Home/Contact | News | Committee | Survivors | Prisoners | Photos | Links | Order Book
For Immediate Release April 20, 1993
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH THE PRESS
1:36 P.M. EDT
The Federal Bureau of Investigation then made every reasonable effort to bring this perilous situation to an end without bloodshed and further loss of life. The Bureau's efforts were ultimately unavailing because the individual with whom they were dealing, David Koresh, was dangerous, irrational, and probably insane.
This weekend I was briefed by Attorney General Reno on an operation prepared by the FBI, designed to increase pressure on Koresh and persuade those in the compound to surrender peacefully. The plan included a decision to withhold the use of ammunition, even in the face of fire, and instead to use tear gas that would not cause permanent harm to health, but would, it was hoped, force the people in the compound to come outside and to surrender.
Again, I want to say as I did yesterday, I am very sorry for the
loss of life which occurred at the beginning and at the end of this
tragedy in Waco. I hope very much that others who will be tempted
to join cults and to become involved with people like David Koresh
will be deterred by the horrible scenes they have seen over the last
seven weeks. And I hope very much that the difficult situations
which federal agents confronted there and which they will be doubtless
required to confront in other contexts in the future will be somewhat
better handled and better understood because of what
has been learned now.
I was further told that under no circumstances would our people fire any shots at them even if fired upon. They were going to shoot the tear gas from armored vehicles which would protect them and there would be no exchange of fire.
And so I asked if the military had been consulted. The Attorney General said that they had, and that they were in basic agreement that there was only one minor tactical difference of opinion between the FBI and the military -- something that both sides thought was not of overwhelming significance.
I will say this, however. I was, frankly, surprised would be a mild word, to say that anyone that would suggest that the Attorney General should resign because some religious fanatics murdered themselves. (Applause.)
They have evidence that those children are still being abused and that they're in increasingly unsafe conditions, and that they don't think it will get any easier with time -- with the passage of time. I have to take their word for that.
This is the same FBI that found the people that bombed the World Trade Center in lickety-split, record time. We want an inquiry to analyze the steps along the way. Is there something else we should have known? Is there some other question they should have asked?
There is, unfortunately, a rise in this sort of fanaticism all across the world. And we may have to confront it again. And I want to know whether there is anything we can do, particularly when there are children involved. But I do think it is important to recognize that the wrong-doers in this case were the people who killed others and then killed themselves.
THE PRESIDENT: They were not just practicing their religion, they were -- the Treasury Department believed that they had violated federal laws, any number of them.
Q What federal laws --
Clinton Says Law Enforcement Errors Don't Compare
to Waco "Depravity"
By Marcy Gordon
Associated Press Writer
July 20, 1995
WASHINGTON (AP) - As House Republicans expressed
concern about the use of military force during the Waco siege, President
Clinton today angrily rejected any suggestion that law enforcement mistakes
were comparable to the "depravity" of cult leaders.
As the Waco hearings entered their second day focusing on the military's role, Clinton told a group of law enforcement officials, "It is irresponsible for people in elected positions to suggest that the police are some sort of armed bureaucracy acting on private grudges and hidden agendas."
"That is wrong. It's inaccurate and people who suggest that ought to be ashamed," he said.
Clinton spoke as Republicans running the hearings voiced concern about the military's role.
"More than any other, the image of Bradley fighting vehicles and M1 tanks set against the burning Mount Carmel compound calls into question the role of the military at Waco," said Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind.
"Since before the founding of our nation," he said, "Americans have had deeply rooted concerns about the separation of the military from civilian affairs."
Clinton, speaking across town at a monthly meeting of law enforcement officials, acknowledged that the government made mistakes in Waco and said "changes were made, people were dismissed."
"We need to be accountable, we need to get all the facts out, if we make a mistake we need to correct it," Clinton said. "But we must not make war against police and we must not confuse making mistakes ... with the awful things that happened in that compound at Waco."
He said the hearings were "a sad and painful reminder of the depravity that took place inside that compound."
A former FBI expert who appeared before the panel today underscored the high risk of the so-called "dynamic entry" attempted in the raid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
There was "the exposure of the approaching raid teams. ... They couldn't turn their vehicles around as they approached the compound," said Donald A. Bassett, a former FBI crisis management specialist. The Defense Department was allowed to help prepare ATF for the raid because ATF officials said they had evidence that the Branch Davidians were operating an illegal methamphetamine lab.
No trace of an illegal drug lab was found after the fire, leading some opponents to suggest that ATF concocted the rumor to get the military assistance.
A Democrat on the panel, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, said today that the use of the so-called "drug nexus" as a basis for military help was inadequate. "That nexus fell short. Let us acknowledge that," she said.
For evidence of Clinton's obstruction of justice on Waco, click here.
For photos of 1998 Impeach Clinton rallies, click