Sources of Information
In assembling the Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum, the following information sources were consulted. A specific listing of these and other applicable materials can be found in the Bibliography.
Veracity of US Government Reports
The US Department of Justice and the FBI have a track record of destroying, fabricating, and altering evidence. See one such example described by FBI explosives expert Dr. Frederic Whitehurst during his direct testimony in the World Trade Center bombing case. The US Government reports concerning the Waco Holocaust are examined critically, but fairly.
Veracity of Autopsy Reports
The people performing the autopsies had no discernible reason to exaggerate the degree of decomposition, dismemberment, and incineration of the corpses. The Museum accepts the descriptions of the corpses as accurate, but does not necessarily accept evaluations made by the autopsists, and will examine those evaluations in light of the evidence as a whole.
Veracity of Autopsy Photographs and Crime Scene Photographs
Secret police and military intelligence organizations employ disinformation specialists whose mission is to guard the secrets of the agency. To achieve this, disinformation is leaked through unofficial sources with intent to mislead the recipient. The disinformation contained in the false leaks is often mixed with true information to give credibility to the package as a whole. Thus information from unofficial sources can be almost as unreliable as information from official sources.
All sources of information must be reviewed critically. Internal inconsistencies are the most damning, of course. Corroboration from several sources is not always confirmation.
The Museum has relied primarily on the Autopsy Reports for information on the condition of the remains of the Branch Davidians. Most of the autopsy photos bear close resemblance to the remains described in the reports. In those cases, the autopsy photos have been used to supplement the Autopsy Reports. In a few cases, the autopsy photographs are not consistent with the Autopsy Reports. In those cases, the official Autopsy Reports alone have been relied upon, and the photographs are regarded as problematic.
The veracity of the crime scene photos are evaluated in the appropriate exhibit.
Many photos were taken at the crime scene by the FBI, the ATF, and the Texas Rangers.
Many photos and x-rays were taken in the autopsy rooms. The Museum is currently in the
process of requesting both crime scene and autopsy photos from official sources.
Completeness of Branch Davidian Trial Transcript
At least one segment of 1994 San Antonio trial of the Branch Davidians is missing from the official transcript. That section is Judge Walter Smith's instructions to the jury regarding the right to self defense when faced with the threat of death or serious bodily harm at the hands of police forces.
Judge Smith's instructions were made available to those who attended the trial, and appear in Blind Justice by Ken Fawcett and The Waco Whitewash by Jack DeVault. The Museum relies on those books for the judge's instructions.
Also missing from the trial transcript is the complete printed version of the video-recorded
deposition of government witness Marjorie Thomas, allegedly a former Branch Davidian.
Veracity of Contemporaneous News Coverage
As pointed out by John R. MacArthur in his book Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, the news services operate as a conduit for government (Pentagon) information. In nationally and internationally significant stories where the government is a major player, news services rarely conduct independent, vigorous research to verify claims made by government officials.
Mr. MacArthur's observations were borne out by the news coverage of the Waco Holocaust. Original, independent, and vigorous research was rarely attempted. The "news" was what the government said it was, even when the official stories conflicted with each other.
Reporters may make mistakes when conducting their own independent investigation of events in
real time. They are, however, capable of faithfully reproducing government press
statements. For this reason, the Museum considers that contemporaneous news reports
concerning the Waco Holocaust are a reliable record of contemporaneous government
Ken Fawcett, a satellite antenna technician in Royse City, Texas was scanning commercial and government satellite TV transmissions on March 2, 1993. He stumbled on a "refeed" of the raw video footage from the ATF raid of the Mt. Carmel Center on February 28. From watching the raw footage, Mr. Fawcett realized that the TV coverage of the event had been misleading and that highly edited versions of that footage had been shown the American public. Throughout the siege, Mr. Fawcett recorded hundreds of hours of footage and distributed much of it to people across the US.
These videos, produced by the American Justice Federation, rely in large part upon publicly broadcast TV and video footage. Unfortunately, they are no longer available.
Veracity of American Justice Federation Videos
In June, 1993 attorney Linda D. Thompson of the American Justice Federation (AJF) in Indianapolis, Indiana produced a video called Waco, the Big Lie. That video showed TV footage of a tank with flame shooting from the barrel, backing out of the Mt. Carmel Center building before the fire erupted. The video was distributed widely and provided a focus for public outrage over the Waco Holocaust. (The Museum displayed this video sequence on the free-of-charge NBC website, but the page has been removed from public view by NBC webpage operators.)
Waco, the Big Lie also contained footage which showed a man dressed in black resting on the roof watching other sections of the Mt. Carmel Center burn. After staying there for a while, the man jumped from the roof, landing gracefully on his feet from a height of about 14 feet. After landing, the man casually walked over to the FBI encampment, taking off what appears to be a fire hood. HERE Such behavior from a Bible student would be remarkable—few people can jump from such a height and land on their feet. Nor did the man show any concern about the people who were allegedly still alive, trapped inside the burning building. All objective signs point to this man being a commando. Indeed, Mrs. Thompson charged that the man was a US government agent. A surviving Branch Davidian, Renos Aavram, now a federal prisoner, claimed it was he who had jumped off the roof. (See below: Veracity of Branch Davidian Statements).
Some time after the video was distributed, there arose a charge that Mrs. Thompson had unfairly edited the film footage. The person making the charge was Michael McNulty, who said he was an insurance salesman before becoming interested in Waco. McNulty came up with footage which he said Thompson had edited from the original. McNulty said this additional footage showed the flame was construction debris, and circulated a video containing the footage Thompson allegedly edited.
Then Soldier of Fortune (a magazine run by and catering to Special Forces/Special Operation commandos and commando wannabees) reported in its February, 1994 edition (pg. 59) that McNulty had digitized the footage in question and had it computer enhanced. This report undermined McNulty's claim, for images can be altered and fabricated with computer enhancement. (The capabilities of computer enhancement is entertainingly portrayed in "Through The Eyes Of Forest Gump," Paramount, 1994.)
Two months later, Soldier of Fortune ran a letter from McNulty admitting he digitized the footage but denying he had it enhanced. Some time after that, McNulty admitted on a radio talk show that his research on the tank footage had been sponsored by Soldier of Fortune.The admission about the computer enhancement was made inadvertently, it seems, by a magazine staffer who had inside information but who was unfamiliar with computer graphics and did not realize the significance of what he was reporting.
Linda Thompson answered McNulty's charges in a follow-up video, Waco, The Big Lie Continues. She showed the footage again, pointing out that as the tank emerged from the shadows of the building, the bright spot at the end of the barrel was clearly visible; the bright spot was obviously no reflection as there could be no reflection in the shadow.
What is the significance of this controversy? Damage control is the public relations art of putting the best spin on a public relations disaster. A flame-throwing tank was captured by TV cameras on April 19, backing out of the residence. Flame is seen coming from the barrel. Later the house burns down, and scores of people, including 24 children, allegedly die as a result. A man who looks and acts like a commando is seen leaving the burning building and casually walking over to the FBI encampment. This is a public relations disaster.
But if it could be shown that the fire was caused by negligence—perhaps by tipping over Coleman lanterns, or by unexpected combustion of the C/S gas used on the final day—the public relations fallout is easier to control. Negligence, rather than intent, puts a different spin on the event. Therefore, it was necessary to discredit the footage in Waco, The Big Lie.
In researching the issue of the veracity of the American Justice Federation videos, Waco Remembrance coordinator Carol A. Valentine talked to Ken Fawcett of Royse City, Texas (see above).
Mr. Fawcett had also captured images of the tank backing out of the Mt. Carmel Center. The footage Mr. Fawcett captured was the same as the footage Mrs. Thompson showed in Waco, The Big Lie. That is, the footage of the "construction debris" did not appear in Mr. Fawcett's contemporaneously-captured video, indicating that the later "construction debris" footage was a hoax.
Ken Fawcett told Waco Remembrance, "Linda Thompson did not edit anything from that footage."
Waco Remembrance also spoke to Linda Thompson about the footage. "The Johnny-come-lately footage is bogus," says Linda. "It was digitized footage. My original footage shown was uncut, unaltered analog footage. The 'construction debris' footage is just as bogus as the phony picture of the goat-boy in National Inquirer," said Mrs. Thompson.
In the fall of 1996 after seeing the Museum on the World Wide Web, Michael McNulty called this writer and challenged the Museum's presentation of the flame throwing tank issue. I asked McNulty to send me the tape upon which he rested his "reflecting wallboard" case. The tape arrived, and I studied it. It shows a tank exiting Mt. Carmel with what appears to be flame coming from the cannon.
In the McNulty version, however, the tank continues its journey. It rolls behind a white van which is in the foreground (that is, the van is closer to the camera than the tank). Had the flame really been wallboard, the wallboard would have had about the same brightness as the white van, but that is not the case. The matter on the end of the cannon is brilliantly incandescent. The van is a dull white. The matter on the tank cannon could not have been the wallboard that McNulty claims.
As the footage rolls on, the incandescent matter at the end of the cannon changes shape, eventually growing dull and flat, then broadening and becoming affixed like wallpaper to the entire front section of the tank. Unfortunately for Mr. McNulty, the footage looks as if it was computer enhanced.
(Over the years, Michael McNulty has been one of the most visible Waco disinformation agents. For a review of the hoax video he co-produced and researched, see Waco "Documentary" Is A Hoax! For additional discussion of his activities, see Waco Suits for Waco Suckers.)
What is the significance of this controversy? It must be remembered that Mrs. Thompson's videos showed the US military in a bad light. The videos were especially hard on the PR image of the commandos of the Special Operations Forces (SOF). It was obviously in the interests of the US military to debunk the footage shown in Waco, the Big Lie.
Remember, the charge that Mrs. Thompson edited the "construction debris" out of the footage was publicized by Soldier of Fortune (SOF) magazine. Col. Charlie Beckwith, founder of Special Operation's Delta force, was closely associated with Soldier of Fortune and authored the magazine's first article on the February 28 ATF raid in Waco. Significantly, it was the black helicopters from the Special Operations helicopter unit which strafed the women's and children's living quarters at Mt. Carmel on the day of the raid.
Soldier of Fortune issued a number of other attacks on Mrs. Thompson's credibility which were not based on fact. For example, after the Waco videos were distributed, the American Justice Federation produced "America Under Siege" which exposed the activities of Special Ops forces here in the US. This video contained much footage of the black helicopters of the Special Ops aviation unit. Mrs. Thompson was presented as a paranoid by Soldier of Fortune magazine and others who said black helicopters did not exist. The magazine made this claim even though black Special Ops helicopters took part in the siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and were photographed there months before the Waco siege (see photo from Time, July 24, 1995).
Since the distribution of the Waco videos and America Under Siege, the Special Ops helicopter unit and its black helicopters have been forced out of the closet and onto the public relations battlefront. The black helicopters of Special Ops were featured in the Army Times, July 10, 1995. A black helicopter appears in an ad for the Army National Guard published in the Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA) Journal, August/September, 1996.
People who publicize the secrets of the US military are characteristically subjected to black
propaganda campaigns aimed at discrediting them. One such effort involved New York Times
correspondent Raymond Bonner, who revealed the US military involvement in the civil war in El
Salvador. See "Smear Jobs and Character Assassination" in The Black Army in the
Veracity of Branch Davidian Statements
The accounts of events surrounding the Waco Holocaust given by the surviving Davidians must be evaluated in light of the Branch Davidian's present situation and the entirety of objective evidence concerning the Holocaust.
As noted in the Treasury Report, "Activity In The Compound," pg. 92, apostate Branch Davidians were inside Mt. Carmel at the time of the raid, posing as devout Branch Davidians and performing work as undercover agents.
The London Sunday Times, March 21, 1993 indicated sophisticated surveillance devices had been installed into the walls and phones at the Mt. Carmel Center. These were possibly installed by undercover operatives living at the Mt. Carmel Center, posing as Branch Davidians while they worked. See the War Gallery for discussion of Trojan Horses and Branch Davidians.
These government operatives have never been identified. It is possible that they are still posing as Branch Davidians and working as undercover agents for the government.
In weighing the veracity of the statements of the surviving Branch Davidians, there is no escaping the fact of the duress they have already undergone: 80 of their friends, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters, children, and grandchildren were vilified, tortured, killed, and imprisoned. They experienced 51 days of terror.
According to Texas Ranger Alan Byrnes, who headed the Ranger operation during the Waco Holocaust, the Branch Davidians who left during the siege were "interviewed" (without attorneys present) by FBI/HRT commandos. (Transcript, pg. 636 and 637). FBI commandos are trained by Special Operations personnel, imbued with the "Butcher and Bolt" philosophy of commandos. (See the War Gallery for discussion of The Black Army, especially "Mindset of Secret Commandos," and "Murder and Torture of Civilians" sections. Victory is the objective in war, intimidation being one of the gentler tools.
Some Davidians are serving long prison terms, the length of which could depend upon the pleasure of their captors. Under such circumstances, few people of ordinary mettle would risk more duress with brave or foolish statements. Who could blame them, even if they testified against their fellows, or parroted the words they were told to speak?
In short, the Branch Davidians must be regarded as people still under duress; the veracity of their statements must be evaluated against the entirety of the evidence. For further discussion, see:
Other background materials are listed in the Bibliography.