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Military secrets in report on Waco

Just how deep was the military involvement in the Waco massacre?

It’s no longer a question of if — it’s a question of how the U.S.
military was entangled in the federal government’s extermination of more
than 70 men, women and children in the Texas Branch Davidian church.

If the hair on the back of your neck was sufficiently raised by the
documentary, “Waco: The Rules of Engagement,” with its compelling evidence that forces unknown
fired on the Branch Davidians as they tried to flee from the rear of the
building, now there’s more. If you aren’t already convinced that the
government has been systematically covering up its crimes against
humanity, consider the latest development. If you still hold some hope
the government’s latest cover on events in Waco is the truth, ask
yourself: “Why are officials still hiding facts from the American

Last Friday, Texas officials delayed the release of a Texas Rangers’
report on evidence collected at the scene of the crime because it (are
you ready for this?) contains classified military secrets.

Attorneys for the Texas Department of Public Safety said the report
can’t be made public yet because other agencies needed time to review it
to see whether any parts of it should remain confidential. Gee, I wonder
which agencies those might be? And I wonder why Gov. George W. Bush is
permitting his state to yield to the illegitimate authority of
Washington in this matter? Not a good example for a man who seeks the
White House.

The report, we’re told, consists of a 13-page narrative and about 200
pages of exhibits. The department sent copies to the U.S. attorney’s
office in Waco and to the House Committee on Government Reform, which is
investigating whether federal officials used incendiary devices during
the 1993 siege. Texas officials also said the Rangers’ findings would be
forwarded to former U.S. Sen. John Danforth, who is heading an
independent inquiry into the Waco debacle at the request of U.S.
Attorney General Janet Reno.

That’s fine. But it’s also evidence that is long overdue for release
to the American people. And this is yet another reason Congress must not
sit around waiting for Danforth’s report to launch its first serious
investigation of the wholesale slaughter the U.S. government wrought on
the innocent civilians at Waco. There have been enough delays. There
have been enough cover-ups. There’s been enough stonewalling and lying.

The news Friday came during a hearing about a lawsuit filed by the
Austin American-Statesman to force the state of Texas to make public the
entire report. The agency had announced just the day before that it
would yield to such a request, but not until noon today, when it was
scheduled to be posted on the department’s website.

You see, after the massacre, the Justice Department asked the Texas
Rangers to conduct a follow-up criminal investigation. When that probe
was finished, the evidence remained under Ranger control, locked in an
Austin storage warehouse. In June, James B. Francis Jr., chairman of the
Texas Department of Public Safety, ordered the Rangers to re-examine all
the stored evidence after learning that pyrotechnic tear gas canisters
may have been fired by federal agents in the waning hours of the siege.

You will recall how often federal officials ridiculed the idea that
their cops had any part in starting the inferno that consumed the
Davidians. Nevertheless, last month, some finally acknowledged that
federal forces had, indeed, fired two incendiary tear gas canisters at a
bunker near the Davidians’ compound, although they continue to deny that
the projectiles started the fatal fire. It was a coincidence, they would
have us believe.

The Rangers’ final report about the siege was completed late last
week. A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety announced
afterward: “This will be a document the whole country will be interested
in.” But will the American people ever be able to see the report? Will
there be more delays? Will the level of illegal involvement by U.S.
military forces in a domestic, civilian affair ever be fully revealed?

Texas is now backpedaling. Officials are saying the lawyers have not
had time to review the documents to determine which could be made public
and which would have to be deleted. In other words, another cover-up is
well under way — right under the nose of a governor who is a pretender
to the throne.

Think about it. What kinds of military secrets could possibly be
revealed to the American people amid the Waco rubble? Will we find out
the federal government had thermonuclear warheads at the scene? Will
secret battle plans designed for foreign enemies but used on domestic
troublemakers be disclosed? Or will we simply find out the dark, ugly
truth that the military was called in to whack a group of Americans who
were threatening no one?

You know, direct military involvement in a civilian law enforcement
operation would have required a presidential waiver of the law barring
such activity. Could that be the deep, dark secret of Waco?

Laws are being broken by keeping this report under lock and key.
Texas, like most other states, has an open records law that prohibits
officials from burying documents just because they feel like it or
because they are politically sensitive. Since there is currently no
state criminal investigation pending in the Waco matter, why is Texas
delaying release? Who’s calling the shots here? Is Texas governed in
Austin or in Washington?