Justin Raimondo is taking Labor Day off. Behind the Headlines will return Wednesday, September 8

September 3, 1999


"The day will come when 'Remember Waco' will become a battle cry for the people."

So wrote someone whose moniker is "Deadeye," posting a message on the Internet bulletin board Freerepublic.com, the wildly popular cyber-headquarters of the populist right-wing. And he was far from alone in his sentiments. "Eskimo" chimed in with "there are many who believe that the criminal elements that now operate the federal government intended Waco to be an object lesson and a direct indication that they are ready and willing to use force to realize their oligarchic dreams." Yesterday, "Eskimo" would have been considered a marginal "extremist"; today, as the ugly truth about Waco begins to emerge, this analysis is hard to dispute.


For six years the feds have denied that incendiary devices were fired that could have resulted in the Waco conflagration. Their line has always been that the followers of David Koresh committed mass suicide. Now comes new evidence that not only were "pyrotechnic" devices utilized in the assault, but the top secret Army unit known as "Delta Force" were in the front lines of the battle – and not as mere "advisors," as the Justice Department is now claiming. As Mike McNulty, producer of the film "Waco: Rules of Engagement," puts it, they were "deployed and pulling triggers."


McNulty's film, nominated for an Academy Award, showed how the victims of Waco were set up and incinerated. Now, in "Waco: New Revelations," McNulty comes forward with the rest of the shocking truth: While government officials claim that the "pyrotechnic" gas canisters the government now admits were found at the scene could not have caused the fire, McNulty reveals that "what they aren't talking about is the pyrotechnic devices that were found at the points of origins of the fire in the rubble of the building after the fire." What about "the other types of 40-millimeter munitions that were also found in the aftermath of the fire that were definitely 'pyrotechnic' – and possibly more than that"?


The administration is terrified of the answer to this question, but the truth is coming out faster than the even the champion liars in the White House and the Justice Department can deny it. On October 18, a case pursued by the survivors of the massacre and their relatives is scheduled to go to trial in federal court in Waco; U.S. District Court Judge Walter Smith has moved to take control of all evidence, resisting the Justice Department's attempt to grab the reins of the investigation. With different sectors of the Establishment battling for control of the evidence, the high stakes were vividly dramatized when Reno sent US federal marshals storming into the FBI's Washington headquarters, impounding tape recordings of FBI commanders' communications with field agents on the day of the massacre.


What is at stake is nothing less than the legitimacy of the American state. For if it turns out that McNulty is right, and the feds – not only the FBI but Reno and the President himself – covered up the wanton murder of over 80 people, including 25 children, then the moral and political legitimacy of this government has come to an end. Having launched a war against their own people, our rulers have broken the social contract – and lose their right to rule.


"Deadeye" was dead on target: "Remember Waco" is the battle cry of millions of radicalized Americans, outraged by Clinton's secret war against the American people – and their numbers are growing with each new revelation. If this is "extremism," then let the apologists for mass murder make the most of it – while they still can.


American conservatives are learning a lesson the Left long ago forgot – these dedicated patriots are coming to appreciate the horrific criminality of which their government is capable. Indeed, during the past eight years, they have seen that the US government seems capable of little else. During the reign of this most warlike of American Presidents, US armed forces have launched military operations against enemies all over the globe – with not even the American people exempt from their war-maddened bloodlust.


But just to put things in perspective: imagine ten-thousand Wacos, envision bombers instead of helicopter gunships, and think of the tens of thousands of children fallen victim to the US assault on Iraq instead of the 25 murdered at Waco.


Another analogy to Iraq: The demonization of Koresh followed the classic lines of the propaganda campaign that equated Saddam with Hitler. Milosevic was similarly caricatured, along with Noriega and the ruler of every other "rogue nation" that dared defy Washington's edicts. Just as these wars were fought with the American media cheerleading the fight on behalf of the administration, so the war at home requires the same sort of media complacency, and even complicity.


We weren't supposed to talk about the Waco massacre: for the longest time, after the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, the subject was verboten, a sure sign that whoever raised it was a dangerous right-wing "extremist,: a militia member who might follow in the footsteps of Timothy McVeigh: the preferred epithet was "antigovernment extremist," as the professional smear-mongers invariably phrased it, employing their favorite tactic of manipulating the language to suit their own ends. For if we accept the unacknowledged premise of that neat little phrase – that any and all opposition to government is "extremist" in nature – then all opposition is effectively criminalized. Waging a war on "hate speech" and "hate groups" whose major crime seemed to be their hatred of government, a whole platoon of "extremist"-watchers grew up into a veritable mini-industry, the most active and certainly the wealthiest being the Southern Poverty Law Center, founded by Morris Dees.


Mr. Dees, about whom I have written before, is the Grand Inquisitor of the well-funded and well-connected "hate the Right" movement. His Center raises millions each year under the pretenses of fighting "hate" – when it is hate that seems to motivate Dees, a deep and abiding hatred of rightist dissent, or, indeed, of any radical protest against the political and economic status quo. As an organization, the SPLC has functioned as a virtual arm of the State, especially its growing "anti-terrorist" apparatus, acting as an informant, a chronicler, and a clearinghouse for information to be placed at the disposal of federal agencies. In their capacity as a kind of privatized Thought Police, Dees and his associates are called on by the liberal media whenever they want to discredit and smear the right-wing populist opposition. Naturally, these "experts" were brought in to yesterday's front page story in the New York Times, "Tenacity of 2 Played a Role In reviving Inquiry on Waco," by Jim Yardley.


While the facts are roughly if vaguely presented, the tone of Yardley's piece is enough to convey the paper's editorial disdain for its subjects. It starts in the first very short paragraph, in which the author describes the six year quest by McNulty and lawyer David Hardy to uncover the truth as "obsessive." Yardley goes on to frame the issue in the familiar idiom of the "extremist'-baiters: "Espousing views popular with many right-wing groups," he continues, "Mr. McNulty, in particular, has blamed federal agents for the deaths" of the 80-plus victims of the FBI-Delta Force assault. But the critics of the government's role in the Waco incident are not limited to the right side of the political spectrum; and besides, all the reviews of "Rules of Engagement" emphasized quite the opposite – that these were a bunch of liberal-to-leftie filmmakers. McNulty's documentary made a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival, not exactly a hotbed of right-wing ideology.


Yet we are still treated to the same tired old smear tactics that haven't worked in the past and won't work this time, with Yardley hauling out the malevolent Mark Potok, of the SPLC, who laments that "this is really unfortunate. This has given credence to the rest of McNulty's views, which are unsupported." But which views? And what, exactly, is "really unfortunate" – that McNulty has been proven right, or that the government's lies are being exposed? In Potok's case, I suspect that the answer is both.


Not content with one "expert" with a political axe to grind, Yardley cites yet another professional "expert on right-wing extremism," one Mark Pitcavage, described as "a historian who specializes in right-wing extremist groups and operates the Militia Watchdog Web site. "The Waco documentary was highly publicized," he avers, "but the inaccuracies were not. I don't think the McNulty Waco documentary could even remotely be considered objective." It is absolutely amazing that this man should be cited in this article as some kind of scholar of "far right extremism," and the maintainer of a website, when he in fact is an employee of the FBI: here, from his website, is some biographical material, not mentioned in the Yardley piece:


"The creator and maintainer of the Militia Watchdog website is Mark Pitcavage. Mark Pitcavage is a historian living in Columbus, Ohio, who specializes in the history of right-wing extremism in contemporary America. He is currently Director of the SLATT Program Research Center. The SLATT Program (State/Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program) is a Justice Department program designed to educate senior state and local law enforcement officials on domestic terrorism issues. It is conducted jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, a nonprofit organization. Pitcavage has provided training to a number of law enforcement agencies and other groups, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation."


Yardley cites Pitcavage as an "objective source," who is given a platform to denounce McNulty as a dangerous subversive, without telling his readers about his links to the government – and the very agency implicated in the killings and the cover-up. This tells us everything we need to know about the kind of journalism they practice over at the New York Times.


But what does it say about the intelligence of a journalist who gives the skeptical reader a key clue in debunking his own thesis? For anyone with a computer and a connection to the Internet could check up on Pitcavage's bona fides and find them wanting. Simply by taking a few minutes of Web-surfing to confirm his worst suspicions, a child could debunk this fatuous ploy – and so why do they expect the American people to believe it? Is it any wonder that "mainstream" journalists are losing their credibility, and people are turning to the "alternative" media on the Internet to find out what is going on the world?


The grand finale of Yardley's article is another choice quote from Pitcavage, the FBI agent masquerading as a distinguished "scholar": "They [McNulty and Hardy] deserve a little bit of credit. But you wish that someone else had discovered this stuff instead. These guys have ulterior motives." Naturally, a government agent posing as an oh-so-objective academic couldn't possibly have any ulterior motives.


And why didn't anybody else discover "this stuff"? Could it be because no one in the "mainstream" media thought to question the official government line? Is it remotely possible that the pundits and alleged "reporters" in the major media centers could have cared less that a bunch of "extremist" Christian fundamentalists had been slaughtered like animals – what were they doing with that kooky Koresh, anyway? Didn't they really deserve to die?


And I suppose it is "conspiracism" of the worst sort – the major crime cited by the professional "watchdogs" such as Dees, Pitcavage, and freelance extremist-baiter Chip Berlet – to speculate that it won't be long before the troops are called out again. I think I hear war-drums beating in the distance – and they seem to be getting closer by the day. Iraq is about due for another major bombing, and the Transcaucus is incubating a "refugee crisis" that may very well require "humanitarian" intervention – and there's always China, provoked into a fury by US patronage of Taiwanese separatists. Any one of these could explode at a moment's notice, and divert attention away from the fact that murderers walk among us – and not only walk among us, but rule over us.


But perhaps, this time, not even the spectacle of war will divert the national attention from the unfolding horror – perhaps it will only underscore the criminality of our ruling elites. No more Wacos – US Out of Iraq: now there's a slogan for the antiwar movement of the not-so-distant future.


Get your own copy of Waco: The Rules of Engagement, and be one of the first to receive the soon-to-be-released Waco: New Revelations. Order from the Center for Libertarian Studies.

Check out Justin Raimondo's article, “China and the New Cold War”

“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).


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