“Who the hell was in charge of this mess…?”
A confused member of Congress during the Waco hearings, June 1995.
The haunting truth of who was in charge of the Waco Mess.
After the wild and crazy days of early June, 1995 and our baptism by fire into the politics of Waco at the Congressional hearings, we jump forward to 1999 and dive into the ongoing aftermath of manipulation and deceit, often referred to as “Ass Covering.”
No one was held accountable after the ’95 Congressional hearings, per the desire of the Democratic minority to protect their new, young President. The Democrat’s response to the question of “Who was in charge of this mess…?” was – incredibly… “David Koresh, the maniacal leader of the Branch Davidian cult!” The problem was that even though he claimed to be God-like, Koresh didn’t control the FBI Hostage Rescue Team,. He also didn’t control the fourteen special operators from the Combat Applications Group, ‘B’ squadron, AKA ‘Delta Force’ that joined the tank supported assault that was brought down upon the Davidian’s at 6 AM, April 19, 1993. The persons in charge were to be found at the White House and the Justice Department offices in Washington, DC, not on the central Texas plains.
The truth of this statement starts with the words of the Captain of the Texas Rangers who lead the Ranger Waco investigation once the crime scene was transferred to them by the FBI the afternoon of the day of the fire. His name is Capt. Maurice Cook. Maurice is now retired from the Rangers, but in his day he was one hell of a law enforcement officer. In many ways he was the end-all, be all of the legend of the Texas Rangers. They truly are a unique breed of men.
It was Cook that told us over a sizzling platter of fresh beef fajitas that some of the BATF and FBI agents were about to be indicted on charges brought by the state of Texas for their roles in events between Feb 28 and April 19th 1993. So why weren’t they brought up on charges? There was a phone call made to Governor Anne Richards. The call came from the White House; Cook inferred it was from the First Lady, Hillary Rodam Clinton. This was substantiated by other sources in the FBI and Congress. Apparently, the First Lady was very concerned about the impact the whole Waco tragedy was having on the beginning of the President’s first term in office. Governor Richards told the Rangers to drop the investigation, they followed orders, and it went away. Cook and his boss, Senior Captain David Byrnes, both retired from the Rangers shortly after the Governor “had her way with them.”
Captain Cook told us that night that he had ‘almost’ told the Congressional hearings folks in 1995 the whole story, but they didn’t seem interested. The story that night over fajitas was that the FBI agents had been very uncooperative during the Ranger’s investigation and Maurice and David had a little chat with the “SOB’s,” sort of man to man, and the FBI gave them a business card with a name and a phone number on the back of it. The FBI men said if you have any problems with your investigation you should call that number and talk to the man whose name was written on the card. It was a number in Washington and the name on the back of the card was Vincent Foster, Counsel to the President, William Jefferson Clinton.
Fosters name kept coming up over and over again during the Senate hearings investigating Foster’s suicide in July of 1993. Seems there was a document referred to as his “resignation letter” that dealt with his role in the end game at Waco. It also seems that file and others regarding several different matters Foster was handling at the time for the President and First Lady were surreptitiously removed from Foster’s office in the middle of the night of Foster’s death by Mrs. Clinton’s Chief of Staff, Maggie Williams. Later, the box of documents was taken by Foster’s intern with Williams in tow to the First Lady in her personal White House quarters and handed to her. From that point, the documents were never seen again by anyone. The First Lady was not called upon to produce the documents or to testify about them before Congress.
This whole business raised a serious specter of something more than just ‘suicide’ regarding Foster’s death and it lead us to another interesting conversation with yet another FBI agent in the Washington, DC area. This was a FBI agent who was the Bureau’s Liaison to the White House. FBI Agent Dennis Scullambrine had several interesting stories to tell about Mr. Foster and the First Lady and the upshot was that Foster was the ‘ear’ in which the First Lady/ “Coe-President,” whispered the directions for dealing with the Waco problem.
Foster put that information in play through the White House’s official “mouth” at the Justice department, Webster Hubble. He then passed the word to the acting director of the FBI, Floyd Clark, who communicated directly with the folks on the ground at Waco, SAC Jeff Jamar and the agent in charge of the HRT, Dick Rogers. Foster was the go-to guy for the Clintons back in the Arkansas days. We were told that Hillary would complain to Foster, “…just fix it Vince…!” And Foster would tell Webb Hubble, “…Just fix it Webb…” And it would get done. The problem this time was that when you whisper “…just fix it Floyd…” in FBI Deputy Director Floyd Clark’s ear, he doesn’t hear the words implied by the Clinton crew. He has a hammer, (The HRT and Delta) in his bag of tricks; his options were limited and did not include a “political fix.” The Davidians had to pay the price and according to Fosters wife, it was the deaths of all the children at Waco that pushed Vince over the edge, “…he felt responsible.”
Foster’s death and the Waco connection led us to other areas of interest: Who authorized the operational presence of the Combat Applications Group, (CAG) or “Delta Force,” (the United States military) at Waco? Only one person could, the President of the United States, and we weren’t going to get an interview with him.
Years later we would discover that President Clinton, at the urging of the First Lady and Vincent Foster, did, in fact, issue a Presidential Directive or PD, ordering the Combat Applications Group (Delta Force), to Waco to deal with the Branch Davidans and end the 51 day siege. That order was established on a precedent established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s use of the Marine Corps to put down a riot of prisoners at Alcatraz in the late thirties and the use by President Ronald Reagan of Delta Force at the riots of the Cuban Muriel Boat People at the Federal Prison at Talladega, Florida in the late 80’s. On a Historical note. There was one additional occurrence of the use of Federal troops on American citizens. President Hoover had ordered the Chief of Staff of the US Army, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, to remove by force of arms what was referred to as the WWI Veteran ‘Bonus Marchers.’ Their encampment was near Washington DC. MacArthur and Major George S. Patton and Major Dwight D. Eisenhower led a contingent of armed troops with fixed bayonets and a column of Horse mounted Cavalry with drawn sabers followed by a column of combat tanks against the Marchers on the morning of July 28, 1932. Nine Marchers were killed, hundreds were injured and their encampment was burned to the ground.
An interesting side note supplied by our Military sources may have had bearing on the President’s decision to send Delta to Waco. The reason for sending Delta to Talladega was because of the disastrous failure of the FBI HRT in a breaching operation, earlier at the scene. The same man who altered Col Jack Frosts’ 40 mm flash bang devices had attempted to do a wall breech using explosives to gain access to the rioters. This FBI explosives “expert” had overdone it, and blown up a pair of FBI black suburbans and injured some of his HRT team members. So it was that President Reagan had decided to send in the pros at Talladega and Mr. Clinton was convinced to send the CAG folks in to end the Waco standoff and win the perceived battle for dominance and control between Koresh and the US government.
It should be noted that President Clinton’s Presidential Directive was never repealed by President George W. Bush or President Obama. In light of new laws on the books like the Patriot Act, the National Defense Allocations Act and the actions of organizations like the Office of Homeland Security and the TSA, one wonders where Mr. Clinton’s Executive Order and the precedent it sets will be employed next. Or, has it been used since?
Hunting ‘Delta Force.’
Further twists and turns took place and we found ourselves hunting Delta Force! More documents from the Davidian Civil attorneys provided some interesting clues about Delta. It seems that the FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) trained with the ‘D’ Boys (as they were referred to in the military) on a regular basis. The relationship was even ‘cozier’ than that. The HRT practiced the Delta tactics and shared some weapons systems with the Boys of Delta. So, when the FBI found themselves in a bit of a sticky problem, a long-term siege at Mt Carmel, they called on the Commanders of Delta, Brig. General Pete Schumacher and COL Gerald Boykin to take a look at the situation and give their expert opinion on how to deal with it.
At this point the “Posse Comitatus Act,” (An 1878, post civil war law, forbidding the US Military from acting upon civilians) had been violated at least twice before, and now President Clinton had established legal precedents. The military was still a bit dubious of the efficacy of such an act. Additionally, there were more mitigating problems that caused the Army folks to be a bit “gun shy.” In the end, the concept of Due Process was over looked by President Clinton, and in spite all of these ‘caution signs,’ the Davidians were deemed some sort of threat to National Security, and frankly to President Clinton’s re-election! There by Delta reluctantly came in and their commanders offered an opinion that was couched in careful language that said, “… This isn’t our fight, but if it were, we would simply cut the head off the snake, (Kill Koresh and his lieutenants) and the other folks would just come out…” General Schumacher appears on video tape during his visit to Mt. Carmel in March of 1993 to observe the conditions at Mt Carmel. Delta was “ordered” to Waco by the President and that seemed to satisfy the General. In today’s Army, we are told that the General should have declined the order as “illegal.” He did not take that action and “Cutting the head off the snake…” was exactly the tactic used by the combined FBI/HRT/Delta forces on April 19th.
The Plan goes terribly wrong…
Early in the morning Koresh and his “Lieutenants” were in the church vault as the gassing increased. Koresh can be heard on the audio tapes from the FBI “over-hears” placed in the walls of the “Bunker” the night before by a Delta operative to be saying that the air was much better in the bunker. He noted this with his gas mask off. . David Koresh, that “evil SOB” then subverted the FBI’s plan. Shortly after his appearance in the “Bunker,” he and his “Lieutenant”, Steve Schneider, went upstairs to where the women and children were seeking relief from the CS gas that was lobbed and sprayed in all morning. Koresh directed them to the church records vault for some protection from the gas.
The folks listening saw Koresh’s presence in the vault as their chance to take him out with his men. A Tank can be seen entering the building at about 10:20 AM at the exact location of the only door into the Bunker, through the front exterior wall of the building. It stayed inside for about eight minutes and then pulled out and waited for about six minutes and then went back inside. Our tactical people tell us this was the insertion and extraction of the explosives team that placed the breeching device on the roof of the bunker, right over the location where the children now huddled with their mothers, trying to escape the CS gas and flames of the fire. As the fire started to burn, it spread to the area of the court-yard just outside of the “Bunker.” There were several 100 gallon propane bottles stored there, one exploded, producing a large gas explosion that was very prominent in all the videography and photographs made that day. However, the sharp eyes of one of our explosives experts, Brig General Ben Parton,USAF Ret, noted that there was a high explosive detonation just below the location and fractions of a second before the Gas fireball formed on the roof of the now exposed “Bunker.” Photographs showed a 24” hole in the 8” thick steel reinforced concrete roof of the now decimated “bunker” with its collection of shredded human beings. When we were searching the second warehouse at the Texas ranger facility we found the 100 gallon propane bottle and the top of the bottle, neatly sheared off by a cutting charge, (probably a couple wraps of det-cord detonated with a radio controlled device), in the evidence locker. So at about nine minutes into the fire the breeching device was detonated a fraction of a second before the propane bottle blossomed into a ball of fire, covering the high explosives detonation on the roof of the bunker This was the moment that Delta and/or HRT killed the children of Waco thinking the occupants were the Davidian leadership and hoping to end the siege. David Koresh had lost the battle and won his war with the United States Government, (Babylon, as he saw it) at a terrible cost.
We don’t know if the “over-hears” heard the women and children enter the “Bunker.” We do know that the tank driver who took the team into the building to place the device on the roof did see “some people enter the bunker…,” as he drove his tank to, “… the front door of the bunker.”
The propane tank didn’t go off by accident! The breeching charge did not belong to the Davidans. The FBI had its way with the innocent Davidian children! No matter what one thought of their parents and David Koresh, the children were truly innocent and didn’t deserve to die, especially the way they did.
A further note on the Delta Boys: We confirmed the Delta role with a CIA field officer and a former Delta operator and they told their stories on film in “Waco- A New revelation.” The Delta operators were at Mt Carmel on April 19th and did engage in a gun fight with the Davidians. They participated in the end game that day that ended the lives of almost one hundred innocent men, women and children.
After doing an interview with an incarcerated Davidian, Gram Cradock, in a Federal Prison in Mississippi, we were returning to the small rural airport a hundred miles from nowhere. As we entered the waiting area, I saw a familiar figure; one of the squadron leaders of the Delta boys we had seen on film in the aftermath of the fire at Mt Carmel! There was no mistaking him, he was a tall striking figure and he was there with a crew of his Delta colleagues. They were waiting to board the same small twin-engine flight back to the Savannah, Georgia airport that we were boarding! I sat down next to the Delta team leader and I started up a conversation by telling him to say hi to his boss, COL Boykin, when he got back to base after their ‘training mission. Although he was dying to ask me how I knew his boss, he never did acknowledge my questions about who he and his mates were. He did acknowledge Boykin as being of his acquaintance, however. The plane was bucking all over the place in a serious thunderstorm and gave the whole experience a surreal feeling. That was one heck of a long “short” flight. We all left the plane, said good-by and that was that. We often wondered after that contact if it was “coincidental.” If it wasn’t, we pondered what their orders might have been. I guess we’ll never know for sure.
A few months later, COL Boykin led some of these kids into an ambush in Mogadishu, Somalia in the “Black Hawk Down” episode. Boykin was the “Colonel” character in the film that leads his troops into an ambush and then reversed course and drove through it again. Our understanding was that good old Gerry was given a lengthy R&R (Rest and Relaxation or leave), at a rehab unit just outside of Washington DC for about a year after the Mogadishu fiasco. Then he was promoted to a Brigadier General. He later went on to embarrass the Army by preaching at a couple of Mega Churches in uniform and talking about the Mogadishu episodes as “God’s will” that they kill the ‘Islamic warriors’. Boykin has kept a low profile since then. I wonder if it was “God’s will” that his boys take out the Davidians…?
I don’t think so.
The war between the FBI factions.
The FBI negotiators, for the most part, wanted the Davidians to come out peaceably and surrender. The tactical folks, HRT and others wanted something else – revenge for their dead Federal brethren. The lead negotiator, contrary to certain opinions, was a man named Gary Nosner. Although a good man, in the end he wasn’t strong enough to overcome the duplicity of the tactical people and some of the negotiator staff. There were two people who didn’t see things regarding the negotiations the same way Nosner did. One of these negotiators would be coerced and the other would just change sides.
A psychological profiler named Pete Semeric had written three reports in support of the Negotiators after analyzing the Koresh recordings during negotiating sessions. Regarding a raid on the building, his reports all said to wait Koresh out, and that pressing him could result in unintended consequences with violent results. The fourth memo was faxed back to headquarters in DC. It opposed the much discussed tactical raid plan because Semeric felt it would generate a violent conclusion played out by the Davidians. He felt that the government should simply put a tall fence around the building and wait the occupants out. When the report was faxed back to Semeric for his signature, it was already signed, not by him, but appearing as his signature and supporting the new raid plan! In addition, another of the negotiators became the Lead negotiator and this man supported the CS gas Raid plan. His name was Byron Sage. At that point, Semeric saw the handwriting on the wall; he packed his bag and left the Waco operation with not so much as a word to anyone. Years later, he testified before Congress that the 4th memo in the series was his memo, in spite of a statement to the contrary to COPS Productions. He had successfully saved his FBI retirement. The Branch Davidians died after Pete had turned them over to the “Tender Mercies” of Delta Force -SAC Jeff Jamar, Dick Rogers and Byron Sage, FBI stalwarts all.
The spirit of the FBI HRT during the Waco experiance can be seen in the following pictures of three of the “Snipers” posing in these “trophy” shots.
Next Installment COPS Productions Blog # 4
“Waco- A New Revelation” is released and starts a firestorm at AG Reno’s weekly Press Conference
Reno appoints a Special Counsel and COPS responds with another film – “The FLIR Project.” And the Cover up is on! And wait until you see who’s leading it!