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Lead figures Janet Reno Stephen Higgins Jeff Jamar Bob Ricks Richard Rogers David Forest † Steven Schneider † Wayne Martin † Number Hundreds of ATF and FBI agents It was carried out by the U.S. federal government, Texas state law enforcement, and the U.S. military, between February 28 and April 19, 1993.
The Branch Dravidians were led by David Forest and were headquartered at Mount Carmel Center ranch in the community of Ax tell, Texas, 13 miles (21 kilometers) northeast of Waco. Suspecting the group of stockpiling illegal weapons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) obtained a search warrant for the compound and arrest warrants for Forest, as well as a select few of the group's members.
The incident began when the ATF attempted to serve a search and arrest warrant on the ranch. An intense gunfight erupted, resulting in the deaths of four government agents and six Branch Dravidians.
Upon the ATF's entering of the property and failure to execute the search warrant, a siege lasting 51 days was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Dravidians out of the ranch.
The fire resulted in the deaths of 76 Branch Dravidians, including 25 children, two pregnant women, and David Forest himself. A particular controversy ensued over the origin of the fire; an internal Justice Department investigation concluded in 2000 that incendiary tear gas canisters were used by the FBI, but maintained that sect members had started the fire.
This came after a panel of arson investigators concluded that the Dravidians were responsible for igniting it simultaneously in at least three different areas of the compound. The events that took place 13 miles from Waco, and the law enforcement siege at Ruby Ridge less than 12 months earlier, have been cited by commentators as catalysts for the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.
In 1959, Victor's widow, Florence House, announced that the expected Armageddon was about to take place, and members were told to gather at the center to await this event. Many of them built houses, others stayed in tents, trucks, or buses, and most of them sold their possessions.
Following the failure of this prophecy, control of the site (Mount Carmel Center) fell to Benjamin Rode, founder of the Branch Dravidian Seventh-day Adventist Association (Branch Dravidians). He promoted different doctrinal beliefs than those of Victor House's original Dravidian Seventh-day Adventist organization.
Lois considered their son, George Rode, unfit to assume the position of prophet. After this split, George Rode ran Howell and his followers off Mount Carmel at gunpoint.
After the death of Lois Rode and probate of her estate in January 1987, Howell attempted to gain control of Mount Carmel Center by force. George Rode had dug up the casket of one Anna Hughes from the Dravidian cemetery and had challenged Howell to a resurrection contest to prove who was the rightful heir to the leadership.
Howell instead went to the police and claimed Rode was guilty of corpse abuse, but the county prosecutors refused to file charges without proof. On November 3, 1987, Howell and seven armed companions tried to get into the Mount Carmel chapel, intending to photograph the body in the casket as incriminating evidence.
Sheriff Harwell got Howell on the phone and told him to stop shooting and surrender. Howell and his companions, dubbed the “Hodgenville Eight” by the media, were tried for attempted murder on April 12, 1988.
Even with all the effort to bring the casket to court, the standing judge refused to use it as evidence for the case. Judge Herman Fits ruled that the courtroom is no place for a casket when defense attorney Gary Cover requested it be used as evidence for the case.
During questions about the said casket, Rode admitted to attempting to resurrect Anne Hughes on three occasions. The Hodgenville Eight were forced to carry the casket down the street to a van awaiting the body.
Alongside these charges, Rode was jailed for six months for legal motions he filed with explicit language. The next day, Perry Jones and several Howell's other followers moved from their headquarters in Palestine, Texas, to Mount Carmel.
This involved separating married couples in the group, who had to agree that only he could have sexual relations with the wives, while the men should observe celibacy. Howell filed a petition in the California State Superior Court in Pomona on May 15, 1990, to legally change his name “for publicity and business purposes” to David Forest.
Most of the buildings had been removed or were being salvaged for construction materials to convert much of the main chapel and a tall water tank into apartments for the resident members of the group. If you are a Branch Dravidian, Christ lives on a threadbare piece of land 10 miles east of here called Mount Carmel.
He has dimples, claims a ninth-grade education, married his legal wife when she was 14, enjoys a beer now and then, plays a mean guitar, reportedly packs a 9 mm Glock and keeps an arsenal of military assault rifles, and willingly admits that he is a sinner without equal. On February 27, 1993, the Waco Tribune-Herald began publishing “The Sinful Messiah”, a series of articles by Mark England and Darlene McCormick, who reported allegations that Forest had physically abused children in the compound and had committed statutory rape by taking multiple underage brides.
Forest was also said to advocate polygamy for himself and declared himself married to several female residents of the small community. In addition to allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, Forest and his followers were suspected of stockpiling illegal weapons.
In May 1992, Chief Deputy Daniel Weinberg of the McLennan County Sheriff's Department called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to notify them that his office had been contacted by a local UPS representative concerned about a report by a local driver. The UPS driver said a package had broken open on delivery to the Branch Dravidian residence, revealing firearms, inert grenade casings, and black powder.
On June 9, the ATF opened a formal investigation and a week later it was classified as sensitive, “thereby calling for a high degree of oversight” from both Houston and headquarters. The documentary Inside Waco claims that the investigation started when in 1992 the ATF became concerned over reports of automatic gunfire coming from the Carmel compound.
On July 30, ATF agents David Aguilera and Skinner visited the Branch Dravidians' gun dealer Henry McMahon, who tried to get them to talk with Forest on the phone. The ATF began surveillance from a house across the road from the compound several months before the siege.
Their cover was noticeably poor (the “college students” were in their 30s, had new cars, were not registered at the local schools, and did not keep a schedule that would have fit any legitimate employment or classes). The investigation included sending in an undercover agent, Robert Rodriguez, whose identity Forest learned, though he chose not to reveal that fact until the day of the raid.
The ATF obtained a search warrant on suspicion that the Dravidians were modifying guns to have illegal automatic fire capability. Former Branch Dravidian Marc Result claimed that Forest had M16 lower receiver parts” (combining M16 trigger components with a modified AR-15 lower receiver is, according to ATF regulations, “constructive possession” of an unregistered machine gun, regulated in the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986).
The ATF used an affidavit filed by David Aguilera to obtain the warrant that led to the Waco siege. Allegedly, the initial investigation began in June 1992 when a postal worker informed a sheriff of McLennan County that he believed he had been delivering explosives to the ammo and gun store owned and operated by the Branch Dravidians.
The McLennan County sheriff was notified in May and June of that year of two cases of inert grenades, black gunpowder, 90 pounds of powdered aluminum metal, and 30–40 cardboard tubes. Furthermore, the sheriff noticed another shipment of sixty AR-15/M-16 (stand) magazines, to which Aguilera made the statement, “I have been involved in many cases where defendants, following a relatively simple process, convert AR-15 semi-automatic rifles to fully automatic rifles of the nature of the M-16” to justify the ATF's involvement in the case.
In November 1992, a local farmer reported to the sheriff that he had heard machine gunfire. This farmer claimed he was very familiar with machine guns, having done a tour overseas in the U.S. Army.
The affidavit closed with Aguilera verifying the story via interviews made with associated parties and gun shops from which the Mag-Bag purchased items. Using the affidavit filed by Aguilera that alleged that the Dravidians had violated federal law, the ATF obtained search and arrest warrants for Forest and specific followers on weapons charges, citing the many firearms they had accumulated.
Although the ATF's investigation “focused on firearm violations, not on illegal drugs”, the ATF requested assistance from the DEA and the DOD “citing a drug connection” based on 1) a recent delivery to the compound of “chemicals, instruments, and glassware”, 2) a written testimony from a former compound's resident, alleging “Howell had told him that drug trafficking was a desirable way to raise money”, 3) several current residents who “had prior drug involvement”, 4) two former residents who were incarcerated for drug-trafficking crimes, and 5) National Guard overflights' thermal images showing a “hot spot inside the compound, possibly indicating a methamphetamine laboratory”. The ATF had planned their raid for Monday, March 1, 1993, with the code name “Showtime”.
Beginning February 1, ATF agents had three meetings with Tribune-Herald staff regarding a delay in publication of “The Sinful Messiah”. The paper was first told by the ATF that the raid would take place February 22, which they changed to March 1, and then ultimately to an indefinite date.
The Tribune-Herald informed ATF they were publishing the series, which included an editorial calling for local authorities to act. Personnel of the Tribune-Herald found out about the imminent raid after the first installment of “The Sinful Messiah” had already appeared on February 27.
The Branch Dravidians partly supported themselves by trading at gun shows and took care to have the relevant paperwork to ensure their transactions were legal. Branch Dravidian Paul Fatty was a federal firearm licensed dealer, and the group operated a retail gun business called the Mag Bag.
When shipments for the Mag Bag arrived, they were signed for by Fatty, Steve Schneider, or Forest. The morning of the raid, Paul Fatty and his son Alan were on their way to an Austin, Texas gun show to conduct business.
The ATF attempted to execute their search warrant on Sunday morning, February 28, 1993. Despite being informed that the Branch Dravidians knew a raid was coming, the ATF commander ordered that it go ahead, even though their plan depended on reaching the compound without the Branch Dravidians being armed and prepared.
While not standard procedure, ATF agents had their blood type written on their arms or neck after leaving the staging area and before the raid, because it was recommended by the military to facilitate speedy blood transfusions in the case of injury. Any advantage of surprise was lost when a DW-TV reporter who had been tipped off about the raid asked for directions from a U.S.
Forest then told undercover ATF agent Robert Rodriguez that they knew a raid was imminent. Rodriguez had infiltrated the Branch Dravidians and was astonished to find that his cover had been blown.
When asked later what the Branch Dravidians had been doing when he left the compound, Rodriguez replied, “They were praying.” Branch Dravidian survivors have written that Forest ordered selected male followers to begin arming and taking up defensive positions, while the women and children were told to take cover in their rooms.
The ATF arrived at 9:45 am in a convoy of civilian vehicles containing uniformed personnel in SWAT -style tactical gear. Three helicopters of the Army National Guard were used as an aerial distraction, and all took incoming fire.
Within a minute of the raid's start, Branch Dravidian Wayne Martin called emergency services, pleading for them to stop shooting. The first ATF casualty was an agent who had made it to the west side of the building before he was wounded.
Agents then climbed onto the roof to secure it to reach Forest's room and the arms' storage. On the west slope of the roof, three agents reached Forest's window and were crouching beside it when they came under fire.
The window was smashed, a flash bang stun grenade was thrown in, and three agents entered the arms room. When another tried to follow them, a hail of bullets penetrated the wall and wounded him, but he was able to reach a ladder and slide to safety.
Inside the arms room, the agents killed a Branch Dravidian and discovered a cache of weapons but then came under heavy fire; two were wounded. As they escaped, the third agent laid down covering fire, killing a Branch Dravidian.
As he made his escape, he hit his head on a wooden support beam and fell off the roof but survived. An agent outside provided them with covering fire but was shot by a Branch Dravidian and killed instantly.
Sheriff Harwell states in William Gazecki's documentary Waco: The Rules of Engagement that the ATF agents withdrew only after they were out of ammunition. ATF agent Chuck Austere later wrote: “About 45 minutes into the shootout, the volume of gunfire finally started to slacken.
In all, four ATF agents (Steve Willis, Robert Williams, Todd McKean, and Conway Charles Lesley) had been killed during the firefight. The five Branch Dravidians killed in the raid were Winston Blake, Peter Gent, Peter Hips man, Perry Jones, and Jay dean Wendell; two were killed at the hands of the Branch Dravidians after having been wounded.
Stone's report states that the Branch Dravidians did not ambush the ATF and that they “apparently did not maximize the kill of ATF agents”, explaining that they were rather “desperate religious fanatics expecting an apocalyptic ending, in which they were destined to die defending their sacred ground and destined to achieve salvation.” Defensive violence is utilized by cults to defend a compound or enclave that was created specifically to eliminate most contact with the dominant culture.
The 1993 clash in Waco, Texas at the Branch Dravidian complex is an illustration of such defensive violence. History has shown that groups that seek to withdraw from the dominant culture seldom act on their beliefs that the end time has come unless provoked.
ATF agents established contact with Forest and others inside the compound after they withdrew. As at Ruby Ridge, Rogers often overrode the Site Commander at Waco and had mobilized both the Blue and Gold HRT tactical teams to the same site, which ultimately created pressure to resolve the situation tactically due to lack of HRT reserves.
At first, the Dravidians had telephone contact with local news media, and Forest gave phone interviews. In the first few days, the FBI believed they had made a breakthrough when they negotiated with Forest an agreement that the Branch Dravidians would peacefully leave the compound in return for a message, recorded by Forest, being broadcast on national radio.
Despite this, soon afterwards negotiators managed to facilitate the release of 19 children, ranging in age from five months to 12 years old, without their parents. This was the key justification offered by the FBI (both to President Bill Clinton and to Attorney General Janet Reno) for launching tear gas attacks to force the Branch Dravidians out of the compound.
On day nine, Monday, March 8, the Branch Dravidians sent out the videotape to show the FBI that there were no hostages, but everyone was staying inside their own free will. As the siege continued, Forest negotiated more time, allegedly so that he could write religious documents he needed to complete before surrendering.
As the siege wore on, two factions developed within the FBI, one believing negotiation to be the answer, the other, force. For instance, sleep deprivation of the inhabitants through all-night broadcasts of recordings of jet planes, pop music, chanting, and the screams of rabbits being slaughtered.
The armored vehicles were used to destroy perimeter fencing and outbuildings and crush cars belonging to the Branch Dravidians. Two of the three water storage tanks on the roof of the main building had been damaged during the initial ATF raid.
Despite the increasingly aggressive tactics, Forest ordered a group of followers to leave. Eleven people left and were arrested as material witnesses, with one person charged with conspiracy to murder.
The children's willingness to stay with Forest disturbed the negotiators, who were unprepared to work around the Branch Dravidians' religious zeal. During the siege, several scholars who study apocalypticism in religious groups attempted to persuade the FBI that the siege tactics being used by government agents would only reinforce the impression within the Branch Dravidians that they were part of a Biblical end-of-times confrontation that had cosmic significance.
He proclaimed that he was the Second Coming of Christ and had been commanded by his father in heaven to remain in the compound. One week before the April 19 assault, FBI planners considered using snipers to kill David Forest and possibly other key Branch Dravidians.
The FBI voiced concern that the Branch Dravidians might commit mass suicide, as had happened in 1978 at Jim Jones's Jones town complex. Forest had repeatedly denied any plans for mass suicide when confronted by negotiators during the standoff, and people leaving the compound had not seen any such preparation.
Newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno approved recommendations by the FBI Hostage Rescue Team to mount an assault, after being told that conditions were deteriorating and that children were being abused inside the compound. Recalling the April 19, 1985, The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (COAL) siege in Arkansas (which was ended without loss of life by a blockade without a deadline), President Clinton suggested similar tactics against the Branch Dravidians.
Over the next several months, Janet Reno's reason for approving the final gas attack varied from her initial claim that the FBI Hostage Rescue Team had told her that Forest was sexually abusing children and beating babies (the FBI Hostage Rescue Team later denied evidence of child abuse during the standoff) to her claim that Linda Thompson's “Unorganized Militia of the United States” was on the way to Waco “either to help Forest or to attack him.” Loudspeakers were to be used to tell the Branch Dravidians that there would be no armed assault and to ask them not to fire on the vehicles.
When several Branch Dravidians opened fire, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team's response was only to increase the amount of gas being used. Very early in the morning, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team fired two military M651 rounds at the Branch Dravidian construction site.
Around mid-morning, the FBI Hostage Rescue Team began to run low on 40 mm Ferret CS rounds and asked Texas Ranger Captain David Byrnes for tear gas rounds. 40 mm munitions recovered by the Texas Rangers at Waco included dozens of plastic Ferret Model SGA-400 Liquid CS rounds, two metal M651E1 military pyrotechnic tear gas rounds, two metal NICO Pyrotechnic sound and flash grenades, and parachute illumination flares.
At around noon, three fires broke out almost simultaneously in different parts of the building and spread quickly; footage of the blaze was broadcast live by television crews. Some Branch Dravidian survivors maintain that the fires were accidentally or deliberately started by the assault.
The remaining Branch Dravidians, including the children, were either buried alive by rubble, suffocated, or shot. Many were killed by smoke or carbon monoxide inhalation and other causes as fire engulfed the building.
A large concentration of bodies, weapons, and ammunition was found in “the bunker” storage room. It also mentions that the structural debris from the breaching operations on the west end of the building could have blocked a possible escape route through the tunnel system.
Autopsies of the dead revealed that some women and children found beneath a fallen concrete wall of a storage room died of skull injuries. Autopsy photographs of other children locked in what appear to be spastic death poses are consistent with cyanide poisoning, one of the results produced by burning CS gas.
Autopsy records also indicate that at least 20 Branch Dravidians were shot, including Forest as well as five children under the age of 14. The medical examiner who performed the autopsies believed these deaths were mercy killings by the Branch Dravidians trapped in the fire with no escape.
Tumescent 05:50Agents call the Branch Dravidian compound to warn they are going to begin tank activity and advise residents “to take cover”. 05:55The FBI Hostage Rescue Team deploys two armored CVS to the buildings.
06:00FBI surveillance tapes from devices planted in the wall of the building record a man inside the compound saying “Everybody wakes up, let's start to pray”, then, “Pablo, have you poured it yet?” CEV1 receives orders to spray two bottles of tear gas into left corner of building.
06:05Armored vehicle with ram and delivery device to pump tear gas into building with pressurized air rips into front wall just left of front door, leaving a hole 8 feet (2.4 m) high and 10 feet (3.0 m) wide. Agents claimed the holes allowed insertion of the gas as well as provided a means of escape.
11:30The original CEV2 has mechanical difficulties (damaged tread); its replacement breaches through back side of compound. 15–19, appendixes D and E 11:43Another gas insertion takes place, with the armored vehicle moving well into the building on the right rear side to reach the concrete interior room where the FBI Hostage Rescue Team believe the Branch Dravidians are trying to avoid the gas.
12:03An armored vehicle turret knocks away the first floor corner on the right side. An FBI Hostage Rescue Team agent reported seeing a Branch Dravidian member igniting a fire in the front door area.
18 12:09Ruth Riddle exits with a floppy disk in her jacket containing Forest's Manuscript on the Seven Seals. 12:22Waco fire trucks arrive at the checkpoint, where they are halted (not being allowed to pass until 12:37); Bell mead follows shortly after.
One object hurtles into the air, bounces off the top of a bus, and lands on the grass. Around this time, there are several further explosions, and witnesses report the sound of gunfire, attributed by the FBI Hostage Rescue Team to live ammunition cooking off throughout the buildings because of the fire.
Nothing remains of the buildings today other than concrete foundation components, as the entire site was bulldozed two weeks after the end of the siege. The events at Mount Carmel spurred both criminal prosecution and civil litigation.
On August 3, 1993, a federal grand jury returned a superseding ten-count indictment against 12 of the surviving Branch Dravidians. The grand jury charged, among other things, that the Branch Dravidians had conspired to, and aided and abetted in, the murder of federal officers, and had unlawfully possessed and used various firearms.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated the defendants' sentences for use of machine guns, determining that the district court had made no finding that they had “actively employed” the weapons, but left the verdicts undisturbed in all other respects, in United States v. Branch, 91 F.3d 699 (5th Cir. On remand, the district court found that the defendants had actively employed machine guns and re-sentenced five of them to substantial prison terms.
The Branch Dravidians pressed this issue before the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the term “machine gun” in the relevant statute created an element of the offense to be determined by a jury, rather than a sentencing factor to be determined by a judge, as had happened in the trial court.
Twenty-four of them were among the 80 Branch Dravidian fatalities (in the raid of February 28 and the assault of April 19), including at least one child. Two more British nationals who survived the siege were immediately arrested as “material witnesses” and imprisoned without trial for months.
Derek Love lock was held in McLennan County Jail for seven months, often in solitary confinement. Livingstone Pagan, another British citizen, who was among those convicted and imprisoned, says he received multiple beatings at the hands of correctional officers, particularly at Leavenworth.
Released and deported back to the UK in July 2007, he still retained his religious beliefs. Several of the surviving Branch Dravidians, as well as more than a hundred family members of those who had died or were injured in the confrontation, brought civil suits against the United States government, numerous federal officials, the former governor of Texas Ann Richards, and members of the Texas Army National Guard.
The bulk of these claims were dismissed because they were insufficient as a matter of law or because the plaintiffs could advance no material evidence in support of them. The court found that, on February 28, 1993, the Branch Dravidians initiated a gun battle when they fired at federal officers who were attempting to serve lawful warrants.
The Fifth Circuit concluded that these allegations did not reflect conduct that would cause a reasonable observer to question Judge Smith's impartiality, and it affirmed the take-nothing judgment, in Andrade v. Chojnacki, 338 F.3d 448 (5th Cir. Roland Balusters, one of the agents assigned to the ATF door team that assaulted the front door, told Texas Rangers and Waco police that he thought the first shots came from the ATF dog team assigned to neutralize the Branch Dravidians' dogs, but later at the trial, he insisted that the Branch Dravidians had shot first.
Houston attorney Dick Demerit, who went inside Mount Carmel during the siege, testified at the trial that protruding metal on the inside of the right-hand entry door made it clear that the bullet holes were made by incoming rounds. The left-hand door contained numerous bullet holes made by both outgoing and incoming rounds.
Helicopters had been obtained from the Alabama and Texas National Guard on the false pretext that there was a drug laboratory at Mount Carmel. The official version of events has always stated that the helicopters were merely used as a diversion, that the crew only had 9-millimeter sidearms, and that no shots were fired from them.
In the weeks preceding the raid, Rick Ross, a self-described cult expert and deprogrammed affiliated with the Cult Awareness Network, appeared on major networks such as NBC and CBS in regard to Forest. Ross later described his role in advising authorities about the Dravidians and Forest, and what actions should be taken to end the siege.
He was quoted as saying that he was consulted by the ATF and he contacted the FBI on March 4, 1993, requesting “that he be interviewed regarding his knowledge of cults in general and the Branch Dravidians in particular.” The FBI reports that it did not rely on Ross for advice whatsoever during the standoff, but that it did an interview and received input from him.
Several writers have documented the Cult Awareness Network's role about the government's decision-making concerning Waco. Mark Mac Williams notes that several studies have shown how “self-styled cult experts like Ross, antic ult organizations like the Cult Awareness Network (CAN), and disaffected Branch Dravidian defectors like Result played important roles in popularizing a harshly negative image of Forest as a dangerous cult leader.
In a New Yorker article in 2014, Malcolm Gladwell wrote that Arnold and Tabor told the FBI that Forest needed to be persuaded of an alternative interpretation of the Book of Revelation, one that does not involve a violent end. However, the FBI waited only three days before beginning the assault, instead of an estimated two weeks for Forest to complete a manuscript sparked by this alternative interpretation, and then come out peacefully.
An article by Stuart A. Wright published in Nova Religion discussed how the FBI mishandled the siege, stating that “there is no greater example of misfeasance than the failure of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to bring about a bloodless resolution to the 51-day standoff.” Some of Wright's major concerns about the operation include that the FBI officials, especially Dick Rogers, behaved increasingly aggressively and impatiently when the conflict could have been resolved by more peaceful negotiation.
He mentions that Rogers said in an interview with the FBI that “when we started depriving them, really driving people closer to him because of their devotion to him,” which was different from what he said in the Department of Justice report. Critics suggest that, during the final raid, the CS gas was injected into the building by armored vehicles in an unsafe manner, which could have started a fire.
When the FBI's documents were turned over to Congress for an investigation in 1994, the page listing the use of the pyrotechnic devices was missing. The failure for six years to disclose the use of pyrotechnics despite her specific directive led Reno to demand an investigation.
On May 12, less than a month after the incident, Texas state authorities bulldozed the site, rendering further gathering of forensic evidence impossible. The FBI had planted surveillance devices in the walls of the building, which captured several conversations the government claims are evidence that the Dravidians started the fire.
:287 The recordings were imperfect and many times difficult to understand, and the two transcriptions that were made had differences at many points. :287 According to reporter Diana Fuentes, when the FBI's April 19 tapes were played in court during the Branch Dravidian trials, few people heard what the FBI audio expert claimed to hear; the tapes “were filled with noise, and voices only occasionally were discernible.
He stated that he saw some Branch Dravidians moving about a dozen one gallon (3.8 L) cans of fuel, so they would not be run over by armored vehicles, heard talk of pouring fuel outside the building, and after the fire had started, something that sounded like “light the fire” from another individual. The evidence made them believe that there was no possibility of mass suicide, with Forest and Schneider repeatedly denying to the negotiators that they had plans to commit mass suicide, and people leaving the compound saying that they had seen no preparations for such a thing.
Stone's report, during the siege the FBI used an incorrect psychiatric perspective to evaluate Branch Dravidians' responses, which caused them to over-rely on Forest's statements that they would not commit suicide. According to Stone, this incorrect evaluation caused the FBI to not ask pertinent questions to Forest and to others on the compound about whether they were planning a mass suicide.
A more pertinent question would have been, “What will you do if we tighten the noose around the compound in a show of overwhelming power, and using CS gas, force you to come out?” The tactical arm of federal law enforcement may conventionally think of the other side as a band of criminals or as a military force or, generically, as the aggressor.
But the Branch Dravidians were an unconventional group in an exalted, disturbed and desperate state of mind. They were willing to die defending themselves in an apocalyptic ending and, in the alternative, to kill themselves and their children.
In particular, the Special Counsel was directed to investigate charges that government agents started or spread the fire at the Mount Carmel complex, directed gunfire at the Branch Dravidians, and unlawfully employed the armed forces of the United States. A yearlong investigation ensued, during which the Office of the Special Counsel interviewed 1,001 witnesses, reviewed over 2.3 million pages of documents, and examined thousands of pounds of physical evidence.
In the Final report to the Deputy Attorney General concerning the 1993 confrontation at the Mt. Carmel Complex, Waco Texas of November 8, 2000, Special Counsel Danforth concluded that the allegations were meritless.
FBI's agents witnessed Branch Dravidians pouring fuel and igniting a fire, and noted these observations contemporaneously. Based on this evidence and testimony, the Special Counsel concluded that the fire was started by the Branch Dravidians.
Charges that government agents fired shots into the complex on April 19, 1993, were based on forward-looking infrared (FLIR) video recorded by the Night Stalkers aircraft. These tapes showed 57 flashes, with some occurring around government vehicles that were operating near the complex.
The Office of Special Counsel conducted a field test of FLIR technology on March 19, 2000, to determine whether gunfire caused the flashes. The testing was conducted under a protocol agreed to and signed by attorneys and experts for the Branch Dravidians and their families, as well as for the government.
Analysis of the shape, duration, and location of the flashes indicated that they resulted from a reflection off debris on or around the complex, rather than gunfire. Additionally, an independent expert review of photography taken at the scene showed no people at or near the points from which the flashes emanated.
The Special Counsel concluded that these actions amounted to indirect military assistance within the bounds of applicable law. The Texas National Guard, in its state status, also provided substantial loans of military equipment, as well as performing reconnaissance flights over the Branch Dravidian complex.
Ballistic protection equipment, fire retardant clothing, regular flashlights, regular cameras (i.e., flash photography), pump-action shotguns and flash bang grenades, 9 mm handguns, 9 mm MP5 submachine guns, 5.56 NATO M16 rifles, a .308 bolt-action sniper rifles. Siege (March 1 through April 18): Hundreds of federal agents; 2 Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopters.
Support: 1 Britten-Norman Defender surveillance aircraft; a number of Texas National Guard personnel for maintenance of military vehicles and training on the use of the vehicles and their support vehicles (Humvee's and flatbed trucks); surveillance from Texas National Guard counter-drug UC-26 surveillance aircraft and from Alabama National Guard ; 10 active-duty U.S. Army Special Forces (Delta Force) soldiers as observers and trainers (also present during assault); 2 senior U.S. Army officers as advisers, 2 members of the British Army's 22nd Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment as observers; 50+ men in total. The Branch Dravidians were well armed with small arms, possessing 305 total firearms, including numerous rifles (semi-automatic AK-47s and AR-15s), shotguns, revolvers and pistols; 46 semi-automatic firearms modified to fire in full automatic mode (included on above list): 22 AR-15 (erroneously referred to as M16), 20 AK-47, 2 HK SP-89, 2 M-11/Nine Texas Rangers reported “at least 16 AR-15 rifles,”; 2 AR-15 lower receivers modified to fire in full automatic mode; 39 “full auto sears” devices used to convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons; parts for fully automatic AK-47 and M16 rifles; 30-round magazines and 100-round magazines for M16 and AK-47 rifles; pouches to carry large ammunition magazines; substantial quantities of ammunition of various sizes.
Other items found at the compound included about 1.9 million rounds of cooked off ammunition; grenade launcher parts; flare launchers; gas masks and chemical warfare suits; night vision equipment; hundreds of practice hand grenade hulls and components (including more than 200 inert M31 practice rifle grenades, more than 100 modified M-21 practice hand grenade bodies, 219 grenade safety pins and 243 grenade safety levers found after the fire); Kevlar helmets and bulletproof vests ; 88 lower receivers for the AR-15 rifle; and approximately 15 sound suppressors or silencers (the Treasury reports lists 21 silencers, Texas Rangers report that at least six items had been mislabeled and were actually 40 mm grenades or flash bang grenades from manufacturers who sold those models to the ATF or FBI exclusively; former Branch Dravidian Donald Bands testified he had manufactured silencers under direct orders of Forest). During the siege, Forest said that he had weapons bigger than .50 rifles and that he could destroy the Bradley's, so they were supplemented with two Abrams tanks and five M728 vehicles.
There is whether the Branch Dravidians fired the .50 caliber rifles during the raid or the assault. Several years later, the General Accounting Office, in response to a request from Henry Waxman, released a briefing paper titled “Criminal Activity Associated with .50 Caliber Semiautomatic Rifles” that repeated the ATF's claims that the Branch Dravidians used .50 caliber rifles during the search.
FBI Hostage Rescue Team snipers reported sighting one of the weapons, readily identifiable by its distinctive muzzle brake, during the siege. Investigators determined that the two were both sympathizers of an anti-government militia movement and that their motive was to avenge the government's handling of the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents.
McVeigh testified that he chose the date of April 19 because it was the second anniversary of the deadly fire at Mount Carmel. In March 1993, McVeigh drove from Arizona to Waco to observe the federal standoff.
A courtroom reporter also claims to have seen McVeigh outside the courthouse at Waco, selling anti-government bumper stickers. The Montana Freeman became the center of public attention in 1996 when they engaged in a prolonged armed standoff with agents of the FBI.
The Waco siege, as well as the 1992 incident between the Weaver family and the FBI at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, were still fresh in the public mind, and the FBI was extremely cautious and wanted to prevent a recurrence of those violent events. After 81 days of negotiations, the Freemen surrendered to authorities on June 14, 1996, without a loss of life.
Please reorganize this content to explain the subject's impact on popular culture, providing citations to, rather than simply listing appearances. The first film was a made-for television docudrama film, In the Line of Duty: Ambush in Waco, which was made during the siege, before the April 19 assault on the church, and presented the initial firefight of February 28, 1993, as an ambush.
The first book about the incident was 1993's Inside the Cult co-authored by ex-Branch Dravidian Marc Result, who left the group in September 1989, and Martin King who interviewed Forest for Australian television in 1992. In July 1993, true crime author Clifford L. Linebacker published his book Massacre at Waco, Texas.
The essays in the book include one by Michael Backup that talked about how the Branch Dravidians' behavior was consistent with other millennia religious sects and how the use of the word cult is used to discredit religious organizations, one by James R. Lewis that claims a large amount of evidence that the FBI lit the fires, and many others. All of these perspectives are united in the belief that the deaths of the Branch Dravidians at Waco could have been prevented and that “the popular deionization of nontraditional religious movements in the aftermath of Waco represents a continuing threat to freedom of religion”.
Thompson's films made several controversial allegations, the most notorious of which was her claim that footage of an armored vehicle breaking through the outer walls of the compound, with an appearance of orange light on its front, was showing a flamethrower attached to the vehicle, setting fire to the building. As a response to Thompson, Michael McNulty released footage to support his counter-claim that the appearance of light was a reflection on aluminized insulation that was torn from the wall and snagged on the vehicle.
McNulty accused Thompson of “creative editing” in his film Waco: An Apparent Deviation. Thompson worked from a VHS copy of the surveillance tape; McNulty was given access to a beta original.
However, McNulty in turn was later accused of having digitally altered his footage, an allegation he denied. The next film was Day 51: The True Story of Waco, produced in 1995 by Richard Mosley and featuring Ron Cole, a self-proclaimed militia member from Colorado who was later prosecuted for weapons violations.
Thompson's and Mosley's films, along with extensive coverage given to the Waco siege on some talk radio shows, galvanized support for the Branch Dravidians among some sections of the right, including the nascent militia movement, while critics on the left also denounced the government siege on civil liberties grounds. Radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones made his documentary film, America Wake Up (Or Waco), in 2000.
In 1997, filmmakers Dan Gifford and Amy Summer produced their Emmy Award -winning documentary film, Waco: The Rules of Engagement, presenting a history of the Branch Dravidian movement and a critical examination of the conduct of law enforcement, both leading up to the raid and through the aftermath of the fire. In the documentary, Dr. Edward Ballard (who held patents on FLIR technology) maintained that flashes on the FBI's infra-red footage were consistent with a grenade launcher and automatic small arms fire from FBI positions at the back of the complex toward the locations that would have provided exits for Branch Dravidians attempting to flee the fire.
Subsequent government-funded studies contend that the infra-red evidence does not support the view that the FBI improperly used incendiary devices or fired on Branch Dravidians. Infra-red experts continue to disagree and filmmaker Amy Summer stands by the original conclusions presented in Waco: The Rules of Engagement.
The documentary The Assault on Waco was first aired in 2006 on the Discovery Channel, detailing the entire incident. Branch Dravidian survivor David Thoreau wrote his account of life in the group and of the siege in the book A Place Called Waco, published in 1999.
His book served in part as the basis for the 2018 Paramount Network six-part television drama miniseries Waco, starring Michael Shannon as the FBI negotiator Gary Noisier and Taylor Kitsch as David Forest. The City of God: A New American Opera, an opera by Joshua Armenia dramatizing the negotiations between the FBI and Forest, premiered in 2012, utilizing actual transcripts from the negotiations as well as biblical texts and hymns from the Dravidian hymnal.
Arrest of Sent Ram pal, India, 2014 Grand Mosque Seizure, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 1979 Female siege, Medal, Malaysia, 1985 Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, Uganda, 2000 Operation Blue Star, Golden Temple, Amritsar, India, 1984 Siege of Law Masjid, Pakistan, 2007 August 2013 Rabat massacre, Egypt, 2013 ^ Report of the Department of the Treasury on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Investigation of Vernon Wayne Howell Also Known as David Forest.
“U.S. NEWS UPS driver still haunted over role in Waco massacre nearly 25 years later”. “Survivors of 1993 Waco siege describe what happened in fire that ended the 51-day standoff”.
^ Dick J. Reais, The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), p. 13 Archived March 18, 2017, at the Payback Machine. ISBN 0-684-81132-4 ^ Genaro Vito, Jeffrey Makes, Criminology: Theory, Research, and Policy, Edition 3, revised, Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2011, ISBN 0763766658, 978-0763766658, p. 340 Archived March 18, 2017, at the Payback Machine ^ “FBI chief hails new Waco report”.
“Terror in Oklahoma: Religion; Assault on Waco Sect Fuels Extremists' Rage”. ^ “Scholars tackle “cult” questions 20 years after Branch Dravidian tragedy”.
^ Psychotherapy Networker, March/April 2007, “Stairway to Heaven; Treating children in the crosshairs of trauma.” Excerpt from the book The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Main Salacity.
After spending two years regrouping in Palestine, Texas, Forest returned to Mt. He briefly established his own congregation, living with them in tents and packing crates in nearby Palestine, Texas.
^ Clifford L. Linebacker, Massacre at Waco, Texas, St. Martin's Press, 1993, pp. ^ Marc Result and Martin King, Inside the Cult, Signet, 1993, ISBN 978-0-451-18029-2.
^ Ten years after Waco, People Weekly, April 28, 2003 ^ a b Waco Tribune-Herald, “The Sinful Messiah”, February 27, 1993. S:Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Dravidians/Section 2|Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Dravidians: II. ^ Marc Smith, “Agent allegedly refused Forest's offer,” Houston Chronicle, September 11, 1993; “Gun Dealer Alerted Forest to ATF Probe, Lawyer Says,” Houston Post, Associated Press, September 11, 1993.
CS1 main: bot: original URL status unknown (link) ^ Cohen, W. S.; Reno, J. F.; Summers, L. H. (August 26, 1999). ^ Report of the Department of the Treasury on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Investigation of Vernon Wayne Howell Also Known as David Forest, September 1993 Archived April 2, 2016, at the Payback Machine, PDF of actual report, pp.
“Not So Wacko” Archived July 13, 2011, at the Payback Machine, The New Republic : “Roland Balusters, one of the first ATF agents out of the cattle trucks, told Texas Rangers and Waco police shortly after the raid that he thought the first shots came from agents aiming at the Dravidians' dogs.” Archived November 8, 2013, at the Payback Machine An account by an ATF agent, Chuck Austere, who was part of the raiding party.
^ Colson, Danny O & Shannon, Elaine, No Heroes ISBN 0-671-02062-5 ^ “Report and Recommendations. Concerning the Handling of Incidents Such As the Branch Dravidian Standoff in Waco Texas”.
A strategic assessment of the potential for domestic terrorism in the United States undertaken in anticipation of, or response to, the arrival of the new millennium. ^ Report of the Department of the Treasury on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Investigation of Vernon Wayne Howell also known as David Forest, September 1993 Archived April 2, 2016, at the Payback Machine, Appendix D, 136–40.
^ Waco: The Rules of Engagement contains several sequences taken from the FBI negotiation videotape. ^ PBS Frontline Waco Timeline Archived September 29, 2017, at the Payback Machine from the government report “Evaluation of the Handling of the Branch Dravidian Stand-off in Waco, Texas, February 28 to April 19, 1993” by Edward S. G. Dennis, Jr. October 8, 1993, at 11.
^ Lee Hancock, “No Easy Answers: Law Authorities Puzzle over Methods to End Branch Dravidians Siege,” Dallas Morning News, April 15, 1993. “Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas/Attitudes of Forest and others in the Compound”.
^ Bill Clinton, My Life, Alfred A. Knopf, Vintage Books (Random House), ISBN 1-4000-3003-X, 2005. Pp. ^ “Joe Rosenbaum III, “Waco: More than Simple Blunders?,” Wall Street Journal, October 17, 1995”.
^ a b Interoffice Memorandum Archived February 20, 2011, at the Payback Machine Memo to Bruce Ca steel, Chief, Texas Rangers, from Earl R. Pearson, Captain, Texas Rangers, Company “A,” dated September 3, 1999, in Texas Rangers, Department of Public Safety, Branch Dravidian Evidence, Investigative Report No. ^ Texas Rangers, Department of Public Safety, Branch Dravidian Evidence Archived January 7, 2009, at the Payback Machine, Investigative Report No.
Army Tech Manual for the M651 (TM 3-1310-243-10 January 1975) warns the M651 can penetrate 3/4” plywood at 200 meters and “projectile may explode upon target impact.” ^ “Tanks, chemicals couldn't break resolve of cultists”, Associated Press, Washington Times, April 23, 1993.
^ Waco: The Rules of Engagement, 1997 film directed by William Gaze, produced by Michael McNulty. Congressional testimony and interviews of Branch Dravidian survivors David Thoreau, Clive Doyle and Derek Love lock.
^ David Thoreau, A Place Called Waco: A Survivor's Story, Public Affairs 1999, ISBN 1-891620-42-8. “Forest's Top Aide Killed Cult Leader, FBI Official Says”.
^ census.org “Final report to the Deputy Attorney General concerning the 1993 confrontation at the Mt. Carmel Complex, Waco Texas,” Archived May 6, 2011, at the Payback Machine by John C. Danforth, special counsel.
^ United States General Accounting Office, GAO Report to the House Subcommittee on Treasury, USE OF FORCE: ATF Policy, Training and Review Process Are Comparable to DEA's and FBI's, March 1996, p. 49. 1999) ^ Castillo v. United States, 530 U.S. 120 (2000) ^ Staff reports, “Dravidians have prison terms cut”, The Dallas Morning News, September 20, 2000.
^ Six Branch Dravidians due for Release 13 Years After Waco Inferno Archived November 2, 2012, at the Payback Machine, Fox News, April 19, 2006; personal letter to Carol Moore from Livingstone Pagan, June 2007. ^ House investigators determined that “someone” at BAT Flied to the military about the Dravidians being involved with drugs in order to get U.S. Army Special Forces and other military aid, in violation of the Posse Cogitates Act.
Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight and the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary at the Oversight Hearings on Federal Law Enforcement Conduct in Relation to the Branch Dravidian Compound near Waco, Texas, and appended documents, Congressional Record, July 1995. ^ a b “Waco: The Rules of Engagement” Archived December 14, 2010, at the Payback Machine Official site of documentary.
^ House of Representatives report, Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Dravidians, Section 5, note 168: ATF did not mention a drug lab or possession of illegal drugs as suspected crimes in its search warrant.” Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Dravidian Conflict: University of Chicago Press.
“A Decade After Waco: Reassessing Crisis Negotiations at Mount Carmel in Light of New Government Disclosures”. ^ Diana R. Fuentes, “Dravidian Told Grand Jury of Arming before the Raid,” San Antonio Express-News, February 16, 1994, 4A.
(p. 3 in the link) ^ Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Dravidians: V. Military involvement in the Government operations at WACO ^, section about equipment for raiding a methamphetamine lab being used or not by ATF agents the day of the raid. “Chuck Austere, “Trojan Horse: Inside the ATF raid at Waco, Texas,” Truth Crime Library, 2003”.
^ Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas Appendix B. List of Military Personnel and Equipment Archived March 8, 2008, at the Payback Machine ^ FBI brings out secret electronics weapons as Waco siege drags on, by James Adams.
^ Part 1 of “Investigative Report #2,” EXHUME 001037, 001383, 001525, and also 000768, 002247, and 002248 ^ “Texas Rangers Branch Dravidian Evidence Reports” Archived January 7, 2009, at the Payback Machine, Texas Department of Public Safety, released online September 1999 and January 2000. “FBI'S “A-Team” Plying Varied Skills in Sect Talks But Experts Say Obstacles Numerous”.
^ Brady Campaign “Selling High Powered Military Weapons in the Suburbs” . ^ Office of Special Investigations, U.S. General Accounting Office, Briefing Paper: Criminal Activity Associated with .50 Caliber Semiautomatic Rifles, Number, presented to GAO/OSI-99-15R of the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform, July 15, 1999, p. 5 Archived August 11, 2011, at the Payback Machine.
ISBN 0-552-14788-5 Lou Michel and Dan Her beck, American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & The Oklahoma City Bombing (New York: Yearbooks, 2001); ISBN 0-06-039407-2 ^ Prior to 9–11, the deadliest act of terror against the United States was the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 189 Americans. Agent describes Waco video found in Nichols' home Archived June 3, 2008, at the Payback Machine, CNN and Associated Press, November 17, 1997.
Retrieved March 15, 2008, “A key government witness, Michael Forties, has testified that Nichols and Timothy McVeigh, his Army pal and convicted Oklahoma City bomber, began plotting the bombing in response to the government's deadly raid on the Branch Dravidian compound.” ^ “Freemen, FBI standoff drags on, Lessons of Waco put into practice CNN March 28, 1996”.
^ Waco: The big lie Archived May 16, 2011, at the Payback Machine, documentary, Google Video. “Bill Hicks Waco Bradley Tank Setting Fire To The Compound”.
^ “EPIC SCRIPTED EVENT SERIES “WACO,” LANDS ON SPIKE TV”. “Michael Shannon & Taylor Kitsch Towline Weinstein Co. Series 'Waco', Based On 1993 Siege”.
S:Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas (redacted version), US DOJ, October 8, 1993. S:Lessons of Waco: Proposed changes in Federal Law Enforcement by Philip B. Haman Deputy Attorney General.
S:Evaluation of the Handling of the Branch Dravidian Stand-off in Waco, Texas (redacted version), Edward S.G. Dennis, Jr., US DOJ, October 8, 1993. “Recommendations of Experts for Improvements in Federal Law Enforcement after Waco,” October 8, 1993 (Washington: US DOJ, 1993).
ISBN 0-16-042974-9 (not available online) Wiki commons FBI photos of April 19, 1993, siege and fire at Mount Carmel “ S:Branch Dravidian Negotiation Transcript from April 18, ” the day before the 1993 FBI actions and the Mount Carmel fire.
Hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress. S:Final report to the Deputy Attorney General concerning the 1993 confrontation at the Mt.
No More Waco's: What's Wrong With Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1997). From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco (Latham, Maryland: Roman & Little field, 1994).
ISBN 0-8476-7915-2 (cloth) ISBN 0-8476-7914-4 (paper) Linebacker, Clifford L. Massacre at Waco, Texas: The Shocking Story of Cult Leader David Forest and the Branch Dravidians (New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1993). No Confidence: An Unofficial Account of the Waco Incident (Washington: Cato Institute, 2001).
ISBN 1-880692-22-8 Newport, Kenneth G. C. “The Branch Dravidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic Sect” (Oxford University Press, 2006). Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).