January 28, 1994

By Carol Moore, (c) 1994 [1]

In consultation with:

COMMITTEE FOR WACO JUSTICE, P.O. Box 33037, Washington, D.C. 20033, 202/986-1847 202/797-9877

Please Feel Free to Copy and Distribute! Copying for non-commercial distribution encouraged.



  1. The Public Must Know the Truth
  2. Justice Must Be Done
  3. Past Wacos: Government's "Historic Interest in Breaking Up Armed Groups"
  4. BATF and FBI Persecution of Randy Weaver
  5. Government Reliance on "Private Spies" and "Cult Busters"
  6. The History of the Branch Davidians
  7. Non-Weapons-Related Allegations Against David Koresh


  1. BATF Ignored Branch Davidians' Legal Gun Business
  2. BATF Found No Evidence Weapons Were Purchased Illegally
  3. "Probable Cause" Based on Biased Information About Intent
  4. "Probable Cause" Based on Religious and Political Beliefs
  5. Other Irregularities in the February 25, 1993 Affidavit
  6. BATF Ignored Branch Davidian Attempts to Cooperate
  7. Questionable Grounds for a Paramilitary Raid
  8. Government Multi-Task Force Makes for "Partners in Crime"
  9. Dubious Drug Allegations to Obtain Helicopters for Free
  10. Chronology of the February 28, 1993 BATF Raid
  11. BATF Used Excessive Force to Serve Warrant
  12. Allegations BATF Agents Shot First
  13. Allegations Agents Shot Indiscriminately and from Helicopters
  14. Allegations Friendly Fire Injured or Killed Some Agents
  15. BATF Intimidation of the Press
  16. BATF Coverup
  17. Treasury Department Coverup
  18. Committee for Waco Justice Conclusions


  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 Pressure
  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 Surrender
  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 and Fire
  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 People
  16. Branch Davidian Statements that Demolition Started the Fire
  17. FBI Allegations that Branch Davidians Started the Fire
  18. FBI and BATF Crime Scene Coverup
  19. "Independent" Fire Investigator Coverup
  20. Justice Department Coverup
  21. Committee for Waco Justice Conclusions


  1. The Charges
  2. Pre-Trial Motions and Jury Selection
  3. The Prosecution Case
  4. The Defense Case
  5. Civil Rights and Wrongful Death Law Suits


  1. Millennialists and Survivalists
  2. Drug-Prohibition-Related Violence
  3. Gun-Prohibition-Related Violence
  4. Economic Unrest and Tax Rebellion
  5. Secessionists and Separatists


  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 Searches, etc.
  5. Protect Right to Indictment by Grand Jury, Trial by Jury, etc.
  6. Protect Right to a Speedy Public Trial, Impartial Jury, etc.
  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 People


DIAGRAMS AND PHOTOGRAPHS (Unfortuneatly, not included in this file)

  1. Treasury Department and BATF Chains of Command
  2. Diagram and Drawing of Mount Carmel Center
  3. White House, Justice Department and FBI Chains of Command
  4. April 19th Diagram of Tank Damage to Mount Carmel
  5. April 19th Infrared Photo of 11:59:16 of
  6. Tank Rammings and Collapsed Gymnasium
  7. April 19th Infrared Photo of 12:10:40 Fires


Several year end television reviews of 1993 portrayed the deaths of 86 or more members of the Branch Davidian [2] 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." [3] 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 [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 (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." [4]

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." [5]

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 the deceased;

* 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 First Amendment.

* 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 critic.

* 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 Guard.

* 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 order.

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 authorities.

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 fire investigator.

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 Willie Williams.

* 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.


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.


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 [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., (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 blocks.)

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." [7]

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. [8] 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. [9] (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." [10] )

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." [11] 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. [12] 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. [13]


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. [14]

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, 1991.

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 authorities.

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." [15] ) 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?" [16]

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." [17] 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 of justice."

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. [18] According to the Washington Times, in December, 1993, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh told FBI agents that indictments against some FBI agents were a "virtual certainty." [19]


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." [20] 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 activity.

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 enforcement.

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. [21] The government's lenience towards ADL suggests it does not frown on ADL's spying activities.

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 past." [22]

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." [23] 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 law. [24]

Priscilla Coates, former executive director of CAN, told reporters, "I know how these types of groups work and the children are always abused." [25] 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. [26] 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 CAN. [27]

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. [28] 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 imprisonment.

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 [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:#).

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 lethal force." [30]

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." [31]

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." [32] 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." [33]

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."


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. [34] 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. [35] 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 prophecies. [36]

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." [37] 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 `sour grapes.'" [38]

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. [39] (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." [40] 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. [41] 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. [42] 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."


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 horrendous way?"

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 pacifier. (JDR:224-226)

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." [43]

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." [44] 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 abuse." [45]

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". [46] 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 that young.

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?" [47] 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." [48] 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. [49]

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. [50] 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 Davidians.

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." [51] 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." [52] 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. [53] 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." [54] 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. [55] 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." [56]

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 duties." (JDR:Dennis:34)

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 suicide." [57]

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." [58] 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 talked religion." [60]

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 country.'" [61]

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." [62] 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." [62] 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." [63]


Outside Mount Carmel February 28*: Donald Bunds Paul Fatta, 35 Janet McBean Janet Kendrick Stan Sylvia

Arrested on Feb 28, 1993: Delroy Nash, 29 Woodrow Kendrick, 63

Left Mount Carmel During Siege: 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 Kimberly Martin 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 Jaunessa Wendel 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 Jillane Matthews 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 Hollywood Sylvia Lorraine Sylvia, 40 Rachel Sylvia, 13 Doris Vaega 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 unborn children.

Source: Associated Press, Justice Department Report and other sources.


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.

>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 (TDR:67).

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." [64] 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)

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. 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.

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. [65] 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." [66] 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.

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.

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. 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. We will present further recommendations in the last section of this report.

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.




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. 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." [67] However, others will testify during the trial that only certain members of the group had known about the weapons or handled them. [68] In any case, it is not illegal to stockpile guns for defense against some future illegal attack by government agents.

More importantly, BATF investigative agents either never discovered--or completely ignored--the fact that the Branch Davidians ran a profitable legal gun business. 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." [69] Even Marc Breault mentions that of the Branch Davidian businesses, the "most important of all" was trade in weapons. [70] 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." [71] 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)

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. McMahon said most of these guns were kept boxed and never fired, to enhance resale value. [72] 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." [73]

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.

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 period. [74]


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."

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. 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. 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 violation) ." [75]

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.

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.

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. [76] It was because of this lack of probable cause that in December BATF officials instructed Aguilera to gather information about Koresh's "intent."


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. 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. [77] 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

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. [78] 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 deprogrammed. [79] )

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." [80] It is unknown how many other families Ross contacted offering his expensive services "before it's too late."

b. Former Members' Allegations About Intent

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 credibility problems!

c. BATF and Treasury Department Use of Former Members' Allegations

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" [81] -- 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)

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." [82]


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 provision.

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." [83]

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." 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."


Davy Aguilera's February 25, 1993 affidavit contains stale, inaccurate and misleading information and presents an "indefensible" probable cause theory. 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 appendixes!

a. Stale Information

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." [84] Similarly, United States v. Ruff, 984, F.2d 635 5th Cir., 1993 holds that evidence must be fresh. [85] 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

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." He called E-2 Kits, "E-Z kits" and did not mention that they are legal gun parts kits, not machinegun conversion kits. He claims that the AK-47 has an upper and lower receiver, when in fact it has a one-piece receiver. [86] 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. [87] (In its discussion of the probable cause investigation, the Treasury report corrects Aguilera's errors without mentioning it has done so.)

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.

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. [88] 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. 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

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. 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. 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.

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.

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)

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) [89]

d. Indefensible Probable Cause Theory

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. 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 indefensible." [90]


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. 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." [91] 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 Investigations

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." [92] 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) The report includes a photograph of Koresh and followers dressed in fatigues and armed with weapons, allegedly right before the shootout. (TDR:19-20)

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 offices once.

b. Koresh Invited Sheriff to Inspect Weapons in 1992

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.'" [93] According to another article, they told the Sheriff, "why don't you come and ask us what we've got." [94]

c. Koresh Invited BATF to Inspect Weapons in 1992

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. 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." [95]

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." [96] 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." [97]

d. Lieutenant Lynch Statement on Another Service of Warrant

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. [98] 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 place." [99]

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. [100] 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. [101] Marc Breault claims it was Lieutenant Barber who called his complaints "sour grapes." [102] Clifford L. Linedecker writes that Branch Davidians discussed the Cervenka complaint and the hellfire devices with Lieutenant Barber. [103] 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 authorities." [104]

e. Koresh Befriended Undercover Agents

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)

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." [105] 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.

f. Koresh Complained to Sheriff about UPS Surveillance

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. He accused the department of trying to infiltrate the Compound." (TDR:187-188)

g. After Raid, Koresh Stated He Would Have Cooperated

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. [106] 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?" 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. 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."

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. Then you could have come in and done your work." [107]


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." [108] 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)

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. In almost every one we lose law enforcement officers." [109] 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." [110]

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 agents.

a. Paramilitary Raids Are Preferred BATF Modus Operandi

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- like tactics.

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. [111] 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. (TDR:Appendix B:40)

b. Cult Busters Advised Against Simple Search

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 shooting beforehand." [112]

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." [113] 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.

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 hostile." (TDR:45)

This cult buster-induced belief that Koresh would not cooperate was communicated all the way to the top. Chief of Public Relations Jack Killorin claimed after the raid that Koresh was "sworn to resistance" and it was only prudent to have firepower. [114] 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." [115]

c. Cult Buster Mass Suicide Scare Stories

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) Doubtless, Rick Ross promoted his "Jim Jones" comparison.

d. Shoddy Intelligence

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) 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 testify. (TDR:64)

e. Publicity Stunt to Bolster BATF's Image

In early 1993, BATF was a beleaguered agency. 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. 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 and promotion. [116]

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."

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. 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." [117] 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

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. 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." [118]

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. 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." [119] 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 it." [120]


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. [121]

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. 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. [122]


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." [123] 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 counter-drug operations.

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 evidence.

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)

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. [124] Finally, the statement Koresh allegedly made to the agent may well have been made within the context of George Roden tenants' former activities.

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. [125] 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. (TDR:213)

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.


@ 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 tapes.

7:30 am--BATF convoy arrives at Bellmead civic center.

7:45--KWTX television reporter and cameraman arrive nearby Mount Carmel.

8:00--Undercover agent Robert Rodriguez enters Mount Carmel for Bible study. --Raid Commander Chuck Sarabyn briefs ATF convoy at Bellmead Civic Center.

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.

8:45--Three Waco Tribune-Herald cars arrive nearby Mount Carmel.

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 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.

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.

9:45--Cattle trailers enter drive way of Mount Carmel, followed by KWTX television vehicle.

9:47--Sarabyn and Chojnacki end cellular telephone contact. --Raid begins; helicopters and agents "taken under fire". --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 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 the undercover house.*

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 negotiations.*

11:30--Hartnett unilaterally requests FBI Hostage Rescue Team support.

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. Four children leave Mount Carmel.

5:30--FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey Jamar arrives at command post. --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.@@* 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 names.


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- defense.

a. Excessive Numbers of Agents and Weapons

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. [126] 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 backed off. [127]

b. Evidence BATF Did Not Properly Serve Warrants

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.

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." [128] 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 effort. News reports describe an armed attack. "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." [129] 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." [130] 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." [131] 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?"

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.

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. 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.

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." [132] 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. [133] Branch Davidians and their attorneys see Ballesteros and Champion's new testimony as one more example of a massive government coverup.


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"

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." [134] 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.

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) 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 force." [135]

b. Over Sixty Agents Knew Branch Davidians Were Warned of Raid

After Jones discovered that a raid was imminent, he rushed back to Mount Carmel and told Koresh. 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

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 `very amateur.'" [136]

d. Branch Davidians Did Not Use "Tactical Advantage"

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. 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." (JDR:Stone:18-19)

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 [137] 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.'" [138]

e. David Koresh's Allegations

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. 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 scared."

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." [139] 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 has denied." [140]

f. Agent Ballesteros' Previous Allegations BATF Shot First

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. At the trial, he changed his story and testified that the Branch Davidians did so, shooting through the front door. Again, he blamed medication for impairing his memory. [141] (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." [142] )

g. Photos of Agents Firing Before Bullet Holes Appear in Front Door

Waco Tribune-Herald photos introduced at the trial show agents firing before any holes can be seen in the front door. [143] 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 it.

h. Evidence Gun Shots Were Fired Inward through the Front Door

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?" [144] 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." 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." [145] The possibility that BATF or the FBI destroyed this evidence after the fire must be investigated.

i. Unreleased BATF Video Tape

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." Supposedly BATF was operating more than one video camera, but it has refused to release any tapes. [146]

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. [147] 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." [148] (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 Information Act.

j. Audio Analysis from Video Tapes

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 precision. [149]

k. Law Enforcement Allegations

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. He wounded himself in the leg and cried out, "I'm hit!" 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. [150] While this story may sound far fetched, it is certainly one of many allegations that must be explored by an independent investigator.


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) 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. [151] 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

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.

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?" [152] 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

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 tape.

Martin: Another chopper with more people; more guns going off. They're firing. That's them, not us.

Unidentified Davidian: There's a chopper with more of them. Lynch: What!?

Davidian: Another chopper with more people and more guns going off. Here they come!

Lynch: All right, Wayne, tell . . .

Davidian: We're not firing. That's not us, that's them!

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! We'll stop!

Lynch: Standby. (he then tries to get in touch with BATF radio van. There is more sound of gunshots)

Lynch: Sta . . . Who's firing now?

Davidian: They are!

Wayne: They are!

Lynch: All right. Standby. I'm tryin' to reach 'em. Stand. Don't return fire, okay?

Davidian: We haven't been.

Lynch: What?

Davidian: We haven't been. (sounds disgusted)

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. [153] 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." Lawmakers were led to believe the tape was verbatim. However, Waco police said the tape gave a "false impression of how the events occurred." [154] 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. This might be evidence that someone wanted to discredit Martin's claims and cover up BATF's illegal actions.

c. Agents Shot from Undercover House

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. [155] 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 28th. [156]

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." [157]

e. Children's Pictures of Bullets Through Roof

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." [158] 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

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. People who were too wounded to fight were put out of their misery." [159] 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) 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. [160]

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 deaths.

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. They note that the government denies Gent was shot from a helicopter. [161] 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.'"

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. [162] The New York Times repeated Rita Riddle's allegation a woman had been shot in her bed. [163] 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.


BATF Chief of Intelligence David Troy told the press that "in the first two minutes, 16 agents were injured and four were killed." [164] 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. [165]

a. Two Different BATF Versions of Where Two (or Three) Agents Died

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 [166] 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. [167]

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. [168] 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 [169] 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.

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. 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.

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. [170] More investigation of this incident and a careful study of the full KWTX videotape of this incident remain necessary.

b. "Federal Sources" Admit Evidence Exists

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." [171] Another highly placed federal source told James L. Pate "about half of ATF casualties in the raid apparently resulted from `friendly fire'." [172]

c. Agents Allege Friendly fire

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." [173] During January 25, 1994 trial testimony both Agents Constantino and later Agent Buford admitted that they suspected or had heard of friendly fire incidents. [174]


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. [175] 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. [176] 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.

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) 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. [177] However, many suspect that this was just part of a broader government effort to intimidate the press and the media.


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. Below we list evidence that this admitted coverup is but one of many.

a. Dubious Allegations about Koresh Statements

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.

b. Unverified Reports of Machine Gun Fire and Grenades

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." [178] Also, news reports state, "Officials said today that two of the wounded agents were hit by fragments of hand grenades lobbed from the compound." [179] 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.

c. False Report Members Try to "Shoot their Way Out"

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. 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." [180] 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 barn."

d. BATF Denies Branch Davidians Captured and Released Four BATF Agents

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. "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.'" [181]

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." [182] 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 found.

e. BATF Takes Gun Dealer McMahon Into "Protective Custody"

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." [183] 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 press. [184]

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. But Aguilera lied. . .in an effort to discredit McMahon's knowledge of ATF wrongdoing." [185] 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

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 Mount Carmel.

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. 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. [186] Fatta finally surrendered to Texas Rangers in Houston on April 26. "Mike DeGuerin, Mr. Fatta's attorney, said his client did not surrender earlier because of his mistrust of federal agents." [187]

g. Raid Commanders and BATF Officials Covered Up Loss of Surprise

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) 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)

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." [188] 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 operation." [189]

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)

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." [190] 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. All confirmed that Rodriguez had told Sarabyn that Koresh knew that BATF raid was imminent.

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. [191]

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." [192]

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.

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 Helicopters

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) According to Clifford L. Linedecker, Ted Royster was also in one of the helicopters. [193] 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 Sees Them

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 executed." [194]

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 Koresh's death.

j. Possibility BATF will Tamper with Audio/Video Evidence

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 they present.

k. BATF Involved with Texas Rangers' Investigation

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.

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." [195] 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

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. [196] 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. [197]

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.

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." [198] The fact that she admitted to carrying automatic weapons only "later" might be evidence that they were manufactured after the BATF attack.


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 religious group.

a. Ronald K. Noble Conflict of Interest

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. 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

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 Investigation Records

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."

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 be compromised." [199]

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." [200] 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." [201]

d. Treasury Department Report Demonizes Koresh and Branch Davidians

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) 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.

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." [202]

e. Evidence of Coverup in the Treasury Department Report

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.

f. Treasury Department Has Taken No Further Action Against Agents or Officials

In early October, 1993, Robert Cesca, Treasury Deputy Inspector General, was reviewing whether to launch a full scale investigation of agents and officials actions. 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. 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

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. 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 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." [203] 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. [204] Time will tell if BATF ends its aggressive modus operandi.


a. BATF Drove Branch Davidians to Armed Defense

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. 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 self-defense.

b. Independent Counsel Should Prosecute Responsible BATF Agents and Officials

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: * 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;

* 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 against Schroeder;

* 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."

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. (JDR:9,27) [205]

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. [206]

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." [207]


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 month later.





Officials in Washington

Agents in Waco


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 access instead." [208]

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 of journalism.

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. [209] 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." [210] 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." [211]

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. [212] 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. [213]

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 allegations. [214]

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. [215]

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 80 people.

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 reasonable one."


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." [216]

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 tanks.

Fire survivor Ruth Riddle expressed shock at the use of the tanks. "Who ever heard of Americans using tanks against Americans on American soil?" [217]


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 many negotiators.

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 Pressures

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." [218] They concluded by saying that the FBI could "always resort to tactical pressure, but it should be the absolute last option we should consider."

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 Davidians." (JDR:Stone:28)

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." [219] 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 [220] --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 negotiator.

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." [221] 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 Negotiators

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." (JDR:Stone:4)

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." [222] 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." [223]


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 him.

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. [224] 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." (JDR:171-174)

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 deprogrammers.'" (JDR:190)

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." (JDR:174-176)

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." [225]

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." [226] He told the Washington Post, "There was every indication in my mind that he was not prepared to commit suicide." [227] 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." [228]

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." [229] 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.


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. [230] 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. [231] 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." [232] The FBI turned the electricity on and off as a pressure tactic, turning it off for good on March 13th.

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." [233] 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." [234] 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." [235]

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." [236] 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." [237] According to Louis Alaniz, "Koresh kept members in line by threatening to force them to leave the compound." [238]

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." [239] Dick DeGuerin said, "There was a collective feeling that the harassment was making them more stubborn." [240] 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 were."

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 investigated.


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." [241]

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.


The FBI Hostage Negotiation Training Manual asserts, "Time is always in our favor," and urges personnel not to grow impatient in hostage situations. [242] 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." [243]

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.


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." [244] (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. [245]

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. [246] 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 "Seven Seals"

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. [247] 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." [248]

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 Carmel.

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! David Koresh

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." [249] 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 biblical symbols."

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?" [250] 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." [251]

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 [252] , 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. . .'" [253]

Jamar also told the press, "This latest business with the Seven Seals, we have intelligence that it was just one more stalling technique." [254] 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." [255] 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." [256]

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." [257] 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 surrender!


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 their plan.

a. FBI Misinformed Reno about Progress of Negotiations

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 contents.

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.'" (JDR:Stone:10-11)

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." [258] 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 it. [259]

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 the area."

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." (JDR:Stone:29-30)

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." (JDR:Stone:35)

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." [260] 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. [261] 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." [262] 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. (JDR:277,292,294)

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." [263] 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." [264] 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..." [265] FBI Director Sessions also has said "none of us expect them to commit suicide." [266]

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." [267] 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 `D-Day'." (JDR:280)

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." [268] 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.'" [269] 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." [270]


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 decision. (JDR:241-248)

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'." [271] If this was an exact quote, it would also seem to be a highly insensitive remark.

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." [272] 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 attack.

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."


During the morning of April 19, 1993 five tanks [273] 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. [274]

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 building.

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 footage)

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 door. [275]

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 surrender.

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' quarters. [276]

9:10--Branch Davidians hang out banner, "We want our phones fixed."

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 [277] 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." [278] 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, right front.

12:08:11--Infrared photo shows large fire on back wall near dining room. Tank can be seen sitting behind collapsed gymnasium wall.

12:09:25--Infrared photo shows fire in front door/piano area.

12:09--CNN announcer says "This is a roaring fire. This fire is really burning out of control." [279]

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.


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." [280] 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?'" [281] 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. (JDR:289)

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." [282]

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." [283]

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." [284] 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." [285] 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 rams." [286]

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 rammings.

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." [287] 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 be revealed.

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." [288] We have not found a specific comment from Attorney General Reno herself on this issue.


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. [289] 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 under oath.

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." [290] 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." [291] 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. [292] 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 the siege.

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." [293] 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." [294] 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. [295] 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." [296] 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." [297] 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.


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. [298] 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 Parkland." [299]

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." [300] 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." [301]


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." [302] 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. [303] 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. [304] 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." [305] According to Associated Press, "Then the FBI sent in its biggest weapon--a massive armored vehicle larger than the others [306] 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." [307] "(E)very assault by a tank rattled the poorly constructed buildings, and cult members dodged falling sheet rock and doors." [308]

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." [309] 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." [310] 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." [311] 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." [312] 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." [313] 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." [314] 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 the back." [315]

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." [316] 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 Report:10)

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 report.

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." (JDR:300)


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." [317] 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." [318]

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 Started Fire

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." [319] (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 door.)

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." [320] 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.'" [321] 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." [322]

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 roof. [323]

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. [324]

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 footage.

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 preposterous." [325]

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 tanks.

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 were checked.

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. [326] 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 head. [327]

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 confusion." [328]

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." [329]

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." [330] 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." [331] 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." [332] Louis Alaniz, the "visitor" who left Mount Carmel a few days before the fire, also agreed that there was no suicide pact. [333]

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.)


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 section.

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." [334] (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." [335] 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." [336] ) 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." [337] 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." [338] 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?" [339]

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." [340] 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." [341]

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." [342]


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." [343] ; and "David Koresh, we believe, gave the order to commit suicide and they all followed his order." [344] and Koresh "was demanding provocation to get in a fight with us. . .We believe they were preparing for another armed standoff." [345]

* 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." [346] However, the Justice report made no such claim.

* 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." [347] 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." [348]

b. April 19th Destruction of Evidence and the Crime Scene

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 for Evidence

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 conducting investigations." [349]

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 media." [350]

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." [351] Defense Attorney Jeffrey Kearney told local reporters: "Government agents can say what they want now and there's little physical evidence to dispute it." [352]

e. Possibility FBI will Tamper with Audio/Video Evidence

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.


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." [353] 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." [354] Finally, Gray had socialized with BATF agent Steve Willis, who was killed February 28th, and attended his funeral. [355]

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 Branch Davidians." [356]

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 Building

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." [357]

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 ferret rounds.

According to Newsweek, just after the fire arson investigators found "metal lantern-fuel containers with what appeared to be deliberate punctures." [358] 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 fires began.

d. Fire Report States Separated Points of Origin Means Arson

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." [359] 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." [360]

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 Spreading Fire

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 Usable

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." [361] 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)


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 Assault

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." [362] 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! [363]

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." [364] 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." [365] 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 Davidians." [366]

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." [367] 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." [368]

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." [369] 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." [370]

b. Justice Department Attempted to Forgo Full Investigation

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." [371]

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." [372]

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." [373] 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 independent investigation.

d. Review Team and Outside Expert Conflicts of Interest

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 his superiors.

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." [374] 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 Frederick Lacey." [375]

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." [376]

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." [377] 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. [378] 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." [379] 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 view." (Justice:Stone:46)

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." [380] 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..." [381] 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 its actions. [382]

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 911 Tapes

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. [383] 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." [384] 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 at Waco. [385]

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. [386] 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 be taken." [387]

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 Department coverup.


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 investigations.

* 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." [388]

* 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 [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?"


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." [389]

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." [390] >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 defendant!

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. [391]

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." [392] Below is an outline of the ten counts of the August 6, 1993, indictment against the eleven Branch Davidians.

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 28, 1993.

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- day standoff.

Count Nine--Conspiracy to Possess and Unlawfully Manufacture Machineguns: Fatta was charged with conspiring to manufacture and possess machineguns during 1992 and early 1993.

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 agents?"

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 it." [393]

>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. [394] 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 investigation.

* 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 been indicted.

* 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 19th fire.


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." [395] 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." [396] 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." [397]

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." [398]

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. [399] 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. [400] 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." [401] 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. [402] The judge rejected the request. [403] Defense lawyers then asked Judge Smith to prohibit prosecutors from using prejudicial words like "compound," "Ranch Apocalypse," and "Mighty Men." [404] 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- examinations.


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 planks, etc.

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." [405] 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?" [406] 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." [407] 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.'" [408] 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 certain issues.

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." [409] She probably will testify about Koresh's alleged plan to have his followers turn their weapons on the public in Waco, Texas. [410] 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. [411]

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 against them.

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. [412]

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 Davidians.

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 reference.

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 arms buildup.

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.


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 innocent." [413]

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." [414] 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." [415] 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- defense [(JDR:Cancro:3)]

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." [416] 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." [417] 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 slaughtered."

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." [418]

* 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." [419]

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. . .being brainwashed." [420]

* 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 fires.

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 top officials.

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.


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." [421] 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." [422]

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. [423]


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 2000.


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 coming times.

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 views. [424]

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 property. [425]

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." [426] 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 close." [427]


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 purposes.

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." [428] 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. [429] We include more details about the coalition in a later section.


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 welfare net.


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 return." [430]

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. [431] 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 country.

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." [432]


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." [433])

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 authorities.

* 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' Protection Act.

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 unnecessary.

* 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 conflicting regulations.

* 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 excessive force.

* 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 arrest warrants.

* 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 statutes.

* 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 defendant.

* 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 violation.

* 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 their conviction.

* 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 jurors.

* 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 attorney-client privilege.

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 distribution encouraged.

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 (private communication).

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.

5. (Reference missing in original ASCII file.)

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., (TDR:#).

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, January, 1994.

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 Investigations," 1976.

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 Publishing, 1993).

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, 1993, A20.

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. 127.

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 EST.

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, p. 15.

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, p. 137.

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 Davidians.

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, A21.

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 Austin, Texas.

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.

143. Ibid.

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 Division.

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. 50.

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, 1993, A8.

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, September, 1993.

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, 1993.

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 Davidians.

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, 1993.

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, B13.

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 13, 1994.

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, 1993, C3.

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 Washington, D.C.

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 EDT.

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.

260. Ibid.

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, 1993.

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, 1-800-758-0308.

290. Newsweek, May 3, 1993, p. 28.

291. Transcript of the April 19, 1993, 10:30 a.m. FBI press conference.

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, 1993.

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, 1993.

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 press conference.

320. Associated Press story, "Tanks, chemicals couldn't break resolve of cultists," Washington Times, April 23, 1993.

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, A6.

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, 1993, A21.

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 EDT.

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, 1993, A1.

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 press conference.

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 14, 1993.

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 14, 1993.

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 EST.

397. Associate Press wire story, January 11, 1994, 18:00 EST.

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 FIJA.

401. Associated Press wire story January 11, 1994, 14:08 EST.

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 1, 1993.

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 EDT.

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, 21, 1993.

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. (202 544-1881)

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.

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