"No-nonsense style defines Waco judge - Revelations about siege are troubling, he says"

by Lee Hancock ("The Dallas Morning News", October 25, 1999)

WACO - The boxes have come by the dozens, filling the federal courthouse basement with a million pages detailing the government's actions in the 1993 Branch Davidian siege.
Three floors up sits the judge who forced every agency of the U.S. government to surrender what he terms a "mountain of sealed documents:" U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr.
In a rare interview, Judge Smith said he acted to protect the evidence for a wrongful-death case filed by surviving Branch Davidians - a lawsuit set for trial next May.
He said he also wanted to ease public concerns over recent revelations about government actions during the 51-day siege, information that contradicts the government's previous accounts of what federal agents did.
"After more and more revelations were found, I just decided, let's get all the information here," he said.
He declined to discuss the merits of the Branch Davidians' case, which contends that federal negligence caused the deaths of leader David Koresh and at least 80 followers - allegations that government lawyers deny.
But the judge said he has been troubled by information surfacing six years after the government absolved itself of blame for the standoff's tragic end.
"It has been something," he said. "If they had just been upfront with the things, that now are coming out like teeth are being pulled, there wouldn't have been a problem, I don't think."
Those who know the 58-year-old judge say his orders forcing the government handover were vintage Walter Smith: quick, decisive and unbending to any argument that he lacks authority for such a sweeping act.
"I think he's trying to get at the truth," said David Guinn, a professor at Baylor University's law school.
"He is concerned that there have been things or there's the perception that things have transpired that should not have," said Mr. Guinn, a friend and law school classmate. "He's troubled by it, and he thinks it's time to get the issues out on the table."

Tough reputation

In 15 years on the federal bench, Judge Smith has become known as a tough jurist with a precise legal mind and a low reversal rate.
It was a career that began on a whim. He grew up in Marlin - just southeast of Waco - as the son of a second-generation physician and a teacher. He planned to follow his father into medicine but proposed taking law school classes at Baylor "for the experience" while awaiting the start of medical school.
Captivated by law, he said, he "never looked back."
He jumped into civil litigation, first joining a firm that exclusively represented plaintiffs and later shifting to insurance defense.
Throughout, he said, he loved the courtroom. "It's almost like being on stage," he said. "Not to say that all lawyers are just acting, but it's kind of the same thing. . . . You're performing."
Judge Smith became active in politics. He was chairman of McLennan County's Republican Party from 1970 to 1979.
That eventually led to a summons to Austin. In 1980, he was called to the governor's office after a Waco state district judge resigned. He said he expected to be quizzed on possible replacement candidates.
But Gov. Bill Clements asked him to take the job. After 27 months, he ran for a full term but was defeated in the then-heavily Democratic county.
Through Republican party work, he befriended an aide to the late Sen. John Tower. The two became closer when the aide attended law school at Baylor.
In 1983, Mr. Tower helped Judge Smith become a U.S. magistrate. In 1984, after Congress created a judgeship for Waco, the senator nominated Judge Smith to the federal district bench.
Characteristically self-effacing, Judge Smith says he doesn't share the view of "a lot of federal judges" that lifelong judicial appointments reward superior intellect and legal skills.
"You've just got to be at the right place at the right time with the right connections," he said.
Being the only federal judge in Waco is wonderful, he said. "I can do pretty much whatever I want."

Approach to law

He said he operates his courtroom with a simple philosophy: "To try to see to it that the litigants get their appropriate day in court and are given an opportunity to present what's appropriate under the rules."
A soft-spoken man with patrician Southern manners, Judge Smith developed close bonds with the staff of the 1930s mission-style courthouse.
Judge Smith's secretary followed him from the county courthouse. One law clerk who came for a two-year post in the early 1990s has stayed on. Judge Smith's wife, Brenda, works down the hall as the federal magistrate's secretary.
Judge Smith quickly became known among lawyers as a formal, no-nonsense jurist with little patience for the unprepared. He pushed his docket just as hard, hearing so many criminal cases at one point in the mid-1980s that his district court was among the nation's busiest.
He also became known as a tough sentencer, a trait that caused some of the criminal lawyers to label him as pro-government. But attorneys who appear regularly in his court say that reputation is overblown.
"If you get convicted, watch out. He will hurt you. But as far as making sure you get a fair trial, I think that he will give you as fair a trial as you could hope for," said Joe Turner, an Austin defense attorney who represented one of the Branch Davidians tried before Judge Smith in a 1994 criminal trial.
"He will make the government prove the case. He makes the government follow the rules," Mr. Turner said. "I think he takes seriously his job of making the government toe the line."
Judge Smith has ripped prosecutors who crossed that line. After the 1995 wire-fraud conviction of three former Baylor basketball coaches involved in a correspondence-course cheating scandal, the judge denounced the "government's extreme lack of prosecutorial judgment and good sense." The lead prosecutor ultimately transferred to another office.
"Anybody that says he's soft on prosecutors needs to talk to prosecutors who have come under his judgment," said Bill Johnston, head of the Waco U.S. attorney's office.
"He will give anybody the benefit of the doubt," he said. "But if you mislead him, you may not get back in there."

Quick involvement

In February 1993, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided the Branch Davidian compound near Waco. A gunfight broke out, and four federal agents died.
Judge Smith quickly became heavily involved in the case. The siege ended on April 19, 1993, when FBI agents used tanks and tear gas to force a surrender.
Six hours after the FBI assault began, a fire leveled the compound with Mr. Koresh and more than 80 followers inside. Investigators later ruled that the Branch Davidians deliberately set the blaze.
Eleven survivors were charged with conspiring to kill federal agents. Judge Smith moved their trial to San Antonio and presided over it for six weeks in early 1994.
He appeared visibly upset when a jury acquitted sect members of conspiring to murder and found eight guilty only of voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges.
His handling of the case was bitterly condemned by Branch Davidian supporters. But defense lawyers said the judge went out of his way to get an unbiased jury panel. Over vehement prosecution objections, Judge Smith allowed the defense to argue that the Branch Davidians acted in self-defense during the gunbattle.
In upholding the convictions, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the judge was not required to instruct jurors that the Branch Davidians could be acquitted of murder if they were defending themselves out of reasonable fear for their lives.
After that trial, Judge Smith began shepherding a dozen civil cases arising from the incident. In one, ATF agents said that employees from the Waco Tribune-Herald, Waco TV station KWTX and an ambulance firm tipped the Branch Davidians about the impending raid.
In a caustic April 1996 opinion, Judge Smith said the Waco media "arrogantly descended on the compound as if the First Amendment cloaked them with immunity from acting as responsible individuals." The defendants paid a confidential settlement later that year that participants said totaled $15 million.
In 1998, an ATF agent who warned superiors that the sect was tipped, won a $1.3 million judgment from a psychologist who leaked information from his counseling sessions to ATF managers.
Along with those cases, the judge also saw a massive wrongful-death lawsuit filed by surviving Branch Davidians and families of those who died.
Lawyers for the Branch Davidians first fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to get the judge removed. Some of the judge's friends marveled that he did not take "a golden opportunity" to ditch such a complex and thankless case, said Noley Bice, a former law partner.
"He views this as his duty," said Mr. Bice, general counsel for Baylor University. "He is willing to take that responsibility up until the end."

Weighing both sides

After appellate courts refused to remove Judge Smith, both sides filed reams of pre-trial pleadings.
Branch Davidian attorneys insisted that the government was concealing what happened with its insistence that no FBI agents fired a gun or used pyrotechnic devices on April 19. Plaintiffs' pleadings argued that crime scene photos documented the use of pyrotechnic tear gas and that FBI infrared videos captured evidence of government gunfire during the tear gas assault.
Government lawyers said the allegations were baseless and sought dismissal of the case.
But the plaintiffs began filing pleadings in June that included information from the government's own evidence trove. After years of barring anyone from looking at the evidence, the Justice Department allowed a filmmaker to view it in the company of Mr. Johnston, the prosecutor who had worked on the Branch Davidian case from its inception.
The filmmaker asked about what appeared to be projectiles. That aroused concern among officials at the Texas Department of Public Safety who had kept key Branch Davidian evidence since Texas Rangers were asked to investigate the initial gun fight.
In July, the Department of Public Safety asked the judge to take the evidence from their lockers. Working with Mr. Johnston, Rangers began trying to determine what they had. They knew by early August that at least one of the projectiles was a U.S. military pyrotechnic grenade fired April 19.
As Mr. Johnston sent increasingly dire warnings to his supervisors about what the Rangers were finding, the Justice Department asked Judge Smith to instruct the Rangers to surrender what they had to the FBI.
Amid mounting public questions about what the FBI's actions, the judge said, "from a public perception, that didn't seem to be an appropriate thing to do."
So he issued a stunning order Aug. 9: Every federal agency must disgorge everything in its files even remotely related to the siege and send it to the Waco federal courthouse.
The judge dismissed government arguments that he lacked legal authority. He noted that extraordinary action was warranted in "litigation that is unprecedented in subject matter, scope and public attention."
He wrote that he wasn't going to allow "fishing expeditions" but was trying to address perceptions that "the government may have the opportunity to conceal, alter or fail to reveal evidence."
Within weeks, Mr. Johnston wrote Attorney General Janet Reno to warn that lawyers in her own department had long known and possibly covered up the use of pyrotechnic tear gas. The judge then called Ms. Reno personally to tell her of Mr. Johnston's integrity.
The judge said he also warned that he would not tolerate departmental retribution against the Waco prosecutor, and Ms. Reno assured him that Mr. Johnston would be treated fairly. Since then, regional U.S. Attorney Bill Blagg has recused Mr. Johnston and every other prosecutor in his district from involvement in the case.

Change of view

Even before his August order, the judge's writings in the case indicated a change in his view of what had transpired between the Branch Davidians and the government.
When he sentenced the Branch Davidians to stiff prison terms in 1994, he wrote that they had started the firefight that began the incident.
However, in a July 1, 1999, order refusing to dismiss the case, he wrote that how the gunbattle began is "a matter of great dispute."
Asked about that shift, the judge said, "The focus of the criminal trial was just that - on whether or not one or more Branch Davidians were responsible for the deaths of the agents.
"The focus now is entirely different, looking in a different direction: what government agents might or might not have done that was wrong, poor judgment or whatever," he said. "It's yet to be determined how much military personnel were involved. I don't know to what extent that's going to affect the government's liability."
But the origin of any government agent - military or civilian - probably wouldn't matter if they did wrong, he said, because they were acting on behalf of the government.
He acknowledged that his views on the military's involvement have recently changed, amid revelations that members of secret military units were sent to Waco to observe and assist the FBI with classified technical equipment.
In his July order, the judge chastised plaintiff's lawyers for even suggesting that the Army's secret Delta Force unit may have been actively involved in the tragedy's end.
"That was before I had become aware that they were there," he said. "I don't know how many military people were there. I don't know what they did or didn't do. That's going to be forthcoming."
Whatever their role, he said, the military's presence gives him pause.
"The Posse Comitatus law has been on the books a long time," he said. "We have not allowed our military personnel to be involved in criminal investigations except in limited settings. I think that's the way it ought to be. If you don't have that separation, you have a police state."

Larger importance

Judge Smith said he believes that a civil trial in his imposing third-floor courtroom can fully air both what happened and the government's responsibility.
Although it retains the features of a routine civil case, the judge said he recognizes that the lawsuit carries a larger national importance.
"There are those that want the trial to be an opportunity to expose government malfeasance, and to perhaps increase the public's trust in its government," he said. "I don't want the trial to become a political arena, but to some extent, it will be. So I view part of my job as trying to keep the lawyers focused on the real issues."
Congressional investigators and staffers of Waco independent counsel John Danforth have become regular callers.
The judge's staff also has fielded media calls seeking access to the evidence. Judge Smith said he will not decide until later how to handle such requests.
He said he believes the lawsuit can help restore confidence in the legal system by determining what happened and if need be, holding government accountable.
"A civil trial is as good a place to determine that as we can get," he said. "The court's not really an investigating agency, but it is the apparatus by which the truth is determined."


"Report: Congress Panel May Test Waco Bullets"

(Reuters, October 24, 1999)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the congressional committees investigating the assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, may order ballistic tests on some bullet casings found at an FBI sniper position, according to a New Yorker magazine story to be published Monday.

A report by the Texas Rangers subpoenaed by a House panel and made public last month said ammunition often used by snipers was found in a house used by both the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The report said twelve .308-caliber shell casings and 24 .223-caliber shell casings were found at the house.

The New Yorker story said the congressional panel, which was not named, wants to determine who fired the .308-caliber bullet and when they were fired.

The FBI has denied that its agents fired any shots during the standoff and assault. The ATF used the house during a fierce gunfight with the cult on Feb. 28, 1993, that started the siege.

According to the New Yorker story, the FBI contends that the shots were fired during the Feb. 28 incident.

Attorneys for the surviving Davidians argue that the shots may have come later, from the gun of Lon Horiuchi, an FBI sharpshooter who was also involved in the 1992 standoff at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

Last month, Attorney General Janet Reno appointed former Sen. John Danforth to lead an independent investigation into the Waco assault.

The investigation was launched after the discovery that FBI agents fired potentially flammable tear gas canisters at a concrete bunker hours before the compound went up in flames. Cult leader David Koresh and about 80 followers were killed.

The House Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Burton, a Republican from Indiana, has begun a separate investigation. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee is also probing the Branch Davidian matter.


"The answers to four questions will tell the tale of Waco"

by Terry Ganey and William F. Freivogel ("St. Louis Post-Dispatch", October 24, 1999)

At 5:55 a.m. on April 19, 1993, Christopher K. Curran had a front row seat for the FBI's assault of the Branch Davidians' complex near Waco, Texas. A member of the FBI's Blue Sniper Team, he occupied an observation post known as "Sierra 1," responsible for covering the front of the complex.

John C. Danforth is going to want to talk to Curran. He and dozens of other participants with direct knowledge of the government siege have to be on Danforth's investigative road map as he tries to answer four questions: Did government agents fire into the complex, start the fire, cover up wrongdoing or illegally use the military in the assault?

The agents on the scene that day had been there for 51 days. The siege started on Feb. 28, 1993, when federal agents tried to raid the compound to execute a search warrant to look for illegal weapons. But those inside resisted, and four agents and six Branch Davidians were killed in a shootout. Law enforcement officials surrounded the complex and had been trying ever since to force David Koresh, leader of the sect, to give up.

It was still dark when a modified tank operated by FBI agents approached the complex, the opening move in an operation to use tear gas to force out the Branch Davidians. Almost immediately, Curran began hearing gunfire.

At that moment, another agent, Lon Horiuchi, who was occupying the Sierra 1 position next to Curran, transmitted a code word on the radio network that linked the FBI agents together.

"Compromise!" said Horiuchi.

The code word meant that the tanks were being fired upon from inside the Branch Davidian complex.


One of the questions that Danforth must answer is whether the FBI agents fired back during the next six hours leading up to the fire that consumed the compound and left about 80 people dead, a score of them from gunshot wounds.

Attorneys for the Branch Davidians, who have filed a wrongful-death suit against the government, contend that federal agents fired into the compound during the final siege. Curran and other FBI agents said in after-action reports the following day that they fired no shots. That remains the government's position.

Curran's job was to provide intelligence and to respond if necessary with sniper fire in line with the FBI's rules of deadly force. These rules say that agents may not use deadly force except in self-defense or in defense of another where they believe they or another are in danger of death or grievous bodily harm.

Richard Rogers, the head of the FBI's hostage-rescue team, said the sniper coverage would have been used only to protect agents in the tanks. "The snipers specifically did not fire at any individual in the compound when there was automatic weapons fire coming from the compound and directed at the armored vehicles or the sniper positions themselves, because the snipers did not acquire clear and identifiable targets," Rogers said in his after-action report.

Rogers is another potential witness, as one of a handful of top FBI commanders on the scene. The others were Jeff Jamar, who had overall control of the siege; Bob Ricks, special agent in charge of the Oklahoma City field office who handled the press; and Richard Schwein, special agent in charge of El Paso who commanded the night shift at Waco.

Danforth said last week that his team has already conducted some interviews of key witnesses and experts. In early September, Danforth asked a federal judge to impose a 30-day freeze preventing the lawyers in the wrongful death case from interviewing witnesses. The freeze, which the judge granted, delayed the trial until next May. It is meant to give Danforth's team the opportunity to talk to the witnesses first. Danforth would not say last week whether he would need more time.

Another likely witness is agent Charles Riley, who was quoted in an after-action report as saying that he heard gunshots coming from Horiuchi's sniper position. Horiuchi is the FBI sharpshooter who had fatally shot Randy Weaver's wife at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992. Horiuchi has denied firing shots at Waco, and Riley, in a 1996 report, said he never had heard shots or said he had. Nevertheless, U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr., who is hearing the Branch Davidians' wrongful death case, has kept Horiuchi in it as the only individually named defendant.

Two other FBI agents who might know if the government fired are James T. Walden and Gary Harris. Walden was the commander of the tank that demolished the gym in the rear of the compound. Harris, a member of the hostage rescue team, was its driver. Beyond hearing the "compromise" code word about shooting from the complex, their reports make no mention of gunfire.

But the Branch Davidians claim government agents on the ground near the tank fired into the compound. Their evidence is an FBI infrared surveillance videotape and the opinion of former military infrared analysts Edward Allard and Fred Zegel that flashes on the videotape are gunfire directed at the compound. Danforth already has interviewed Allard and Zegel.

But the government has its analysts, too. The Maryland Advanced Development Laboratory says its computer program for detecting sniper fire in an infrared scene indicates that the flashes in the film are too long to be gunfire. Justice Department sources say the government has two other analysts waiting in the wings to support this conclusion.

The FBI has a stringent system of review of shooting incidents in which every round of ammunition is accounted for. However, there was no such review at Waco. "We have a formal process that is instituted when there is a belief that a shot is fired," said John Collingwood, an FBI spokesman in Washington. "But they didn't have an actual ammunition count after Waco" because it wasn't thought shots had been fired.

Danforth's team may want to study shell cases recovered from the scene by the Texas Rangers. In a house used by the FBI's hostage rescue team, the Rangers found a dozen sniper rifle shell casings and 24 casings from ammunition manufactured in Israel. Agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also used the building during the initial raid on Feb. 28. Danforth is not focusing on the ATF raid.

Danforth should be able to determine if the casings are from ammunition used by the FBI or ATF. The casings contain the charge to propel a bullet and are left behind with the weapon once a shot is fired. A weapon leaves marks on the casings which can be later used to identify the rounds fired by the weapon. The Hostage Rescue Team has records of which guns were involved at Waco, a former FBI agent told the Post-Dispatch. The casings can be compared to the guns used by the FBI.

Lawyers for the Branch Davidians say that the government's denial of gunshots has been limited to the FBI. Collingwood, the FBI spokesman, says it applies to all government forces. Might a band of government renegades have snuck around the back of the compound to pay the sect back for the dead agents? Probably not. The Hostage Rescue Team had a tight perimeter around the compound.


Rogers, the head of the hostage rescue team, is also a key witness on the question of whether the government started the fire. He gave the order to use tear gas canisters capable of starting fires. The canisters were fired about 8 a.m. at an underground bunker about 50 yards from the compound and have not been linked to the fire.

The government has surveillance recordings of Branch Davidians' voices that indicate they set the fires. One person Danforth may want to interview is Army Col. Rodney L. Rawlings, who told the Dallas Morning News he clearly heard the Branch Davidians talking about setting a fire. Later, he said, he heard Koresh give the order to set the fire. Rawlings says he was in the FBI's main Waco command post as the liaison between the Army and the FBI. Rawlings has since retired.

His account backs up the FBI claim that the Branch Davidians set the fire but contradicts its claim that the intercepts were too garbled to understand during the assault, before they were electronically enhanced. Attorney General Janet Reno has said she would have called off the assault had she known about plans for a fire.

Danforth has the report of a team of independent arson investigators who concluded the Branch Davidians set the fire. But lawyers for the Branch Davidians have a munitions expert, Jack Frost, who says 40 mm "flashbang" devices used by the government agents that day could have started the blaze. Flashbangs explode to make loud disorienting sounds. In addition, Richard L. Sherrow, a former ATF fire investigator, has filed a declaration in court stating that the fire could have been started by a government tank striking a corner tower of the compound a minute before flames erupted, possibly knocking over kerosene lanterns.


The military actively supported the ATF during the ill-fated Feb. 28 raid, supplying three Texas National Guard helicopters for the assault. But that didn't violate the federal law that bars most active military involvement in domestic policing because the Guard was participating as an arm of the state. They also supplied the modified tanks for the assault and other vehicles.

The most sensational allegation of military involvement is from Steven M. Barry, a Special Forces veteran. Barry filed a declaration in court stating that an acquaintance in the Army's secret Delta Force had told him in 1993 that it had a sizable operation at Waco. He also said he had heard that Delta team members had slipped into the gym to place listening devices and had been in a position to capture Koresh but had been told not to because something else was planned. Barry has refused to name the officers because he promised them confidentiality. Nor does he say whether his sources had firsthand knowledge.

Barry also maintains that he recognized men dressed in Delta Force outfits in a picture taken after the fire. This is part of the basis of the claim by Michael McNulty, maker of the controversial documentary about Waco, that the Delta Force was actively involved in the assault.

FBI commanders at the scene say a few Delta Force officers were present as advisers and that observers from anti-terrorism squads in other countries were present as observers. There is a bond between anti-terrorism units that crosses national borders, they say, and it is standard for these forces to observe armed standoffs in one another's countries.

Danforth's investigators probably will talk to two Delta Force officers who were involved in a crucial April 14, 1993, meeting in Washington at which a reluctant Reno was convinced to go ahead with the tear gas assault. These officers are identified as Army Col. William Boykin, then commander of Delta Force, and Army Brig. Gen. Peter Schoomaker, then assistant division commander of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood.

A House of Representatives report says that one of these men told Reno that if the Delta Team were trying to end a barricade situation in a foreign country, it would take out the leader. FBI officials familiar with the meeting say that the Delta officer was instrumental in convincing Reno of the FBI view that a larger dose of tear gas should be administered if the Branch Davidians fired back.


The strongest initial evidence of a cover-up was Reno's admission this summer that military-style pyrotechnic tear gas had been used, despite her earlier denials under oath. This is what triggered the Danforth investigation.

Now, it turns out that some Justice Department lawyers knew about the use of the pyrotechnic rounds within days of the fire. FBI agents told Justice Department lawyers about it in 1993 interviews. The Dallas Morning News identified the lawyers conducting the interviews as Assistant U.S. Attorney Leroy Jahn of San Antonio and Justice Department prosecutor John Lancaster.

"There were a lot of people who knew at the time that these rounds were fired," one Justice Department official told the Post-Dispatch. "When asked to describe their day, they talked about using the rounds; and when they talked to the U.S. attorney's office and the lawyers in the Civil Division, they talked about it. But when people prepared for testimony, they focused on what was fired at the compound."

One recent suggestion of a cover-up was the disclosure that the government had closed-circuit television cameras monitoring the entire scene. Why had the government not turned over that videotape? The answer, says the FBI, is that the closed-circuit cameras were monitored by agents but did not contain tape.

His account backs up the FBI claim that the Branch Davidians set the fire but contradicts its claim that the intercepts were too garbled to understand during the assault, before they were electronically enhanced. Attorney General Janet Reno has said she would have called off the assault had she known about plans for a fire.

Danforth has the report of a team of independent arson investigators who concluded the Branch Davidians set the fire. But lawyers for the Branch Davidians have a munitions expert, Jack Frost, who says 40 mm "flashbang" devices used by the government agents that day could have started the blaze. Flashbangs explode to make loud disorienting sounds. In addition, Richard L. Sherrow, a former ATF fire investigator, has filed a declaration in court stating that the fire could have been started by a government tank striking a corner tower of the compound a minute before flames erupted, possibly knocking over kerosene lanterns.


"To get to the truth, Danforth's team must hear from those who were there"

(editorial opinion, "St. Louis Post-Dispatch", October 24, 1999)

Despite the many allegations of government wrongdoing at Waco, Texas, no eyewitness has turned up to testify that the government violated the law during the April 19, 1993, raid on the Branch Davidians.

If there was illegal conduct, it is the job of special counsel John C. Danforth to find people with firsthand knowledge of the wrongdoing.

Danforth's investigators already have interviewed potential witnesses in the Branch Davidians' wrongful death suit and viewed infrared videotape that may show flashes of government gunfire.

From here, Danforth will have to locate the participants in Waco who have direct knowledge of government actions. The list includes FBI commanders, agents who drove tanks, snipers, advisers to Attorney General Janet Reno and Justice Department lawyers.

Further examination of physical evidence could also shed new light. Danforth will have to figure out if there is a way to resolve the debate among the experts on whether the infrared tape shows gunfire. And the investigators can check FBI records to determine which guns were at Waco and whether they match shell casings found at the scene.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Terry Ganey and William H. Freivogel pieced together an investigative road map of key witnesses and pieces of evidence that the Danforth investigation will have to evaluate.


Waco, FBI and the Branch Davidians: Updates

CESNUR reproduces or quotes documents from the media and different sources on a number of religious issues. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions expressed are those of the document's author(s), not of CESNUR or its directors.

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