The Waco Siege: What Happened When the Feds Laid Siege to the Branch Davidian Compound

 

“The record of the Waco incident documents mistakes. What the record from Waco does not evidence, however, is any improper motive or intent on the part of law enforcement.”

The siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, is an important event in American history because it directly led to one of the biggest terrorist attacks on American soil – the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. It’s not necessary to defend this act of terrorism to understand why the entire freedom movement of the time was so incensed by it. Indeed, it stood as a symbol of federal overreach and the corruption of the Clinton Administration.

It’s important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the siege of Waco, just as it is important to do so with the siege of Ruby Ridge or the attack on the American consolate in Benghazi. With every event, it is important to stick to the facts and what can be extrapolated from them to make the strongest argument about what went wrong and why, and what could be done differently in the future.

Background: Who Are the Branch Davidians?

The Branch Davidians were a tiny offshoot of mainstream Seventh-Day Adventism. This stemmed from an earlier split between the main church and a group called Shepherd’s Rod, The Rod or the Davidians. It was effectively a reform movement within Adventism, albeit with some beliefs considered heretical by the mainstream church, none of which are important or relevant for this discussion.

The Branch Davidians were established some 20 years later, and a much more radical departure from Seventh-Day Adventism born from disappointment at the failure of earlier prophecies to materialize. There was some wrangling over the leadership of the group after the death of its founder, but Vernon Howell, better known to the world as David Koresh, ultimately won out over the wife and son of the founder.

Everyone liked Howell when he first showed up at the compound in 1981, including the head of the organization at the time, Lois Roden, with whom he had an affair, despite a more than 40-year age gap (he was in his late 20s, she was in her late 60s). He wanted to have a child with her, one that he believed would be the Chosen One of their religion.

Her son, George Roden, took over upon her death, which led to a power struggle between the two. Roden challenged Howell to raise the dead, going so far as to exhume a corpse for this purpose. Howell attempted to file charges against Roden over the grave robbing, but the police told him that more evidence was needed.

It was then that Howell and seven of his followers raided the compound armed with five .223 caliber semiautomatic rifles, two 22 caliber rifles, two 12-gauge shotguns, and almost 400 rounds of ammunition. They said they were trying to collect evidence of illegal activity on the compound, but forgot to bring a camera with them for that purpose. This was the definitive split where Howell won control of the Branch Davidian church at Mount Carmel. Those who did not follow him continued to use this name and argue that he was never rightfully in possession of it.

It was then that Vernon Howell became David Koresh, a name based on the historical King David and Cyrus the Great (“Koresh” being the Hebrew version of “Cyrus”).

By 1989, Koresh began marrying the members’ wives and daughters, some as young as 12, which was cited as a reason for the eventual raid. He claimed this came from an order from God. The men in the group other than Koresh were to remain celibate.

The Sinful Messiah

Koresh first began getting media attention from the Waco Tribune-Herald in February 1993. “The Sinful Messiah” was the name of a series of articles by Mark England and Darlene McCormick about Koresh and his followers. The articles mostly revolve around the child abuse claims and Koresh’s claim that he had over a dozen children, some of them with girls as young as 12.

Additionally, the group was suspected by local law enforcement of “stockpiling” illegal weapons. Local law enforcement alerted the ATF in May 1992, based on a call from a concerned UPS driver. By June 9th, the ATF had officially opened an investigation into the group.

This is perhaps the time to begin talking about some of the misconceptions or smears about the Branch Davidians. We are agnostic as to whether or not the group was a “cult,” as this can be defined differently by different people. However, the notion that Koresh kept his people in line with either mesmerism or fear does not square up with reports to Congress and elsewhere from survivors of the group. What’s more, rather than the dregs of Waco, many in the group were educated, most were religiously serious, and the group eschewed drugs and junk food.

Contrary to popular belief, Koresh did not claim to be the Second Coming of Christ, but rather to be a new messiah for a new age. The term “sinful messiah” was in fact one of Koresh’s own coinage, meaning that he was a messiah like Christ but, unlike Christ, had a sinful nature.

The allegations of child abuse that prompted the final siege on Mount Carmel is even highly in dispute. Most of the allegations against Koresh come from either disgruntled former members or those involved in child custody battles. The church was investigated by state authorities but not prosecuted, because no solid evidence was ever found. That Koresh married a 14-year-old girl is true, but this would have been totally legal with parental consent at the time – so what were state authorities supposed to do?

Assuming that the allegations of child sexual abuse were true – and we consider them to be extremely dubious – what was the ATF or the FBI doing there? And how does opening fire, throwing hand grenades, poison gassing and burning alive children serve to protect them? These are the important questions which stand as a stunning indictment of federal law enforcement, even if one accepts that child abuse was taking place within the compound.

As with Ruby Ridge, the allegations of the federal government and their toadies in the corporate media are distortions (“Koresh claims to be Christ”), dubious (“Koresh is abusing children”) and, more to the point, irrelevant (“The Branch Davidians were cooking meth”). The FBI and ATF were on the scene in Waco for one reason and one reason alone: To serve a search warrant to determine whether or not the Branch Davidians were making automatic weapons.

The Raid of Waco

The actual events of the raid can be difficult to tease out. Each side disagrees as to what the sequence of events were.

What we know is that, based on an affidavit filed by Davy Aguilera, the ATF obtained a search warrant. This was based on the testimony of a postal agent about what he considered to be suspicious deliveries to Mt. Carmel. However, none of the deliveries were in and of themselves illegal, and included items such as 45 AR-15 upper receivers, and five M-16 upper receivers.

The search warrant was mostly based on the number of weapons possessed by the Davidians. But in the United States of America, we have the right to own as many weapons as we can afford. What’s more, the notion that the Davidians were “stockpiling” weapons is a red herring: They were selling weapons (legally) in addition to buying them, so “inventory” might be the more accurate term for what they had at Mt. Carmel.

According to Dick J. Reavis, author of The Ashes of Waco:

“One of the prophecies that has been around Mt. Carmel since 1934 called for an ultimate confrontation between God’s people, or those at Mr. Carmel, and the forces of an armed apostate power called Babylon . . . Perhaps with that in mind, in 1991, the Davidians began studying armaments and buying and selling guns. He (Koresh) pretty quickly found out there is a lot of money to be made at gun shows and he and other people started going to gun shows. And they bought and sold. They bought items that weren’t guns, and they bought items that were guns. We now say, or the press now says, most people say, they stockpiled weapons. All gun dealers stockpile weapons. We call those stockpiles an inventory. There was an inventory of weapons at Mt. Carmel. A number of guys were involved in the gun shows, just as a number were involved in souping up and restoring cars, and just as a number were involved in playing in the band. There were circles or knots or subsets of people who had hobby interests that were only indirectly related to theology, and guns were one of those interests.”

The ATF’s raid, codenamed “Showtime,” was moved up one day in response to a local newspaper’s article on the Davidians. The local sheriff was not aware of the raid, but the Davidians knew it was coming. The ATF chose to raid the property rather than pick up Koresh while he was in town. An ATF agent who had infiltrated the group reported that they knew of the raid and that his cover was blown. When asked what they were doing when he left the property on the day of the raid, he said that the Davidians were praying.

There was another factor influencing the ATF’s decision to raid the Davidians when they did: Money. According to Henry Ruth, one of three independent reviewers of the Treasury Department’s report on Waco:

“With appropriations hearings a week away, a large successful raid for the ATF would’ve proposed major positive headlines for the agency. It would’ve helped counter the narrative of the ATF as a rogue agency. And it would’ve spread fear about radical fringe groups which would put pressure on Congress to increase its budget. Part of their motivation was to use the siege at Waco as a publicity stunt.”

There is much discussion and debate about who fired first, however, there is ample evidence that it was the ATF when they went to shoot the Davidians’ dogs in their kennels on the way to surrounding the compound. What’s more, the ATF showed up in a cattle trailer protected by a tarp, wearing no body armor. They were not dressed for an armed confrontation with apocalyptic religious extremists.

A ceasefire was negotiated by local authorities. The sheriff claims that the ATF only withdrew once they were out of ammunition. What this means is that if the Branch Davidians were the dangerous extremists they were portrayed as, they could have easily shot down every ATF agent either then or when they went out to recover their dead. They did not; the Davidians honored the ceasefire.

“They could’ve killed every ATF agent out there the day of the raid, had they kept shooting. But when they said they would leave their property, they quit shooting. They were highly protective of their property.”

And so began the 51-day standoff in Waco, Texas.

The Waco Standoff

The standoff is frequently thought of as a benign and inert non-confrontation. However, this is untrue. While it’s true that no shots were fired, there was a virtual constant low-level assault on the compound in the form of noise (rabbits being slaughtered, jet planes, pop music and other loud noises), threatening tank movements and poison gas, and flash bang grenades. Federal agents would frequently give the middle finger to or “moon” the people inside Mt. Carmel.

The tanks were used to crush the outer perimeter, out buildings, private vehicles belonging to the Branch Davidians, and were repeatedly rolled over the grave of Branch Davidian Peter Gent, despite protests from both Branch Davidians and federal negotiators.

While none of this is acceptable, two of these activities bear special examination: the gas and flash bang grenades.

The “tear gas” used against the compound was military grade, a type that can turn toxic very easily. The federal agents knew there were children and even infants in the house, children too small for any gas mask to cover. They shot the grenades in anyway, effectively considering the suffering of the children inside as acceptable collateral damage. Further, flash bang grenades are deadly and certainly violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the ceasefire.

Koresh became concerned with the safety of the group due to increasingly aggressive tactics. All told, 11 people left the Davidian house, all of whom were arrested as material witnesses, with one indicted for conspiracy to commit murder. Children inside were increasingly unwilling to leave Koresh’s side, especially once they learned that the children who had previously left had been separated from their mothers and other women in the group who had been caring for them.

Communication predictably began to break down. The FBI considered using snipers to take out Koresh and other leaders of the movement, and feared a mass suicide. However, Koresh denied such a thing was imminient and those leaving the compound had seen no plans in place for a mass suicide.

How the Media Portrayed the Standoff

Koresh and the Davidians watched what the ATF and other federal agents were saying publicly about the initial raid during their 51-day standoff. The public narrative didn’t line up with what the Davidians had experienced, making negotiations even more difficult:

Jim Cavanaugh, ATF negotiator: Well, I think we need to set the record straight, and that is that there was no guns on those helicopters (used in the initial raid). There was National Guard officers on those helicopters . . .
Koresh: Now Jim, you’re a d*mn liar. Now let’s get real.
Cavanaugh: David, I . . .
Koresh: No! You listen to me! You’re sittin’ there and tellin’ me that there were no guns on that helicopter!?
Cavanaugh: I said they didn’t shoot. There’s no guns on . . .
Koresh: You are a d*mn liar!
Cavanaugh: Well, you’re wrong, David.
Koresh: You are a liar!
Cavanaugh: OK. Well, just calm down . . .
Koresh: No! Let me tell you something. That might be what you want the media to believe, but there’s other people that saw too! Now, tell me Jim again. You’re honestly going to say those helicopters didn’t fire on any of us?
Cavanaugh: What I’m sayin’ is . . . now I listened to you, now you listen to me, OK?
Koresh: I’m listening.
Cavanaugh: What I’m sayin’ is that those helicopters didn’t have mounted guns. OK? I’m not disputing the fact that there might have been fire from the helicopters. If you say there was fire from the helicopters and you were there that’s OK with me. What I’m tellin’ you is there was no mounted guns, ya know, outside mounted guns on those helicopters.
Koresh: I agree with you on that.
Cavanaugh: Alright. Now, that’s the only thing I’m sayin’. Now, the agents on the helicopters had guns.
Koresh: I agree with you on that!
Cavanaugh: You understand what I’m sayin’?
Koresh: I agree with you.
Cavanaugh: OK, OK. So see, we’re not even in dispute and Steven’s getting all worked up over it.
Koresh: Well, no. What the dispute was over, I believe Jim, is that you said they didn’t fire on us from the helicopters.
Cavanaugh: Well, what I mean is a mounted gun . . . like a, you know, like a mounted machine gun.
Koresh: Yeah. But like that’s beside the point. What they did have was machine guns.

This distrust by the Davidians of the ATF and their lead negotiator, Jim Cavanaugh, helped exacerbate the standoff.

The Final Siege of Mount Carmel

The newly minted U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was unhappy with the progress being made at Waco, and invoked (what else) the abuse of children in her pitch for a resolution to the conflict. For his part, President Clinton, who had dealt with a similar situation as Governor of Arkansas in 1985 – with The Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord – initially urged waiting out the group. Reno, however, cited antsy agents and budgetary concerns. Ultimately, Clinton told her to do whatever she thought was best.

The FBI Hostage Rescue Team – derisively nicknamed the “Hostage Roasting Team” and which denied any evidence of child abuse – came armed with 50 caliber rifles and punched holes in the walls of the building with explosives so they could pump CS poision gas into a building with small children and infants inside. The plan was to announce to the group that there was no plan to take the house by force while slowly pumping greater amounts of CS gas inside to increase pressure on them to leave.

The fires began around noon on the final day of the standoff. The FBI maintains that they were started deliberately by the Davidians, with some survivors claiming that the FBI started the fires either intentionally or accidentally. Footage of the Davidians talking about gasoline seem to refer to them making Molotov cocktails to fight the FBI with.

Nine people left the building during the fire. The remaining people inside all died either from the fire, smoke inhalation, were buried alive by rubble or were shot. Some showed signs of death by cyanide poisoning, which would likely have been a result of the burning CS gas. All told, there were 76 deaths.

FBI claims in the 51 days during the standoff they never fired a single shot. Then 27 of the people in the compound died of bullet wounds. Then those were self-inflicted or inflicted by other members inside the compound. Federal investigators considered suicide as a possible form of gunshot death for the Davidians. It did not consider forced execution to be a likely cause of death.

An exchange between Sen. Chuck Schumer and Assistant Attorney General Edward Dennis in the Clinton Administration in the subsequent congressional investigation summed it up best:

Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Congressman, New York (D): We’ve heard that in the 51 days the FBI was involved, they did not fire a single shot . . . First, That would mean quite certainly that 27 of the people who died in the compound, I think the autopsy report showed 27, I may be off by one or two, who died of bullet wounds, those were self-inflicted or inflicted by other members within the compound . . .

Edward Dennis, Former Assistant Attorney General, Clinton Administration: I think that’s a key issue. The fact that Koresh was capable of setting the fire, of killing his own followers, that parents were capable of killing children, or adults were capable of killing children, really says more about the mentality of the individual that you were dealing with and the difficulty in trying to figure out the best way to talk he and his followers out of that compound.

After the Raid

Today the only building on the site is a small chapel erected years after the raid. The building itself was razed. The incoming head of the ATF, John Magaw, was critical of the raid and made the Treasury Department’s Blue Book report on the matter required reading for incoming agents.

Nine Branch Davidians received sentences of up to 40 years for counts including voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges. Several other Davidians, including foreign nationals, were imprisoned indefinitely as material witnesses. Derek Lovelock, a British national, was held in McLennan County Jail for seven months, with the bulk of this time in solitary confinement. Livingstone Fagan claims to have been repeatedly beaten by guards at Leavenworth and other places. It was here that Fagan claims he was sprayed with cold water by a high-pressure hose before the guards put an industrial fan outside of his cell. Guards strip searched him every time he left his cell, so he began refusing exercise.

Over 100 civil suits were brought against the government by Branch Davidians and their surviving families. Most of these were dismissed before ever coming before a jury. Where cases were brought to court, the Davidians were ruled against. A jury in San Antonio, however, acquitted Branch Davidians in the killing of four ATF agents on grounds of self defense.

Perhaps the most important piece of evidence that the ATF fired first was lost. Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin testified under oath that the right-hand entry door to the building had only incoming bullet holes in it. A Texas state trooper testified that he saw two men load what looked like that door into a Uhaul. The Branch Davidians argued at trial that the condition of the left-hand door (i.e., intact) means that the right-hand door was not destroyed in the fire, but “lost” on purpose. There seems to be no better explanation considering how buttoned down the crime scene was and the stakes involved in shielding the ATF and other federal agents from investigation.

The door was not the only evidence that was “lost.” The ATF’s footage of the original raid was also mysteriously (and miraculously, depending on what side you’re on) somehow lost. All this, despite congressional demands to produce both:

“I will just make one comment to the witnesses relative to the video and the front door. We have consistently asked as a committee to get a copy of the videotape which they now say is blank. We have asked for the door, and the door is missing.”

What the Waco Siege Tells Us About the Federal Government

The Waco siege does not provide any new or stunning insight about the federal government or how it operates. It does, however, confirm something that we know all too well: That when the federal government makes mistakes, its tendency is not to address and remedy those mistakes, but to double down, come back harder, and take every measure they can to conceal their wrongdoing.

However, there is another more sinister strand to this story: Did the FBI kill men, women and children because of budgetary concerns?

There is some evidence to suggest that they did. Federal law prevents the military from enforcing federal law. What’s more, any training that law enforcement agencies receive from the military must be paid out of their own budgets – unless the training is for enforcing “drug laws.” Late Congressman Steven Schiff of New Mexico testified that, ”In order for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to have obtained the military assistance they did receive, not because of the Posse Comitatus Act, but because of existing military policy, they misrepresented to the military that this was an anti-drug raid when it was never an anti-drug raid.”

In David Hardy’s “This is Not an Assault,” he stresses, “Once the military trainers pointed out that the ATF would have to pay, the ATF suddenly claimed that the Davidians – who in fact eschewed hard liquor, tobacco, cow’s milk and junk food – were a ‘dangerous extremist organization’ believed to be producing methamphetamine.”

There is no evidence that the Branch Davidians were in any way involved in drug production. There is, however, ample evidence to suggest that the federal government callously ignored the lives and safety of those inside to grandstand before cameras and justify bigger budgets.

The Waco Siege: What Happened When the Feds Laid Siege to the Branch Davidian Compound originally appeared in The Resistance Library at Ammo.com.

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  1. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    I don’t care how kooky or crazy or cult-like David Koresh was, this event should have been enough to revolt over.

    Instead, it got swept under the rug and Barr the fixer allowed everyone involved on the government side to skate. I think the only one that faced criminal charges was a news person that knew of the attack beforehand.

    This was a revolting, disgusting display of weak men trying to justify their bad actions by doubling and tripling down on it.

    • #1
  2. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    It was the ATF, not the FBI, that started the siege. They appeared to have tipped off the media in advance, to get what they thought would be great footage ahead of budget debates. Excellent and evergreen timely article.

    I recommend Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America, published by the University of California Press, for a scholarly but readable account.

    • #2
  3. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    During the raid, there was something like 300+ government agents involved.  It was intentional over-force like with Roger Stone.  This kind of conflagration might be common if Joe Biden gets his “register your gun or die” bill passed. 

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    An easier way to describe Waco would be to say, “Janet Reno incinerated children in order to save them.”

    • #4
  5. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Forget about defunding the local police. Defund the ATF and the FBI.

    • #5
  6. DJ EJ Member
    DJ EJ
    @DJEJ

    I coincidentally just watched the FBI Files episode yesterday called “Brotherhood of Hate” about the shooting of Arkansas State Trooper Louis Perry Bryant in 1984 and subsequent standoff between the FBI and and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord at their southwestern Arkansas compound.

    Anyone know of a good documentary about the Branch Davidians and Waco?

    Also, I’ve really enjoyed many of the Ammo.com articles, including this one. Since these get published on a website in addition to just being Ricochet posts, I think further proofreading and revisions to correct grammar and syntax would be helpful. This paragraph in particular stood out to me as needing revision (italics added):

    [The] FBI claims in the 51 days during the standoff they never fired a single shot. Then 27 of the people in the compound died of bullet wounds. Then those were self-inflicted or inflicted by other members inside the compound. Federal investigators considered suicide as a possible form of gunshot death for the Davidians. It did not consider forced execution to be a likely cause of death.

    • #6
  7. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    DJ EJ (View Comment):

    I coincidentally just watched the FBI Files episode yesterday called “Brotherhood of Hate” about the shooting of Arkansas State Trooper Louis Perry Bryant in 1984 and subsequent standoff between the FBI and and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord at their southwestern Arkansas compound.

    Anyone know of a good documentary about the Branch Davidians and Waco?

    Also, I’ve really enjoyed many of the Ammo.com articles, including this one. Since these get published on a website in addition to just being Ricochet posts, I think further proofreading and revisions to correct grammar and syntax would be helpful. This paragraph in particular stood out to me as needing revision (italics added):

    [The] FBI claims in the 51 days during the standoff they never fired a single shot. Then 27 of the people in the compound died of bullet wounds. Then those were self-inflicted or inflicted by other members inside the compound. Federal investigators considered suicide as a possible form of gunshot death for the Davidians. It did not consider forced execution to be a likely cause of death.

    I don’t know about documentary, but Netflix produced Waco was incredibly well done and the producers really wanted to get the details right. They interviewed a lot of people who were there, including David’s mother. 

    • #7
  8. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Stina (View Comment):

    DJ EJ (View Comment):

    I coincidentally just watched the FBI Files episode yesterday called “Brotherhood of Hate” about the shooting of Arkansas State Trooper Louis Perry Bryant in 1984 and subsequent standoff between the FBI and and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord at their southwestern Arkansas compound.

    Anyone know of a good documentary about the Branch Davidians and Waco?

    Also, I’ve really enjoyed many of the Ammo.com articles, including this one. Since these get published on a website in addition to just being Ricochet posts, I think further proofreading and revisions to correct grammar and syntax would be helpful. This paragraph in particular stood out to me as needing revision (italics added):

    [The] FBI claims in the 51 days during the standoff they never fired a single shot. Then 27 of the people in the compound died of bullet wounds. Then those were self-inflicted or inflicted by other members inside the compound. Federal investigators considered suicide as a possible form of gunshot death for the Davidians. It did not consider forced execution to be a likely cause of death.

    I don’t know about documentary, but Netflix produced Waco was incredibly well done and the producers really wanted to get the details right. They interviewed a lot of people who were there, including David’s mother.

    Well his mother wasn’t there, but he called her during the siege.

    • #8
  9. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    It was the ATF, not the FBI, that started the siege. They appeared to have tipped off the media in advance, to get what they thought would be great footage ahead of budget debates. Excellent and evergreen timely article.

    I recommend Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America, published by the University of California Press, for a scholarly but readable account.

    Yeah, there have been two or three excellent documentaries about the siege and all were in agreement that Koresh would leave the compound several times a week, which asks the question; Could the entire affair have been avoided if Koresh had been quietly arrested while he was outside the compound?  Although he had some rabid followers, there was nothing to indicate that any of them could have stepped up to assume his position.  A strong case can be made that the group would have just quietly dissolved in a matter of months.

    I believe it’s true that the ATF tipped off the media about the upcoming raid.  In one of the documentaries, a camera swept the room in which agents were preparing for their “day of battle”.  I do remember that the camera panned over one sweet young thing, in full battle rattle, sitting and reading a newspaper.  As the camera passed her, she giggled and demurely said, “Oh, don’t take my picture.”  Clearly, the ATF believed that the Davidians would meekly surrender.  Instead they got their a&&es handed to them.

    Whether negotiations would have eventually succeeded is debatable.  Koresh was definitely a head case.  Still, I believe that when the Feds cut off their electricity and water, it would have just been a matter of time before they surrendered.

    I do believe that the Davidians started the fires that eventually consummed them.  However, the effect of the tanks tearing into their home may have pushed them to the point that they figured they had nothing to lose.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not sure that the Feds (ATF, FBI, Congress, etc.) learned a d*mned thing from the fiasco.  There should have been a whole list of “takeaways” from the affair but, right at the top of the list, should be the chilling video of Timothy McVeigh standing there, taking in the conflagration.  It seems to me that the ATF and FBI still have no realization of how many extremists that they created on that day…

     

    • #9
  10. Tyrion Lannister Member
    Tyrion Lannister
    @TyrionLannister

    How many children were killed?

    • #10
  11. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Tyrion Lannister (View Comment):

    How many children were killed?

    According to Wikipedia, 25.

    • #11
  12. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    I’m surprised there isn’t an array of barbed wire and barricades around the compound now, to this day, guarded by 25,000 soldiers.

    Because, y’know.  Safety.

    • #12
  13. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    CACrabtree (View Comment):
    Could the entire affair have been avoided if Koresh had been quietly arrested while he was outside the compound?

    This is key.  My take it the government wanted a show of force, not only to get the Davidians but to cow other groups into not fighting back when the Feds come knocking . . .

    • #13
  14. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    ‘That when the federal government makes mistakes, its tendency is not to address and remedy those mistakes, but to double down, come back harder, and take every measure they can to conceal their wrongdoing.’

     

    Sounds like the lockdowns to me.

    • #14
  15. DJ EJ Member
    DJ EJ
    @DJEJ

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Yeah, there have been two or three excellent documentaries about the siege and all were in agreement that Koresh would leave the compound several times a week, which asks the question; Could the entire affair have been avoided if Koresh had been quietly arrested while he was outside the compound? Although he had some rabid followers, there was nothing to indicate that any of them could have stepped up to assume his position. A strong case can be made that the group would have just quietly dissolved in a matter of months.

    I think it would have dissolved quietly if they had arrested Koresh in town.

    I believe it’s true that the ATF tipped off the media about the upcoming raid. In one of the documentaries, a camera swept the room in which agents were preparing for their “day of battle”. I do remember that the camera panned over one sweet young thing, in full battle rattle, sitting and reading a newspaper. As the camera passed her, she giggled and demurely said, “Oh, don’t take my picture.” Clearly, the ATF believed that the Davidians would meekly surrender. Instead they got their a&&es handed to them.

    I just finished watching the 2018 two part documentary “Waco: Madman or Messiah”. It describes how the ATF secured a search warrant but there’s never any talk about serving the warrant, just an immediate shift to raiding the compound. Tipping off the media resulted in tipping off the Branch Davidians which meant they lost the element of surprise for their raid – cited multiple times by the two former ATF agents interviewed in the documentary as the key to the raid’s success. They both stated in the documentary and on the day of the raid that they should have aborted the operation. Another glaring flaw in their plan – how did they expect their raid to be a surprise when they did it in broad daylight at a compound surrounded by open land, i.e. their approach was impossible to conceal?

     

    • #15
  16. DJ EJ Member
    DJ EJ
    @DJEJ

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not sure that the Feds (ATF, FBI, Congress, etc.) learned a d*mned thing from the fiasco. There should have been a whole list of “takeaways” from the affair but, right at the top of the list, should be the chilling video of Timothy McVeigh standing there, taking in the conflagration. It seems to me that the ATF and FBI still have no realization of how many extremists that they created on that day…

    One of the failings of the documentary was the lack of coverage of the political fallout for the federal government. In the documentary it’s clear that law enforcement officials to this day have a complete lack of understanding of how their tactics quickly escalated a confrontation with an apocalyptic movement in which everyone sincerely held to the sect’s beliefs. The FBI negotiator kept trying to convince Koresh to release people as if they were hostages. They were not there against their will. They did not want to leave. The Branch Davidian survivors interviewed in the documentary regret not being there and those that fled the flames wish they’d had the courage to stay inside and die inside the building.

    You have a leader who believes he is the Messiah, the Lamb of God who can open the seven seals in the book of Revelation. If the FBI didn’t get that before, they should have taken Koresh seriously when he was allowed to broadcast a statement on a Christian Broadcasting Network affiliate radio station. That and the hours and hours of recorded conversations between the FBI negotiator and Koresh make it clear that he consistently spoke in theological and apocalyptic language. He thought the fifth seal was being opened and that the servants of God were about to be killed for their faith. The tanks (since when does the FBI have tanks?), APCs, helicopters, 400 camouflaged armed agents, FBI snipers, search lights, and blasting high decibel noises and music into the compound throughout the night served to confirm Koresh’s belief that the Biblical prophecy concerning their martyrdom was about to be fulfilled. The two Biblical scholars who were trying to reason with Koresh on theological terms were ignored by the FBI despite the progress they were making.

    One final note. The former FBI Hostage Rescue Team agent Jim McGee interviewed in the documentary comes across as a real trigger happy a$$h***. He seems disappointed still today that he didn’t get to shoot any of the Branch Davidians. It’s difficult to believe the government officials’ sincerity about their concern for the children when they pumped the compound full of tear gas for six hours knowing that gas masks aren’t made in children’s sizes.

    • #16
  17. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    There should have been a whole list of “takeaways” from the affair 

    For instance, agents. In handcuffs. 

    • #17
  18. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    TBA (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    There should have been a whole list of “takeaways” from the affair

    For instance, agents. In handcuffs.

    Barr The Fixer insured none of that. Just journalists ratting out the FBI in cuffs.

    • #18
  19. Ammo.com Member
    Ammo.com
    @ammodotcom

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    During the raid, there was something like 300+ government agents involved. It was intentional over-force like with Roger Stone. This kind of conflagration might be common if Joe Biden gets his “register your gun or die” bill passed.

    The REAL fun is going to begin when the media starts putting a positive spin on cops murdering African Americans for not handing over their firearms.

    • #19
  20. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Ran afoul of the 500 word limit, so let me start over.

    @djej, I saw that same interview with McGee.  He came across as a would-be special operator who couldn’t make the grade.  I read his bio at Amazon and there is no military service listed; he came to the FBI via the U.S. Forest Service.  The bio said that he had awards for “valor” but in Civil Service, who knows what that means?  (At Waco, he was given the “FBI medal of honor” for his actions.) That same bio said that “he is regarded as an expert in security measures associated with venues of mass gatherings and lectures frequently about this topic.”

    OK, is he busily forming tactics to use against Americans who are exercising their Constitutional rights?  Who knows?

    One interesting thing is that McGee testified at the Branch Davidian’s lawsuit against the U.S. Government and stated that he “was willing to risk his life for sect members.”  Now, stop a minute.  Does that square with the braggart that we saw in the interview?

    So, we get members of a trigger-happy Federal agency, getting medals for their “valor” in their war against some religious wing-nuts who just wanted to be left alone.  An outstanding example of totalitarian doublespeak. 

    Another interesting thing about the FBI at Waco was the fact that part of their force included Lon Horiuchi, who is “famous” for his murder of Randy Weaver’s wife as she held her infant.  There is no record of Horiuchi being an active participant, but what was he even doing there?  In my opinion, he should be rotting in a Federal prison today but he’s enjoying his government pension (at our expense).

    • #20
  21. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Ammo.com (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    During the raid, there was something like 300+ government agents involved. It was intentional over-force like with Roger Stone. This kind of conflagration might be common if Joe Biden gets his “register your gun or die” bill passed.

    The REAL fun is going to begin when the media starts putting a positive spin on cops murdering African Americans for not handing over their firearms.

    Don’t believe we’re going to see that in our lifetimes.  I never did see many positive stories about “stop and frisk”.

    • #21
  22. DJ EJ Member
    DJ EJ
    @DJEJ

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Ran afoul of the 500 word limit, so let me start over.

    @ djej, I saw that same interview with McGee. He came across as a would-be special operator who couldn’t make the grade. I read his bio at Amazon and there is no military service listed; he came to the FBI via the U.S. Forest Service. The bio said that he had awards for “valor” but in Civil Service, who knows what that means? (At Waco, he was given the “FBI medal of honor” for his actions.) That same bio said that “he is regarded as an expert in security measures associated with venues of mass gatherings and lectures frequently about this topic.”

    OK, is he busily forming tactics to use against Americans who are exercising their Constitutional rights? Who knows?

    One interesting thing is that McGee testified at the Branch Davidian’s lawsuit against the U.S. Government and stated that he “was willing to risk his life for sect members.” Now, stop a minute. Does that square with the braggart that we saw in the interview?

    So, we get members of a trigger-happy Federal agency, getting medals for their “valor” in their war against some religious wing-nuts who just wanted to be left alone. An outstanding example of totalitarian doublespeak.

    Another interesting thing about the FBI at Waco was the fact that part of their force included Lon Horiuchi, who is “famous” for his murder of Randy Weaver’s wife as she held her infant. There is no record of Horiuchi being an active participant, but what was he even doing there? In my opinion, he should be rotting in a Federal prison today but he’s enjoying his government pension (at our expense).

    Interesting further background, thank you for this. I assume McGee was a government witness testifying against the Branch Davidians in one of their civil suits against the Feds. What does he mean by that quote “was willing to risk his life for sect members”? Is McGee referring to himself, that he was willing to risk his life to save the Davidians from the burning building?

    • #22
  23. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    DJ EJ (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Ran afoul of the 500 word limit, so let me start over.

    @ djej, I saw that same interview with McGee. He came across as a would-be special operator who couldn’t make the grade. I read his bio at Amazon and there is no military service listed; he came to the FBI via the U.S. Forest Service. The bio said that he had awards for “valor” but in Civil Service, who knows what that means? (At Waco, he was given the “FBI medal of honor” for his actions.) That same bio said that “he is regarded as an expert in security measures associated with venues of mass gatherings and lectures frequently about this topic.”

    OK, is he busily forming tactics to use against Americans who are exercising their Constitutional rights? Who knows?

    One interesting thing is that McGee testified at the Branch Davidian’s lawsuit against the U.S. Government and stated that he “was willing to risk his life for sect members.” Now, stop a minute. Does that square with the braggart that we saw in the interview?

    So, we get members of a trigger-happy Federal agency, getting medals for their “valor” in their war against some religious wing-nuts who just wanted to be left alone. An outstanding example of totalitarian doublespeak.

    Another interesting thing about the FBI at Waco was the fact that part of their force included Lon Horiuchi, who is “famous” for his murder of Randy Weaver’s wife as she held her infant. There is no record of Horiuchi being an active participant, but what was he even doing there? In my opinion, he should be rotting in a Federal prison today but he’s enjoying his government pension (at our expense).

    Interesting further background, thank you for this. I assume McGee was a government witness testifying against the Branch Davidians in one of their civil suits against the Feds. What does he mean by that quote “was willing to risk his life for sect members”? Is McGee referring to himself, that he was willing to risk his life to save the Davidians from the burning building?

    Yeah, from the story at the LA Times, I got the impression that he was trying to pull back on his macho act that he displayed during the interview we saw.

    • #23
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    DJ EJ (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Ran afoul of the 500 word limit, so let me start over.

    @ djej, I saw that same interview with McGee. He came across as a would-be special operator who couldn’t make the grade. I read his bio at Amazon and there is no military service listed; he came to the FBI via the U.S. Forest Service. The bio said that he had awards for “valor” but in Civil Service, who knows what that means? (At Waco, he was given the “FBI medal of honor” for his actions.) That same bio said that “he is regarded as an expert in security measures associated with venues of mass gatherings and lectures frequently about this topic.”

    OK, is he busily forming tactics to use against Americans who are exercising their Constitutional rights? Who knows?

    One interesting thing is that McGee testified at the Branch Davidian’s lawsuit against the U.S. Government and stated that he “was willing to risk his life for sect members.” Now, stop a minute. Does that square with the braggart that we saw in the interview?

    So, we get members of a trigger-happy Federal agency, getting medals for their “valor” in their war against some religious wing-nuts who just wanted to be left alone. An outstanding example of totalitarian doublespeak.

    Another interesting thing about the FBI at Waco was the fact that part of their force included Lon Horiuchi, who is “famous” for his murder of Randy Weaver’s wife as she held her infant. There is no record of Horiuchi being an active participant, but what was he even doing there? In my opinion, he should be rotting in a Federal prison today but he’s enjoying his government pension (at our expense).

    Interesting further background, thank you for this. I assume McGee was a government witness testifying against the Branch Davidians in one of their civil suits against the Feds. What does he mean by that quote “was willing to risk his life for sect members”? Is McGee referring to himself, that he was willing to risk his life to save the Davidians from the burning building?

    Translation: “wanted to start shooting earlier but waited until one of the other guys started shooting.” 

    • #24
  25. Dominique Prynne Member
    Dominique Prynne
    @DominiquePrynne

    I was a student worker at the Baylor Law library in Waco in 1994.  A couple of the Branch Davidians would come in regularly during my 7-midnight shift on Friday nights to research.  The law library was pretty dead at that time so I got to be acquainted with the Davidians.  They were always very pleasant and polite.  They shared some of their stories with me as I assisted in finding the legal resources they were needing to defend/respond to the various legal challenges their loved ones were facing. Admittedly, I didn’t believe their stories about being put upon so egregiously by state or federal officials at the time.  I was young and naive and thought government actors would never do those types of things.  I wish I could go back and tell them I know better now.  

    • #25