(Article changed on November 21, 2013 at 12:09)
ATF agents could have arrested Branch Davidian leader David Koresh peacefully but chose instead to storm his Mount Carmel Center, near Waco, Tex., which was later set afire by the FBI, taking the lives of 76 people inside, including more than 20 children, a critic of the government's actions alleges.
"The ATF agents could have easily arrested Koresh, whom they had befriended, and who had earlier cooperated with them when they conducted an investigation of weapons violations and found nothing," the author Anthony Gregory has written. Gregory is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, in Oakland, Calif.
Gregory said the ATF agents had planned and trained for such an assault for eight months and, "There was no reason for all this other than publicity."
After a 51-day standoff---in which gunfire was exchanged between ATF and Koresh's group---the FBI took over the operation from the ATF and, starting at 6 a.m. on April 19, 1993, "began pumping flammable and poisonous CS gas, banned in international warfare, into the Davidian home".for almost six hours," wrote Gregory, whose essay on the subject is published in a new book, "The Dynamic Duo," (CWG Press).
The FBI then brought an Abrams tank to the scene and drove it into the building and "FBI agents launched incendiary tear gas canisters," setting the building ablaze and turning back responding fire department equipment, on grounds the Davidians might shoot at the fire fighters.
Justice Department spokesman Myron Marlin afterwards said, "We know of no evidence to support that any incendiary device was fired into the compound on April 19, 1993. Six years later, however, Gregory writes, the FBI admitted it had indeed used such projectiles at Waco. The Davidian building went up in flames in the early afternoon.
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By 1999, the author continued, polling indicated that a strong majority of Americans blamed the FBI for setting the deadly fire.
Gregory alleges in the 20 years since Waco, state terrorism has escalated, from the anti-civilian sanctions on Iraq, "to the double-tap drone attacks on foreign first responders, all the way down to the constant domestic police raids."
"Before the rapid rise of the surveillance state and the post-9/11 terror war, Waco was the best opportunity to turn things around. Instead, most Americans turned their backs, and now our country is becoming one big playground for the police state," Gregory alleged.
The slaughter of the Branch Davidians was carried out under the Administration of Bill Clinton; Janet Reno Attorney General.
Mike Palecek is a former award winning reporter, editor, and publisher in the Midwest. His paper in Byron, Minn., was named Newspaper of the Year in 1993 by the Minnesota Newspaper Assn. #
Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...
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