The Lasting Lessons Of WACO
If you were near a television set on April 19, 1993, you will never forget the sight of the Mt. Carmel religious community in Waco, Texas, going up in flames. What precisely had these people done to justify the Fed's surrounding them with tanks? With reluctance, the FBI is now inching towards telling the truth. John Howard reports.
Last Friday a visibly angry Attorney General, Janet Reno, said she had been given repeated assurances by the FBI that the weapons used in the final assault on the Branch Davidian sect did not include incendiary devices that could have ignited the deadly fire that ended the 51-day siege.
But the FBI has now acknowledged that its agents did fire "a very limited number" of incendiary pyrotechnic tear gas cartridges.
Now I have a real problem with that because I have had a copy for four years of the actual video footage, including infrared heat-sensitive footage, filmed from the air and the land by independent people, including the Texas Rangers at the time of the "invasion."
In part it is this video evidence held by the Texas Rangers which has now blown the whistle on the FBI's claims. The infrared film shows automatic gun-fire being fired into the compound preventing escape from the fire, although the FBI has consistently denied "even firing one shot" during the siege. It shows tanks delivering incendiary devices which caused fire-balls. It records the evidence of expert witnesses and survivors of the siege at the 1995 congressional hearings.
Remarkably, while that congressional hearing sharply critisised Reno, calling her decision to approve the FBI's assault plan "premature, wrong and irresponsible," it also concluded that it was legal.
The Washington Post newspaper now says ".....but a newly discovered videotape of the siege shot by the Texas Department of Public Safety contains footage that some experts say appears to show machine gun fire being directed into the compound."
The Washington Post is wrong - the video evidence is more than four years old and it has not been "newly discovered." It's just that they weren't listening, watching or interested. After the fire, most mainstream media reporters just went away.
Can mainstream media be surprised when millions of people are turning to "The New Media" - the Internet - for their news and information. In fact, the New Media played a large part in exposing what went on at Waco.
While many in mainstream media continue to call the Internet new media people "Whako" and "conspiracy theorists" and "extremists" and "losers" they might also like to explain what's "whako" about being right. And will they now apologise for misjudging those of us who recognised the lies several years ago as garbage?
It has taken six years, but this may be coming to an end.
What was to stop the agents doing what they did? Nothing, it seems.
In my view, the Fed's consistently tortured the people inside the compound with recorded rabbit screams played at high volume throughout the night, playing at high volume Nancy Sinatra's "These boots are made for Walkin', lit up the compound with powerful searchlights, cut of their water and electricity, pumped the compound full of poisonous M651 CS tear gas banned for use against soldiers under international law, deliberately drove tanks over grave-sites and, when the building was finally razed to the ground, they bulldozed away any evidence of what was a homicide crime-scene and in total arrogance, then raised the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms flag over the site.
There were women, children and elderly people in there, some who had been there for 30 years. 80 of them died on that fateful day.
One by one the excuses for the federal authorities behaviour evaporated: drugs, guns, child abuse, and agressive political dissent.
After the massacre, the denials begun. Clinton said they had killed themselves. Reno echoed that same view. At the congressional hearings, agents involved denied starting the fire. Elaborate scenarios were concocted, without supporting evidence, designed to show how Koresh had started the fire. The agents even became indignant that anyone would doubt their word, and were insulting to anyone, including congressmen, who questioned their motives.
Reno now says "It is absolutely critical that we do everything humanly possible to learn all the facts as accurately as possible and make them available to the Congress and the public." Clinton now agrees.
Her statement, however, assumes she is now the victim of lies. But there is formerly classified evidence, now released under the Freedom of Information Act, and leaked Special Forces documents which shows the military warned her about use of CS gas.
"I don't think it's very good for my credibility," Reno said.
>From my perspective, it is an outrage that the Davidians were targeted in the first place. It is an outrage that the US government, filled with officials who have sworn to uphold the law, tried to starve out a community, religious or otherwise. The total of its actions was an outrageous abuse of power and arguably the most important story of government tyranny of our modern era.
And when politicians and intellectuals give speeches on the world stage wondering what happened to the civic pride of the good old days? The answer is: it went up in flames at places like Waco.
Beyond the precise details of the case, Waco teaches us something important about the nature of modern government. It hates dissent of opinions other than its own - "our" government has become "the" government.