Dick Morris: Bill Clinton Personally Orchestrated the 1993 Waco, Texas Tragedy

Dick Morris: Bill Clinton Personally Orchestrated the 1993 Waco, Texas Tragedy.

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Why Waco Still Matters by Anthony Gregory

Why Waco Still Matters

by Anthony Gregory
by Anthony Gregory

Every year for the last five years [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], I have written an article commemorating the Waco siege: the 51-day standoff from February 28 to April 19, 1993, between government agents – ATF, FBI and US military – and the Branch Davidians: a conflict ending in a conflagration that consumed the lives of 76 civilians, including 21 children.

That I’ve written about this so consistently raises some questions: Am I obsessed? Why do I, and a number of other commentators, feel the need to keep bringing up this sad episode in modern American history?

Waco still matters. Not just because it has become the paradigmatic symbol for federal police power gone out of control. Not just because it starkly demonstrates the American government’s militarism unleashed against its own people. Not just because it showcases the propensity of politicians and law enforcers to deceitfully cover and obscure their wrongful actions. No, Waco’s still important mostly because it shows exactly what happens when people resist the unjust incursions of their own government, including under democracy.

Consider, in contrast, what has happened quite recently in Texas. This time, state and local officials seized 416 children from the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints (FLDS) Church. The supposed justification was the abuse of minors, but there is in any event no reason to assume these children would be less abused in the custody of the Texas government, whose foster system has been rife with child rape, poisonings and murder.

This mass seizure of children featured officials “wearing body armor and carrying automatic weapons, backed by an armored personnel carrier.” The militarization of domestic police has infected every level of American government, down to the local. The Texas police were ready to conduct a warlike raid of the Fundamentalist Mormon home, and the particular justification for it has shifted from a specific report of abuse (still unconfirmed, and possibly a prank) to a more general one, just as the rationale behind Waco shifted (from a methamphetamine lab, to illegal guns, to child abuse).

Thank goodness the family under siege this time around did not forcibly resist, because it could have ended violently, with many of those kids not just kidnapped, but killed. Is this not a lesson to learn from Waco – that outright resisting the police state will likely get you killed, and most Americans will still side against you? Indeed, it has been downright troubling how many Americans have unquestioningly swallowed the government’s line on this FLDS affair, just as they swallowed the government line on Waco.

The police state in this country is very real, and for any who do not understand the truly violent nature of law enforcement, it is worth considering the costs of non-compliance. The truly unique thing about Waco was not just that so many innocent people lost their lives. The unique thing was that people resisted.* And that’s why they lost their lives.

In America it has become increasingly easy to get oneself killed by the government. Simply “resisting arrest” – including arrest for a fabricated offense – can get one tased and beaten. Sometimes, even the most unsuspecting members of society, like Derek J. Hale, are murdered by the state. If your home is under full-blown siege by government jackboots, delaying compliance can mean death. It did in Philadelphia, at Ruby Ridge, and at Waco, Texas.

We should remember Waco as the quintessence of modern government police power – not gone out of control, but simply the way it acts when it meets enough resistance. Government power flows from the barrel of a gun, a gun with which taxpayers and subjects are threatened constantly. When the gun is literally aimed at a particularly unlucky denizen, his choices are quite limited.

This relates to the radical principle of resisting tyranny on which America was founded. The Second Amendment was not meant to protect the right to go hunting, despite what liberals might say. Nor was it principally meant as a defense against common criminals, as the right usually stresses. The idea is that people have a right to use force to defend themselves against and even overthrow tyrannical government – an idea that some NRA members sometimes utter out one side of the mouth, while the other side is busy defending the drug war, the empire, the Republicans, the Bush administration, the local police and the federal goons empowered by the war on terror.

Yet violently resisting government agents, even when one is in the right – or, as Cory Maye was, simply mistaken as to who was breaking into his house – does not tend to protect one’s liberty, in most cases. It is worse than futile. It leads to increases in state power, in fact. So long as public opinion sides with the police brutalizers, kidnappers and murderers, violent resistance is generally at best counterproductive. Once public opinion turns against the state, however, violent revolution isn’t even always necessary, as was seen in the glorious end of Communism in Russia.

So long as public opinion regarding such incidents as Waco remains as pro-state as it is, we have a long ways to go toward recapturing the spirit of the American Revolution in this country. The very way that Waco has been remembered indicates the uphill battle. For the last fifteen years, Americans have been in denial of the type of government they live under.

Since 1993, liberals have wanted to believe the Waco atrocity was the fault of the Branch Davidians, and not the fault of the government. Perhaps some official made a minor error, but none of the main blame should fall on government, not on the Clinton administration and not on the very idea of state power. No, the liberals of 1993 thought of government as an institution inseparable from the good society, an institution charged with doing all these great things – collecting taxes to pay for necessary “services,” combating inequality, preserving the planet, ensuring economic fairness and defending human rights the world over. The left did not want to see the dark side of the regime they loved. And so, once the Branch Davidians – a true minority (incidentally, about half of them were people of color, as the left never noticed) – were viciously invaded and attacked, dozens of their members slaughtered by the government, most liberals refused to think the worst of their beloved warm-and-fuzzy Clintonian state.

The government of the 1990s was supposed to be the “good government” that liberals never cease to remind us we can have, once again, as soon as the White House is ridden of the Bush family. But George W. Bush didn’t conduct the massacre at Waco. And even if Bill Clinton’s wife blessedly loses the election, Barack Obama gives no guarantee that he will respect the fundamental rights of Americans any better than his predecessors. Certainly, McCain will not temper the police state any more than Bush has after Clinton. More Wacos are always possible in the current political climate.

And so in a sense, the liberals were right that blame didn’t belong squarely with Clinton, just as today’s conservatives are narrowly correct when they defend Bush against selective condemnation. But the modern right too seems not to understand the implications of Waco, or else it would be impossible for it to have taken the positions it has over the police state, including local police, these last fifteen (and actually fifty or more) years. Like yesterday’s liberals, today’s conservatives are just as naïve toward, or at least accepting of, the ugly underbelly of the government they’re proud to live under.

The right tried to drive Clinton out of office – some for such crimes as Waco, but most for the crime of lying to the government. Today’s better liberals, many of them, have long wanted to do the same to Bush. Nearly all Americans hope November will usher in a state both a little more effective and a little more palatable in the ways they’d prefer.

But this focus on the culprit in power misses the main point. While they do have moral responsibility for their actions, it is not just the men in charge of leviathan who must be driven out of office if we wish to prevent future Wacos, and reverse the precedent that parents must sometimes choose between seeing their children taken by the state or seeing their family killed.

It is rather the statist mindset – the ideology of state worship, on both left and right – that has brought us a standing army of militarized police forces in every corner on this country. Those forces were tyrannical before Waco, and they have been so ever since. Waco is not necessary to indict the police state. But it really should be sufficient to do so. That it has not been for so many people reveals the problem.

* I am indebted to Scott Horton for this crucial point.

April 19, 2008

Anthony Gregory [send him mail] is a writer and musician who lives in Berkeley, California. He is a research analyst at the Independent Institute. See his webpage for more articles and personal information.

Why Waco Still Matters by Anthony Gregory.

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WACO: The Rules of Engagement

Waco: The Rules of Engagement, shaking the foundation of democracy, the shocking revelations behind the tragic series of events outside Waco, Texas that killed four federal agents and 76 men, women and children of the Branch Davidian religious sect has finally been exposed.

Winner of an Academy-Award® nomination in light of its incredible discoveries, Waco: The Rules of Engagement brings forth devastating evidence of federal law enforcement gone tragically wrong. It dares to suggest the ATF provoked war with a group whose apocalyptic religious beliefs and rumored manufacturing of illegal weapons made them easy targets for an inevitable abuse of its members’ civil and human rights.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement will change forever the way the world thinks and talks about the tragedy at Waco and, most importantly, it will renew our commitment to the basic precepts of tolerance and freedom upon which American society is built.

WACO: The Rules of Engagement.

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Monday marks anniversary of Oklahoma bombing, standoff at Waco compound

Twilight Language Calendar Events: Waco, Oklahoma City, Columbine

Monday marks the 15th anniversary of one of the darker days in American history.The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City shook the nation on April 19, 1995.

Timothy McVeigh was convicted of the crime and was later sentenced to death.

Events are planned throughout the day to remember the victims.

Also on this day in 1993, the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco came to a fiery end.

The 50-day standoff started after members of the religious sect killed four federal agents in a shootout.

When the FBI tried to move in, the compound was lit on fire. Eighty people died, including children.

Monday marks anniversary of Oklahoma bombing, standoff at Waco compound – News 8 Austin.

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Flashback: Remembering the Waco Siege – ABC News

Remembering the Waco Siege

A 51-day Standoff, Which Began 14 Years Ago Today, Resulted in the Deaths of 74 People, Including 25 Children. What Lessons Have Been Learned?

By JUSTIN STURKEN and MARY DORE

Feb. 28, 2007—

Fourteen years after the 51-day face-off between government agents and the Branch Davidian religious sect began near Waco, Texas, retired FBI negotiator Byron Sage remains tormented by the disastrous outcome of the siege.

At least 74 people — including 25 children — perished when fire consumed the complex on April 19, 1993, after weeks of fruitless talks between Sage and Branch Davidian leader David Koresh. “When the fire started,” Sage remembers, “I looked at that building just hoping and praying that I’d see those kids coming out. And there were no kids.”

The siege began on February 28, 1993, when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) raided the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel. There had long been allegations of child abuse and illegal weaponry within the compound, but the arrival of the ATF that day precipitated a shootout that killed four agents and six Branch Davidians.

Sage quickly became part of the FBI team surrounding the ranch and was one of several negotiators who worked without rest for weeks on end, hoping to bring about a peaceful an end to the standoff.

A Chilling Prophesy

“I will never forget the first time I talked to David Koresh,” he says. “Shots were still being fired, so it had to be somewhere around midday. And I said, ‘Do I call you David? Koresh? How do you pronounce that last name?’ And with shots being fired in the background and people screaming and all this chaos, he said, just as calmly as could be, ‘Mr. Sage, have you ever heard a person die?’ I said, ‘Yes, I have.’ And he said, ‘Then you know how to pronounce my name.’ I said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ He said, ‘It’s like that last exhalation of breath. It’s Koresh.’ And hair went up on the back of my neck and — I just knew we were in for one heck of a time.”

Still, government negotiators did have some early success.

“In the afternoon of the first day, we started getting children out. And that was an extremely good sign. We tried to get them all out. David’s response was he wasn’t gonna send them (all) out. He would send them out two by two. Everything was biblical. Everything was two by two as if they were coming off of Noah’s Ark,” said Sage.

Almost two dozen children were released in the early days of the siege. But many more — some the biological children of Koresh, whom he’d fathered with a number of different women — remained inside the compound.

“Finally, on the 7th of March, I can remember vividly that David, he got upset and he said, ‘Wait a minute. You don’t understand. The rest of these kids are my kids. They’re not coming out.’ And there was just absolute silence in the negotiation room because everybody recognized the magnitude of that statement.”

Breaching an Impasse

As the days stretched into weeks, negotiations reached an impasse and the government gradually increased the pressure on David Koresh.

Although Sage steadfastly defends the FBI’s actions during the siege, Clive Doyle, one of the few Branch Davidians to emerge alive from the inferno that ultimately consumed the compound, says the US government’s tactics — like bombarding the compound with noise and crushing cars and motorcycles parked outside — were often provocative.

“There were times throughout the siege when the negotiators would be promising one thing and the tactical team as they called the guys in the tanks would be doing something totally opposite and going against all the promises of the deals that were made. When we saw our vehicles being smashed up, you get an attitude,” Doyle said.

For the entire 51-day length of the siege, Sage kept up his efforts to convince Koresh to emerge from the compound, or at the very least release more of the children. But those efforts seemed to achieve less and less.

By the middle of April, conditions within the compound were deteriorating and the government concluded the Branch Davidian leader had no intention of coming out voluntarily. “We had not had a single person out since the middle of March,” Sage remembers. “No one had come out for nearly a month. Nearly a month.”

Frustrated by the ongoing saga at Waco, US Attorney General Janet Reno approved a plan to fire CS gas — a form of tear gas — into the compound to force the Branch Davidians out. The FBI knew that Koresh had gas masks — masks that probably wouldn’t fit children.

“Abusive as it sounds, and I admit it does,” says Sage, “we were banking on that discomfort to convince the parents to bring those kids out. The biggest mistake we made was that we did not accurately estimate the extent of control that David Koresh had over those parents. So we were depending on the parental instinct.”

Were Mistakes Made?

But the plan ended in disaster. Even under assault by CS gas, the Branch Davidians refused to emerge. There were reports that some feared being shot if they ventured outside.

Then, around noon on April 19, several fires started almost simultaneously around the large compound, and an inferno quickly engulfed almost everyone inside, including Koresh and the remaining children.

Dick Reavis, author of “Ashes of Waco” and a critic of the government’s actions, says: “The FBI said that the reason it went in on April the 19th and the reason it used CS gas in a building, knowing that there are no gas masks for children, was that it wanted to protect those children. In its misguided effort and its arrogance, it killed the children it wanted to save.”

Sage insists the FBI made every effort to negotiate a peaceful end to the siege, placing the blame for the tragedy squarely on David Koresh.

The FBI learned some lessons in Waco, he admits, lessons that have resulted in changes in strategy in the years since. But that doesn’t ease the pain of knowing that 74 people — 25 of them children — died after he spent nearly two months trying to save them.

“Every one of those precious kids — to this day, when you think back about that — that fact, it tears your heart out,” he said. “How in the world could something with so much effort have ended so tragically? And the lost of any life is — is incredibly shocking and difficult to process. But, the life of a child is beyond measure. It’s a difficult thing to cope with.”

Remembering the Waco Siege.

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Michelle Malkin on Oklahoma City, Waco, and crisis exploitation

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There is so much I disagree with in Michelle Malkin’s world-views, however I think her take here is worth reproducing:

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. The Oklahoma City National Memorial is here. 168 of our fellow Americans died in this evil act of terrorism. Take a moment to learn about their lives here.

Today is also the 17th anniversary of the deadly siege at Waco. After a 51-day standoff with the feds, 76 Americans (including 17 children) perished. It, too, was a shameful act of violence.

But one anniversary will get more attention the other today because the establishment Left isn’t interested in sober reflection. And Bill Clinton certainly isn’t interested in taking responsibility for horrors under his watch that do not fit the conservatives=violent extremists narrative:

“What we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold – but that the words we use really do matter, because there’s this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike,” he said.

“One of the things that the conservatives have always brought to the table in America is a reminder that no law can replace personal responsibility. And the more power you have and the more influence you have, the more responsibility you have.” Clinton made the remarks at events sponsored by the Center for American Progress Action Fund on the upcoming anniversary of the bombing.

…Clinton argued that the Boston Tea Party was in response to taxation without representation. The current protesters, he said, are challenging taxation by elected officials, and the demonstrators have the power to vote them out of office.

“By all means keep fighting, by all means, keep arguing,” he said. “But remember, words have consequences as much as actions do, and what we advocate, commensurate with our position and responsibility, we have to take responsibility for. We owe that to Oklahoma City.”

What does he owe the victims of Waco who died as a result of gross FBI incompetence, negligence, and zeal?

Flashback: “The Fire Last Time,” Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine, 1998, review of Waco: The Rules of Engagement, directed by William Gazecki, Fifth Estate Productions and No More Wacos: What’s Wrong with Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It, by David B. Kopel and Paul H. Blackman…

As Kopel and Blackman show, the investigation of the Branch Davidians by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the BATF’s February 1993 raid on Mount Carmel, the 51-day FBI siege, the April 19 assault that led to the final fire, the trial of the survivors, and the subsequent explanations can all be understood in terms of prevalent prejudices and familiar failings. Hostility toward private gun ownership and unconventional religions played an important role in the government’s actions against the Davidians and in the public’s indifference to their fate. Another conspicuous factor was the tendency for overconfident people to screw up, dodge responsibility afterward, and rationalize their behavior as justified by some greater good. As scary as it is to contemplate, it’s doubtful that anyone involved in this shameful episode felt in his heart that he was doing wrong.

At the same time, to blame the deaths of 86 men, women, and children (including four BATF agents) on a series of errors does not do justice to the government’s conduct at Waco, which rose at least to the level of negligent homicide, or to the cowardly cover-up that followed. And to blame the dead themselves is audacious, since all would be alive today but for the government’s gratuitous use of force…

Today in Washington, gun owners will march in defense of Second Amendment rights.

Predictably, left-wing groups are taking their cue from Clinton and using the event to smear Tea Party activists, the NRA, and limited-government advocates all as potential OKC bombers.

In the Left’s playbook of Rahm Emanuel-esque political crisis exploitation, the Timothy McVeigh card has no credit limit.

Michelle Malkin » Oklahoma City, Waco, and crisis exploitation.

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Today in Texas History: Waco siege ends – Houston Chronicle / ABC News

On this date in 1993, the 51-day Waco siege ended in tragedy.

According to ABC News:

“At least 74 people — including 25 children — perished when fire consumed the complex on April 19, 1993, after weeks of fruitless talks between [FBI negotiator Byron] Sage and Branch Davidian leader David Koresh.

“When the fire started,” Sage remembers, “I looked at that building just hoping and praying that I’d see those kids coming out. And there were no kids.”

The siege began on February 28, 1993, when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) raided the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel. There had long been allegations of child abuse and illegal weaponry within the compound, but the arrival of the ATF that day precipitated a shootout that killed four agents and six Branch Davidians.

Sage quickly became part of the FBI team surrounding the ranch and was one of several negotiators who worked without rest for weeks on end, hoping to bring about a peaceful an end to the standoff.

By the middle of April, conditions within the compound were deteriorating and the government concluded the Branch Davidian leader had no intention of coming out voluntarily.

“We had not had a single person out since the middle of March,” Sage remembers. “No one had come out for nearly a month. Nearly a month.”

Frustrated by the ongoing saga at Waco, US Attorney General Janet Reno approved a plan to fire CS gas — a form of tear gas — into the compound to force the Branch Davidians out. The FBI knew that Koresh had gas masks — masks that probably wouldn’t fit children…

But the plan ended in disaster. Even under assault by CS gas, the Branch Davidians refused to emerge. There were reports that some feared being shot if they ventured outside.

Then, around noon on April 19, several fires started almost simultaneously around the large compound, and an inferno quickly engulfed almost everyone inside, including Koresh and the remaining children.

To read more, go to ABC News.

Today in Texas History: Waco siege ends | Texas on the Potomac | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.

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