The Siege

After the U.S. government attacked the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, in February 1993, the FBI conducted a fifty-one day siege of the religious group. The FBI clearly intended nothing but a violent end, conducting the siege with bright lights and loud noises played throughout the night, driving tanks up to the compound, destroying cars parked outside, and so forth. More tanks were sent to Waco than were sent to Somalia during the U.S. troops' presence there.

From an e-mail post by Andrew Clark:

The FBI deliberately precipitated a violent showdown by antagonising the occupants of the commune via loudspeaker, refusing the assistance of family members to plead with those inside, refusing to accept the assistance of attorneys to persuade the occupants to surrender, and forcing the Branch Davidians to act.

Sending in a combat engineering vehicle with a gas attachment is a good start ... but such activity could easily start a fire. When LAPD was experimenting with armored vehicle assaults into crack houses, they had to figure out where the gas lines were and how to avoid them. Someone should have assumed that Koresh would burn himself out, a reasonable conjecture based on his "prophecies." Or, maybe the tank driver would fuck up and hit a line? It's called contingency planning.

Where the hell was the fire gear? Over on misc.emerg-services, it was reported that the FBI had to call 911 to get the Waco FD out there. If the FBI knows it's going in, the fire apparatus should have been set up and ready to go with plenty of reserve water (set up storage tanks in advance and keep running refills if needed.) With all the aircraft the FBI seemed to have buzzing around, it should have been easy to have a firefighting aircraft ready to drop water and/or fire retardant on the house. If the Davidians try to shoot at it with their (possibly mythical) .50 cal MGs, then have your friendly neighborhood snipers put large holes in their heads. With all of the military shit the FBI had around, they should have had lots and lots of snipers.

The timing in particular is difficult to understand. The argument that they were concerned for the children is not credible, especially because the FBI shut off the water. That was a dumb move; anything that weakens the cultist's bodies also weakens their minds as well. Hungry, tired and frightened people are remarkably easy to goad.

The FBI spokesman in Waco said that they believed 'all of the adults have gas masks.' Shortly later he said that they hoped that the suffering of the children (here I paraphrase) would motivate the BDs to release the children due to their 'maternal insticts.' Any effect this might have had was surely outweighed by the psychological effects of wearing a gas mask for any length of time. This merely strengthened the siege mentality.

This is an admission that the attack was intended to deliberately inflict suffering on the children, hoping to force the adults to act. Why would anyone expect such a strategy to work on people who themselves were abusing the children in question? Frankly, because FBI and BATF couldn't keep their lies straight.