QUESTIONS ABOUT PRESIDENT CLINTON'S MOTIVES AND ROLE
President Bill Clinton had been in office little more than a month when terrorists blew up a garage below the World Trade Center, killing six people. Two days later, Branch Davidians fought off a BATF assault and four agents died. As fate would have it, three of them had served as Clinton's bodyguards during the presidential campaign. In a March 18th, 1993 speech before employees of the Treasury Department Clinton said: "My prayers and I'm sure yours are still with the families of all four of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents who were killed in Waco--Todd McKeehan and Conway LeBleu of New Orleans, Steve Willis of Houston, and Robert Williams from my hometown of Little Rock. Three of those four were assigned to my security during the course of the primary or general election." David Koresh would remain a thorn in Bill Clinton's side for the next 51 days.
Clinton, Altman and Buford
The Justice report devotes a section to describing President Clinton and his staff's involvement in the siege and the FBI decision to assault Mount Carmel. Clinton spoke with Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen the evening of February 28th. Both agreed "there shouldn't again be a dangerous frontal assault on the Waco compound, and that the Bradley fighting vehicles dispatched there should be kept out of sight, for fear of inciting more violence."2/ Nevertheless, Davidians report the vehicles began moving all over the property almost immediately. Clinton also requested that Acting Attorney General Stuart Gerson's Justice Department "apprise" him if the FBI was considering any tactical moves against the Davidians.3/
The evening of February 28th Clinton also spoke with Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman.4/ Altman had been informed about the raid beforehand and did not attempt to stop it. Roger Altman, a long-time "friend-of-Bill," was a top Clinton campaign adviser, fundraiser and contributor who later would be forced to resign his position because of accusations he lied to Congress regarding the "Whitewater" affair.5/
According to the Wall Street Journal, the day after the raid Clinton told his Chief of Staff Thomas McLarty that he wanted "to know the condition of one particular ATF agent who was wounded at Waco: Jay William Buford, an acquaintance of his from Arkansas."6/ Resident Agent-in-Charge Buford was a lead investigator and planner in the botched February 28th raid on Mt. Carmel. Doubtless acting under Clinton's instructions, Altman immediately made a trip to Waco and reported the results to Clinton. According to the Justice report, Altman returned from Waco and briefed White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum and Presidential Advisor Bruce Lindsey about the trip.7/
The Wall Street Journal reports what the Justice report omits--that on March 3rd Altman also spoke to Clinton about it. The reporter, who was doing a "day in the life story" about Clinton, wrote: "Altman reports on his visit with the president's friend, Mr. Buford, who was nicked in the nose by a bullet. The president wants to know if there will be any permanent scarring. Mr. Altman says he doesn't think so." (Buford's injuries were actually more serious, as he received gunshot wounds to both legs.8/ Considering Clinton's sometimes perverse relationships with Arkansas law enforcement, it is possible that Buford, through Altman, nefariously influenced Clinton to acquiesce to BATF's "revenge" against the Davidians.
Clinton and Hubbell
Webster Hubbell, a former law partner of Hillary Clinton, has been called by Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers "the best friend of the President of the United States."9/ Many believe Hubbell, who some claim was the defacto attorney general during his year at the Justice Department, in secret consultation with Clinton, had a much greater influence on Waco decision-making than admitted.
During the siege of the Davidians Hubbell first reported to Acting Attorney General Stuart Gerson.10/ After Janet Reno was confirmed as attorney general he became her "assistant." He was confirmed as Associate Attorney General, third in command, after the April 19th fire.
According to the Justice Department report, "In preparation for the arrival of Attorney General Reno on March 12, Gerson decided to pass his responsibility for Waco to Hubbell."11/ The report never does describe Hubbell's full powers under this "responsibility" and whether Hubbell remained effectively in charge until the end of the siege.
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 asked FBI Director William Sessions whether the FBI had briefed Hubbell outside Washington, D.C. Sessions admitted he did not know. During Hubbell's May 19, 1993 confirmation hearing, Arlen Specter (R-PA) 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 had only spoken to President Clinton directly about appointment of a Supreme Court justice.12/ Considering that in December, 1994 Hubbell pled guilty to mail fraud--including against two government agencies, it would not be surprising if he was similarly dishonest in his statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Evidence that Hubbell actually was defacto head of the Justice Department and capable of just such actions surfaced in February, 1994. Immediately after resigning in early 1994, former Deputy Attorney General Phillip B. Heymann, who had been in charge of the investigation into FBI actions at Waco, charged that Hubbell had become "the one person" in the Justice Department to deal with the White House. One reporter wrote in a Hubbell exposť, "Foes painted him as a shadowy figure pulling strings from behind the scene at the Justice Department and taking orders directly from the Oval Office." Hubbell, not Reno, is said to have held the real power in the Justice Department.13/ Hubbell resigned his position in early 1994 because of accusations of improprieties by former law partners.
It is clear that the Justice Department exercised more control than usual over the FBI during the siege at Waco. An hour and a half after the beginning of the April 19th fire, Wolfe Blitzer reported on CNN that White House sources, while denying that the White House had been "micromanaging" Waco decision-making, conceded that the Justice Department had been doing so. At the time FBI Director William Sessions was facing possible dismissal as a result of various ethics violations. As we shall see, he was a rather weak and confused leader and his ideas were sometimes overruled by Justice Department officials. FBI agents in the field had little respect for him and he evidently had little control over them.
When Attorney General Janet Reno fired Sessions on July 19, 1993 Sessions complained bitterly that he "would not be part of politicizing the FBI, from within or without." He referred specifically to the FBI's "compromised role" in the investigations of "Travelgate" and White House counsel Vince Foster's death.14/ However, White House interference and politicizing of the FBI started much earlier during the siege in Waco.
SMERICK AND YOUNG ADVISED AGAINST TACTICAL PRESSURE
The FBI consulted its own behavioral scientists, whose specialty was applying
psychology to law enforcement situations, but ignored their recommendations.
Pete Smerick and Mark Young recommended in several March 5th to 9th memorandums
that this was not a typical hostage situation since the Davidians insisted
on staying with their leader. They wrote that "tactical presence.
. .if carried to excess, could eventually be counter-productive and could
result in loss of life."15/
Smerick and Young recommended that the FBI "establish some trust with Koresh" and even suggested "moving back from the compound, not to show law enforcement weakness, but to sap from Koresh the source of his powerful hold over his followers--his prediction that the government was about to start a war against them." They concluded by saying that the FBI could "always resort to tactical pressure, but it should be the absolute last option we should consider."16/
In their last memorandum Smerick and Young did recommend mild pressures, like sporadic cutting off of power, sudden movements of equipment and manpower, but only if exercised with "extreme caution." However, in April, 1995 Peter Smerick revealed to a reporter that unnamed senior FBI officials complained the earlier memorandums were "tying their hands." Smerick said, "The whole point of our assessment was to provide unbiased intelligence [to FBI decision-makers]. If I couldn't analyze it as I saw it on site, the process was jeopardized." The FBI officials pressured the behavioral analysts to endorse the more aggressive approach. Smerick revealed he then left Waco in disgust. He later resigned from the FBI.17/
TACTICAL AGENTS OVER-RULED NEGOTIATORS
Justice Department outside expert Dr. Alan A. Stone notes that "pushed
by the tactical leader [Rogers] the commander on the ground [Jamar] began
to allow tactical pressures."18/ (Civil suit attorneys have evidence
that former Dallas FBI chief Oliver "Buck" Revell also was involved in
that effort and have included him as a defendant in their civil suits.19/)
[Mr. Revell requested via e-mail it be noted
he later was dismissed from the law suit "for lack of cause." 02-02-02]
Dr. Stone criticized these actions: "I have concluded that the FBI command failed to give adequate consideration to their own behavioral science and negotiation experts. They also failed to make use of the Agency's own prior successful experience in similar circumstances. They embarked on a misguided and punishing law enforcement strategy that contributed to the tragic ending at Waco."20/
The Justice report acknowledges that negotiators criticized the tactical commanders for undercutting negotiations: "the negotiators felt that the efforts of the tac"tical personnel were directed toward intimidation and harassment."21/ Davidian David Thibodeau charges that tactical agents would find out from negotiators what kind of harassment most bothered the Davidians so that they could do more of it.22/
The Justice report alleges that negotiators did not believe negotiations alone could have avoided the April 19th fire.23/ However, Dr. Stone conducted his own interviews and found, "FBI's behavioral scientists and negotiators. . .share my belief that mistakes were made." He wrote they "expressed their determination to have the truth come out, regardless of the consequences."24/ Another outside expert, Nancy Ammerman, agreed that the FBI did have negotiators and experts giving them good advice--advice not heeded because these individuals were "outranked and outnumbered by the tactical types."25/ FBI negotiators could not maintain the respect of the Davidians who quickly realized they had little power to protect them against the aggressive tactical agents.
FBI REJECTED FAMILY AND THIRD PARTY INTERVENTION
FBI commanders rejected two important negotiation tactics: allowing direct
communication between families and Davidians and allowing third parties
to negotiate a surrender. While the FBI would send in video and audio
tapes from families, in order to "drive a wedge" between Koresh and his
followers, they did not allow them to speak directly to family members.
Months after the massacre, Balenda Gamen, mother of fire survivor David
Thibodeau, recalled: "I originally came to Waco because I was challenged
by the FBI when they said to me, `There is no room for family in this operation.
Perhaps we'll do it in the future.' When I heard those words I knew
that the writing was on the wall for this community."26/
Gamen and other family members repeatedly sent the FBI and Janet Reno faxes and registered letters requesting that they be allowed to negotiate directly with relatives inside Mount Carmel. During the April 28, 1993 House Judiciary Committee hearings Reno revealed that she had never heard about the families' attempts to reach her.
During the April 20, 1993 final FBI press conference SAC Jeff Jamar explained they did not allow family intervention because, "Who would you choose to talk to them?" Obviously, they could have started with David Koresh's mother. Yet when Bonnie Haldeman and Dick DeGuerin drove up to a roadblock early in the siege, the FBI turned them away.27/
A number of third party negotiators were considered and rejected. On March 6th FBI Director William Sessions had discussions with Koresh's former attorney Gary Coker--who happens to be a personal friend of Sessions from his days in Waco28/--about negotiating with Koresh. However, FBI commanders rejected him because they thought he merely was looking for a client. Sessions himself offered to negotiate, but Acting Attorney General Gerson forbade it.29/
All through the month of March Davidians requested outside negotiators including, any theologian who could convince him his interpretation of the Seven Seals was incorrect, theologian Dr. Philip Arnold, the Texas Constitutional Foundation Association, government critic Don Stewart, talk show host Ron Engelman, and McLennan County Sheriff Jack Harwell.30/ The FBI did allow Wayne Martin and Steve Schneider to meet face to face with Sheriff Harwell on March 15th, but would not allow Harwell a free hand as a third party negotiator.31/ On March 16th frustrated Davidians used flashlights to send a Morse code to reporters reading, "SOS, SOS. FBI broke negotiations. Want negotiations from the press."32/ The FBI soon started flashing bright lights at the compound at night, perhaps in part to end such communications. On March 27th Steve Schneider again requested a "neutral negotiator." 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 DESTROYED "CRIME SCENE" DESPITE COMPLAINTS
One form of harassment which had important legal implications was the FBI's
moving and destroying Davidian vehicles. This enraged the Davidians
because they believed the vans and automobiles would prove that they had
done relatively little firing at the agents hiding behind them and that
BATF was responsible for most of the shooting, including of its own agents.
The vehicles also might provide evidence that helicopters had shot from the air. At trial defense attorneys contended that the real reason a Davidian's red camino was crushed by a tank was to destroy evidence of just such holes. Davidians also complained that FBI tanks moved and destroyed shell casings lying about the ground which would prove the volume and direction of BATF firing.33/
Davidians were convinced that BATF and the FBI would destroy evidence once they entered Mount Carmel. In early March, Steve Schneider expressed fear that the government wanted to destroy Mount Carmel because the building itself was evidence of BATF crimes. Schneider's attorney Jack Zimmermann said, "There is no question that the FBI is destroying evidence. If nothing else they've moved the location of physical objects from a crime scene before they had been photographed." Dick DeGuerin agreed. "They're destroying evidence with the bulldozers."34/
The FBI even annoyed prosecutors when it began the removal of the vehicles from in front of the building. On March 23rd Assistant U.S. Attorney William Johnston wrote Attorney General Janet Reno to complain. The FBI then agreed to "photograph, graph and grid" the areas from which vehicles were moved in order to preserve evidence.35/ However, the Justice report does not mention if the FBI told the Davidians about this new policy.
FBI RELIED ON EXPERTS AND CULT BUSTERS URGING TACTICAL PRESSURE
Despite Koresh's preoccupation with the Seven Seals, the FBI never allowed anyone who was an expert on the subject to have direct contact with him. The only theologian the Justice report took seriously was one from Baylor Unviersity which the report notes "has one of the largest `cult' reference and research facilities in the country."36/ Instead the FBI relied for advice primarily on the advice of psychologists, psychiatrists, and--though they deny it--"cult busters" who only confirmed the FBI's negative view of the Davidians.
FBI Relied on Psychologists and Psychiatrists
The FBI was particularly attentive to the advice of psychologists and psychiatrists who supported the belief that David Koresh was mentally unbalanced and would not surrender voluntarily. Dr. Park Dietz asserted, "continuing to negotiate in good faith would not resolve the situation, because Koresh would not come out." Dr. Anthony J. Pinizotto said, "Koresh displayed psychopathic behavior, that he was a `con artist' type, and he had narcissistic tendencies." Dr. Mike Webster opined, "Koresh appeared to be manifesting anti-social traits." Dr. Bruce Perry and social worker Joyce Sparks, who interviewed children released from Mount Carmel, agreed that "Koresh was stalling for time, to prepare for his `final battle' with authorities."
Dr. Joseph L. Krofcheck (with FBI psychological profiler Clinton R. Van Zandt) held that Koresh appeared to be a "functional, paranoid-type psychotic," and that he was unlikely to "give up the power and omnipotence he enjoyed inside the compound," except through "some form of tactical intervention."37/
FBI Relied on Three Cult Busters
There is evidence that the Justice Department tried to cover up the FBI's association with professional or amateur "cult busters" in response to three events: the New Alliance Party's May, 1993 suit against the FBI for classifying the group as a "cult"; deprogrammer Rick Ross's summer, 1993 indictment for "unlawful imprisonment"; and Nancy Ammerman's sharp criticisms of the FBI's association with Ross. The Justice report asserts the FBI "did not solicit advice from any `cult experts' or `cult deprogrammers.'"38/
During the siege Ross went to Waco and continued his propaganda campaign. He told the Houston Chronicle that Koresh was "your stock cult leader. They're all the same. Meet one and you've met them all. They're deeply disturbed, have a borderline personality and lack any type of conscience."39/ During one television appearance Ross declared he hoped Koresh would be a coward and surrender rather than end up a corpse.40/ (On April 8, 1993, former Cult Awareness Awareness President Patricia Ryan told the Houston Chronicle, "Officials should use whaever means necessary to arrest Koresh, including lethal force."41/)
Rick Ross' contention that he was in close contact with BATF and the FBI is backed up by Nancy Ammerman's September 10, 1993 one page addendum to her report. (Which the Justice Department did not bother to include in its report.) In it she wrote, "The interview transcripts document that Mr. Rick Ross was, in fact, closely involved with both the ATF and the FBI. . .He clearly had the most extensive access to both agencies of any person on the `cult expert' list, and he was apparently listened to more attentively." Nevertheless, the Justice report states: "The FBI did not `rely' on Ross for advice whatsoever during the standoff."42/
The Justice report claims that the FBI determined Marc Breault was talking to the media and therefore only accepted his affidavits and electronic mail from him, but decided "not to contact him." However, Breault in his book asserts: "as soon as the siege began. . .the FBI tried for hours to contact us. . .they almost sent the police to drag us to police headquarters. Just before they took that drastic action, the negotiators broke through." Breault asserts he gave them detailed information about Koresh and his followers and declares: "The FBI contacted us throughout the siege. They showed us Koresh's [April, 1993] letters." Brealt further claims he and his wife "told the FBI that Koresh was starting to lose his grip and that he would probably end the siege violently."43/ Clearly, either Breault is lying or the FBI and Justice Department are trying to cover up their reliance on him.
Most disturbing of all, the FBI either did not know--or did not admit--that long-time FBI consultant Dr. Murray S. Miron, a Professor of Psycholinquistics at Syracuse University, is an outspoken cult critic. During the 1970s he had been involved with the Citizens Freedom Foundation, the anti-cult group which evolved into the Cult Awareness Network. The week of April 14-21, even while he was consulting with the FBI, Miron published an article called "The Mark of the Cult" in the Syracuse New Times. The article contains stereotypical anti-cult propaganda: "The totalitarianism of the cult banishes dissent and fosters dependence upon fallible, power-mad leaders. It is the system of every dictator, whether benign or benevolent."44/
After reading the first and third letters Koresh sent out of Mount Carmel, Miron concluded that they bore: "all the hallmarks of rampant, morbidly virulent paranoia. . .In my judgement, we are facing a determined, hardened adversary who has no intention of delivering himself or his followers into the hands of his adversaries."45/
In typically media-savvy cult buster fashion, Miron managed to make himself almost the only FBI consultant quoted in major media right after the fire--thus using his FBI connections to promote his anti-cult propaganda. On April 21st and 22nd his insulting anti-Davidian comments appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the New York Times.46/
On April 21st Miron appeared on NBC-TV's "Today" program and dismissed Koresh as a "diseased megalomaniac" who had been "stalling." He then spewed forth ferocious anti-cult rhetoric: "This particular cult was particularly destructive, particularly aggressive, being led by a man who was a paranoid, mentally ill and psychopathic and manipulative." With Murray Miron on their side, the FBI had all the expert sanction they needed to gas and demolish the Davidians' home.
During the April 28, 1993 House Judiciary Committee hearing FBI siege commander Jeff Jamar admitted, "we had a white paper on cults that was very, very useful to us." The white paper outlined the traits of cults with one "dynamic, manipulative, egomaniacal, psychopathic leader." It also had repeated references to the Jonestown massacre. Jamar asserted that the traits fit Koresh "to a T." Jamar did not tell the committee what individual or organization gave him the white paper. It is evident there was a definite cult buster influence on--and justification for--decisions to replace negotiations with harassment and to launch the gas and tank attack.
FBI'S ESCALATING SABOTAGE
Dr. Alan A. Stone writes: "By March 21st, the FBI was concentrating on tactical pressure alone. . .This changing strategy at the compound from (1) conciliatory negotiation to (2) negotiation and tactical pressure and then to (3) tactical pressure alone."47/ A description of these escalating tactical pressures and the Davidians' response to them, grouped into Dr. Stone's three phases follows.
March 1-6: FBI Relatively Conciliatory
During this period 23 of the 35 individuals to leave Mount Carmel did so. 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 would the FBI lie, effectively sabotaging the exit?
Nevertheless, the FBI did not punish Koresh's change of mind, which he explained by saying that God had spoken to him and told him to wait. When the U.S. Attorney's office enraged the Branch Davidians by charging with murder the two elderly women who left Mount Carmel on March 2nd, negotiators quickly convinced them to drop the charges. However, the FBI did read to them their very strict rules of engagement, effectively threatening that FBI agents were free to shoot anyone they perceived to be carrying a gun. And much to the Davidians' dismay, the FBI cut off their phone contact to everyone except authorities, sent armored vehicles onto the Mount Carmel property, broke promises about getting medical help, sent their children to foster homes and refused to let them retrieve Peter Gent's body.48/
The FBI also "bugged" Mount Carmel, sending in recording devices with deliveries of milk, a typewriter and other requested items. At the trial an FBI agent testified that the FBI had planted 11 listening devices in or around Mount Carmel during the siege. Many of them were discovered and destroyed by the Davidians.49/
A Sunday Times of London article claimed that the FBI even used aircraft to pick up conversations, infrared devices to pinpoint individual's positions, and tiny fibre-optic microphones and cameras inserted in walls to relay audio and visual images back to the command center.50/ CNN reporter Bonnie Anderson revealed on April 19, 1993 that the FBI used a robot with a fiber optic camera to look into the windows. No such video evidence was presented at trial.
March 7-21: FBI Increased Harassment
During this period 11 more people left Mount Carmel. Negotiators began trying to drive a wedge between Koresh and his followers. FBI spokespeople ridiculed Steve Schneider because his wife Judy had borne Koresh's child. They played family tapes over loudspeakers, using the tapes for harassment instead of persuasion, as well as tapes of Koresh's more aggressive statements to negotiators, hoping to undermine Davidians' faith in him. The FBI turned the electricity on and off as a pressure tactic. On March 12th, despite the exit of one Davidian and the promise three would exit the next day, the FBI turned off the power for good.51/
These punishments, despite the Davidians' cooperation, made them more distrustful. Koresh and Schneider called this "bad faith" by the government. On March 15th negotiators made it clear they would refuse to listen to any more "Bible babble." However, they did allow the face-to-face meeting with Sheriff Harwell.52/
On March 19th, after the FBI sent in attorneys' letters and an audio tape from theologian Phillip Arnold--and the FBI finally reassured Davidians their home would not be confiscated and those not prosecuted could return--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."53/ Between just March 19th and 21st alone ten people left Mount Carmel. The fact that in just a few more days the Davidians legally would gain control of Mount Carmel may have figured into Koresh's willingness to discuss surrender. Nevertheless, the FBI began exposing the "negative part of [Koresh's] personality"--including his alleged threats--during Davidian-monitored press conferences explaining, "it is important for the American people to know what we are dealing with."54/
March 22-April 19: FBI Escalated Harassment
Despite these successes FBI siege commander Jeff Jamar, influenced by Hostage Rescue Team commander Richard Rogers, decided it was time to increase tactical pressure and "demonstrate the authority of law enforcement."55/ On March 21st seven people left Mount Carmel, evidently the beginning of a mass exodus, as promised by David Koresh just a few days before. Nevertheless, that very night the FBI started blaring music over its loudspeaker system. They continued 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 Schneider asserted that the "music had been counterproductive." The FBI did not tell the public that Koresh had been on the verge of surrender, only that those who left had been kicked out for disobedience, drinking or being a "drain" on their resources.56/ Nevertheless, according to Davidian Brad Branch, Koresh gave those exiting Mount Carmel Bible studies instructing them on the biblical purpose of their exit.57/
On March 22nd the FBI promised Koresh that if he surrendered immediately he could communicate with his followers in jail, hold religious services and make a worldwide religious broadcast. Probably reacting to past FBI lies, Koresh angrily threw their letter away.58/ The last Davidian to leave Mount Carmel before the fire, Livingstone Fagan, exited on March 23rd.
During the March 24th press briefing, as the Davidians listened, "the FBI increased its `verbal assault' against Koresh, calling Koresh a liar and coward, and accusing him of hiding behind his children."59/ They even allowed BATF spokesperson David Troy get in on the slugfest; Troy declared that Koresh was just a "cheap thug who interprets the Bible through the barrel of a gun."60/
The FBI harassed the Davidians by blaring loud music night and day and playing back audio tapes of negotiation and family members' and released members' greetings. The FBI shined bright lights in the Davidians windows all night long while loudspeakers blared sounds of screeching rabbits being slaughtered, dentist drills, Tibetan monk chants, telephone busy signals, clocks ticking, cows mooing, and airplanes taking off. The FBI also "tightened the perimeter" by stringing razor wire all around the building.
Some of the harassment was quite violent. 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. Also, according to Edward S.G. Dennis, Jr., the chief reviewer of the Justice Department report, "Bradleys [tanks] were run up and down in front of the compound in what negotiators believed was a show of force." Davidian Graeme Craddock charges that late in the siege a tank actually rammed the room two rooms west of the front door where he was sleeping, slamming into the head of his bed. He claims that at trial he saw photographs in which damage to the room clearly is visible.61/
Helicopters brazenly buzzed the building, reminding Davidians of the fatal attacks of February 28th. And if any individuals tried to leave the building without permission, agents would hurl dangerous flash-bangs at them until they returned inside. The FBI played over and over again the song "These Boots are Made for Walking" which contains the line, "and if you play with matches you know you're gonna get burned."62/
Despite the FBI's violent harassment, Davidians never retaliated or fired a shot during the siege, even to ward off threatening tanks or helicopters, to silence annoying loudspeakers or to put out bright lights. Nevertheless the FBI continued to assert Davidians posed an immediate threat to anyone within two miles.
Louis Alaniz, who snuck into Mount Carmel for several days, described "these Bradley's running around and the guys in them shooting the finger at these kids, and one incident where they actually mooned some of the girls. These people were scared." Graeme Craddock, who witnessed this, said in a June 20, 1995 interview on National public radio: "If that was their attitude toward us, we didn't particualrly want to go out and surrender to these people. We didn't particularly want to sent our kids out to these sort of people." 63/
Outside expert Dr. Robert Cancro told reporters: "the threats implicit in the use of armored vehicles, razor wire, and a tightening perimeter tend to negate the positive and friendly tone attempted by negotiators. . .Even a person who isn't paranoid would interpret that as lack of consistency and good faith in negotiations. A paranoid individual needs more reassurance, not less."64/
Edward Dennis wrote, "Some negotiators believe that as a result of these actions the Davidians concluded that the negotiators had no influence over the decision makers and that the FBI was not trustworthy."65/ In early April Dick DeGuerin told reporters, "They're still intimidated by the FBI. We're not coming out until we know the media are going to be there."66
On March 28th Davidians sent out another home movie to assure federal officials the children were healthy and to give members another opportunity to reiterate their commitment to staying inside.67/ In fact, according to Louis Alaniz, Koresh actually kept members "in line" by threatening to make them leave Mount Carmel.68/
To show his lack of concern about the government's harassment, at one point Steve Schneider declared "you can burn us down, kill us, whatever."69/ Koresh told the FBI, "If they want blood, then our blood is here for them to shed. . .We are not afraid of the government. If we have to die for what we stand for, we're going to. I don't mind if I die."70/ Dick DeGuerin said, "There was a collective feeling that the harassment was making them more stubborn."71/
During the 1993 House Judiciary Committee hearing, Representative William Hughes asked SAC Jamar which experts had recommended they use pressure tactics like blasting loud noises all night long, Jamar did not answer the Congressman's question, but merely repeated his claim that the purpose of the noise was sleep deprivation. Outside expert Nancy Ammerman also could not get a straight answer about who had recommended these pressure tactics.72/ The Justice Department report infers it was Rogers who decided to use these tactics, with the consent of Deputy Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division Danny Coulson.73/
Throughout the siege, Davidians attempted to communicate with the outside world by putting out banners that read: "Rodney King We Understand," "FBI, God Sees Your Lies," and "Habakkuk 3:14," a biblical reference to wretched victims devoured in secret.
FBI REFUSED TO HONOR KORESH'S PROMISE-TO-SURRENDER
Despite all this harassment, third party intervention by attorneys and theologians did convince David Koresh to make a credible promise-to-surrender on April 14th. There is solid evidence that, as a result of these contacts David Koresh did indeed receive his "message from God" and that he and all Davidians would have left Mount Carmel had the FBI waited only a few more days.
DeGuerin and Zimmermann Visited Mount Carmel
Attorney Dick DeGuerin was well known for clients he had defended in highly publicized homicides. Steve Schneider's family retained another respected criminal attorney, Jack Zimmermann. Attorneys DeGuerin, Gary Coker, Vic Feazell, Gary Richardson and Kirk Lyons signed on to a temporary restraining order to prevent the FBI from further assaulting the Davidians. DeGuerin filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Koresh.74/
However, the FBI initially refused to allow the Davidians to consult with attorneys. In mid-March U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr., wrote, "One simply cannot point a gun, literally or figuratively, at constitutional authority and at the same time complain that constitutional rights are being denied."75/ Eventually the FBI relented and on March 28th DeGuerin met with Koresh for two hours. DeGuerin met four more times with Koresh. Zimmermann met twice with Steve Schneider. The last meeting was April 4th. After that point, the FBI told the attorneys they could not re-enter Mount Carmel unless they could assure them of an immediate surrender.76/
During DeGuerin's and Zimmerman's visits to Mount Carmel, they inspected the damage done by BATF gunfire, saw the blood spots where Davidians had died, and told Davidians to photograph or video tape the damage. They reassured Davidians that Texas Rangers, not federal agents, would investigate the crime scene.77/
Both assured Davidians they had very "triable" cases and could be acquitted by juries on the grounds of self-defense. DeGuerin told a reporter, "I don't think there would have been any evidence that David Koresh held or fired a weapon during that entire stand-off."78/ Koresh also had a will and documents prepared to protect the property and even allowed DeGuerin to meet with New York attorneys to discuss film and book rights to his story.79/
Zimmermann testified at trial that he had no doubt Davidians would have exited. He described the plan Davidians had accepted tat reassured them that federal agents would not shoot Koresh as he left the building: Koresh would exit first with DeGuerin. Other Davidians would exit one at a time.80/
Drs. Arnold and Tabor Suggested Koresh Write
A "Little Book"
Dr. Phillip Arnold, executive director of Houston's Reunion Institute and an expert in apocalyptic studies and the Seven Seals, read a newspaper transcript of David Koresh's February 28th sermon on KRLD and immediately resolved to be of assistance.81/ He drove to Waco several days later and explained his expertise to SAC Bob Ricks, chief aide to SAC Jeff Jamar. However, Ricks put Arnold off several times saying, "You could never talk Book of Revelation with him. You've never heard anything like this."
An FBI agent did take Arnold's number and contacted him a few days later, but he did not ask for Arnold's assistance. Dr. Arnold has lamented that the FBI considered the Seven Seals "to be a big joke," but noted, "The Seven Seals was [Koresh's] language, and if you didn't speak that language, there was no way of showing him what he had to do."82/
On February 28th David Koresh told a KRLD interviewer that he believed the attack was the fulfillment of prophecy and an opportunity for him to spread his message--but conceded even then he was willing to have a minister prove him "wrong." On March 17th Davidians happened by chance to hear Dr. Arnold's five minute radio show during which he discussed the Book of Revelation. The negotiation audio tapes reveal that Steve Schneider told negotiators that Dr. Arnold's comments were the "best things" they had heard so far, and that allowing him to speak with Koresh "positively" could resolve the situation. The FBI "denied the request."83/ Edward Dennis notes that Steve Schneider specifically mentioned Phillip Arnold as possibly being a "theologian [who] could convince the people Koresh was wrong" about their being in the deadly Fifth Seal.84/ The FBI's only concession was to contact Dr. Arnold for a copy of the tape--their last contact with Arnold--and send in the tape of Arnold's radio show.85/
Dr. Arnold reveals that after a telephone conversation with a reporter on March 29, 1993, it became apparent to him the government was planning some more forceful action--he rightly guessed a gas attack. He hurriedly contacted talk show host Ron Engelman and arranged a radio interview between himself and Dr. James Tabor to try to convince the Davidians to exit Mount Carmel.86/ Tabor, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina who also specializes in apocalyptic studies, had been consulting with Arnold on the Davidians.
During the radio program they explained to Koresh that the "little season" mentioned in the Fifth Seal, the time that the Davidians needed to wait before the rest of them died, was not merely a couple of months, but might be a much longer time. They stressed that the Book of Revelation referred to a "little book" which would be given to the world. They reminded Koresh that although he had achieved worldwide publicity, no one knew what his message was. And they mentioned that great prophets like Jeremiah, John, and Paul had gone to prison, and produced great literature there.87/
Dr. Arnold gave this tape to Dick DeGuerin who took it to Koresh on April 4th. On this date Koresh said everyone would come out "after Passover." The FBI would later claim that Koresh had broken his "promise" to come out after Passover. However, the Justice report reveals that on April 9th Steve Schneider "repeated that Koresh would not come out until told to do so by God."88/
On April 9th Koresh delivered to the FBI the first of several defiant letters explaining God's anger at the FBI's mistreatment of his people and warning of God's coming wrath. The FBI would use these letters to excuse their assault on Mount Carmel. The FBI released information about the April 9th letter to the press, emphasizing that it was "was threatening in tone." SAC Bob Ricks said the letter would not be made public.89/ However, the Washington Post obtained excerpts from the April 9th letter in which Koresh wrote God might destroy a local dam and revealed that nervous authorities were monitoring the dam.90/ On April 10th and 11th Koresh sent out nearly identical letters.
However, on April 14th Koresh sent out to Dick DeGuerin a very different letter. It reads, in part:
As far as our progress is concerned, here is where we stand:. . .I am presently being permitted to document, in structured form, the decoded messages of the Seven Seals. Upon the completion of this task, I will be freed of my "waiting period." I hope to finish this as soon as possible and to stand before man to answer any and all questions regarding my actions.
I have been praying so long for this opportunity; to put the Seals in written form. Speaking the truth seems to have very little effect on man.
I was shown that as soon as I am given over into the hands of man, I will be made a spectacle of, and people will not be concerned about the truth of God, but just the bizarrity of me - the flesh (person).
I want the people of this generation to be saved. I am working night and day to complete my final work of the writing out of the "these Seals."
I will demand the first manuscript of the Seals be given to you. Many scholars and religious leaders will wish to have copies for examination. I will keep a copy with me. As soon as I can see that people, like Jim Tabor and Phil Arnold have a copy I will come out and then you can do your thing with this Beast.
We are standing on the threshold of Great events! The Seven Seals, in written form are the most sacred information ever!
Dick DeGuerin immediately gave a copy of the letter to the FBI and released
excerpts to the press. Jack Zimmermann revealed on the April 20,
1993 "Larry King Live" show that Steve Schneider read him the letter on
April 14th "in the most excited tone I had every heard him in the 15 hours
of our conversation. . .They said they were working day and night.
David was dictating it. . .And Steve was editing. . .The FBI only waited
On April 16th Koresh told the FBI he had finished the First Seal and "asked for a word processor and batteries to speed production of the other six chapters."91/ At an October 15, 1993 congressional briefing, Dr. Tabor said that Koresh and Ruth Riddle, who was typing the manuscript for him, worked until 9 p.m. Sunday, April 18th, putting the final touches on the First Seal. It would have been the longest of the seven. That meant the Davidians could have been leaving Mount Carmel in just a few more days. Tabor said, "they were so happy that night, shades of the last supper." Riddle escaped the April 19th fire carrying Koresh's First Seal on a computer disk.
Drs. Arnold and Tabor severely criticized the FBI. "I think they were convinced from the start that he was evil, horrible and wicked. . .They didn't take his religion seriously enough. They needed to have input from people who are trained in biblical symbols."92/
FBI Lied to DeGuerin and Zimmermann
After receiving Koresh's April 14th promise to surrender letter, Dick DeGuerin had a face-to-face meeting with FBI siege commander Jeff Jamar and his second in command, Bob Ricks. In reply to DeGuerin's asserting Koresh would come out when he finished his book, probably within two weeks, Ricks blurted, "And then what's next? He's going to write his memoirs?" But Jamar interrupted, looked directly at DeGuerin and said, "No, we've got all the time it takes." DeGuerin told interviewer Peter Maas: "I figured I had the two weeks. In my world, you don't always have time for contracts. You have to operate on a person's word."93/ Jack Zimmermann testified at trial that the FBI had reneged on the agreement: "They said they wanted to resolve it peacefully and had all the time in the world to resolve it peacefully."94/ On April 18th the FBI assured Davidians they would help Koresh finish his book, even as it cleared automobiles away from the building in preparation for the next day's attack.95/
FBI Ridiculed Koresh Promise-To-Surrender
FBI spokesperson Bob Ricks mocked Koresh's efforts: "It's like the Peanuts cartoon--is Lucy going to pull that football out one more time? We get the impression that's probably what's going to happen." Ricks alleged that there were three other times in the siege when Koresh promised to surrender.96/ However, FBI lies about playing Koresh's sermon on March 2nd, and FBI harassment despite the apparent beginning of a mass exit on March 21st, caused Koresh to break his first two promises to exit. This last promise doubtless would have been the fulfillment of Koresh's promise to come out after Passover.
The April 26, 1993 Time devoted a whole article to David Koresh's promise to write the book and described the FBI's frustration that it had taken Koresh four days to write 30 pages. "No one at our place is holding his breath," said FBI special agent Dick Swensen." An anonymous FBI official told the Washington Post, "Were we going to sit there and wait for this guy to finish his treatises on the Seven Seals?"97/ Bob Ricks' statement on April 16th sums up the FBI attitude: "We are going to get them. . .to bring them before the bar of justice for the murder of our agents. They're going to answer for their crimes."98/
FBI Lied After the Fire
After the April 19th fire, the FBI claimed that it had evidence that David Koresh's contacts with his attorneys were just stalling techniques. During his April 20, 1993 press conference SAC Jamar claimed that listening devices picked up Davidians joking about DeGuerin's involvement being a ruse, a claim the Justice report repeats. However, while prosecutors threatened to play this alleged tape during the trial, they never did so.99/
At the April 20th FBI press conference Jamar also asserted, "This latest business with the Seven Seals, we have intelligence that it was just one more such stalling technique." (He said this twenty-four hours after Texas Rangers confiscated the computer disk from fire survivor Ruth Riddle!) When a reporter pressed him for "hard evidence" that "writing of the biblical manuscript was just another stall," Jamar replied his evidence was "intelligence information we're not prepared to disclose now." However, the FBI never has provided such intelligence information, including at trial.
Justice Report Misrepresented Koresh's Letter
The Justice report includes the April 14th letter after the April 9th and 10th letters in an appendix. However, only Koresh's April 14th phone call is mentioned in the chronology for that date, while the April 9th letter is quoted extensively and the April 10th letter analyzed. When the report finally mentions the letter, it inaccurately describes it as "Koresh's request that the FBI give him time to finish his manuscript about the Seven Seals." It then dismisses the letter, noting, "Dr. Miron noted that the letter appeared to be ploy designed to buy more time for Koresh." This statement by a defacto cult buster is the only evidence the report presents that Koresh's writing his book on the Seven Seals was a stalling technique.100/
The negotiation tapes reveal that on April 15, 1993, an FBI negotiator claimed that Koresh's writing his book was mere "stalling." Steve Schneider replied, "If I was stalling, I'd pull out the phone cord. If you think we are stalling, run ten tanks through the building. If you think we're stalling, do what you want. You'll see what these people are made of." Schneider made the FBI aware that Davidians would not be pushed out of Mount Carmel by a tank attack.101/
Dr. Ronald Theman, Dean, Harvard Divinity School told ABC news the day after that fire, "If there had been better understanding of the worldview out of which he was operating, there would have been an opportunity to give him a way out."101/ What is clear is that those who understood Koresh's worldview actually had convinced him to come out. However, FBI agents in Waco, and their BATF cronies, were more concerned with punishing the defiant Davidians and destroying evidence of BATF crimes than convincing them to exit the building.
June 16, 1994 trial transcript, p. 154
2. Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "A Week in the Life: The Presidential Style Is Exuberant, Informal and Totally in Control," Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, March 9, 1993.30.
3. Justice Department report, p. 241.
4. Ibid. p. 241.
5. Susan Schmidt, "Altman Testimony Disputed," Washington Post, July 24, 1994, A1.
6. Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, March 9, 1993.
7. Justice Department report, p. 242.
8. Treasury Department report, p. 102.
9. Transcript of Confirmation Hearing for Webster Hubbell, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, May 19, 1993.
10. Justice Department report, p. 235.
11. Ibid. pgs. 239-40.
12. Transcript of Confirmation Hearings for Webster Hubbell, May 19, 1993.
13. Carleton R. Bryant, "Heymann decries Hubbell's Justice-White House link," Washington Times, February 19, 1994, A4; Julia Malone, "Does `first buddy' really run Justice?" Washington Times, February 21, 1994; Jerry Seper, "Now that Hubbell's out, who's minding the store at Justice?" Washington Times, March 16, 1994.
14. Michael Hedges, "Sessions says White House `compromised' Foster probe," Washington Times, February 4, 1994, A1.
15. Justice Department report, pgs. 180-81.
16. Ibid. p. 182.
17. Ibid. p. 183; Dan Freedman, "FBI analyst says he was ignored on Waco," Washington Times, May 1, 1995, A1, A20.
18. Alan A. Stone, M.D. report to the Justice Department, 1993, p. 9.
19. Cause Foundation lawsuit (February 26, 1995); Caddell & Conwell lawsuit (February 27, 1995).
20. Dr. Alan A. Stone, M.D., report to the Justice Department , 1993, p. 1.
21. Justice Department report, p. 139-40.
22. David Thibodeau, private communication, July, 1994.
23. Justice Department report, p. 142.
24. Alan A. Stone, M.D. report to the Justice Department, 1993, p. 4.
25. Nancy Ammerman presentation at November 22, 1993 American Academy of Religion panel on Branch Davidians.
26. "The Maury Povich Show," November 8, 1993.
27. "American Justice" program, "Attack at Waco," August 3, 1994.
28. James L. Pate, October, 1993, p. 73.
29. Justice Department report, p. 131, 239-40.
30. Ibid. p. 58.
31. Ibid. pgs. 133-34.
32. Associated Press wire story, March 16, 1993, 4:42 EST.
33. David Thibodeau and Dick Reavis, private communications, December, 1994; trial transcript, p. 1125.
34. New York Times, April 5, 1993, A10.
35. Justice Department report, pgs. 81, 229, 255.
36. Ibid. pgs. 186-87, 190-93.
37. Ibid. pgs. 168-74, 176-79.
38. Ibid. p. 190.
39. Steven R. Reed, "Would-be Messiah gave death, not life," Houston Chronicle, April 20, 1993, 18A.
40. Justice Department report, p. 167
41. Ross & Green report, p. 13.
42. Justice Department report, p. 192.
43. Ibid. p. 192; Marc Breault and Martin King, pgs. 335-337.
44. Information from Dr. Gordon Melton presentation November 22, 1993; private communication with Dr. Melton, January, 1993.
45. Justice Department report, pgs. 174-76.
46. Louis Sahagun and J. Michael Kennedy, "FBI Places Full Blame on Koresh for Tragedy," Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1993; Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, "Reno, FBI Took Fatal Gamble," Washington Post, April 21, 1993, A15; Sam Howe Verhovek, "F.B.I. Saw the Ego in Koresh But Missed Willingness to Die," New York Times, April 22, 1993, B13.
47. Alan A. Stone, M.D. report to the Justice Department, 1993, p. 10.
48. Justice Department report, p. 21-57.
49. Sam Howe Verhovek, April 21, 1993, A20.; Paul McKay, "Compound fire set and spread by cultists, tapes indicate," Houston Chronicle, February 15, 1994; trial transcript, p. 6210.
50. "FBI brings out secret electronic weapons as Waco siege drags on," Sunday Times of London, March 21, 1993.
51. Justice Department report, p. 66-68.
52. Ibid. p. 70.
53. Ibid. pgs. 74-75; Sheila Martin, private communication, May, 1995.
54. Mary Jordan and Sue Anne Pressley, March 8, 1993.
55. Justice Department report, p. 135.
56. Waco Tribune-Herald, April 20, 1993, 7A.
57. James Scott Trim in his paper, "The Place of Fire in Branch Davidian Theology," 1994, reveals this private communication with Brad Branch.
58. Justice Department report, pgs. 78-80.
59. Ibid. p. 83.
60. "Primetime Live" television special on Waco, January 13, 1994.
61. Edward S. G. Dennis, Jr. report to Justice Department, 1993, p. 44; Graeme Craddock, private communication, May, 1995.
62. Justice Department report, pgs. 79-109.
63. Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 246.
64. Dan Friedman, "Wealth of advice seen as costly to FBI at Waco," Washington Times, October 8, 1993.
65. Edward S. G. Dennis, Jr. report to Justice Department, 1993, p. 45.
66. New York Times, April 5, 1993, A10.
67. Howard Schneider, "Waco cultists send out home movies," Washington Post, March 30, 1993, A5; Justice Department report, p. 201.
68. JoAnn Zuniga, "Outcome shocks compound visitor," Houston Chronicle, April 20, 1993, 16A.
69. Justice Department report, p. 87.
70. Associated Press wire story, March 25, 1993, 03:53 EST.
71. Dirk Johnson, "Inside the Cult: Fire and Terror on the Final Day," New York Times, April 26, 1993, B10.
72. Nancy Ammerman report to Justice Department, p. 2.
73. Justice Department report, p. 147.
74. Clifford L. Linedecker, p. 215; Kirk Lyons, private communication, June, 1994.
75. Associated Press wire story, March 16, 1993, 04:25 EST.
76. Waco Tribune-Herald, April 20, 1993, 7A.
77. Trial transcript, pgs. 6605-09.
78. Steve McVicker, July 22, 1993.
79. Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 236.
80. Trial transcript, pgs. 6636-37.
81. Dr. Phillip Arnold and Dr. James Tabor, private communication, November, 1993; Dr. Arnold article "The Davidian Dilemma--To Obey God or Man?" and Dr. Tabor article "The Waco Tragedy: An Autobiographical Account of One Attempt to Avert Disaster," printed in From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco; audio tape of Drs. Arnold and Tabor radio interview on Ron Engelman show, April 1, 1993.
82. Time, May 3, 1993, p. 43.
83. Justice Department report, Appendix C, p. 3; Carol Moore review of section of negotiation audio tape.
84. Edward S. G. Dennis, Jr. report to Justice Department, 1993, p. 15.
85. Paper compiled by Dr. James Tabor, "Chronological Interpretative Log/Major Events," 1993; Justice Department report, p. 186.
86. Dr. James Tabor paper, 1993; Dr. Phillip Arnold, private communication, April, 1995.
87. Audio tape of Drs. Arnold and Tabor radio interview on Ron Engelman show, April 1, 1993.
88. Justice Department report, pgs. 95-99.
89. "Cult leader gives 'letter from God'," New York Times, April 11, 1993, A18.
90. Pierre Thomas, "Koresh appears defiant in letters, officials say," Washington Post, April 13, 1993, A3.
91. Justice Department report, p. 107; Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, "Reno Says, `I Made the Decision,'" Washington Post, April 20, 1993, A9.
92. Associated Press wire story, April 21, 1993, 18:24 EDT.
93. Peter Maas, "What Might Have Been," Parade, February 27, 1994.
94. Paul McKay, "Jury hears tape of Davidian plea for a `cease-fire'," Houston Chronicle, February 17, 1994; trial transcript, p. 6660.
95. Justice Department report, p. 284.
96. Drew Parma, "FBI likens Howell's latest offer to cartoon," Waco Tribune-Herald, April 17, 1993, A1; James Tabor speech, November 22, 1993.
97. Michael Isikoff and Pierre Thomas, April 20, 1993, A9.
98. Brad Bailey and Bob Darden, p. 205.
99. Justice Department report, pgs. 143-44; trial transcript, p. 6627.
100. Ibid. pgs. 105, 99-100, 102, 175-77.
101. ABC-TV news special, "Waco: The Decision to Die," April 20, 1993.