April 23, 1997 in Nation/World

Film Claims Agents Caused Waco Inferno

Associated Press
 

A new documentary claims the FBI trapped the Branch Davidians in a section of their compound by unleashing automatic weapon fire and caused the inferno - maybe accidentally, maybe not - that killed them.

A noisy, restless crowd of about 200 people filled a theater Monday night to see “Waco: The Rules of Engagement,” about the 1993 siege by federal agents at the cult’s complex near Waco.

“I think everybody in this country should see this film and realize how wicked our government is,” said Darlene Donaldson of Rockwall. “Not the government itself, but the people who run it, the people we vote for.”

The film suggests that after Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents botched a raid on David Koresh’s compound on Feb. 28, 1993, the FBI recklessly attacked the religious group 50 days later with tanks intent on avenging the death of four agents. The documentary was produced by former CNN newsman Dan Gifford and others.

The 165-minute film’s contention is based on grainy, black and white videotape recorded by an FBI surveillance aircraft. The video was made with an infrared camera designed to detect heat sources, which could include weapons fire.

Edward Allard, a former Army expert on Forward-Looking Infrared, or FLIR, points in the documentary to intermittent white flashes visible on the tape. He says the flashes are bursts of machine-gun fire, some of it aimed at a door of a concrete storage room where women and children hid during the final raid on April 19, 1993.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston, one of the prosecutors in the criminal cases against the Branch Davidians, angrily denied that government agents fired on the compound with anything but tear gas in the April raid.

The FBI has suggested that the white flashes were nothing more than sunlight reflecting off broken glass and other debris.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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