I am at a loss as to try to understand why all the hostility towards the FBI and none towards Mr. Koresh. Here's a guy who clearly stockpiled automatic weapons, got caught enough so a judge issued a search warrant, then gunned downd nuermous agents while they were attempting to serve the warrant.
He had at one point proclaimed himself the messiah, having duped a bunch of poor souls makes a stand and literally burns himself to death. This is not to say the FBI was firmly on the high moral ground here. If that had been me and my family I would have been assualted by the local swat team 6 hours into the situation. He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. End of story.
I was expecting to see a report that would further explore many of the questions that have been raised. I was disheartened at wasn't aired in this episode.
I think the biggest problem was that a 51 day siege can not be told in 51 minutes. The program suffered greatly from not discussing the validity of the ATF's warrant, the exclusion of many audiotapes (particularly the "mounted guns on helicopters" call), and why Janet Reno wasn't ultimately held responsible for the debacle.
For a program that did such an excellent job with the Rwanda episode just a couple months ago, I was very disappointed.
san francisco, ca
The only way we'll get the whole truth is if we come out from behind the comfort zones in our world and seek the truth. Don't you think it is important to KNOW if our govt. steps over the line???
David WAS wrong. The FBI was wrong, The ATF was wrong. But the biggest problem was that OUR (Yours and mine) government stepped on the rights of these citizens and that needs to be addressed. I know we will. ps. this is my philosophical response.
slc , utah
If SAC Jeff Jamar was so amazed that the Davidians were "burning the crime scene," why did FBI agents warn Koresh attorney Dick De Guerin to "get some fire insurance?"
The federal agents who supervised the Mt. Carmel siege weren't surprised it went up in flames - they were desperately hoping for it so they might destroy key evidence such as the roof which would show the building was strafed by helicopters who shot (and possibly killed) innocent people and (other ATF agents) and the front door which contained exculpatory evidence indicating bloodthirsty ATF agents "fired the first shot."
As described in the Committee for WACO Justice Report, the Davidians feared leaving the buiding for the simple fact that the structure contained key evidence that could prove their innocence in a court of law.
Unfortunately, FRONTLINE took the easy way out and refused to probe these important issues by demonizing Koresh and allowing the remorseless thugs who committed acts of war on American soil to play the role of victims by laying everything at the foot of Koresh.
I have long believed the modern left have taken a perverse pleasure in the WACO siege as it resulted in nothing more than the deaths of a bunch of "gun nuts" and "religious fanatics."
By acting as an apologist for the federal government and ignoring the egregious abuses carried out by both the FBI and BATF, you have shown my supposition to be correct.
I will never again watch your show, and the next time you attempt to win the public's sympathy for the deaths at Kent State or some other leftist flashpoint, remember your indifference to the tragedy of WACO.
los angeles, ca
The carnage that took place at Waco is a very good example of government entities at war with each other, egos just waiting to have things go their way, poorly trained people depending on their manuals to refer to a similar situation which they WERE trained in and applying it to a situation they had no idea how to handle...
People who misinformed the attorney general, who conveniently forgot who told her children were being abused, and finally government entities who were allowed to blast the residents with loud rock music while they mooned them and incited a riot....this is disgusting.
Who is in charge here? No one. But, innocent children paid the price of insensitive government egomaniacs who were totally out of control.
Susan Romersa Thabit
las vegas, nv
Although, the interviews with the FBI agents were interesting. You did not provide any new or particularly revealing information. In fact a lot of the information you did include was partial and misleading.
Living in the DFW area, only a couple of hours from Waco, we had nearly 24 hour TV and radio coverage of the entire seige. I could write a book on the information you did not include. For example, you never even addressed the issue that the BATF's warrant for David Koresh was acquired illegally. And the information you did include was partial and misleading. For example, you included the medical examiner's statement that several of the Branch Davidians died of gunshot wounds and left it at that. You did not mention that the same medical examiner has said that he believes that these killings, particularly those of the children, were mercy killings because they could not escape the fire.
Well, I could go on. My point is this. Everyone has a Constitutional right to present one's opinion of the events at Waco. Goodness knows that there have been plenty of videos made on the other extreme claiming huge government conspiracies, that the tanks were actually using flame throwers, etc.
My problem with your program is with the promotion of the program as being "The Inside Story." Be honest and present it as "Waco: The FBI's Story." It would still be an interesting look at the words and thoughts of the agents involved and without misleading people in believing that this is the complete story.
After watching your programme on the Waco tragedy, I am going to have to revise my heretofore positive view of your series. Your programme on the Branch Davidians and the police apparatus of the American state, was a superb example of very bad ethnography. Your informants were primarilly FBI agents and your uncritical analysis reflects this bias. Unfortunatley,as any antrhropologist worth his or salt recognises such one-sided use of informants does not achieve the neutrality necessary for a truly "objective" reading of the conflict.
albany and moscow, ny and russia
Reading many of the prior responses in this forum, I am quite disturbed. I believe the people defending Koresh are extremely misguided at best.
With the benefit of a great deal of hindsight, which includes several years and much investigation, I think it is fair to say that the FBI and the ATF botched Waco in some major ways.
However, all of the errors and misjudgements by the FBI cannot change one very simple and basic fact: If Koresh cared AT ALL about the people inside that compound, if he had one ounce of concern for their well-being, they would have walked out of that compound alive.
It was completely within his power to spare the life of everyone in that compound. Instead, Koresh and some of his most faithful followers chose to burn down the compound with all those children inside. I can't see how that is anything but mass murder by the Davidians and their leader.
Your coverage may have been critical of the government's actions, but you managed to leave out many important aspects of this tragic event in American history.
The FBI knew the Branch Davidians DID NOT have gas masks that fit the small children, yet they inserted CS anyway. In the interest of saving the children.
The FBI used flammable propellants to pump the gas into the building and then used CS ferret rounds which are notorious for causing fires.
After the fire, Texas State Fire Marshals were denied access to the scene. The US Attorney appointed an "independent" arson investigator who was previously employed by the BATF, is married to a BATF employee, and attended the funeral of one of the BATF agents killed.
The whole stinks and the Feds got away with it.
let's see...david koresh was guilty of the following:
1) he had fervent, unorthodox religious beliefs
2) he exercised his constitutional right to bear arms
3) he carried on sexual relations with more than one woman
4) he was accused, but not convicted or even charged with committing immoral acts (in his case "child molesting"
hmmmmm...david koresh sounds a lot like thomas jefferson to me
As I contemplated what I should write, I became concerned about attaching my name to this message for fear of government retaliation of various forms.
What I watched about the FBI and especially the actions and THE TOTAL LACK OF REMORSE OF THE HRT on your program merely reenforces the fact that we should fear our government. The guns are now pointed at US.
Shame on those thugs for their lack of concern for the innocent children within the compound. They should have protected those kids and instead they hastened their death.
las vegas, nv
Your report was very unbalanced with none of the federal agents answers closely examined like they were in the congressional hearings. if they had, a whole different look would have emerged, but I guess Frontline had their own opinion to promote!
One thing that can't be spun is that the worst fears of the writers of the constitution has materialized with a centralized government growing evermore powerful without any checks on its authority.Indeed Mr.Potts was promoted and not one federal agent was ever brought up on ANY charges. Some check on federal power.
santa rosa, ca.
I think your piece showed the most crucial point of the whole affair. The Reno justification on the idea that "the children were being abused" remains the most damning piece of evidence against this administration. I would like to know how someone as incompetant as Janet Reno could be nominated and approved as AG. I remember at the time of Waco when Reno stated at the post fire news conference, "we had no idea that this would be the outcome"; I screamed at the TV,"haven't you ever heard of Masada." I hope that someday in their old age that Clinton and Reno realize that the blood of the victims of Waco and Oklahoma City are on their heads.
I understand that many white supremacists, "Christian" identity cults and militia groups hate Janet Reno. But I think she is great. David Koresh was a dangerous, child molestor criminal.
The fact that most of the people in the fire died of gun shots and knife wounds is evidence to me that the outcome would have been the same regardless of the timing of the strike. It was only thanks to Janet Reno's love of children that the Dividians were allowed to carry the siege on.
It is beyond me how anyone could try to defend David Koresh. He was responsible for the death and suffering of so many people including the negotiators who looked so visibly upset over the outcome.
After seeing the show tonight i realized no seems to care about the ATF's agents who were killed by David Koresh and His "People" One of my best friends lost her brother that day.He was one of the ATF agents (Steve Willis)murdered by this cult. I want people to remember and never forget.
redondo beach, ca
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