The U.S. Marshals Service, acting on orders from the Justice Department, yesterday seized from FBI headquarters new evidence about events preceding the fatal fire that ended the 51-day siege of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex., in 1993.
The extraordinary development, which underscored the degree to which the Waco case has fostered tension and mistrust between the Justice Department and the FBI, occurred as officials said Attorney General Janet Reno had decided that someone from outside the department and the FBI should lead a new investigation into the use of potentially incendiary tear gas cartridges by federal agents during the final assault on the compound.
Justice Department spokesman Myron Marlin said FBI officials informed senior Justice Department officials yesterday that they had come across "additional material" on the Waco siege at the headquarters of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team in Quantico. The evidence was transferred to FBI headquarters in Washington, and yesterday Justice Department officials immediately ordered the Marshals Service to take possession of it, Marlin said.
An FBI official said that on a videotape, a Hostage Rescue Team member is heard seeking and being granted permission by a superior to fire potentially flammable military tear gas more than four hours before the Branch Davidian compound burst into flames, killing 76 people.
The videotape shot from a surveillance aircraft about 7:30 a.m. on the day of the assault contained audio of radio traffic among Hostage Rescue Team members in which they discussed the firing of nonincendiary tear gas cartridges at the roof of an underground shelter that was several dozen yards away from the compound, the official said.
But those cartridges had no effect, and a team member asks a superior for permission to use military tear gas cartridges that are incendiary, the FBI official said. He said that on the tape the superior can be heard "spontaneously" granting permission to do so.
A Justice Department official said the Hostage Rescue Team is thought to have discovered the tape on Saturday. An FBI official said that the material was transferred to FBI headquarters Tuesday or yesterday and that in reviewing it FBI officials realized that they had "something new" and immediately notified the Justice Department.
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Many people who distrust the mainstream media have turned to alternate news sources, some of which are Internet based. Unfortunately, many of these alternate sources of news simply promote an alternate series of lies. These alternate lies are of course dressed up as "exposés." But you can easily tell the phonies from the real thing. The information in the Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum is an acid test.
Does your news source promote Mike McNulty's video, Waco: The Rules of Engagement or wring its hands because the Davidian law suit against the government failed? (See Waco Documentary Is A Hoax! and Waco Suits for Waco Suckers.) Does your alternate news source carry promotional pieces about rebuilding the Davidian church in Waco and mouth nice words about "healing"? (See The Cover-up Church.)
Remember, since ancient times, inquiries into questionable deaths have started with the bodies of the victims. If your news source won't give you an honest and full account of the forensic information on Waco, or if it does not have a link to the Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum ... your alternate news has failed a fundamental acid test.
All original material is copyright 1996-2000 by Carol A. Valentine,
on loan to Public Action, Inc.
Postal Address: Carol A. Valentine, PO Box 10933, Burke, VA 22009
This page last updated February 28, 2001.