The only reason that the federal officials who blew that job were not convicted was that Koresh started the fire.
But the Federal government officials involved with this sad episode in american history should be fired. It was amply evident that they do not understand and are not able to handle evolving contemporary crazies like Koresh. In a word, with all their training and experience they are out of touch.
Finally, the President, Janet Reno and the leadership at the FBI share in the blaim.
During the program, FBI Waco Commander, Jeff Lamar said (of the beginning of the fire):
JEFF JAMAR: "My first thought was that he's burning the crime scene..."
Though not explored by Frontline, I recall that the Davidian compound was bulldozed not long afterwards.
Given that the initial FBI reaction was that Koresh was "burning the crime scene," I have always wondered why the FBI would BULLDOZE the same crime scene... unless they had something to hide.
san antonio, texas
This is a prime example of a government out of control. Why were the Davidians treated the way they were? Because they were people of faith, even though I feel it was a distorted faith.
Even though I totally disagree with what David Koresh did and stood for, he still deserved the rights supposedly accorded to every other American. There are violent groups in this country that get away with far worse things than the Davidians ever did and our government does nothing to stop them. These are dangerous times we live in and the government is not among the least of the evils we are dealing with today.
Maybe the unbalanced account of the Waco incident is largely attributed to the fact that most of the accounts from the Davidian side went up in smoke; but, the HBO special I recently saw did a surprisingly better job than the Frontline version.
It concerns me deeply that the soveriegn rights established by the Constitution of the United States have been trampled in this incident and potentially in any other situation since there was no declaration of wrong doing (even after a congressional inquiry).
It is each and every persons right to believe him or herself to be God/Christ or an insignificant peon in a spectator culture. Assaults on personal liberty for the sake of personal freedom is becoming a greater and greater concern.
I am unable to recall the respondents name but his was the first given after the program ended. He said that he had hate and disdain for David Koresh and nothing but compassion and sorrow for the BATF and the FBI (Full Blown Idiots-my personal opinion)
He must have watched a different video than the two respondents and I watched. When the live telecast(s) were being shown to the citizens, myself included, I saw rampant and reckless disreguard displayed by the so-called "peace keepers" with respect to life and the lives of those, at that time, contained within the compound.
We don't know that the accusations leveled against David and his so-called followers to be true or to be false. BUT, we do know that the response of the constabulary on the scene was totally reprehensible and absolutely deserving of more that the "token" OOPS!
I was totally livid at their (BATF & FBI) cavalier attitude pertaining to the lives contained within. If they (BATF&FBI) were so concerned about the well-being of the children, how did they know that they were not shooting if not killing some of the children while they pumping the building full of lead during their wild firing of their weapons? Just take time to look carefully at the beginning of the assault and you'll see total lack of concern...
In an act of bumbling stupidity the ATF lost a shoot out that should never have occurred. The tactical FBI unit extracted revenge, pure and simple.
The fact that no high ranking Federal official was held accountable for an extremely foreseeable tragedy is sickening.
As usual, your coverage is balanced and factual. Thanks for the story on Waco.
I think it might have been helpful if the FBI had more theological discussions with David to prove to him that he is NOT the Christ. David was a lunatic, but I believe that more effort should have been put toward this part of the standoff.
Plus, perhaps instead of blasting music to annoy the Davidians, it might have been a better idea to give a sermon on why David was not the Christ, using excerpts from the Bible. The sound couldn't exactly be intercepted, unless he blasted them with his crappy music. Though the people were absolutely brainwashed, it could have made them a little dubious of David's claims, and make them think twice about not leaving that burning compound.
Janet Reno's decision to gas the compound was very foolish. Perhaps she was trying to prove herself somehow, since she had just gotten elected to office, and therefore was a little hasty in her decision-making. She may have been pressured to act for political reasons. Anyone with a good head on their shoulders DOES NOT rely on rumor alone to make a decision as great as putting gas into the compound. I mean, she couldn't even remember who had told her? Before doing any such action as gassing innocent people, she should verify that the rumors were true.
Stephanie Manuel, 19
After watching your show, my opinion still pins the blame for everything that happened at Waco squarely on Mr. Koresh. He could have stopped that situation at any time but he chose not to for his own selfish reasons.
The people I feel sorry for are the agents that albeit may have mismanaged the situation, tried their best. Mr. Koresh is responsible for all of the death and destruction.
The FBI is to blame. Like many people, I do not believe the government's version of what transpired in Waco. I also believe that the American people will NEVER know exactly what happened. Half the story is ashes.
new york, ny
After seeing this show again, it just confirms my belief that Janet Reno is either senile or a lier and accomplice to murder. There is no crime that those children, women or men committed that warrented death.
As a member of law enforcement it shames me to see how the Federal Branch of law enforcement acts. Stamping on the rights of those people shows what they would do to your rights. But no one complains until they take their rights away.
William Bracken II
lehigh acres, fl
Janet Reno and the FBI killed those children and will never will be held accountable.
I guess NATO should have stepped in. Can you immagine our Goverment doing this to our own people?
I used to religiously watch every Frontline because it always presented issues in the most balanced way possible. The show was great a showing different perspectives on the same issue. Then all of a sudden, that practice stopped and the show became incredibly opinionated. I have not watched the show in years, but I had to see your piece on Waco. Well I have not been missing much by avoiding your show. The only way I can describe your piece on Waco is criminally one-sided.
ou guys are always saying how PBS needs public funding because it has to stay ĎaboveÓ influence from its sponsors. Well it is clear that your current sponsors are the Democratic Party, and that your fears were justified.
new york, ny
I was surprised at the lack of information regarding the endless lies told by all members of law enforcement invovlved. The whole incident was caused by an incompetent yet highly combative government officials. This should have been made clear.
sun prairie, wi 53590
The Waco incident was one of the most repugnant events in American history. It might help some people sleep at night to think that the tactics of the ATF and FBI were warranted, even justified, but I remain unconvinced.
Frontline hardly did anything to shed light on the real story at Waco. Why didn't Frontline interview some of the independent journalists and reporters who were there at the time of the standoff, whose opinions differ greatly from the sanitized viewpoint your program attempted to proffer. The bottom line is that David Koresh and his followers, however misguided you perceive them to be, never did harm to anybody, and got wasted in an act of gestapo-like proportions. The blood of the Waco genocide rests solely on the shoulders of those principals involved in the harrassment and ultimate annihilation of the Branch Davidian compound.
That such fascism has not sparked a nationwide outrage proves just how somnambulant the American citizenry has become. When will we get it that when one American's freedom is so diabolically usurped, our own enslavement can't be far behind?
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