Today marks the 20th anniversary of the fiery end of the federal government’s siege on the Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventist Church in Waco, Texas. April 19, 1993 was the end of a month and a half ordeal probably unlawfully initiated against a peaceful, if weird, group of Christians by the tyrannical Imperial federal government. In addition to being a serious injustice in and of itself, it also stands as a critical warning to all of us free citizens currently enduring the 21st Century.
(Separation of Church and State? Google Images.)
I recall the media’s treatment of the story during the winter and spring of 1993. Essentially, they reported the feds’ words verbatim and, in keeping with modern journalistic tact, did so with no critical analysis whatsoever. The Clinton administration and their lamestream puppets said that David Koresh was a deranged and dangerous man who had brainwashed a large group of followers Jim Jones style and who had engaged in several serious criminal offenses. All of this was based on lies. Seventhy-six innocent civilians and four stormtroopers lost their lives because of these lies. Numerous others, on both sides, were scarred, physically and mentally, as a result of the battle.
Twenty years later, there has never been an honest official review of the crimes committed by the government between February 28th and April 19th that fateful year. Laws have been rendered obsolete, innocents have been imprisoned, criminals have been promoted and lionized, and the truth might have just as well burned in the terrible conflagration.
The Branch Davidians separated from the mainline Seventh Day Adventist Church in 1955. Essentially, they believed they were living in the “end times” and ordered their lives accordingly. There developed a power struggle within the group between David Koresh and George Roden. During the 1980’s there was a violent confrontation between the factions which resulted in several prosecutions; there were no convictions and the matter faded away. Following his conviction for a 1989 axe murder, Roden was imprisoned in a mental facility. Koresh took command of the church.
Koresh believed himself the final prophet of the church and the man who would guide the group through the end of days, the rapture, or whatever. His methods were odd to say the least. His followers moved into his compound in Waco where Koresh lead a polygamist prophetly existence. I have never understood why people ever allow themselves to come under the sway of such men. At any rate, Koresh and his followers were largely isolated from the rest of the world, engaged in their final preparations.
(David Koresh, born Vernon Wayne Howell. Google.)
Those preparations, in part, lead to the government’s investigation and subsequent charges. The charges were as follows: manufacture and possession of illegal weapons (machine guns), the manufacture of methamphetamines, and child abuse and statutory rape of young girls. I seem to recall tax evasion charges as well but cannot locate definitive documentation. The IRS can always bring tax charges or administrative actions against anyone due to the impossible nature of the tax code.
There was no evidence to support the meth charges. Roden had allegedly run a meth lab at the church during the 80s. However, the operation had ceased years before Koresh took over the group. Not approving a drugs, Koresh dutifully turned over to local authorities the remains of lab. That was the extent of the evidence – none. Some FBI and ATF agents acknowledged the lack of evidence on these counts.
The allegations of child abuse, etc. came from Koresh’s critics, both before and after the 1993 ordeal. Such crimes, even when real, are not federal matters. They are within the jurisdiction of the state. Nevertheless, the accusations were included against Koresh and Co. in order to make them look as bad as possible to the grand jury and judge. The government never lets the truth interfere with a case.
Reports indicate that Texas child-protective authorities had previously visited the church and talked extensively with Koresh. No charges resulted. Koresh was also on relatively friendly speaking terms with the local Sheriff, who later expressed concern over federal actions.
As for the “machine guns,” the charges stemmed from a report by a UPS delivery driver of weapons components being shipped to the group in Waco. The driver relayed his information to the Sheriff’s Office. A deputy then informed the BATF (BATFE or ATF). Another Koresh detractor and former member provided hearsay of the illegal conversion of AR-15 rifles into automatic M-16s. The Davidians ran a legitimate weapons business, the Mag Bag, in order to raise funds for their operation. None of their wares and weapons were illegally obtained. However, the ATF (again not concerned with the truth) mislead a federal judge by speculating that the mere existence of the legal weapons might suggest a crime.
The ATF also informed the judge that a neighbor had previously reported the sound of automatic gun fire emanating from the church. They failed to leave out the fact that, as with the child abuse charges, this sound was also reported to the Sheriff, who had investigated the matter and concluded there was no criminal activity.
You may recall that during the siege and its aftermath, the media parrotted reports of a certain number of machine guns at the church. The number continued to decline oddly as time passed until it reached th true number – zero.
As part of their speculative fishing trip the ATF set up surveillance from a nearby house and sent an unconvincing infiltrator to join the group. Koresh became aware of both but said nothing. Once their lies were neatly typed out, the ATF obtained search and arrest warrants and prepared to descend on the church on February 28, 1993.
A reported was tipped off about the impending raid and asked for directions to the church from a postman, who happened to be Koresh’s brother-in-law. Thus was Koresh tipped off. He then dismissed the ATF’s informant from the group. The informant reported that, when he departed the church, the members were praying.
Having come to belive their own lies, the ATF geared for battle against the church members. They illegally assembled at Fort Hood, a nearby Army installation (remember the Posse Comitatus Act, anyone?). They were well armed and well armoured though their other preparations were unbelievably incompetent. Rather than arriving in marked vehicles so as to identify themselves as lawmen, the agents rode up in cattle trailers pulled by several pick-up trucks (private models belonging to various agents). They also neglected to carry communications equipment. The first reports of a gun fight at the church came from the church itself; the members called 911 to report they were being attacked by a gang of heavily armed thugs.
Those thugs, once they disembarked their trailers, immediately opened fire on the church – in order to kill and silence the canine residents. Normally, approaching officers identify themselves as such and attempt to serve their warrants peacefully.
Thus, with no indication of the agent’s legal intentions (if any), the Davidians responded as Americans typically do to violent intruders. They shot back. A lethal gun battle raged from around 45 minutes. The local Sheriff, who said he was not apprised of the raid and knew nothing of it until the Davidians called for help, was unable to communicate with the ATF (dead radios don’t receive calls). The Sheriff’s Office eventually negotiated a cease-fire. Five Davidains and four agents were dead. At this point, Koresh’s and his followers’ fates were sealed. The government does not tolerate the killing of their own, even in cases of self-defense.
(“No-Knock” warrant entry. Fox 4 Dallas.)
Following the ceasefire, one of the most infamous sieges in American history commenced. The government dispensed with all vestiges of common sense and gradually increased tensions at the church. Eventually, all the communications and utilities of the Davidians were cut off. This left the members without running water and electricity. The government apparently had lost interest in those abused children.
The FBI took over the operation. Some within the agency favored negotiating a peaceful end to the ordeal. Others, who views won out in the end, favored aggressive military action. Koresh allowed eleven of his followers to depart – they were immediately arrested and some were prosecuted. At least they survived. As April passed the government prepared to end the confrontation violently. As part of their campaign, the FBI mobilized military assets including, helicopters, light armoured vehicles, main battle tanks, and tactical advice from the military.
You may recall from my column, Posse Comitatus, that using the force of the military in domestic law enforcement is a felony. Remember, no-one has ever been prosecuted under the Act. However, some within the government remained honest and faithful to the law. Before rendering illegal assistance to the FBI, the Army attempted to procedurally clear the matter internally. The case was given to a JAG Attorney for analysis, particularly as to the FBI’s request for assistance. The JAG Officer promptly reported the scheme was a Posse Comitatus violation. He was told to stick his opinion in his ear.
The FBI, now armed for battle in an actual war, began to harass the Davidians intensely. In addition to cutting off their utilities and treating those afore-mentioned children to high-decibel AC/DC music around the clock, the government constantly circled the church with their tanks. They flattened everything outside, including the Davidians automobiles. They also intentionally ran over grave sites repeatedly (a crime).
(We don’t need no stinking Posse Comitatus! Google.)
At last, on April 19th, the government made its move. President Clinton still desired a peaceful, negotiated end but was convinced by his chief-Nazi, Attorney General Janet Reno, to use violent force. Reno’s justification for the use of overwhelming force varied and changed as time passed and the number of machine guns declined.
The FBI used their tanks to smash holes through the walls of the church. Into these they pumped CS gas, which as a chemistry major like Reno (“consulted” by the military) should have known, is delivered via a highly flammable powder. The FBI also launched numerous flash-bang grenades into the building. As normally happens when extreme heat and sparks are applied to a flammable substance, a fire erupted. Of course, the government blamed the fire on the Davidians – why stop the lies, at this point. You will surely recall the fire, it is engrained in my memory forever. See the picture above.
They government continued to ram the building with tanks. They drove one into the building at a point where they knew the children were likely gathered. I have seen video of a Davidian crushed and shredded beneath the tracks of one of the 70-ton vehicles.
The fire killed the Davidians. Some attempted to escape only to be shot to death by FBI (or military) snipers. I watched a video of a subsequent Congressional investigation of the event. The Congressmen watched a video of the assault unfold that was filmed used FLIR (forward-looking infrared). An expert identified various flashes as muzzle blasts directed toward fleeing, unarmed Davidians. A member, indignant that anyone would question or accuse the government of murder, demanded to know what the expert’s expertise with FLIR. The expert’s assertion he had invented the technology was insufficient for the panel.
All ensuing investigations, including that of Former Senator and Special Counsel John Danforth, exonerated the government. We call this a whitewashing. Following a criminal trial, eight Davidains were convicted of firearms charges. Four were acquitted outright and all were cleared of murder charges. Following numerous appeals the Davidans received much lighter sentences and all were freed from custody by 2007. No criminal investigation or prosecution of the federal agents was ever conducted. In another whitewashing, the survivors and the families of the deceased lost a civil lawsuit in the case of Andrade v. Chojnacki, 338 F.3d 448 (5th Cir. 2003).
This story is one of massive and complete injustice. It should also serve as a dire warning to all Americans of the government’s boundless power and ability to get away with any crime, no matter the circumstances. Remember Waco whenever you see or hear accusations from the government. Remember who really abused children. Remember who lied to initiate and to justify their actions. Remember and do all you ever can to combat injustice. We owe that much, at least, to our deceased citizens and to the Natural order of the law.