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"Absence of 2 witnesses questioned"

by Davidians By Jim Henderson ("Houston Chronicle", July 11, 2000)

WACO -- Every afternoon this week, Branch Davidian attorney Michael Caddell has left the federal courtroom, strode to a knot of reporters on the sidewalk outside, and asked the same two questions: "Where's Richard Rogers? Where's Jeff
Rogers and Jamar were the two principal FBI commanders during the assault on Mount Carmel that resulted in the fiery deaths of David Koresh and more than 80 of his Davidian followers seven years ago.
Their testimony was promised at the beginning of the trial of the Davidians' wrongful death lawsuit against the government, but the judge and jury have yet to hear from either man. As the trial winds toward a possible Friday finish it is increasingly unlikely they will.
The failure of either side to call the two retired FBI agents is but one of numerous oddities in a trial that began nearly four weeks ago with global publicity and now rarely makes the front pages except in the local newspaper.
High-profile witnesses, such as Attorney General Janet Reno and former FBI director William Sessions, appeared only in videotaped depositions. The jury met many of the key FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents through written statements alone.
The judge so limited the range of subject matter that could be covered that many witnesses -- including some who were in the courtroom and ready to testify -- were kept from taking the stand.
But it has been the absence of Rogers, who was in charge of the hostage rescue team, and Jamar, special agent in charge of the siege at Mount Carmel, that has been the most glaring because a cornerstone of the plaintiffs' case turns on their actions that Monday in April 1993.
The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that Reno approved a plan to end the 51-day standoff with tear gas but Jamar and Rogers acted on their own, contrary to Reno's plan and the advice of hostage negotiators.
The Justice Department plan had called for Davidians to be given 48 hours to leave the compound once the tear gas was sprayed inside. What happen instead was tanks began demolishing the building two hours after the gas was inserted.
One government witness testified Tuesday that there apparently was no plan to continue the operation for 48 hours.
Gary Harris, an FBI agent who drove a tank equipped with a bulldozer blade that day, was called to bolster the government's argument that no order was given to demolish the building at the time the fatal fire began.
He said his orders were to clear a path for the tear gas tanks by crashing through the gymnasium to reach a three-story tower where many Davidians were believed to be hiding.
His tank clipped a corner of the building and caused the roof to collapse, but it was "unintentional on my part," Harris said.
Harris said he entered the gym but stopped 20 yards short of the tower. He backed up and re-entered the gym several times, apparently damaging it more each time. But he insisted his mission was not to destroy the building.
Later, when he was recommended for an agency award, the citation said his mission was "the systematic demolition of Mount Carmel."
On the witness stand, Harris said that was "completely inaccurate."
Caddell forced Harris to admit he told a different story Tuesday than one he told in a deposition more than a year ago.
"You would agree," Caddell said, "that after 45 minutes you had pretty well destroyed the gymnasium?"
"No, I wouldn't," Harris said.
Caddell then produced the deposition in which Harris had stated twice that he had "pretty well destroyed" the gym in 45 minutes.
After the trial recessed, Caddell told reporters that, "Harris is a nice guy in a bad spot. ... He was sent here to save Dick Rogers' butt."
The reasons that Rogers and Jamar have not appeared in court to speak for themselves are vague.
Caddell has taunted government attorneys for not calling them. U.S. Attorney Mike Bradford of Beaumont, who is the lead attorney for the government, returned some of the barbs Tuesday.
He said he did not subpoena Rogers and Jamar because Caddell had placed them on his witness list.
In his opening statement to the jury last month, Bradford said, "Jeff Jamar and Richard Rogers will come here to this courtroom and will testify to you."
Tuesday he said that statement was in response to Caddell's request that the government make the two men available as witnesses.
"He backed down," Bradford said. "He sued us. This is his case. He has accused these two men of a serious wrongdoing, and he had a perfect opportunity to put them on the stand and prove that. We had them available."
Caddell had said earlier that he had not called the two men because the judge had limited each side's presentation to 40 hours and he had run out of time.
So, the five-member jury sitting as an advisory panel to U.S. District Judge Walter Smith will have to weigh the decision made by FBI agents without hearing from the agents themselves.

"Tank driver explains Waco incursions"

by Dick J. Reavis ("San Antonio Express", July 11, 2000)

WACO - An FBI agent who repeatedly drove a tank into Mount Carmel's gymnasium April 19, 1993, testified Tuesday he didn't intend to raze the building, and that had he wanted to, he would have used a different tank.
Gary Harris, driver of a modified M-60 tank called a Combat Engineering Vehicle, or CEV, told the jury in the Davidian wrongful death suit that his entries to the gym were intended to create a "driveway" for another CEV to use in inserting tear gas.
Harris described his vehicle, 26 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 11 feet high, as "basically an armored bulldozer." It was equipped, he said, with a bulldozer-type blade.
Brought to the witness stand Tuesday morning by lead government attorney Michael Bradford of Beaumont, Harris spent more than two hours explaining his actions. To tell his story, he made reference to scenes from an aerial videotape produced by forward-looking infrared, or FLIR, cameras.
The video, exhibited on a large courtroom screen, showed that between 10:20 a.m. and 12:08 p.m. April 19, the CEV that Harris piloted made a dozen entries to the gymnasium, which was on the back side of Mount Carmel, out of the view of the television cameras.
As Harris made his entries, sections of the gym's roof collapsed. By noon more than half of the gym was razed.
But Harris told the court, "We didn't want to just run through the place. ... It was not my intention to bring that roof down."
His orders that morning, he explained, were to clear a passway from the gymnasium to Mount Carmel's central tower so a specially equipped CEV could inject tear gas into the tower.
Most of Mount Carmel's women and children were huddled in a concrete room at the base of the tower. Harris said he was ordered to pass through the gymnasium by Dick Rogers, the FBI's on-scene commander.
Rogers believed efforts to saturate the tower with tear gas, using both CEVs and plastic rockets, had failed, Harris said.
FLIR footage showed Harris' CEV as it repeatedly moved leftward, toward the gym's centerline, in a series of entries. The incursion caused sections of the roof to drop.
Harris explained that he kept moving to the left, "because I had to move away from that part of the building that had already collapsed."
On his forays into the building, Harris said, he was "snowpiling" the mostly household possessions that Branch Davidians had stored inside.
He denied that his CEV ever reached the gym's opposite wall, across a courtyard from the central tower.
But under cross-examination by lead plaintiffs attorney Michael Caddell of Houston, Harris admitted that the debris he was plowing had destroyed the opposite wall of the gym and spilled into the courtyard.
Had the FBI wanted to raze Mount Carmel, Harris said, it would have used another CEV, standing at the ready, "which had a piece of railroad track welded to the blade to peel walls back."
The government has claimed that the FLIR tape showing the tank maneuvers also shows Davidians setting the April 19 fire that destroyed Mount Carmel.
More than 70 Davidians died during the final assault, either from the fire or gunshots that the government says were self- inflicted.
In the Davidians' 1994 criminal trail in San Antonio, defense attorneys noted a flash appeared on the film, shortly after the CEV's last entry into the gymnasium. That flash, they said, marked the actual origin of the fire, which they blamed on the tank's incursions.
The FLIR tape also attracted an audience in a popular 1997 documentary film, "Waco: The Rules of Engagement." The film's makers argued that other flashes on the film are the "thermal signatures" of gunfire by FBI agents.
Judge Walter Smith Jr., who is hearing the case, has postponed arguments that the FLIR may have recorded gunfire April 19.
Those arguments are scheduled for consideration in August, unless Smith rules in favor of government motions saying that they should be dismissed for lack of merit.
Late Tuesday afternoon, jurors watched excerpts of a videotaped deposition of Graeme Craddock.
Craddock, one of eight Davidians convicted in the 1994 San Antonio trial, is serving a federal prison term in Pennsylvania.
In his testimony, Craddock said that during the 51-day siege, he heard Wayne Martin, a Harvard-trained lawyer who lived at Mount Carmel, talk of plans to use Molotov cocktails and torches to attack any tanks that might enter the buildings.
FBI agent Harris said Tuesday his tank was not attacked and that he did not feel that he was in danger.

"FBI agent testifies on tank assault in Waco siege"

(Associated Press, July 11, 2000)

WACO – A tank ramming the back of the Branch Davidian compound on the final day of the 1993 siege was trying to make a pathway so a specially equipped tank could spray tear gas deep into the building, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.
Agent Gary Harris, who operated one of two specially equipped tanks used to insert gas into the compound at the end of the 51-day standoff, testified that his vehicle lost a track and was unable to complete its mission. Harris was told to use a basic tank to make a hole or pathway so that the other specially equipped tank could reach inner areas of the building.
"We weren't getting gas into ... that courtyard of that building because people weren't getting out,'' he said.
Jurors watched infrared images of Harris driving the tank into the building as he described how he took great care to safely clear a passageway through the building's gym.
"We were trying to make the best decision we could at the time. We didn't want to recklessly drive through the building,'' he said.
The government called Harris in its defense against a $675 million wrongful-death lawsuit filed by sect survivors and family members. The plaintiffs contend that the government shares blame for the deaths of some 80 sect members by fire or gunshots on the final day of the siege.
They say government agents violated a tear-gassing plan approved by Attorney General Janet Reno when drivers of the tanks began the premature demolition of the building. The plan called for dismantling the building 48 hours after the tear-gassing operation began.
Government attorneys say the destruction caused by the tanks was a function of the the tear-gassing mission.
"It wasn't a haphazard, just run up and smash and crash things,'' Harris said. "That's not the reason I was back there in my mind, and it's not the orders I was given.''
The standoff began Feb. 28, 1993, when agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms unsuccessfully tried to search the complex and arrest Koresh on illegal weapons charges. A gunfight ensued, and four agents and six Davidians were killed.
FBI agents tried to end the standoff April 19 with the tear-gassing plan. Six hours into the operation, fire broke out, quickly consuming the rickety building.
Harris testified Tuesday that agents expected sect members to evacuate the building soon after the tear-gassing began. Instead, he said, they started firing at the tanks. The FBI escalated the operation and Harris was ordered to start inserting gas into the back of the compound.
The government was expected to call its fire expert and an investigator who sifted through the ruins of the compound on Tuesday afternoon.

"FBI Agent Describes Ramming in Waco"

by Sherri Chunn (Associated Press, July 11, 2000)

WACO, Texas (AP) - A military tank that rammed the Branch Davidian compound on the final day of the 1993 siege was attempting to open a pathway so another tank could carry tear gas deep into the building, a federal agent testified Tuesday.
FBI agent Gary Harris said he drove one of two modified tanks, called combat engineer vehicles, that were to be used to carry bottles of tear gas into the compound on the final day of the sect's 51-day standoff with government agents.
Harris said his vehicle lost a track and was unable to complete its mission, so he was told to use a third, unmodified tank to make a hole or pathway that the second combat engineer vehicle could use to reach inner areas of the compound. The modified tanks had a bottle attached to a boom to spray gas.
As jurors watched infrared images of Harris driving the tank into the building, he said he took great care to safely clear a passageway through the gymnasium.
``We were trying to make the best decision we could at the time. We didn't want to recklessly drive through the building,'' he said.
The government called Harris in its defense against a $675 million wrongful death lawsuit filed by sect survivors and family members who claim the government shares the blame for the deaths of some 80 sect members on the final day of the siege.
The plaintiffs say that by punching holes in the walls, the tank operated allowed wind in to feed the flames. And they argue the tanks could have knocked over lanterns used to illuminate the compound after the government cut off electricity.
Government attorneys say suicidal Davidians - not federal agents - caused the fires.
On Monday, jurors listened to recordings from government undercover microphones inside the compound.
On the final day of the siege, as the tanks were heard rumbling in the background, a male voice said: ``Let's keep that fire going.''
Unidentified Davidians also were heard asking ``start the fire?'' and ``should we light the fire?''
On the day before the siege, an unidentified male said: ``you always wanted to be a charcoal briquette ... There's nothing like a good fire to bring us to the Earth.''
The jury is acting as an advisory panel to U.S. District Judge Walter Smith, who will deliver the verdict.
The recordings were made with tiny eavesdropping devices hidden among supplies that were sent to the compound by the government. The plaintiffs had argued unsuccessfully to have them excluded from the trial, saying they amount to hearsay because of their anonymous nature. But Smith said, ``I don't think it matters who was talking. These are adult Branch Davidians who were talking.''
The 51-day standoff began Feb. 28, 1993, when agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms unsuccessfully tried to search the complex and arrest sect leader David Koresh on illegal weapons charges. A gun fight erupted; four agents and six Davidians were killed.

"U.S. plays tapes from siege"

by Lee Hancock ("Dallas Morning News," July 11, 2000)

WACO – Branch Davidians, overheard on FBI eavesdropping devices, made jokes about federal agents dying at the start of a 1993 standoff and also laughingly discussed their belief that God would take them "like flames of fire."
"Catch fire, and they couldn't even bring the firetruck, 'cause they couldn't even get near us," Branch Davidian Steve Schneider was overheard saying April 17, 1993, two days before a fire leveled the compound with more than 80 sect members inside.
Government lawyers played 45 minutes of excerpts from the sect's intercepted conversations Monday as they continued trying to convince jurors that Branch Davidians – and not government agents – caused the 1993 standoff.
FBI bugging devices inside the compound also captured sect members talking in the final hours before the fire about spreading fuel around the building and lighting fires.
"So we only light 'em at first if they come in with a tank, right? Not if they come in with men?" one unidentified sect member could be heard asking.
The final intelligible exchanges before the bugs went dead included a male voice saying, "I want a fire around back," and another male offering the last captured phrase, "Let's keep that fire going."
A $675 million wrongful-death lawsuit alleges that government agents began the standoff with a botched raid that disintegrated into a gunbattle.
It charges that FBI commanders in Waco guaranteed a deadly ending with an overly aggressive tank and tear-gas assault that violated approved plans and failed to address the known threat of fire at the compound.
Four agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms died Feb. 28, 1993, when a gunfight erupted as they and 72 colleagues tried to raid the compound for illegal weapons. Six Branch Davidians also died that day.
FBI agents brought in to resolve the standoff smuggled 11 electronic transmitters into the compound, hiding the tiny bugs in cartons of milk, gym bags and other items given to sect members during the 51-day siege.
The bugs captured hundreds of hours of conversations, including one March 15 exchange in which sect leader David Koresh and his chief lieutenant, Mr. Schneider, talked at length about the initial gunfight with ATF.
The two men discussed how Branch Davidians fired through windows and walls, at one point watching dumbfounded as one agent stared at them through a window but failed to fire his weapon.
Mr. Koresh laughed as he recalled seeing one ATF agent "in the corner all slumped," and then watching as his "head blew up."
"He shouldn't have been standing in my door," Mr. Koresh later added. "Trying to come in. . . . But . . . what am I goin' to do? Let 'em come in?"
The tapes were played over protests from plaintiffs' lawyers, who argued that many of the voices on the recordings could not be identified. They contended that the tapes might unfairly prejudice jurors against plaintiffs who had no part in the initial gunfight or in setting fires April 19.
'Misguided' effort?
Michael Caddell, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, has conceded that at least one of the three fires that consumed the building may have been set by sect members. But he has argued that it probably was ignited in a "misguided" attempt by a few male Branch Davidians to repulse FBI tanks.
He has noted that the fires did not break out until after FBI commanders ordered one tank to begin demolishing the rear gym of the building and sent another to penetrate a concrete bunker where authorities thought Mr. Koresh might be hiding.
All of the more than 20 children who died in the fire and most of the Branch Davidian women were found in that concrete room. Seventeen of the Branch Davidian dead, including some of the women and children, died of gunshots or stab wounds.
Government lawyers have dismissed the plaintiffs' argument as irrelevant. "I don't know what the motive was or all the reasons that the Branch Davidians burned down their compound," U.S. Attorney Mike Bradford told reporters outside the courthouse. "Regardless of what their reasons were, they set the fire and not the government."
U.S. District Judge Walter Smith turned aside the plaintiffs' objections about the tapes, adding that he had spent much of the previous weekend reviewing them and accompanying government transcripts.
"I don't think it matters who is talking," the judge said. "These are adult Branch Davidians who are talking and who were making admissions."
The plaintiffs also had challenged the reliability of the government's transcripts, noting that they had found significant inaccuracies after reviewing the audio tapes.
A consulting engineer who prepared the transcripts conceded Monday that they contained some notable differences from transcripts he had presented for the government in a 1994 criminal trial.
Government lawyers withdrew one tape segment that they had planned to play for jurors after the judge ruled that the plaintiffs could offer alternative transcripts. The plaintiffs' transcript of that segment includes one Branch Davidian's description of another being shot by a government helicopter Feb. 28.
Government testimony
Federal agents and the Texas National Guard pilots of the three helicopters used in the ATF operation have testified that none carried mounted weapons and none of their passengers discharged the pistols they carried on board. But some Branch Davidians have testified that they saw helicopters shooting at them.
Mr. Caddell said he will play that recording for jurors Tuesday.
The trial's fourth week began Monday with accounts from three FBI agents stationed around the compound April 19. All said they heard sporadic gunfire from the building for most of the morning before the fire.
Two agents described watching sect members in two separate areas bending over and making suspicious movements just before the compound fires began.
Agent Ronald Elder said he watched through binoculars as a sect member bending over near a second-floor window just before smoke and flames erupted there.
"Once he got back up, in four or five seconds, I saw the smoke and the flames," the agent said.
Mr. Caddell questioned whether the agent could see that from his position a half-mile away, especially when using hand-held binoculars.
The lawyer noted that Mr. Elder's sighting did not appear in any of the detailed logs FBI officials kept during the Waco incident and was first documented in a written interview more than two months after the siege.
The agent said that he told nearby agents what he saw but was not responsible for reporting it to the FBI's command center. His job, he said, was to watch for threats to FBI positions.
"I didn't even have a radio that day," he said.
A second agent, John W. Morrison, testified that he saw a Branch Davidian inside the compound's front door bend over and make "sweeping motions" with his arms seconds before a fire erupted in that part of the building.
He said the man was carrying a rifle when he appeared in a gaping hole bashed into the compound's front doorway by FBI tanks.
He said the man briefly disappeared and then reappeared, going down on one knee.
"He was doing a motion that I describe as washing his hands," Mr. Morrison said. "He finished doing that and a fire sprang up."
Mr. Morrison said he radioed other agents about the sighting. But under cross-examination, he said that he could not say why April 19 FBI logs included only a sighting report from his position of "an unknown subject with gas mask."
"There's no mention of fire," Mr. Caddell said as he flipped through minute-by-minute incident logs.
The lawyer then displayed dozens of FBI photographs taken from the agent's position, pointing out that none showed fire or smoke near the bashed front doorway until well after the blaze was under way.
The agent finally suggested that the gunman he saw was standing some distance away from the front doorway and might have been as far back as the compound's chapel. Government fire investigators found traces of accelerants on the chapel floor, and they concluded that it was the starting point for one of at least three fires that consumed the building.
A third FBI agent, Chris Whitcomb, testified that he heard "rhythmic or methodical gunfire" from the building just after he saw smoke and flames in two dining-room windows.
"My impression was, 'they are killing themselves,'" he said.
He added that one round whizzed between him and another agent when they emerged from a covered position to take pictures of the fire.
Mr. Caddell noted that the FBI's logs from that day listed only a report from the agent's position of "shots fired or rounds cooking off."
A juror then asked whether the rhythmic firing could have come from bullets exploding in the blaze.
"I don't think it could have, because the [structure] fire was not that involved," Agent Whitcomb responded.

"Davidians talked about fires before final assault, tapes show"

by William H. Freivogel ("St. Louis Post-Dispatch," July 11, 2000)

WACO, TEXAS - Branch Davidians talked about fire in the days before the fatal end of the Waco siege, at one point joking about becoming a "charcoal briquette" and at another saying it was "God's will" to "take us up like flames of fire."
The FBI secretly recorded conversations among the Davidians during the 1993 siege. Excerpts were played for a jury on Monday in the Branch Davidians' wrongful death suit against the government. The tapes included barely audible passages from the morning of the fire in which Davidians passed orders to "spread the fuel," "pour it," "pass the torch" and "light it."
The government is trying to prove that the Davidians set fire to the complex and are responsible for the deaths of about 80 people on April 19, 1993. U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith overruled the Davidians' objections to admission of the conversations. The FBI sneaked 11 microphones into the complex, hiding them in several deliveries of goods.
The tapes include statements in which David Koresh, the Branch Davidians' leader, laughs about how a government agent's "head blew off" when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tried to arrest him on Feb. 28, 1993. He added that the agent "shouldn't have been standin' in my door."
Many of the recordings were hard to hear, particularly those from the day of the fire when the Davidians wore gas masks and government tanks could be heard in the distance. Jurors and the judge wore earphones and were provided transcripts.
The tapes contain numerous references to Koresh's control over the Davidians. On April 17, two days before the fire, Steven Schneider, a leader of the Davidians, pressured Louis Alaniz, a newcomer, not to leave the complex against Koresh's wishes.
Schneider told Alaniz that Koresh is the "living son of God . . . the lamb. Every one of us were directed by him in what to do and not to do because he is inspired. If you go out, I guarantee if you go out and he tells you not to, you are lost.
"There is not one person here, that ever go(es) out unless they've been told to," said Schneider.
"It's God's will that the Assyrians are out there," said Schneider. "They can't destroy us unless it's God's will that they do. Haven't you read (the Bible) . . . where it says he's gonna take us up like flames of fire?" The "Assyrians" reference was to government forces that Koresh predicted would attack the Davidians.
Schneider told Alaniz that if he left, he would not be part of the "wave sheaf." That is a Biblical reference that explains the Davidians' belief they would be in the vanguard of God's army.
In a deposition read into evidence, Kathryn Schroeder, one of the surviving Davidians, testified the Davidians believed that those who died would become members of God's army when he returned to Earth after the "rapture."
Also on April 17, a male voice spoke about the possibility of fire. "Catch fire and they couldn't even bring the fire truck 'cause they couldn't even get near us."
The next day, some Davidians were talking about the latest developments on the standoff. "It may be scary," a man said, to which a laughing male voice added, "You always wanted to be a charcoal briquette." Another man said, "There's nothing like a good fire to bring us back to earth."
Then, laughing, a male voice said, "My impression of the first man landing on the sun . . . Darn, our controls are jammed. Here comes Mr. Sun."
The next day, the day of the fire, there are more than 25 references on tape to pouring fuel and preparing to light it. "Should we light the package now?" a male voice asks.
"Yeah," another voice says.
"Okay, light it," says a male voice.

"Jury hears tapes about fire, pouring fuel inside Mount Carmel"

by Mark England ("Waco Tribune-Herald," July 11, 2000)

Discussions picked up by planted bugs about pouring fuel and keeping a fire going inside Mount Carmel on April 19, 1993, were played Monday for a Waco jury hearing the Branch Davidians' wrongful-death lawsuit.
The fire seven years ago led to the deaths of David Koresh and 75 followers.
There were numerous references in the audio tapes to fuel and fire: “Real swift thing, you can order the fire, yeah?” . . . “The fuel has to go all around to get started.” . . . “Well, that's the fuel. We should get more hay in here.” . . . “Do you think I could light this soon?” . . . “I want a fire around the back.” . . . “Let's keep that fire going.”
U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. overruled plaintiffs' objections that the tapes were hearsay and should not be admitted unless the voices on them could be identified.
Both sides heard things differently.
“All the indications we have is that they were lighting fires to burn the place down, probably as part of a suicide attempt,” said government co-counsel Michael Bradford. “But regardless of what the reasons are, they set the fire and not the government as alleged by the plaintiffs in this case.”
Houston attorney Mike Caddell denied the tapes show the Davidians setting fires.
“They were trying to survive what they viewed as a final assault, a final attack on their home,” said Caddell, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “There was no indication in these tapes that they were committing suicide.”
The advisory jury that will assist Smith in reaching a verdict listened to the tapes with the help of cordless earphones. They also followed two transcripts.
One was prepared by the government. The other was done by plaintiffs attorney Cynthia Chapman and a staff member. Chapman's version has the Davidians pursuing the tanks pouring tear gas into Mount Carmel rather than self-destruction.
The government's version of one fuel discussion read: “So we only light ’em as soon as they tell me last chance, right? Not if they (unintelligible).”
Chapman's version, however, read: “So we only light ’em at first if they come in with a tank. Not if they come with men.”
Caddell said the tapes show the Davidians trying to defend themselves against what they viewed as an attack.
“I do think the Davidians probably started the fire in the chapel, but . . . these are not the tapes of people starting a fire,” Caddell said. “These are tapes of people who feel they are being attacked. And as misguided as they are, what you are listening to are people pouring fuel in Molotov cocktails or torches or whatever, and if you hear them, you hear them say, ‘Aim it. Don't throw it unless a tank comes in. Don't throw it if it is men, if men come in.’ ”
Bradford disagreed with Caddell's explanation of what's heard on the tapes.
“I don't know what the motivations or reasons were for why the Branch Davidians set themselves on fire and burned down the compound,” Bradford said. “It may have been for religious motivations. It may have been suicide. But there is certainly nothing on those tapes that indicates they were lighting fires to fend off tanks.”
The tapes — recorded from bugs inserted into objects such as the cartons of milk given the group — also show Koresh laughing at the death of an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Davidians' fidelity to Koresh.
Bradford played a copy of a March 15, 1993, tape that captured Koresh saying, “A guy came around the corner goin’ (pause) then, I looked around the corner and saw the guy over there, you know, and, uh, in the corner all slumped. He was in the corner (unintelligible) (laughs) head blew up.”
An April 17, 1993, tape records the beliefs of Steve Schneider, one of Koresh's confidants, regarding Koresh:
“I guarantee if you go out and he tells you not to, you are lost. No matter what you, no matter what your will is.” . . . “Now I believe this man is a god. This man is the lamb.” . . . “She don't choose to go out unless David tells her to. She don't, he don't, I don't, Floyd don't. There's not one person here that ever go out unless they've been told to.”
Before the tapes were played, three FBI agents testified Monday that they saw fires start in three different locations: the dining room at the back of Mount Carmel, a second-floor room on the south side; and near the entrance.
However, no account of the fires being spotted can be found on FBI logs — which were not kept by the agents.
Agent John Morrison, who was in a house across from Mount Carmel, said he saw a man inside the entrance make a motion similar to someone pouring fuel shortly before noon on April 19.
“As he came nearer to me, he did a sidestepping motion with a sweeping motion,” said Morrison, who said he watched the man with the aid of scopes.
Morrison said the man left, but returned.
“I couldn't see his hands,” Morrison said. “He was doing a motion I described as washing his hands. As he finished that, a fire spring up where his hands had been.”
Caddell, on cross-examination, showed Morrison a series of photographs showing the front of Mount Carmel during the fire.
“I don't see any fire at the front door,” Morrison acknowledged repeatedly.
It was only when Mount Carmel was almost fully involved that a fire could be seen at the entrance.
Before moving to the day of the fire, the government submitted a written deposition from Kathryn Schroeder that dealt with the ATF raid and its aftermath. Schroeder, who served a short prison term, left during the siege to be with her children.
She testified that Koresh collected guns to sell at gun shows as well as to get the Davidians ready for a prophesied showdown with the government.
“. . . it was Habakkuk 3, being ready, arm yourselves and be ready for whatever is going to come,” Schroeder said. “And Daniel 2 and all the other teachings that told us that the King of the North was going to come in and there was going to be a battle.”
Schroeder said Koresh confided in his followers that he was converting semi-automatic rifles to automatic.
“He eventually, finally, told us that he was taking guns that go rat-tat-tat and making them go rat-ta-tat-tat,” she said.
From November 1992 until the Feb. 28, 1993, ATF raid, Koresh talked regularly about weapons with his followers, Schroeder said.
“On an average eight-hour study, I'd say every single study could have had 10 minutes talk about guns,” she said.

Waco, FBI and the Branch Davidians: Updates

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