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The Davidian Raid 15 Years Later

April 19 will mark the fifteenth anniversary of one of America's most shameful events; the murders of dozens of helpless victims, including two pregnant women and twenty-one children, at the Branch Davidian compound assault in 1993. While at the time the FBI repeatedly insisted, even under oath, that they used no incendiary devices nor fired any gunshots, overwhelming evidence since the raid has proven that the FBI and BATF were directly responsible not only for the destruction of the Davidian buildings, but also for shooting unarmed Davidians, then using their official positions to conceal and destroy evidence of the crimes. The evidence includes not only witness testimony and video coverage (including FLIR footage), but also casings at the scene and the admission in 1999 of the use of M651 CS canisters (after repeated denials under oath) "during the assault" (during which time loudspeakers attached to the tanks could be heard declaring "this is not an assault" as they ran into walls of bedrooms and tore out sections of the structure).

Forensic evidence was largely destroyed by the government immediately following the raid, including the bulldozing of the area to prevent recovery of ballistics and other objective data which could have supported key Davidian claims. Even so, autopsy evidence indicated that several Davidians were run over by armored vehicles, none of them found with any sort of weapon; the FLIR footage shown on the documentary provides compelling evidence that the FBI started the fires which destroyed the building, although this appears to have been unintentional; the video footage of the assault shows that federal agents surrounded the compound and fired into the building, preventing opportunity to flee the death trap (CS tear gas used in an enclosed space metabolizes to hydrogen cyanide), eventually firing CS gas into the kitchen storage area, which had no windows or exits, and where dozens of women and children fled; the FBI had no fire trucks on site during the raid; and despite agents' insistence that saving children was their top priority, there is not even one case of an FBI agent saving a child from the building during the raid. Not one.

- continued -

The FBI defended itself, basically, by lying about the facts and the evidence for years, destroying what it could, and then won in court because the Davidians could not produce exculpatory evidence the FBI had locked away or destroyed. The Branch Davidian raid became a touchstone for every conspiracy theory and worry of totalitarian government. I would go so far as to suggest that every major domestic uprising since 1993 has a connection to the Branch Davidian raid. Timothy McVeigh admitted that the Davidian raid strongly influenced his decision to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. Even the April 19, 1995 attack date was chosen to recall the Davidian raid's date. The Montana Freemen became much more militant and active following the Davidian raid, apparently in fear that the government would soon begin cracking down on anyone who got out of line. Politically, the raid was a disaster for the Clinton Administration. Attorney General Reno took full responsibility and offered her resignation, which President Clinton refused to accept. The Davidian raid and the deaths of 4 federal agents and 92 Branch Davidians gradually faded from the public eye, to be obscured by other media events and political scandals.

It would be easy to go overboard with this story, either as evidence for a conspiracy theory or to attack the Clinton Administration. There have even been attempts to connect Hillary Clinton to the deaths of the women and children at the compound, demonstrating just how rabid some of the claims have become. I even wrote the first part of this article with a lean towards the evil-government conspiracy angle. The matter takes on a different look when we step back a bit.

To be sure, the elements I cited are all true and have been painstakingly established over the last decade and a half. But there is more to the story, which needs to be considered.

First, the conflict began with an ATF raid on the Davidian compound on February 28, 1993. The raid was based on fears that the Branch Davidians were a "doomsday cult", planning a violent attack on neighboring Mount Carmel or even Waco, Texas. While no evidence was ever produced to support the claim that the Branch Davidians intended to attack anyone, the group had come into possession of several hundred semi-automatic rifles, and while all of the known purchases were legal, there was an anonymous claim made that some of the rifles had been modified to fire as fully automatic weapons. Because of this claim (also never substantiated by evidence or any credible sitness), a search warrant was issued for the Mount Carmel compound, and because a large amount of firearms were involved, the ATF came armed to the teeth, with a lot of armed men and helicopters. The problem was, the ATF was sloppy in its surveillance and the Branch Davidians expected the raid, if not the specific tactics. What happened exactly, when the ATF tried to serve the warrant depends on who you ask, but there is no question that a lot of shooting happened, and a number of people were killed, including four federal agents and six Branch Davidians. The ATF set up a perimeter and a 51-day standoff began. The first salient factor to the tragedy, thus, was the assumption by each side that the other was violent and could not be trusted.

By the time of the April 19 raid, the authorities involved in the standoff included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Guard, and an unspecified number of officials from the Treasury Department, Justice Department, the Attorney General's office and the White House. This created the second salient factor to the disaster, a lack of clear command and simple communication.

The law enforcement and government agencies also had problems deciding media's role in the crisis. The media by 1993 had exploded in capability and appetite, with 24-hour coverage and non-stop commentary. This exponentially increased pressure on law enforcement, as officials were badgered over and over for new updates and action. In addition, neither the ATF nor the FBI were equipped or trained for a prolonged siege on territory controlled by their adversary, and as the days turned to weeks, the authorities felt increasingly compelled to act, even without a clear and well-developed plan or worst-case analysis. This was the third salient factor in the crisis, an imperative to act whether or not the plan's assumptions had been tested.

The combination of these three factors, in my opinion, led to the needless deaths of 76 people on April 19, 1993. They also helped to create a fear of discovery by the ATF and FBI, which led to destruction of evidence and a series of false accusations against Davidians to prevent a public outcry against the FBI and the ATF. That did not work out, however, as outrage from the raid's casualties continued in the media, the Internet, and in virtually all public venues. This led to unexpected consequences for the authorities, the Clinton Administration in particular. It may be that seeing the results of the Davidian raid, the Clinton Administration decided to avoid any conflict where the outcome was not in firm control. It would explain Clinton's sudden reticence to increase the U.S. military presence in Somalia, his delay in sending military aid to Rwanda, and the reason why Clinton was so late in keeping his promise to send troops to Bosnia. In the light of heavy casualties at Mount Carmel, where he had been given no reason to expect them, it is not at all surprising that President Clinton refused to take unilateral military action under any circumstances, and never again showed trust in his forward commanders. While the later military decisions may be criticized on their own merits, it should be noted that the Davidian raid was not the fault of the Clinton Administration. The available records show that AG Reno made clear that the children's safety was the top priority, and when the April 19 raid was planned she asked for confirmation that the CS tear gas would not contribute to a possible fire. The Clinton Administration was in its early months and would not have yet become familiar with drill-down processes for checking claims by subordinates, especially in such an unanticipated domestic stand-off. It should also be noted that no appropriate agency existed to deal with a situation posed by the Branch Davidians, who represented no military threat yet refused to surrender, whose agricultural compound was well-suited for a prolonged siege while the FBI had to find ad-hoc accomodations. The records show that in addition to the ATF, the FBI and the National Guard, members of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team and Delta Force were also present during the siege, showing that the government agents sensed that they were not in control of the situation, but unable to find a group trained and experienced in just this kind of situation. The Branch Davidians were not hostages, and interviews with Davidians and tapes of negotiations show that they were not intent on aggression, despite the media spin. The FBI was in charge but did not know what to do, and it appears the SAC was not at all willing to admit this to the Attorney General. It remains to be seen what will happen, the next time a large domestic group chooses to resist government attempts at mass arrest by force.


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Comments (53)

Imagine if you will, that t... (Below threshold)

Imagine if you will, that this happened is China. The world would be outraged... As it turned out, the Feds got a pass on this. A few weeks bad press and all was forgotten.

Which actually isn't as bad as another well documented screwup where they killed over 1000 people and destroyed a city and the media never asked a single tough question about it.

While there is plenty of bl... (Below threshold)

While there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to Reno's and the Clinton DOJ's handling of the Waco raid, in the end the deaths of the innocents lay mostly at the feet of the Davidian leaders themselves. It is mind boggling that the piece above works to lift the Davidians to almost heroic status in their struggles against the Feds. It borders on some of the WTC7 stuff you read about! "Compelling evidence" that the FBI started the fire? The evidence is equally "compelling" that the Davidians started it themselves. (Why not even a mention of the gas/kerosene that they spread around before the inferno?)

Good to see that Paul's sti... (Below threshold)

Good to see that Paul's still completely off his rocker when it comes to THAT topic. I guess we've moved from severe bureaucratic negligance to a deliberate plot to kill innocent people now. Nice.

It all started at Ruby Ridg... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

It all started at Ruby Ridge. Reno was a criminal AG working for a criminal President. That is what happens. I would like for them to actually feel our pain. before the lights went out.

The drive by media papered ... (Below threshold)

The drive by media papered over this and there was not much people could do about it ... I wonder what the lefties would do if this were President Bush?

I really agree with Gizmo. ... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

I really agree with Gizmo. Granted this entire incident was FUBAR from the get-go and in the aftermath from the government's perspective, but let's not let the whackjobs off so easily, either. David Koresh (whose name isn't even mentioned in the post) and his followers sure get off pretty easy from bearing a great deal of responsibility for the initial raid, after arousing suspicion of Waco authorities by stockpiling weapons (why?) and allegations of child molestation. Not to mention the 51 days that the BDs had multiple opportunities to surrender peacefully and avoid an event like the one on April 19.

I don't see this so much as shameful event as it was a tragedy that so many people were led to their deaths by a very sick and deranged man in the first place.

Boo hoo! Wackos shoot feder... (Below threshold)

Boo hoo! Wackos shoot federal agents and then cry about it when they don't surrender. They had it coming and they got what they wanted; suicde by cop.

The children in there didn'... (Below threshold)

The children in there didn't have it coming. I doubt the kids wanted suicide by cop either.

> Ruby RidgeThat a... (Below threshold)

> Ruby Ridge

That actually happened under Bush I ( August 21, 1992), just to be accurate.

>They had it coming and the... (Below threshold)

>They had it coming and they got what they wanted; suicde by cop.

Are you talking about the kids?

FUBAR it was, from the very... (Below threshold)

FUBAR it was, from the very beginning. Koresh was known to go into town to the post office almost daily; if they had any cause to detain him, even for questioning, it would have been easily accomplished then. The excuse for not doing so was similar to much of what we've heard about the case: that they feared the Davidians, an admittedly apocalyptic sect, might commit mass suicide or something similar in response.

While the Davidians and Koresh in particular cannot be given a complete pass on all responsibility for the events - they could have peacefully surrendered at any point, after all - there is still no evidence that they planned any such actions, or indeed anything illegal at all, before the siege.

An interesting bit of trivia on this case is that the commander of Fort Hood was asked to supply equipment and troops, and complied without questioning the legality of it or clearing it with the Pentagon. Traditionally, commanding such bases is an ease-out position for flag rank officers with no real hope of earning their next star or being called to command major combat arrays or working at the Pentagon. However, this particular general earned Clinton's gratitude for his cooperation, and was promoted to the Pentagon and later to NATO command (although Clinton had to fire him for insubordination only three weeks before his scheduled retirement).

Yep, his name was Wes Clark. Better the fool had been left in Texas . . .

Good post,DJ.Waco: R... (Below threshold)

Good post,DJ.
Waco: Rules of Engagement contains the incriminating FLIR tapes. It shows that at the back (unseen) side of the building the government mission was to breach the walls (as opposed to the public CS gas insertions in front) and to cover the interior with a base of fire (rounds, bullets), i.e. no one gets out alive.


Lest we forget, though. It all began with the GHWB administration taking seriously the ADL's claim of the Davidians being a "hate group". THEN it went to child molestation to suit Janet Reno's "speciality", THEN to supposed automatic seers for weapons on-site. THEN to pure revenge on the government's part for getting publicly licked on Main Street.

Not only did the DOJ do all... (Below threshold)

Not only did the DOJ do all that bad stuff but they used bluescreen technology to hide the black helicopters.

A little case of two wrongs... (Below threshold)

A little case of two wrongs--not making a right.

You wanna have a compound and weapons, cool just be prepared to be inspected and be within the law. After passing said inspection the ATF and FBI can be told to go f themselves and have a nice day.

On the other hand, if said group does NOT come within the law, expect the ATF and FBI to blow your compound up....

"It all began with the GHWB... (Below threshold)

"It all began with the GHWB administration taking seriously the ADL's claim of the Davidians being a "hate group". THEN it went to child molestation to suit Janet Reno's "speciality", THEN to supposed automatic seers for weapons on-site. THEN to pure revenge on the government's part for getting publicly licked on Main Street."

Can we really blame the Davidians for not wanting to surrender? If a force armed with tanks and machine guns surrounded your house and promised that "no one would get hurt," would you believe them? Has there ever been a case of "no one getting hurt" when that much firepower was at hand?

I find it curious, though, that Waco has been effectively buried by BDS-sufferers, in favor of Abu Graib and Guantanamo. But to me, there is no comparison. Clinton's trigger-happy stormtroopers did much worse to our own people at Waco than we ever did to anyone in Iraq or Guantanamo.

And Waco was the inspiratio... (Below threshold)

And Waco was the inspiration for the April 19, 1995 attack on the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh.

Of course, according to Bill Clinton, OKC was Rush Limbaugh's fault.

Now the MSM has bought the ... (Below threshold)

Now the MSM has bought the FBI and ATF story hook line and sinker.They are now all are saying that Koresh was an evil reincarnation of Hitler. It is the MSM and their support of the Clinton minions that made it so. Strange how the left covers its ass when something goes wrong and later says the evil right is to blame

The issue however, Knightsb... (Below threshold)

The issue however, Knightsbrigade, is that the ATF faked the basis for the raid because they wanted a big PR stunt to increase their standing within the Clinton administration. Conducted the raid incompetently. It is unclear, because of ATF misconduct, just who shot first during the initial raid.

On top of that, the FBI handled the aftermath with their usual heavy-handed incompetence that was only compounded by Janet Reno's grotesque incompetence.

Yes, the Branch Davidian cult was a bunch of loons but they were loons that the Waco locals were largely getting along with. Yes, their own reaction to the raid and standoff was loony and criminal but that does not excuse the government's unprofessional behavior - because it was the FBI's job to professionally deal with the situation. And it especially does not excuse the FBI's obstruction of justice.

Instead, because the ATF was a badly run bunch of thugs, people dies ( including ATF agents who died because of the incompetence of their leadership ) and because the Clinton administration did not like the media coverage - people died unnecessarily in the aftermath.

The reference to Ruby Ridge during the first Bush administration is also informative as that also saw thuggish, incompetent and criminal behavior by Federal agents. Again involving both the FBI and ATF.

Waco: Rules of Engagement, ... (Below threshold)

Waco: Rules of Engagement, Loose Change, Fahrenheit 911... Three peas in the same pod.

Waco: Rules of Engagemen... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Waco: Rules of Engagement, Loose Change, Fahrenheit 911... Three peas in the same pod.

Again, I second that.

It was FUBAR from the begin... (Below threshold)
GarandFan Author Profile Page:

It was FUBAR from the beginning, and went down hill from there.

But not to mention Koresh is a bit disengenious.
He was a freakin' child molester.

Saving a child?Sin... (Below threshold)

Saving a child?

Since when do libs care about saving a child?

CS gas metabolizes to cyani... (Below threshold)

CS gas metabolizes to cyanide in an enclosed space? Actually, the theoretical concern is that when ingested at the concentrations that can occur in an enclosed space, that the compound can be metabolized into cyanide in peripheral body tissues. That theoretical concern has never been documented and remains quite controversial. Death due to pulmonary complications is more likely and has been documented at the concentrations theoretically necessary for the cyanide conversion to occur.

CS can be lethal, especially to children, infants and those with respiratory or cardiac conditions. Risk is increased by use in an enclosed space, warmer and humid conditions, and in an uncontrolled situation. Of course, Bullets can also be lethal to kids, and both sides had already demonstrated their ability to use assault weaponry in a lethal fashion at the compound. I do believe that bullets have a higher mortality rate than CS gas. Unfortunately, so does a raging fire.

It was a horrible mess at the compound. No need to exaggerate and distort the scene and issues in an attempt to make your points, unless you want to detract from your argument and seem less than authoritative.

I didn't state as to the le... (Below threshold)

I didn't state as to the legitimacy of the ATF, MY point was when dealing with government BS one must play by the rules or take on uncle Sam.

If a group has NO meaningful violations, then unless the Government criminally plants evidence the government can be exposed as incompetent etc.
Either they have to put up, or shut up..

Knightsbrigade, in the Weav... (Below threshold)

Knightsbrigade, in the Weaver case, the government was caught planting evidence, and it still resulted in a bad outcome.

I wish for Janet Reno to su... (Below threshold)

I wish for Janet Reno to suffer a fate worse then being burned alive..

"after arousing suspicion o... (Below threshold)

"after arousing suspicion of Waco authorities by stockpiling weapons (why?)"

The Branch Davidians were in the quite-legal gun show business, and stocked a moderate number of weapons, like any gun dealer of their scale would. They had about two weapons per adult Davidian in the compound (less than average for the Texas, actually), most of which was sales stock. Ditto for their rather large amount of ammunition, which represented a couple of months of inventory.

It also turned out that the big ATF justification for the raid was, well, made up. The undercover agent who testified that the BDs had some illegal weapons of .505 caliber (.50 cal is the legal limit without special permits) was either criminally incompetent or a plain old liar, since the weapons he described were not the weapons the ATF recovered from the scene (they were shown in news footage, and the collectible "Boys antitank rifles" were actually Barrett Light Fifty rifles - perfectly legal). Most of the other claims were just plain false, too.

I read the original sworn statement that the ATF released, and the flaws were right out there in the open...

"Because of this claim (als... (Below threshold)

"Because of this claim (also never substantiated by evidence or any credible sitness)"

So far, the claim against the FLDS sect (also in Texas) of child molestation is unsubstantiated also. If the FLDS leaders are guilty I hope they get the full treatment. But nowdays just an "unsubstantiated allegation" can provide all the excuse the gestapo CPS needs to seize YOUR child because, after all, "It is for the children we do this". I have a friend who has spent thousands of dollars fighting the CPS both on his own behalf and others because of these actions on the part of an out of control organization. In his case, a running battle between a public school teacher over his children's education resulted in a Friday night seizure of his kids by CPS and local armed sheriff's deputies. It took him three days to get them back. No proof of child abuse, molestation, or mistreatment was found. But the unsubstantiated word of a public servant was enough for his constitutional rights to be trampled.

Wake up people! This behavior of your government is happening all over. Political correctness, "its for the children", and legal shenanigans are relegating the constitution and your rights to a footnote of history. This stuff happens every day. I just hope we can vote back in common sense before it is too late.

914,,, she is suffering... (Below threshold)

914,,, she is suffering, as hildebeasts rugeating lover.

An article link for my abov... (Below threshold)

An article link for my above rant:


You most probably will have to go to the "Advanced Archive Search" window. Select December 2000 and type in Gary Gates for the phrase and search. The above article should appear.

>Even so, autopsy evidence ... (Below threshold)

>Even so, autopsy evidence indicated that several Davidians were run over by armored vehicles, none of them found with any sort of weapon

I am sorry, I have to respond to this. I worked as a Forensic Odontologist with the military for a few years. During that time and during Training Seminars and such during my career I not only interacted with the Odontologists that actually worked on that case but also with the people that recovered the remains. I have seen the pictures and the xrays with my own eyes.


We can argue about how the federal government handled the case but to deny that these people were heavily armed is ignorant, insane, and just plain wrong.

Virtually every single male adult was found with some type of assult rifle within hands reach and literally hundreds of rounds of ammo on their corpses (many had bandoliers and the bullets had cooked off and they had bullet and casing fragments all over their bodies). Also, most of the adult males died from apparent self inflicted gunshot wounds.

I saw pictures of an ammo storage area that probably had hundreds of thousands or rounds of ammo.

David Koresh was found dead next to another adult male and they both died from gunshot wounds to the forehead (very likely they commited mutual suicide by putting their guns against each others heads and counted to 3 and both fired).

I am not even going to touch the point that they had placed numerous combustibles through out their own building. Again, I guess we could argue who specifically started the initial fire but the Branch Dividians intentionly placed large amounts of combustibles throught their own building. And for what? Ummmm... whether or not they actually started the initial fire it was obviously their intention.

Argue about what the government could have done better to resolve this situation with less bloodloss. I would salute you for that. But to ignore that the Branch Dividians were positively armed to the teeth and under the leadership of a truely disturbed individual is stupid. Its a shame that the children died...there is no doubt about that but lets place the real blame where it belongs...David Koresh and his lunatic followers that decided it was best to die than surrender to the authorities and take everybody with them.

And to insinuate that the Federal Government mowed down all these "unarmed" and defenseless people? Good Lord....is this Wizbang or Daily Kos?


"Can we really blame the Da... (Below threshold)

"Can we really blame the Davidians for not wanting to surrender?"
15-Posted by Mike | April 17, 2008 7:10 PM

No. I think we agree. But then...

"I find it curious, though, that Waco has been effectively buried by BDS-sufferers, in favor of Abu Graib and Guantanamo."-mike

It's been buried by EVERYBODY. As for "BDS": we are all ruled, worldwide, by...how can I express it broadly but accurately?...EPICURIANS.

Example: Bush is still covering for the Bojinka plotters from Clinton's watch. Explain that.

Occam's razor: because it is so much EASIER not to kick big rocks. And who are "you" anyway?

"Respect my authoritah!"-Eric Cartman

"Watch what you say!"-Ari Fleisher, WH spokesman

As for Abu Graib: a stain. Gitmo: ditto, with added absurdedy of the Bush Admin claim that US property (by lease) is not US property*. Since certain concessions aren't granted to the leaser (Cuba, as in Japan, viz. Okinawa), all responsibility is vested in...???

Let's see: Bush=chimp...Planet of the Apes! Gitmo is ruled by Future Earth!

*see USMC General Orders...or the US Constitution.

"THE BRANCH DIVIDIANS WERE ... (Below threshold)


2nd Amendment to the US Constitution. And quit yelling.

BTW, I have an old sawed-off WWII S&W 38 Special. 6 chambers. Yet I have 80 rounds that I MUST FIRE OFF SOON.

*Git offa mah property!*

"Wizbang or Daily Kos?"

The automaton's plaint. Think for yourself and be glad. F everybody else :)

Matt:"I saw pictures... (Below threshold)

"I saw pictures of an ammo storage area that probably had hundreds of thousands or rounds of ammo."

Well, that sort of thing HAPPENS when you run failed commando-style raid on a building that has a perfectly legal GUN DEALER'S STORAGE AREA as a basement... for all of your "knowledge" of this raid, it's funny that you missed that part. Or did you know, and were pretending ignorance of something so major to try and slide a fake point through?

"I am not even going to touch the point that they had placed numerous combustibles through out their own building. "

They were called "kerosene lamps," used because the government cut off the electricity on Day One. Many of them fell over when the tanks starting knocking holes in the building. The people who organized that final disaster knew that sort of thing was going to happen, too (they knew about the lamps, and they planned on the fire causing the Davidians to evacuate - but didn't allow for the problem of evacuating a building, under fire, while being tear-gassed, in the face of armored vehicles driven by people unconcerned with the safety of the occupants of the building).

Your post shows one thing, though - the ATF sure got their PR agenda going to cover up how friggin' stupid they were... starting with raiding a compound of religious nuts to make a statement about being tough law enforcement types (instead of being smart ones who would have arrested Koresh while he was taking his morning jog).

Oh - and the first shots fired during the initial raid? An idiot ATF SWAT-wannabe who tripped and fired his own weapon (they admitted this early on), turning it from an embarrassing exercise in overblown tactics into a tragedy.

Of the ATF guys who were shot during the final raid, at least one was shot by another ATF idiot (the news footage showed one moron on the first floor shooting up through the ceiling of the one-story building, hitting the other agent running around on the roof), and some accounts suggest that only ONE was shot by fire from the Davidians.

"...at least one was shot b... (Below threshold)

"...at least one was shot by another ATF idiot (the news footage showed one moron on the first floor shooting up through the ceiling of the one-story building, hitting the other agent running around on the roof)..."-cirby

I haven't seen the clip in years (even Waco:ROE didn't show it), but this is how it went down:

3 men on the roof. The first 2 enter the second floor window. The third man then throws a grenade inside (right behind them!). It explodes. Then the inside ATF man/men shoot back (through the wall) at the third man.

I saw it on an episode of God's News Behind the News shortly after the incident. Haven't seen it since. Whenever I remember the Clinton bodyguards that were supposedly killed during the siege, I think: did I see an assassination?

"An idiot ATF SWAT-wannabe who tripped and fired his own weapon"

One guy shoots himself in the leg as he climbs the ladder...From his holster, I think! It's in the movie. FUNNY!

"They were called 'kerosene... (Below threshold)

"They were called 'kerosene lamps,' used because the government cut off the electricity on Day One. Many of them fell over when the tanks starting knocking holes in the building."

Setting aside for a moment the tapes the Feds have of the men in the compound talking about pouring "fuel" around, except for decorative models, the Kerosene and white gas lanterns (they are heard talking about "Coleman Fuel" before the fire) that you're likely to find around here are ones that have metal chambers to hold the fuel. Knocking a white gas lantern over isn't going to cause it to pour out gas. What will most likely happen is the same thing I've seen happen in such cases, the glass globe breaks, the delicate ash "mantle" tears apart, and the lamp goes out. On top of that, white gas lanterns work by turning the liquid fuel into a gas by heating it before it hits the mantles. After the mantles break after a fall, all you would hear it a "hissing" sound as gas vapor continued to flow out to where the mantles used to be. No flammable liquid would spill until the lamp had cooled down enough as to not be able to vaporize it as it comes out of the pressurized tank. In the case of kerosene lamps at worst fuel will leak out where the wick comes out of the base, but that's about it.

But if the Davidians were such "end-time" survivalists who were expecting a siege, dollars to doughnuts they'd stock standard Coleman lanterns over vastly inferior, relatively dark, smoky, kerosene lamps.

Sorry, but I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories... it doesn't matter with the guys in the black helicopters are from a Republican or Democratic administration.

To paraphrase what's been said here in the past: Don't assign to conspiracy what can easily be explained by simple incompetence. Reno and her DOJ screwed the pooch big time on this one.

Yes, the BATF and the FBI m... (Below threshold)
Dodo David:

Yes, the BATF and the FBI made mistakes*.

Yet, what I am reading here in the responses reminds me of the arguments made by the 911Truth conspiracy theorists. The difference is the "villains" are Democrats instead of Republicans.

People are forgetting the investigation conducted by former U.S. Senator John Danforth. He reported that the fire that destroyed the Branch Davidian compound was started by the Branch Davidians.

Plus, as Matt (Post #31) pointed out, most of the adult males died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

TRANSLATION: Except for the ones who left the compound, the Branch Davidians committed mass suicide and killed their own children in the process.

[*It is true that the FBI used pyrotechnic grenades to shoot tear gas into the compound, and then FBI agents claimed that pyrotechnics were not used.]

I don't understand anyone t... (Below threshold)

I don't understand anyone that is not incensed that US tanks went onto private property in the USA and tore through a house/church. What on earth would make anyone think an American or Americans deserved that kind of treatment. Let's be honest here. David Koresh went into town many times and he could have been captured there. But the ATF, probably for budgetary reasons, wanted to show their value to the President and the congress. Whether David Koresh was nuts or conniving or innocent in his beliefs, he was still a neighbor and a citizen. I was and will always be incensed at and ashamed of my government for their actions. Now I see another example of government overkill in the raiding of a church and taking 170 children from their mothers because ONE person made a complaint. Try making a complaint like that in your town and see how much action you'll get. Again, the government has it out for this group and the overplayed their hand. ww

> "I don't understand anyon... (Below threshold)

> "I don't understand anyone that is not incensed that US tanks went onto private property in the USA and tore through a house/church. What on earth would make anyone think an American or Americans deserved that kind of treatment."

Willie, the problem is that you're sort of overlooking some "stuff" that happened before the tanks rolled. I suppose one could also get indignant about a SWAT team ending a hostage standoff by "just busting into a private home and start shooting people."

Heads should have rolled given how things went down at Waco, starting with Reno, but Koresh and the Davidians aren't the Constitutional heroes you're looking for.

> "David Koresh went into town many times and he could have been captured there."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall that the primary aim of the initial raid was to grab Koresh, it was to look for reported illegal weapons at the compound.

> "Now I see another example of government overkill in the raiding of a church and taking 170 children from their mothers because ONE person made a complaint."

Pregnant underage girls with wedding bands.... Nope, no crimes here folks! At least give the cops and the FLDS nuts credit for being diplomatic and not so Waco "gung-ho" about things such that calmer heads have prevailed so far.

At least give the ... (Below threshold)
At least give the cops and the FLDS nuts credit for being diplomatic and not so Waco "gung-ho" about things such that calmer heads have prevailed so far.

Exactly so. The situation didn't start going downhill at Waco until the feds showed up and wrested authority over the operation away from local law enforcemnt agencies.

There was an interesting contemporaneous article in the American Spectator that argued that one of the reasons for the disaster was that the BATF was in danger of losing some of its funding and so the agency wanted a loud, splashy "gung ho" operation that would justify its existence.

I can't think of any public official that I have held in more contempt than Janet Reno, but I will give her this, that she offered to resign over this disaster, as was appropriate, and I am mystified by Clinton's refusal. But the congressional GOP should have pressed harder for hearings to have her removed from office. However, no one was willing to raise a ruckus in defense of an unsavory nutbag like Koresh.

It should also be ... (Below threshold)
It should also be noted that no appropriate agency existed to deal with a situation posed by the Branch Davidians,

Heh. Anyone else notice the irony in this sentence?

Have you ever had a small scab or sore on your arm or wherever that you picked and poked at until it was all raw and inflamed and ten times worse than if you had just let it alone? That's kind of what the feds did at Waco.

There are currently thousan... (Below threshold)

There are currently thousands of Islamofacists in this country that our government is afraid to go after and these Islamofacists have already proven how many people they intend to kill. Koresh, crazy as he may have been, was targeted and unnecessarily put into a situation that escalated far beyond what could have been.

There are currently known that 3 underage girls are pregnant (what a shock in today's society) so the government takes all 170 children so the parents can prove they are not molesters. I do not have any like for this sect, but I do love freedom. There freedoms were taken away for, in my mind, not enough probable cause. Remember the Duke Lacrosse Players? This comes to mind. ww

With BryanD, it is all abou... (Below threshold)

With BryanD, it is all about the Joooos

This doesn't seem like the ... (Below threshold)

This doesn't seem like the kind of issue to take one side or the other. There is ample evidence that the Feds were justified in attempting to enter the compound. They screwed it up and they screwed it up royally. To compound their horrendous mistakes the person most responsible, i.e. the one in charge (Ms Reno) was not held accountable.

On other side there is ample compelling evidence that Koresh was a threat to the children inside the compound and to the outside as well and that the Davidians were equally responsible for the events that occurred after the raid.

This isn't a right vs. left issue. It's an issue of culpability on both sides with the most unfortunate victims being the children - they had no choice as did the adults in the compound.

It's a complicated issue on many fronts and it seems silly to attempt to simplify it or to use it as a reason to place the sole blame on one side or the other. It's equally silly to argue that those with the alleged (and utterly inane label) BDS are some how hypocritical for not condemning the Clinton administration for its part in the debacle. Many have .

> "There are currently know... (Below threshold)

> "There are currently known that 3 underage girls are pregnant (what a shock in today's society) so the government takes all 170 children so the parents can prove they are not molesters."

That would be three that are CURRENTLY pregnant. This doesn't include situations they'll probably also find like a number of 17 year olds with 2 or 3 year old kids. I'm also going to guess that in most teen pregnancies that you'll find today in middle and high schools the fathers aren't old enough to be the girl's grandfather!

Also, the kids taken from the FLDS "ranch" might have been re-united with their parentsesssss a little quicker if they hadn't been instructed to not cooperate with the police and withhold their ages, names of mother/father, etc.

"To think, I turned to a cu... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

"To think, I turned to a cult for mindless happiness when I had beer all along."

--Homer J. Simpson, from the "The Joy of Sect", Season 9, Episode 5F23

Amen, Homer. Amen.

Conspiratorial malarkey. Th... (Below threshold)
capital L:

Conspiratorial malarkey. The situation was handled terribly, to be sure, but once a cult decides to enter a stand-off with the US government, it is not going to end well.

(I probably shouldn't have to state this, but I really do hope that gov't has learned enough from this to prevent such a catastrophic outcome in the future.)

Now it seems the woman that... (Below threshold)

Now it seems the woman that made the anonymous tip is under arrest for making a false report. Again, where is the outrage. We don't have to like these people, but we have to let our governmental authorities know this is unacceptable.

I agree with JFO (it hurt to type that;) ) this is not a left right, republican democratic issue, it is a freedom issue. ww

David Koresh was a false pr... (Below threshold)

David Koresh was a false prophet. The deaths at Mount Carmel will forever be on his head.

Lots of comments here with ... (Below threshold)

Lots of comments here with people taking sides... Consider this: If performance must be measured by results, did the RESULTS of the Feds' badge-heavy handling of this episode justify the MEANS by which it was handled ??? ... And what does THAT say about the Fed's respect for the principles on which the USA was founded ???

WHAT THE HECK KIND OF MUSIC... (Below threshold)
Concerned Mother:


THE ATF could have a... (Below threshold)

THE ATF could have arrested Dave outside of the compound on several occasions yet they chose to do a full frontal assault on the compound. If they believed David was a child molester they should have detained him and tried to talk the others out of it.

Second why did they need to move on day 51 why not day 180. LE job is the preservation of human life. There was no indications that the cult was going to kill themselves. So they could be have continued to wait. The reason why SWAT or other teams tactical units come loaded for bear is 2 points one is to show overwhelming force to deter resistance. The second is overwhelming firepower and training should reduce casualties on both sides. However the first step is to use reason and try and serve a warrant.

It hard for me to square we are doing it to protect children and end up killing them.

Janet Reno likes to have her people pull weapons on families.


When a Libyan ruler attacks... (Below threshold)
Joel Martin:

When a Libyan ruler attacks an armed revolt that threatens his rule, our president orders an attack on his sovereign state. Yet these Branch Davidians are massacred on their own estate without ever having launched any attack. The perpetrator, Janet Reno continues a reign of terror, next attacking innocent families of FLDS, while running propaganda campaign to defame them like the Branch Davidians. Why didn't she go to prison? Why didn't the FBI investigate her? And how lucky are we that no superpower has risen against us in retaliation like Obama has retaliated against Libya's leadership for crimes against humanity? Why doesn't our leader recognize the hypocrisy:
1. Keep us out of wars that are not our business. They can cost our children's lives.
2. Try and convict Janet Reno to stop her from further atrocities.
3. Keep government from sponsoring atrocities by limiting its size and function, and calling for shutdown of offending bureaucracies like CPS and ATF at the national level, leaving them to full state control and sponsorship.






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