dare they say that this is not a free country!" Thus
President Clinton, in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing,
scolded those who see the federal government as a tyranny.
The only proper answer to our clueless Commander-in-chief,
then and now, is a simple four-letter word that speaks volumes
about the age we are living in: Waco.
the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, we were not supposed
to talk about Waco. Yet the memory of it not only persisted,
but grew stronger, in spite of the smear campaign against
anyone who dared raise the subject. In the minds of millions,
the Waco massacre is emblematic of the new age we are entering,
the grisly symbol of a government thoroughly corrupted and
even maddened by power.
28, 1993: A DAY THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY
the morning of February 28, 1993, two trailers with no markings
pulled up in front of David Koresh's sanctuary, in Waco, Texas,
known to the inhabitants as Mt. Carmel. Although the building
was described by the authorities and a receptive media as
"the Compound," in reality it was an ordinary unfortified
wooden structure, not a mountain fastness or a military bunker,
but a home. Within minutes, that home was under assault
from more than 70 heavily armed bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
and Firearms (BATF) commandos. Faces obscured by ski masks,
they rushed the front door, shouting and shooting.
Davidians' answer to this deadly assault was to fight back,
to fight for their lives and in defense of their children.
When the dust cleared, four BATF agents were dead, and several
others wounded. While there is considerable evidence that
some of these causalities may have been caused by "friendly
fire," these deaths were deemed "murder" by
US Attorney General Janet Reno, and Koresh's surviving followers
were put on trial. The Davidian defendants were all acquitted
of the charge of conspiracy to murder federal agents: five
were convicted of voluntary manslaughter, which the judge
in the case defined as taking action "in the sudden heat
of passion caused by adequate provocation."
defending their homes and their families against a government
goon squad, the convicted Davidians were sentenced to 40
years in jail. This was clearly not the intention of the
jurors. As Sara L. Bain, jury foreman, put it in a letter
to the judge: "Even five years is too severe a penalty
for what we believed to be a minor charge." She went
on to say that: "The federal government was absolutely
out of control here. We spoke in the jury room about the fact
that the wrong people were on trial, that it should have been
the ones that planned the raid and orchestrated it and insisted
on carrying out this plan who should have been on trial."
Instead of being brought to justice, Larry Potts, the FBI
official in charge of this murderous operation, was promoted
to second-in-command of the Bureau!
MURDERERS AMONG US
official BATF report on Waco, a shameless whitewash, is dedicated
to the memory of the four BATF agents who lost their lives
in the initial shoot-out. No mention is made of the Davidians
who died that day. Perry Jones was shot as he stood in the
doorway, behind his son-in-law, David Koresh. Jaydean Wendel
had been nursing her newborn child, and had just put the baby
down when she fell in a hail of bullets. Pete Gent was shot
as he clambered up the water tower, picked off by BATF snipers.
Winston Blake and Peter Hipsman were killed by gunfire that
penetrated the house. Michael Schroeder was ambushed on his
way from a warehouse to Mt. Carmel. Their murderers are walking
the streets, not only free but in positions of power.
the beginning of the long siege of Mt. Carmel, the American
public was awash in a relentless wave of propaganda vilifying
Koresh as a latter-day Charles Manson and his followers as
demonic automatons wired to kill. And yet, when the BATF descended
on the Davidians' home, Koresh came to the door, unarmed,
and yelled out: "What do you want?" The simplicity
of this gesture, a plaintive cry followed by "There are
women and children in here," belies the Satanic image
of Koresh painted in such vivid hues by the Establishment
media. Instead of a demon, he seems vulnerable, hapless, and
all too human as he stands there, shocked by the fulfillment
of his own prophecy. As if to underscore their peculiarly
American naiveté, one of the first things Koresh and
his followers did after the smoke cleared was to call 911!
The tape of that call has Koresh saying "I don't care
who they are. Nobody is going to come to my home, with my
babies around, shaking guns around, without a gun back in
their face. That's just not the American way."
the American way, but a new way, the BATF/Reno/Clinton way.
The America Koresh remembered did not allow jackbooted government
thugs to storm into private homes; but we are living in a
new era, where such outrages are euphemized and even glorified
by the Orwellian language of BATF bureaucrats, who in a report
described their murderous Sunday morning blitzkrieg as a "dynamic
"CRIMES" OF DAVID KORESH
official government explanation for the BATF raid has changed
so many times that it is difficult to keep count: first we
were told by Janet Reno that the Koreshians were engaged in
massive child abuse. It was revealed at the trial, however,
that a nine-week investigation by the Texas Bureau of Child
Protective Services in 1992 had failed to come up with any
evidence of abuse. Then we were told that Koresh was stockpiling
weapons: but according to the BATF's own report, there were
no suspected illegal weapons per se on the premises,
but only speculation that at some time the Koreshians
might have the wherewithal, equipment, and intent to convert
legal parts into illegal automatic weapons.
51-day siege of Mt. Carmel was accompanied by a barrage of
propaganda, all dutifully echoed by the "mainstream"
media, that turned the most blatant act of government-sponsored
terrorism in US history into a hostage drama. This was based
on the fiction that Koresh was somehow holding his devoted
followers against their will, and much was made by Janet Reno
of the alleged danger posed by Koresh to the children. On
day 2 of the siege, when the FBI took over from the BATF,
they brought in the "Hostage Rescue Team," and declared
that their goal was to get the "hostages" out, as
if this somehow established the fiction once and for all.
Somehow the American people had to be convinced that the violent
persecution of a tiny religious sect was not only necessary,
but positively righteous. The only way to do it was to smear
them as gun-crazy child-molesting fanatics, mentally enslaved
to an authoritarian leader.
fact, the children of Mt. Carmel, as shown in a video made
by Koresh, seemed well adjusted and happy. Interacting freely
and unselfconsciously with Koresh, they are clearly not at
all frightened or even much in awe of the Prophet. When Janet
Reno cited them as the motivating factor that led to the raid,
she lied to the American people and the media obligingly
broadcast this lie far and wide. We were asked to believe
that it was Butch Reno's late-blooming maternal instinct that
drove her to mobilize a small army against Koresh and his
extended family. If so, then the old saw about killing the
thing you love applies here, and with a vengeance.
was, we were told, another "hostage crisis." But
the official rationale for the siege began to unravel when
the first of the "hostages" came out, two elderly
women. Both were immediately handcuffed and booked for murder.
CRIES OF SLAUGHTERED RABBITS
what about the children of Mt. Carmel, for whose sake the
raid was supposedly launched? They were subjected to an endless
assault by their alleged protectors and would-be rescuers.
The water and electricity were immediately turned off, as
were all phone lines except for a line to the FBI. The children
were also subjected to loud rock music, glaring floodlights,
recordings of bizarre Tibetan chants, the cries of slaughtered
rabbits, and other sounds meant to demoralize, disorient,
and deprive them of sleep.
of concern for "the children," Reno's relentless
siege employed every tactic but that of rational negotiation.
But since Koresh spoke the language of faith, specifically
Christian faith, the militant secularists in Reno's Justice
Department and the FBI had no way to communicate with them.
With Koresh alluding to Biblical passages to illustrate his
millennialist and specifically Adventist theology FBI
negotiators contemptuously called it "Bible-babble"
the feds were determined to bring matters to a head
as soon as possible. The longer the siege lasted, the more
it was possible that Koresh might maneuver them into an indefinite
stalemate which they would not allow.
idea of a stalemate was intolerable to the feds for two reasons:
1) it would undermine federal authority. If Koresh could stand
up to the federal colossus, then other dissident groups might
get ideas. 2) If Koresh and his followers were allowed to
live through the siege, their testimony would result in the
indictment, not of the Davidians, but of their persecutors.
to the BATF report, at the end of March FBI officials began
to contemplate sterner measures, including "inserting
tear gas" into the "compound." This was duly
approved by Reno and the President. As tanks rigged up with
gas-dispensing nozzles advanced on the cluster of wood-frame
buildings, the FBI used megaphones to announce; "This
is not an assault! Do not fire weapons!" For some reason,
the Davidians did not believe them. They dared to defend themselves
against what looked to them like the prelude to the Armageddon
Koresh had so often conjured.
FIRE THAT TIME
Davidian gunfire bounced off the tanks' heavy armor. The feds
succeeded in puncturing the walls of the house, and inserted
gas into the buildings. Although the official line is that
the intent was to flush the Davidians out of the structure,
what occurred was the demolition of the building with the
Davidians still inside it, and the sudden outbreak of a fire.
The blaze spread quickly, whipped up by a fierce wind and
the puncture holes in the buildings. Who started the fire?
It is an article of faith in the Justice Department and the
White House that Koresh immolated himself and his own followers.
The survivors of Waco say that it was the tanks that started
the blaze, as they came crashing through the walls, knocking
over Coleman lanterns the Davidians used for illumination.
Bales of straw had been stacked up on the walls, to deflect
bullets, and these ignited the spark that ended in a fiery
holocaust. The FBI's recent admission that it used "pyrotechnic"
devices, and new evidence that gunfire rained down on the
Davidians from helicopters hovering overhead, completes the
note that, early that fateful morning, the FBI asked the Parkland
Memorial Hospital Burn Unit to prepare for several burn victims.
FBI agents were issued fireproof vests, while a helicopter
equipped with a hi-tech fire-detecting equipment circled like
a vulture overhead. Did the FBI have reason to expect the
sudden outbreak of a fire that day? To believe this
we were told by our respectable pundits on the right as well
as the left was to endorse the "conspiracy"
view of Waco. It was to descend into the deepest, darkest
fever-swamp of right-wing paranoia, to wallow in the muck
of the blackest reaction. Such a thought was a hate crime,
a demagogic appeal to dangerous and bigoted Angry White Men
and yet, some persisted in daring to think it.
the reaction if Waco had been situated in, say, Bosnia, and
its assailants were Serbian separatists instead of BATF and
FBI commandos. Christiane Amanpour would have been right there
on the spot, wailing and moaning about the slaughter of the
innocents against a backdrop of smoking ruins. Susan Sontag
would have been on the next flight out, and the United Nations
would have had a war crimes tribunal up and running before
her plane touched the ground.