- "Everyone thought that the issues surrounding the
WACO tragedy were finally dead and buriedÖWe are here today to proclaim
the rise of the Phoenix and to offer the truth"
- ~ Press Statement, COPS Productions
- It was a stirring victory for the leviathan state when
Independent counsel John Danforth produced the interim findings of his
WACO investigation on July 21, 2000. In starkly unequivocal language, the
former Senator inveighed with complete certitude that "the blame rests
solely on the shoulders of [Davidian leader] David Koresh" His allegedly
definitive account of the worst law enforcement debacle in modern history
would constitute the second legal blow against the Davidian faithful. One
week earlier, Judge Walter Smith determined that federal officials were
not liable for the deaths of the 76 men, women, and children who perished
during the fatal climax of the April 19th, 1993 BATF-FBI siege. As the
Washington political establishment breathed a collective sigh of relief,
it would seem the ranks of "extremists" and "conspiracy
theorists" who showed the temerity to challenge the media-sanctified
"mass suicide" theory had finally been silenced ñ or so
it was believed. Enter the FLIR Project.
- The brainchild of Emmy-winning Investigative journalist
Michael McNulty, the man considered to be the driving force behind the
critically acclaimed 1997 documentary WACO: The Rules of Engagement (1997)
and its groundbreaking sequel WACO: A New Revelation (1999), the third
installment of his investigative trilogy is no less provocative. Unlike
his two previous efforts which exhaustively dissect the initial BATF raid
and its brutal aftermath, this tightly edited video centers on a singular
question which strikes at the very heart of this unsettling conspiracy:
were Branch Davidians deterred from exiting the burning Mt. Carmel complex
by bursts of FBI gunfire?
- To the many state apologists who seem all-to-willing
to justify the ill-conceived tear-gas attack, the placement of a few stray
rounds may seem an insignificant matter. Nevertheless, the law is unambiguous
about the illegality of such an act. "Ordinary citizens can use deadly
force to defend themselves and others from imminent harm. But if someone
fired a gun to keep others from fleeing a burning building, he would be
subject to prosecution for murder" observes CATO Institute legal analyst
Timothy Lynch (No Confidence, An Unofficial Account of the WACO Incident,
Cato Institute, April 9, 2001).
- This is no mere speculative claim. There is a great deal
of circumstantial evidence which lends credence to this troubling thesis.
A post-mortem autopsy has revealed that nearly two-dozen of the deceased
showed suspicious gunshot wounds. Moreover, on the day of the deadly fire,
author Carol Moore reports that "CNN and other news outlets reported
that as many as 20 Davidians were seen fleeing out of the back of the building"
but "Such claims ceased as soon as the FBI announced there were only
nine survivors"(The Davidian Massacre, Legacy Communications, 1995).
The bureauís recent admission that agents fired over 300 deadly
"ferret rounds" into a building containing women and children
provides further evidence that a "shoot to kill" mentality characterized
the relentless attack on the embattled religious sect.
- However, in perhaps the cruelest of ironies, the FBIís
own Forward Looking Infrared Red (FLIR) footage of the paramilitary assault
is central to this allegation. Prior to the conflagration which overtook
Mt. Carmel, an FBI FLIR camera mounted to an observation plane documented
several ephemeral flashes of light directed toward the rear of the building.
A battery of experts have subsequently analyzed the staccato-like emissions
and attributed their unique thermal signature to automatic weapon fire.
- These arenít the half-baked ramblings of armchair
experts or Internet rumor mongers, but the qualified assertions of highly
credible specialists like Dr. Edward F. Allard, former Deputy Director
of the US Defense Departmentís Night Vision Laboratory, and the
late Carlos Ghigliotti, a renowned expert in thermal imaging technology.
- Nevertheless, without even acknowledging this wealth
of contradictory data, Danforth avers with "100% certainty" that
no evidence exists to refute the FBIís claim that agents didnít
fire a single shot. However, the learned Senatorís rhetorical hyperbole
hangs on a slim evidentiary thread: the March 19, 2000 WACO "recreation"
conducted at Ft. Hood TX. The costly field test, which allegedly replicated
the dramatic final moments at WACO, was later examined by Vector Data Systems
(VDS) ñ a British firm retained by the Office of Special Counsel
(OSC). VDS (whose parent company possesses contracts with some 50 federal
agencies), predictably ascribed the rhythmic flashes on the FLIR tape to
"glint" and ruled out allegations of FBI treachery because the
muzzle flashes captured on the eight-year-old surveillance tape are "too
long to be gunfire."
- Neither the establishment press nor the Congress have
attempted to reconcile this analysis with expert opinion ñ a vast
conspiracy of silence which compelled McNulty to conduct his own shadow
investigation last Fall. After staking out locations in two western states,
the Colorado filmmaker assembled a team of experts to assess the available
evidence. The results are distilled in this intense 35-minute video which
surgically demolishes the credibility of the Ft. Hood Reenactment, challenges
the legitimacy of the Danforth report, and offers the disquieting counter-theory
that FBI agents did indeed open fire on the trapped Davidians.
- Perhaps the greatest advantage of the documentary medium
is its inherent ability to convey a particular message by using powerful
photographic, video, and other graphic images. In this instance, McNulty
builds his case against the OSC investigation by incorporating data from
the 1993 FBI FLIR tape, footage taken at Ft. Hood, and test shots taken
by the FLIR Project team. The resulting analysis demonstrates the surfeit
of oversights, anomalies, and outright falsehoods which permeate the Danforth
probe. For example, the former Senatorís mendacious claim that "People
are Not Visible on FLIR" is adeptly undermined within seconds by the
presentation of FLIR imagery depicting highly visible FBI shock troops
prowling through the Mt. Carmel wreckage.
- Repeated assertions that reflective materials or "glint"
produced the noticeable flashes which appear on the FBI tape are proven
equally untenable. Having attached a FLIR camera to a stable hoist, McNulty
and his crew provide extensive Infrared footage of aluminum foil, hubcaps,
window glass, and other highly reflective objects which seem utterly unlike
the thermal signatures which appear on the contested FBI footage.
- Yet this is merely the tip of the iceberg. It is revealed
that Danforthís investigative team issued M-16 A-2 assault rifles
for the reenactment despite the fact that photos of the WACO assault team
depict agents toting short-barreled M-4 caribines. This dissimilitude in
barrel length effectively inhibited the amount of heat detected by the
Ft. Hood FLIR camera. As if to fabricate a greater disparity in the muzzle
flash produced by each weapon, military rounds were dispensed for the March
reenactment. Once again, FBI photos provide evidence that FBI and BATF
agents used highly volatile commercial ammunition during the initial raid
and its tragic end. The questionable decision to use military ordinance
which contains chemical additives designed to limit muzzle flash throws
into question the Special Prosecutorís glib assurance that the variance
in test results constitutes de facto proof that federal law enforcement
didnít fire at Davidians.
- The film climaxes with the FLIR Projectís attempted
WACO reproduction. Using M-4 carbines loaded with commercial ammunition
and allowing for a number of important variables ranging from temperature
to the highly visible dust clouds caused by tanks ramming the Mt. Carmel
structure, the lengthy and sustained muzzle flashes recorded at Mt. Carmel
are eerily duplicated. "It is with a high degree of certainty that
COPS, Productions and the scientists who conducted the tests depicted in
the FLIR Project" allege the "FBI did fire on the trapped Branch
Davidians in the burning building as women and children burned to death
in the inferno" states the movieís web page.
- While the more skeptical viewers may dispute the exactitude
of this replication, few will contest the presence of FBI gunfire on the
initial FLIR tape, the overwhelming evidence debunking the Danforth report,
or the existence of a massive cover-up. Indeed, the FLIR Project suggests
that the high-profile investigation was cleverly rigged from the outset
with government investigators using alternative weapons, different ammunition,
a malfunctioning camera, and other stratagems to ensure the exoneration
of FBI officials.
- Meticulous, even-handed, and subtle in its execution,
the FLIR Project effectively illuminates yet another chapter in the WACO
cover-up. Whether this powerful documentary will spur another investigation
into the state-sponsored massacre at Mt. Carmel remains to be seen, but
this highly recommended film offers one definite certainty: the WACO killers
are still at large.
- Cletus Nelson is a journalist in Los Angeles.
- Copyright 2001 LewRockwell.com