He then tries to warn the federal authorities that the Branch Dravidians know they are coming and urges them to call off the raid. The series also makes it appear that Forest and the other Dravidians don’t deal in illegal firearms.
There’s conversation about Texas law allowing marriage to a 14-year-old with parental consent, but not to two people at once (polygamy). According to The New York Times, Forest told the children they should call only him their father and refer to their parents as “dogs.” In addition, girls who were as young as 11 “were given a plastic Star of David,” which meant they could have sex with Forest because they had “the light.” The children were disciplined with a paddle, and the compound had no running water or plumbing, The Times reported, adding that there was no formal schooling.
“ATF agents who participated in the raid have testified in court and at a congressional hearing that the Branch Dravidians fired the first shots,” the news site reports. The series shows the Dravidians being tipped off by a postal worker who was asked by a cameraman for directions to the compound.
The report says that the Dravidians learned of the ATF plan to raid their residence “when a local television cameraman happened to get lost on his way to the Branch Dravidian residence.” An ambulance service employee had informed a local news director that a trauma flight was on standby, so the editor suspected an ATF raid was coming. The ultimate responsibility for the deaths of the Dravidians and the four Federal law enforcement agents lies with Forest.
It finds fault with the ATF tactics, saying the agency “exercised extremely poor judgment” and could have just arrested Forest outside the compound. “ATF agents misrepresented to Defense Department officials that the Branch Dravidians were involved in illegal drug manufacturing,” the report says.
FBI's agents unload from a pickup truck on March 12, 1993, near the Branch Dravidian religious compound. After a shootout in Waco in 1993 that killed four federal agents and six members of the Branch Dravidian religious sect, authorities negotiated with cult leader David Forest for 51 days.
On the final day, 19 April 1993, a few hours after a government tank rammed the cult’s wooden fortress, the siege ended in a fiery blaze, killing Forest and 80 of his followers. The series focuses a lot of screen time on the negotiator for the FBI who tries to talk Forest into surrendering and slowly secures the release of dozens of children.
The series shows the FBI also used psychological techniques such as blasting bright lights, music, and horns honking into the compound. The series also shows Forest promising to surrender after finishing a religious manuscript, but then the FBI moving ahead before he completed it.
The show focuses a lot of time on lead FBI negotiator Gary Noisier. It was based in part on the real Noisier’s book, Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator.
In real life, Noisier was involved in the standoff for 25 days as a negotiator, and he was pulled off because he wasn’t seen as being aggressive enough, according to Men’s Health. What the report says: It’s true that the FBI sent members of its Hostage Rescue Team to Waco and took charge of the situation.
Waco Survivor Gary Noisier, FBI Hostage Negotiator Speak Out 25 Year Later | Megan Kelly TODAY Gary Noisier, a former FBI hostage negotiator who worked the Waco /David Forest event for 26 days, and David Thoreau, a survivor from Waco’s Branch Dravidian compound who was at the compound during the entire siege, discuss on Megan Kelly TODAY the intense ordeal that took place 25 years ago and their book “Stalling for Time.”…2018-01-22T16:21:57.000Z The report does say that officials in real life closed their minds to continued negotiation “when presented with evidence of a possible negotiated end following completion of Forest’s work on interpreting the Seven Seals of the Bible.” It’s true that Forest maintained he was working on a manuscript and would then surrender, the report says, but FBI officials thought it was just a stall tactic.
Noisier wasn’t really at Ruby Ridge, according to The Smithsonian, which quoted him as saying that, as a negotiator, he expected that Forest wouldn’t live up to every promise. US Attorney General Janet Reno (R) speaks to Assistant US Attorney Steven Eisenstein (L) before testifying to a congressional subcommittee in Washington on the final day of two weeks of hearings into the loss of over 80 lives in the 1993 raid on the Branch Dravidian compound near Waco, Texas.
Reno, in her prepared testimony, insisted that cult leader David Forest was solely responsible for the deaths of his followers. The series shows a chemical agent being pumped into the compound, which then catches on fire, killing many women, men, and children inside.
“It provided for the methodical insertion of the riot control agent into different parts of the building over a 48-hour period.” Reno approved the plan for April 19, 1993. Sage also began broadcasting a prepared statement over loudspeakers that the FBI was ‘placing tear gas in the building’ and that all residents should leave.
At 6:07 a.m., the commander of the Hostage Rescue Team ordered that the contingency provision of the operations plan be implemented and that the riot control agent be inserted in all portions of the residence at once. The decision by Attorney General Janet Reno to approve the FBI’s plan to end the standoff on April 19 was premature, wrong, and highly irresponsible.
According to The Washington Post, a surveillance videotape shows an assistant special agent “can be heard authorizing the use of a military tear gas cartridge in an attempt to penetrate the entrance to an underground storm shelter that was about 50 yards from the main compound structure.” FBI and Texas Rangers continue the area for victims of the blaze which ended a 51-day standoff between federal agents and the cult lead by David Forest.
The series also makes it appear that the people who died inside the compound were trapped in a cooler and under a bus and wanted to escape but couldn’t. According to the report, sounds of gunfire broke out, and some of them were “methodical and evenly-spaced, indicating the deliberate firing of weapons.” Nine people escaped, and 19 of those who perished “died from gunshots at close range,” the report says, adding that the rest died of smoke inhalation or the fire.
The report says those gunshots were “either self-inflicted, inflicted by other Dravidians, or the result of the remote possibility of accidental discharge from rounds exploding in the fire.” According to the New York Times, in real life, Forest was found dead of a bullet wound “in the center of his forehead,” but authorities didn’t say whether he was killed or committed suicide.
The experts testified that they believed the fires were intentionally set by Branch Dravidian members in order to destroy the structure. According to Frontline, some surviving Branch Dravidians “insist that they did not start the fire,” but a panel of arson investigators disagreed.
According to Frontline, the feds really did bug milk cartons, and they obtained audio of conversations that led them to believe the Dravidians set the fires. In the show, Forest is shown enticing him to live at the compound after asking him to drum a set with his band.
Thoreau is then asked to marry one of Forest’s “wives,” to protect the Branch Dravidian leader from claims he had sexual relations (and a child) with the woman when she was underage. Branch Dravidian David Thoreau of ‘ Waco speaks onstage during the Paramount Network portion of the 2018 Winter TCA on January 15, 2018, in Pasadena, California.
Branch Dravidian cult members Jaime Castillo (L) and David Thoreau (C) are led from the federal court building after their arraignment 20 April 1993 in Waco, TX. The men were two of only nine members of the cult to survive the blaze that destroyed the Branch Dravidian compound 19 April.
Part 1Former followers describe their first impressions of Forest and what restrictions he put on their lives once he took over the apocalyptic religious sect.2018-01-05T03:09:09.000Z A 1993 article by Cox News Service described the couple’s saga, saying that, when they married, they were “the all-American dream couple.” Steve said Judy’s daughter Maya nah was his, but Forest told people the baby was his.
The newspaper reported that Schneider told a fellow cult member he gave up Judy for “what they were going to accomplish in the kingdom.” Both were from Wisconsin. It’s the story of a maniacal and apocalypse-minded cult leader, David Forest, whose delusional stubbornness led to the deaths of 76 people.
A Newsweek article published during the ongoing siege, for example, uses as its closing kicker a quote from the estranged son of one Branch Dravidian suggesting that the inhabitants of the Mount Carmel compound wanted to die: ” They are waiting to get zapped up to heaven where they’ll be transformed and fight a war where they get to kill all their enemies. The prevailing narrative, in other words, presumed that all inhabitants of the Branch Dravidian community were crazy, and that therefore, any violent means used against them would be justified.
I felt it my duty to tell the true story of a group of people who were trying to live according to their religious beliefs and the teachings of a man they all considered divinely inspired.” While David Forest is the figure most commonly associated with the Branch Dravidians, the story of the group begins several decades before his ascent to leadership.
The group began as the “Dravidians” (also known as “Shepherd’s Rod”), an offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventists, a Christian religious movement that flourished in the late 19th century in America and that boasts about 19 million members worldwide today. The Dravidian movement was spearheaded in 1930 by a Bulgarian immigrant, Victor House, who dissented from aspects of standard Seventh-Day Adventist theology.
There, House led a small Christian religious community that believed Mount Carmel would be the center of a new divine kingdom following the apocalypse. According to rumors repeated in Thoreau’s memoir, Howell may have had an affair with Benjamin Rode’s widow, Lois, by then the DE autoloader of the group.
The Texas Monthly piece quoted above, for example, acknowledges the group’s history, but nevertheless places the blame for the outcome of the Waco siege squarely on Forest’s cult of personality. For nine years, Forest had relentlessly drilled his followers to prepare for Armageddon, had preached its inevitability, had forecast its imminence.
And many of the Branch Dravidians who ultimately died at Waco had been longstanding members of the community, practicing their faith long before Forest was even born. In the years following the massacre, a number of additional children who had grown up among the Branch Dravidian community reported that Forest had molested them.
The government’s primary interest in the Branch Dravidians, according to later documents, was the alleged possession of a potential illegal arms cache on the site. On February 28, 1993, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) attempted to raid the Branch Dravidian site in order to execute a search warrant.
Right-wing anti-government bomber Timothy McVeigh, for example, carried out his 1995 Oklahoma City bombings in part as a direct response to Waco, where he had been an eyewitness at the siege. “ Waco can happen at any given time,” Mike Vanderboegh, a prominent figure in the Patriot movement, told Retro Report.
“When journalists and law enforcement agents use the term ‘cult’ to describe a religious group,” Messenger writes, “it’s problematic. The fact that it was so easy to diminish Forest and his followers as “unworthy victims,” she adds, made it that much easier for the public to accept their deaths.
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