A Strong Government

Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi (born 9 June 1954) is a U.S. FBI HRT sniper who was involved in controversial deployments during the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff and 1993 Waco Siege. In 1997, Horiuchi was charged with manslaughter for the death of Vicki Weaver at Ru…

Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi (born 9 June 1954) is a U.S. FBI HRT sniper who was involved in controversial deployments during the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff and 1993 Waco Siege. In 1997, Horiuchi was charged with manslaughter for the death of Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge; the case was dismissed.

In 1992, while working at sniper position Sierra 4 for the FBI Hostage Rescue Team at Ruby Ridge, Horiuchi shot and killed Vicki Weaver, while also wounding her husband Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris.[2]
After his first shot hit and wounded Randy Weaver, Horiuchi fired a second shot at Kevin Harris, who was armed, some 20 seconds later as Harris was running into the Weaver home. The bullet struck and killed Vicki Weaver while she was holding her 10 month old child behind the door through which Harris was entering the home;[2][3] the round also struck and wounded Harris.[4]

Following the conclusion of the trial of Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris in 1993, the Department of Justice (DOJ) created a “Ruby Ridge Task Force” to investigate allegations made by Weaver’s defense attorney Gerry Spence. On 10 June 1994, the Task Force delivered its 542-page report to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility. The Report stated: “With regard to the two shots fired on August 22, we concluded that the first shot met the standard of “objective reasonableness” the Constitution requires for the legal use of deadly force but that the second shot did not satisfy that standard.”[5]

The surviving members of the Weaver family received $3.1M in 1995 to settle their civil suit brought against the U.S. government for wrongful deaths of Sammy and Vicki Weaver. In the out-of-court settlement, the government did not admit any wrong-doing. Harris received $380,000 in 2000.[6]

On 13 September 1993, Charles Riley, a fellow FBI sniper deployed during the Waco Siege claimed that he had heard Horiuchi shooting from Sierra 1, an F.B.I.-held house in front of the compound holding eight snipers, including Horiuchi and Christopher Curran on 19 April 1993. Riley later retracted his statement, saying that he had been misquoted, and that he had only heard snipers at Sierra 1 announce that shots had been fired by Branch Davidians.[7]

Three of the twelve expended .308 Winchester shell casings that the Texas Rangers reported finding in the house were at Horiuchi’s position. However, officials maintain that they could have been left behind from the earlier use of the house by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives snipers on February 28, 1993, and that it would be “nearly impossible” to match them to Horiuchi’s rifle, as it had probably been rebarreled since that time.[8]

For the five months following the Waco inferno, Timothy McVeigh worked at gun shows and handed out free cards printed up with Horiuchi’s name and address, “in the hope that somebody in the Patriot movement would assassinate the sharpshooter”. He wrote hate mail to the sniper, suggesting that “what goes around, comes around”. McVeigh considered targeting Horiuchi, or a member of his family, before settling on a bombing attack on a federal building- choosing to target the Murrah Building.

In 1997, Boundary County, Idaho Prosecutor Denise Woodbury, with the help of special prosecutor Stephen Yagman, charged Horiuchi in state court with involuntary manslaughter over his killing of Vicki Weaver. The U.S. Attorney filed a notice of removal of the case to federal court, which automatically took effect under the statute for removal jurisdiction[10] where the case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge on May 14, 1998, who cited the supremacy clause of the Constitution which grants immunity to federal officers acting in the scope of their employment.[2]

The decision to dismiss the charges was reversed by an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit, which held that enough uncertainty about the facts of the case existed for Horiuchi to stand trial on state manslaughter charges.[2] Ultimately, the then-sitting Boundary County Prosecutor, Brett Benson, who had defeated Woodbury in the 2000 election, decided to drop the charges because he felt it was unlikely the state could prove the case and too much time had passed. Yagman, the special prosecutor, responded that he “could not disagree more with this decision than I do.”[11]

The Ninth Circuit granted Boundary County’s motion to dismiss the case against Horiuchi on September 14, 2001


The FBI’s sniper under fire
A controversial agent is at the center of the Waco investigation
US News and World Report, November 8, 1999
By Mike Tharp

The Sierra 4 sniper position was some 200 yards from white separatist Randy Weaver’s cabin, deep in the northern Idaho mountains. The man in camouflage nestled in the thick brush there had a clear field of fire on the wooden structure across the furrowed ridges. On Aug. 22, 1992, the morning was cool, cloudy and rainy.

Eight months later outside Waco, Texas, on April 19, the noonday sun was warm with heavy winds out of the north. The Sierra 1 sniper position was in a boxy concrete outbuilding less than 100 yards from the Branch Davidian compound. The agent stationed there could see the front door and several windows of his target over the gentle grassy rise. Whether shots were fired from this site is one of the hottest controversies in the continuing Waco saga, now the focus of a civil lawsuit and a high-profile congressional investigation.

The man in the Sierra 1 sniper post at Waco and the Sierra 4 post at Ruby Ridge was FBI marksman Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi. Over the past seven years, he has become the most controversial law enforcement officer in America. For most of that time, the 45-year-old West Point graduate and former infantry officer has been in courtrooms or preparing his defense. At Ruby Ridge, Horiuchi shot and killed Weaver’s wife, Vicki, 43, as she held their 10-month-old daughter behind the door of their cabin. He also shot and wounded Weaver, 44, and his friend, Kevin Harris. At Waco, some 80 members of the Branch Davidian religious sect perished after the FBI and other law enforcement agencies moved to end the 51-day siege.

Being there. Now it’s Horiuchi who is in the crosshairs. He is the only individual defendant still left in the wrongful death civil lawsuit filed by Branch Davidians and their survivors against the federal government. His attorneys say he is innocent, that he “didn’t take any shots whatsoever at Waco.” But Houston lawyer Michael Caddell, who represents some of the Davidians, says the group has “specific evidence” showing that Horiuchi did fire his weapon. Earlier this year, a federal judge in Waco ruled that the Davidians had uncovered “at least some evidence to support their claim” that
Horiuchi fired into the burning building.

How did this 15-year FBI veteran, the son of another U.S. Army officer, wind up in such a legal quagmire? What caused this husband and father, a politically conservative Catholic who homeschools some of his six children, to become such a figure of hatred? Horiuchi’s actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge have been documented in great detail. Perhaps it is the significance militia groups have attached to both events, rather than the events themselves, that has intensified the focus on him. For now at least, Horiuchi is not saying. His attorneys have counseled silence, and that seems to be Horiuchi’s preferred response in any case. “He’s a very private person, very protective of his family,” says Adam Hoffinger, one of the lawyers for Horiuchi, a third-generation Japanese-American who grew up in Hawaii. “We’re determined to let him get on with his life.”

To his defenders, Horiuchi-who has testified he could hit a quarter at 200 yards-is a consummate pro, honed as a military officer, burnished as a leader of an FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) sniper crew. “He was dedicated, hard working, aggressive. He was trying to do the right thing, trying to serve his country in a stressful environment,” David W. Johnson, head of the HRT from 1985 to 1989 and once Horiuchi’s supervisor, told the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union in 1995. FBI Director Louis Freeh has also stood by his agent, stressing that his job entailed making “split-second decisions.”

To his critics, Horiuchi is a “paid FBI assassin” carrying out the wishes of an increasingly hostile and unresponsive police establish- ment. “After a year-long review, the U.S. Justice Department decides . . . not to charge sniper Lon Horiuchi with any crime. Like the Germans at Nuremberg, [Justice Department officials] declare he was ‘just following orders,’ ” snapped a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial after the government closed an investigation of Horiuchi’s actions without filing charges.

Repeat defendant. By the time he became a defendant in the current Waco case, Horiuchi had already been in an Idaho federal court on involuntary-manslaughter charges in connection with Vicki Weaver’s death. A federal judge dismissed the case last year, ruling that “Mr. Horiuchi, rightly or wrongly, was clearly acting under orders authorized by the U.S. government to go shoot and kill an armed male adult because the threat to human lives had already been determined by his supervisors based on the facts then known to them.” The decision is being appealed by the state of Idaho.

Horiuchi and 10 other HRT snipers were flown to the Idaho siege after U.S. Marshal William Degan and Randy Weaver’s 14-year-old son, Sam, were killed. They were positioned around the cabin when Randy Weaver, his daughter Sara, and their friend Kevin Harris attempted to go to a shed where Sam’s body lay. As the trio neared the shed, Horiuchi fired once with his .308-caliber Remington rifle, equipped with a powerful scope, hitting Randy Weaver in the arm. He fired again as the group ran back to the cabin. This round smashed through the door, striking Vicki in the jaw and killing her almost instantly. The same bullet also seriously wounded Harris. Horiuchi later testified he did not see Vicki behind the door and that he believed Randy Weaver and Harris, who was carrying a rifle, posed a threat to an FBI helicopter hovering overhead. (According to Jess Walter, author of Every Knee Shall Bow, a book about the showdown at Ruby Ridge: “There were 11 snipers on the hill, and they all heard the same helicopter. He was the only one who fired.”)

Less than a year later, Horiuchi was again at a sniper post, this time outside the Davidian complex, and his actions there are emblematic of why questions about Waco won’t go away. New evidence has spawned charges of a government coverup, which the feds deny and former Sen. John Danforth is now investigating (box). The FBI denies its officers fired any shots. But Branch Davidian attorneys insist that the FBI’s own infrared videotape, taken from a small aircraft circling above during the last day of the Waco standoff, reveals “characteristic repetitive flashes” associated with gunfire coming from federal agents and from inside the house. They say there are also photos of shell casings on the undercover building where Horiuchi and other snipers were stationed. But firearms experts say it would be nearly impossible to match them with Horiuchi’s weapon. “They re-barrel those [sniper] weapons no less than every two years,” says one weapons analyst. In the wake of Ruby Ridge and Waco, the FBI has tempered its tactics, emphasizing negotiation over force. To wit: The bureau used third-party mediators instead of force to peacefully end the 81-day Montana Freeman standoff in 1996. “Lon Horiuchi changed the history of how the government deals with so-called right-wing groups,” says Kirk Lyons, chief trial counsel of the Southern Legal Resource Center, who represents several of the Davidian plantiffs. “Before Lon Horiuchi, they were considered extremist, but he made [their] criticism of the government legitimate and mainstream.” If true, it is an ironic legacy for a man who has dedicated his life to defending that government.


The FBI’s favorite hitman
Published: 09/14/1999 at 1:00 AM

Was the FBI really at Waco to contain a siege or were trigger-happy agents purposely brought to the Davidian church to finish off the job the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms botched?

Yesterday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that FBI agent Charles Riley said all the way back in June 1993 that he heard shots fired from a sniper post occupied by agent Lon Horiuchi, according to court documents filed by Branch Davidians and relatives as part of a wrongful-death suit scheduled to go to trial next month.

If this fact is true, and if the sniper fire occurred, as Davidians charge, on the final day of the siege, this is a very interesting development, indeed.

Why?

Think about it. The final Waco conflagration occurred April 19, 1993. But this was hardly the first time Lon Horiuchi had found himself in a position to shoot innocent civilians.

You see, Horiuchi was the paid assassin the FBI used Aug. 22, 1992 — eight months earlier — to plug a fatal hole in the head of Vickie Weaver, an unarmed mother clutching her 10-month-old baby during a similar siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. It seems Lon Horiuchi is something of a specialist — the FBI’s go-to guy when it’s open season on women and children.

Imagine that. Eight months earlier, Horiuchi had blown Vickie Weaver’s head off while she stood in a doorway in an isolated rural area. She was no threat to anyone, not wanted on any charges and, of course, unarmed — unless the FBI now considers infants dangerous weapons.

Horiuchi was indicted for manslaughter by Idaho authorities for the shooting, but the charges were thrown out. The federal government only made excuses for him. And now we have reason to believe that eight months after the incident at Ruby Ridge, one that ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers $3.1 million in a civil settlement with Randy Weaver, Horiuchi was assigned to another volatile siege with civilians — including women and children.

Did he show any restraint? Did he learn a lesson from his earlier shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach at Ruby Ridge? Apparently not, if we are to believe one of his colleagues.

Horiuchi was firing away from a sniper’s perch again at Waco.

The FBI spent two years investigating Horiuchi’s actions at Ruby Ridge, ultimately giving him a clean bill of health.

But, in light of the latest Waco revelations, let’s review those actions. On Aug. 21, the government killed Weaver’s son, Sammy. The next day, overcome with grief, Weaver, his 16-year-old daughter, Sara, and a friend, Kevin Harris, ventured out of their cabin to see Sammy and bury him.

As Weaver reached the shed where his son’s body rested, Lon Horiuchi opened fire on him. One round struck Weaver’s underam.

“I’m hit,” Weaver hollered.

Daughter Sara tried desperately to push her father back to the safety of the cabin. Harris ran, his back to the snipers.

“I’m hit, Momma,” Randy had cried to Vicki as he ran toward the door that Vicki had been holding open for them. “I’m hit.”

“Get in here!” Vicki shouted.

Those were her last words. Horiuchi’s bullet smashed into her head and blew off the side of her face. And after she fell, her husband pried the baby from her arms. Weaver and his daughter dragged Vickie’s body through the kitchen, her blood flooding the floor.

Horiuchi told investigators he had been trying to kill Harris when he hit Vickie. But Horiuchi is a professional sharpshooter. Are we to believe he is an incompetent — a lousy shot? Why does the FBI keep sending him out on these assignments if he can’t distinguish between an armed man and an unarmed woman? And even if his story is true, why was he trying to shoot a man in the back?

Nevetheless, despite all the obvious questions, there was Horiuchi again, eight months later — on the firing line, in the sniper’s post — when the FBI’s targets included women and kids in a church compound in Texas. Once again, the FBI’s favorite hitman had an itchy trigger finger. One of his own colleagues reports he heard rounds firing from his perch on the last tragic day of the Waco siege.

This story is getting stranger all the time. Just when you thought you had heard the worst about your government, it surprises you with new lows of murderous contempt for human decency.

But, remember, Horiuchi is only a trigger man. Like he told investigators in a plea reminiscent of the Nazi war criminals: ‘I was only following orders.’ Indeed, he was.

Let’s not allow Horiuchi to be the scapegoat for Waco. It’s time to pursue those who issued the orders that led to the staging of the Waco holocaust — those who framed the ‘rules of engagement.’


Director Statement regarding Agent Horiuchi

Washington, D.C. June 04, 2001
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691
“We are very disappointed that the court concluded that further fact finding is necessary, especially given the prior court decisions in favor of Agent Horiuchi.
“We have the utmost respect for the process, however, and will continue to support Agent Horiuchi and his family as this litigation continues.
“As so often happens in law enforcement, split-second life and death decisions must be made by those sworn to enforce the law. We continue to believe strongly Agent Horiuchi met the legal standard that protects law enforcement officers when they carry out their sworn duties, even when the consequence in hindsight is regrettable.”


Ex-FBI **LON HORIUCHI** Hired by H.S Precision, Inc. of South Dakota (rifle stocks)

Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2010 2:38:16 AM by TokuMei

H.S. Precision, Inc.

Lon Horiuchi was one of several snipers in a hide located at the back the Branch Davidian complex at Mount Carmel, Waco, Texas. Mr. Horiuchi was also in service at Ruby Ridge, where he shot Randy Weaver’s wife in the head, killing her, as she held her baby.

Lon Horiuchi retired from the FBI in October of 2006 and was hired as “FBI Program Manager & COTR” at H.S. Precision, Inc., of Rapid City, South Dakota. This company makes high-quality fiberglass stocks, barrels, finished rifles, gunsmithing tools, and hunting apparel.

Their website is http://www.hsprecision.com and their telephone number in Rapid City, South Dakota is (605) 341-3006.


Many people believe that David Koresh (or the Branch Davidians) were responsible for the deaths of the 74 men, women and children who died in the inferno at Waco on April 19, 1993. This is the story that the FBI put out. It is a lie. The guns they had were legal. The local sheriff investigated and found no basis for complaints against them. These were law-abiding American citizens, even if they thought differently to most other folks. They trusted the U.S. Constitution to ensure their political rights, but they were murdered by agents acting under the authority of the U.S. government.

Waco occurred under the presidency of Bill Clinton, with Janet Reno and Wesley Clark in supporting roles. Already back in 1993 the US government demonstrated its contempt for the American people by carrying out a massacre in order to “demonstrate” (on prime time TV) its supposed “authority” (a tactic favored by fascist governments).

Fires and tanks make great television, and on April 19, 1993, Americans sat stunned in front of their sets as they watched a war-like scene with US Army tanks smashing into the Waco compound. The tanks injected tear gas–more precisely, CS gas, a fine powder which on contact with human tissue burns the skin and inflames all mucus membranes. Though CS is supposed to be used outdoors to disperse mobs, the FBI’s plan was to keep injecting it until the Branch Davidians were driven out of their compound. Instead, the 51-day stand-off at Waco ended in a fireball. News cameras were kept at a sanitized distance and observers could barely see any sign of human life. More than twenty young children, most too young to be protected by gas masks, were subjected to six hours of CS gas and died in the fire. But neither their innocent faces nor their ghastly corpses were ever viewed by the American public who, as the news media discovered, rapidly lost interest in the tragedy and showed little sympathy for the unseen victims. As standard “journalistic” practice, television stations now poll their viewers to give them the kind of news they want. Within weeks, Waco had dropped to the bottom of those polls, even in Texas. The American public had seen and heard enough, and their verdict was the “Waco Wackos” had brought it on themselves.

The public’s lack of interest came as a great relief to the Clinton administration. Though the ATF plan to raid the Davidian compound was put together during the Bush administration, the go-ahead was given by Clinton’s new appointees. The ATF’s February 28, 1993 raid, which led to the 51-day standoff, was a nightmare of incompetence; four agents and six Branch Davidians were killed. Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen, newly responsible for the ATF, escaped without criticism. He may not even have been told about the raid before it happened. Janet Reno, the first woman Attorney General, was to take the hits for the Clinton administration on Waco. She had reluctantly given her consent to the FBI’s gas attack, which was supposed to end the standoff.

In the congressional hearings held immediately after the disaster, Michigan Democrat John Conyers blasted Reno for her role in the tragedy. Conyers was vociferous about the many children who lost their lives. Only days into her job, Reno looked the Congressman straight in the eye and, choking with emotion, promised she would remember the children every day of her life. She took full responsibility but acknowledged no mistakes. Perhaps because government officials so rarely have the courage to take responsibility for any negative result, Reno became the most recognizable and well-liked member of the Clinton cabinet. Indeed, every time the Attorney General has since been challenged about Waco, her stock with the American people has gone up and their conviction that the Branch Davidians brought it on themselves has been reinforced. Surely Janet Reno is not the person to blame for the decisions made at Waco: indeed, her first impulse was to say no to the plan. The lead official at Justice who was most involved in Waco decision-making was then-Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell. He talked directly to the agents on the ground at Waco, and became convinced that the gas plan was necessary. FBI agent Larry Potts, who played a central role in the FBI’s stand-off with Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, had a similar function in Waco. Janet Reno may have been in charge, but these men were calling the shots in the Washington command room. Still, if even a fraction of this documentary’s claims are true, Reno helped circle the wagons and bury the truth after the fact.

One infuriated segment of the American public refused to forget Waco or to forgive Janet Reno: Clinton haters, the National Rifle Association, right-wing militia fanatics, conservative talkmeisters and their audiences. Across America there was a steady stream of talk show callers who kept insisting that Waco, just like Ruby Ridge, was an example of federal law enforcement at war with the American people. Wild claims about conspiracies and about tanks using flame throwers to set the compound on fire accompanied sensible claims about the ATF’s and FBI’s reckless and incompetent military tactics. But the rest of America was not listening. Reno had ordered the Justice Department to investigate itself and the FBI. The supposedly independent investigator, Edward Dennis, an assistant attorney general during the Reagan administration, based his report on that less than searching self-examination. The result was a total whitewash: Dennis proclaimed the operation a success even though all the patients died. He determined that the Branch Davidians had started the fire themselves in a mass suicide and that the FBI had never fired a single shot into the compound. Dennis concluded: “Under the circumstances, the FBI exhibited extraordinary restraint and handled this crisis with great professionalism.”

Only by comparison was there a more aggressive investigation of the ATF, which had planned the original, military-style “dynamic entry” into the compound. The ATF’s independent investigators, unlike the Justice Department’s, laid out the evidence so that a fair-minded person could reach an independent judgment. But the report is written as if to protect the agency. The authors demonize the Branch Davidians and give the agents the benefit of every doubt. Most troubling to me was the report’s uninformed and unwarranted portrayal of the Branch Davidians as cold-blooded killers: “On February 28, Koresh and his followers knew ATF agents were coming and decided to kill them”; they “prepare[d] a deadly ambush.” Despite these distortions, the report singled out for sanctions the two agents who were in charge of the dynamic entry, and they were forced out of the ATF. The Branch Davidians insisted throughout the stand-off that these men should go to prison and the report certainly did not exonerate them. Still, they were able to appeal the sanctions, and were later restored to their previous standing.

On the Branch Davidians’ side, in addition to the six killed in the ATF raid and the more than eighty dead in the fire, several of the survivors were convicted of federal offenses involving firearms and sentenced to long prison terms. The authorities bulldozed the ruins of the Waco compound and quite literally covered it up; there could be no further possibility of physical evidence turning up that would raise new questions about the alleged wrongdoings of federal agents at Waco. Case closed.

Then, exactly two years later, came the enormity of Oklahoma City, home-grown American terrorism–Timothy McVeigh’s Turner Diaries revenge, memorializing the anniversary of Waco with a new and even greater horror. The tragedy forced America to look back at Waco just as McVeigh intended. The moment was perfect for Gazecki’s documentary; unfortunately, he was still filming. By the time he was finished, the soul-searching was over, the McVeigh trial had begun, and the Waco justification was now rubbing salt in the wounds of Oklahoma City. If Gazecki thought the McVeigh trial would help his documentary, he seriously misjudged the mood of Americans.

Stephen Jones, McVeigh’s lawyer, seems to have similarly miscalculated. He thought an American jury contemplating the death penalty would sympathize with McVeigh if they knew his motive was retaliation for Waco. Like Gazecki, Jones also called to enlist my support. He had read my report and wanted me to testify about Waco at the capital sentencing phase of the McVeigh trial. His words were, “you owe it to your country.” The argument was dramatic but unconvincing. Unlike Waco conspiracy theorists, I believe the tragedy at Waco was the result of incompetence and over-reaching: bad judgment and bad decisions, not intentional wrongdoing and a plot against the people. Nor do I believe there was a government conspiracy to cover up these failings. Instead, law enforcement agents closed ranks out of self-interest and group solidarity, and the subsequent investigations turned into bureaucratic damage control. On no moral calculus does the government’s incompetence at Waco justify or mitigate the intentional slaughter of 168 innocent victims in Oklahoma City.

If Gazecki is right, however, Waco was much more than a case of government incompetence. According to his film, federal agents acting under color of law behaved like outlaws, rogue agents murdered Branch Davidians, and the responsible authorities covered up.

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building produced a spate of media attention and a new round of congressional hearings–sponsored, it is said, by the National Rifle Association’s lobby. Members of the NRA could empathize with the Branch Davidians, whose large private armory was the original target of the ATF. Politics “makes strange bed-fellows,” we are told, and after Waco, as I can personally attest, sleeping arrangements could not have been more perverse.

Left-wingers, liberal democrats, and minorities have traditionally been the critics of federal law enforcement agencies that overstep their authority, and conservative Republicans have traditionally been the defenders of law and order who support law enforcement even when it over-reaches. Waco produced a role reversal. The Gingrich Republicans were now in control of Congress and they decided to reopen Waco.

Congressman Conyers, now on the minority side of the aisle, was again in the spotlight during the second round of partisan congressional hearings, though this time as a defender of Janet Reno and federal law enforcement. A frequent critic of police brutality, as in the Rodney King case, he burst out laughing as he incredulously read a statement prepared for him by his own staff which extolled the virtues of the Los Angeles Police Department’s SWAT team, whose former chief was testifying on behalf of the FBI. But the Democrats had a better strategy than praising law enforcement.

During the stand-off at Waco, President Clinton had charged David Koresh with sexual abuse of the Branch Davidians’ children. Reno made similar claims about child abuse to justify her own decisions to approve the gas-attack. These allegations profoundly influenced public opinion against Koresh and the Branch Davidians. On that basis alone, many Americans were convinced that Koresh was evil and that was enough to close their minds about possible over-reaching and wrongdoings by federal authorities.

In the second round of congressional hearings, the Democrats deployed the same strategy. At the outset of the hearings a young adolescent girl, under New York Congressman Charles Schumer’s gentle questioning, testified in an entirely believable manner about David Koresh forcing her to submit to sexual intercourse. It was Oprah-style television and the most genuinely gripping moment during the long, tedious, and unproductive hearings that followed. The Democrats put a human face on Waco and the battle for public opinion was lost: before the Republicans got started, they found themselves defending a child-molester. Because these allegations have played such an important part in the American public’s moral judgments about the Branch Davidians and the events at Waco, one might have expected a documentary to clarify this matter, or at least face up to it with candor. Instead the issue is fudged. Here and in other places Gazecki’s long documentary is not long enough to encompass the complex background of the Waco tragedy. As the title advertises, his documentary is primarily about the misdeeds of federal agents and their violations of the “rules of engagement.”

Before considering those misdeeds it is worth confronting the allegations of sexual and child abuse lodged against Koresh. The film deals with them briefly and gingerly. Gazecki includes some footage of the young teenage girl testifying before Congress; one of Koresh’s lawyers then undermines her testimony by referring to similar claims the girl made in a custody dispute. Gazecki leaves us with the impression that she might be lying. This portrayal is irresponsible and misleading. Koresh had convinced his followers that he was the Lamb of God prophesied in the Bible. He possessed the good seed and his offspring would occupy a special place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Koresh apparently had memorized many passages in the Bible and could quote relevant scripture to support his claim. You may think this is madness, but Koresh’s followers, many of them well-educated and deeply religious, had faith in his special powers. Husbands practiced abstinence while they allowed Koresh to cohabit with their wives. Parents permitted Koresh to have sex with their pubescent daughters. Many of the children who died in the compound were Koresh’s biological offspring. Though the children were subject to strict physical discipline, lengthy religious instruction, and a diet free of artificial ingredients, caffeine, and candy, there was never any evidence of child abuse in the sense of neglect or battering that concerned Janet Reno. Nor is there evidence that Koresh molested prepubescent girls. Instead, girls who had reached menarche were induced to have intercourse with Koresh in expectation that his “brides” would have the privilege of bearing his special children. Koresh and the Branch Davidians certainly knew that outsiders would disapprove of these sexual practices and downplayed them in public. Still, the secular state apparently had sufficient evidence to charge Koresh with statutory rape. But despite complaints by outsider parents who were not believers, Koresh was never prosecuted.

The only “apologists” for Koresh’s behavior seem to be academic religionists whose studies show that such practices are common in the early stages of new religious sects. They also defend the Branch Davidians–a branch of an earlier apocalyptic branch of the Seventh Day Adventists–as a religious sect, not a mind-controlling cult. To understand what happened at Waco, you must appreciate that his diverse followers, who came from as far away as Australia, Great Britain, and Israel, believed that Koresh was the Lamb of God who would reveal the secrets of the Seven Seals. They called their compound “Mount Carmel,” and like other millennial believers expected the world was coming to an end. Everyone who has carefully studied the Branch Davidians, and that should include Gazecki, agrees that Koresh, justifying his behavior by scripture, had sexual intercourse with legally underage females.

A documentary of this kind, which aims to set the record straight, has a truth-telling obligation. And since Gazecki’s film is essentially an indictment of federal law enforcement agencies, his cause might have been better served by eliminating this issue from the film rather than undermining his own bona fides by equivocating. Statutory rape is a crime, and so is the possession of illegal weapons, but neither of these offenses justifies the ATF’s initial life-threatening, commando-style raid on a compound full of women and children.

Gazecki constructs his film through a series of juxtapositions that powerfully carry his argument about official misconduct and distortion. We see liberal Democratic congressman Tom Lantos of California belligerently asserting that David Koresh was a madman with fanatic followers and that anyone who thinks differently must also be mad. Then we are shown scenes of a calm and sensible Koresh explaining scripture and talking reasonably to his followers, who look like ordinary church-goers. As a result, the usually clear-thinking Lantos looks like the madman. In this fashion virtually all of the government officials from Attorney General Reno on down are made to look like fools or hypocrites. Trying to explain how it came about that the FBI was using tanks, Reno maladroitly compares the arrangement to renting a car: this, after we have watched the “rented” tanks demolishing the compound’s walls. ATF and FBI spokesmen appear constantly in these juxtapositions to be dissembling, deceiving, or misleading in their communications to the media, Congress, and the American people.

Gazecki also uses juxtaposition to support critics of the government’s handling of Waco. In my report, I had suggested that the FBI’s psychological warfare strategy had nothing to do with the psychology of Koresh or the Branch Davidians, that it was instead a function of the FBI’s own group psychology–that agents were determined to show Koresh that they were in control. The film shows me reiterating this interpretation, and then cuts to an FBI spokesman in a press conference who is explaining the FBI’s new aggressive tactics during the stand-off. The agent, obviously hot under the collar and fed up, is shown walking off the podium and stating: “We are going to show them that we control the compound and they are impotent.” I had never seen that footage before, but could not have invented a more perfect illustration of what I had written.

Gazecki’s editorial juxtapositions suggest a pervasive pattern of misinformation by the Justice Department, FBI, and ATF to mislead the American people, cover up misdeeds, and demonize the Branch Davidians. Interviewed after Oklahoma City, President Clinton unfairly dismissed the Branch Davidians as common criminals. The film should correct that unfortunate verdict, which is apparently shared by most Americans. The Branch Davidians may have been misguided religious extremists, but they were also decent human beings seeking a place in heaven and they believed Koresh could show them the way.

Indeed, during the long stand-off the Branch Davidians realized they were being smeared, and made a video to show their human faces to the American people. Men, women, and teenagers (many of them persons of color) explain why they came to Waco and why they are remaining in the compound. They believed God was on their side and–seen from their perspective–one begins to recognize that the Branch Davidians were subjected to great injustices. The ATF investigation concedes that after the raid, in an effort to cover up mistakes, the ATF hierarchy provided the public with “misleading or wrong” information. The Branch Davidians express their indignation about all this in their video. But the FBI prevented the release of that video for months after the tragedy. Parts of it are presented in the documentary, and they will come as a startling revelation. If Americans had seen the video, the Waco tragedy would have left us all with a guilty conscience; perhaps the final tragedy would not even have happened. Ironically, the Justice Department’s Dennis Report specifically notes the FBI’s concern “that if the tape were released to the media Koresh would gain much sympathy.” The FBI waged a misguided public relations campaign to keep Americans from sympathizing with the Branch Davidians. The American media bought it and pressured the FBI to take more aggressive measures against the “Waco Wackos.”

If Waco: The Rules of Engagement had done no more than show Americans that we had once more fallen into the trap of dehumanizing and demonizing our victims it would have served a useful purpose. But Gazecki goes further: he seems almost determined to dehumanize and demonize the ATF and FBI. Some of the documentary’s allegations about federal agents seem reasonable, and correspond to what I learned from my own efforts to understand what happened at Waco. Other allegations push the envelope of credibility and some strain credulity to the breaking point. There is, however, enough in the documentary to shake up anyone’s preconceived notions. As someone deeply critical of law enforcement’s behavior at Waco, the film made me worry that I had not been critical enough. Even if the documentary does not provide definitive answers, it raises serious questions both about the ATF’s February 28 raid and the FBI’s conduct on April 19.

Gazecki’s film argues that ATF agents fired the first shots, and that they directed automatic gunfire from their helicopters into the compound. These assertions directly contradict the official ATF investigation. If they are accurate, the ATF violated the “rules of engagement,” successfully covered up this violation, and then lied under oath before Congress. More startling, Gazecki assembles evidence to argue that federal agents (presumably the FBI) on the final day of the conflagration were firing automatic weapons into the side of the compound hidden from the TV cameras, and that those tanks we saw on television were not just injecting gas but intentionally smashing sections of the compound and crushing the inhabitants. Footage in the film shows one of these tanks becoming disabled because something red is caught in its tracks. The narrator suggests that this may be part of the body of a Branch Davidian and his red coat. To support allegations about automatic weapon fire, Gazecki shows heat-sensitive film made by the government’s own surveillance aircraft, and his assertions are supported in the film by knowledgeable experts. All this is in direct contradiction of the FBI’s repeated claims, backed up by the Justice Department’s investigation and the Dennis Report, that their purpose on April 19 was to get the Branch Davidians out safely, that the tanks were not attacking, and that they never fired a shot.

What is one to make of these allegations? Let us begin with the ATF raid. The ATF had been gathering intelligence for months and knew that there were many women and children in the compound whose lives would be at risk in a fire-fight. They believed that the Branch Davidians had powerful weapons, thought the end of the world was at hand, and might resist an armed assault by the ATF–the modern day soldiers of Assyria, according to Koresh.

Nonetheless, the ATF planned the largest armed raid in the bureau’s history. The bureau received military training from the US Army at Fort Hood to prepare agents who had never before participated in such an effort. The ATF clearly misled Texas’s then-Governor Ann Richards by falsely claiming that illegal drugs were involved. (The Branch Davidians, like the Seventh Day Adventists, reject all such drugs as a matter of religious tenet.) The illegal drug story was required under federal statute for the ATF to obtain the use of the Texas National Guard’s military helicopters. Those helicopters were supposed to arrive first at the compound to create the diversion and surprise necessary for a “dynamic entry”: diversion and surprise would allow ATF agents to put up ladders and invade the compound through the second floor window–beyond which, according to their faulty intelligence, lay the locked armory to which only David Koresh had the key. The ATF plan was to get there before Koresh could unlock it. If the timing failed, the plan put at risk the lives of 80 federal agents and more than 100 Branch Davidians. Given the alleged offense–violations of an illegal-firearms statute–the entire project seems ill-conceived. Indeed, many commentators later suggested that a single agent could have peacefully served a warrant. Even at the time, the acting Assistant Treasury Secretary in charge of law enforcement thought the plan was unwise and unnecessary when it was laid out to him just hours before the operation started. His first response, like Janet Reno’s, was to say no. But he was misled by the agents in charge who convinced him that the Branch Davidians posed a real threat of violence to their neighbors. The official investigatory report concedes that the plan was inept if not irrational. But it maintains that the Branch Davidians were violent and ignores the possibility that the ATF raid was a dangerous provocation.

As is now well known, the ATF had an agent, Robert Rodriguez, inside the compound on the day of the raid. Rodriguez was pretending to be interested in the Branch Davidians’ faith in order to gather intelligence. David Koresh knew all along that Rodriguez was an ATF agent; in fact, many days earlier Koresh had learned from his neighbors that the ATF had the compound under surveillance. Still, Koresh tried to proselytize Rodriguez. On the morning of the raid, when Koresh learned that the ATF was coming, he told Rodriguez that the Branch Davidians knew he was an agent and that they had been informed of the impending raid. Permitted to beat a hasty retreat (by these supposed killers), the agent informed his superiors that they had lost the essential element of surprise. Everyone in the ATF had agreed that if the element of surprise was lost they would call the operation off: because the main objective was to seize the locked armory before Koresh could distribute weapons to his followers, any other decision was completely irrational. Yet the ATF pushed ahead.

As Gazecki demonstrates, Koresh’s warning resulted in part from the ATF’s own inept attempts to get media attention. We see an agent lamely explaining that she called the local television stations only to make sure she had their weekend telephone numbers so she could contact them after the raid. In another remarkable failure of security, uniformed ATF agents were seen in Waco hotels, restaurants, and cocktail lounges the night before the raid. As a result of these gaffes, local TV stations had crews out looking for the compound long before the raid; when they explained what they were doing and asked a Branch Davidian for directions, he was able to warn Koresh.

Gazecki’s documentary shows ATF agent Rodriguez weeping as he testifies before Congress about how he told his superiors, how they ignored his warning, and how those superiors had been lying to Congress. Gazecki has him nicely juxtaposed with one of the superiors who in bureaucratic “double speak” is explaining to Congress why a warning is not a warning. The ATF leaders must have learned something from Rodriguez as they hurriedly decided to advance the time of their assault. But because of the ATF’s almost-unbelievable incompetence in failing to coordinate radio wave bands, the helicopters did not learn of the changes, kept to the original plan, arrived late, and failed to serve their diversionary function. With neither diversion nor surprise, tragedy was inevitable.

Why on earth did the ATF go ahead? The most realistic answer I have heard is that the ATF was worried about its own morale and standing. The ATF has had many critics over the years and been the object of scorn and ridicule by other law enforcement agencies. (Competition and bad blood among federal law enforcement agencies is well-known inside the Beltway.) It has frequently been suggested that the ATF be dismantled and its functions assigned to the FBI. The ATF wanted to pull off a bold military-style coup that would be widely publicized on television and allow it to display a huge collection of illegal weapons confiscated by its competent and courageous agents. Such a coup, it was thought, would strengthen and protect the ATF, impress Congress, enhance the agency’s prestige, perhaps even increase its budget allocation.

The idea that the ATF acted out of bureaucratic self-interest and was looking for a public relations coup may seem ridiculous, but it is the only credible explanation of its conduct. Several years earlier the ATF had laid siege to a right-wing stronghold. The stand-off was resolved by the FBI and third-party negotiators, but the illegal weapons were all dismantled before the surrender and the ATF lost all the evidence it was hoping to obtain. The ATF had invested an extraordinary amount of time, energy, and resources in the Waco plan, as agents, many of them without previous SWAT-team or incident-response experience, prepared for their commando mission. Gazecki’s film captures the “children-playing-soldier” mood of the ATF in video footage the agents made of themselves as they prepared for their escapade. Indeed, the momentum was so great it obviously overwhelmed the rational judgment of leaders who discounted their own agent’s warning.

Though the agency’s conduct does not constitute a government conspiracy, it is equally preposterous to describe what transpired at the compound as an “ambush,” as the ATF report does. Having been warned, and expecting to be attacked, the Branch Davidians had more than enough time to open their armory and distribute weapons. Whether illegal automatics or legal semiautomatics, their weapons had enormous killing power. Military experts who have examined Waco agree that if the Branch Davidians had decided to kill the agents, as the ATF report claims, they could easily have slaughtered them. They had time to station themselves in strategic positions, including a tower that rose above the compound. Armed with automatic weapons, two or three of them could have fired on the cattle cars in which the agents arrived at the compound (the ATF’s idea of Texas camouflage)–had there been a real ambush, most of the agents would have been killed before they even dismounted from the cattle cars, and many more as they jumped down. Even after the ATF took cover, the Branch Davidians’ strategic firing positions in the tower made the agents visible targets.

The four agents who were killed were among those who went ahead with the planned dynamic entry from the roof of the compound, whose whole purpose was to get to the locked second-floor armory. But as the element of surprise had been lost, the armory had already been opened and the weapons disbursed. As soon as gunfire was exchanged–whoever started it–the ATF had to realize that no purpose could be served by mounting the roof. What we witnessed on television, then, was a tragic exercise in futility. The ATF leaders had put their own agents in a situation where there was nothing to be gained and where lives could be and were lost. Viewers of Gazecki’s film will see again those desperate moments on the compound roof, as one of the agents goes through the window. But the narrator says nothing about the insanity of what is taking place before our eyes. Federal agents killing and being killed for no reason!

Both Gazecki’s documentary and the ATF’s official investigation are misleading about all this. The ATF investigation constructed a narrative in which federal agents were caught in a killing ambush and fired in self-defense. Gazecki’s film, by focusing particularly on the helicopters, makes the ATF out to be the killers. But ATF agents are not killers, and neither were the Branch Davidians. The agents were desperately trying to follow the ill-conceived and futile plan conceived by their superiors. The Branch Davidians were defending their holy ground in the face of violent provocation. Both sides had weapons and were firing them. Indeed, the extraordinary thing, missed by both narratives, is how few lives were lost in this huge display of firepower.

If not a result of conspiracy or ambush, why were the first shots fired? The answer may be painfully banal. The complex ATF plan (of which there was never a written copy) called for the first agents who dismounted to use fire extinguishers to fend off the Branch Davidians’ watch-dogs. As this began, Koresh, who said he had stationed his people to defend the compound, came to the door unarmed to confront the ATF. The ATF report incredibly has the Branch Davidians greeting the cattle cars with a hail of bullets and grenades while Koresh comes to the open door unarmed. It is impossible to believe that these events happened simultaneously as described. Koresh consistently maintained that he could not believe that ATF agents in full battle gear would assault the compound if they knew there were women and children inside. He came to the door to try to explain the situation to them. The first gun shots were then fired by agents at the dogs when their fire extinguishers failed to control them. One of Koresh’s bodyguards, on his own initiative, then fired at those agents; agents responded by opening fire on the compound. The agent closest to Koresh, who was still at the open door, dropped to the ground and shot the unarmed Koresh through the pelvis and wrist. The door closed and gunfire broke out on all sides leading to the battle already described.

In short, the ATF did not go to the compound intending to shoot first and serve warrants later, as Gazecki suggests. Nor did the Branch Davidians intend an ambush to maximize their kill of federal agents, as the ATF’s official report insists. Indeed, when the firing began, Wayne Martin, a Branch Davidian and an African-American graduate of Harvard Law School, called 911. Portions of the tapes can be heard in Gazecki’s documentary. Martin’s spontaneous reactions do not suggest a man participating in an ambush. A trained lawyer and minister, Martin was obviously shocked that armed troops were firing on women and children.

As to Gazecki’s charges that the ATF’s borrowed helicopters fired on the compound, he has presented convincing circumstantial evidence. Three helicopters arrived late on the scene as the fire-fight began. The occupants of the helicopters could not communicate with the leaders on the ground because of the radio-band problem. The agents in the helicopters with automatic weapons had no idea what was happening, and may well have joined in the fire-fight. Gazecki has compelling audiotape of the exchange between ATF agent Cavanaugh and the Branch Davidians during those exact moments. Early in the raid, the two sides had no way to communicate; Martin had reached the local police on their 911 line but they could not contact the ATF. On the tape, telephone communication has been established and we hear a Branch Davidian desperately telling Cavanaugh that the helicopters are shooting automatic weapons into the compound. Cavanaugh denies this. Koresh, though he had already been wounded, comes on and tells the agent they are not going to talk any longer if Cavanaugh refuses to acknowledge the reality that the compound is taking automatic weapon fire from the helicopters. Koresh had no reason to invent this complaint at that time, and Cavanaugh had no way of knowing what was going on in the helicopters. Cavanaugh ingeniously resolves this dispute over the phone by saying he intended only to deny that the helicopters had mounted automatic weapons. Subsequently, the ATF denied that agents ever fired from helicopters. Before Congress, Cavanaugh wept and swore that it was impossible for anyone to think that ATF agents would fire from helicopters. If he believed that they had, he claimed, he would throw away his badge. Gazecki’s film contains a convincing refutation of Cavanaugh’s testimony about the helicopters. Regrettably, Congress never heard it, as no member of Congress confronted or cross-examined him.

Gazecki is less than objective in failing to emphasize that the Branch Davidians fired on the helicopters. This is yet another example of the adversarial style on both sides. In the film, one actually seems to hear the Branch Davidians taking automatic weapon fire from the demonic ATF. In the ATF report we are shown the unarmed helicopters and the bullet holes caused by demonic Branch Davidians.

The ATF raid left dead and dying on both sides and led to a cease-fire agreement. Even the ATF official report acknowledges “chaos at the command post” after the shoot-out. A complex negotiation between the ATF and the FBI followed, resulting in the FBI’s own 51-day siege.

When the FBI replaced the ATF at Waco, their initial strategy of negotiating with the Brach Davidians soon shifted to a declaration of all-out psychological warfare. Most behavioral scientists who have studied the events have questioned the FBI’s decision. Because of the Branch Davidians’ religious beliefs, end-of-the-world expectations, and acceptance of Koresh as the Lamb of God, such tactics might have driven members to mass suicide. When I and the other panelists appointed by the Justice Department met with representatives of the FBI’s behavioral science group for briefings on July 1, 1993, we were told in no uncertain terms that they had decided Koresh was a sociopath who had conned his followers. Their spokesman opined that, when push comes to shove, common criminals such as Koresh, who have antisocial personality disorders, act in their own self-interest. This was presented to us as the behavioral science input into FBI decision-making. These views suggested to the panelists an astonishing ignorance of religious beliefs and of individual and group psychology. But as it turned out this initial part of our briefing was misleading.

The arrangements of the Justice Department for its investigation of Waco in my opinion were not designed to produce a searching inquiry. The panelists were briefed by law enforcement officials who had not been directly involved in Waco, and we were asked to prepare individual reports suggesting improvements in federal law enforcement for the future without a detailed understanding of what happened at Waco. Career Justice Department lawyers were to conduct the separate factual investigation; the so-called independent investigator, Edward Dennis, was to prepare his report based on the Justice Department’s self-examination, and we were instructed not to ask questions about this ongoing investigation. My objection to these arrangements was considered an aberration, indicative of some personal psychopathology. And my subsequent criticism of the process and its findings was taken as a further proof of my bad judgment and “paranoia.” At one point, it seemed as though the Justice Department had removed me from the panel. Eventually it was agreed that I would delay my own report until I had studied the factual report and could pursue any unanswered questions with Justice Department lawyers or the FBI. During this subsequent process I discovered that Peter Smerik, the agent who actually provided behavioral science input at Waco, had submitted two remarkably contradictory memoranda to his superiors. In the first, with impressive psychological insight and prescience, he had noted that Koresh was a religious fanatic, not a con-man sociopath, and that his followers were true religious adherents. He warned his superiors that psychological warfare might drive the Branch Davidians to collective suicide. Twenty-four hours later, he sent a memo advising the FBI to press ahead with psychological warfare. According to the Dennis Report, this psychological warfare memo was the last submitted at Waco by the behavioral science group. Neither the Justice Department’s investigators nor the Dennis Report delved into these strange circumstances.

In the fall of 1993, I asked Smerik about his 180? turnabout. His response, clear and unmistakable, was: “my superior told me I was tying his hands.” He had caved into the pressure and had provided his superiors the advice they wanted to hear. During the congressional hearings in 1995, I sat behind him and heard him testify under oath that no one had actually said those words to him, that no one had pressured him. He testified that it was all in his own head: he had pressured himself. None of the members of Congress present seemed to recognize that Smerik was recanting and had closed ranks with his fellow agents. Smerik’s original story had been the linch-pin of my understanding about what went wrong in the FBI’s management of the stand-off at Waco, and it had been confirmed by several other FBI sources.

There were two warring psychological camps inside the FBI at Waco. The first was the tactical forces, consisting of hostage rescue team members, SWAT-team trained marksmen, and other Green Beret types whose imperative is immediate action. The second camp consisted of negotiators and behavioral scientists, who were prepared to talk the thing through indefinitely to avoid loss of life. Friction between the two camps increased as the stand-off dragged on. The tactical forces pressed for more aggressive and harassing measures, at times even acting independently and undercutting ongoing FBI negotiations. Smerik’s turnabout was only one symptom of this pathology of divided camps. Eventually, the tactical forces were calling all the shots and acting on their plan to tighten a noose of tanks around the compound and then inject the CS gas to drive the Davidians out. As one of my informants told me, by the time the plan was presented to Janet Reno, there were three options: gas, gas, or gas. The FBI’s choice of strategy was not based on insufficient appreciation of apocalyptic religious beliefs or inadequate behavioral science. It was based on the action imperative of tactical law enforcement.

Gazecki compellingly substantiates this conflict inside the FBI. He presents excerpts culled from the reels of negotiation tape in which the negotiator apologizes for behavior by the tactical forces that violated promises made to the Branch Davidians. These tapes indicate that federal agents at times behaved not like professionals but like hooligans–for example, pulling down their pants and mooning the people in the compound. The film also substantiates my opinion, shared by many commentators, that third-party negotiation should have been utilized. On the tapes we hear the Branch Davidians insisting that negotiation with the FBI has reached a dead end and asking for third-party negotiators.

Though it supports all the criticisms contained in my report, and which I reiterate as a talking head on-screen, the documentary suggests that my ultimate conclusion about the Branch Davidians being inadvertently driven to mass suicide is entirely mistaken. Gazecki claims to show us something far more despicable. He believes that on the day of the gas attack some of the FBI’s tactical forces began shooting their automatic weapons into the compound and crushing Branch Davidians under the tanks. According to the autopsy reports at least 20 corpses had bullet holes in them and some of the bodies were maimed. The Justice Department’s explanation of the bullet holes was that fanatic leaders had shot church members; it gave no explanation of the maimed bodies. Until I saw Gazecki’s film I had accepted this explanation, with the proviso that these shootings may have been suicides or mercy killings of people who were dying in agony. Koresh’s own corpse had been shot between the eyes, and I do not believe any Branch Davidian still in the compound would have done that to the “Lamb of God” in malice. Gazecki forces us to ask whether some of those bullet holes were made by federal agents and whether some of the strangely mutilated corpses were the result of tank treads.

When the panelists were assembled on the first day at the Justice Department we were told that we would be given information about the final conflagration that had been gathered through top-secret technology. We were informed that all such information would be redacted from the published investigation under a federal statute–it was–and we were sworn to secrecy. Though the London Times shortly thereafter published photographs of the listening devices used at Waco and described how they had been deployed, I honored the secrecy request until I testified before Congress two years later and was told to reveal what the panel had been told. Gazecki’s documentary has been profoundly disturbing to me on this very matter.

The panel was told that the FBI’s top-secret listening devices picked up all sorts of extraneous noise and conversation, making it impossible to decipher meaningful information as it was recorded. We were also told that well after the fire FBI experts had deciphered a conversation in which the Branch Davidians’ inner circle reported that on the night of the final day Koresh had decided it would end with them “stepping out onto the surface of the sun.” Obviously, we were told, if the FBI had heard that information in real time, they would have taken a different course the next morning. But here was the convincing but secret evidence that the Branch Davidians had committed mass suicide. The FBI never played that tape for the panel nor were we ever given a transcript. Nonetheless, I accepted this oral information as the basic factual premise of my report and concluded that the FBI had inadvertently driven the Branch Davidians to this extremity. To my knowledge this “secret” information convinced the other panelists as well that Waco had ended in mass suicide.

Gazecki’s film argues that I got it wrong, as has everyone else who believed the Justice Department’s investigation and the Dennis Report. The film presents three kinds of evidence about that final day. First, there is a still photograph, apparently taken by authorities after the tragedy, of a ferret round of CS gas that was fired into the compound. A Branch Davidian survivor has testified that many such rounds were fired and that they sounded like mortar fire. This information is confirmed by the Dennis Report, which describes the ferret rounds as “non-burning.” Gazecki’s film, however, claims that they are pyrotechnic devices that explode to deliver the gas, and further argues that these devices, not the Branch Davidians, set fire to the compound. Ferret rounds are either pyrotechnic or not: that question can easily be resolved. However, as the CS gas is in fact a powder that must be dispersed, it is not inconceivable that the canister includes some mechanism for that purpose. The Dennis Report’s description of these rounds as “non-burning” seems evasive rather than definitive. And as the compound was filled with highly volatile fumes, pyrotechnic devices could have sparked the fire.

The documentary’s second kind of evidence consists of films, presented at the congressional hearings, that show a tank ramming back and forth repeatedly through a section of the compound until it collapses. The panelists were never told that this was part of the FBI’s “not an assault” plan. Yet Gazecki also has tape of an FBI spokesman saying that they knew in advance that the women and children might be placed in a bunker near the kitchen, and so intentionally rammed the tank through the wall to deposit gas in the bunker area. The Justice Department has consistently argued that tanks were used only to inject gas or to create exits so that the Branch Davidians could escape. But the Dennis Report reveals that one of the tanks was ordered to clear a path through the compound to the main tower so that another tank could insert CS gas in that area; that during that “endeavor” a portion of the roof collapsed; and that “an apparent deviation from the approved plan began that involved . . . dismantl[ing] the building.”

These uses of the tanks could not have occurred without risk of injury to the occupants. Did Attorney General Reno know the tanks would be used in this risky destructive fashion when she approved the plan? On the day of the tank assault Reno was scheduled to give a talk in Baltimore. She testified that the FBI advised her to go ahead with the talk so as not to create unwarranted concern. She was therefore not in the Washington situation room when the tanks began demolishing the walls of the compound. The documentary argues that the maimed bodies described at autopsy were in fact mangled by the tanks. We see film of the disabled tank being towed away and a Congressman at the hearing complains that after two years there has still been no report of what caused the tread to come off. Gazecki leaves viewers with the impression that a Branch Davidian’s body may have been caught in the tread and that the truth has been covered up.

Because I was very concerned about the lethal risks to small children of prolonged exposure to CS gas, I asked many questions about the tank plan. Not until Gazecki’s film, however, did I learn that the FBI intended to deposit the noxious substance directly on the bunker where they believed the children would be. Nor was I informed that tanks would push down walls to reach that location. The FBI plan in fact imposed much greater risk of loss of life than I was told or had imagined. Gazecki may therefore be correct in believing that some Branch Davidians were crushed by tanks. I had never before considered that possibility.

The documentary’s third kind of evidence is based entirely on heat-sensitive film and an expert’s interpretation of it. The expert repeatedly points to flashing lights on the film which he claims are bursts of heat that do not occur in nature and can only be made by automatic weapons. He asserts that those weapons are firing into the compound on the side away from the television cameras. There has already been enough discussion of this heat-sensitive evidence in the media to suggest that Gazecki’s expert has given a plausible but not irrefutable opinion. If it is true, then many FBI agents knew about it and there was a massive cover-up.

Gazecki seems to want us to believe that FBI agents intentionally crushed Branch Davidians with their tanks and slaughtered them with their automatic weapons. Again, this is a mirror image account of the FBI’s description of the Branch Davidians killing their own people rather than letting them escape the mass suicide. Surely the human truth lies somewhere between these extremes. There is no doubt in my mind that the FBI’s plan for the last day went awry, just as the ATF’s did on the first day. Some of the FBI agents obviously did not follow the established plan. Even the Dennis Report acknowledges this much. The FBI may have circled their wagons after the fact, honoring the law enforcement code of silence. They would not be the first or last law enforcement group to do so. But the Justice Department’s job was to dig out the truth; that was what the Attorney General promised the American people.

One might naively think that the highest priority after a tragedy like Waco would be for everyone involved to consider what went wrong and what they would now do differently. The ATF conceded errors but never acknowledged that the raid was tragically unnecessary. Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department conceded any errors. The government’s self-investigation glossed over the evidence of conflict within the FBI at Waco; it denied the lethal risk of CS gas to infants; it never explained the “apparent deviation” in the tank plan; it never described how decisions were made at Justice or who made them; it never offered convincing reasons for its failure to use third-party negotiations; and it never questioned the wisdom or the practical consequences of demonizing the Branch Davidians. The film documents each of these failings, and Gazecki builds the viewers’ sense of moral outrage by his method of juxtaposition. Because much of what he shows us does seem to be true, his further allegations of extreme wrongdoing become more believable.

Gazecki stops short of suggesting that Waco was a government conspiracy, but he gives conspiracy theorists all the ammunition they will need. Unfortunately, the responsible officials did such an inadequate job of investigating Waco that most viewers will have almost no realistic basis against which to measure Gazecki’s film. Waco: The Rules of Engagement will be another reason for people to distrust their government.

Also see: Alan Stone’s original report to the Justice Department.

Indignez vous! by Stephane Hessel

Indignez vous! by Stephane Hessel – the text | World |Axisoflogic.comBy Stephane Hessel, 93the text | World |Axisoflogic.comPage 1Much the very last step. The end is not far away. What chance to take this opportunity to recall what has served as base…

Indignez vous! by Stephane Hessel – the text | World |Axisoflogic.com

By Stephane Hessel, 93

the text | World |Axisoflogic.com

Page 1

Much the very last step. The end is not far away. What chance to take this opportunity to recall what has served as base for my political engagement: the years of resistance and the sixty-six years program developed by the National Council of Resistance! It was Jean Moulin that we owe, through this Council, the meeting of all parts of occupied France, movements, parties, trade unions, to proclaim their adherence of the Fighting France and the only leader that it is recognized: General de Gaulle. In London, where I had joined General de Gaulle in March 1941, I learned that this Council had developed a program, which was adopted in March, 1944 and which porposed to Liberated France a set of principles and values which supported the democracy of Our modern country(1) . Of these principles and values, is that we need TODAY more than ever. It behooves us all together to ensure that our society is a society in which we are proud of: not of this society of undocumented papers, expulsions, suspicions against immigrants, not this society that challenges pensions, the achievemnets of Social Security, not this society where the media are in the hands of the moneyed classes, all things that we would have refused to endorse if we were the true heirs of the National Council of Resistance. From1945, after a terrible tragedy, it was an ambitious resurrection which engaged the forces present in the Council of Resistance. Remember, then they created Social Security as the Resistance wished, as the program stated: ” A comprehensive plan for Social Security, to ensure livelihoods for all citizens,

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in all cases or if they are unable to obtain them through work “,” a pension to the old workers to assure a dignified end of their days. “The energy sources, electricity and gas, coal, the major banks were nationalized. That’s what this program was still stating: “the return to the nation of the major means of production, produced by common sources of energy, wealth of the subsoil, insurance companies and large banks; ” the establishment of genuine economic and social democracy involving the eviction of large feudal economic and financial that directed the economy. ” The public interest must prevail over the interest individual, the fair sharing of the wealth created by the world of work override the power of money. The Resistance said ” a rational organization of the economy to ensure the subordination of special individual interests to the public interest and free from the dictatorship introduced to the professional image of fascist states”. A real democracy needs a free press, and the Resistance knows this and states “The press freedom, its honor and independence againt the power of the State, the power of money and foreign influences.” That is what turns further orders on the press in 1944. Yet that is what is now in danger. The Resistance was calling for “an effective opportunity for all French children to benefit from the most developed education”, without discrimination, yet the reforms proposed in 2008 go against this project. Young teachers, which actions I support, were up to refuse to apply them and they saw their wages cut as a punishment. They were outraged, have “disobeyed” and found these reforms too far from the ideal of the republican school, too much in the service of

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the money society and not enough developing the creative and critical thinking. It is just the base of the social conquests of the Resistance which is now in question (2) .

The reason of the Resistance was outrage.

We dare say that the State was no longer covering the costs of these civic action. But how can it lack today the money to maintain and extend these achievements while production of wealth has increased considerably since the Liberation period when Europe was ruined? If not because the power of money, so fought by the Resistance, has never been greater, insolent, selfish, with his own servants into the highest echelons of the State. Banks are now privatized and first show of their conscious dividends and high salaries of their leaders, not the general interest. The gap between the poorest and richest has never been so important, and the race for money, the competition has never been so encouraged. The basic pattern of resistance was indignation. We, veterans of resistance movements and fighting forces of Liberated France, we call the younger generations to stand up, to transmit the heritage of the Resistance and its ideals. We say take over, cry out! The political and economic responsibles, the intellectuals and all society shall not resign or be intimidated by the current international dictatorship of financial markets that threatens the peace and democracy. I wish you all, to each of you to have your design indignation. Is invaluable. When something get you outraged, as I was outraged by the Nazis, then you have to become an activist, strong and committed. We joined the stream of history and the mainstream of the history must continue through each. And this trend is towards more justice, more freedom but not this freedom of uncontrolled fox in the henhouse. These rights, including the Universal Declaration drafted the program in 1948,

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are universal. If you meet someone who doesn’t benefit of those, help him to conquer them.

Two visions of History

When I try to understand what caused fascism, what caused the invasion by it and by Vichy, I tell myself that the wealthy, with their selfishness, have been terribly afraid of the Bolshevik revolution. They have been guided by their fears. But if today as then, a vocal minority stands, this will suffice, we will leaven so that the dough rises. Admittedly, the experience of a very old like me, born in 1917, differs from the experience of young people today. I often asks college teachers the opportunity to intervene to their students, and I tell them: you dont have the same obvious reasons for committing. For us, to resist, was not to accept the German occupation, the defeat. It was relatively simple. Simple as what followed, decolonization. Then the war of Algeria. It was that Algeria became independent, it was obvious. As for Stalin, we all applauded the victory of the Red Army against the Nazis in 1943. But even if we had knowledge of the great Stalinist trials of 1935, and even whether to keep an ear open counterbalance to communism for American capitalism, the need to oppose this intolerable form of totalitarianism was an obvious move. My long life has given me a succession of reasons to be indignant. These reasons are born less from an emotion and more from a concious commitment. Being young and very marked by Sartre, a senior classmate. Nausea, The Wall, Being and Nothingness were very important in shaping my thinking. Sartre taught us to say: “You are responsible as individuals.”It was a libertarian message. The responsibility of man who can not rely on a power or a god. Instead, we must

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engage on behalf of its responsibility as a human. When I went to the École normale, in 1939, I entered it as a fervent disciple of the Hegel, and I followed the Maurice Merleau-Ponty Seminar. His teaching explored concrete experience, that of the body and its relationship with the senses. But my natural optimism, which means that everything is desirable or possible, I was rather from Hegel. The Hegelianism interprets the long history of humanity as having a meaning: man’s freedom is progressing step by step. History is made of successive shocks. The history of society progresses, and then, man having reached its full freedom, has the democratic state for ideal form. There are of course other concepts of history. Progress made by freedom, competition, the race “of more”, this may be experienced as a destructive hurricane. Thus represents a friend of my father, the man who shared with him the task to translate into German In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. He is the German philosopher Walter Benjamin. He pulled a pessimistic message out of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus painiting where the figure of angel opens his arms as if to contain and repel a storm that he identified with progress. For Benjamin, who committed suicide in September 1940 to escape Nazism, the sense of history is the irresistible path of disaster into disaster.

Indifference: the worst attitude

True, the reasons for outrage today may seem less net or the world too complex. Who controls, who decides? It is not always easy to distinguish between all the currents that govern us. We are no longer dealing with a small elite who’s actions we clearly understand. It’s s a vast world,

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we feel that it is interdependent. We live in an inter connectivity that has never existed. But in this world, some things are unbearable. To see this, we must look, search. I tell young people: Look for a bit, you’ll find. The worst attitude is indifference, saying “I can not do anything, I’m doing my job. ” By having this, you lose one of the components which is essential in humans. One of the essential components: the faculty of outrage and its consequence – commitment. We can already identify two major challenges: 1.The huge gap between the very poor and very rich and which continues to grow. This is an innovation of the twentieth and twenty first century. The very poor in the world today earn just two dollars per day. We can not let that gap widen further. This statement alone should generate commitment. 2. Human rights and the state of the planet. I had the chance after Liberation of being involved in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations, 10 December 1948 in Paris at the Palais de Chaillot. It’s under Chief Henri Laugier, Assistant Secretary General of the UN, and Secretary of the Commission on Human Rights That together with others we were to participate in the drafting of this declaration. I can not forget, in its development, the role of René Cassin, curator National Justice and Education, Government of Free France, in London in 1941, which was awarded the Nobel peace in 1968, nor that of Pierre Mendes France in the Economic and Social Council to whom the texts that we developed were subjected before being considered by the Third Committee of the ‘ General Assembly, responsible for matters Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee. The UN had fifty-four Member States at the time, and I assured the secretariat. René Cassin was the one whom we owe the term “universal rights

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and not” international “as suggested by our Anglo-Saxon friends. For there is much at stake at the end of the War World: emancipate from the threats posed to humanity by Totalitarianism. To emancipate we must ensure that each Member State of United Nations undertakes to respect these universal rights. It is a way to defeat the argument of full sovereignty that a State may assert while engaging in crimes against humanity on its soil. This was the case of Hitler who considered himself his own master and allowed to cause genocide. The Universal Declaration owes much to the universal revulsion against Nazism, fascism, totalitarianism, and even, by our presence, the spirit of the Resistance. I can not resist the urge to quote Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to a nationality ” and Article 22:” Everyone, as a member of the society has the right to social security; and is entitled to the satisfaction of economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for dignity and the free development of his personality, thanks to the national efforts and international cooperation, taking into account the organization and resources of each country.” And if this statement has a declarative scope, and not legal, it has nevertheless played a powerful role since 1948; we saw colonized people in their grasp struggle for independence, and stocked their minds in battle for freedom. I note with pleasure that in recent decades have increased the number of non-governmental organizations, social movements as ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions

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FIDH (International Federation of Human Rights) Amnesty … who are acting and performing. It is obvious that to be effective today, we must act in a network, take advantage of all means of modern communication. For young people, I say look around you, if you will find themes that justify your outrage – the treatment made to immigrants, undocumented migrants, Roma. You will find concrete situations that lead you to give play to strong citizen action. Seek and you shall find!

My indignation about Palestine

Today, my biggest outrage is for Palestine, Gaza, Cisjordania. This conflict is the source of indignation. You must read the report of September 2009 of Richard Goldstone on Gaza, in which the South African judge, Jewish, accuses Israel of committing “acts amounting to war crimes and perhaps in some circumstances, crimes against ‘ humanity “during its operation” Cast Lead ” which lasted three weeks. I myself returned to Gaza in 2009, where I was able to enter with my wife through our diplomatic passports in order to ‘ study firsthand what the report said. The people who accompanied us have not been allowed into the Gaza Strip. There and in the Cisjoradnia. We also visited the Palestinian refugee camps set up in 1948 by ‘ UN agency, UNRWA, where more than three million Palestinians hunted from their land by Israel are waiting for a Return that is increasingly problematic. As for Gaza, is a under the sky prison for a million and half Palestinians. A prison where they survive. More than the material destructions like the Red Cross hospital in Cast Lead, is the behavior of Gazans, their patriotism, their love of the sea and beaches, their constant concern for the welfare of their children,

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countless, laughing, that haunt our memory. We were impressed by their clever way to deal with all shortages imposed on them. We saw them make the fault cement bricks to rebuild thousands of homes destroyed by tanks. We confirmed that there had been one thousand and four hundred dead – women, children and old included, in the Palestinian camp – during this operation ” Cast Lead ” by Israeli army against only fifty wounded Israelis. I shared the findings with the South African judge. That Jews could commit themselves to war crimes, it is unbearable. Alas, history gives little examples of people who learn from their own history. I know that Hamas who won the recent parliamentary elections was unable to avoid being sent rockets on Israeli towns in response to the situation of isolation and blockade in which Gazans are. I obviously think that terrorism is unacceptable, but we must recognize that when you are busy with military means infinitely superior to yours, the popular reaction can not be non-violent. Is this what it’s for the Hammas to send rockets into the city Sderot ? The answer is no. It does not help its cause, but we can explain this gesture by the exasperation of Gazans. In the concept of exasperation, one needs to understand violence as a regrettable conclusion to an unacceptable situation for those affected. So we can say that terrorism is a form of ‘ exasperation. And that exasperation is a negative term. It should not be ex-asperation, it must be es-perer (hope). The exasperation is a denial of hope. It is understandable, I would almost say it is natural, but so far is not acceptable. Because that ‘ it does not provide the results that may eventually produce hope.

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Nonviolence, the path we must learn to follow.

I am convinced that future belongs to non-violence, to the reconciliation of different cultures. This is the way that humanity must cross the next step. And, I agree with Sartre, we can not excuse terrorists who throw bombs, they can be understood. Sartre wrote in 1947: “I accept that violence manifested in any form is a failure. But it is an inevitable failure because we are in a world of violence. And it is true that the use of violence is violence that is likely to perpetuate, it is true that the only way is to stop.” What I would add is that non-violence is a safer way to stop it. We can not support terrorists as Sartre did on behalf of this principle during the Algeria war or during the attack on the Munich games in 1972, committed against Israeli athletes. This is not efficient and Sartre himself eventually wonder at the end of his life on the meaning of terrorism and questioned its reason. “Violence is not effective, “ is far more important than whether we should condemn or not those whodeliver it. Terrorism is not effective. In the concept of efficiency, I choose a non-violent hope. If there is a violent hope is in the poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire: “That hope is violent ” not politics. Sartre, in March 1980, three weeks before his death, said: “We must try explain why the world of today, which is horrible, is only one moment in a long historical development, that Hope has always been one of the dominant forces of revolutions and insurections, and how I still feel that hope is my conception for the future. We must understand that violence turns his back on hope. And that he preferred hope, the hope of non-violence. This is the path we must learn to follow. From either side of the

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oppressors or of the oppressed, we must come to a negotiation to remove the oppression; it is thereby to no longer have terrorist violence. Therefore we must not let accumulate too much hate. The message of Mandela, of Martin Luther King finds its relevance in a world which has exceeded the comparison of ideologies and totalitarianism conqueror. This is a message of hope in modern societies’ capacity to overcome conflicts by mutual understanding and vigilant patience. If so, if based on rights, the violation of them should provoke our indignation. There is not compromise on these rights.

For a peaceful uprising

I have noted – and I’m not the only – the Israeli government response to the fact that every Friday citizens of Bil’id will come, without throwing stones without using force, to the wall in protest. The Israeli authorities have called the march of “non-violent terrorism.” Not bad … It was Israel to called the terrorist nonviolent. They were especially embarrassed by the efficiency of non-violence that is committed to ensuring it raises the support, understanding, support of all those who in the world are the enemies of oppression. Productivist thinking, driven by the West, led the world in a crisis that we must avoid a radical break with the headlong rush of “growing” in the financial field but also in science and technology. It is high time for the sake of ethics, justice, sustainable balance become prevalent. For the most serious risks we face. They can put an end to the human adventure on a planet that it can make it uninhabitable for man.

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But it remains true that important progress has been made since 1948: decolonization, the end of apartheid, the destruction of the Soviet empire, the fall of the Berlin Wall. On the contrary, the first decade of the twenty first century was a period of decline. This fall, I explained it in part by the U.S. President George Bush, September 11, and disastrous consequences as ‘ have drawn the United States in this military intervention in Iraq. We had this economic crisis, but we did not further initiated a new policy development. Similarly, the Copenhagen summit against global warming didn’t permited to engage in a genuine policy for protecting the planet. We are at a threshold between the horrors of the first decade and opportunities in the following decades. But hopefully, there’s always hope. The previous decade, the 1990s, had been of great progress. The UN has been able to convene conferences like those of Rio on Environment in 1992, that of Beijing on Women in 1995 and in September 2000, at the ‘ initiative of Secretary General United Nations, Kofi Annan, the 191 member countries adopted the statement on the “Eight Millennium Development Goals” by which they undertake to halve poverty in the world by 2015. My great regret, is that neither Obama nor the EU has so far been manifested with what should be their contribution to a constructive phase, pressing the fundamental values. How to conclude the call to outrage? Recalling further that, on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the National Programme Resistance, we said March 8, 2004, we veterans Resistance movements and fighting forces of Free France (1940-1945), although that “Nazism was defeated, thanks to the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters of the Resistance and the UN against Fascist barbarism

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But this threats not disappeared totally and our anger against Injustice is still intact. No, this threat has not disappeared completely. Also, we call today to a real peaceful insurrection against the means of mass communication that do not offer a horizon for our youth, mass consumption, the contempt for the weakest, and culture, generalized amnesia and excessive competition of all against all. ” To those who will make the twenty-first century, we say with our affection : “CREATE is to resist. RESIST IS TO CREATE. “

Source: Sapte Stele (Seven Stars)

Dark Side of the Moon

(mockumentary) Dark Side of the Moon is a French documentary by director William Karel which …originally aired on Arte in 2002 with the title Opération Lune. The basic premise for the film is the theory that the television footage from the Apollo 11…

(mockumentary)

Dark Side of the Moon is a French documentary by director William Karel which …originally aired on Arte in 2002 with the title Opération Lune. The basic premise for the film is the theory that the television footage from the Apollo 11 Moon landing was faked and actually recorded in a studio by the CIA with help from director Stanley Kubrick. It features some surprising guest appearances, most notably by Donald Rumsfeld, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Buzz Aldrin and Stanley Kubrick’s widow, Christiane Kubrick. The tone of the documentary begins with low key revelations of NASA working closely with Hollywood at the time of the Moon landings. Over the course of the tale, Karel postulates that not only did Kubrick help the USA fake the moon landings but that he was eventually killed by the CIA to cover up the truth. First hand testimony backing these claims come from Rumsfeld and Dr. Kissinger, which lend credence to the story.

Dark Side of the Moon is a French mockumentary by director William Karel which originally aired on Arte in 2002 with the title Opération Lune. The basic premise for the film is the theory that the television footage from the Apollo 11 Moon landing was faked and actually recorded in a studio by the CIA with help from director Stanley Kubrick. It features some surprising guest appearances, most notably by Donald Rumsfeld, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Vernon Walters, Buzz Aldrin and Stanley Kubrick‘s widow, Christiane Kubrick.


Different Moon landing conspiracy theories claim that some or all elements of the Apollo program and the associated Moon landings were hoaxes staged by NASA and members of other organizations. Various groups and individuals have made such conspiracy claims since the end of the Apollo program in 1975. The most notable claim is that the six manned landings (1969–1972) were faked and that the Apollo astronauts did not walk on the Moon. The conspiracy theorists (henceforth conspiracists) argue that NASA and others knowingly misled the public into believing the landings happened by manufacturing, destroying, or tampering with evidence; including photos, telemetry tapes, transmissions, rock samples, and even some key witnesses.
There is much third-party evidence for Apollo Moon landings and detailed rebuttals to the hoax claims,[1] including photos taken by more recent spacecraft of the moon landing sites.[2] However, polls taken in various locations have shown that between 6% and 20% of Americans surveyed believe that the manned landings were faked, rising to 28% in Russia.

death threats

Members of a prominent Honduran human rights organization, The Committee of Family-Members of The Detained and Disappeared (COFADEH), have been targeted with death threats, intimidation and physical aggression. And the perpetrators didn’t stop t…

Members of a prominent Honduran human rights organization, The Committee of Family-Members of The Detained and Disappeared (COFADEH), have been targeted with death threats, intimidation and physical aggression. And the perpetrators didn’t stop there. International human rights observers of the U.S.-based Honduras Accompaniment Project (PROAH) who have provided protective accompaniment to members of COFADEH have also received death threats.

Contact your congressperson today. Stand in solidarity with those who struggle for justice in Honduras.

Berta Oliva, general coordinator of COFADEH, says that these acts should be seen within the greater context of human rights violations in Honduras. Since the U.S.-backed coup in 2009, Honduras has been in a human rights crisis. Rural farmers, afro-descendents, LGBTI and indigenous people are constantly the targets of intimidation, kidnappings, torture, illegal detention and assassinations. Journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders risk their lives to expose these injustices. And in the majority of cases, Berta Oliva explains, the targets of these attacks are those who in one way or another have opposed the coup d’état.

While the human rights crisis swells in impunity, the United States supplies arms and training to the Honduran military and police. The United States gave $9.8 million to Honduran police and military in 2011 and has $8 million budgeted for 2012. In addition, $50 million has been allotted to Soto Cano Air Base (Palmerola). Far from quelling these abuses, the aid has only made them worse.

Tell congress, ‘NO’ to U.S.-lead militarization and ‘YES’ to the work of human rights defenders in Honduras.

In May of this year, 94 members of the House signed a letter to Hillary Clinton asking to stop military funding to Honduras until the human rights situation has improved. The letter was endorsed by ten major unions including the AFL-CIO. Members of the Senate signed a similar letter.

Please contact your congresspersons and tell them, the human rights situation has not improved. Now human rights defenders and international accompaniers are receiving death threats. This situation demands an immediate suspension of all U.S. military aid.

Thank you for standing in solidarity with those who work for human rights in Honduras.

Sincerely,

Brooke, Christine and Riahl  Brooke, Christine and Riahl
Witness for Peace International Team in Nicaragua


Witness for Peace
3628 12th Street NE. 1st Fl.,
Washington, DC 20017
202.547.6112202.536.4708
witness@witnessforpeace.org

The New Black

In a first ever musical collaboration between South Africa and Palestine, South African band, The Mavrix, and Palestinian Oud player, Mohammed Omar, have released a music video called “The New Black”. The song is taken from The Mavrix’ upcoming album,”…

In a first ever musical collaboration between South Africa and Palestine, South African band, The Mavrix, and Palestinian Oud player, Mohammed Omar, have released a music video called “The New Black”. The song is taken from The Mavrix’ upcoming album,”Pura Vida”, due for release in June 2012.

Written and composed by Jeremy Karodia and Ayub Mayet, the song was a musical reaction to the horror of the Gaza Massacre of 2008/2009 and then subsequently inspired by the book “Mornings in Jenin”, authored by Susan Abulhawa. Mayet had penned the first lyrics in 2009 after the Massacre and the song went into musical hibernation. Having read the novel, “Mornings in Jenin”, he then re-wrote the lyrics and the song evolved into its current version.

Haidar Eid, a Gaza based BDS activist and friend of the band, heard the song in 2011 and urged the band to do a collaboration with Palestinian Oud player, Mohamed Omar. He also suggested that the band do a video highlighting the collaboration between South African and Palestinian musicians and also the similarities in the two struggles.

The song was recorded by The Mavrix in South Africa whilst Mohamed recorded the Oud in Gaza and, although never having had the opportunity to meet, the musical interplay between the musicians so far apart illustrates the empathy the musicians feel in solidarity with each other.

Produced by The Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (South Africa) and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) along with written endorsements from Haidar Eid of PACBI, Omar Barghouti of the BDS Movement, Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada and Susan Abulhawa, author of “Mornings in Jenin”, the song represents a message of support from South Africans, who having transgressed and crossed over their own oppression under apartheid, stand in solidarity with Palestinians who are currently experiencing their own oppression under Israeli apartheid

In a first ever musical collaboration between South Africa and Palestine, South African band, The Mavrix, and Palestinian Oud player, Mohammed Omar, have released a music video called “The New Black”. The song is taken from The Mavrix’ upcoming album,”Pura Vida”, due for release in June 2012.

Written and composed by Jeremy Karodia and Ayub Mayet, the song was a musical reaction to the horror of the Gaza Massacre of 2008/2009 and then subsequently inspired by the book “Mornings in Jenin”, authored by Susan Abulhawa. Mayet had penned the first lyrics in 2009 after the Massacre and the song went into musical hibernation. Having read the novel, “Mornings in Jenin”, he then re-wrote the lyrics and the song evolved into its current version.

Haidar Eid, a Gaza based BDS activist and friend of the band, heard the song in 2011 and urged the band to do a collaboration with Palestinian Oud player, Mohamed Omar. He also suggested that the band do a video highlighting the collaboration between South African and Palestinian musicians and also the similarities in the two struggles.

The song was recorded by The Mavrix in South Africa whilst Mohamed recorded the Oud in Gaza and, although never having had the opportunity to meet, the musical interplay between the musicians so far apart illustrates the empathy the musicians feel in solidarity with each other.

Produced by The Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (South Africa) and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) along with written endorsements from Haidar Eid of PACBI, Omar Barghouti of the BDS Movement, Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada and Susan Abulhawa, author of “Mornings in Jenin”, the song represents a message of support from South Africans, who having transgressed and crossed over their own oppression under apartheid, stand in solidarity with Palestinians who are currently experiencing their own oppression under Israeli apartheid.

The video shows a soldier aim and fire his weapon at a Palestinian man’s legs

An Israeli human rights group has released a video that shows an Israeli soldier shooting a blindfolded Palestinian man with a rubber coated steel bullet at close range.

The video shows a Palestinian man, whom BTselem named as Ashraf Abu Rahma, handcuffed and blindfolded standing by a group of Israeli soldiers.

One soldier aims his weapon at the Abu Rahma’s legs, from about 1.5 metres away, and appears to fire at him.

Günter Grass unwelcome in Israel

Israel Bars German Laureate Grass Over PoemBy ETHAN BRONNER and NICHOLAS KULISHPublished: April 8, 2012 JERUSALEM — Israel’s interior minister declared Günter Grass, one of Germany’s best-known authors, unwelcome in Israel on Sunday, barring him…

Israel Bars German Laureate Grass Over Poem
By ETHAN BRONNER and NICHOLAS KULISH
Published: April 8, 2012

JERUSALEM — Israel’s interior minister declared Günter Grass, one of Germany’s best-known authors, unwelcome in Israel on Sunday, barring him from entering the country for a poem that accused Israel of being a threat to world peace.

“Grass’s poems fan the flames of hatred against Israel and the Israeli people, thus promoting the idea he was part of when he donned an SS uniform,” said the minister, Eli Yishai, referring to Mr. Grass’s admission that he had been a Nazi soldier as a 17-year-old. “His distorted poems are not welcome in Israel. I suggest he try them in Iran where he will find a sympathetic audience.”

Controversy has engulfed Mr. Grass, 84, for the past five days since he published his 69-line poem titled “What Must Be Said” in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The poem assailed Israel for its threats to attack Iran over its nuclear program, called for supervision of Israel’s nuclear weapons and warned that Germany, through its sales of submarines to Israel, risked being complicit in a crime.

While those views are relatively common among European intellectuals, the way in which they were strung together — placing Israel and Iran on the same moral plane, echoing language and themes that have long stirred anti-Semitism — along with Mr. Grass’s own personal history have drawn exceptional anger to the poem.

The issue continued to boil in Germany, where Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called comparisons between Israel and Iran “absurd,” and Marcel Reich-Ranicki, the country’s leading literary critic and himself a Holocaust survivor, described the poem as “disgusting.”

In an article in the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Mr. Westerwelle wrote that Germany had “a historic responsibility for the people of Israel” and underscored the similarities between the countries as democracies as well as the history between their peoples. Mr. Westerwelle also noted that he had traveled to Israel and criticized the country’s West Bank settlements at a news conference in Jerusalem.

“Putting Israel and Iran on the same moral level is not ingenious but absurd,” Mr. Westerwelle wrote.

The discussion in Germany over Mr. Grass’s poem has in large part revolved around the question of whether it is possible for Germans to criticize Israel, which Mr. Grass’s critics call a straw man and a cover for anti-Semitism. Mr. Grass in the poem described the “verdict ‘anti-Semitism’ ” as a reason for silence.

In an interview in the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Mr. Reich-Ranicki, who is 91, said that he did not consider Mr. Grass an anti-Semite but that the poem itself was “a disgrace.” Mr. Reich-Ranicki, who addressed the German Parliament in January on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, said that he feared consequences of the poem’s reception among others interested in criticizing Israel and Jews more harshly.

Many who commented on the dozens, if not hundreds, of German newspaper articles on the topic have jumped to Mr. Grass’s defense. In the comments section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Web site, the most recommended comments on an article about the interview are supportive of Mr. Grass and critical of Mr. Reich-Ranicki. “Only in Germany after a valid critique of Israel’s policy of warmongering do you hear the old creak of the camp gates,” wrote one commenter. Another called Mr. Reich-Ranicki a “toady.”

The debate in Germany has reopened old wounds about the country’s past and the question of what Germans can and cannot do and say in light of the Holocaust.

Two days after his poem appeared, Mr. Grass said in an interview that he had meant to focus his attack not so much on Israel as on the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The man who damages Israel the most at the moment is in my opinion Netanyahu, and I should have included that in my poem,” Mr. Grass said. “What is now an imminent threat is a risk without parallel — a preventive strike, a first strike against Iran, which would have terrible consequences.”

He said that he had often supported Israel, had visited a number of times and wanted “the country to exist and at last find peace with its neighbors.”

Last week Mr. Netanyahu angrily condemned Mr. Grass for equating Israel and Iran and made reference to Mr. Grass’s time as a member of the Waffen-SS.

On Sunday, in addition to Mr. Yishai’s barring of Mr. Grass from Israel, the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, weighed in. He called the poem “an expression of the cynicism of some of the West’s intellectuals who, for publicity purposes and the desire to sell a few more books, are willing to sacrifice the Jewish nation a second time on the altar of crazy anti-Semites.”

He spoke during a meeting in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy.

Tom Segev, an Israeli historian and columnist for the newspaper Haaretz, wrote an article criticizing the poem but opposed the decision to bar Mr. Grass from entering Israel. “It’s very unpleasant because it moves us in the direction of countries like Iran and Syria that apparently give out entry permits according to people’s political views,” Mr. Segev said.

Mr. Grass’ best-known novel, published in 1959, is “The Tin Drum,” a stirring allegorical exploration of the rise of Nazism in Germany and Poland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999; the Nobel committee described “The Tin Drum” as a new beginning for German literature “after decades of linguistic and moral destruction.”

Mr. Grass has also shown a willingness time and again to enter the arena of politics, where he campaigned for the left-leaning Social Democrats. He has also long sought to act as a national conscience for the Germans over their Nazi past. When he revealed in 2006 that he had been a Nazi soldier at the end of World War II, something he had kept hidden for decades, he was accused of hypocrisy.

Ethan Bronner reported from Jerusalem, and Nicholas Kulish from Berlin.

an alarming trend

Google Bombarded with Requests to Suppress Information“Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011, the company said on Monday, denoun…

Google Bombarded with Requests to Suppress Information

“Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011, the company said on Monday, denouncing what it said was an alarming trend. In its twice-yearly Transparency Report, the world’s largest web search engine said the requests were aimed at having some 12,000 items overall removed, about a quarter more than during the first half of last year.” (Reuters)




(bbc) Google has revealed it removed about 640 videos from YouTube that allegedly promoted terrorism over the second half of 2011 after complaints from the UK’s Association of Chief Police Officers.

The news was contained in its latest Transparency Report which discloses requests by international authorities to remove or hand over material.

The firm said it terminated five accounts linked to the suspect videos.

However, the firm said it had rejected many other state’s requests for action.

Canada’s Passport Office was among the organizations rebuffed. It had asked for a video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and then flushing it down the toilet be removed.

Google also refused to delete six YouTube videos that satirized Pakistan’s army and senior politicians. The order had come from the government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology.
Free speech

But Google did act in hundreds of cases, including:

  • requests to block more than 100 YouTube videos in Thailand that allegedly insulted its monarchy – a crime in the country
  • the removal of a YouTube video that contained hate speech that had been posted in Turkey
  • the termination of four YouTube accounts responsible for videos that allegedly contained threatening and harassing content after complaints by different US law enforcement agencies.

Overall, the firm said it had received 461 court orders covering a total of 6,989 items between July and December 2011. It said it had complied with 68% of the orders.

It added that it had received a further 546 informal requests covering 4,925 items, of which it had agreed to 43% of the cases.

Google’s senior policy analyst, Dorothy Chou, said the company was concerned by the amount of requests that had been linked to political speech.

“It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect – Western democracies not typically associated with censorship,” she said.

“For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors.

“In Poland, we received a request from the Agency for Enterprise Development to remove links to a site that criticized it.

“We didn’t comply with either of these requests.”

You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Howard Zinn on Civil DisobedienceFor the people by the people. We have the right to object. We have a right to be patriotic but not nationalistic. To be dissenters but not good Nazis. War is for corporations and politicians. For the people? by the pe…

Howard Zinn on Civil Disobedience

For the people by the people. We have the right to object. We have a right to be patriotic but not nationalistic. To be dissenters but not good Nazis. War is for corporations and politicians. For the people? by the people not for the rich by the rich.

America can do

A remaining realm of American excellenceBY GLENN GREENWALDWhen President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden on the evening of May 1, he said something which I found so striking at the time and still do: “tonight, we a…

A remaining realm of American excellence

BY GLENN GREENWALD

When President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden on the evening of May 1, he said something which I found so striking at the time and still do: “tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.” That sentiment of national pride had in the past been triggered by putting a man on the moon, or discovering cures for diseases, or creating technology that improved the lives of millions, or transforming the Great Depression into a thriving middle class, or correcting America’s own entrenched injustices. Yet here was President Obama proclaiming that what should now cause us to be “reminded” of our national greatness was our ability to hunt someone down, pump bullets into his skull, and then dump his corpse into the ocean. And indeed, outside the White House and elsewhere, hordes of Americans were soon raucously celebrating the killing with “USA! USA!” chants as though their sports team had just won a major championship.

The Information Awareness Office

This week, President Obama is in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly to meet with partners and address a range of issues with the international community, including open government.At the U.N. General Assembly last year, Presi…

This week, President Obama is in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly to meet with partners and address a range of issues with the international community, including open government.

At the U.N. General Assembly last year, President Obama called on nations to make, “specific commitments to promote transparency, to fight corruption, to energize civic engagement, and to leverage new technologies so we can strengthen the foundations of freedom in our own countries.” Today, the President outlined the progress that has already been made in response to his call to action:

And now we see governments around the world meeting this challenge, including many represented here today. Countries from Mexico to Turkey to Liberia have passed laws guaranteeing citizens the right to information. From Chile to Kenya to the Philippines, civil society groups are giving citizens new tools to report corruption. From Tanzania to Indonesia — and as I saw firsthand during my visit to India — rural villages are organizing and making their voices heard, and getting the public services that they need. Governments from Brazil to South Africa are putting more information online, helping people hold public officials accountable for how they spend taxpayer dollars.

Here in the United States, we’ve worked to make government more open and responsive than ever before. We’ve been promoting greater disclosure of government information, empowering citizens with new ways to participate in their democracy. We are releasing more data in usable forms on health and safety and the environment, because information is power, and helping people make informed decisions and entrepreneurs turn data into new products, they create new jobs. We’re also soliciting the best ideas from our people in how to make government work better. And around the world, we’re standing up for freedom to access information, including a free and open Internet.

“A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.”
James Madison, Letter to W. T. Barry, August 4, 1822

“…[T]he concentration of power and the subjection of individuals will increase amongst democratic nations… in the same proportion as their ignorance.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. 2, 1840

In a democracy, the principle of accountability holds that government officials—whether elected or appointed by those who have been elected—are responsible to the citizenry for their decisions and actions.

Transparency requires that the decisions and actions of those in government are open to public scrutiny and that the public has a right to access such information. Both concepts are central to the very idea of democratic governance. Without accountability and transparency, democracy is impossible. In their absence, elections and the notion of the will of the people have no meaning, and government has the potential to become arbitrary and self-serving.

The People’s Right to Know

Elections are the primary means for citizens to hold their country’s officials accountable for their actions in office, especially when they have behaved illegally, corruptly, or ineptly while carrying out the work of the government. But for elections—and the people’s will—to be meaningful, basic rights must be protected and affirmed, such as with a Bill of Rights, as in the United States. James Madison, the author of the U.S. Bill of Rights, believed that the very basis for government’s responsiveness was the assurance that citizens would have sufficient knowledge to direct it. If citizens are to govern their own affairs, either directly or through representative government, they must be informed about how best to determine their affairs and how best to represent and execute them. If citizens are not well informed, they can neither act in their own self-interest, broadly speaking, nor have any serious choice in elections, much less offer themselves as candidates.


The Information Awareness Office (IAO) was established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January 2002 to bring together several DARPA projects focused on applying surveillance and information technology to track and monitor terrorists and other asymmetric threats to national security, by achieving Total Information Awareness (TIA). This would be achieved by creating enormous computer databases to gather and store the personal information of everyone in the United States, including personal e-mails, social networks, credit card records, phone calls, medical records, and numerous other sources, without any requirement for a search warrant.[1] This information would then be analyzed to look for suspicious activities, connections between individuals, and “threats”.[2] Additionally, the program included funding for biometric surveillance technologies that could identify and track individuals using surveillance cameras, and other methods.[2]

Following public criticism that the development and deployment of these technologies could potentially lead to a mass surveillance system, the IAO was defunded by Congress in 2003. However, several IAO projects continued to be funded, and merely run under different names.[3][4][5][6]



One common form of surveillance is to create maps of social networks based on data from social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter as well as from traffic analysis information from phone call records such as those in the NSA call database,[38] and others. These social network “maps” are then data mined to extract useful information such as personal interests, friendships & affiliations, wants, beliefs, thoughts, and activities.[39][40][41][42]
Many U.S. government agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are investing heavily in research involving social network analysis.[43][44] The intelligence community believes that the biggest threat to U.S. power comes from decentralized, leaderless, geographically dispersed groups of terrorists, subversives, extremists, and dissidents. These types of threats are most easily countered by finding important nodes in the network, and removing them. To do this requires a detailed map of the network.[41][42][45][46]
Jason Ethier of Northeastern University, in his study of modern social network analysis, said the following of the Scalable Social Network Analysis Program developed by the Information Awareness Office:

The purpose of the SSNA algorithms program is to extend techniques of social network analysis to assist with distinguishing potential terrorist cells from legitimate groups of people…. In order to be successful SSNA will require information on the social interactions of the majority of people around the globe. Since the Defense Department cannot easily distinguish between peaceful citizens and terrorists, it will be necessary for them to gather data on innocent civilians as well as on potential terrorists.
—Jason Ethier[41]

AT&T developed a programming language called “Hancock”, which is able to sift through enormous databases of phone call and Internet traffic records, such as the NSA call database, and extract “communities of interest” — groups of people who call each other regularly, or groups that regularly visit certain sites on the Internet. AT&T originally built the system to develop “marketing leads”,[47] but the FBI has regularly requested such information from phone companies such as AT&T without a warrant,[47] and after using the data stores all information received in its own databases, regardless of whether or not the information was ever useful in an investigation.[48]
Some people believe that the use of social networking sites is a form of “participatory surveillance”, where users of these sites are essentially performing surveillance on themselves, putting detailed personal information on public websites where it can be viewed by corporations and governments.[39] About 20% of employers have reported using social networking sites to collect personal data on prospective or current employees.[49]