Waco The Ultimate Deception Essay, Research Paper
Waco: The Ultimate Deception
Lying on the cool cement floor, she finally felt a sense of security. Could this possibly be the time? She wondered if she was finally going to see the truth he had been proclaiming all along. Suddenly, she felt the inevitable: death. Although she was draped in cool, wet blankets, the heat was growing stronger and stronger. She could feel the flames licking at her feet and legs. Were the others wrong? Is this what faith brings us? Today, evidence shows us the faith of the Branch Davidians and the extreme measures
the government took to break it. The situation at Waco caused us to feel insecure and unsure of our government s judgment calls.
First, the Branch Davidian was a collection of people from all over the world, including the United States, Australia, Britain, Jamaica, and Canada. They were led by David Koresh, formerly known as Vernon Howell. Koresh, along with many of his followers believed he was the Messiah and the only one who could bring truth to the human race. According to The Book of Koresh, Koresh claimed he was writing a manuscript containing his interpretation of the Seven Seals of the Bible. This manuscript also prophesied Koresh was the lamb of God (26). Koresh had many different facets to his personality and beliefs. He was extremely knowledgeable about the Bible. If you were to hear him expound scriptures, you d have to be careful you would not be hypnotized. . . He s very, very, clever in the scripture (Gent 42). Most members of the
Branch Davidians were former members of the Seven Day Adventist Church. Along with careful watch of the Branch Davidian s faith and spiritual being, the members followed a strict diet and kept close track of their physical fitness.
Next, the events that occurred at Waco has left many open gaps and unanswered questions. On April 19, Attorney General Janet Reno gave her permission to infuse the compound with tear gas. Through much counciling and pondering the government and its officials concocted a plan that would cover a 48 hour period. The tear gas that was fired into the building, was to be launched using Combat Engineering Vehicles. These vehicles were bought in just for the event. Just minutes after 6 a.m., people inside of the compound began firing at the combat vehicles. In an effort to cease fires, the FBI or
Federal Bureau of Investigation, began tearing down the walls to help the so called hostages. After the ordeal, the agents had depleted the entire stock of their 400 canisters of tear gas. It seemed to be a crazed situation. In an attempt to run to safety, many of Koresh s followers ran to a concrete room hidden somewhere in the compound and took cover under wet blankets. While some tried to hide, loyal members of the group began to spread gasoline around the compound.
Although there is still speculation, it is uncertain if this was means of committing suicide or simply a diversion for the agents waiting outside. In one statement, the daughter of a deceased member stated, I ve been saying the whole time that they d commit suicide. . . I know my mother wanted this. She was probably right up there in front. . . (Jewell 42). Still, other members of the cult wore gas masks and calmly proceeded with their regular chores. When Koresh was found, 17 of his followers were found with him. All 17 endured gunshot wounds and died. Investigators are also unsure if this was a suicide or if the shots came from agents outside. When the last survivor,
Ruth Riddle, was rescued, agents were handed a computer disc. This disc contained the information Koresh promised to the investigators, and what the agents believed to be non existent. This was Koresh s interpretation of the Seven Seals of the book of Revelations in the Bible. One official, by the name of Phillip Arnold, stated that writing the message meant everything to him. To the people inside, it meant that they could finally come out. But it was too great a leap for the authorities to understand that their beliefs meant
that much to them (Arnold 27). In the end, more than 80 members of the Branch Davidian laid dead. A third of the deceased were children.
Next, we must look at the government s intervention in the case and why they chose to react in the manner they did. In May of 1992, agents began a surveillance on David Koresh. A United Postal Services employee, who had made deliveries to the compound, made a phone call to the Waco Police Department after suspecting the compound of wrong intentions. The local police then called the FBI who then began their own investigation. After examining the group, the FBI called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, or the ATF. Koresh began transporting illegal and legal guns along with other weapons and enough materials to make live grenades, into a collection of other contraband. When suspicions began to rise, the ATF asked for
military aid in the investigation of Koresh and his followers. However, in order to receive military aid, the ATF began to point out their concerns that the compound was being used as a methamphetamine lab. Although the claim was made, no evidence was ever drawn to support it. Throughout all of this, the military and Special Forces were training for the pending situation. Special Forces agents began drawing up plans. Military memos show agents received backing from seven Bradley Fighting Vehicles, or tanks. They also began intense drilling in battle training and medical evacuations.
When ground fighting was initiated during the actual seize, three Texas National Guard helicopters were brought in to cause diversions. In order to get a better understanding of Koresh and his lectures, the FBI brought in help from theologians. They helped the FBI in the understanding of the scriptures Koresh professed yet, Koresh nor any of his followers were allowed to speak to the theologians themselves. In an attempt to drive members out of the compound, agents began to play horrible noises and music. Such noises included the sound of rabbits being slaughtered. According to the FBI: It would appear that we may unintentionally make his prophecy come true, if we
take what he perceives to be hostile or aggressive action. . . a mass suicide by Koresh cannot be discounted (qtd. in Leiby A1). On March 11, the electricity running to the compound was ordered shut off in another attempt to drive people out. However, this attempt also failed.
On April 1, Koresh made contact with the FBI, telling them he would comince writing a document known as The Book of Koresh, as soon as the celebration of the Passover had ended. Not knowing the celebration would last for eight days, the FBI began to lose patience. While talking to the FBI on April 16, Koresh stated he would give the completed document to his attorneys. I m coming out. . . I never intended to die here (Koresh A1).
Finally, we take a look at our government s mistakes. The events of the three-month investigation has left many unanswered questions and caused much speculation. New evidence in the case has shown the effects of the tear gas used in attempts to run Koresh s followers out. According to the summary of Feuding over Waco, a story that left the FBI with a bad reputation, claims they deployed two tear gas capsules which set fire to the compound (29). When such evidence was brought to Janet Reno, she seemed stunned and remarked she was Very, very upset (Reno 30). Reno also states that after seven years of uncertainty she is set out to find the truth. I don t think this is a
matter of anger. . . This is a matter of getting to the truth. And whatever I am, I am as dedicated as I possibly can be to getting to the truth (Reno 29).
Yet, the FBI and ATF stands firm. According to the summary of The Ghosts of Waco, the FBI states the tear gas used on the day of the raid could not have been the triggering factor for the fire simply because the fire started hours after the tear gas was deployed into the compound. They claim that they have strong evidence to show that Koresh and his followers started the fire (36). Allegations such as these could not have
come at a worse time for authorities. A wrongful death suit has been filed against the FBI.
Two-hundred members of other Branch Davidians and surviving family members of the deceased are suing for $100 million. They claim the FBI added to the already high death poll, entrapped the other followers, and did not allow the local fire department to put out the blazing fire. The government has no credibility (Phillips 36).
Therefore, as one can see, our government made ultimately wrong decisions as a result of poor judgment and lack of knowledge. Possibly the senseless slaughtering of human lives could have been avoided by simple procedure tactics. In the future, we may expect a reduction of such mindless and careless incidents. Although the system is perceptually flawed, it is the only initiation that stands between justice and the criminal
acts that are a part of everyday life. The only way to change the system is to learn from the past and change our future.