In "No Confidence: An Unofficial Account of the Waco Incident," criminal
justice scholar Timothy Lynch, director of the libertarian Cato's Project on
Criminal Justice, analyzes the legal implications of certain undisputed
events and concludes that the official investigation into the incident
led by special prosecutor former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri was "soft
and incomplete." According to Lynch, many obvious crimes have gone
For example, says Lynch, ATF agents were caught on tape assaulting a
television cameraman after he had filmed their retreat from the initial raid
on the Branch Davidian complex. Lynch says that ATF agents also lied to
federal investigators, a federal offense, but were never prosecuted
despite recommendations by U.S. marshals.
More seriously, he says, FBI agents exhibited a gross disregard for human
life when they indiscriminately fired "ferret" rounds at the Davidian
residence and used tanks to ram its walls. "Since at least one child was
struck by a ferret round, second-degree murder charges may be appropriate,"
Also, the involvement of certain FBI officials in the Waco operation
"should have set off alarm bells with Special Prosecutor Danforth's
investigators," Lynch writes. Those officials were suspended by the
Department of Justice for their involvement in the controversial "Ruby
Ridge" incident, in which the wife of white separatist survivalist Randy
Weaver was killed by an FBI sniper during a nine-day standoff with agents in
Idaho in 1992. One of these officials was eventually sentenced
to 18 months in prison for destroying evidence and lying to investigators
about his role in that cover-up.
Lynch points out that the involvement of those officials in supervisory
positions at Waco was not even mentioned in the special prosecutor's report.
"Danforth should have hauled those individuals before a grand jury and
questioned them about missing Waco evidence," Lynch says. "He did not."
If the crimes chronicled in his study go unpunished, Lynch concludes, "the
Waco incident will leave an odious precedent that federal agents can use the
"color of their office to commit crimes against citizens."
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