Waco Movie Puts Blame on Feds
By Michelle Mittelstadt
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, Nov. 3, 1999; 6:39 p.m. EST WASHINGTON A new film on the 1993 Waco siege suggests federal agents used an explosive charge to blast into the steel-reinforced concrete bunker where Branch Davidian women and children died.
As evidence, the makers of "Waco: A New Revelation" present video footage shot after the violent end of the siege showing a gaping hole in the bunker's roof. The steel rods used to reinforce the concrete were bent inward apparently, the film's analysts say, by a blast that would have been devastating to people inside.
The movie also contends that cult members were pinned down by automatic gunfire as the compound was consumed by flames, cutting off their only route to safety.
The film, produced by Colorado-based MGA Entertainment, was previewed Wednesday for reporters and others.
The FBI said, as it has for six years, that agents fired no shots.
"We are aware of no incidents where gunfire emanated from any law enforcement source," bureau spokesman Bill Carter said. "Our position has not changed."
Carter said he was unfamiliar with the allegation that a "shape charge" explosive device was detonated on the roof of the concrete bunker. He also declined comment about the documentary.
Fresh controversy over Waco began earlier this year after the documentary's main researcher, Michael McNulty, discovered a potentially incendiary tear gas canister amid the thousands of pounds of evidence held in storage lockers. That discovery led FBI and Justice Department officials to recant their longstanding contention that only non-incendiary tear gas was used.
The government says its agents played no role in the fire or Davidians' death. Cult leader David Koresh and some 80 followers perished during the blaze, some from the flames, others from gunshot wounds.
The documentary, which includes interviews with former FBI, CIA and military personnel as well as surviving Branch Davidians, also asserts:
Because of bugging devices in the compound, the FBI was aware of the Davidians' talk of setting the place aflame. Bureau officials have long denied that they had advance knowledge of the cult members' intent, saying the transmissions were too garbled to understand.
Federal agents fired from a helicopter at a Branch Davidian who ventured outside the compound three hours before the blaze began, according to a videotape analyzed by Edward Allard, a former Army night vision lab supervisor hired as an expert in the Davidian survivors' wrongful-death lawsuit against the government. "In our opinion, it's clearly machine gun fire from the helicopter," Allard says on the film.
Infrared surveillance videotape shot by an FBI plane shows two people rolling out from under a tank and firing dozens of rounds from a machine gun at the compound, Allard says. "I stopped counting after 62 individual shots," he says.
Rep. Clifford Stearns, R-Fla., who attended one of two film screenings Wednesday, said the documentary should be seen by members of Congress and the public alike.
As to those who might dismiss the film as biased, Stearns said: "I don't visualize it as propaganda. I visualize it as an attempt to bring questions to the American people."
The documentary is narrated by Frederic Whitehurst, a former FBI scientist whose complaints about shoddy practices in the bureau's crime lab led to a scathing inspector general review.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press