No More Wacos

What's Wrong with Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It

by David B. Kopel and Paul H. Blackman

This scathing, heavily annotated critique of the government's 1993 siege of David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, which ended in a cataclysmic fire after a 51-day standoff, provides insights and facts not found in most newspaper or TV coverage. The authors assert that the federal warrant to search the compound was based on falsehoods and legal errors, and they find a lack of justification for what they see as a gratuitously violent, armed military assault on the home of 127 persons. Using government doucments and interviews, they convincingly challenge the FBI's claim that the agency never expected the Davidians to commit suicide, and they cogently argue that the FBI, ignoring a surrender offer by Koresh, deceived Attorney General Janet Reno concerning the ongoing negotiations in order to win her approval for a tank assault.

CS, the "tear gas" used, the authors explain, is an incapacitating chemical warfare agent (outlawed by an international convention in 1993) that can kill children in 10 minutes. They accuse the FBI and the departments of Justice and Treasury of a cover-up, including the destruction, alteration and withholding of evidence. They propose pertinent policy measures to compel federal law enforcement to act lawfully. Kopel is a Denver attorney, Blackman a research coordinator for the National Rife Association.

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