possessed and used various firearms.

The Government dismissed the charges against one of the twelve Davidians, Kathryn Schroeder, pursuant to a plea bargain. After a jury trial lasting nearly two months, the jury acquitted four of the Davidians on all counts with which they were charged. Additionally, the jury acquitted all of the Davidians on the murder-related charges, but convicted five of them on the lesser-included offense of aiding and abetting the voluntary manslaughter of federal agents.[39] Eight Davidians were convicted on firearms charges.

The convicted Davidians, who received sentences of up to 40 years[40], were:

  • Kevin A. Whitecliff—convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
  • Jaime Castillo—convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
  • Paul Gordon Fatta—convicted of conspiracy to possess machine guns and aiding Davidian leader David Koresh in possessing machine guns.
  • Renos Lenny Avraam (British national)—convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
  • Graeme Leonard Craddock (Australian national)—convicted of possessing a grenade and using or possessing a firearm during a crime.
  • Brad Eugene Branch—convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
  • Livingstone Fagan (British national) —convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
  • Ruth Riddle (Canadian national)—convicted of using or carrying a weapon during a crime.
  • Kathryn Schroeder—sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of forcibly resisting arrest.

24 British nationals were among the 76 fatalities. Two more British nationals who survived the massacre were immediately arrested as "material witnesses" and imprisoned without trial for months.[41] One, Derek Lovelock, was held in McLennan County Jail for seven months, often in solitary confinement.[42] Livingston Fagan, another British citizen, who was among those convicted and imprisoned, recounts multiple beatings at the hands of prison guards, particularly at Leavenworth. He claims to have been doused with cold water from a high-pressure hose, which soaked both him and the contents and bedding of his cell, after which an industrial fan was placed outside the cell, blasting him with cold air. He was repeatedly moved between at least nine different facilities. He was strip-searched every time he took exercise, so refused exercise. Released and deported back to UK in July 2007, he still holds on to his religious beliefs.[43] Six of the eight Davidians appealed both their sentences and their convictions. They raised a host of issues, challenging the constitutionality of the prohibition on possession of machine guns, the jury instructions, the district court’s conduct of the trial, the sufficiency of the evidence, and the sentences imposed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated the defendants’ sentences for use of machine guns, determining that the district court had made no finding that they had “actively employed” the weapons. The Court of Appeals left the verdict undisturbed in all other respects.[citation needed] United States v. Branch, 91 F.3d 699 (5th Cir. 1996), cert. denied (1997).

On remand, the district court found that the defendants had actively employed machine guns, and re-sentenced five of them to substantial prison terms. The defendants again appealed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. United States v. Castillo, 179 F.3d 321 (5th Cir. 1999). The Davidians pressed this issue before the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the term “machine gun” in the relevant statute created an element of the offense to be determined by a jury, rather than a sentencing factor to be determined by a judge, as had happened in the trial court. Castillo v. United States, 530 U.S. 120 (2000). On September 19, 2000 Judge Walter Smith followed the Supreme Court's instructions and cut 25 years from the sentences of 5 convicted Davidians and five years from the sentence of another.[44] All Davidians were released from prison as of July 2007.[45]

Several of the surviving Davidians, as well as more than a hundred family members of those who had died or were injured in the confrontation, brought civil suits against the United States Government, numerous federal officials, the former governor of Texas, and members of the Texas National Guard. They sought monetary damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), civil rights statutes, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and Texas state law. The bulk of these claims were dismissed because they were insufficient as a matter of law or because the plaintiffs could advance no material evidence in support of them. Only FTCA claims related to the initial raid on the compound, the actions of the FBI during the insertion of tear gas on April 19, 1993, and the final fire proceeded to trial.[citation needed]

The court, after a month-long trial, rejected the Davidians’ case. The court found that, on February 28, 1993, the Davidians initiated a gun battle when they fired at federal officers who were attempting to serve lawful warrants[citation needed]. ATF agents returned gunfire to the building, the court ruled, in order to protect themselves and other agents from death or serious bodily harm. The court found that the government's planning of the siege – i.e. the decisions to use tear gas against the Davidians; to insert the tear gas by means of military tanks; and to omit specific planning for the possibility that a fire would erupt – was a discretionary function for which the government could not be sued. The court also found that the use of tear gas was not negligent. Further, even if the United States Government were negligent by causing damage to the buildings before the fires broke out, thus either blocking escape routes or enabling the fires to speed faster, that negligence did not legally cause the plaintiffs' injuries because the Davidians started the fires. The court found that the FBI's decision not initially to allow fire trucks on the property was reasonable because of the risk of injury or death to firefighters who might encounter hostile gunfire from the Davidian building.[citation needed]

The Davidians appealed. Their only serious contention was that the trial court judge, Walter S. Smith, Jr., should have recused himself from hearing their claims on account of his relationships with defendants, defense counsel, and court staff; prior judicial determinations; and comments during trial. The Fifth Circuit concluded that these allegations did not reflect conduct that would cause a reasonable observer to question Judge Smith’s impartiality, and it affirmed the take-nothing judgment.[citation needed] Andrade v. Chojnacki, 338 F.3d 448 (5th Cir. 2003), cert. denied (2004).

[edit] British nationals killed or injured during the siege

33 British citizens were among the members of the Branch Davidians during the siege. 24 died, including at least one child. The following is an incomplete list[29]:

  • Derek Lovelock, arm burned during escape from compound on Day 51, detained for 200 days at McClennan County Jail, later released.
  • Norman Allison, Manchester, arrested outside compound on Day 1, detained at McClennan for 8 months.
  • Renos Avraam, London, detained at McClennan 4 months, then sentenced to 40 years.
  • Livingstone Fagan, a social worker and Theology MA, from Nottingham. Left compound to talk to press on Day 30, detained at McClennan for 7 months, then sentenced to 40 years. His 2 small daughters also left the compound.
  • Yvette Fagan, Livingstone's wife, died on Day 51.
  • Doris Fagan, Livingstone's mother, died on Day 51.
  • Zilla Henry, nurse, Nottingham, died on Day 51.
  • Phillip Henry, Zilla's husband, died on Day 51.
  • Novellette Hipsman, died on Day 51.
  • Winston "Bigboy" Blake, decorator, Nottingham, died in his bedroom on Day 1 during the initial ATF attack.
  • Beverley Elliot, Nottingham, girlfriend of Winston Blake, died on Day 51.
  • Sue Benta, Nottingham, died on Day 51.
  • Malcolm "Stone" Livingstone, London, a cousin of Bob Marley, died on Day 51.
  • Marjorie Thomas, London, sustained 50% burns on Day 51 but survived.
  • Rose Morrison, died on Day 51.
  • Mellisa Morrison, infant daughter of Rose, died on Day 51.
  • Victoria Hollingsworth, London, died on Day 51.

[edit] Controversies

[edit] Who fired first?

Helicopters had been obtained from the Texas National Guard on the pretext that there was a drug laboratory at Mount Carmel.[2] There were, however, no drug related charges on the arrest warrant served on the morning of February 28, 1993."[46][47]. While the official version of events has always stated that the helicopters were merely used as a diversion, and that the Davidians were not targeted by sharpshooters within them, in transcripts of the negotiations, one negotiator admitted that the occupants were armed and that they might have opened fire:

Koresh: "No! Let me tell you something. That may be what you want the media to believe, but there's other people that saw too! Now, tell me Jim, again - you're honestly going to say those helicopters didn't fire on any of us?"
Jim Cavanaugh: "What I'm saying is the helicopters didn't have mounted guns. Ok? I'm not disputing the fact that there might have been fire from the helicopters."[48]

An Austin Chronicle article noted, "Long before the fire, the Davidians were discussing the evidence contained in the doors. During the siege, in a phone conversation with the FBI, Steve Schneider, one of Koresh's main confidants, told FBI agents that "the evidence from the front door will clearly show how many bullets and what happened." [49] Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin, who went inside Mount Carmel during the siege, testified at the trial that protruding metal on the inside of the right-hand entry door made it clear that the bullet holes were made by incoming rounds. DeGuerin also testified that only the right-hand entry door had bullet holes, while the left-hand entry door was intact. The government presented the left-hand entry door at the trial, claiming that the right-hand entry door had been lost. The left-hand door contained numerous bullet holes made by both outgoing and incoming rounds. Texas Trooper Sgt. David Keys testified that he witnessed two men loading what could have been the missing door into a U-Haul van shortly after the siege had ended, but he did not see the object itself. And Michael Caddell, the lead attorney for the Davidians' wrongful death lawsuit explained, "The fact that the left-hand door is in the condition it's in tells you that the right-hand door was not consumed by the fire. It was lost on purpose by somebody." Caddell offered no evidence to support this allegation, which has never been proved. [49] However, fire investigators[specify] stated that it was "extremely unlikely" that the steel right door could have suffered damage in the fire much greater than did the steel left door, and both doors would have been found together.[citation needed] The right door remains missing, and the entire site was under close supervision by law enforcement officials until the debris -- including both doors -- had been removed.[citation needed]

[edit] The fire

Critics suggest that during the final raid the CS gas was injected into the building by armored vehicles in an unsafe manner, which could have started a fire. While two of the three fires were started well inside the building, away from where the CS gas was pumped in, survivor David Thibodeau claimed in a 1999 interview with Reason Magazine that damage to the building allowed the gas to spread, stating that "They started to break the walls, break the windows down, spread the CS gas out."

Attorney General Reno had specifically directed that no pyrotechnic devices be used in the assault.[35] Between 1993 and 1999, FBI spokesmen denied (even under oath) the use of any sort of pyrotechnic devices during the assault; however, pyrotechnic Flite-Rite CS gas grenades had been found in the rubble immediately following the fire. In 1999, FBI spokesmen were forced to admit that they had used the grenades, however they claimed that these devices, which dispense CS gas through an internal burning process, had been used during an early morning attempt to penetrate a covered, water-filled construction pit 40 yards away,[35] and were not fired into the building itself. According to FBI claims, the fires started approximately three hours after the grenades had been fired.[35] When the FBI's documents were turned over to Congress for an investigation in 1994, the page listing the use of the pyrotechnic devices was missing.[35] The failure for six years to disclose the use of pyrotechnics despite her specific directive led Reno to demand an investigation.[35] A senior FBI official told Newsweek that as many as 100 FBI agents had known about the use of pyrotechnics, but no one spoke up until 1999.[35]

The Branch Davidians had given ominous warnings involving fire on several occasions. [50] This may or may not be indicative of the Davidians' future actions, but was the basis for the conclusion of Congress that the fire was started by the Davidians, "absent any other potential source of ignition." This was prior to the FBI admission that pyrotechnics were used, but a yearlong investigation by the Office of the Special Counsel after that admission nonetheless reached the same conclusion, and no further congressional investigations followed.

On May 12, less than a month after the incident, Texas state authorities bulldozed the site, rendering further gathering of forensic evidence impossible.

[edit] Escaping from the fire

A large concentration of bodies, weapons and ammunition were found in the bunker. The arson report assumes that many of the occupants were either denied escape from within or refused to leave until escape was not an option.[51] The arson report also mentions that the structural debris from the breaching operations on the west end of the building could have blocked a possible escape route through the tunnel system.[51]

An independent investigation concluded that the compound residents had sufficient time to escape the fire, if they had so desired.[34]

[edit] Evaluation by FBI of mass suicide possibility

The FBI received contradictory reports on the possiblity of Koresh's suicide and wasn't sure about whether he would commit suicide.[32] The evidence made them believe that there was no possibility of mass suicide, with Koresh and Scheinider repeatedly denying to the negotiators that they had plans to commit mass suicide, and people leaving the compound saying that they had seen no preparations for such a thing.[32] There was a possibility that some of his followers would follow Koresh if he committed suicide.[32]

According to Alan A. Stone's report, during the siege the FBI used an incorrect psychiatric perspective to evaluate Davidians' responses, which caused them to over-rely on Koresh's statements that they wouldn't commit suicide. They treated the Davidians as if they were a band of criminals, a military force or, generically, as the aggressor. The Davidians were instead

"an unconventional group in an exalted, disturbed, and desperate state of mind (...) devoted to David Koresh as the Lamb of God (...) willing to die defending themselves in an apocalyptic ending and, in the alternative, to kill themselves and their children (...) neither psychiatrically depressed, suicidal people nor cold-blooded killers (...) ready to risk death as a test of their faith." and should have been evaluated as such. According to Stone, this caused the FBI to not make the pertinent questions to Koresh and to others on the compound about whether they were planning a mass suicide. A more pertinent question would have been
"What will you do if we tighten the noose around the compound in a show of overwhelming power, and using CS gas, force you to come out?"[26].

[edit] Autopsies

Autopsies of the dead revealed that some women and children found beneath a fallen concrete wall of a storage room died of skull injuries. Photographs taken after the fire show that the M728 CEV that penetrated the building while injecting CS gas did not come close enough to cause the collapse, which was more likely the result of the fire; photographs show signs of spalling on the concrete, which suggests that it was damaged by the intense heat.

Autopsy photographs of other children locked in what appear to be spasmic death poses are consistent with cyanide poisoning, one of the results produced by burning CS gas.[25] The DOJ report indicated that only one body had traces of benzene, one of the components of solvent-dispersed CS gas, but that the gas insertions had finished nearly one hour before the fire ended, and that it was enough time for solvents to dissipate from the bodies of the Davidians that had inhaled the tear gas.[52]

Autopsy records indicate that at least 20 Davidians were shot, including six children under the age of 14, and three-year-old Dayland Gent was stabbed in the chest. The expert retained by the Office of Special Counsel concluded that many of the gunshot wounds "support self-destruction either by overt suicide, consensual execution (suicide by proxy), or less likely, forced execution." [53] Another explanation, offered by survivor Clyde Doyle (himself a burn victim) is that the gunshots were mercy killings. In a 1995 press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Doyle stated that

"I can understand why someone would end the suffering of someone, especially a child, who had been gassed and was burning to death. That makes more sense than these claims of a 'suicide pact.' The people who are saying that have never been on fire." (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

[edit] Documentary films and related issues

In 1993 Ross and Green, a lobbying firm associated with The New Alliance Party, produced a report blaming the siege on the influence of the Cult Awareness Network.[54]

The Waco siege has been the subject of a number of documentary films:

The first documentary was a made for television film, In the Line of Duty: Ambush at Waco, which was made before the final assault on the church and essentially promoted the government's view of the initial ambush. The scriptwriter, Phil Penningroth, has since disowned his screenplay.

The first documentary film that was critical of the official reports was Waco: The Big Lie, [55] produced by Linda Thompson followed by Waco II: The Big Lie Continues. The Linda Thompson videos were controversial and made a number of allegations, the most famous of which was footage of a tank with what appears to be light reflected from it; Thompson's narration claimed this was a flame-thrower attached to the tank. Thompson's subsequent activities, such as declaring an armed march on Washington, D.C. and her denunciation of many other researchers into the Waco siege as part of a cover-up, limited her credibility in most circles.

Michael McNulty, of the Citizens' Organization for Public Safety, released footage showing the "flame" to have been a reflection on aluminized insulation that was torn from the wall and snagged on the M728 CEV, which is a vehicle that does not come equipped with a flamethrower. In fact, no flamethrowers were in service in the US military at the time or even today.

Thompson's "creative editing" was exposed by the film Waco: An Apparent Deviation (produced by Michael McNulty, as the result of a comprehensive investigation by people associated with COPS).

The next film was Day 51: The True Story of Waco, which featured Ron Cole, a self-proclaimed militia member from Colorado who was later prosecuted for weapons violations. [56][dead link] The Linda Thompson and Ron Cole films, along with extensive coverage given to the Waco siege on some talk radio shows, galvanized support for the Branch Davidians among some sections of the right including the Nascent Militia Movement, while critics on the left also denounced the government siege on civil liberties grounds.

Timothy McVeigh cited the Waco incident as a primary motivation for the Oklahoma City bombing[57] and was known to be a fan of both the Linda Thompson and Ron Cole videos.[citation needed] In March 1993, McVeigh drove from Arizona to Waco in order to observe firsthand the federal standoff. Along with other protesters, he was photographed by the F.B.I.[58]

Mainstream media tended to discount the critical views presented in early documentary films, because they were seen as coming from the political fringes of the right and left.[citation needed] This changed in 1997, when professional film makers Dan Gifford and Amy Sommer produced their Emmy Award winning documentary, Waco: The Rules of Engagement.[46] This film presents a history of the Branch Davidian movement and, most importantly, a critical examination of the conduct of law enforcement, both leading up to the raid and through the aftermath of the fire. The film features footage of the Congressional hearings on Waco, and juxtaposition of official government spokespeople with footage and evidence often directly contradicting the government spokespeople. The documentary also shows infra-red footage demonstrating that the FBI likely used incendiary devices to start the fire which consumed the building and that the FBI did indeed fire on, and kill, Branch Davidians attempting to flee the fire.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement was nominated for a 1997 Academy Award for best documentary and was followed by another film: Waco: A New Revelation. [59]

Subsequent government-funded studies [60] contend that the infra-red evidence does not support the view that the FBI improperly used incendiary devices or fired on Branch Davidians. Infra-red experts continue to disagree, and film maker Amy Sommer stands by the original conclusions presented in the Waco: The Rules of Engagement documentary.

America Wake Up (Or Waco) was another film released in 2000 by Alex Jones which documents the 1993 Waco incident with the Branch Davidians.

Wako-Shaman is a song by Spanish-pop singer Miguel Bose, and it was included in his 1993 studio album Bajo el signo de Cain (Under the Sign of Cain). The song refers to David Koresh's claim that his was "the Chosen One", and the events that led to the Waco Siege.

The Assault on Waco was released on September 16, 2006 on the Discovery channel, and it details the entire attack on Waco.

Professor Kenneth Newport's book, "The Branch Davidians of Waco" (2006), claims that starting the fire themselves was consistent with the Branch Davidians' theology.

Inside Waco is an Anglo-American documentary that attempts to show what really happened inside by piecing together accounts from the parties involved. It was produced jointly by Channel 4 and HBO. It aired on More4 in the UK on February 1, 2007 and then February 10, 2007.

The fourth section of John Updike's 1996 novel, In the Beauty of the Lilies, is a fictional account of the Branch Dividians and the events of the siege recounted through the eyes of a man who joined the cult two years previously.

In 1999, the television show South Park released an episode titled "Two Guys Naked in a Hot Tub." In the episode, the ATF stakes out a house full of party-goers whom they suspected of being a cult on the verge of committing a mass-suicide in parody of the ATF's handling of the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas.

The 2003 video game Postal 2 features scene of a cult group being surrounded by ATF agents at "the compound". The place of this event is modeled almost exactly as the Mount Carmel Center.

There is a fictionalized account of the incident (taking many liberties with the facts) in John Updike's 1996 novel "In the Beauty of the Lilies."

[edit] Investigation and the Danforth Report

By 1999, as a result of certain aspects of the documentaries discussed above, as well as allegations made by advocates for Davidians during litigation, public opinion held that the federal government had engaged in serious misconduct at Waco. A Time magazine poll conducted on August 26, 1999, for example, indicated that 61 percent of the public believed that federal law enforcement officials started the fire at the Branch Davidian complex. In September of that year, Attorney General Janet Reno appointed former United States Senator John C. Danforth as Special Counsel to investigate the matter. In particular, the Special Counsel was directed to investigate charges that government agents started or spread the fire at the Mt. Carmel complex, directed gunfire at the Branch Davidians, and unlawfully employed the armed forces of the United States.

A yearlong investigation ensued, during which the Office of the Special Counsel interviewed 1,001 witnesses, reviewed over 2.3 million pages of documents, and examined thousands of pounds of physical evidence. In the final Danforth Report of November 8, 2000, Special Counsel Danforth concluded that the allegations were meritless. The report found, however, that certain government employees had failed to disclose during litigation against the Davidians the use of pyrotechnic devices at the complex, and had obstructed the Special Counsel’s investigation. Disciplinary action was pursued against those individuals.

Allegations that the government started the fire were based largely on an FBI agent’s having fired three “pyrotechnic” tear gas rounds, which are delivered with a charge that burns. The Special Counsel concluded that, because the FBI fired the rounds nearly four hours before the fire started, at a concrete construction pit partially filled with water, 75 feet (23 m) away and downwind from the main living quarters of the complex, the rounds did not start or contribute to the spread of the fire. The Special Counsel noted, by contrast, that recorded interceptions of Davidian conversations included such statements as “David said we have to get the fuel on” and “So we light it first when they come in with the tank right . . . right as they’re coming in.” Davidians who survived the fire acknowledged that other Davidians started the fire. FBI agents witnessed Davidians pouring fuel and igniting a fire, and noted these observations contemporaneously. Lab analysis found accelerants on the clothing of Davidians, and investigators found deliberately punctured fuel cans and a homemade torch at the site. Based on this evidence and testimony, the Special Counsel concluded that the fire was started by the Davidians.

Charges that government agents fired shots into the complex on April 19, 1993, were based on Forward Looking Infrared (“FLIR”) video recorded by FBI Nightstalker aircraft. These tapes showed 57 flashes, with some occurring around government vehicles that were operating near the complex. The Office of Special Counsel conducted a field test of FLIR technology on March 19, 2000, to determine whether gunfire caused the flashes. The testing was conducted under a protocol agreed to and signed by attorneys and experts for the Davidians and their families, as well as for the government. Analysis of the shape, duration, and location of the flashes indicated that they resulted from a reflection off debris on or around the complex, rather than gunfire. Additionally, independent expert review of photography taken at the scene showed no people at or near the points from which the flashes emanated. Interviews of Davidians, government witnesses, filmmakers, writers, and advocates for the Davidians found that none had witnessed any government gunfire on April 19. Finally, none of the Davidians who died on that day displayed evidence of having been struck by a high velocity round, as would be expected had they been shot from outside of the complex by government sniper rifles or other assault weapons. In view of this evidence, the Special Counsel concluded that the claim that government gunfire occurred on April 19, 1993, amounted to “an unsupportable case based entirely upon flawed technological assumptions.”

The Special Counsel considered whether the use of active duty military at Waco violated the Posse Comitatus Act or the Military Assistance to Law Enforcement Act. These statutes generally prohibit direct military participation in law enforcement functions, but do not preclude indirect support such as loaning equipment, training in the use of equipment, offering expert advice, and providing equipment maintenance. The Special Counsel noted that the military provided “extensive” loans of equipment to the ATF and FBI including, among other things, two tanks the offensive capability of which had been disabled. Additionally, the military provided more limited advice, training, and medical support. The Special Counsel concluded that these actions amounted to indirect military assistance within the bounds of applicable law. The Texas National Guard, in its state status, also provided substantial loans of military equipment, as well as performing reconnaissance flights over the Davidian complex. Because the Posse Comitatus Act does not apply to the National Guard in its state status, the Special Counsel determined that the National Guard lawfully provided its assistance.

[edit] Critics of the Danforth Report

Critics of the government have called the Danforth report a whitewash. [61] The most prominent of these critics is Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General, who was representing one of the plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit brought by Branch Davidian survivors and relatives. Clark commented:

“History will clearly record, I believe, that these assaults on the Mt. Carmel church center remain the greatest domestic law enforcement tragedy in the history of the United States.”[62]

The introduction to the Danforth Report notes that it is focussed on answering two questions about FBI conduct on Day 51 of the siege, 19 Apr 1993: first, did FBI use incendiary devices that could have ignited the fire (as alleged by Assistant US Attorney Bill Johnston in a letter to US Attorney General Janet Reno); second, did FBI direct small arms fire at the Davidians (as alleged by documentary filmmaker Mike McNulty in Waco: The Rules of Engagement). Evidence concerning these allegations by Johnston and McNulty is in the Texas Rangers Branch Davidian Evidence Reports.[63] The FBI fired a few hundred 40 mm Ferret gas grenades into the building and Davidian survivor Clive Doyle witnessed a fellow Davidian hit in the face with a 40 mm gas grenade. The introduction to the Danforth report states that the gas grenades did not count as small arms fire even though the Texas Rangers had documentation that 40 mm Ferret will penetrate plywood siding.

[edit] Related incidents

The Oklahoma City bombing was a terrorist attack on April 19, 1995 aimed at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, a U.S. government office complex in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The attack claimed 168 lives and left over 800 injured. Until the September 11, 2001 attacks, it was the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil, and remains the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in American history.[64] Within days after the bombing, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were both in custody for their roles in the bombing. Investigators determined that McVeigh and Nichols were sympathizers of an anti-government militia movement and that their motive was to avenge the government's handling of the Waco siege and Ruby Ridge incidents.[10]

[edit] See also

[edit] Suggested Reading

  • Christopher Whitcomb. Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. ISBN 0-552-14788-5.

[edit] Notes

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Davidians: V. Military involvement in the Government operations at WACO
  2. ^ a b House investigators determined that "someone" at BATF lied to the military about the Davidians being involved with drugs in order to get U.S. Army Special Forces and other military aid, in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight and the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary at the Oversight Hearings on Federal Law Enforcement Conduct in Relation to the Branch Davidian Compound near Waco, Texas, and appended documents, Congressional Record, July, 1995
  3. ^ House of Representatives report, Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Davidians/Section 5, section about equipment for raiding an methamphetamine lab being used or not by ATF agents the day of the raid
  4. ^ a b c Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas Appendix B. List of Military Personnel and Equipment
  5. ^ FBI brings out secret electronics weapons as Waco siege drags on, by James Adams Washington. Sunday Times, March 21, 1993
  6. ^ a b c Evaluation of the Handling of the Branch Davidian Stand-off in Waco, Texas/FBI Restraint Edward S.G. Dennis, Jr.
  7. ^ a b c d e f US Treasury Department July 13, 1995 Memorandum to the Press "Weapons Possessed by the Branch Davidians" http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/waco/treasury.html
  8. ^ Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas Appendix F Copy of indictment
  9. ^ a b c "Agents prepared for worst before Waco raid". Associated Press. 2000-07-05. http://www.cesnur.org/testi/waco97.htm. Retrieved on 2008-04-03. 
  10. ^ a b Prosecution tries to link Nichols, McVeigh through literature "The government has argued that McVeigh and Nichols were incensed over how federal agents handled the 1993 clash with the Branch Davidian cult in Waco in which 80 cult members died."; retrieved March 15, 2008
  11. ^ Justin Sturken and Mary Dore (2007-02-28). "Remembering the Waco Siege". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/US/Story?id=2908955&page=1. Retrieved on 2008-06-23. 
  12. ^ "Waco: the inside story, Readings". PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/waco/primary.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-23. 
  13. ^ The British Waco survivors, by Ed Caesar, The Sunday Times, 14.12.08
  14. ^ a b c d [Psychotherapy Networker, March/April 2007, "Stairway to Heaven; Treating children in the crosshairs of trauma". Excerpt from the book The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz.
  15. ^ Ten years after Waco, People Weekly, 2003-04-28 
  16. ^ Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Davidians: II. The ATF Investigation
  17. ^ Steve Higgins (1995-07-02). "The Waco Dispute - Why the ATF Had to Act". The Washington Post. http://www.rickross.com/reference/waco/waco5.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-03. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Neil Rawles. Inside Waco [Television documentary]. Channel 4/HBO.
  19. ^ http://www.time.com/time/daily/newsfiles/waco/101193.html Time.com, Tripped Up By Lies: A report paints a devastating portrait of ATF's Waco planning -- or, rather, the lack of it, October 11, 1993
  20. ^ Theodore H. Fiddleman, David B. Kopel (1993-06-28). "TF's basis for the assault on Waco is shot full of holes - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms fatal attack on the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas - Column". Insight on the News. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_n26_v9/ai_14021102. Retrieved on 2008-04-03. 
  21. ^ Eric Christensen (2001-06-18). "Reno's halfway house". Insight on the News. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_23_17/ai_75706943/pg_1. 
  22. ^ article, Showtime At Waco, by Albert K. Bates, Communities Magazine, Summer 1995, http://www.thefarm.org/lifestyle/albertbates/akbwaco.html
  23. ^ article, Showtime At Waco, by Albert K. Bates, retired attorney, originally published in Communities Magazine, Summer 1995
  24. ^ Davidian Criminal Trial Transcripts, Richardson - Cross (Mr. Rentz), pags 2054-2055
  25. ^ a b c William Gazecki. (2003). Waco - The Rules of Engagement [Film documentary]. New Yorker Video.
  26. ^ a b "Report and Recommendations. Concerning the Handling of Incidents Such As the Branch Davidian Standoff in Waco Texas". 1993-10-10. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/waco/stonerpt.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-01. 
  27. ^ 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, Appendix D, 136-140.
  28. ^ a b FBI. "Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas/Child Abuse". http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Report_to_the_Deputy_Attorney_General_on_the_Events_at_Waco,_Texas/Child_Abuse. Retrieved on 2009-01-08. 
  29. ^ a b c Nick Davies (1994-01-14). "Lost in America". The Guardian. http://www.comicscommunity.com/boards/hudnall/?frames=n;read=479. 
  30. ^ Testimony to the Subcommitee on National Security et al, loc cite. Congressional Record, July, 1995
  31. ^ a b "U.S. ignores religion's fringes". 'USA Today'. 2001-10-04. http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2001-10-04-ncguest2.htm. 
  32. ^ a b c d FBI. "Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas/Attitudes of Koresh and others in the Compound". http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Report_to_the_Deputy_Attorney_General_on_the_Events_at_Waco,_Texas/Attitudes_of_Koresh_and_others_in_the_Compound. Retrieved on 2009-01-08. 
  33. ^ "Tanks, chemicals couldn't break resolve of cultists," Associated Press, Washington Times, April 23, 1993.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g two experts from the University of Maryland's Department of Fire Protection Engineering. "Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas/The Aftermath of the April 19 Fire ("The Fire Development Analysis" section)". http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Report_to_the_Deputy_Attorney_General_on_the_Events_at_Waco%2C_Texas/The_Aftermath_of_the_April_19_Fire#3._The_Fire_Development_Analysis. Retrieved on 2008-04-17. 
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Daniel Klaidman & Michael Isikoff (1999-07-20), A fire that won't die, Newsweek 
  36. ^ Brady Campaign "Selling High Powered Military Weapons in the Suburbs" http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/issues/?page=50cal#13
  37. ^ VPC Criminal Use of the .50 Caliber Sniper Rifle http://www.vpc.org/snipercrime.htm
  38. ^ Office of Special Investigations, U.S. General Accounting Office, Briefing Paper: Criminal Activity Associated with .50 Caliber Semiautomatic Rifles, Number, presented to GAO/OSI-99-15R of the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform, July 15, 1999 Page 5 http://archive.gao.gov/f0502/162586.pdf
  39. ^ pag. 7403 of the trial trancripts
  40. ^ The Sunday Times 14.12.08
  41. ^ The Sunday Times 14.12.08
  42. ^ The Sunday Times 14.12.08
  43. ^ The Sunday Times 14.12.08
  44. ^ Staff reports, "Davidians have prison terms cut," Dallas Morning News, September 20, 2000.
  45. ^ Six Branch Davidians due for Release 13 Years After Waco Inferno, FoxNews, April 19, 2006; personal letter to Carol Moore from Livingstone Fagan, June, 2007
  46. ^ a b "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" Official site of documentary
  47. ^ House of Representatives report, Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Davidians, Section 5, note 168: "ATF did not mention a drug lab or possession of illegal drugs as suspected crimes in its search warrant."
  48. ^ The conversation is replayed in full, and undisputed by the FBI, on the documentary "Waco: The Rules of Engagement"]
  49. ^ a b Robert Bryce (2000-08-18). "Prying Open the Case of the Missing Door". The Austin Chronicle. http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2000-08-18/pols_feature9.html. Retrieved on 2008-07-28. 
  50. ^ Katherine Ramsland. "David Koresh: Millenial Violence". trutv.com. http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/not_guilty/koresh/7.html?sect=8. Retrieved on 2008-08-04. 
  51. ^ a b a team of independent arson investigator assembled by the Texas Rangers. "Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas/Appendix D". http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Report_to_the_Deputy_Attorney_General_on_the_Events_at_Waco%2C_Texas/Appendix_D. Retrieved on 2008-04-17. 
  52. ^ "C. Identification of Bodies/Medical Examiner Reports". Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas. 1993-04-03. http://www.usdoj.gov/05publications/waco/wacothirteen.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-02. 
  53. ^ "Final report to the Deputy Attorney General concerning the 1993 confrontation at the Mt. Carmel Complex, Waco, Texas" (PDF). 2000-10-02. http://www.apologeticsindex.org/pdf/finalreport.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-06-04. 
  54. ^ Ross & Green, What is the cult awareness network and what role did it play in Waco?
  55. ^ Waco: The big lie, documentary, Google Video
  56. ^ http://cyrusproductions.org/[dead link]
  57. ^ Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & The Oklahoma City Bombing (New York: ReganBooks, 2001); ISBN 0-06-039407-2.
  58. ^ Vidal, Gore (2001), "The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh", Vanity Fair (no. September), <http://www.isebrand.com/Gore_Vidal_McVeigh_2001.htm>
  59. ^ Waco: a new revelation, official site of the documentary
  60. ^ a, b, c, d, and e
  61. ^ http://archive.newsmax.com/articles/?a=2000/7/22/91556
  62. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/2000/jul/22/news/mn-57442
  63. ^ http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/director_staff/public_information/branch_davidian/indexfirst.htm
  64. ^ Prior to 9-11, the deadliest act of terror against the United States was the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 189 Americans.

[edit] Bibliography

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
  • Anthony, D. and T. Robbins (1997). "Religious totalism, exemplary dualism and the Waco tragedy." In Robbins and Palmer 1997, 261–284.
  • Christopher Whitcomb. Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. ISBN 0-552-14788-5. (Also covers Ruby Ridge.)
  • Docherty, Jayne Seminare. Learning Lessons From Waco: When the Parties Bring Their Gods to the Negotiation Table (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2001). ISBN 0-8156-2751-3
  • Heymann, Philip B. (U.S. Department of Justice). Lessons of Waco: Proposed Changes in Federal Law Enforcement (Washington: USDOJ, 1993). ISBN 0-16-042977-3
  • Kerstetter, Todd. "'That's Just the American Way': The Branch Davidian Tragedy and Western Religious History", Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 4, Winter 2004.
  • Kopel, David B. and Paul H. Blackman. No More Wacos: What’s Wrong With Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1997). ISBN 1-57392-125-4
  • Lewis, James R. (ed.). From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1994). ISBN 0-8476-7915-2 (cloth) ISBN 0-8476-7914-4 (paper)
  • Linedecker, Clifford L. Massacre at Waco, Texas: The Shocking Story of Cult Leader David Koresh and the Branch Davidians (New York: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 1993). ISBN 0-312-95226-0
  • Lynch, Timothy. No Confidence: An Unofficial Account of the Waco Incident (Washington: Cato Institute, 2001).
  • Moore, Carol. The Davidian Massacre: Disturbing Questions Abut Waco Which Must Be Answered." (Virginia: Gun Owners Foundation, 1995). ISBN 1-880692-22-8
  • Newport, Kenneth G. C. "The Branch Davidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic Sect" (Oxford University Press, 2006). ISBN 0199245746
  • Reavis, Dick J. The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995). ISBN 0-684-81132-4
  • Tabor, James D. and Eugene V. Gallagher. Why Waco?: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). ISBN 0-520-20186-8
  • Thibodeau, David and Leon Whiteson. A Place Called Waco: A Survivor's Story (New York: PublicAffairs, 1999). ISBN 1-891620-42-8
  • Wright, Stuart A. (ed.). Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995).

[edit] Legal and governmental

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