Waco, Texas: Where A Part of America's Heart and Soul Died
By Robert McCurry
David Koresh and the Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas, held center stage in America for fifty-one days. A Rambo-style raid on a quiet Sunday morning in February by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) touched off one of the most incredible and tragic events in American history. The ATF stormed the Branch Davidian home to serve a search warrant issued on the suspicion that the group was stockpiling automatic weapons.
Within minutes it was evident that the raid was an utter failure. The whole thing had been orchestrated by some bureaucrats whose brains were obviously on vacation and whose allegiance to the U.S. Constitution is totally defective. It was a fiasco from the start that resulted in senseless, needless, carnage and human suffering - not only of those inside the home, but also of the ATF agents who were wounded or killed and forced to retreat. Credible sources report that the ATF fired the first shots; those within the home returned fire. Four agents were shot to death; 15 were wounded; in addition to that, an indeterminate number within the home were killed or wounded.
Thus began the worst, darkest, most despicable, and most grievous saga in American history. Fifty-one days later on Monday, April 19, 1993, the government's massacre of almost 100 men, women, and children who lived in the Branch Davidian home marked the climax of this "drama in real life."
April 19, 1993: America’s Most Infamous Day
The human carnage and suffering caused by the government's heinous assault on the Branch Davidian home on February 27 and its resulting carnage and suffering paled when the government, under the leadership and guidance of the FBI, the President of the United States, and the United States attorney general, launched the second assault on the home at dawn on April 19 with tanks, armored vehicles, and chemical weapons. It was a day that will only be remembered in shame and infamy.
My eyes were glued to the TV as those infamous events unfolded in Waco. As much as I wanted to believe otherwise, my eyes and ears were not deceiving me. The American tank was ramming and battering the house, knocking huge holes in the walls and ripping the roof off the building that those men, women, and children called home. The government and media referred to it as a "compound," but to Koresh and those on the inside, it was home.
The newsmen I heard said that the tanks assaulting the building were also pouring tear gas into the house. Tanks had reportedly been circling the house throughout the night in an effort to terrorize the residents. The ramming and tearing away at the structure by the tanks and the gassing with chemical weapons in the early morning hours was evidently designed to be the ultimate persuasion to force the residents out of the house. The tactic failed. No one left the home.
I was in shock as I watched the incredible and horrifying tank assault on the Branch Davidian home. I could not contain my grief as I witnessed the place burn to the ground. My grief and emotions intensified as I viewed United States Attorney General Janet Reno and heard her inane, cold, hard, emotionless, heartless, and tearless explanations, rationalizations, and justifications for this senseless and needless government massacre of almost 100 hundred men, women, and children. (I can say the same about the comments made by FBI agents).
Before I could recover from the attorney general's remarks, I was faced with President Bill Clinton addressing the nation on TV and heard him not only defend Janet Reno by saying that he could not understand why anyone would suggest that she resign as attorney general "because some religious fanatic killed all those people." He self-righteously laid the full blame for the massacre of the nearly 100 men, women, and children in Waco on David Koresh.
Where has President Clinton been? Surely he is aware that if it had not been for the senseless, needless, reprehensible, unconstitutional, immoral, and unconscionable raid on the Branch Davidian home 51 days earlier, the April 19 massacre would never have taken place.
It was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, not David Koresh that initiated and orchestrated the entire February debacle. If the ATF had conducted itself in a sane, proper, constitutional, and humane way in the first place, no ATF agents would have been killed or wounded, no one would have been killed or wounded inside the home, and the situation would never have climaxed with the government's massacre of nearly 100 men, women, and children. This is a simple fact that cannot be denied.
The conspiracy of the FBI, President Clinton, and Janet Reno has resulted in the worst, darkest, most despicable, and most grievous day in American history.
The government's insane excuse of acting in "the children's best interests"
Once the ATF realized that their assault on the Branch Davidian home to serve a search warrant on the suspicion that the group may be in possession of illegal firearms was a total failure and disaster, they immediately resorted to insisting that the real motivation for the raid was to rescue the children inside the home from alleged neglect and abuse by David Koresh. First of all, child abuse cases are under the jurisdiction of the State - not the federal government. Texas State officials responded that they had indeed done their job and that their recent investigations had produced no evidence that the children within the home were being neglected or abused in any way.
Second, is it rational and humane to send 150 ATF and other law enforcement officers with guns drawn to storm a home on a quiet Sunday morning to "rescue" children from alleged child abuse? What the ATF did on that February 27 Sunday morning was child abuse of the worst kind. If this is the government's way of saying, "Good morning, we're here to help you and serve the best interests of the children" then I hope and pray they will never "protect" my children and grandchildren. This "we acted in the best interests of the children to rescue them from neglect and abuse" is the same rationale the FBI, President Clinton, and Janet Reno used to justify the assault on the Branch Davidian home on April 19 with tanks and chemical weapons.
An April 21, 1993, Atlanta Constitution article reported that "the White House said today it had `mountains of evidence' the children were being abused by David Koresh and his cult and that this was a prime reason for launching the April 19 ill-fated assault on the Waco, Texas, compound." Incredible!
"Protecting the kids was the ultimate rationale for going in," White House Communications Director George Stephanopoulos said. Incredible! President Clinton cited the children and Janet Reno's concern for their welfare when he discussed the Waco debacle with reporters on April 20. Incredible! A five hour tank attack on the Branch Davidian home and filling the house with tear gas is "acting in the best interests of the children's welfare"? This is incredible, insane thinking. If the American people swallow this and fail to express their grief and outrage at what the government did in Waco, then this nation is in serious, serious trouble.
When asked why the government acted when and how it did, FBI Special Agent Jeff Jamar reasoned that the American people would have held the government responsible if it had not acted when it did and later learned that the children had suffered or died from malnutrition and abuse. His unspoken but obvious conclusion (as was that of President Clinton and Janet Reno) was that it was better to attempt the rescue of the children and fail (sending them to a fiery death), than to allow them to remain inside the home. Incredible!
There is something seriously and dangerously wrong with this kind of government mentality and reasoning. It should greatly concern and alarm every American. If what the government did in Waco, Texas, demonstrated the government's "ultimate rationale in protecting the children" as it claims, then every child in America is at risk and in danger of a similar fate.
The Musical Chairs of Who’s Responsible for the Use of Tanks and Tear Gas
Attorney General Janet Reno has said that she accepts "full responsibility" for what happened in Waco; that it was she, not President Clinton, who made the decision to storm the Branch Davidian home with tanks and chemical weapons. President Clinton, after some fancy political "I-knew-about-the-plans-but-I-didn't-originate-or-direct-them" and "I-support-Jane-Reno's-decision-in-doing-what-she-did" political gibberish doubletalk, finally said that he accepted "full responsibility" for what happened in Waco because it was really he, not Janet Reno, who made the decision to storm the home with tanks and chemical weapons. And in the same breath both of them disavowed any responsibility by blaming the deaths of these nearly 100 men, women, and children all on David Koresh.
So much for the honesty and integrity of two of the most important and powerful people in American government.
For President Clinton, Janet Reno, the FBI, and the media to even suggest that David Koresh is solely responsible for what has happened in Waco and that Koresh and the Branch Davidians set fire to their own home or "committed suicide" rather than surrender is repugnant and an insult to this author as it no doubt is to millions of other intelligent, informed Americans. The truth is that President Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, and the FBI are all fully responsible for the massacre of the nearly 100 men, women, and children at the Branch Davidian home in Waco, their denials notwithstanding. The blood of the dead (including the four ATF agents) is on their hands personally as well as on the hands of government collectively because there would have been no fire and there would have been no death if there had been no assault on the home with tanks and chemical weapons.
Interestingly, the tear gas that the government poured into the Branch Davidian home has been banned from use in warfare anywhere in the world after January 1994. About 120 countries agreed at the Chemical Weapons Convention in Paris to ban the use on battlefields of all riot control agents such as the CS gas used in Waco, according to a State Department official. Think about this. The tear gas that has been banned in warfare by 120 countries was poured into the Branch Davidian home in Waco, Texas, by the American government. The tear gas that America has agreed not to use against foreign enemies, it freely uses against its own citizens. Incredible!
An April 23, 1993, Atlanta Constitution article reported that in a dramatic rebuttal to the government's charges of mass suicide and murder, survivors of Monday's catastrophic fire insist that the fire was not started by anyone inside the home as the government claims but was a direct result of the FBI assault. The residents were more afraid of the ramming by the tanks than they were of the tear gas. The group remained calm as the tanks sprayed tear gas throughout the dwelling. The gassing started around 6:45 a.m. and was kept up until the fire started around noon.
According to the survivors, the Branch Davidians at first attempted to keep to their daily routines. With gas masks strapped on, the women tended to the laundry. Others read their Bibles. The 17 children, all under 10 years old, remained on the second floor at their mothers' sides. But their home was violently rattled each time a tank rammed or punctured its walls. Residents braced themselves and sought refuge from falling sheet rock and doors. Nozzles on the tanks and hundreds of gas canisters hurled in from the armored vehicles filled the air with noxious fumes.
The residents moved into interior rooms, ultimately making escape difficult or impossible. When the fire broke out, they were trapped, and only those who were able to make it to windows that were not aflame escaped and survived. The survivors say that the fire started because the house was so violently shaken by tanks slamming into it that several lighted Coleman lanterns - used by the group after the electricity had been cut off by the government - were knocked over. The flames were fed when a propane gas tank used for cooking exploded after it was crushed by a tank pushing through the building. Survivors say the fire caused pandemonium as infants screamed and frenzied adults searched fruitlessly for exits through the thick, black smoke that filled the building within minutes.
David Koresh and almost 100 other men, women, and children perished in a raging inferno that should never have happened and would never have happened if the FBI, President Clinton, and Janet Reno had not acted in such a needless, senseless, irrational, inhumane, immoral, unconscionable, and reprehensible way by assaulting the Branch Davidian home with tanks and chemical weapons.
Polls vs. truth and reality
The April 21, 1993, Atlanta Journal reported that a majority of Americans blame Koresh for the tragedy in Waco, Texas, and say action was not taken by the FBI soon enough, according to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll. The poll, which questioned 608 adults throughout the country on April 20, also found that 73 percent thought the decision to use tear gas to get the Branch Davidian group to surrender was a "responsible" action. The poll found that 93 percent of the respondents blamed Mr. Koresh for the tragedy that took the lives of all but 9 of the 95 inside the home. Many of the respondents also blamed the FBI, Attorney General Janet Reno, and President Clinton. The respondents were allowed to offer multiple answers in the survey.
Mr. Clinton defended the FBI's actions and so do a majority of those surveyed, according to the poll. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said the FBI action was not taken soon enough. Polls, of course, are a sampling of a few people (in this instance 608 people) that supposedly reflects the thinking of everyone. But in reality, polls are designed to influence and control the thinking of people. The scientific appearance of a poll creates the illusion of factuality and truthfulness. But remember, a poll merely reflects the opinion of those who participate.
For almost 60 days the media has bombarded the American people with information provided and controlled by the FBI. No matter that the FBI, our news and information source, is anti-David Koresh, anti-Branch Davidian and pro-government, pro-ATF, and pro-FBI. The focus of this media blitz has been on the alleged religious beliefs of Koresh and the Branch Davidian sect - especially as they relate to the book of Revelation. The purpose of this media blitz against the Branch Davidian religious beliefs has been designed to distract the American people from the real issue: the government's violation of every constitutional right that these people had by raiding their home on February 27, laying siege to it for 51 days, assaulting them with tanks and chemical weapons on April 19, and massacring almost everyone of them.
It is important to remember that David Koresh and no one connected with the Branch Davidian group had been charged with a crime of any description prior to the infamous ATF raid on February 27, a fact that the government and media have conveniently and conspicuously chosen to ignore - a fact that was also ignored in the above-referenced poll.
This is America. The government has no authority to question, examine, investigate, disparage, denounce, impugn, license, control, or approve of disapprove anyone's religious faith regardless of how "kooky," bizarre, or unorthodox it may seem to be. This includes the apocalyptic, "doomsday" beliefs of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. If these people are not free to believe what they want, then none of us are free to believe what we want to believe.
The Government’s Double Standard
The government and media have made a major issue of David Koresh's alleged claims to be Jesus Christ, his ownership of weapons, and his alleged propensity for violence. This, they say, justifies the two assaults on the Branch Davidian home. However, the March 6, 1992, Atlanta Constitution included a favorable story about followers of the New York-based Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, 89, the grand rabbi of the Lubavitch Hasidic sect, who believe that he is the messiah. Rabbi Schneerson predicts that the messiah is coming soon and has announced that "the time of the redemption has arrived." Such talk has thrown ultra-orthodox Judaism into turmoil. Archrival Rabbi Eliezer Schach has denounced Rabbi Schneerson as a "false messiah" and called Schneerson's followers "heretics and eaters of unclean flesh with no ties to the Torah."
"Rabbi Schneerson is the Messiah. I don't even have to think about it," said a 45 year old mother of nine. "We talk about it a lot, and we are waiting for the big event." Although members of the Lubavitch Hasidic sect have been involved in riots and violence in the Crown Heights section of New York since 1991, the government has not raided or assaulted the Lubavitch headquarters or the homes of its leader and followers. Neither has the government questioned or criticized their religious beliefs.
According to a March 5, 1993, USA TODAY article, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Islamic preacher now living in New Jersey, preaches "Death to America! Death to the Jews! A curse on the Christians! America must pay!" Abdel-Rahman owns a seven-story office building converted into a worship center. Each week it is packed with thousands of worshippers who come to hear his recorded prayers and pronouncements. Hundreds more listen to huge loudspeakers outside the building. Followers pray on sidewalks, in muddy median strips, or in the oil-filled work bays of the gas station next door on small pieces of artificial turf. Although the government wants to deport Abdel-Rahman to Cairo, the ATF and FBI have not raided and assaulted his headquarters, home, or the homes of his followers. Neither has the government questioned or criticized their religious beliefs.
A front page article in the March 6, 1993, Indianapolis Star reported that Mmoja Ajabu has revived the revolutionary Black Panther organization. In 1968, at the height of its strength and influence, this armed revolutionary group was described by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover as the "single greatest threat to the internal security of the United States." The Panthers, armed with unconcealed, loaded shotguns, confronted police who patrolled black neighborhoods and demanded civil rights and social programs for black Americans. Ajabu, citing similar goals in his revived Black Panthers organization, said, "If all you're going to do is to beg them [the government] to stop, then that's not going to stop the killing. That's why our main focus is to build an army. We know we're talking about death and destruction and grief in a whole lot of people's families. But only then will they come to the negotiating table and talk candidly about getting something done.
"We're sick and tired of bearing the brunt of all the bad this society has to offer." According to Mmoja Ajabu, there's nothing illegal about the Black Panthers' attempts to secure equal rights through military tactics. "A militia is legal under the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights. It gives the people the right to bear arms and form militias," Ajabu says confidently. "Everything we're doing is legal. The U.S. Constitution gives people the right to overthrow the government if it's not of the people, by the people, and for the people." Interestingly, the ATF and FBI have not raided and assaulted the Black Panther headquarters, the home of its leader, or the homes of its members. Neither has the government questioned or criticized the beliefs that motivate and move them to action.
This is not to suggest or recommend that the government should raid and assault any of the above-referenced groups. It should not. It is simply to point out that the beliefs and activities of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians are a far cry from the above-mentioned groups which have not been attacked by the government and continue to function with impunity and without interference from the government.
So much for equal protection under the law.
Coming soon: America's biggest whitewash and cover-up since the JFK assassination
The Waco whitewash and cover-up show has been playing daily in the media since the abortive ATF raid on the Branch Davidian home on February 27. The government has been whimpering about its "victimization" at the hands of the "cult." It has portrayed itself as the innocent, guiltless "good guy" who was stunned, outgunned, and outsmarted by David Koresh and his followers - the "violent, guilty, bad guys." The "good guys" decided to protect themselves from further embarrassment by ordering the news media to stay four miles away from the Branch Davidian home, and sealing off several miles of air space around the home to prevent anyone from taking photographs of the FBI's activities.
The media was "permitted" to ask questions in carefully controlled government press briefings whenever the government needed coverage to polish its tarnished "good guys" image and bash, denigrate, and vilify the Branch Davidian "bad guys." But the media had to always ask the right kind of questions; that is, questions that were not embarrassing to the "good guys."
At a March 13 press briefing, reporter Louis Beam violated the "right kind of questions" rule and asked: "Mr. Conroy of the ATF, many people who viewed the video of the initial ATF action against the church complex viewed the tactics as something very similar to those used in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union by the KGB. As you well know, there is much talk in the country about this. Are we seeing the emergence of a police state in the United States?" Agent Conroy repeated the question and then stated, "I won't even address answering that question." Reporter Beam was escorted from the press briefing by Texas officers and barred from all future press briefings for "disruptive behavior."
So much for "freedom of the press" and honest, government-controlled press briefings. The whitewash, cover-up job went into high gear with the appearances of Attorney General Janet Reno and President Clinton. They vehemently defended - yes, applauded - the government's actions, and tried, convicted, and condemned the "bad guys" without a trial.
Now there are promises of congressional investigations and hearings. But watch and listen carefully. Don't be surprised if the foxes do all the talking about what happened to the chickens at the hen house.
Many credible observers believe that the American people are about to witness the most carefully designed, well organized, fine-tuned, and skillfully orchestrated government whitewash and cover-up since the John Kennedy assassination. It is further believed that the ATF and FBI will emerge from these investigations and hearings as the heroes and smelling like a rose - not that they should, but that's simply the way the script for this show has been written.
A time for weeping
The government massacre of nearly 100 men, women, and children in Waco is the worst, the most despicable, and the most grievous event ever to take place in America.
It is something that never should have happened. It is something that never could have happened IF God-fearing and freedom-loving Americans had been better guardians of the freedoms our founding fathers envisioned and structured in our founding documents. It is something that never would have happened if government servants had been bound by the chains of the Constitution. We must understand that there was more than human suffering and carnage in Waco.
A part of America’s heart and soul also died there. America will never be the same.
~By Pastor Robert McCurry, Heritage Baptist Church, Sharpsburg, GA firstname.lastname@example.org