HELICOPTER ATTACK REMINISCENT OF VIETNAM
The day after
fire Larry Potts, then Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal
expressed what was surely the FBI's prime reason public reason for
forward with the April 19, 1993 gas and tank assault, "These people had
thumbed their noses at law enforcement"2/--and the authority of law
from the FBI to Attorney General Janet Reno to President Bill
to be enforced. However, there is evidence there was another
one the FBI refuses to admit.
Few Americans realize a simple truth about BATF's raid, one that the government has tried to suppress and the press has discounted or ignored: in the first minutes of the raid National Guard helicopters zoomed in on Mount Carmel, guns blazing, like Americans raiding a Vietnam village in that far off war. Davidians claim that four of their group were killed by firing from these helicopters. David Koresh's unarmed father-in-law, who stood behind him at the front door, was also mortally wounded by gunfire from BATF agents on the ground.
Like Koresh, BATF agents knew that if Mount Carmel, whose roofs and walls contained evidence of this helicopter attack, was left standing, the Davidians stood an excellent chance of being acquitted of murder of federal agents by a sympathetic jury. And, in fact, those who survived were acquitted of murder.
Moreover, BATF agents could face prosecution and imprisonment for negligent or even intentional homicide in the deaths of the unarmed Davidians. FBI agents took over from BATF and befriended and sympathized with BATF agents who had seen four comrades killed and 20 wounded. It is likely FBI agents, conspiring either silently or explicitly with BATF agents, deliberately sabotaged negotiations with the Davidians to prevent their exiting Mount Carmel. The ravages of time, wind and rain alone would destroy some of that evidence of illegal gunfire. Moreover, agents may have hoped to create an incident or situation that would give them an excuse to destroy the building and its incriminating evidence. If that meant the massacre of dozens of men, women and children--all witnesses to the brutal attack--so be it. The possibility that one or two Davidians, in a foolish act of self-defense, lighted one of the fires that consumed the building is the least likely scenario.
Unfortunately, the Davidians played into BATF and the FBI's hands by not surrendering. Davidians sincerely believed the BATF attack was God's way of helping them spread His word. They were righteously angered by the unjust attack, especially given David Koresh's earlier invitation to BATF to inspect his guns. They were fearful that federal agents would destroy evidence of BATF crimes once they exited the building. And they worried that over a hundred men, women and children would be rendered homeless and lose their church if they were to exit without legal reassurances they could keep the property. For all these reasons Davidians stubbornly refused to leave their home--until the FBI made it impossible for them to escape alive.
In the video "The Waco Incident: The True Story," controversial investigator Gordon Novel asserts, "That's America's first Auschwitz right there. They're gassing them prior to cremating them." The massacre of the Branch Davidians was the greatest government massacre of civilians on American soil since the massacre of 300 Native Americans at Wounded Knee in 1890. There are hundreds of disturbing questions about this massacre that must be answered.
IS AMERICA BECOMING A POLICE STATE?
see BATF's paramilitary raid upon the Branch Davidians, and the FBI's
51 day siege and brutal April 19th gas and tank attack, as evidence
the United States is far down the road toward becoming a police
Government critic William Norman Grigg writes: "The government's
to the Waco confrontation--shoot in haste and invent a justification at
leisure--is that of the police state. Once the precipitate
on the sect had resulted in deaths, the government claimed that those
justified the raid, in spite of the fact that the raid had caused those
deaths." Grigg notes that while in a free society "laws are
few and easily understood," in a totalitarian police state "laws are
and frequently unintelligible, and the state can intervene at whim into
a person's private affairs."3/
As we shall see, the Davidians were accused of running afoul of "unintelligible laws" and assaulted despite their attempts to cooperate with authorities and make sure they were in compliance with those laws. While the government alleges it discovered a number of illegal weapons in the ruins of the Davidians' home, many Americans suspect these weapons actually were manufactured "at leisure" by the government to "justify" their raid.
The War on Drugs
The government's most successful excuse for violating Americans' rights has been the "War On Drugs," a war which is largely responsible for the government's stepped up "War on Guns." Much of today's violent crime is prohibition-related, the prohibition of psychoactive drugs instead of alcohol. The attraction of hefty illegal profits has led to even greater struggles over territory and violence between armed gangs than that during alcohol prohibition. Drug-related crime and the profit-driven promotion of drug use has hit inner cities the hardest, even as law enforcement has concentrated its efforts on arresting and imprisoning African-American and Latino users and dealers.
The War on Drugs has led to serious abuses of Americans' constitutional rights by law enforcement: use of unreliable informants, inadequate investigation of alleged crimes, increasing use of entrapment, judicial rubber-stamping of search warrants, growing use of unjustified "no knock" warrants, improper use of deadly force, increasing violations of due process of law, chipping away at the exclusionary rule against using illegally obtained evidence, improper use of forfeiture proceedings to augment law enforcement budgets, unjust mandatory sentencing guidelines and growing use of the military in domestic law enforcement.
The War on Guns
Drug-prohibition-related gun violence has resulted in more laws and stricter enforcement of laws restricting gun ownership. Gun ownership is being added to a growing list of "victimless" crimes. In 1994, after many years of effort, gun control advocates pushed the Brady Bill handgun registration law through Congress. The 1993 crime bill banned the further manufacture, transfer or possession of 19 types of semi-automatic weapons (so-called "assault" weapons) and firearms magazines that exceed ten rounds. However, though it permitted transfer or possession of weapons or magazines produced before September 13, 1994, the day President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law. It also outlawed the use of more than two attachments to a semi-automatic rifle that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine. The one exception to these prohibitions, of course, is continued manufacture of semi-automatic weapons for the military and for civilian law enforcement. Gun control advocates continue to propose more restrictive laws and taxes on guns and ammunition, including registration of semi-automatic guns and eventually all guns. They even hope to repeal of the Second Amendment.
However, both a federal statute--Firearms Owners' Protection Act of 1986, §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. 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."4/ What he did not mention, but what is well known among Second Amendment activists, is that most of those raided were not criminals using guns for illegal purposes, but honest and peaceful citizens. Whether they break gun laws out of ignorance, because they are "set up" by BATF agents or informants--and even if they have broken no law at all--BATF too often treats American gun owners like dangerous criminals.
Several cases of BATF abuses have gained wide notoriety. In December, 1991 agents raided and trashed John Lawmaster's unoccupied home, found nothing illegal and left without shutting the door, leaving guns and ammunition strewn about the unsecured home.5/ In May, 1992 BATF raided the home of Louis Katona, a part-time police officer. They confiscated his legal machineguns and abused his wife. Later a district judge dismissed the charges because he could find no evidence a crime had been committed.6/ In February, 1993 BATF agents raided and ransacked Janice Hart's home and interrogated her for an hour without reading her rights, only to discover they had the wrong name and address.7/ In a 1994 fishing expedition, BATF agents raided the home of Harry Lamplugh, the largest gun show promoter in the northeast, refused to let him take his cancer medication, and caused the deaths of three family cats.8/
Virginia attorney and weapons expert Stephen Halbrook asserts that in over one hundred cases BATF actually has manufactured evidence that semi-automatic AR-15s illegally have been converted to automatic. Agents do so because they have quotas of convictions they must fill to protect their jobs and gain promotions and sometimes can do so only by fabricating evidence. By definition, a semi-automatic weapon shoots only one bullet with one pull of the trigger; it "automatically" loads the next bullet. An automatic weapon includes the automatic loading feature and fires two or more bullets with one pull of the trigger. BATF agents simply remove disconnectors, or safety switches, that prevent automatic fire. Doing this does not make a very effective weapon. But if the weapon fires only two shots with one pull of the trigger and then permanently jams, BATF still can claim the weapon is automatic and prosecute the gun owner.9/
Government's Dangerous Paranoia
In the weeks following the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, President Clinton and the establishment media flayed the "paranoia" of "right wing conspiracy theorists." However, it is the United States government which is becoming increasingly paranoid of a citizenry fed up with ever rising taxes and ever encroaching rules and regulations enforced with increasing levels of government violence.
The Treasury Department report 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."10/
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."11/
WEAVER WAS PRACTICE FOR WACO
BATF entrapment of white separatist Randy Weaver, the 1992 federal
attack that killed his son, the FBI sniper attack that killed his wife,
and the FBI's eleven day siege to have been merely practice for the
attack against the Davidians. Since the same crew of FBI agents
officials are responsible for the massacre of the Davidians, it is
to look closely at that case.
White separatist Randy Weaver had retreated to rural Idaho with his wife, Vicki, four children and a family friend, Kevin Harris.12/ 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. Disgusted, Weaver decided to end all contact with the judicial system.
The Eleven Day Standoff
Rather than take immediate action when Weaver failed to appear, U.S. Marshals began almost 18 months of surveillance. On August 22, 1992 six marshals, one equipped with an assault rifle with a silencer, approached Weaver's cabin in order to observe him and threw rocks at his dog in an effort to lure Weaver closer so they could arrest him. According to Weaver's attorney Gerry Spence, the marshals did not have a warrant--though the U.S. attorney insisted they did--and they never identified themselves.
When the agents shot the dog, Harris and Weaver's 14-year-old son Samuel, not knowing who the attackers were, ran toward them shooting. Their shots allegedly killed U.S. Marshal William Degan--though some assert friendly fire from another marshal killed him. Samuel was shot in the back and killed as he retreated.
The National Guard and the FBI Hostage Rescue Team--whose motto is "To Save Lives"--were called in. 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.
Finally, U.S. Marshals never told the FBI that they knew that when the adults went outside the cabin they always carried weapons. Larry Potts, Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal Division, 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."13/)
While Weaver may have suspected he was surrounded by law enforcement after the initial shootout, the FBI never officially informed him of it or gave him a chance to surrender. And they certainly never warned his family they would be in jeopardy if any FBI agent 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 Lon 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 the cabin holding her baby. She died instantly, dropping the baby to the ground. Harris was wounded by shrapnel. Nevertheless, Weaver and Harris refused to surrender to authorities.
During the standoff Richard Rogers' Hostage Rescue Team used psychological warfare techniques against the Weavers. 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?"14/
Weaver and Harris surrendered nine days later, after the FBI allowed Populist Party presidential candidate Bo Gritz to serve as a third party negotiator. The two men were charged with conspiracy to murder federal officers. Their trial before a federal jury and U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge began just five days before the April 19th fire that killed 76 Davidians.
Weaver Acquitted and Prosecutors/FBI Fined
Most of the above disturbing information came to light during the trial. It also was revealed that prosecutors had withheld from the defense for several months the information that FBI agents had fabricated evidence by staging photos. They also withheld a government agent's notes and a police captain's assertion that a U.S. Marshall had shot first. Federal agents falsely claimed that Degan had been killed by one of the first shots, but evidence later showed he had fired seven shots before he was shot. Judge Lodge fined prosecutors $3,240 for "inexcusable delay" in providing this information.15/
Weaver's defense attorney, Gerry 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 of 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 original weapons charge trial and sentenced to 18 months in prison, with credit for time already served. He was freed in early 1994 and sued the federal government in the summer of 1994 for the deaths of his son and wife.
After the victory attorney Gerry 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."16/ As we shall see, the Justice Department and FBI merely disciplined the responsible agents and officials.
HOW THE DAVIDIANS BECAME A TARGET
The Branch Davidians became a target of BATF not because of any solid evidence they possessed illegal weapons, but because former members alleged Davidian leader David Koresh had expressed interest in owning illegal weapons. However, some see an even larger dynamic at work. James R. Lewis writes: ". . .societies need enemies. External threats provide motivations for people to overcome internal divisiveness in order to work together as a unit. . .where external enemies no longer threaten, a society will find groups of individuals within itself that it can construe as threatening and evil."17/
Davidians Made Howell Their Leader
The Branch Davidians, an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 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.18/ Davidians believe modern-day living prophets can lead church members toward salvation. David Koresh said in one sermon, "People like dead religions. They want to hear what the Lord said 2000 years ago--and then they want to cut him off at that specific point in time."19/
Ben Roden's "Branch Davidian" church evolved out of Victor Houteff's Shepherd's Rod Church in the early 1960s. 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.
David Koresh's birth name was Vernon Wayne Howell. He was born August 17, 1959, was the illegitimate son of a fourteen-year-old girl and, as many have noted, the grandson of a carpenter. As a boy, he became a self-taught student of the Bible who could recite long passages from memory. His other passion was country and gospel music and he became an able guitar player. In 1981, seeking a prophet who could help him grow spiritually, he discovered the Branch Davidians and moved to Mount Carmel Center.
Howell's knowledge of Scripture and personable manner quickly gained him the confidence of other Davidians. However, his popularity earned him the enmity of Lois Roden's son George Roden, who considered Howell to be his prime rival for the role of leader and prophet. Most Davidians considered George Roden to be too poorly versed in Scripture and too erratic to lead the group and sided with Howell. In 1984 a gun-toting Roden drove Howell and his wife Rachel out of Mount Carmel. Over the next two years most of the remaining Davidians left the Rodens to follow Howell. They established a community in shacks, tents and buses on property rented in Palestine, Texas and also had two homes in LaVerne, California.
Howell visited Israel in 1985 and, as he explained in a February 28, 1993 KRLD radio interview, "an encounter" or, as he told FBI negotiators, "a miraculous meeting with God," which instructed him to study and teach the prophecies of the Seven Seals of the Book of Revelation.20/ (Davidians have not revealed the whole meaning of Seven Seals as taught by David Koresh, believing only Koresh could teach the truth.)
During these years Howell also experienced revelations in which God commanded that he create a "House of David" where his many wives would bear him children who would become the rulers of a purer new world. He began to take young, single Davidians as his unofficial wives.
Half of those who chose to join Vernon Howell were of African, Hispanic or Asian descent. Davidians deny that Howell preached and practiced racial separatism, as some allege. He had two children by an Asian woman and at least one wife of African descent. Livingstone Fagan, a black minister from England, asserts that Davidians had risen above racial concerns or prejudice.21/
Meanwhile, George Roden, was nearly alone at Mount Carmel's ramshackle houses. He was renting out rooms, including to alleged drug traffickers.22/ (This fact was used against David Koresh years later.) After Lois Roden's death, George Roden challenged Vernon Howell for leadership of the group. In late 1987 Roden dug up the coffin of a long-dead Davidian and challenged Howell to raise her from the dead. Howell complained to authorities about "corpse abuse," but they demanded photographic proof of a crime.
When Howell and seven armed followers sneaked onto the property to photograph the coffin, Roden caught them and a gunfight ensued. Howell and his followers were charged with attempted murder. Meanwhile, after Roden wrote letters threatening to afflict U.S. District Judge Walter A. Smith with herpes and AIDS, Smith sentenced Roden to six months in jail for contempt of court.
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 on March 22, 1988 and he and his followers legally re-took Mount Carmel Center. Under the agreement with the county, Howell and his Davidians would gain final control of the property if they were to occupy it and pay taxes on it for five years from the date of the agreement. Significantly, that five year period would end during the 1993 siege.
In April, 1988 Howell and his followers were tried for attempted murder of Roden; seven were acquitted and Howell's trial ended in a hung jury. George Roden continued to verbally threaten the group with violence. Then in 1989 Roden murdered a man with an ax and was incarcerated in a mental institution. Nevertheless, Davidians feared he would escape and attack them. They therefore remained armed and alert. Roden did escape briefly in late 1993.
In February 28, 1993 KRLD radio interview, David Koresh made the point, "If I say I'm Christ. . .the proof is if I can open the seals or not." Those who believed he could, stayed. In a March, 1993 New York Times interview, longtime follower Paul Fatta unabashedly declared: "I believe David is the Messiah. He has shown me over and over that he knows the book and presented Scriptures showing how the last days events would happen."23/
Livingstone Fagan, a social worker and minister who lost his wife and mother in the April 19th fire, holds that "David Koresh was the prophesied instrument through whom God spake." Fagan writes that in his first three hours of listening to Koresh, "I had perceived more significant biblical truths than I had done, the entire eight years I had been involved with organised religion." He contends that, like David Koresh, those who lived at Mount Carmel were "remade" in the "fashion of God."24/
Ruth Riddle described the appeal of Mount Carmel to an interviewer, "We were trying to live together in community like the early apostles did. Sharing all things, having things in common, that's why we lived together, like a family."25/
At the November 22, 1993 American Academy of Religion panel Jamaican Davidian Janet McBean, who lost her brother in the April 19th fire, 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."
Former Members Went to Authorities
Marc Breault, a Howell follower from 1986 to 1989, swore in a 1990 affidavit: "At first Vernon Howell appeared to be a conservative person whose only wish was to reform the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. As time progressed, however, Howell became power-hungry and abusive, bent on obtaining and exercising absolute power and authority over the group. . .by 1989, he had lost all restraint."26/ Breault was particularly incensed when, in the fall of 1989, Howell declared that God had commanded him take the married women in the group as his wives.
Soon after, Breault left the Davidians and became what he called a "cult buster," devoted to the destruction of the Branch Davidians. He charged that Howell manipulated members through fear of hellfire, physically abused adults and children for minor infractions of capricious rules, seduced and impregnated young girls, and demanded a willingness to die for him and his prophecies. However, Davidians who remained with Howell asserted that Breault's accusations were based on words and actions taken out of context and/or blown out of proportion and built into fantastic and untrue stories. (After conducting an investigation of these accusations which is too extensive to detail in this book, I largely agree.)
Davidian survivors charge that Breault had challenged Howell for control of the group. Breault replied 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."27/
Bent on "dismantling" the group, during 1990 Breault managed to convince over a dozen Davidians around the world to join his efforts. They signed affidavits alleging that Howell 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. They presented these affidavits to local police in California and Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Internal Revenue Service. However, these agencies expressed little interest in the allegations. Neither did U.S. Assistant Attorney Bill Johnston, who later became a prime motivator of the 1993 BATF raid.28/ However, Breault did not give up his vendetta, which continued even after the deaths of most Davidians.
In early 1990 Vernon Howell legally changed his name to David (for King David who united Israel in the Old Testament) Koresh (Hebrew for Cyrus, the Persian king who freed the Jews from Babylon). In October, 1990, Robyn Bunds, who was living in the California home, decided to leave Koresh with her son. Koresh immediately sent the child back to Waco, but returned him when Bunds reported the child missing to police in California. Bunds also told police that Koresh was having sex with the underage Aisha Gyarfas. When they returned to investigate, Gyarfas and Koresh had returned to Texas.29/ In September, 1991 Jeannine Bunds, who like her daughter Robyn was Koresh's lover, left the Davidians, claiming that she was upset that Koresh had asked her if she was "capable of killing her children."30/
In the fall of 1991 Breault brought his allegations to the Australian television producers of "A 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. It also provides one of the few inside views of Mount Carmel Center and Koresh's preaching style.
In fall 1991 Breault also informed young 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 Davidians testified at the custody hearing in Michigan. Without admitting any wrong doing, Kiri's mother Sherri voluntarily relinquished primary custody and promised to keep Kiri away from Koresh during visitations.
Spurred on by Davidian detractors, 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. Koresh allowed the visit to be videotaped.31/ They made two more visits and Koresh visited their offices. The case was closed on April 30, 1992 for lack of evidence of abuse.32/
Davidian "defectors" eagerly cooperated with BATF and FBI investigators in 1992 and 1993. That as many as twenty former members made various allegations to the government and press certainly suggests that some felt discontent with David Koresh's leadership of the Branch Davidians. However, after federal agents' assaults resulted in the deaths of so many of her friends, Robyn Bunds, who had cooperated with the government, said she urged that responsible BATF officials should be punished. "I know there were things going on there that weren't right. But they're dead now. What's the point?. . .It's Okay to save them, try to do something, but what you did was kill them."33/ Bunds later joined in the civil law suit against the government with Koresh's mother, another wife, Dana Okimoto, and other survivors and family members.34/
Koresh Predicted the End Was Near
Such continuing attacks might make the most innocent group paranoid. It appears that the mounting pressures on David Koresh in late 1991 and early 1992--the loss of Kiri Jewell, the television exposé, the child abuse investigation, and the knowledge that Marc Breault and others would continue reporting allegedly illegal activities to authorities, convinced Koresh that government agents soon might launch their long prophesied attack which would signal the beginning of the apocalypse.
Like many today, Davidians believed these were the end times and were preparing for inevitable tribulations. At trial Davidian Kathryn Schroeder, who prosecutors bullied into testifying for the government, revealed that Davidians began minimal practice with firearms, but had little idea why they might need such expertise. Marjorie Thomas, also a Davidian prosecution witness, asserted that Koresh taught arms would be needed only for self-defense against an attack, not to attack the government or force anyone to go along with their beliefs.35/
In 1991 Davidians began tearing down Mount Carmel's separate homes and building one large building where they could be a more tight knit community, living and studying together. After a neighbor's home was destroyed by a tornado, they also began building the underground tornado shelter--something which could also serve as a shelter should the "beast" burn down Mount Carmel.36/ In early 1992 Davidians reinforced the front wall of the building with a two foot high concrete wall to protect them in case someone attacked. (Davidians on the first floor actually were protected by this wall during BATF's February 28, 1993 attack.)37/
Graeme Craddock testified to a grand jury that a few Davidians believed that when welfare workers visited Mount Carmel there were SWAT teams stationed around the property.38/ The government insists that Koresh believed a spring, 1992 police SWAT team training near the Davidians' rented garage, the Mag Bag, was BATF training for an assault on Mount Carmel.39/
Kathryn Schroeder alleged it was about this time Koresh began to stress the prophecies of Daniel, chapters 11 and 12, regarding the "final confrontation" with the "king of the north," the "beast." Koresh taught that if Davidians were sufficiently faithful to God, they would be "translated" into heaven and the kingdom. This translation did not necessarily have to happen through their deaths at the hands of the authorities; if they were obedient to God they could be translated without dying. In fact, after the February 28, 1993 attack Koresh chided Davidians that they had not been so translated during the BATF attack because they were not obedient. (Suicide was not one of the options Koresh taught.)40/
On July 30, 1992 BATF investigators visited David Koresh's gun dealer Henry McMahon to inquire about Koresh's gun purchases. McMahon called Koresh who invited agents to come out immediately and inspect the weapons. They refused but continued their obvious surveillance, something bound to make Davidians more suspicious.41/
Kathryn Schroeder testified that Koresh had called in Davidians from all over the world to celebrate Passover of 1992. Predicting that this would be the group's last Passover before the fulfillment of prophecy in the apocalypse, Koresh decreed that they were "going to enjoy this last summer" and bought go-carts, boats, and motorcycles.42/ (It was this gathering which prompted Marc Breault to claim falsely Davidians were preparing for "mass suicide.")
Convinced that these were the "last days," Schroeder and her husband lied about their income to obtain a number of credit cards which they used to buy weapons. While they did make their monthly payments on the debt, they were convinced they would never have to pay it all because they would be "gone by 1995."43/ In late 1992, perhaps beefing up security, Koresh moved the gun room and his bedroom from the second story rooms--something BATF did not know when they ordered agents to smash into the second floor rooms, leading to the deaths of two agents. The guns were moved inside the first story concrete room (also called the "walk-in" or the "vault") and Koresh moved into the fourth floor room of the four story tower.44/
If not for BATF's unnecessary and unprovoked attack on the Davidians--and in the event of no universal apocalypse--it is likely that David Koresh would have had to change his message to adapt to the fact that his prophesies were not fulfilled. Koresh surely would have lost some followers and even might have experienced a challenge to his leadership from other Davidians.
However, BATF's attack only confirmed to Davidians what David Koresh had been preaching all along--the "beast" would attack the "Lamb" and God's people and force them to defend themselves. And it confirmed their belief that these were indeed the last days, and that they should do what they could to help Koresh spread God's Word to the world to repent before God made his final judgement upon humanity.
Some have said that Koresh's first prophesying the government would come to attack him and then collecting a lot of weapons--including allegedly illegal ones--just "invited" a government attack; it was a "self-fulfilling prophecy." However, this is a smokescreen. The real crime is that the United States government chose to deal with perceived violations of its laws with unnecessary and excessive force at the cost of the lives of 82 Davidians and four federal agents.
Russian engineer Ilias Abdonlline told a San Antonio Express-News reporter why he had come to Waco to see the ruins of Mount Carmel: "Everyone in the world was amazed when this thing happened, but especially when it happened in America. We have a terrible history with Stalin in Russia, and I have a memory with that. When I saw this on television, I was shocked. How could it happen in the U.S.? The U.S. is a democracy."45/ What is so tragic is that in our modern society the Davidians' biblical fear of attack by "The Beast" turned out to be a realistic fear and not some fantastic interpretation of the Bible!
SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION
The massacre of
the Branch Davidians has spawned a mass of sometimes conflicting
rumors and "conspiracy" theories. The most infamous of these are
those promoted by Indianapolis attorney Linda Thompson in her videos
the Big Lie" and "Waco, the Big Lie Continues." These allegations
include: that the government used a flame-throwing tank to set the
that the government set fire to the "underground bunker" and people
there, that a Davidian who escaped from the front roof and another who
jumped from a second-story room really are government agents, that the
government did not collapse the gymnasium, and that a tank pulled a
away from the building. Flaunting such untruths detracts
from the more subtle, but more insidious, real truths.
After the Oklahoma City bombing, the national media used Thompson's most flagrant and inaccurate accusations to try to discredit all assertions that federal agents committed crimes against Davidians. Despite these faults, the videos do contain enough shocking footage and real truths to have mobilized hundreds of thousands of citizens to seek more information about federal crimes against the Davidians.
This book is a systematic listing and analysis of government crimes against the Branch Davidians, culminating in mass murder, and government coverup of those crimes. I have attempted to present what, given the evidence available, seem to be the most accurate facts, the most substantive rumors, and the most believable theories. Given my limited resources, some errors inevitably have crept into the book. This is a story which will be corrected and updated for years.
I have drawn on a variety of sources: wire service, newspaper and magazine reports, books, published reports, electronic mail articles and announcements, government documents, over 50 hours of video tapes, over 20 hours of radio and conference audio tapes, news and government photographs, and personal discussions and interviews with participants in the events and with other investigators and interested parties.
The Treasury Department's September 30, 1993 report and the Justice Department's October 8, 1993 report are little more than internal reviews conducted for public relations purposes--for neither report were any agents or officials even interviewed under oath. Both reports "redacted," i.e., withheld, information which officials claimed might have affected the prosecution of the Davidian defendants accused of conspiracy to murder, and murder of, federal agents. Much of this redacted information was never disclosed at trial and remains hidden from the American people. These reports are sometimes the only sources of some important information and when there seems to be no apparent reason for the government to falsify or distort information I have relayed it as if it were true. However, very often the government "facts" so blatantly conflict with other, more reliable facts, or with common sense, that the reports provide excellent evidence of coverup of federal agents and officials' crimes.
The transcripts of United States Senate and House of Representatives hearings provided other useful evidence of the extent to which devious BATF and FBI agents and officials withheld, falsified and twisted information to deceive and hoodwink relatively uncritical members of Congress. The two House subcommittees which conducted the 1995 Waco hearings had access to a great deal more information than that available in 1993. The hearings were held while this book was in the galleys stage. Chapter Thirteen summarizes new information revealed, information that only supports the interpretation of events described in this book.
Kirk Lyon's Cause Foundation, former attorney general Ramsey Clark, and Houston's Caddell & Conwell are handling most of the family and survivor civil suits federal agents and officials. These lawsuits provide excellent indications of what attorneys consider to be evidence of criminal action. With their powers of discovery, these attorneys may be able to elicit significant evidence from the government, its agents and officials.
Unfortunately, as the 1994 trial of eleven Davidians illustrated, the government is eager to withhold from Davidian attorneys information damaging to BATF, the FBI and the Treasury and Justice Departments. Important evidence like a bullet-ridden metal door, lethal bullets, video and audio tapes and autopsy reports, were "missing," damaged or dubious. While the trial brought out a great deal of information damaging to the government, and much exonerating Davidians, many questions could not be answered because the judge would "not allow the government to be put on trial." He therefore barred admission of important defense evidence and witnesses that might have proved government misconduct.
Of course, because the trial judge promised to throw up procedural barriers to defense attorneys calling important witnesses, the unpaid, overburdened attorneys largely ceased their efforts to bring such important witnesses to the stand.46/ And it is likely some agents lied on the stand to protect themselves and other agents. Referring to BATF supervisors' coverup of the loss of surprise, one defense attorney said, "While leaders of the ATF, the supervisors, were telling lies to our nation, what was going on?. . .They knew their supervisors were lying, and so their statements, their comments, what they told the Rangers, at that particular time, was cemented, at the time, and it was cemented in an atmosphere, an atmosphere of lies and misrepresentations that they knew were going on, and they went right along with it."47/
Given the mass of facts, incidents, and personalities involved--and that so much information is being covered up by federal agents and officials protecting themselves and their comrades--it is clear that only the appointment of an independent counsel with a full staff of attorneys and investigators, and full power to subpoena witnesses and grant immunity, will get close to the real truth about government crimes against the Branch Davidians. We must work to assure that the government agents and officials responsible for the massacre and its coverup are brought to justice--and that the nine living victims, the Davidian prisoners, are freed from their prison cells.
1. According to
several Branch Davidians, in the last few years many in the group had
to call themselves "Students of the Seven Seals." Surviving
have been identifying themselves as "Mount Carmel Survivors."
most continue to accept the use of the term Branch Davidian.
survivors hold that 82 in total died, including two unborn children.
2. Stephen Labaton, "Officials Contradict One Another on Rationale for Assault on Cult," New York Times, April 21, 1993, A1.
3. William Norman Grigg, "Redefining `Law and Order'," The New American, April 4, 1994, pgs. 69, 71.
4. From BATF Director Stephen Higgins written statement to the April 28, 1993 House Judiciary Committee hearings. The transcript of this hearing was released just before publication. Because descriptions of comments and quotations come variously from news reports, video footage and the draft transcript of the hearings, I have not footnoted most references to this hearing.
5. National Rifle Association April 19, 1993 press release, "NRA Calls for Congressional Inquiry into Waco Raid"; James L. Pate, "No Longer Untouchable," American Spectator, August, 1993, p. 35.
6. James L. Pate, "Katona Gets His Guns," Soldier of Fortune, April, 1995, pg. 58.
7. National Rife Association May 10, 1995 press release.
8. Michael Hedges, "Family recounts terror at hands of ATF agents," Washington Times, April 13, 1995;
9. Stephen Halbrook, private communication, September, 1994.
10. From the Report of the Department of the Treasury on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Investigation of Vernon Wayne Howell also known as David Koresh, September, 1993, Appendix D, p. 7.
11. Louis Sahagun and Doug Conner, "Pair Acquitted of Murder in Idaho Mountain Shootout," Washington Post, July 9, 1993.
12. Account in Weaver standoff section drawn from: 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; Jerry Seper, "FBI's Idaho firefight linked to misinformation from marshals," Washington Times, December 1, 1993; Gerry Spence, "First They Came for the Fascists," Liberty, January, 1994.
13. FBI Legal Handbook for Special Agents, Section 3-6.4.
14. Jerry Seper, "FBI Agents waged war on minds," Washington Times, September 22, 1993.
15. Associated press wire story, "Doctored evidence slows trial," Washington Times, May 27, 1993; James Bovard, "No Accountability at the FBI," Wall Street Journal, January 10, 1995.
16. Washington Times, May 27, 1993.
17. Introduction to James R. Lewis, Editor, From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco, (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1994), p. xiii.
18. Except where noted, most information for this section is taken from Clifford L. Linedecker, Massacre at Waco, Texas, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993); Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, Mad Man in Waco, (Waco, Texas: WRS Publishing, 1993); Kenneth Samples, Erwin de Castro, Richard Abanes, Robert Lyle, Prophets of the Apocalypse: David Koresh and Other American Messiahs, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994).
19. "Voices of Fire" audio tape, produced by Junior's Motel Records, Otho, Iowa, 1993.
20. Justice Department report, p. 43.
21. Trial transcript, p. 4127; Livingstone Fagan paper, "Mount Carmel: The Unseen Reality," Appendix A, August, 1994; Dana Okimoto interview, Kenneth Samples, et al, pgs. 182-189; Livingstone Fagan, private communication, April, 1995.
22. June 9, 1993, House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government Appropriations, p. 189.
23. Michael deCourcy Hinds, "A believer says cult in Texas is peaceful," New York Times, March 6, 1993, A1.
24. Livingstone Fagan paper, August, 1994, p. 7; Livingstone Fagan paper, "Christ," 1994.
25. "Day 51: The True Story of Waco" video, produced by UTV, Houston, TX.
26. Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 134. Unless otherwise noted, most material on or attributed to Marc Breault is from his book, Inside the Cult, co-authored by Martin King, (New York: Signet Books, 1993).
27. "The Maury Povich Show," November 9, 1993. Povich presented two interview shows about the Branch Davidians on November 8 and 9, 1993.
28. Kenneth Samples, et al, p. 72.
29. Clifford L. Linedecker, pgs. 144-147.
30. Newsweek, May 3, 1993, p. 27.
31. Trial transcript, p. 5600.
32. Gustav Nieguhr and Pierre Thomas, "Abuse Allegations Unproven: Koresh was Investigated in Texas, California," Washington Post, April 25, 1993, A20.
33. Darlene McCormick, "Agents didn't take cult arrest advice, ex-Davidians say," Waco Tribune-Herald, October 1, 1993.
34. Ramsey Clark civil suit, (February 25, 1995.)
35. Trial transcript, pgs. 4524-26, 4559-69; Marjorie Thomas testimony, November 17-18, 1993, pgs. 96-96, 102, 130, 153.
36. Trial transcript, pgs. 4518-20.
37. Ibid. pgs. 4520, 6392.
38. Ibid. p. 6368.
39. Treasury Department report, Appendix D, p. 3; David Aguilera April 18, 1993 affidavit in support of search warrant.
40. Trial transcript, pgs. 4479, 4558, 6381.
41. James L. Pate, "Waco: Behind the Cover-Up," Soldier of Fortune, November, 1993, pgs. 36-41, 71-72.
42. Trial transcript, p. 4531.
43. Ibid. pgs. 4532-34.
44. Ibid. pgs. 4472, 4492, 4599.
45. Egon Richard Tausch, court observer article, "The Branch Davidian Trial," 1994.
46. January 6, 1994 trial transcript, pgs. 63-67; trial transcript, p. 5652-53.
47. Trial transcript, pgs. 7093-95.