Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Assault on Waco, Part 3

Date: Mon, 20 Dec 93 22:10:26 -0700
From: kevin@axon.cs.byu.edu (Kevin Vanhorn)
Subject: Waco article, part 3
To: libernet@Dartmouth.EDU

The Gun Arsenal

The press and the federal government made much of the Davidians' collection of guns. President Clinton claimed the Davidians had "illegally stockpiled weaponry and ammunition." [1] But there is no law limiting the number of legal weapons one may accumulate. Furthermore, by Texas standards the Davidians' gun collection was
rather small. After the siege investigators found only 200 firearms in the ruins of Mt. Carmel [57], which amounts to about two guns per adult. But Texas' 17 million residents own a total of 68 million guns, for an average of four guns apiece, while 16,600 Texans legally own machine guns [33].

The government also claimed that the Davidians were planning an assault on Waco. This claim was based on third-hand information related to ATF Special Agent Davy Aguilera, who filed the affidavit for the original raid on Mt. Carmel. Aguilera had interviewed ATF Special Agent Carlos Torres, who had interviewed Joyce Sparks, an investigator with the Texas Department of Human Services. According to Aguilera's affidavit, Torres told Aguilera that Sparks had told him that Koresh had told her "that he was the `Messenger' from God, that the world was coming to an end, and that when he `reveals' himself the riots in Los Angeles would pale in comparison to what was going to happen in Waco, Texas." Furthermore, this self-revelation "would be a `military type operation' and... all the `non-believers' would have to suffer." Koresh supposedly said this on Sparks' second and final visit to Mt. Carmel to investigate child-abuse charges, on April 6, 1992 [63]. But the LA riots broke out on April 29, more than three weeks after Sparks last visited Koresh!

Enter the ATF

In Feb. 1982, the Senate Judiciary Committee said in a report that the ATF had "disregarded rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Illegal ATF actions included entrapment and secret lawmaking via unpublished administrative interpretations of gun laws. The report noted that "expert evidence was submitted establishing that approximately 75 percent of BATF gun prosecutions were aimed at ordinary citizens who had neither criminal intent nor knowledge, but were enticed by agents into unknowing technical violations." In the wake of the report, plans to abolish the agency were shelved after neither the U.S. Customs Bureau nor the Secret Service would accept the transfer of the discredited ATF agents into their organizations [3].

The ATF acted true to form in its investigation of the Davidians -- the purpose of the raid appears to have been to bolster the ATF's image, rather than any protection of the public safety. From Aguilera's affidavit it appears that the ATF collected no reliable new information for its investigation after June 23, 1992. But in mid-November "60 Minutes" began contacting ATF personnel about allegations of sexual harrassment in the agency [61]. In early December the investigation picked up again, after a lapse of 5-1/2 months [62].

On January 12, 1993 the segment aired. It presented allegations by female ATF agents that they had been sexually harrassed on the job and that the agency intimidated victims and witnesses who had pressed sexual harrassment claims. Among the charges was one of near-rape: agent Michelle Roberts charged that another agent had pinned her against the hood of a car while two others tore at her clothes. ATF agent Bob Hoffman told "60 Minutes" that he had verified the complaints of one female agent, and said, "In my career with ATF, the people that I put in jail have more honor than the top administration in this organization." Shortly afterwards, there was also a front-page article in the The Washington Post about racial discrimination in the ATF.

The "60 Minutes" story devastated both the public image and morale of the ATF. ATF Director Stephen Higgins must have been in a panic. A Republican appointee, he stood a good chance of losing his job with a Democratic administration coming in. Even if he didn't, he was going to have a rough time at the congressional budget hearings coming up on March 10. Said one high-level former ATF senior official who requested anonymity, "The show had great repercussions within the bureau... [S]ome [within the ATF] concluded that he [Higgins] was... looking for a high-profile case to counteract the negative image and enable him to go to the budget appropriations hearings with a strong hand." [52]

This analysis was supported by a followup "60 Minutes" report on May 23. Based on statements from ATF agents, Mike Wallace concluded the report by saying, "Waco was a publicity stunt, which was intended to improve the ATF's tarnished image." Consistent with this interpretation, the ATF notified the media before the raid [50,56,35], and there were a large number of television and newspaper reporters at the site on the morning of the raid [50].

Appendix G of the Treasury Department report on Waco suggests another, more disturbing motive for the raid. The appendix, entitled "A Brief History of Federal Firearms Enforcement," contains the following statement:

In a larger sense, however, the raid fit within an historic, well-established and well-defended government interest in prohibiting and breaking up all organized groups that sought to arm or fortify themselves... From its earliest formation, the federal government has actively suppressed any effort by
disgruntled or rebellious citizens to coalesce into an armed group, however small the group, petty its complaint, or grandiose its ambition.

In other words: regardless of whether you break any law, if some federal official doesn't like your politics and thinks you have too many weapons, you will be exterminated.


Part Four.


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