If there’s anything worse than a cover-up of terrible crimes, it’s a cover-up by the officials entrusted with investigating the cover-up.
That may well be what has happened in the case of the federal assault on a religious group in Waco, Texas in 1993, which ended in the deaths of 76 Davidians, including 27 children. It’s still not clear why the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms felt obliged to assault the Davidians to begin with. And for years, independent journalists have argued that the evidence demonstrates reckless behavior not only on the part of religious leader David Koresh, but also on the part of federal agents.
Finally, signs of a cover-up of crucial evidence became so blatant and so public that the Justice Department itself had to express shock and dismay over the matter. At any rate, at long last a special prosecutor, former Senator John Danforth, was appointed to investigate. Well, Danforth investigated, or so he says. He now admits he had to threaten the FBI with a search warrant to get the documents he needed. Nonetheless, his final report says nobody did anything wrong.
It was bad judgment, maybe, to indiscriminately fire 350 deadly ferret rounds into the building, or to ram it with tanks, or to assault a cameraman trying to record the siege for posterity. But criminal? Nah.
Criminal justice scholar Timothy Lynch argues that charges of reckless endangerment are in order, at the very least. He explains why in a detailed report at the Cato Institute web site, www.cato.org. Read it for yourself.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob