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While the truth about the 1993 Waco Massacre is rising like a smoky
phoenix from its ashes, I worry that the government, especially
government law enforcement, learned nothing from that debacle. As
political leaders, editorialists and others call for a new independent
investigation, it is reported by
Reuters
that our
“government is preparing for possible violence from cults, guerrillas,
hate groups and end-of-world-fearing zealots as 2000 approaches.” Let’s
call a halt to our government spreading fear and hatred until we get to
the bottom of the bloodiest encounter in the history of federal law
enforcement.

Six years ago, while more than 70 men, women, and children lay
cremated amidst the smoldering ruins of their home, Janet Reno stood in
front of the American people and took the responsibility for the
military assault on the grounds that it was the only way to “save the
children” from David Koresh’s sexual abuse. Now all she can say at a
news conference last week following the revelations of pyrotechnic
devices is, “I’m very, very upset. I don’t think it’s very good for my
credibility. I’m going to pursue it until I get to the truth.” Clinton’s
attorney general should begin her pursuit by finally admitting the truth
about how our government waged war on its own citizens.

With every passing day journalist Lee Hancock of the Dallas
Morning News
has been delivering a new
episode in the sad soap opera entitled, “The Waco Phoenix.” The story
line: a massacre of civilians accompanied by governmental stonewalling,
obfuscating, and lying is being revealed by a number of dedicated truth
seekers. Among the many truth seekers are Michael McNulty, a filmmaker;
David T. Hardy, an attorney; Carol Moore, a dedicated supporter of the
Davidians; the surviving Davidians and families, the families of the
massacred Davidians; attorneys representing Davidians; and countless
people who believe that what happened at Waco should never be allowed to
happen again.

Michael McNulty’s film, “Waco: Rules of Engagement,” was first
released on Jan. 18, 1997 at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. It was
well received at the festival and the film’s website covers information not only about the film but the
events surrounding the Waco massacre itself. When the presentation of
the film at the Sundance Festival did not elicit the tremendous support
they expected, the producers and all those involved in the project began
the tedious and difficult job of getting it reviewed by mainstream
media.

Thus it was not until June of 1997 that the New York Times finally
published a review, and it wasn’t until the end of 1997 that the
Boston Review, a
left of center literary magazine, published a long review by Alan A.
Stone. If the name seems familiar to some who have been following the
Waco soap opera, it is because Stone was the only member of the Justice
Department’s panel who not only had been very critical about ATF and FBI
activities, but had also tried to get the subsequent government-led
inquiry to properly investigate the Waco events. Stone’s very long
review includes a re-examination of the Waco timetable. Stone writes,
“As someone critical of law enforcement’s behavior at Waco, the film
made me worry that I had not been critical enough. Even if the
documentary does not provide definitive answers, it raises serious
questions both about the ATF’s February 28th raid and the FBI’s conduct
on April 19th.” His conclusion concerning the film is ominously
prescient:

    Because much of what he (Gazecki, the director/editor of the
    film) shows us does seem to be true, his further allegations of extreme
    wrongdoing become more believable.

    Gazecki stops short of suggesting that Waco was a government
    conspiracy, but he gives conspiracy theorists all the ammunition they
    will need. Unfortunately, the responsible officials did such an
    inadequate job of investigating Waco that most viewers will have almost
    no realistic basis against which to measure Gazecki’s film. Waco: The
    Rules of Engagement will be another reason for people to distrust their
    government.

Unfortunately, Stone’s review, published in a small literary
magazine, did not propel the film to commercial success. But other
forces were at work pursuing truth. Attorney David T. Hardy of Prescott,
Ariz., began filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
requests
with both the
FBI and ATF in late 1995 regarding the events at Waco. As neither
government agency responded, Hardy in December 1995 initiated an FOIA
lawsuit (Hardy v. FBI & ATF, No. 95-883-TUC-ACM, D. Ariz). It’s not
surprising that the government tried every legal stratagem to put Hardy
off: motions to dismiss, over a year’s worth of stays or extensions, and
four months for summary judgment. Finally the agencies produced the
data, some of which even they admit, was never revealed to any
congressional investigator. Additionally in July the government paid
Hardy $32,000 in attorney’s fees when a judge agreed that the agencies
had “stonewalled” his requests. All that government data can be viewed
on Hardy’s website.

While Hardy’s information from his FOIA lawsuit includes material
that has never been available to the public, Carol Moore has been
tirelessly putting together Waco information for almost six years. Her
site includes links
to other Waco information and commentary and to her book, “The Davidian
Massacre.” The recent revelations have confirmed many of the allegations
in her book. Relentlessly she has pursued her goal of freeing the
Davidians who were sentenced to prison for a total of 243 years by U.S.
District Judge Walter Smith. As it currently stands the nine Davidians
are still in prison and their case is on appeal to Fifth Circuit Court
for a hearing en banc.

Persistence appears to be paying off. “Between McNulty’s
investigation for his new film, Waco: A New Revelation, and the fact
that the civil suit is now going forward, I believe the thin blue line
is beginning to break. Now the Texas Rangers, BATF, and FBI agents and
officials may finally begin to reveal the truth, if only to protect
themselves,” states Carol Moore in response to the question, “why now?”
The threat of having to admit perjury in a federal civil suit appears to
have frightened those FBI agents and prosecutors who were silent until
now. After all, both Mr. Coulson, the ex-FBI agent who blew the whistle
on pyrotechnics, and Mr. Johnston, the former prosecutor who is
protecting himself by sending a letter to Reno revealing a five-year-old
FBI memorandum on “military gas,” which includes margin notes suggesting
that the document be kept secret, would appear to know more than they
ever revealed before.

As a result of all this smoke, there is considerable impetus for
another investigation. Even Clinton, Reno, and Freeh are joining
congressional Republicans and Democrats calling for an “independent”
investigation. Who should “lead” the investigation? It should be
someone who could be trusted by all sides in the controversy, but
someone who understands what an investigation should accomplish, how it
should be structured, and would be willing to take the heat for doing it
right. How about Alan A. Stone — could he be the one to quench the
fires of Waco?

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