Roger Waters, who wrote and sang most of Pink Floyd's best music -- "Another Brick in the Wall," "Welcome to the Machine," and other songs that have been banned in totalitarian regimes throughout the world -- is touring the United States. In a line from the song "Mother" at Star Lake Amphitheater near Pittsburgh this summer, the band roared, "Mother, should I trust the government?"
"No," yelled the crowd of 15,000 mostly 20- and 30-something concert goers.
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Now, with new admissions by the FBI that after six years of denials by Janet Reno and the FBI, pyrotechnic tear gas canisters were used on the final day of the 1993 government standoff with the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, mistrust of government will justifiably grow, and it should soar among leftists who have been obstinately oblivious to what many view as the totalitarian instincts of the Clinton administration. Even Lynn Samuels, WABC's super-liberal talk show host, now says she'll stand with Bob Barr and Henry Hyde to impeach this president if it's shown that Bill Clinton knew that incendiary devices were used by government agents at Waco.
"This is not an assault," said the voice of a government official at the scene as an M-60 tank tore off the wall of the Branch Davidians' home and shot tear gas in their faces. To protect the 25 children inside from child abuse, U.S. federal agents harassed the Davidians and their children at night with massive floodlights, blaring recordings of screaming, slaughtered rabbits, and loudspeakers blaring Nancy Sinatra singing "These Boots Are Made For Walking." Though allegations of child abuse were never proven, and the Davidians had fewer guns per capita than the average Texan, Janet Reno authorized the agents to saturate the house with CS gas, a gas that is banned by international law as chemical warfare and which medical literature warns may cause children inhaling it "fulminating chemical pneumonia and death." Before ordering the attack, Reno was informed that gas masks wouldn't fit the children.
TRENDING: Can we survive with no First Amendment?
"I was frankly surprised to see that anyone would suggest that the Attorney General should resign because some religious fanatics murdered themselves," President Clinton said at the time. "There is unfortunately a rise in this sort of fanaticism all over the world," he continued. "And we may have to confront it again."
Incinerated in the April 19, 1993, massacre were not just what Clinton referred to as a bunch of religious fanatics and gun nuts, but a little 6-year-old girl, Serendipity Sea Jones, and Wayne Martin, a black Harvard Law School graduate, the daughter of a police officer in Hawaii, the son of a New York fireman, an Israeli named Pablo Cohen, and the eight-month-pregnant Aisha Summers, age 17, and her 1 year old daughter, Startle. On some, the roof fell in. Others were burned beyond recognition like one 7- to 8-year-old boy who, according to the Justice Department, was buried alive and suffocated in his bunker.
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Jack Wheeler, a contributing editor at Strategic Investment Newsletter, summed it up quite well: "Let me state things clearly. It is one thing to be laughably incompetent, quite another to be murderously incompetent. I think the President should be impeached and the Attorney General indicted for murder. To hear how over 20 children endured a nightmare of torture by CS poison gas, and then see the Attorney General praised in Congress and hear the President ruthlessly dismiss their deaths in a tone of voice as devoid of humanity as Lenin's, has for the first time in my life made me ashamed of being an American."
Even assuming the worst, that cult leader David Koresh, an alleged paranoid with a messiah complex, was a child-abuser stockpiling weapons, and acknowledging that he and/or others within the Waco compound killed four ATF agents who were armed with a plan for a "dynamic entry" that might have involved agents shooting their way into the house, government agents were still obligated not to not use excessive force that could result in harm to the 25 children and more than 50 adults, the majority of whom were women, in order to capture Koresh. The ATF has never adequately explained why they were there with such a show of force in the first place, when David Koresh made many trips to stores in town, according to the local sheriff, and could have been apprehended there.
Like the long missing evidence of tear gas canisters, reports the Wall Street Journal, the steel front door of the house that might provide evidence on who shot first is also missing. Even if it's proven that Koresh was driven to heightened paranoia by having his phone and power cut off, by being refused medical care, being bombarded with the sounds of dentist drills and blaring rabbit screams -- driven crazy enough to shoot at federal agents and burn down his own house -- after months of planning and 51 days of a standoff, the FBI and the White House had nothing but time to come up with a reasonable solution. Many experts are claiming that government agents "should have known" what could happen.
For 51 days, FBI agents in Waco repeatedly ignored the advice of their own Behavioral Science Unit that recommended a "soft" approach. Special Agents Pete Smerick and Mark Young wrote a caution on March 5, 1993: "In traditional hostage situations, a strategy which has been successful has been negotiations coupled with ever increasing tactical presence. In this situation, however, it is believed this strategy, if carried to excess, could eventually be counterproductive and could result in loss of life." Harvard psychiatrist Alan A. Stone, one of 10 outside experts asked by the Justice Department to review the events surrounding the siege, wrote in a blistering 46-page critique that Reno was "ill-advised" in approving the final assault, calling it "a misguided and punishing law enforcement strategy that contributed to the tragic ending."
Nancy T. Ammerman, a visiting scholar at Princeton, also evaluated Waco for the Justice Department, concluding that the government's approach "was based on building up a legal case against the group and planning a paramilitary type assault on the compound. In that atmosphere, I believe, it became easy to lose sight of the human dynamics of the group involved, to plan as if the group were indeed a military target."
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For Dick DeGuerin, Koresh's attorney, the Waco tragedy was the result of incredible bungling, if not outright chicanery, on the part of the ATF and the FBI -- aided and abetted, however unwittingly, by Janet Reno, an attorney general who was "new on the job and out of her depth." A year after the tragedy, DeGuerin, a trial attorney of 28 years who was seasoned enough not to take his trial successes and failures personally, was still furious over his last meeting prior to the fire with FBI agent Jeffrey Jamar, the agent in charge of the 51 day siege, a meeting at which he had assured the agent that in his best considered judgment the Davidians would voluntarily leave the compound in about two weeks. DeGurein says Jamar assured him that time was not a factor. "None of this had to happen," says DeGuerin.
In the face of this unprecedented attack on American citizens by agents of their own government, a deadly assault that sparked the militia movement as well as the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, an unprecedented silence befell the press. "No one stepped forward to be the Davidians' friend," writes Richard Shweder, author of "Thinking Through Cultures," in the New York Times. "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spent months planning and rehearsing the largest 'law enforcement' operation of its 200-year history. This turned out to be a major military operation, worthy of a police state, carried out against the domestic residence of an unpopular and readily stigmatized religious community. The ACLU does not like guns, and it's very busy, so it didn't get involved. The religious leaders of our country do not like 'cults,' and the women's movement does not like patriarchal living arrangements, so they didn't much care. And no one wanted to seem sympathetic to 'child abuse' or unsympathetic to the FBI."
"Where Is The Press?" wrote one of the Davidian residents on a sheet hung out the window of the women's quarters of the Waco compound. The press, also a captive of the government as well as its own biases, was kept at bay two miles down the road. The press, coming too late with too little to this story, is only now beginning to wake up. The Dallas Morning News and WorldNetDaily are reporting, contrary to recent statements by Janet Reno and the Clinton administration, according to classified documents obtained through The Freedom of Information Act as well as WND's sources within the Special Forces, that not only did Reno seek the involvement of the Army's Commando Unit, Delta Force, but she was warned at a meeting she attended with Webster Hubbell and others that the use of CS tear gas could cause "some people to panic. Mothers may run off and leave infants."
WorldNetDaily's source states that he believes, writes Betsy Gibson, that Delta Force was reluctant to get involved at WACO: "I believe the Delta Force colonel didn't want to be directly involved in it, and did not want to be dragged into it. Delta Force operators and Task Force 160 operators continually cautioned the FBI against attempting an 'open air assault' on the target, and stated emphatically that they did not want to be involved in firing on or assaulting American civilians." These official and unofficial comments went ignored, says WND, and, in fact, one Special Operations officer was threatened with court-martial if he continued to protest, the source said. At another point in the document, Delta Force personnel explain to Reno that Special Forces encounters are almost always militaristic and involve outright enemies who are often heavily armed. Delta Force explains that in its standard modus operandi it is "the principles of surprise, speed and violence of action" that are "essential to any operation," along with the strategy that "momentum should be maintained and ground gained should not be relinquished." A WND military source says "violence of action" usually refers to killing the "hostiles."
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A former Special Forces commando states that he recently spoke with a Delta Force commando who was present at the final tear-gas assault on the Branch Davidian compound. Keith Idema, a member of Special Forces and Special Operations units from 1975 to 1992, helped train hostage rescue team personnel for both Delta Force and the FBI. He maintains that the video footage from Waco showing a bright light flashing inside the building moments before the fire broke out have been misidentified as a fire that was started by Branch Davidian leader David Koresh, when, in fact, to the trained eye of a Special Forces explosive expert, it is unmistakably a flash caused by a "concussion grenade" that had been lobbed inside the compound. A concussion grenade employs a brilliant flash and loud bang to render an enemy in its vicinity blind, deaf and immobile for a brief period during which commandos can overpower them. Such grenades should be used only for military purposes and are wholly inappropriate, if not illegal, for use in a situation involving women and children -- and in any situation where potentially inflammable tear gas is still hanging in the air, the former Special Forces operative told WorldNetDaily.
Anyone who has seen the movie "Waco: The Rules Of Engagement," an Academy Award nominated film about Waco, will remember scenes of a 51 day standoff against a group comprised mostly of women and children, helicopters firing at the compound and soldiers machine-gunning the building as it burned. Watching "Rules of Engagement" compels one to wonder exactly who are the paranoids with the messiah complex -- David Koresh or administration officials and government agents. Now, there is a new home video by the same producers, "Waco, A New Revelation," obtainable from MGA Films Inc. at 1-800-277-9802.