HRT: Rescue Team or Death Squad? 

"Training: Members of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team detailed to Waco," reads the caption below this picture, as it appears in the US News and World Report, May 3, 1993 (pg. 37). In truth, at the time of the Waco siege, the FBI had 52 such critters in its death squad, divided between a sniper unit and an assault unit. All were present and deployed against the Branch Davidians. And as it happened, all their hostages died.  

It is time to take a look at another group of soldiers, many of whom are "retired" from the military and trained in Special Ops techniques. It was they who controlled the perimeter of the Mt. Carmel Center from March 2 up to the day of the inferno, April 19, 1993 (Treasury Report, pg. 118).

In keeping with the principles we will discuss in Verbiage of War and Psychological Operations, these commandos, trained to kill, are called "rescuers." This group is called the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). Let's go beyond labels and have a look at products, instead:

Melissa Morrison before the HRT "rescue" on April 19

Melissa Morrison after the HRT "rescue" on April 19. Only her lower legs were found. See Autopsy Report of Mt. Carmel Doe 74 in Death Gallery.

According to Ronald Kessler, author of The FBI, the HRT was not started for the purpose of rescuing hostages, but for the purpose of capturing suspects (pg. 340). The name "Hostage Rescue Team" was chosen because it sounded benign, says Kessler. (pg. 341).

According to Kessler, the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team was modeled on Special Operation's Delta force, after FBI agent Buck Ravell attended a Delta force demonstration (pg. 340). And at least some members of the HRT were trained by Col. Charlie Beckwith, the founder of the Delta force and Soldier of Fortune insider.

Peas in a Pod

During the 1994 San Antonio trial of the Branch Davidians, HRT member Mike Toulouse was questioned by defense attorney Codgell:

Codgell:
Did you receive any training from any military personnel?

Toulouse:
Yes, sir.

Codgell:
Did you receive any training from any individuals with the Army or the US Armed Forces associated with the Delta Force?

Toulouse:
No, sir, I have not received training from--from that unit.

Codgell:
Do you know a Col. Charlie Beckwith with Delta Force?

Government attorney Johnston:
Your honor, -- I'm sorry-- may we approach the bench?

Mr. Cogdell: Sure.

Mr. Johnston:
Your Honor, probably the only sensitive area concerning the Hostage Rescue Team is their training, from time to time, with certain special operations groups within the military. The--I don't want to be -- sound silly here, but the Delta -- the existence of the Delta Force and certain Navy Seal units are classified, their existence is classified. And the--I obviously have no objection to this agent discussing the fact that they do train with law enforcement and with military, but it is a -- it is a big deal to the United States Navy and the United States Army that they not be identified as existing in a courtroom and also having specific training with any other unit.

Mr. Cogdell:
Let me help you out, "Bill."

Mr. Johnston:
Okay.

Mr. Cogdell:
Beckwith is a fellow that we may or may not call, he's a retired colonel that started Delta Force. In discussions with him, I may or may not call him. But if I do, he indicated that he had trained several of these folks and we were asking him who he trained and he couldn't remember names. And that's as far as I intend to go, if he was trained by him or if he knows him.

Johnston:
He's not even going to admit the Delta Force exists. And I don't want to sound silly about that, but they are under some tight orders in terms of national security dealing with even acknowledging these units exist, and I don't think he would tell you if they were.
(Transcript, pg. 5024, pg. 5025, and pg. 5026)

According to Texas Ranger Alan Byrnes, who headed the Ranger operation during the WAco Holocaust, the Branch Davidians who left during the siege were "interviewed" upon exit (without attorneys present) by HRT commandos (Transcript, pg. 636 and Transcript, pg. 637). According to the Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1993, "The hostage rescue team undergoes the same kind of rigorous training as military commandos, and the FBI believed the unit's complement of storm troopers and snipers stood the best chance of rescuing the children from the compound."

Former Special Operations personnel, on "retired" status from the military, sometimes find employment as HRT members.

The "can-do" mentality of the military imbues the HRT. "Our approach is there is no room for failure," said Richard M. Rogers, the commander of the team. "If you get the mission, you do it, and you succeed. To have that mind-set requires being on a sharp edge all the time." (quoted in The FBI, pg. 341-42.) It was a member of the HRT who killed Vickie Weaver as she stood holding her baby in the family home in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

Dirty Harry with a Vengeance

The HRT often operates as judge, jury, and executioner and their fellow FBI employees in SWAT teams do the same. Author Ron Kessler describes one hostage situation in (The FBI, pg. 301). The FBI special agent in charge decided the "negotiations were going nowhere;" because it was "necessary to terminate the hostage situation," two SWAT team members and a police officer pumped a dozen bullets into the suspect at an opportune moment. Yet there had been no change in the life-threat potential in the situation; the agents apparently just got bored, and killed the suspect.

All that is necessary for wholesale slaughter, then, is to define a situation as a "hostage" situation, say negotiations to free the hostages are "going nowhere," and move in for the kill. This surely was the situation in Waco, where the Branch Davidians had been living peacefully in their own home with the own children. When surrounded by the soldiers, those children were described as "hostages" of their parents. "Negotiations" to free the hostages predictably went nowhere, and, on April 19, the HRT and US military went in for the kill.

One FBI SWAT/HRT team member assigned to Waco made a home video. The home video was leaked, and distributed throughout the US (FBI SWAT Team Home Video. At one point in the video, the camera focuses on a man sitting in a car. The voice-over says:

"He's quite a specimen. I tell you, of all my years involved with SWAT, I've never seen a gentleman like this. I've learned so much from him in just the short time I've been around him. Awesome is about the only word to describe him." The man in the car, on whom the camera is focused, then says:

"Honed. Honed to a fine edge. Honed to kill."

The military-trained SWAT and HRT members don't sound like they are interested in rescuing anyone. They are trained, professional killers, imbued with the "take no prisoners, butcher and bolt" philosophy of commandos.

Let's put aside the Orwellian labels for a moment, and look at the products of the "Hostage Rescue" Team. When the HRT finally struck on April 19, all the hostages turned up dead, along with their mothers.

Is the HRT a rescue team or a death squad?

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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.   


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This page last updated February 28, 2001.