The government and FBI are innocent
July 21, 2000 5:50 PM   Subscribe

The government and FBI are innocent of any wrongdoing at Waco. Special Counsel John Danforth is '100% certain' that agents did not fire on Davidians or set the fires responsible for the 80 deaths. Also, he concludes that the government did not engage in any sort of cover-up.
posted by tomorama (7 comments total)
He's wrong, of course.

Ask The Web(tm) for "waco" and "flir", for the details.
posted by baylink at 9:02 PM on July 21, 2000

The problem is, I'm so damn cynical about this whole thing now that no matter what the Counsel says, I won't believe it. He says the FBI is guilty? Federal Government tossing its own people to the wolves of public opinion. He says they're innocent? What about the fact that they admitted using explosive teargas canisters?

Nothing helps. Nothing more can be said. Nothing they do can be believed. The only way I could possibly believe them is if they released every single scrap of data they have to an independent auditor who would subject all the visual and auditory media to checks for tampering and forgery, and another independent auditor who would cross-relate all the information to detect forgeries, ellisions, and downright excisions. And when I say independent, I mean not the scion of a rich family or a senator or an ex-congressman or a political about Richard Belzer? Give it to him. At this point, he may well be the only person I trust.

I'm not making a joke here. They lie so damn often and so damn many times on the same issue that it becomes an experiment in credulity to watch a press conference on any issue. Am I the only man who, when watching the NATO conferences on Kosovo, wondered if the smart-bomb footage was just made on a computer? A lot of the people reading this could do it, and do it higher quality that the Government does.

I'm afraid they've flushed away my trust. They actually had it once, too, that's the sad thing. When Bush lost the 92 election, I danced the happy dance. But Clinton pissed all over that like a firehouse dalmation on a hydrant, and I'm left with a rather cold and empty opinion of the whole deal.

Vote Nader. I'm going to.
posted by Ezrael at 8:59 AM on July 22, 2000

Harry Browne in 2000!
posted by baylink at 11:53 AM on July 22, 2000

I must agree with Ezrael. I don't think there's anything the feds could say about Waco that I would actually believe.

And personally, I'm positive they are guilty, for the very simple reason that nobody lies that much unless they're trying to hide something.


posted by Mars Saxman at 11:01 AM on July 23, 2000

"nobody lies that much unless they're trying to hide something..."

When will anybody notice how common it is for the cover-up to totally overshadow the original "crime"?
Like Nixon and Watergate?
Clinton and the "Lewinsky Affair" (which itself wasn't even illegal)?
Mark Fuhrman, the O.J. case cop who committed purgery and torpedoed the prosecution case because he wouldn't admit ever using "the N-word"?
I once worked for a company that went out of business trying to cover up a CEO's minor malfeasances.
It happens.
A lot.
People are stupid, including important people.

I believe that the FBI would lie just as much if they had a single incindiary device within a mile of the Branch Davidians than if they'd surrounded the house and lit it with tiki torches (which they did NOT do). That's what Danforth's conclusions said, and it makes perfect sense to me.

What amazes me about the so-called "media cover-up" is that, until the last day of the civil trial, I'd never heard the story of the heroic FBI agent who dragged out a woman who ran back into the burning building.

Unfortunately, human nature also supports clinging onto ridiculous conspiracy theories if it helps to demonize and discredit their political opponents. If Clinton, Reno and Company were capable of doing what everybody claims, then the photographer who took the "Elian & the stormtrooper" picture would not have lived long enough to get it developed. It sickens me to see a truly evil man like Koresh being taken off the hook for killing his own followers and turned into a martyr to the evils of law enforcement.

You trust Richard Belzer? His "conspiracy schtick" is just another act by a stand-up comic, but admittedly, one of the funniest acts I've seen in the last ten years. And what makes those incredible FLIR pictures harder to falsify than the Kosovo smart-bomb films - especially since most of the people who can do it "better than the government" support the conspiracy theories? And, it is always the witness who dies before the trial begins who could have proven the case for the losing side. Yeah, sure.

I believe in the banality of evil. The greatest evils of our time were the products of culture, not conspiracy. Real secret conspiracies are virtually imnpossible to maintain, and every "deep dark secret" I've ever been privvy to ultimately went public, half the time with lies added on simply because the truth wasn't damning enough.

So please, Waco-ites, get over it and get a life.
If you want to prevent tragedies like this, remember, friends don't let friends gather in basements with charismatic leaders.
posted by wendell at 4:18 PM on July 23, 2000

Uh, Wendell...if you didn't see the black humor in my suggesting that we give the investigation to a tv actor/comedian, than I suppose I have to start trying harder.

I had a much stronger reaction to this...being called a Waco-ite and being told to 'get a life' tend to go up my ass a bit...but ultimately Wendell's point just makes mine for me. If they're going to lie all the time, does it matter what their reasoning is? You still can't trust what they say. I didn't mention the FLIR footage for the very reason Wendell mentioned...but as Bill Hicks said (God, I quote him a lot) I'll stop mentioning this if people stop mentioning Jesus to me. Hey, it was 2000 years ago. Get a life! Yeah, the FLIR footage could be faked, absolutely. But the FBI admitted that it had used teargas canisters that it knew were combustible, and which could start fires. Does this make Vernon less of an asshole? Nope. Does this make it any less scary that a whole compound full of heavily armed Jesus freaks were convinced Vernon was the Davidian Messiah? Nope.

It also doesn't make them all any less dead.

I don't know that the FBI is guilty of anything. The sad truth is, like the JFK assasination hooplah, I'll never know now. Nor will anyone else. It's impossible to sort all the good, reliable, credible people who support the FBI's handling of this case out from the good, reliable, credible people who scream to the heavens that it was a whitewash of a murderous fuckup. (I'd go more into JFK, but let's just agree on this: We don't know. It certainly seems likely that Oswald did it, but the way the body was handled, witnesses were ignored, and ballistics twisted around makes for doubt in a lot of people's minds.)

It isn't Waco I'm really, ultimately, upset about. It's over. I can't fix it. But the fact remains, they lie and we don't even care anymore. We don't trust them even a little...we would feel stupid if we did. And that's just sick. We need to bring back accountability. We need a government that, when it screws the pooch, will actually tell us so. And we need to be the kind of nation that can be trusted to deal responsibly with such knowledge.

Right now, I don't think we are.
posted by Ezrael at 7:20 PM on July 23, 2000

The problem with Waco isn't whether or not the ATF followed the rules when they went in; the problem is that the raid should never have happened in the first place. The simple reality is that these people weren't doing anything wrong, other than the crime of storing up "illegal" guns ... which are illegal only because the government made them so in order to look good on gun control. And everyone who knew anything about the Davidians - including the feds - knew they were only collecting the guns because they thought they'd need them to protect themselves against the Coming Apocolypse. So what does the ATF do to get them? Conduct a raid that any imbecile could see would be intepreted by Korsesh et al as precisely "the Apocolpyse."

And to do this when everyone in Waco knew that Koresh regularly went in to town to go shopping and could have been easily arrested on a public street, after which they would have been able to work something out more-or-less peaceably.

That's what it comes down to: These people were never going to be a harm to anybody if they were just left alone, and the feds were - and are - way too hungry to use extreme force on anybody they find creepy.

Even worse: "Friends don't let friends gather in basements with charismatic leaders"? Why not? Cause we think they're weird? They have every right to do so, if they so want.
posted by aaron at 1:17 PM on July 24, 2000

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