Between March and June, 1993 the United States House and Senate held several hearings regarding Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) actions against members of the Branch Davidian religious group in Waco, Texas. These actions led to the deaths of 82 Davidians, 56 of them women and children, and of four BATF agents.
While Congress asked some important questions regarding these deadly raids, too many remain unasked and unanswered. Since those hearings new information revealed at the trial of 11 Davidians and through the research of a number of investigators, including in the ongoing civil lawsuits, has raised many more questions that cut to the very heart of our Constitutional government.
Millions of Americans are beginning to discover the truth about what really happened February 28, 1993: BATF agents in National Guard helicopters zoomed in on the Branch Davidians' church and home, Mount Carmel Center, with guns blazing, killing unarmed Davidians. Ground agents mortally wounded David Koresh's unarmed father-in-law who stood at the front door with Koresh as he begged BATF agents to stop the attack on a building filled with 82 women and children. BATF agents--and FBI agents who took over from them--knew that more than a dozen agents would face prosecution if America learned the truth.
We believe leading BATF and FBI agents in Waco conspired, either explicitly or silently, to lie to and harass the Davidians to keep them inside Mount Carmel so agents would have an excuse to destroy the building, its incriminating evidence, and the defiant witnesses calling for justice. A study of the April 19, 1993 gas and tank attacks suggests they were a successful systematic effort to render Mount Carmel an inescapable fire trap.
Congressional committees conducted three in depth hearings, the April 22, 1993 House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight hearing, the April 28, 1993 House Judiciary Committee hearing (whose transcripts still have not been released), and the June 9, 1993 House Appropriations Committee hearing. Below is list of questions which these committees never asked or which BATF, FBI, Treasury and Justice Department agents and officials never really answered. (Neither were these questions adequately answered in the official Treasury or Justice Department reports.)
Except at trial, in no investigation have these agents and officials been questioned under oath. Nor has immunity ever been granted to any agents or officials. Even under oath, many agents gave inconsistent, altered and self- serving testimony.
Millions of Americans are troubled by the obvious continuing coverup of BATF/FBI crimes against the Davidians and the failure of Congress to find the truth. They similarly are concerned about the failure of the Justice Department to prosecute or the FBI to fire agents and officials responsible for the death of Vicki Weaver in Idaho. Tens of thousands of Americans have gone so far as to form armed militias and vow to march on federal agents should they ever again put Americans under siege. Congress must re-open hearings or see to the appointment of an independent counsel to get to reassure the American people that federal law enforcement never again will raid and massacre Americans.
The supporting information mentioned in these questions is documented in Carol Moore's The Massacre of the Branch Davidians to be published soon by Gun Owners of America. Please contact us for sources of additional information.
** When a representative asked about cooperation with local law enforcement, BATF officials did not reveal that they avoided cooperating with the McLennan County Sheriff and prosecutors' office because of one individual's allegations of "leaks" in the Sheriff's Department to Koresh.
** Congress was not told that both U.S. Assistant Attorney Bill Johnston and District Judge Walter J. Smith (who presided at trial) may have been prejudiced against Koresh because of civil suits linked to alleged drug dealing out of Mount Carmel under George Roden before David Koresh took over. Others may have feared that Koresh would reveal evidence of local law enforcement involvement in that activity. The Treasury report asserts Johnston insisted that BATF use a paramilitary entry as opposed to more peaceful means. This became a big issue at trial.
** Why didn't BATF officials tell Congress that David Koresh had a legal gun business and that through his gun dealer, Henry McMahon, Koresh had invited BATF agents to inspect his guns on July 30, 1992? Why didn't they reveal that a few days later Koresh faxed the dealer documentation for his weapons purchases which was forwarded to BATF?
** Why didn't BATF officials tell Congress that Koresh complained to the Sheriff's office about obvious surveillance weeks before the raid? (Why must Americans fear this kind of attack despite their efforts to cooperate?)
** Why wasn't Congress informed of the mass of prejudiced, stale, inaccurate, false, misleading, irrelevant and inflammatory information contained in the February 25, 1993 affidavit in support of search and arrest warrants? Will Congress investigate BATF and other federal agencies habit of providing such faulty affidavits to judges and the judiciary's role in rubber stamping them?
** There have been frequent allegations that BATF converts legal semiautomatic weapons to illegal ones in order to score convictions. BATF/FBI needed to find such weapons to excuse the deaths of 82 Davidians and four BATF agents.
** That is why many suspect BATF and the FBI falsely claim that after the fire they found 48 automatic weapons, four live grenades and twenty metal tubes they labeled "silencers." These agencies have proved to no one outside of law enforcement that Davidian guns were illegally converted. Nor have they proved the grenades were live or the metal tubes were silencers.
** When a Davidian gun expert tried to look at the weapons, he only was allowed to do so through thick plastic, which would make it difficult to see if the changes had been made or if they had been done before or after the fire.
** While several agents alleged they heard automatic gun fire coming out of Mount Carmel, prosecutors could not provide such evidence in video tape or in vehicles shot at by Davidians. If Davidians had used such weapons, they would have done much more damage to vehicles and killed many more agents.
** Prosecutors put on the stand a Davidian woman with little weapons experience to testify a deceased Davidian told her some weapons were automatic. (A Davidian man with little experience told a grand jury that because some guns had three switch positions he assumed they were automatic. He was told a grenade in his possession was live but did not know if this was true.)
** Prosecutors did not prosecute or call to the stand a Davidian mechanical engineer who both the woman at trial and BATF agents in affidavits had identified as being possibly involved in converting weapons. This suggests the engineer had no credible evidence Davidians converted weapons.
** Will Congress investigate whether financially motivated anti-cult "deprogrammers" like Rick Ross provided false or exaggerated information to law enforcement about the Branch Davidians? Ross hinted of his knowledge of BATF's upcoming raid to try to scare Davidian Steve Schneider's family into paying Ross to deprogram Schneider. Schneider and his family died on April 19th.
** During one hearing a representative questioned a low ranking BATF public affairs official about BATF's "publicity" motivations for a paramilitary raid. Her superior, who also appeared and probably knew the answer, did not volunteer an answer.
** Congress did not ask other more disturbing questions like: What was the role of the federal prosecutor in promoting such a raid? Are violent paramilitary raids the preferred BATF modus operandi against citizens? Did anti- cult individuals give BATF false information about the likelihood of Koresh complying with a search warrant and of Davidians committing mass suicide? Was BATF punishing David Koresh and the Davidians for showing a BATF undercover agent a Gun Owners of America video tape which exposes BATF abuses of citizens' rights?
** Hidden in paperwork BATF submitted to Congress was the fact that BATF knew the identity of the individuals most likely responsible for building a methamphetamine at Mount Carmel in 1986-87 before David Koresh took over. (They also knew Koresh dismantled the equipment and may have contacted local law enforcement about it.) Yet BATF used this stale and irrelevant knowledge to obtain free use of Texas National Guard helicopters and defended its actions when the Texas Governor complained!
** Army Special Forces were involved in training BATF agents at Fort Hood. Reporter James L. Pate asserts "military sources" told him Special Forces illegally trained BATF agents in techniques of "room-clearing, fire-and- maneuver and building takedown," methods of indiscriminate killing of uncooperative enemy forces. Some fear the attack was a "test" of whether Americans would accept such military-style attacks on civilians.
** If BATF agents were indeed shooting from helicopters, as evidence below indicates, this would violate the posse comitatus law.
** BATF did not have a no knock warrant which would allow them to bust in unannounced, yet they never practiced anything but a forced entry into several parts of the building at once. (When one representative asked what happened when BATF went out to "knock on their door and they started shooting," BATF officials did not correct his misconception.)
** Agents did not have a plan to stop their aggressive actions in busting into the house even if Koresh immediately surrendered.
** No agent was assigned to announce the warrant, no Davidians heard them do so, and no agents originally admitted doing so--until after they talked with Treasury Department agents.
** At trial agents admitted agents actually forgot to bring the warrants with them when they raided Mount Carmel.
** BATF agents expected a shootout. Agents admitted they anticipated they would be met with force and that agents were told to mark their blood types on their necks for medical purposes if they were wounded.
** The Treasury report admits the newsman who accidently warned a Davidian about the upcoming raid said it would be a "shootout" involving helicopters, obviously what agents were telling others.
** BATF describes the Heckler & Koch MP-5s agents carried as semi-automatic. However, the new version carried by law enforcement has a two shot burst and therefore under law it is a machinegun. (It should be noted that only law enforcement is allowed to use silencers on these weapons, which would give agents the ability to shoot first and deny it!)
** Hydroshock bullets are hollowpoint bullets made to pass through body armor and destroy large areas of flesh. They killed or mortally wounded several probably unarmed Davidians.
** As video tapes show, and agents admitted, agents threw dangerous "flash-bang" grenades ("diversionary devices") which can cause injury and death into the building, including into the church chapel. These are pyrotechnic and can start fires.
** Davidian attorney Col. Jack Zimmermann, who has extensive military experience, alleges BATF threw an even more dangerous concussion grenade into one room, starting a small fire there.
** Three Texas National Guard helicopters carried about 10 agents each, including two raid commanders, one of whom BATF later fired, and then rehired. (The two raid commanders BATF fired probably threatened to publicize the truth about BATF's illegal actions if they were not re-hired.)
** KWTX-TV news video proved that the helicopter pilots lied on the stand when they denied overflying Mount Carmel 20 minutes before the raid. They may have lied to cover up the fact that they had done a surveillance flight in anticipation of shooting from the helicopters.
** At trial National Guard pilots never directly denied there was shooting from the helicopters, only repeated that such firing would be "against regulations." (The judge would not allow the defense to call any of the BATF agents in the helicopters.)
** In some KWTX-TV video tape footage it appears that bullets enter the roof of the second story room from almost directly overhead, even as helicopters can be heard flying above.
** Davidian survivors--including a Davidian prosecution witness--allege that agents in helicopters started unprovoked firing at them as they arrived at the north side of the building and continued to pass back and forth over the building, firing at will, for several minutes, puncturing the walls and ceilings with over 100 bullet holes.
** Davidians called "911" one minute after the start of the attack and can be heard yelling that helicopters flying overhead are shooting at them as they speak. "Another chopper with more people; more guns going off. They're firing. That's them, not us."
** Davidian attorneys Jack Zimmermann and Dick DeGuerin, who entered Mount Carmel after the raid, said they saw what clearly were bullet holes entering the ceiling of the four story tower and other roofs and walls from the sky.
** Davidians allege that BATF shot first as the unarmed David Koresh stood in the front door at the south side of the building. The shots injured Koresh and mortally wounded his also unarmed father-in-law Perry Jones. At trial the agents who ran at the front door gave testimony that not only conflicted with each others' testimony, but was different from testimony they gave Texas Rangers before they spoke to Treasury agents and prosecutors!
** Texas Rangers admitted that the half of the front door which allegedly had been hit by the most gunfire from the outside was missing. Photographs taken during the fire showed that tanks had dragged both doors well away from the building so the missing metal door could not have been incinerated.
** Davidians claim Perry Jones was hit in the stomach by that first barrage of bullets. (A Davidian prosecution witness confirms he was wounded.) However, the medical examiner and Treasury report describe no other wounds for Jones, who allegedly committed suicide with one shot to the mouth on February 28th. (While medical examiners assured Jones' family and attorney the body was in cold storage for an independent autopsy, in October of 1994 they revealed the body had been unfrozen for six months and had been consumed by maggots!
** Right after the raid BATF announced it had video tape of the first minutes of the raid. BATF never presented such video evidence, claiming BATF equipment in both the helicopters and the undercover house failed during the raid!
** David Koresh warned the undercover agent "we know BATF or the FBI are coming," something he would not have done had he intended to ambush agents.
** Davidians did not use their "tactical advantage" of being situated on a hill surrounded by open space to shoot at oncoming cattle trailers.
** At trial Davidians testifying for the prosecution made it clear Davidians were unprepared for a raid and had to hustle to find guns.
** Koresh told only a few Davidians a raid was imminent and told them not to shoot unless he ordered it.
** An unarmed David Koresh came to the front door, something an "ambusher" would not do.
** KWTX-TV video and Waco Tribune-Herald photographs taken in the first minutes of the raid show little or no return gun fire of any kind coming from the Davidians. In fact, photos show BATF agents standing in the wide open firing on the building!
** Davidians called "911" for help, something no "ambusher" would have done!
** Agents admitted at trial that shooting from the undercover house 300 yards south of Mount Carmel and from agents exiting one cattle trailer hit a BATF truck.
** At trial one agent admitted that he probably shot the bullet taken from another agent wounded in the second story arms room.
** Two agents were killed on the roof in the area where KWTX-TV video shows that helicopters had been shooting. Autopsy results indicate those agents were shot from above.
** After the raid, contrary to policy, no BATF "shooting review team" ever was formed to determine what bullets wounded which agents. The Treasury report notes that besides the four agents killed by gunshot, 20 agents were wounded, 7 by shrapnel and 13 by gunshot.
** There were several news reports of "friendly fire" right after the raid, before BATF put a gag order on all its agents.
** Davidians allege that four of the five people killed during the morning raid were not armed. Besides claiming Perry Jones was shot at the front door, they allege three were shot from the helicopters, one as she slept, another as he ate breakfast, and a third as he climbed out of the water tower to observe the commotion.
** The government denies Perry Jones was wounded at all and claims he committed suicide for no apparent reason. It claims the woman in bed and the man in the tower were armed and shooting and that the other man was "murdered" by Davidians. The government's evidence lacks credibility. (Because of the savagery of the attack, Jones and a mortally wounded man who probably was armed were convinced the government was about to kill them all and committed suicide or asked for a mercy killing rather than surrender to the "beast.")
** BATF spokespeople originally claimed Davidian Michael Schroeder was killed when three Davidians tried to shoot their way out of Mount Carmel. In fact, they were trying to return.
** The Treasury report alleges all three shot at agents, but at trial agents alleged only Schroeder shot. Fourteen agents fired at Schroeder who died of six gun shot wounds, most of them to the back.
** BATF agents never admitted to making any attempt to see if Schroeder was dying or dead. That two gun shots were heard as agents left the area with their one prisoner, and that Schroeder's blue stocking cap disappeared, leads some to suspect angry agents "finished off" the wounded Schroeder and later took the powder-burned cap.
** Texas Rangers were deputized as federal marshals by the U.S. Attorneys office and put in charge of the investigation. Nevertheless, the FBI would not let them retrieve Schroeder's body for 4 days--after BATF agents had revisited his body. The FBI would not let Rangers investigate the area for ten days. By that time rain had washed away footprint evidence of whether Schroeder really had shot at agents--or whether he was approached and shot by agents as he lay wounded.
** BATF agents claimed they found a 9mm weapon near Schroeder's body before Texas Rangers investigated. Texas Rangers later found a stun gun near his body, as well as 9mm shell casings around it. Some suspect the BATF agents planted the weapon and shell casings and that Schroeder was armed only with the stun gun.
** U.S. Attorneys prosecuted the two men who accompanied Schroeder, even though there was no evidence they had held or fired a gun, and even though they did not prosecute four Davidians who carried guns inside Mount Carmel during the siege. This suggests the prosecutions were part of the coverup of the assassination of Michael Schroeder. Both men were acquitted of all crimes.
** March 1, 1993 BATF agents told Koresh's gun dealer Henry McMahon and his woman friend Karen Kilpatrick that Branch Davidians outside Mount Carmel might try to kill them in order to "con" them into asking for protective custody. BATF flew them to the west coast.
** When McMahon and Kilpatrick realized they had been tricked, BATF threatened them with conspiracy charges and kept them away from the FBI and the press for a number of weeks. They probably feared the public would be sympathetic with Koresh if they knew he'd cooperated fully with BATF. McMahon and Kilpatrick are now suing BATF.
** Paul Fatta, who ran the Davidian gun business, was in Austin selling weapons and equipment at a gun show on February 28th. Fatta returned to Waco and offered to help the FBI but was rejected.
** Fatta gave numerous interviews in the first week of March stating that the Davidians had a legal gun business and BATF was lying about them. Doubtless this infuriated BATF.
** When Fatta left Waco a few days later, BATF put him on its "most wanted" list and labelled him armed and dangerous, which could have led to his "execution" by BATF agents. He surrendered to Texas Rangers after the fire. He was prosecuted and convicted of manufacturing machineguns on evidence equal to that of two individuals who were not prosecuted for that crime.
** The same FBI officials, Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) commander and agents involved in the killing of Vicki Weaver in Idaho were in charge in Waco. While lightly disciplined by the FBI for using excessive force, some of these men still face possible prosecution by the state of Idaho.
** These FBI agent doubtless sympathized with BATF agents bent on revenge against the "cultists" who had killed and wounded their comrades. FBI agents probably adopted a likely BATF agenda--destruction of a building which possessed physical evidence of BATF criminal actions which could lead to acquittals for the Davidians and prison terms for BATF agents.
** FBI negotiators knew that the Davidians believed the BATF attack was the fulfillment of Koresh's prophecy that the "beast" would kill them and bring on the Apocalypse and God's Kingdom. HRT commander Richard Rogers may have pressed for escalation of the harassment knowing it would convince Davidians Koresh was right about the government's evil intentions, make them less likely to exit the building and make it easier to implement the gassing plan that would permit agents to destroy the building and its incriminating evidence.
** The FBI never admitted that Davidians were convinced that once BATF and the FBI got inside Mount Carmel they would destroy evidence of the illegal BATF attack, especially the bullet holes coming down into the ceilings and walls from firing from helicopters.
** The Davidians feared this because FBI vehicles almost immediately started moving and destroying evidence like vehicles and bullet casings which could have proved Davidians did little firing and that BATF did a great deal, including from helicopters.
** As early as March 6th Davidians expressed fear that the government wanted to destroy evidence that would prove BATF's guilt. One told negotiators: "It wouldn't surprise me if they wouldn't want to get rid of the evidence. Because if this building is still standing, you will see the evidences of what took place."
** Davidians demanded that a news crew be allowed to film inside of the building and record the damage before the government was allowed in, but the FBI refused. They refused to allow attorneys in for a whole month.
** David Koresh was very self-assured in the March 8th home movie when he asserted the BATF killing of the unarmed Perry Jones would be "taken care of in the investigations," reflecting his determination to see justice done.
** Only in April were attorneys allowed to enter Mount Carmel and assure Davidians that Texas Rangers, not federal agents, would be in charge of investigating inside the building.
** According to the Wall Street Journal, immediately after the raid former Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman flew to Waco and visited BATF Resident Agent in Charge of the Little Rock BATF, Bill Buford, a "friend" of Clinton. Buford was seriously wounded during the raid.
** Considering Clinton's sometimes perverse relationships with Arkansas law enforcement, it is possible that Buford, through Altman, somehow may have "black mailed" Clinton to acquiesce to whatever actions BATF and the FBI would take against the Davidians.
** Former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell (who was an "Assistant" to the Attorney General before being sworn in and has been called by some the "defacto attorney general") was a major decision-maker throughout the siege, though his role was obfuscated in the Justice Department's official report. As Bill Clinton's "best friend" he could have shared a great deal of information and opinion with Clinton about the operation.
** During the April 28, 1993 House Judiciary Committee hearing Representative Sensenbrenner expressed concern that Hubbell had been having "out-of-the-loop" discussions with Clinton about the standoff. He could not get a definitive answer from FBI Director William Sessions or Attorney General Reno. (Reno's initial claim that Hubbell had spoken directly to Clinton on April 19th, was later denied in the Justice Department report.)
** During Hubbell's May 19, 1993 confirmation hearing, Senator Arlen Spector specifically asked Hubbell if, besides his purely personal contacts with Bill Clinton, he had had any direct contact with Clinton regarding any issues before the Department of Justice. Hubbell answered he only had spoken to President Clinton directly about appointment of a Supreme Court justice.
** In December, 1994 Webster Hubbell pled guilty to mail fraud--including against two government banking agencies-- and tax evasion connected to work in his former law firm. It would not be surprising if he was similarly dishonest in his statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This issue should be re-opened now that Hubbell is facing sentencing.
** FBI background checks on Hubbell before his confirmation, which were ongoing during the siege at Waco, supposedly turned up nothing about the law firm's allegations against Hubbell--even though these were several months old. The FBI is investigating the reason for this. Some wonder if the FBI was holding back this information to bully Hubbell and Clinton into covering up for the FBI massacre of the Davidians.
** It is well known that after Assistant White House Counsel Vince Foster's suicide, White House employees removed "Whitewater" files. Certainly if Foster left any incriminating evidence regarding Clinton or Hubbell's involvement in the massacre of the Branch Davidians, that evidence also would have been removed. Among those investigating Foster's death, there are credible rumors that before his suicide Vince Foster was particularly depressed about Clinton and Hubbell's handling of the deadly FBI assault.
** From the first BATF news conferences, to the Treasury and Justice Department reports, to the closing arguments of the Branch Davidian trial, federal law enforcement have used incomplete, exaggerated or false information about David Koresh and the Branch Davidians to dehumanize them as criminals and fanatics. They harped on the most outrageous claims of former members and anti-cult groups and stifled dissenting voices who pointed out that any crimes allegedly committed by one Davidian did not give the government the right to trample the constitutional rights of all Davidians to freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms and freedom from excessive police force.
** FBI lies included asserting Davidians had created tunnels and booby traps on the property, were using illegal drugs, had several years of food stored, and had built an impenetrable "fortress." The FBI claimed the operation was costing more two million dollars a day, when costs averaged closer to $150,000 a day.
** The FBI asserted most of those inside were white, although half were of African, Asian or Hispanic descent. (In "home videos" Davidians sent out to the FBI, more than a dozen people of color explained why they considered the word of Koresh to be more compelling than that of the FBI and the U.S. government. Doubtless, this raised the hackles of the more racist agents.)
** Immediately after the February 28th raid, BATF had the magistrate seal the contents of the affidavit and warrants to "ensure the integrity of the criminal investigation." However, these remained sealed even after Koresh saw them in March, preventing the public from discovering the questionable legal grounds for the raid or investigating the truth of the affidavits' many dubious allegations.
** Especially troubling are the continual FBI allegations during press conferences that Davidians wanted a violent end to the siege and/or might commit mass suicide. The FBI seemed to be preparing America for that kind of ending, the one it probably came to desire.
** The FBI prohibited reporters from getting closer than two to three miles to Mount Carmel Center, claiming the Branch Davidians' .50 caliber "machineguns" could hit anyone closer than 3000 yards, almost two miles. (The legal .50 caliber weapon was not found to be a machinegun.) The day before the fire the FBI moved television cameras back another mile from Mount Carmel and away from the northern sides of the building where the tanks did the most damage.
** Federal agents assaulted and arrested a reporter who had merely asked law enforcement about a Davidian apprehended right after the BATF raid, and illegally confiscated his film.
** When a journalist with valid press credentials asked if the country was "witnessing a fascist takeover," he was whisked out of the press room and arrested days later when he tried to return.
** State troopers arrested two news photographers and confiscated their film near the ruins of Mount Carmel on April 22, 1993, causing the managing editor of the Houston Chronicle, to wonder "if the Bill of Rights has been suspended in McLennan County."
** The FBI initially used Bradley fighting vehicles without barrels, to avoid posse comitatus prohibitions. However, when David Koresh (falsely) claimed he had weapons that could blow these vehicles into the air, the FBI obtained two Abrams tanks and five Combat Engineering Vehicles. The report does not state if these had barrels, which it admits would be illegal, but many claim that the tanks do.
** Acting Attorney General Stuart Gerson assured President Clinton that no assault was planned and that it was legal for the FBI to use the military vehicles for safety purposes. Was it legal to use them for the fatal April 19th assault?
** The Justice report asserts the FBI "did not solicit advice from any `cult experts' or `cult deprogrammers.'" However, Rick Ross' contention that he was in close contact with BATF and the FBI is backed up by Nancy Ammerman's assertion that interview transcripts document this.
** The Justice report claims that the FBI had little contact with former Davidian turned "cult buster" Marc Breault, but he claims they continued to consult him throughout the siege.
** FBI consultant Dr. Murray S. Miron is an outspoken cult critic who published an anti-cult article the week of the fire, even while he was consulting with the FBI. In typical cult buster fashion, he managed to get more publicity in the days following the fire than all other FBI experts combined.
** During the April 28, 1883 hearing siege commander Jeff Jamar admitted the FBI found a "white paper" on cults "very, very useful," but did not reveal to Congress who gave the very hostile, anti-cult white paper to the FBI.
** The Justice Department may have chosen to deny the involvement of "cult busters" because of three events in the months following the fire: the New Alliance Party sued the FBI for classifying the party as a "cult," BATF/FBI advisor Rick Ross was indicted for "unlawful imprisonment" and Justice Department outside expert Nancy Ammerman sharply criticized the FBI's association with Ross.
** FBI behavioral scientists Peter Smerick and Mark Young recommended that the FBI "establish some trust with Koresh" and even suggested moving back from the compound somewhat to undermine the Davidians' conviction the government was set upon destroying them. This advice was ignored.
** FBI commanders rejected two important negotiation tactics: allowing direct communication between families and Davidians and allowing a trusted third party to negotiate a surrender. Several trusted negotiators were suggested by the Davidians, including the McLennan Country sheriff and a local talk show host, but rejected by the FBI. Former presidential candidate Bo Gritz, who successfully negotiated an end to the Randy Weaver standoff, gained wide publicity when he offered his services. He never received a reply from the FBI.
** Only after the Davidians were in Mount Carmel for a full month did the FBI allow David Koresh and Steve Schneider to meet with their attorneys.
** FBI negotiators could not maintain the respect of the Davidians who quickly realized negotiators had little power to protect Davidians against the aggressive tactical agents.
** David Koresh had been releasing children steadily as radio stations played a religious tape. He promised that Davidians all would exit on March 2nd if the FBI played a 58 minute audio tape on prime time radio all over the country. The FBI agreed to this demand. However, they played the tape only on local stations in the mid-afternoon. Why did the FBI lie, effectively sabotaging the exit?
** Koresh explained that God had told him to wait, but Davidian survivors admit a part of the decision was related to the FBI's lie. (Because they thought Koresh was dying, and that the government still intended to kill them all, some Davidians did discuss committing suicide as they exited, but it has not been established these discussions were known of by Koresh or shared by all Davidians.)
** On March 19th, after the FBI sent in attorneys' letters and an audio tape from theologian Phil Arnold, Koresh told the FBI that "he was ready to come out and face whatever might happen to him." He even joked, "When they give me the lethal injection, give me the cheap stuff." Between just March 19th and 21st ten people left Mount Carmel.
** Despite this, (and perhaps because of it), FBI siege commander Jeff Jamar, influenced by HRT commander Richard Rogers, decided it was time to increase tactical pressure and the FBI began insulting Koresh during press conferences. On March 21st seven people left Mount Carmel. That very night the FBI started blaring music over its loudspeaker system, despite Davidian complaints. At 11:45 p.m. Koresh sent out the message, "Because of the loud music, nobody is coming out." The next day his aide Steve Schneider asserted that the "music had been counterproductive." The FBI then told the world that Koresh had "lied" about exiting and that those who left had been kicked out for disobedience.
** The FBI harassed the Davidians by blaring loud music and negotiation tapes and by shining bright lights all night long. Much of the harassment was quite violent. Loudspeakers blaring sounds of screeching rabbits being slaughtered, dentist drills, airplanes taking off. (This is reminiscent of Richard Rogers' Hostage Rescue Team broadcasting to the Weavers, after Vicki Weaver's death, "Good morning, Mrs. Weaver. We had pancakes for breakfast. What did you have?")
** Tanks were run up and down in front of the compound in a show of force and helicopters brazenly buzzed the building, reminding Davidians of the fatal attacks of February 28th. If any individuals walked outside the building without permission, agents would hurl dangerous flash-bangs at them.
** The FBI declared deadlines by which Davidians were to exit on March 23rd, 24th, 27th and 28th. When these were not met, the FBI removed and often crushed and destroyed automobiles, vans, go-carts and motorcycles.
** When Representative William Hughes asked SAC Jamar which experts had recommended they use pressure tactics, Jamar did not answer the question, but merely repeated his claim the purpose of the noise was sleep deprivation.
** Outside expert Nancy Ammerman also could not get a straight answer about who had recommended pressure tactics from the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes.
** The Justice report infers it was HRT commander Rogers who decided to use these tactics, with the consent of Deputy Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division Danny Coulson. More questions should be asked about this. (Rogers appeared at the April 28, 1993 House Judiciary Committee hearing but was never questioned.)
** On April 9, 10 and 11 Koresh delivered to the FBI the first of several letters warning of God's coming wrath. The FBI released information about these to the press and used them to excuse their assault to Attorney General Janet Reno.
** On April 14th Koresh sent out a letter very different from his previous ones. In it he declared in writing that God finally had spoken to him and that all the Davidians would come out as soon as he had completed a short book on the Seven Seals. On April 16th Koresh told the FBI he had finished the First Seal, the longest one. Ruth Riddle escaped the fire with the manuscript on a computer disk.
** Twenty-four hours later FBI siege commander Jeff Jamar asserted that he had "hard evidence" the book was a stalling technique, but none has been released to the public.
** After the fire the surrender letter was systematically withheld from the press, Congress, and from the Justice Department outside experts.
** After receiving Koresh's April 14th promise to surrender letter, Koresh attorney Dick DeGuerin had a face- to-face meeting with Jeff Jamar who promised DeGuerin the FBI had "all the time it takes" to finish the book--and certainly the two weeks DeGuerin estimated. Attorney Jack Zimmermann testified to the same thing during the trial.
** On April 15th FBI chief negotiator Byron Sage told Webster Hubbell and others that "further negotiations with the subjects in the compound would be fruitless." It is unknown if Sage read Koresh's April 14th letter to Hubbell. There is evidence that the FBI never gave Reno a copy of this letter in her briefing report, though it admits showing her his defiant April 9th letter. Neither Reno nor former FBI Director William Sessions seemed to be aware of its existence even under direct questioning by the press and Congress.
** HRT commander Richard Rogers met with Reno and argued negotiations were deadlocked. Rogers, who had pushed SAC Jamar to use the tactical harassment that had so disrupted negotiations, now informed Attorney General Janet Reno that negotiations were not working!
** Was Rogers' impatience to end the standoff in part related to his fear the upcoming Randy Weaver trial would bring out facts about Rogers' criminal misconduct in that case--something the Waco spotlight would only exaggerate?
** Did the FBI lie when it said it did not know that the United States is one of 100 countries that signed an agreement banning the use of CS gas in war during the Chemical Weapons Convention in Paris in January of 1993?
** Did the FBI not know about the June 1, 1988 report Amnesty International claimed that CS gas had contributed to or caused the deaths of more than 40 Palestinians--including 18 babies under 6 months of age--who had been exposed to tear-gas in enclosed spaces. American manufacturers of CS gas halted the export of the gas to Israel because of its misuse.
** Why did the FBI not tell Reno that a mixture of CS gas and air could be ignited within a certain temperature range and that manufacturers clearly warn that when burned CS gas emits deadly toxic fumes, including hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen chloride--the ingredients of Zyklon B gas used by the Nazis. Manufacturers also warn that when water is poured on a CS gas fire it can create and release a lethal cloud of hydrogen cyanide gas.
** The FBI probably did not reveal to Reno the dangers of both means of delivering the gas, gassing and ferret rounds. The Mark V injection system sprayed a mixture of gas and solvent propelled by carbon dioxide from the end of long booms on the tanks. What the FBI probably did not mention to Reno--it was not mentioned in the Justice Department report or the Fire Report--was that a solvent was used to dissolve the gas before it was mixed with carbon dioxide. The FBI asserts it used methylene chloride, which is flammable under certain conditions. Others suspect rogue agents could have replaced that chemical with even more flammable ones like acetone or benzene.
** Did the FBI tell Janet Reno that the "40mm ferret liquid tear gas rounds" would be delivered by M79 grenade launchers? When fired from 20 yards or less, these are capable of penetrating a hollow core door--or killing a human being. Did they tell her they would use more than 400 of these 40mm rounds?
** The standard FBI rules of engagement are: "Agents are not to use deadly force against any person except as necessary in self-defense or the defense of another, when they have reason to believe they or another are in danger of death or grievous bodily harm. Whenever feasible, verbal warnings should be given before deadly force is applied." Janet Reno approved the same rules for April 19th.
** Reno told the House Judiciary Committee she thought the possibility of the Davidians firing on the tanks was the most important "contingency" and that if the Davidians fired at tanks or agents, the FBI would be permitted "to return fire." (She may not have adequately informed President Clinton of this since at his April 20th press conference he twice asserted that the FBI was instructed to withhold fire even if the Davidians fired.)
** Reno told the House Judiciary Committee that once the operation began, she would leave decisions up to the FBI because she was not "an expert in tactical law enforcement." However, she retained the authority to stop the action and tell the FBI to leave.
** The question is, what other contingencies might the FBI have known about that they did not tell Reno either before or after she approved the gassing plan on April 17th? At least one of those is mentioned below.
** The FBI fired more than 400 ferret tear gas rounds from grenade launchers shot into Mount Carmel on April 19th. These are capable of penetrating a hollow core door and killing human beings. Yet the FBI claims "no shots were fired" on April 19th and does not seem to apply the same "rules of engagement" to these grenades as to other "guns." Shouldn't FBI regulations classify the use of such gas grenades as "deadly fire" subject to some sort of rules of engagement?
** On April 18th FBI surveillance devices picked up a conversation in which one Davidian discussed the idea of lighting a tank on fire if it entered the building. Another Davidian admitted hearing such a conversation to an attorney. This is evidence that the FBI went ahead with the attack despite their knowledge the night before that it might well end in the fiery deaths of dozens of Davidians-- as well as the deaths of any FBI agent caught in a fire bombed tank. Even if these conversations were purely speculative, they should have been reported to FBI Director Sessions and Attorney General Janet Reno.
** On April 19th Reno appeared on "Larry King Live" and revealed that the FBI withheld from her these last minute facts when she said: "We heard nothing that would indicate that he would do something like this, so we stepped up the pressure." Similarly, FBI Director William sessions told interviewers right after the fire that he had received no indication the siege would have a violent ending.
** Right after the fire FBI spokesperson Bob Ricks told a reporter "we felt that if we got any of them out safely, that would be a great bonus." Within two days of the fire both Ricks and defacto cult buster Murray Miron stated on television that they believed Davidians would fight back against tank attacks using fire or explosives. These things evidently were never told to Janet Reno before the fire.
** FBI "SWAT" team video taken near Mount Carmel shows agents jokingly comparing their mission to Vietnam; one claims he is "honed to a fine edge, honed to kill."
** "Trophy" photographs were shown at trial of agents standing proudly as Mount Carmel burns in the background. One photo was of the FBI's chief negotiator, Byron Sage. It was taken only two or three minutes after he finished urging Davidians to exit the burning building!
** FBI agents revealed at trial that the "highly professional" FBI prepared no written plans or instructions for the day; nor was there a post-assault written report of the day or a log of moment by moment battlefield decisions.
** Fire trucks were not on "standby" as they had been during most of the siege. Was this because FBI agents knew pouring water on the fire could lead to a deadly hydrogen cyanide cloud that could kill agents and firemen?
** FBI agents have admitted they did not warn Davidians each time they rammed the building and they had no contingency plan if Davidians were injured by these ramming tanks.
** Why weren't Texas Social Services workers called in on April 19th to help women and children at the showers after they surrendered, as was originally discussed with the social workers?
** The FBI alleges that Davidians fired hundreds of rounds at tanks on April 19th. (Survivors' statements suggest Davidians fired only a few shots at the beginning of the attack until ordered to desist by David Koresh.)
** The FBI and Justice Department claimed that before the fire agents stayed inside their tanks because they were in constant danger of being shot at by Davidians and exit only after the fire started. However, news footage clearly shows agents jumping in and out of the swung open back hatch of a tank on their way to pumping CS gas into the tornado shelter at 6:00 a.m. And one agent is seen walking by the front door right after it is rammed by a tank. How many agents were outside their tanks before the fire, when and for what purpose?
** Davidians signaled they wanted to negotiate by hanging out a blanket, showing their phone was disconnected and hanging a banner asking to have the phones fixed. However, during the morning FBI press conference FBI spokesperson Ricks stated the FBI would not negotiate.
** The FBI later claimed it was not "safe" to reconnect the phone, despite their probable ability to run a phone line without an agent leaving his tank and despite evidence other agents were seen outside their tanks before the fire.
** Since Reno was in the FBI Operations Center while the Davidians were calling for negotiations, why didn't she insist the FBI negotiate? Did she give anyone any instructions on negotiating before she left the Operations Center at 10:00 a.m. central time?
** According to the Justice report FBI agents in Waco and officials in the FBI Operations Center in Washington had a "live audio feed" from the FBI forward command post in Waco. According to a news story, this included everything audio taped by surveillance devices inside Mount Carmel Center the morning of the fire as it happened.
** Officials in the Washington Operations Center included Attorney General Reno, then Assistant to the Attorney General Webster Hubbell, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Mark Richard, FBI Director William Sessions, Deputy Director Floyd Clark, Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division Larry Potts.
** How much could these officials hear and how did it affect their decisions? Could they hear Davidians calling for negotiations, wondering if the federal agents intended to kill them and any of the alleged conversations about a possible fiery defense against tanks, even as these occurred?
** Did the FBI make audio tapes of conversations between decision-makers inside the Washington FBI Operations Center on April 19th?
** Who was in charge after Janet Reno left the FBI Operations Center--Webster Hubbell, Mark Richard, William Sessions, Floyd Clarke? During the April 28, 1993 House Judiciary Committee hearing Reno sidestepped answering that question, as does the Justice Department's official report. Congress must discover who was in charge and what, if any, critical decisions they made after Janet Reno left.
** Justice Department chief reviewer Edward Dennis noted that around 11:20 a.m. began "an apparent deviation from the approved plan" which had been that the "building would only be dismantled if after 48 hours not all the people had come out." However, at this time tanks began smashing down the walls and roof of the gymnasium and smashing deeper into the sides of the building.
** Was there some "precipitating event," such as FBI snipers shooting at or tanks injuring Davidians, as some investigators allege?
** After the fire FBI agents and FBI and Justice officials claimed that the tanks were not trying to dismantle the building, only to make larger holes to insert gas (which also would be larger holes for gas to escape) and to allow Davidians more exit routes to escape (though smashing the staircases and hallways made it more difficult to escape).
** Was this final and fatal round of attacks ordered by confessed fraud Webster Hubbell or by FBI officials and agents currently under threat of prosecution for murder in the death of Vicki Weaver in Idaho?
** During the noon time tank attack when a tank smashed into the front of the building for almost two minutes, part of the roof of the concrete room collapsed. Autopsy reports indicate falling concrete and debris struck, smothered and killed at least six women and children before the fire started. Did the FBI know about this at the time?
** The FBI claims its surveillance devices failed right before this incident. Could it be lying in part to coverup the screams from this room?
** The FBI knew Davidians were totally dependent on flammable fuel for light, heating and cooking and that the house was filled with coleman and kerosene lanterns, butane gas heaters, and propane gas tanks. Because dark curtains were over the windows, many lamps were lit. Surviving Davidians claim that tanks and rocketing ferret rounds knocked over lamps and fuel containers, spilling their contents. How could the "professional" FBI overlook the inherent dangers of their plan?
** Davidian survivors have described in detail how smashed and blocked stairwells, doorways and hallways, as well as doors stuck shut and ceilings collapsing, prevented Davidians from escaping.
** After the fire FBI agents and officials claimed that Koresh could have sent children into the buried bus for safety--ignoring the fact that FBI tanks had collapsed debris over the entrance to the bus in the early morning.
** Did FBI agents knowingly use flammable CS gas mixed with flammable solvents? What solvents did they use? How many gallons of gas and solvents were pumped into the building?
** Did the FBI know the buildings' long hallways and crawl spaces would act like flues or wind tunnels and quickly spread any fire? FBI breaching operations--including the opening of the whole back of the gymnasium--came at critical points along these hallways that would ensure the 30 mile an hour winds would whip through these "flues."
** FBI spokesperson Ricks admitted that just before the fire began the tank that smashed through the front door "put massive gas" inside the central area of the building where many fuel containers were stored and lanterns lighted. That area exploded into flames 2-3 minutes later.
** At trial a defense attorney asked a fire investigator whether the FBI brought its aerial infrared camera (which shows heat as light) because it anticipated a fire and wanted to "prove" how it started. Why did the FBI have an infrared camera there?
** The gas grenades thrown into the underground tornado shelter in the morning seem to be long burning, smoky pyrotechnic devices, not non-pyrotechnic ferret gas grenades which release a small dusting of gas. Were flash-bangs used at all on April 19th? If so, where and why?
** Some investigators believe the heat plumes or flashes seen in infrared photographs near the collapsed gymnasium before the major fires began indicate FBI flash-bangs or other pyrotechnic devices going off.
** At trial an agent admitted FBI agents used the same grenade launchers to fire the tear gas rounds as they did to fire the pyrotechnic "flash-bangs." A careless or homicidal agent easily could have substituted a flash-bang for a ferret round and shot it into the building, starting one or more fires.
** The FBI, "independent" fire investigator and Justice Department report all claim that the first fire started at the second floor front. However, FBI agents at the back of Mount Carmel revealed at trial they first saw smoke by the four story tower (which caught fire right after tank rammed the front door near that area) and the fire in the gymnasium (which caught fire right after a tank had completely collapsed its roof). Only then did they see evidence of the second floor front fire (which caught fire right after a tank rammed its boom into the second floor).
** Infrared photographs, which are not perfect indicators since they cannot always pick up fires deep within the building, show fire flashes in the gym before fire is seen on the second floor.
** What are the FBI and Justice Department trying to coverup? That the tank that collapsed the gym started a fire, that pyrotechnic devices did so, or some other crime?
** Within two hours of the time the fire started, the Justice Department announced two Davidians had confessed to starting the fires. This statement later quietly was withdrawn.
** FBI agents who interviewed Davidian survivors claimed three heard someone say Davidians had lit the fire. Two Davidians deny making such a statement.
** On April 20th FBI siege commander Jeff Jamar alleged that "at least three" FBI agents observed a Davidian start a fire. Later the FBI and Justice report claimed only one agent saw this. Under cross examination at trial this agent admitted, "I don't know what he was doing." Photographs of the area where the man allegedly started the fire showed no evidence of flames several minutes into the fire.
** The most incriminating audio tape presented at trial includes what government transcripts claim are discussions of "pouring" fuel, "spreading" fuel, lighting tanks on fire if they enter the building, and two uses of the word "fire." The tape ends at 11:56 a.m., about 9 minutes before any fire is actually seem, supposedly when a tank destroyed the device.
** However, few others who heard the tape heard what the government's paid audio expert claimed to hear. Davidian survivors claim they only talked about moving fuel tanks away from rampaging tanks and discussed that no one should be "firing" on tanks.
** With modern technology, it is very easy to splice together incriminating statements from fragments of innocent conversations, especially with tape quality as poor as that offered by the government.
** All agents and officials who may have heard the "live audio feed" of these events as they happened should be questioned to discover what they heard and at what point the transmissions actually stopped.
** Many believe that the FBI made audio tapes of conversations between the tanks drivers and HRT commander Richard Rogers and that these are being withheld or have been destroyed.
** News video shows tanks continuing to smash into the building early in the fire when people would still have had a chance to escape. Tanks stand watch just a few feet from exits throughout the fire.
** One Davidian survivor states several Davidians did not exit immediately because they feared being shot by FBI snipers and therefore were trapped and died in the fire. Tanks must have been equally intimidating to those wanting to escape.
** The fear of snipers lead to several Davidians deaths. And rumors persist that FBI snipers shot several Davidians as they escaped the back of the building away from television cameras (and even that agents entered the building and shot them). The rumors are based on several factors.
** Initial news reports stated as many as 20 Davidians were seen fleeing Mount Carmel, but only nine survived.
** The FBI did not consider agents shooting grenade canisters to be "shooting," although these grenades can kill a person.
** Suspicions that FBI snipers might have "broadly interpreted" the rules of engagement that agents could use deadly force if Davidians opened fire to mean they could fire at any Davidian seen exiting the building, whether or not they were armed or posed a threat!
** Systematic gunfire was heard early in the fire and snipers at the back of Mount Carmel claimed Davidians shot out at them. Some believe they are covering up the fact that they shot at Davidians.
** Since the bodies of Davidians who committed suicide were found in a number of locations and most bodies had only one wound, it is unlikely that Davidian suicides could have produce "systematic" gunfire in any "distinct pattern."
** Two days after the fire the Justice Department announced that two bodies bore bullet wounds to the head. The medical examiner denounced these early conclusions, as did Texas Governor Ann Richards. The announcement may have been made in knowledge, or fear, that FBI snipers had shot Davidians and thus were an attempt to pre-empt any such accusations by charging Davidians had shot each other.
** Davidians claim fire survivor Derek Lovelock admitted seeing FBI agents shoot Davidians escaping from the back of the burning building. Prosecutors allowed Lovelock to go to England to attend his father's funeral, if he promised he would return to testify. However, prosecutors, possibly fearful of what he might say on the stand, never asked him to return.
** Several bodies had more than one wound and relatively little carbon monoxide in the blood, suggesting the possibility the Davidians were shot while trying to escape the fire.
** If any agents shot Davidians, the law enforcement "code of silence" probably would prevent other agents from "snitching" on them.
** The morning of the fire FBI spokesperson Bob Ricks stated the FBI did not fear a "suicide pact." In his press conference right after the fire Ricks said the FBI's first reaction was, "My God they're killing themselves." And he revealed for the first time that some Davidians discussed mass suicide on March 2nd.
** While Bob Ricks claimed that Koresh had "lied" when he supposedly told the FBI that the children were safe in "bunkers," several minutes later Ricks admitted, "They bunkered down the kids the best they could."
** The FBI false claimed "two" Davidians confessed to setting the fire and "three" FBI agents saw them do it.
** Ricks repeatedly speculated that "the children had been injected with some kind of poison to ease their pain."
** During the House Judiciary Committee hearing Ricks added the new charge that when a released child heard his father and Koresh were dead, he said, "I don't care. No more beatings." However, social workers have not revealed that any child made such a statement.
** Several months later Ricks alleged that Steve Schneider angrily had shot Koresh before killing himself. No proof of this statement has been offered, though it does raise questions of whether FBI surveillance devices in fact still were working right before the fire.
** After the fire FBI agents and FBI and Justice Department officials denied that any Davidians were trapped and said they must have been forced or chosen to stay inside the burning building. (This was including in direct response to a question by Representative Sensenbrenner who himself barely had escaped a house fire.)
** The government claims that all bodies (except those found on top of the concrete room) were found on the first floor, from which one would assume easy exit. However, it is possible many Davidians--including David Koresh and his top aide Steve Schneider--were actually trapped on the second floor. (One Davidian survivor saw Koresh there only minutes before the fire began.) Fire investigators and medical examiners might have overlooked such evidence so they could back up FBI and Justice Department claims that Davidians could have escaped if they wanted to.
** The FBI's gas and tank attack itself looks like a successful effort to destroy evidence of BATF illegal firing from helicopters and at the front door and walls of the building.
** FBI tanks systematically plowed burning walls, including those which fell away from the building, into the fire (as shown on news video) so they would be completely destroyed.
** While Texas Rangers were technically in control of the "crime scene" after the fire, it is clear BATF and FBI agents really were in control. FBI agents were all over the scene right after the fire, before Texas Rangers took over.
** The day after the fire BATF hoisted its blue flag over the ruins of Mount Carmel and the 76 burned victims.
** The FBI "helped" Texas Rangers decide what evidence was "significant" enough to be collected, as opposed to being thrown in the trash, and helped them load "trash" into the dumpster. BATF firearms and explosives experts collected evidence after the fire.
** At trial a Texas Ranger revealed they turned over to the FBI a church safe containing more than $50,000 in cash, gold coins, spools of platinum and personal valuables. However, the safe never showed up on the FBI evidence list!
** While Texas Rangers' laboratories originally were going to analyze evidence, evidence ended up being shipped to federal laboratories.
** On May 12, 1993, two weeks after the release of the "independent" fire report, but before Branch Davidian attorneys could send in their own fire investigators, bulldozers rolled across the burned rubble of Mount Carmel Center, moving and destroying evidence. Bulldozers smashed the concrete room, destroying evidence that a roof cave-in killed several women and children before the fire began.
** In July, 1994, soon after Davidian investigators revealed that they believed the CS gas had released deadly hydrogen cyanide and intended to test the soil for it, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission announced it was about to remove several inches of topsoil allegedly contaminated with lead from bullets. Investigators had to obtain an injunction so that they could get the soil samples.
** The Justice report asserts that Texas Rangers assembled a team of "independent" fire investigators to determine the cause of the fire. However, at trial the head of the Texas Rangers investigation testified that the U.S. Attorneys office appointed Paul Gray head of fire investigation team.
** Paul Gray, Assistant Chief of the Houston Fire Department, had served as a member of BATF's National Arson Response Team, taught classes for BATF agents and his wife was a secretary in BATF's Houston office. BATF officials recommended him for the job!
** Investigators never interviewed fire survivors, even those not likely to be indicted, something done routinely in other fire investigations.
** Gray withheld from other investigators that FBI log entries revealed that FBI observers reported seeing fire at the back of Mount Carmel Center right after tanks collapsed the gymnasium. Gray also told investigators not to process fire samples from the gymnasium.
** Fire investigators admitted signing the official Fire Report without reviewing all evidence or allegations made by Paul Gray.
** The Fire Report asserts Davidians were not trapped in the building, despite survivors' statements to their attorneys about people being trapped by falling debris, blocked stairways, jammed doors, caved-in walls, rapidly spreading smoke and fire.
** The Fire Report asserts a tank knocking over a lantern or hitting a propane tank could not have started a fire because "if this had happened, an immediate vapor air explosion or flash fire would have occurred involving the vehicle itself." The report ignores the possibility that tanks smashing down walls and pushing around debris could knock over a lantern without coming into contact with any fire caused by the accident.
** The Fire Report states the widely separated points of origin mean arson. This ignores the fact the building was rammed by tanks minutes before tanks started in those three areas. And it ignores the combustibility of the CS gas and the fact that the long hallways could spread the fire in a matter of seconds.
** In May, 1993 the not-yet-confirmed Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann told an interviewer that investigators would not look at the FBI/Justice Department decision to assault Mount Carmel or interview Attorney General Reno.
** The day after the story appeared the Justice Department contended that Heymann "had erred" and admitted Heymann's "remarks reflected a division within the Justice Department about how closely it should look at the events, with some high officials arguing forcefully that the inquiry should be more limited, to focus only on what should be done in future cases." Which Justice officials wanted to stifle the investigation and why?
** Heymann appointed former head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, Edward S.G. Dennis, Jr., to be the chief reviewer of the government's procedures, decisions and actions against the Davidians. Dennis had been in charge of the botched investigation of Banca Lavoro and its relation to "Iraq-gate." Janet Reno had shut down the case with a plea bargain, avoiding a public trial that, according to columnist William Safire, "would have exposed the machinations of the Bush-Thornburgh-Dennis crowd." Many believe Dennis "owed" Janet Reno one and was not likely to find fault with her actions.
** The Justice Department review team withheld damaging information from the Justice Department's panel of ten outside experts and even from its chief reviewer, Edward Dennis. This included, of course, all and any previously mentioned missing physical evidence and withheld audio and video tapes.
** The review team also withheld the early March memoranda prepared by FBI behavioral scientists Smerick and Young advising the FBI not to harass the Branch Davidians and David Koresh's April 14, 1993 promise-to-surrender letter.
** Federal prosecutors Bill Johnston, John Phinizy, LeRoy Jahn and Ray Jahn were appointed by and under the ultimate control of Attorney General Janet Reno and Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell. (Hubbell resigned during the trial.)
** Trial judge Walter Smith was already under investigation by the Justice Department on charges of lying under oath in a civil suit related to alleged drug dealing out of Mount Carmel under George Roden. Prosecutors themselves had been deeply involved in the BATF and FBI assaults and massacres.
** During the trial the judge illegally manipulated the choice of jurors and prohibited defense attorneys from asking crucial questions, introducing vital evidence, or calling critical witnesses to prove Davidians acted in self- defense, including against helicopters. Davidian attorneys were not allowed to call the middle level BATF and FBI agents and officials most responsible for crimes against the Davidians.
** Prosecutors repeatedly withheld evidence that might have exonerated defendants, including regarding illegal BATF shooting on February 28th, identification of a defendant, sabotage of negotiations, and the April 19th fire. And prosecutors intimidated or unduly influenced witnesses. They may have been involved in fabrication of testimony by BATF and FBI agents. They forbid defense attorneys from adequately inspecting allegedly illegal weapons.
** Despite the judge and prosecutors' best efforts, however, the carefully screened jury accepted the self- defense argument and found the 11 Davidians innocent of the most serious charges of conspiracy to murder and aiding and abetting murder of federal agents. However, because the judge's instructions to the jurors included no defense for "aiding and abetting voluntary manslaughter," jurors felt compelled to find five guilty of what they thought was a "minor charge" that would earn Davidians little jail time.
** Misunderstanding the judge's instructions and using a vague verdict form, jurors also found seven guilty of another "minor charge"--using a firearm while committing the crime of conspiracy to murder federal agents--despite their finding defendants innocent of the crime of conspiracy. Because of this error, the judge initially set aside the weapons verdict, telling defense attorneys there was no need to send the verdict back to the jury which only could change it to innocent. However, a week later the judge reinstated the guilty verdict and said it would stand. Defense attorneys are charging "double jeopardy."
** At sentencing Smith, who by now had been cleared in the Justice Department investigation, "threw the book" at the convicted Davidians. Despite their being found innocent of conspiracy charges, he sentenced them as if they were guilty of those charges. Although there was no credible evidence Davidian defendants manufactured, knew about, carried or used automatic weapons, the judge ruled that because the government alleged such weapons were found at the scene, Davidians had "constructive possession" of them. This opinion allowed him to sentence five Davidians to thirty years for weapons charges, as well as the maximum ten years for aiding and abetting manslaughter. (Four others received 3, 5, 15 and 20 year sentences.) Six Davidians are appealing for new, fair trials.
** A 23-member Justice Department task force recommended criminal charges against agents responsible for the death of Vicki Weaver in Idaho. However, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility reviewed the report and concluded that the agents had not committed crimes and should face only disciplinary action. The department's civil rights division similarly concluded criminal prosecutions were not warranted. Rogers is fully aware of the extent to which the FBI deceived Attorney General Janet Reno and may have information about what actions she approved against the Davidians on April 19, 1993. If he was indicted he might share that information with prosecutors and the press. (Rogers and 11 other agents and officials did receive disciplinary "slaps on the wrist" from FBI Director Louis Freeh.)