“There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”
– Battlestar Galactica (New One)
Don’t worry, Leftists, all those people at Waco were here legally.
The Waco Siege started 27 years ago. It started as a raid by the ATF – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The ATF was formed after the Gun Control act of 1968. In researching the ATF, I was amazed that its history consists of nothing more than an unending series of scandals and heartache visited upon (mainly) people with no criminal intent who had no idea that they were violating some extremely technical law. And that’s on a good day.
How bad is the ATF? Here’s what a Senate subcommittee said: “Based upon these hearings it is apparent that ATF enforcement tactics made possible by current federal firearms laws are constitutionally, legally, and practically reprehensible.” From that, it actually got worse.
The ATF was involved (besides Waco) in the Ruby Ridge disaster (which netted a body count that included a 14 year old boy and a mother holding a baby) as well as operation Fast and Furious where guns were intentionally illegally sold to Mexican drug criminals. It’s okay selling guns to drug cartels because Fast and Furious was named after a Vin Diesel movie, and who doesn’t like him?
It appears that most of the actually useful things that the ATF does revolve around databases that attempt to match weapons to crimes. Keeping close to computer screens and away from actual A, T, and F might be a good idea, since they’ve lost (in just one audit) over 76 firearms, plus hundreds of laptops. Oops. Too much A? And this is the group that reveres Elliot Ness and the famous Untouchables as their forefathers.
Looks like the Deputy Director really wanted to win the pie eating contest with the FBI, so they hired Karen.
In an existence consisting of repugnant, objectionable, and odious events the Waco Siege is probably their crowning achievement. Waco is certainly the worst single thing the ATF has ever done. The fact that it’s not the only bad thing people talk about when they bring up the ATF tells you just how incompetent they are.
What did the ATF do that was so bad at Waco?
They launched a military-style raid against a church, the Branch Davidians, for no real discernible crime other than being a great target for a raid that could get publicity right before Congressional budgets were set. Oh, and ATF agents knowingly lied in order to get military support, indicating that there were illegal drugs at the church when there was no evidence at all. And this is just for starters.
On the morning of the attack, the agents shot the dogs, then engaged in a firefight with the members of the church. The ATF says they didn’t shoot first. The surviving Branch Davidians say the ATF did shoot first. Since the ATF was recording the raid for use in public relations, it seems odd that they don’t have footage of that. Almost as if the tapes were . . . conveniently lost? Nah.
The ATF may be evil, but they make up for it partly by being incompetent. After 45 minutes of exchanging gunfire with the Branch Davidians, the ATF asked for a do-over, since they had shot all of their ammunition. The church allowed and honored a ceasefire when they could have easily killed every single ATF agent as they tried to withdraw. But the folks in the church didn’t. Once the threat of attack had passed, they let the agents leave in piece. Did I mention that the Branch Davidians called 911 when they were first attacked?
ATF agents are notoriously bad at knock-knock jokes.
The Waco Siege then spiraled into a circus. The press, FBI, and the Texas National Guard all showed up. When a group of moms and kids surrendered, the moms were immediately arrested and the kids placed in state custody, which made the remaining kids not want to leave. Funny, that. The FBI hostage negotiators sent in a camcorder so the Davidians could show they weren’t being coerced into staying. The FBI refused to allow the tape to be given to the media. Why?
It might make people sympathetic to the Branch Davidians, which wouldn’t do because the FBI needed them to be the villain.
During the standoff, the FBI continually ramped up the stress through lights at night, and horrible sounds during the day – which is probably a questionable strategy when dealing with an end-of-the-world cult. The FBI then decided that broadcasting “This is not an assault” over a loudspeaker while using a tank to demolish the structure and pump in flammable tear gas. If that’s not an assault, I’m not sure what is, especially since there are infrared recordings that may show muzzle flashes on the morning of the attack – muzzle flashes of people outside shooting into the compound. Apparently, this sort of behavior isn’t an assault – it’s just the non-threatening way that FBI agents normally great each other.
I will warn you, the FBI can leave a mess.
Malcolm Gladwell tallied the forces in his article for the New Yorker:
“Outside the Mount Carmel complex, the FBI assembled what has been called probably the largest military force ever gathered against a civilian suspect in American history: 10 Bradley tanks, two Abrams tanks, four combat-engineering vehicles, 668 agents in addition to six U.S. Customs officers, 15 U.S. Army personnel, 13 members of the Texas National Guard, 31 Texas Rangers, 131 officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety, 17 from the McLennan County sheriff’s office, and 18 Waco police, for a total of 899 people.”
Those were just the ground forces – there were helicopters and other flying surveillance, too.
The Siege ended in tragedy after the tanks went in – a total of 76 dead in that final “not an assault.” The church members perished horribly in a fire that may or may not have been started by the government.
I don’t want to give the impression that the leader of the Branch Davidians, David Koresh, was a hero. He clearly wasn’t. Outside of his taking wives that were very young (though still within Texas marriage age at the time, per the Sheriff), Koresh had the opportunity to end the standoff without tragedy. That still doesn’t absolve the government, because if Koresh felt he wouldn’t get a fair deal, it looks like he was right.
Almost immediately after the first catastrophic attack by the ATF, the involved agents started writing reports on what happened. And were stopped even though writing reports doesn’t allow them to use what is apparently their only skill – bungling operations and getting people killed. Someone from Washington, D.C. noticed that the agents were writing things that could be used by the Davidians to prove themselves innocent, which must violate some sort of ATF policy.
Thankfully, the evidence remaining from the fire was at least carefully cataloged so Americans could have faith that the justice system would produce a fair result? No. The entire site was bulldozed within two weeks after the fire, destroying valuable evidence.
Evidence? Why would you need that?
His courthouse is in the basement of the Alamo.
I mentioned that I was going to write about Waco to The Mrs. We discussed it for a while, but she opened with, “Well, I guess that’s another list you’ll be on.”
We continued to talk about it. Her position was that Waco started the Right/Left split in the country. From one standpoint, she was correct. If you look at the Pew® data from back in 1994 (LINK), we weren’t that split as a country, but by 2017 the split was in force. Waco happened right at the front of the polarization of American politics.
I blame the vegans, ruining Thanksgiving with their stupid tofu turkey.
The Mrs. and I continued discussing the Waco Siege. We both agreed that Waco was also the most blatant display of the Deep State back before the year 2000, and she felt it was the blow that really split the country. How so?
The search warrant for the raid was based on multiple lies.
The Branch Davidians had phone lines cut with the outside world so they couldn’t plead their case except through the FBI.
Evidence was “lost” including physical evidence as well as video evidence.
Agents writing routine reports after the failed first raid were stopped from creating reports because their stories didn’t match and the government didn’t want to provide evidence that the Branch Davidians could use to be found innocent. Innocence is for government agents, silly.
Stories of agents never actually matched with each other, being inconsistent as late as 6 years after the raid.
Physical evidence (as was available) contradicted agent testimony or suggested agents may have lied.
In the end, every charge that could be brought against the survivors was brought, but there were no charges brought against a single Federal agent. Perhaps 9 (from the data I could find) ATF personnel either retired early (presumably with full benefits and honors) or were “under scrutiny” which probably means that they wouldn’t get promoted again for a year or two.
There were lasting career consequences, though: one FBI leader was demoted from a very high position, and the rest of his life was horrible. Just kidding. He moved from one high paying executive job in the private sector to another.
Leftist Senators (most prominently Charles Schumer) bent over backwards to justify what the ATF did during the Senate hearings on the Siege. I can say this with confidence: Chuck Schumer is the ATF of the Senate.
The parallels to the Deep State today are similar:
Hillary Clinton can intentionally violate the law related to storage of classified information. No charge.
The FISA affidavit that started the Mueller investigation could be based on . . . lies. No charge.
Andrew McCabe could lie to Congress. No charge.
John Brennan could lie to Congress. No investigation.
Roger Stone could lie to Congress. No investigation. Just kidding. Hammered as if by the fist of an angry god, and convicted of a crime.
General Flynn made non-consequential misstatements of fact when he was in a “friendly chat” with FBI agents. No charge. Just kidding. Hounded like he had stolen Satan’s bra and convicted of a crime.
Certainly I could come up with more examples. But the point is clear – the Deep State protects itself first. Members can commit murder, and there will be no charges. Members can lie to cover each other and be immune. Members can destroy evidence without consequence. Members can get in the 10 item only line with 12 items. No consequences.
When I think about why the Deep State would go so far to protect its own, my first question is, why? You see this as a regular fixture with almost any member. Some of those being protected aren’t important. The on-scene director at Waco – why protect him?
The answer is fairly simple: these people know things. They know of the activities that the Deep State wants to hide. They’re the ones who know the real secrets, both on you and me but more importantly on each other.
Why could Waco not be ended peacefully? Because it would give Koresh a victory. And a victory, no matter how small would, they felt, make them less powerful, less respected. There is a reason that the ATF and FBI posed in pictures on the still-smoldering remains of the Branch Davidian compound. There is a reason that after the fire took down the Branch Davidian flag, the ATF raised an ATF flag at Waco.
Nothing says reasonable like a selfie on top of ashes!
That reason is the Deep State’s deepest desire. What does the Deep State want?
Power, both personal power, and power to the organizations they serve. Make no mistake, the Deep State is partisan, and loves all of those who like state control. Why else would they militarize a Federal Bureau that was less effective than Soviet situation comedy writers? You could look into the sneering, mocking weasel face of Peter Strzok while he was giving testimony to Congress and see it in his eyes. Contempt. Contempt for those that weren’t of his Deep State pedigree, and a smugness borne of the thought that there was nothing that could ever be done to him.
Would you trust this man with your secrets?
He had become like the hero of the ATF, Elliot Ness.
He was Untouchable.