Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines

Week of:
May 27, 2001
Waco Crimes Must Not Go Unpunished


by: F.R. Duplantier

Allegations of serious misconduct and criminal behavior on the part of government agents during the 1993 siege in Waco warrant further investigation.

"On February 28, 1993, several ATF agents physically attacked a local television cameraman named Dan Mulloney," recalls Timothy Lynch of the Cato Institute. "Mulloney was on the scene at Mt. Carmel covering the ATF raid for KWTX-TV," he explains. "After the firefight, Mulloney was filming the ATF agents as they were retreating from the Davidian property. When several ATF agents noticed what he was doing, they screamed obscenities at him and actually punched and kicked him while others tried to steal his camera," Lynch reports. "Because Mulloney kept his camera rolling during the entire episode, this assault, battery, and attempted theft are captured on film. The evidence is thus overwhelming. It is a crime for an ordinary citizen to punch and kick a cameraman," he observes. "It is no less a crime for ATF agents to do so, yet they were never criminally prosecuted."

In a report on the 1993 siege at Waco, Lynch also recalls the sworn testimony of a Texas Ranger who "said that the two ATF raid commanders, Phil Chojnacki and Chuck Sarabyn, lied to him about what had happened on February 28, 1993. Because ordinary citizens are sent to jail for lying to federal investigators, the Ranger recommended that Chojnacki and Sarabyn be indicted and prosecuted." That recommendation was referred "to the Department of Justice, which took no action. In October 1994," Lynch notes, "the Treasury Department did suspend Chojnacki and Sarabyn from active duty for making false statements, but they were subsequently reinstated with full back pay and had the entire incident expunged from their personnel records."

Lynch points to other examples of possible criminal wrongdoing. "Firing ferret rounds into a building without knowing which adults are threatening and which are not -- and without knowing where children are located -- manifests an extreme indifference to human life," he argues. "Such indifference is not only unconscionable but criminal." Likewise, the use of tanks to "smash into the residence and knock down walls" when federal agents "did not know where the Davidian children were located."

Lynch offers evidence challenging the claim made by the Texas National Guard, the ATF, and the Department of Justice "that no one aboard the National Guard helicopters fired on the Davidians on February 28, 1993." In response to the FBI's contention "that they had no prior knowledge of the Davidian plan to set fires," he cites testimony from Col. Rodney Rawlings "that FBI bugs had been placed in Mt. Carmel during the standoff and that on April 19th he was present in an FBI monitoring room where the voices of the Davidians could be clearly heard." To counter the FBI assertion "that, throughout the entire siege, its agents never fired at the Branch Davidians," Lynch points to several infrared experts who "contradict the FBI's claim." He expresses special concern about the roles played in the siege by FBI agents Larry Potts, Danny Coulson, Michael Kahoe, and Richard Rogers -- all sanctioned for their involvement in the Ruby Ridge incident.