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Flashback Bring on the Negotiators

April 10, 2009

April 19th marks the 16th anniversary of the horrific ending of the Branch Davidians' stand-off in Waco,Texas.

Millions watched live on TV the dramatic final hours.

More than 80 people, including women and children, died in a conflagration that followed a government-ordered "rescue" attempt using Bradley tanks and tear gas.

Here's some video from our 1995 report, Waco: The Inside Story.

It's a striking glimpse into what FBI negotiators do, drawing as it does on 200 hours of previously undisclosed tapes of every FBI-bugged conversation with David Koresh during the 51-day standoff.

It documents, too, the tense dynamics between two very different FBI teams on the ground at Waco:

One -- the Hostage Rescue Team -- was the FBI's elite tactical specialists. By instinct and training, they're oriented toward action.

The other team -- the negotiators -- focused on talk. Their job was to build trust with Koresh and his followers, convince them to come out.

[Note: The video starts at the point where the FBI has been called in following a bloody gun battle on 2/28/93: About 9:30 am that day, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had tried to execute arrest and search warrants against Koresh and the Branch Davidian compound. Gunfire erupted. Four ATF agents are killed; 16 wounded. An undetermined number of Davidians were killed or injured. Within hours the FBI becomes the lead agency for resolving the standoff.]

Read: A chronology of the siege, including summaries of inquiries into the tragedy.

Read: FAQS about the disaster

Listen: Here's more of the FBI-bugged audio tapes.

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