WASHINGTON - Before bombing the Oklahoma City federal building Timothy McVeigh considered killing former Attorney General Janet Reno, a federal judge and an FBI agent to get back at the U.S. government which he believed had become violent against citizens.
In a letter to Fox News, McVeigh said ``eligible'' targets included Reno, ``making her accept 'full responsibility' in deed, not just word,'' for the deaths resulting from the federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas.
``I considered, among other things, a campaign of individual assassination,'' McVeigh said.
Other targets included federal Judge Walter Smith, who presided over the Waco trial, and Lon Horiuchi, an FBI agent involved at a shootout at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
McVeigh said he bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City as a retaliatory strike against a government that he believed had waged violence against its citizens.
``I decided to send a message to a government that was becoming increasingly hostile, by bombing a government building and the government employees within that building who represent that government,'' McVeigh said in the letter released Thursday.
McVeigh, 33, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on May 16 for the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people, 19 of them children.
The bombing occurred on April 19, 1995, the second anniversary of the fire that ended the 51-day standoff at the Waco compound, where sect leader David Koresh and some 80 followers died.
Until recently, the former Gulf War veteran had not admitted his involvement in the bombing or explained his reasons for doing it. Last month, though, in a book about the bombing written by two reporters who interviewed him, McVeigh admitted his actions. He called the children killed in the blast ``collateral damage.''
Asked about the passage, McVeigh told Fox: ``Collateral Damage? As an American news junkie; a military man; and a Gulf War Veteran, where do they think I learned that (It sure as hell wasn't Osami Bin Laden!)'' - he wrote, misspelling the name of a suspected terrorist.
As in the book, McVeigh said he bombed the federal building to avenge the deaths at Waco and contended his actions were justified.
``Bombing the Murrah Federal Building was morally and strategically equivalent to the U.S. hitting a government building in Serbia, Iraq or other nations,'' McVeigh wrote. ``Based on the observations of the policies of my own government, I viewed this action as an acceptable option.''
He denied that he was seeking publicity by writing to Fox. ``I explain this not for publicity. ... I explain so that the record is clear as to my thinking and motivations in bombing a government installation.''
News organizations are barred from interviewing McVeigh on camera or on audiotape under federal prison rules recently announced by Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, who approved the use of tear gas that preceded the deadly 1993 fire at the Branch Davidian compound, is coming to Waco.
Reno will speak Sept. 13 at the Ferrell Center as part of Baylor University's President's Forum. The school will release ticket information for the event in August.
Reno's representatives initiated the visit, school spokesman Larry Brumley said.
"Although it won't be the focus of her presentation, she is going to make some comments about what she learned from the Branch Davidian episode and will more than likely have some pretty candid observations," said Brumley, who said Reno will also discuss ethics in public service.
"Given the indelible mark that event left on Waco, there was a feeling that as a university that is rooted in this community, there would be some value in hearing her and having her address face-to-face people in this community who've been left with the after-effects of that tragedy," he said.
Phone calls to the New York speaker's bureau representing Reno were not returned Thursday.
Early in Reno's tenure in 1993, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms unsuccessfully tried to arrest Davidian leader David Koresh at the compound 10 miles east of Waco. A 51-day standoff between cult members and the FBI followed.
Reno approved the April 19 use of tear gas on the compound in an attempt to end the standoff by forcing the Davidians to leave the building. A massive fire followed and 76 sect members died.
She later said she would not have approved the plan had she known it would lead to the deaths. A federal judge ruled last year that Koresh was solely responsible for the debacle.
Brumley said Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. talked to local government leaders, as well as the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, before inviting Reno. He said Davidian survivors and their relatives were not included in those talks.
Chamber President and CEO Jack Stewart said he some voiced concerns that a Reno visit would not help the area. But he said the group concluded that she could bring both closure and an interesting historical perspective.
"I think probably there will be an opportunity in some people's minds to get closure to that event from her presentation," Stewart said. "I'm sure others will be disappointed that this is again in the limelight."
Clive Doyle of Waco, a longtime Davidian who survived the fire, said he may attend Reno's speech, and he hopes she tries to express remorse for what happened eight years ago. But he also said he does not blame Reno for the events.
"She came into the job after a lot of this had started, for one thing," he said. "I think there were other people that knew a whole lot more that kept her in the dark to a certain extent."
Doyle, who lost a daughter in the fire, noted that Baylor will host Reno. He said some faculty and students have been sympathetic to the Davidians, but the school as a whole has not.
The Ferrell Center will hold up to about 6,500 people for Reno's speech, Brumley said. Audience members will be able to submit written questions that will be screened by a group of faculty members. Some questions will be passed along to Sloan, who will moderate a question-and-answer session with Reno.
Brumley noted it's the same format that has been used in past president's forums, which have included Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes. Reno will also attend a question-and-answer session with students and have a news conference for local media.
Brumley would not discuss what type of security will be used to protect Reno. He also did not disclose her speaking fee, but said it is less than previous guests of the President's Forum.
Bringing Reno is also an effort by Baylor to strike a balance "between the left and the right," Brumley said. High profile conservatives such as Forbes and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher have visited the school in recent years.
Former Missouri Sen. John C. Danforth issued a blistering rebuke of charges by a Washington-based think tank that he botched his investigation of the FBI's 1993 attack on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and that the attack was "criminally reckless" in its use of force against the sect.
In a statement issued by his office, Danforth said the study - published by the libertarian Cato Institute and written by Thomas Lynch, director of the institute's Project on Criminal Justice - offered no new information.
Danforth reiterated his initial conclusion exonerating the government and placing the blame for the incident on sect leader David Koresh.
"Based on a 14-month investigation, I am 100 percent certain that on April 19, 1993, the government did not set fire to the Branch Davidian complex, did not direct gunfire at the Branch Davidians and did not illegally use the military in a civilian law enforcement operation," Danforth said in the statement.
But the Cato study calls Danforth's investigation "soft and incomplete" and says his "sweeping exoneration of federal officials is not supported by the factual record."
The study alleges that a series of crimes and possible crimes by federal agents were never seriously investigated or prosecuted, and that the government was "criminally reckless" in its use of force against the sect.
"I was hopeful that when Sen. Danforth was appointed Special Counsel he would do a thorough investigation," Lynch said. But the report contained too many "lapses and things glossed over," he said.
The study also disputes Danforth's conclusion that Koresh, who died in a fire inside the group's Mt. Carmel compound along with 75 others during the 51-day standoff, was wholly to blame.
According to Danforth's investigation, Koresh shot and killed four federal agents and wounded 20 others; directed gunfire at FBI agents; spread fuel and set fire to the complex; and shot to death five children and stabbed to death one more.
"I do not agree with Mr. Lynch that the shooting of federal agents, the setting fire to the complex and the shooting and stabbing [of] children constitutes only a 'share' of the responsibility," Danforth said.
Lynch claims agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms assaulted a television cameraman and lied to federal investigators, and that FBI agents recklessly endangered human life when they fired tear gas and drove tanks into the Davidians' compound during the final day of a 51-day standoff.
Additionally, the report lists "conduct that warrants further investigation," which Lynch says could be the basis for criminal charges against federal agents and officials.
Among those charges, the report cites witness accounts and evidence that the Davidians were fired upon by National Guard helicopters which the FBI says were used only to distract the sect members during the April 19 advance on the compound. The report also claims that FBI agents fired on the Davidians on April 19. The FBI, and Danforth's report, have maintained that while agents fired hundreds of rounds of tear gas into the compound that day, they did not direct gunfire at the sect members.
The study says Danforth ignored independent expert analysis of the FBI's infrared aerial film of the incident that concluded flashes of light on the film were FBI gunfire. Experts hired by Danforth to examine the film concluded the flashes were reflections off debris on the ground. In his report, Danforth said he was "100 percent" certain that his experts were correct.
"What is disturbing to me is that the experts disagree on this and Danforth says 100-percent certainty," Lynch said. "That's a gross mistatement of the evidence, and another piece that casts doubt on his report."
Lynch also cites evidence suggesting that FBI recording devices planted inside Mt. Carmel had provided the FBI with advance warning of the Davidians' plans to start fires. The FBI has used these tapes since the incident as evidence that the Davidians, and not the FBI, started the fires. However, the FBI claims it did not have this evidence until after the siege when the quality of the tapes could be technologically enhanced. At the time of the assault, the FBI said it could not make out the audio on the tapes and did not know of the Davidians' plans to start fires.
But according to an interview given to the Dallas Morning News by U.S. Army Col. Rodney L. Rawlings, who was assisting the FBI during the raid, the voices of Koresh and other Davidians planning the fires could be clearly heard on the FBI bugging devices.
"You would think Danforth would be discussing [Rawlings'] allegations. It is an obvious lapse," Lynch said.
Finally, Lynch questions whether federal employees, including Attorney General Janet Reno, obstructed justice during various investigations into the incident.
After 51 days of the standoff, Reno approved an assault on the compound to force the Davidians from Mt. Carmel. Agents approached the compound in tanks, smashed holes in the walls and fired tear gas into the building. Hours later, fires said to have been set by the sect members broke out inside the compound and 76 Davidians, including 27 children and Koresh, died in the fires. Nine survived.
Lynch said that of all his allegations, the most serious were that the tear gas and tank assault against the compound - actions not in dispute by the FBI - were conducted without first identifying where the children were being held.
"It wasn't just David Koresh in the building. The government ... glosses over the fact that there were more than 70 people in there," Lynch said. "It amounts to criminally reckless conduct."
WACO - Just when Sheila Martin thinks she can forget, an anniversary such as the one Thursday jerks her back to the day her husband and four children died during the inferno that ended the Branch Davidian standoff.
It was eight years ago Thursday - April 19, 1993 - that flames 75 feet high roared through the rickety, wooden Branch Davidian compound on the Double E Ranch Road just east of Waco. Among those who died with cult leader David Koresh were Sheila's husband, David, and four of the family's six children.
"When I see those flames I can feel the heat on my back," said Martin, who along with several of Koresh's surviving followers still live near the site of their Mount Carmel compound. "I wonder where my family was when those flames spread. I wonder ... did they think of me? Did they call out my name?"
The FBI armored assault on the Branch Davidian compound eight years ago remains one of the most controversial events of recent American history.
Timothy McVeigh cited the Mount Carmel assault, which ended a 51-day standoff with federal authorities, as the reason he bombed the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City two years to the day later, killing 168 people.
But for Martin and other survivors, it's personal pain and not public controversy that motivates them.
"It doesn't seem like eight years," she says. "I can still feel the flame on their backs. I can still imagine the shock in their faces and the pain on their backs.
"That hasn't eased in eight years. I think about their smiles, and their lives, and what they were like, and what it was like to live with them. It seems just like it was yesterday."
Martin and two of her children survived the fire.
Many survivors of the Branch Davidian drama haven't lost their faith in Koresh.
"We're waiting for David to come back and hoping that he will come back very soon," Catherine Matteson said confidently. "He's going to be resurrected, and when he is, you're going to really see things pop."
Matteson was briefly jailed after leaving the compound during the standoff.
The remaining Branch Davidians have a brief memorial service every year on April 19 near the Mount Carmel site, which federal agents quickly bulldozed after the fire. Many remain convinced that the entire episode was an attempt by government officials to kill them.
"I'm not surprised" the FBI stormed the compound, Matteson said. "Because that same thing has happened many times before, mainly to people who follow the Scriptures."
The survivors and several relatives of those who died lost a claim last year against the federal government and a special commission led by former Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., ruled that the FBI and other agencies involved were not responsible for the fire.
The only government official to face criminal charges in the episode, ironically, was former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston, one of the prosecutors in the 1994 trial of 11 of Koresh's followers. He pleaded guilty to misprison of a felony, after he allegedly "misled" a federal grand jury about the FBI's use of tear gas canisters in the siege.
But on days such as Thursday, none of that matters to Sheila Martin.
"I watch the video of that building burning, and when that big explosion comes, I wonder, were my children blown to bits? I can't just think about the deaths, I think about what condition they were in when they died. Sometimes, I can't forget it."
April 19 is the anniversary of two unhappy events in this country. The first was in 1993, when federal law-enforcement officials began an assault on the Waco home of a religious group known as the Branch Davidians. The attack, led by tanks armed with debilitating chemical agents, concluded a 51-day standoff and ended with the fiery deaths of 76 persons, including 27 children, inside the building. The second event was Timothy McVeigh´s terrorist bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma in 1995, killing 168 men, women and children. Killing innocent federal employees was McVeigh´s idea of commemorating the death of innocents at Waco.
Because of the imminence of McVeigh´s execution and controversy about it, the 1995 bombing is receiving by far the more attention of the two attacks. Some relatives of the victims have asked to see the execution by closed-circuit television, a request to which Attorney General John Ashcroft has agreed. It is a solemn event when the government exacts the ultimate punishment for a criminal´s just desserts, and in agreeing to the closed circuit broadcast, Mr. Ashcroft may unfortunately have left the door open for a broader call for televised executions. Further, it seems highly unlikely that watching this criminal die will give families relief from their grief and loss. Still, if watching salves the sorrow of some, so be it. It is their choice to participate.
The events of 1993, however, should not be forgotten. In a newly released paper for the Cato Institute, author Timothy Lynch argues that investigations of the final assault, including one by former Sen. John Danforth, essentially whitewashed any misdeeds by the feds and leave many questions unanswered. Further, his chronology of the events serves as a terrible reminder of how unnecessary was the raid of the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in February 1993 that set of the terrible chain of events.
The original reason for the ATF raid was a tip that the Branch Davidians were involved in the illegal manufacture of weapons. During a July 1992 ATF interview with a Texas firearms dealer, the dealer actually called group leader David Koresh to tell him that federal agents had questions about Koresh´s firearms. Koresh actually invited the agents to come out and see his inventory and paperwork for themselves. The agents declined even to get on the phone with Koresh. Why?
Mr. Lynch argues, as have many others, that the ATF was trying to offset bad publicity from a "60 Minutes" segment airing complaints that male agents were sexually harassing their female counterparts. A showy raid on a gun-toting religious zany like Koresh, perhaps aired on television, was just the thing.
Many questions remain. Why were ATF agents never prosecuted for beating up a local cameraman as they retreated after the failed February raid? Why were two ATF agents never prosecuted for lying about the events of that terrible day to Texas Rangers deputized as U.S. marshals? Why were FBI agents never prosecuted for firing rounds of gas shells into the Branch Davidian residence when they had no idea where innocent women and children were in the building, an act Mr. Lynch calls "unconscionable and criminal"? Recall that some of the officers involved in killing Amadou Diallo in 1999 were charged with "depraved indifference to human life." Because numerous crimes at Waco were never prosecuted, Mr. Lynch argues, "federal police agencies may well come to the conclusion that it is permissible to endanger the lives of innocent people, lie to newspapers, obstruct congressional subpoenas and give misleading testimony in our courts." Waco has a sufficiently infamous legacy in the death of innocents in Oklahoma City. This nation does not need lawless federal agencies adding to it.
April 19 is the eighth anniversary of the final FBI assault on the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas. For almost a decade, politicians and bureaucrats have sweated to withhold key information about that day´s events from the American public. But the ghost of Waco may be rising from the grave once more to place its ice-cold hand again on the neck of the Washington establishment.
Back in September 1999, Attorney General Janet Reno handpicked former U.S. Sen. John Danforth to finally put the wooden stake in the heart of the Waco issue once and for all. Mr. Danforth, operating supposedly as an independent counsel,did his pious best and raced to release his report last summer just as he became rumored a top prospect to be Mr. Bush´s vice presidential candidate. Mr. Danforth basically exonerated the feds, saving his scorn for low-life Americans who dared criticize the government tank assault and gassing of the women, children, and men in the Davidians´ home.
A key issue for Mr. Danforth´s investigation was whether FBI agents fired on Davidians during their final attack. Rhythmic patterns on Forward Looking Infrared ("FLIR") tapes made by an FBI plane strongly suggested automatic weapons fire came from positions near the FBI tanks. Mr. Danforth persuaded federal Judge Walter Smith to conduct a re-enactment last year of the final day´s action. Mr. Danforth then proclaimed that the film from the re-enactment proved beyond a doubt that federal agents did not shoot at Davidians in large part because the muzzle flashes on the re-enactment were much shorter than the shots from the April 19, 1993, tape.
A new film, titled "The F.L.I.R. Project," produced by Mike McNulty (one of the masterminds behind the Academy Award 1998 finalist documentary, "Waco: Rules of Engagement") reveals fatal flaws in Mr. Danforth´s re-enactment.
(The film is available at www.flirproject.com).
On April 19, 1993, FBI agents relied on a commercial, off-the-shelf ammo the type that would be used by any hunter or shooter. For the March 19, 2000, Danforth-FBI re-enactment, the FBI used military-issue ammunition that had a special chemical coating on the gunpowder to reduce muzzle flash (helpful in preventing soldiers being detected in combat). The military ammo thus had a built-in flash suppressant.
Since a key issue was the length of the muzzle flashes, using flash-suppressing ammunition ensured that the re-enactment would be a farce.
The Danforth-FBI re-enactment further biased the test results by having the FBI agents use weapons with a 20-inch barrel instead of weapons with 14-inch barrels that agents carried on April 19, 1993. The longer a weapon´s barrel, the less muzzle flash will be shown from each shot.
Again, this is a tricky way to do an accurate re-enactment. But the re-enactment produced the politically correct result and Mr. Danforth proceeded to denounce the American people for thinking bad things about their federal masters.
No doubt Mr. Danforth, the FBI and others will continue to insist there was no gunfire by FBI agents on April 19, 1993. But if the feds are innocent, why have they gone to such absurd lengths to fix the jury? The $12 million in tax dollars that Mr. Danforth spent for his Waco investigation should have been categorized as part of the public relations budget of the FBI and Justice Department or perhaps as a line item expense in the Clinton Legacy Project.
These revelations come on top of information that has already surfaced showing the Danforth investigation to be a sham. Mr. Danforth personally chose Vector Data Systems to carry out the tests, with U.S. military assistance, and to evaluate the results. Mr. Danforth repeatedly identified Vector as independent British company. But Vector is actually owned by Anteon, a large American corporation that on its Web page boasts of contracts with 50 federal agencies, including the White House Communications Agency.
A new book by former federal attorney David Hardy further debunks the government´s Waco fairy tale. "This Is Not An Assault" provides fascinating inside details on how private investigators squeezed out damning information on Waco how federal judge Walter Smith stifled lawyers at the trial last year to prevent jurors from learning of more than 100 items of evidence embarrassing or potentially incriminating the federal government and how Republican congressmen (such as Dan Burton) and aides cowered and effectively aided the Clinton administration cover-up. Mr. Hardy´s skill in hammering federal agencies with Freedom of Information Act requests was a decisive factor in making Waco a hot political potato in 1999. Mr. Hardy´s book will be soon available at www.xlibris.com.
If President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft want to restore the faith of the American people in the federal government, they must open the vaults on Waco. Neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Ashcroft should have any incentive to cover up the outrages of Miss Reno and other Clinton administration officials. On the other hand, if Mr. Bush and Mr. Ashcroft do not have the will or gumption to force the FBI, the ATF, and the Justice Department to come clean about Clinton era abuses, what hope can we have of their honesty regarding any abuses occurring after Jan. 20?
Last week, the Cato Institute released "No Confidence: An Unofficial Account of the Waco Incident." Timothy Lynch author of the study, talked to NRO earlier this week. Kathryn Jean Lopez: Why revisit Waco now? Timothy Lynch: The Special Prosecutor, John Danforth, officially closed his office in February, 2001. We concluded that his report was so inadequate that it should not be the final word about the Waco incident. If we failed to respond to Danforth's report, too many people would have drawn the conclusion that his findings were accepted by everybody. Lopez: Should there be more hearings? Lynch: Yes, there should be more hearings. Waco represents the worst disaster in the history of federal law enforcement. There were more American casualties at Waco than during the entire Gulf War. And yet, we still don't have all the facts with respect to what happened. If Congress cannot get to the bottom of what happened at Waco, what confidence can we have about smaller incidents involving federal law enforcement agencies? We now know that the FBI withheld information from Congress as it was preparing for the 1995 hearings into Waco. If Congress ignores that obstruction and simply "moves on," we'll know that congressional "oversight" is far more lax than we ever imagined. Lopez: Who, ultimately, should be held accountable? Lynch: There ought to be an aggressive and thorough investigation into the Waco incident. Any government agent who broke the law ought to be prosecuted.
Any agent who misled the public or who knew about those crimes and did not come forward should lose his job. In my view, it is misguided to try to pin the blame on a single individual. There are many people involved - and varying levels of culpability. The wrongdoers should be punished accordingly.
Lopez: The Texas Rangers did an investigation of their own and recommended that two ATF agents be indicted and prosecuted. Were they ignored? Why? Lynch:
Yes, they were ignored. The Rangers were deputized as U.S. Marshals and they conducted an investigation. The ATF raid commanders lied to the Rangers about what happened on the day of the ATF raid. Because lying to a federal investigator is a federal offense (for which ordinary citizens go to jail), the Rangers recommended that those agents be prosecuted. The Department of Justice took no action. I do not know why the Rangers were ignored. Some have speculated that the ATF agents threatened to "spill the beans" on other agents if they were indicted. That may or may not be true. Lopez: In your estimation, why did John Danforth do a "soft and incomplete job" investigating Waco? Lynch: Mr. Danforth is the only person who can answer that question. Most Americans want to know two things: (1) Did federal agents commit crimes at Waco?; and (2) Were those crimes covered up? Unfortunately, the answer to both of those questions is yes. I invite the public to read the Cato Institute report and to come to their own conclusions. Lopez: There have been a lot of differing accounts about what actually happened, in what order, at the Branch Davidian compound. Is there a definitive version of events to be relied on? Is there any likelihood there will ever be one? Lynch: There is no question that finding the full truth has been - and will continue to be - very difficult. Many of the Davidian witnesses are dead. They cannot report what they know. On the other side, we have the famous blue wall of silence - by which the police circle the wagons to protect their own. Those are formidable obstacles - but we should resist the idea that the truth will never be known and give up. Every week detectives around the country piece together bits of evidence to build cases to be presented in court. Does that mean they are able to discover "everything that happened"? Of course not. We must pursue the truth to the extent that we are able. Lopez: Do you have any reason to believe there will be prosecutions? Lynch: At this juncture, my answer is no. But I hasten to add that this case has had many twists and turns. The federal government has been proclaiming "case closed" since 1993 - only to have the case reopened because of some damaging revelation. The case may reopen again. It certainly ought to reopen again - because too much has been swept underneath the rug.
WASHINGTON A new study by Cato Institute says that the final official government report on the 1993 Branch Davidian disaster near Waco, Texas, which exonerated federal officials from wrongdoing, is "not supported by the factual evidence."
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 unprosecuted.
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," Lynch writes.
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."
CHICAGO - As Timothy McVeigh awaits execution, anti-government groups suspect the Oklahoma City bomber of being a brainwashed "patsy" who undermined them, not a martyr to their cause, experts who monitor the groups say.
McVeigh, 32, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at an Indiana prison on May 16 for killing 168 people with a fertilizer bomb detonated outside the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.
"They view Timothy McVeigh as a patsy, as a sort of Lee Harvey Oswald type," said Mark Pitcavage, who tracks right-wing hate groups for the Anti-Defamation League. "Why hasn't he come clean? Because he's been brainwashed and the government wants to execute him before he can wake up."
Various conspiracy theories -- which have been investigated and officially dismissed -- hold that Oswald did not act alone in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and some blame Kennedy opponents in government for his killing.
Extremists believe McVeigh was programmed by government agents to derail the right-wing's goal of staging a revolution by providing an excuse for a government crackdown -- which occurred after passage of an anti-terrorist law. Many right-wing groups splintered and some members were imprisoned.
McVeigh, who is considered by most experts to be a "lone wolf" adherent of right-wing philosophies, has been quoted as saying the U.S. military had implanted a computer chip in his body to control him.
As his execution date approaches, right-wing groups that distrust the mainstream media but communicate extensively through the Internet will note the attention McVeigh's execution gets and may try to attract some publicity for themselves, experts said.
FATEFUL APRIL 19
But beforehand, April 19 looms as a key date for those whose cause is nothing less than the overthrow of what they view as a corrupt U.S. government.
McVeigh has been quoted as saying he chose April 19 for the bombing as revenge for the FBI raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, on that date in 1993 in which some 80 cult members died. McVeigh also carried a fake driver's license listing April 19 as his birthday.
April 19 already had significance for right-wing groups as "Patriot's Day," honoring the colonial militia that waged battles against the British during the American Revolutionary War. They renamed it "Militia Day."
Since the bombing, the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, the date has put authorities on alert.
"Every April 19, everyone should hold their breath," said Evan McKenzie, a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"(Right-wing groups) are convinced that they are in the vanguard of a revolution and the government is out to stop them because their ideas are so powerful that the people ... will rise up," McKenzie said.
He said the groups moved to protect themselves by organizing into small cells of four or five individuals, much like McVeigh and his few cohorts.
Most engage in words, not actions, though single members may spin off and wreak havoc, McKenzie said. Estimates of membership in the groups that range from tax protesters to white supremacists vary widely -- from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands, with many more sympathizers.
But just because McVeigh is reviled by many anti-government groups does not mean he will not become a martyr in death, experts said.
JOHN BROWN'S BODY
Abolitionist John Brown was derided as a madman by all sides of the slavery issue after his violent raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859. But after the outbreak of the Civil War, "John Brown's body" was a rallying cry for Union troops who sang about defeating slavery while marching into battle.
"The difference between a martyr and a mope is how popular the cause is after his death. As long as the right-wing vigilante movement remains marginal, McVeigh will be remembered as despicable and pathetic," said Northwestern University law professor Steven Lubet, who has written about Brown.
"He's seen not so much as a martyr but as the only witness to a government conspiracy," McKenzie added.
And Pitcavage said there was virtually no support for McVeigh among anti-government groups.
"What little support there is is among the hard-core white supremacists," Pitcavage said, citing McVeigh's adherence to the racist, anti-Semitic, anti-government polemic, "The Turner Diaries." In the book, an FBI building is blown up with a fertilizer bomb, an act that sets off a revolution.
In order to supplement the above news, we recomment the book by David Thibodeau "A Place Called Waco: A Survivor's Story" (see related article). Thibodeau, one of only nine Branch Davidian survivors of the attack, tells the story of the Branch Davidians and their dealings with federal agents. In light of subsequent government admissions, including a partial recantation in 1999 of previous denials that the tea gas used in the assault could have been incendiary, Thibodeau's detailed account of the storming of the compound and the fire that followed is still more important.
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