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"'•^v 



Report of 

THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY 

1^ on the 



BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, AND FIREARMS 

L Investigation 

Vernon Wayne Howell 

also known as 

David Koresh 



MM^,, 



\TREASURYi 




ENFORCEMENT. 



September 1993 



■ •!,(<■■ . 



.jAL^i^i .ii^-. 







;(":Report of 

THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY 

on the 

BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, AND FIREARMS 

Investigation 

of 

Vernon Wayne Howell 

also knoAvn as 

David Koresh 




September 1993 



LISnAIlT 

ROOM 5319 



SEP 2 2001 
y»eA8t<RyO«iARTMENT 



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 
Superintendent of Docunienis, Mail Stop: SSOP. Washington, DC 20402-9328 
ISBN 0-16-042025-3 




DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY 

WASHINGTON, D.C. 

SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY 

September 30, 1993 



The Honorable William J. Clinton 
President of the United States 
The White House 
Washington, D.C. 20500 

Dear Mr. President: 



I submit to you the report of the Department of the Treasury's Waco Administrative Review (the 
"Review"). 

I established the Review on April 29, 1993, after you directed that Treasury conduct a "vigorous 
and thorough" investigation of the events leading to the loss of law enforcement and civilian 
lives near Waco, Texas, on February 28, 1993. 

Over the past five months, at my direction. Assistant Secretary for Enforcement Ronald K. 
Noble has conducted a comprehensive review of the adequacy of the Bureau of Alcohol, 
Tobacco and Firearms' ("ATF's") procedures, policies, and practices, and whether they were 
followed during ATF's investigation of Vernon Howell, a/k/a "David Koresh," and his 
followers. As promised, the Review left no stone unturned in finding out what happened and 
why. 

The Review's final report recounts the events that culminated in the unsuccessful raid of the 
Branch Davidian Compound and analyzes why the raid ended in the deaths of four courageous 
ATF special agents, Conway LeBleu, Todd W. McKeehan, Robert J. Williams, and Steven D. 
WUlis. 

I know well that no inquiry can bring back any of the lives that were lost near Waco. It is my 
fervent hope, however, that this review and the changes it wUl precipitate wUl prevent the 
recurrence of such a tragedy in the fiiture. 



Sincerely, 




Lloya Bentsen 




In Memory of 



Conway C. LeBleu 

December 23, 1962 - February 28, 1993 

Todd W. McKeehan 

October 19, 1964 - February 28, 1993 

Robert J. Williams 

March 1, 1966 - February 28, 1993 

Steven D. Willis 

December 18, 1960 - February 28, 1993 

^__ r" 



The Department of the Treasury 

Lloyd Bentsen 
Secretary 

The Waco Administrative Review Team 



Ronald K. Noble 
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement 



Edwin O. Guthman 



Lewis C. Merletti 

Assistant Project Director 



Independent Reviewers 

Henry S. Ruth, Jr. 

Review Team 

H. Geoffrey Moulton, Jr. 
Project Director 



WilUe L. Williams 



David L. Douglass 
Assistant Project Director 



Kenneth P. Thompson 
Special Assistant 

United States 
Secret Service 

Robert B. Blossman 
Special Agent 

Colleen B. Callahan 
Special Agent 

Rafael A. Gonzales 
Special Agent 

Paul D. Irving 
Special Agent 

Frederick R. Klare 
Special Agent 

Joseph A. Masonis 
Special Agent 

Lewis H. McClam 
Special Agent 

Dick M. Suekawa 
Special Agent 

Jennell L. Jenkins 
Lead Document 
Control Assistant 



Daniel C. Richman 
Editor 

United States 
Customs Service 

Robert L. Cockrell 
Special Agent 

John J. Devaney 
Special Agent 

Robert M. Gattison 
Special Agent 

Susan G. Rowley 
Special Agent 

Thomas R. Smith 
Special Agent 

Robert K. Tevens 
Special Agent 

Ina W. E. Boston 

Intelligence Research 

Specialist 

Mary Steinbacher 

Correspondence 

Analyst 

Vanessa L. Bolden 
Secretary 



Andrew E. Tomback 
Special Assistant 

Internal Revenue 
Service 

Mary C. Balberchak 
Special Agent 

Kenneth L. Buck 
Special Agent 

James Rice 
Special Investigator 



Federal Law Enforcement 
Training Center 

John H. Battle 

Instructor/Training 

Specialist 



Office of 
The General Counsel 

BiUy S. Bradley 
Sarah Elizabeth Jones 




DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY 

WASHINGTON 



September 24, 1993 




MEMORANDUM FOR SECRETARY BENTSEN 



(Luji/jh^—~ 



FROM: Robert P. Cesca 

Deputy Inspector General 

SUBJECT: Department of Treasury's Waco Administrative 

Review 



On April 29, 1993, the Department announced its plans to examine 
the events leading to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms 
(ATF) execution of search and arrest warrants at the Branch 
Davidian compound, near Waco, Texas, on February 28, 1993. The 
purpose of the Department's administrative review was to 
comprehensively evaluate all aspects of ATF's investigation of 
David Koresh and the Branch Davidians through and including the 
events occurring at the compound on February 28, 1993. The 
review was performed under the leadership and direction of 
Mr. Ronald K. Noble, Assistant Secretary for the Office of 
Enforcement. As part of this review, the Department was to 
analyze and assess whether ATF's procedures, policies, and 
practices were adequate and whether they were followed up and 
until the time ATF decided to raid the compound. 

In addition, on May 3, 1993, the Department further announced the 
selection of three independent reviewers to ensure that the 
Department's administrative review was comprehensively and 
impartially conducted. These reviewers were selected because of 
their national prominence, integrity and law enforcement 
expertise. The reviewers are responsible for providing guidance 
to the investigation, reviewing the investigative team's findings 
and providing an independent assessment of the information 
contained in the final report. 

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) was requested to monitor 
the administrative review for the purpose of providing assurance 
to the Department that the project plan was complete and properly 
implemented. Moreover, the OIG was to comment on whether 
relevant information obtained during the investigation was 
properly considered and included in the final report. 

This memorandum transmits the results of our assessment and 
provides a level of assurance that the Departmental effort was 
objective and comprehensively performed. It is our opinion that 
the administrative review team vigorously and thoroughly examined 
all significant information surrounding the events leading to 
ATF's execution of the search warrant at the Branch Davidian 
compound on February 28, 1993. In addition, the administrative 

ix 



review team's report addresses all the issues that are included 
in the team's investigative plan. To the best of our knowledge, 
the review team's findings are consistent with the facts 
developed and, to the extent possible, accurately reflect the 
circumstances surrounding ATF's investigation and subsequent raid 
of the Branch Davidian compound on February 28, 1993. 

To arrive at our conclusions, we focused on determining whether 

• all appropriate issues were identified for 
investigation and appropriately considered in the 
team's planning process; 

• the team reviewed pertinent documentation and 
information obtained by other law enforcement 
organizations involved in the incident; 

• all appropriate individuals were identified and 
interviewed that could provide insight of the events 
leading up to ATF's raid and/or the issues being 
examined; 

• all appropriate leads from interviews with ATF agents 
and management personnel and other relevant persons 
were properly followed up and satisfactorily resolved; 

• external experts were consulted in order to obtain an 
independent assessment of ATF's planning, training, and 
execution of the search and arrest warrants; 

• input and advice provided by the independent reviewers 
were properly considered by the project team leaders; 
and, 

• the resultant report reflects the body of information 
examined and that any conclusions made by the review 
team are well-founded. 

From the outset of the project, we provided our views and 
comments to the project leadership as we thought would be 
appropriate. We provided the team with an extensive list of 
issues and questions that we felt needed to be examined during 
the course of the administrative investigation. These issues and 
associated questions were included in the team's investigative 
plan. 

Our opinions are based primarily upon a review of information 
contained in memoranda of interview from selected interviews with 
ATF agents involved in the execution of the search warrant; 
memoranda of interview of selected ATF management personnel; and. 



the Texas Rangers' investigation of the murders of four ATF 
agents. In addition, we attended numerous daily team debriefing 
sessions conducted by project leaders discussing the status of 
the administrative teams efforts and the required follow-up that 
should be performed to satisfactorily pursue/resolve issues being 
examined. These briefing sessions provided an excellent 
opportunity to gain insight of the quality of the project 
management and direction and provided a comfort level regarding 
the integrity of the efforts of the administrative review team. 

We also attended the briefings held with the three independent 
reviewers selected to review the team's findings to judge the 
quality of the information being provided for use in their 
assessment of the Treasury's administrative investigation. We 
believe that the information provided to the reviewers was 
accurate, based on information obtained at that time by team 
investigators, and was relevant to the main issues under 
examination. Additionally, we attended the briefings held with 
the tactical experts employed to assist in evaluating ATF's 
tactical operations plan and Special Response Team training. The 
tactical experts' recommendations have adequately been considered 
and the results of their reports have been incorporated in the 
final report. 

With regard to the contents of the administrative review team's 
report, it is our opinion that the report provides an accurate 
account of the events leading up to the ATF's assault of the 
Branch Davidian compound. Furthermore, we believe that any 
conclusions made by the review team have a basis in fact and are 
consistent with the nature of the findings developed. 

During the course of our oversight role, we experienced total 
cooperation on the part of the project leaders and had unlimited 
access to the information and documentation compiled by the 
administrative review team during its investigation. We would 
like to compliment the team for vigorously and aggressively 
pursuing this enormous undertaking in order to determine what 
really happened in Waco, Texas on February 28, 1993. The 
findings and recommendations in this report should be invaluable 
to the law enforcement community as a whole and hopefully will 
serve as a guide for improving how law enforcement approaches the 
new waves of violent behaviors and the groups that perpetuate 
them. 



XI 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



TITLE PAGE i 

MEMO TO THE PRESIDENT iii 

DEDICATION v 

ROSTER vii 

OPINION OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL ix 

TABLE OF CONTENTS xiii 

TABLE OF FIGURES xix 

INTRODUCTION 1 

Project Statement 3 

Other Consultants and Experts 4 

Investigative Plan 6 

Overview 7 

PART ONE 

Section One: The Probable Cause Investigation 17 

Preliminary Information: Initiation of the ATF Investigation of Koresh 

and his Followers 17 

The ATF Investigation and Development of Probable Cause to Arrest Koresh 

and Search Premises Under his Control 25 

Additional Weapons and Explosives Shipments 25 

Compliance Inspection of Henry McMahon 26 

The Sounds of Machinegun Fire and Explosives 26 

Interviews of Former Cult Members 27 
Visits from the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory 

Services 30 

Backgrounds of Compound Residents 3 1 

Reports of ATF Experts 3 1 

The David Block Interview 32 



xui 



The Undercover House and Special Agent Rodriguez 33 

Section Two: The Decisionmaking Process Leading to Forceful Execution of 

Warrants 37 

Consideration of Tactical Options 37 

The December 4, 1992, Meeting 37 

The Late December and Early January Meetings 43 

Interviews with Former Cult Members 44 

Intelligence from the Undercover House 51 

The Decision 53 

Development of the Tactical Plan 54 
Additional Intelligence Gathering, Training, and the Briefing of ATF 

Leadership 64 

Section Three: ATF and the Media Prepare for the Raid 67 

The Waco Tribune-HeralcT s Investigation of David Koresh and Preparation 

of a Series for Publication 67 
ATF Discussions About the Tribune-Herald Investigation and Contacting the 

Media 68 

The February 1, 1993, Meeting With a Tribune-Herald Official 68 

Continued Discussions Between ATF and the Tribune-Herald 69 

The Tribune-Herald Decision to Publish 70 

The February 24 Meeting With the Tribune-Herald 70 

ATF and the Media Prepare for the Raid February 24-27 72 

ATF Raid Preparations: February 24-26 73 

Securing Search and Arrest Warrants 73 

Other Waco Media Learn About the Raid 74 
The Tribune-Herald Notifies ATF of its Decision to Publish on 

Saturday, and ATF Reacts 75 
ATF Notifies the Treasury Department's Office of Enforcement About 

the Raid 75 

Saturday, February 27: Media Preparations 76 

Saturday, February 27: ATF Preparations 78 

xiv 



Section Four: The Assault On The Compound. 81 

ATF Agents Assemble 81 

The Media Sets Out To Cover The Raid 82 

Rodriguez Enters The Compound 88 

Rodriguez Reports 89 

The Raid Goes Forward 91 

Activity In The Compound 92 

The Media Covers The Approach Of The Raid Teams 92 

The Helicopter Diversion 95 

The Raid Team Arrives 96 

The Cease-Fire 101 

Section Five: Post-raid Events 109 

Aftermath of the Shoot-Out on February 28 109 

The Evacuation of Wounded Agents 1 09 

The Media and the Shoot-Out 110 

The Failure to Maintain the Perimeter 110 

A Siege Develops and ATF Obtains Assistance from the FBI 112 

Chaos at the Command Post 112 

Initial Relief 113 

The Decision to Bring in the FBI HRT 113 

Hartnett and Conroy Arrive at the Command Post 1 1 5 

PART TWO 

Section One: The Propriety of Investigating Koresh and Other Cult Members and 

Seeking to Enforce Federal Firearms Laws 119 

ATF Properly Initiated an Investigation of Koresh 119 
Evidence Developed by ATF's Investigation Warranted Application for 

and Issuance of Search and Arrest Warrants 1 22 



XV 



Section Two: Analysis of the Tactical Planning Effort 133 

Introduction 133 
The Decision to Execute the Warrants by "Raiding" the Compound Was 

Made Before Other Options Were Fully Exhausted 134 

The Decision to Use Force When Executing the Warrants 135 
Intelligence Failures and the Failure to Try to Arrest Koresh Off the 
Compound Followed by an Effort to Execute the Search 

Warrants 136 

A Siege With Koresh Present on the Compound 141 

The Decision to Pursue a Raid Option and Develop a Raid Plan 142 

Intelligence Failures 143 

The "Arms Room" 143 

No Guards or Sentries 144 

The Men in the Pit 145 

No Meaningfiil Contingency Planning 148 

Command and Control Flaws in the Raid Plan 152 

The General Command Structure 152 

Command and Control on Raid Day 154 

Section Three: Media Impact on ATF's Branch Davidian Investigation 157 

ATF's Efforts to Delay the Publication of the "Sinful Messiah" Series 157 

Media Activity Raid Day 161 

Section Four: The Flawed Decision to Go Forward With the Raid 165 

ATF Decisionmakers Understood in Advance that the Raid Had Likely Been 

Compromised 166 

The Lack of a Control Agent 167 

Other Intelligence that Could Have Confirmed Rodriguez's Report that 

Koresh Knew ATF Was Coming 168 

Decisionmakers Failed to Realize Unacceptable Risk of Proceeding Without 

Surprise 1 70 

Handling the Momentum of the Raid 173 

xvi 



Section Five: Treasury Department Oversight 177 

ATF Notifies Treasury of Impending Operation 1 77 

Discussion 1 80 

Section Six: Operations Security 185 

The Investigation 186 

The Undercover Operation 186 

Pre-raid Logistics 188 

The Raid 189 

Conclusion 190 

Section Seven: ATF Post-raid Dissemination of Misleading Information About the 

Raid and the Raid Plan 193 

ATF Management's Misleading Post-raid Statements 193 

The Shooting Review Team 194 

Shooting Review Team's Interview of Rodriguez 195 

Shooting Review Team's interview of Mastin 195 

Shooting Review Team's Report to Hartnett and Conroy 196 

Shooting Review Team's Interview of Sarabyn 196 

Shooting Review Team's Interview of Cavanaugh 196 

Shooting Review Team's Interview of Porter 197 

Shooting Review Team's Interview of Chojnacki 197 

Hartnett, Conroy and Troy knew surprise was lost 197 

ATF's Media Statements After the Shooting Review 198 

The Texas Rangers' Reports 200 

The Late March and Early April ATF Statements 202 

The Significance Of ATF's Misleading Statements 205 

The Alteration of ATF's Written Raid Plan 207 

The Drafting of the Raid Plan 207 

The Alteration of the Raid Plan 208 

Inquiries into the Alteration of the Raid Plan 209 



xvii 



Section Eight: National Guard Support 211 

Introduction 2 1 1 

ATF's Initial Contact with the Military 211 

ATF's Specific Requests for National Guard Support 213 

Analysis 213 

CONCLUSION 215 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 217 

APPENDICES 

APPENDIX A: Letter of Assurance of Chief Willie Williams 

APPENDIX B: Expert Reports 

APPENDIX C: Operations Plans 

APPENDIX D: Chronology of Events 

APPENDIX E: ATF Advisory to the Office of Enforcement 

APPENDIX F: Waco Administrative Review Mission Charter 

APPENDIX G: A Brief History of Federal Firearms Enforcement 



xviu 



TABLE OF FIGURES 



Figure 


One 


Figure 


Two 


Figure 


Three 


Figure 


Four 


Figure 


Five 


Figure 


Six 


Figure 


Seven 


Figure 


Eight 


Figure 


Nine 


Figure 


Ten 


Figure 


Eleven 


Figure 


Twelve 


Figure 


Thirteen 


Figure 


Fourteen 


Figure 


Fifteen 


Figure 


Sixteen 


Figure 


Seventeen 


Figure 


Eighteen 


Figure 


Nineteen 


Figure 


Twenty 


Figure 


Twenty-One 


Figure Twenty-Two 


Figure 


Twenty-Three 


Figure 


Twenty-Four 


Figure 


Twenty-Five 


Figure Twenty-Six 


Figure 


Twenty-Seven 


Figure 


Twenty-Eight 


Figure 


Twenty-Nine 



Map depicting location of Compound and Mag Bag. 
Photograph of buried school bus used as firing range and bunker. 
Photograph of David Koresh and other Branch Davidians before 
Roden shoot-out. 

Photograph of Ammunition seized from Koresh after Roden shoot- 
out. 

Photograph of Mag Bag taken after execution of search warrant. 
Photograph of AK-47 assault rifle. 
Photograph of M-16 assault rifle. 
Photograph of .50-caliber rifle. 
Photograph of typical "pineapple" type grenades. 
Illustration depicting undercover house. Compound, and hay bam. 
Photograph of main Compound Building (front side.) 
Photograph of rear of Compound. 

Photograph of Mt. Carmel houses before construction of Compound. 
Photograph of Mt. Carmel after construction of Compound before 
demolition of houses. 
Diagram of Compound's first level. 
Diagram of Compound's second level. 
Diagram of Compound's third and fourth levels. 
Photograph of Compound designating pit. 
Photograph of undercover house. 
Aerial photograph of command post at TSTC. 
Aerial photograph of Bellmead Civic Center, (staging area). 
Side view of cattle trailer. 
Rear view of cattle trailer. 

Photograph indicating planned deployment for SRTs. 
Diagram of communications network used for the raid. 
Organizational chart of national response plan. 
Map depicting staging area, Mag Bag, Compound and road blocks. 
Map depicting location of media vehicles. 
Photograph of Kalashnikov rifle taken after April 19, 1993. 



xix 



Figure Thirty 

Figure Thirty-One 
Figure Thirty-Two 

Figure Thirty-Three 

Figure Thirty-Four 

Figure Thirty-Five 

Figure Thirty-Six 
Figure Thirty- Seven 
Figure Thirty-Eight 
Figure Thirty-Nine 
Figure Forty 



Photograph of load-bearing ammunition vests, magazines, and 

miHtary helmet taken after April 19, 1993. 

Photograph of Compound taken after February 28, 1993. 

Photograph of Compound designating location of wounded agent 

Kenny King. 

Gunshot related deaths and injuries sustained by ATF on February 

28, 1993. 

Non-gunshot related injuries sustained by ATF on February 28, 

1993. 

Deaths and injuries sustained by cult members on February 28, 

1993. 

Photograph of "pineapple" type grenade casings. 

Photograph of arms bunker with arsenal of assorted weapons. 

Photograph of remains of assault rifle. 

Photograph of remains of assault rifle. 

Diagram depicting Rodriguez's undercover contacts with the 

Compound. 



XX 



INTRODUCTION 



On February 28, 1993, near Waco, Texas, four agents from the Treasury 
Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) were killed, and more than 
20 other agents were wounded when David Koresh' and members of his religious cult, the 
Branch Davidian," ambushed a force of 76 ATF agents. The ATF agents were attempting 
to execute lawful search and arrest warrants at Mount Carmel, the Branch Davidian 
Compound. Tipped off that the agents were coming, Koresh and more than 100 of his 
followers waited inside the Compound and opened fire using assault weapons before the 
agents even reached the door. This gunfire continued until the Branch Davidians agreed to a 
cease-fire. The ensuing standoff lasted 51 days, ending on April 19, when the Compound 
erupted in fire set by cult members after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) used tear 
gas to force its occupants to leave. The fire destroyed the Compound, and more than 70 
residents died, many from gunshot wounds apparently inflicted by fellow cult members. 

In the wake of the tragic events of February 28 and April 19, the Executive Branch, 
Congress, the media, and the general public raised serious questions about ATF and FBI 
actions at the Compound. President Clinton promptly directed the Department of the 
Treasury and the Department of Justice, which are responsible for ATF and the FBI, 



' Bom Vernon Wayne Howell on August 17, 1959, Koresh formally changed his name in 1990. 
According to his court petition, Koresh changed his name because he was an entertainer, and wished to use 
the name for publicity and business purposes. 

^ The Branch Davidian movement was started by a number of Seventh Day Adventists who believed 
strongly in the prophecies of the book of Revelation. David Koresh, then named Vernon Wayne Howell, took 
over leadership of the group in 1987. The Compound residents were extremely devoted to Koresh, and many 
apparently believed that he was the lamb of God. In the course of this report, the Review has used the term 
"cuh" to refer to Koresh and his followers. The term is not intended and should not be taken as a reference 
to the Branch Davidian movement generally. The Review is quite aware that "cult" has pejorative 
connotations, and that outsiders — particularly those in the government — should avoid casting aspersions on 
those whose religious beliefs are different from their own. The definition of cuh in Webster 's Third New 
International Dictionary (unabridged) includes: "a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, 
idea or thing" and "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious." In light of the evidence of the conduct of 
Koresh and his followers set out in this report, the Review finds "cult" to be an apt characterization. 

1 



respectively, to conduct "vigorous and thorough" investigations of the events leading to the 
loss of law enforcement and civilian lives. The President's directive resulted in three 
separate yet coordinated inquiries. 

On April 29, Secretary of the Treasury Lloyd Bentsen asked Ronald K. Noble, who 
was then designated to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement, to focus on 
ATF's involvement in the case, from the initiation of its investigation of Koresh and his 
followers through its unsuccessful effort to execute search and arrest warrants on February 
28. At the same time. Attorney General Janet Reno directed Philip B. Heymann, who was 
then designated to be Deputy Attorney General,^ to review FBI involvement in the siege of 
the Compound from early March, when the FBI Hostage Rescue Team took over the law 
enforcement effort there, through April 19, when the Compound burned. Secretary Bentsen 
and Attorney General Reno also directed Heymann and Noble to conduct the third inquiry, 
a joint assessment of federal law enforcement's capacity to handle such dangerous 
situations as were presented when ATF tried to enforce federal firearms laws at the 
Compound and when the Branch Davidians refused to surrender after February 28. 

All three inquiries were undertaken in a maimer designed not to interfere with 
ongoing criminal investigations and prosecutions resulting from the cult members' conduct. 
As of September 1993, 12 Compound residents have been indicted on charges including 
conspiracy to murder federal officers and possessing firearms during a violent crime. Some 
face additional charges including unlawful possession of machineguns and conspiracy to 
possess unregistered destructive devices. On September 9, one defendant pleaded guilty to 
impeding and interfering with the lawful execution of the search warrant by use of a deadly 
weapon. 

Charged by Secretary Bentsen to examine "whether ATF's procedures, policies, and 
practices were adequate and whether they were followed," Assistant Secretary Noble 
promised that "no stone would be left unturned in finding out what happened and why." To 
assure that the Waco Administrative Review, conducted by the Treasury Department, would 
fulfill its promise of objectivity and comprehensiveness. Secretary Bentsen selected three 
prominent individuals with extensive expertise in law enforcement and experience in media 
relations to guide the Review's investigation and report to the public on its findings: 



' Both Noble and Heymann have since been confirmed by the Senate. 

2 



• Edwin O. Guthman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a professor of 
journalism at the University of Southern California, is the former national editor 
of The Los Angeles Times and former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He also 
served as press secretary to Robert F. Kennedy when Kennedy was Attorney 
General and when he was a member of the Senate; 

• Henry S. Ruth, Jr. is an attorney who served in the Department of Justice for 
more than 1 5 years and who was later chief Watergate prosecutor. Ruth has 
served on many commissions, including the Special Investigative Commission that 
examined law enforcement actions in connection with MOVE in Philadelphia; 

• Willie L. Williams, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department since 1991, is a 
career law enforcement official who, after joining the Philadelphia Police 
Department in 1964, rose through its ranks to become Commissioner in 1988. 

Each of these distinguished reviewers generously agreed to serve without pay, and 
each will provide a written assessment of the Review's investigation to the Secretary of the 
Treasury."* 

Project Statement 

The mission of the Treasury Department Office of Enforcement was to conduct a 
comprehensive inquiry into the ATF operation, from the initiation of its investigation of 
Koresh's activities through the raid at the Branch Davidian Compound on February 28 and 
its aftermath. Under the overall supervision of Assistant Secretary Noble, a team of 
attorneys and law enforcement agents conducted interviews, obtained primary source 
materials and exhibits, viewed the Compound and other key sites near Waco, and analyzed 
the materials and information gathered. Based on this investigation, including credibility 
assessments and circumstantial evidence, the Review made factual determinations and 
analyzed those facts. Assistant Secretary Noble provided final oversight of the report before 
its submission to Secretary Bentsen. 

The Review's day-to-day operations were supervised by the project director, H. 
Geoffrey Moulton, Jr., Associate Professor at Widener University School of Law in 
Delaware, and the assistant project directors, Lewis C. Merletti, Deputy Assistant Director 



'' Chief Williams' assessment has been received and is included in Appendix A. 

3 



of the U.S. Secret Service, and David L. Douglass, an attorney on leave from Wiley, Rein 
& Fielding in Washington, D.C. The Review's investigators included 17 senior agents from 
the Secret Service, the Customs Service, the Internal Revenue Service (both the Criminal 
Investigation Division and the Internal Security Division), and the Financial Crimes 
Enforcement Network. These agents, whose names and bureau affiliations are listed at the 
front of this report, brought to the Review an extraordinary range of investigative and 
tactical experience from law enforcement and the military. Their collective expertise 
enabled the Review to conduct a comprehensive examination of ATF's investigation of 
Koresh. 

In addition, the Review was assisted by a computer expert from the Federal Law 
Enforcement Training Center, an intelligence research specialist from the Customs Service, 
and clerical support from several Treasury agencies. These agents and other personnel were 
detailed to the Review full-time. Four other attorneys were also assigned to the Review: 
two from Treasury's Office of General Counsel, another detailed to Treasury from the 
Interagency Council on the Homeless, and one who had recently completed a federal 
district court clerkship. 

The investigative team maintained offices at the Department of the Treasury's main 
building. Access to these offices, the Review's computers, and records compiled by the 
Review was restricted to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the investigation. 

Other Consultants and Experts 

The Review sought technical assistance from several specialists with experience in 
law enforcement and military operations. For their expertise in tactical command and 
control, intelligence gathering, and crisis decisionmaking issues, the Review consulted the 
following: 

• Commander George Morrison, a 37-year veteran with the Los Angeles 
Police Department, with extensive experience planning and executing 
tactical operations; 

• Deputy Chief John Murphy and Lieutenant Robert Sobocienski from the 
New York City Police Department, the commanding officer and a 
leading line officer in the department's Special Operations Division, 
respectively; 



• Captain John Kolman, retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, 
who piarmed and carried out numerous tactical operations in his 23 years with the 
department and is a founder and director of the National Tactical Officers 
Association. 

• Colonel Rod Paschall, a retired commander of the U.S. Army First Special Forces 
Group — Delta (Delta Force) and now affiliated with the Office of International 
Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and 

• Wade Ishimoto, a retired Delta Force intelligence officer, who is currently a 
manager of Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Each of the tactical experts also generously agreed to serve without pay. Each 
provided the Review with an independent assessment of ATF's operation within their field 
of expertise. These assessments can be found in Appendix B. The experts had access to all 
data collected by the investigative team and were free either to request that additional 
inquiries be pursued or to pursue them on their own. 

The Review also received assistance from two weapons experts, William C. Davis, 
Jr., and Charles R. Fagg, and two explosives experts. Captain Joseph Kennedy, a retired 
Navy officer, and Paul Cooper. Davis, a registered professional engineer retired from the 
government, has more than 50 years of federal government and private experience 
analyzing and designing weapons. Fagg, a mechanical engineer, has more than 30 years of 
experience analyzing and designing weapons for the federal government and private 
industry. Kennedy is the former commander of the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordinance 
Disposal Technology Center in Indian Head, Maryland. Cooper, an explosives expert with 
Sandia National Laboratories, is well known for his work in the investigation of the 
battleship New Jersey explosion and the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. 

The weapons and explosives experts also served without pay and provided the 
Review with written reports answering specific questions about whether the materials ATF 
investigators determined to have been delivered to Koresh and his followers constituted 
explosives or illegal firearms or whether they are commonly used to produce such items. 
These reports are also contained in Appendix B. 



Treasury Offices of General Counsel and Inspector General 

Treasury Department General Counsel Jean Hanson and Assistant General Counsel 
Robert M. McNamara served as counsel to the Review. The Office of General Counsel 
secured employment contracts, ensured that the Review complied with the Privacy Act, and 
the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and provided legal opinions when appropriate during 
the course of the investigation. The Treasury's Office of Inspector General monitored the 
Review to ensure that the project plan was complete and implemented properly and that all 
relevant facts were fully considered and included in this report. In a memorandum to 
Secretary Bentsen, the Office of Inspector General has concluded that the Review 
"vigorously and thoroughly examined all significant information surrounding the events 
leading to ATF's execution of the search warrant at the Branch Davidian Compound" and 
that "the report provides an accurate account of these events." 

Investigative Plan 

Even before the Review formally began, the Treasury Department Office of 
Enforcement directed ATF to gather and provide all information available concerning raid 
planning and execution. 

The process continued throughout the review period, as additional materials were 
requested and provided to the Review. The Review team also began interviewing ATF 
agents. Because of allegations that statements by ATF management about the raid did not 
accurately reflect the understanding of those on the scene, the Review started by 
interviewing line agents who had been involved in the investigation of the case and the 
planning and execution of the raid. Before conducting any interviews, peer support 
counselors briefed the investigative team concerning the reactions they could expect from 
agents who had lived through the extraordinary trauma of the raid and murders on 
February 28. Subsequent interviews followed the chain of command, from assistant special 
agents in charge and special agents in charge, through the ATF director and Treasury Office 
of Enforcement personnel. 

In all, 508 individuals were interviewed between May 17 and the publication of this 
report. Most interviews were conducted in person, with many lasting more than a full day. 
As the Review progressed and new facts emerged, agents and attorneys often conducted 
follow-up interviews. 



Throughout its inquiry, the Review took pains to avoid interfering with ongoing 
investigations and prosecutions being conducted by the Department of Justice into criminal 
violations by Branch Davidians. The Texas Rangers, deputized as U.S. Marshals for the 
criminal investigation and prosecution, gave the Review access to their reports, and the 
Waco U.S. Attorney's Office granted Review investigators access to investigatory materials 
not restricted by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e). Their willingness to share 
information with the Review was predicated on their trust that the Review would exercise 
appropriate judgment in determining what information to make public in light of those 
sensitive investigations and prosecutions. 

Overview 

First and foremost, the Review's goal was to learn what happened near Waco and to 
tell the story. The Review tried to explain why the February 28 raid ended in tragedy. In 
the course of that effort, the investigation confirmed that the rank and file agents of ATF 
who were sent to enforce federal firearms and explosives laws at the Branch Davidian 
Compound did their best to perform their assigned tasks and showed dedication and often 
spectacular courage in the face of murderous gunfire. Unfortunately, the investigation also 
found disturbing evidence of flawed decisionmaking, inadequate intelligence gathering, 
miscommunication, supervisory failures, and deliberately misleading post-raid statements 
about the raid and the raid plan by certain ATF supervisors. Inevitably, the Review's 
discussion of what went wrong in the operation must refer to certain individuals by name, 
but the Review sought not to accuse but to explain. This explanation contains lessons that 
can strengthen the ability of the law enforcement community to deal with similar situations, 
which unfortunately can be expected to occur. 

Pairt One of this report is a narrative account of the events leading up to and through 
the raid on February 28. The narrative is divided into five sections, each devoted to one of 
the major components of the story. Part Two presents the Review's analysis of critical 
aspects of the events addressed in Part One. An overview of the report structure and content 
follows. 



Part One— The Facts 

Section One: The Probable Cause Investigation 

Part One, Section One summarizes the ATF investigation of David Koresh and his 
followers to determine whether there was probable cause to believe that federal firearms 
laws had been violated. The investigation began when a McLennan County sheriffs deputy 
asked ATF to look into suspicious United Parcel Service (UPS) deliveries to Koresh and 
the Branch Davidians. After determining that many such deliveries had been made to the 
Compound, that the packages contained materials commonly used to manufacture grenades 
unlawfully, and that Koresh had a violent past, Special Agent Davy Aguilera opened a 
formal investigation. 

Section One describes Aguilera' s painstaking effort to piece together evidence of 
Koresh' s accumulation of a formidable arsenal of firearms, including many illegal 
machineguns and other unlawful destructive devices. Aguilera gathered evidence from many 
sources, such as records of previous deliveries to Koresh and interviews with a broad range 
of people, including local law enforcement officers and former cult members. The evidence 
that Koresh posted guards at the Compound, trained followers to fire the weapons, and 
believed he would have a violent confrontation with law enforcement indicated strongly that 
Koresh was prepared to use the arsenal he was amassing. Aguilera learned other 
disconcerting information about Koresh, including his propensity toward violence and 
violent rhetoric, his sexual conduct with minors, and his control over the lives and minds of 
his followers. 

Eventually, ATF agents established an undercover house near the Compound, met 
with Koresh, and corroborated some of the evidence Aguilera had obtained. These contacts 
with Koresh only confirmed the reports about Koresh' s violent nature and his hatred for 
law enforcement. 

Section Two: The Decisionmaking Process Leading to Forceful Execution of Warrants 

Part One, Section Two describes ATF's effort to develop a tactical plan to execute a 
search warrant at the Compound. By fall 1992, ATF's investigation had uncovered 
sufficient evidence of federal firearms violations to meet the threshold probable cause 
requirements for a warrant to search the Compound. Anticipating having to apply for 
warrants and recognizing that executing warrants at the Compound safely would pose a 

8 



substantial challenge, Aguilera's supervisor. Assistant Special Agent in Charge (AS AC) 
Chuck Sarabyn of the ATF Houston office, organized a team of tactical planners. The team 
consisted of several experienced leaders of ATF Special Response Teams (SRTs), all of 
whom specialized in dynamic, high-risk entries to execute warrants, but only one of whom 
had participated previously in a tactical operation comparable to the one being contemplated 
for the heavily armed, fortresslike Compound. 

As Section Two sets forth, the planners concluded that their principal options for 
executing warrants in the face of resistance were either by a siege, which would establish 
an armed perimeter around the Compound until its residents surrendered, or a raid, a 
dynamic entry relying on the element of surprise. Although the plaimers considered trying 
to lure Koresh away from the Compound, they abandoned the idea quickly because of 
intelligence reports that Koresh rarely ventured off Compound grounds. The planners 
rejected a siege because of the physical attributes of the Compound, because of a fear of 
mass suicide, and because former cult members reported that Koresh had enough food, 
water, and other resources to withstand a lengthy siege. The planners decided to conduct a 
raid and developed a tactical plan that hinged on separating the Compound's men from the 
weapons. 

The section then describes how ATF's plan was formulated, the intelligence on 
which the plarmers relied, and how the weaknesses of the intelligence went unrecognized. It 
explains how the plan that ATF developed contained critical flaws. 

Section Three: ATF and the Media Prepare for the Raid 

Section Three describes how media interest in the Branch Davidian Compound came 
to hamper ATF's raid planners and commanders. The Waco Tribune-Herald began 
investigating Koresh in April 1992. In October 1992, ATF learned of the Tribune-Herald 
newspaper's investigation. By January 1993, reporters had completed drafting the 
newspaper's "Sinful Messiah" series, which contained startling revelations about the Branch 
Davidians' life-style and possession of dangerous weapons. 

In January, the raid planners decided to ask the paper to delay publishing the series 
to ensure the safety of undercover agents and the integrity of the investigation. ATF held 
two meetings with newspaper representatives in February 1993 and disclosed potential dates 
for the operation and training. The Tribune-Herald did not agree to withhold publishing its 
series. 



The week before the raid, ATF agents made final raid preparations and the Tribune- 
Herald prepared to pubUsh its "Sinful Messiah" series. ATF teams assembled for three days 
of training at Fort Hood. In addition, ATF opened a command center at Texas State 
Technical College (TSTC) near Waco and finalized support services with local suppliers 
and law enforcement. During this time, the Tribune-Herald contacted Koresh to get his 
reaction to its series of articles and implemented new security procedures. 

On Wednesday, February 24, ATF rescheduled its raid from Monday, March 1 to 
Sunday, February 28, because it expected the Tribune-Herald to publish its "Sinful 
Messiah" series on Sunday. However, on Friday afternoon, Tribune-Herald officials notified 
ATF that the series would begin on Saturday morning. The raid planners did not alter their 
plan, except to have an undercover agent visit the Compound to gauge Koresh' s reaction to 
the first article. Later that Friday, raid planners learned from ATF headquarters in 
Washington that Treasury officials had directed that the raid not go forward. By Friday 
evening, however. Treasury officials permitted the operation to proceed after ATF Director 
Stephen Higgins addressed Treasury's concerns that the operation could be executed safely, 
and assured that those directing the raid were under express orders to cancel the operation 
if they learned that its secrecy had been compromised or if those in the Compound had 
departed from their established routine in any significant way. On Saturday evening, the 
undercover agent was directed to visit the Compound on Sunday to make sure that the 
Branch Davidian routine immediately before the raid was normal. 

Meanwhile, the Tribune-Herald and KWTX, a local television station, learned that 
ATF was about to raid the Compound. The newspaper, which already knew from its 
negotiations with ATF that the agency was contemplating a major operation, received a tip 
as to the precise timing of the raid. KWTX received similar information from a dispatcher 
with the ambulance service ATF had contracted. By Saturday evening, eight Tribune- 
Herald reporters and three KWTX employees were assigned to be in the Compound area to 
cover what they believed would be a large ATF operation and a significant local news 
story. 

Section Four: The Assault on the Compound 

Section Four recounts the events on the day of the raid. The teams were deployed 
early that morning: the incident commander, the tactical coordinator and other agents 
gathered at the command post; the deputy tactical commander, forward observer teams and 



10 



undercover agents were positioned in the undercover house across from the Compound; and 
the entry teams assembled at a pre-selected staging area in nearby Bellmead. 

At approximately 8 a.m., under the pretext of asking Koresh about the "Sinful 
Messiah" series, the undercover agent went to the Compound to assess whether the article 
had incited Koresh to order his followers to take up arms. When the agent arrived, Koresh 
invited him to join a Bible study session. It appeared that the article had not caused the cult 
to arm itself. However, unknown to ATF, a KWTX cameraman sent to cover the expected 
raid became lost on roads near the Compound. A letter carrier, who the cameraman did not 
realize was one of Koresh' s followers, stopped and asked if he needed directions. In the 
course of their conversation, the cameraman told the letter carrier about the impending raid. 
The letter carrier went directly to Koresh, called him away from the undercover agent and 
warned him. 

The undercover agent did not hear the warning but Koresh returned to the room 
upset and shaking. Koresh stated words to the effect that the ATF and the National Guard 
were coming. Concerned for his safety, the undercover agent immediately left the 
Compound and reported what had happened to the tactical coordinator, who in turn related 
it to the incident commander. Failing to appreciate the significance of the undercover 
agent's report, they ordered the raid to proceed. 

The entry teams, concealed in cattle trailers, arrived at the Compound more than 40 
minutes after Koresh had received the tip. Koresh used that time to prepare a deadly 
ambush. As the agents exited the trailers, gunfire erupted from the Compound and cult 
members threw homemade handgrenades at the agents. In the face of overwhelming 
firepower the agents displayed extraordinary discipline and courage. The gun battle was 
waged for almost 90 minutes before a cease-fire could be arranged and the agents were able 
to withdraw from the Compound. 

Section Five: Post-raid Events 

Section Five describes the hours immediately following the failed raid and recounts 
ATF's struggle to restore order to its law enforcement effort. ATF evacuated its wounded 
and dead agents and withdrew from vulnerable positions around the Compound. But ATF 
failed to maintain a secure perimeter around the Compound immediately after the shoot-out, 
which resulted in a deadly confrontation away from the Compound between ATF agents 
and cult members. 

11 



Section Five also explains how ATF's command post deteriorated into near chaos 
after the raid. Still, various agents made efforts to restore order and accomplish urgent 
tasks, including negotiating with the cult members to continue the cease-fire and release 
some children. ATE headquarters personnel arrived at the command post and attempted to 
restore order and reestablish a secure perimeter around the Compound. As additional ATF 
Special Response Teams provided immediate relief for their embattled colleagues, ATF 
asked the FBI Hostage Rescue Team for assistance. The Hostage Rescue Team was 
mobilized and control of the operation shifted from ATF to the FBI. 

Finally, the section reviews how ATF attempted to provide support and counseling 
for raid participants in the days following the failed raid, and how the media descended on 
Waco to cover what became an international story. 



Part Two — Analysis 

Section One: The Propriety of Investigating Koresh and Other Cult Members and 
Seeking to Enforce Federal Firearms Laws 

Part Two, Section One, considers whether ATF properly initiated an investigation of 
Koresh for suspected violations of federal firearms laws and whether the investigation 
established probable cause to search the Compound for evidence of such crimes. Based on a 
review of the evidence, the section concludes that ATF focused properly on Koresh after 
receiving complaints from local law enforcement officials. Similarly, after reviewing 
evidence of firearms violations unearthed by the ATF investigation, including Koresh' s 
purchases of weapons and accounts that he was manufacturing weapons illegally on the 
Compound, the section determines that ATF had a firm basis for searching the Compound 
and arresting Koresh. 

The section also reviews allegations that ATF targeted Koresh because of his 
religious beliefs and sexual conduct with minors and finds the allegations lacking in merit. 
The section concludes that ATF focused properly on Koresh because of his propensity 
toward violence and his ability to control his followers. 



12 



Section Two: Analysis of the Tactical Planning Effort 

Part Two, Section Two analyzes ATF's tactical planning effort, from the 
decisionmaking process that led to the choice of a dynamic entry to the development of the 
raid plan itself As this section explains, most of the Review's tactical experts agree that the 
plan had a reasonable chance of success if all of the planners' major assumptions had been 
correct. If the men in the Compound were working in the pit, separated from the weapons 
reportedly locked away in the "arms room," and if ATF agents could drive up to the 
Compound without its residents knowing of the operation until it was too late to offer 
effective resistance, the warrants might well have been executed without loss of life. But 
the caveat here is crucial, for significant deficiencies in the tactical intelligence gathering 
structure, most notably the lack of an agent dedicated to intelligence processing and 
analysis, resulted in a plan that was based on seriously flawed assumptions. 

The problems here lie as much in the planning process as in the plan itself Not only 
were the planners too quick to conclude that a massive mid-morning raid was the best 
possible enforcement option, but they chose a plan whose window of opportunity was much 
smaller than they realized. The planners also failed to prepare for contingencies that would 
arise if that window were missed. Against a target as formidable as Koresh, such errors 
exposed ATF to grievous consequences. 

Responsibility for these flaws cannot simply be placed at the feet of those who did 
the actual planning. Those charged with this mission devoted considerable time and energy 
to devising a safe and successful operation. They lacked, however, the training, experience, 
and institutional support necessary for the extraordinary operation they were planning, an 
operation which was qualitatively as well as quantitatively different from the many smaller 
enforcement actions each had led successfully in the past. ATF's management never 
addressed these deficiencies by giving the planners a supportive structure to supplement 
their own experiences. In addition, ATF's upper management did not actively oversee the 
development of the tactical plan, even though it involved the mobilization of more than 100 
agents — the largest law enforcement effort ever mounted by ATF and one of the largest in 
the history of civilian law enforcement. 



13 



Section Three: Media Impact on ATF's Investigation 

Part Two, Section Three analyzes the interaction between ATF and the media before 
and during ATF's raid on the Branch Davidian Compound. The interest of the media in 
covering suspected criminal conduct and official responses to it will frequently be at odds 
with law enforcement's desire to have the advantage of surprise in its activities. Here those 
interests clashed first before the raid, when ATF was unable to persuade the Waco Tribune- 
Herald to delay publication of its series. Given the substance of ATF's arguments for delay, 
the Tribune-Heralds decision to go forward with the series is understandable. But had the 
negotiations been entrusted to those in ATF with more expertise in media relations, an 
arrangement that would have been more suitable to ATF and the Tribune-Herald might 
have been made. 

On the day of the raid itself, media activity in the vicinity of the Branch Davidian 
Compound tipped off Koresh, allowing him to lay his ambush for ATF agents. KWTX and 
the Tribune-Herald roamed the roads in the vicinity of the Compound for more than an 
hour before the raid. A cameraman for KWTX told a local letter carrier, whom 
unbeknownst to him was a cult member, that a raid was imminent. The cult member in turn 
told Koresh, who then prepared his ambush. 

Section Four: The Flawed Decision to Go Forward with the Raid 

Part Two, Section Four addresses why ATF's raid commanders proceeded with the 
raid even though they should have realized that the raid had been compromised. The 
decision to proceed was tragically wrong, not just in retrospect, but based on what the 
decisionmakers knew at the time. It is now clear that those decisionmakers had sufficient 
information from the undercover agent to conclude that the raid had been compromised. 
They learned that Koresh had proclaimed that neither ATF nor the National Guard would 
ever get him, and that he had said "They're coming ... the time has come. They're 
coming." In addition, the undercover agent told two of the raid commanders that Koresh 
"knows we're coming." Moreover, the actions and statements of certain raid commanders 
after hearing the undercover agent's report strongly suggest that they not only had reason to 
believe, but in fact did believe, that the raid had been compromised. Unfortunately, their 
response was to hurry up, rather than consult further with the undercover agent, case agent, 
surveillance agents and raid planners, and carefully assess the likely effect of the tip not 
only on Koresh but also on the prospects for the raid's success. 



14 



Section Four concludes, however, that the flawed decision to go forward was not 
simply a matter of bad judgment by the raid-day decisionmakers. It was, as well, the 
product of serious deficiencies in the intelligence gathering and processing structure, poor 
planning and personnel decisions, and a general failure of ATF management to check the 
momentum of the massive operation. 

Section Five: Operational Security 

Part Two, Section Five examines ATF's security practices from the beginning of the 
investigation through the day of the raid. It discredits certain reports that surfaced shortly 
after the raid claiming it had been compromised because ATF failed to maintain adequate 
security measures. Some actions undertaken by ATF, however, failed to preserve the 
secrecy of their investigation and the timing of the raid. The section examines the security 
issues and recommends that ATF improve its security practices. 

Section Six: Treasury Oversight 

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement has oversight responsibility 
for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms. Although ATF's planned raid on the 
Branch Davidian Compound had been under consideration for months, the Office of 
Enforcement was not advised of the planned raid until fewer than 48 hours before it was to 
begin. Although the Office of Enforcement's approval was not sought, concerns about the 
action caused that office to direct that the raid not go forward. ATF then provided 
assurances that the raid was necessary, carefully plarmed and designed to minimize the risks 
to all involved. Based on these assurances the raid was permitted to proceed. 

The Office of Enforcement had no regulation or guideline in place at the time of the 
raid that required ATF to notify it; instead, it relied on the discretion and judgment of 
ATF's bureau head. The responsibility for ATF's failure to notify the office until fewer 
than 48 hours before the raid rests with both ATF and the Office of Enforcement. Given 
how late in the process the office was notified, there was little opportunity for meaningful 
review or evaluation of ATF's planned operation. The office has instituted new guidelines 
and regular meetings with enforcement bureau heads to ensure early notification of 
significant operations that will permit meaningful oversight and review. 



15 



Section Seven: ATF Post- raid Dissemination of Misleading Information about the Raid 
and the Raid Plan 

This section describes how in the wake of the tragedy on February 28, the raid 
commanders and their superiors in the ATF hierarchy endeavored to answer the call for 
explanations. Although they had access to the facts, critical aspects of the information that 
they provided to the public were misleading or wrong. In particular, two of the principal 
raid commanders appear to have engaged in a concerted effort to conceal their errors in 
judgment. Their conduct had the effect of wrongfully pointing the finger at a line agent as 
being responsible for the failed raid. And ATF's top management, perhaps out of a 
misplaced desire to protect the agency from criticism, offered accounts based on those raid 
commanders' statements, disregarding evidence that those statements were false. The 
section also examines the role two of the raid commanders played in the misleading 
alteration of the written raid plan after the raid had failed, and their failure to be candid 
with the Review when questioned about their role in altering the plan. 

Section Eight: National Guard Support 

In the aftermath of the raid, questions were raised about the method by which ATF 
secured the use of National Guard helicopters. Specifically, ATF was accused of misleading 
the National Guard by falsely representing that evidence of illegal drug activity would be 
found at the Compound. This section describes how law enforcement agencies can obtain 
support from the National Guard and how ATF obtained the use of the National Guard 
helicopters in the operation. The section concludes that, although the standards governing 
what constitutes a sufficient "drug nexus" to obtain National Guard support need 
clarification, ATF did not mislead the National Guard or misrepresent the facts concerning 
the nexus between the proposed raid and evidence of drug violations. 



16 



Part One 

Section One: The Probable Cause Investigation 



Preliminary Information: Initiation of the ATF Investigation of Koresh 
and his Followers 

In late May 1 992, Chief Deputy Sheriff Daniel Weyenberg of the McLennan County 
Sheriffs Department informed the Austin, Texas, ATF office that suspicious United Parcel 
Service (UPS) deliveries had been received by certain persons residing at the Compound, 
known as Mount Carmel. The Compound is located a few miles from Waco, which is in 
McLennan County. Several shipments of firearms worth more than $10,000, inert grenade 
casings, and a substantial quantity of black powder^ an explosive, had been delivered to a 
metal building, known as the Mag Bag, used by Compound residents several miles from the 
Compound. (See Figure 1.) Because the residents of the Compound were constructing what 
appeared to be a barracks-type cinder-block structure, had buried a school bus to serve as 
both a firing range and a bunker (see Figure 2), and apparently were stockpiling arms and 
other weapons. Deputy Weyenberg asked ATF to investigate. 

Special Agent Davy Aguilera of the Austin ATF office immediately began to make 
inquiries, with the encouragement of Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston. On June 4, 
Aguilera debriefed Lieutenant Gene Barber of the sheriffs department about the 
Compound, and Barber told Aguilera that the sheriffs department had referred the same 
matter previously to the Waco office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 



* Black powder is an explosive under the federal explosive laws in 18 U.S.C. Chapter 40. See 18 U.S.C. 
§§841(d) and 844(j). Black powder in quantities of fifty pounds or less intended to be used solely for 
sporting, recreational or cultural purposes in antique firearms is generally exempt from the regulatory 
provisions of Chapter 40. See 18 U.S.C. §845(a)(5). Black powder, however, is not exempt from the criminal 
misuse provisions of 18 U.S.C. §844. Black powder can be combined with aluminum or magnesium powder, 
items that were delivered to the Compound, to create an enhanced explosive effect. In addition, when black 
powder is confined in a metal case or container, particularly when it is combined with aluminum or 
magnesium powder, it can explode violently when detonated, bursting or fragmenting the casing and 
producing high-velocity fragments. 

17 




Figure 1 : Location of Compound and Mag Bag 



18 




Figure 2: Buried school bus used as firing range and bunker (photographed after April 19, 
1993 fire). 



Although the FBI had formally opened a case, an agent from that office told Aguilera that 
the FBI was not actively pursuing any investigation. 

Barber provided Aguilera with a detailed account of Koresh's alleged attempt to kill 
George Roden, the Branch Davidian leader whose parents established the Compound in 
1959, and how Koresh seized control of the Compound and the Branch Davidians from 
Roden in 1987. (See Figure 3.) In support of that account. Barber gave Aguilera an 
"incident report" that had been prepared by the sheriffs department shortly after the 
confrontation. When deputy sheriffs arrived and ended the shoot-out, they found Koresh 
and six followers firing their rifles at Roden, who had already suffered a minor gunshot 
wound and was pinned down behind a tree at the Compound— which was then called 
"Rodenville." On the day of the shoot-out, Koresh and all of his followers were dressed in 
combat fatigues, had camouflaged their faces with black greasepaint before going to the 
Compound, and were armed with shotguns, .22-caliber rifles, and other weapons, as well as 
more than 3,000 rounds of unspent ammunition. (See Figure 4.) 



19 




Figure 3: David Koresh, second from left, posing with other Branch Davidians before the November 1987 shoot-out with 
George Roden. 

20 



Barber also told Aguilera more about UPS deliveries made to the Compound during 
the preceding months, which consisted of firearms components and materials used to make 



_ -^^'X 


w 






!■ 


■^^^^HH 


■' ^ - y 


"~ H 






W 




s^;^.^ 


BHHKII 


/M/r^-V '''■'■'" 




^^^^^^^^^^^^^^K^ 

^^^^^^^^^K^^^ 


% 




-^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^H 





Figure 4: Ammunition seized from Koresh and his followers after the November 1987 shoot- 
out with Roden. 



explosives. On each delivery, followers of Koresh, including Steve Schneider, met the UPS 
driver at the Mag Bag (see Figure 5) and directed him to the Compound, where armed 
guards often kept watch. There, payment was made, usually in cash. 

Using the UPS invoices, Aguilera began contacting firearms dealers and checking 
national registries to track down the specific firearms, firearms components, and explosives 
materials received by Koresh and his followers during the past year. After his initial 
conversation with Aguilera, Barber told Aguilera that the UPS driver delivered to Koresh a 
large quantity of powdered aluminum metal, a common ingredient in explosives, and 60 
ammunition magazines for AR-15 rifles. Barber also related a confidential informant's 
report that Henry McMahon, a federally licensed firearms dealer who had recently moved 
to the Waco area from Florida, had recently bragged about selling a large number of 



21 




Figure 5: The Mag Bag after execution of search warrant. 



weapons, including AK-47s, to Koresh.* (See Figure 6.) On June 9, Barber reported that 
automatic gunfire was heard recently at the Compound. 

Aguilera determined that neither Koresh nor any of his followers then known to 
Aguilera were licensed federal arms dealers or manufacturers or had registered any National 



* An AK-47 is a Soviet-designed selective fire machinegun that was the standard weapon issued to 
Eastern Bloc military personnel. Semiautomatic copies of the AK-47 (under a variety of model designations, 
all commonly referred to as AK-47s) were imported and sold commercially in the United States until their 
importation was prohibited in 1 989. Possession of a semiautomatic copy of an AK-47 is legal and does not 
require registration pursuant to the National Firearms Act. However, a semiautomatic AK-47 can be converted 
into an illegal machinegun by making modifications to the receiver of the weapon and replacing certain 
internal parts with commonly available selective fire AK-47 parts. 

22 




Figure 6: AK-47 assault rifle. 

Firearms Act weapons/ Using the shipping invoices, Aguilera also learned that Nesard 
Gun Parts Company had shipped to Koresh several "M-16 machinegun CAR kits" and 
several "M-16 machinegun E-2 kits," both of which are often called "conversion kits." Each 
of these conversion kits, when combined with the lower receiver of an AR-15 
semiautomatic rifle, generally constitute all the parts from which a machinegun could be 
assembled. 




Figure 7: M-16 assault rifle. 



' The National Firearms Act, codified in Chapter 53 of Title 26, United States Code, sets out a 
comprehensive tax and registration system governing the manufacture, transfer and possession of certain 
firearms. Among other firearms covered by the Act are items classified as "destructive devices," including 
any explosive, incendiary, bomb, or grenade (26 U.S.C. § 5845(f)), and machineguns (26 U.S.C. §5845(b)). 
In addition, 18 U.S.C. §922(o) makes it unlawfiil for any person to transfer or possess a machinegun unless 
the machinegun was lawfully registered before May 19, 1986, the effective date of the Firearms Owners 
Protection Act of 1986. Before that Act, it was legal for citizens to make, sell, and possess machineguns as 
long as they complied with the taxing and registration requirements of the National Firearms Act. Since 1986, 
no machineguns have been permitted to be manufactured in the United States except those used by 
goverrunent agencies or for export. 



23 



An M- 1 6 CAR kit comprises all component parts, with the exception of the lower 
receiver/ for the carbine version of an M-16. (See Figure 7.) The kit includes a complete 
upper receiver and barrel assembly, buttstock, recoil spring and buffer, M-16 hammer, 
trigger, disconnector, selector, M-16 automatic sear, pins, springs, trigger guard, magazine 
release, and boh hold-open. The parts in the kit can be used with an AR-15 rifle or lower 
receiver to assemble a machinegun. The M-16 E-2 kit contains a similar set of parts; 
however, it is geared for use with an M-16 A-2 selective-fire rifle. The parts in the E-2 kit 
also can be used to convert an AR-15 into a machinegun. Although these kits can be used 
to maintain M-16 machineguns produced before 1986 and therefore can be sold lawfully, in 
practice they are commonly used to convert semiautomatic weapons into machineguns. 
Such kits, of course, only have a lawful, practical utility if the purchaser already owns a 
registered machinegun. Because neither Koresh nor any of his known followers owned such 
a registered weapon, Aguilera inferred that the kits Koresh was steadily acquiring were not 
being used for legal purposes. 

On the basis of this information, Aguilera formally initiated a case on June 9, 1992. 
Within a week, his immediate supervisors and Phillip Chojnacki, the Special Agent in 
Charge (SAC) of the Houston ATF office, approved this initiation and classified the case as 
"sensitive," thus ensuring a higher degree of oversight from the SAC and ATF 
headquarters. ATF regulations classify cases meeting certain criteria as "sensitive" or 
"significant," and investigating agents are charged with keeping supervising officials 
informed about those cases. The investigation of Koresh and his followers, which 
potentially involved a large amount of weapons and explosives in the possession of a 
potentially volatile group with strong professed religious beliefs, met ATF guidelines for 
treatment as both sensitive and significant. 

The primary violations within ATF's jurisdiction that Aguilera would be pursuing 
were (1) the illegal manufacture of machineguns from component parts'^ and (2) the illegal 



' A receiver is a part of a firearm that normally houses the barrel and bolt assembly. Many modem 
military-style rifles are constructed with a horizontal split in the receiver — hence the terms "upper receiver" 
and "lower receiver." With respect to the AR-15, which has a split-receiver design, the lower receiver, by 
legal definition, constitutes a "firearm" for purposes of federal firearms laws. See 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3)(B). 



** 18 U.S.C. § 922(o)(l) provides that, save for certain specified exceptions: "it shall be unlawfijl for any 
person to transfer or possess a machinegun." The National Firearms Act makes it unlawfiil for any person 
other than a qualified manufacturer to make a machinegun without first filing an application to make and 
register the item with, and receiving approval from, the Secretary of the Treasury. 26 U.S.C. §5822 and 

24 



manufacture and possession of destructive devices, including explosive bombs and 
explosive grenades and the materials necessary to produce such items.'" 

The ATF Investigation and Development of Probable Cause to Arrest Koresh 
and Search Premises Under his Control 

Additional Weapons and Explosives Shipments 

Initially, Aguilera focused on the paper trail generated by the weapons and 
explosives purchased by Koresh and his followers. Aguilera determined that Olympic Arms 
had recently shipped a substantial quantity of AR-15 parts to the Mag Bag, and he also 
learned that Henry McMahon had sold more than a dozen AR-15 lower receivers to Koresh 
a few months earlier. As Aguilera learned from previous investigations, someone with 
access to metal milling machines and lathes and with the knowledge to use them, can 
readily convert AR-15 semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic weapons (machineguns) 



5861(f). For purposes of Section 922(o) and the National Firearms Act, 'machinegun' means any weapon 
which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically, more than one shot 
without manual reloading, by a single fiinction of the trigger." The term includes "the frame or receiver of 
any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed 
and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a 
machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person." 26 U.S.C. 
§5845(b). 

A part not yet assembled into a machinegun can still be illegal if it is (1) "designed solely or 
exclusively for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun"; (2) a "combination of parts designed and 
intended for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun"; or (3) "any combination of parts from which a 
machinegun is assembled" if one person has possession or control of all of the parts. See United States v. 
Bradley. 892 F.2d 634, 635 (7th Cir. 1990). 

'" The National Firearms Act makes it unlawful for any person other than a qualified manufacturer to 
make a destructive device without first filing an application to make and register the item with, and receiving 
approval from, the Secretary of the Treasury. 26 U.S.C. § 5822 and 5861(f). In addition, the National 
Firearms Act makes it unlawful to possess any unregistered firearm, including, for example, components that 
readily could be assembled into a hand grenade or any other destructive device. 26 U.S.C. §§ 5845(a)(8) and 
(0 and 5861(b), (c), (d) and (e). 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A) provides that "[i]t shall be unlawful for any person 
except a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer to engage in the business of importing, 
manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, or in the course of such business to ship, transport, or receive any 
firearm in interstate or foreign commerce." 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3) defines "firearm" to include, among other 
things, "destructive devices." In turn, "destructive device" is defined to encompass "any explosive, incendiary, 
or poison gas bomb or grenade ... [or] ... any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in 
converting any device into any [of the above destructive devices]." 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(4). 18 U.S.C. §§ 
842(a) and (j) make it unlawful for any person "to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or 
dealing in explosive materials without a license" or "to store any explosive material in a manner not in 
conformity with regulations promulgated by the Secretary." 

25 



similar to M-16 machineguns by using certain key parts legally available, frequently parts 
designed for use with an M-16. It is worth noting that there is no practical reason to 
exchange most AR-15 parts on an intact AR-15 weapon for M-16 parts other than for 
purposes of converting the weapon into a machinegun. The M-16 parts do not improve the 
performance of the weapon if used in a semiautomatic mode. For example, the AR-15 bolt 
assembly performs substantially better in a semiautomatic mode than does the M-16 bolt 
assembly when installed on an AR-15. 

Compliance Inspection of Henry McMahon 

On July 30, Aguilera, posing as an ATF compliance officer, joined Jimmy Ray 
Skirmer, an ATF compliance officer, to inspect the premises of Henry McMahon, who was 
doing business as Hewitt Hand Guns out of his home. Aguilera' s review of McMahon' s 
records revealed that he had sold 36 firearms to a "Vernon Howell," who was not identified 
as "David Koresh," and sold others to persons Aguilera knew to be Koresh's followers. 
Moreover, approximately 65 AR-15 lower receivers reflected in McMahon' s inventory 
records were not in his physical stock. McMahon claimed that these firearms were being 
stored at the house of his preacher, whom he identified as David Koresh, apparently 
suggesting that Koresh and Howell were two different persons. 

Although McMahon was out of compliance and was therefore subject to fines, 
Aguilera and the compliance officer ended the audit without imposing any penahies on 
McMahon to avoid arousing his suspicion. About a month later. Skinner returned and 
McMahon presented him with receipts and ATF forms reflecting the sale of the missing 65 
lower receivers to "Vernon Howell." 

The Sounds of Machinegun Fire and Explosives 

Further evidence that Koresh and his followers were manufacturing illegal 
machineguns came when Aguilera interviewed a neighbor who had served in an Army 
artillery unit and was familiar with the sound of automatic weapons fire. The neighbor 
reported that since early 1992, he had frequently heard spurts of weapons fire coming from 
the Compound at night, including .50-caliber (See Figure 8) and automatic weapons fire, 
and that residents of the Compound had discharged semiautomatics on July 4. In mid- 
November, a deputy sheriff reported that while on patrol a few days earlier, he had heard a 



26 



loud explosion at the Compound, accompanied by a large cloud of gray smoke. Neither 
Koresh nor any of his followers had a license or a permit to use explosives at the 
Compound. 




Figure 8: .50-caliber rifle. 



Interviews of Former Cult Members 

Aguilera also sought information from former cult members, who gave him some 
insight into the extraordinary degree to which Koresh dominated the lives of Compound 
residents. Cult members surrendered all their assets to Koresh and permitted him to have 
sex with all the female members of the cult. While reports that Koresh was permitted to 
sexually and physically abuse children were not evidence that firearms or explosives 
violations were occurring, they showed Koresh to have set up a world of his own, where 
legal prohibitions were disregarded freely. 

In early November, Aguilera interviewed Isabel and Guillermo Andrade, then 
residing in California, whose two daughters were living at the Compound. They told 
Aguilera that Koresh had sexual relations regularly with all of the women at the Compound, 
including girls younger than 16 years of age. "Annulling" the marriages of couples in the 
cult, Koresh prohibited the men residing at the Compound from having sexual relations 
with their "former" wives. The Andrades informed Aguilera that Koresh had fathered a 
child with their daughter Katherine. The child's birth certificate, like the birth certificates of 
several other children recently bom to women residing at the Compound, listed the father as 
unknown. 

In early December 1992, Aguilera interviewed Jeannine Bunds and her daughter, 
Robyn, both of whom had left the Compound within the past two years, and Mrs. Bunds' 
son, David, who had left earlier. The three were living in California. Both Mrs. Bunds and 



27 



her daughter confirmed earlier accounts Aguilera had received about Koresh's sexual 
domination of female residents of the Compound, including minors. They estimated that 
Koresh had fathered at least 1 5 children at the Compound. All three said they had seen 
Koresh in possession of numerous weapons, including machineguns, and that Koresh had 
often led cult members in live-fire shooting exercises. The Bundses and other former cult 
members identified specific weapons they had seen at the Compound from photographs the 
agents showed them. The Bundses noted that Henry McMahon had participated in some of 
the shooting exercises. 

The Bundses also reported that Koresh frequently directed his followers to maintain 
an armed guard at the Compound 24 hours a day and that he possessed a loaded firearm at 
all times. According to Mrs. Bunds, a registered nurse, Koresh on one occasion told her 
that he was preparing a "hit list" to eliminate former cult members who were complaining 
to law enforcement authorities and the media about his sexual practices and accumulation 
of weapons. Mrs. Bunds also mentioned that when she had told Koresh that she was having 
difficulty with her children, Koresh asked her whether she would kill her children if God 
asked her to do so. She told him she would not. 

Mrs. Bunds told of seeing "pineapple grenades" at the Compound (see Figure 9) and 
David Bunds remembered seeing Branch Davidians with AK-47s, pump shotguns, 
revolvers, pistols, and other weapons. David and Robyn related how in June 1992 they had 
found a machinegun conversion kit at a house in California they had recently taken over 
from followers of Koresh. Shortly thereafter, several Branch Davidians from the Compound 
retrieved the kit. David Bunds also related a telephone conversation he had had with his 
father, Donald, when he called his father at the Compound in spring 1992. Donald Bunds 
told his son that he was armed and prepared to die for Koresh and that he would resist 
authorities if they tried to arrest him. 

The Bundses' accounts were consistent with information obtained from Poia Vaega, 
another former resident of the Compound, who had moved to New Zealand. She recalled 
how Koresh had passed an AK-47 machinegun around to his followers during one of his 
Bible study sessions and how Koresh regularly had them watch violent war movies that he 
called "training films" to prepare for "the war to come." Vaega said that both she and her 
sister, another former cult member, had been subjected on several occasions to physical and 



28 




Figure 9: Typical "pineapple" type grenades. 



sexual abuse by Koresh and one of his followers before she left the Compound in 1991 and 
that she had been physically restrained from leaving for more than three months before she 
gained her freedom. Her account was corroborated by her sister. 

In December 1992, Aguilera also began a dialogue with Marc Breault, a former cult 
member living in Australia, which continued until the ATF raid on February 28, 1993. 
Breault had already given information about Koresh and the Branch Davidians to Mark 
England, a reporter for the Waco Tribune-Herald. Breault, who left the Compound in 1989, 
confirmed that Koresh was the undisputed leader of the Branch Davidians and stated that 
Koresh frequently had sex with minors residing in the Compound and that several minors 
had given birth to babies fathered by him. Breault also told Aguilera that from time to time 
Koresh had physically abused children who were younger than three years of age when 
they cried during his Bible study sessions. According to an affidavit Breault filed in an 
Australian court, which incorporated affidavits by several other former cult members and 
which Aguilera obtained, Koresh paddled the children with a wooden paddle until their 
buttocks were "black and blue all over, so that they even bled." Breault' s account, which he 
confirmed in conversations with Aguilera, was corroborated by other former cult members, 
including Poia Vaega and members of her family. 

Breault also reported that Koresh had posted armed guards around the Compound 
and instructed them to "shoot to kill" anyone who attempted to enter the gate of the 
Compound. Many cult members carried firearms, including AK-47s. In fact, according to 
Breault and the sheriffs department, on one occasion in 1988, a cult member had taken a 
shot at a newspaper delivery person. Breault also related how Koresh had expressed disdain 
for gun control laws, frequently proclaiming that he wanted to make machineguns, 

29 



grenades, and explosive devices at the Compound and bragging how easy it was to convert 
a semiautomatic weapon into a fully automatic machinegun. In particular, Breault stated 
that Koresh mocked gun control laws that permitted easy acquisition of all component parts 
necessary to make a machinegun, yet made possession of either all of those parts or a fully 
assembled and operable machinegun unlawful. Finally, Breault noted that when Koresh took 
over the Compound, he told Breault that he had found methamphetamine manufacturing 
facilities and recipes on the premises. Although Koresh claimed to have turned over these 
materials to the sheriffs department, according to Breault £ind the sheriffs department, he 
never had done so. 

Visits from the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services 

In light of reports that Koresh might have been engaging in sexual activities with 
minors, ATF contacted Joyce Sparks, a caseworker with the Texas Department of Protective 
and Regulatory Services who had been investigating several anonymous reports of the same 
conduct. Sparks related that, although she had visited the Compound several times in 1992, 
she had been escorted carefully through the Compound on a staged tour each time. Even 
though she had not found sufficient reliable evidence to press child or sexual abuse charges 
against Koresh or any of his followers, she did learn something about Koresh' s preparations 
for an armed struggle. 

One child, approximately seven years old, told Sparks that he could not wait to grow 
up so that he could have a "long gun" as did all the men in the Compound; the boy 
explained that the men practiced with these weapons regularly. In addition, during one of 
her guided tours of the Compound, Sparks strayed from the designated path and managed to 
see the buried school bus. At one end of the bus was a large object riddled with bullet 
holes, and nearby were at least three "long guns." 

In her own dealings with Koresh, Sparks saw a dangerous propensity toward 
violence. During one of her conversations with him, he proclaimed to her: "My time is 
coming. When I reveal myself as the messenger and my time comes, what happens will 
make the riots in L.A. pale in comparison." 



30 



Backgrounds of Compound Residents 

Aguilera checked the backgrounds of those he identified as current residents of the 
Compound. He determined that several either had been arrested, convicted, or were under 
investigation for crimes ranging from fraud to smuggling and narcotics offenses. More than 
40 residents were foreign nationals, and many of those were illegal aliens. It is unlawrful for 
either an illegal alien or a person convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year of 
imprisonment to possess any type of firearm." 

Reports ofATF Experts 

During December 1992 and January 1993, Aguilera obtained technical assistance 
from several ATF experts. An ATF firearms expert in Washington, D.C., confirmed that the 
weapons components Koresh had purchased could be used easily to produce illegal 
machineguns and that the manner in which Koresh had acquired these components was 
similar to the method used by other manufacturers of unlawful machineguns investigated by 
ATF. An explosives expert at the ATF lab near San Francisco reported that several of the 
items Koresh had received, such as the large quantities of black powder and igniter cord (a 
burning-type fuse), were explosives requiring proper registration and storage. The 
explosives expert explained that black powder and inert grenade shells, both of which 
Koresh had received in substantial quantities, are used commonly by illegal arms 
manufacturers to produce live explosive grenades. These grenades, in turn, are destructive 
devices, the possession of which without proper registration is illegal. The explosives expert 
also informed Aguilera that other chemicals Koresh had obtained were common ingredients 
in homemade explosives. 

Before Aguilera received the written report from the explosives expert in San 
Francisco, who specialized in evaluating the practical utility of various items used to 
produce explosives, the explosives expert in Washington, who had a different specialty, told 
Aguilera that he was unable to conclude that Koresh had accumulated sufficient materials to 
manufacture explosives. This expert had noted, however, that Koresh could make unlawful 
explosives by acquiring some additional materials. 

The experts also gave Aguilera additional information about the arms dealers who 
were supplying Koresh. The owner of Nesard Gun Parts Company, Harrington, Illinois, 



See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) 

31 



who in 1992 had shipped M-16 CAR kits, M-16 E-2 kits, and a grenade launcher to 
Koresh, had been convicted three years earlier of violations of federal firearms laws. The 
company had unlawfully supplied one of its customers with AR-15 receivers and certain 
parts kits that together comprised all the component parts necessary to assemble a "short 
rifle," a firearm that must be registered pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841 and 5845(a)(3). 
Another of Koresh' s suppliers. Shooters Equipment Company, Richland, South Carolina, 
had been the subject of several ATF investigations, including one that culminated in the 
seizure of illegal machineguns and silencers in August 1992. At that time, the agents also 
found large quantities of M-16 and AK-47 machinegun parts and khs to convert AR-15 
semiautomatic weapons into unlawful machineguns. 

In December, ATF began developing plans for serving the warrants, the "tactical 
planning" aspect of the investigation. This aspect of the investigation is described in the 
following section of this report. Aguilera's superiors at the ATF Houston field office 
directed him to continue developing probable cause for the warrants. Although Assistant 
U.S. Attorney Johnston was satisfied that probable cause existed in November 1992, it was 
not until Aguilera and Chojnacki briefed ATF Director Stephen Higgins and ATF Associate 
Director (Law Enforcement) Daniel Hartnett on February 11 and 12, 1993, in Washington, 
D.C., that ATF authorized Aguilera to present the information to the U.S. Attorney's Office 
for the purpose of obtaining the warrants. 

The David Block Interview 

In late January 1993, Aguilera interviewed David Block, who had been a Branch 
Davidian from 1981 through June 1992. Block had lived at the Compound for several 
months before he "escaped." He reported having often seen two Branch Davidians, Donald 
Bunds, a mechanical engineer, and Jeff Little using a metal milling machine and metal lathe 
to produce weapons. On several occasions, Bunds also had used an AutoCAD (i.e., 
computer-aided design) software package — which allows mechanical engineers to design 
objects by providing a three-dimensional picture and precise measurements of the object 
being designed — to design a "grease gun." Grease gun is the nickname for the M3 and 
M3A1 .45-caliber military submachineguns used by American forces during World War II. 
The parts of this grease gun included a cylindrical tube with a bolt-cocking groove carved 
into the side and a template to fit around the tube to enable it to be used on the milling 
machine. Bunds had explained that Koresh wanted him to design a weapon that could be 
manufactured at the Compound. 



32 



Block also recounted that Koresh had asked residents of the Compound how to 
manufacture grenades and had discussed activating a shipment of inert grenades he had 
received. Koresh received further technical assistance in spring 1992 when a relative of one 
of the Branch Davidians, a survivalist with expertise in firearms and explosives, visited the 
Compound. 

Block described the potentially devastating arsenal Koresh was amassing in the 
Compound. He had seen one high-caliber weapon — either a .50-caliber rifle mounted on a 
bi-pod or a "British Boys" .52-caliber antitank rifle — and had heard about other .50-caliber 
weapons stored on the premises. Koresh frequently had expressed interest in converting 
these high-caliber weapons into unlawful machineguns. Block also had seen approximately 
15 AR-15s, 25 AK-47s, several 9mm pistols, and three "streetsweepers." A streetsweeper is 
a 12-gauge, 12-shot shotgun with a spring-driven drum magazine and folding buttstock. 
Each time the trigger is released after firing a shot the magazine rotates to position the next 
shot for firing. Block reported that Koresh would often fire weapons at the Compound's 
"range" and that he posted armed guards at the Compound every night. 

The Undercover House and Special Agent Rodriguez 

Aguilera continued to gather information about Koresh' s illegal activities even as 
ATF's focus began to change from building a case to planning an enforcement operation. 
After ATF established an "undercover house" near the Compound on January 11, 1993 (see 
Figure 1 0) one of the undercover agents posted there, Special Agent Robert Rodriguez, 
began to seek opportunities to visit the Compound and talk to cult members. On January 
28, pretending to be interested in purchasing a horse walker that was on the Compound, 
Rodriguez spoke for the first time with Koresh. Rodriguez, who had read portions of the 
Bible in preparation for this encounter, discussed the Book of Revelations with Koresh. 
Koresh showed Rodriguez his motorcycles and invited him to join the cult's Bible study 
group. Shortly thereafter, Rodriguez attended his first Bible study session. 

After a few more visits to the Compound, Rodriguez attended another Bible study 
session on February 17 and was invited to return the next day. Between Bible study 
sessions, Rodriguez practiced shooting cans with his rifle near the undercover house in an 
effort to further pique Koresh' s interest. Rodriguez spent three hours in Bible study the next 
day and emerged with an invitation to shoot with Koresh on the 19th. 



33 




Figure 10: Illustration depicting the undercover house, Compound, and hay bam (not to scale). 

34 



Koresh greeted Rodriguez and another agent whom Rodriguez had brought along. 
Koresh told Rodriguez he had watched him through his binoculars and saw him shooting on 
the 17th. Koresh brought the agents, both of whom were carrying AR-15 semiautomatic 
rifles, to the shooting range, and they practiced shooting. Koresh examined in detail and 
expressed familiarity with Rodriguez's semiautomatic rifle and .38-caliber pistol. Koresh 
also established himself as an excellent shot and the owner of several weapons, including 
two Sig-Sauer pistols and a Ruger 1 0/22-caliber rifle. 

Over the next 10 days, Rodriguez visited the Compound several times and often 
engaged in lengthy conversations with Koresh. During these conversations, Koresh 
repeatedly confirmed his strong interest in weapons and his disdain for federal laws 
regulating firearms and explosives. Among other things, Koresh discussed firearms 
components in great detail, including "hell-fire triggers"''^ and "drop-in sears,"'^ the latter 
of which are devices used exclusively to convert semiautomatic weapons into machineguns. 

Koresh falsely claimed that the possession of an unregistered drop-in sear was 
lawful as long as the possessor did not also possess an AR-15 rifle. Possession of an 
unregistered drop-in sear is unlawful regardless of whether the possessor also possesses an 
AR-15. ''' Nonetheless, he did exhibit profound knowledge of firearms, the nation's gun 
laws, and methods commonly used to evade those laws. And during a visit Rodriguez made 
to the Compound on February 23, Koresh showed him a videotape produced by Gun 
Owners of America, which portrayed ATF as an evil agency that threatened the liberty of 
U.S. citizens. 



'^ A "hell-fire trigger" is an external attachment designed to return the trigger to the forward position 
more quickly after each firing, thus enabling a semiautomatic weapon to be fired more quickly. The device 
does not enable a semiautomatic weapon to fire as rapidly as a typical machinegun, and its use does not 
change the classification of a semiautomatic weapon into an unlawful weapon. 

" A "drop-in sear" is a part or combination of parts placed inside the weapon to convert a semiautomatic 
weapon into a machinegun. As a rule, the term refers to the "AR-15 drop-in auto sear," which was designed 
specifically to convert an AR-15 rifle into a machinegun. Because the sear is designed and intended 
exclusively for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, it is considered an unlawful machinegun if it 
was manufactured after 1981 and not registered properly. 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841 and 5845(b); ATF Ruling 81-4. 

'" 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841 and 5845(b); ATF Ruling 81-4. 

35 



Part One 

Section Two: The Decisionmaking Process Leading to Forceful 

Execution of Warrants 



In late November 1992, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston in Waco reviewed 
evidence that had been developed by ATF and advised Special Agent Davy Aguilera that, 
although the investigation should be continued, there already was sufficient evidence to 
meet the threshold of probable cause for a search warrant. Once Aguilera reported 
Johnston's opinion to Assistant Special Agent in Charge (AS AC) Chuck Sarabyn 
(Houston), who had been supervising the investigation, tactical planning for an enforcement 
operation began in earnest. 

Consideration of Tactical Options 

The December 4, 1992, Meeting 

Directing Aguilera to focus his attention on the probable cause investigation, 
Sarabyn quickly assumed responsibility for tactical planning. Any enforcement action, 
Sarabyn decided, would require at least one Special Response Team (SRT). Such teams 
are specially trained groups of ATF agents with expertise in executing difficult tactical 
missions — principally high-risk warrants. Sarabyn organized a plarming meeting to take 
place in Houston on December 4. 

While Sarabyn could not attend the meeting, his superior Phillip Chojnacki, Special 
Agent in Charge (SAC) of ATF' s Houston Division, did attend, along with Ted Royster, 
SAC of the Dallas Division; William Buford, Resident Agent in Charge (RAC)'' of the 
Little Rock ATF office, a co-team leader of the New Orleans SRT, and an Army Special 
Forces combat veteran; Jerry Petrilli, RAC of the Albuquerque ATF office, team leader of 



" A "RAC" is the resident agent in charge of an ATF field office, who acts under supervision of a larger 
field division, in this case Houston. Buford was a founder of the ATF SRT program. 

37 



the Dallas SRT, and a Marine Corps combat veteran; and James Cavanaugh, ASAC of the 
Dallas ATF office. Two other ATF agents, Kenny King, a group supervisor in the New 
Orleans ATF office, co-team leader of the New Orleans SRT, and a Marine Corps combat 
veteran; and Curtis Williams, a group supervisor in the Houston ATF office and team 
leader of the Houston SRT, who had five years of experience in the tactical division of the 
Dallas Police Department; both of whom would later assist in tactical planning, did not 
attend this meeting. 

Each of the planners had extensive experience with ATF, collectively having led 
hundreds of high-risk raids to search for unlawful weapons. As a group, particularly the 
SRT leaders who formed the core of the tactical planning team, they had other substantial 
law enforcement and military experience as well. Only Buford, however, had planned or 
participated in a tactical operation of the magnitude that eventually would be contemplated 
for Waco— the 1985 siege by ATF and the FBI of the 360-acre Arkansas compound of the 
white supremacist group The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA). To 
execute a warrant at the heavily armed and fortified CSA compound, which had been 
surrounded by concealed bunkers and land mines, Buford helped devise a plan that 
established an armed perimeter around the premises. After three days of negotiations, the 
besieged group members surrendered, but not before they had destroyed many of their 
illegal firearms, including silencers and automatic weapons. Buford often recalled this siege 
while the plarmers were considering various ways to execute warrants at Koresh's 
Compound.'* 

At the December 4 meeting, Aguilera briefed the planners about his investigation of 
Koresh. Based on reports from recent visitors to the Compound, he estimated that 75 people 
lived at the Compound, including large numbers of women and children, all of whom were 
fiercely loyal to Koresh and devoted to his religious teachings. Aguilera also reviewed the 
layout of the 77-acre site, particularly its main structure's fortress-like construction and 
prominent multistory tower. (See Figures 11 and 12.)'^ After hearing Aguilera describe the 
challenge they had before them, the planners began to consider what they deemed the two 



"■ Johnston informed ATF early in the investigation that he would not authorize a search warrant for the 
Branch Davidian Compound if it was to be executed through a siege-style operation. He, too, feared that a 
siege strategy would permit Koresh and his followers to destroy evidence and make prosecution more 
difficult, as happened in the CSA case. Despite Johnston's views, however, ATF's tactical planners seriously 
considered a siege plan. 

" The Compound had evolved from a series of free-standing houses. After Koresh took control of the 
Compound he and his followers dismantled the homes and built the single structure. (See Figures 13 and 14.) 

38 




Figure 11: Main Compound building (front side). 



39 




Figure 12: Rear of Compound. 



40 




Figure 13: Houses on Mt. Carmel site before constraction of Compound. 

41 




Figure 14: Mt. Carmel site after construction of Compound before houses were dismantled. 

42 



principal ways to execute a search warrant: a dynamic entry (raid) or a siege. 



Regardless of how the warrant would be executed, ATF's planners decided that 
execution would be far easier if Koresh were not at the Compound when the agents arrived. 
Joyce Sparks of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services had told 
Aguilera that Koresh rarely, if ever, left the Compound. When they learned this, the 
planners asked Aguilera to find a way to lure Koresh away from the Compound 
immediately before the warrant was to be executed. After Aguilera discussed with Sparks 
her visits to the Compound and Koresh' s sexual abuse of minors, the planners suggested 
that Aguilera inquire whether the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services could 
schedule a meeting with Koresh on the day of the operation. They also asked whether 
Koresh could be brought out of the Compound with a grand jury subpoena. Other ways to 
get Koresh out were also briefly considered, including staging a school bus crash or 
helicopter crash near the Compound. 

Concerned that much of Aguilera' s knowledge of the Compound's design and the 
daily routines of its residents was somewhat dated, Aguilera and Earl Dunagan, acting RAC 
of the Austin ATF office, recommended that surveillance of the Compound be instituted 
and that additional information be sought concerning the living arrangements inside, the 
attitudes of the cult members, the distribution and storage of the cult's weapons and 
ammunition, and the interior design of the Compound. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, Buford, Petrilli, Williams, and King, the leaders of 
the SRTs that likely would participate in the enforcement action, were assigned to develop 
a plan for either a siege or a dynamic entry. During tactical planning and on the day of the 
raid, both Buford and King shared command responsibility for the New Orleans SRT. 
Sarabyn directed the planning effort, with Buford taking the role of principal tactical 
contributor. From this point forward, the leaders of the SRTs, who specialized in dynamic 
entries, would be a driving force in shaping the tactical options and selecting the dynamic 
entry strategy. 

The Late December and Early January Meetings 

In late December, the tactical planners met in Austin and reviewed additional 
information that Aguilera had obtained through his investigation, including reports of 
interviews of former cult members and new photographs of the Compound. During this 

43 



time frame, the SRT leaders — Buford, Williams, Petrilli, and King — as well as Sarabyn 
drove to Waco to survey the Compound. Until this point, the planners thought that a siege 
would be the best tactical approach, particularly if Koresh could be arrested at a place other 
than the Compound. After the planners saw the terrain, however, which offered little cover 
from the dominating Compound, and after considering the injuries that could be inflicted 
with the long-range, powerful .50-caliber weapons the plarmers thought Koresh possessed, 
they began to reconsider this option. Even if a perimeter could be established, they 
reasoned, it would have to be quite large and therefore difficult to maintain. 

In early January, when the tactical planners next convened, they continued to discuss 
the practicality of imposing a siege if the Branch Davidians resisted the peaceful execution 
of a search warrant. With an eye toward a siege plan, Sarabyn soon thereafter arranged for 
ATF to submit a formal request to the Regional Logistics Support Office — the office 
through which the Department of Defense provides nonoperational military support to 
civilian law enforcement agencies — for seven Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which were 
believed to have sufficient armor to withstand .50-caliber fire. The planners, however, were 
still uncertain about which tactical option was preferable and sought additional information. 
To this end, pursuant to Aguilera's and Dunagan's recommendation and to address a recent 
request from ATF's Associate Director (Law Enforcement) Daniel Hartnett for additional 
evidence to establish probable cause, the decision was made to establish an undercover 
operation near the Branch Davidian Compound.'* 

Interviews with Former Cult Members 

Meanwhile, at the request of the tactical planners, Buford and Aguilera interviewed 
several former cult members in California. The interviewees — most of whom Aguilera had 
already spoken with — included Marc Breault, four members of the Bunds family, and David 
Block. Aguilera and Buford also interviewed Isabel Andrade, who at the time had two 
daughters living at the Compound. Also interviewed were Sandra Leake and Jaylene Ojena, 
close friends of the Andrades who were working with them to gain the return of the 



" After the planners shifted their focus to a raid, an ATF military liaison submitted to appropriate military 
authorities in mid-February a superseding request that did not include the Bradleys. ATF did, however, 
receive other support fi'om the military, including several flights over the Compound and the Mag Bag to 
produce aerial reconnaissance photographs, interpretation of the photos, and use of the Thermal Imaging 
System during flights to identify "hot spots" at the Compound. These flights were directed toward the search 
for armed guards and drug manufacturing facilities. In addition, the military provided ATF with the Military 
Operation Urban Terrain training facility at Fort Hood for training purposes and helped ATF set up the 
facility to resemble the Compound. 

44 



Andrades' two daughters. Both Andrade and Ojena had visited the Andrade daughters, 
Katherine and Jennifer, at the Compound in early November 1992. 

These interviews confirmed earlier intelligence concerning the level of weaponry at 
the Compound. Koresh and his followers were known to fire assault weapons and 
machineguns, and Block had seen what he believed to be a .50- or .52-caliber weapon 
mounted on a bipod, as well as several dozen rifles, including AK-47s and AR-15s — many 
of which he believed were fully automatic. 

Where these weapons were stored was not clear. According to Block, Koresh usually 
kept the weapons next to his room, which he decreed off limits to most Compound 
residents. From time to time, Koresh would issue AK-47s and other rifles to most of the 
men and some of the women living at the Compound, and would collect them later. 
Residents who received "long guns" in this fashion usually kept them under their beds. 
Block did not know whether Koresh also distributed ammunition; however, he did note that 
several cult members were allowed to keep their own private small-caliber weapons. 

Several members of the Bunds family corroborated Block's account of this 
intermittent weapons distribution. However, when the Bunds family had last resided at the 
Compound, the weapons distributed had been less sophisticated, consisting mainly of 
shotguns and handguns, rather than AK-47s and AR-15s. When interviewed by telephone in 
New Zealand in mid-November, Poia Vaega, a former cult member with several relatives 
still living at the Compound said that her husband, another former cult member, "has reason 
to believe that the guns were stored in the quarters that [Koresh] was sleeping in." 

These interviews confirmed the dangers of a dynamic entry or a siege, especially if 
Koresh was in the Compound to provide leadership when a warrant was executed. Indeed, 
Aguilera reported, "Block left the cult group because [Koresh] would always remind them 
that if they were to have a confrontation with the local or federal authorities, that the group 
should be ready to fight and resist." Similarly, Aguilera' s report of his January 8 interview 
with Breault noted that Koresh would make it a point to emphasize the importance of 
protecting themselves and that if the cult members were attacked, they would have to arm 
themselves to defend Koresh and their children. Nonetheless, as far as the former cult 
members knew, Koresh had not specifically trained his followers to repulse law 
enforcement officers or other visitors perceived to be hostile. 



45 



Several former cult members, most forcefully Breault, noted the distinct possibility 
that Koresh might respond to a siege by leading his followers in a mass suicide; Breault 
expressed a particular fear for the children at the Compound. One child who had lived at 
the Compound told a California police officer, who in turn informed Aguilera, that she had 
been trained by Koresh and his "Mighty Men" — Koresh' s closest and most trusted 
advisers — to commit suicide in several different ways, including placing the barrel of a 
handgun in her mouth and pulling the trigger. 

Block related that Koresh had accumulated at least a three-month supply of military 
rations, known as Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), and that the Compound had its own source 
of well water. This was consistent with the report of Joyce Sparks that during one of her 
visits she had observed large stores of foodstuffs in the Compound's storage area. Breault 
and Block emphasized that the Branch Davidians were already familiar with a rudimentary, 
isolated lifestyle and that the Compound had no indoor plumbing, air conditioning, or 
heating. The room in which Koresh slept, however, was equipped with air conditioning, 
heating, a stereo, a television, and other amenities. A siege would thus not impose 
substantial new deprivations on Koresh' s followers. 

The former cult members discussed the daily routine and physical layout of the 
Compound. Block reported that only women and children lived on the second floor and in 
the large tower — in quarters that Koresh barred the men from entering — and that the tower 
was not used as a watchtower. The men lived on the first floor of the Compound, in a 
different section from and a floor below Koresh' s "arms room." (See Figures 15-17.) 
According to Breault and other former cult members, worship services were held between 
9:00 and 10:00 a.m. each day, roughly three hours after dawn, after which the men began 
their day's work (except on Saturday, the Branch Davidian Sabbath). 

The agents also learned some details about the work the Compound's men 
performed daily. McLennan County Deputy Sheriff Weyenberg informed Aguilera that 
daytime reconnaissance flights over the Compound had revealed men working in a 
construction pit. When visiting the Compound for two days in early November 1992, Isabel 
Andrade and Jaylene Ojena also had seen men in the pit building a new structure adjacent 
to the Compound's main building. (See Figure 18.) For the two months before the raid, the 
construction pit was an excavated area next to the Compound's southwest comer. The pit 
was connected to the Compound's front wing by an underground passage constructed from 
the shell of a buried school bus. The pit was rectangular, about 15 feet deep, 100 feet long, 
and 45 feet wide. Between mid- January, when the undercover house was established, and 

46 




Figure 15: Floor plan of first level based on Block's memory of the Compound's living arrangements. 

47 




Figure 16: Floor plan of second level based on Block's memory of the Compound's living arrangements. 

48 




Figure 17: Floor plan of third and fourth level based on Block's memory of the Compound's living arrangements. 

49 




Figure 18: Arrow indicates pit (photographed after the raid). 

50 



the day of the raid, the men had built a roof covering more than half of the pit. 

According to Andrade and Ojena, the men carried no weapons while they worked in 
the pit. And neither Andrade nor Ojena, outsiders whose only connection to the Branch 
Davidians was that they were seeking the release of two current cult members, saw any 
weapons displayed at the Compound. They did report, however, that they were carefully 
watched and gently kept away from certain areas during their visit. 

While the men worked in the pit, the women cared for the children and did 
household chores. Not every man worked in the pit, however. Some were permitted to go 
into town, while Steve Schneider and Wayne Martin often stayed inside to work on 
computers. Koresh's schedule was unpredictable — sometimes he slept past noon, and 
sometimes he awoke early for services. Block also told the agents that Koresh rarely left 
the Compound because he feared that he might be arrested by the sheriffs department. 

Intelligence from the Undercover House 

While Aguilera and Buford were conducting their interviews in California, other 
agents were busy establishing the "undercover house." By January 11, 1993, the operation 
was up and running in a vacant house across from the Compound. (See Figure 19.) The 
house offered agents a clear view of the front of the Compound and of the main road to the 
Compound. The location also provided a limited view of the construction pit. The house 
was equipped with basic surveillance equipment, including cameras, a radio scarmer, and 
night-vision devices. 

The agents' view of the Compound and its residents was limited, however. Koresh's 
followers had access to the Compound using a road that led to the rear of the Compound 
not visible from the undercover house. In addition, Koresh and his followers owned 
numerous motorcycles, which allowed them to gain access to the Compound without using 
the roads, thereby avoiding detection by agents. 

In the beginning, eight ATF agents manned the house, posing as students from a 
local technical college. Even though Rodriguez was more than 40 years old when his 
assigrmient began, all eight agents were chosen, in large part, for their relatively youthftil 
appearances. The agents were instructed, among other things, to determine whether Koresh 
maintained an armed guard or a watch at the Compound, to identify, count and photograph 
cult members and their cars, to identify any counter-surveillance, and to gather further 

51 




Figure 19: Photograph of the undercover house. 



evidence of firearms violations. Other than being told to pay attention to the routines 
around the Compound and to gain access to the inside if possible, the agents were not given 
a firm sense of what information the tactical planners were looking for, nor were they kept 
abreast of the evolving tactical plan. 

During the first eight days, the agents in the undercover house maintained 
surveillance of the Compound around the clock. However, in the absence of any clear 
direction or supervision, this vigilance soon broke down, as the agents perceived no 
significant activity at the Compound and began to disagree among themselves about their 
respective responsibilities. After staying overnight at the house on January 19, Sarabyn told 
the agents that they could terminate the effort to maintain 24-hour surveillance and should 
instead concentrate on significant events only and devote more energy toward infiltrating 
the Compound. 

The agents in the undercover house communicated with the tactical planners 
primarily by providing surveillance logs, photographs, and videocassettes to a contact agent. 
Although the agents took hundreds of photographs of the Compound and its residents, 
many photographs were not developed until long after the raid, and few of the photographs 
that were developed were reviewed by the tactical planners. Although the Review does not 
know where the videotapes were kept, the tactical planners never looked at any of them. 
Finally, once the contact agent obtained the logs and other materials from the undercover 



52 



agents, no agent was responsible for ensuring that the materials in their original form either 
were brought to the attention of all tactical planners or analyzed for their benefit. 

Using information relayed to them during the first three weeks of the undercover 
house operation and agents' surveillance logs, the planners concluded that certain routines 
prevailed among the 75 Branch Davidians who reportedly lived at the Compound. The raid 
planners concluded that neither armed guards nor sentries were posted at the Compound at 
any time, that Koresh never left the Compound, and that most of the men worked regularly 
in the pit, starting at about 10:00 a.m. The plarmers apparently envisioned that virtually all 
of the men in the Compound worked in the pit. 

The Decision 

When the tactical planners met in Houston on January 27-29, Buford reported what 
he and Aguilera had learned from the former cult members. Sarabyn and the agent who 
served as the contact with the undercover house related what intelligence was obtained 
through the undercover agents' surveillance of the Compound. At this time, the tactical 
plarmers believed they had sufficient information to choose a tactical option. 

Buford, who originally had favored a siege, now rejected this option based on what 
former cult members told him about Koresh' s ability to withstand a siege and the danger of 
a mass suicide. Buford also noted the tactical difficulty of laying siege to a structure such 
as the Compound, particularly one with .50-caliber weapons inside. In his view, shared by 
the other planners, a siege would not succeed quickly, and ATF probably would have to 
assault the Compound anyway, once public pressure on ATF to resolve the situation grew 
and the goverrmient's patience wore thin. Buford and several other planners warned against 
any scenario that might result in ATF entering the Compound forcefully, after a prolonged 
standoff had given Koresh an opportunity to prepare his defenses. Others in the plarming 
group were troubled by the risk of a mass suicide, and based on Buford' s experience with 
the Arkansas siege, they feared that a siege would give Koresh and his followers a chance 
to destroy evidence of their wrongdoing. All assumed that Koresh would not leave the 
Compound and would maintain strict discipline over his followers during a siege. 

In contrast, Buford and others believed that they could formulate a workable plan for 
a dynamic entry. If ATF could enter the Compound before weapons could be distributed 
among cult members, Koresh' s arsenal would pose no threat. The critical factor was to 
separate the men from the weapons. The planners believed this was possible because, 

53 



according to some cult members, the weapons were kept under lock and key in a room next 
to Koresh's and were not generally distributed among Compound residents. Neither at this 
meeting nor during later planning efforts did the tactical planners question the reliability of 
this dated information from former cult members. In addition, the men routinely worked in 
the pit, which was at the far end of the Compound away from the arms room, starting at 
approximately 10:00 a.m. Moreover, relying on surveillance that indicated there were no 
sentries, which was consistent with Block's recollection that no sentries were posted in the 
tower, the planners believed that agents could approach the Compound without alerting 
residents. 

Although former cult members claimed that Koresh maintained armed guards, often 
on a 24-hour basis — a report corroborated by the UPS delivery person — the planners 
believed the more recent reports from undercover agents that neither guards nor sentries had 
been observed at the Compound. When Rodriguez and another undercover agent visited the 
Compound in mid-February to shoot with Koresh, however, Koresh told the two agents 
that, through his binoculars, he had seen Rodriguez practicing with the same weapon they 
were now using at the Compound near the undercover house several hundred yards away. 
Koresh and perhaps other cult members were, therefore, watching the undercover house and 
the area around the Compound from a vantage point well above ground level — a matter that 
would have been of some concern to the raid planners. Rodriguez's exchange with Koresh 
was never documented or made known to any of the tactical planners. In addition, a 
representative of the National Guard told Aguilera on January 1 1 that a January 6 night 
surveillance flight using the Guard's Thermal Imaging System indicated "hot spots" 
consistent with the posting of sentries or guards outside the Compound. 

By the end of the meeting, the tactical planners had reached a consensus that plans 
should be formulated for a dynamic entry. Despite ATF's early belief that drawing Koresh 
away from the Compound was central to the success of any operation, intelligence reports 
that Koresh did not leave the Compound led the planners to abandon efforts to lure Koresh 
away. 

Development of the Tactical Plan 

During the next two weeks, outlines of the ATF raid plan were developed by 
Sarabyn and the SRT leaders who would be involved in the operation — Petrilli, Williams, 
Buford, and King. The plan was never committed to paper in any detailed form; however, it 
reflected a shared basic understanding on the part of its creators. 

54 




Figure 20: Aerial photograph ot command post at TSTC. 




Figure 21: Aerial view of Bellmead Civic Center, utilized by ATF as a staging area. 

An agent appointed by Sarabyn selected Texas State Technical College (TSTC) as 
the site for the command post because of its proximity to an airfield for use by the 
operation's helicopters and because the sheriffs department previously had received 
cooperation from the airport manager. (See Figure 20.) At the suggestion of local police, 
the planners selected Bellmead Civic Center as the staging area because of its proximity to 



55 



the Compound, extensive parking facilities, and ability to accommodate more than 100 
people. (See Figure 21.) According to the plan, approximately 75 ATF agents would gather 
at the staging area early on the day of the raid and leave for the Compound in time to 
arrive at about 10:00 a.m. The agents would travel approximately 10 miles to the 
Compound on the main road in cattle trailers, hidden beneath canvas tarpaulins and 
plywood-reinforced sides. (See Figures 22 and 23.) The plarmers believed that cattle trailers, 
which are quite common in Texas, could move a large number of people without attracting 
attention. Agent Dale Littleton, who had suggested using cattle trailers, had used them in 
October 1 992 to surprise a group of heroin dealers operating from a remote 1 07-acre ranch 
in Texas. On that occasion, law enforcement personnel who were concealed in the trailers 
surprised the subjects and were able to make arrests and execute a search warrant without 
injury or incident. 

In addition to the three SRTs, the trailers would carry three arrest support teams that 
would be responsible for clearing and securing the perimeter and handling any prisoners. 
All agents would carry semiautomatic handguns, and some would be equipped with 
semiautomatic AR-15s or 9mm MP-5 submachineguns. Some of the MP-5s carried by the 
agents could fire two-shot bursts but none of the MP-5s could fire more than two shots 
with one trigger pull. 

If agents in the undercover house, whose raid-day mission included watching the 
Compound for changing conditions, did not observe any unusual activities, the cattle trailers 
would pull in front of the Compound, and the agents would deploy. The helicopters would 
leave the airfield at the command post, which was approximately three miles from the 
Compound, on a schedule that would make them arrive shortly before the trailers. There 
they would provide a diversion by hovering a distance from the Compound before the cattle 
trailers arrived. 

The three SRTs were to arrive at the Compound and surprise the men who were 
working in the pit, separated from the weapons stored next to Koresh's room. The New 
Orleans SRT would be responsible for gaining control of the arms room and Koresh's 
bedroom. Initially, the plan called for part of this team to climb an internal staircase, 
believed to be located near the front door, and proceed directly to the arms room and 
Koresh's bedroom. However, because the planners were unable to confirm through 
Rodriguez's visits to the Compound whether a staircase ran from the front door to those 
two rooms on the second floor, the plan was changed a few days before the raid. 



56 




Figure 22: Side view of second cattle trailer. 



57 




Figure 23: Rear view of second cattle trailer. 



58 



The modified plan required that most of the New Orleans agents climb onto the 
Compound's roof and enter the arms room and Koresh's room through two separate 
windows, while the balance of the New Orleans team secured the base area. The plan called 
for the New Orleans team to use "flashbangs" — diversionary devices that produce a flash 
and a bang but no fragments, and therefore do not cause injury — to enable it to safely enter 
the windows of rooms believed to be filled with weapons. The Dallas SRT was to enter the 
fi-ont door and secure the second and third floors and the tower — areas believed to contain 
the women and children's bedrooms. Half of the Houston SRT was to enter the front door 
and secure the first floor until it reached the trapdoor to the buried school bus; the other 
half was to circle around to the west edge of the Compound, secure the men in the pit area, 
and then proceed through the buried bus until it reached the other side of the trapdoor. 
After the premises had been secured and the residents taken outside, a proper search would 
be conducted. (See Figure 24.) 

The plan called for deployment of at least two groups of forward observers armed 
with long-range rifles, who were to provide cover for the agents entering the Compound. In 
accordance with the ATF forward observer program, the Treasury Department's firearms 
policy, and the standard rules of engagement for federal law enforcement officers, the cover 
provided by the forward observers was limited to shooting in defense only (i.e., to protect 
the lives of agents and innocent third parties in imminent danger). Two forward observers 
and five other agents who would provide security for them and who would clear and secure 
vehicles parked nearby were to take positions near the hay bam, which was situated on low 
ground about a quarter of a mile behind the Compound; four forward observers were to set 
up in the undercover house. The hay barn team was to arrive at the bam approximately two 
hours before the raid and move into position as the cattle trailers entered the grounds; the 
team in the undercover house was to arrive the night before and set up surveillance the next 
morning. 

The planners decided not to place forward observers on the east side of the 
Compound to provide cover for the New Orleans SRT members because of a concem that 
the terrain to the east did not provide the necessary cover. Although some planners favored 
placing such forward observers, the opinion of the plarmers concemed about the lack of 
cover to protect and conceal the observers from Compound occupants prevailed. As a 
result, the New Orleans team was required to achieve its objective without any covering 
support. A communications network was to link the various components of the raid, which 
in tum would be connected to the raid's command and control element, which would have 
its own radio channel. (See Figure 25.) The plan also called for another group of agents to 

59 




Figure 24: Photograph indicating planned deployment for SRTs. 

60 



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61 



execute a second search warrant at the Mag Bag as soon as the Compound was secured. 

The tactical planners developed their plan in accordance with the ATF National 
Response Plan (NRP). The NRP, which Sarabyn had played a significant role in drafting, 
sought to define ATF objectives, policies, and procedures to ensure a coordinated response 
and rapid deployment of ATF resources to situations that exceeded the capabilities of a 
single field division. The NRP set forth the responsibilities of various ATF headquarters 
officials and field division leaders. One of its purposes was to permit ATF Washington 
officials to oversee operations and maintain communication with field commanders. On 
February 9, pursuant to the NRP, the planners formally requested, and received authority a 
week later from Hartnett, to activate three SRTs to handle the operation. The attempt to 
execute the warrants at the Compound was only the fifth time that ATF used more than one 
SRT in a single operation and the first time since ATF established the NRP. 

In accordance with the NRP, the Waco raid plan designated certain field personnel 
to serve in particular command and control positions for the operation. Chojnacki, as SAC 
of the field division in which the operation was taking place, was, pursuant to NRP's 
directive, designated as incident commander. As Incident Commander, Chojnacki was 
charged with determining the overall strategy for the operation and for coordinating with 
the National Command Center in Washington. 

The tactical plan for entering the Compound, as it evolved toward its final preraid 
form, called for Chojnacki to be stationed at the command post. Chojnacki then opted to be 
a passenger in one of the helicopters. Chojnacki designated Sarabyn, an SRT-trained ASAC, 
as the tactical coordinator in accordance with the NRP. Sarabyn would be responsible for 
directing and controlling all tactical functions during the operation. Pete Mastin, Deputy 
Incident Commander, would first be positioned at the staging area and then would ride to 
the Compound in a cattle trailer. Cavanaugh, an SRT-trained ASAC (Dallas) and Deputy 
Tactical Coordinator, would be stationed in the undercover house. From there, he could 
warn Chojnacki and Sarabyn if he or any of the other agents witnessed any changes at the 
Compound. In addition, once Sarabyn and Chojnacki left for the Compound, Cavanaugh 
would be in the best position to observe any activities at the Compound, particularly 
outward signs that residents were preparing for a raid, such as guns in the windows or 
barricades, and would thereafter have responsibility for aborting the raid if necessary. (See 
Figure 26.) 



62 



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Figure 26: Organizational chart of National Response Plan structure and specific assignments for the Waco operation. 

63 



There was also a contingency plan in case the raid had to be aborted. The cattle 
trailers could easily take a detour at several points before reaching the road to the 
Compound. Even after turning onto the Compound road, the trailers could, for a short 
while, stop and allow the agents to disembark and retreat from the Compound. To provide 
concealment from the Compound's long-range weapons — particularly its .50-caliber 
guns — in case agents were forced to retreat from the Compound on flat and open terrain, 
ATF requested smoke canisters from military sources shortly before the raid. Because of the 
timing of the request, however, no smoke canisters were provided in time for the raid. But 
the planners determined that once the trailers had arrived near the front of the Compound, 
the raid could not be aborted because the terrain provided no concealment for the agents, 
and the driveway would not permit the trailers to turn around. At this point of no return, 
action would have to be taken, even if the Compound residents were not surprised. 

Additional Intelligence Gathering, Training, and the Briefing of ATF Leadership 

The formulation of a raid plan that rested on the assumption that the Branch 
Davidian men could be surprised in the construction pit, when they were away from their 
weapons, did not lead to any new direction in the intelligence gathering operation at the 
undercover house. Although the tactical planners recognized by early February that the plan 
hinged on the men being in the pit at 10:00 a.m., none of the undercover agents was 
informed that the operation would be based on this assumption. The development of the 
tactical plan, therefore, brought no change in the nature of the surveillance reports coming 
from the undercover house; if anything, the reports about the work in the pit became even 
vaguer and more sporadic until surveillance was officially terminated on February 17. 

During the first few weeks in February, any lingering hopes that Koresh would leave 
the Compound or could be lured away were abandoned. The agents never saw him leave, 
and ATF's principal effort to draw Koresh away from the Compound failed when Joyce 
Sparks' supervisor at the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services refused 
an ATF request that the agency summon Koresh to town for a meeting. A week before the 
raid, an attempt was made to obtain a state arrest warrant for Koresh' s sexual activities with 
a young girl, which would have gained a basis for either the Texas Department of 
Protective and Regulatory Services or the District Attorney's Office to schedule a meeting 
with Koresh in town. The attempt fell short, however, when the girl was unwilling to testify 
about what had happened. 



64 



On February 11, Chojnacki, Sarabyn, and Aguilera flew to Washington and briefed 
Daniel Hartnett, ATF's Associate Director of Law Enforcement; Daniel Conroy, Deputy 
Associate Director of Law Enforcement; Andrew Vita, ATF's Chief of Firearms; David 
Troy, ATF's Chief of Intelligence; Richard Garner, ATF's Chief of Special Operations, and 
others about the investigation and the planned operation. The next day, the agents gave a 
similar briefing to ATF Director Stephen Higgins. Chojnacki and Sarabyn explained that 
Koresh would likely be at the Compound when any operation took place because he 
apparently rarely left the Compound. After reviewing the reasons for launching a raid rather 
than a siege — including their concerns about a mass suicide and Koresh' s ability to 
withstand a siege for an extended period of time — Chojnacki and Sarabyn outlined their 
tactical plan's key aspects, including its focus on separating the men working outside in the 
pit from the weapons and the women and children. 

After hearing the raid plan, ATF management raised several concerns about 
measures being taken to protect ATF agents and the women and children in the Compound. 
Higgins, for example, directed that particular care be taken with the diversionary 
flashbangs. When Hartnett questioned why the raid was scheduled for 10:00 a.m., rather 
than pre-dawn, when raids are generally begun, Chojnacki and Sarabyn explained how the 
plan depended on catching the men in the pit, when they were separated from their 
weapons. They also reviewed the provisions made for aborting the mission if necessary; 
Chojnacki and Sarabyn, as well as Mastin and Cavanaugh, would have authority to stop the 
mission at any time. With their concerns thus addressed, Higgins, Hartnett, and the rest of 
ATF top management approved the plan. 

Shortly thereafter, Hartnett telephoned Chojnacki and expressed his concern that the 
men in the pit might sneak back into the Compound after the agents arrived. He directed 
that, rather than trying to secure the pit area from above, agents should enter the pit to 
secure the men inside. Hartnett also questioned the plan's abort options. But after receiving 
Chojnacki's assurance that the raid would only proceed if conditions were right, Hartnett 
again expressed his approval of the operation. 



65 



Part One 

Section Three: ATF and the Media Prepare for the Raid 



The Waco Tribune-Herald'' s Investigation of David Koresh and Preparation 
of a Series for Publication 

Even before ATF began its inquiry into firearms and explosives violations at the 
Branch Davidian Compound, a local newspaper, the Waco Tribune-Herald, had been 
investigating David Koresh and his followers. In spring 1992, Mark England, a Tribune- 
Herald reporter who had covered Koresh's 1988 trial for attempted murder, became 
intrigued by reports that Koresh proclaimed he was Jesus Christ and that there might be a 
mass suicide at the Branch Davidian Compound during Passover. With reporter 
Darlene McCormick, England gathered information and interviewed Koresh, former cult 
members, and the families of current cuh members. By fall 1 992, the reporters had 
information that children were being physically and sexually abused at the Compound. 
Having also learned that the Branch Davidians were using a buried school bus as a shooting 
range and that they were stockpiling large amounts of weapons and munitions, the reporters 
decided that law enforcement and social service agencies were not taking the situation 
seriously. 

In October 1992, McCormick called Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston in Waco 
to ask what constitutes an illegal firearm. According to McCormick, Johnston informed her 
that the "Treasury guys" could tell her if any Branch Davidians had permits for automatic 
weapons. While Johnston did not give McCormick any specific information about the ATF 
investigation, she concluded that federal authorities were in fact investigating the Branch 
Davidians. After the call, Johnston notified ATF that the newspaper was working on a 
story. 

By January 1993, England and McCormick had drafted a "Sinful Messiah" series of 
articles and submitted them to their editors. By early February, the galleys (used to detect 
and correct errors before a newspaper page is composed) went to Randall Preddy, the 

67 



Tribune-Herald''?, publisher, for his review. Because of its startling revelations of Branch 
Davidian lifestyles and its disclosure of dangerous weapons at the Compound, Preddy sent 
the galleys to his superiors at Cox Enterprises, the newspaper's parent company in Atlanta, 
for review. He also asked Cox's Vice President for Security, Charles Rochner, to assess the 
potential for violence against the Tribune-Herald's plant and personnel and to recommend 
any necessary security procedures. Preddy and Rochner discussed the situation at the 
February Cox publishers meeting in Orlando, Florida, and Rochner agreed to visit Waco 
later in the month. 

ATF Discussions About the Tribune-Herald Investigation and Contacting the Media 

ATF first learned about media interest in the Compound when, in October 1992, 
Johnston told Aguilera that the Tribune-Herald was preparing a major story about Koresh. 
In December 1992, when Aguilera learned that Marc Breault, a former Branch Davidian, 
was supplying information to both law enforcement and the Tribune-Herald, Aguilera 
located Breault and asked him to stop dealing with the newspaper. That same month, 
Aguilera told his supervisor. Earl Dunagan, acting RAC of the Austin office, about the 
Tribune-Herald's parallel investigation. Dunagan, in turn, suggested to AS AC Sarabyn, his 
supervisor in Houston, that ATF try to convince the Tribune-Herald to delay the story until 
after the ATF operation took place. At a meeting to discuss the investigation on 
December 4, SAC Chojnacki suggested meeting with the Tribune-Herald to request a delay 
in publication, but James Cavanaugh (then a Dallas ASAC and later Deputy Tactical 
Commander for the raid) opposed any such contact. By January 1993, however, an 
agreement was reached that a delay should be sought to ensure the safety of the undercover 
agents and the integrity of the investigation. 

The February 1, 1993, Meeting With a Tribune-Herald Official 

In mid- January, Barbara Elmore, the Tribune-Herald s managing editor, contacted 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Johnston to assess the likelihood that the Branch Davidians would 
retaliate against the Tribune-Heralds plant or personnel in the wake of the publication of 
the Koresh series. Johnston advised her of ATF concerns about publication of the articles 
and suggested a meeting. 

On February 1, Sarabyn and Dunagan met with Elmore at the U.S. Attorney's 
Office and, citing their ongoing investigation, asked her to delay publication of the 
Davidian series. Johnston introduced the parties but did not participate in the meeting. The 

68 



agents offered to give Tribune-Herald reporters "front-row seats" during the execution of 
the contemplated law enforcement action if the newspaper delayed publication of its series 
until after the raid. Elmore said that her publisher would have to make that decision and 
mentioned her concerns about the security of the Tribune-Herald's persormel and building. 
At the conclusion of the meeting, Dunagan told Elmore that ATF planned to execute the 
search warrant on February 22 and that he would inform her if the date changed. Elmore 
recalls only that ATF told her that it might take some type of action concerning the cult in 
two to four weeks. 

About two weeks later, Dunagan, with Sarabyn's approval, told Elmore that the raid 
had been postponed to March 1. According to Elmore, she told Dunagan that the Tribune- 
Herald had made no decisions about publication, but alerted other Tribune -Herald 
personnel of the date change. Dunagan believed the paper was cooperating with ATF's 
request to hold the story because Elmore had not told him anything to the contrary. Editors 
at the Tribune-Herald, on the other hand, have indicated that they felt no obligation to 
respond to ATF one way or the other; indeed, they report having been surprised that ATF 
agents did not contact other members of Tribune-Herald management after Elmore had told 
ATF she could not make the decision to delay publication of the articles. 

Continued Discussions Between ATF and the Tribune-Herald 

After these initial contacts, Chojnacki assumed sole responsibility for ATF 
communications with the Tribune-Herald. On February 9, Rochner informed Chojnacki that 
he would act as the Tribune-Herald's liaison with ATF and that he was conducting a threat 
assessment for the Tribune-Herald in cormection with its "Sinful Messiah" series. Tribune- 
Herald staff members, however, have said that they did not regard Rochner as the paper's 
liaison with ATF, but only as a security consultant to the paper. Because Rochner planned 
to be in Waco the week of February 22, Chojnacki agreed to meet with him. In the 
meantime, Chojnacki invited Rochner to observe raid training at Fort Hood on the 25th, 
later changing the invitation to the 26th or 27th. 

To prepare for the meeting with the Tribune-Herald, Chojnacki sought advice from 
Jack Killorin, Chief of ATF's Public Affairs Branch. ATF's media policy does not require 
that headquarters personnel be notified of media involvement at the operational stages of an 
ATF action. It does, however, require such approval for media "ride-alongs" (ATF Order 
1200. 2B, January 20, 1988). Noting Koresh's messiah complex and his paranoia, they 
agreed that taking the press along on a raid could create an inflammatory situation. 

69 



Chojnacki said that he would offer Tribune-Herald key interviews and would recognize 
their hard work, but that he would not accept a demand that they be present at the raid or 
tell them the date or time of the raid. Killorin advised that ATF should not give the 
Tribune-Herald an exclusive story. He did not discuss this conversation with his supervisor, 
ATF Assistant Director of Congressional and Media Affairs James Pasco. 

The Tribune-Herald Decision to Publish 

By mid-February, reporters and editorial staff at the Tribune-Herald were eager to 
publish the "Sinful Messiah" series. Internal revisions and attorney libel review had been 
completed, and, at Rochner's direction, new security procedures were in place at the 
newspaper. Entrances to the building were locked, building passes were issued, and 
identifying decals had been removed from all Tribune-Herald vehicles. England and 
McCormick would leave Waco when the series appeared, and the homes of the Tribune- 
Herald executives would be protected. Only three hurdles remained before publication: 
Koresh was to be interviewed a final time so that his reaction could be included in the 
series; Rochner was to approve security procedures upon his arrival on February 24; and 
Chojnacki was scheduled to meet with Tribune-Herald editors on February 26. Freddy had 
told his staff that the series would not go forward until he had a face-to-face meeting with 
ATF officials. 

On Friday, February 19, the Tribune-Herald editors took the first step toward 
publication and instructed England to interview Koresh. After contacting Koresh on 
Monday, February 22, for his reaction to the series, England left for Dallas on Wednesday, 
February 24, pursuant to the security plan. McCormick was already out of the country on 
vacation. On Wednesday morning, Rochner arrived in Waco and at Freddy's request, 
rescheduled the meeting with Chojnacki for that afternoon. Freddy recalls that before the 
meeting, Rochner mentioned that Chojnacki had invited him to observe ATF training at 
Fort Hood. 

The February 24 Meeting With the Tribune-Herald 

On February 24, Chojnacki, Rochner, and Freddy met with editor Robert Lott, City 
Editor Brian Blansett, and Managing Editor Barbara Elmore. Lott recalls that, at the time, 
he was committed to publication, absent clear and convincing evidence that the publication 
would cause harm. It is not clear, however, whether Chojnacki understood that this was to 
be the newspaper's standard for holding publication. 

70 



Chojnacki opened the meeting by thanking the Tribune-Herald editors for delaying 
the series, but the editors immediately made it clear that they had not held the series in 
deference to ATF — they had not been ready to run it for other reasons. Noting that he was 
concerned with the safety of ATF personnel as well as the safety of Tribune-Herald 
employees and facilities, Chojnacki begged the editors to hold off publication until after 
ATF had conducted its operation. Koresh appeared to be relaxed, Chojnacki explained, but 
publication of the series would agitate him and disrupt ATF's planned operation. 

Chojnacki did not, however, give the paper any sense of when ATF's operation 
would take place or what it would entail. He noted that he had not yet obtained warrants 
and was not sure he would be able to get any; if he were unable to obtain such judicial 
authorization, he explained, he would have to "go home." While he told the editors that he 
could not "afford" a siege, Chojnacki refused to answer questions as to "what he had in 
mind" and "if he had an undercover." The most he would say was that a law enforcement 
action would likely take place "fairly soon." Asked if ATF planned to act within the next 
7 to 14 days, Chojnacki declined to answer. 

Chojnacki then asked the Tribune-Herald editors if their series would run in one to 
seven days. He recalls having received an affirmative answer. He asked the editors to give 
him some advance notice of the publication. He concluded by asking: "So, does that mean 
that you are willing to run this story even though we are asking you to keep it quiet for a 
few more days so that we can do what we have to do?" According to Chojnacki, Lott 
replied "The important thing to us is the public's right to have information that they need to 
know, and that's our job. We're not concerned about where it falls in or falls out in terms 
of your law enforcement case." Chojnacki then left the meeting and, as he told the Review, 
he was "hot." 

All participants left the 30-minute meeting with the impression that the Tribune- 
Herald had not agreed to delay publication, and ATF had not revealed any specifics about 
its impending action. Elmore remembers the tone of the meeting as formal, but not 
antagonistic. Rochner recalls that Chojnacki appeared to be businesslike and that the 
meeting ended with an understanding that Freddy and the editors would discuss his request 
and that Rochner would get back to him. Chojnacki 's impression of the meeting was that it 
was tense and did not end cordially. He had not expected to meet with all the Tribune- 
Herald editors and he was upset with the outcome of the meeting. 



71 



ATF and the Media Prepare for the Raid February 24-27 

After the meeting with Chojnacki, the Tribune-Herald editors agreed that they had 
heard nothing to persuade them to delay pubHcation. According to the those at the meeting, 
their chief concern was to inform the public about the Branch Davidians as soon as the 
security of the paper and its employees allowed. Preddy tentatively decided that the series 
would begin on Saturday, February 27. This day was chosen, according to Tribune-Herald 
management, to allow the newspaper to gauge Branch Davidian reaction during the two 
weekend days, when activity at the newspaper's office and plant was reduced. Preddy 
decided not to notify ATF of the decision to publish until after Rochner had answered all 
security questions. 

Tribune-Herald officials have asserted that the March 1 ATF raid date was not a 
factor when they chose the publication date on Wednesday afternoon. Chojnacki's 
discussion of his difficulty securing warrants and his problems funding his operation made 
the March 1 date appear unlikely to the editors and publisher. In their view, his presentation 
was consistent with the Tribune-Herald editors' belief that local law enforcement had failed 
to take action for two years. 

After the meeting on Wednesday, Tommy Witherspoon, the Tribune-Herald reporter 
who covered the courts, told City Editor Blansett that he had received a tip from a 
confidential informant that something "big" might happen at the Branch Davidian 
Compound between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. next Monday, that the roads might be blocked, and 
that Witherspoon might want to be there when it happened. (The Tribune-Herald has told 
the Review that this confidential informant was not an ATF employee.) Without asking 
Witherspoon to verify the tip or making assignments, Blansett decided he would send a few 
reporters to the Compound area that Monday. 

In the wake of his meeting with the newspaper, Chojnacki realized that it was 
unlikely that the newspaper would accommodate his request to delay its series. At the ATF 
command post, he and other ATF leaders concluded that the Koresh series would begin on 
Sunday, February 28, and Chojnacki told as much to the SRT leaders at Fort Hood. 
Chojnacki then asked Sarabyn whether it would be possible to move the raid date up two 
days to Saturday. Sarabyn said that such a change was impossible, but that the raid could 
be done a day earlier, on Sunday. Chojnacki set the raid for Sunday, alerted Hartnett and 
Conroy of the change in plans, and they concurred. 



72 



ATF Raid Preparations: February 24-26 

Even as Chojnacki met with the Tribune-Herald, ATF's preparations were in ftiU 
swing. On February 24, ATF's forward observers and SRTs began arriving at Fort Hood for 
three days of rigorous training. On Thursday, the first day of training, Sarabyn briefed the 
SRT leaders on the overall plan and set out each team's assignment. The team leaders then 
briefed their respective teams. In addition, Rodriguez told the assembled agents about the 
Compound. On Friday, the agents, coordinating with a Fort Bragg Army Special Forces 
unit, were able to use the Military Operations Urban Terrain (MOUT) site at Fort Hood, a 
mock setting for urban military exercises, and the firing ranges. 

Each team trained on structures similar to areas of the Compound that it was 
assigned to secure. Some members of the Houston and the Dallas teams practiced entering 
the front door of a structure and securing the rooms and hallways inside. The New Orleans 
team practiced transporting ladders to the base of the structure and climbing up to secure 
the roof. In addition, the Special Forces personnel had constructed stand-alone window 
structures that permitted the New Orleans personnel to practice "break and rake" 
procedures, breaking a window and clearing the glass shards. Team members with prior 
emergency medical training also received trauma medical training, including the 
administration of intravenous transfusions, from the Special Forces medics. Meanwhile, the 
forward observers and agents who had been assigned AR-15s were given access to range 
facilities, where they qualified and zeroed their weapons to distances that would conform to 
their positions around the Compound. 

Securing Search and Arrest Warrants 

After Aguilera and Chojnacki briefed ATF officials, including Director Higgins and 
ADLE Hartnett, in Washington, D.C., on February 11 and 12, Chojnacki received approval 
to seek both an arrest warrant for Koresh and search warrants for the Compound and the 
Mag Bag. On February 25, Aguilera signed a sworn affidavit he had prepared with the 
assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bill Johnston and John Phinizy. On the same day, 
after reviewing the affidavit, Dennis Green, U.S. Magistrate-Judge for the U.S. District 
Court for the Western District of Texas, issued an arrest warrant for Koresh for violating 
federal firearms laws and a warrant to search both the Mag Bag and the Compound for 
evidence of that crime. Even though, to avoid disclosing the progress of the investigation, 
Aguilera had intentionally curtailed his contacts with firearms dealers who had sold 
weapons and components to Koresh, his affidavit's account of the documented flow of 

73 



materials into the Compound gave some sense of the arsenal that Koresh had amassed in 
1992. Listed in the affidavit were: 

104 AR-15/M-16 upper-receiver groups with barrels 

8,000 rounds of 9mm and .22-caliber ammunition 

20 1 00-round-capacity drum magazines for AK-47 rifles 

260 M-16/AR-15 magazines 

30 M-14 magazines 

2 M-16 E-2 kits 

2 M-16 car kits 

1 M-76 grenade launcher 

200 M-31 practice rifle grenades 

4 M-16 parts sets— Kits "A" 

2 flare launchers 

2 cases (approximately 50) inert practice grenades 
40 to 50 pounds of black gunpowder 
30 pounds of potassium nitrate 

5 pounds of magnesium metal powder 
1 pound of igniter cord 

91 AR-15 receiver units 

26 various calibers and brands of handguns and long guns 

90 pounds of aluminum metal powder 

30 to 40 cardboard tubes 

Other Waco Media Learn About the Raid 

While ATF agents were training at Fort Hood, reports of the impending raid were 
beginning to circulate among the Waco media. On Thursday, February 25, Tribune-Herald 
reporter Witherspoon told his friend Dan MuUony, who was a cameraman for television 
station KWTX, that something was going to happen at the Branch Davidian Compound on 
Monday. Mullony, in turn, alerted KWTX reporter John McLemore about the impending 
raid. Mullony attempted to confirm the tip. Darlene Helmstetter, his friend who was a 
dispatcher for American Medical Transport (AMT) ambulance service, told him that three 
ambulances had been put on standby for Monday at the request of law enforcement. On 
Friday, ATF advised AMT that the operation had been moved up and that ambulances 
should be at the Bellmead Civic Center rather than the airport. On Friday afternoon, at a 



74 



wreck site, an AMT paramedic also told Mullony that something "big" was going to happen 
on Monday. 

The Tribune-Herald Notifies ATF of its Decision to Publish on Saturday, 
and A TF Reacts 

On Friday, February 26, publisher Preddy gave his final approval for the series to be 
published the next day. At about 3:30 p.m., Rochner gave this information to Chojnacki, 
advising him that a copy would be available at the Tribune-Herald loading dock at 
12:15 a.m. on Saturday. Rochner says that he told Chojnacki that he would try to talk again 
with the newspaper editors and publisher if ATF had strong objections to publication. 
Chojnacki does not recall this offer. At Chojnacki's request, Rochner and Preddy reviewed 
the first story, and Rochner assured Chojnacki that it did not mention ATF. 

That evening, Chojnacki advised other ATF supervisors, now gathered at Fort Hood, 
that the story would run the next morning. As a precaution, Chojnacki and Sarabyn decided 
they would send Rodriguez into the Compound on Saturday to gauge the effect of the 
article on conditions in the Compound.'*^ Saturday was the Branch Davidian Sabbath, 
which usually entailed an all-day service in which Koresh preached to his followers. 
According to the revised plan, Rodriguez would enter the Compound at about 8:00 a.m. 
before the service began and look for signs that the article had caused Koresh to be on the 
alert for action by law enforcement or had otherwise caused a change in Compound routine. 

ATF Notifies the Treasury Department's Office of Enforcement About the Raid 

On Friday afternoon in Washington, ATF officials notified the Treasury 
Department's Office of Enforcement — which oversees ATF — of the impending raid. A one- 
page memorandum from ATF's liaison to that office went to Acting Deputy Assistant 
Secretary for Law Enforcement Michael D. Langan. The memo was later shared with 
John P. Simpson, who was acting as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and 
Ronald K. Noble, who had been designated to be the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury 
for Enforcement, but who, pending nomination and confirmation, was working as a part- 
time consultant to the office. After Langan, Stanley Morris, who had been detailed to the 
Office of Enforcement, Noble and others expressed grave reservations about the operation 
outlined in the memorandum, Simpson contacted ATF Director Higgins and, noting these 



" The original raid plan had not provided for this undercover visit, or for the one on the day of the raid. 

75 



concerns, directed that the operation not go forward. Higgins spoke with Associate Director 
Hartnett, who was able to obtain additional information from Chojnacki that appeared to 
answer the Office of Enforcement's concerns. Higgins was thus able to assure Simpson and 
Noble that the raid plan recognized the dangers posed by Koresh's weaponry, and to assure 
them that though children were present at the Compound, the raid could be executed safely. 
Higgins noted that an undercover agent would be sent into the Compound before the raid to 
ensure that there had been no change in routine; he also assured them that the raid would 
be aborted if things did not look right. After these assurances were given, Simpson said he 
would permit the raid to go forward. (A fuller narrative of the Office of Enforcement's role 
in the operation appears at Part Two, Section Five of this Report.) 

Sarabyn advised team leaders at a Friday afternoon meeting that Treasury officials 
had placed a "hold" on the raid. He suggested that this information be withheld from the 
agents until training was completed. After Simpson told Higgins that Treasury would not 
prevent the raid from proceeding, Higgins notified Hartnett, who gave Chojnacki the 
authority to make the decision to proceed. On Saturday, Chojnacki called Sarabyn to 
announce that Treasury had removed its "hold." 

Saturday, February 27: Media Preparations 

On Saturday, February 27, the first installment of the "Sinful Messiah" series 
appeared in the Tribune-Herald. The article described child abuse at the Compound, saying 
that Koresh encouraged the whipping of children as young as eight months and alleged that 
Koresh had fathered children with 15 women, many underage, living at the Compound. The 
article traced the 50-year history of the Branch Davidians and explained the importance of 
the Seven Seals from the Book of Revelations to Koresh and his followers. The newspaper 
also featured a sidebar entitled, "The Law Watches, But Has Done Little," and an editorial 
asking when the McLennan County sheriff and the district attorney would take action.^" 

The Tribune-Herald then shifted its focus away from its investigative series and 
prepared to cover the developing story of law enforcement activity at the Branch Davidian 
Compound. Tom.my Witherspoon's confidential informant told Witherspoon on Saturday 
that the raid had been moved up 24 hours. As a result, early Saturday afternoon, Freddy, 
Lett, Blansett, and Rochner met and decided to send reporters to the Compound area on 



^° On Monday, March 1, the day after the ATF raid was repulsed, the Tribune-Herald published the 
remaining five parts of its "Sinful Messiah" series. 

76 



Sunday morning. Preddy encouraged them to consider the safety of the reporters, but left 
before specific plans for coverage were discussed. After the meeting, while returning to 
Waco from a drive to see the Branch Davidian Compound, Lott, Blansett, and Rochner saw 
a military helicopter headed toward the airport at Texas State Technical College (TSTC). 
Blansett, familiar with landing patterns at TSTC, believed that the helicopter was landing in 
an area not usually used by military aircraft. When the three drove to TSTC to investigate, 
they saw approximately 10 people, some in uniforms, greeting the helicopter pilot. Rochner 
thought that these individuals must be with ATF and that TSTC could be the staging area 
for the raid. 

Blansett returned to his office about 4:30 p.m., developed story assignments, and 
directed reporters to meet at the Tribune- Herald office at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. Because 
most reporters did not have Sunday assignments and he believed the updated tip about the 
raid to be reliable, Blansett assigned nine reporters to the story, triple the number he had 
contemplated on Wednesday. Blansett was interrupted by a call from Steve Schneider, one 
of Koresh's senior deputies. Schneider told Blansett that Koresh was upset by the first 
"Sinful Messiah" article and wanted an opportunity to tell the Tribune-Herald the "real 
story," the story of the Seven Seals and not, as Schneider put it, "seven days of lies." 
Promising to call Schneider back, Bleinsett called Mark England in Dallas and told him 
about the raid tip and Koresh's request for an interview. England left Dallas for Waco. 
Blansett next called Rochner, who suggested that England interview Koresh in a restaurant, 
so that Rochner and an off-duty police officer could be nearby. Rochner also asked if 
reporters wanted flak jackets for the raid, noting that he might be able to locate some. 
When England arrived in Waco, he told Blansett that he did not want to interview Koresh. 
Blansett never called Schneider back. 

Rochner talked with Chojnacki twice that Saturday. First, he sought, unsuccessfully, 
to get Chojnacki's reaction to the story. That evening he also sought Chojnacki's counsel 
on Schneider's request that someone from the newspaper interview Koresh. They discussed 
sending reporters into the Compound on Saturday, which Chojnacki discouraged, explaining 
that he did not think it would be safe to enter the Compound.^' 



^' Rochner recalls that he next proposed sending a reporter into the Compound on Sunday. According to 
Rochner, Chojnacki said, "Good luck, you will not be in our way if you go on Sunday." Rochner contends 
that this reinforced his view that no raid was planned for Sunday. Chojnacki does not recall making such a 
statement. In any event, the Tribune-Herald did not send reporters to the Compound on February 28 to 
interview Koresh; it sent reporters to cover a raid. 

77 



KWTX's preparations to cover the raid also moved forward. On Saturday morning, 
MuUony learned from Helmstetter, the AMT ambulance service dispatcher, that the ATF 
operation had been moved up a day. Helmstetter also told him that he should plan to be in 
town on Sunday. On Saturday afternoon, MuUony and Witherspoon acknowledged to each 
other that they knew the ATF operation was set to occur the next day. By Saturday 
evening, Mullony concluded that the raid would occur at about 9:00 a.m. Sunday based on 
standby times Helmstetter had given him. Helmstetter had also told Mullony that ATF had 
placed CareFlite, a Fort Worth helicopter medical transport service, on standby for Sunday. 
This fact led KWTX to believe the operation would be a major one. 

That night, at the direction of KWTX News Director Rick Bradfield, Mullony asked 
Jim Peeler, another KWTX cameraman, and reporter McLemore to meet him and Bradfield 
early Sunday morning. Mullony was so concerned about what might happen the next day 
that he drafted his will. In contrast, McLemore, unconcerned, took his wife out to a local 
club. According to one witness, in a conversation at the bar, McLemore said ATF was 
going to conduct a big raid the following day. McLemore admits that he alluded to a big 
event but denies saying anything about ATF. 

Saturday, February 27: ATF Preparations 

Saturday was a hectic day for ATF as raid preparations continued. At the morning 
briefing, Sarabyn discussed the first installment of the "Sinful Messiah" series. He pointed 
to Koresh's picture, noting that the article did not mention an ongoing investigation, and 
explained to the agents that Rodriguez would be sent in Saturday and Sunday to gauge 
Koresh's reaction to the series. 

The SRTs were joined by arrest team personnel for a rehearsal of the deployment 
from the cattle trailers into the Compound. The agents focused on exiting the trailers and 
getting to the Compound as quickly as possible. In an open field, Special Forces personnel 
had outlined the dimensions of the Compound on the ground with engineer tape and set up 
a front-door facade, thus allowing raid personnel to practice in a confined area similar to 
the Compound. In addition, the New Orleans and Houston SRTs practiced using 
"flashbangs" — distraction devices that, when detonated, produce a loud bang and a emit a 
bright flash — in one of the MOUT structures. The teams also simulated the arrival of the 
cattle trailers and the helicopter diversion. 



78 



Meanwhile, ancillary and support elements converged on Waco. Two marked ATF 
bomb-disposal trucks and National Guard support trucks, including a two-and-a-half ton 
military transport truck and a water truck, arrived at TSTC. After Fort Hood training, three 
National Guard helicopters also proceeded to TSTC. The Texas Department of Public 
Safety was prepared to set up roadblocks and the sheriffs department was prepared to 
provide other support functions. ATF reserved 153 rooms at three Waco hotels for the 
evening of the 28th. At 8:00 that evening Chojnacki and Sarabyn conducted a briefing at 
the Best Western Hotel for arrest and support teams, including National Guard members, 
explosives specialists, dog handlers, and laboratory technicians. Phillip Lewis, Support 
Coordinator, had arranged with local suppliers for such diverse items as the ambulance 
services, portable toilets, and the Bellmead Civic Center. On Saturday, he ordered 
doughnuts at a Waco grocery store, arranging to pick them up the next morning. He also 
arranged with the sheriffs department for coffee at the Bellmead Civic Center site the next 
morning. 

Special Agent Sharon Wheeler, the ATF public information officer (PIO) assigned to 
the operation, prepared for the raid. Several weeks earlier, Chojnacki had asked that public 
information be handled by Killorin, but his request was denied because Pasco and Killorin 
determined that Killorin was needed in Washington on other matters. Wheeler was chosen 
because the Houston PIO was less experienced and New Orleans did not have a PIO. 

Responding to direction from her SAC, Ted Royster, Wheeler contacted one Dallas 
television station for a weekend contact number. Then, following her press plan, she called 
two other Dallas television stations to obtain similar telephone numbers. While she 
indicated to all the stations that ATF might have something going on during the weekend, 
she did not describe the action or provide its timing, location, or any other information 
specific to the raid. She did not contact Waco television stations or newspapers, out of a 
concern that the raid's security might be threatened."^ 

Rodriguez entered the Branch Davidian Compound at 8:00 a.m. Saturday to join 
Koresh's worship service. Koresh preached about the "Sinful Messiah" article and told his 
followers that "they" were coming for him. He cautioned that, when this happened, his 



" Despite earlier accounts to the contrary, Wheeler did not divulge any information about the raid in these 
contacts. The reporters she contacted were not able to determine what law enforcement action she was 
referring to, based on their conversation. Indeed, none of the stations she contacted were at the Compound 
until well after the firefight began. 

79 



followers should not get hysterical and should remember what he had told them to do; he 
did not specify at the time what those instructions were. Between noon and 5:00 p.m., 
Rodriguez met with Chojnacki at the TSTC command post. Chojnacki asked Rodriguez 
whether he had seen any guns or preparations to resist law enforcement. Rodriguez said he 
had not. 

Rodriguez went back to the Compound for more services at 5:00 p.m., and stayed 
until about midnight. Upon his return to the undercover house, Cavanaugh and the forward 
observers who had arrived earlier that evening noted that Rodriguez was showing the strain 
of his assignment. Rodriguez called Sarabyn and reported that no changes inside the 
Compound were evident. Sarabyn instructed Rodriguez to return to the Compound Sunday 
morning for a final check on conditions and leave by 9:15. Rodriguez explained to Sarabyn 
that he was upset about this assignment because he was concerned that an unexpected 
return might arouse Koresh's suspicions. Rodriguez was also concerned about his ability to 
leave the Compound by 9:15 because Koresh exerted such control over the Compound and 
could be so intense in his personal interactions. Rodriguez was not confident that he would 
be able to leave by 9:15 without alarming Koresh. Nonetheless, he reluctantly agreed to 
return the next morning. 



80 



Part One 

Section Four: The Assault On The Compound. 



ATF Agents Assemble 

On the morning of February 28, Cavanaugh and the forward observers watched the 
Compound from the undercover house for signs of unusual activity. They saw nothing out 
of the ordinary. A few men were walking about the grounds and some women were 
emptying waste buckets. The weather was overcast with traces of precipitation. The forward 
observer teams in the undercover house who, if necessary, were to provide cover fire for 
the raid teams, checked and prepared their equipment. Rodriguez was to enter the 
Compound at 8:00 a.m. Two undercover agents were available to support him. In addition, 
one of the undercover agents was assigned the task of taking forward observer and arrest 
support teams to a hay barn behind the Compound. Once the raid teams had left the staging 
area, the undercover agents also were to ensure that the residents of the neighboring house 
remained safely inside during the raid. 

Meanwhile, at Fort Hood, the 76 agents assigned to the cattle trailers assembled at 
5:00 a.m." They traveled to the staging area, the Bellmead Civic Center, in an 
approximately 80-vehicle convoy with a cattle trailer at each end. Many of the vehicles 
bore the telltale signs of government vehicles — four-door, late-model, American-made 
vehicles with extra antennas. All the vehicles had their headlights on. Agents report that, 
once underway, the convoy stretched at least a mile. 

The convoy arrived at the Bellmead Civic Center between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. The 
civic center is adjacent to a residential neighborhood and is visible from the nearby 
intersection of Interstate 84 and Loop 340, 9.4 miles from the Compound. (See Figure 27.) 



" With few exceptions, no definitive record exists of times for the events on February 28. Accordingly, 

except where otherwise noted, all times are approximations derived from witness recollections, logs, and other 

records. 

81 



An ATF agent wearing an ATF raid jacket and local police were in the street in front of the 
civic center directing the convoy into the parking lot. While waiting to be briefed, some of 
the agents went inside the center to have coffee and doughnuts; others milled about outside. 
A supervisor became concerned about the visibility of the agents, many of whom wore ATF 
insignia or were otherwise unmistakably law enforcement personnel. He ordered everyone 
to go inside and to remain in the civic center. 

At 8:00 a.m., Sarabyn gave a short briefing at the civic center. He reviewed 
assignments with the various groups, discussed the recent Tribune-Herald article, and 
related the substance of Rodriguez's Saturday assessment of conditions in the Compound. 
He also distributed the most recent photographs of the Compound and took questions from 
team leaders. He told the assembled agents that Rodriguez was in the Compound and that 
there would be a final briefing after Rodriguez reported on conditions in the Compound. 
Sarabyn left the staging area for the command post to await Rodriguez's report. The agents 
gathered in small groups, talked, checked their equipment, and reviewed plans while 
awaiting Sarabyn' s final briefing. 

Activity at the command post at TSTC also began at dawn. Special Agent Lewis, in 
charge of logistics support, checked the telephone lines. The three National Guard 
helicopters, one UH-60 Blackhawk and two OH-58 Jet Rangers that had flown in the night 
before were parked on the tarmac. 

Andy Vita, Chief of the Firearms Division, opened ATF's National Command 
Center in Washington, D.C., at 9:00 a.m. (EST). Richard Garner, Chief of the Special 
Operations Division; John Jensen, in charge of the National Communications Branch, and 
others designated by the National Response Plan, also were present. Director Stephen 
Higgins, Associate Director Daniel Hartnett, and Deputy Assistant Director Daniel Conroy 
were available by telephone. 

The Media Sets Out To Cover The Raid 

Even as ATF agents were gathering to embark on the raid, local reporters were 
deploying to cover the operation. At 7:00 a.m. at KWTX, Jim Peeler, John McLemore, and 
Dan Mullony received maps of the area and reviewed assignments with the station's news 
director. Rick Bradfield. Bradfield anticipated a major law enforcement operation because 
he had learned from Mullony's AMT Ambulance Service informant, Darlene Helmstetter, 
that CareFlight, a Fort Worth-based trauma flight company, was involved. Bradfield told the 

82 




Figure 27: Map depicting staging area, Mag Bag, Compound, and road blocks. 

83 



Review that KWTX did not call ATF to confirm the raid because asking for information or 
permission is generally unproductive. (According to Bradfield, the policy of KWTX when 
covering law enforcement operations is to go to the news site, obey law enforcement 
orders, and respect private property.) 

Peeler was sent to the intersection of Double E Ranch and Old Mexia roads where, 
according to Mullony, Peeler was to watch for and film raid helicopters. Peeler denies 
receiving any information concerning helicopters. Peeler thought his job was to film any 
prisoners brought out during the raid. Mullony and McLemore were sent to Farm Road 
2491 (FR 2491) on the other side of the Compound's grounds. Bradfield, from the 
newsroom, communicated with his employees by cellular telephone. Radios were not used 
so that competitors could not overhear their conversation. 

Prior to the raid, nine Tribune-Herald reporters were assigned to the developing 
story. The morning of the raid, some of them gathered at the newspaper's office before 
departing for the Compound in four cars, three heading for the Compound and the fourth to 
TSTC to watch for helicopter activity. The newspaper, concerned about the enormous cache 
of weapons at the Compound and Koresh's potential for violence, had gone to extraordinary 
lengths to ensure the safety of its plant and personnel. In contrast, the reporters were not 
given any safety instructions about covering the raid, nor were they instructed about 
possible affects their presence or actions might have on the raid. 

As the reporters drove to the Compound they mistakenly expected to encounter 
roadblocks. In law enforcement operations however, a roadblock is usually not established 
until the action begins. In this case, establishing a roadblock more than two hours before 
the raid was to begin likely would have compromised the secrecy of the operation. 

At about 7:30, after driving up and down the Double E Ranch Road in front of the 
Compound twice, Mullony parked on FR 2491 about one mile north of its intersection with 
Double E Ranch Road. By 8:30, other Tribune-Herald vehicles were patrolling the two 
roads bordering the Compound. At 9:30, Mark England asked a DPS officer parked on the 
side of the road if he could go by what he believed to be a roadblock. The officer told 
England that he could pass but that the road would later be closed. In the hour before the 
raid, five media vehicles could be seen driving or parked on roads near the Compound. The 
agents in the undercover house reported the increased traffic to Cavanaugh. The Review has 
been unable to verify whether Cavanaugh forwarded the information to the command post. 
(See Figure 28 and legend.) 

84 



But while other reporters were waiting for the raid to begin, KWTX cameraman 
Peeler became lost. At about 8:30, he used his cellular telephone to ask Bradfield and 
Mullony for directions. Despite getting directions, Peeler remained lost somewhere near the 
intersection of Old Mexia and Double E Ranch roads. There he encountered David Jones, a 
local letter carrier who was driving a yellow Buick with "U.S. Mail" painted on the door. 
Jones pulled up behind Peeler and asked him whether he was lost. Peeler, who was wearing 
a KWTX jacket, introduced himself as a cameraman with the station and asked for 
directions to "Rodenville," the name by which many Waco residents had referred to the 
Compound ever since it had been owned by the Roden family. Peeler did not know that 
Jones was one of Koresh's followers. Jones pointed to the Compound, which was in sight, 
and commented that he had read about the cult in the paper and thought they were weird. 
Peeler, deceived into believing that Jones was not affiliated with Koresh, warned Jones that 
some type of law enforcement action was about to take place at the Compound. He 
indicated that the action was likely to be a raid of some type and that there might be 
shooting.^'' 

After the chance encounter with Peeler, Jones returned to his car and as he sped 
away toward the Compound, Peeler began to wonder whether Jones was affiliated with the 
cult. After this conversation. Peeler drove to a nearby store and called Bradfield, who told 
him to return to the intersection of Old Mexia and Double E Ranch roads, wait 30 minutes, 
and if nothing happened, go home. When Peeler returned to the intersection, DPS officers 
and ATF agents had set up a roadblock. Peeler was not allowed to pass, but he was told 
where he could set up his camera. 



" There are conflicting reports about what Peeler actually told Jones. In a statement to the Texas Rangers, 
Koresh's attorneys stated that in one of their visits to the Compound during the standoff between the cult and 
the FBI, David Jones (now deceased) told them that Peeler warned him not to go near the Compound as there 
were going to be "60 to 70 TABC (Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission) guys in helicopters and a shoot-out 
would occur." Peeler has denied giving this much detail to Jones. However, he has admitted that on the 
morning of the 28th he believed that TABC was involved and had tuned his scanner to the TABC frequency. 
TABC was not involved in the action on the 28th and Peeler is the only witness interviewed by the Review 
who believed that TABC was involved. Peeler's admission lends credibility to the account provided by 
Koresh's attorneys. 



85 




Figure 28: Location of Media Vehicles. 



86 



VEHICLE #1 



WHITE BLAZER 



PEELER 



8:30 AM 



VEHICLE *2 



7:30 AM 



9:15 -9:30 AM 



VEHICLE #3 



Arrives the vicinity of Old Mexia Road and Hwy 84. Was lost, cellular telephone calls to Mullony or 
directions. Found way to Old Mexia Road and Double EE Road, parked on Old Mexia Road (Spot E), had 
conversation with Jones. Lett area, returned following Trooper, parked at Spot E and videos the raid. 



WHITE BRONCO II 



MULLONY 
McLEMORE 



Arrive 1 .8 miles past Double EE Road on FR 2491 (Spot A). Received and made calls to Peeler giving 
directions and admonishing him not to talk to anyone. Talked to England, Doe, Aydelotte, Witherspoon, 
Masferrer and Blansett at various times while at Spot A. 

Received call from Peeler, said he saw helicopters, moved from Spot A and drove by DPS Trooper talking 
to England at Spot F. Turned down Double EE past Compound, on way to Old Mexia Road saw 
helicopters, turned around and proceeded past Compound to intersection of Double EE and FR 2491 
(Spot B). Set up camera, saw cattle trailers, followed them down driveway to back of bus, videos raid. 



SILVER HONDA ACCORD 



AYDELOTTE 

WITHERSPOON 

MASFERRER 



8:30 AM Arrive on FR 2491 , drove past Double EE Road to a location in sight of the compound roof (Spot G). 
Remained for while, then moved further down FR 2491 , met Mullony and McLemore at Spot A. Received 
cellular call from Sanchez, helicopters moving. Drove down Double EE Road past Compound driveway, 
parked. Witherspoon to Spoon House, Witherspoon returned to car, then drove down Double EE Road 
a short distance, stopped, backed up, saw cattle trailers turn down Compound driveway and remained 
at Spot C. 



VEHICLE #4 



8:45 AM 



VEHICLE #5 



8:30 - 8:50 AM 



WHITE CAVALIER STNWGN 



ENGLAND 
DOE 



Arrive on FR 2491 , drove past Blansett/McCormick parked near the intersection of Double E Road and 
FR 2491 (Spot B), continued to Spot A and are joined by Blansett, told to go to TSTC, to check on 
Sanchez, drove to TSTC. Met Sanchez, told helicopters are not moving. Returned to FR 2491 , followed 
DPS Trooper to a small depression in road on FR 2491 (Spot F), left car to speak with Trooper. Trooper 
said road block not in force yet. Saw vehicles 2 and 3 drive by to Double EE Road. Followed to Spot B 
met Mullony/McLemore, remained there until they saw three helicopters, minutes later saw cattle trailers, 
followed Mullony/McLemore down Double EE Road to Compound driveway, parked beside Aydelotte's 
car at Spot C. 



VEHICLE #6 

8:30 - 8:45 AM 

9:13 AM 
9:29 AM 

9:41 AM 



WHITE CAVALIER STN WGN 



BLANSEH 

Mccormick 



Arrive Double EE Road, took Double EE Road past Compound to Old Mexia Road, turned around just 
before intersection Old Mexia and Double EE (Spot E). Return to intersection of FR 2491 and Double EE 
Road (Spot B), England/Doe pass (9:10 AM), followed England/Doe down 2491 to Spot A, told England 
to check Sanchez. Went back toward Double EE Road, turned down Double EE Road past Compound 
to Old Mexia, turned around before reaching intersection, and stopped at a ridge and depression (Spot 
D) and remained there until after shooting started, then moved to Spot E. 



WHITE bronco II 



SANCHEZ 



Called by Blansett, while in route to Compound told to goto TSTC to check on helicopters. Parked 6 blocks 
from TSTC tower. 

Called Blansett, advised saw activity . . . 

Called Blansett, advised saw helicopters moving . . . decided to go to Compound, led DPS/ATF caravan 
(Mag Bag Search Team), used Loop 340 to FR 2491 . 

Pulled over briefly, cattle trailers passed him, he tried to pass cattle trailers and called Blansett and told 
him ATF is coming in cattle trailers. 
Sachez is pulled over by ATF on FR2491 . . . 



Legend for Figure 28 



87 



Peeler's encounter with Jones was witnessed by one of the ATF undercover agents 
who was taking the forward observers and their arrest support teams to a hay bam behind 
the Compound. The undercover agent was dressed in casual clothes; the forward observers 
wore ATF battle dress utilities. When the undercover agent saw the two vehicles parked 
together on the road, he recognized Jones' postal vehicle. Jones was talking to the occupant 
of the second car, whom the agent did not recognize but suspected was a reporter. The 
agent, fearing that Jones might spot the uniformed agents in his car, told them to crouch 
down. Jones did not appear to look in the agents' direction and the undercover agent was 
satisfied that his group had not been seen. He drove to the hay bam, deposited the forward 
observers and arrest support team, and retumed to the undercover house where he told 
Cavanaugh what he had seen. Cavanaugh claims to have relayed the information to the 
command post although no one there recalls receiving it. 

Rodriguez Enters The Compound 

At 8:00 a.m., not long before Peeler had his conversation with David Jones, 
Rodriguez went to the Compound one final time for the most critical phase of his 
undercover assignment, assessing whether the Herald-Tribune articles had incited Koresh 
and his followers to take up arms or otherwise increase their security measures. Koresh 
greeted the undercover agent and invited him to join a "Bible study" session with two of his 
followers. There were no signs of unusual activity. 

While Koresh and Rodriguez were engaged in this Bible session, David Jones 
arrived at the Compound, fresh from his encounter with Peeler. He told his father. Perry 
Jones, what had happened. Perry Jones devised a pretext to draw Koresh away from 
Rodriguez."^ He called to Koresh that he had a phone call. When Koresh ignored the 
request, Jones added that it was long distance from England. 

Early interpretations of Jones' reference to England speculated that Jones was 
referring to Mark England, the co-author of the Tribune-Herald series whom Koresh had 
been trying to contact. This interpretation led to speculation that Mark England alerted 
Koresh to the impending raid. However, Koresh' s attorneys have said that Jones told them 
that he was referring to the country. In any event, contrary to early accounts, there is no 



" Cult members released from the Compound after the raid have stated that prior to the 28th, Koresh had 
suspected that Rodriguez was an undercover agent. One cult member stated that despite his suspicions, 
Koresh continued to meet with Rodriguez believing that he could nonetheless successfully recruit him. 

88 



evidence that Mark England placed a call to the Compound on the morning of February 28. 
Records provided by the Tribune-Herald of their telephone calls contain no record of a call 
to the Compound on the morning of February 28. 

When Koresh left the room to take the fictitious call, David Jones described his 
conversation with Peeler. Upon Koresh' s return, Rodriguez could see that he was extremely 
agitated, and although he tried to resume the Bible session, he could not talk and had 
trouble holding his Bible. Rodriguez grabbed the Bible from Koresh and asked him what 
was wrong. Rodriguez recalls that Koresh said something about, "the Kingdom of God," 
and proclaimed, "neither the ATF nor the National Guard will ever get me. They got me 
once and they'll never get me again." Koresh then walked to the window and looked out, 
saying, "They're coming, Robert, the time has come." He turned, looked at Rodriguez and 
repeated, "They're coming Robert, they're coming." 

Rodriguez was shocked. As Koresh repeatedly looked out the window and said, 
"They're coming," Rodriguez wondered whether the raid was beginning even though he 
was still in the Compound. Needing an excuse to leave, Rodriguez told Koresh he had to 
meet someone for breakfast but Koresh did not respond. Other male cult members entered 
the room, effectively if not intentionally coming between Rodriguez and the door. Fearing 
that if he did not leave he would be trapped in the Compound, Rodriguez contemplated 
jumping through the window. He repeated that he had to leave for a breakfast appointment. 
Koresh approached him, and in a manner Rodriguez believed highly uncharacteristic, shook 
Rodriguez's hand and said, "Good luck, Robert." Rodriguez left the Compound, got into his 
truck and drove to the undercover house. 

Rodriguez Reports 

Agents in the undercover house recall that Rodriguez was visibly upset when he 
returned from the Compound. He complained that the windows of the undercover house 
were raised and that he could see a camera in one of them. Cavanaugh asked Rodriguez 
what had happened in the Compound. Rodriguez announced that Koresh was agitated and 
had said ATF and the National Guard were coming. Cavanaugh asked Rodriguez whether 
he had seen any guns, had heard anyone talking about guns, or had seen anyone hurrying 
around. Rodriguez responded in the negative to all three questions. Cavanaugh then told 
Rodriguez to report his observations to Sarabyn. 



89 



Rodriguez called Sarabyn at the command post and told him that Koresh was upset, 
that Koresh had said ATF and the National Guard were coming, and that as Rodriguez left 
Koresh was shaking and reading the Bible. Sarabyn asked Rodriguez a series of questions 
from a prepared list provided by the tactical planners: Did you see any weapons? Was there 
a call to arms? Did you see them make any preparations? Robert responded in the negative 
to each question. Then, Sarabyn asked what the people in the Compound were doing when 
Rodriguez left. Rodriguez answered that they were praying. Next, Sarabyn called 
Cavanaugh who reported that there was no observable activity in the Compound. 

A special agent in the command post witnessed Sarabyn's part of the conversation 
with Rodriguez. After Sarabyn had hung up the phone, the agent stopped Sarabyn and 
asked what Rodriguez had said. Sarabyn responded that Rodriguez had been with Koresh 
when Koresh was called from the room to take an emergency telephone call. When Koresh 
returned to the room he said that ATF and the National Guard were in Waco and were 
coming. Sarabyn also stated that Rodriguez reported Koresh was nervous and dropped the 
Bible from which he was reading. The agent asked Sarabyn, "What are you going to do?" 
Sarabyn responded that Rodriguez had seen no firearms and that Koresh was reading the 
Bible when Rodriguez left. Sarabyn said he thought they could still execute the plan if they 
moved quickly. 

Initial accounts by the participants in and witnesses to Rodriguez's conversations 
with Cavanaugh and Sarabyn differed significantly with respect to whether Rodriguez 
clearly communicated that Koresh knew the raid was imminent. Although there remains 
some variance with respect to Rodriguez's actual words, all key participants now agree that 
Rodriguez communicated, and they understood, that Koresh had said the ATF and National 
Guard were coming. 

Now Sarabyn hurried out of the command post to the tarmac to confer with Royster 
and Chojnacki. The helicopters had already begun warming up. In order to hear over the 
noise of the rotors, the three supervisors moved to a fence bordering the tarmac, 
approximately 50 feet away. Although the noise still made conversation difficult, the three 
men huddled together so Sarabyn could pass on what he had learned. Sarabyn related that 
he had just spoken with Rodriguez who had said that Koresh knew ATF and the National 
Guard were coming but that, when Rodriguez had left, Koresh was reading the Bible and 
shaking. Sarabyn also stated, based on what Rodriguez had said, that Koresh was not 
ordering anyone in the Compound to do anything. Chojnacki asked Sarabyn whether 
Rodriguez had seen any guns. When Sarabyn responded that Rodriguez had not, Chojnacki 

90 



asked Sarabyn what he thought should be done. Sarabyn expressed his belief that the raid 
could still be executed successfully if they hurried. Chojnacki responded, "Let's go." The 
conference lasted no more than three minutes. Sarabyn left immediately for the staging 
area. 

Events began to reflect Sarabyn' s perceived need for speed. News of Rodriguez's 
report spread rapidly among the ATF agents at the command post, creating an atmosphere 
of great urgency and commotion. Various agents were heard yelling that Koresh knew of 
the raid and that they needed to depart immediately. Royster hastened to the helicopters and 
told the agents there that Koresh knew of the raid and therefore it was beginning 
immediately. Royster then ran back to the command post, joined by Chojnacki who called 
the National Command Center and reported to Special Agent Jensen, responsible for the 
Center's communications, that the undercover agent was out of the Compound and that the 
raid was commencing. Chojnacki did not relate the substance of Rodriguez's report. 
Chojnacki then ran to and boarded his helicopter. A few minutes later, the helicopters 
departed. Shortly thereafter, Rodriguez arrived at the command post only to find that 
Sarabyn, Chojnacki and Royster had departed. Witnesses recount that Rodriguez became 
distraught, repeatedly asking how the raid could have gone forward when he had told them 
that Koresh knew they were coming. 

The Raid Goes Forward 

Sarabyn arrived at the staging area at 9:10 a.m. Witnesses report that he was excited 
and obviously in a hurry. Agents in the parking lot when Sarabyn arrived recall that he ran 
to them and told them that they had to hurry, making statements such as, "Get ready to go, 
they know we are coming," and "They know ATF and the National Guard are coming. 
We're going to hit them now." 

Similarly, agents inside the civic center recall Sarabyn running in and calling for 
their attention. He announced, "Robert has just come out. Koresh knows that ATF and the 
National Guard are coming." Sarabyn told the agents they would proceed immediately. 
Sarabyn exhorted the agents to move quickly, repeatedly telling them to hurry, to get their 
gear because Koresh knew they were coming. There was no formal briefing, discussion or 
evaluation of Rodriguez's information. Several agents report having had qualms about 
going forward, especially since Koresh had mentioned the National Guard, yet they also felt 
questioning the decision would be inappropriate. 



91 



Within 15 minutes of Sarabyn's arrival at the staging area, the special response and 
the arrest teams boarded the trailers and left. According to agents in the trailers, although 
there was some lighthearted banter, the overall mood in the trailers was uncharacteristically 
somber. While some felt confident, others began to wonder why they were proceeding if 
Koresh knew they were on their way. 

Sarabyn rode in the truck pulling the first cattle trailer. He maintained an open 
cellular phone contact with Cavanaugh throughout the trip to the Compound, keeping 
Cavanaugh posted as to the team's location and asking for reports on the level of activity at 
the Compound. Cavanaugh reported that he could not see any signs of activity in the 
Compound or on its grounds. 

Activity In The Compound 

According to some of the former cult members in the Compound at the time, 
preparations were being made in the Compound, although not detectable by Cavanaugh and 
the forward observers. Even as Rodriguez was departing. Perry Jones and the female 
members of the Compound had gathered in the chapel, thinking that they had been called 
for a church service. They had been waiting almost an hour when Koresh came in and 
ordered them back to their rooms. The older women and children went to the second floor 
and began to lay on the floor in the hallway, away from the outer walls of the Compound. 
Many of the cult members began to arm themselves, some with 9mm pistols, some with 
automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles, and others with both pistols and rifles. (See 
Figure 29.) Some donned bulletproof vests, others put on ammunition vests. (See Figure 
30.) Ammunition was distributed. The Compound members assumed stations at the 
windows, waiting for the ATF agents to arrive. 

The Media Covers The Approach Of The Raid Teams 

According to Tribune-Herald cellular phone records, at 9:26 a.m., photojoumalist 
Robert Sanchez called Blansett to advise him that several helicopters were leaving TSTC. 
Sanchez had earlier reported to his colleagues waiting near the Compound that he had seen 
agents at TSTC in camouflage fatigues loading duffle bags and gear into vehicles, and 
lining up to go. As Sanchez drove to the Compound he caught up to the two cattle trailers 
filled with uniformed agents. He relayed this information to his colleagues near the 
Compound. Agents in the second trailer reported that a vehicle was following them and two 
ATF agents in a chase car following the trailers stopped Sanchez. Sanchez again called his 

92 




c 



I 



Figure 29: Kalashnikov assault rifle, recovered from Schroeder's van which was parked in front of main Compound 
building (photograph taken after April 19, 1993). 

93 




Figure 30: (From left) Load-bearing ammunition vests containing two 9mm magazines, four loaded AK-47 magazines, 
and a military helmet recovered from Schroeder's van after the 4/19/93 fire. 

94 



colleagues and advised them that he had been turned back and was unable to continue to 
the Compound. 

Media personnel used radio and cellular telephones to communicate with one 
another and used scanners to monitor law enforcement frequencies during the hour before 
the raid. Several members of the press heard on scanners "no guns in the windows," and 
"it's a go" moments before ATF raid trucks entered the Compound's driveway. 

Once Blansett relayed Sanchez's information, the reporters in the area moved closer 
to the Compound. Tribune-Herald reporters, Witherspoon, Aydelotte, and Masferrer drove 
to the house beside the undercover house to observe the raid from its front yard. 
Witherspoon knocked on the door to ask permission, but the agent safeguarding the 
residents inside declined to answer. As Witherspoon was knocking another agent 
approached. Believing the approaching agent to be a resident, Witherspoon said there was 
about to be a raid and asked whether he and his colleagues could observe it from the front 
yard. Without identifying himself, the agent ordered the reporters to leave the property. As 
the reporters were backing their car onto Double E Ranch Road, the trailers were turning 
into the Compound's driveway. The reporters parked their car on the road in front of the 
house next to the undercover house. Aydelotte was retrieving his camera from the trunk of 
his car, when a second car containing two more Tribune-Herald reporters pulled alongside. 
Aydelotte managed to shoot several frames before gunfire began striking the car, forcing all 
five reporters into a ditch alongside the road. 

Meanwhile, KWTX's Mullony and McLemore turned onto Double E Ranch Road 
and followed the ATF cattle trailers up the Compound's driveway. McLemore pulled up 
behind a parked bus. As the trailers continued the short distance to the front of the 
Compound, Mullony set up his tripod. Seconds later gunfire erupted from the Compound. 

The Helicopter Diversion 

As the trailers approached the Compound from the Double E Ranch road, the 
helicopters had not yet arrived at their designated point, even though Cavanaugh repeatedly 
radioed for them to come in "low and fast." The helicopters approached the rear of the 
Compound at approximately the same time the trucks pulled along the front, which failed to 
create the intended diversion. When they were approximately 350 meters from the rear of 
the Compound, the helicopters were fired upon, forcing them to pull back. It was too late at 
this point for them to warn the trailers to abort. 

95 



Two of the helicopters were forced to land in a field to inspect for damage. Agents 
discovered that bullets had pierced the skins of each of the helicopters. The third helicopter, 
although also struck by gunfire, was able to remain airborne. It circled overhead to watch 
for additional attackers. Due to the damage, the two helicopter pilots initially decided not to 
attempt to fly them back to the command post. Chojnacki requested the third helicopter to 
land and take him back to the command post. While the pilots inspected the helicopters, 
agents climbed a small hill to determine how far they were from the Compound. From the 
hill they concluded that the group was still within range of hostile fire. They recommended 
to the helicopter pilots that if the helicopters could be flown, they should leave the area. 
The pilots decided that the helicopters were flightworthy and they returned to the command 
post without further incident. 

The Raid Team Arrives 

As the cattle trailers entered the driveway there was no sign of activity inside or 
outside the Compound. The approaching agents realized the absence of activity was a bad 
omen. When one agent noted over the radio, "There's no one outside," a second agent 
responded, "That's not good." 

The trucks stopped in front of the Compound's main building as planned. Figure 31 
shows their position. Agents with fire extinguishers for holding the Compound's dogs at 
bay were the first to exit the trailer. One agent opened the gate in the wall in front of the 
Compound, and another discharged a fire extinguisher at the dogs. Simultaneously, agents 
began exiting the second trailer. Koresh appeared at the front door and yelled, "What's 
going on?" The agents identified themselves, stated they had a warrant and yelled "freeze" 
and "get down." But Koresh slammed the door before the agents could reach it. Gunfire 
from inside the Compound burst through the door. The force of the gunfire was so great 
that the door bowed outward. The agent closest to the door was shot in the thumb before he 
could dive for cover into a pit near the door. Then gunfire erupted from virtually every 
window in the front of the Compound. The Dallas and Houston SRTs, which were 
approaching the front of the Compound and the pit area to the left, took the brunt of the 
initial barrage. Agents scrambled for cover. One of the first shots fired hit the engine block 
of the lead pickup truck. Consequently, neither the first, nor the second vehicle were able to 
leave. 

As the Dallas and Houston teams attempted to get to the front of the Compound, the 
New Orleans team, which had been concealed in the second trailer, approached the east side 

96 




Figure 31: Photograph of Compound after 2/28/93 raid, which includes the ATF cattle trailers in the foreground. 

97 



of the Compound. As they left the trailer, the agents heard gunfire. At first, the agents 
thought it came fi-om the dog teams. During training the agents had been told that they 
might hear the dog teams firing at the dogs if they were not able to subdue them with fire 
extinguishers. However, they quickly realized that the gunfire was coming from the 
Compound. While one agent provided cover from the ground, seven others approached the 
wall and climbed to the roof. Conway LeBleu, Todd McKeehan, Kenny King, and David 
Millen were to enter Koresh's bedroom on the west pitch of the roof, while Bill Buford, 
Keith Constantino and Glen Jordan were to enter the window on the east pitch of the roof. 
That window led to the room that ATF intelligence indicated contained the weapons. But 
soon after the agents reached the roof, they came under heavy gunfire. Special Agent 
Millen was able to retreat back to the east pitch of the roof where he stood guard outside 
the armory. Special Agent LeBleu and Special Agent McKeehan were killed. 

Special Agent King was shot six times before managing to roll himself off the roof 
and into the courtyard behind the Compound. (See Figure 32.) As he lay trapped in the 
courtyard, too injured to move. King repeatedly called over his radio that he had been shot 
several times and was bleeding badly. Agents hearing King's pleas, tried to rescue him. 
New Orleans Field Division SAC, Pete Mastin, contacted Cavanaugh and asked whether the 
forward observers could suppress fire from the tower while agents on the ground attempted 
to rescue King. The forward observers directed rifle fire at the area of the tower from 
which shots had been directed at the agents. However, as the agents attempted to move 
toward the rear of the Compound, gunfire from other areas stopped them. Despite the 
agents' best efforts, the intensity of the gunfire made it impossible to rescue King until the 
final cease-fire, approximately an hour and a half later. 

At the arms room. Agent Jordan managed to "break and rake" the window and 
Agent Buford threw a distraction device into the room. Buford, Constantino and Jordan 
entered. Inside, Agent Buford saw a person armed with an assault rifle backing out of a 
doorway in the far left corner of the room. That individual began firing into the room from 
the other side of the thin walls. The agents returned fire, but without automatic weapons, 
which are used to deliver a defensive spray of gunfire, they could not suppress the 
attacker's fire. The shots fired at the agents inside the room passed through the wall to 
where Special Agent Millen was positioned on the roof. Shots were also fired at Millen 
fi-om the first floor up through the roof. He escaped the attacks by sliding down the ladder 
to the ground. 



98 




Figure 32: Arrow shows location of seriously wounded Kenny King after he rolled from the roof into the courtyard. 

99 



Inside the room, Buford was shot twice in the upper thigh. Agent Constantino 
provided cover for Buford and Jordan while they ran back for the window, dove out onto 
the pitched roof and then dropped to the ground. As Agents Chisolm and Bonaventure 
dragged Buford out of the line of fire, they were fired upon. A bullet creased Buford' s 
nose. Agent Chisolm threw his body over Buford to protect him^*. When the shooting 
stopped, Chisolm and Bonaventure pulled Buford to a safe position. Chisolm, the medic for 
his team, observed Buford' s wounds and began administering an IV to him. 

Immediately after Buford and Jordan were out of the arms room, the firing stopped. 
As Constantino was deciding whether to hold his position or make a run for the window, a 
cult member entered the room aiming an assault rifle at him. He fired two or three shots at 
Constantino. Constantino returned fire and the man fell. Constantino ran for the window, 
but as he was going through it, he struck his head, knocked off his helmet and dropped his 
weapon. Dazed, he rolled off the roof and fell to the ground, severely fracturing his hip and 
leg and causing extensive injury to both knees. As he lay on the ground, vulnerable to the 
cult's guns, he saw two agents who had taken cover near the wall of the Compound. 
Constantino put his hand out and Special Agents David Millen and Charles Smith dragged 
him out of the line of fire. (Contrary to some publicly disseminated accounts, none of the 
agents that entered the armory were killed.) 

Special Agents Steven D. Willis and Robert J. Williams were killed during the 
ambush. Agent Willis, a member of the Houston raid support team, had taken cover behind 
a van parked near the right front comer of the Compound. Special Agent Williams, New 
Orleans SRT, was providing cover for his teammates mounting the roof. Intense gunfire 
forced him to seek cover behind a large metal object on the ground to the east side of the 
Compound. 

Throughout the vicious firefight, ATF agents demonstrated extraordinary discipline 
and courage. Special Agents Bemadette Griffin, Jonathan Zimmer and Martin Roy were 
pinned dovm behind a shed when Special Agent Jordan, who had been wounded in the 
arms room, staggered over to where they were and collapsed on them. Special Agent 
Griffin discovered that Jordan's arm was bleeding profusely. She elevated his arm and 
compressed the wound with her hand until the cease-fire, 90 minutes later. Special Agent 
Chisolm, relinquishing his own protected location, came to their location and rendered 



" There were many acts of sacrifice and heroism during the attack on the agents, only some of which can 
be recounted here. 

100 



medical aid. Special Agent Tim Gabourie, a medic with the Dallas SRT, who also 
repeatedly exposed himself to gunfire to treat several wounded agents, had one of his 
medical bags shot out of his hand by .50-caliber gunfire. He braved gunfire in an 
unsuccessful effort to reach Special Agent Willis who died during the battle. 

In the face of insurmountable, unrelenting automatic and semiautomatic weapons fire 
from virtually every area of the Compound, the agents had no choice but to remain in their 
covered positions. The openness of the terrain made retreat impossible. They returned fire 
when possible, but conserved their ammunition. They also fired only when they saw an 
individual engage in a threatening action, such as pointing a weapon. Neither of these 
constraints applied to those in the Branch Davidian Compound who had a virtually limitless 
supply of ammunition (Several hundred thousand rounds of ammunition were later found in 
the Compound) and could fire at will. They even fired at the undercover house and at the 
reporters parked on the road in front of the Compound. 

In addition to the agent fatalities, the cult's weapons inflicted vicious woimds on 
other agents. For example, one agent was shot in both legs by a shotgun. Another agent 
was shot in the left leg by one bullet while a second passed through his left leg and lodged 
in his right leg. There were many other serious wounds and related injuries which are listed 
in Figures 33 and 34. 

In contrast to the extensive casualties inflicted upon the agents, there were few 
casuahies among the cult members. (See Figure 35.) Autopsies revealed that two cult 
members were killed by agents in the entry teams returning fire. Autopsies of two other cult 
fatalities reveal that they were shot at close range: Perry Jones was killed by a shot in his 
mouth, a manner of death consistent with suicide; Peter Hipsman was wounded but was 
later killed by a cult member who shot him at close range in the back of his skull — an 
apparent mercy killing, although the autopsy revealed that his initial wound would not have 
been fatal. Koresh was wounded both in the pelvic area and in his wrist. 

The Cease-Fire 

According to McLennan County 911 records. Branch Davidian Wayne Martin called 
the Waco 911 emergency service at 9:48. His call was handled by Deputy Larry Lynch. 
Martin sounded very frightened and Lynch heard gunfire in the background. Deputy Lynch 
attempted to speak with Martin, but Martin did not respond and at 10:02, Martin hung up. 



101 



GUNSHOT RELATED DEATHS SUSTAINED BY ATE ON 
FEBRUARY 28, 1993 

(according to CA-6 Forms submitted by ATF) 





Name 


Team 


Injury 


Cause 


Hospital where 
treated 


1 


Conway Lebleu 


NO 


Death 


Gunshot 


N/A* 


2 


Todd McKeehan 


NO 


Death 


Gunshot 


N/A* 


3 


Robert Williams 


NO 


Death 


Gunshot 


N/A* 


4 


Steven Willis 


HOU 


Death 


Gunshot 


N/A* 



GUNSHOT AND SHRAPNEL RELATED INJURIES SUSTAINED BY ATF ON 

FEBRUARY 28, 1993 

(according to CA- 1 Forms submitted by ATF) 



1 


Clayton Alexander 


NO 


Two gunshot wounds - thigh in left leg; 
thigh In right leg 


Gunshot 


Providence 


2 


Roland Ballesteros 


HOU 


Gunshot wounds to the hand 


Gunshot 


Hillcrest 


3 


Bill Buford 


NO 


Gunshot wounds to both legs 


Gunshot 


Hillcrest 


4 


Samuel Cohen 


DAL 


Shrapnel fragments to lower right thigh 


Shrapnel 


Hillcrest 


5 


Eric Evers 


HOU 


Gunshot and shrapnel wounds to chest 
and shoulder area 


Gunshot/ 
Shrapnel 


Hillcrest 


6 


Mark Handley 


HOU 


Shrapnel wounds in right leg 


Shrapnel 


Hillcrest 


7 


Walter Glen Jordan 


NO 


Gunshot wounds to both legs 


Gunshot 


Hillcrest 


8 


Kenneth King 


NO 


Gunshot wounds to arms, chest and legs 


Gunshot 


Providence 


9 


Mark Murray 


DAL 


Buck shot wounds to left shoulder 


Gunshot 


N/A* 


10 


Gary Orchowski 


HOU 


Shrapnel wound to the right hand 


Shrapnel 


Hillcrest 


11 


Joseph Patterson 


DAL 


Shrapnel wounds to right cheek 


Shrapnel 


N/A* 


12 


Gerald Petrilli 


DAL 


Shrapnel wounds to right hand, wrist, 
forearms and left upper arm 


Shrapnel 


Hillcrest 


13 


Clair Rayburn 


HOU 


Gunshot wound to the hand 


Gunshot 


Hillcrest 


14 


John Risenhoover 


HOU 


Gunshot wounds to both legs 


Gunshot 


Hillcrest 


15 


Robert Rowe 


HOU 


Shrapnel wounds to hght hand; 
large abrasion on face 


Shrapnel 


N/A* 


16 


Michael Russell 


DAL 


Wound to back of left shoulder 


Gunshot 


N/A* 


17 


Larry Shiver 


HOU 


Multiple shrapnel wounds to left 
lower extremity, tissue loss to 
left medial calf, soft tissue injury to 
left thigh 


Shrapnel 


Hillcrest 


18 


Steven Steele 


DAL 


Shot in lower lip and left hand; 
injured lower back and left leg 


Gunshot 


Hillcrest 


19 


Robert White 


DAL 


Bullet wound to left shoulder, neck 
and bruise to right shin 


Gunshot 


N/A* 


20 


Curtis Willianns 


HOU 


Bullet fragments and puncture wound 
to upper thigh of left leg 


Gunshot 


N/A* 



*N/A means Not Applicable, treated by EMT at scene, or by private physician. 

Figure 33 

102 



SERIOUS NON-GUNSHOT RELATED INJURIES SUSTAINED BY ATF ON 

FEBRUARY 28, 1993 

(according to CA-1 Forms submitted by ATF) 





Name 


Team 


Injury 


Cause 


Hospital where 
treated 


1 


Keith Constantino 


NO 


Broken hip, extensive injuries to both 
knees and legs 


Falling from roof 


Hillcrest 


2 


Terry Lee Hicks 


NO 


Torn ligament between 3rd & 4th 
vertebra in neck; possible ruptured 
disk between 7th and 8th vertebra in 
neck; bruised or crushed nerve 
between 7th and 8th vertebra 


Moving for cover 


N/A* 



OTHER NON-GUNSHOT RELATED INJURIES SUSTAINED BY ATF ON 

FEBRUARY 28, 1993 

(according to CA-1 Forms submitted by ATF) 



1 


Wendel Frost 


N/A 


Ears subject to extreme noise levels 
causing possible hearing loss 


Noise of two .308 
highpowered rifles 


N/A* 


2 


Felix Garcia 


N/A 


Severe irritation to left heel 


ATF boots 


N/A* 


3 


Steven Jensen 


HOU 


Severe back pain - lower back and 
right leg, muscle spasms 


Carrying dead & 
wounded from scene 


N/A* 


4 


Kenneth Latimer 


HOU 


Sprain/pull to right shoulder 


Warrant execution 


N/A* 


5 


Charles Meyer 


N/A 


Rib and back Injury on left side 


Diving for cover 


N/A* 


6 


John Henry Williams 


HOU 


Two top front teeth chipped 


Moving for cover 


N/A 






*N/A means Not Applicable, treated by EMT at scene, or by private physician. 



Figure 34 



103 



BRANCH DAVIDIAN DEATHS ON FEBRUARY 28, 1993 
CULT MEMBERS KILLED BY CULT MEMBERS 



NAME 


NUMBER OF 
WOUNDS 


WEAPON DISTANCE 
TO WOUND (RANGE) 


WEAPON CALIBER/ 
TYPE OF AMMUNITION 


LOCATION OF WOUNDS/ 
CAUSE OF DEATH 


WINSTON BLAKE 


1 


TWO TO THREE FT. 


.223 


CRANIOCEREBRAL TRAUMA 


PETER HIPSMAN 


4 (a) 

(b) 
(c) 
(d) 


ONE TO TWO FT. 


9 MM. WINCHESTER 

SILVERTIP JACKETED 

HOLLOW POINT 


(a) UPPER POSTERIOR 
NECK 


LESS THAN 1 INCH 


9 MM. COPPER JACKETED 
SOFT POINT 


(b) RT. PARIETAL SCALP 


MORE THAN 4 FT. 


9 MM. COPPER JACKETED 
HOLLOW POINT 


(c) LOWER LEFT 

ANTERIOR CHEST 


MORE THAN 4 FT. 


UNKNOWN 
(NOT RECOVERED) 
PROBABLY BULLET (a) 


(d) ENTRY TO POST- 
LATERAL ARM W/ EXIT 
OF ANTEROLATERAL ARM 

DEATH DUE TO (a) & (b) 
CRANIOCEREBRAL TRAUMA 


PERRY JONES 


1 


WEAPON IN MOUTH 


UNKNOWN 
(NOT RECOVERED) 


CRANIOCEREBRAL TRAUMA- 
GUNSHOT WOUND TO MOUTH 



CULT MEMBERS KILLED BY ATF 



NAME 


NUMBER OF 
WOUNDS 


WEAPON DISTANCE 
TO WOUND (RANGE) 


WEAPON CALIBER/ 
TYPE OF AMMUNITION 


LOCATION OF WOUNDS/ 
CAUSE OF DEATH 


PETER GENT 


1 


DISTANT 


9 MM. HYDROSHOCK 


PERFORATION OF AORTA 
GUNSHOT TO UPPER LF. CHEST 


MICHAEL SCHROEDER 


6 (a) 
(b) 
(c) 
(d) 
(e) 

(f) 


DISTANT 


9 MM. HYDROSHOCK 


(a) RT. ANTERIOR SHOULDER 


DISTANT 


9 MM. HYDROSHOCK 


(b) RT. LOWER FLANK 


DISTANT 


9 MM. HYDROSHOCK 


(c) LEFT THIGH 


DISTANT 


9 MM. HYDROSHOCK 


(d) RT. TEMPORAL SCALP 


DISTANT 


UNKNOWN 
(NOT RECOVERED) 


(e) RT. SUPRA-AURICULAR 
REGION - EXIT RT. POSTIOR 
AURICULAR SURFACE 


DISTANT 


UNKNOWN 
(NOT RECOVERED) 


(f) GRAZING GUNSHOT WOUND 
OF THE LEFT CHEST. DEATH 
DUE TO MULTIPLE GUNSHOT 
WOUNDS 


JAYDEAN WENDELL 


1 


DISTANT 


9 MM. HYDROSHOCK 


CRANIOCEREBRAL TRAUMA- 
GUNSHOT WOUND TO HEAD 



BRANCH DAVIDIAN INJURIES SUSTAINED ON FEBRUARY 28, 1993 



NAME 


NATURE OF INJURY 


DAVID JONES 


•GUNSHOT WOUND TO GLUTEUS MAXIMUS 


DAVID KORESH 


GUNSHOT WOUND TO PELVIC RIM AND LEFT WRIST 


JUDY SCHNIEDER 


•GUNSHOT WOUND TO INDEX FINGER 


SCOTT SONOBE 


•GUNSHOT WOUND TO LEG 



'ALLEGED WOUNDS 



Figure 35 



104 



Using the telephone number that appears on a screen when a call is placed to 911, 
Lynch called back to the Compound. An answering machine responded. Hoping that 
Martin, or someone in the Compound, could hear, Lynch yelled for Martin to pick up the 
phone. Martin responded and Lynch began attempting to arrange a cease-fire. 
Simultaneously, Lynch tried to contact ATF through Lieutenant Barber, who as the liaison 
between ATF and the sheriffs department, was at the command post. However, Barber had 
turned off his radio because he was planning to assist the bomb technicians in recovering 
and processing any explosives. Although Lynch was unable to raise ATF on his radio, a 
TSTC officer, Jim Stone, responded and said that he was able to contact ATF. Stone drove 
to the command post and reached SAC Chojnacki. Chojnacki used Stone's radio to speak 
with Deputy Lynch. 

Afraid that if Martin was told to hang up the telephone to allow ATF to contact him 
directly, contact might not be restored, ATF worked through Lynch. Thus, Martin was in 
contact with Deputy Lynch, who had to relay what Martin said to Chojnacki by way of 
Stone's radio. Lynch told Martin to cease firing while simultaneously arranging for ATF 
agents at the Compound to do the same and pull back. 

At 10:34, Martin advised Deputy Lynch that someone else in the Compound wanted 
to speak to Lynch. At 10:35 Koresh called Lynch. Lynch was then in contact with Martin 
on one telephone line, David Koresh on another, and ATF by radio, as he attempted to 
arrange a cease-fire. The negotiations were unproductive, stymied by the unwieldy 
communications and confusion in the Compound. 

In the undercover house, Cavanaugh eventually decided that the sheriffs department 
was not making sufficient progress toward achieving a cease-fire, but he did not have the 
telephone number for any phone in the Compound. He yelled across to the agents in the 
neighboring house, who yelled back that the number was on the refrigerator. Cavanaugh 
found the number and dialed the Compound. The phone rang repeatedly but no one 
answered. Cavanaugh radioed to the agents on the Compound grounds to yell into the 
Compound for someone to answer the phone. Then, Branch Davidian Steve Schneider 
answered the telephone. Cavanaugh identified himself and told Schneider that he wanted to 
discuss the situation. Through the telephone Cavanaugh could hear yelling, screaming and 
crying in the Compound. Intermittent gunfire between agents and those in the Compound 
punctuated the tense standoff. Schneider was frantic and hostile. It took Cavanaugh several 
minutes to calm him. When Cavanaugh began to discuss arranging a cease-fire, Schneider 
was receptive because individuals in the Compound had also been wounded. But even after 

105 



Schneider and Cavanaugh had agreed to call a cease-fire, it took several minutes to achieve 
one. Schneider for his part had to walk throughout the Compound to tell people inside to 
stop shooting. Cavanaugh, who had no direct radio link to each agent, had to advise the 
team leaders of the cease-fire and the team leaders in turn had to communicate with their 
agents. The cease-fire was negotiated for a period of time before the shooting finally 
stopped. 

The cease-fire agreement did not address how the agents would leave. Cavanaugh 
told Schneider that ATF wanted to retrieve its dead and wounded agents. Schneider 
demanded that the agents withdraw unconditionally. Cavanaugh insisted that the agents 
would leave only if they could retrieve their wounded and dead. Schneider who remained 
excitable and irrational insisted that the agents leave immediately. Cavanaugh assured 
Schneider that the agents would retreat, but vowed not without their fallen comrades. 
Retrieval of King, who had fallen in the rear courtyard, was a particularly difficult point of 
negotiation. Initially, Schneider would not allow agents to go to the courtyard for King. 
Cavanaugh was able to discuss with Schneider King's precise location, even arranging for 
Schneider to have someone in the Compound look in the Courtyard to verify that an agent 
was there. Eventually, Schneider agreed to let agents retrieve King. 

Cavanaugh instructed the agents to raise their hands, not to make any sudden 
movements and begin leaving the grounds. At approximately 1 1 :34, SAC Mastin 
approached Agents Griffin, Bonaventure and Chisolm to assist them in retrieving King from 
the rear courtyard. The four of them proceeded slowly, with their hands raised, around the 
east wall of the Compound to reach the rear courtyard. When they reached the courtyard 
area, they began searching for King. Suddenly, one of the Branch Davidians aimed a rifle at 
Griffin and yelled racial slurs at her. Griffin decided that if she was going to be shot, she 
would rather it be while attempting to assist one of her fellow agents. She turned and 
walked toward King. The cult member did not shoot. 

King was too seriously injured to be carried without a stretcher, so the agents placed 
him on a ladder. They brought him out to the front of the Compound and put him in an 
ambulance that Special Agents Aguilera and Dunagan had driven to the Compound with 
Special Agents Rodriguez and Salas riding in the back to provide assistance: The AMT 
driver was not present because ATF could not guarantee his safety. 

By this time, most of the agents able to walk had gathered near a large bus to the 
right of the Compound. At 1 1 :46 Cavanaugh was able to persuade Schneider to allow ATF 

106 



to retrieve the remaining dead and wounded agents. The cease-fire left the agents at a 
significant tactical disadvantage. The agents were not covered, while the cult members were 
shielded inside the Compound's main building with vantage points on floors above the 
ground. While many agents were almost out of ammunition, the Branch Davidians were 
well supplied, which became clear when the Compound was searched after the April 19 
fire. Under the threat of Branch Davidian gunfire the agents withdrew, some with bolstered 
weapons, some with their shields raised, some with their hands in the air, and some with 
their backs to the Compound. The dead agents and those unable to walk were placed in any 
available vehicle: the ambulance; a pickup truck that had been parked in front of the 
undercover house; and a KWTX reporter's Ford Bronco. The six agents in the undercover 
house, rearranged the furniture into a defensive configuration and the forward observers 
monitored the retreat, prepared to return fire if necessary. The agents stayed in the 
undercover house until later that afternoon, when they received support from the Texas 
Department of Public Safety SWAT team who took positions at the nearby roadblock. At 
roughly the same time, ATF agents who had taken positions in a building near the 
undercover house were also able to withdraw safely. During the ceasefire, some agents had 
moved from the hay bam closer to the Compound. From this relatively safe, high ground, 
they had an excellent view of the Compound. But soon they were ordered back to the hay 
barn, where they had no such vantage point. 

Because no one had designated a rallying point at which agents would take 
defensive positions or had ordered a sequential withdrawal that might have permitted some 
agents to cover the movements of others, the retreat continued until the agents reached the 
roadblock at the intersection of Double E Road and FM 2491. There, arrangements were 
made for bus transportation, first to a nearby social club, the Pep Club, and then back to the 
staging area. It was approximately 1 :00 when the withdrawal negotiations were completed. 
Once the agents had left the Compound grounds, Cavanaugh agreed with Schneider that no 
agents would come on the property and no one inside would attempt to leave. Cavanaugh 
told Schneider that he would call again at 2:00 p.m. Cavanaugh then arranged for the 
residents of the neighboring house to be taken to a hotel, and he went to the conmiand post. 



107 



Part One 

Section Five: Post-raid Events 



Aftermath of the Shoot-Out on February 28 

Once Cavanaugh and Schneider had negotiated the cease-fire, ATF was confronted 
with a number of demanding and urgent tasks. First, and foremost, ATF needed to give 
prompt medical attention to the agents who had been wounded in the gunfight. Second, as 
described in the preceding section, ATF agents needed to withdraw safely from their 
vulnerable positions around the Compound. Third, ATF had to establish and maintain a 
secure perimeter around the Compound to prevent the escape of any adult cult 
members — all of whom were suspects in the murder of four ATF agents and the attempted 
murder of federal agents — and to prevent cult members outside the Compound from 
rendering assistance. Fourth, residents of the Compound who had not resisted, especially the 
children, needed to be evacuated. Finally, ATF had to provide the public with a prompt and 
accurate outline of the events at the Compound, while making clear to both the general 
public and those inside the Compound that ATF was in control of a difficult £ind 
challenging situation. 

Events in the aftermath of the cease-fire demonstrated that ATF lacked the planning, 
training, and resources to accomplish all of these tasks satisfactorily. Nonetheless, through 
the courage and tenacity of its agents and local law enforcement personnel, ATF managed 
to make substantial progress toward achieving several critical post-raid objectives. 

The Evacuation of Wounded Agents 

Before the raid on the Branch Davidian Compound, planners arranged for a private 
ambulance to stand by at a roadblock near the Compound during the operation and for a 
CareFlite helicopter to be available at the command post, which was five minutes' flying 
time away from the Compound, for medical evacuations. Soon after the operation began, it 
became clear that these resources were not enough to help all of the wounded agents. Even 

109 



before the shooting was over, ATF agents called for more ambulances and an additional 
CareFlite helicopter. The additional evacuation vehicles soon reached the roadblock where 
the retreating agents had gathered. First, three additional ambulances and an additional 
CareFlite helicopter arrived. During the next fifteen minutes, emergency medical care was 
administered to the ATF agents most seriously wounded. Those who needed immediate 
additional attention were then taken by either ambulance or helicopter to one of the two 
hospitals in Waco equipped to treat persons with gunshot wounds. By 12:25 p.m., the 
helicopters were airborne, and by 12:35, they had landed at Providence Hospital in Waco. 
After one of the hospitals received death threats against the wounded agents, ATF sent 
agents to the Providence and Hillcrest hospitals to provide security for the wounded agents 
and to obtain accurate information about the extent of ATF losses. 

The Media and the Shoot-Out 

Tensions ran high between ATF and the media during the shoot-out and cease-fire. 
Many agents were angry with media personnel who had been in the midst of the shoot-out, 
distracting agents while they were imder fire and whom agents had almost shot accidentally, 
fearing they were cult members. When the cease-fire was established, the five Tribune- 
Herald reporters who had been pinned in the ditch on Double E Road retreated quickly 
toward FM 2491. An ambulance driver, concerned that three of the media representatives 
might be Branch Davidians, ducked behind his ambulance and pointed the suspects out to 
an ATF agent. 

Mullony, who had filmed portions of the shoot-out from the front of the Compound, 
walked along the Compound driveway after the cease-fire and filmed the agents as they 
walked to the roadblock. Once he reached the roadblock at FM 2491, ATF agents and local 
law enforcement authorities verbally and physically assaulted Mullony as he filmed the 
agents' dead colleagues lying on the ground. Witherspoon, who had spent the shoot-out 
huddled in the ditch, was scolded by a sheriffs department employee for being at the 
scene. 

The Failure to Maintain the Perimeter 

During the course of the afternoon, ATF withdrew from its positions, and aside from 
the roadblocks it maintained, relinquished much of its control over the perimeter of the 
Compound. At one of these roadblocks, an alert ATF agent and local law enforcement 
officer prevented cult member Donald Bunds from returning to the Compound within an 

110 



hour after the firefight. Because Bunds was driving a car with an expired registration, he 
was arrested and taken to McLennan County jail. 

The failure to maintain the perimeter other than the roadblocks was due in part to a 
communication failure. After learning that Koresh had threatened to use women and 
children as shields in order to bring wounded cult members to the hospital, Hartnett ordered 
that Koresh be permitted to leave the Compound if he made good on this threat. In Waco, 
however, this order was either received erroneously or transformed by command post 
supervisors as a directive to abandon perimeter positions and to permit Koresh and his 
followers to leave. Numerous agents in the field, receiving these instructions, were greatly 
demoralized because these instructions would permit people who had murdered other agents 
to escape. 

The withdrawal of the agents from the hay bam, combined with ATF's failure to 
guard the rear of the barn from attack by cult members outside the Compound, resulted in a 
sequence of events that almost produced additional ATF casualties. While most of the 
agents had been deployed to execute the warrants at the Compound, a smaller group was 
sent to execute a search warrant at the Mag Bag. The plan called for the group to arrive at 
the Mag Bag shortly after the Compound had been secured. However, while en route to the 
Mag Bag, the group was told of the firefight and ordered to return to the command post. 
This left the Mag Bag unsecured, even though Aguilera's investigation had revealed regular 
communication between cult members in the Mag Bag and those in the Compound. Shortly 
thereafter, three armed cult members who had been inside the Mag Bag drove to a house 
near the Compound and walked from there toward the rear of the Compound. 

Meanwhile, during the afternoon, one of the agents stationed near the hay bam 
spotted a Branch Davidian moving away from the Compound toward an adjacent property. 
Because the agents had been instructed to avoid confrontations and to permit persons who 
did not pose an immediate threat to leave the Compound, the agents allowed him to leave. 
Shortly thereafter, agents withdrawing from positions around the hay barn, led by ASAC 
Darrell Dyer, encountered in the woods the three Branch Davidians who had left the Mag 
Bag. When the agents identified themselves as federal agents, the cult members opened fire. 
After a prolonged exchange of gunfire, one of the three cult members surrendered. He was 
carrying a .22-caliber weapon and 100 rounds of ammunition. A second cult member, 
Michael Dean Schroeder, was killed by the agents; he had a loaded Glock 9mm 
semiautomatic pistol and two ammunition magazines — one empty and one full. The third 
Branch Davidian, Woodrow Kendrick, escaped, but was captured later. 

Ill 



When ASAC Dyer first saw the Branch Davidians in the woods, he informed the 
command post that he and the other agents were in contact with suspected cult members. 
By that time, a National Guard Armored Persormel Carrier (APC) had arrived at the 
forward command post, that ATF had established near one of the roadblocks after the 
cease-fire. Sarabyn asked the National Guard commander to send the APC to the rear of the 
Compound to support Dyer and his fellow agents. Cavanaugh, however, who was still 
engaged in negotiations with the Branch Davidians, feared that the appearance of an APC 
near the Compound might disrupt negotiations. In addition, the supervisors were concerned 
that the APC could be pierced by long-range .50-caliber fire. As a result, the APC was kept 
near the forward command post for the duration of the conflict. The agents made their way 
back to the roadblock where they were taken by car to the command post. Throughout this 
exchange of gunfire in the woods, Cavanaugh continued his negotiations with Koresh and 
other cult members. 

With the withdrawal of these agents, ATF temporarily stopped efforts to prevent cult 
members from leaving the Compound. To the limited extent the perimeter around the 
Compound was controlled, that was accomplished principally through the efforts of local 
law enforcement personnel and SWAT teams, including the Austin Police Department, 
Texas Department of Public Safety, Waco Police Department, Killeen Police Department, 
McLennan County Sheriffs Department, and the U.S. Marshals Service. These officers 
refiised to follow ATF directives to abandon the perimeter that would have allowed cult 
members to leave the Compound. However, local law enforcement were able to control 
only the roads to the Compound; other routes went unguarded. Colonel Charlie A. 
Beckwith, U.S.A., Ret., on assignment for Soldier of Fortune magazine, claims that he 
managed to advance on foot to within less than a mile of the Compound without being 
challenged. 

A Siege Develops and ATF Obtains Assistance from the FBI 

Chaos at the Command Post 

After the shoot-out, the situation at the command post became chaotic. Nonetheless, 
throughout the afternoon, individual agents identified urgent tasks both at the command 
post and elsewhere and completed them. Cavanaugh negotiated with the Compound; Dyer 
provided support to agents at the rear of the Compound; Robert White, an assistant SRT 
leader (Dallas), began organizing agents to establish a perimeter; Phillip Lewis regularly 
updated the National Command Center in Washington, D.C., and various agents handled 

112 



tasks related to the wounded, including providing security, contacting relatives, and insuring 
all received proper medical attention. With no one coordinating these diverse individual 
efforts, however, the logistical situation in Waco deteriorated rapidly. Many ATF agents, 
after returning from the shoot-out at the Compound, milled around the command post 
during the late afternoon and evening hours, awaiting orders. Others were told by 
supervisors not to return until early the next morning. In contrast, many of the agents who 
stood guard at the roadblocks and provided security at the hospitals for the wounded agents 
remained at their posts for lengthy shifts, some exceeding 24 hours. Many of the agents in 
the field were not adequately supplied with food, warm clothing, and other necessities. 

Initial Relief 

Based on conversations with agents at the command post, ATF management at the 
National Command Center determined that additional SRTs should be brought to Waco 
immediately to provide relief. Within a few hours of the firefight, three additional SRTs 
from Miami, St. Louis, and Detroit were requested by Washington ATF officials to report 
to Waco. They arrived over the course of the next 24 hours and, after being briefed by the 
tactical commanders, were rapidly pressed into service around the Compound. They 
relieved their fellow ATF agents as well as those local law enforcement personnel who had 
stood vigilant through the night. 

The Decision to Bring in the FBI HRT 

Shortly after the shoot-out, Chojnacki spoke with Hartnett, who was in Washington, 
D.C., and recommended that the FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), which had experience 
with both prolonged standoffs and hostage negotiations, be brought to Waco to handle what 
had become a siege situation. At roughly the same time, FBI Director William Sessions 
learned of the shoot-out, contacted ATF Director Stephen Higgins and offered his 
condolences and his agency's assistance. After Hartnett arrived at the National Command 
Center and was fully briefed, he determined that the FBI HRT should be sent to Waco. 

Soon after the cease-fire, Hartnett contacted Douglas Gow, FBI Associate Deputy 
Director of Investigations, and formally requested FBI assistance. Gow, in turn, contacted 
FBI SAC Jeffrey Jamar (San Antonio) and briefed him on the situation. At roughly the 
same time, FBI Special Agent James Fossum (Waco) was informed of the crisis by both 
AUSA Phinizy and another local FBI agent. After speaking with Jamar, Fossum drove to 



113 



the ATF command post. Shortly after he arrived, Chojnacki told him the ATF would 
welcome whatever assistance the FBI could provide. 

Meanwhile, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement at the Treasury 
Department, particularly Ronald Noble, had contacts with both high-ranking FBI officials 
and ATF leadership. Noble, who had been informed of the firefight and the losses incurred 
by ATF while en route by train from Washington, D.C. to New York, sought advice and 
assistance from FBI Assistant Director Larry Potts and Deputy Director Floyd Clark."^ 
Shortly after Hartnett requested the HRT, Noble and Clark discussed the possibility of 
dispatching the HRT to Waco in one of their conversations. Clark informed him that a 
request for the HRT had already been made by ATF and that the HRT was on its way to 
the Compound to evaluate the situation. 

Jeffrey Jamar (San Antonio), as the SAC of the affected district, was given 
command of the FBI operation. He arrived in Waco at about 5:30 p.m. and together with 
Fossum and several other local FBI agents, immediately began to establish a command post 
and assess the situation. The balance of the HRT members began arriving on March 1 . 

After further discussions with FBI, ATF and Treasury officials. Noble spoke with 
ATF Director Higgins and ADLE Hartnett early March 1 . Noble advised them that if the 
FBI determined that the HRT was needed for the long term, the FBI should have 
operational command to resolve the standoff. There were several reasons for this advice. 
First, the FBI HRT traditionally has control over operations in which it participates, and 
ATF was not in a position to assert such control. Second, the FBI was in a better position 
to stabilize the situation than ATF. The ATF had already absorbed heavy losses and if 
further hostilities occurred might be accused of seeking revenge. Noble also wanted to 
preclude any turf battles that might arise if the effort were jointly managed. At the FBI, 
Potts and Clark, as well as Gerson from Justice, agreed that were the HRT fully deployed, 
its leaders must have command and control of the operation. 



^' Due to the World Trade Center bombing. Potts, Clark, and Acting Attorney General Stuart Gerson were 
at the FBI command center in Washington, D.C, on the day of the raid. 

114 



Hartnett and Convoy Arrive at the Command Post 

Hartnett, who had arrived in the National Command Center shortly after noon (EST) 
on the day of the raid, ordered Dan Conroy to leave immediately for Waco. Hartnett 
remained at the National Command Center until Director Higgins arrived at roughly 3:00 
p.m. After Hartnett had briefed him, Higgins directed Hartnett to proceed to Waco. 
Hartnett, accompanied by several members of the FBI HRT advance team, including Dick 
Rogers, the HRT supervisor, traveled to Waco on an FBI airplane. 

At approximately 6:30 p.m.. Dyer returned to the command post and informed 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Johnston and the supervisors about the shoot-out near the hay bam. 
By that time, after hours of negotiation with cult members, Cavanaugh had managed to 
reach an agreement with Koresh who allowed the release of several children in exchange 
for ATF arranging to have a particular passage of scripture broadcast repeatedly on a local 
radio station. Cavanaugh was assisted by two negotiators from the Texas Department of 
Public Safety. Cavanaugh continued to play a leading role in these negotiations for several 
days, although the FBI took charge of them during the afternoon of March 1 . 

When Dyer returned, Cavanaugh directed him to assemble a group of agents to 
receive the children that would soon be released from the Compound. Dyer, Rodriguez and 
several others went to the Compound and received six children over the course of the 
evening. The children were immediately placed in the custody of the Texas Department of 
Protective and Regulatory Services. 

Conroy arrived in Waco at approximately 8:30 p.m. and found the command post 
still in a state of disarray. Several of the commanding officers were trying to restore order 
and were striving to deal with the most pressing tasks. Cavanaugh was continuing to 
negotiate with the cult members; Sarabyn was coordinating the recovery of the children 
through contacts with Dyer and others, and Royster was trying to handle the large influx of 
ATF agents and the state and local law enforcement officers who were volunteering for 
service. Royster was also seeking night-vision equipment, lenses, Light Armored Vehicles, 
and Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the National Guard. Other agents were trying to deal 
with the media. In fact, the raid became an international story within hours after the 
shooting ended. According to the Tribune-Herald, by mid-afternoon the day of the raid, 60 
newspaper reporters and camera crews from at least 17 television stations and the Cable 
News Network had deluged the police barricades near the Compound. More than 50 
reporters attended the ATF press conference at the Waco Convention Center Sunday 

115 



afternoon where SAC Royster read a statement from Director Higgins. A similar crowd 
attended Sharon Wheeler's short briefing and announcement that a press conference would 
be held at 10:30 the following morning. Despite ATF and FBI attempts to provide daily 
news briefings, the media complained that they were not getting enough information. 
Neither ATF, the local media, nor the town of Waco was prepared for the intense media 
coverage following the raid. 

A few hours later, when Hartnett arrived at the command post at about 1 1 :00 p.m., 
he found over 100 local law enforcement personnel and ATF agents, many still wearing 
bloodstained clothes from the raid. After Conroy briefed him, Hartnett took control of the 
operation, requiring the original operation commanders to report directly to him and 
Conroy. He then cleared the main area of all non-ATF people and told most of the ATF 
agents to report back the next morning. 

Together with Conroy and Chojnacki, Hartnett established a new ATF command 
structure. Ivan Kalister, Program Manager for Tactical Response Branch, Washington, D.C., 
and Sarabyn were made responsible for establishing the SRT people on the perimeter of the 
Compound and for providing security for the hospitalized agents. Cavanaugh and the FBI 
were to conduct the negotiations with the Compound. Royster was given responsibility for 
the overall criminal investigation of Koresh and the other cult members. Once the Texas 
Rangers opened a formal homicide investigation, he became the liaison with the Texas 
Rangers. David Troy, Chief, Intelligence Division, Washington, D.C.; Dave Benton, Chief, 
Planning and Analysis Division, Washington, D.C., and Bill Wood, SAC, Cleveland 
Division, were the shooting review team, charged with interviewing all participants in the 
shoot-out. RAC Phillip Lewis, San Antonio, and Program Manager, Firearms Division, 
Dick Curd, Washington, D.C., were put in charge of managing all logistics, including 
lodging and vehicles. ATF Public Information Officers Wheeler and Perot were told to 
continue functioning as the public information officers. 

These agents reported to Conroy and Hartnett until the FBI HRT took control of 
their respective aspects of the operation. Many supervisory and field agents believed the 
Hartnett and Conroy takeover exacerbated the problem of poor communication between the 
operation's leadership £ind the field agents. In addition, because Hartnett and Conroy often 
met privately, most agents, including the raid leaders, felt they were inappropriately being 
denied access to the decisionmaking process. 



116 



Hartnett instructed the ATF agents to take control of the roadblocks by midnight and 
to establish a full perimeter around the Compound at dawn. By early morning on March 1, 
with the assistance of both local law enforcement and the relieving SRTs, ATF had 
resumed its watch on most of the roads leading into and out of the Compound. From their 
posts, law enforcement officials could observe much of the Compound. In the days 
immediately following the raid, aside from the person seen near the hay bam escaping from 
the Compound, law enforcement officials did not see any other cult members leave the 
Compound. 

Starting soon after the shooting ended ATF also attempted to provide support and 
counseling for the raid participants. Members of ATF peer support groups, which provide 
confidential support for agents who have experienced traumatic incidents, met with 
numerous raid participants. These support groups consist of agents who have been through 
earlier traumatic incidents and who are trained to provide peer support. In addition, 
professional counseling from experts in handling participants in violent incidents was 
available for those agents who elected to avail themselves of those services. Although many 
agents did use those services, other agents who could have benefitted from such services 
chose not to. Some of those who did not seek counseling apparently feared that if they did, 
they would be stigmatized as weak or troubled. Numerous agents also provided support and 
care for their hospitalized colleagues. 

At approximately 10:00 a.m. on March 1, Hartnett and Jamar conducted a meeting 
with those ATF agents who were not posted around the Compound. This was the first post- 
raid meeting attended by most of the ATF agents who had participated in the raid. Hartnett 
announced that the FBI HRT was going to take over the operation because of its special 
expertise in hostage and siege negotiations. Hartnett expressed his concern that further ATF 
involvement in violence at the Compound might lead to accusations that ATF was seeking 
revenge. The agents were angered by Hartnett' s remarks. He did not comment upon the 
four agent fatalities or the bravery exhibited the day of the raid. The agents resented the 
implication that they were not capable of handling the current situation. Next, Hartnett 
introduced Jamar who also failed to mention the slain agents and the valiant actions of ATF 
agents. Moreover, as Jamar explained the rationale for the FBI takeover, the agents felt he 
overemphasized FBI capabilities and, by inference, ATF shortcomings. Many of the agents, 
including several of ATF's top management team, were disappointed and angered by 
Jamar' s remarks. 



117 



The next day, March 2, the HRT took control of the inner perimeter from ATF 
agents, who by then had supplanted local law enforcement officials. In turn, the ATF agents 
took the positions on the outer perimeter previously held by local law enforcement. Many 
ATF agents resented the way some of the HRT agents acted when taking over the 
perimeter, and they were especially troubled by what they perceived as the FBI's lack of 
interest in debriefing them. Although a few verbal exchanges took place between certain 
agents, the transition between ATF commanders and HRT supervisors was reasonably 
smooth, with ATF briefing the HRT leaders about Koresh and the situation at the 
Compound. A few days after the takeover, Hartnett sent the Dallas, Houston, and New 
Orleans ATF agents home. The remaining ATF agents assumed positions in an outer 
perimeter outside the HRT and provided support for the operation. Transfer to the FBI of 
control of the inner perimeter effectively ended ATF's authority over and responsibility for 
the standoff 



118 



Part Two 

Section One: The Propriety of Investigating Koresh and Other Cult 

Members and Seeking to Enforce Federal Firearms Laws 



ATF Properly Initiated an Investigation of Koresh 

Since ATF's repulsed effort to search the Branch Davidian Compound, some 
members of the public and the media have questioned the propriety of ATF's decision to 
initiate an investigation of Koresh and his followers. Questions have been raised as to 
whether the cult members were justifiably suspected of violating any applicable federal 
laws. Others have conceded that Koresh was violating the law but have suggested that the 
violations should have been ignored: 

What were the Davidians doing to provoke [the raid]? Probably they were 
converting semiautomatic rifles to full auto. That is certainly a crime; even 
possessing the capability to convert them is a crime. But down here in the Fifty- 
Caliber Belt this particular crime is usually treated about as seriously as spitting on 
the sidewalk (Larry McMurtry, "Return to Waco," The New Republic, June 7, 1993, 
page 16). 

Some also have expressed concern about whether ATF was motivated 
inappropriately to focus a federal firearms investigation of Koresh because of its concerns 
about his alleged sexual abuse of children and his polygamy. Others have asked whether 
ATF selected Koresh improperly for investigation because of his nontraditional religious 
beliefs and practices. One columnist, for instance, asked shortly after the Compound burned 
to the ground: 

Who, exactly, were the Davidians bothering? The administration says they 
were hoarding guns. How un-American and how un- Texan. May we expect 
the administration to lay siege now to the National Rifle Association? The 
Davidians were also said to be abusing children. A graver charge, but not a 

119 



charge that [warrants the ATF's or the FBI's actions]. (Leon Wieseltier, "The 
True Fire," The New Republic, May 17, 1993, page 25). 

A Washington, D.C., newspaper columnist raised similar concerns a few weeks 
before the Compound burned: 

No government official has yet explained what crime was being committed 
by the dimwits of something called the Branch Davidians ... [W]hat provoked 
this show of force from the crack troops of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, 
and Firearms? Was someone caught smoking in a restricted area? Were the 
faithful of the Rev. David Koresh distilling ardent spirits in an illegal still for 
one of his holy rites? Was there an illicit drug on the premise or did someone 
have a shotgun that ran afoul of government standards? ... If Americans 
cannot live the life of the rugged — albeit somewhat loony — individualist in 
the vast reaches of the great West, where can they live normal American 
lives? (R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr., "Crystals in the Waco Crucible," The 
Washington Times, April 4, 1993, page Bl). 

These criticisms are not supported by the evidence. A review of the investigation 
makes it clear that the ATF inquiry into the activities of Koresh and his followers was 
consistent with the agency's congressional mandate to enforce federal laws regulating the 
possession and manufacture of automatic weapons and explosive devices. Indeed, ATF 
would have been remiss if it had permitted considerations of religious freedom to insulate 
the Branch Davidians from such an investigation. 

At the outset, it should be emphasized that ATF focused on the Branch Davidians 
only after it was asked to do so by local law enforcement authorities who had been 
scrutinizing the conduct of cult members. Since the Roden shoot-out in 1987 and the return 
of a substantial cache of weapons and ammunition to the cult, the sheriffs department had 
watched Koresh add to his arsenal and had heard reports of other behavior on the 
Compound that generated concern, including the construction of an underground firing 
range and bunker and a tight cluster of ramshackle buildings that was beginning to 
resemble a fortress. Although neighbors feared cuh members and complained about gunfire 
at the Compound, the local investigation developed slowly. 

In late May 1992, however, the sheriffs department received concrete evidence from 
UPS that Koresh was receiving substantial shipments of weapons components. In addition, 

120 



the sheriffs department received reliable reports that Koresh was purchasing large 
quantities of semiautomatic rifles from local arms dealers. Recognizing that the 
investigation of a large-scale firearms case involving a close-knit group such as the Branch 
Davidians would be a substantial undertaking, the sheriffs department sought the assistance 
of ATF, which has expertise in firearms investigations, as well as a tradition of working 
closely with local law enforcement agencies. 

Even after ATF assistance was sought, ATF agents did not formally open an 
investigation until making a preliminary determination that federal crimes were being 
committed. Special Agent Aguilera debriefed local officials and then searched national 
firearms registries. When Aguilera learned that neither Koresh nor his followers were 
registered owners of any lawful machineguns, but nevertheless were receiving shipments of 
machinegun parts and paying for them with large quantities of cash, he reasonably grew 
suspicious that they were engaged in the illegal manufacture of machineguns. Upon learning 
that Koresh had received a shipment of materials used to manufacture explosives, 
specifically grenades, Aguilera formally opened an ATF case in early June 1992. 

While some have suggested that ATF targeted Koresh because of his religious 
beliefs and life-style, the Review has found no evidence of any such motivation. Indeed, 
ATF recognized early the delicacy of an investigation of such an unorthodox community. 
Aguilera' s supervisors appropriately classified the case as "sensitive," thus ensuring greater 
supervisory scrutiny of a case that was perceived at the outset to have the potential for 
raising thorny religious issues as well as difficult safety issues, particularly regarding the 
women and children living at the Compound. 

Whatever controversy there might be about the types of weapons American citizens 
should be permitted to maintain, federal laws draw a definite line at fully automatic guns 
and explosive devices such as grenades, which are thought to be more suited for battlefield 
use than any other purpose.^* That a private individual has access to a single unlawful 
machinegun must be cause for federal concern. Where a group is found to be stockpiling 



^' The history of the original 1934 legislation that taxed machineguns, where the House Ways and Means 
Committee report of the bill stated, "There is no reason why anyone except a law officer should have a 
machinegun or sawed-off shotgun" (Committee on House Ways and Means, "Taxation and Regulation of 
Firearms," Report 1780, 73rd Congress, May 28, 1934, page 1), and the 1986 legislation banning the 
manufacture of machineguns, where Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) emphasized during floor debate 
that machineguns had become a far more serious law enforcement problem {Congressional Record, May 6, 
1986, page S5362), underscores the rationale for restricting possession of such weapons. 

121 



many such weapons and to be developing the capability to manufacture many more, ATF 
must pursue the case. And while the group's religious beliefs should not be cause for 
targeting it, neither should the beliefs insulate the group from federal scrutiny. 

Evidence Developed by ATF's Investigation Warranted Application for 
and Issuance of Search and Arrest Warrants 

Some media accounts have asked whether ATF's investigation unearthed sufficient 
evidence to support either the ATF application for an arrest warrant for Koresh and related 
search warrants or Magistrate- Judge Dennis Green's issuance of those warrants. According 
to The Washington Times, for example: 

One Washington lawyer, considered a weapons expert, said a review of the 
affidavit, written by ATF agent Davy Aguil[era], shows there was no 
probable cause to arrest Koresh or search the property. The lawyer, who 
asked not to be identified, said the ATF search appeared to be based on a 
desire "to punish Koresh for showing disrespect" to the ATF. (Jerry Seper, 
"Affidavit to Search Waco Site Criticized," The Washington Times, 
September 2, 1993, page 6). 

See also James L. Pate, "Waco's Defective Warrants," Soldier of Fortune, August 
1993, page 46, which states, "The original affidavit does not show probable cause. Probable 
cause did not exist." The evidence that ATF presented in support of the warrant 
applications, however, plainly showed there was probable cause — as that term is commonly 
understood"' — that numerous federal criminal violations were being committed by Koresh 
and his followers. 



" Although there is no precise, mathematical definition for what constitutes probable cause — the standard 
to be met by arrest and search warrant applications — the Supreme Court has explained that probable cause to 
obtain an arrest warrant exists when law enforcement authorities have knowledge of facts and circumstances 
sufficient in themselves to warrant a belief by a person of reasonable caution that an offense has been or is 
being committed by the person to be arrested. Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89, 91 (1964); Brinegar v. United 
States, 338 U.S. 160, 175-76 (1949). Probable cause to search exists where there is "a fair probability that 
contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place." Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238 
(1983). Probable cause can be based on any reliable evidence, including circumstantial evidence, hearsay from 
reliable sources, and information from anonymous informants as long as it is corroborated by other 
independent evidence. See Rule 41(c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. 



122 



Aguilera faced two significant obstacles in his investigation. First, he had to 
overcome the largely antisocial, isolated routine of Compound residents. As a rule, residents 
never spoke to outsiders about Compound activities and harbored deep suspicions of law 
enforcement personnel. Second, Aguilera wisely sought to keep his investigation a secret 
from Koresh and his followers in order to ensure strategic and tactical flexibility in case 
search or arrest warrants needed to be served. Aguilera sharply circumscribed his inquiries 
about Koresh to third parties, including arms dealers and former cult members, for fear of 
alerting the Branch Davidians that they were under scrutiny. 

Still, by late February 1993, Aguilera had amassed an impressive amount of 
evidence that Koresh was unlawfully possessing and manufacturing machineguns and 
explosive devices and that he was unlawfully storing substantial quantities of black powder. 
At the outset, Aguilera knew that Koresh was receiving shipments of M- 1 6 parts and 
materials used to make explosives, among other firearms materials. Because neither Koresh 
nor any of his followers were registered owners of any M-16 machineguns, indeed, of any 
machineguns at all, Aguilera could fairly infer that Koresh was purchasing the M-16 parts 
to convert AR-15 semiautomatic rifles into machineguns illegally. His suspicions were 
confirmed when he learned that Henry McMahon had sold about 90 AR-15 lower receivers 
to Koresh and that McMahon tried unsuccessfully to conceal the bulk of those sales and 
then to mislead Aguilera about the identity of the purchaser. Aguilera also discovered that 
Koresh had purchased AR-15s and AR-15 upper receivers from several other sources. 

Once stocked with AR-15 receivers and M-16 parts, Koresh needed only a metal 
lathe and milling machine to make more than 100 machineguns. Reports from a number of 
sources soon made it clear that Koresh possessed both machines at the Compound and that 
he had experienced operators, including a mechanical engineer, who were designing fully 
automatic weapons for Koresh and manufacturing them on the premises. Former cult 
members related how Koresh seemed to be obsessed with the manufacture of machineguns, 
especially ones of high caliber.^" They reported that they had seen automatic weapons on 
the Compound and that a fully automatic AK-47 had been passed around during one of 
Koresh' s "Bible study" sessions. These statements found corroboration in the reports from 



'" In fact, after the April 19 fire, law enforcement agents found a milling machine at the Compound with 
a gun barrel mounted on the machine. In the same room, they found trigger assemblies and other weapons 
parts. 

123 



neighbors of automatic gunfire erupting from the Compound and the construction of an 
underground firing range replete with objects riddled with bullet holes.^' 

Evaluations from ATF experts gave Aguilera reason to believe reports that Koresh 
was manufacturing illegal explosive devices at the Compound. Indeed, ATF's explosives 
expert determined that several items Koresh had received, including gunpowder and igniter 
cord, were themselves explosives requiring proper registration and storage — neither of 
which Koresh provided. The expert also determined that those items, together with the inert 
grenade shells Koresh had received by UPS, probably were being used to manufacture 
explosive grenades. Aguilera knew from interviews of former cult members that Koresh had 
often expressed a keen interest in making live grenades and that grenades had been seen at 
the Compound. Hence, he had probable cause to believe a search would uncover unlawfully 
manufactured and maintained explosives.^' 

The intelligence that Aguilera gathered from former cult members and others who 
had dealt with the Branch Davidians was corroborated further once Special Agent 
Rodriguez began to visit the Compound in his undercover capacity in late January. Koresh 
impressed the undercover agent with his technical knowledge of how rifles can be made 
fully automatic and with his familiarity with the laws regulating the conversion of weapons 
into machineguns. 

By the conclusion of his investigation, Aguilera had more than enough reason to 
believe that materials and equipment used to make machineguns and explosive devices, as 
well as the weapons themselves, would be found on the Compound and that Koresh had 
violated federal laws regulating the possession and manufacture of machineguns and 
explosive materials and the storage of explosive materials. The ATF decision to seek 
warrants on the basis of this evidence was thus entirely proper, and it is not surprising that 
the U.S. Attorney's Office applied for those warrants, and the magistrate-judge promptly 
approved them. 



" The two weapons experts consulted by the Review, William Davis, Jr., and Charles Fagg, confirm that 
Aguilera and the magistrate-judge had ample evidence to find probable cause to search the Compound for 
evidence of the manufacture of illegal machineguns. See Appendix B. 

'^ Both explosives experts consulted by the Review, Paul Cooper and Joseph Kennedy, conclude that the 
evidence gathered by Aguilera amounted to probable cause to believe that illegal explosives were being 
manufactured. See Appendix B. 

124 



Some critics of ATF's enforcement actions have questioned why ATF felt compelled 
to take any action at all at the conclusion of Aguilera's investigation — even assuming there 
had been probable cause to believe federal violations had taken place. Any suggestion that 
Koresh should have been left to produce and stockpile machineguns and explosives, 
however, is without merit. The weapons and explosive violations disclosed by the 
investigation went to the heart of ATF's mission, as defined by duly enacted statutes, and 
fell squarely within the range of unlawful conduct the agency routinely investigates. 
Moreover, the information uncovered by Aguilera indicated that Koresh and his followers 
posed a far greater threat to society than might be posed by an individual who quietly keeps 
an illegal weapon or even a collection of such weapons. (See Appendix G.) 

Of greatest concern to Aguilera was the evidence that Koresh had a propensity 
toward violence and intimidation. Indeed, Koresh' s control of the Compound originated 
with his triumphant gunfight with Roden, which only was ended by armed deputies who 
"got the drop" on Koresh before he and his followers could "finish off the pinned-down 
and defeated Roden. Furthermore, not only did armed guards receive UPS deliveries, but 
also they were reported to have been given standing orders by Koresh to shoot any 
"intruders." On one occasion, the guards opened fire on a newspaper delivery person. 
Koresh' s pronouncements that his time was coming and, that when it did, the Los Angeles 
riots would pale in comparison also marked him as someone ready to use the machineguns 
and grenades he was stockpiling. 

The veracity of Sparks' account of Koresh' s statement about the coming of "his 
time" and the Los Angeles riots has been challenged by many media sources. Its inclusion 
in the federal affidavit used to obtain the warrant to search the Compound has been cited as 
the leading example of how the affidavit was riddled with errors. According to doubters. 
Sparks last visited Koresh before the Los Angeles riots took place; therefore, her 
recollection of Koresh' s statement must have been faulty. Jerry Seper, who wrote "Affidavit 
to Search Waco Site Criticized," The Washington Times, September 2, 1993, page 6, for 
instance, reported the following: 

The affidavit ... purported to document a conversation Koresh had with an 
investigator from the Texas Department of [Protective and Regulatory 
Services]. It quoted the cult leader as making a threat of a fiery compound 
battle that would make the Los Angeles riots 'pale in comparison.' But 
Koresh met with Sparks on April 6, three weeks before the riots began. 



125 



The purported comment is an example of the affidavit's apparent errors, 
which have caused some critics to suggest it was designed to justify the 
disastrous assauh by ATF rather than portray conditions inside the Compound 
accurately. 

See also Daniel Wattenberg, "Gunning for Koresh," The American Spectator, August 
1993, page 32, which reported the following: 

[T]he affidavit is wrong. Koresh did not tell Sparks on her visit to the 
Compound that 'the riots in Los Angeles would pale in comparison' to his 
self-revelation in Waco. Unless the man really was a prophet, he could not 
have told her this. The Los Angeles riots broke out on April 29, 1992, more 
than three weeks after Sparks had last visited Koresh. 

The ATF affidavit, which unfortunately discusses only two visits by Sparks to the 
Compound, one in late February 1992 and one on April 6, 1992, indeed has been the source 
of this understandable media bewilderment. The source of this confusion lies not in any 
lack of candor by Sparks, but in the failure of the ATF affidavit to make clear that Sparks' 
information was the product of more than two visits to the Compound. 

The Waco Administrative Review has determined that Sparks, together with other 
investigators, visited the Compound on at least three occasions: February 27, 1992; April 6, 
1992; and April 30, 1992. In addition, she spoke by telephone with Koresh on many 
occasions, both before and after the April 30 visit. The Los Angeles riots began April 29, 
1992, shortly after a Simi Valley jury returned its verdict in the "Rodney King case." The 
riots were the subject of Ted Koppel's "Nightline" broadcast that evening and were front- 
page news across the nation the next day — April 30, 1992 — the last day on which Sparks 
made a contemporaneous record for a visit with Koresh at the Compound. See Seth 
Mydans, "The Police Verdict: Los Angeles Policemen Acquitted in Taped Beating," The 
New York Times, April 30, 1992, page 1. See also Linda Deutsch, "Officers Cleared in 
Beating," Waco Tribune-Herald, April 30, 1992, page 1. 

Obviously, the timing of Sparks' visit to the Compound relative to the riots 
powerfully corroborates her account; Koresh naturally would rely on such a recent event to 
help Sparks visualize what he planned for when "his time" came. In addition to Sparks' 
recollection of the April 30 encounter, her fellow investigators corroborate both the timing 



126 



and the substance of Koresh's remarks — and the case file for the Compound documents the 
April 30 visit. 

Perhaps most troubling, in light of his collection of weapons and his threatening 
rhetoric, was Koresh's apocalyptic theology and his renaming the Compound "Ranch 
Apocalypse." Although Koresh might simply have been preparing to defend himself against 
an apocalyptic onslaught, ATF justifiably feared that Koresh might soon have been inspired 
to turn his arsenal against the community of nonbelievers. In fact, the Review has learned 
that well before the ATF action on February 28, Koresh made plans for just such an event. 
He told his followers that soon they would go out into the world, turn their weapons on 
individual members of the public, and kill those who did not say they were believers. As he 
explained to his followers, "you can't die for God if you can't kill for God." Koresh later 
cancelled the planned action, telling his followers that it had been a test of their loyalty to 
him." 

The extraordinary discipline that Koresh imposed on his followers, which enabled 
him, for example, to obtain all of their assets and to establish exclusive sexual relationships 
with the Compound's female residents, while not itself cause for ATF intervention, made 
him far more threatening than a lone individual who had a liking for illegal weapons. The 
Compound became a rural fortress, often patrolled by armed guards, in which Koresh's 
word — or the word that Koresh purported to extrapolate from the Scriptures — was the only 
law. And the accounts by former cult members, including an abused child, that Koresh was 
sexually abusing minors made it clear that Koresh believed he was beyond society's laws. 
Were Koresh to decide to turn his weapons on society, he would have devotees to follow 
him, and they would be equipped with weapons that could inflict serious damage. 

In the wake of the tragic consequences of the ATF raid on February 28, 1993, and 
the evidence discovered at the Compound after it burned down on April 19, 1993, h is no 
longer necessary to speculate on the threat that Koresh and his followers posed. On 
February 28, as an agent finished reciting ATF's judicial authorization to enter the 
Compound, the Branch Davidians responded with volleys of deadly fire, using the weapons 
they had been stockpiling for so long. Some of these weapons were found later in the ruins 
of the Compound after April 19, including well over 200 firearms, dozens of unlawful 



" Further details with respect to the plans described in the text will likely be developed through the 
prosecutions pending in Waco. 

127 



machineguns, and numerous prohibited grenades and grenade components. (See Figures 36 
through 39.'") 

In short, the ATF investigation of Koresh and his followers, although posing 
difficult investigatory challenges for ATF, was an appropriate response to a dangerous 
situation.^' In light of the information presented by local authorities, it would have been 
irresponsible for ATF not to have initiated an investigation and similarly irresponsible for 
ATF not to have pursued Koresh once Aguilera's investigation showed there was probable 
cause to do so. ATF's willingness to rise to this difficult challenge can only be 
commended. 

The question remains, however, whether ATF selected the appropriate enforcement 
option when it decided to forcibly execute search and arrest warrants at the Branch 
Davidian Compound. The following section of this Report analyzes the process that led to 
the decision to attempt a raid and the development of the raid plan itself. Additionally, the 
Treasury-Justice forward-looking review focuses on the broader questions surrounding law 
enforcement's interaction with nontraditional groups like the Branch Davidians. 



34 

In late April, after the Compound was ravaged by fire, ATF firearms and explosives experts collected 
evidence of the firearms and other destructive devices Koresh and his followers had possessed. At that time, 
based on the materials recovered, the experts concluded that Koresh and his followers possessed 57 pistols, 6 
revolvers, 12 shotguns, 101 rifles, more than 44 machineguns, more than 16 silencers, 6 flare launchers, 3 live 
grenades plus numerous components, and approximately 200,000 unused rounds of ammunition. FBI experts 
are rigorously analyzing the evidence found at the Compound to determine more precisely the weaponry that 
had been accumulated by Koresh and his followers. Because of the fire, this process has been time- 
consuming, and the experts have been unable to determine with any certainty the amount of explosive 
materials that had been stored at the Compound. 

Although, as a general matter, law enforcement agencies must recognize that their investigative efforts 
might lead targets to take dangerous defensive measures, the sequence of events here shows that the ATF 
investigation had no such effect. Koresh and his followers had been accumulating weapons well before the 
investigation — as far back as the Roden shoot-out. Although there was an increase in weapons purchases after 
local law enforcement — not ATF — trained near the Compound in spring 1992, purchases did not increase 
once Aguilera began his investigation in summer 1992. In fact, during the eight-month investigation, there 
were periods when Koresh and his followers did not purchase weapons components. 

128 




Figure 36: "Pineapple" type grenade casings recovered after April 19, 1993, fire. 

129 




Figure 37: Arms bunker, after April 19, 1993, fire, with arsenal of assorted assault weapons and parts. 

130 







Figure 38: Remains of an assault rifle, recovered after April 19, 1993, fire. 

131 




Figure 39: Remains of assault rifle, recovered after April 19, 1993, fire. 

132 



Part Two 

Section Two: Analysis of the Tactical Planning Effort 



Introduction 

Any analysis of the plan for the February 28 raid and the planning process that 
preceded it must recognize that the plan was never actually followed on raid day. In 
particular, although the plan was entirely dependent on the element of surprise, Chojnacki, 
the Incident Commander, and Sarabyn, the Tactical Coordinator, went forward despite 
learning from Rodriguez, the undercover agent, that Koresh had learned something about 
the coming raid. Failing to recognize the importance of this information, the commanders 
ignored a critical pre-condition of the plan — the presence of the men in the pit, separated 
from the weapons — and thus left ATF agents highly vulnerable to attack by the Branch 
Davidians. See Murphy at B-106; Kolman at B-62; Sobocienski at B-132^*. The analysis 
that follows, therefore, addresses a tactical plan that was never implemented. 

Nevertheless, even if improvements in the tactical plan might not have averted the 
tragedy at the Branch Davidian Compound, an analysis of the planning process and the plan 
itself is still warranted. Most of the Review's tactical experts agree that the plan had a 
reasonable chance of success if all of the planners' major factual assumptions had been 
correct. See Murphy at B-104; Ishimoto Executive Summary; Sobocienski at B-131. If the 
men in the Compound could have been counted on to be working in the pit, separated from 
the weapons reportedly locked away in the "arms room," and if ATF agents could have 
driven up to the Compound without its residents knowing of the operation until it was too 
late to offer effective resistance, the warrants might well have been executed with a 
minimum of disruption and without loss of life. But the caveat here is crucial, for many of 
the planners' assumptions were just that — expectations based on too little information about 
the Branch Davidians. 



"All page references in this section are to Appendix B. 

133 



The problems here rest as much in the planning process as in the plan itself. Not 
only were the planners, led by Sarabyn, too quick in concluding that a massive mid- 
morning raid was the best possible enforcement option, but they chose a plan whose 
window of opportunity might have been far smaller than they realized. The planners also 
failed to prepare for contingencies that would arise if that window were missed. Against a 
target as formidable as Koresh, such errors exposed ATF to grievous consequences. 

Responsibility for these flaws cannot simply be placed at the feet of those who did 
the actual planning. Those charged with this mission devoted considerable time and energy 
to devising a safe and successful operation. They lacked, however, the training, experience, 
and institutional support that were demanded by the extraordinary operation they were 
planning, which was qualitatively, as well as quantitatively, different from the many smaller 
enforcement actions each had led successfully in the past. See Ishimoto at B-15; Paschall at 
B-109; Murphy at B-95; Kolman at B-63; Morrison at B-88. ATF's management never 
addressed these deficiencies by giving the planners a supportive structure to supplement 
theu- own experiences. In addition, ATF's upper management did not actively oversee the 
development of the tactical plan, even though it involved the mobilization of more than 100 
agents — the largest law enforcement effort ever mounted by ATF and one of the largest in 
the history of civilian law enforcement. See Morrison at B-87. 

The Decision to Execute the Warrants by "Raiding" the Compound Was Made Before 
Other Options Were Fully Exhausted 

Before reviewing the development of the raid plan devised for the Branch Davidian 
Compound, this section begins by looking at the decision to have a "dynamic entry" as 
opposed to some other type of enforcement action. Based on the limited information 
available when ATF selected the raid option, the Review simply is not in a position to say 
conclusively whether ATF's decision to rely exclusively on a raid — instead of, for instance, 
a scheme to arrest Koresh while he was away from the Compound or to establish a 
perimeter around the Compound and negotiate — was well founded. However, the Review 
does not believe that the ATF plarmers were in a position to make such a judgment either, 
and they should have been. A massive raid against a heavily armed, disciplined, and well- 
positioned group will always, however cunningly planned, be a risky operation, especially 
when children and other innocent persons are present. If less risky alternatives that can 
achieve the same ends are possible, they ought to be pursued. ATF did not adequately 
pursue these options. The agency's failure to gather the information needed to assess the 



134 



chances of such aUematives succeeding made its rejection of them, and its choice of the 
raid option, far too premature. 

The Decision to Use Force When Executing the Warrants 

The threshold issue presented to ATF was whether any force would be needed to 
execute the arrest warrant for Koresh and the search warrant for the Compound. Some have 
suggested that, having obtained such warrants, ATF should simply have asked Koresh to 
surrender himself and his weapons or asked him for free passage into the Compound so that 
ATF could conduct a search for unlawful firearms and explosives. Claiming that Koresh 
had surrendered previously to local law enforcement authorities after his shoot-out with 
George Roden in 1987, critics have argued that ATF's decision to use force made a violent 
confrontation inevitable and played into what they have characterized as Koresh' s 
apocalyptic vision of a final battle between his army and law enforcement agents, whom he 
called the "Assyrians." The Review finds no basis for these criticisms and believes that the 
decision not to rely on Koresh' s goodwill was entirely appropriate and rested on valid 
considerations. 

There was, in fact, no evidence that Koresh was prepared to submit to law 
enforcement authorities or that he had done so in the past. His surrender in the Roden 
shoot-out occurred only after deputies of the McLennan County Sheriffs Department "got 
the drop" on him while he and his followers were busy training their weapons on Roden, 
who was pinned down behind a tree at the Compound. Based on the information developed 
during the course of Special Agent Aguilera's investigation — which showed Koresh' s 
propensity toward violence, his use of armed guards, and his control of a massive arsenal of 
automatic and semiautomatic weapons — the ATF planners reasonably concluded that a 
polite request to search the Compound without readiness to use force would have been 
foolhardy and irresponsible. This conclusion could only have been confirmed once Special 
Agent Rodriguez began his contacts with Koresh and learned of the latter' s disdain for the 
firearms laws and hatred for those charged with their enforcement. While concern about 
Koresh' s apocalyptic vision should have suggested using an enforcement approach that 
afforded an opportunity to first ask for voluntary compliance and to avoid an initial, 
potentially provocative show of force, it was not a valid reason for ATF to forsake its law 
enforcement responsibilities. 



135 



Intelligence Failures and the Failure to Try to Arrest Koresh Off the Compound 
Followed by an Effort to Execute the Search Warrants 

Having understandably decided not to rely solely on Koresh' s voluntary compliance 
with the warrants, ATF tactical planners initially focused their attention on arresting Koresh 
while he was away from the Compound, either by luring him off or by waiting until he had 
left it on his own accord. Koresh' s followers, the pljinners believed, had become so 
accustomed to relying on his leadership and guidance that they would be far less likely to 
resist ATF in any organized way if Koresh could be removed from the scene; this 
advantage would be significant whether ATF established a siege of the Compound or 
conducted a raid. 

It is now impossible to know whether ATF's execution of the search warrant would 
have been aided by arresting Koresh while he was away from the Compound. Still, the 
planners' reasoning on this score makes sense, and their consideration of this option 
indicates an effort to minimize the risk to agents and Branch Davidians. That effort, 
however, was not sufficient, because it was abandoned prematurely, without adequate 
exploration of its feasibility. 

As early as their first tactical planning meeting in December 1992, the planners 
concluded that Koresh virtually never left the Compound; therefore, they thought they 
would not be able to lure him away from it. And they remained convinced of this when the 
undercover house was established in early January 1993. The Review, however, has not 
been able to identify the basis for this early conclusion. For example, no written ATF report 
addresses the issue before this meeting, and aside from Joyce Sparks, who had only visited 
the Compound a few times and told Aguilera she thought Koresh did not leave often, the 
Review was unable to identify a reliable source for this common assumption among the 
planners. Certainly, there is no evidence that any of the tactical planners evaluated either 
the source or substance of the initial intelligence on this point. 

The establishment of the undercover house should have given the planners an 
opportunity to test the validity of their assumption, by having the undercover agents 
monitor Koresh' s comings and goings. But this did not happen. Although reports from the 
undercover house seemed to confirm the earlier "intelligence" because the agents indicated 
that they never saw Koresh leave the Compound, this information was unreliable. 



136 



The defects in the intelligence relating to Koresh's movements are particularly 
significant, because they are symptomatic of the problems that afflicted the undercover 
house operation. To be successful, an intelligence operation must be able to develop 
adequate and reliable information, disseminate that information to the appropriate 
supervisors, and ensure that those supervisors recognize the meaning and limitations of that 
information. See Murphy at B-lOO; Ishimoto at B-17; Kolman at B-58; Morrison at B-87, 
89; Paschall at B- 109, 111. The undercover house operation fell short in all three of these 
areas. 

From the outset, the production capabilities of the agents in the undercover house 
were crippled by ATF's failure to give them a comprehensive idea of what the planners 
needed. The agents also lacked the supervision and feedback needed to ensure that they 
performed their mission. "The organization of the undercover house and its activities was 
marked by no clear chain of command or direction of their actions." See Ishimoto at B-17. 
Generalized surveillance often serves an important function, especially during the 
investigative stages of a case, when agents begin to explore the nature of a target's 
activities. But by the time the undercover house was established, ATF's tactical planners 
had a number of specific questions that they either wanted answered or were assuming 
already had been answered. Instead of being told what these questions were, the agents in 
the undercover house were told only to look for certain routines at the Compound. Without 
clear objectives, supervision, or feedback, morale and performance began to deteriorate 
soon after the operation began, and the vigilance of the agents suffered accordingly. 

One result of this intelligence production breakdown was that the agents in the 
undercover house could not tell reliably whether Koresh ever left the Compound, and they 
never took the additional measures necessary to find out. With Sarabyn's approval, the 
agents discontinued around-the-clock surveillance. And even when they were watching the 
Compound, the agents could not identify the occupants of cars seen leaving the Compound 
on the road in front of it and could not see whether anybody left the Compound on foot or 
in vehicles using the road or trails behind the Compound. With limited night-vision 
capability, the agents were unable to determine who left at night. In addition, several agents 
did not know, and no agents were certain, what make of car Koresh drove. Although some 
of the agents learned at various stages in the undercover operation that Koresh reportedly 
drove a Chevrolet Camaro, a number of other cars at the Compound were registered in 
Koresh's name because cult members gave all their possessions to him. Koresh, therefore, 
presumably might have driven any of the cars. 



137 



Dissemination of information was also a problem, because no adequate provisions 
were made for providing the raw intelligence that the agents in the undercover house were 
able to obtain to the tactical planners. Supervisors did not direct undercover house agents to 
keep comprehensive surveillance logs throughout the operation, and no arrangements were 
made for the agents to give oral briefings to the tactical plarmers or to an intermediary. 

Although many of the tactical planners thought that surveillance was being 
supplemented with regular debriefmgs of Rodriguez about his contacts with Koresh and 
other cult members, little useful intelligence about Koresh' s movements was actually 
gleaned from the agent's relatively few contacts. (See Figure 40.) However, salient 
intelligence was obtained on February 17, late in the planning process, when Koresh 
offhandedly told Rodriguez that he rarely went to town because the people there did not 
like him. Aguilera noted this significant statement in his reports. Even though the statement 
supports the belief that Koresh did not leave the Compound often, it contradicts the 
planners' view that he never left, and should have alerted them that from time to time, 
Koresh did leave the Compound. 

ATF's mishandling of the intelligence regarding whether Koresh ever left the 
Compound resulted, in part, from the lack of a system to process intelligence. Rather than 
flowing to a single accountable person responsible for collection and analysis, intelligence 
swirled among many persons — none of whom sufficiently questioned its reliability. Overall 
intelligence collection and planning was not centrally managed. See Ishimoto at B-17. 
Because it was not treated with sufficient rigor, intelligence may well have been interpreted 
to conform to planning needs. If a single person had been responsible for the production 
and dissemination of tactical plarming intelligence, the problems at the undercover house 
might have never arisen. If they had occurred, they could have been corrected or at least 
brought to the plarmers' attention. 

The limitations of the intelligence operation were compounded because the tactical 
planners did not recognize those limitations. As a result, they overvalued the significance of 
the information they did receive. Thus, although the undercover agents' knowledge of 
Koresh' s movements was thin at best, the tactical plarmers believed that they had 
confirmation that Koresh never left the Compound. Moreover, having surveilled the 
Compound and its surroundings only a few months earlier, the planners should have 
recognized the inherent limitations of monitoring Koresh' s movements from the undercover 
house, since the rear of the Compound could not be seen from there. At the very least, 
Sarabyn, who had visited the undercover house, must have understood that Koresh could 

138 



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Rodriguez's undercover contacts with the compound. 



139 



have left undetected from the rear of the compound. As a consequence of their beUef that 
Koresh never left, the planners devoted little effort to developing a plan to lure him off the 
Compound. By the end of January, after attempting unsuccessfully to convince Joyce 
Sparks' superior to allow Sparks to request a meeting with Koresh at her office^^, ATF 
largely abandoned any effort to lure Koresh away from the Compound. ^^ 

Had more attention been paid to determining whether Koresh ever left the 
Compound, ATF's planners might have learned that he did in fact leave the Compound on 
at least two occasions while the undercover house was in operation and on several other 
occasions in late 1992 and early January 1993.^' This is not to say that he could have been 
intercepted on any of these trips or that ATF could have devised a plan that would have 
succeeded in luring Koresh away. But, given the planners' reasonable expectation that 
arresting Koresh away from the Compound would vastly reduce the risks attending any law 
enforcement action at that location, far more effort should have been made in this area. See 
Kolman at B-47, B-50. And ATF's failure to make such an effort must be attributed to 
management's failure to establish an effective intelligence operation. 



" As she told Aguilera in late January, Sparks had met previously with Koresh in her office and at the 
Compound. However, Sparks told ATF that she had experienced difficulty in the past in scheduling such a 
meeting. According to Sparks, meetings took place at a time Koresh found convenient; on one occasion, he 
came to her office two days after the appointed date. 

'* In late February, after the raid had been scheduled for March 1, 1993, and the tactical planning was 
largely completed, ATF made one final effort to lure Koresh away from the Compound so that they could 
execute a search warrant. To seek evidence for a state arrest warrant for Koresh for sexual abuse and to seek 
a basis for state officials to meet with Koresh off the Compound, ATF asked Assistant District Attorney Beth 
Tobin to meet with a young girl who had resided at the Compound and allegedly had been the victim of 
sexual abuse. Tobin interviewed the girl on February 22, 1993, but because the girl was unwilling to testify 
about Koresh 's conduct, there were neither grounds for an arrest warrant nor a reason to request a meeting 
with Koresh away from the Compound. 

'' In late January, Koresh visited a neighbor in the early evening at the house next to the undercover 
house. According to the neighbor, Koresh traveled there by motorcycle. On January 29, Koresh visited 
Performance Automotive Machine in Axtell, Texas, where he picked up parts for his Camaro. Although no 
entry exists in the undercover house's surveillance log for a Camaro leaving the Compound on January 29, 
the logs do record a Camaro leaving on January 28 and returning the same day. Moreover, between 
November 1992 and February 1993, at least six people recall seeing Koresh in town on separate occasions, 
and several sources have reported that Koresh traveled to Dallas with cult member Steve Schneider in 
November 1992. 

140 



A Siege With Koresh Present on the Compound 

Regardless of whether Koresh could be arrested away from his followers, ATF still 
had to decide how it would execute the search warrant at the Compound. Initially, the 
tactical planners considered the siege option. In this scenario, agents would first ask those 
inside the Compound to honor the warrant. If access were denied, ATF would immediately 
establish a perimeter around the Compound and seal off its inhabitants until they relented 
and permitted the search to proceed. This approach would minimize the risk of a violent 
confrontation between ATF and the Branch Davidians and, even if violence erupted, would 
minimize the agents' exposure to gunfire from the Compound. These advantages led some 
planners to favor a siege over a dynamic entry plan even after they had surveyed the 
Compound and its surrounding area. 

The planners ultimately rejected the siege option mainly because the intelligence 
obtained in January from former cult members highlighted the drawbacks of such an 
operation. Most significantly, several former cult members noted the distinct danger that 
Koresh would respond to a siege by leading his followers in a mass suicide. Even if no 
suicides ocurred, the costs of a siege would be high. With their own source of well water, a 
three-month supply of military rations, and experience with the rigors of a rudimentary 
lifestyle, the Branch Davidians, former cult members believed, could withstand a long and 
arduous standoff. The planners were also concerned that a siege would give Koresh and his 
followers time to destroy evidence of their violations of federal firearms and explosives 
laws. Several tactical planners expressed concern that Koresh would outlast the patience of 
the American public and that they might be directed to raid the Compound after a lengthy 
stalemate. They feared that such a raid, against a prepared and fortified foe, would be far 
more dangerous than a surprise raid. 

In retrospect, many of the tactical planners' concerns about a siege were validated, 
especially the fear of mass suicide and the appraisal that Koresh had the discipline and 
resources to withstand a siege for a prolonged period. See Kolman at B-48-49 That the 
planners were proven correct, however, does not necessarily validate the process by which 
they reached their conclusions. 

Several of the planners told the Review that they assumed, in substance, that when 
dealing with a cult, mass suicide is a serious risk. Interviews certainly provided an 
opportunity to assess former cuh members' credibility, emotional state, and objectivity, and 
a basis for determining whether their suicide predictions were reasonable. Nonetheless, 

141 



before allowing the specter of mass suicide to deter them from pursuing the siege 
option — which they considered less risky to all involved — the planners should have sought 
assistance from psychologists and other experts who were better equipped to evaluate the 
accounts of the former Branch Davidians. Consultation with such experts could also have 
improved ATF's overall understanding of Koresh and his followers, including the group 
dynamics among the cult members inside the Compound and their extraordinary belief 
systems. Such an understanding, in turn, might have broadened ATF's consideration of 
enforcement options other than a raid, and heightened their appreciation of the dangers of 
raiding a group that apparently shared an apocalyptic theology/" 

There were many serious drawbacks to a siege, and ATF's tactical planners 
accurately perceived them. Because of these valid tactical concerns and perhaps because, 
like most law enforcement agencies, ATF had little experience with extended sieges, the 
tactical planners viewed a siege as a tough option. In the end, though, the chief reason the 
planners discarded the siege approach was their increasing optimism about the dynamic 
entry option. This optimism, unfortunately, was in large part based on faulty intelligence 
that made conditions seem much better for a raid than they really were. See Murphy at B- 
103; Morrison at B-87. 

The Decision to Pursue a Raid Option and Develop a Raid Plan 

The chief attraction of a raid scenario was that it offered the possibility of catching 
Koresh and his followers by surprise and avoided the risk of a protracted and costly 
standoff The element of surprise seemed quite achievable to the planners, based on their 
flawed understanding of the daily routine in the Compound. If agents could sweep into the 
area at 10:00 a.m., they would find the Branch Davidian men working in the pit outside the 
Compound, without access to the weapons that Koresh kept under lock and key next to his 
bedroom. The men could be detained, the arsenal secured, and Koresh arrested. The 
assumptions on which this plan rested, however, relied on the same inadequately evaluated 
intelligence that led the plarmers to prematurely discount the possibility of Koresh ever 
leaving the Compound. As a result, the operation was far more vulnerable than its planners, 
especially Sarabyn, ever realized. And this vulnerability was increased by the failure of the 



"" In the future, either through the forward-looking review, which should include several behavioral 
science experts, or other means, the Review recommends that a national structure be developed to improve the 
access for law enforcement agencies to the assistance of experts in such fields as psychology, psychiatry, 
sociology, and theology when they are dealing with barricade or hostage situations or with suspects with 
nontraditional belief systems or thought processes that do not fit the profile of the standard criminal target. 

142 



planning process to produce a common understanding among the planners of what the 
operation's key assumptions were, and of the importance of surprise to the mission's 
success. 

Had they appreciated the risks involved, the planners might have done far more to 
prepare for the possibility that ATF might not be able to surprise the Branch Davidians. As 
it was, they did virtually no contingency plarming. See Murphy at B-104; Kolman at B-65, 
36; Morrison at B-88; Ishimoto at B-15. And they failed to devise a structure that 
maximized the flow of intelligence to the key decisionmaker on raid day so that he could 
verify that Koresh was unaware of the impending raid before committing ATF agents to the 
front of the Compound. 

Intelligence Failures 

This section examines the plan's critical assumptions and the quality of the 
intelligence on which they rested. 

The "Arms Room" 

The tactical planners' conclusion that Koresh kept the weapons and explosives under 
lock and key in a room adjacent to his own was based almost exclusively on the statement 
of one former cult member, David Block."" Block's actual statements to ATF agents, 
however, were far less definitive than the planners treated them; he had simply indicated 
that Koresh maintained control over the weapons in the neighboring room and that his 
permission was needed to possess one. Although Sarabyn and the other planners could have 
contacted Block and other former cult members to clarify this matter and learn more about 
the circumstances under which Koresh distributed weapons, no such effort was made. 
Moreover, the planners failed to consider how Block's prior relations with Koresh, and his 
decision to break away from the Branch Davidians at the Compound, might have affected 
the reliability of his statements. Although the planners knew Block had met with a self- 



"' In early November 1992, during a telephone interview by Buford, another former cult member, Poia 
Vaega, noted in passing that her husband, also a former cult member, who was standing nearby during the 
interview, "had reason to believe that the guns were stored in the quarters that Vernon was sleeping in." 
Perhaps because this conversation occurred when Buford was primarily concerned with developing probable 
cause, he asked no fnrther questions on the subject and made no effort to delve deeper into either Vaega' s or 
her husband's knowledge of Koresh's practices with respect to the storage of the weapons. Unfortunately, 
when the tactical planners later intensified their efforts to craft a workable plan, none of them tried to contact 
Vaega or her husband to discuss the arms room. 

143 



described "deprogrammer," Rick Ross, they never had any substantive discussions with him 
concerning Block's objectivity about and perspective of Koresh and his followers. Nor did 
the planners pay appropriate attention to the fact that Block had left the Compound over six 
months earlier. 

Even though the success of their plan might have turned on whether Block was right 
about the location and control of the Compound's weapons, ATF's planners simply began 
to treat the report that the arms were kept under lock and key in the arms room near 
Koresh' s bedroom as established fact. When Sarabyn explained to Cavanaugh, who had not 
attended the late January meeting, why the planners had chosen to proceed with a raid 
rather than a siege, he noted that an important factor in the decision had been intelligence 
that the guns were kept under lock and key by Koresh. Sarabyn reported as fact his 
speculation that, because of an increasing paranoia, Koresh never distributed the gvms for 
fear of a mutiny. Several other tactical plarmers inaccurately believed that Block's statement 
about the arms room was corroborated by several other former cult members. 

Having fixed upon Block's statements about the storage routine for the weapons, the 
planners apparently ignored the rest of Block's information: that Koresh distributed AK-47s 
from time to time, that cuh members would keep them under their beds on those occasions, 
and that Block was uncertain about whether they kept their guns loaded. They also 
discarded reports by other former cult members that they had seen weapons distributed 
around the Compound and that Koresh frequently conducted live-fire shooting practice. In 
particular, they did not pay sufficient attention to Block and Breault's assertions that they 
had left the cult in large part because of Koresh' s insistence that they prepare to resist law 
enforcement authorities when the anticipated confrontation came. In fact, as law 
enforcement officials discovered after the Compound burned, powerful evidence indicates 
that arms were stored in other locations in the Compound in addition to the arms room. 

No Guards or Sentries 

At the outset of the planning process the tactical planners — based on the statements 
of former cult members, including Block and Breault, the UPS delivery person, the sheriffs 
department, and Texas National Guard overflights — anticipated that there would be armed 
guards or sentries at the Compound. After the agents in the undercover house saw no such 
guards, however, the tactical planners concluded that Koresh had stopped taking this 
precaution. Why he might have done so is something they did not sufficiently consider. If 
Koresh' s control of weapons and refusal to leave the Compound stemmed from paranoia or 

144 



fear of law enforcement, as the planners appeared to think they did, it would have been 
rather odd for him to suddenly stop posting sentries. The planners never considered that 
Koresh might simply have repositioned his guards inside the Compound where they would 
not have been seen by the undercover agents. 

It appears that sentries were indeed concealed within the Compound during the 
weeks leading up to the raid. Mark Spoon, who lived next door to the undercover house, 
has related to the Review that, during this period, Koresh or one of his "Mighty Men" often 
would telephone him when an unfamiliar car drove up the road toward the Compound, and 
inquire about the car's occupants. To know a car had approached on the road, a vigilant 
cult member would have had to have been posted in the Compound's tower; such lookouts 
were in place on raid day. 

The Men in the Pit 

The same intelligence processing failures that led planners to be confident that 
Koresh never left the Compound led them to be imduly confident that all or most of the 
Compound's men could be found in the pit at 10:00 a.m., every morning, except on 
Saturday, their sabbath. Even though most dynamic entries are executed shortly before 
dawn — ^when most suspects are likely to be asleep and caught by surprise — the planners' 
confidence that the men would be in the pit led them to give up the predawn advantage in 
exchange for finding the men in the pit at 10:00 a.m. 

The mother of a cult member, who had visited the Compoimd for two days in 
November 1992, had some recollections of the work routine there. But the principal source 
of the planners' information about the men in the pit was the surveillance conducted by the 
agents in the undercover house. However, neither the visitors' observations nor the reports 
of these agents supported the tactical planners' assumptions about a predictable routine. 

Certainly, the surveillance logs maintained by the agents at the undercover house 
provided no basis for such a conclusion. See Ishimoto at B-19. For four days of the 
operation, there is no record that any surveillance was conducted and, for two other days, 
the only entry is the notation "no activity." Indeed, between January 11 and January 
29 — during which time the tactical plan was drawn up — on the majority of those days the 
logs do not refer to the men working in the pit. On several other days, the logs indicate that 
there was no activity when it was rainy, implying that no one had been in the pit. Over the 
life of the undercover house operation, from January 1 1 through February 1 7, the 

145 



surveillance logs refer to the men working in the pit on only 14 out of the 36 days for 
which surveillance was maintained. Although the undercover house ceased 24-hour 
surveillance efforts on January 19 and terminated surveillance activities altogether on 
February 17, many tactical planners erroneously believed that tight surveillance continued 
until the day of the raid, compounding their overvaluation of the intelligence. In fact, 
several of the tactical planners first learned about the limited nature of the surveillance 
coverage only after being interviewed by the Review. Since Sarabyn approved the cessation 
of 24-hour surveillance, responsibility for the other planners' ignorance on this point must 
be shouldered by him. 

Even though some log entries refer to the men in the pit, the logs only reported 
sporadically how many men had worked,''^ exactly when they began work,"^ whether the 
men worked in the rain, or the degree to which activity in the pit was actually visible from 
the undercover house. In fact, the agents never could have seen how many men were 
actually in the pit, because their reports of work there were based on their observations of 
traffic between the front of the Compound and the pit, people near the pit passing supplies 
down into the pit, and construction noises emanating from the Compound."" The absence 
of any view of the interior of the pit itself was significant because, as Sparks and others 
had informed ATF, Compound residents could enter and exit the pit through the buried bus, 
without ever having to walk above ground. And even if the agents had been able to look 
into the pit and count the men inside, they might not have known what proportion of the 
Compound's men were working, since they never knew how many men lived on the 
premises. While agents believed that approximately 75 people lived at the Compound, more 
than 125 people were there on February 28. On those days that the surveillance logs did 
indicate the number of men observed working in the pit, the number was never more than 



■'- In response to questions from the Review, several agents estimated that the number of men in the pit 
varied from day to day — ranging from as few as four or five men to as many as a dozen or more. 

"' The undercover agents were aware that the men often started working in the pit later than 10:00 a.m., 
particularly after a late night of "Bible study," and the logs indicate that work in the pit sometimes began later 
than 10:00 a.m.; however, the tactical planners apparently never knew that. This lack of communication was 
serious, because the raid took place after a late-night Bible session that Rodriguez had attended. Hence, the 
raid commanders should have questioned whether on the day of the raid they could have expected the men to 
begin work in the pit as early as 10:00 a.m. 

"" Scale models of the Compound and the undercover house, as well as videos of the pit taken from the 
undercover house prior to the raid, show that a substantial portion of the area around the pit was obstructed 
from the agents' view by the four-foot-high fence in front of the Compound and the edge of the Compound 
structure itself. 

146 



13. Had the planners assessed the logs properly, they at least would have questioned their 
belief that almost all of the men residing at the Compound would be found in the pit. 

Even though the surveillance logs were not the only source of intelligence from the 
undercover house, alternative avenues were not exploited sufficiently and hence did not 
compensate for the information lacking in writing. Oral communications were infrequent 
and informal. Aside from one occasion in mid- January when an undercover agent recalls 
speaking to Sarabyn about the routine of the men working in the pit, none of the agents in 
the undercover house recalls being debriefed by Sarabyn or any other tactical planner about 
the matter. Similarly, videos and photos of activities at the Compound were taken but never 
viewed by the raid planners. 

Even though they were presented with insufficient information about the men in the 
pit, none of the tactical planners requested that particular attention be paid to this point. 
Instead, they assumed the existence of a predictable routine, based on the inadequate 
information they had, and then based their entire plan on that assumption. Indeed, the 
planners' misplaced confidence that virtually all the Compound's men could be found in the 
pit each morning might have caused their failure to take any measures to ensure that the 
presence of the men in the pit be confirmed before the raid went forward. No raid 
commander was charged on raid day with verifying this critical precondition for the 
operation's success. And when Cavanaugh, positioned in the undercover house on February 
28, observed before the raid began that "all was quiet" at the Compound and did not see the 
men in the pit, he did not fully appreciate the enormous significance of this lack of activity. 
Certainly, Chojnacki and Sarabyn disregarded the importance of the condition, for they 
rushed to launch the raid before they expected the men to be in the pit. 

The Discounting of Armed Resistance from Women in the Compound 

The planners were able to base the raid plan on the presence of the men in the pit 
because they apparently assumed that the women would not use the weapons Koresh had 
stockpiled. Although the planners anticipated that one female cult member, a former police 
officer, might be armed with a handgun, they studiously ignored or discounted evidence 
that other women might also be prepared for armed resistance. The planners apparently 
gave little weight to Block's statement to Buford and Aguilera that Koresh issued rifles 
from time to time to at least five of the women. A photograph taken by undercover house 
agents in late January of a female aiming a rifle from the front door of the Compound was 
shown to Sarabyn, who did not share it with the other raid planners. Sarabyn apparently 

147 



concluded that the rifle might be a BB gun and could not understand why the woman was 
aiming it. The picture, however, is of poor quality, and the type of rifle cannot be 
discerned. The failure to pursue this matter by enhancing the image or seeking more 
information from the undercover agents, is yet another example of how data inconsistent 
with the plarmers' assumptions often was shunted aside. 

At one level, the intelligence failures that lessened the chances that ATF's tactical 
plan would succeed were management failures. The agents in the undercover house did not 
conduct effective surveillance or keep comprehensive records of what they did see and what 
they could not see. The planners did not alert the undercover house agents to their tactical 
intelligence needs or ask hard questions about the information they received. But it would 
be quite unfair simply to hold these individuals responsible for the breakdown here. The 
agents in the undercover house should have been supervised by someone attuned to the 
needs of the planners. And the planners, charged with engineering the biggest raid in ATF 
history, should not have been required to interpret raw intelligence. What was needed was a 
separate intelligence structure to ensure that usable, reliable information was funneled to the 
planners and that the planners knew the limitations of the data they received. See Ishimoto 
at B-17; Murphy at B-lOO; Kolman at B-59; Morrison at B-89. ATF's leadership at 
headquarters and in the Houston division must bear responsibility for allowing the operation 
to proceed without such a structure. 

No Meaningful Contingency Planning 

The same confidence that led ATF raid planners to discard intelligence inconsistent 
with the assumptions central to their plan might also have led them to do little to prepare 
for the possibility that conditions would not be right on raid day. See Kolman at B-14 and 
B-66. Perhaps they did not realize how fragile, because of its dependence on surprise, their 
plan really was. The absence of any contingency plan, other than to abort the raid before 
arrival at the front of the Compound, left the raid commanders with the stark choice 
between going forward or canceling an operation in which so much already had been 
invested. That failure also meant that when ATF agents encountered heavy gunfire upon 
their arrival at the Compound, most had little choice but to proceed with their mission, at 
great cost. See Morrison at B-88. 

If there had been meaningful contingency plarming for the possibility that ATF 
might lose the advantage of surprise before the cattle trailers arrived at the Compound, 
agents confronted with a forewarned target would still have been able to move into siege 

148 



positions, securing a perimeter around the Compound. Compared with a surprise raid, a 
siege had marked disadvantages, all of which the plarmers recognized. Yet a siege was a 
preferable alternative when compared with a raid against a target that was ready and 
waiting. The planners should at least have explored using a siege as a recourse. The 
planners also did not prepare for the possibility that Koresh would try to break out of the 
Compound, alone or accompanied by his followers, if he learned about the raid. Indeed, 
there was not even a plan for postponing the raid, even though certain circumstances, such 
as a late-night Bible session or inclement weather, might cause the Compound's men to 
arrive at the pit later than 10:00 a.m. By failing to establish any alternatives to the raid 
plan, ATF's tactical plarmers contributed to the pressures on the raid commanders to go 
forward with the massive operation and to not let the training resources invested and the 
planning for the raid go for naught. 

In addition, sufficient thought was not given to what ATF agents would do if they 
arrived in front of the Compound and were met with either an organized ambush or 
scattered pockets of armed resistance. If necessary, the cattle trailers could have made a 
detour before reaching the road leading to the Compound. But once the trailers went up the 
driveway and reached the front of the Compound, the agents reached a point of no return: 
The plan called for the agents to carry out their assignments, regardless of the resistance 
they encountered. Since the cattle trailers provided no protection"*' and the grounds in front 
of the Compound afforded only limited cover, the raid planners saw no better option. 

If the tactical plarmers had given sufficient thought to the level of firepower that 
Koresh and his followers could bring to bear on agents massed in front of the Compound, 
they might have done more to ensure that the raid would not go forward without the 
advantage of surprise. The raid commanders sent Rodriguez into the Compound to check 
conditions only because of the publication of the first part of the "Sinful Messiah" series. 
The plan produced by the tactical planners did not call for such an effort. In addition, had 
the plan incorporated verification of conditions by an undercover agent, measures could 
have been taken to close the time gap between the undercover agent's departure from the 
Compound and the arrival of the trailers. They also would have prepared some scheme to 
help agents withdraw from their vulnerable positions if they became pinned down by hostile 



"' Because the cattle trailers were lined only with plywood and covered only with tarpaulins, the raid 
planners decided that the cattle trailers could not safely drive past the Compound in the event they met with 
resistance upon their arrival — to do so would permit Koresh and his followers to broadside the trailers with 
unanswered automatic weapons fire. 

149 



fire. One method of extracting the agents might have been to send in Bradley Fighting 
Vehicles, which could have been positioned a short distance from the Compound, concealed 
on flatbed trucks. In any event, a reserve force of agents could have been deployed nearby. 
To the extent that these precautions would have taxed or exceeded ATF's resources, the 
agency might have reached out for assistance from other law enforcement authorities or 
reconsidered whether to conduct the raid. Because the planners did not explore any of these 
contingency options, ATP did not have a plan or the capacity to extract any agents, 
including wounded agents, from their exposed positions in front of the Compound. 

Having failed to prepare for an ambush, the planners also failed to prepare for a 
stand-off. Given their fears that Koresh might lead his followers in a mass suicide if 
surrounded by agents, it is unfortimate that the planners did not heed Deputy Tactical 
Coordinator James Cavanaugh's repeated requests that ATP have a contingency plan to 
negotiate with those inside the Compound. See Kolman B-51-52.''* The raid commanders 
did not even arrange to have the telephone number for the Compound on the day of the 
raid. Cavanaugh was able to find the number written on a calendar in the undercover house 
after the shooting began. ATP was fortunate that Cavanaugh filled the planning gap and 
handled the crisis adeptly.''^ 

Among other contingency issues the planners left unresolved was whether agents 
would still seek to execute the warrant at the Mag Bag if ATP agents were repulsed at the 
Compound or, alternatively, whether they would set up a perimeter around the Mag Bag to 
contain any cult members inside on raid day. In large part because this issue was not 
considered, ATP left the Mag Bag unsecured for a brief period on February 28, and three 
cult members ended up maneuvering around ATF's flank, endangering the lives of many 
agents and eventually engaging in a deadly shootout with a group of ATP agents. See 
Kolman at B-64. 



■" Although ATF has also been criticized for failing to notify the local sheriffs department and to warn 
them to monitor incoming 91 1 calls due to the raid, that criticism is misplaced. It is true that on the day of 
the raid, the 911 operator was not adequately prepared to field such calls or to serve as a conduit in the event 
negotiations were needed. ATF, however, did its part to cover this contingency when it alerted the sheriffs 
department that the raid would take place and had the sheriffs department personnel at ATF's command post. 

"' The planners' failure to prepare for negotiations with their targets might be attributed, at least in part, to 
the failure of the National Response Plan to make negotiators an integral part of the tactical command 
structure. This defect must be remedied. 

150 



The absence of any contingency planning cannot be attributed entirely to the 
planners' confidence that conditions would be favorable and that ATF's advantage of 
surprise would be decisive. It also reflected the planners' lack of experience in orchestrating 
operations of this magnitude. Only Buford had been involved in the planning of an 
enforcement action of comparable size, the CSA siege. This siege was a set-piece encounter 
where the need for fallback positions was less critical than it was for the dynamic entry 
contemplated at Waco. Indeed, the fact that the CSA siege was in large measure a success 
may have led the planners to discount the likelihood that the action against the Branch 
Davidians would go awry. In addition, this success confirmed what the other SRT leaders 
knew from their own experiences leading countless smaller operations: Things might not go 
as planned, but ATF could still successfully achieve its objectives. 

The result of these diverse factors was a tactical plan that did not contemplate any 
meaningful contingencies. And the training for the raid followed the lead of the planning. 
The sessions at Fort Hood concentrated almost exclusively on preparing the agents to enter 
the Compound quickly and secure the residents expeditiously. Little time was spent training 
the agents to withdraw from the Compound in an orderly manner if necessary. In light of 
this planning and training focus, it is not surprising that the mind-set of ATF's commanders 
on raid day was to go forward with the raid unless the Branch Davidians were seen 
preparing to ambush. 

Given law enforcement's limited experience in operations of this magnitude, the 
failure of the planners to consider that their operation might go awry and prepare for that 
eventuality is tragic, but somewhat understandable. In contrast, the failure of ATF's national 
leadership to ensure that some contingency planning was done is simply unacceptable. The 
headquarters officials briefed on the plan certainly knew that the raid planners lacked 
experience with operations of this size, and they should have recognized the risks involved 
in the raid. Yet it does not appear that anyone in ATF's leadership asked the obvious 
questions beginning with "What happens if..." and then directed that further planning be 
done to address those concerns. Management cannot be expected to know all the details of 
a field operation, but its job is to ask these hard questions and carefully consider the 
answers. Had ATF's top managers considered the implications of a plan that could leave a 
large force of agents stranded in front of a Compound containing heavily armed fighters, 
and could leave the agents no alternative but to fight their way out, February 28 might have 
ended differently. See Morrison at B-86-87. 



151 



Command and Control Flaws in the Raid Plan 

Other deficiencies in the planning effort that likely contributed to the pressures felt 
by the raid commanders on February 28 rest with the command and control structure 
established for the operation and with the selection, placement, and use of command 
personnel. Overall command of an operation of this magnitude must be placed in the hands 
of commanders who have access to the information on which decisions to proceed or abort 
must be based, who have an understanding of that information, and who have a perspective 
from which they can make measured judgments on how to proceed. Furthermore, because 
ATF's raid commanders placed themselves in locations where calm deliberation was 
difficult and because they lacked appropriate intelligence support, the likelihood that these 
commanders would make the right decisions on raid day was reduced. See Kolman at B-62- 
63; Morrison at B-88. 

The General Command Structure 

The raid on the Branch Davidian Compound was the first ATF operation conducted 
within the framework of the National Response Plan (NRP). ATF generated the NRP after a 
number of multiple-SRT mobilizations in order to establish consistent policies and 
procedures for such efforts. The NRP was finalized only shortly before the events near 
Waco. Although the plan barely addressed critical issues such as how a major operation 
should be planned, it did establish a command structure for such actions and specify how 
positions within that structure were to be filled. 

The NRP described the two main command positions in an operation: 

*(SAC)/ Incident Commander — "in charge and responsible for operational 
and administrative control of critical incident management resources," to 
"determine the overall strategy for responding to and/or resolving a critical 
incident or operation" and to prepare a written operations plan; and 

*Tactical Coordinator — "[DJesignated by the SAC/Incident Commander to direct and 
control all tactical (operational) functions during a critical incident." "He/she will 
direct all SRTs assigned to the critical incident" and will "[s]upervise the 
development of specific tactics and procedures to support the SAC/Incident 
Commander's strategy for resolving the critical incident or completing the operation. 



152 



These tactics and procedures will be subject to the SAC/Incident Commander's 
approval." 

Because Chojnacki was the SAC for the affected ATF field division, the NRP 
mandated that he serve as Incident Commander for the raid, regardless of whether he had 
adequate tactical training and experience for this particular mission. Chojnacki had more 
than 27 years of law enforcement experience at the time of the raid and had participated in 
and directed countless search and arrest warrant executions. Other senior agents with ATF, 
however, had more relevant training and far greater experience in substantial tactical 
operations. He in turn chose Sarabyn to be Tactical Coordinator, guided by the NRP 
requirement that this position be filled by "an AS AC who has completed SRT training." 
Because agents from both the New Orleans SRT and the Dallas SRT would be involved in 
the raid, Pete Mastin, the New Orleans SAC, and James Cavanaugh, the Dallas ASAC, 
were designated Deputy Incident Commander and Deputy Tactical Coordinator, 
respectively, consistent with the NRP. 

Although credit must be given to ATF for establishing a framework like the NRP so 
that structural issues would not have to be reconsidered every time a major operation 
needed to be planned, the command structure dictated by the NRP set ATF's plarming for 
the raid off on the wrong foot. By assigning personnel to critical command positions on the 
basis of rank — rather than ability, experience, training, or knowledge of the case — the NRP 
created a chain of command that did not ensure that each position was filled by the most 
qualified individual. See Kolman at B-65-66; Ishimoto at B-I3. Sarabyn, who had led the 
tactical planning team, had supervised this investigation and had been instrumental in 
drafting the NRP, had to report to Chojnacki, who lacked this background, and 
consequently deferred to Sarabyn on many critical issues. This deference blurred lines of 
responsibility. In turn, Sarabyn was effectively in charge of the tactical planning for the 
operation despite his lack of any large-scale tactical planning experience. Sarabyn had 
attended SRT training, but only as an observer. In any event, that training was designed to 
teach SRT members to perform as a team, and it did not focus on developing tactical 
leadership skills or planning capabilities for larger operations. Sarabyn was selected as the 
Tactical Coordinator for the operation not because of his expertise, but because the NRP 
required the position to be filled by a person who had received SRT training and was an 
ASAC or a higher ranking official. These requirements limited the field of candidates and 
excluded persons of lesser rank who had significantly more experience. Likewise, 
Cavanaugh, who was chosen as Deputy Tactical Coordinator because of his position in the 
ATF hierarchy, also lacked the familiarity with the operation needed to be an effective 

153 



commander. Meanwhile, Buford, the only participant in the raid who had directly relevant 
experience, was relegated to joint command of one of the SRTs. 

Command and Control on Raid Day 

The command and control plan established for the raid near Waco accentuated the 
NRP's structural deficiencies by failing to place commanders where they could make 
informed, considered decisions and maintain control over the day's events. 

Chojnacki, although in charge of the entire operation, placed himself in a helicopter 
during the critical phases of the operation — ^the final 30 to 40 minutes before the cattle 
trailers arrived at the Compound and at the outset of the firefight. As a result, he could not 
effectively communicate with either the other raid commanders or the SRT team leaders 
during this entire period. See Ishimoto at B-14; Kolman at B-63; Sobocienski at B-130. 
Similarly, Sarabyn, who could best evaluate the significance of events at the Compound, 
could not see the Compound during his 17-minute trip from the staging area. By riding with 
the cattle trailers, Sarabyn severely limited his ability to receive and process information. 
See Ishimoto at B-14. Furthermore, when Sarabyn arrived at the Compound, he was pinned 
down and was unable to change the SRT instructions in light of the markedly changed 
circumstances. The ramifications of this leadership breakdown were substantial. Sarabyn, 
for example, never had an opportunity to communicate with the New Orleans team 
members when they took heavy fire while trying to secure the arms room. A commander in 
the undercover house would have known from hearing the extensive gunfire that weapons 
had already been distributed and that the New Orleans team's objective was significantly 
less vital. It may have been difficult under any circumstances to divert the New Orleans 
team members quickly to another task once they were committed. However, Sarabyn' s poor 
vantage point, from which he could not see the New Orleans team, together with the lack of 
any preraid contingency planning, effectively precluded any such change in direction. 

The only commander placed at a vantage point that allowed him to maintain the 
kind of perspective over an operation so critical to effective command and control was 
Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh was in the best position to make the final decision as to whether the 
raid should go forward. From his post at the undercover house, he was able to maintain 
open communication lines with diverse elements in the field, and he could himself keep an 
eye on the Compound to watch for any changes in conditions. This is indeed the place 
where the raid's overall commander should have been. See Ishimoto at B-14; Kolman at B- 
63; Morrison at B-88. However, Cavanaugh was not the overall commander. He was simply 

154 



given responsibility for monitoring the Compound and aborting the raid if he saw signs that 
the Branch Davidians were laying an ambush. And, through no fault of his own, he was not 
well equipped to perform even this limited role properly. He was not particularly familiar 
with the normal routines of the Compound or the tactical details of the raid plan. In 
addition, Cavanaugh held a lower rank in ATF's hierarchy than Chojnacki, and lacking 
Sarabyn's status as a ASAC in Chojnacki's division, Cavanaugh could not be expected to 
be aggressive about calling the operation off if necessary. 

Even had ATF deployed its raid commanders to positions more conducive to 
deliberate thought and an exchange of views, they would still have needed access to 
information on which to base their decisions, and aid in assessing that raw information. 
Pursuant to the NRP, an agent was designated to serve as the intelligence coordinator, but 
the sole reason for this designation seems to have been a desire to comply with the NRP. 
The designated agent was told nothing about the investigation or the tactical plaiming until 
he arrived in Houston for a briefing in mid-February. When he arrived in Waco, a few days 
before the raid, he was assigned the job of writing an operations plan, which kept him 
occupied until raid day. He was specifically told not to worry about intelligence matters, 
because they purportedly had already been dealt with. Indeed, in the days before the raid, 
he had difficulty contacting any of the raid commanders and never conferred with them 
about the intelligence operation. On February 28, the intelligence coordinator spent the 
crucial time immediately before the agents got underway driving from the command post to 
the staging area to signal the agents' departure, rather than being available to process 
intelligence information. 

Had provision been made for a knowledgeable and involved intelligence coordinator, 
familiar with the conditions needed for the raid to succeed and charged with ascertaining 
whether they were present, he or she would have been able to brief the raid commanders on 
the significance of Rodriguez's report from the Compound. The coordinator might also 
have focused the raid commanders' attention on the reports from the forward observers in 
the undercover house, who saw no activity at the Compound and no men in the pit, but 
noted the presence of many media representatives roving near the Compound. 

An intelligence coordinator might also have recognized that the forward observers 
assigned to the operation were a vastly underutilized intelligence resource. The purpose of 
ATF's new forward observer program was to put agents in the field before a mission to 
gather and provide raid commanders with current intelligence, and thereafter to give 
defensive coverage for those agents executing warrants. But forward observers were not 

155 



meaningfully represented in the raid planning sessions, and the plan produced reflected their 
lack of participation. Even though forward observers recommended that enough teams be 
deployed to cover the Compound's entire perimeter, particularly the vulnerable position of 
the New Orleans team, the plan called for forward observers to be deployed to only two 
areas — one near the hay bam and the other at the undercover house. And the observers 
assigned to the hay barn moved from there to their position less than an hour before the 
arrival of the SRTs: too late for them to provide any meaningful intelligence to the raid 
commanders, too late for them to avoid crossing paths with cult member David Jones on 
the road, and too late for them to see cult members advance out of the Compound and 
occupy concealed positions from which they fired once the shoot-out began. 

ATF's neglect of the use of the forward observers was not just an intelligence 
failure. See Morrison at B-90. The ATF plan also did not establish a common 
understanding among the raid commanders and the forward observers regarding the rules of 
engagement for the forward observers. As a result, there was no coordination between the 
forward observers and the agents in the SRTs. Although a forward observer did initially fire 
a shot at a clear threat in a window, this lack of coordination led to a delay of several 
minutes before the forward observers directed fire at the many other Branch Davidians who 
were shooting at the agents attempting to execute the warrants. See Ishimoto at B-14; 
Kolman at B-51. 

The planning failures in the Waco raid stemmed in large part from an assumption on 
the part of ATF's leadership and those given specific planning responsibilities that an 
operation involving more than 100 agents against an extremely well-armed group of hostile 
cult members was just like any other enforcement action, only bigger. Lacking experience 
or training in raids like the one contemplated against the Branch Davidians, the plarmers 
assumed that what had worked for them in so many smaller operations would work again. 
The result of ATF's failure to support and guide this dedicated and well-intentioned group 
was a plan that rested on unreliable intelligence and that made the agents sent against the 
Branch Davidian Compound far more vulnerable to ambush than they realized. Therefore, 
the agents were unprepared to deal with the ambush when it occurred. 



156 



Part Two 

Section Three: Media Impact on ATF's Branch Davidian Investigation 



The media's interest in covering suspected criminal conduct and official responses to 
it will frequently be at odds with law enforcement's desire to have the advantage of 
surprise in its activities. However, the two sides generally accommodate each other partly 
out of necessity and partly out of each side's respect for the mission of the other. No such 
accommodation was reached at Waco. During their parallel investigations, both ATF and 
the media missed opportunities to take actions that might have averted the tragedy of 
February 28. Because the institutional tensions between law enforcement and the media are 
inevitable and perhaps necessary, this section underscores that there is more at stake than 
law enforcement's right to enforce federal criminal law and the media's right to get the 
story. 

ATF's Efforts to Delay the Publication of the "Sinful Messiah" Series 

Early in ATF's investigation of alleged criminal activity at the Branch Davidian 
Compound, Special Agent Davy Aguilera learned that the Tribune- Herald also was 
investigating Koresh. The two investigations continued on their separate courses for some 
time, with ATF trying to conceal the extent of its interest in the Branch Davidians. When 
Aguilera learned that former cult member Marc Breault was providing information to Mark 
England, a Tribune-Herald reporter, Aguilera asked Breault to stop speaking to the 
newspaper; it appears that Breault complied with this request. By January 1993, however, 
ATF's tactical planners began to fear that the Tribune-Herald's publication of its series 
about Koresh would interfere with, or at least complicate, the agency's plans to execute 
warrants at the Compound. It was thus on February 1 that Chuck Sarabyn and Earl 
Dunagan met with Barbara Elmore, the Tribtine-HeraW s managing editor, at the U.S. 
Attorney's Office''* in Waco, and asked her to delay publication of the Davidian "Sinful 
Messiah" series until ATF could complete its operation. In the course of this meeting with 



Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston introduced the parties, but did not attend the meeting. 

157 



Elmore, and subsequent meetings with Tribune-Herald personnel, Sarabyn, Dunagein, and, 
later, Phillip Chojnacki, disclosed not only ATF's intent to take action against the 
Compound, but also the anticipated date of that action. 

Nothing in the agency's formal guidelines at the time barred this kind of media 
contact or even addressed it.'" The question remains, however, whether ATF exercised 
good judgment in initiating contact with the Tribune-Herald. Informed opinion differs on 
this point. Indeed, one of the tactical experts consulted by the Review wrote that ATF's 
efforts to obtain press cooperation violated basic principles of operational security. See 
Kolman at B-76. On balance, though, the Review believes that ATF made a reasonable 
judgment call in deciding to contact the Tribune-Herald. The danger that the Tribune- 
Herald would betray ATF's confidences might well have been outweighed by benefits to 
the agency if the newspaper's series could be delayed or, at the very least, if the publication 
dates were known. At the time ATF made its decision, the Tribune-Herald already had 
some knowledge of ATF's investigation and, in any event, ATF always retained the option 
to cancel or postpone the raid. 

Given the resources the Tribune-Herald had committed to this investigation, ATF 
could hardly have requested the paper's forbearance in general terms. Nor could ATF 
reasonably ask the Tribune-Herald to withhold publication indefinitely. As a result, 
discussions between ATF and the paper were unlikely to be successful unless they reached 
some level of specificity. 

Unfortunately, ATF did not adequately consider who should represent ATF in its 
negotiations or what strategy would best serve their desire to have the Tribune-Herald delay 
publication. ATF's media policy permits, and indeed encourages, local field offices to 
handle media issues without requiring headquarters involvement except when the national 
media are involved or ride-along requests for the media are concerned. 



"' ATF Order 1200.2B (January 20, 1988) sets out ATF's media guidelines. The order requires 
headquarters involvement when national media are involved, sets out the conditions under which media 
personnel can go along on ATF actions, and states that ATF employees will be responsible for releasing or 
not releasing information to the press. It also adopts a portion of the Department of Justice Media Guidelines, 
28 CFR, Chapter 1, Part 50.2 (1986), for releasing information in criminal or civil matters. The ATF order 
does not address relations with the media during the investigative stage of an ATF operation. 



158 



Chojnacki's selection of Sarabyn and Dunagan to represent ATF, though consistent 
with ATF guidelines, exposes a structural defect in the guidelines. Although Sarabyn had 
taken ATF's general media relations course required for all supervisors, neither he nor 
Dunagan had any specialized expertise in media relations. Nor, for that matter, did 
Chojnacki. A field office should not be permitted to initiate contact with media about 
ongoing criminal investigations without formal participation or approval by ATF 
headquarters officials, particularly in an operation of the scope at issue here. 

The point is not one of hierarchy, but of experience. During the course of his 
dealings with the newspaper, Chojnacki did seek advice, though only informally, from Jack 
Killorin, ATF's director of public affairs. But neither Killorin nor anyone else in the 
headquarters public affairs office was told that Sarabyn and Dunagan already had met with 
the newspaper or that Chojnacki had invited Cox officials to observe raid training. ATF 
headquarters might not have approved the raid if it had known that ATF had revealed 
possible raid dates to the Tribune-Herald early in the negotiations. Moreover, learning that 
the ATF Houston division had given up so much information without extracting anything in 
return, might have led headquarters to become involved in the negotiations. 

Even though relations between the media and law enforcement can on occasion be 
adversarial, accommodation can bring important benefits to each side. A law enforcement 
agency's ability to inform the public about its achievements and to deter future offenders 
may depend upon the cooperation of the press. The media's ability to cover stories about 
criminal activity and to be protected adequately while covering such stories may depend on 
their having a working relationship with a law enforcement agency.^" These working 
relationships develop over time and are often are based as much on personalities as on 
institutional needs. Here, there was no such relationship, no history of previous dealings 
between ATF and individual agents on the one hand and the Tribune-Herald and its parent 
organization on the other. ATF agents arrived in Waco and simply asked newspaper 
representatives to give up something of tremendous value to the paper — the opportunity to 
expose a local problem with independent, in-depth coverage. Were the paper to delay its 
series until after a raid had exposed the Compound's activities, the story would lose its 
exclusivity and its profitability. In exchange, the agents offered the paper security advice, 



'" Law enforcement is responsible for protecting bystanders during its operations. When the media 
becomes involved in an operation without giving notice to or getting consent from law enforcement, however, 
the media jeopardizes not only the success of the mission but also the safety of its personnel. 

159 



advice that any law enforcement agency would give freely if asked and a chance to watch 
raid training at Fort Hood, an event with minimal news value. 

Had Chojnacki entrusted the press negotiations to those in ATF with more 
experience in media relations, an arrangement that would have been more suitable to ATF 
and the Tribune-Herald might have been made. ATF's representative in these negotiations 
might also have been more attuned to the kinds of arguments more likely to persuade the 
newspaper, arguments specifying the harms that could flow from publication of the "Sinful 
Messiah" series, instead of vague talk about how Koresh might become agitated. 

And even if those responsible for press relations at ATF could not present better 
arguments to convince the Tribune-Herald to delay publication, they may have recognized 
the benefits of seeking assistance from local law enforcement officials in these negotiations, 
officials with whom the newspaper had a working relationship. Here, ATF's failure even to 
explore coordination with local officials increased its vulnerability to local conditions. The 
local U.S. Attorney's Office, which was instrumental in setting up the first meeting between 
ATF agents and Tribune-Herald representatives, might also have played a larger role in the 
negotiations. 

Chojnacki 's fervent pitch to the Tribune-Herald on February 24 gave the newspaper 
confused signals. ATF wanted the paper to delay publication of the "Sinfial Messiah" series 
because publication might alert Koresh that some sort of enforcement action was imminent. 
But Chojnacki, seeking to conceal the precise timing of the raid, gave no indication that 
ATF would be definitely launching a raid or that if there was to be a raid, it would come 
soon. Chojnacki in fact suggested that ATF might have to "go home" if he could not get a 
warrant.^' 

If an ATF representative with more media relations experience and no critical role to 
play in the coming raid had been responsible for ATF's negotiations with the Tribune- 
Herald, ATF might have pressed its case beyond the February 24 meeting, perhaps with 
executives at Cox Enterprises. Chojnacki, however, was understandably preoccupied with 
his responsibilities as overall raid commander. When his presentation at that meeting failed, 
Chojnacki decided not to negotiate further with the newspaper. 



" By suggesting that ATF might not be able to get a warrant, Chojnacki not only undercut his claim that 
publication would interfere with ATF's operation but also increased the Tribune Herald's basis for writing 
that law enforcement had been ineffective in dealing with Koresh. 

160 



Media Activity Raid Day 

Although the flaws in ATF's efforts to delay the Tribune-Herald series require 
attention if ATF is to be more effective in future negotiations with the media, it may be 
that no overtures, however skilled, would have convinced the newspaper to delay its series. 
What cannot be dismissed, however, is ATF's failure to consider how the emergence of the 
Branch Davidian Compound as a focus of media attention after publication of the first 
articles of the "Sinful Messiah" series could affect conditions in and around the Compound 
on raid day and to take precautions to minimize the possibility of media disruption. 

By daybreak February 28, Tribune-Herald reporter Tommy Witherspoon's informant 
had alerted him to the timing of the raid. Tribune-Herald executives had seen helicopters 
landing at the Texas State Technical College airfield and had interpreted them correctly as a 
sign that an ATF raid was imminent. AMT ambulance dispatcher Darlene Helmstetter 
disclosed details about a pending law enforcement operation to her friend Dan MuUony, a 
cameraman at KWTX. 

Based on what they deemed to be reliable information, KWTX and the Tribune- 
Herald decided to send a total of 11 of their personnel (three from KWTX and eight from 
the Tribune-Herald) to the Compound vicinity to cover the raid. The reporters arrived at the 
scene early and travelled up and down the roads around the Compound as they prepared to 
cover the story. One of their number, KWTX cameraman Peeler, became lost, and, in 
asking for directions, unwittingly tipped a cult member that a raid was imminent. Another 
group of reporters went to a house directly across from the Compound and asked for 
permission to watch ATF's enforcement action, without taking any precautions to ensure 
that these neighbors would not in turn alert Koresh to the impending raid. Many media 
personnel used cellular phones — unsecure communication devices whose signals are capable 
of easy, although illegal, interception. 

The foregoing actions, which were taken by representatives of news organizations 
aware that Koresh and his followers were suspected of stockpiling weapons and 
manufacturing illegal firearms and explosives, belie the claim recently made by the Society 
of Professional Journalist's Waco Task Force that both KWTX and the Tribune- Herald 



161 



"took precautions to prevent any alerting of the Davidians."" (Report at 6.) The extent of 
those precautions consisted only in using unmarked vehicles in the Compound's vicinity. 

The Society of Professional Journalists' Waco Task Force makes another claim that 
bears mention here. According to its report, the Task Force "found no concrete evidence 
validating the accusations that journalists from the newspaper or the television station 
tipped off the Branch Davidians as to what was happening." (Report at 6.) In contrast to 
this claim, James Peeler has admitted to the Review that he told someone later identified as 
David Jones that a law enforcement action would soon take place at the Compound." It is 
undisputed that Jones took this information and alerted Koresh. But however tragic the 
results of his carelessness may have been, Peeler should not be made the scapegoat for the 
fact that Koresh learned of the raid. Given the extent of other obvious media activity in the 
area, had Koresh not learned of the raid from Peeler, he might just as easily have been 
placed on guard by that other activity. 

The prospect of substantial media activity in the area, and the dangers such activity 
could pose to the raid, should have been clear to ATF's raid commanders. They knew that 
j3'' ATF had been telling a newspaper for some time that a raid was imminent. And they knew 

that the appearance of the first installment of the "Sinful Messiah" series the day before had 
trumpeted the offenses going unprosecuted at the Branch Davidian Compound. Finally, they 
knew the paper was considering Koresh' s request to send a reporter into the Compound 
Saturday or Sunday. From just this information, ATF should have foreseen the possibility 
that media personnel, or mere gawkers, would be in the vicinity of the Compound on 
February 28. Indeed, for all the agency knew, one of the Tribune-Herald's rivals could have 
sent a reporter in to get Koresh's reaction to the "Sinful Messiah" series. 



52 

The Tribune-Herald, in fact, had taken significant security precautions to protect its physical plant 
from possible retaliation by Koresh. It however took no meaningful steps to caution its reporters not to 
discuss the raid with people whom they did not know or to brief its reporters about the importance of not 
attracting any attention which might alert Koresh to the impending raid. 

" Lee Hancock of the Dallas Morning News reported that Peeler spoke to a man in a car with U.S. Postal 
Service markings shortly before the raid but did not know he was a cult member. "TV cameraman admits his 
words tipped off cult by accident; He says he didn't know postal worker was member," Dallas Morning 
News, August 27, 1993. The recent report by the Society of Professional Journalists' Waco Task Force simply 
ignores the conflict between KWTX management's denial to the Task Force of responsibility for the leak to 
Koresh and KWTX cameraman Peeler's admission to Hancock and others, well before the Task Force report, 
that he had disclosed sensitive facts to a Branch Davidian. 

162 



As to the danger posed by such media activity, ATF should have recognized that 
Koresh's reported hostihty to strangers could only have been increased, especially as to 
some media personnel, in the wake of the "Sinful Messiah" series. The presence of 
unwanted visitors on or near the Compound on February 28 might thus have triggered a 
hostile response that would interfere with the ATF raid whether or not ATF had the 
advantage of surprise. Increased activity around the Compound also could have impeded the 
ATF assault by forcing agents to take care that reporters did not become hostages or 
casualties. 

ATF did set up roadblocks around the Compound shortly before the raid. Press 
vehicles, however, already had begun patrolling the area. Setting up roadblocks too early 
would have its own risks, because roadblocks could have tipped off the Branch Davidians 
that some sort of enforcement action was imminent. More importantly, even if ATF had 
opted not to use roadblocks, the agency could have been far more sensitive to press activity 
in the area by identifying possible press vehicles and keeping them under surveillance the 
morning of the raid. 

Had ATF attempted to monitor media movements in the area, it might have 
prevented KWTX cameraman Peeler from ever speaking to cult member David Jones. At 
the very least, ATF would have recognized the significance of Jones racing to the 
Compound after his conversation with Peeler, thus reinforcing Rodriguez's report that 
Koresh had been tipped off 

Media activity in the vicinity of the Compound was not the immediate cause of the 
casualties suffered by ATF agents on February 28. These were inflicted by Koresh and his 
followers, and could have been avoided had ATF's raid commanders called off the 
operation once they recognized that they had lost the advantage of surprise. But the media's 
conduct posed a substantial danger not only to the security of ATF's operation but also to 
the lives of agents and civilians alike. While it is not the purpose of this report to suggest 
what the media might do to minimize such dangers in the fiiture, the media should further 
examine its conduct near Waco on February 28. 



163 



It'. 



Part Two 

Section Four: The Flawed Decision to Go Forward With the Raid 



On February 28, Koresh and his followers knew ATF agents were coming and 
decided to kill them. That the Branch Davidians, if forewarned, would try to lay such an 
ambush, however, should not have come as a surprise to those who planned the ATF 
operation. Indeed, the extraordinary danger posed by Koresh' s arsenal and his propensity 
for violence were the reasons enforcement action was necessary. The issue addressed here 
is why ATF's raid-day decisionmakers proceeded with the raid, even though they should 
have realized — and indeed did realize — that they had lost the element of surprise, which 
was so critical to the raid plan.^'' 

The decision to proceed was tragically wrong, not just in retrospect, but because of 
what the decisionmakers knew at the time. Surveillance certainly indicated that something 
was amiss. There was none of the usual activity outside the Compound, and agents had 
seen David Jones, a known cult member, speeding toward the Compound after his 
conversation with one of the many media personnel who had begun to congregate in the 
vicinity. And there was no need to speculate about what Jones might have told Koresh. 
Once Rodriguez was able to report back to the command post, the key decisionmakers had 
to know that Koresh had been tipped off that ATF was coming. Why, then, did no one at 
ATF call off the raid? 



'" "Raid-day decisionmakers" or "decisionmakers" refers in this section to those raid leaders who had the 
authority to call off the raid on Sunday morning. Chojnacki as incident commander, Mastin as deputy 
incident commander, Sarabyn as tactical coordinator, and Cavanaugh as the deputy tactical coordinator, had 
formal authority to abort the raid. And Royster, although he did not have a raid-specific title, apparently had 
the power to abort the raid by virtue of his position as SAC of the Dallas Division. As a practical matter, 
however, because this was a Houston Division case and Mastin and Royster were SACs from other divisions, 
they had an extremely circumscribed role in the decisionmaking process, and did not play critical roles in this 
area. Similarly, while Cavanaugh had clear authority to abort the raid based upon any new information 
obtained through the surveillance of the Compound after Sarabyn and the cattle trailers had left the staging 
area and headed for the Compound, Cavanaugh's status as an ASAC from another division might have led 
him to be reluctant to issue an abort order after Chojnacki and Sarabyn had given the go ahead. 

165 



The answer to this question hes in a complex set of factors that include the failure 
of the raid-day decisionmakers to adequately assess available information at the time of 
decision, the failure of those decisionmakers to appreciate the tactical significance of losing 
surprise close to an hour before the raid was to begin, serious deficiencies in the raid-day 
intelligence gathering and processing structure, and the placing of decisionmaking authority 
in the hands of individuals who lacked the requisite training and experience. In the end, this 
is less a story of wrong choices made than one of choices not made at all as the momentum 
of the massive operation — left unchecked by the raid commanders and ATF 
management — carried it inexorably forward, with speed substituted for reflection and 
inquiry. 

ATF Decisionmakers Understood in Advance that the Raid Had Likely Been 
Compromised 

Despite contrary public statements made by ATF officials in the days and weeks 
following the raid, it is now clear that the critical decisionmakers on February 
28 — Chojnacki, Sarabyn, and Cavanaugh — had sufficient information from Rodriguez to 
conclude that the raid had been compromised. They knew that Koresh had become upset 
and agitated after leaving to take a purported telephone call, proclaiming that neither the 
ATF nor the National Guard would ever get him, and commenting: "They're coming, 
Robert, the time has come. They're coming." Koresh's reference to the National Guard was 
particularly significant. Koresh had previously expressed hostility to ATF in Rodriguez's 
presence, and talked of ATF's coming to get him, but never before had he referred in this 
way to the National Guard. His reference to the Guard, which was indeed participating in 
the raid, was strong evidence that Koresh had specific information about the impending 
operation." In addition, Rodriguez told Cavanaugh and others in the undercover house 
that "Koresh knows we're coming," and, according to Sarabyn, the first thing Rodriguez 
told him on the phone was "Chuck, they know we are coming." 

The actions and statements of Sarabyn, Chojnacki, Royster and Cavanaugh, after 
hearing Rodriguez's report, strongly suggest that they not only had reason to believe, but in 
fact did believe, that the raid had been compromised. Their solution was to hurry up. After 
his telephone conversation with Rodriguez, Sarabyn related its substance to an agent in the 



" Sarabyn has since noted that he found Koresh's reference to the National Guard to indicate a 
knowledge that "something was up." Chojnacki, however, recalls that he attached no significance to the 
reference because he works regularly with the National Guard. 

166 



command post. When asked what he planned to do, Sarabyn drew comfort from 
Rodriguez's having left Koresh reading the Bible, with no firearms in sight, and he opined 
that the agents could still execute the plan if they went quickly. Raid preparations 
immediately moved into high gear. Sarabyn, Chojnacki and Royster had a brief discussion 
on the tarmac, where Sarabyn related his conversation with Rodriguez and offered his 
thought that if they hurried they could still do the raid. After that conversation ended in 
agreement to go ahead with the operation, Chojnacki and Royster hurried into the command 
post. Chojnacki called the National Command Center in Washington to say the raid was 
going forward, and they both rushed back to the helicopters. Royster told various raid 
personnel "They know we're coming," and expressed the need to hurry. Sarabyn rushed to 
the staging area, several miles away, and, on arriving, repeatedly exhorted the agents there 
to hurry up and "get ready to go, they know we're coming." Cavanaugh, though he had no 
place to rush to, commented to others in the undercover house, "We better do this ASAP." 

Sarabyn and Cavanaugh concede fearing the raid had been compromised before it 
began. Royster likewise acknowledges that he understood that ATF had lost the element of 
surprise. In contrast, Chojnacki maintains that Rodriguez's report did not lead him to this 
conclusion, since he felt that Koresh' s statements, as relayed to him, were not materially 
different from what Koresh had been saying to Rodriguez all along. Chojnacki, like 
Sarabyn, however, appears to have interpreted Koresh' s statements as significant enough to 
accelerate the raid's timetable and get agents to the Compound ahead of schedule.'^ 

The Lack of a Control Agent 

If any of the raid commanders, for whatever reason, found ambiguity in Rodriguez's 
report from the Compound, the fault lies not in Rodriguez's report — which was quite 
clear — but in ATF's failure to assign Rodriguez a control agent who could have obtained 
more details and, even more importantly, ensured that the undercover' s information was 
understood. 



" While Chojnacki does not recall running into the command post to call the National Command Center 
or running back out to the helicopters, he does not deny those acts. Moreover, he does recall wondering, as he 
sat in the helicopter, "We've got time, why are we were hurrying?" Although subjective levels of certainty 
are particularly hard to evaluate in retrospect, Chojnacki's thoughts and actions suggest that, at the very least, 
he believed Koresh's statements to Rodriguez revealed something that might well have a significant bearing 
on the raid. 

167 



The failure to give Rodriguez a control agent, not only on the day of the raid but 
also during the weeks before the raid, was an unusual departure from standard law 
enforcement practices. When an undercover agent makes repeated contacts with a target, 
particularly a target with a propensity toward violence and a powerful and influential 
personality, the agent must have substantial support. A control agent helps keep the 
undercover agent comfortable in that role, and attends to the undercover' s needs, both 
physical and psychological. The control agent can also serve as a conduit for the 
undercover' s information. Sarabyn, who was otherwise preoccupied and at a remote 
location, was certainly not the person to debrief Rodriguez, who was shaken by his 
experience in the Compound. This was a job that should have been handled in a face-to- 
face session with an otherwise unburdened control agent who knew Rodriguez well. 
Similarly, unlike Sarabyn, who focused his prepared questions on whether the cult members 
had openly exhibited weapons to Rodriguez or taken visible steps to resist law enforcement, 
a control agent could have patiently and objectively questioned Rodriguez about both the 
content and his impressions of his exchange with Koresh. More details on this score might 
have made the raid commanders recognize that ATF agents might face an ambush at the 
Compound. 

Other Intelligence that Could Have Confirmed Rodriguez's Report that Koresh Knew 
ATF Was Coming 

Even if Rodriguez's report did not convince the decisionmakers that the operation 
had been compromised, it should at least have led them to make further inquiries to 
determine whether Koresh' s heated references to ATF, the National Guard, and their 
coming to get him were something more than an extraordinary coincidence. Such inquiries 
might well have caused them to abort the raid, since Koresh' s behavior takes on a special 
significance when seen against the background of cult member David Jones' encounter with 
KWTX cameraman Jim Peeler. Although the agents in the undercover house did not know 
what Peeler told Jones, they did tell Cavanaugh that a known cult member had sped back to 
the Compound (while Rodriguez was still inside) after a conversation with someone they 
thought might be one of the many media personnel in the area. Cavanaugh believes that he, 
in turn, relayed this information to the command post." Had anyone stopped to consider 



" Although Cavanaugh recalls that he relayed all noteworthy surveillance information to the command 
post, and therefore assumes that he did so with the observation of the Peeler- Jones encounter, he cannot 
identify the person to whom he gave the information, and no one in the command post recalls having received 
it. 

168 



it, this information might well have shed critical light on the specificity of Koresh's 
assertions and made it even clearer that the raid had been compromised. 

The failure to evaluate properly the intelligence from the undercover house should 
not be seen simply as a product of undue haste, however. It is not enough for raw 
surveillance information by forward observers to be relayed to operational commanders. 
There must be some system for gathering such pieces, putting them together, and ensuring 
that a meaningful evaluation gets presented to those who need it. As discussed above in the 
analysis of tactical plaiming, ATF's National Response Plan called for an intelligence 
coordinator, and an agent was assigned to that role. Unfortunately, through no fault of his 
own, that agent was given virtually no intelligence coordinating responsibilities, and had 
none at all on the day of the raid. Instead, surveillance was coordinated by Cavanaugh, 
who, unfamiliar with the day-to-day routines at the Compound, viewed his job as consisting 
largely of relaying information to the command post, rather than independently assessing it. 
Cavanaugh had no single contact at the command post, and no one had responsibility for 
gathering, integrating and assessing all the various intelligence inputs. While, at some level, 
Sarabyn undertook the intelligence evaluation role, there was no structure to ensure that he 
received all the raw intelligence data. Moreover, given the other responsibilities he had 
assumed, he could not possibly have performed that role adequately. 

As a result of the flawed intelligence structure, while Cavanaugh, the other agents in 
the undercover house the morning of the raid, and possibly someone at the command post 
Icnew about the Peeler- Jones encounter, no one put it together with Rodriguez's report. 
Similarly, no one in the raid's command structure saw anything suspicious in the media 
activity all around the Compound that morning. As Cavanaugh later explained, everyone 
had become desensitized to the media's presence, assuming that reporters were just 
following up on or reacting to the publication of the first two "Sinful Messiah" articles. 
Raid commanders took comfort in the fact that substantial traffic had been reported in front 
of the Compound on Saturday as well. As it happens, however, at least some of the media 
personnel in the vicinity of the Compound on Saturday had come because they had been 
tipped off about the raid and wanted to look the premises over in anticipation of coverage 
the next day. 

More attention to the acquisition and flow of raid-day intelligence, coupled with 
better technical support, might also have led agents to obtain what could have been the 
most concrete evidence that Koresh was planning an ambush. Because ATF suspected that 
cult members were using amateur radio equipment, the undercover house had been outfitted 

169 



with a scanner for monitoring radio traffic. Given the range of frequencies on which the 
cult members might have been operating and the Hmitations of radio scanners, it is not 
particularly surprising that the agents in the undercover house were unable to pick up any 
traffic from the Compound, and that no efforts were made to use the scanner on the 
morning of the raid. More sophisticated, but widely available, monitoring equipment, 
however, would have greatly increased the chances of overhearing Compound radio traffic. 
And there appears to have been radio traffic inside the Compound that morning. Two area 
residents overheard radio communications among people they later believed to be 
Compound residents. The Compound residents described approaching ATF agents as 
looking like "a covey of quail," and one said "If 1 had a shotgun I could flush them out and 
kill every one of them." Shortly thereafter, the scanner picked up the sound of gunfire. Had 
ATF been monitoring that same conversation, even the decisionmakers undeterred by 
Rodriguez's report might have recognized the need to abort the raid. 

Decisionmakers Failed to Realize Unacceptable Risk of Proceeding Without Surprise 

The chief reason why Rodriguez's report did not lead ATF's decisionmakers to call 
off the operation, or even to make further inquiries into whether Koresh had indeed been 
tipped off, appears to be that they did not appreciate that surprise itself was absolutely 
critical to the operation's success. Sarabyn and Chojnacki recall that, for them, the 
determining issue was not whether Koresh would be surprised, but whether the Branch 
Davidians were arming themselves in anticipation of ATF's arrival. That this was indeed 
their concern is suggested by the questions that they asked Rodriguez upon his return to the 
undercover house on February 28. Although Rodriguez had been sent into the Compound to 
see if the Saturday and Sunday Tribune-Herald articles had led the Branch Davidians to 
take up arms or otherwise vary their routine, he emerged with information of far more 
direct importance to the ATF operation. But the decisionmakers stuck to the questions that 
had been prepared earlier, asking what Koresh was wearing, whether the Compound's gates 
were open, and whether anyone in the Compound was armed. On hearing that Rodriguez 
had seen no weapons in the Compound, the decisionmakers decided that they could still 
succeed so long as they hurried up the raid and got agents to the Compound before 
conditions changed. Should Koresh mobilize his followers while the agents were 
len route, Chojnacki and Sarabyn assumed that they would learn of the danger from the 
forward observers positioned in the undercover house with sights on the Compound, and 
could abort the raid if necessary. 



170 



Chojnacki's and Sarabyn's calculations apparently rested on two false premises: first, 
that Koresh would not mobilize his followers as soon as he learned that agents were 
coming; and, second, that if an ambush were prepared, signs of it would be visible to the 
forward observers more than 250 yards away. 

This underestimation of Koresh' s resolve was inconsistent with the intelligence that 
had been amassed during ATF's investigation. Those familiar with Koresh' s stockpile of 
weapons, ammunition, and explosives, his increasing propensity toward intimidation and 
violent rhetoric, and his prior statements expressing extreme hostility to the ATF, could 
have predicted how Koresh might react to a tip that the ATF and the National Guard were 
coming. Former cult member David Block had told Aguilera that he had left the Branch 
Davidian because Koresh would always remind his followers that if they were to have a 
confrontation with the local or federal authorities, the group should be ready to fight and 
resist. In light of the information provided by Block, Koresh' s statement to Rodriguez that 
"the time has come" was also a strong indication that something Koresh had planned for 
was about to happen.'* 

It is true that Chojnacki and Sarabyn lacked the firsthand or secondhand familiarity 
with Koresh that Rodriguez and Aguilera had, and therefore were less able to predict how 
Koresh would react to a tip about the raid. But they never turned to anyone for help. 
Instead, they asked Rodriguez only about whether he had seen defensive preparations, and 
they never made any inquiries of Aguilera or of the raid plan's other architects. Had they 
done so, they would have better understood how these new facts jeopardized a plan that 
depended entirely on the advantage of surprise. The Compound's structure, the firepower 
that Koresh had amassed inside, the loyalty and discipline of cult members, and the absence 
of cover in the surrounding terrain made a direct assault against forewarned assailants 
unacceptably risky. 

Instead of seeking such counsel, the raid commanders thought they should hurry up. 
This, too, made no sense. If Koresh was not going to arm and deploy his followers, there 
was no need for haste. The raid commanders could follow the original plan and wait for the 



'' Indeed, the day before, when Koresh had preached about the "Sinful Messiah" article in Rodriguez's 
presence, he had cautioned his followers that when "they" came to get him, his followers would have to 
remember what he had told them to do. Unfortunately, the Saturday debriefing of Rodriguez was short and 
incomplete, and this information was not conveyed to the raid commanders. Had Rodriguez had a control 
agent, unburdened by responsibility for a massive law enforcement operation, the result might have been 
different. 

171 



Branch Davidian men to begin their work in the pit, away from their weapons. If the men 
did appear, the forward observers or ATF's fixed wing aircraft would be able to tell the 
raid commanders. ^^ If, on the other hand, Koresh was going to resist the agents, any 
acceleration of the raid would again not help. It would still take at least 30 minutes from 
the time Sarabyn left the command post for the cattle trailers to get from the staging area to 
the Compound. This delay would give Koresh more than enough time to hand out weapons 
and deploy his followers in a Compound that appeared to be designed for just such 
defensive measures. And it was scarcely likely that anyone stationed outside the Compound 
would be able to tell that an ambush was being prepared. Cult members with access to 
machineguns and semiautomatic assault weapons should not have been expected to display 
their weapons out the window while they lie in wait.^° 

Perhaps one explanation for why the raid commanders underestimated the ability and 
resolve of Koresh and his followers might be that they overestimated ATF's ability to 
intimidate their target simply by arriving at the Compound in force. No decisionmaker has 
said that he acted in the belief that Koresh would back down in the face of ATF's show of 
force. Several ATF raid participants, on the other hand, have said they never thought the 
Branch Davidians would fire on scores of uniformed agents. Such statements betray an 
insensitivity to the volatility of the situation that ATF should have known it was entering. 
Given that a small segment of the population harbors extreme hostility both to ATF and the 
federal laws it is charged with enforcing, the agency must always be wary of violent 
responses from the targets of its investigations. And here, Koresh' s pronouncements left no 
need to speculate about his hatred of the agency and the apocalyptic violence with which he 
would greet its agents. 

The narrow answer to why the raid was not called off Sunday morning is that ATF 
decisionmakers failed to realize that surprise was critical to the operation's success and why 
it was so crhical. Looking only for indications of defensive measures that were unlikely to 
be seen by the forward observers, the commanders never paused to reflect on the 



" At about 9:00 Sunday morning, in order to conduct aerial surveillance of the raid, two ATF agents flew 
from TSTC in a twin engine airplane. Approximately 40 minutes later, they followed the two cattle trucks to 
the raid site at an altitude of 2500 feet. After the shooting started, they decreased their altitude to 1500 feet, 
to better identify and report the location of hostile firing positions, and pinpoint the location of injured agents. 
The plane could have been used to determine whether, despite Koresh's statements to Rodriguez, the Branch 
Davidian men would be following their perceived routine of working in the pit. 

'° While Koresh had posted sentries outside on other occasions, that certainly was no guarantee that he 
would respond to news of the impending ATF raid in the same way. 

172 



consequences of Koresh's having been tipped off. They hurried up when they should have 
slowed down. This narrow explanation, however, is incomplete, for it must be understood 
against the backdrop of the momentum inevitably generated in an action of the type 
contemplated by ATF, and the upper-level management decisions within ATF that 
exacerbated the pressure imposed by that momentum. 

Handling the Momentum of the Raid 

Most major law enforcement actions develop momentum as the moment of 
execution approaches, particularly raids that are viewed as high risk. Anxiety, fear, bravado, 
and the desire to accomplish the raid's objectives combine to put pressure on the raid 
participants to go forward. As the point of no return approaches, the pressure to go forward 
increases. 

A raid of the scope, expense, and logistical complexity contemplated by the planners 
of the Waco operation can generate a momentum that, if unchecked, can be inexorable. By 
the time Rodriguez left the Compound on Sunday morning and reported to Sarabyn, all was 
poised to go forward. The eight-month investigation had generated probable cause to 
believe that Koresh and his followers had amassed an enormous stockpile of weapons, 
ammunition and explosives. Raid planning had been in the works since early December. 
Over 130 ATF agents were in or near Waco for the raid. Three ATF special response teams 
and three arrest support teams, comprising 76 highly motivated agents with a common 
mission, had been training and living together for three days at Fort Hood. Dozens of other 
ATF agents had been brought in to participate in and support the raid. The agents had been 
drawn from seven different ATF field divisions and 1 8 different cities, and could not be 
kept in the Waco area indefinitely. National Guard and emergency medical personnel and 
equipment were in place, as were members of other federal, state and local law enforcement 
agencies. ATF headquarters personnel were assembled at the National Command Center to 
receive up-to-the minute information about the raid. No one associated with the venture 
could have doubted the fantastic cost and effort it would take if the operation were aborted 
and put off for another time. 

It is difficult to measure what effect the operation's built-in momentum may have 
had on the raid-day decision to go forward. Several ATF agents who participated in the raid 
have strongly suggested that the raid probably would have been aborted but for this 
pressure. At the very least, the pressure to go forward might well have played a critical role 
in the failure of the raid commanders to seek more information from Rodriguez, Aguilera, 

173 



and raid planners about the significance of Rodriguez's report from the Compound. 
Decisions that now appear flawed may well not have been decisions at all, but simply steps 
taken along what seemed at the time to be a preordained road. 

The point is not that momentum must be avoided in large-scale raids. Surely it is 
inevitable, and may even be beneficial to the success of an operation. Such pressures, 
however, should not be permitted to infect the decisionmaking of those charged with giving 
the go-ahead for what, at best, is a high-risk endeavor. Many law enforcement agencies 
provide training in crisis management to those supervisory personnel likely to face high-risk 
situations where alternatives must be weighed under extreme pressure.*' ATF gave its 
supervisory agents no such specialized training. 

The absence of such training was particularly unfortunate for the decisionmakers 
here. Neither Chojnacki nor Sarabyn had any experience remotely comparable to the raid 
attempted on February 28. The bulk of their experience was with typical street enforcement 
actions. Nor had they had any meaningful training in operations of this magnitude, or any 
relevant military tactical experience that might have compensated for that lack of training. 
As a result, they were ill-prepared for the command of a large-scale, high-risk assault on a 
large, heavily armed structure. 

The pressures on Sarabyn were particularly great. Indeed, it is questionable whether 
any training could have prepared him for the many responsibilities that he took on. He 
served as the manager of the investigation, the manager of the tactical planning, and the de 
facto intelligence coordinator. He was also a principal liaison between the field agents 
involved in the raid and ATF headquarters, obliged to respond to high-level inquiries, 
prepare numerous reports on all aspects of the investigation and operation, and give 
briefings. Sarabyn' s responsibilities continued to build as the investigation and tactical 
planning progressed. February 28 was to be the culmination of all of these efforts, and it 
would be understandable if Sarabyn was reluctant to postpone the long-awaited event and 
lacked the dispassion so critical to crisis management.*" 



*' Typically, such training involves real-time exercises in which managers develop and enhance their skills 
in situation evaluation, resource assessment, team interaction, managing multiple demands, and near-, mid- 
and long-term planning. Many federal and state law enforcement agencies, as well as private industry, use 
such training. 

'^ ATF management had at its disposal a number of senior agents with far greater relevant experience and 
training than either Chojnacki or Sarabyn, and who would not have had the same responsibilities that 
pressured Sarabyn. 

174 



The pressures on the raid's commanders could only have been increased by the 
absence of any meaningful contingency planning for the raid. When presented with 
Rodriguez's report, they considered but two choices: proceed with the raid as planned or 
call it off A third alternative that is always available, delay, apparently was not considered. 
Had the raid planners prepared a more productive tactical alternative, such as deploying for 
a siege in the event surprise were lost, the pressure to proceed with the raid would have 
been substantially eased. A range of meaningful options, considered and practiced in 
advance and accounting for the real possibility that surprise might be lost, almost certainly 
would have improved the crisis decisionmaking process. 

The final check on the pressures of momentum faced by those in the field can come 
through monitoring by headquarters personnel, far removed from the scene. But no 
meaningful monitoring occurred here. On February 28, pursuant to the National Response 
Plan, ATF headquarters activated the National Command Center in Washington to follow 
the progress of the raid. Staffed as it was with high-level managers who had extensive 
experience in field operations, the Command Center could have served as a valuable check 
on the decision to go forward with the raid. Had the Command Center been briefed on what 
Rodriguez had learned inside the Compound, the raid might well have been aborted. At the 
very least. Command Center personnel might have recognized that caution and careful 
thought, not speed, was the appropriate response to Rodriguez's information. Instead, when 
Chojnacki called the Command Center after being briefed by Sarabyn, he said only that the 
raid was going forward, and made no mention of Rodriguez's report. Moreover, the person 
he spoke to was neither a superior nor someone with particular knowledge of the operation. 
No questions were asked, no further information requested. As a result, the Command 
Center involved command in name only. In reality, it served as a front-row seat for what 
everyone anticipated would be a major, successftil operation. In that capacity, the Command 
Center simply reminded the decisionmakers in the field that headquarters was watching, and 
it could only have added to the pressure to go forward with the operation for which all had 
waited so long. 



175 



■■•■\f' 



Part Two 

Section Five: Treasury Department Oversight 



ATF Notifies Treasury of Impending Operation 

As the planning for the raid on the Branch Davidian Compound entered its final 
stages, Associate Director (Law Enforcement) Daniel Hartnett, at the direction of ATF 
Director Stephen Higgins, asked Special Agent Christopher Cuyler, ATF's liaison to the 
Treasury Department, to brief the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Law Enforcement 
about the impending operation. Although ATF falls under the jurisdiction of the Assistant 
Secretary — as do the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Customs Service, Financial Crimes 
Enforcement Network, and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center — no regulation then 
in force required ATF to seek approval from the Office of Enforcement for the execution of 
search or arrest warrants, even for an operation of this magnitude. Indeed, no regulation 
required ATF even to notify the Assistant Secretary that such an operation was about to be 
launched. Nonetheless, it had been ATF's practice to apprise the Assistant Secretary of 
significant events, especially those expected to generate substantial media attention. 

Accordingly, on the afternoon of February 26, Cuyler prepared a one-page 
memorandum for Michael D. Langan, then Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Law 
Enforcement, alerting him that the Branch Davidian Compound would be raided on 
February 28 by SRTs from Houston, Dallas, and New Orleans, assisted by state, local, and 
military authorities. The memorandum noted that "approximately 75 people (men, women, 
and children)" were thought to be in the Compound, but it provided no details about the 
planned operation. However, the memorandum did assure: "A well-reasoned, comprehensive 
plan has been approved [that] allows for all contingencies." (See Appendix D.) 

Shortly after preparing his memorandum, Cuyler gave a quick briefing to Ronald K. 
Noble, who had been designated by President Clinton, through the Secretary of the 
Treasury, to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Law Enforcement. Pending his 
nomination and confirmation. Noble worked in the Office of Enforcement as a part-time 

177 



consultant. He was authorized to give advice, but had no authority, operational or 
otherwise, over Treasury Department personnel. Because of his advisory status and because 
he was occupied with the bombing at the World Trade Center in New York City, which 
had occurred hours before,*^ Noble suggested that Cuyler brief Langan and John P. 
Simpson, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Regulatory, Tariff and Trade Enforcement), who was 
acting as Assistant Secretary for Enforcement. 

At the briefing, Cuyler added little to the one-page memorandum, except to say that 
the operation had been moved up from Monday to Sunday in response to the anticipated 
publishing of the Waco Tribune-Herald series. Questions were raised among officials at the 
Office of Enforcement as to whether there were alternatives to an operation of such 
magnitude and they decided to discuss the matter further. Meanwhile, Langan alerted Philip 
Diehl, then counselor to Secretary of the Treasury Lloyd Bentsen, and Joshua Steiner, then 
special assistant to Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Roger Altman, to the fact that a raid 
was scheduled to take place the following Sunday near Waco. Steiner in turn informed 
Altman of the existence of the planned raid. Secretary Bentsen, who was in England, was 
not notified. When Simpson sought clarification about the purpose of the ATF briefing. 
Director Higgins explained that ATF merely wanted to keep the Office of Enforcement 
informed and was not seeking Simpson's authorization. 

Friday afternoon. Noble had a discussion with Simpson, Langan, and Stanley Morris, 
the former Director of the U.S. Marshals Service, now working in the Office of 
Enforcement. Langan and Morris had serious reservations about the operation. Noble, who 
had been a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Assistant U.S. Attorney at the Justice 
Department, agreed. He observed that Cuyler' s memorandum had not addressed critical 
questions as to why so much force was needed to execute the warrants, what precise 
precautions were being taken to ensure the safety of ATF agents and those inside the 
Branch Davidian Compound, and why ATF believed it could achieve its mission without a 
shoot-out. Based on the information he had available at that time. Noble noted that if he 
were in Simpson's position, he would not let the raid go forward. 

Simpson, Langan, Noble, and Morris also discussed the extent to which the Office 
of Enforcement should defer to the decision of a bureau within its jurisdiction to proceed 



" The bombing, which occurred at 12:18 p.m. on February 26, heavily damaged Secret Service and 
Customs facilities, raising concerns within the Office of Enforcement over possible injuries to Secret Service 
and Customs personnel. ATF personnel were already playing a major role in the investigation of the blast. 

178 



with an operation about which the Office had reservations. Simpson decided that the Office 
was obliged to intervene and prevent the operation from going forward. Simpson called 
Higgins and directed that the raid be called off. 

While Higgins offered no objection at the time, a half hour later he called Simpson 
and asked him to reconsider his order to call off the raid. First to Simpson alone, and then 
in a conference call with Noble and Simpson, Higgins explained that the warrants had to be 
executed forcefully because Koresh was not likely to surrender voluntarily and because 
ATF feared that Koresh and his followers might destroy evidence or commit mass suicide if 
given the opportunity. Higgins assured them that ATF was familiar with the routine in the 
Compound and that the raid had been scheduled for a time when the men would be 
separated from the women and children, who would be inside, and from the weapons, 
which were stored in an "arms room" under Koresh' s control. Higgins stressed that the raid 
needed to go forward that Sunday because the Tribune-Herald series might alert Koresh 
that he was the subject of law enforcement scrutiny and lead him to alter his routine. 

Higgins asserted that those directing the raid were instructed to cancel the operation 
if they learned that its secrecy had been compromised or if those in the Compound had 
departed from their established routine in any significant way. Higgins explained that an 
undercover agent would be sent into the Compound shortly before the raid to determine 
whether there had been any such changes in routine. At the conclusion of this three-way 
telephone call. Noble and Simpson said that they were satisfied that their concerns about 
the raid had been addressed. Simpson revoked his earlier direction that the raid not go 
forward.^" 

The next day, February 27, Higgins informed Simpson that the first Tribune-Herald 
article had appeared, but that it did not indicate that any law enforcement action was 
imminent. Higgins reiterated that an ATF undercover agent would be able to confirm the 
next day whether the investigation had been compromised, and he felt confident that the 
raid could proceed as scheduled. Simpson advised Noble of Higgins's call. The Office of 
Enforcement heard nothing more about the raid until late in the morning of February 28, 
when Higgins informed Simpson that the raid had been repulsed and agents had been killed 
and wounded. 



" The Office of Enforcement was the highest office in the Department of the Treasury to permit ATF to 
proceed with its planned raid. 

179 



Discussion 

Although the Office of Enforcement is formally charged with overseeing ATF, ATF 
gave Enforcement fewer than 48 hours' notice that it was about to embark on the biggest 
raid in its history. Moreover, the notice the agency did send was minimal, a one page 
memorandum giving little sense of the nature of the operation and its risks. The 
presentation seems to have been made more to enable the Treasury Department to field 
media inquiries after a successftil raid was concluded than to allow it to rigorously review 
the raid plan; perhaps, it was simply intended to keep Treasury from hearing about the raid 
from the media first. 

The procedure that ATF followed, however, was consistent with prior practice 
established by previous Assistant Secretaries and still in force in February 1993. Indeed, 
ATF was not required to give the Office of Enforcement any notice at all of the impending 
raid. Nor was there any system in place for the Office to make regular inquiries about 
significant ATF operations. ATF's Director and the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement 
met once a month. The Office of Enforcement relied on the discretion and good judgment 
of the Bureau's senior management for making day-in, day-out decisions, and gave the 
Bureau no reason to believe that any enforcement issue was to be identified for special 
scrutiny. Thus, the Office of Enforcement must itself bear some responsibility for ATF's 
failure to treat the operation differently and to give anything but minimal information about 
the impending raid on the Branch Davidian Compound. 

When information about the raid was finally presented to it, the Office of 
Enforcement did seek to exercise some oversight authority. The raid would not have been 
permitted to proceed if Director Higgins had been unable to answer critical questions raised 
by the Office about the operation's necessity and its risks. Had the Waco raid commanders 
adhered to Director Higgins' s assurance to Simpson and Noble that the raid would not go 
forward unless ATF had the advantage of surprise, the operation might have ended 
differently. The manner in which the Office of Enforcement was brought into this case, 
however, demands that some thought be given to the role the Office can and should play in 
ATF operations in the future. 

Theoretically, the Office of Enforcement could choose to review the plans for every 
ATF operation and, indeed, for every Secret Service and Customs operation as well. To do 
so, however, would either turn the Office into a rubber-stamping operation or make 
enforcement activities by these agencies come to a grinding halt. In 1992 alone, ATF's 

180 



more than 2,000 agents executed 10,134 federal warrants. In addition, they participated with 
state and local agencies in the service of 12,884 search warrants throughout the nation. 
Given the speed with which most enforcement activities occur and the degree of familiarity 
that is needed before an operation can be assessed, involvement by the Office of 
Enforcement in most ATF raids is impossible. For routine operations, the Office must rely 
on ATF leadership. Indeed, any micro-management in this regard would be inappropriate as 
well as inefficient, because those who plan these operations should feel and be responsible 
for them. 

For certain significant enforcement operations, however. Treasury Department 
oversight is both realistic and appropriate. Where an extraordinarily large raid is being 
planned, the Office of Enforcement can provide a critical check on a process that tends to 
develop a momentum of its own. Even while leaving law enforcement agency plarmers 
considerable discretion over operational details, the Office can assess the risks being taken 
and bring its independent judgment to bear on sensitive issues, such as criminal activities 
by religious cults, that the agencies are not used to dealing with. Charged with enforcing 
criminal laws, law enforcement personnel will understandably have a tendency to look to 
enforcement solutions that may not always be appropriate. Civilian oversight can check this 
tendency, and ensure that agencies consider other approaches as well, if suitable. And 
where enforcement action is required, the Office of Enforcement can ensure that an agency 
consults and coordinates with other law enforcement agencies with special expertise. 

It is difficult to craft precise rules and guidelines regarding when ATF should seek 
approval from the Office of Enforcement for an operation. The raid that later becomes the 
subject of congressional or media attention will not always seem worthy of special scrutiny 
before it happens. Moreover, each assistant secretary, as with any other manager, will 
doubtless have his or her own particular concerns. The most effective way to communicate 
those interests and clarify what "significant" means is not simply through formal rules, but 
also through a close working relationship between agency heads and the Office of 
Enforcement. 

When presented with a law enforcement agency's plans for a significant operation, 
the Office of Enforcement must give due recognition to the expertise and experience of the 
agents who put the plans together. While the Office can bring a critical outside perspective 
to bear on sensitive issues, such as whether the public believes the level of force the agency 
plans to employ is justified by the violations targeted or whether adequate measures have 
been taken to protect agents and civilians, the Office must allow agents considerable leeway 

181 



in deciding how those concerns should be addressed. At bottom, however, the Office must 
ensure that tactical objectives will be accomplished in a manner consistent with public 
expectations of fairness and proportionality and safety. 

For the Office of Enforcement to play a constructive role in any operation, it must 
be brought into the picture while the operation is being planned. Otherwise, agents will see 
its review as just another last-minute bureaucratic hurdle to overcome. When Simpson and 
Noble expressed their concerns about the Waco plan on February 26 and put the operation 
on hold less than 48 hours before the raid was set to go, their intervention was unlikely to 
spark any meaningful ATF reassessment of the plan. By this time, there were pat answers 
about how the element of surprise could be preserved and how contingency plans had been 
prepared. With such reassurances given quickly, the raid could go forward. A broader and 
more precise definition of the Office's interests in this area is needed. 

The tragedy near Waco exposed deficiencies in the way the Office of Enforcement 
oversees its bureaus' activities. The process of addressing these deficiencies is underway. 
First, the Office of Enforcement has established a Treasury Law Enforcement Council 
comprising the directors of the U.S. Secret Service, ATF, and Federal Law Enforcement 
Training Center, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Center, the Commissioner of Customs, 
and the Assistant Commissioner for the Criminal Investigative Division of the Internal 
Revenue Service. Its purpose is to provide Treasury law enforcement leaders a forum to 
discuss significant policy or operational matters with one another and with the Assistant 
Secretary for Enforcement. Working closely with the council, the Assistant Secretary for 
Enforcement has developed formal reporting requirements and crisis management 
procedures for the bureaus. Second, the Office of Enforcement has instituted weekly 
meetings with bureau heads to ensure that policy-level officials are provided with timely 
information to allow them to conduct meaningful oversight. 

In the end, however, the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement must have confidence 
in the judgment of ATF leaders and be ready to allow them considerable discretion in 
selecting the means to accomplish a worthy objective. These leaders must in turn clarify the 
degree of discretion that field supervisors will be allowed and be able to respect the 
judgment of these field supervisors within their allotted spheres of expertise. With 
discretion, at every level of the agency must come accountability, because no level of 
oversight will prevent tragedy where — as here — a plan presented for Office of Enforcement 
review is based on assumptions and contains preconditions that are ignored by the agents 
charged with implementing them. Any individual whose judgment or integrity cannot be 

182 



trusted by those who must rely on those qualities must be removed from a position of 
discretionary authority. The Assistant Secretary will work with ATF to ensure that these 
goals are met. 



183 



Part Two 

Section Six: Operations Security 



Among the many questions posed publicly after the raid failed were those 
concerning how the Branch Davidians could have known that ATF was coming. Many 
theories were circulated by the media and within the Waco community. Some theories 
suggested that a reporter had telephoned Koresh shortly before the raid. Others believed that 
the visibility of numerous agents in the Waco area before the raid had alerted local 
residents, particularly hotel employees, waitresses, and patrons of bars and restaurants. 

The Review investigated the various theories that attempted to explain how Koresh 
was warned of the impending raid. The precise answer to how Koresh was alerted is now 
clear: KWTX cameraman Jim Peeler told David Jones that a raid was imminent, and Jones 
quickly passed that information to Koresh. Koresh' s reaction to the news, as described by 
Rodriguez, strongly suggests that Jones' warning about the operation was the first to reach 
him. Contrary to some initial reports, Koresh was not consciously tipped off by a reporter. 
Similarly, reports that Koresh got wind of the raid due to careless ATF operations security 
practices are unfounded. Witnesses who thought they had seen ATF agents in Waco before 
the raid were actually recalling post-raid events during which ATF and other law 
enforcement were highly visible. 

Although Koresh learned of the raid through the chance encounter between Peeler 
and Jones, not by ATF action, there were many other actions taken in the course of the 
investigation that could have alerted Koresh to ATF's investigation or the timing of its 
entry plan. Although many of these actions were needed to advance the investigation, some 
actions needlessly risked raising Koresh' s suspicions. This was particularly dangerous 
because maintaining the element of surprise was vital to the plan's success. Although some 
criticisms of ATF's security practices were unfounded, a few of the salient actions are 
examined here so that ATF can improve the way it manages these inevitable risks in the 
future. 185 



The Investigation 

Although, in the course of their investigation, ATF agents pursued several avenues 
of inquiry that risked compromising the secrecy of the investigation, steps were taken to 
reduce the risk when possible and most of these risks were appropriately taken. During the 
compliance inspection of Henry McMahon, who was thought to be supplying Koresh with 
weapons and components, Special Agent Aguilera deliberately led McMahon to believe that 
the inspection was a routine administrative inquiry. In his interview of the Andrade family, 
Aguilera initially posed as a Texas businessman concerned about his relatives in the 
Compound. Aguilera did not reveal his true identity until he was satisfied that the family 
was trustworthy. When Aguilera and Special Agent Buford contacted several former cult 
members and the families of active cult members the agents identified themselves, but 
avoided releasing any details about the planned operation. 

The Undercover Operation 

The danger that Koresh would be alerted to possible enforcement actions against 
him vastly increased once ATF began its undercover operation. ATF appears to have given 
little attention to how cult members might have viewed the undercover house, even though 
the planners knew, or should have known, that the Branch Davidians were extremely 
suspicious of changes in their environment. The agents' cover was that they were Texas 
State Technical College (TSTC) students living in one of the houses that Gayle Peery, the 
owner, usually rented to his ranch hands. 

Some efforts were taken to lend credibility to this cover. The agents obtained TSTC 
student identification cards and TSTC parking decals for their vehicles. Occasionally, some 
of the agents actually spent time at TSTC. A telephone was installed under one agent's 
undercover name, and the agents received mail at the house. 

The routine at the house, however, could easily have undermined the agents' cover. 
Chosen for its view of the Compound, the house was small and only had two bedrooms. 
But it was occupied by eight agents, with four agents staying in it at one time, working 
two-man shifts. If the Branch Davidians had been keeping an eye on their new neighbors, 
this rotation would have been an odd, and suspicious, sight. Even if the constant changing 
of the house's occupants went unnoticed, the traffic created as agents came and went as 
well as the intermittent visits of technical operations officers and supervisors would have 
been difficult to miss. 

186 



Moreover, the agents selected to play the role of students did not fit the profile of 
TSTC students. Shortly after the agents moved in, Koresh visited the people in the house 
next to the undercover house and questioned them about the agents. In the course of the 
discussion, Koresh expressed doubt that the men were students because their cars were too 
new for most college students to afford and, according to Koresh, three of the four cars had 
no credit liens. (Koresh claimed to have found this out through an informant in the motor 
vehicles department.) In addition. Branch Davidians interviewed after the raid stated that 
Koresh had been suspicious of the men living across the road because they were too old to 
be students, their cars were too new, the men carried briefcases and the owner had 
previously refused to rent the house but then summarily rented it to these individuals. Cult 
members believed the men were law enforcement, but were not certain what agency they 
represented. And suspicions within the Compound could only have been heightened when 
the agents refused to allow cult member David Jones to enter the undercover house, despite 
his repeated efforts to do so. 

The aspect of ATF's undercover operation that was carried out with the least regard 
for secrecy occurred on January 27, when a special agent posing as a UPS trainee 
accompanied the regular delivery person to the Compound. The UPS employee cautioned 
ATF that UPS requires its employees to keep their hair short and the agent's shoulder- 
length hair might raise suspicions. The UPS employee expressed concern that this 
irregularity presented a safety risk to both men. His warning was ignored. 

The agent's conduct during the course of the delivery was even more suspicious 
than his appearance. The ATF agent instructed the UPS delivery person to drive his truck 
into the Mag Bag's driveway, go to the door, and ask to use the telephone and the 
bathroom. The delivery person told the agent that he always parked on the street and had 
never driven his truck into the driveway. More importantly, he also told the agent that in 
the course of making numerous deliveries during an 1 8-month period he had never entered 
the Mag Bag. The delivery person expressed his concern that the appearance of a second 
person coupled with such unprecedented actions was certain to arouse suspicions. 

Upon arriving at the Mag Bag, they were greeted by Woodrow Kendrick and 
Michael Schroeder. The delivery person complied with the agents' instructions. He was 
permitted to make his phone call and the agent was allowed to use the bathroom, however 
Kendrick asked many questions about the new person. 



187 



Upon leaving the Mag Bag, while on the way to the Compound, the agent told the 
delivery person to follow the same procedure as before. He should drive the truck to the 
front of the Compound and once they were inside, ask to use the telephone and the agent 
would ask to use the bathroom. The delivery person responded that he never drove to the 
Compovmd but always left the delivery at the gate; he never entered the Compound. The 
agent also instructed the delivery person that while he was using the bathroom, the delivery 
person was to drive away, as if he had forgotten his trainee. The delivery person refused to 
comply with this part of the plan. 

Upon arrival at the Compound, the two men were met by David Jones and Koresh, 
which was unusual because Koresh rarely, if ever, accepted deliveries. Before the delivery 
person could ask to use the telephone, the undercover agent asked to use the bathroom. 
Jones already had a roll of toilet paper in hand. He gave it to the agent and told him to use 
the outhouse. (There were no toilets inside the Compound.) When the agent left, Jones 
questioned the delivery person about the trainee. Attempting to change the subject, the 
delivery person tried to engage Koresh in small talk. Koresh told the delivery person, "I 
know we're being watched." He then returned to the Compound. This undercover effort 
was so transparent that Koresh complained to the local sheriffs department. He accused the 
department of trying to infiltrate the Compound. 

ATF's failure to exercise more discretion in conducting its undercover probes of 
Koresh was not responsible for alerting the Branch Davidians that a raid was being planned 
for a particular day. It did, however, confirm Koresh' s conviction that some law 
enforcement action against him was being contemplated and lent urgency to preparations in 
the Compound to resist such an action. 

Pre-raid Logistics 

ATF appears to have given sufficient attention to concerns about operations security 
as it made final preparations for the raid on the Compound. Beginning February 25, large 
numbers of agents began to converge at Fort Hood for training. Some agents billeted in 
barracks at Fort Hood; a few opted to stay in local motels. Support team personnel arrived 
in Waco on Saturday, February 27, and lodged at local motels. Agents at all locations 
demonstrated adequate concern for operations security, despite early news accounts to the 
contrary. Agents did not wear ATF clothing, discuss the operation in public areas, or 
conduct themselves in a manner that would draw undue attention. Although agents lodging 



188 



at local motels used government credit cards, if asked, they explained that they were 
participating in a training course. 

Wherever possible, ATF obtained support services from military and other law 
enforcement sources. When the agency had to deal with private contractors, it was 
appropriately circumspect. ATF told representatives of a private portable toilet company 
that their services were needed for a construction project. Company employees were 
instructed to have a truck at TSTC on Sunday morning where they would receive further 
directions. Arrangements for the ambulance service were made with similar care. ATF dealt 
exclusively with the manager and assistant manager, who were told only that the company's 
services would be needed on February 28 and warned not to discuss this information with 
anyone else. The ambulance company, which had worked previously with the local sheriffs 
office, was considered trustworthy. 

In hindsight, ATF's use of a private ambulance service did have tragic 
consequences. A dispatcher for the local ambulance service told Dan Mallony, a KWTX 
cameraman, about the timing of the raid. This tip started a chain of events that resulted in 
Koresh being warned about the impending raid. Peeler was directed to go to the Compound 
area, and ended up discussing the raid with cult member David Jones, who approached 
Peeler because he appeared lost. Naturally, Jones took this information to Koresh. ATF 
cannot be faulted for the decision to give the ambulance service information about the 
pending operation, however. Even though the risk of spreading knowledge about the raid 
might have been reduced if ATF had used an ambulance service from another city, the 
benefit gained would have been offset by using a company whose drivers might not know 
the local roads and hospitals. 

The Raid 

Three operations security problems stand out in reports about the day of the raid: the 
convoy was too conspicuous, the forward observers might easily have been seen during 
their deployment, and the raid commanders' communications were not secure. 

Many agents expressed concern about the convoy in which they traveled from Fort 
Hood to the Bellmead staging area early on February 28. Once the cattle trailers and 
vehicles assembled for the 100-mile trip, the result was an 80-vehicle caravan, headlights 
on, with a cattle trailer at each end. This spectacle did not necessarily announce that law 
enforcement action was imminent, but it did suggest that something highly unusual was 

189 



happening. Certainly, had thought been given to the convoy's visibility, steps could have 
been taken to avoid to the problem. 

In addition, more thought should have been given to when to deploy six forward 
observers to the hay bam behind the Compound. Because the distinctly dressed observers 
deployed at 8:00 a.m., without the cover of darkness, they might have been seen by Branch 
Davidians and reporters who were traveling the roads. 

Finally, Sarabyn and Cavanaugh's use of nonsecure cellular telephones to speak to 
each other as they traveled to the Compound in cattle trailers from the staging area violated 
basic operations security practices and was contrary to the communication plan. An anterma 
on the Compound indicated that the cult members might have had scanners that could have 
received the cellular telephone transmissions if tuned to the proper frequencies. 

Conclusion 

Operations security works best in tandem with intelligence. While an effective 
intelligence operation ensures that decision makers get reliable information about an 
adversary, effective operations security denies the adversary access to the same sort of 
information. It is thus not surprising that the operations security problems in the ATF 
operation mirrored the intelligence failures. Particularly when a raid is so dependent on 
surprise, operations security cannot be simply a matter of individuals thinking about the 
consequences of their own actions. Constant attention must be devoted to how the agency's 
activities might look to a target or his or her allies. 

ATF never entrusted any particular individual with this responsibility, and, as was 
the case with the intelligence gathering effort, the tactical planners and raid commanders 
were too overwhelmed with other matters to pay sufficient attention to operations security. 
Consequently, on the morning of February 28, raid commanders underestimated the risk 
that the raid could be compromised other than by the Saturday and Sunday newspaper 
articles. 

Even though Rodriguez returned from the Compound with information indicating 
Koresh had been alerted to the raid, those evaluating the information continued to focus on 
their earlier expectations, that after reading the articles, Koresh would distribute weapons 
and post sentries. If operations security concerns had been assessed properly, the agents 
would have treated the newspaper articles as just one of many possible threats. Having done 

190 



so, they might have had a broader perspective from which to assess the significance of 
Rodriguez's information. This experience shows that operations security is crucial to the 
success of large-scale tactical operations. 



191 



if ' 



Part Two 

Section Seven: ATF Post-raid Dissemination of Misleading Information 

About the Raid and the Raid Plan 



Following a tragedy of this magnitude, it was inevitable that the law enforcement 
community, the Executive Branch, Congress and concerned private citizens would demand 
an accounting of these events. 

In the wake of the tragedy on February 28, the raid commanders, who made the 
decision to proceed with the raid despite the clear evidence that Koresh had been 
forewarned, and their superiors in the ATF hierarchy endeavored to answer the call for 
explanations. But critical aspects of the information that they provided — to superiors, to 
investigators, and to the public — were misleading or plain wrong. It was not that they 
lacked access to the relevant facts. Rather, raid commeinders Chojnacki and Sarabyn appear 
to have engaged in a concerted effort to conceal their errors in judgment. And ATF's 
management, perhaps out of a misplaced desire to protect the agency from criticism, offered 
accounts based on Chojnacki and Sarabyn' s statements, disregarding clear evidence that 
those statements were false. 

ATF Management's Misleading Post-raid Statements 

In the aftermath of the Waco raid, perhaps the most frequently asked questions were: 
Had Koresh been tipped off that ATF was coming? And, if Koresh indeed was forewarned, 
did ATF commanders know this before they launched the raid? Certainly the news media 
representatives pouring into Waco sought answers for these questions from official and 
unofficial ATF spokespeople. The answers would also be significant for those looking 
toward a criminal prosecution of Koresh and his followers, since evidence that the 
Compound's residents had deliberately planned an ambush after getting tipped off would 
blunt any claims that they had merely acted in self-defense against unknown assailants. And 
ATF's leadership sought answers, that they might respond to media and official inquiries, 
and that they could work to prevent future tragedies. 

193 



ATF's top management appropriately set about to determine whether surprise had 
been lost, and how. They established a "shooting review" team, and that team 
systematically looked for answers. Even before a complete picture of the Waco tragedy had 
emerged, however. Associate Director for Law Enforcement Daniel Hartnett and Deputy 
Associate Director for Law Enforcement Edward Daniel Conroy, together with Intelligence 
Division Chief David Troy — who became ATF's principal spokesman about the 
incident — soon began to make false or misleading public statements about the raid. 
Moreover, Director Stephen Higgins, relying on their reports from Waco, unknowingly 
made similar misstatements. To some extent, these misstatements were the product of 
inaccurate, untruthful or misleading information from Sarabyn and Chojnacki about what 
they had learned from Rodriguez before deciding to go forward with the raid. In making his 
initial public statements, Hartnett appears to have consciously avoided confronting the truth 
and, at the very least, displayed a serious lack of judgment. 

As top ATP officials began to receive additional information from line agents and 
other sources indicating that the raid commanders had proceeded with fiill knowledge that 
they had lost the element of surprise, those officials must have realized, had they not 
already known, that their earlier public statements were either misleading or flatly false. Yet 
they stuck to their original story, thereby misleading the public and undermining the 
integrity of their agency. 

What follows is a brief summary of the relevant events as they unfolded after 
February 28. 

The Shooting Review Team 

On March 1, 1993, consistent with ATF policy, Hartnett and Conroy established a 
shooting review team to probe the circumstances of the firefight at the Branch Davidian 
Compound. The team consisted of ATF's Intelligence Division Chief David Troy, Bill 
Wood, Special Agent in Charge of ATF's Cleveland Field Office, and Dave Benton, the 
agency's Chief of Planning and Analysis. Troy was placed in command of the review; 
Benton was not able to participate in aspects of the inquiry, due to other duties. Between 
March 1 and 3, Troy and Wood interviewed the key participants in the decision to go 
forward with the raid. During this process, Troy took notes, and he and Wood kept ADLE 
Hartnett and DADLE Conroy apprised of what the review was being told. At the end of 
each day, Troy turned over his interview notes to Hartnett. 



194 



Shooting Review Team 's Interview of Rodriguez 

The team's first interview was with Robert Rodriguez, the undercover agent, who 
related what had happened in the Compound during his visit the morning of the raid. 

In his interview with the shooting review team, Rodriguez said that he had been in 
the foyer with Koresh and others and that the Compound had appeared to be "normal." 
Koresh was preaching and reading from the Bible. Then Koresh was called from the room 
to take what was said to be an emergency telephone call. When he returned, he was visibly 
shaking and very nervous, and he repeatedly looked out the window and dropped the Bible 
he was carrying. He looked at Rodriguez and said, among other things, "He who kills me 
kills the Kingdom of God and that includes ATF and the National Guard." Rodriguez also 
recalled that Koresh said he "could only die once," and, upon looking out the window said, 
"They are coming for me but they can't kill me." 

Rodriguez told the team that, upon hearing Koresh' s proclamations, he said he had 
to leave. In response, Koresh walked up to Rodriguez, shook his hand and said, "Good 
luck, see you later," and told him to be careful. Rodriguez reported that Koresh had never 
done or said anything like that before. As a result, Rodriguez felt that he had been 
"burned," that is, he believed that his undercover identity had been revealed. 

Rodriguez then told the team about how he had reported back to his superiors. Upon 
entering the undercover house, he told Cavanaugh what had happened at the Compound, 
then called Sarabyn and repeated his account. He specifically recalled informing both 
Cavanaugh and Sarabyn that Koresh had said ATF and the National Guard were coming. In 
response to Sarabyn' s specific questions, Rodriguez had reported having seen no weapons 
or signs of preparations to resist a raid while he was at the Compound. 

Shooting Review Team's interview of Mastin 

After interviewing Rodriguez, Troy and Wood interviewed SAC Mastin, whose 
account of Sarabyn' s actions and statements corroborated Rodriguez's claim to have 
informed Sarabyn that Koresh knew that "ATF and the National Guard" were coming. 
According to Mastin — and as the over sixty ATF agents who heard Sarabyn on the day of 
the raid have since recounted — when Sarabyn arrived at the staging area, he had "a sense of 
urgency about him." He told the agents, "Let's load up and go." Mastin candidly told the 



195 



team that although Sarabyn had said "Koresh knows we are coming," he followed 
Sarabyn's lead and moved to get the trailers loaded and ready. 

Shooting Review Team 's Report to Hartnett and Conroy 

Upon hearing Rodriguez's and Mastin's accounts of events, Troy was at a loss to 
explain why ATF proceeded with the raid and he doubted the wisdom of the decision to go 
forward. Troy and the shooting review team promptly let Hartnett and Conroy know what 
Rodriguez and Mastin had related. After being briefed, Hartnett was upset and expressed 
chagrin that Mastin had not tried to stop the raid or even questioned the decision to go 
forward after hearing what Sarabyn had said. Thus, as early as the day after the raid, Troy, 
Conroy and Hartnett were on notice that ATF's raid commanders might well have 
proceeded with the raid despite knowing that they had lost the element of surprise. 

Shooting Review Team's Interview of Sarabyn 

When the shooting review team interviewed ASAC Sarabyn the next day, March 2, 
he was unable to provide a detailed account of most of his critical conversation with 
Rodriguez, claiming that Rodriguez "was not real descriptive as to the ATF-National Guard 
statement," and that Rodriguez had said words to the effect that Howell (Koresh) must 
know something was going on but nothing explicit that Sarabyn could recall. However, 
Sarabyn clearly remembered that Rodriguez had said that he had not seen any guns or 
armed guards. Sarabyn also recalled very little about his conversation with Chojnacki on the 
tarmac at the command post, when the decision to go forward with the raid had been made. 
Furthermore, in contrast to Mastin's clear recollection, Sarabyn did not recall making any 
statements at the staging area to the effect that Koresh knew that ATF was coming. 

Shooting Review Team 's Interview of Cavanaugh 

On March 3, the team briefly interviewed ASAC Cavanaugh, who reported that 
Rodriguez had returned to the undercover house extremely upset and reported that Koresh 
had said that ATF and the National Guard were coming to get him and that Koresh had 
said "our time has come." Cavanaugh had instructed Rodriguez to advise Sarabyn of what 
had occurred at the Compound. 



196 



Shooting Review Team's Interview of Porter 

The team next interviewed one of the forward observers in the undercover house, 
Herman Porter, because they had heard that Porter was upset that the raid had gone forward 
even though the commanders knew that Koresh had been tipped. When interviewed. Porter 
was candid and distressed. He said that he had heard Rodriguez's report to 
Cavanaugh — which he confirmed had been accurately recounted by Rodriguez to the 
team — and had been shocked that the raid had not been canceled. Indeed, Porter recalled 
that after hearing Rodriguez's account of what had happened in the Compound, he had been 
so certain the raid would be canceled he began putting his gear away. 

Shooting Review Team's Interview of Chojnacki 

When interviewed by the team, SAC Chojnacki could not recall anything specific 
that Sarabyn had told him about Koresh' s statement regarding ATF and the National Guard. 
However, he was sure that Sarabyn had said that there were no guns or sentries; this 
information, Chojnacki claimed, had formed the basis for his decision to go forward with 
the raid. 

After the interviews, the shooting review team was concerned because Sarabyn' s 
urgency and his statements at the staging area about Koresh' s knowledge that ATF and the 
National Guard were coming were inconsistent with his lack of any recollection that 
Rodriguez had told him that Koresh had been tipped about the raid. As a result, the team 
was prepared to conduct additional interviews. However, after being told by Hartnett that 
the local U.S. Attorney's office had directed ATF to stop the shooting review because it 
was needlessly duplicating the pending leak and murder investigations, the team concluded 
its efforts. 

Hartnett, Conroy and Troy knew surprise was lost 

By the conclusion of these interviews, Hartnett, Conroy and Troy were thus 
confronted with two conflicting versions of the events immediately preceding the decision 
to go forward with the raid. On one hand was Rodriguez's vivid account of Koresh' s 
extraordinary behavior at the Compound and of his own reports to Cavanaugh and Sarabyn, 
reports that left little doubt that Koresh had been tipped off. Rodriguez's account was 



197 



internally consistent and completely corroborated by Mastin.*' On the other side were 
Sarabyn and Chojnacki's statements. Not only did these raid commanders — who, given the 
magnitude of the tragedy at the Compound, obviously had a strong motive to conceal their 
own misjudgments — display a selective memory about critical facts, but also, what they 
"remembered" made little sense. Sarabyn's claim that Rodriguez had not informed him that 
Koresh had been alerted to the raid contradicted reports from agents at the command center 
of Sarabyn's announcements that Koresh knew ATF was coming. And Rodriguez's account 
offered the only plausible explanation for the sense of extreme urgency that gripped 
Sarabyn after receiving Rodriguez's telephone call. 

ATF's Media Statements After the Shooting Review 

The story ATF top management told the American people bore little resemblance to 
what had been told to the shooting review team, and had been relayed to Conroy and 
Hartnett. Uncritically accepting Sarabyn and Chojnacki's account, and disregarding the far 
more persuasive, and rapidly growing, evidence that the their account was false, ATF's top 
managers uniformly said, in substance, that ATF's raid commanders had not known that the 
element of surprise had been lost before they made the decision to go forward. 

On March 3, 1993, three days after the raid, and the day the shooting review was 
terminated, Hartnett was asked during one of the press conferences held near Waco: "When 
the undercover agent [Rodriguez] heard this phone call [in the Compound on the day of the 
raid], did he realize at the time that this was a tip?" He responded that "[h]e did not realize 
this was a tip at the time." (CNN, March 3, 1993). Expanding on this line, Hartnett 
explained: 



*■' This Review, relying in large part on the work of the Texas Rangers, has gathered substantial evidence 
that now further corroborates Rodriguez's and Mastin's account. In addition to the over sixty agents who 
witnessed Sarabyn's behavior at the staging area, Phil Lewis, who was seated next to Sarabyn while Sarabyn 
had the critical conversation with Rodriguez, overheard Sarabyn's end of the conversation and saw his 
reactions. After the call was finished, Lewis asked what Rodriguez had said. Sarabyn told him that 
Rodriguez had related that, while he was in the Compound, Koresh had received a telephone call which he 
took out of the room, and that when Koresh had returned, among other things, he had nervously announced 
that ATF and the National Guard were in Waco and "that they were coming." According to Lewis, upon 
hearing this, he grabbed Sarabyn and asked what was he going to do; Sarabyn told him that he thought that 
they could still do the raid if they went quickly and he rushed out the door. Lewis's account confirms what 
both Mastin and Rodriguez recollect happened. 

Despite his initial blanket denials, Sarabyn has eventually admitted the essential accuracy of 
Rodriguez's account. According to one of Sarabyn's later statements to the Review, the first words 
Rodriguez had said to him were "Chuck, they know." 

198 



[T]here was an ATF agent in the Compound shortly before the execution of the 
warrant. When he left the compound everything was normal — children were outside, 
people were going about their business. While he was there, a phone call was 
received by [Koresh], and he began reading scriptures. There was more to it than 
that, but that was about what occurred. Id- 

Similarly, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times the next day: 

On the morning of the raid, Hartnett said, the undercover ATF agent reported that 
"everything was normal" at the compound.... But the agent left the compound just "as 
a phone call received" at the facility tipped off the sect members. The agent did not 
realize at the time that the raid had been compromised. ("Agents Prepare for a Long 
Cult Siege," Los Angeles Times at 1.) 

Three days later, relying on what he had been told by Hartnett and Conroy, Higgins 
appeared on "Face the Nation," and flatly denied a report that ATF had known about 
Koresh' s receiving a telephone tip about the raid: 

Q. There has been some suggestion that perhaps your agents knew beforehand that 
the security had been compromised, that they were aware that Mr. Koresh had 
received some sort of phone call. Can you just give us your side of that? 

A. Without being too specific, let me say as I did earlier, this plan was based on 
the element of surprise. It had to be done quickly, and it had to be a surprise. We 
would not send our agents into a situation where we didn't think we had the element 
of surprise.... 

Q. But your bottom line is that you absolutely did not believe the security had 
been compromised when the agents went into the compound? 

A. Absolutely not, because as you can see, we walked into an ambush, and there's 
no way that our people, from the team members to the leadership, would have 
allowed that to happen had they known it. 



199 



When he made these remarks, Higgins apparently had not been informed about 
Rodriguez's and Mastin's statements/* 

The Texas Rangers' Reports 

Hartnett and Conroy's hierarchical management style, which discouraged rank and 
file agents fi-om speaking to them directly, effectively insulated them from hearing from the 
agents with contrary accounts.*^ While Chojnacki, Sarabyn, Royster, and Cavanaugh had 
access to Hartnett, we have been unable to find a single rank and file agent who spoke to 
Hartnett about whether the raid commanders had known the raid had been compromised. 
But management style cannot explain Hartnett and Conroy's failure to change their public 
statements in the face of yet more evidence that Rodriguez's account was correct. 

Within days after the raid, as part of the State's homicide investigation of the 
February 28 ambush, two Texas Rangers, David M. Maxwell and Coy Smith, interviewed 
Rodriguez and other ATF agents, including several of the agents who had been positioned 
in the undercover house when Rodriguez returned from his encounter with Koresh. 
Rodriguez's account was strikingly consistent with the statement he had recently given 
ATF's shooting review team. In addition, several of the forward observers informed the 
Rangers that, while they had not heard Rodriguez's telephone conversation with Sarabyn, 
they had heard Rodriguez clearly tell Cavanaugh that Koresh had returned from a 
"telephone call" visibly shaking and agitated and that he had been "tipped" that both the 
ATF and the National Guard were coming. 



" In addition to their public statements, on March 10, 1993, Higgins, Hartnett and other ATF officials 
testified before a Special Executive Session of the Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General 
Government of the House Appropriations Committee, convened for the purpose of reviewing ATF's actions in 
raiding the Compound. In deference to Congress' oversight role, and the closed nature of such a session, the 
Review has not interviewed those Members of Congress who attended the session and has made only limited 
inquiries of others about what was discussed during that session. There is nevertheless reason to believe that 
Hartnett failed to disclose Rodriguez's account to Congress and did not inform the Committee of the 
possibility that ATF's raid commanders had gone forward with the raid despite being aware that the element 
of surprise had been lost. The ATF leaders took a similar line the next day when they briefed Secretary 
Bentsen and his staff 

As both the Texas Rangers and the Review discovered, many of the agents present at the staging area 
on the day of the raid were talking among themselves in the days following the raid about why the raid went 
forward despite the raid commanders' awareness that Koresh knew they were coming. 

200 



During the evening of March 3, shortly after their first interview of Rodriguez, the 
Rangers briefed Hartnett and Conroy about their interviews, noting that they had found 
Rodriguez to be a credible witness. Although Hartnett had already been briefed by Troy as 
to the shooting review team interviews, the Rangers recall that he seemed surprised to learn 
that Rodriguez positively recalled informing Sarabyn that the raid had been compromised. 
The next day, after speaking with Rodriguez again, and hearing the same account 
supplemented by minor additional details,^* the Rangers reiterated their view of 
Rodriguez's credibility to Hartnett and Conroy. But Hartnett' s and other ATF top 
managers' public statements supporting the raid commanders continued.*' 

The Rangers interviewed Sarabyn and Chojnacki on March 25 and 26 respectively, 
and thereafter told both Hartnett and Conroy that Sarabyn's and Chojnacki's accounts made 
little sense and were inconsistent with the weight of the evidence; and that they found the 
two men lacked credibility. Sarabyn now had claimed to have specifically asked Rodriguez 
if Koresh knew that ATF and the National Guard "were coming" and was told "no." The 
Rangers noted that Sarabyn's story could not be squared with his later announcements at 
the staging area that the agents should hurry up because Koresh knew they were coming. 
The Rangers also told Hartnett and Conroy that Sarabyn was evasive during his interview 
and had unfairly accused Rodriguez of changing his story. 

Chojnacki had also claimed to have been unaware that Koresh had been tipped, but 
the Rangers stressed to Hartnett and Conroy that Chojnacki's claim was contradicted by his 
decision to join Sarabyn in rushing forward with the raid. Indeed, when pressed by the 
Rangers, Chojnacki could not offer a coherent explanation for why speed had been 
necessary. Like Sarabyn, Chojnacki had tried to blame Rodriguez for the flawed decision to 
go forward, saying, somewhat incoherently to the Rangers: 

It's very disturbing to me that if Robert [Rodriguez], and I'm not trying to cast 
blame on anybody, because that I, I thought we had built in enough safeguards to 
cover ah a cowboy, you know, who would go under any costs or of any of those 



'* Specifically, Rodriguez recalled that Koresh had been ushered out of the room by a "telephone call" 
from "England." Apparently, Rodriguez's additional recollections, which did not change the gist of his 
statement, may have become the basis for Hartnett's and Conroy's erroneous belief that he was "changing his 
story." 

*' In mid-March, the Rangers also provided Hartnett with Rodriguez's sworn March 16, 1993 statement, 
which also was consistent with his earlier oral statements. 

201 



kinds of terms. Anything or one person would, would be willing to, ah, ah, put us in 
a risky situation, riskier than our typical work, and ah, his role was so key in this 
thing and was the key to the whole thing. And I can't believe that at the most 
critical time if he felt absolutely sure that that was the case that that couldn't be 
communicated, ah. ..or that we couldn't recognize that he was attempting to 
communicate.... 

At the conclusion of their briefing, the Rangers told Hartnett and Conroy that the 
morale of the rank and file ATF agents was suffering because they did not believe 
Chojnacki and Sarabyn's stories, yet the two were still high in the chain of command near 
Waco. The Rangers suggested to Hartnett and Conroy that morale might improve were 
Sarabyn and Chojnacki removed from their positions in the chain of command. Their advice 
was not followed. 

The Late March and Early April ATF Statements 

Although Director Higgins had begun to hear bits and pieces of information belying 
ATF's public statements about not having knowingly lost the element of surprise, Hartnett 
and Conroy failed to keep Higgins informed about the mounting weight of evidence that 
Sarabyn and Chojnacki's account was false. Higgins's own public statements thus deepened 
ATF's commitment to a story which was fast losing its credibility. 

The occasion for these statements to the media came when, in the face of the 
agency's misleading public stance, agents "leaked" a competing story to the press. A March 
28, 1993 New York Times front page headline proclaimed: "U.S. Agents Say Fatal Flaws 
Doomed Raid on Waco Cult." The article stated: 

Contradicting the official version of events, four of the agents involved in the raid 
and in a review of its aftermath said that supervisors had realized even before they 
began their assault that they had lost any element of surprise but went ahead 
anyway. 

The article initiated a barrage of ATF denials. 

On March 29, 1993, on NBC's Today Show, Higgins, still unaware of Rodriguez's 
account of what had happened, engaged in the following exchange: 



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Q. Let's talk about one of the other charges, and that is that you have, in fact, said 
that cult members were tipped off, and now there are reports that bureau supervisors 
knew that the element of surprise had been lost and yet decided to go ahead with the 
raid anyway. Is that correct? 

A. This was a plan which depended on the element of surprise. We would not 
have executed the plan if our supervisors felt like we had lost that element. So my 
position has been and continues to be we did not believe that we had lost that 
element of surprise. 

In the next few days, Higgins heard from many agents who challenged the agency's 
public stance on the element of surprise issue. These contacts prompted him to request a 
copy of Rodriguez's statement to the Rangers with respect to the raid day events. Hartnett 
gave the statement to Higgins during the first few days of April. According to one of his 
top assistants, Higgins, usually a reserved person, exclaimed on reading the account: "What 
would Koresh have to do, paint himself up with war paint and shoot up the undercover 
house before we would have known enough to call off the raid?" 

Troy also made a number of similar public statements during late March and early 
April. But, in contrast to Higgins, he was fully aware of the conflicting accounts of what 
had happened on raid day, and should have realized Higgins, Hartnett and others had 
overstated the agency's position in early March. As a result, many of his statements in late 
March and early April appear to have been carefully tailored to confirm that ATF did not 
realize that it had lost "the element of surprise" while artfully recasting the concept to 
accommodate the eventual release of Rodriguez's account of raid day events. On CBS's 
"Street Stories" program, on April 1, Troy stated: 

There is no way that we would have executed the raid if the people running the 
operation would have realized that the element of surprise was lost. That would have 
been obviously a suicidal mission. We were not aware at that point in time, and did 
not become aware that the element of surprise was lost until they opened fire on us. 

In response to reports that unnamed agents at the staging area had claimed that one 
of the raid supervisors had run around yelling that "we need to go" and "they know we're 
coming," Troy protested: 



203 



If the supervisory staff... was aware and convinced that the element of surprise was 
lost, there's no way we were going to go driving in there and execute a warrant 
because the element of surprise was a key factor. 

The next day, Troy began to recast the issue when he told the Washington Post: 

We felt that there wasn't compelling evidence that Koresh knew that a raid was 
planned for that day. Had agents known that the element of surprise was lost, the 
raid would have been halted. 

"Koresh Described as 'Nervous' After Call Before ATF Assault," Washington Post, April 2, 
1993 at A3. 

His remarks signalled a shift toward portraying the raid plan as requiring 
"compelling evidence" that Koresh had been tipped before the raid could be halted, rather 
than confirmation that conditions were right before the commanders would go forward.™ 
See also Houston Chronicle, "ATF Knew Koresh Tipped Off, Sources Say," April 2, 1993 
at 1 ("Troy... said at a news briefing Sunday that agents did not know Koresh had been 
warned when they ordered the raid to proceed."). Similarly, on April 2, Troy appeared on 
ABC's "Good Morning America" and stated: 

At this point in time our position is this. We know exactly what statements were 
made by our undercover agent to our tactical commanders when he came out of the 
compound Sunday morning.... [W]e know exactly what statements were made by our 
commanders when they were at the staging area prior to departing for that raid.... 
[T]he important thing that was said, that we feel, is the undercover agent saw 
absolutely no preparation for any kind of battle plan, there were no firearms 
displayed by anyone.. .we did not feel that they were gearing up, getting readv for 
any kind of offensive activity . 

(Emphasis added). In so doing, Troy held to the position that ATF had not known it had 
lost the element of surprise, but again subtly tried to redefine the concept of losing "the 
element of surprise," this time, to require outward signs of an ambush being prepared. By 
implication, therefore, according to Troy, so long as no weapons were visible, Rodriguez's 



^° At the same time, top ATF officials sharply attacked what they called "disgruntled agents" for "taking 
out of context" Sarabyn's statements at the staging area in their remarks to the media. Id. 

204 



information was not sufficient grounds to stop the raid. In keeping with this theme, on 
April 3, 1993, Troy told the Dallas Morning News: "We were not looking at a situation 
where we had a shrinking window of opportunity. We didn't say, 'this thing is turning bad, 
so let's go in before it does.'" Troy further reconstructed the concept of the element of 
siuprise on May 3, 1993, when he told Time magazine that "[t]he element of surprise does 
not mean they don't know you're coming. Only that they can't take control." By then, Troy 
had diluted the concept of surprise into a functionally meaningless term. 

The Significance Of ATF's Misleading Statements 

There may be occasions when pressing operational considerations — or legal 
constraints — prevent law enforcement officials from being less than completely candid in 
their public utterances. This was not one of them. And a desire to shield one's agency from 
public criticism cannot justify false or misleading pronouncements on matters of clear 
public concern. Hartnett, Conroy, and Troy permitted public statements to be put forward 
that were either most likely false or definitely false. Troy admitted to the Review that he 
wrongfully misled the press and the public. Troy provided two explanations for his actions. 
First, that he was trying to provide information to the press corps. Second, that he was 
acting at the direction of Hartnett, whose management style discouraged subordinates from 
challenging his instructions. Neither explanation is acceptable. Hartnett and Conroy, in 
contrast, were not subject to instructions to make misleading statements, and never gave 
their superior, Higgins, an opportunity to learn the truth. 

The extent of Director Higgins' s knowledge places him in a different category, since 
he was not aware of the falsity of Sarabyn and Chojnacki's account when he adopted that 
account in his public statements. However, Higgins must accept responsibility for 
continuing to take public positions on the issue when repeated questions from the media 
and information readily available to him should have made it clear that he was on shaky 
ground. Higgins never adequately questioned his subordinates to determine the facts until 
early April. 

An oft-stated justification offered by top ATF management officials for their 
misleading statements, and their failure to inform the public about Rodriguez's and the 
other agents' conflicting accounts, is that they were prohibited from doing so. Various ATF 
officials have claimed that at various times that the local United States Attorney's office, 
the Texas Rangers, and officials in Treasury prohibited them from speaking to the public or 
the media on the subject of the loss of the element of surprise. And the Review has found, 

205 



in fact, that representatives of both the Texas Rangers and the local United States 
Attorney's Office asked Hartnett, Conroy and Troy to refrain from commenting in specific 
terms about the loss of the element of surprise because of concern about how such 
statements might affect ongoing investigations and likely future prosecutions. Similar 
requests came from the Treasury Department. Over time, as ATF kept mischaracterizing the 
raid commanders' knowledge, these requests were sharpened and put more forcefully — and 
indeed, by early April, particularly with respect to Treasury's concerns, ripened into an 
effort to convince ATF to make no further statements on the subject. Still, since ATF 
officials obviously ignored these requests, and spoke regularly about this subject to the 
media, the requests offer no justification for making statements known to be misleading or 
false. 

In addition to misleading the public, the statements by Conroy, Hartnett and Troy 
also had the effect of wrongfully pointing the finger at Rodriguez as being responsible for 
the failed raid. If the raid commanders were not informed that Koresh had been tipped, then 
the necessary corollary was that Rodriguez likely had failed to tell them what they needed 
to know. He was to blame. Moreover, despite the consistency of Rodriguez's recollection of 
what happened immediately before the raid, persistent rumors circulated that he was 
changing his story. As Rodriguez appropriately protested: 

They're saying that [I've changed my story about what I saw in the compound 
and what I told raid commanders.] That's not true. Every time I told my story, I said 
it the same way — every time. The Rangers know that too. There's no reason for me 
to go and make up stories. 

"ATF Agent Says He Saw Disaster Loom," Dallas Morning News, May 13, 1993 at 8A. 
ATF's top managers should have acted swiftly to quash those rumors; they did not. 

Sarabyn and Chojnacki lied to their superiors and investigators about what 
Rodriguez had reported. Their consistent attempts to place blame on a junior agent were 
one of the most disturbing aspects of the conduct of senior ATF officials. The recollections 
of Sarabyn and Chojnacki have diverged considerably since the immediate aftermath of the 
raid. After being confronted with the collective contrary recollections of dozens of line 
agents, Sarabyn finally admitted the accuracy of Rodriguez's account. In contrast, despite 



206 



the weight of contrary evidence, Chojnacki steadfastly has contended that Sarabyn neither 
said nor did anything that alerted Royster and him that Koresh had been tipped.^' 

The Alteration of ATF's Written Raid Plan 

In addition to making misleading statements to their superiors and investigators 
about the basis for their decision to proceed with the raid, Chojnacki and Sarabyn altered 
documentary evidence, misleading those probing their operational judgments. 

The Drafting of the Raid Plan 

ATF's National Response Plan required that a written plan "for managing the critical 
incident or major ATF operation" be produced prior to the initiation of the operation. But 
the plan did not have to be distributed. The point of the requirement appears to have been 
limited to ensuring that muhiple SRT activations were predicated only upon a well 
considered, reasoned and thorough raid plan. 

Although the raid on the Branch Davidian Compound had originally been set for 
March 1, 1993, no one had even started to draft the mandatory documentation of the raid 
plan by February 23, 1993, when ASAC Darrell Dyer (Kansas City) arrived in Waco and 
was assigned to be the Support Coordinator for the operation. Dyer's past military service 
led him to assume that there was a detailed written raid plan, but, when he asked the raid 
planners for a copy he was advised that none existed. Thereafter, Dyer and agent William 
Krone took it upon themselves to produce one, even though they started with little 
knowledge about the work of the tactical planners. In a flurry of activity, the two conducted 
interviews, gathered information and eventually were able to generate a written raid plan. 
Due to the tight timetable, the plan did not meet Dyer's standards in terms of quality, and 
fi-om his perspective was still a "work in progress." Nevertheless, the two of them had 
essentially finished a written raid plan the day before the raid. The plan, however, remained 



'' Royster, a witness to the conversation in which the decision to go forward was made by Chojnacki and 
Sarabyn, initially was not even sure that he was present for the critical conversation, but has since recalled, 
among other things, that Sarabyn reported that Rodriguez had told him that Koresh "knew they were coming." 
According to Royster, Sarabyn urged that if they "hurried up," they could still do the raid. Royster has 
informed the Review that he felt considerable pressure from Hartnett in the aftermath of the failed raid to tell 
the line agents that the raid commanders did not know they had lost the element of surprise. In late March, 
Royster told the agents he supervised that ATF did not know it had lost the element of surprise, despite not 
being certain that such a statement was accurate. 

207 



on Krone's desk; it was never distributed to any agents, or relied upon by any of the 
planners. ( See generally Appendix C - Original Raid Plan, dated February 25, 1993.) 

The Alteration of the Raid Plan 

After the failed raid, authorities began to ask ATF officials for the raid plan. The 
Texas Rangers were the first to ask ATF's Houston Office for the raid plan. When Dyer 
was told of the request, he realized that the written plan had never been put in a satisfactory 
form. He advised Chojnacki and Sarabyn, and the three decided to revise the plan to make 
it more thorough and complete. Nowhere on the new version of the plan they crafted was 
there any indication that this was not the original document, or any identification of what 
had been added. The only hint that the plan had been modified was a handwritten notation 
in the margin of one page that did not indicate when and how the notation was made. 
Moreover, Chojnacki — the agent responsible for producing it for the Texas Rangers — never 
advised them that there was an original raid plan that differed substantially from the plan 
produced. Indeed, when the Review asked ATF for all documents relating to ATF's 
investigation of the Branch Davidians, initially only the altered raid plan was received, 
without any indication that it was anything other than a document prepared prior to the raid. 
In fact, the document received reflects yet another revision, since the handwritten margin 
note in the Ranger's copy was now incorporated into the typewritten text. At no time did 
any ATF official inform the Review that the plan submitted was not the origmal raid plan. 

The alterations indicate not an attempt to create a plan that existed in the minds of 
the tactical planners and raid commanders on February 28. Rather, they suggest a self- 
serving effort to clarify the assumptions on which the planners had relied and enhance the 
reader's sense of their professionalism. For example, to rebut criticism that ATF should 
have arrested Koresh when he ventured away from the Compound, the following language 
was added to the altered raid plan: "The subject has not left the Compound in months and 
has made statements that he does not plan to leave." (Appendix C - Altered Raid Plan, 
dated March 22,1993.)" A second alteration sought to buttress ATF's initiation of the raid 
at 10:00 a.m. instead of the standard pre-dawn timing which law enforcement organizations 
customarily use to gain surprise: 



'^ As already noted, the added statement is false because Koresh had left the Compound during the 
months preceding the raid. However, no evidence was found that Chojnacki or Sarabyn knew it to be false at 
the time the alteration was made. 

208 



The women, men and firearms are kept in different areas in the structure. Usually at 
approximately 10:00 am in the morning, the majority of the males and Howell 
should be in the underground area. SRT teams have been divided to handle the areas 
listed above. (Appendix C - Altered Raid Plan, dated March 22, 1993.) 

Inquiries into the Alteration of the Raid Plan 

The readiness of Chojnacki, Sarabyn, and Dyer to revise an official document that 
would likely be of great significance in any official inquiry into the raid without making 
clear what they had done is extremely troubling and itself reflects a lack of judgment. This 
conduct, however, does not necessarily reveal an intent to deceive. And, in the case of 
Dyer, there does not appear to have been any such intent. The behavior of Chojnacki and 
Sarabyn when the alteration was investigated does not lead to the same conclusion. 

After the Review had obtained a copy of the original raid plan from a different 
source, and compared it to the revised document that ATF had produced, Dyer, Sarabyn 
and Chojnacki, the only three people who could have been involved in changing the 
document, were questioned. When asked about the alterations, Chojnacki denied knowing 
that the raid plan had been altered in any fashion except the handwritten comment in the 
margin of one page of one of the altered versions. (See Appendix C - Altered Raid Plan, 
dated March 11, 1993.) Similarly, Sarabyn claimed that he had directed only that the date 
of the raid be changed from March 1 to February 28. Chojnacki and Sarabyn also denied 
knowing that other changes had been made, how they had been made, and who directed 
that they be made. Neither Chojnacki's nor Sarabyn's denial is credible. 

When questioned about the alteration of the raid plan, Dyer recalled that it had been 
changed following the Texas Rangers' request because the original document had been 
incomplete, inaccurate in certain respects and had not fully articulated the reasoning behind 
the plan. He had advised Chojnacki and Sarabyn of these shortcomings, and the three 
decided to change the original plan in a manner that would "upgrade" it. Dyer candidly 
admitted to the Review that he had made certain changes to the plan. He said that, at the 
time, he had not thought he was doing anything wrong, but was simply "correcting" the 
original document. When questioned about the importance of identifying the altered plan as 
amended. Dyer agreed that it was a serious error in judgment not to properly label the 
altered document. In fact, he candidly stated it was a "stupid" mistake. 



209 



When advised by the Review that Chojnacki and Sarabyn had denied making any 
changes except the handwritten marginal comments Chojnacki had affixed to one of the 
already altered versions of the plan and Sarabyn' s change of the raid date, Dyer seemed 
shocked. Obviously, as Dyer realized, when taken together, Chojnacki's and Sarabyn's 
denials amounted to a joint accusation that Dyer had directed or made all of the other 
changes. 

The Review credits Dyer's account of events and believes that both Sarabyn and 
Chojnacki falsely denied participating in the alteration of the original raid plan. The 
assessments are reinforced by Dyer's relative lack of knowledge about the facts that were 
changed in the raid plan. Certain changes that were made went beyond Dyer's knowledge 
of the raid plan and the factual assumptions upon which it was built. Everything he knew 
came from someone else; he created nothing; he decided nothing. And, of course, as the 
only one of the three who was not intimately involved in planning the failed raid, he lacked 
motivation to lie about making changes to the plan. Sarabyn and Chojnacki's false 
statements with regard to altering the raid plan document is consistent with their failure to 
tell the truth about raid day events. And their readiness to blame Dyer indirectly is equally 
consistent with their efforts to do the same to Robert Rodriguez. 



210 



Part Two 

Section Eight: National Guard Support 



Introduction 

During the investigation of the Branch Davidians and the subsequent raid on the 
Compound, ATF obtained assistance from the miUtary, including the Texas National Guard. 
This support included the provision of training facilities and equipment, aerial 
reconnaissance missions, the use of helicopters during the raid, and advice concerning 
ATF's medical and communications plans. In the wake of the raid's outcome, specific 
questions were raised about the representations made by ATF in its effort to obtain the use 
of the helicopters which had been provided by the National Guard. This section responds to 
those questions. 

ATF's Initial Contact with the Military 

While investigating Koresh for violations of federal firearms laws in November 
1992, ATF believed it required military assistance. ATF, therefore, approached the U.S. 
military and Texas National Guard for support. In early December, at ATF's request, the 
Department of Defense liaison to ATF briefed ATF officials about military support 
available for the Branch Davidian operation. During this briefing, the Department of 
Defense representative told ATF officials that ATF could obtain military assistance without 
having to reimburse the Department of Defense if the investigation was related to narcotics 
enforcement, i.e. had a "drug nexus." An ATF agent then met with officials of the Texas 
National Guard Counterdrug Support Program to determine what assistance the Texas 
National Guard could provide. During the meeting, the Guard and individuals representing 



211 



the state of Texas reiterated the fact that nonreimbursable military support could be made 
available to ATF if the case had a drug nexus." 

After these meetings, ATF officials investigated whether there was any drug activity 
at the Compound. The ATF case agent learned from an informant that parts of an illegal 
methamphetamine laboratory had been at the Compound when Koresh took control of the 
premises, and that the McLennan County Sheriffs Department had planned to collect this 
equipment. The informant, however, did not know whether such parts were ever collected. 
Upon inquiring at the sheriffs department, the agent found no records indicating that these 
parts had been collected by or turned over to the sheriff, raising the possibility that the 
illegal equipment might still have been at the Compound. 

ATF acquired additional information that suggested there was drug activity at the 
Compound. An ATF agent who was acting in an undercover capacity during the 
investigation reported that Koresh had told him that the Compound would be a great place 
for a methamphetamine laboratory because of its location. Furthermore, information 
obtained from informants and a search of the criminal records of the Branch Davidians 
revealed that one cult member living at the Compound had a prior conviction for possession 
of amphetamines and a controlled substance, and that 1 other individuals associated with 
the Compound had previously been identified as having some involvement in illegal 
narcotics activity. The drug involvement of the 10 individuals varied; some had been 
arrested for alleged drug violations while others had been investigated for suspected drug 
activity. 

After ATF had gathered this information, ATF officials informed representatives of 
the U.S. military and the Texas National Guard on numerous occasions about possible drug 
activity at the Compound. On February 4, 1993, ATF officials met with representatives of 
both groups to discuss the Branch Davidian operation. At this meeting, the military 
representatives were accurately informed of the results of ATF's investigation into the 
existence of a drug nexus. This briefing satisfied the representatives that a sufficient drug 
nexus existed to justify military assistance on a nonreimbursable basis. 



" Under 10 U.S.C. § 371 et seq. and 32 U.S.C. § 112, the Secretary of Defense is authorized to provide 
military support to law enforcement agencies engaged in counterdrug operations. The Secretary of Defense is 
authorized to pay for the support pursuant to Section 1004 of P.L. 101-510, Section 1088 of P.L. 102-190, 
and Section 1041 of P.L. 102-484. 

212 



ATF's Specific Requests for National Guard Support 

On December 14 and 18, 1992, an ATF official wrote to the Texas National Guard 
Counterdrug Support Program requesting that the Guard take and interpret aerial 
reconnaissance photographs of the Compound. The National Guard subsequently conducted 
a total of six flights over the Compound and Mag Bag from January 6 through February 25, 
1993. During the flights, the Guard used infrared scanning devices, which identified "hot 
spots" — heat sources — inside and outside the Compound. A Texas National Guard airman 
then provided ATF with an unofficial interpretation of the reconnaissance videotapes that 
suggested a hot spot inside the Compound was consistent with characteristics of a 
methamphetamine lab. ATF, however, never obtained an official interpretation of the 
videotapes. 

In addition to the reconnaissance flights, the Texas National Guard supplied three 
helicopters and pilots for training exercises on February 27, and for the raid the following 
day. Prior to February 27, ATF officials told representatives of the Guard that the 
helicopters would be used as an airborne command platform and to transport ATF 
personnel and evidence on the day of the raid. During the training exercises, however, ATF 
officials informed the National Guard pilots that on the day of the raid, the helicopters were 
to arrive at the rear of the Compound shortly before the raid teams to draw the attention of 
the Branch Davidians away from the agents arriving in the cattle trailers. On raid day, 
however, the helicopter pilots encountered unexpected gunfire from the Compound as soon 
as their aircraft came within range, and they were forced to abort their mission.^'' 

Analysis 

ATF did not mislead U.S. military or Texas National Guard officials in obtaining 
their assistance on a nonreimbursable basis. ATF conducted a legitimate inquiry into 
whether a drug nexus existed in the investigation after military representatives told ATF 
officials about the possibility of nonreimbursable assistance. ATF officials were aware that 
they could have obtained military support for the operation even if no drugs were involved 
in their investigation. However, in the absence of a drug nexus, ATF was told by both the 
U.S. military and the National Guard that the assistance would be reimbursable. 



'" ATF should have notified the National Guard earlier than February 27 that its pilots might be exposed 
to dangerous gunfire. In any event, the helicopters could not serve effectively as an airborne command 
platform while being used simultaneously as a diversion on the day of the raid. 

213 



Once ATF gathered information about a possible drug nexus at the Compound, it 
presented this information to the U.S. military and the Texas National Guard. 
Representatives of these groups evaluated the information and found that it was sufficient to 
warrant assistance on a nonreimbursable basis. Because there is no formal standard by 
which the military defines a drug nexus in a law enforcement investigation, a substantive 
review of this decision cannot be conducted. 

Nonetheless, the Review finds that the standards for nonreimbursable military 
support raise questions about the appropriate scrutiny that should be given when 
considering the issue of a drug nexus. The lack of a formal standard by which the military 
defines a drug nexus in a law enforcement investigation raised questions regarding the 
nonreimbursable assistance provided to ATF. It would be appropriate therefore that federal 
law enforcement, the U.S. military and National Guard develop more precisely defined 
criteria for determining when a drug nexus is sufficient to justify nonreimbursable military 
assistance. 



214 



CONCLUSION 



On February 28, 1993, near Waco, Texas, a major law enforcement operation failed. 
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tried to carry out a flawed raid plan based 
on one critical element, the element of surprise. Despite knowing in advance that the 
element of surprise was lost, the raid commanders made the decision to go forward. This 
decision was brutally exploited by Koresh and his followers. Despite the courageous efforts 
of ATF agents, four agents were murdered and twenty others were wounded. The vivid and 
painful conclusion of the operation focussed national attention on these events and on ATF. 
The Review was a response to that public concern. 

This review of ATF's investigation of Koresh, ATF's attempt to plan and to execute 
search and arrest warrants at the Compound, and its efforts to "manage" the aftermath of 
the raid, provides a rare opportunity to identify what went wrong, to understand the 
mistakes that were made, and to learn from this experience to make future operations wiser 
and safer. Although a few in ATF's management saw the Review as an effort to be 
resisted, the line agents, throughout the process, have been partners with the Review team. 
They have been cooperative and committed to finding the truth as an essential effort to 
advancing the professionalism of their agency. 

In the course of its examination, the Review identified significant failures on the part 
of a few individuals. But more importantly, it uncovered serious, systemic defects in ATF's 
ability to plan for and to conduct a large scale, tactical operation in the context of the 
difficult circumstances confronted near Waco. These shortcomings, however, should not 
minimize the difficult challenge such a situation presents to all law enforcement. 

ATF should not be judged by the events of February 28 alone. There is strength, 
experience and professionalism throughout the agency, and this Review identifies no 
problems that cannot be corrected. ATF's leadership can take steps to repair the agency's 
bruised morale and sharpen and refocus its skills on those unique capabilities which have 

215 



contributed to its pride and its effectiveness in the past. However, to do so the leadership 
must be committed to positive change and reform. 

The Review has greatly benefited from the wisdom and experience of the three 
distinguished independent reviewers and the six renowned tactical experts. In addition to the 
contributions they have made to the Review itself, all nine have drawn generously on their 
substantial expertise to make concrete, forward-looking recommendations to improve ATF's 
future performance. Treasury's Office of Enforcement, working in partnership with ATF's 
leadership, must embark upon a process of evaluating these recommendations. 

Specific recommendations will be provided separately to ATF's leadership in such 
areas as improving oversight of major operations through early notification; clarifying the 
rules regarding media contacts; developing effective supervisory training programs; 
improving the agency's capacity to perform intelligence operations and to integrate them 
with the overall tactical operation; and reexamining the uses of Special Response Teams. 

ATF's leadership has much to accomplish; they also have much to build upon. 
Despite the flaws exposed by the events outside Waco, the agency is made up of dedicated, 
committed and experienced professionals, who have regularly demonstrated sound judgment 
and remarkable courage in enforcing the law. ATF has a history of success in conducting 
complex investigations and executing dangerous and challenging law enforcement missions. 
That fine tradition, together with the line agents' commitment to the truth, and their courage 
and determination has enabled ATF to provide our country with a safer and more secure 
nation under law. 



216 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

At the outset, the Review and I want to extend our appreciation for the support we 
have received from Secretary Bentsen, who provided the Review with everything necessary 
to accompUsh its mission of finding out what happened near Waco and why. Perhaps more 
importantly, the Secretary set the tone for the Review through his commitment to 
uncovering the truth and his insistence that the Review accompHsh its work both quickly 
and thoroughly. At critical stages, the Secretary provided essential advice and counsel to the 
Review. 

This Report reflects a great deal of effort by an exceptionally talented group of 
people. Although it is impossible to acknowledge properly all the contributions that were 
made, a few require special mention. 

The seventeen agents and two specialists that conducted the investigation were 
drawn from all of the law enforcement bureaus of the Treasury aside from the Bureau of 
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, including the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), the United 
States Customs Service, the United States Secret Service, the Financial Crimes Enforcement 
Network ("FinCEN") and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center ("FLETC"). Their 
integrity and commitment to finding out what happened should give the American public 
confidence in federal law enforcement. To articulate the contributions of each of the 
individuals listed below would dwarf the contents of this report. I can conceive of no 
greater compliment than to say: There is no project too complex, no level of trust too great, 
and no expectation of commitment too high for this fine group of public servants. 
Specifically, Secret Service gave the Review: Robert B. Blossman, Colleen B. Callahan, 
Rafael A. Gonzales, Paul D. Irving, Frederick R. Klare, Joseph A. Masonis, Lewis H. 
McClam and Dick M. Suekawa. The Customs Service provided: Robert L. Cockrell, John J. 
Devaney, Robert M. Gattison, Susan G. Rowley, Thomas R. Smith and Robert K. Tevens. 
The IRS contributed Mary C. Balberchak, Kenneth L. Buck and James Rice. 

The agents generated a tremendous number of interview reports and collected 
thousands of documents, and related items. Organizing, reviewing and analyzing this wealth 
of material in the short period of time allotted for the review would not have been possible 

217 



but for the expertise and unflagging efforts of the Review's computer specialist, John H. 
Battle, who came from FLETC, and its intelligence research specialist, Ina W.E. Boston. 

Assistant Project Director Lewis C. Merletti, Deputy Assistant Director, U.S. Secret 
Service, brought to the Review leadership skills developed over 19 years with the Secret 
Service and limitless good humor that is his, naturally. His talent and energy set a standard 
of excellence for the entire investigative effort. 

The Review also was truly fortunate to have a team of dedicated lawyers that 
provided direction and focus to the investigation. It was the steady hand of Project Director 
H. Geoffrey Moulton, Jr., an experienced former federal prosecutor, that guided this project. 
He possesses the breadth of experience, legal and practical, essential to conducting an 
investigation that had little precedent. The Review and I are indebted to Moulton for his 
sage counsel, integrity and uncompromising dedication to making this project a success. 
Assistant Project Director David L. Douglass, a former federal prosecutor, brought seasoned 
judgment and ready familiarity with a breadth of legal issues. His perceptiveness, 
organizational skills and calming influence over me proved invaluable. 

The Review also benefited from the efforts of other former federal prosecutors. 
Andrew E. Tomback, who was detailed to the Review from the Interagency Council on the 
Homeless, contributed legal expertise, sharp analytical writing abilities and a knack for 
synthesizing facts quickly. Professor Daniel C. Richman, Fordham Law School, 
conscientiously edited the report and provided cohesiveness to the Review's written 
product. The report's readability owes much to Richman's facility with the written word. 
The Review also received substantial support from Sarah Elizabeth Jones and Billy S. 
Bradley of Treasury's Office of the General Counsel, both of whom contributed abundant 
legal expertise and law enforcement knowledge. They provided the experience and 
knowledge of Treasury procedures, formal and informal, necessary for a team drawn 
primarily from outside the Department. Kenneth Thompson, a former student of mine at the 
New York University School of Law, received permission to conclude his clerkship early in 
order to contribute an intellectual rigor and seriousness of purpose beyond my highest 
expectations. 



In addition to the agents and the attorneys, the Review received stellar support from 
a number of others. Jennell L. Jenkins, Lead Document Control Assistant, offered creativity 
and grace under pressure that was greatly appreciated. The logistics of conducting a lengthy 

218 



investigation were accomplished by the diligent efforts of the Review's support staff, 
including: Mary Steinbacher, who handled correspondence, and secretaries, Vanessa L. 
Bolden and Deborah Jenkins. The meticulous professionalism of the principal copy editors, 
Beth A. Rosenfeld and Adele H. Mujal, improved the product immeasurably. Finally, 
Alison Kindler combined superb computer skills and incredible dedication to bring our 
product to conclusion. 

Aside from the "team" itself, the Review was greatly strengthened by many 
independent persons. The Review's investigation and its final report benefited significantly 
from the scrutiny and guidance provided by its three independent reviewers, Edwin O. 
Guthman, Henry S. Ruth, Jr. and Chief Willie Williams. Each of the reviewers brought 
tremendous integrity, objectivity and knowledge to the Review. Their rigorous questioning 
of the Review's agents and attorneys and their probing examination of the Review's 
reasoning and findings ensured that the Review asked and answered the tough questions. 
Their efforts substantially strengthened the accuracy and reliability of the final report. 
Likewise, the Review thanks the Treasury's Office of Inspector General for thoroughly 
monitoring the Review's investigation and ensuring that the Review pursued all leads. 

Similarly, the six tactical experts helped guide the Review's tactical investigation 
and informed its analysis of ATF's tactical planning. The tactical experts' analyses of the 
raid plan and ATF's planning process greatly aided the Review team. The questions they 
asked and the experience they brought to bear helped the Review both identify the key 
issues and gain a proper understanding of them. Likewise, the weapons and explosives 
experts assisted the Review's evaluation of whether ATF had a sound basis cause to search 
the Branch Davidian Compound. 

The Review thanks all of the experts and reviewers for contributing their time and 
energy. Their willingness to provide such fine service without pay is a testament to their 
commitment to helping American law enforcement. Their reports are in the Appendix. 

The Review also wishes to acknowledge the support and assistance of the following 
agencies: The Texas Department of Public Safety, especially the Texas Rangers; the 
Department of Justice, specifically the United States Attorney's Office for the Western 
District of Texas and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the McLennan County Sheriffs 
Department; the Waco Police Department; and the Tarrant County Office of the Chief 
Medical Examiner. 



219 



The Review and I also wish to thank the employees of the Department of the 
Treasury for their support and encouragement, especially the employees of the Office of 
Enforcement, for their willingness to shoulder an extra burden while the Review was in 
progress. 

Finally, I thank the agents of ATF. From the beginning, they answered the Review's 
questions candidly. Throughout the process they have supported our work. These agents 
were the most powerful advocates for telling the true story. It is our hope that this report 
supports their courageous efforts to provide quality law enforcement. 



Ro/ald K. Noble ( 

Assistant Secretary for the Treasury (Enforcement) 



220 



Appendices 



A-l 



Appendix A 



Independent Reviewer 
Chief Willie Williams' Report 



A-3 



September 22, 1993 



The Honorable Lloyd Bentsen 
Secretary of the Treasury 
U.S. Department of the Treasury 
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20220 

Dear Mr. Secretary: 

I am pleased to submit my comments as an independent reviewer 
of the Waco Administrative Review. I have found that the 
investigative team which you assembled is of the highest quality 
and integrity. These men and women have worked tirelessly to 
uncover the facts surrounding the events which led up to and 
included the raid on David Koresh's residence near Waco, Texas, 
on the 28th of February 1993. 

I arranged my thoughts focusing first on the propriety to 
investigate Mr. Koresh, and second on the facts surrounding the 
probable cause to seek a Search Warrant and Arrest Warrant. I 
then moved to the tactical operation on the 28th of February. My 
comments address the serious issues of managerial oversight by 
both the Treasury Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco 
and Firearms. Training is discussed as I conclude my comments by 
offering several insights which I believe will help both the 
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Treasury 
Department continue to serve this country in the manner we have 
come to expect. 

It has been a pleasure to assist you in this very important 
undertaking. 

Very truly yours. 




WILLIE L. WILLIAMS 

Chief of Police 

Los Angeles, California 

Enclosure 



A-5 



Report for the Waco Administrative Review 
Independent Reviewer Report 



1. My first comments go the brave men and women of the Bureau 
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (A.T.F.) who were involved 
in the service of the Search Warrant at the Branch Davidian 
compound in Waco, Texas. These federal officers had a 
difficult task to accomplish if everything in the plan had 
worked as designed. The plan unraveled and the raiding party 
was ambushed and assaulted with the type of firepower that 
no municipal or federal law enforcement agency had ever 
before experienced. 

The men and women in the A.T.F. SRTs, when faced with 
overwhelming gunfire, still made every attempt to meet and 
complete their objective. Several acts of bravery saved 
lives and prevented further serious injury to members of the 
warrant service teams. All of these agents should be 
commended for their actions. 

2. The Special Investigative Team 

The team of investigators assembled by the Treasury 
Department are, in my opinion, among the most experienced 
and knowledgeable that one could ask to conduct such a 
critical review. I am pleased to report that the 
investigative review was conducted with the highest degree 
of honesty and integrity. 

Mr. Ronald K. Noble, Assistant Secretary (Enforcement) is to 
be complimented for his leadership of this review. Mr. 
Noble has been quite candid and insisted that no stone be 
left unturned in the quest for what occurred in the 
planning, execution, and recovery after the A.T.F. raid in 
Waco, Texas. 

3. Appropriateness of the investigation of David Koresh 

The investigative report is correct when it asserts that 
A.T.F. had probable cause to investigate David Koresh for 
his purchases of huge amounts of weapons parts, firearms and 
ammunition. The purchase of many of these parts was done for 
an illegal purpose — that is to assemble prohibited 
weapons. It was appropriate to conduct a full investigation 
when it became apparent that David Koresh had also 
unlawfully purchased AR-15 lower receivers which could be 
used to convert semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic 
weapons similar to M-16 machine guns. This type of 
information, coupled with other intelligence, was more than 

A-6 



enough to justify the opening of an investigative case on 
David Koresh who resided with others known as the Branch 
Davidians. 

4. Justification to seek Search Warrants and Arrest Warrants 

The evidence which the A.T.F. investigators accumulated to 
justify seeking either arrest warrants or search warrants 
was more than sufficient by January/ February 1993. 

It was known that Koresh had received M-16 parts which could 
be used to convert AR-15 semi-automatic rifles into fully 
automatic weapons. It had also been verified that Koresh had 
purchased AR-15 weapons. When A.T.F. investigators learned 
that an arms dealer had intentionally lied to them and tried 
to hide the purchase of AR-15 lower receivers by Koresh, 
this further strengthened the evidence that Koresh was 
unlawfully possessing and manufacturing machine guns or 
converted fully automatic weapons. 

Investigators also had evidence that Koresh had in his 
possession gunpowder and other ignition items which, when 
coupled with the grenade shells he purchased, gave him the 
ingredients to manufacture live grenades. 

The A.T.F. investigators consulted with the U.S. Attorney's 
office during the investigation and did in fact secure a 
Search Warrant for the Branch Davidian Compound from a 
Magistrate Judge. 

5. The Tactical Operation of February 28th, 1993 

The tactical operation planned by A.T.F. personnel was 
designed with several key assumptions being present to 
ensure a reasonable chance of success. These critical 
success factors include the following. 

A. Surprise arrival of the A.T.F. SRTs and the inability 
of the persons in Koresh 's compound to have time to 
react to the these events. This was a key critical 
success factor. 

B. Finding most of the men outside and working in the pit 
area north of the compound. 

C. The quick and successful entry of the compound by 
designated SRTs and the separation of persons inside 
from weapons in the upstairs arms room. 

D. Seizing the arms room by surprise entry from outside 
while the residents were being detained both outside in 
the pit area and on the first floor of the compound. 

A-7 



An examination of the planning for the operation indicates 
that there is no copy of the entire raid plan available. 
It is apparent that the planners had the raid plan in their 
heads but never reduced it to writing. This omission led to 
a series of later failures by all personnel involved in the 
planned operation to have an opportunity to review a 
completed plan and question the assumptions. This lack of a 
completed written plan also ensured that all those agents 
who should have had a clear understanding of what was 
expected of them and others did not. This is made very 
clear when you examine the type of information and direction 
given to the agents in the undercover house. 

The fact of not having a clear written plan which listed the 
critical success factors almost ensured from the start, that 
when these success factors began to unravel, no one would 
grasp the significance of the unfolding events. 

When examined in totality some reviewers agree that the plan 
was not well thought-out. The reasons include: no 
provision for contingencies; a less than adequate command 
and control of the SRTs and their support units; the failure 
to design- an intelligence system which gathered all pieces 
of data and provided an analysis of this information; the 
failure of adequate oversight from senior A.T.F. management 
and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Treasury for 
Enforcement; and insufficient reserve personnel available or 
enough first aid and medical support on site. 

After reviewing interviews conducted with A.T.F. personnel 
who planned the raid on February 28th, and all of those who 
had support or other roles in the planning, it is my belief 
that the planners never thought about, nor planned for a 
partial or full failure of the operation. This, in my 
opinion, is one of the greatest failures of management in 
A.T.F. 

6. Management Oversight - Structural Deficiencies 

The management oversight responsibilities between the 
Treasury Department and A.T.F. must be re-examined. At the 
time of the Waco raid on February 28th, 1993, there was no 
written policy delineating areas of responsibility that for 
example, required A.T.F. to notify anyone in the Treasury 
Department that A.T.F. was planning, or about to implement a 
raid such as the one planned and executed on February 28th. 
There was no policy that required the notification of the 
Treasury Department when an investigation of the magnitude 
of this one was contemplated or had already begun. 



A-8 



The lack of active oversight by the Office of the Assistant 
Secretary for Enforcement, Treasury Department, was one 
reason that there was no early notification by A.T.F. of the 
Waco raid. The fact that this was the same policy for 
several years only magnifies the problem. The investigative 
report correctly points out that had oversight taken place, 
many questions which needed to be asked may have come up 
much earlier. 

The investigative report correctly states that had the 
Office of Enforcement been involved in the early planning 
stages, its intervention might have led the planners to 
reevaluate the faulty factual assumptions on which they had 
relied. This failure contributed to a condition where 
little or no analysis of intelligence information was made 
by those at A.T.F. headquarters or at the Treasury 
Department. 

The understanding of the importance of intelligence and the 
operational decisions which were being built around these 
assumptions was inadequate at nearly every level of ATF's 
management from the command personnel in Texas who planned 
and executed the raid, to personnel at the National Command 
Center to- the leadership at A.T.F. Headquarters. Moreover, 
because such matters were outside the scope of the Office of 
Enforcement's defined responsibilities, the office did not 
have an adequate opportunity to rigorously scrutinize these 
matters. 

7. Training Issues 

This report points out several areas where training is 
needed in areas such as command and control decision-making. 
Training is needed at all levels on the importance of 
understanding what is meant by intelligence gathering, how 
to analyze it and most importantly how to build a tactical 
operation around the facts and assumptions based on an 
investigation and the intelligence gathered. It is very 
apparent that senior managers in A.T.F. need advanced 
training in Media Relations. This investigation shows that 
the A.T.F. leaders in Texas never successfully managed the 
growing interest by the media in both the Branch Davidians 
and the escalating activities by A.T.F. personnel in and 
around Waco, Texas. 

Training is required to ensure that all members of A.T.F., 
particularly field supervisors, have the requisite skills 
necessary to plan and execute an investigation and operation 
such as the raid on the compound of David Koresh. 



A-9 



I will not go into detail about all of the other training 
issues, but they include command and control skills for SRT 
operations and particularly the SRT team leaders. Training 
must include how to set up an undercover operation and what 
is expected of the undercover operatives. In this case, the 
agents in the undercover house were never given a clear 
mission. The agents in the undercover house as an example, 
were never told of the raid planners' assumption that the 
men in the compound would be outside when the raid began. 



CONCLUDING COMMENTS: 

I was asked to be an independent reviewer of the work product of 
the Waco Administrative Review Team's report to the Secretary of 
Treasury. 

The investigation team conducted an exhaustive and thorough 
review of the events which led up to the raid on February 28th. 
The investigative team's report also offers clear and factual 
analysis of the events as they unfolded and what caused the plan 
to disintegrate as the first SRT personnel alighted from the 
cattle trailers. 

The investigative report appropriately identifies improper 
planning and offers guidance to help ensure that A.T.F. does not 
repeat the same errors in the future. 

I would recommend that upon review of the investigative report 
and each of the Independent Reviewers' Reports, that the 
following should be undertaken. 

1. New procedures must be put in place to ensure appropriate 
oversight by the Department of Treasury with each of its 
subordinate agencies. 

2. The Director of A.T.F. and the other senior managers in 
headquarters must take a more active role in oversight of 
field operations, especially when they are potentially of 
the magnitude of the David Koresh investigation. 

3. A.T.F. must examine its goals and objectives and determine 
what type of enforcement role it is going to require its 
agents to fulfill. Once that role is determined then it is 
the responsibility of both A.T.F. and the Treasury 
Department to ensure that the employees receive the training 
necessary to meet the objectives of the organization. 



A-10 



Appendix B 



Expert Reports 



B-l 



Appendix B 



Tacitcal Operations Experts 

(alphabetically by author) 

Wade Y. Ishimoto 

John A. Kolman 

George Morrison 

John J. Murphy 

Rod Paschall 

Robert A. Sobocienski 



B-3 



AN INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT 

OF THE 

BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO & 

FIREARMS 

RAID OF THE BRANCH DAVIDIAN COMPOUND 

IN WACO, TEXAS 



PREPARED BY: 
Wade Y. Ishimoto, Consultant 



FOR THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY 

August 16, 1993 



B-5 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



Executive Summary B-9 

I. Introduction B-11 

n. Command and Control B-11 

m. Intelligence B-17 

IV. Operations Security B-21 

V. IVaining and Exercises B-22 

VI. Support Operations B-23 

Vn. Weaponry, Armament, and Other Equipment B-27 

Vm. Concluding Remarks B-28 



B-7 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

This Executive Summary is prepared in response to the major concerns raised during my tenure 
on the Department of Treasury's Waco Review team. My remarks represent independent analysis, 
and that analysis is found in the body of this report. The body of the report also addresses a 
number of potential improvements which are not discussed in this Executive Summary. 

I. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) raid plan, as conceived, had a 
reasonable chance of success. 

n. The critical success factors for the raid plan were not necessarily recognized nor understood 
by the leaders of the ATF operation because of inexperience or lack of training. The leaders I 
refer to extend from the Special Response Team (SRT) Leaders all the way to the ATF Director. 
These critical success factors were: 

a. Surprise consisting specifically of 

(1) Insufficient advance warning of the impending raid to allow cult members to arm 
and deploy. 

(2) The Branch Davidians not understanding the significance of the trucks/cattle 
trailers until these vehicles were at least at the intersection of the compound road and Double EE 
Ranch Road which would have provided about 30 to 45 seconds of advance warning. The 
Branch Davidians would have found it difficult to arm and deploy themselves in the manner 
witnessed during the actual execution of the search and arrest warrants. 

b. Isolation of the majority of the cult's weapons and ammunition from cult members 
through seizure of the arms room located next to Vernon Howell's living quarters. 

c. Successfijl entry by the ATF SRTs through the front door of the compound which was 
critical to separating cult members from the bulk of their weapons in the arms room. 

d. Finding the men in the compound working in the outdoor (excavated pit or 
underground) area to the North of the compound. 

III. The reason for the raid's failure is directly attributable to the fact that the critical success 
factors defined in II. above were, at best, only partially achieved. The fact that the cult members 
were armed and deployed as ATF deployed from their cattle trailers is particularly relevant. 

IV. When viewed in totality, the raid plan was not well conceived regardless of my opinion that 
it had a reasonable chance of success. The plan did not provide for contingencies, lacked depth, 
and did not provide adequate command and control of support and tactical forces. My 
assessment is that the SRTs possessed the minimal amount of training and experience to meet the 
raid's objectives. However, in an operation of this magnitude, the SRTs require equally well- 

B-9 



trained and experienced command, control, and support personnel. These personnel lacked a 
requisite amount of training and experience. 

V. Other factors that contributed to the subsequent loss of life and failure to complete the 
mission include: 

a. A complex command, control, and communications mechanism. 

b. Less than adequate training in a number of different areas. 

c. An intelligence system which was weak. 

d. A lack of well-developed Operations Security (OPSEC) policy and procedures. 

e. Equipment limitations. 

f Task organization that principally centered on SRT actions, 
g. A lack of reserve forces. 

h. A plan that was not developed in-depth to include contingency actions. 
These and other factors pertinent to future success are discussed in the main body of this report. 

VI. Key Recommendations and Findings: 

a. ATF will require a future and continuing SRT capability as long as that organization 
continues to have an enforcement versus compliance-only mission. 

b. Improvements are required in policy and procedural guidance pertinent to high risk 
operations requiring the use of ATF SRTs. This guidance must include command and control 
matters, technical support (communications and surveillance), investigative techniques to include 
electronic monitoring, intelligence in support of tactical operations, reorganization of SRTs to 
include Forward Observers, media relations, OPSEC, use of the military, equipment to include 
armament, and training. 

c. The key to success in raid operations, no matter how large or small, always resides in the 
field and with field personnel. The actions of ATF Headquarters personnel on February 28, 1993, 
did not significantly contribute to the success or failure of the mission. The proper role for ATF 
Headquarters is one of planning oversight, plan approval, and resource allocation prior to 
execution of the operation. All parties must strenuously avoid trying to run a field operation from 
a headquarters location with subsequent micro-management and loss of decisive action and 
decision-making in the field. 



B-10 



I. INTRODUCTION 

The missions of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) bring the men and women 
of this agency face-to-face with a wide variety of criminal adversaries. The very nature of the 
laws they must enforce in the firearms and explosives arena virtually ensures that ATF agents are 
subject to life-threatening situations in a high percentage of their operations. They are also 
subject to a great deal of public criticism from special interest groups who are particulariy 
vociferous over ATF enforcement of firearms statutes. 

During the last decade and a half, ATF's mission has expanded to meet greater criminal 
sophistication in the use of explosives and firearms. Explosive attacks have always been a favored 
tactic of those who wish to terrorize the public; and the use of automatic weapons has also 
become much more prevalent in the execution of crimes. 

I respect the difficulty of the ATF mission along with the dedication and bravery of their 
personnel. The death of four agents and the wounding of sixteen in one action is unprecedented 
in American law enforcement. After-the-fact criticism and "Monday-morning quarterbacking" are 
very easy traps to fall into and made preparation of this report difficult. 

However, my review of the Branch Davidian event detects a very definite need to provide ATF 
personnel with additional tools to allow them to better deal with situations like they faced in 
Waco, Texas. These tools include more defined policy in some areas, the need for written 
procedural references, training, and some equipment. I attempt to avoid individual criticism as 
that is a matter best left to Department of Treasury personnel. Unfortunately, my analysis also 
discovers some questionable individual performance; and I would be remiss not to discuss these 
possible shortcomings. 

n. COMMAND AND CONTROL 

A. ATF Headquarters 

1. Concerns over the role of ATF Headquarters in commanding and 
controlling large raid operations are expressed by members of Congress, Treasury officials, and 
by ATF personnel at all levels. These concerns evolve around possible poor performance and 
ftiture roles for ATF headquarters personnel. 

a. I believe the overall performance of ATF Headquarters in command 
and control of the Waco raid was adequate except in the area of providing pre-raid support 

to the field. The headquarters role included plan review and approval, provision of oversight 
(e.g., asking of questions pertinent to the investigation and need for a raid, and involvement of the 
Special Operations Division), and provision of support. 

b. There are two matters which I believe are worthy of further inquiry. 
The first is whether the raid could have been conducted earlier in February and the second 
concerns procedures to obtain military support. 

B-11 



• With respect to the possibility of conducting the raid earlier in February, there are 
reports that the Houston office proposed conducting the raid a week before February 
28, 1993. This meeting was supposedly postponed because some key Headquarters 
personnel were unavailable. This implies that the raid could have occurred prior to 
publication of the Waco Tribune article and any subsequent rise in awareness or 
paranoia by the Branch Davidians. This is speculation but is worthy of additional 
inquiry to determine whether there is a need to improve ATF policy and 
procedures with respect to approval of an operation. 

• Based on my review, I am not confident that ATF Headquarters understands and 
has appropriate policy to obtain military support for large-scale operations. 

The ATF Military Liaison Officer appears to be assigned from the Office of the 
Department of Defense (DOD) Coordinator for Drug Enforcement Policy and 
Support. Interviews indicate that statements were made by the Military Liaison 
Officer that narcotics-related activity was needed to justify military support. If true, 
those statements are contrary to existing DOD policy which permits support to law 
enforcement on a reimbursable basis. The alleged Branch Davidian narcotics activity 
was tenuous, at best, and subjected ATF to intense scrutiny by Congress. In addition, 
the Special Operations Branch Chief does not appear to understand how military 
support is obtained. This is unacceptable since the Military Liaison Officer works for 
the Branch Chief and proper oversight cannot occur unless the Branch Chief has a 
better understanding of this matter. Finally, field personnel also appear to only 
understand how to obtain military support through narcotics-related activity. 

c. Other headquarters shortfalls include a policy which limits the 
firepower available to the field; limited ability to provide intelligence support; a lack of 
understanding of electronic surveillance operations; and not providing additional technical support 
to the field. 

d. Over-reaction to the proper role of ATF Headquarters in command 
and control of future operations must be avoided. Studious attempts must be made to avoid 
micro-management and the accompanying deleterious effect it will have on decisive action and 
decision-making in the field. The key to success in raid operations resides in the field and with 
field personnel. I believe that the proper role for ATF Headquarters is planning oversight, plan 
approval and resource allocation prior to the conduct of an operation. 

e. Recommendations: 

• Existing ATF policy and procedures should be reviewed to ensure that streamlined 
plan approval with appropriate oversight will occur in the future. 

• Military support policy should be fijlly documented and either included or referred to 
in the National Response Plan for ATF. 



B-12 



• The policy on electronic surveillance should be reviewed and consideration given to 
improving ATF capabilities to include possible augmentation of field personnel from 
headquarters. (Note: The FBI has had a long-standing plan and capability to 
augment their Field Divisions during crisis situations.) 

• The ATF National Response Plan should be modified to better define the role of ATF 
Headquarters and their field organizations. 

2. The National Response Plan (NRP) provides a basis for planning any future 
operation of the magnitude encountered in Waco. 

a. A very necessary first step towards a mature planning process was taken 
with the creation of the NRP. As in any initial endeavor, the NRP can be improved. 

b. The NRP, as currently written, is a combination of a Headquarters policy 
document along with providing a variety of procedural guidance. Some of the procedural 
guidance is quite detailed (e.g., the logistical support officer being responsible for obtaining 
water) while some of it does not address important concepts. For example, there is no conceptual 
guidance concerning command post operation and selection of a command post location. 

c. Recommendations: 

• The NRP should be reviewed and modified in light of the Waco incident. 

• The military model of a stand-alone poHcy document (e.g., a Department of Army 
Regulation) with separate implementation and procedural guidance (e.g.. Field 
Manuals) should be considered versus one all-encompassing document. 

• Implementation and procedural guidance should be expanded and training in the NRP 
conducted for anyone that is an ATF supervisor. 



B. Field Command, Control, and Planning 

1 . The Command, Control, and Communications mechanism for the raid was 
complex, and a comprehensive understanding of roles and missions for the organization was not 
evident. 

a. At the individual SRT level (e.g., Houston) command, control, and 
communications was established in an adequate manner except for two matters. First, it is not 
evident that a chain of command within the individual SRTs was established to provide for 
leadership succession in the event that the leader became disabled. Secondly, the Forward 
Observers did not appear to be in direct support of a specific team and the teams could not 
directly communicate with the Forward Observers. The Forward Observers provide a means of 

B-13 



both information/intelligence and "heavy" fire support (i.e., rifles) which may be used as an 
essential element of a raid or to assist in contingency situations. 

b. The chain of command and specific role for the Forward Observers was 
not clear. The interviews of the Forward Observers reflect this observation and the fact that they 
had different understandings of their rules of engagement and to whom they were responsive. 
The military would describe the Forward Observer role on the raid as being in General Support of 
the operation versus Direct Support (e.g., directed to support a specific SRT). Both concepts 
have their merits, but a direct support role is generally favored for raid operations. The net result 
on the Waco raid was that the Forward Observers were not positioned advantageously (i.e., to 
provide adequate coverage of the compound in a timely manner) and could have been used more 
effectively in an information gathering role (e.g., determining whether compound members were 
deployed or working in the pit area). 

c. The focus on command and control was on the SRTs. I believe that the 
same statement applies to planning matters. The coordination of other agencies appeared to be in 
the hands of one individual, Phil Lewis, at the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) Command 
Post (CP). He performed admirably, but the system and process should provide for better 
coordination of activities with outside agencies and more than one individual from ATF tasked 
with this responsibility. 

d. The TSTC CP did not function well. The Incident Commander was 
airborne and was therefore less able to command and control activities. There did not appear to 
be an adequate means of providing status information to other agencies from the CP, much less to 
ATF personnel. Roles and missions were not adequately stated to these staff members. These 
observations reflect the need for policy and procedural guidance along with training of personnel. 

e. The equivalent of a Tactical Operations Center (TOC) was not 
established. Whereas field CPs normally concentrate on interagency coordination and overall 
command and control, a TOC focuses on the tactical aspects of the operation. In a TOC, 
Forward Observer information may be consolidated and analyzed, reserve forces deployed and 
coordinated (these were not available at Waco except from outside agencies), negotiations with 
suspects conducted (this was a happenstance), and other matters directly important to the success 
of the tactical mission coordinated and controlled. The TOC needs to be staffed with personnel 
who have defined roles and responsibilities. The Tactical Coordinator may choose to operate 
from a TOC or, as was the case at Waco, forward with the SRTs. The Undercover (U/C) house 
was suitable as a TOC and had some TOC type functions under ASAC Cavanaugh, but in reality 
did not contain the staffing nor the planning of a true TOC. One of the advantages of 
commanding from a TOC was evident when Cavanaugh became the person most able to 
coordinate tactical activities versus ASAC Sarabyn who was pinned down in a firefight. The 
Tactical Coordinator unfortunately chose a position where he was at the forward edge of the 
battle and less able to command and control the SRTs... I believe this illustrates the need for better 
procedural guidance and training versus individual negligence on the part of Sarabyn. 



B-14 



f. The plan was developed principally by SRT personnel whose focus was 
primarily in actions at the compound. My observation is that they could have benefitted from 
trained staff planning assistance. This is especially true in intelligence support which is addressed 
later in this report. 

g. ATF personnel (possibly due to inexperience coupled with policy and 
procedural guidance gaps) sought advice, guidance, and assistance from persons and agencies 
who were not the best qualified to provide such help. This comment is particulariy pointed at the 
manner in which military support was obtained. For example, there are reports that ATF went to 
Operation Alliance (a counter-narcotics related organizational grouping) to request military 
support. The ATF Headquarters Military Liaison Officer could have gone through the 
Department of Defense (DOD) Director of Military Support (DOMS) organization to obtain 
more complete military support. In another example, ATF appeared to be ill-advised by a 
member of the Texas Governor's staff to use the Texas National Guard for various operations 
with a strong implication that such support could be provided for free if there were a narcotics 
relationship... tenuous at best. A third example is the use of a Special Forces Communications 
NCO to design and "approve" the communications network. Additional observations on military 
support are found in other sections of this report. 

2. Inexperience in crisis management and operational planning skills for a large 
scale operation such as Waco was clearly evident in the planning and execution of the raid. The 
lack of a written operations order is one indication of this inexperience. Other examples include: 

a. The lack of in-depth planning for contingencies as witnessed by the lack 
of an alternative means of entry should the first fail; and an "Oh shit" plan consisting of running 
away from the compound rather than using supporting fire and maneuver or the use of armored 
vehicles to provide cover and to recover personnel. 

b. The briefings that I observed on videotape (one at Fort Hood and one in 
Waco) are reflective of this inexperience. The briefings rambled instead of focusing on key issues 
and presenting information succinctly, 

c. The lack of a flinctional staff (no matter how reduced in size) at a TOC 
location or in the CP are also indicative of inexperience, the need for more training, and the need 
for additional procedural guidance on command and control matters. 

d. The lack of depth in the communications plan, undercover house 
operation, the medical plan, and media plan are also indicative of inexperience, 

e. The failure to conduct the Mag Bag raid resulted in a fire fight and 
additional actions to apprehend suspects. These actions would not have been necessary if the plan 
to raid the Mag Bag had been executed as planned. 



B-15 



3. The number of courses of action and tactical options available to ATF were 
limited because of limitations on equipment, training, experience, and policy along with the 
presence of presumably innocent children and females. 

a. Equipment considerations are discussed elsewhere in this report and 
include the paucity of night vision equipment, technical surveillance equipment, and restrictions on 
weaponry. The decision to follow the advice of a member of the Texas Governor's staff may have 
caused problems with ATF not receiving better helicopter capability and armored vehicles. Going 
through the military's DOMS mechanism for military support rather than Operation Alliance and 
Joint Task Force (JTF) 6 might have made a difference in ATF getting smoke generating devices, 
armored vehicles, and other assistance. 

b. Training and experience gaps are reflected throughout this report. The 
training gaps can be remedied and, if done properly, can make up for the lack of experience. 
Training is addressed in greater detail elsewhere in this report. 

c. Policy limitations which impacted on the operation included restrictions 
on weaponry, restrictions on chemical agents and distraction devices, uncertainty over electronic 
surveillance issues, and failure of policy to address the provision of military support through the 
DOMS organization. 

4. The raid plan lacked depth and did not provide for adequate consideration of 
contingencies. Improvement in these matters can be attained through additional training and the 
development of doctrinal guidance (e.g., reference manuals and checklists on SRT operations). 

5. There are feelings that the ATF Incident Commander and other key leaders in 
the ATF chain should be limited to those from SRT ranks. My belief is that will not prove 
adequate. This belief is based on a general need for additional training in crisis management 
procedures and operational planning which are not well-developed at any level within ATF. I do 
agree that SACs and ASACs should at least attend the SRT courses as observers to enhance their 
knowledge and that they should also receive additional training on crisis management and 
planning. 

6. Recommendations: The observations listed above are reflective of ATF's 
relative lack of experience in command and control of operations of the magnitude seen in Waco. 
Policy needs to be established, procedural guidance provided in writing, and strenuous training 
provided to personnel at all levels who may become involved in these kinds of operations in the 
future. If ATF or the Department of Treasury cannot provide the resources to pursue doctrinal 
development and training, then serious consideration must be given to limiting the scope of ATF 
tactical operations. 



B-16 



in. INTELLIGENCE 
A. Organization 

1 . The ATF organization to provide intelligence support during the investigative 
and operational (raid) phases was not effective. 

a. Intelligence analytical support did not effectively bridge the gap between 
the investigative support mission and tactical support. Analysis appeared to be a function of 
different individuals (e.g., the Case Agent, RAC Buford, ASAC Sarabyn, etc.) rather than a 
function of a defined system and process. There was no clear focal point where all intelligence 
flowed and was fiilly analyzed and subsequently delivered to the tactical planners. 

b. There were numerous instances of assumptions being made on the basis 
of incomplete, dated, or overstated information which adversely influenced operational planning. 
For example: 

• The number of people in the compound was estimated at 75, a 25% error. The 
surveillance logs and interviews of former cult members did not substantiate the 75 
person figure. Therefore, I question how those numbers were derived. 

• The U/C Agent had about eight limited visits into the compound. Yet there were 
those that felt he had continuing access and gave more credence to his information 
than was true. 

• Information on the physical structure of the compound was a composite of a few 
visits by the U/Cs and information from unvetted sources that was a year old in some 
cases. 

c. A number of incorrect assumptions could have been put into proper 
perspective if there were trained, experienced personnel working within a defined organizational 
structure to conduct in-depth intelligence analysis. 

2. The existing intelligence structure does not tie all-source intelligence (e.g., 
technical surveillance, U/Cs, Forward Observers, aerial photography) together in a systematic 
fashion. Overall intelligence collection and planning is not centrally managed. Analysis occurs in 
pockets rather than through a capable, defined organizational structure; and dissemination of 
intelligence (the product of recording, evaluation, and interpretation... i.e., analysis of information) 
versus raw information is not consistent with proven techniques used by other organizations. 

3. The organization of the U/C house and its activities was marked by no clear 
chain of command or direction of their actions. The rapid establishment of the U/C operation is 
commendable, but poor organization neutralized what could have been a major source of 
intelligence and confirmation that the Branch Davidians were waiting in ambush. 

B-17 



B. Intelligence Operations 

1. General Comments: The remainder of this section is organized into a 
discussion of typical intelligence operations disciplines: Intelligence Liaison activities; Human 
Intelligence operations (to include undercover activities); Imagery Intelligence (including aerial 
intelligence collection, photographic and video collection); and Electronic Intelligence. 

2. Intelligence Liaison: 

a. It appears that ATF worked closely with McClennan County law 
enforcement officials to obtain intelligence about the Branch Davidian organization, its 
operations, and its physical facilities (i.e., the Mag Bag and the Mount Carmel compound). This 
interface was, in my opinion, highly useful in the investigative and tactical planning phases of the 
operation. Unfortunately, there was limited information available from this source. Also to its 
credit, ATF exploited information and sources available from the Texas Human Resources 
Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety. With the latter organization, it is not 
clear whether all aspects of information and intelligence were explored. ..i.e.. Criminal Intelligence, 
Narcotics, Texas Rangers. 

b. Various interviews indicate that ATF attempted to obtain information 
available from Interpol, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the El Paso Intelligence 
Center (through Operation Alliance). I found only one approach to the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, no attempts to obtain information from the Customs Service, and none through the 
Department of State and Central Intelligence Agency. Since there were foreign nationals in the 
compound, inquiries should have been made of these agencies whether intelligence was available 
or not. I sense, but cannot substantiate, that interagency rivalry coupled with inexperience may 
have led to this incomplete search for information. 

c. Recommendation: ATF should review its policy and procedures to 
obtain intelligence from other agencies and provide guidance to their field organizations and 
headquarters personnel on that matter. 

3. Human Intelligence: 

a. My previous discussion of the lack of central control of intelligence 
planning and collection also applies to ATF's human intelligence operations. Central control of 
policy should be established at ATF headquarters along with national Intelligence Community 
interfaces. However, the field organization must be able to control intelligence operations in 
support of tactical operations. 

b. There were several successes in human intelligence operations to include 
information obtained from United Parcel Service personnel, the use of a U/C to obtain physical 
information about the Mag Bag and one trip into the Mount Carmel compound, the recruitment of 
the Double EE Ranch owner, and the information gleaned from former cult members by the Case 
Agent, RAC Buford, and others. 

B-18 



c. The interview of the former cult members posed a difficult problem in 
terms of determining their reliability and accuracy of information. Again, a system was not in 
place to pool information coming from these sources, to fully analyze it, and to disseminate the 
resulting intelligence in a useful way to tactical and support personnel. 

d. The U/C house operation was an excellent idea which did not pay high 
dividends because of a lack of organization, proper tasking, and supervision of their activities. 
The logs which I reviewed were incomplete and do not substantiate many of the assumptions 
which were made on activity in the compound. For example, the tactical planners were adamant 
that a "routine" was evident in the compound with the males working outside at 10:00 AM 
onwards... logs from the U/C house do not corroborate this assumption. At best, the U/C house 
operation resulted in limited information about the physical structure, incomplete observation of 
activities, and information about a few of the personnel inside the compound. The U/C house 
operation was capable, in my opinion, of providing much more intelligence. One of the supposed 
goals of the U/C house was to obtain additional information on probable cause for a search or 
arrest warrant... it is not evident to me that this occurred. 

e. The Forward Observers were not effectively used and a TOC was not in 
place to exploit information coming from the Forward Observers. The lack of effectiveness in this 
event refers to gaps in tasking, limited deployment around the compound, lateness of deployment, 
and the provision of extremely limited amounts of collection devices to the Forward Observers. 

f Recommendations: 

Without access to all ATF policy, procedural guidance, and training information for intelligence, I 
am not able to make detailed recommendations on improvement of human intelligence operations. 
I therefore recommend that ATF or an outside organization conduct a more in-depth review of 
intelligence operations to determine whether there is need for changes/additions to policy, 
procedure, and training. 

4. Imagery Intelligence: 

a. In-house ATF capabilities to collect and process imagery intelligence 
appear extremely limited. There are references to a (i.e., only one) 35mm camera in the U/C 
house, a pole camera which did not work very well and was positioned poorly (both physically 
and in terms of how permission was obtained to install it), poor intelligence analysis and posting 
of information from the U/C house photographic operations, and little or no use of night vision 
equipment with video or photographic capability. 

b. ATF capability to collect aerial imagery intelligence appears to be very 
limited. ATF turned to both Customs and the Texas National Guard for support in these areas. I 
do not find strong evidence that the ability to plan and collect imagery intelligence using aerial 
platforms was well planned or directed by ATF. The offer by a member of the Texas Governor's 
Office to overfly the compound and to use relatively unsophisticated Forward Looking Infrared 

B-19 



Radar (FLER) to obtain information does not give me a great deal of confidence in the knowledge 
of system capabilities by either ATF personnel or the person who offered that advice to ATF. 

c. I do not believe shortcomings in imagery intelligence had a direct bearing 
on the failure of the raid. However, these shortcomings in knowledge, planning, and equipment 
capabilities do not bode well in the future if ATF must engage in raid operations against 
adversaries of similar or greater levels of sophistication as the Branch Davidians. 

d. Recommendations: 

• ATF should improve their ability to manage the collection, processing, and 
dissemination of imagery intelligence; increase their knowledge of existing capabilities 
available from other Federal agencies; and develop methods to obtain proper support 
from those agencies. 

• ATF should also review their in-house capabilities and determine whether there were 
performance problems with cameras and video equipment (rectifiable through 
training), or policy and procedural gaps, or gaps caused by inadequate equipment. 

S. Electronic Intelligence: 

a. Electronic intelligence operations suffered because of poor management 
and equipment limitations. In hindsight, increased electronic intelligence capability (e.g., Title III 
installation on telephones or listening devices within the compound) might have provided 
information on whether the raid was compromised. 

b. There are a number of conflicting statements from ATF personnel 
concerning why a full Title III installation (much less a Pen Register) was never pursued. This 
indicates misunderstanding on the part of ATF personnel. A current ATF Order provides 
adequate guidance for Title III surveillance, but senior ATF personnel did not appear to 
understand this. In addition, there are conflicting statements on whether a scanner in the U/C 
house was operating or whether U/C personnel knew how to use the equipment. 

c. Recommendation: 

• ATF should review its electronic intelligence equipment, policy, procedures, and 
training for inadequacies. Reduced electronic intelligence capability affects their 
ability to conduct very sophisticated operations in a world where criminal adversaries 
have demonstrated increased counterintelligence capabilities. 



B-20 



rV. OPERATIONS SECURITY (OPSEC) 
A. Policy and Procedural Guidance: 

1 . It is not clear to me that ATF has published OPSEC policy and procedural 
guidance, or provided appropriate OPSEC training to its personnel. 

2. Recommendation: Review and provide such guidance with accompanying 
training at all levels of the organization. 

B OPSEC Planning and Execution: 

1 . OPSEC operations are not easy to plan nor execute. There are always trade- 
offs in an open society and in an environment where it is difficult for ATF to divert personnel 
from on-going cases and other missions. The key ingredient to OPSEC success is to 
systematically plan, understand the risks involved, and then decide on actions based on the risk. 
Proper planning and execution of OPSEC measures requires appropriate policy, documented 
procedural guidance, and training. I did not find these ingredients for OPSEC success within 
ATF's Waco operation. 

2. There were numerous chances for compromise of the operation through 
inadvertent disclosure. These include the Command Post opening days before the operation 
began and its location in a semi-secured area; the selection of the U/C house and the manner in 
which U/C operations were conducted; the pole camera operation; the training at Fort Hood; the 
need to involve other agencies, etc. ATF attempted to strike a reasonable balance between 
security and OPSEC measures, but it did not appear that OPSEC was centrally planned nor 
managed. OPSEC and other security practices appeared to occur as a happenstance and as a 
result of individual intuition rather than being deliberately planned and orchestrated. 

3. Current resource allocation does not allow ATF to be self-sufficient and in total 
control of all operations subject to security and OPSEC measures. The United States military 
establishment comes close to self-sufficiency only in a combat environment, but Federal law 
enforcement agencies do not have that advantage. These comments should not be construed to 
be in support of self-sufficiency. I mention this phenomena only to illustrate that there will always 
be risks for compromise even when the operation may be totally self-contained. These risks must 
be managed, and some risks must be taken on any operation. 

On the assumption that ATF will examine and strengthen their security and 
OPSEC policy, procedures and training, ATF should include measures to deal with the risks 
posed by a number of activities to include: Was an open-stance with the media was in the best 
interests of ATF? Would bus transportation have been better versus the car convoy on the 
morning of the 28th? Was backstopping of the U/Cs enrolled as TSTC students sufficient? 

4. Recommendation: ATF should develop additional policy and procedural 
guidance and provide different levels of training to all personnel on security and OPSEC measures 

B-21 



applicable to various operations. Different levels of training refer to the fact that at the entry 
level, personnel should be provided with reasons and basic methodology while at the journeyman 
and above level the emphasis should be on planning for security and OPSEC. 

V. TRAINING AND EXERCISES 

A. General Comments: 

1. I identify numerous potential training needs throughout this report. ATF has 
identified their training needs and instituted considerable training already. However, in the vein of 
continuous improvement and in the wake of deficiencies identified in my review, there is a need to 
expand those training efforts. I also suggest that ATF expand their efforts to determine "best-in- 
class" processes to achieve specific training goals. For example, mention was made of using a one 
to two week seminar by a private organization to achieve executive level training in crisis 
management. I submit that this would not be an example of a best-in-class process. Those areas 
which I identify as definitely needing training improvement include: 

• Advanced SRT training 

• Forward Observer training 

• Intelligence Operations (management, analysis, intelligence in support of 
tactical operations) 

• Command and Control 

3. There are other areas which may require additional training but where I am not 
clear as to whether they represent performance problems or the need for more training. These 
include; 

• Intelligence Analysis and Operations during the Investigative Phase. 

• U/C Operations. 

• Technical Support Operations. 

• Media Relations. 

B. Improved Sophistication of Training Management: 

1 . Overall, the Lesson Plans and training design which I reviewed do NOT reflect 
a high level of sophistication in training management. For example, most SRT lesson plans do not 
use performance-oriented, measurable objectives. Improvements are needed in what is to be 
learned and how it is to be measured to ensure that the learning has occurred. 

2. Significant gaps exist in the completeness of all training. For example, the 
proposed Forward Observer Course syllabus only devotes two hours towards observation and 
recording skills and no time towards establishment of a command and control mechanism and 
TOC for the Forward Observers. 



B-22 



3. SRT Basic training does NOT result in a skilled team member, team leader, or 
in any other particular skill. The SRT course appears to be delivered as an overview of most 
skills found on a Special Response Team. The current training could be viewed as being barely 
adequate for small-scale operations; however, if ATF is to continue with the mission of tackling 
adversarial groups which require the use of multiple SRTs, more sophisticated training is required 
to help ensure success. At a very minimum, additional training is required in command and 
control skills for SRT operations. 

To also improve, ATF should carefijlly review the usefulness of specific instructional blocks to 
their course objectives. For example, the SRT Course includes time for physical training. 
Rhetorically, should physical training be a pre-requisite for attendance and the time better spent 
on practical exercises designed to reinforce entry team skills and techniques? Physical fitness in a 
realist situation could be demonstrated in these exercises. 

4. Very importantly, it was suggested that crisis management skills could be 
learned by attending an lACP seminar on crisis management. This is absolutely the wrong 
approach. ATF must develop its own in-house training for these important skills and teach 
current ATF policy and procedures, thereby making the training specific to ATF's needs. This 
type of training must also include extensive practical exercises to further the learning and 
retention of those skills that are taught. "Best-in-class" benchmarking would show that the U.S. 
Army presents command and control skills during Basic Officer Training, Advanced Officer 
Training, Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College. I do not have the 
exact time spent on command and control matters in those four courses, but a rudimentary 
estimate would be that the training is months long. 

C. Exercises: 

1. Individual and small group training activities must be expanded to include 
periodic exercises to hone and evaluate preparedness. This is missing from the training program 
within ATF. 

2. Exercises should studiously avoid becoming a vehicle to learn new skills. 
Instead, exercises should be used to evaluate and verify preparedness to conduct specific 
missions. The learning of new skills is most conducive to other training endeavors. 

VI. SUPPORT OPERATIONS 

A. Military Support: 

1 . It appears that there are several performance related problems associated with 
ATF's acquisition of military support. The ATF Headquarters Military Liaison Officer was 
quoted as saying there needed to be drug activity to justify military support. This is simply not 
true. Perhaps he meant that drug activity was needed to justify non-reimbursable military support, 
but that is an exceedingly poor reason (i.e., non-reimbursement) to seek military support of law 
enforcement for ATF. 

B-23 



An ATF Headquarters manager to whom the Military Liaison Officer reports stated that he was 
not aware of how military support was obtained and that he trusted the Military Liaison Officer to 
do what was right. I do not accept that as good management practice because the manner in 
which military support may be obtained by Federal law enforcement agencies is not complicated 
and should be known by all ATF Supervisors. 

2. The reliance on Operation Alliance as a main source of obtaining military 
support is also a poor practice since the focus is on narcotics related activity. When such activity 
does not exist or when information must be stretched to provide such a connection, ATF is 
subjected with either not obtaining military support or being in danger of civil or criminal liability 
if information is fabricated or does not provide good probable cause. 

3. One person from the Texas Governor's office appeared to favor the use of 
National Guard assets versus active duty military support. Through innuendo, there are 
appearances that he also hinted at the need for narcotics relationship so that the support could be 
provided for free. I do not feel that this attitude served ATF very well. For example, better 
imagery intelligence support could have been obtained from other Federal law enforcement 
organizations or active military forces; armored vehicle support would have been more readily 
available; smoke grenades might have been obtained if regular Fort Hood forces were used versus 
Special Forces advisors; and the use of U.S. Customs Service helicopters would have provided 
better capabilities than those supplied by the National Guard. 

B. Air Operations: 

The decision not to use U.S. Customs helicopters ostensibly stemmed from a concern 
over OPSEC. I am of the opinion that it was due more to interagency rivalry rather than OPSEC. 
The use of Customs helicopters and crews offer several advantages to include communications 
capabilities not found on the National Guard helicopters and the ability to fire from the 
helicopters. 

C. Communications: 

1 . There are many conflicting statements concerning the adequacy of 
communications and communications support during the operation. At the very least, planning 
for communications shows a need for improvement. Communications planning should help to 
ensure continuity of command and control and is therefore closely linked to the adequacy of 
training and procedural guidance on command and control. Simply stated, if one cannot or will 
not communicate, then command and control will not exist. For example, the Tactical 
Coordinator appeared to be out of the command and control loop once the raid ran into difficulty. 
I was not able to determine what the cause for this was. 



B-24 



2. There are a large number of examples which point towards performance 
problems, planning problems, potential training shortfalls, and a few possibilities of inadequate 
equipment. They include: 

• Linkages to local law enforcement and other supporting organizations were not 
outlined well in terms of net control and communications responsibility or 
redundant communications links between ATF and these organizations. 

• There appears to be confijsion concerning who was to operate the open-line with 
ATF Headquarters and what their duties were. 

• The Forward Observers were not able to communicate directly with the Tactical 
Coordinator nor the SRT Leaders. 

• The Incident Commander was not effectively communicating from the helicopters 
to the Tactical Coordinator nor to any other segment of the ATF operation. This 
was especially true when the helicopter he was on had to land once it received fire 
fi^om the ground. 

• Cavanaugh in the U/C House was not provided with sufficient communications 
personnel support to allow him to control all the activities (e.g., crisis 
negotiations, control of the Forward Observers, control of the deployed SRTs) 
which fell on his shoulders when the raid ran into difficulty. 

• The Forward Observers and other ATF personnel on the back side of the 
compound ran into communications problems. 

D. Medical: 

1. Overall medical planning and preparations were excellent. The Special Forces 
personnel appeared to provide excellent assistance in planning and helping ATF personnel prepare 
and rehearse for medical emergencies. One gap in the plan appears to be that mass casualty 
situations were not anticipated with no plans in place to handle such a contingency. The 
contracted medical services could have been easily overwhelmed if the Branch Davidians had 
attempted mass suicide. When faced with a well-armed or potentially suicidal group, medical 
planning should consider mass casualty situations. 

2. Improvement opportunities for ATF exist in developing policy and procedures 
to ensure that appropriate planning support is obtained or to develop an in-house capability for 
medical planning. 

E. Media: 

I. ATF's problems with the media potentially began with the interview of Mark 
Breault who was already in contact with the media; were exacerbated with the meetings and 

B-25 



discussions with the media prior to the raid; were compounded by the media being suspected of 
compromising the raid on February 28th; and were further fueled by media relations in the 
aftermath of the raid. 

2. I find four potential areas for improvement of ATF's media relations: 

• ATF personnel can benefit from strengthened media policy, publication of 
procedural guides for media relations, and additional training. Many media 
situations are judgemental calls (e.g., Chojnacki deciding to meet the media in Waco), 
so additional training based on coherent policy is a key to help ATF personnel 
understand the potential risks and benefits of dealing with the media. 

• ATF ASACs and above should be prepared to accept press conference 
responsibilities or to ensure that the ATF spokesperson is physically and emotionally 
prepared. I refer specifically to the poor judgement shown by the use of Special 
Agent Wheeler as the spokesperson in the aftermath of the raid's failure when she had 
not slept for a reported 36 hours. 

• ATF Headquarters should be prepared to augment field personnel on major 
operations which have the potential to attract major media attention. 

• The Department of Treasury, in conjunction with Justice and the Congress, examine 
J the potential of enacting legislation to provide criminal penalties for willful and 

*< negligent acts contributing to the loss of life on law enforcement or national security 

operations. 

F. Coordination of Other Agencies: 

' 1 . There are numerous indicators that ATF's preparations to coordinate their 

actions with other agencies were less than optimal. They include: 

• The lack of a written operations order which would have provided specific 
instructions to ATF personnel to coordinate the activities of other agencies while 
providing overall guidance to those agencies. 

• The failure to rapidly transfer the 91 1 call from the Branch Davidian compound to 
ATF control from McClennan County. 

• The inordinate length of time required to get military armored vehicles on-scene. 

• The lack of instructions on pursuit of suspects that could have fled the compound. 

2. The appearances are that ATF personnel require additional training and 
procedural guidance to plan large-scale operations which require close coordination with a 
varieity of non- ATF organizations. 

B-26 



Vn. WEAPONRY, ARMAMENT, and OTHER EQUIPMENT: 

A. Automatic Weapons: 

1 . The ATF SRT leaders do not feel that automatic weapons capability is a 
necessity. I recommend that ATF review their current policy and consider the use of automatic 
weapons situationally...if the adversary has full auto weapons, then ATF should have the 
capability to overcome these. The use of automatic weapons by a criminal adversary could be 
overcome through ways other than using comparable weapons (e.g., better tactics, use of 
vehicles for entry, explosive entry). The difficulty in such a strategy is that ATF personnel will 
have to be much better trained to overcome a firepower deficiency. 

B. Rifles (Assault and Forward Observer): 

1 . There is a definite need for ATF to review their decision to limit the use of 
rifles. Sub-machine or machine pistol type weapons simply do not have the range nor the 
accuracy inherent with longer barreled weapons such as AR-15s or other assault rifles. One ATF 
report refers to accuracy of the MPS weapon out to 300 meters, but that ignores the fact that 
rural and some urban operations may require longer shots. In addition, the ability to penetrate 
some materials and to incapacitate a human is better with rifle rounds such as the 5.56mm and 
7.62mm than with 9mm ammunition. In addition, 7.62mm weapons should also be considered 
since they can prove highly useful on vehicle stops and road blocks... not to mention longer range 
forward observer shots. 

2. A number of SRT members raised questions over the availability of rifles to 
support their operations. They question the ATF Headquarters proclamation that AR-15s will be 
phased out. Since these personnel are the ones tasked with mission execution, it is my belief that 
they should have a greater say in what weaponry they are allowed to use. 

C. Suppressed Weapons: 

1. ATF personnel have not mentioned the potential need for suppressed weaponry 
on extremely high-risk operations. Suppressed weapons are useful in a variety of situations and 
provide a means of providing a critical edge to SRT-type units. There are a number of military 
and law enforcement organizations which possess such weapons and have proved their ability to 
use them discriminately. ATF should consider their need for such weapons if they are to 
continue with missions similar to the one they faced in Waco. 

D. Chemical Munitions: 

1. ATF is limited by their own policy on the use of smoke and disabling chemical 
agents. Again, these capabilities are found in a number of law enforcement and military 
organizations tasked with SRT type activities and have been used discriminately by these 
organizations for years. The ability to use chemical munitions can provide a needed advantage to 

B-27 



SRTs and can be used to lessen the chances of loss of life. For these reasons, ATF should 
reconsider their policy on the use of chemical munitions. 

E. Distraction devices: 

1. The use of distraction devices such as the commonly referred to "Flash Bang" 
are limited by ATF policy. The policy requires that ATF personnel use a "peek and throw" 
philosophy on ALL operations. Such a policy is extremely limiting and can result in additional 
danger to ATF personnel. 

2. ATF policy should be modified to allow the use of distraction devices other 
than through a "peek and throw" technique. The policy and any accompanying procedural 
guidance should specify situations in which exclusions from the "peek and throw" method are 
permissible. In addition, all SRTs within ATF should receive training on the use of distraction 
devices. 

F. Vehicles. 

1 . Armored vehicles would have been highly useful in Waco for a variety of 
operations ranging from use in recovering wounded, protecting personnel during retrograde 
movement, use in entry, etc. The fact that armored vehicles were not available appears to be a 
significant planning oversight. 

2. ATF should qualify a number of their personnel on the use and operation of 
specified armored vehicles to include use of on-board weapons systems such as machine-guns and 
smoke generators. The procedures to obtain military support for these types of vehicles should be 
reviewed and solidified to ensure their availability for operations similar to Waco in the fijture. 

Vm. CONCLUDING REMARKS: Throughout my report and analysis of information 

there has been a continuing theme of 

• The need for policy review and modification 

• Providing additional procedural guidance beyond policy documents to ATF personnel 

• A very definite need for improved training in a number of areas 

Perhaps these sound overly redundant. I submit that it is only through sound policy, supported by 
additional reference (i.e., procedural) materials, and thorough training that the tragedy which 
befell ATF at Waco can be prevented in the future. These focus on system fixes rather than 
individual actions along with the development of processes which provide a sound foundation for 
operational actions. 



B-28 



Education 



Professional 
Schooling 



Current 
Occupation 

Instructional 
Experience 



Pertinent 
Experience 



CURRICULUM VITAE FOR 
Wade Y. Ishimoto 

M.A., Human Resources Development, Webster University 
B.A., Asian Studies, University of Hawaii 

U.S. Army Special Forces Operations and Intelligence Course 

U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent's Course 

U.S. Army Special Warfare Center Instructor Training Course 

Numerous courses relating to intelligence, security, and special operations 

Technical Manager, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM 



University of New Mexico, Division of Continuing Education and 
Community Services, 1985-Present 
U.S. Air Force Special Operations School, 1987-Present 
U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Emergency Search Team 
courses, 1985-present 

California Department of Justice Terrorism Course, 1984-1986 
Deha Force Operator's Training Course, 1977-1982 
University of Santa Clara, 1975-1977 
U.S. Army J.F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, 1973-1975 
Mobile Training Team special operations assignments to foreign, allied 
military and law enforcement organizations 

Numerous instructional engagements with law enforcement organiza- 
tions to include the Calgary Police Service, Royal Canadian Mounted 
Police, Canada Security & Intelligence Service, Los Angeles Police 
and Sheriffs Departments, Texas Narcotics Officers Association, and 
the National Tactical Officer's Association, 1962-present 

Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) 1978-Present; founder of the 
NEST Training Management Working Group; project leader to reorganize 
and restructure the organization in 1 989; Exercise Director of several 
Interagency (FBI, DOD, DOE, FEMA, local law enforcement) terrorist- 
related national exercises; planner or participant in other NEST exercises; 
developed a Key Leader Training Course. 

Nuclear Security Systems Directorate 1985-1992, led numerous projects 
related to high-threat security situations including a Defense Nuclear 
Agency funded Insider Study, a Recapture and Recovery of Nuclear 
Weapons Study involving overseas and domestic situations, documentation 
of R&D requirements to support the TSWG for terrorist incidents; and 



B-29 



Curriculum Vitae for Wade Y. Ishimoto (continued) 



Pertinent 
Experience 

(continued) 



participation on a U.S. Physical Protection Bi-Lateral Team to Korea and 
Japan. Also performed liaison functions to various military special opera- 
tions organizations and the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team. Designed and 
implemented the construction of a new Emergency Operations Center 
for Sandia National Laboratories and revamped their emergency opera- 
tions program. 



Security and Intelligence Specialist, U.S. Department of Energy, 1984-85, 
Key member of a Tiger Team assigned to revamp emergency operations 
within the Albuquerque Operations Office complex which included over 
40,000 employees at six locations from Florida to New Mexico. Inspec- 
tion staff duties. Organized mobile training teams for special response 
team training. 

Vice-President for Operations, SAS of Texas, 1982-1984; led a White 
House directed examination of security preparations for the 1984 Summer 
Olympic Games in Los Angeles with over 2/3 of the recommendations 
being adopted; led security projects in support of the Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission, other governmental agencies, and private concerns. 

Delta Force, 1977-1982; Intelligence Officer leading the effort to automate 
terrorist information in a interagency data base; Team Leader on the 1980 
attempt to rescue 53 American hostages in Tehran; participant in several 
real-life counterterrorist operations; liaison and consulting duties to the 
FBI, Secret Service, Navy SEALS, overseas counterterrorist forces, and 
other special operations units. 

Other pertinent experience includes Special Forces assignments in the 
U.S., Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Vietnam (three tours) 
including training duties, exercise development, and combat operations; 
Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence collection duties in Korea, 
Hawaii, and the continental U.S.; and Military Police and investigative 
duties. 



B-30 



A Selective Analysis 

of 

Operation Trojan Horse 

Conducted by 

the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms 



Conducted by 
John A. Kolman, Captain (L.A.S.D. retired) 



for the Staff 

of the 

Waco Administrative Review 

United States Department of the Treasury 



B-31 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Page 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY B-35 

Chapter Page 

1. THE PROBLEM AND DEFINITIONS OF 

TERMS USED B-39 

INTRODUCTION B-39 

The BATE Special Response Team Program — 

An Historical Overview B-39 

A Synopsis of Operation Trojan Horse B-40 

THE PROBLEM B-44 

Statement of the Problem B-44 

Limitations of the Project B-44 

RESEARCH METHODS B-44 

DEFINITIONS OF TERMS USED B-45 

OPSEC B-45 

TEMS B-45 

Dynamic Entry B-45 

T.S.T.C./T.S.T.I B-45 

2. ANALYSIS B-46 

PLANNING AND PREPARATION B-46 

Tactical Alternatives B-46 

Chapter Page 

Tactics and Related Matters B-50 

Logistics B-53 

Emergency Medical Service B-54 

B-33 



Communications B-56 

Intelligence Function B-57 

Briefing B-60 

Training/Rehearsal B-61 

COMMAND AND CONTROL B-63 

Decisions Impacting the Operation B-63 

Organization and Structure B-66 

OPERATIONS SECURITY B-70 

MEDIA INVOLVEMENT B-73 

3. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS B-76 

CONCLUSIONS B-76 

RECOMMENDATIONS B-77 

REFERENCES B-80 



•t, 



B-34 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

The attempted service of search/arrest warrants by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, 
Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) on February 28, 1993, at the Branch Davidian Compound near 
Waco, Texas, was, in all probability, unprecedented within American law enforcement. 
Although many agencies (Federal, state and local) have conducted countless major high-risk 
warrant operations involving heavily armed multiple suspects, within the experience of the 
evaluator, none have rivaled the weaponry and fervent opposition which confronted the brave 
men and women of the BATF during Operation Trojan Horse. Certainly none have resulted in 
the tragic loss and wounding of so many law enforcement officers. 

The purpose of objectively analyzing this or any other tactical incident is not to 
castigate or condemn, but rather to learn from what occurred with a view toward future 
improvement. The loss of Steven Willis, Robert Williams, Conway LeBleu, and Todd 
McKeehan, and the wounding of numerous other dedicated agents, make it essential that an 
objective evaluation be conducted. 

The purpose of this project was: (1) to conduct a selective analysis of the planning, 
preparation, and subsequent attempted service of search/arrest warrants on February 28, 1993, 
by BATF personnel at the Branch Davidian Compound, (2) to develop conclusions based upon 
the analysis of BATF efforts in this regard, and (3) to make recommendations related to possible 
future operational improvements. 

This project relied upon an extensive review of numerous documents, reports, 
videotapes, and training curricula provided by Waco Administrative Review staff; personal 
monitoring of Congressional hearings on June 9 and 10, 1993; personal interviews of selected 
BATF personnel; a review of the limited literature available in this subject area; personal 
observation of the areas surrounding the Branch Davidian Compound, as well as the Command 
Post, undercover residence, and Staging Areas; personal knowledge of contemporary policy, 
procedure and training within the tactical community; and extensive personal experience within 
the field of law enforcement tactical operations. 

B-35 



The results of this analysis are believed to support the following conclusions: 

1 . BATF personnel involved in planning Operation Trojan Horse were dedicated, 
experienced law enforcement professionals. 

2. Much time and effort was expended in planning and preparing for Operation 
Trojan Horse. 

3. Planners relied upon and trusted intelligence information which, in many cases, 
lacked corroboration. 

4. A lack of knowledge existed on the part of both command and operational 
personnel concerning the proper utilization and deployment of countersniper 
(Forward Observer Team) personnel. 

5. Insufficient attention was directed by command personnel to the Operations 
Security (OPSEC) process. 

6. There was an apparent lack of supervision over the intelligence gathering 
mechanism in terms of direction, coordination, corroboration, dissemination and 
control. 

7. Though well intentioned, contacts initiated by command personnel with the 
Waco Tribune-Herald violated basic principles of operations security. 

8. No media contacts should have been initiated by BATF before the operation's 
conclusion. 

9. Command personnel lacked experience and training in directing major tactical 
operations. 

10. The Incident Commander should have been located at the designated command 
post to facilitate communication and control. 

1 1 . Once information had been received and corroborated that the operation had 
been compromised through the loss of surprise, command personnel should 
have aborted the mission. 

12. There was no planned alternative course of action to be taken if the mission was 
aborted. 

13. Following the negotiation of a cease fire to remove and evacuate the dead and 

wounded, perimeter positions should not have been abandoned until relief 

B-36 



personnel had assumed them. 

14. Had the operation not been compromised, there was a high probability that the 
tactical plan would have succeeded. 

15. Sufficient oversight was exercised by BATF Headquarters during all phases of 
Operation Trojan Horse. 

16. Numerous acts of heroism were displayed by the men and women of the BATF 
during, and subsequent to, the extensive firefight with the Branch Davidians. 

These conclusions, and others of less significance, contained within the body of the full 
report, constitute justification for considering the following recommendations. 

1. Assign personnel to command positions (Incident Commander, Tactical 
Coordinator, Deputy Tactical Coordinator) based upon qualifications — not rank 
or position. 

2. Develop and provide tactical crisis management training for those assigned to 
these positions. 

3. Explore the feasibility of selecting and training an on-call cadre of persoimel 
with proven decision-making and leadership ability to assume the roles of 
Incident Commander and Tactical Coordinator. 

4. Ensure that all command and supervisory personnel understand their joint 
responsibility to abort an operation if circumstances justify doing so. 

5. Increase the training time of Division Special Response Teams to a minimum 
of twice a month. 

6. Explore the feasibility of establishing regional, full-time Special Response 
Teams for deployment during major operations. 

7. Review and modify, as necessary, the criteria for selecting Special Response 
Team members. 

8. Review and modify, as necessary, the curriculum of Special Response Team 
training. 

9. Establish a Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS) program and formally 

assign EMS-trained personnel to each Special Response Team. 

B-37 



I.;;.,,* 



10. Develop and implement a hostage negotiation program as an integral part of 
Special Response Team operations. 

11. Evaluate existing Special Response Team equipment based on contemporary 
standards within the tactical community (to include chemical agents). 

12. Review the organization, structure, and functions of the Technology and 
Tactical Issues Conmiittee to ensure the timely evaluation and approval of 
tactical equipment and procedures. 

13. Conduct meetings, at least annually, of Federal special operations team leaders 
and command persoimel (BATF, FBI, Marshals, Customs) to discuss past 
tactical analyses and contemporary procedures. Emphasize necessity for 
interagency cooperation and training. 

14. Ensure familiarity with guidelines related to requesting and utilizing air support. 

15. Review and modify, as necessary, OPSEC training for all command and 
operational personnel. 

16. Review and modify the media notification process. 

17. Review and modify the BATF National Response Plan. 

18. Pursue legislation enabling electronic surveillance and monitoring under 
circumstances such as existed at the Branch Davidian Compound. 

19. Empanel a committee comprised of representatives from affected BATF entities 
to review these and other recommendations made by the Tactical Advisory 
Expert Panel. 

In spite of extensive planning and preparation by well-intentioned, experienced agents, 
success was not achieved at the Branch Davidian Compound. It eluded them, not because of a 
lack of ability or resources, but rather deficiencies in policy and procedure, which were exposed 
by the magnimde of the situation. 

Prior operations conducted by BATF Special Response Teams (433 in the past two 
years) apparently failed to reveal these deficiencies, due to their varying circumstances, as well 
as the reduced size of many of the operations. 

B-38 



Chapter 1 
THE PROBLEM AND DEFINITIONS OF TERMS USED 

INTRODUCTION 
The BATF Special Response Team Program — An Historical Overview 



In recent years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) 
responsibility to enforce Federal firearms, explosives, and arson statutes has met with 
increasing resistance from those individuals and groups involved in these activities (10). 
Because of the nature of these laws, almost every arrest or search warrant executed by 
the BATF involves armed suspects. 

Accordingly, in 1989, after reviewing the Bureau's capabilities and limitations 
in managing these incidents, each of the twenty-two Field Divisions were authorized to 
form what were then called high-risk entry control teams. These teams, comprised of 
specially selected volunteers, initially made use of available state and local training 
resources within their particular areas. However, in 1991, a decision was made to 
develop a centralized training program in order to ensure uniformity and the ability of 
agents to meet required physical fitness standards. Ultimately, Fort McClellan, 
Alabama, home of the U.S. Armys military police, chemical, and special response team 
training schools, was selected as the site of the basic two- week BATF Special Response 
Team (SRT) training program. Each Field Divisions team is now required to attend this 
rigorous course. 

The live-in program, consists of approximately 130 hours of training over a 10- 
day period, and places heavy emphasis on promoting teamwork. Subject areas vary from 
building entry and tactics to firearms training, trauma aid, operational planning, and 
physical conditioning. A high instructor-to-student ratio of one per two is maintained 
during training to enhance the learning process and enable appropriate performance 
evaluation (9:38). Instructors are selected based upon their background and experience. 
Over one half of the instructional cadre have past pertinent military experience, and one 
third are former members of law enforcement tactical units. 

Following successful completion of the basic program at Fort McClellan, each 
team is required to train a minimum of 24 hours each quarter. Much of this training is 
conducted in conjunction with area state and local SWAT teams. Special Response Team 
members are equipped with the best tactical safety equipment available, including body 



B-39 



armor, ballistic shields, firearms, and communications equipment. 

Since their inception, the Special Response Teams have actively proven their 
worth. During the past two fiscal years, BATF SRTs were activated 433 times to resolve 
cases determined to be the most dangerous (10). These activations varied from assisting 
at the scene of the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, to providing assistance in capturing murder 
suspects in Idaho that same year. 

Significantly, until Operation Trojan Horse on February 28, 1993, only one 
SRT member had been injured by gunfire (10). 

A Synopsis of Operation Trojan Horse 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officially became aware of the 
Branch Davidians and David Koresh on June 4, 1992. This awareness resulted from a 
referral by the McLennan County Sheriff to the Austin ATF Office. Additional referrals 
of complaint were received from a Congressman, the U.S. Attorneys Office, and the 
media. These complaints basically addressed allegations of sexual abuse by David 
Koresh, as well as firearms violations. Concern was also expressed over why nothing 
had been done by the authorities to alleviate the problem. As a result of this 
information, a case agent was assigned, and an extensive investigation initiated to 
determine if violations of laws enforceable by BATF were occurring. Information related 
to probable cause was later presented to the Assistant U.S. Attorney, who expressed the 
belief that there was sufficient information for a search warrant based upon the purchase 
of firearms and items necessary to convert them to fire in full automatic mode. 

The continuing investigation next placed emphasis on linking Koreshs purchases 
of chemicals with the manufacture of explosive devices. Because of the sensitive nature 
of the investigation, activities were closely monitored by BATF Headquarters. In 
anticipation of obtaining search and arrest warrants, operational planning commenced in 
December, 1992. Numerous planning meetings were conducted, and after extensive 
discussion, focused on utilizing three Special Response Teams with support personnel to 
effect service of the warrants. 

Although many options were explored by planners (i.e., siege [contain and call 
out], luring Koresh away from the Compound, doing nothing, etc.), for reasons that will 
be addressed later in this report, a dynamic raid of the Compound, using helicopters as 
a diversion, was agreed upon. As a result of intelligence gathered from the continuing 
investigation, which included undercover operations at and in the vicinity of the 
Compound, and selected interviews of disillusioned former cult members, a plan was 
finalized and approved. 



B-40 



The plan called for the raid to be initiated at approximately 1000 hours on a 
date to be specified. This time was selected because, according to intelligence sources, 
following Bible study, the men of the Compound would be outside working on a 
construction project and separated from their weapons, which were kept in a storeroom 
on the second floor of the Compound adjacent to Koreshs living quarters. Women and 
children would reportedly be studying the Bible or involved with chores. Containment 
(cover) personnel would be responsible for isolating and securing the men at the 
construction site, or anyone outside the structure. One SRT team would secure men on 
the first floor, and another would isolate and secure women and children on the second 
floor and clear the towers. Lastly, a third team would secure the second floor weapons 
room and arrest David Koresh. 

It was recognized early on that it would be difficult to approach the Compound 
undetected because of the terrain and remoteness of the area. Therefore, planners opted 
to use two pickup trucks and cattle trailers to transport the raid force to the Compound. 
These vehicles were known to be very common to the area, and consequently would not 
cause alarm or suspicion if driven in the vicinity of the Branch Davidian Compound. 
Surprise and speed of execution were believed critical to achieve success. As the raid 
force arrived at the front of the Compound, three Texas National Guard helicopters 
would arrive shortly before, some distance to the northwest. The presence of helicopters 
would hopefully attract the attention of the men working at the rear of the Compound and 
mask the arrival of the raid force. Once the Branch Davidians and the Compound were 
secure, support personnel would handle arrestees and search for and process evidence. 
A search warrant for a second location associated with the Compound, referred to as the 
"Mag Bag", was to be served simultaneously. This location was a screening point for 
UPS deliveries destined for the Compound, and was manned by cult members. 
Undoubtedly, it also functioned as an early warning system for the Compound. 

The operational plan provided for the assignment of ATF Emergency Medical 
Services (EMS) personnel to each Special Response Team. Medivac helicopters would 
be on standby at the Command Post, and an ambulance and crew would be staged at a 
roadblock position. Unfortunately, it would not be possible for civilian EMS personnel 
and ambulances to accompany the raid force to the Compound because of the potential 
hazard, as well as the fact that their presence would alert the Compound to the 
impending warrant service. Contingency plans provided for the mission to be aborted 
at any time after the raid force left the Staging Area, but prior to the vehicles turning 
into the Compound. The abort decision would be based upon continuous surveillance of 
the location from an undercover site. 

In late 1992, BATE became aware of local media interest in the Branch 
Davidians and David Koresh. Specifically, the Waco Tribune-Herald was preparing a 



B-41 



series of articles on the cult and its leader. Concerned that any article of this nature 
might cause Koresh to become more alert and paranoid about possible law enforcement 
action against him, and prompt an increase of curious onlookers in the area, an ATF 
representative contacted the paper in an effort to delay publication of the series until after 
March 1, 1993. These and subsequent negotiations with the newspaper concerning this 
issue were fruitless. BATF representatives were told that the series would begin as soon 
as it was complete. Eventually, they were advised on February 26, 1993, that the first 
article in the series would be released on February 27, two days before BATF planned 
to serve the warrants. At this point, support persormel and equipment had already 
arrived in the Waco area, and Special Response Teams, along with selected support 
personnel, were rehearsing and training for the operation at Fort Hood, Texas. 
Consequently, it was decided to advance the scheduled date of execution by one day to 
February 28, 1993. The final decision would be kept in abeyance until David Koresh's 
reaction to the first article could be assessed through undercover contacts. These 
contacts revealed nothing untoward at the Compound as a result of the article. It was 
decided that prior to the raid on February 28, one last undercover contact would be 
made. In the meantime, support elements and Special Response Team personnel had 
responded from Fort Hood to a staging area at Bellmead, a Waco suburb, to await the 
final command to proceed with the operation. 

On the morning of February 28, 1993, an undercover contact was made with 
David Koresh. During the conversation, Koresh was interrupted by a cult member and 
advised that England is on the phone. Note: Mark England was one of the reporters 
who wrote the first article. When he returned, according to the undercover agent, 
Koresh was very nervous, quoted the Bible, and remarked to the effect that "the ATF 
and National Guard are coming for me. They 11 never get me. The undercover agent left 
the Compound as soon as he could without arousing suspicion, and provided this 
information personally to the Deputy Tactical Coordinator, and by telephone to the 
Tactical Coordinator. The Tactical Coordinator personally related the information to the 
Incident Commander, and after consultation with him, it was decided the operation could 
still be carried out successfully (even though compromised) if done quickly, before 
Koresh could distribute weapons and prepare his defenses. 

Accordingly, the Tactical Coordinator went to the Staging Area and ordered 
persormel to obtain their equipment, load on the cattle trailers, and respond to the 
Compound to effect service of the warrants. The Tactical Coordinator was in 
conmiunication with the Deputy Tactical Coordinator throughout the 8-mile drive from 
the Staging Area to the Compound, and was given periodic simation reports from the 
undercover surveillance location. Nothing unusual was reported. In fact, no activity at 
all was noted in the vicinity of the Compound. Apparently not recognizing the 
significance of the no activity report (the men were supposed to be working at the 



B-42 



construction site), the convoy continued toward the Compound. While enroute, the 
convoy passed two vehicles, one of which displayed a Waco Tribune-Herald sign on the 
door. These vehicles followed the convoy, unchallenged, almost to the Compound. 
Other media vehicles, perhaps the same, had been noted on the road in front of the 
Compound earlier in the morning by surveillance personnel. However, they were 
believed to be a reaction to the first newspaper article, and not viewed as a threat to the 
warrant service operation. 

After passing the final checkpoint (and last opportunity to abort), the convoy 
turned into the Compound and parked in front of the main structure (approximately 
forty minutes after the undercover agent had reported Koresh knew they were 
coming). As the cattle trailers were being unloaded, the front door opened slightly and 
a man (believed to be Koresh) was seen standing in the doorway. The door was quickly 
shut and gunfire was immediately initiated through the closed door directed at the 
approaching agents. The helicopters arrived simultaneous with the raid force, and were 
almost immediately taken under fire, causing all three to land and subsequently withdraw. 
Only the Special Response Team assigned to secure the arms room was able to reach 
their objective, and although they were able to enter the arms room through a second- 
story window, were forced to exit because of intense gunfire directed at them. Other 
SRT and support personnel were forced to seek cover behind whatever was available. 
Cult members utilized both semi- and fully automatic weapons, as well as fragmentation 
grenades, against the raid force. 

During the ensuing firefight, four agents were killed and at least fifteen 
wounded. Because of the continuing heavy gunfire, it was impossible to remove the dead 
and wounded. A few wounded agents were tended to by assigned EMS personnel, but 
others lay untreated. After approximately an hour, a negotiated cease fire was arranged 
by telephone through the efforts of the Deputy Tactical Coordinator and a lieutenant from 
the McLennan County Sheriff's Department. 

As a result of the cease fire, ambulances and other vehicles were utilized to 
evacuate the dead and wounded. The most seriously wounded were evacuated by 
helicopter once safe landing zones could be established. 

Orders were subsequently given, presumably by the Incident Commander, to 
abandon the Compound entirely. A few agents remained of their own volition to 
maintain loose containment, but eventually, they too were ordered to leave. Because of 
the severity of the situation at the Compound, the search warrant for the "Mag Bag" was 
not served. Later, three men left this location and while attempting to return to the 
Compound, engaged departing BATF agents in a gun battle. One was killed, another 
surrendered, and the third fled but was later captured. Fortunately, a number of local 



B-43 



SWAT teams arrived and assumed containment positions around the Compound. 

As a result of a decision made at high levels of BATF management, control of 
the operation was relinquished to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on March 2, 1993. 
Selected BATF agents remained in support roles until the siege ended on April 19, 1993. 

THE PROBLEM 

Statement of the Problem 

The purpose of this project was: (1) to conduct a selective analysis of the 
planning, preparation, and subsequent attempted service of search/arrest warrants on 
February 28, 1993, by BATF personnel at the Branch Davidian Compound, (2) to 
develop conclusions based upon the analysis of BATF efforts in this regard, and (3) to 
make recommendations related to possible future operational improvements. 

Limitations of the Project 

In accordance with the charter given the evaluator, this project will explore only 
the actions of BATF personnel leading up to, and including, the attempted service of 
search/arrest warrants at the Branch Davidian Compound. It will not address actions of 
the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which assumed control of the operation on March 
2, 1993. 

For simplicity, the non-gender-based pronoun "he" is used in place of "he/she" 
throughout this document, and no inference should be drawn as to gender. 

RESEARCH METHODS 

This project utilized the following data collection methods: 

1. A review of documents, reports, videotapes, and training curricula 
provided by Waco Administrative Review staff. 

2. Personal monitoring of Congressional hearings on June 9 and 10, 1993, 
regarding the operation. 

3. Personal interviews of selected BATF personnel. 

4. A review of available literature related to the subject area. 



B-44 



5. Personal observation of the geographical area surrounding the Branch 
Davidian Compound, as well as the Command Post, undercover residence, 
and Staging Area. 

6. Personal knowledge of contemporary policy, procedure, and training 
within the tactical community. 

7. Extensive personal experience within the field of law enforcement tactical 
operations. 

DEFINITIONS OF TERMS USED 

OPSEC 

An acronym for Operations Security. Developed by the military during the 
Vietnam War, OPSEC is a process by which specific programs or operations are viewed 
from an adversarial perspective to identify possible vulnerabilities. 

TEMS 

An acronym for Tactical Emergency Medical Support. TEMS involves the 
integration of emergency medical services with SWAT/ tactical units. Tactically trained, 
commissioned or non-commissioned paramedics/Emergency Medical Technicians, 
directly provide EMS at the scene of tactical operations. They may be supplemented by 
an on-scene physician(s) operating in either an active or advisory capacity. 

Dynamic Entry 

A type of entry which is sudden, vigorous, and unexpected. 

T.S.T.C./T.S.T.I. 

The Texas State Technical College (T.S.T.C), or Texas State Technical 
Institute (T.S.T.I.). Both terms are used interchangeably in this report. 

B.A.T.F./A.T.F. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (B. A.T.F.), or Alcohol, Tobacco 
and Firearms (A.T.F.). Both terms are used interchangeably in this report. 



B-45 



Chapter 2 

ANALYSIS 

The attempted service of search/arrest warrants by agents of the Bureau of 
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on February 28, 1993, at the Branch Davidian 
Compound near Waco, Texas, was in all probability unprecedented within American law 
enforcement. 

However, although unprecedented, the BATF operation can be examined 
objectively by comparing various phases of the operation with contemporary law 
enforcement/military concepts, principles, and practices. By approaching the analysis 
in this manner, it is possible to reveal both positive aspects as well as areas of 
deficiency. It is important to note that the purpose of conducting this analysis is not to 
castigate or condemn, but rather to learn from what occurred with a view toward future 
improvement. 

PLANNING AND PREPARATION 

Preparing and implementing a comprehensive plan is one of the most important 
factors in achieving operational success. In order to ensure that nothing is left to chance, 
and all foreseeable problems are considered, it is imperative that a definite course of 
action be followed (1:143). 

There is no doubt in the mind of the evaluator that those involved in preparing 
for Operation Trojan Horse fully appreciated the importance of their efforts in achieving 
operational success. Although there were others who provided assistance, the Special 
Response Team Leaders from Dallas, Houston, and New Orleans became the principal 
planners. Over the ensuing weeks, in addition to their other duties, they sought out and 
utilized all sources of information and assistance known to be available to them. After 
considering and evaluating information thus obtained, and relying upon their individual 
and collective experience, both within and outside of law enforcement, they formulated 
a plan of operation which they believed would afford the highest probability of success. 

Tactical Alternatives 

During the course of preparing for Operation Trojan Horse, planners discussed 
and refined a number of tactical alternatives, or options For reasons to be discussed 
subsequently, circumstances prompted them to select a dynamic warrant service, or raid, 
as the most viable of available options. The following alternatives were considered by 
planners: 



B-46 



Take No Enforcement Action 

This alternative was quickly determined to be unacceptable. Numerous 
complaints had been received concerning firearms violations by the Branch Davidians, 
and the violent takeover of leadership by David Koresh from George Roden in 1987, 
along with alleged threats against former cult members, demonstrated a high propensity 
for violence. The BATF simply did not want to risk the added possibility that cult 
members would turn their weapons against members of the community. 

Additionally, the alleged physical and sexual abuse of children at the 
Compound, combined with complaints of inaction and lack of concern by local and 
outside law enforcement agencies, left little, if any, doubt that the problems had to be 
addressed. 

Arrest David Koresh Away From the Compound 

Planners recognized early on that it would be advantageous to arrest David 
Koresh away from the Compound because of the weaponry believed to be maintained 
there, and the obvious control he exercised over the cult members. 

If cooperative after his arrest, Koresh would be asked to call the Compound and 
encourage his followers to comply with instructions of the authorities. In the event 
Koresh refused, the Compound would be notified by authorities of his arrest, and cult 
members instructed not to resist the lawful service of the search warrant. Failure of the 
cult members to comply would result in containment (siege) of the Compound until 
compliance was achieved. 

Plans to lure Koresh from the Compound using the ruse that the Texas Division 
of Children's Protective Services wanted to discuss allegations of child abuse at the 
Compound with him failed when a supervisor at the agency refused to approve the 
request. This avenue apparently was not pursued further. 

Other ruses were discussed and rejected. Additional ideas (follow Koresh to 
town and arrest him, etc.) were also rejected when information was received from the 
undercover site (a residence in view of the Compound) that Koresh had not left the 
Compound in the past two months, and there was nothing to indicate he would do so in 
the immediate future. This information was based upon the belief that the undercover 
location was being operated around the clock, and would have been able to determine if, 
and when, Koresh left the Compound. Unfortunately, this was an honest, but false, 
assumption on the part of planners and others, who should have been able to rely upon 
information provided by undercover agents. 



B-47 



Contain and Call Out (Siege/Negotiate) 

This alternative had been utilized successfully in the past by the BATF — most 
notably in Arkansas during a 1985 joint operation with the FBI to effect service of search 
warrants at a heavily fortified compound. Armed members of a right-wing group known 
as the Covenant of the Sword and Arm of the Lord (CSA), occupied the compound, and 
surrendered after three days of negotiations. 

Although there were similarities in the two cases, information received through 
interviews of disgruntled former cult members and other sources made it apparent that 
this alternative would be extremely risky at the Branch Davidian Compound for the 
following reasons: 

° There was a great risk of mass suicide. 

o The physical and sexual abuse of children could continue. 

o The evidence necessary to prosecute Koresh for firearms violations was 
capable of being destroyed. 

° There was reportedly enough food stored on the Compound to sustain cult 
members for at least three months. Water was also available in quantity. 

o The Compound could continue to be barricaded and fortified. 

° The operation could involve a lengthy commitment in terms of personnel 
and logistics. 

o The resources of local agencies could be strained, and neighboring areas 
disrupted. 

o The lack of sufficient and adequate cover would make it extremely 
difficult to effectively contain the Compound without the use of heavily 
armored vehicles. 

Dynamic Entry (Raid) 

The very nature of a dynamic entry necessitates the existence of three elements 
in order to achieve success: (1) surprise, (2) speed of implementation, and (3) diversion. 
BATF planners were well aware of the significance and importance of these elements, 
as evidenced by their inclusion not only in the tactical plan, but also the rehearsal and 



B-48 



training segments conducted at Fort Hood. 

Experience has shown, and it is generally conceded, that while diversion is not 
always critical to the success of every dynamic operation, surprise and speed are 
absolutely essential. Certainly, if surprise is lost, the likelihood of achieving success is 
reduced greatly, because it is difficult to overcome its compromise through speed and 
diversion. By incorporating all three elements into their dynamic scheme, planners 
ensured a high probability of success, and enhanced the safety of participating agents as 
well as cult members. 

Undercover observations, interviews of former cult members, and patterning of 
cult activities confirmed the selection of this tactical alternative. For example, it was 
determined that: 

o Weapons were stored in a second-floor room at the east side of the 
Compound. 

o Following Bible study, male followers left the Compound structure to 
work on an outside construction project at the west side of the Compound, 
thus separating them from the arms room. 

o Women and children were separated from the men. 

o No armed guards accompanied the men, and it was likely very few, if any, 
persons on the Compound would be armed. 

The successful implementation of the dynamic entry option would prevent mass 
suicide, alleviate the continued physical and sexual abuse of the children, and enable cult 
members held against their wishes to leave. In addition, it would facilitate the arrest of 
David Koresh and the recovery of evidence. 

One of the controversial areas confronted by planners in "selling" this tactical 
alternative was the selection of when the warrants would be served. Generally speaking, 
the most advantageous time of service would be during the hours of darkness or early 
dawn, when occupants are more likely to be asleep. However, in the case of the Branch 
Davidians, intelligence information reflected that several of Koresh's most trusted 
followers, the "Mighty Men", slept with assault rifles under their mattresses. This 
potential threat, along with the estimated number of cult members believed to be in the 
Compound (75), the fact that the men would be close to the arms room, and the size of 
the complex, prompted planners to reject service during the hours of darkness. Instead, 
the decision was made to effect service at 1000 hours, because, as previously noted, 



B-49 



patterning reflected that by then the men would be busy at the construction site at the 
opposite end of the Compound from the arms room, and the women and children would 
be separated from the men, performing their chores elsewhere. 

As mentioned before, planners realized from the outset that the safest and most 
effective alternative available to them was to arrest David Koresh away from the 
Compound. However, relying upon misleading intelligence, and rejection of other 
suggested means of enticing Koresh from the Compound, they abandoned what was 
believed to be the best tactical option. In fairness to the planners, it should be pointed 
out that, with the exception of a few interviews and observations made while 
surreptitiously visiting the areas surrounding the Compound, they had no direct link with 
intelligence providers. Consequently, they were forced to accept intelligence which was 
often considered inconsistent and untimely. 

Lacking the ability to arrest Koresh away from the Compound, and based upon 
the information provided them, planners logically selected the dynamic entry (raid) 
option. 

Tactics and Related Matters 

Having adopted the strategy of using a dynamic approach to effect service of 
the warrants, planners next established the duties and responsibilities of each SRT and 
cover team. These functions have been addressed previously, but briefly stated, the New 
Orleans SRT team was given the assignment of surmounting the roof, securing the arms 
room, and arresting David Koresh if he was encountered. A segment of the same team 
was to maintain a holding position at the warehouse until they were joined by others to 
clear that area. The Dallas SRT team was to enter the front door, go to the second floor, 
clear it, the towers, and chapel, and secure women and children. The Houston Team 
was to enter the front door, clear the first floor, the kitchen, dining area, an underground 
tunnel (a buried school bus), and secure all men encountered. Each SRT team was 
supported by an exterior cover team. Forward Observer Teams (countersniper) were to 
provide long-range cover and support for the SRT and cover teams. This would be the 
first time members of the newly adopted program were deployed on an actual operation. 
Because so many agents would be entering the interior of the Compound, the value of 
the Forward Observer Teams was probably underestimated. Their primary responsibility 
was to provide long-range cover during the approach to the Compound. Planners 
recommended two, two-person Forward Observer Teams be deployed inside the 
undercover residence, which would also act as a forward command post. Also, one, 
two-person team would deploy at the rear of the Compound, along with five BATF 
members who were to clear a series of vehicles and trailers once the raid had 
commenced. Planners had hoped to deploy a fourth team east of the Compound, but it 



B-50 



was felt that the cover and concealment were too sparse to prevent their detection. 

While it is conceded that planners were appreciative of the benefit of deploying 
the new teams, there is little question that realization of their full potential was not 
possible under the described deployment. The desired fourth team could have been 
deployed through the assistance of a cooperative rancher from whom the undercover site 
was obtained. He had offered to place large, tightly rolled hay bales (rolls) strategically 
around his property, which bordered the Compound, to act as surveillance posts. These 
bales could have been placed weeks in advance so they would not have caused the 
Davidians to become suspicious. Their protective value could have been tested 
beforehand by undercover personnel firing into them to determine the best configuration 
in which to arrange the bales. The rancher's offer was noted, but not accepted. 

Deployment of the Forward Observer Teams also created concern. Although 
the two teams at the undercover site arrived the evening before, they did not deploy until 
two hours prior to the raid. The team at the rear of the Compound was not deployed 
until moments before the raid. One of the most important roles performed by a position 
of this type is to surveill the objective continuously, well before the operation begins 
(2:352). Had this team been deployed the night before, the possibility exists that 
valuable intelligence information might have been obtained through their observations. 

Both managers and supervisors are often unfamiliar with the role of 
countersniper teams and their deployment. However, in the case of the BATF, it is 
submitted that this unfamiliarity was complicated by the newness of the program. 
Operation Trojan Horse was literally a "test by fire" for the program, and its members 
proved their worth. In the future, problems can be reduced by assigning a trained and 
experienced coordinator (supervisor) to the program. The coordinator, or his designate, 
would represent Forward Observer Teams at all applicable planning sessions, and 
respond in a supervisorial capacity during deployment. This simple modification will 
increase the likelihood that the teams are utilized to their full potential. Also, it should 
result in a better understanding of their capabilities and limitations. 

Tactical contingencies were considered by planners, including aborting the 
operation at various stages if a compromise occurred. However, as will be addressed 
under Command and Control, planners had no control over those with assigned authority 
to abort the mission. One of the problems with the abort plan was that there was no 
alternative course of action available to decision makers once an abort had been declared. 
For example, and as provided for in the plan, if a compromise occurred while enroute 
to the Compound, the raid force would be ordered to continue past the Compound and 
not carry through with the dynamic warrant service. Had this occurred, what were they 
to do? Remm to the Staging Area? Respond to the Conrniand Post? Apparently, no 



B-51 



provisions were made for this contingency, and if they were, there is no evidence of their 
knowledge by decision makers. Of course, it could be presumed that decision makers 
should know their options in a situation like this. However, one of the purposes of 
planning is to eliminate as many presumptions as possible by providing direction and 
guidance. 

Once the firefight broke out at the Compound, agents found themselves without 
an effective means of withdrawal. Although the use of Bradley Fighting Vehicles was 
discussed by planners as a necessity if the siege alternative was implemented, once the 
dynamic entry option was adopted, their use was de-emphasized. Given the suspected 
weaponry of the Branch Davidians, it would have been advisable to have had at least 
three of these armored vehicles standing by at the Command Post. 

Another problem with the contingency plan arose because there was a lack of 
definite guidance with regard to negotiations. Loose reference was made to the use of 
local agency negotiators, but it appears clear that no one foresaw the necessity to utilize 
them. Unfortunately, the need arose quickly and tragically. Luckily, the Deputy 
Tactical Coordinator had received negotiations training in the past. After David Koresh 
had called 911 and communicated with a Sheriff's Department lieutenant, the Deputy 
Tactical Coordinator made telephone contact with another cult member and negotiated 
a cease fire to evacuate dead and wounded agents. In defense of the planners, it is 
difficult to provide for a negotiations function where none exists. This is an area which 
must be addressed in the future. The experience of the evaluator has been that protracted 
operations involving tactics and negotiations are best managed when negotiators are an 
integral part of the tactical team or unit, and under the same tactical command and 
control. It has been said that perhaps the most critical element of decision making is 
timing (3:69). There are sometimes occasions during the course of tactical operations 
when a resolution can be achieved as a result of a sudden change in circumstances. The 
tactical commander must make what can be a difficult decision at this point. If he must 
also consult with a separate negotiation command prior to implementing the resolution, 
the opportunity may pass and never present itself again. 

Regardless of the negotiations concept utilized, it is absolutely essential that 
tactical, command, and negotiations personnel work together toward the successful 
resolution of the incident. Negotiations and tactics are successful if they assist in any 
way to achieve a positive outcome (4). 

While planners did not select Command Post and Staging Area sites, some had 
an opportunity to view them during a visit to the Waco area in December, 1992. 
Understandably, their interests were more concentrated on surveilling the Compound and 
evaluating tactical options than assessing the location of support sites. Nevertheless, the 



B-52 



selection of these sites can often adversely affect an operation, and for this reason, 
planners should participate in choosing them. 

The selection of the Texas State Technical Institute (College) Airport facility as 
the principal Command Post was logical, based upon necessary requirements. However, 
interviews of some participants reflected concern over the location of the Staging Area 
because of its proximity to a traveled highway, and the fact that arriving vehicles and 
personnel were easily observable. Having viewed the Staging Area during an 
independent post-operation visit, the e valuator shared this concern. Although the location 
was certainly adequate to meet space and comfort requirements, its location adjacent to 
a traveled road, and on an almost direct route to the Compound (albeit 8 miles distant), 
makes its selection questionable. This point is particularly critical when it is considered 
that an estimated 50-100 vehicles were utilized to transport the raid force from Fort 
Hood. Had buses been utilized, it might have been possible to use an area adjacent to 
the Command Post at T. S.T.I, as a staging area. This would probably have been more 
conducive to operations security. Buses could have been obtained commercially, or 
through military sources. 

One way to reduce potential problems with the selection of sites such as these 
is to prepare, and faithfully utilize a printed checklist or form detailing specific 
requirements for the site and emphasizing operations security concerns. This is always 
important, but especially when someone other than the planners are making the selections 



Logistics 

Logistical support of a large-scale operation requires a concerted and 
cooperative effort on the part of planners and those obtaining and providing the requested 
assistance. In addition to existing individual and team SRT equipment, the tactical 
strategy selected will also determine what support and supplemental equipment and 
personnel will be required. Assigning this important, and often critical, responsibility 
to a specific individual will ensure that logistical requirements are met in a timely 
manner. In the case of Operation Trojan Horse, a Support Coordinator was assigned in 
accordance with the BATF National Response Plan, which was implemented for the first 
time as a result of the investigation. 

Because of the geographical distances separating the Support Coordinator and 
individual planners, a request was made asking them to submit a list of desired 
equipment. These lists were then consolidated, and most of the items were obtained or 
borrowed from one source or another. Post-operation interviews with the SRT team 
leaders reflected that they had received all critical equipment they had requested, with 



B-53 



the exception of smoke grenades, which were apparently unavailable from military 
sources. Under the circumstances, smoke grenades might have been of benefit in 
concealing the withdrawal or movement of the raid force. A controversy developed later 
concerning the availability of additional AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, but according to 
the Support Coordinator, all that were requested were received, and if more had been 
requested, they, too, would have been provided. In retrospect, there is no question that 
more could have been utilized. 

With reference to helicopters, it had been the understanding of plaimers that 
necessary aviation assets would be provided by U.S. Customs Service. However, the 
decision was made at a later date to utilize Texas National Guard assets. This assistance 
was obtained with the cooperation of the Department of Defense liaison officer to the 
BATF in Washington, D.C. Whether the decision to utilize National Guard assets was 
based upon politics, rivalry, or practicality is a moot point. In either case, the National 
Guard ultimately committed to providing aviation assistance, armored vehicles on a 
standby basis, and other support equipment. 

Formnately, full-scale, multi-agency activities, approaching the size of 
Operation Trojan Horse, are still rare within law enforcement. Nonetheless, agencies 
must be prepared should they be confronted by circumstances of this namre requiring 
their attention. Logistical support of any operation, and particularly one of great 
magnitude, can have a marked affect on its outcome. Therefore, the assigned 
coordinator must be especially familiar with his role, as well as various sources of 
logistical assistance. 

One approach to ensuring fumre uniformity and directed action in obtaining 
logistical support for an operation is to prepare and provide to each BATF Field Division 
Office a logistical manual. This manual, which would be provided to the Logistical 
Coordinator at the time of his assignment to the position, would contain a full description 
and statement of duties and responsibilities, along with logistical sources, procedures, and 
points of contact. The National Response Plan provides some direction in this regard, 
and that information could easily be expanded into a more helpful format, as described 
above. 

Emergency Medical Services 

One of the areas for which the BATF was most criticized by those with little 
or no knowledge of Operation Trojan Horse was an alleged failure to provide Emergency 
Medical Services (EMS). Research for this report revealed that these allegations were 
patently false. Unfortunately, television coverage of the evacuation of dead and wounded 
agents, and the withdrawal of others, prompted these allegations because there was no 



B-54 



attempt made to explain why ambulances and EMS providers were not immediately at 
the scene when the need arose. 

In actuality, not only were ground ambulance and paramedics requested and pre- 
staged, but so too, was a civilian medivac helicopter. National Guard helicopters would 
be used if additional airborne medivac service was required. Because of the open terrain 
and the need for operations security, EMS assets could not be staged in view of the 
Compound, and for obvious reasons, civilian EMS persoimel could not accompany the 
raid force to the location. Instead, an EMT-trained and -equipped agent was assigned 
to each team. Other medical assets would be brought in from their staging areas if they 
were required. Ultimately, circumstances strained medical resources to the maximum. 
It is unlikely, as a practical matter, that enough resources could have been staged in 
advance to handle the unforeseeable number of casualties that occurred. As a matter of 
fact, the remoteness of the area and the weaponry possessed by cult members, prompted 
extra effort to be exerted in preparing a comprehensive medical plan. Assisting in this 
effort was an Army Special Forces complement, which also provided instruction on 
trauma care to members of the raid force at Fort Hood. This instruction proved of value 
during the operation. 

In addition to providing instruction. Army medics also suggested that members 
of the SRT teams print their blood types on their neck and legs with a marker. This 
questionable suggestion was accepted and implemented. Although this practice might 
have application in the military environment, in the evaluator's opinion, it has no place 
within law enforcement operations. Not only does this practice have an adverse 
psychological effect on team members, and heighten their anxiety, but civilian emergency 
medical facilities are unlikely to accept a patient's assertion of having a particular blood 
type. For reasons of both accuracy and liability, a patient's blood would be typed 
regardless of their claimed knowledge of blood type. 

Because of the almost total dependence of the BATE on outside sources of EMS 
to support their tactical operations, it would prove of benefit to organize an internal 
program within each Special Response Team. 

Within the contemporary law enforcement tactical community, this concept is 
known by the acronym TEMS (Tactical Emergency Medical Support). A few agencies 
have staffed full-time SWAT-trained police paramedics within their tactical units for 
many years, but most are unable to afford this luxury. Instead, some agencies have 
discovered that there are a number of alternative means of integrating this life-saving 
service, albeit on an on-call basis. These alternatives include: 

° Paramedic or EMT-trained agency personnel 



B-55 



o Fire department paramedics or EMTs 

o Private hospital/ambulance paramedics or EMTs 

o Private physicians 

Outside EMS services may be obtained by contract or through a volunteer 
program. Regardless of which is selected, the consensus of those experienced in the field 
is that all EMS personnel be required to complete basic tactical response team, as well 
as periodic in-service, training. A few agencies require EMS personnel to meet their 
tactical response team selection criteria to ensure acceptable physical condition, as well 
as acceptance by team members. 

Integration of EMS capabilities within an agency or team should not be 
considered a substitute for existing civilian EMS providers, but rather a supplement. 
Unlike their civilian counterparts, tactical paramedics and EMT personnel are trained to 
operate in life-threatening situations that may involve an armed adversary (7:56). Not 
only can these specially trained personnel provide almost immediate basic and advanced 
life support care on scene, and occasionally under fire, but they are also a valuable 
tactical planning resource. Planning for a tactical mission should obviously include 
concern for medical care, whether or not an agency maintains an in-house EMS program. 
It should be apparent that when the level of care and medical capability increase, 
potential risk and liability factors diminish (8:55). 

The application of TEMS to BATE operations is obvious. There are 
undoubtedly a sizable number of special agents within the service who are trained and 
certified former paramedics or Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). Those personnel 
whose certifications have expired could be retested and certified. Their ranks could be 
supplemented by civilian EMS volunteers within the various BATE divisions. Activation 
procedures could be aligned with those of Special Response Teams, as outlined within 
the National Response Plan. 

Guidance in developing a program of this nature is available from a number of 
law enforcement and related sources. 

Communications 

A reliable and effective communications system is, of course, a critical factor 
in resolving any major tactical incident. The communications plan for Operation Trojan 
Horse was developed jointly by representatives of the BATE and a Special Eorces unit 
of the U.S. Army. Although some criticism has been directed at the communications 



B-56 



plan, team leaders who were interviewed believed the system addressed operational needs 
and worked well. 

The communications system consisted of secure radios and telephones, as well 
as cellular telephones. Additional equipment was located inside the Command Post at 
T. S.T.I, and the Forward Command Post at the undercover residence. 

Basically, the communications net utilized a separate command channel, a 
channel for each of the three SRT teams and cover teams, and another for the helicopters 
and other support entities. Each SRT team member carried a secure handheld radio, and 
could communicate with other members of the same SRT and cover teams, as well as his 
team leader. In order to communicate with another team or other entities, he had to 
switch to the appropriate channel. 

Team leaders carried two handheld radios with an earpiece in each ear, and 
could communicate on one radio with his SRT and cover teams, and to other team 
leaders and tactical command personnel on the other. The Deputy Tactical Coordinator 
at the Forward Command Post (undercover residence) acted as a relay point for 
communications to the helicopters, the Command Post at T.S.T.I., and all support 
entities, either directly or through a radio van which was staged for maximum 
communications capability. 

Minor complaints from SRT personnel referred to the awkwardness of changing 
channels on their radios and, of course, the team leaders adjusting and manipulating two 
radios. While the BATF radios were secure, local agency communications were not. 
This undoubtedly explains the assertion by some area residents that they were able to 
monitor the operation on their scanners. 

Although it would have been of future value to tape record all channels utilized 
during the operation, the radio van only had the capability of recording the command 
channel, and this was apparently done. 

Intelligence Function 

One of the recognized basic principles of intelligence is that tactical operations 
and intelligence are interdependent. Intelligence does not exist for its own sake, but to 
assist in executing operational missions (5:8). 

Like any large-scale operation, planning for the service of search and arrest 
warrants at the Branch Davidian Compound relied heavily on intelligence sources. These 
sources included: 



B-57 



o Interviews of selected former cult members 

o Other law enforcement agencies 

o Undercover contacts 

o Undercover surveillance 

o Aerial photographs 

o Criminal records checks 

o Court documents 

o Information from neighbors 

In order to obtain the most pertinent information, planners prepared a list of 
thirty-eight questions to ask of former cult members. Responses were compared to 
confirm or refute information provided. The results of these interviews proved very 
beneficial, when supplemented by other sources, in developing the operational plan. 
Information from other sources was provided intermittently to planners through reports 
and documents screened by the assigned case agent and the Tactical Coordinator. 
Although an Intelligence Coordinator was assigned to the operation, as prescribed by the 
National Response Plan, this assigrmient was made during the latter stages of planning. 
Through no fault of the person assigned, he had little oppormnity to contribute to the 
intelligence effort. 

As the planning phase progressed, the most current information was provided 
by undercover persoimel residing at a house across the road from the Compound. The 
undercover operation conmienced on January 11, 1993, on a twenty-four-hour basis, with 
eight undercover agents assigned. According to those agents interviewed, initial 
instructions regarding their mission were minimal, and no supervisor was assigned to the 
house to oversee the operation. For this reason, undercover agents decided among 
themselves what information should be gathered and what work schedules should be 
followed. Agents rotated shifts, with four on-duty and four off. Periodic logs of activity 
were kept, and efforts were directed toward confirming or refuting information provided 
by former cult members. Logs and reports were forwarded to the case agent for review 
and dissemination. Surveillance of the Compound continued on a twenty-four-hour basis 
for two weeks, during which time David Koresh was never seen leaving the Compound. 
At the end of two weeks, undercover persoiuiel decided on their own that there was 
nothing occurring at night to warrant surveillance. Accordingly, they agreed to watch 



B-58 



the location only during the hours of daylight. It is important to note that tactical 
planners believed the undercover operation was being conducted twenty-four-hours a day, 
and relied upon information provided them on that basis. 

Shifts and assignments were established and changed by the agents on a regular 
basis, and lacking any supervision or direction, it is to their credit that surveillance was 
conducted with any regularity at all. 

Undercover agents were provided with 35mm cameras, lenses, and a video 
camera. Unfortunately, no one was familiar with the equipment, and the quality of the 
photographs taken reflected this lack of expertise. Complaints about the quality of the 
photos, which were developed primarily in Austin for security reasons, were not 
accompanied by suggestions for improvement. Requests for additional equipment, i.e., 
night vision equipment to replace an inoperable set provided initially, and technical 
support in other areas, proved fruitless. A "pole" camera placed on the property of a 
local resident was of negligible value, and had to be removed at the insistence of the 
property owner. No assistance or direction was forthcoming, and undercover agents 
began to feel isolated and neglected. As a result, surveillance became more and more 
sporadic. 

After several weeks, and apparently in response to concerns about the 
undercover house, a superior from the Houston office visited the agents. Complaints 
were aired and a number of changes made. However, with the exception of placing 
increased emphasis on infiltrating the Compound, as directed by BATF Headquarters, 
these changes had little influence on the surveillance. Finally, a supervisor was assigned 
to oversee undercover activities. He seldom came to the undercover house, however, 
and basically became a point of contact and drop-off point for exposed film and reports 
at either the Command Post or an undercover safe house in Waco. 

According to agents, cult members occasionally visited them. During the first 
visit, they inquired who the agents were and why they were staying at the house. Agents 
did not believe cult members were suspicious of them or their cover stories. The 
undercover agent who had met with David Koresh on several occasions inside the 
Compound shared this belief. 

Two weeks prior to the raid, four of the undercover agents were removed, 
because of their assignment as part of the raid force. The four remaining agents 
sporadically surveilled the Compound through the day of the raid. 

As mentioned earlier, intelligence and tactical operations are interrelated. The 
importance of this relationship in terms of operational success cannot be over- 



B-59 



emphasized. Establishment of the undercover surveillance operation to confirm 
information obtained from other sources certainly reflects concern for this relationship. 
Be that as it may, establishing an undercover operation without providing definite 
direction regarding objectives and expectations, and supervision to ensure acceptable 
compliance, demonstrates a lack of appreciation and understanding of the intelligence 
function. Undercover agents had every right to expect oversight guidance and feedback 
related to the usefulness of their efforts. When it wasn't received, their response in 
making decisions on their own was understandable, and should have been foreseen. 

Any item of equipment provided should have been accompanied by instruction 
on its care and utilization. To expect acceptable results without ensuring agents are 
capable of operating the equipment is absurd. 

Supervision of the undercover operation should have been an integral part of the 
assignment from its inception, and assurance given that whatever support was required 
by the agents would be provided as expeditiously as possible. 

This seeming lack of understanding of the intelligence function can perhaps best 
be addressed in the future through in-service training at all levels likely to be involved 
in a full-scale tactical operation. Future operational plaiming might also make better use 
of divisional Intelligence Research Specialists (IRS), and their training modified to 
emphasize the interrelationship of intelligence and tactical operations. One of the 
intelligence-related issues disclosed during Congressional hearings on June 9-10, 1993, 
involved the use of electronic surveillance and listening devices. Those who testified 
from the BATF expressed doubt that approval would have been granted for such 
intrusions at the Compound. Whether or not this is true is for others to determine, but 
it goes without saying that such devices could have easily confirmed the raid on February 
28 had been compromised. There is no doubt that additional information of potential 
tactical, as well as evidentiary value, could also have been obtained. Hopefully, as a 
result of both the Congressional inquiry and that conducted by the Waco Administrative 
Review, enabling legislation will be pursued (if indeed none exists) to prevent this 
problem from occurring in the future. 

Briefing 

One of the most important, but often neglected, elements of a successful warrant 
service is a comprehensive briefing. If conducted properly, a briefing can develop 
confidence in both the planners and the operation (1:147). Because of the extreme 
magnitude of Operation Trojan Horse, the duration of the investigation that preceded it, 
and the number of agents involved from different geographical areas, the task of making 
everyone aware of their duties and responsibilities was enormous. For the most part, the 



B-60 



Tactical Coordinator assumed this responsibility. Prior to the date of implementation, 
briefings were held for different entities at several locations, including Waco and Fort 
Hood. 

Operational personnel (SRT and direct support) attended a number of briefings in 
conjunction with the rehearsal and training sessions at Fort Hood. Tactical briefings of 
SRT team members included visual aids, such as ground/aerial photographs, diagrams, 
and maps. Briefings were also conducted for support personnel at Fort Hood. It would 
appear from statements made that most of those who participated believed the briefings 
adequately addressed their questions and concerns. 

Nonetheless, forward observers took exception to this belief. They reportedly 
received no specific direction regarding their mission, and were not invited to attend any 
briefings other than that held for support personnel. When two forward observers 
attempted to attend a meeting of SRT teams, they were told it wouldn't be necessary. 
A meeting which was supposed to take place between forward observers and SRT team 
leaders did not occur. Forward observers learned of the planned tactical deployment of 
the SRT teams by observing the rehearsal training, which they found helpful. Whether 
this unfortunate situation was an oversight or the result of unfamiliarity with the program 
is unknown, but it was certainly preventable. 

One method of making certain that all participants are aware of their role and what 
is expected of them is to conduct a mandatory general briefing. This briefing should not 
replace separate specialized briefings, but rather supplement them by ensuring that 
everyone from a particular entity involved is aware of the general role and relationship 
of others in carrying out the operation. It was reported by one participant that there were 
many briefings conducted at Fort Hood, and if a person's concerns weren't addressed at 
one briefing, they would surely be discussed at another. Again, a comprehensive 
follow-up general briefing might have reduced the number of briefings required. 

A printed briefing checklist or format can also be of benefit when the size of an 
operation requires conducting multiple briefings. 

The importance of a comprehensive briefing in achieving operational success cannot 
be stressed too strongly. No matter how well an operation is planned, it is essential that 
participants be properly briefed regarding their role in its implementation. 

Training/Rehearsal 

The relationship between quality training and successful performance has been well 
established. From all indications, the training and rehearsal conducted over a three-day 



B-61 



period at Fort Hood was well planned, relevant to the tasks required, and prepared those 
involved for the assignments they were to perform. 

Fort Hood, Texas, was selected for training and rehearsal purposes because of the 
excellent quality of training sites and ranges there, as well as the security a military base 
would provide. 

Personnel arrived at the base at staggered times and dates, but the majority were 
present for training on February 26 and 27. During briefing sessions, they were 
cautioned about operations security and admonished not to wear any law enforcement- 
identifiable articles of clothing when off the post. This was necessary because they were 
billeted on the post, but allowed to eat off post. 

Much of the SRT training was conducted at the Military Operations in Urban 
Terrain (MOUT) site, which contained structures similar to those expected to be 
encountered. Following briefing, SRT teams practiced entry techniques, and later, each 
team rehearsed their particular roles in executing the plan. Loading and unloading of the 
cattle trailers were also rehearsed. Glass was inserted in window frames to enable team 
members who would be breaking windows to practice proper technique, and teams which 
would be deploying flash/sound diversionary devices (flashbangs) rehearsed proper 
deployment. Special Forces personnel at the site assisted in duplicating the floor plans 
of Compound buildings with marking tape to facilitate movement and deployment 
exercises, and generally assisted in creating as realistic an environment as possible. 

:il( Once support elements arrived, the entire raid force rehearsed loading and 

unloading the trailers and deploying to their assigned areas. Reportedly, after repetitive 
training, the raid force was able to exit the trailers in eight seconds. The truck/trailers 
were also driven the same distance as the Staging Area to the Compound to determine 

\"}l'J. necessary driving time. 

,-t' 

SRT team members who would be ascending ladders to the second-story roof 

practiced deploying and climbing them until their Team Leader was satisfied with timing 

t and proficiency. Later, SRT team members test- fired their weapons. Forward observers 

j| i zeroed their rifles for the distances within which they would be working, and agents who 

would be carrying AR-15 rifles were required to fire a qualification course. 

The time spent at Fort Hood also provided an opportunity for the Tactical 
Coordinator and Team Leaders to review and refine the tactical plan. The general 
consensus of those participating in the training and rehearsal at Fort Hood was that it was 
very helpful, and adequately prepared them for the anticipated warrant service. SRT 
team leaders believed their teams were well prepared, and expressed some concern that 



B-62 



they were overtrained. 
COMMAND AND CONTROL 

The term command describes the exercise of complete authority to direct the actions 
of others. It also describes those factors necessary to manage a crisis simation. Control 
is often confused with command, and while closely related, the two are considered 
inseparable by the military (1 1:12). It is not unusual for a person to be in command and 
not be in control. Conversely, it is possible for a person to be in control but not in 
command, due to the fact that it is not possible for a person in command to control every 
aspect of the tactical organization he directs This description is especially appropriate, 
because the issue of command and control is perhaps the most significant area of concern 
in evaluating the outcome of Operation Trojan Horse. 

Decisions Impacting the Operation 

While there were other problems of significance which occurred prior to the date 
of implementation (discussed elsewhere), they are eclipsed by the command decisions 
which were made, and not made, on the day of the operation. From the outset, it should 
be noted that nothing has been provided the evaluator which would reflect that command 
personnel performed unprofessionally, or with the intention of purposely hampering the 
safe conduct of the operation. 

There is no doubt that command personnel were well-intentioned, dedicated 
professionals, and performed their duties and responsibilities within the limits of their 
capacity However, research for this project revealed that they were not prepared, m 
terms of knowledge and experience, for the assignments they were called upon to 
perform. Once under way, the magnihide and size of the operation simply overwhelmed 
them, in spite of their extensive efforts to "make everything work". 

Although other areas could be addressed here, the main emphasis will be placed 
upon decisions and actions which directly, rather than indirectly, affected the outcome 
of the operation. 

o When word was received from the undercover agent that David Koresh 
had received a telephone call, and apparently as a result of the call, 
announced he knew the ATF and National Guard were coming for him, 
the operation should have at least been delayed or postponed by the 
Incident Commander, because any chance of surprise had been lost. 

o The decision to proceed with haste based upon the belief that surprise 



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wasn't necessary was ill advised. To have stood any chance of success 
without surprise, the raid force would have to have been positioned at the 
Compound ready to proceed the minute Koresh was alerted to the raid. 

The fact that continuing surveillance revealed no activity 
outside the Compound prior to, and during, the movement 
of the raid force from the Staging Area should have been 
viewed as significant, since the separation of the men 
from the arms room was critical to the safe conduct of the 
raid. The operation should have been aborted by the 
Tactical Coordinator while enroute to the Compound, if 
not before. 

The observation of two press vehicles in close proximity to the 
Compound while the raid force was enroute, when combined with the 
report of inactivity outside the Compound, should have confirmed the 
obvious. The operation had been compromised, and the raid should have 
been aborted by the Tactical Coordinator. 

The Deputy Tactical Coordinator should have questioned the initial 
decision to proceed with the operation, based upon his personal interview 
of the undercover agent, the inactivity outside the Compound, and his 
observation of press vehicles on the farm road in front of the Compound. 
Following the decision to proceed, since he had abort authority, the 
Deputy Tactical Coordinator should have encouraged the Tactical 
Coordinator to abort the mission while the raid force was enroute to the 
Compound. 

The fact that the described observations were all reported by the Deputy 
Tactical Coordinator to the Command Post at T. S.T.I, did not relieve him 
from the responsibility of questioning what should have been viewed as 
an inappropriate and hasty decision. 



n., o SRT Team Leaders should have questioned the Tactical Coordinator's 

'^i' orders to proceed with the raid, based upon his announcement that the 

Davidians knew they were coming. The Team Leaders, above all others, 
knew the importance of surprise in safely carrying out their mission. 

o The Incident and Deputy Incident Commanders should have remained at 
the T. S.T.I. Command Post, as provided in the operational plan. They 
should not have accompanied the helicopters. By so doing, they seriously 



B-64 



reduced their decision-making ability at a critical time, and effectively 
eliminated their access by subordinate supervisors. The fact that the 
command helicopter was struck by gunfire from the Compound and 
forced to land in an adjacent field, confirms this point. 

The Tactical Coordinator should have been located inside the Forward 
Command Post. Because he was probably the most knowledgeable of the 
entire operation, his ability to recognize significant activities at the 
Compound and act upon them could have been invaluable. In addition, 
this location would have removed him from the additional pressures 
created by accompanying the raid force. 

The Deputy Tactical Coodinator should have been assigned to accompany 
the raid force. This would have placed a high level of supervision with 
the raid force and, in conjunction with the Tactical Coordinator, 
facilitated any decisions that may have been required while enroute or 
following their arrival at the Compound. 

The decision to abandon the Compound once dead and wounded agents 
had been evacuated was unprecedented within the evaluator's experience. 
Doing so caused confusion, frustration, and embarrassment to agents 
involved, and created the risk that cult members might escape into the 
City of Waco and elsewhere, endangering the lives of those with whom 
they came in contact. At the very least, forward observer positions 
should have been maintained and reinforced, perhaps with an APC which 
had been provided by the National Guard, to contain the situation until 
additional armored vehicles could be brought in to further strengthen the 
positions. 

The Tactical Coordinator assumed more responsibility throughout the 
operation than could reasonably be managed. Although some areas were 
delegated to others, it seems apparent in retrospect that he was 
overburdened with details that should have been the responsibility of 
others. 

The decision not to effect service of the search warrant at the "Mag Bag" 
posed a potential threat to personnel manning the roadblock at the 
intersection of Loop 340 and Farm Road 2491. It is fortunate that the 
armed occupants chose to make an attempt to join fellow cult members 
at the Compound, rather than engage roadblock personnel in a gunfight. 
As related elsewhere, one of the three was killed after engaging special 



B-65 



agents elsewhere while enroute to the Compound, and two were taken 
into custody. 

Since the subsequent end of the siege at the Branch Davidian Compound on 
April 19, 1993, it has often, and understandably, been asked, why, considering 
everything that happened prior to the attempted service of warrants at the Compound, 
would anyone even entertain thoughts of proceeding with the operation? Certainly, all 
command level personnel wanted the operation to succeed. Then why did they fail to 
recognize what now seems so obvious? A few possible explanations include the 
following: 

° The scope and magnitude of the operation were unprecedented and 
overwhelming. 

o The collective lack of experience in crisis management and tactical 
operations made the decision-making process more difficult. 

o The large accumulation of manpower and resources created an instinctive 
reluctance to cancel, postpone or abort the operation. 

o The lack of another planned alternative if the raid was aborted, i.e., 
contain and negotiate, caused a built-in reluctance to cancel the operation. 

° The belief that something had to be done to resolve the continuing 
situation at the Compound. 

Whether any or all of these explanations played a role in the decision to proceed 
may never be known. However, regardless of their well-intentioned reasoning, it can 
be said that decision makers took a calculated risk which did not succeed. 

Finally, it must be recognized that what now appears obvious may not have 
been so apparent under the pressures of command. 

Organization and Structure 

When conducting an operational analysis, it is always easiest to identify a 
deficiency and attribute it to an individual. Unfortunately, doing so fails to address why 
the deficiency existed in the first place. In the case of Operation Trojan Horse, it is 
suggested that the root cause lies within the organization itself, specifically the manner 
in which command personnel are assigned to tactical operations. 



B-66 



As prescribed by the BATF National Response Plan, whenever a sector 
(comprised of three or more SRTs) is activated for an operation, certain organizational 
requirements are mandated. Specifically, the Special Agent In Charge (SAC) of the 
division within which the incident occurs is designated the Incident Commander. Other 
SACs of divisions within the sector are required to provide SRT and other support, and 
one SAC is designated the Deputy Incident Commander. 

The position of Tactical Coordinator is designated by the Incident Commander, 
and he is required to have completed SRT training. The Tactical Coordinator is assisted 
by a designated Deputy Tactical Coordinator, who must also be SRT trained. In 
addition, a Support Coordinator is designated by the Incident Commander, and he in turn 
is authorized to designate subordinate positions to assist him; i.e.. Intelligence 
Coordinator, Logistical Support Supervisor, etc. The basic duties and responsibilities of 
each of the positions described above, as well as those of Headquarters superior and 
subordinate persoimel, are contained within the National Response Plan. 

This organizational (Command and Control) concept is similar in many respects 
to that utilized by the majority of civilian law enforcement agencies, and, it is submitted, 
responsible for a myriad of problems which have and continue to adversely affect tactical 
operations. If most law enforcement officers at an operational level were to be asked 
what consistently caused the greatest difficulty or failure of a tactical operation in which 
they were involved, the overwhelming response would be decisions made, or not made, 
by command personnel. This unfortunate impediment to success in tactical operations 
is not necessarily prompted by an organizational concept. Some organizational structures 
are better than others, and it should be recognized that the BATF model is better than 
most, though ponderous in some areas. 

Rather, the problem is caused by personnel who are assigned to critical 
command positions by policies that direct the designation because of rank, and not 
ability. Assigning command personnel in this manner presumes that all persons of the 
rank required to fill the position are equally knowledgeable, experienced, and capable. 
This unfortunate, and often destructive, assumption is made almost universally within the 
organizational structure of American law enforcement. There is no intention on the part 
of the evaluator to imply that all command personnel assigned to direct tactical operations 
are unqualified and incapable of so doing. This would be an absurd implication. But 
by the same token, some command personnel, though highly capable and effective within 
other areas of law enforcement operations, may find it difficult, if not impossible, to 
function effectively within the tactical environment, where life and death decisions may 
have to be made with little consultation and time for contemplation. Instead, the 
evaluator' s intention is to strongly suggest that only those command personnel who are 
qualified by virtue of training and experience and possess the proven ability to make 



B-67 



decisions under pressure be utilized to direct tactical operations. To do otherwise is to 
increase both risk and liability, to say nothing of inviting disaster. 

Fortunately, the incidence of tragedy and failure of tactical operations has been 
remarkably low. But, oftentimes, success has sadly been achieved in spite of command, 
not because of it. These are admittedly strong words. However, they are uttered not out 
of ignorance, but instead out of sincere concern, rooted in many years of experience at 
both the operational and command levels of tactical operations. Of all the decisions 
which are made during crisis situations, none has more impact on a successful resolution 
than the selection of the commander. It is this person who will set the tone and tempo 
for the actions which are to follow (11:10). 

It would be unfair to be critical of the existing BATF concept without offering 
alternative solutions. Consequently, the following suggestions for organizational and 
strucmral improvement are offered for consideration. 

1. Develop a cadre of command personnel, presumably, but not necessarily, 
at the SAC level who are trained in crisis management and SRT 
operations, hopefully experienced (within or outside of BATF), and whose 
decision-making ability under pressure is proven. 

In the event of a sector operation, and presuming the affected SAC is not 
a member of the cadre, a SAC who is a member would be assigned as the 
Incident Commander. The non-cadre SAC would assume the role of 
Deputy Incident Commander, and any other sector SACs would have no 
command responsibility or assignment. Note: The temptation to allow 
unassigned sector SACs to participate as observers at the Command Post, 
or elsewhere, should be avoided. Their presence could have an adverse 
effect on the decision-making process, and encourage the practice of 
"decision by committee", which, in the opinion of the evaluator, has little, 
if any, place in law enforcement tactical operations. The obvious 
possibility of friction occurring between the assigned Incident Commander 
and the SAC of the affected division must be anticipated, and dealt with 
through tact and diplomacy. Hopefully, as the benefits of the concept are 
realized, acceptance will result. 

2. Develop a similar cadre, presumably, but not necessarily, at the AS AC 
level to staff the position of Tactical Coordinator. The same training 
required of the Incident Command cadre would be required of this group, 
but special emphasis should be placed upon tactical operations. 

The procedure for assigning these personnel would be identical to that 
described for the assignment of Incident Commanders. 



B-68 



Following initial training, both groups would be required to participate in formal 
in-service training, at least quarterly. 

Suggestions 1 and 2 presume the retention of division SRTs as presently 
constituted. 

3. Develop full-time SRT teams at the sector level. These multi-functional 
teams would respond according to specific written criteria, and all division 
offices would be mandated to request their services if the planned 
operation met the stated criteria. Sector teams would not assume the day- 
to-day responsibilities carried out by division SRT teams. The teams 
would possess their own chain of command, including staffing the 
positions of Incident Commander and Tactical Coordinator during 
activations. The affected division SAC would assume the role of Deputy 
Incident Commander, and logically, his personnel would staff support 
positions. 

Full-time sector teams would be equipped with all contemporary weapons 
and logistics believed necessary to carry out their assigned mission. Their 
munitions inventory would include flash/sound diversionary devices and 
a full range of chemical agents, as well as other less-lethal devices. 
Teams would be required to train a minimum of twenty-five percent of 
their on-duty time (generally, once each week). This concept would 
include integrated negotiation, EMS, and forward observer (countersniper) 
capabilities. In major metropolitan areas, where sector teams might be 
required to respond, agreements should be reached with civilian law 
enforcement teams to reduce the possibility of friction or jurisdictional 
disputes. 

Implementation of full-time sector SRT teams would undoubtedly impact 
existing divisional teams. Although the intention of this suggestion is not 
to eliminate divisional teams, availability of acceptable personnel to staff 
six sector teams may well require the dissolution of most. Were this to 
occur, affected divisions would undoubtedly find it necessary to rely upon 
local law enforcement teams for assistance in handling those situations not 
justifying the request of a sector team — much as they have done in the 
past. 

Whether or not this concept is adopted, all SACs and ASACs should receive 
comprehensive training in tactically related crisis management. Division SRT teams not 
dissolved in the adoption of the full-time sector team concept should be allocated 



B-69 



additional training time to equal at least two times per month. Of course, if the full-time 
concept is not adopted, then all division teams should receive the additional training time. 

The sophistication and perishable nature of skills necessary to perform 
effectively within the contemporary tactical environment require that adequate time be 
allotted for their maintenance. Training conducted twice each month should be 
considered the absolute minimum. 

The practice of maintaining an SRT team within one division, supervised by a 
Team Leader from another should be reviewed. Although nothing was originally 
developed to indicate this is posing a problem, there is a possibility that it could in the 
future. It is presumed this situation developed because of a void of interested or 
qualified personnel within the affected divisions. Assigning a Team Leader from another 
division places that person in the position of not being able to directly influence his team, 
except during the minimal training time presently allotted, and actual deployment. In 
addition, the caseload at his division of assignment would add to the difficulties of 
supervising and directing team activities. 

Also, as a part of the overall review of the SRT program, it may be of benefit 
to evaluate the existing selection criteria, as well as the SRT training curriculum, to 
ensure they are in line with contemporary law enforcement tactical team standards. 

Lastly, it is strongly suggested that SRT Team Leaders and Tactical 
Coordinators, under either the present or modified/new system, meet at least annually 
with their counterparts from other Federal agencies. These meetings could be hosted by 
a different agency each session, and that agency's members would be responsible for 
organizing the program and scheduling presenters. These meetings would ensure that 
teams share information, develop enhanced interagency cooperation, and remain 
contemporary within the field of tactical operations. It is important that guest speakers 
from civilian law enforcement teams be periodically included as presenters, so that 
attendees can share in their experience and expertise as well. 

Many additional factors and details would have to be addressed prior to 
implementing either of the programs suggested, but it should be emphasized that 
command and control issues must be viewed as critical if maximum effectiveness is to 
be realized. Adoption of any of the suggestions noted would, of course, require changes 
and modifications to the existing BATF National Response Plan. 

OPERATIONS SECURITY 

The concept of Operations Security, or OPSEC, was defined and labeled during 



B-70 



the Vietnam conflict. Whether applied formally or informally, OPSEC is a process of 
looking at specific programs or operations from the perspective of an adversary. 
Operations security is threat driven. Therefore, if there are no perceived threats, there 
are no perceived vulnerabilities, and the OPSEC process is not needed (6:19). 

Like other governmental agencies, i.e., FBI, Secret Service, etc., the BATE 
subscribes to the OPSEC concept, and has used it in the past. The unprecedented scope 
of Operation Trojan Horse clearly called for the implementation of the OPSEC concept 
at all levels and phases of the operation. However, it would appear that while everyone 
involved in planning and preparation believed in and supported the OPSEC process, the 
magnimde and requirements of the operation often caused other priorities to take 
precedence. The most critical information to be protected during Operation Trojan Horse 
was, of course, the fact that the BATE was going to effect service of search and arrest 
warrants at the Branch Davidian Compound at a particular date and time. The following 
list of possible indicators from which the Branch Davidians or their supporters could 
have predicted the intended actions of the BATE expose deficiencies in the application 
of OPSEC principles: 

° The lodging of all support personnel in Waco. 

Even though personnel were scheduled to arrive at staggered dates and 
times, the possibility of local residents, hotel, and other business people 
noticing the influx was presumably high. The City of Waco (population 
over 103,000) is certainly large enough to absorb the number of support 
personnel lodged there, especially since a number of hotels were used. 
Be that as it may, their presence, combined with other indicators, may 
have increased detection of the unpending warrant service. Perhaps some 
of the support personnel could have been lodged south of Waco, in 
Temple, Texas. 

o Departure of the raid force from Fort Hood. 

As mentioned elsewhere in this report, the long line of government and 
rental cars moving in convoy caused great concern to those involved m 
operational planning. Buses could have been used to reduce, if not 
eliminate, this concern. If for some reason this was not possible, vehicles 
should have been incrementally scheduled to depart Eort Hood. 

o Selection of the Bellmead Staging Area. 

Although the Bellmead site was spacious, convenient, and comfortable, 
the accumulation of vehicles, both during arrival and after, combined with 
personnel dressed in tactical uniforms, had to peak the interest of anyone 
who observed these activities. While it is not known if those who saw 



B-71 



the activity at the Staging Area were Branch Davidian members or 
supporters, the fact remains that this information could have found its 
way to the Compound, or at the very least, local media. The utilization 
of bus transportation from Fort Hood might have reduced congestion at 
the Bellmead site, but as suggested earlier, an area adjacent to the 
T. S.T.I. Command Post might have been more secure. 

Brieflng at the Waco Best Western Hotel. 

The briefing conducted at the Best Western Hotel the evening of February 
27, 1993, was attended by an estimated 75-100 personnel representing 
Federal, state, and local agencies. The location of the site, and the 
number of personnel and agencies attending, would seem to reflect a high 
risk of detection. Operations security might have been better served by 
scheduling the briefing at a law enforcement or other government facility. 

Multi-agency involvement. 

There is always a risk of an inadvertent or intentional breach of security 
when multiple agencies become involved in a joint operation. This is not 
to say that local law enforcement or civilian support agencies in Waco 
were untrustworthy. The intent is only to identify possibilities. 

Meetings with the media. 

The area of media involvement will be addressed separately in this report. 
However, suffice it to say that meetings held with the Waco Tribune- 
Herald were a calculated risk that violated operations security. 

FAA airspace restriction. 

The evaluator has no knowledge of BATF or National Guard policy 

relative to the restriction of airspace prior to an operation. If policy 

i. I requires restriction, then it was necessarily followed. However, lacking 

a policy requirement, it is suggested that airspace should not have been 

restricted. The published restriction of airspace in an area as rural as that 

K;; I in which the Compound was located would seem to unnecessarily increase 

il' i suspicion in the minds of local pilots. In point of fact, one of the cult 

members was a pilot. 

° Counter-intelligence capabilities of David Koresh. 

Though perhaps not possessing a formal counter-intelligence network, 
there seems little doubt that David Koresh had the capability to gather 
intelligence from cult members outside the Compound, as well as 
supporters. This capability undoubtedly included the use of computers. 



o 



B-72 



It is well established that the rural mailman, a cult member himself, was 
an often-used source of information. 

o Contacts with local businesses. 

The influx of support personnel into the Waco area created a 
corresponding necessity for them to utilize local facilities, i.e., 
restaurants, cocktail lounges, markets, etc. Although they were cautioned 
about the need for operations security, it is possible that suspicion could 
have been created in the minds of local patrons by something said, or not 
said, by support personnel. The same can be said for local law 
enforcement and civilian support personnel, who may have confided 
information to friends or relatives. 

By reviewing the indicators listed previously from the perspective of an 
adversary, it can readily be seen that the existence of effective operations security for 
Operation Trojan Horse was highly unlikely. 

It is apparent that improvement in the area of OPSEC is necessary to increase 
the chance of success in fumre sensitive operations. 

MEDIA INVOLVEMENT 

Law enforcement activities comprise a significant portion of information 
released by the press, and recent large-scale incidents, including Operation Trojan Horse, 
have generated a great deal of concern over how the media covers these events. Today, 
networks have the technological capability to present events live — any time, any place. 
The electronic media in the United States live or die by their ratings. As a result, each 
network wants to be the first with the most on any big story (12:15). 

It goes without saying that there must be a cooperative effort on the part of both 
law enforcement and the media to provide basic information to the public without 
glorifying the perpetrators of crime, jeopardizing the public safety, or compromising 
tactical operations. 

In the recent past, the BATF initiated a program of selectively inviting the news 
media to accompany their personnel on warrant services. This was done in the spirit of 
cooperation to improve and maintain a positive relationship with the press. Long-term, 
sensitive investigations requiring tightly controlled security to decrease the chance of 
compromise were the exception. In these situations, the media representatives were 
made aware of the operation following its conclusion. This was the posture taken by the 
BATF for Operation Trojan Horse. A Public Information Officer assigned for that 



B-73 



purpose would be responsible for preparing a press release at the conclusion of the 
operation, and notifying appropriate print and electronic media. 

Unfortunately, late in the investigation it became known that the Waco Tribune- 
Herald newspaper was preparing to release a seven-part article on David Koresh, his 
followers, and their activities. Concerned that these articles, depending upon their 
content, might compromise the operation, or at least cause David Koresh to become more 
suspicious, the decision was made to contact the newspaper in an attempt to persuade 
them to delay publication of the articles. The first meeting with the Tribune-Herald 
proved of little value, because the BATF mistakenly believed the newspaper was 
amenable to delaying the story. A subsequent meeting a few days before the planned 
raid proved equally unproductive. The Incident Commander was basically told that the 
seven-part article would be published as soon as it was ready, and that the most 
important issue was the "public's right to know." The position of the Waco Tribune- 
Herald in refusing to delay publication is difficult to justify. They must have realized 
the calculated risk BATF was taking by confiding in them to begin with, and since one 
of their complaints was that law enforcement was doing nothing to deal with the 
problems at the Compound, logic would dictate they would want to cooperate. Waiting 
until the warrants were served at the Compound could only strengthen the story when it 
was published. Their reliance on the well-worn adage of the "public's right to know" 
is without substance. They were not being asked to withhold information from the 
public, only to delay providing it in the interest of safety, both of the agents involved and 
cult members. 

Interestingly, in an editorial published by the Tribune-Herald as a supplement 
to their reprint of the original seven-part article, the Editor admitted the newspaper 
received information from a "confidential source" on Saturday, February 27, that the 
ATF raid would take place on Sunday, February 28. He then went on to deny the rumor 

,f ^ that someone at the paper had alerted the Davidians about the raid on February 28 (13). 

1 * ii It is unfortunate that this issue cannot be explored further. However, pending litigation 

precludes additional discussion of the Herald-Tribune's possible role in the outcome of 

Ipili Operation Trojan Horse. 

e||! In retrospect, it seems apparent that the contacts with the Tribune-Herald should 

w not have been made. As a result of media involvement before, during, and subsequent 

to Operation Trojan Horse, and allegations of media notification prior to the raid, the 

need for a review of the BATF press policy is evident. 

Previously, the necessity for cooperation between law enforcement and the 
media was emphasized. It must also be emphasized that cooperation, by definition, 
involves a joint effort on the part of the involved entities. In the opinion of the 



B-74 



evaluator, if law enforcement must concede to the media the unrestrained First 
Amendment right to freedom of the press, then the media should concede that they will 
exercise this right in a responsible way. Unfortunately, as Katherine Graham, Chairman 
of the Board of the Washington Post Company, said during an address before the 
American Newspaper Publishers Association in 1986, "high standards of professionalism 
do not guide every media organization nor every reporter." "And," she continued, "I 
regret to say that once one of these less scrupulous or less careful people reports some 
piece of information, all the media feel compelled to follow. Thus it is true: The least 
responsible person involved in the process could determine the level of coverage." 

It would seem that, while the public certainly does have a right to know, 
whomever is charged with determining what the public is told (and it is usually the 
media) ought to make this determination in a responsible manner, with due consideration 
for the safety and well being of those affected. As Katherine Graham concluded, "I 
believe having experienced people at the helm, exercising sound judgment on the basis 
of high professional standards, is the best we can ask for. But I also believe it is all we 
should ask for." 



B-75 



f ill 

J* 



Chapter 3 

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 

CONCLUSIONS 

The results of this project are believed to support the following conclusions: 

1 . BATF personnel involved in planning Operation Trojan Horse were 
dedicated, experienced law enforcement professionals. 

2. Much time and effort was expended in planning and preparing for 
Operation Trojan Horse. 

3. Planners relied upoand trusted intelligence information which, in many cases, 
lacked corroboration. 

4. A lack of knowledge existed on the part of both command and operational 
personnel concerning the proper utilization and deployment of countersniper 
(Forward Observer Team) personnel. 

5. Insufficient attention was directed by command personnel to the 
Operations Security (OPSEC) process. 

6. There was an apparent lack of supervision over the intelligence gathering 
mechanism in terms of direction, coordination, corroboration, dissemination and 
control. 

7. Though well intentioned, contacts initiated by command personnel with the 
Waco Tribune-Herald violated basic principles of operations security. 

8. No media contacts should have been initiated by BATF before the 
operation's conclusion. 

9. Command personnel lacked experience and training in directing major tactical 
operations. 

10. The Incident Commander should have been located at the designated command 
post to facilitate communication and control. 

1 1 . Once information had been received and corroborated that the operation had 



B-76 



been compromised through the loss of surprise, command personnel should 
have aborted the mission. 

12. There was no planned alternative course of action to be taken if the mission 
was aborted. 

13. Following the negotiation of a cease fire to remove and evacuate the 
dead and wounded, perimeter positions should not have been 
abandoned until relief personnel had assumed them. 

14. Had the operation not been compromised, there was a high probability that the 
tactical plan would have succeeded. 

15. Sufficient oversight was exercised by BATF Headquarters during all 
phases of Operation Trojan Horse. 

16. Numerous acts of heroism were displayed by the men and women of the BATF 
during, and subsequent to, the extensive firefight with the Branch Davidians. 

RECOMMENDATIONS 

The conclusions addressed above are believed to constitute justification for 
considering the following recommendations: 

1. Assign personnel to command positions (Incident Commander, Tactical 
Coordinator, Deputy Tactical Coordinator) based upon qualifications — not 
rank or position. 

2. Develop and provide tactical crisis management training for those assigned 
to these positions. 

3 . Explore the feasibility of selecting and training an on-call cadre of persoimel 
with proven decision-making and leadership ability to assume the roles of 
Incident Commander and Tactical Coordinator. 

4. Ensure that all command and supervisory personnel understand their joint 
responsibility to abort an operation if circumstances justify doing so. 

5 . Increase the training time of Division Special Response Teams to a minimum 
of twice a month. 



B-77 



6. Explore the feasibility of establishing regional, full-time Special Response Teams 
for deployment during major operations. 

7. Review and modify, as necessary, the criteria for selecting Special Response 
Team members. 

8. Review and modify, as necessary, the curriculum of Special Response Team 
training. 

9. Establish a Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS) program and 
formally assign EMS-trained personnel to each Special Response Team. 

10. Develop and implement a hostage negotiation program as an integral part of 
Special Response Team operations. 

1 1 . Evaluate existing Special Response Team equipment based on contemporary 
standards within the tactical conmiunity (to include chemical agents). 

12. Review the organization, structure, and functions of the Technology and 
Tactical Issues Committee to ensure the timely evaluation and approval of 
tactical equipment and procedures. 

13. Conduct meetings, at least annually, of Federal special operations team 
leaders and command persoimel (BATE, FBI, Marshals, Customs) to discuss 
past tactical analyses and contemporary procedures. Emphasize necessity for 
interagency cooperation and training. 

14. Ensure familiarity with guidelines related to requesting and utilizing air 
support. 

15. Review and modify, as necessary, OPSEC training for all conmiand and 
operational persoimel. 

16. Review and modify the media notification process. 

17. Review and modify the BATF National Response Plan. 

18. Pursue legislation enabling electronic surveillance and monitoring under 
circumstances such as existed at the Branch Davidian Compound. 

19. Empanel a committee comprised of representatives from affected BATF 



B-78 



entities to review these and other recommendations made by the Tactical 

Advisory Expert Panel. 
The purpose of objectively analyzing any tactical incident is not to be critical of another 
agency's performance, but rather to learn from what occurred. The death of a comrade 
demands that our coordinated efforts be directed toward reducing the recurrence of 
similar tragedies. Certainly, the analysis which forms the basis of this report was 
conducted with the utmost care to ensure this belief was not violated. Hopefully, the 
results of this and other inquiries will provide enlightened guidance, rather than 
restrictive policies and procedures. 

Lastly, the extensive effort expended in preparing this report is sincerely dedicated to 
the brave men and women of the BATF, who found themselves at the Branch Davidian 
Compound on February 28, 1993, under the gravest of circumstances. 



B-79 






REFERENCES 

BOOKS 

1. Kolman, John A. A Guide to the Development of Special Weapons and Tactics 
Teams . Springfield, 111.: Charles C Thomas, Publisher, 1982. 

2. Plaster, John L. Maj. The Ultimate Sniper . Boulder, Colo.: Paladin Press, 
1993. 

3. Roberts, Wes. Leadership Secrets of Atilla The Hun . New York: Warner 
Books, Inc., 1987. 

GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS 

4. International Association of Chiefs of Police. A Compilation of Model Policies , 
Hostage/Barricaded Subject Incidents; Concepts and Issues paper. Alexandria, 
Va.: I.A.C.P. 1991. 

PERIODICALS 

5. Ishimoto, Wade. "Intelligence Support of SWAT Operations", The Tactical 
Edge . (Winter, 1984), 7-11. 

6. Keith, Ed. "Operations Security in the Tactical Environment", The Tactical 
Edge . (Summer, 1993), 19-22. 

7. Rasumoff, David, M.D., and Carmona, Richard, M.D. "Inside The Perimeter", 
The Tactical Edge . (Winter, 1990), 56. 

8. Rasumoff, David, M.D., and Carmona, Richard, M.D. "Essentials of Tactical 
Emergency Medical Support", The Tactical Edge . (Sunmier, 1990), 55. 

9. Tate, Jerry. "ATF's SRT Program", The Tactical Edge . (Spring, 1993), 38-41. 

UNPUBLISHED WORKS 

10. Higgins, Stephen E. Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives 
Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service, and 
General Government. June 9 and 10, 1993. 



B-80 



11. Heal, Sid. "A Scientific Approach to Tactical Decisions". Unpublished 
Independent Study Project, California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, 
1993. 

NEWSPAPERS 

12. Graham, Katherine. "Terrorism and the Media", Los Angeles Daily Journal, 
Daily Journal Report . May 2, 1986, 10-16. 

13. Lott, Bob. "Serving our obligation to a free society", Waco Tribune-Herald . 
February 27 - March 1, 1993, follow-up coverage, March - May, 1993. 



B-81 



[JHW« 



HIWJ 

'Km* 



ij. ; 



3'' 



A Tactical Analysis 

of the 

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms 



Raid of The Branch Davidian Compound 
in Waco, Texas 



Prepared By 
George Morrison 



B-83 



.,1, 
II* 






PREFACE 



Although my role in the Waco Administrative Review {the "Review") 
was limited to performing a critical assessment of the entry plan 
and the process that created it, I am satisfied that the Review's 
conduct of this aspect of the investigation was thorough, 
professional and objective. I was provided with all documents and 
assistance that I requested. I was also given access to those 
individuals who developed the plan. It is my assumption that the 
specific issues and details relative to the investigation of Mr. 
David Koresh and the cult Branch Davidian compound and the 
decision to conduct a tactical raid of the facility outside Waco, 
Texas, are thoroughly revealed by the Treasury Department 
investigation team report. Further, I assume the specific actions 
and participation by personnel of the B.A.T.F. and other persons 
germane to the case investigation, intelligence task, planning and 
tactics involved in this incident are thoroughly documented by the 
investigation team report. 

The six "Central Issues To Be Addressed By Waco Review" that was 
provided to each of the tactical experts focused on the raid as to 
preparation, execution, and post incident action. To address 
those issues the investigation and analysis required consideration 
of B.A.T.F. policy, procedures and organizational structure in 
place at the time of the raid. Preliminary analysis revealed the 
need to further expand the investigative scope, analysis and 
research to include the supervisory and management "mind set" and 
individual awareness of contemporary law enforcement standards, 
i.e. standard operating procedures and accepted levels of 
management/organization performance currently utilized in United 
States law enforcement. 

The rational for expanding the investigation and for acquiring 
documents relating to policy, procedure, training and organization 
was to learn how such an apparent major investigation and high 
profile/high risk forced entry arrest/search warrant raid received 
only minimal management review, oversight and control. 

The immediate issue became: Who approved the operation and by 
what incident command methodology? 

NOTE: My first concern was to ask for the arrest and 

search warrant affidavits to see whether the facts 
were supported in the court documents . The 
second concern was that if the court documents 
described the dangerous and exigent conditions 
described in the initial briefings by the Review, 
how did the raid approval proceed without greater 
management review and acceptable standards of 
command and control? 

B-85 

Morrison Report 



After additional preliminary inquiry and research by the Review it 
was clear that the Review's concerns were the same as mine. Brave 
and dedicated B.A.T.F. agents and supervisors were allowed or 
directed to go in harm's way by substantial management and 
organizational deficiencies and in some cases, an abdication of 
authority and responsibility by mid and top level managers. 

SUMMARY 

The incident of the February 28, 1993, raid in Waco, by the 
B.A.T.F. focused national attention on Mr. David Koresh, the cult 
Branch Davidian, and federal law enforcement. Fifty days after 
the unsuccessful and personally tragic raid conducted by the 
B.A.T.F., the standoff between the cult leadership and federal 
law enforcement concluded in an abortive assault and a virtually 
all-consuming fire of the cult structure (s) . The subsequent 
critique, investigation and analysis of what occurred immediately 
before and during the B.A.T.F. raid were conducted separately and 
without the benefit of personal and physical evidence from within 
the cult and cult compound. The current criminal investigation 
and trial will add some insight as to the actions of cult members 
during the ra__id, but will not substantially change the Review's 
documentation of the case investigation and raid plan and 
execution. 

In retrospect, there are several obvious critical concerns 
regarding the raid plan and execution. The analysis of those 
concerns is factually and emotionally impacted by the tragic 28 
injuries and 4 deaths of B.A.T.F. agents who demonstrated courage 
and resolve when confronted by superior firepower and a tactical 
reaction from the cult members not anticipated by the raid plan . 

Perhaps the primary concern is why the raid in the first place? 

The question goes to the core issue of the incident review. What 

was the role of B.A.T.F. management in the investigative and 
Q', intelligence gathering process leading up to the point where a 
"(PJ; decision was made to tactically and dynamically serve an 
a'i arrest\search warrant? And, although not the primary charge of 
%[[ the post incident investigation, why the apparent absence of case 

management standards and audits which critically impacted the raid 

planning? 

The investigation readily identified substantial personnel and 
operational component breakdowns in several areas of day to day 
B.A.T.F. operations. Whether in or out of the context of the 
raid, a management/organization audit of B.A.T.F. would be in 
order because of the expanding operations and role the B.A.T.F. 
has undertaken in the last five to ten years. The investigation 
and review of the Waco incident supports the propriety of a 
directive from Treasury for a strategic plan and (in the process) 

Morrison Report 



"accountability charting" for personnel and entities within the 
B.A.T.F. 

The actual Koresh case development and review resulted in an 
investigative report that did not pursue or produce an acceptable 
level of intelligence and case investigation follow-up and 
verification. Those deficiencies were aggravated by a "selective 
investigation information summary" which was submitted to the 
planners as "accurate and complete." 

The absence of appropriate supervisory and management level 
review for the raid plan indicated weak B.A.T.F. policy and 
procedure and no definition of responsibility and authority. 
Probably the two most critical observations were: 
1.) the absence of evidence that a deliberate and knowledgeable 
management review was made to determine the appropriateness and 
exigent conditions (s) for a raid (as opposed to alternatives), and 
2.) the absence of evidence of a "buy off" of the actual raid 
plan. 

The critique of the raid plan requires a diligent research and 
analysis of B.A.T.F. policy and procedure specifically as applied 
to supervisio/i and management. To isolate on the planning 
efforts and actions of tactical teams members (and S.R.T.s) out of 
context of the B.A.T.F. 's bureau "management environment" 
adversely impacts analysis and support for change 
recommendations . 

CASE MANAGEMENT AND DAILY ACTIVITIES 

The volume of investigations and the expansion of missions 
indicates the need for a top level strategy session to insure that 
the B.A.T.F. organizational structure can control the activities 
of the field agents. The Bureau's activities, expectations and 
daily performance of personnel appear to have exceeded the 
ability of the existing management and organization structure to 
properly audit, inspect, supervise and manage. The apparent 
unregulated and unaudited autonomy of S.A.I.C.s allows excessive 
span of control and lack of accountability. 

NOTE: This was clearly evident by the work load allowed 
and self imposed on the A/SAC Houston. 

When this occurs on the basic and routine Bureau mission it can be 
corrected, but it can become exaggerated in non-routine and 
emergency operations. I firmly believe consideration of a 
secondary or emergency organization modification should be 
advanced as a recommendation for management realignment in major 
case investigations or major tactical missions. 



R 87 

Morrison Report 



THE RAID PLAN 

Specifically, the raid plan did not establish or provide for 
adequate coinmuiiications, commeuid and control. The logistic 
support was arbitrarily limited, denied or inadequate for the 
mission objective. The tactical plan lacked contingency planning, 
counter measures, readiness control and abort conditions 
recognition. These observations are based on information known to 
the raid planners and the acknowledged management review and 
approval chain . 

COMMAND AND CONTROL 

The absence of an actual command and control concept and structure 
in and of itself contributed more to the tragic results of the 
raid than any other aspect of the plan and actions of the 48 hours 
leading up to and including the raid and the 8 hours immediately 
after the "cease-fire". The operational standards for "tactical 
raid-high risk" require an effective, conditioned and flexible 
command and control function to manage the incident plan, 
execution and recoveiry. Operation standards, if xinderstood and 
utilized by a qualified command would have aborted the plan (as 
allegedly prepared and approved- -and as "extracted" from witness 
interviews by the investigative team) at any one of several "red 
flags" prior to the committed point. 

The raid plan as submitted to the Review and as enhanced by 
interviews indicated a disjointed assembly of component tactics 
and logistic support that was not reviewed by all the key players 
and decision makers. 

CRITICAL ISSUE: There was no single briefing for all the 

supervisors of each raid component, e.g., 
aviation, logistics, intelligence. 
Therefore, no chance to ask questions or 
clarify information presented. 



The communications net established for the raid was untested and 



'^f' as designed did not support the alleged command and control This 

jSi defect was evident to the commanders before the raid commitment. 

It was underscored during the fire fight and withdrawal. The 
command element did not know what was occurring tactically prior, 
during or after withdrawal commenced. 

The element of surprise was totally lost prior to raid commitment 
and was known to command. To compound the strategic aspect of 
loss by surprise, the raid plan was not followed with regard to: 
1.) diversion element (helicopters were not on station) 2.) 
forward observation posts/counter snipers (posts were not in 
position to report or cover) 3 . ) airborne observation and 
communication (communications ineffective and not on station, and 

Morrison Report 



4.) departure from time table (advanced without concurrent 
count ermeasures and "red light" parameters to abort). 

In spite of the raid plan organization chart (National Response 
Plan) NO ONE PERSON WAS IN CHARGE. Mission leadership was 
compromised by this critical breakdown in the standard concept of 
command and control . 

INTELLIGENCE 

Intelligence was compromised from the start point of the 
investigation up to and including the hour before the raid and the 
ability of the command structure to effect a withdrawal and 
containment of the incident site. The critical points of 
intelligence control centered on the absence of analysis, 
management review and operational continuity. The absence of 
operational intelligence continuity negatively impacted the raid 
and the withdrawal of the dead and injured. 

NOTE: The absence of management review led to a serious 
breach of integrity. .. falsification of documents. 

The selection 'of improperly trained and conditioned personnel for 
the intelligence function and the failure to debrief them 
negatively impacted case preparation, raid planning and raid 
execution. 

The tactical team leaders went into the raid blind as to activity 
and conditions. Critical operational intelligence was 
"inadvertently" denied to raid planners. 

NOTE: I will differ to TAG member Wade Ishimoto for an in-depth 
advisor's analysis and recommendation to correct the intelligence 
issues. 

LOGISTICS 

The logistics problems connected to the raid were evident prior to 
initial planning. The SRT mission was compromised by B.A.T.F. 
"policy" and a lack of adequate equipment. "Policy" must have a 
provision for reasonable and top management approved exceptions, 
e.g. use of automatic weapons, diversion grenades, chemical agents 
and armored vehicles. Special incident managers must be trained 
to ask for available equipment necessary to successfully and 
safely complete a mission. That is their duty and responsibility 
and should be in writing if necessary. Management review then has 
the hard choice to approve or deny and to accept responsibility 
and accountability for the decision which can include modification 
of the tactical plan! That was not done in preparation for Waco; 
there was compromise after compromise. 



R 89 

Morrison Report 



The arbitrary decision not to use Customs Service aircraft and 
instead use Texas National Guard helicopters was a disaster in and 
of itself. Customs aviation resources and experienced personnel 
were ideally suited for this mission and could have contributed 
substantially to the plan. 

NOTE: That action further reinforces two observations. 1.) That 
the raid plan was disjointed, lacked management oversight and 
should have been comprehensively briefed; and 2.) B.A.T.F. needs 
to incorporate the Incident Command System into major tactical 
plans . 

The reference to an emergency medical plan was shallow, defective 
and non-operational. Any competent incident manager would have 
insisted and verified a medical contingency plan, particularly 
considering the remote location of the raid. There was no 
alternative to the need for an on-site, in^field capable, triage 
trauma capability. 

The weapons of choice and authorization did not consider 
contingency plcuining for ambush, explosives euad superior 
firepower. The intelligence available to the planners and most 
certainly known to the managers required a contingency plan. The 
use and deployment of observation posts was minimized to the 
extent of being ineffective. Counter sniper considerations were 
not adequately presented in the plan and were never fully deployed 
even as planned. That oversight was fatal. 

Once again this component of planning points to ineffective 
management and command and control. 

The sdjsence of accoxintedaility charting throughout the 
B.A.T.F. resulted in errors, omissions cuid failures in 

^jiJ the investigation, intelligence, approval, planning and 

1^4,, incident mainagement of the Waco incident. 

CONDITIONS OF COMPLIANCE AND INTEGRITY 

^J|| I will address an issue that is dependent on the summary of and 
^j' response to the investigation. I consider this a side issue 

because of potential liability and internal discipline concerns. 

There is an immediate need to develop and implement changes in 
organizational structure, strategy and tactics, investigation case 
management, logistics and accountability charting with B.A.T.F. 



B-90 Ky, • o - 

Morrison Report 



RECOMMENDATION 

Upon conclusion of the investigative review, including the 
observations of the tactical advisors, a concurrent task group, 
composed of experienced technical and management personnel to 
implement issues of critique and the recommendations to enhance 
the structure and management of the B.A.T.F. should be integrated 
with the current management structure. This task group would 
insure a rational and prompt integration of change without 
disrupting on-going operations or any personnel reorganization. 
Additionally, the task group can develop and implement change 
without "personality intervention." 

The task group mission, guideline and tenure should be 
developed £uid directed by the Assistant Secretary £or 
(law enforcement) . 

The task group members (s) should not have operational authority or 
supervision, but may have audit and inspection authority. This 
recommendation would enhance continuity of the review process by 
ensuring that any recommendations can be implemented immediately 
upon approval by the Secretary of Treasury. The task group could 
be charged with preparing responses to the Secretary of Treasury. 

SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATION SUMMARY 

1. Review and revise the B.A.T.F. National Response Plan to 
include sub tasks of : 

A. S.R.T. reorganization to include Special Operation 
Capable/High Risk, Special Operations Group command, and 

B. Incident Command System to provide Inter Agency 
coordination, and 

C. Consideration of a centralized S.R.T. , and 

D. A specific special incident command organizational 
structure from S.A.I.C. field office to Director, 
B.A.T.F., and 

E. A clear, concise policy and procedure statement approved 
at least at the Assistant Secretary (for law 
enforcement) level. 

2. Establish a supervisory and management course for: 

A. Major case investigation. 

B, Major incident preparation/response control. 



R Ql 

Morrison Report 



f\l'\. 



3. Establish a supervisory/management procedures manual for case 
review, approval, audit, and control including formats. 

4. Review current law enforcement standards for investigative 
training and administration procedures for: 

A. Administrative systems and controls. 

B. Review of investigative progress and report approval. 

C. Report and file maintenance. 

D. References to administrative systems and controls. 

E. Case progress logs. 

F. Daily report books. 

G. Investigation activity summary. 

H. Extraordinary cases/multiple law enforcement agency 

involved cases. 
I. Record checks, inquiries, documents, controls and 

inventory. 
J. Due Diligence. 
K. Case transfer (for cause) . 

5. Conduct a management seminar on interagency assets, 
capability and access (to include the Director of Military 
Support , D . . D . ) . 

6. Pursue Title III application to specific major cases in 
B.A.T.F. 

7. If not currently authorized and functional - establish an 
Inspection and Control section at the Director/Assistant 
Director level to audit and trouble shoot intra bureau 
management . 

8. Under the direction of the Assistant Secretary (L.E.) and the 
Director conduct a 2 or 3 day management retreat to address 
B.A.T.F. 's strategic issues and future planning. 



f''^^ 9. Consider an intra -Treasury Department (Law Enforcement) 



rjt(|li*| 



O'.; management council and Incident Command System-Special 



2!:; Operations Capable. 

3* 



B-92 K4 • r, 4- 

Morrison Report 



WACO ADMINISTEIATIVE REVIEW 



Brief 

Submitted 



by 
John J. Murphy 



B-93 



."in 

ill ';,»•■ 
lilt*; 



l»ilf 

I 



WACO ADMINISTRATIVE REVI EW 



Introductory Overview 

The undersigned respectfully submits an assessment of the 
February 28, 1993, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms execu- 
tion of Search Warrant and Warrant for Arrest at the Branch Davi- 
dian compound, in Waco, Texas. 

Over the last several weeks, I and five others with experi- 
ence in major city police departments or the military have met in 
Washington D.C. as part of the Department of the Treasury's Waco 
Administrative Review, seeking to determine what happened during 
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms operation and why. 

I believe that the report the Administrative Review will be 
submitting to the President will be comprehensive and impartial, 
and based on a complete and thorough investigation of the events 
prior to and on February 28, 1993. Ronald Noble, Assistant Secre- 
tary for Enforcement, who has supervised the investigation, has 
given me and my five colleagues complete access to the Review's 
work. The staff assembled under Secretary Noble and Project Di- 
rector Geoffrey Moulton, has provided us with all interviews, re- 
ports, diagrams, regulations, plans and the like, without hesita- 
tion and in a most timely fashion. 



B-95 



My assessment will touch upon the many issues that jumped out 
at me as I reviewed information, heard from witnesses, listened to 
the results of investigatory efforts, and participated in ex- 
changes with other panel members. It is not my intention to place 
blame on particular individuals, but rather to identify critical 
issues and to bring about change and improvement. The Bureau of 
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as is appropriate, will hold its 
members responsible and accountable for their actions and direc- 
tion. The law enforcement community, in my experience, has always 
been able to draw lessons from tragedies and improve operations in 
the future. I have every expectation that the Bureau of Alcohol, 
Tobacco and Firearms will move forward from this occurrence with 
an enhanced and enlightened management and continue to carry out 
its mandate with a truly dedicated and professional workforce. 

Bureau of Alcohol. Tobacco and Firearms Case 

The actions of members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and 
Firearms on February 28, 1993 were the result of a lengthy and in- 
clusive investigation over several months that led to the issuance 
of a Search Warrant for Mount Carmel Center or the Branch Davidian 
compound and, a Warrant for Arrest of Vernon Wayne Howel a/k/a 
"David Koresh." Special Agent Davy Aguilera, the case agent, did 
a professional job in conducting the investigation and providing 



B-96 



the necessary information to attain the approval of a judicial of- 
ficer. The affidavit that Aguilera submitted provided a wealth of 
information concerning the Branch Davidians, their leader, and 
their philosophies. It also made quite clear how massive an un- 
dertaking it would be to execute the warrants. 

Foundation Issues 

Aguilera' s affidavit highlighted the issues that should have 
been critical to the management of the investigation and its di- 
rection : 

- the weaponry and firepower within the compound 

- the size of and accessibility to the compound 

- the fortress-like location of the compound 

- the Messiah complex and teachings of the 
leader David Koresh 



the religious cult mentality of the Branch 
Davidians 



the number of innocent children, women and 
men of the cult in the compound 



the shootout takeover by Koresh of the 
compound from former leader Roden 



B-97 



Any effort to address these issues would be made more dif- 
ficult : 



by the Bureau's lack of experience in dealing 
with firepower of the magnitude expected to 
be present in the compound 



by the possibility that a military solution 
would be needed in a civilian law enforcement 
environment 



by the sensitivity of a religious issue 



by the potential media and political 
involvement 



— by the risk that any move against the compound 
could turn into a hostage situation involving 
many of its inhabitants 

The Bureau's hierarchy (it's "overhead"), from immediate case 
supervisor to the Director, must take responsibility for not rec- 
ognizing at the outset that this was an extraordinary case, re- 
quiring special resources and supervision. Instead, the investi- 
gation was allowed to proceed like any ordinary case in the field 
where a field-level agent is usually charged with bringing a case 
to conclusion, regardless of the obstacles. In the absence of 
specific direction from overhead - - which could have asked the 
hard questions, demanded to know the risks of a course of action, 
and insisted on possible alternatives - - this investigation moved 
forward with insufficient attention to the risks presented. 



B-98 



Praise 

Before continuing in my comments, I think it is appropriate 
to praise the professionalism and actions the members of the Bu- 
reau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who came under heavy and 
constant gunfire for 30 minutes. These men and women were coura- 
geous under the most difficult and trying circumstances that mem- 
bers of law enforcement can face. Their response to the firepower 
was measured and proper; their energies and heroics were directed 
to protecting each other and addressing their wounded comrades. 
The slain agents have made the supreme sacrifice in the perfor- 
mance of duty, which will always be remembered, and my heartfelt 
condolences goes to their families and loved ones. 

A special thanks goes to Agents Buford, King, Petrelli and 
Williams who voluntarily appeared before our panel to give a 
first-hand account of their involvement as Team Leaders in execut- 
ing the warrants. They also gave a very candid presentation of 
their roles in the investigation and particularly as the raid 
planners. Their planning efforts were knowledgeable and profes- 
sional as they attempted to prepare for the many contingencies of 
the operation. The training and practice at Fort Hood was very 
much on target; it prepared the teams for their mission, and most 
probably minimized the fatalities and injuries sustained. When 
the operation went bad, there was the expected immediate confu- 



B-99 



sion. Within a short time leadership came to the front and re- 
sponse to the situation became organized and fruitful. 

Critical Issues 

No investigation in any law enforcement agency is able to 
satisfy every objective. Mistakes will be made, issues not ad- 
dressed, and contingencies not planned for. My intention is to 
address those issues that I think may have changed the outcome had 
they been addressed in a different fashion. These critical com- 
ments are designed to encourage changes in how these issues will 
be addressed in future investigations and tactics. To be candid, 
hindsight is easy, but it is the way to learn and move forward. 

Information /intelligence 

A tremendous amount of information was developed in this 
case, but it was not sufficiently analyzed or properly used in the 
planning of the raid. Many red flags should have been recognized 
and properly dealt with. Instead, it seems that many of these red 
flags were overlooked because those planning the raid adopted a 
mindset that the Compound had to be taken down, and that the only 
way to proceed was with a dynamic, high-risk entry. 



B-lOO 



The planners conducted interviews that were used to support 
the raid action. Contradictory information was available from 
equally knowledgeable persons, but the planners seem to have dis- 
counted or not properly assessed it. 

As the case began to develop, it was deemed "sensitive," a 
designation which should have led to better monitoring by Head- 
quarters to keep appropriate hierarchy informed. 

In January, 1993 the undercover house was established to ob- 
tain intelligence and find out more about Compound routines. This 
critical operation broke down and never supplied the proper infor- 
mation to the planners, who selectively used what was obtained. 
All sides of the compound should have been kept under surveil- 
lance. Instead, because a proposal that agents watch utilizing 
bales of hay was rejected for fear that they would be seen, the 
agents never had 360-degree coverage. 

Pen registers, tapes, and communication monitoring were con- 
sidered, but never came to fruition. 

Agents attempted to conduct photographic monitoring from the 
undercover house and pole cameras, but they had little skill and 
achieved minimum results. It should also be noted that a picture 
was taken in January that showed a female pointing a rifle from a 
compound door; this intelligence was never assessed. 

An undercover agent was able to gain access into the compound 



B-101 



on several occasions resulting in substantial intelligence, but 
there was no attempt to plan a deep undercover. 

On March 6 to March 9, 1992, after Koresh mistook the SWAT 
training that several police departments conducted in the area 
for ATF activity, security at the compound was immediately height- 
ened and arms purchases substantially increased. This information 
was not assessed by the planners. 

The staging area in Waco and the use of hotels violated the 
basic tenets of operational security. 

The job of reviewing and assessing all intelligence and di- 
recting the raid planning was simply too great to be given to a 
single person. Instead of saddling Houston ASAC Sarabyn with all 
of these responsibilities, ATF should have used a case management 
system better suited to such a large operation. 

Options 

Ruse 

Originally, the planners attempted to use the Department of 
Human Services, which was investigating child abuse allegations, 
to get Koresh away from the Compound and place him under arrest; 
were Koresh not present when the compound was searched, it was 
thought that resistance would not occur. When the Department of 
Human Services would not cooperate, this tactical approach was 



B-102 



dropped, and no other innovative attempts were developed. Infor- 
mation and intelligence reporting that Koresh would not leave the 
Compound, although not conclusively accurate, influenced the plan- 
ners to look at other options. 

Siege 

The planners next looked to develop a siege plan based on the 
flat terrain surrounding the compound and the consequent lack of 
cover, the firepower of the Branch Davidians, and their possible 
use of sentries. The siege option was eliminated because of the 
time and manpower that it would require, and the fact that ATF did 
not have negotiators and expertise for a siege. I also believe 
that the planners' selective use of intelligence, particularly the 
reported possibility of mass suicide, led them not to pursue the 
siege option. 

Raid 

The raid planners now moved to develop a dynamic, high-risk 
entry as the appropriate vehicle to execute the arrest and search 
warrants and preserve evidence. They developed entry tactics ac- 
cording to their interpretation of ongoing intelligence. The 
planning sessions did not include Houston SAC Chojnacki or the 
other SACs who had committed their Special Response Teams; once a 



B-103 



plan was formulated the concurrence of ATF headquarters was sought 
and obtained. The plan evolved around the element of surprise and 
a 10 a.m. execution, even though surprise is generally achieved by 
going in darkness just before light. The tactical plan called for 
three Special Response Teams, each with specific assignments that 
would isolate or contain everyone present in the Compound and se- 
cure the arms room. The undercover house would observe the Com- 
pound to insure normalcy. The undercover would enter the com- 
pound, exit an hour before raid and report conditions. 
Helicopters would provide a diversion a distance from the Com- 
pound, just prior to the arrival of the Special Response Teams. 



Evaluation 

The plan was well-conceived to address the intelligence de- 
veloped. If the element of surprise had been maintained, there 
is every likelihood that the raid would have been successful. It 
should be noted, however, that contingency plans are as critical 
to an operation's success as a raid plan itself; insufficient at- 
tention was given to contingency planning here. 



B-104 



Raid Implementation Analysis 

Criticism must be directed at the way the raid plan was car- 
ried out. 

Critical to a successful operation on this day was the el- 
ement of surprise. This advantage was not maintained because of 
several important tactical shortcomings. 

Forward observers might have helped ensure that surprise was 
maintained, had they been positioned to have full-circle coverage 
of the Compound, and had they been given a developed plan of op- 
eration. Observer and sniper teams should have been in place for 
twelve hours prior to the raid. This kind of coverage would have 
allowed ATF to see the armed Branch Davidians who apparently went 
to the Compound's "spider holes" during the hour before the raid; 
a report that Compound residents had taken these positions would 
have required that the raid be cancelled. 

The role of the helicopters was to create a diversion immedi- 
ately prior to arrival of the raid force. Had command and control 
accurately directed and communicated the diversion, firing at the 
helicopters by Branch Davidians might have provided the signal 
that the raid should be aborted. 

The use of Waco as the staging area and the number of media 
vehicles active in the area prior to the raid should have received 
careful and in-depth assessment. 



B-105 



The most important occurrence on raid day was undercover 
Agent Rodriguez's report from the Compound. The assessment of his 
information should have mandated cancellation of the raid. The 
element of surprise had been lost, and the possibility that the 
Branch Davidians would seek to repulse the raid was too quickly 
discounted. Rodriguez's report that no resistance was being 
planned inside the Compound should not have been expected to re- 
main valid for very long - - certainly not for the time it would 
take to bring agents to the Compound. The significance of this 
report and the fact that the agents would arrive before the men 
were due to work in the field were not properly considered when 
the issue of surprise was assessed. 

There was command and control framework in place on raid day, 
but it was not sufficient to direct the operation. The Incident 
Commander should have been at the command post to assess informa- 
tion and make decisions from a somewhat removed perspective. 

Evaluation Summary 

There were many problem areas that affected the raid and that 
should have led ATF to consider alternatives to going forward. 
Execution was plagued by failures in evaluating information relat- 
ing to a cult mentality, and the potential firepower in the Com- 



B-106 



pound. The process used by the ATF commanders in making their de- 
cisions illustrates the need for crisis management training. 

In essence, the one major cause for this failed operation 
would have to be "the human element" - - from the entire "over- 
head" to the working field agents of the Bureau; a combination of 
human errors in addressing a monumental task can be deemed the 
reason for "What went wrong." 

Recommendations 

The Bureau must address the substantial damage done to its 
organization and, in particular, to the morale of its agents. 
The aftermath, 

- from the many avenues and aspects of self-inspection 
and examination 

- from the extraordinary media attention and coverage 

- and from the interest of the citizenry throughout 
the country 

mandates a complete and thorough reorganization with the objec- 
tives of improving delivery of day-to-day operations and insuring 
that such an occurrence can never happen again. The organization 
must be prepared to handle another Waco investigation down the 
road. 



B-107 



Closing Comment 

I salute the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as an 
organization of dedicated professionals who satisfy a most dif- 
ficult mission in law enforcement. I encourage leadership to take 
the members forward with heads held high. 



Respectfully submitted, 




Johr 

Depi 

New^ork city 

Commanding Officer 

Special Operations Division 



B-108 



ROD PASCHALL 1320 GEORGETOWN CIRCLE CARLISLE, PA 17013 



August 23, 1993 

Ronald K. Noble 

Assistant Secretary for Enforcement 
Department of Treasury, Room 4330 
1500 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20220 

SUBJECT: Waco Review/ Report 

SUMMARY: The February 1993 Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) raid at 
Waco, a failure due to multiple causes, demonstrated a few commendable aspects, but in the 
main, revealed systemic defects in the preparation, planning, and execution of multiple Special 
Response Team (SRT) actions. Deficiencies included: a flawed National Response Plan; 
inadequate oversight for high-risk, sensitive operations; a defective tactical intelligence training 
program; an inadequate selection, training and administration program for personnel engaged 
in multiple SRT actions (particularly those charged with command and control responsibilities); 
subpar procedures in identifying and gaining appropriate specialized military support; and 
inadequate intelligence gathering means to support dangerous tactical operations. Most, if not 
all of these deficiencies still exist. The disastrous outcome at Waco could have happened 
anywhere and can reoccur at any time. The Treasury Department, facing trends indicating a 
future higher incidence rate for these types of law enforcement actions, cannot assume an 
improved performance in coming, similar operations and should implement changes. 
Unfortunately, the review of this event also revealed Treasury lacks analytical, enforcement 
focused studies, studies that could be of use as decision aids to make changes leading to the 
more effective execution and management of the Department's statutory responsibilities. 

The Department should institute immediate, interim and long term measures to increase its 
capacity for the safe and professional execution of hazardous operations. This phased 
approach can be accompanied with a series of studies designed to provide Treasury's decision 
makers and concerned Congressional committees with management and evaluation tools to 
guide successive enforcement improvements. Recommended immediate measures include: 
commending deserving BATF personnel; revision of the National Response Plan and gaming 
the result; improving tactical intelligence training; achieving a better understanding of the 
capabilities and limitations of military support in domestic law enforcement efforts; and, the 
conduct of two studies, one designed to present options the United States might select for 
reducing the public threat posed by the increasing numbers of assault weapons in civilian 
hands, the other examining the benefits, dangers and past record of dynamic entry-type 
operations. 

Recommended interim measures include: gaining Title III authority in cases involving illegal 
automatic weapons or explosives; reversal of BATF's media policy and the elimination of its 
field public information structure; and, the conduct of two additional studies, one aimed at 
defining Treasury's future law enforcement environment, the second designed to evaluate the 
cost/effectiveness of Special Agent Gerald Petrilli's thoughtful April 27, 1993 suggestion to 
revise BATF's SRT structure. 

B-109 



Recommended long-term measures include: the establishment of a multi-use Department level 
law enforcement response team; coordination with the Department of Justice and the Office 
of International Criminal Justice to sponsor a series of multi-national law enforcement 
conferences aimed at gaining a better understanding of armed cults and the newly emerging 
characteristics of terrorism, defining promising techniques to deal with trafficking in illegal or 
black market items; and, exploring the possibilities of gaining a more accessible international 
criminal justice data base. 



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Suggested, specific corrective actions, phased into 
immediate, interim and longer term measures, are identified in bold text below. The rationale 
for each recommendation is provided in following bracketed text and incorporates the 
undersigned's Waco Review findings and observations. 



Immediate Measures 



Commend selected BATF personnel, including J. William Buford, Gerald T. Petrilli, Curtis D. 
Williams, and Kenny King, for bravery, dedication to duty and uncommon poise under fire. 

[Rationale: The action at Waco involved a number of incidents where BATF personnel 
demonstrated an extraordinary degree of personal courage and disregard for their own lives 
in the execution of their duties. The assault team leaders were particularly conspicuous in their 
heroism, but there were others who risked their own safety. For example, some agents 
exposed themselves to withering fire in order to administer first aid to the wounded. These, 
and other acts were marked by an unusual degree of coolness and professionalism on the part 
of BATF personnel. Such exemplary behavior should not go unremarked or unrewarded by the 
Treasury Department.] 



Revise the National Response Plan, relieving Field Division Special Agents in Charge and their 
Assistants of tactical command responsibilities for multiple SRT raids, temporarily replacing 
them with HQ BATF Special Operations Division personnel, clarifying the division of duties 
between the Incident Commander and the Tactical Coordinator, and testing the results by 
means of an exercise at the BATF National Command Center. 

[Rationale: Field division SACs and ASACs are not selected for their abilities to conduct large- 
scale, complex special operations, nor do they have the time or training opportunities to 
become proficient in such functions. Since the current National Response Plan directs these 
officers to handle such operations, it ensures, at best, an inadequate performance at the 
command and control level. Hindsight analysis of the Waco incident reveals numerous 
mistakes made by both the Houston Special Agent in Charge and his assistant, however, there 
is no indication that any other field office within BATF was trained and prepared to produce 
better results. A two-week exposure to the SRT course is insufficient to qualify an officer for 
the tactical command of sizeable, multi-faceted operations. By revising the Plan to designate 

B-llO 



HQ BATF Special Operations Division personnel to perform critical tactical command and 
control tasks for multiple SRT actions, officers possessing day-to-day familiarity with such 
operations will be temporarily controlling the direct application of force in these occasional 
events. There is no reason that the field division SAC cannot retain overall responsibility for 
the action and the current title: incident commander. 

This revision will have the additional effect of addressing another deficiency exposed by the 
Waco raid. There was clearly a difference between what Washington-level authorities believed 
to be the criteria for the raid's initiation and what officials at Waco assumed. Placing a 
Washington-based element in tactical command will encourage more rigorous high-level 
scrutiny over the planning and execution of large-scale operations, that by their very nature 
demand close attention. While this solution is not optimum, it provides a near-term fix until 
a more satisfactory, long-term solution discussed below is examined and developed. 
Experience (2-4 multiple BATF SRT raids in the past 2-3 years) indicates the actual 
implementation of this temporary recommendation will be infrequent. 

The command and control sections of the National Response Plan are ambiguous. During 
Director Higgins' testimony before a Congressional panel on June 9, 1993, he stated the 
Houston Field Division Special Agent in Charge was the tactical commander of the raid at 
Waco. The three Special Response Team leaders, interviewed by the undersigned during July 
1 993, stated they considered the Assistant SAC of the Houston Field Office to be the tactical 
commander. This confusion can be explained by examining the portion of the National 
Response Plan designating the ASAC as the "Tactical Coordinator," while charging that 
person with "directing" SRT employment. Directing and coordinating are two entirely different 
functions. This ambiguity can be eliminated by changing the title, "tactical coordinator," to 
read "tactical commander" while retaining those portions of the plan that assign the overall 
responsibility for such operations to the Field Division Special Agent in Charge. 

Once these changes have been made, a National Command Center exercise should be 
conducted to test the new provisions, familiarize key personnel with their duties and identify 
the need for adjustments, if necessary. It is recommended that appropriate Treasury 
Department officials participate in the exercise. In order to gain the maximum benefit from the 
exercise, it is recommended that key Treasury and BATF personnel be unaware of the its 
nature when play begins. Therefore, the exercise should be written, administered and 
evaluated by outsiders: Department of Justice personnel, contractors, consultants or a 
combination of all three.] 



Establish a 4-5 day required training course for Intelligence Research Specialists, a course 
wholly devoted to tactical intelligence. 

[Rationale: Among the several reasons for the failure at Waco, inadequate intelligence loomed 
large. In some cases, raid planners failed to use available intelligence. For example, a pre-raid 
photo that might have indicated Davidian women were trained in the use of rifles was 
disregarded and some film taken from the undercover house was apparently not even 
developed. But, existing intelligence was not corroborated, challenged, analyzed or presented 
with a view towards tactical utility. On the other hand, intelligence was rather well handled 
and expertly used to establish probable cause. A review of the training for BATF intelligence 

B-111 



research specialists, indicated such training is primarily devoted to standard law enforcement 
investigative techniques, name traces, etc., and is not sufficiently augmented with tactical 
intelligence techniques and procedures, subjects of increasing value to BATF field offices. A 
four to five-day remedial or fundamentals course for BATF intelligence research specialists 
presented by HQ BATF special operations personnel could provide the Bureau with improved 
tactical intelligence practices in field offices. Some of the instruction should be devoted to 
camera work and graduates of the course should be expected to pass on their camera 
expertise to field agents. It is suggested the course utilize case history methods, including the 
incident at Waco, to demonstrate the difference between quality and inadequate intelligence 
for SRT operations.) 



Meet with the Director of l\/lilitary Support, Department of Defense, to obtain an inventory of 
available military expertise, facilities, equipment, training and augmentation to Treasury 
Department law enforcement agencies along with an understanding of the capabilities and 
limitations of such support and the procedures to acquire such advice and assistance, and, 
compare these services with what is already available within the Department. 

[Rationale: The Waco incident indicated the BATF and possibly the Department of Treasury 
as a whole, has an incomplete understanding of the capabilities and limitations of military 
support available to law enforcement agencies. Field agents obtained advice from the 3rd 
Special Forces Group, a unit with no experience or particular expertise in dynamic entry 
techniques or with effective communications plans associated with close quarters assaults. 
A superior solution would have been to gain the advice of the Army's Delta Force, an 
organization that has developed the country's best techniques for such operations. BATF SRT 
leaders requested, but were unable to obtain smoke grenades, devices that would have been 
of high utility in masking vulnerable agents from the Davidians' fire. Some federal officers 
were struck by fire from the compound as they lay wounded on the ground. Smoke grenades 
should have been provided from military stocks and made available to the BATF. There is no 
reason the Department cannot have some on hand, avoiding unreasonable delays. 
Additionally, it is likely Customs helicopters and crews would have been of greater help than 
those of the Texas National Guard. There are legal limitations placed on military personnel, 
including aviation crews, in support of domestic law enforcement operations. For instance, 
military crews would have probably been legally prohibited from picking up the wounded while 
under fire. Conversely, Customs operates under a different charter and could have made the 
pick-up. Then, too, the U.S. military has a general lack of experience in this field. Gaining a 
better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of available military support is essential 
to the Department's efforts in improving its own capabilities-for all of its law enforcement 
organizations.] 



Conduct a study of ways and means to minimize America's growing problem with assault 
weapons. 

[Rationale: One of the outstanding features of and prime reasons for the BATF failure at Waco 
was the presence and use of assault rifles. Indeed, it is probable that the warrant would have 
not been sought if Vernon Howell had not acquired these weapons and given the clear 
indication that he was converting them to fire automatically. During the initial seconds of the 

B-112 



attempted entry into the Davidian compound, federal officers were suddenly exposed to an 
overwhelming tactical disadvantage. When Howell and his followers opened a devastating 
barrage of automatic fire, most officers had no choice but to rely on basic instincts and seek 
cover. As the fight progressed, these officers had little opportunity to retrieve the wounded 
because their own semi-automatic weapons could not provide the volume of covering 
firepower essential to temporarily overcome the Davidians' fire. In those conditions, rescues 
of the exposed and helpless could not be attempted unless a wholly unusual degree of 
physical courage was called upon. 

The BATF policy of prohibiting its agents from using automatic weapons may be laudable, but 
it is not logical. The incident at Waco will likely prove of critical importance. Howell's 
example (the bizarre cult association aside) is indicative of a greater trend. Assault weapons, 
both pistol and rifle versions, are becoming prevalent throughout America. These weapons 
have no place in sport hunting or pleasure in either their semi-automatic or fully automatic 
forms. Their purpose for being is either purely military or purely criminal. They exist to gain 
an advantage over an armed adversary, usually to provide suppressive fire (forcing the 
opponent to seek cover) in support of the user's maneuver or escape. Their sole intended use 
is, therefore, combat. Growing numbers of law enforcement officers face this threat and are 
at as much of a disadvantage as the BATF agents were at Waco. The next tragedy where law 
enforcement officers are outgunned by them and killed will, as a matter of common sense, 
provoke a drumbeat among the nation's policemen asking for automatic weapons in defense 
of their own lives. The country may therefore face a ludicrous arms race between cops and 
criminals. 

Surely, there must be a way for the federal government to, at most, ban the civilian 
possession of these military tools or, at least, inhibit their sale and conversion. Such worthy 
goals are deserving of a serious study. It is recommended that a firm with a strong public 
policy and technological background be commissioned to conduct the study under the 
supervision of the Department.] 



Initiate a study of past, dynamic entry-style law enforcement operations, along with a 
confidential survey of police attitudes toward them so that guidelines and tips for future such 
operations can be identified and used, particularly in SRT-type training. 

[Rationale: There are good arguments, both for and against dynamic entry techniques in 
domestic law enforcement situations. In an official setting, most law enforcement officers 
support such operations. However, in private, the undersigned has often heard an opposing 
view from experienced officers. Reservations include the resultant "storm trooper" image that 
these actions portray, especially from nationally telecast commercial programs that gain an 
audience from the dramatic display of brute force. Additionally, some officers are deeply 
troubled by some cases where there was great injustice done to innocents, citizens whose 
only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This phenomenon appears to 
warrant a confidential survey of American police officers. Additionally, there appears to be 
a problem with federal law enforcement actions centered on a rural crime site. During the 
Waco review, this latter factor was discussed and a number of controversial past actions that 
bore some resemblance to the Davidian operation were identified. A study of these actions, 

B-113 



one done with an examination of comparative urban incidents and sieges may yield iieipful 
corrective measures for use in the future. The logical setting where these lessons could be 
taught is in tactical police team training sessions.] 



Interim Measures 



Pending the favorable outcome of a cost/effectiveness study, implement Special Agent Gerald 
Petrilli's April 27, 1993 Regional Special Response Teams suggestion. 

[Rationale: Petrilli's suggestion involves eliminating district teams in favor of fewer regional 
teams and establishing a numerical, scored system for determining when to employ a SRT. 
While appearing to offer a more professional SRT capability to the Bureau while decreasing 
some costs and creating helpful criteria for SRT raids. Treasury and BATF officials do not 
currently have enough empirical data to make a rational appraisal. What is known is that SRT 
training detracts from essential man power available to Regional and District SACs in the daily 
execution of their enforcement duties. If there is a relationship (as common sense would seem 
to indicate) between arrest and conviction rates and available BATF special agents in the field, 
changes in the Bureau's SRT structure will impact on the overall accomplishment of BATF's 
mission. An analytical examination of Petrilli's idea may reveal that it is even more attractive 
than it appears. There may be a potential increase in BATF's effectiveness since implementa- 
tion of the proposal would release about 200 (almost half) of the Bureau's current SRT 
members for continuous assignment to day-to-day field duties. Additionally, this concept 
would eliminate some travel and instructional time for those agents involved in teaching duties 
at Ft. McClellan. These latter factors, impacting on both the costs and effectiveness of the 
Bureau should be calculated and considered with other factors, such as safety, prior to a 
decision. A competent, impartial analytical studies firm could produce a product that would 
i» establish the relationship between the Bureau's effectiveness and its personnel strength 

n directly engaged in arrests and convictions. The study could then calculate mandays and 

1^ money costs, applying these factors to Petrilli's concept. Such a study would likely prove a 

', valuable, rational decision aid to the BATF Director and interested Congressional committees 

in this and in other difficult choices centered on the Bureau's policy alternatives.] 

4 

^< Review Title III laws as they apply to cases involving the illegal possession of automatic 

weapons or explosives, identify why BATF rarely requests such authority, and, if necessary, 
propose additional legislation to the Congress. 

[Rationale: BATF Director Higgins, in his testimony before Congress implied that the Bureau 
does not have the authority to use this form of intelligence gathering as a matter of course 
in enforcing the laws BATF is charged with. On the other hand, during the review, lawyers 
who were queried by the undersigned stated such authority can be granted under current law. 
If there is a misty understanding of the law in Washington, there is likely only a foggy notion 
of its meaning outside of the nation's capital. 

Because of their unique skills. Treasury Department law enforcement organizations are often 

B-114 



the agencies of "last resort" in specialized, high-hazard cases. For exannple, both Texas law 
enforcement officials and the FBI were unable to develop probable cause against Vernon 
Howell despite expressed Congressional and media interest in the case. In contrast, the BATF 
was competent to develop probable cause against Howell--without Title III authority. 
However, once that hurdle was overcome, the next step, presentation of the warrant, 
involved a reasonable chance that Howell and his followers might use the illegal weapons they 
were suspected to possess. 

This situation is typical of many BATF cases and explains why the Bureau is prone to serve 
warrants in similar instances by the use of dynamic entry techniques. As the 578 SRT 
deployments prior to the Waco incident may indicate, use of dynamic entry provides some 
promise of preserving the lives of both federal law enforcement officers and the subjects of 
their investigations. But, the tragedy at Waco also points to the need for using additional law 
enforcement tools. If there had been wire taps or electronic surveillance of the Davidian 
compound, it is likely the actual extent of Howell's preparations to resist the raid would have 
been known. Several lives might have been preserved. Although electronic surveillance 
constitutes another regrettable increase in the invasion of privacy, it is not difficult to imagine 
other, future cases where life and limb might be saved with the use of this technique.] 



Revise BATF media relations policy, abolish field public information officer positions, return 
the incumbents to law enforcement duties and assign the resulting, freed-up positions to HQ 
BATF Special Operations Division. 

Taxpayer benefits, if any, gained by the expanded, proactive BATF public relations program 
of the past two years are, at best, obscure, and even if such a program had been of some 
demonstrable value, the pre-Waco media environment for the Bureau was a dramatically 
different one from the arena the BATF finds itself in today. With the grim video images of the 
failure at Waco burned into the memories of both the media and the public, the BATF is not 
likely to garnish its reputation, or even present itself in the best light through the commercial- 
style ritual of employing its corps of public relations experts to develop close and friendly 
relations with local press and broadcast functionaries. Public interests would likely be better 
served if the Bureau's image makers were pressed into its ongoing struggle to safely increase 
arrest and conviction rates. 

The Bureau might learn from the experience of the Department of Defense during the Gulf 
War. Following the Vietnam War, the Armed Services, at considerable expense, developed 
a cadre of professionally trained public information officers. At the outset of the Gulf War, 
these officers were used to put the best face on American military efforts, appearing on 
national television and conducting print media interviews. Within two weeks, when these 
specialists proved incapable of delivering the detail and authoritative statements the modern 
American media demanded, they were replaced by senior operational staff officers, and in 
some instances, by field commanders. Following this change, the U.S. Armed Services 
enjoyed an excellent public image. It is likely that BATF's senior field agents are capable of 
conducting unaided interviews and delivering announcements with as much skill and success 
as their military counterparts-at a savings to the taxpayer. 



B-115 



It is doubtful that the Bureau's special operations can in any way benefit from the current 
BATF policy of proactive media relations. In essence, the aims of special operations elements 
and media organs are antithetical. A successful special operation hinges on secrecy, surprise, 
and speed. A successful media effort depends on beating the competition to publish or 
broadcast news to the broadest possible audience. At Waco, BATF officers, operating under 
a Washington-level directive demanding proactive media relations, were unable to influence 
the Waco Tribune staff in the suppression of the story about Vernon Howell and it would be 
unlikely to see any newsroom abandon its reason for being to satisfy the needs of a law 
enforcement organization. While the undersigned has seen or heard no proof that the relation- 
ship between the press and BATF's Houston office resulted in a compromise of the operation, 
there is little doubt that such contacts can prove disastrous. 

There is another reason to reverse the Bureau's proactive media policy. An aggressive policy 
like the current one, inevitably results in competition with other law enforcement agencies, 
one-upmanship, unseemly turf battles and unhealthy professional relationships. By adopting 
a style of quiet competence and substance over image, the Bureau is apt to gradually gain the 
increased respect of its peers, an attitude that will undoubtedly be discovered by discriminat- 
ing journalists. As an example, the Secret Service enjoys an excellent reputation among law 
enforcement agencies, the media, and the public-all the while shunning publicity.] 



Initiate an analytical study to project the Department's probable law enforcement environment 
in the next four to five years. 

[Rationale: (Note: The following unsolicited comments may be considered outside the 
immediate considerations of the events in Waco.) Institutional modifications, influenced by 
a reasonable projection of tomorrow's conditions, are superior to those anchored in past 
events. Any changes in BATF's methods of operation, staffing or procedures are likely to 
affect other law enforcement elements under the purview of the Treasury Department. 
Customs, BATF and the Secret Service often augment one another and any action that 
focuses on one of the agencies takes essential oversight and administration from the other 
two. Thus the potential impact of changes in one bureau should be considered in the light of 
possible future effects on the others. Additionally, although outyear and even next week's 
events cannot be accurately predicted, decision makers are apt to make better changes if they 
are aware of trends and alternative futures. 

The undersigned was unable to find any law enforcement futures studies within the BATF and 
was given the indication there were no such studies of a recent nature within Treasury. A 
cursory analysis of the Department's areas of law enforcement interest indicates an ominous 
growth of Treasury related criminal activity and a dramatic rise in likely legislation that will 
substantially increase the Department's policing workload: 

► The nature of terrorism appears to be changing. During the Cold 
War era, terrorist organizations were often state supported, foreign 
governments supplying explosives, weapons, instructions and training. 
As the recent New York City World Trade Center bombing demon- 
strated, terrorists may now have to rely on their own initiatives to 
acquire weapons or manufacture explosives. The FBI will undoubtedly 

B-116 



remain as the country's lead agency and first line of defense against 
domestic terrorism. But the BATF may well play a growing role in 
identifying terrorist activity, albeit in some cases inadvertently. Addition- 
ally, the Trade Center incident showed the modern terrorist has a bent 
for political assassination, a phenomenon that was mostly avoided 
during the Cold War due to tacit, unwritten agreements between 
competing nations. This new and alarming situation could well make the 
duties of the Secret Service even more difficult than they already are. 

► Hate crimes are on the increase, particularly those associated 
with the country's rapidly expanding skinhead groups. The Anti- 
Defamation League states 78 percent of all hate murders during the past 
six years have occurred in the last three. And, the Alabama based 
Klanwatch claims the majority of racist violence is now caused by 
skinheads. While this criminal activity is another responsibility of the 
FBI, there is a greater likelihood that the BATF will, as a normal matter, 
be involved. The FBI's traditional adversaries in this arena, members of 
the Ku Klux Klan, rarely resorted to automatic weapons-skinheads are 
a different breed and the BATF is likely to be increasingly involved in 
these types of investigations and arrests. 

»• It is now clear that Customs' role in waging part of America's 
drug war is larger than previously thought. No one knows for certain the 
precise means by which illegal drugs are imported, but any number of 
recent indicators point to substantial deliveries under the guise of 
commercial, cross-border trade. High-ranking military officers have 
stated that less than five percent of illegal drug traffic pass through the 
nation's air defense zones and seaborne interceptions have all but 
vanished. On the other hand, the two largest illegal drug finds in the 
nation's history were both associated with large capacity trucks that 
entered the United States from Mexico, through Customs inspection 
points. Commercial truck traffic through these Southern border facilities 
has grown five-fold in the past six years, and that growth continues. 
Since $500 worth of cocaine or heroin in Mexico can fetch $100,000 
in the United States, there is no end of incentives to increase this illicit 
trade. In June, 200 lbs of cocaine concealed in a Columbian shipment 
of bananas was brought to the attention of Florida based Custom's 
officers by a commercial vendor. Drug traffickers often protect their 
goods with heavy weaponry, therefore the work of Customs may be 
more hazardous in future than in the past. 



► BATF officials state there have been few necessary enforce- 
ment actions associated with the Bureau's tobacco responsibilities, but 
that happy circumstance may soon disappear. The July confrontation 
between the Paugussett Indian tribe and the State of Connecticut over 
the State's right to collect a 47 cent per-pack tax on cigarettes may be 
a harbinger of things to come for federal officials. The Connecticut 

B-117 



confrontation was an armed one, the tribal chief and his AK-47 toting 
guards were determined to protect their growing cigarette business, 
growth due to a $4.00 per-carton savings for his customers. Apparent- 
ly, there is already enough profit in defying the law on cigarette taxes 
to risk arrest. It is all but certain that the Congress will pass a heavy 
cigarette tax in the fall in order to partially off-set the cost of the 
forthcoming national health legislation, a cost that some estimate will 
amount to about $50 billion in increased annual federal outlays. 
Estimates for the add-on federal tax on cigarettes range from $1 .00 to 
$1 .75 a-pack. A rough estimate of Treasury's take from this new levy 
is from $1 5 to $20 billion per year. Therefore, BATF's ability to enforce 
the tobacco sales statutes will assume a wholly new significance in the 
near future. It is likely some of the country's 50-60 million smokers will 
support criminal, tax-free trade in tobacco when the new federal 
cigarette tax takes effect. BATF's work and its need for resources is 
bound to expand. 



► Another sin tax associated with the coming health bill, an 
increase in the federal levy on alcoholic beverages, is also probable. 
Since there is considerable resistance to a beer add-on, the bulk of this 
tax is likely to fall on spirits, another BATF concern. The manufacture 
of and trade in illegal whiskey has traditionally been protected by 
weapons in the United States, and there is no reason to expect that this 
age-old American custom will not continue-and, flourish. It would be 
naive to believe that the federal campaign against moonshiners is not 
about to enter a new chapter. 

•■ Finally, there is the matter of guns themselves. A Spring, 
1993 national poll provided what the pollster, Louis Harris, described 
as the first firm indication that the country is now prepared for 
significant, new federal firearms legislation. The incident at Waco may 
have had something to do with this change in public attitude. Currently, 
there are eight pieces of proposed legislation in the Congress. Most tax 
ammunition and firearms, some as much as 1 000 percent. One is keyed 
to the emerging national health bill, raising the cost of guns by imposing 
a 20 percent tax, collections neatly destined for the nation's trauma 
centers. Whatever the results, in the end. Treasury will be charged with 
enforcement. 



In the case of the above mentioned likely legislation, the Department should be in a position 
to advise lawmakers of the impact such legislation will have on Treasury's ability to enforce 
the laws, ideally before such legislation is passed. Such a study should be conducted in the 
light of the changing nature of crime in America, not only to better advise lawmakers, but to 
serve Treasury Department decision makers as they adjust the duties, procedures and 
methods of operation within the Department's law enforcement organizations. Any number 
of competent firms can produce such a study within a period of 60 to 90 days for as little as 

B-118 



$200,000, a paltry sum considering what is at stake.] 

Long-Term Measures 



Create a full-time. Treasury-wide recruited. Treasury controlled, multi-purpose response team 
of 50-60 members that will conduct the Department's high-risk, high-profile, complex and 
dangerous law enforcement operations and other assigned tasks. 

[Rationale: There are better ways to conduct large-scale, complicated special operations than 
the methods used in February. The Waco incident clearly demonstrated the hazards of 
employing part-time special operations personnel in a large-scale, difficult operation. Although 
the agents at Waco had conducted long hours of rehearsals at Ft. Hood, interviews with some 
of the participants indicated their understanding of specific duties and the overall concept was 
a bit vague. Response team members that work together on a full-time basis would have likely 
been more cognizant of the plan and its individual parts. The Waco debacle was not only 
costly in human life, the action and its aftermath was terribly costly in dollar terms to the U.S. 
taxpayer. Rather than ignore the possibilities of repeat performances, it would be advisable 
to invest in a solution that promises improved execution in these operations. People whose 
day-to-day duties are aimed at special operations have a better opportunity to conduct well 
planned, expertly controlled actions than those who can only devote a part of their time to 
such efforts. And, well planned, expertly controlled actions have a better chance of success 
than operations conceived and executed in an ad hoc fashion by people who may never have 
worked together before. 

A high-profile, sensitive operation is best developed and controlled from the beginning by high- 
level authorities-in the end, it is they who will be held accountable. The raid at Waco, 
involving sizeable numbers of both women and children, the delicate matter of religion, issues 
of child sexual abuse, polygamy and the presence of large numbers of illegal automatic 
weapons and explosives, had headlines-grabbing, national-level significance from its very 
inception. Yet, it was handled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as a regional 
concern, deserving of only a cursory notification to responsible Treasury officers on the eve 
of execution. When the advisability of the raid was raised at Treasury, a hasty series of phone 
calls between officials resulted in confusion over what constituted the criteria for the raid's 
initiation. A superior arrangement would have Treasury officials involved at a much earlier 
stage. Placement of the responsibility to execute the National Response Plan at a higher level 
within the national administration will ensure such operations are developed and controlled 
with a more appropriate level of oversight. 

The Department should consider the U.S. Army's experience in creating a satisfactory 
counterterrorist capability in developing Treasury's own organization to execute large-scale, 
high-profile law enforcement operations. Initially, in the mid-1 970s, the Army's counterterrori- 
st force was a single Special Forces battalion, a unit that had several other responsibilities. 
That inadequate solution was quickly discarded and the choice of placing the responsibility 
with a larger unit, a Special Forces Group, was made. Later, this, too, was cast aside and an 
organization with Army-wide recruiting authority, one controlled and overseen at a much 
higher level was finally selected. At each successive step in this process, the organization 

B-1I9 



gained a better opportunity to select from a wider range of talent. And, at each step, tinne- 
consuming, confusion-producing levels of command and control were eliminated. The end 
result provides the country with a full-time, highly capable team whose characteristics and 
operations are in full view of the officials who must bear the responsibility for the team's 
support and employment. 

A full-time Treasury response team would provide the Department with more options in 
situations such as the one at Waco. One of the unadmitted, but obvious determinants that 
influenced the Incident Commander and his assistant to initiate the assault despite learning 
the raid was expected, was that changing the approach to a siege would deprive much of the 
American Southwest of BATF manpower for an undetermined length of time. A full-time 
response team, with no other compelling duties, would be more likely to opt for a siege if the 
tactical situation lent itself to that solution. A part-time special operations force does well if 
it can master the fundamentals of dynamic entry-a technique that was fully developed by 
counterterrorist teams in the 1970s. This technique relies on an overpowering, surprise, 
simultaneous assault staged through multiple entry points. A full-time special operations force 
is likely to have mastered dynamic entry and have more options such as selective, clandestine 
penetration of critical areas, up its sleeve. A full-time team is more apt to develop ruses and 
lures to accomplish missions without resorting to either chancy armed assaults or lengthy, 
expensive sieges. 

A full-time response team will be able to use better technology and weaponry than a part-time 
team is capable of handling. For example, when the Waco assault team leaders were asked 
about the possibility of BATF using automatic weapons to even the odds in special circum- 
stances, they stated they would not recommend such a practice for a variety of reasons-one 
of which was that SRT personnel do not have the essential firing practice time to gain 
proficiency. A full-time team would not have that limitation. SRTs do not have the capability 
to use low order, non-fragmenting explosives for shock entry, a highly effective technique that 
gains an initial advantage for assault elements at an extremely critical moment. A full-time 
team would have that edge-and more. 

A full-time team would be more likely to ensure that the principles of operational security are 
observed in the conduct of planning and preparing for an action. At Waco, there were 
countless opportunities for Vernon Howell to learn of the impending assault: interviews with 
family members of Davidians during the investigative phase that may have provoked phone 
calls to the compound; contacts with the media; coordination with a variety of local agencies, 
law enforcement and otherwise, any one of which could have compromised the operation; the 
large number of support personnel that arrived in Waco long prior to the arrival of the assault 
teams; and, pre-assault radio transmissions, some of which were in the clear. Additionally, 
there was no officer who had operational security as his or her sole function. A full-time team 
would have such a person or persons, vested with authority to take immediate, corrective 
action to prevent compromise. 

A full-time Treasury response team need not be a seldom-used, single purpose organization 
and it need not be of the size that was used at Waco. It could and should have multiple tasks 
and responsibilities. For example, once it is organized, equipped and trained, it should have 
the responsibility to train BATF's SRTs, relieving current instructors who must temporarily 
abandon pressing duties in their own regions and districts. It should be forward deployed and 

B-120 



placed at the disposal of the Secret Service when the President or other Treasury protectees 
are exposed to potential danger. It should be employed as a back-up or augmentation force 
for Customs' more difficult operations. Also, Treasury should make this force available when 
the Justice Department's law enforcement elements, the FBI, DEA and the Marshal's Service 
are in need of assistance, particularly when Treasury-specific expertise is required. And, if 
sizeable manpower is required, on the scale of that used at Waco, it could be augmented by 
BATF's SRTs.] 



In conjunction with the Department of Justice and the Office of international Criminal Justice, 
sponsor a series of international conferences on law enforcement actions against armed cults, 
the changing face of terrorism, the control of automatic weapons and explosives, the 
suppression of trade in illegal drugs, tobacco and liquor, and improvements in obtaining 
information on international criminals and suspects. 

[Rationale: The United States Government should not consider its experience with such 
groups as the Davidians or skinheads as unique. Nor should it attempt to only learn from its 
own experience in dealing with terrorists, automatic weapons, and illegal substances. 
Additionally, the WACO experience as well as the Trade Center bombing, involving a number 
of aliens, pointed once again to the inescapable fact that law enforcement officers in America 
are increasingly dependent on international assistance and information. The federal 
government should be interested in a more accessible international data base on criminals and 
their activities. It should share its experience and needs with its friends and allies abroad and 
learn from their ideas, mistakes and proven techniques. The Chicago-based Office of 
International Criminal Justice, a non-profit organization with offices in several foreign 
countries, is well qualified to administer and manage international conferences devoted to 
these subjects, bringing to the U.S. any number of foreign law enforcement experts as 
speakers. OICJ conducts approximately six such conferences on a wide range of criminal 
justice subjects per year, often publishing conference papers.] 

End Report 




Rod Paschall 



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MM 



ASSESSMENT OF WACO RAID PLAN 



BY 



LIEUTENANT ROBERT A. SOBOCIENSKI 

NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT 

EMERGENCY SERVICES UNIT 



B-123 



»■ 
TV 



liMmt 



iiv ■ 



WACO REVIEW COMMITTEE 



On February 28, 1993 one of if not THE most difficult 
undertakings in law enforcement history was conducted in Waco, 
Texas. On that day members of various Special Response Teams 
of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were joined 
together in an effort to carry out the mandates of the U.S. 
District Court of Texas and arrest Vernon Wayne Howell, A.K.A. 
David Koresh. A.T.F. members were also directed to search for 
and seize illegal weapons and explosive devices as per a search 
warrant on the 77 acre Branch Davidian compound which this male 
controlled. Personally, I am not aware of a bigger, more 
complex and difficult assignment in police work. 



CASE HISTORY - AN OVERVIEW 



The events of February 28, 1993 were the result of an 
exhaustive investigation which began with a case referral by 
Chief Deputy Dan Weyenberg of the McLennan County Sheriff's 
office to the Bureau of A.T.F. in late May of 1992. As the 
case progressed A.T.F. agents came to know that Howell was in 
the process of purchasing an enormous amount of firearms, 
weapons and ammunition. Based on their experience and further 
investigation, they came to the realization that Howell was 
engaged in the unlawful manufacture and possession of explosive 
devices and machine guns. This entire cache of arms and 
munitions was believed to be stockpiled at his Mount Carmel 
compound in Waco, Texas. The matter was complicated by several 
other factors. The subject had a prior history of violent 
behavior. He was also the leader of a religious cult. The 
Branch Davidian compound which Howell operated was known to be 
inhabited by a sizeable number of followers consisting of men, 
women and children. 

As the investigation progressed through the initial 
stage, it became apparent that this was to become a unique 
case. Shortly thereafter it became a headquarters monitored 
case . 



B-125 



ORIGINAL PLAN 

Initially the plan called for some type of ruse to be 
used in an. effort to lure Howell and as many of his leaders as 
possible away from the compound where they would be taken into 
custody. It was felt that/ with Koresh under arrest/ there 
would not be a strong influence for cult members to resist law 
enforcement personnel in the execution of the warrant. The 
objective was then to safely enter the Mount Carmel Center and 
a second location called the "Mag Bag" to search for evidence 
of the manufacture of explosives and machine guns. 
Unfortunately/ "information, observation and intelligence" 
determined Koresh had not left the compound in months and was 
not planning to leave his Davidian stronghold. With this in 
mind, attempts to apprehend Koresh away from his base of power 
were terminated. 

SIEGE PLAN 

In late December of 1992 discussion was given to the 
formalization of a SIEGE PLAN. Several ex-cult members were 
interviewed. Intelligence was gathered relative to the 
firearms and military training given to members of the compound 
as well as any alert system, defensive positions and 
fortifications. Inquiries were also made relative to an area 
called "The Tower" on the compound. Questions were asked 
relative to Koresh's expected reaction to a potential siege. 
Interviews revealed that Koresh had a deep hatred for A.T.F. 
He did not wish to go to jail. He repeatedly had boasted he 
had enough provisions on hand to sustain members for three 
months. Some ex-cult members believed that a mass suicide was 
a definite possibility. With the belief that Koresh was 
prepared to remain inside of his bunker indefinitely, the 
prospect of mass suicide/ and the possibility of a long 
standoff ultimately ending with a massive display of force/ the 
concept of surrounding the compound and announcing their 
intention to enforce a warrant was discarded by A.T.F. agents. 

RAID PLAN 

Due to the likelihood of a prolonged standoff with 
heavily armed cult members/ and the fear of a mass suicide in 
the event of a siege/ A.T.F. members began developing a 
TACTICAL PLAN. Agents began to compile "facts" relative to the 
daily routine within the compound. Intelligence discovered 
that/ unlike times in the past/ there presently were no guards 
on duty within the compound. It was also determined that "The 
Tower" was not used for surveillance purposes. Reportedly it 
was a area where women and children slept in addition to the 
second floor. Male cult members were restricted to and slept 
on the first floor. Agents learned of the presence of an 
armory on the second floor. This location was next to Howell's 
bedroom and reportedly contained the bulk of all munitions 

B-126 



stored on the compound. It was believed this section would be 
locked to prevent children or mutinous cult members from 
gaining admittance and obtaining weapons. Intelligence 
determined. members would arise around 6:00 a.m., have 
breakfast, then attend a worship service between the hours of 
8:00 to 10:00 a.m. After the prayer session ended, the women 
would care for the children as the men, weather permitting, 
would begin working outside in a pit area, unarmed. This work 
area was at the opposite side of the compound from the armory. 

UNDERCOVER HOUSE 

On January 11, 1993 an undercover surveillance house 
was established by the Bureau of A.T.F. It was situated across 
from the long driveway which led into the compound itself. 
Originally, it was scheduled to be in operation for 24 hours a 
day, 7 days a week. The case agent requested that the eight 
man team assigned to the house document significant events as 
well as the traffic coming and going through the compound. It 
was hoped surveillance would aid in the identification of 
persons frequenting or living in the compound as well as 
establish day-to-day activities and patterns. It was hoped 
that an undercover agent could be introduced, gain entry and 
begin to frequent the Davidian leader's stronghold. This 
becomes a reality when on January 28, 1993 an undercover agent 
establishes rapport with Vernon Howell himself. 

NATIONAL RESPONSE PLAN 

The tactical plan called for three Special Response 
Teams of A.T.F. to be used in this operation. The enormity of 
the undertaking dictates that a newly developed and as yet 
untested A.T.F. National Response Plan would go into effect. 
Rather than conduct the raid under cover of darkness (during 
early morning hours), the plan centers on the information 
relative to activities at 10:00 a.m. During this time the men 
will be separated from the weapons as they work in the outside 
pit area. 

The plan would begin prior to entering the compound 
with the placement of forward observer/sniper teams. One team 
would be placed in an area north of the compound. Another team 
would be placed in the undercover house. This was also the 
best spot available to monitor activities in both the front of 
the compound and the pit area. The placement of a third team 
was eliminated due to fear of discovery prior to the raid 
because of the 10:00 a.m. hour. 

On the morning of the raid the undercover agent was 
to gain admittance to the compound. Once in place he was to 
make observations, look for weapons and determine the readiness 
of cult members. Upon leaving the compound the undercover 
would report these results back to a supervisor in the 

B-127 



undercover house and to the Tactical Coordinator of the raid. 
If it was determined to be "business as usual" in the compound, 
the green light would be given for the raid to commence. 

As SRT members approached the scene a helicopter 
diversion would be staged. This event would take place in a 
distant area of the compound on the opposite side of the main 
road leading into the Mount Carmel Center. The diversion would 
be visible to cult members working in the outside pit area. 
With all observers on the alert looking for a display of 
weapons or unusual activity by cult members, agents would be 
transported to the compound surreptitiously in horse trailers. 
These trailers were commonly used in this part of the country 
and should not arouse suspicion. 

After receiving an all clear signal from the Deputy 
Tactical Coordinator in the undercover house, all members would 
converge on the compound armed with the element of surprise. 

The Houston SRT Team would exit the cattle trailers, 
enter the front of the compound and clear it. It was also 
their function to clear the pit area and take control of the 
men in this work area before they could reach any weapons. 

The Dallas SRT Team was responsible for entering the 
front door of the compound and securing the second floor except 
for Koresh ' s quarters. They were also to clear the towers. 

The New Orleans SRT Team had dual roles. Half the 
team would enter the compound from the front door. They would 
clear and pass through the chapel, go up the stairs, secure the 
arms room and the adjacent bedroom belonging to Koresh. The 
second part of the team would exit the trailers, ascend ladders 
and climb to the roof of the compound. At this point 
authorized personnel would toss a distraction device into the 
arms room prior to entering and secure it as well as the rear 
storage room. However, since the undercover couldn't confirm 
the existence of an inside stairwell, the plan was changed. 
The entire New Orleans team entered the east side of the 
dwelling and second floor roof by ladder in an effort to enter 
Koresh's bedroom and adjacent armory simultaneously. 

Ideally, if all went according to the script, all SRT 
teams would be able to "exit the transportation vehicles in 
eight seconds, get into position and make entry at the front 
door in approximately 33 seconds." By catching cult members 
completely off guard, highly trained and equipped A.T.F. 
members felt they could safely take control of the compound and 
its inhabitants without incident. 

That, basically, was the Plan. Had the events of 
February 28, 1993 ended peacefully, few people would have ever 
heard of or known the story of David Koresh and his Davidian 

B-128 



cult members in a compound in Waco, Texas. From the exhaustive 
information put together by the investigation team, as well as 
interviews conducted by the review panel, I would like to 
discuss sqme topics and offer some opinions and suggestions 
relative to the warrant execution on that day. It is hoped 
that all law enforcement personnel will gain additional insight 
and understanding as the events of Waco are studied. 

Many questions have been raised in the aftermath of 
the law enforcement activities at Waco, Texas. One of the most 
perplexing is whether ANY law enforcement agency is adequately 
prepared to handle a similar assignment. I cannot answer that 
question. I can only caution against the thought of military 
intervention in a like situation. Unlike the military, in 
civilian law enforcement there can never be consideration given 
to any acceptable casualty losses. Occurrences of this type 
are nightmares for every police planner, manager and chief. 



ANALYSIS OF PLAN 

After dissecting A.T.F.'s involvement with the Vernon 
Howell investigation, it is my feeling that the raid on the 
Mount Carmel Center was doomed to fail even before the first 
highly trained SRT member stepped out of the cattle trailers on 
February 28, 1993. 

One of the key ingredients to any successful plan is 
intelligence gathering. Good, sound, correct and up to the 
minute information is essential for any raid plan, not to 
mention the mammoth undertaking in Waco. This was an area in 
need of major improvement in the A.F.T. investigation. 

It is my opinion that the case agent did his 
homework. I believe he conducted as thorough an investigation 
as was possible within the bureaucratic framework at A.T.F. 
There was mention of the fact that he only had five years 
experience in investigations and that this was his first big 
case. The fact remains, he developed the investigation and 
obtained critical information to substantiate probable cause, 
which led to the arrest warrant for Howell and search warrants 
for the compound and the "Mag Bag." 

There was, however, a lot of missing information and 
poor intelligence gathered before the raid and on the raid day 
itself. Added to this was the fact that vital intelligence was 
overlooked, discarded or not used. This information was 
obtained by a host of A.T.F. personnel. 

Examples of this can be seen when former cult members 
are interviewed and, apparently, much if not all of their 
statements are reported to be facts. No thought is given to 
the idea that these ex-cult members had been away from the 

B-129 



compound for some time, or to their individual biases, or if 
they had an ax to grind with present cult members. 

Another weak link in the investigation was the 
undercover house set up to monitor and track cult activities. 
From the beginning we learn agents assigned do not have a 
strong sense of mission. Team members were inexperienced, had 
no direction or supervisor. They state they did not know what 
to look for or what was expected of them. Did they ask? 

Originally the undercover house was intended to 
operate on a full time basis. Within a short period it appears 
as if the undercover agents adjust observation times on their 
own. There is no 24-hour watch. Agents fail to see Howell one 
critical time as he left the compound. Surveillance equipment 
is faulty or misused. Members report there are 75 members 
living in the compound. The fact is 127 people are present on 
the day of the raid. A supervisor is brought in to take charge 
of operations but little changes. Why? Little useful 
information is gained from efforts prior to undercover agent 
Rodriguez making contact with the compound leader. 

On the day of the raid Agent Rodriguez gets into the 
compound and exits after hearing Koresh say "A.T.F. and the 
National Guard are coming. They won't get me, they'll never 
get me." The undercover reports this and other useful 
information to the Deputy Tactical Coordinator at the 
undercover house. Rodriguez is instructed to call and brief 
the Tactical Coordinator at the rear command post. After 
asking the undercover several sterile questions, the Tactical 
Coordinator consults with the Incident Commander and another 
supervisory agent, then decides to speed the raid up. He 
disregards all the significant factors to the plan and 
accelerates its timetable which was based on 10:00 a.m. as 
being the point for entry into the compound. SRT members are 
instructed to dress quickly for their assignment. They are 
loaded onto cattle trailers and rushed to the compound. 

During this time radio communications begin to break 
down within the raiding party. The helicopters get to the 
scene behind schedule. A group of observers are not in place. 
Added to this is the fact that forward observers at the 
undercover house are unfamiliar with the daily routine in the 
compound. They don't know what to look for. They fail to 
recognize that no signs of life or movement by cult members 
means danger. They do not report back that there are no men 
working in the pit. That was the critical element of the plan, 
SURPRISE, and the ability to separate the men from the weapons. 
All is lost. 

As all this is happening, the leaders of the raid 
have inadvertently quarantined themselves from any new 
information. They assume tactically incorrect positions. They 

B-130 



are not centralized. This helped make the coordination of 
efforts very difficult. As the response teams roll up to the 
front of the compound they are sitting ducks. Had it not been 
for the extensive training which members received at Fort Hood 
in preparation for this event, I feel many more agents would 
have been killed or injured. 

Questions have been asked in the days since the 
initial raid on the compound. Was the plan sound? Was there 
consideration given to alternatives? Was the choice for a 
dynamic entry a reasonable call? 

Based on my 25 years of experience with the New York 
City Police Department, if all the given facts which led to the 
decision to conduct the entry were true, I believe the plan had 
a reasonable chance of success. Members considered 
alternatives, but their " FACTS " led them to believe a raid on 
the compound could be successfully achieved. Strictly as a 
Monday morning quarterback, I would have opted for a siege 
plan. It should be noted that a plan of this nature was 
ultimately unsuccessful in Waco. 

I believe the three-day training and other 
preparation conceived at Fort Hood was excellent and well 
thought out. Improvement in tactical situations by all members 
concerned was evident as displayed in the training tapes. 

I disagree with A.T.F.'s policy of using the Tactical 
Coordinators as investigators to gain information from cult 
members. It put them too close to the case. I believe they 
lost objectivity relative to the plan. Had the investigation 
been done by others, tactical leaders would have questioned 
these so-called "facts" more closely. The decision to siege or 
go tactical should not be decided solely by tactical members. 
They are the can do, must do when all else fails people of the 
organization. It should be their responsibility to formulate a 
plan which should be analyzed, scrutinized and questioned by 
supervisors from above before sanctioning it. This acts as a 
check valve and ensures that those putting the plan together 
have all the facts available and that the plan holds up when 
challenged . 

Other major flaws with this case were the way members 
became desensitized to the amount of arms which were reportedly 
in the compound and this group's fanatic hatred of A.T.F. 
Supervising agents failed to either realize or appreciate the 
magnitude of firepower that they would be up against if a fire 
fight erupted. Early in the case this investigation was marked 
"sensitive." This designation meant that A.T.F. Headquarters 
would automatically begin monitoring its progress. 
Surprisingly, there was little input or direction from above. 
Nobody up or down the supervisory chain of command asked tough 
or unpopular questions relative to the plan. No one questioned 

B-131 



its poor case management, the improper utilization of 
surveillance equipment or the availability of other resources. 
Could agents get a warrant and put a tap on phones in the 
compound? , Could A.T.F. not monitor CB communications coming 
and going to the center? No one decided to ask for or send in 
specialists when called for. The final decision to go/no go 
was ultimately left in the overtaxed hands of the Tactical 
Coordinator. As the decision to go forward progressed, leaders 
failed to properly evaluate the information learned from Agent 
Rodriguez. They failed to recognize that the element of 
surprise and its tactical significance had been lost. They 
underestimated their target and his unseen ambush by 
overestimating the intimidating appearance of 86 agents dressed 
in full SWAT gear. 

No discussion of the events of February 28th could be 
complete without mention of problems encountered with the 
media. On December 15, 1992 case agent Aguilera learned the 
Waco Tribune-Herald was obtaining information about the cult, 
its leader and the Davidian compound for a possible article. 
As time went on, members of A.T.F. attempted to persuade 
Tribune officials to delay publication of an upcoming series 
featuring the cult, citing the ongoing investigation and 
likelihood of a potential raid. Not only did the paper refuse 
to comply, but the first article "The Sinful Messiah" appeared 
a day before the actual raid. 

On the day of the raid at least seven media vehicles 
were in the vicinity of the compound. The Texas Rangers report 
of investigation details how a reporter unwittingly leaked 
details of a potential A.T.F. raid to a cult member who 
returned to the compound and alerted Koresh. 



CONCLUSION 



In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr. Ronald K. 
Noble, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement, for the leadership, 
candor and enthusiasm which he brought to his position. 
Congratulations go to all members of his team for their varied 
skills, straight forwardness and dedication to duty during the 
arduous task of gathering the information for the review panel. 
A word of praise as well for fellow members of the review 
panel. It was an honor and privilege to serve with persons of 
such varied backgrounds, experience and knowledge. 

It is always easier to criticize, second guess and 
punch holes into a plan rather than construct one. No plan is 
or will ever be perfect. Under pressure mistakes were made. 
Enough cannot be said for the courage and fortitude exhibited 

B-132 



by all A.T.F. members who risked their lives at a previously 
unknown compound in Texas. Despite this incident, there can be 
no doubt why the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is 
thought of. so highly by the law enforcement community. 

My extreme gratitude goes to those members from 
A.T.F. who volunteered to meet with and discuss openly and 
freely the events of Waco with the review panel. To my 
knowledge this was an unprecidented event. Their wish and mine 
is that lessons can be learned from this tragic incident and 
that the mistakes made will not be repeated in the future. 

The events in Waco should bring about a change in 
philosophy and create interaction between federal, state and 
local law enforcement and encourage the sharing of ideas 
equipment and training which will be beneficial to all. 



B-133 



m 



Appendix B 



Explosives Experts 

(alphabetically by author) 

Paul W. Cooper 
Joseph T. Kennedy 



B-135 





Hi: 



REPORT on EXPLOSIVES QUESTIONS 

RELATED to the 

WACO ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW 

Paul W. Cooper 
Augusts, 1993 



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

A review was made of documents describing items and materials purported to have been 
delivered to the Branch Davidian Compound near Waco, Texas. These items and materials 
could, in the author's opinion, be combined in any of several ways to construct explosive 
destructive devices. It is shown that abundant literature is readily available which instructs 
the reader in the fabrication and use of such devices. It is further shown that in the United 
States, each year, a great number of such devices have actually been illegally fabricated 
and used, as reported by both the BATF and the FBI. 



INTRODUCTION 

This report is in response to three major questions which were posed to me by the Waco 
Administrative Reviewi^^f •. These were (in reference to materials/chemicals contained in 
an ATF Report of Investigation'^^f^)- 

1. "Do any of these entities when combined, in any manner or quantity, constitute 

an explosive?" 

2. "From your experience, could any of these entities when combined, in any 
manner or quantity, be utilized as an explosive in an improvised explosive 
device?" 

3 . "From your experience, what explosive or improvised explosive devices could 
be manufactured from the referenced entities?" 

In addition to these questions, I will add three others: 

4. How many explosive devices (re: question 3) could be manufactured from the 
referenced entities? 

5. If the referenced entities could be made into an explosive device, would the 

methods of doing that exist as reference or instructional material, and if so, how 
available are such instructional materials? 

6. Have explosive mixtures and/or improvised explosive devices which could be 

fabricated from the reference entities and described in the available instructional 
literature ever actually been made and or used? 

B-137 



The report which follows will first discuss the referenced entities, and then answer each 
question in technical depth. 



THE REFERENCE ENTITIES 

The materials/chemicals described above as the reference entities and which are pertinent 
to the making of explosives and explosive devices (quoted fi"om Reference 2) are: 

1. "Large quantity of black powder." 

(In reference 3 this is described as "black gun powder", and also is given as 
40 to 50 pounds. This may be smokeless gun powder and not black 
powder. The reason for suspecting this is because no shipping documents 
are referenced for this item but this was based, in Ref 3, upon testimony of 
the UPS driver. The two different gun powders are often confijsed by many 
people or not even thought to be different and therefore the names are 
often interchanged.). 

2. "Ninety (90) pounds of powder aluminum metal and 30 to 40 card board 

tubes; 24" in length by 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 in diameter." 

3. "Fifty (50) M-31 practice rifle grenades." 

4. "One hundred fifty (150) M-31 practice rifle grenades." 

5. "Potassium Nitrate (oxidizer)." 

(This is given as 30 pounds in Reference 3) 

6. "Ignitor Cord (Class "C" explosive)." 

(This is given as one pound in Reference 3). 

7. "Magnesium Metal (Flammable solid)." 

(This is described as "Magnesium metal powder" and given as five pounds 

in Reference 3). 

\ 

'Z In addition to the above, but not mentioned in Ref 2, are: 

^ 8. Two boxes of practice ("pineapple type") hand grenades (about 50 hand 

35'' grenades), assumed to be empty or inert'^^'^^^. This description fits the U.S. 

^1.. Army M21 Practice Hand Grenade. 

9. Over 138,000 rounds of various small arms ammunition^^*"^^'' ^ These are 
mentioned here because the smokeless powder with which each cartridge is 
loaded is easily removed. The total amount of smokeless powder in this number 
of small arms cartridges is approximately 840 pounds. 



B-138 



QUESTION 1 

"Do any of these entities when combined, in any manner or quantity, constitute 
an explosive?" 

Yes. 

The black powder by itself is an explosive. The black powder can be combined with the 
aluminum powder to give it an intensified incendiary effect. The black powder can be 
combined with the potassium nitrate to increase its gas output when it explodes. 

The smokeless powder by itself is an explosive, and like the black powder can have 
aluminum or magnesium powder added to it to give it an enhanced incendiary effect. 

The potassium nitrate can be combined with either the aluminum powder or the 
magnesium powder or a mixture of the two metal powders to form an explosive. 



QUESTION 2 

"From your experience, could any of these entities when combined, in any 
manner or quantity, be utilized as an explosive in an improvised explosive 
device?" 

Yes. 

When confined in a metal case the powders and mixtures described in the answer to 
question 1 (above) can, when ignited, explode violently, bursting or fragmenting the 
casing and producing potentially lethal high velocity fi-agments in addition to the blast and 
fireball. 

If confined lightly, such as in a card board tube, the powders and mixtures described above 
may explode sufficiently to produce a blast wave and also produce a fireball or incendiary 
effect. 

The ignitor cord can be used not only to ignite the explosive filler of an explosive device, 
but can also be used to provide a delay element in a fijsing train such as the burning fijse in 
a firework, or delay element in a hand grenade fijse. 



B-139 



QUESTION 3 

"From your experience, what explosive or improvised explosive devices could 
be manufactured from the referenced entities?" 

The practice hand grenade parts could be loaded with the mixtures described above and 
fused (have a fuse or fusing mechanism attached). The blank vent hole in the base of the 
practice grenade would have to be sealed by either welding or threading and plugging with 
a metal bung, thus making working grenades. 

The mixtures described above could be loaded into metal pipes or pipe nipples, sealed at 
each end with pipe caps, and fused with the ignitor cord, thus making pipe bombs. 

The mixtures could be loaded into card board tubes, sealed at each end, and fused with the 
Ignitor cord, thus making a blast and incendiary device. Such a device could be lethal from 
the blast effects if exploded close to or in contact with a person. 



QUESTION 4 

How many explosive devices (re: question 3) could be manufactured from the 
referenced entities? 

The M21 practice grenade can hold approximately 40 to 50 cubic centimeters of powder. 
All of the powders mentioned above have approximately the same loose pour bulk density 
(approximately 0.9 g/cc), therefore each grenade would hold about 35 to 45 grams of 
powder. There is sufficient quantity of powder of each type described above to fill more 
than 250 grenades (there were at least 50 grenade bodies purported to have been 
delivered) . 

The number of pipe bombs which could have been filled would depend upon the size and 
length of pipes used. As an example, standard two inch pipe cut to five inches length and 
capped with standard end caps would hold approximately a half pound of loose poured 
powder. Therefore as many as 70 or more such pipe bombs could have been made from 
the stated quantities of any of the powders. 

The 30 to 40 each 24 inch long cardboard tubes shipped with the aluminum powder could 
each be loaded with approximately three quarters of a pound of loose poured powder. 
This would fill all of the tubes and leave over some powder. 



B-140 



QUESTION 5 

If the referenced entities could be made into an explosive device, would the 
methods of doing that exist as reference or instructional material, and if so, how 
available are such instructional materials? 

Yes. Instructional material in the form of books, pamphlets, and instruction sheets are 
readily available in book shops, gun shows, through mail order, and even on computer 
bulletin boards. 

References Nos. 6 through 10 of this report are examples which were recently purchased 
at a local gun show in Albuquerque NM. All of these references mention the 
REFERENCED ENTITIES in a number of admixtures and in a number of explosive 
devices. Reference 9 in particular describes using these exact materials loaded into 
modified practice hand grenades and gives methods of modifying and reloading the 
grenade fuses as well as manufacturing improvised fuses for the practice grenades. 



QUESTION 6 

Have explosive mixtures and/or improvised explosive devices which could be 
fabricated from the reference entities and described in the available instructional 
literature ever actually been made and or used? 

Yes. A review of recent FBI and BATF annual reports"^**^ "-'^ show a large number of 
cases involving pipe bombs as well as modified military ordnance (the latter includes 
practice grenades). The two agencies utilize somewhat different yet overlapping data 
bases, and report the data somewhat differently. However, a good overall picture of the 
usage of the referenced explosives in pipe bombs and modified military ordnance can be 
seen in figures 1 through 4. 



B-141 



BATF Data for DESTRUCTIVE DEVICES 
(by Year and Type of Container) 



1000 



u 

- 800 h 

> 

V 

Q 

<« 600 |- 

o 

XI 400 - 



200 - 



IPIPES 

lOTHER (incudes modified ordnance) 




1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 

YEAR 



Figure 1. A compilation of BATF data for a ten year period, showing number of 
reported pipe bombs and modified military ordnance (these include but are not 
limited to modified practice grenades) regardless of flller explosive. 



BATF Data for DESTRUCTIVE DEVICES 
(by Year and Type of Explosive Filler) 



400 



u 300 



° 200 

E 

3 

Z 100 



O Black Powder 
E] Smokeless Powder 



CS Pyro (includes Al/Mg/K.N03 





1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 198 

YEAR 



1989 1990 1991 



Figure 2, A compilation of BATF data for a ten year period, showing number of 
reported destructive devices by the type of explosive filler. These fillers are black 
powder, smokeless powder, and pyrotechnics (the latter include but are not limited 
to mixtures containing aluminum, magnesium, and potassium nitrate). 



B-142 



FBI Data for PIPE BOMBS 
(by Year and Type of Explosive Filler) 



1000 



800 



B 

3 

z 



600 - 



400 



200 - 



r>vil Black Powder 

^^ Smokeless Powder 

(^ Pyro (includes AI/Mg/KN03) 



^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^KWh^^^^^v^^^^j'^^^^ff 



WWMAMWOWJA^WM I WW 




^ S^55^S^^ 



^11^ 



1990 



1991 
YEAR 



1992 



Figure 3. A compilation of FBI data for a three year period, showing number of 
reported pipe bombs utilizing various explosive fillers. 



FBI Data for MODIFIED MIL. ORDNANCE 
(by Year and Type of Explosive Filler) 



«; 60 



Q 



o dO — 






40 



20 - 



(S3 Black Powder 
(^ Smokeless Powder 



I Pyro (includes Al/Mg/K.N03) 




■t^wt; 




r"^ 



i 



m: 



1992 



Figure 4. A compilation of FBI data for a three year period, showing number of 
reported modifled military ordnance items (these include but are not limited to 
practice grenades) utilizing various explosive Tillers. 



B-143 



CONCLUSIONS 

The materials purportedly delivered to the Branch Davidians as stated in the referenced 
documents can, in the opinion of this author, be combined in several ways to make 
explosive materials and destructive explosive devices. In particular, all of the materials 
were present to modify and fabricate functioning fragmentation hand grenades, as well as 
pipe bombs, and blast and incendiary devices. 



Respectfully submitted, 
Paul W. Cooper 



REFERENCES 

1 . "Questions for Explosives Experts", a query by the Waco Review presented to me on 

7 July 1993 (copy attached as Appendix I). 

2. ATF Report of Investigation, No. 531 1 0-92-1 069-X, 22 July 1992. 

3. Application and Affidavit for Search Warrant, U.S. District Court, Western District of 

Texas, (marked W93-15M), Filed 26 Feb. 1993. 

4. A Spreadsheet, titled "Deliveries to Mag-Bag", 5 pages (copy attached as Appendix II). 

5. A Spreadsheet, untitled, 2 pages, (copy attached as Appendix III) 

6. "CIA Field Expedient Incendiary Manual", The Combat Bookshelf, Desert Publications, 

Phoenix AZ, 1977. 

7. "The Poor Man's James Bond", Kurt Saxon, Atlan Formularies, Eureka CA, 1972. 

8. "Special Forces Demolition Techniques", Extract from Army Field Manual FM 31-20 

(December 1965), Paladin Press, Boulder CO, (no date) 

9. "OSS Sabotage «& Demolition Manual", Paladin Press, (no date) 

10. "Unconventional Warfare Devices and Techniques, INCENDIARIES", US Army 

TM 31-201-1 (May 1966). 

11. Bu. ATF, Annual Explosives Incidents Reports: 

1985 (10 year Retrospective, 1976-1985) and all reports 1986 through 1991. 

12. FBI Annual Bomb Summaries: 

1990 through 1992. 

B-144 



Appendix I 



QUESTIONS FOR EXPLOSIVE EXPERTS 

Reference the materials/chemicals contained in ATF Report of 
Investigation, 53110-92-1069X, dated 7/22/92. 

Do any of these entities when combined, in any manner or 
quantity, constitute an explosive? 

From your experience, could any of these entities when 
combined, in any manner or quantity, be utilized as an 
explosive in an improvised explosive device? 

From your experience, what explosives or improvised 
explosive devices could be manufactured from the referenced 
entities. 



B-145 



Appendix II 



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B-148 



Appendix Il-(continued) 



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B-149 



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B-152 



I TECHMATICS, Inc. 



Three Crystal Park, 2231 Crystal Drive, Suite 1000, Arlington, Virginia 22202-3742 
(703)521-3818 



July 23, 1993 

Department of the Treasury- 
Waco Review Office, Room 4311 
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20220 

ATTN: Mr. Joseph A. Masonis 

Subj : Waco Review Independent Explosive Report 

Dear Sir: 

The enclosed report constitutes my individual assessment 
relative to the chemicals and materials reported to be involved 
in the Waco, Texas incident. 

I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to be of service and 
if there are any question regarding the substance of this report 
please call me. 



Sincerely, 



V' 



Joseph T. Kenned) 
Captain USN {R<i/) 



Enclosure: Waco Review Independent Explosive Report w/2 annexes 



Corporate Headquarters: Fair Lakes II, 12450 Fair Lakes Circle, Suite 800, Fairlax, Virginia 22033 • (703) 802-8300 



B-153 



:i!: 






WACO REVIEW INDEPENDENT EXPLOSIVE REPORT 



PURPOSE. The purpose of this report is to provide an independent 
judgment whether the list of materials and chemicals contained in 
the ATF Report of Investigation, 53110-92-1069x, dated 7/22/92 . 
could be used singly or in combination to fabricate an improvised 
explosive device (lED). 

BACKGROUND/DEFINITIONS. The following ingredients contained in 
the report could be made into an lED: black powder, potassium 
nitrate, aluminum powder, magnesium powder, ignitor cord and the 
M-21 practice hand grenades. Of these materials the following 
are included in the U.S. military Explosive Ordnance Disposal 
(EOD) -60 series publications as "Typical Improvised Device 
Materials " : 



Material 


Hazard 


Remarks /Precautions 


Black Powder 


Friction, spark. 


Use nonsparking tools 




flame, shock, or 


and packing materials. 




static 


Protect against 




electricity. 


reaction elements. 


Potassium Nitrate 


Produces toxic 


Increases flammability 




oxides when 


of combustible 




burned. 


materials . 


Aluminum Powder 


Respiratory and 


Used primarily to 




eye irritant. 


increase temperatures 
in explosive and 
incendiary mixtures. 


Magnesium powder 


Respiratory and 


Used to increase 




eye irritant. 


temperatures m 
explosive and 
incendiary mixtures . 



Ignitor cord, a class C explosive, generally consists of a center 
wire coated with a burning compound contained by layered 
wrappings which is used to cause ignition or provide a delay 
regulated by the speed of burn designed into the compound. All 
these materials could also be used in an improvised incendiary 
device. M-21 practice grenades with some modification can be 
used as a container to provide containment for these materials. 

EXPERIENCE. I would be able to construct an lED by modifying the 
grenades to permit loading of the black powder. Black powder 
could be used alone or mixed with small amounts of potassium 



B-155 



nitrate and either aluminum or magnesium powder. Aluminum and 
magnesium powders would serve to increase temperature while 
potassium nitrate, an oxidizer, would enhance combustion. 

M-21 practice grenades are designed with a smooth hole in 
the bottom containing a stopper plug which can be blown out when 
the ignitor initiaties the small amount of black powder. To 
modify this into an explosive grenade, the smooth hole could be 
threaded to accept a closure plug thereby sealing the bottom of 
the grenade and providing containment for the explosive mixture. 
Practice grenades normally contain a fuse resembling the 
operational model. The fuse consists of a primer that, when 
struck by the spring loaded striker mechanism, emits a spark to 
ignite a small charge of black powder. This generates a puff of 
smoke to provide realism in a training exercise. This fuse could 
be easily modified to provide a delay channel using time fuse or 
ignitor cord which would accept the primer's spark and burn with 
a short delay (approximately 5 seconds) to then ignite the black 
powder or black powder mixture. 

Annex A, taken from the Expedient Hand Grenades 
publication listed in Annex B, is just one example of this type 
of delay fuse. If a practice fuse was not available, time fuse or 
ignitor cord could be used in a more rudimentary way through a 
stuffing tube in the top of the grenade to provide delay and 
ignition of the black powder. This same application is typically 
found in pipe bombs except the fuse is introduced through a 
drilled hole in one end cap on a piece of pipe. Fabricating an 
improvised device is one thing and having it function as desired 
is another. While their safety and quality are usually suspect, 
their consistency and effectiveness can provide insight into the 
maker's subject knowledge. 

The quantities of materials listed in the report would 
support conversion of the two cases of practice grenades (30-40 
grams each) as well as a large quantity of pipe bombs or 
incendiary devices. 

KNOWLEDGE. While someone with the proper educational background 
or appropriate training in explosives from military or commercial 
sources can build an improvised explosive device, the ability to 
produce an lED is essentially limited only by one's ability to 
read. Numerous publications on the open market not only describe 
the chemistry in detail but provide a step by step description to 
build explosive and incendiary devices. The appendix to this 
report includes a small sampling of publications that are 
available in newsstands, gun shows, and public libraries. 
Additionally, there are periodicals such as Soldier of Fortune 
magazine that occasionally have "how to" articles as well as an 
advertisement for many of the books in the appendix. 

I determined the availability of information for the 
construction of improvised explosive devices by visiting the 
Library of Congress, a local bookstore, and newsstand in 

B-156 



Alexandria, VA. At the Library of Congress, I used an access 
terminal in the Adams Building's Science and Technology Reading 
Room to search on the keyword "explosives." This identified the 
book titles included in the bibliography. Annex B. Palaci^n 
Press, which specializes in this genre, has several pages of book 
advertisement in two recent editions of Soldier of Fortune 
magazine and continues its production of The Poor Man's James 
Bond , one of the original classics. The newest source of 
information is computer bulletin boards. Anyone with a computer 
and telephone modem, and knowledge to access networks can dial in 
and find this information on the "bulletin board." As a test 
case, I dialed in and found numerous articles on how to 
manufacture explosives and make improvised explosive and 
incendiary devices. 

CONCLUSION. The ingredients referenced in the reports and 
discussed above could be fabricated into an explosive or 
incendiary device. 



Respectfully submitted 

JbsepTy T. Kennedy 
Captain USN (Ret)^ 




B-157 



ANNEX A 
EXPEDIENT HAND GRENADES 



STRIKER ACTUATED EXPEDIENT TYPE HAND GRENADE FUZE 



SAFETY LEVER 
PIVOT PIN 






VENT HOLES 
covered with tape 




SAFETY PIN 



FUZE HOUSING, 
aluminum channel 



SAFETY LEVER, 3/32" 
steel stock 



STRIKER, riveted 
2 piece component 



PRIMER, small pistol type 

CASE, Ml carbme 

Cavity chamber for burning delay gas escape 

ELAY TUBE, plastic drinking straw 
/4" OD) 
DELAY HOUSING, 5/16" copper tubing 

DELAY, black powder, FFG, FFFG or 
equivalent, compressed 



EPOXYSEAL 

BLACK POWDER, loose, not compressed 

LACQUER SEAL, optional 

DETONATOR FILLER, mercury fulminate, 
2 gram minimum 

DETONATOR HOUSING, 5.56x45mm 
cartridge case with primer fired and 
not removed 



B-158 



ANNEX B 



The Anarchist Arsenal: Improvised Incendiary and Explosives 
Techniques , by David Harber, published by Paladin Press, Boulder 
CO, 1990 (Keyword was "Explosives--Amateurs ' manuals"). 

The Anarchist Handbook , by Robert Wells, published by J. Flores, 
Rosemead CA, 1985 (keyword was "Explosives, Military--Handbooks , 
manuals, etc . " ) . 

Bomb Squad: Defining and Defusing Terrorist Explosives , 
published by Paladin Press, Boulder CO, 1990 (keyword was 
"Paladin Press" ) . 

Deadly Brew: Advanced Improvised Explosives , by Seymour Lecker, 
published by Paladin Press, Boulder CO, 1987 (keyword was 
"Explosives--Handbooks, manuals, etc."). 

EOD Improvised Explosives Manual , published by Paladin Press, 
Boulder CO, 1990 (keyword was "Explosives--Handbooks , manuals, 
etc. " ) . 

Expedient Hand Grenades , by G. Dmitrieff, published by Desert 
Publications, El Dorado AR, 1984. 

Improved Explosives: How to make your own , by Seymour Lecker, 
published by Paladin Press, Boulder CO, 1985 (keyword was 
"Explosives, Military--Handbooks , manuals, etc."). 

Improvised Munitions Black Book , published by Desert 
Publications, El Dorado AZ, 1982 (Keyword was "Explosives-- 
Amateurs' manuals"). 

The Poisoner's Handbook , by Maxwell Hutchkinson, published by 
Loompanics, Port Townsend WA, 1988 (keyword was "Explosives-- 
Miscellanea" ) . 

The Poor Man's James Bond , by Kurt Saxon, published by Atlan 
Formularies, Eureka CA. 

Ragnar's Guide to Home and Recreational Use of High Explosives , 
by Ragnar Benson, published by Paladin Press, Boulder CO, 1988 
(Keyword was "Explosives--Amateurs ' manuals"). 



B-159 



Appendix B 



Firearms Experts 

(alphabetically by author) 

Wm. C. Davis 
Charles R. Fagg 



B-161 



TIOGA ENGINEERING COMPANY, INC. 
P.O. Box 913, 13 Cone Street 

Wellsboro, PA 16901 telephones: 

WM. C. DAVIS, JR., P.E. (717) 724 3533 

REGISTRATION 453K, Pa (717) 662-2730 

FAX (717) 662-3347 



LETTER REPORT 



SUBJECT: Review of BATE Operations in the Matter of David 

Koresh and the Branch Davidian Cult at Waco, Texas 



FOR: Joseph A. Masonis 
Waco Review Team 
U. S. Treasury Department 
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 
Washington, DC 20220 

DATE: 3 August 1993 



BACKGROUND ; 



1.1 As is now well known, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, 
Tobacco and Firearms (BATE) , attempting to execute a search warrant 
on 28 February 1993 at the compound of the so-called "Branch 
Davidian" cult which was led by Vernon W. Howell (aka: David 
Koresh) near Waco, Texas, were met by armed resistance. The initial 
encounter resulted in the shooting deaths of both BATF agents and 
cult members; the ensuing confrontation, which lasted until 19 
April 1993, resulted finally in the death of Koresh and many 
members of his cult. A review of all aspects of this operation is 
now in progress. One part of that review is to address the question 
of whether the evidence available to the BATF, before the raid on 
28 February 1993, was sufficient to support a reasonable inference 
that Koresh and his followers inside the compound were assembling 
automatic weapons ("machine guns") in violation of provisions of 
the National Firearms Act. 

1.2 This writer has agreed to serve and has been appointed as a 
technical consultant to review independently the evidence that was 
available to the BATF prior to the raid on 28 February 1993, and to 
formulate an opinion, if possible, as to whether the BATF had 
reasonable cause to obtain a search warrant and attempt to execute 
it on the premises of the "Branch Davidian" cult on 28 February 
1993. 

2. ITEMS OF EVIDENCE EXAMINED: 



B-163 



2.1 Inclosure 1 herewith is a compiled list of military and/or 
paramilitary materiel, including firearms, ammunition, etc., 
procured by Koresh and his followers from about February 1992 to 
December 1992. The names of items listed in Inclosure 1 were taken 
from several different source documents that were made available to 
me for review, as shown at Inclosure 2. The items listed on the 
various source documents were entered into a computer data base so 
that they could be sorted and grouped according to various criteria 
for analysis. Inclosure 1 is a printout of the data base. Because 
of overlapping dates and inconsistencies in nomenclature used in 
the source documents, there are some uncertainties in their 
interpretation. It follows, therefore, that there may be some 
inaccuracies in the data base compiled from the source documents. 
It is possible that some of the individual items found in the 
source documents have been either omitted entirely or have been 
counted twice in compiling the data base. I believe, however, that 
the number of such discrepancies is relatively small, and would 
have no significant effect on the overall conclusions to be drawn 
from the data. 

2.2 Another point of information that is important, in my opinion, 
to the analysis of the data on acquisition of materiel by Koresh 
and his followers, is the kind of machine tools available to them. 
In response to my inquiries on this point, I have been informed 
that at least an engine lathe and a milling machine were known to 
be available inside the compound. 

3. OBSERVATIONS: 

3.1 None of the many pieces of information available to me is 
sufficient, by itself, to answer the question as to whether Koresh 
and his followers inside the compound were engaged in assembling 
automatic weapons in violation of the National Firearms Act. 
However, these pieces of information, taken together, form a 
context in which that overall question should be addressed. The 
evidence indicates that the BATF had acquired the following 
information by about the end of December 1992, approximately two 
months before the attempt to execute the search warrant at the 
"Branch Davidian" compound. 

3.1.1 Between February 1992 and December 1992, Koresh and his 
followers had acquired the items listed below: 

3.1.1.1 Approximately 136 weapons described as "assault 
rifles", 29 pistols, 4 shotguns, 786 magazines for firearms, 
and 211,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition. 

3.1.1.2 In addition to these purchases of complete firearms, 
Koresh and his followers also had purchased 110 AR15/M16 
upper receivers (with barrels) and 68 AR15/M16 lower-receiver 



B-164 



assemblies, indicating that at least 110 AR15/M16 rifles were 
to be assembled. 

3.1.1.3 Additional firearms-related items procured by Koresh 
and his followers included grenade- launcher attachments for 
AR15/M16 rifles, and a modification that reportedly allowed 
the AR15/M16 rifle to be loaded and fired using belts of 
ammunition (a typical characteristic of true machine guns) 
instead of loading and firing ammunition fed from magazines, 
as it is commonly done for rifles. 

3.1.1.4 Koresh and his followers also had purchased more 
than 400 empty M31 Practice rifle grenades, unspecified 
quantities of blackpowder, and various materials that may be 
used in making explosive and/or pyrotechnic compounds, 
including 30 pounds of potassium nitrate, 5 pounds of magne- 
sium metal, 90 pounds of powdered aluminum, and one pound of 
igniter cord (a Class C explosive) . 

3.1.2 The items enumerated above include only those known to 
have been delivered to Koresh and his followers in recorded 
transactions. They do not include items that might have been 
purchased directly from vendors or from private parties within the 
state of Texas, or otherwise in unrecorded transactions. 

3.2 It seems virtually certain that most of the parts obtained by 
Koresh and his followers for assembly into AR15/M16 rifles were of 
the military M16 configuration, some of which differ significantly 
from those of the semiautomatic AR15 rifle. In particular, the bolt 
carrier, selector, trigger, hammer and disconnector of M16 
configuration differ significantly from those of the semiautomatic 
AR15 rifle. These parts of M16 configuration can be installed in a 
semiautomatic AR15 rifle, but they do not convert the rifle to 
automatic fire, except in combination with an automatic sear. There 
is no automatic sear listed in the accounting above, so the 
question now arising is whether it is reasonably probable that 
Koresh and his followers had possession of automatic sears for use 
in assembling automatic rifles from the AR15/M16 parts that they 
had obtained. 

3.2.1 It is perhaps significant that Koresh and his followers 
elected to purchase parts for assembly into AR15/M16 rifles, rather 
than buying the assembled weapons themselves. One might speculate 
that buying parts to assemble the firearms was an economy measure, 
but the savings realized would not have been very great in 
comparison with the cult's total expenditures on armament during 
this period. The alternative and more plausible explanation seems 
to be that firearms of the type they preferred could not have been 
legally procured because they are automatic weapons. Furthermore, 
it seems unlikely that the cult would have purchased parts 



B-165 



sufficient to assemble more than 100 rifles unless they knew in 
advance that they had access to all the parts required to complete 
the weapons, including automatic sears. 

3.2.2 Automatic sears are of two types. The automatic sear used 
in military M16 automatic rifles is specifically designed for 
installation and functioning in the lower receiver of the M16 
automatic rifle, and the lower receiver of the M16 automatic rifle 
is designed to accommodate the automatic sear. The lower receiver 
of the non-military AR15-type semiautomatic rifle is purposefully 
designed so as to prevent the installation of the military 
automatic sear, but the AR15-type receiver can, by a person 
sufficiently skilled and having access to a milling machine with 
appropriate tooling, be altered to allow installation of a military 
automatic sear. 

3.2.3 The so-called "drop-in" automatic sear was specifically 
designed and intended for installation in the unmodified lower 
receiver of the AR15 semiautomatic rifle. The "drop-in" automatic 
sear will, when used in combination with certain military M16-type 
parts that are readily available, provide the capability for 
genuine automatic fire from the rifle. The "drop-in" automatic sear 
was available from various sources and was not subject to special 
controls before 1986. It has since 1986 been subject to the same 
controls imposed by the NFA on automatic weapons ("machine guns"), 
but there are undoubtedly unregistered specimens of the "drop-in" 
sear still in existence. Given one specimen as a pattern, a skilled 
machinist, having access to a milling machine with appropriate 
tooling, could produce serviceable "drop-in" automatic sears. 

4. CONCLUSIONS: 

4.1 It is my conclusion that the quantities and types of military 
and/or paramilitary items purchased by Koresh and his followers 
between February 1992 and December 1992 indicate that he was 
preparing for what he perceived would be all-out armed conflict 
against the forces of civil authority. If that is so, he would 
probably have perceived some advantage in arming his followers with 
automatic weapons for the occasion, and he would have had little 
concern for the comparatively trivial infraction of violating the 
National Firearms Act by assembling automatic weapons. 

4.2 It is also my conclusion, based on the aforementioned records 
of purchases made by Koresh and his followers, that they had by 
January 1992 acquired all of the parts necessary, with the possible 
exception of automatic sears, for assembling a substantial number 
of M16-type automatic rifles. Furthermore, it is my conclusion that 
Koresh and his followers had equipment capable of modifying the 
lower receivers of AR15-type semiautomatic rifles to accept the 
M16-type automatic sears, and also equipment capable of making 



B-166 



"drop-in" automatic sears for use in unmodified AR15-type lower 
receivers. 

4.3 In summary, it is my conclusion that the information available 
to the BATF on or before 31 December 1992 was sufficient to justify 
a reasonable inference that Koresh and his followers in the 
compound of the cult were engaged in the assembly of automatic 
weapons, in violation of the National Firearms Act. 

SUBMITTED : /|/^X- iS^-J'J'Ap/J / 

Wm. C. Davis, Jrf. , P. E. 



Incls: 

1. Compilation of data on materiel acquired. 

2. Source documents from which data were compiled, 



B-167 



8/04/93 



DELIVERIES 
(DESC. SORT) 



Date 



Desc 



Oty 



From 



Cost 



4/30/92 AMMUNITION, .308 (1200 RDS PER CASE-20 CASES) 

8/18/92 AMMUNITION, .308 (1200 RDS PER CASE-9 CASES) 

7/06/92 AMMUNITION, 7.62 (#026529, PIECE #026529) 

5/10/92 AMMUNITION, 7.62 (1200 RDS PER CASE-1 CASE) 

4/22/92 AMMUNITION, 7.62 (1200 RDS PER CASE-30 CASES) 

3/31/92 AMMUNITION, 7.62 (1200 RDS PER CASE-60 CASES) 

5/22/92 AMMUNITION, 7.62 X 39 STEEL CORE(1200 RDS PER CASE-48 CASES) 

8/07/92 AMMUNITION, 9MM 

8/01/92 AMMUNITION, 9MM 

8/07/92 AMMUNITION, 9MM 

2/01/92 ASSAULT RIFLES 

3/09/92 ASSAULT RIFLES 

4/01/92 ASSAULT RIFLES 

5/01/92 ASSAULT RIFLES 

6/01/92 ASSAULT RIFLES 

7/01/92 ASSAULT RIFLES 

8/01/92 ASSAULT RIFLES 

7/08/92 BELT FEED (AR15) 

5/26/92 CAR. KIT, M16 

3/10/92 CHEMICALS FOR EXPLOSIVE DEVICES & HAND GRENADES 

■92 CHEMICALS, INSTRUMENTS & GLASSWARE 

2 CLEANING KIT, M16 

V,.o/92 CONVERSION KIT, .22LR, AR15,MINI14 S. AK47 (#451221) 

6/18/92 CONVERSION KITS, AR15/M16, (M261 RIFLE CONVERSION KITS) 

6/18/92 CONVERSION, AR15/M16 KIT, (EXCEPT LOWER RECEIVER) 

5/26/92 EZ KIT, M16, W/AZ, 20" BBL 

6/10/92 GRENADES, M-31 RIFLE 

6/17/92 GRENADES, M31 PRACTICE RIFLE 

6/29/92 GRENADES, M31 PRACTICE RIFLE 

GRENADES, PRACTICE (CASES) 

3/09/92 GROUND SENSORS & NIGHT VISION EQUIPMENT 

6/18/92 HANDGUARDS, M203 

6/15/92 HANDGUARDS, M203 FOR M16 

7/02/92 IGNITER CORD, 1 LB (CLASS C EXPLOSIVE) 

8/03/92 KNIVES 

6/15/92 LAUNCHER, FLARE CM-2037 

6/30/92 LAUNCHER, FLARE W/C.A.R. MOUNT 

6/19/92 LAUNCHER, GRENADE, M76 

7/08/92 LAUNCHERS, M203 

6/07/92 LOWER RECEIVERS, SWG 

6/09/92 LOWER RECEIVERS, SWG 

4/01/92 LOWER RECEIVERS, SWG (M16) 

4/07/92 LOWER RECEIVERS, SWG (M16) 

4/30/92 LOWER RECEIVERS, SWG (M16) 

5/12/92 LOWER RECEIVERS, SWG (M16) 



24000 


UNKNOWN 




10800 


UNKNOWN 




1000 


CENTURY INTERNATIONAL ARMS 




1200 


UNKNOWN 




36000 


UNKNOWN 




72000 


UNKNOWN 




57600 


UNKNOWN 




2800 


L & N SHOOTERS 


280.50 


2800 


OLYMPIC ARMS, INC 


280.50 


2800 


UNKNOWN 




13 


UNKNOWN 




2 


UNKNOWN 




56 


UNKNOWN 




31 


UNKNOWN 




18 


UNKNOWN 




13 


UNKNOWN 




3 


UNKNOWN 

JONATHAN ARTHUR CIENER 




2 


NESSARD GUN PARTS CO. 

UNKNOWN 

UNKNOWN 


550.00 


1 


OLYMPIC ARMS, INC 
JONATHAN AARTHUR CIENER 


10.00 


2 


SARCO, INC 


249.50 


3 


SARCO, INC 


824.85 


2 


NESSARD GUN PARTS CO. 


620.00 


200 


UNKNOWN 




50 


ROCK ISLAND ARMORY, INC 


162.50 


150 


ROCK ISLAND ARMORY, INC 


487.50 


2 


UNKNOWN 
UNKNOWN 




4 


SARCO, INC 


79.80 


2 


TAPCO-SPECIALIZED WEAPONS 
UNKNOWN 


44.00 




P.L. & T. TIFFIN KNIVES 


374.00 


2 


TAPCO-SPECIALIZED WEAPONS 


355.50 


2 

1 


TAPCO, INC 

NESSARD GUN PARTS CO. 

JONATHAN ARTHUR CIENER 


299.90 


12 


UNKNOWN 




3 


UNKNOWN 




11 


UNKNOWN 




15 


UNKNOWN 




5 


UNKNOWN 




6 


UNKNOWN 





B-168 



Enclosure 1 - 1 



8/04/93 



DELIVERIES 
(DESC. SORT) 



Desc 



Qty 



From 



Cost 



5/18/92 LOWER RECEIVERS, SWG <M16) 

7/20/92 LOWER RECEIVERS, SWG (M16) 

7/27/92 LOWER RECEIVERS, SWG (M16) 

6/18/92 MAGAZINES, .22 CONVERSION, (FOR G.I. H261 CONVERSION UNIT) 

3/26/92 MAGAZINES, 7.62, (30 RD) 

4/22/92 MAGAZINES, 7.65 (30 RD) 

11/23/92 MAGAZINES, AK47, 100 RD 

11/23/92 MAGAZINES, AK47, 100 RD 

6/17/92 MAGAZINES, AK47, 100 RD. 

8/06/92 MAGAZINES, AR15/M16, (30-RO) 

8/12/92 MAGAZINES, H14, (.308 CAL, 20-RD) 

6/08/92 MAGAZINES, M16/AR15 

8/06/92 MAGAZINES, USED AR15,30 

8/12/92 MAGAZINES, USED M14 

7/02/92 MAGNESIUM METAL, 5 LBS 

5/26/92 PARTS, M16, SET KIT "A", W/SLING & MAG (NO LOWER RECEIVER) 

2/01/92 PISTOL 

4/01/92 PISTOL 

5/01/92 PISTOL 

7/01/92 PISTOL 

8/01/92 PISTOL 

IP '92 PISTOL 

2 PISTOL 

(, .,92 POTASSIUM NITRATE, (OXIDIZER), (LBS.) 

6/05/92 POWDER, ALUMINUM 

6/05/92 POWDER, ALUMINUM METAL (LBS.) (& 30-40 CARDBOARD TUBES) 
POWDER, BLACK 

2/01/92 SHOTGUN 

6/15/92 SIGHT ASSEMBLY, M203 H.G. 

5/26/92 SUPPRESSOR, FLASH, REVERSE FLASHHIDER 

7/08/92 SUPPRESSORS 

7/16/92 UNKNOWN 

7/17/92 UNKNOWN 

7/20/92 UNKNOWN 

7/14/92 UNKNOWN 

7/17/92 UNKNOWN (CONT «09912, SHIP #409992) 

7/09/92 UNKNOWN (SHIPPING #383833, CONTROL #039756) 

7/09/92 UNKNOWN (SHIPPING #622836, CONT. #473126) 

5/14/92 UNKNOWN, (SHIPPING #622836, CONT. #443693) 

4/24/92 UPPER ASSEMBLY, 16" BBL, CAR-9 (9MM) 

4/24/92 UPPER ASSEMBLY, 16" BBL, CAR-9 (9MH) 

7/13/92 UPPER ASSEMBLY, CAR-45 (.45AUTO) 

7/13/92 UPPER ASSEMBLY, CAR-9 (9MM) 

4/02/92 UPPER RECEIVER, 16" BBL 

4/02/92 UPPER RECEIVER, 16" BBL 

4/28/92 UPPER RECEIVER, 16" BBL 



6 


UNKNOWN 




8 


UNKNOWN 




2 


UNKNOWN 




6 


SARCO, INC 


49.95 


100 


UNKNOWN 




100 


UNKNOWN 




20 


UNKNOWN 




20 


UNKNOWN 




20 


ALPHA TRADING COMPANY 


1,200.00 


200 


UNKNOWN 




30 


UNKNOWN 




60 


UNKNOWN 




200 


ALPHA TRADING COMPANY 


540.00 


30 


ALPHA TRADING COMPANY 
UNKNOWN 


150.00 


1 


SARCO, INC 


274.95 


1 


UNKNOWN 




11 


UNKNOWN 




4 


UNKNOWN 




1 


UNKNOWN 




9 


UNKNOWN 




2 


UNKNOWN 




1 


UNKNOWN 




30 


UNKNOWN 
UNKNOWN 




90 


FOX FIRE CO. 
UNKNOWN 




4 


UNKNOWN 




2 


TAPCO-SPECIALIZED WEAPONS 


65.50 


1 


NESSARD GUN PARTS CO. 
JONATHAN ARTHUR CIENER 


10.00 




SHOOTERS EQUIPMENT CO. 


387.51 




SHOOTERS EQUIPMENT CO. 


68.88 




SHOOTERS EQUIPMENT CO. 


122.76 




TAPCO, INC 


1,386.86 




CENTEC FIRE SYSTEMS, INC 


411.29 


2 


KENGS FIREARM SPECIALTY 


290.56 




NESSARD GUN PARTS CO. 


1,250.65 




NESSARD GUN PARTS CO. 


720.00 


4 


OLYMPIC ARMS, INC 


1,304.00 


4 


OLYMPIC ARMS, INC 


1,304.00 


2 


OLYMPIC ARMS, INC 


616.00 


2 


OLYMPIC ARMS, INC 


586.00 


1 


OLYMPIC ARMS, INC 


243.00 


1 


OLYMPIC ARMS, INC 


243.00 


8 


OLYMPIC ARMS, INC 


2,104.00 



B-169 



Enclosure 1-2 



8/04/93 



DELIVERIES 
(DESC. SORT) 



Oesc 



Qty 



From 



Cost 



4/28/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


16" BBL 






8 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


2,104.00 


3/30/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


16" BBL, 


(W/AZFS) 




5 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,215.00 


3/30/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


16" BBL, 


(W/AZFS) 




5 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,215.00 


3/30/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


16" BBL, 


(W/AZFS) 




5 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,215.00 


l,/2&/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


16" BBL, 


(W/EZ) 




2 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


620.00 


4/28/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


16" BBL, 


(W/EZ) 




2 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


620.00 


3/26/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


16" BBL, 


ASSEMBLED & 


TEST FIRED 


5 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,215.00 


3/26/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


16" BBL, 


ASSEMBLED & 


TEST FIRED 


5 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,215.00 


3/26/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


16" BBL, 


ASSEMBLED & 


TEST FIRED 


5 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,215.00 


3/30/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


16" BBL, 


ASSEMBLED & 


TEST FIRED 


4 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


972.00 


3/30/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


20 "MATCH 


BBL, (W/EZ 


& AZFS) 


4 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,152.00 


3/30/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


20" MATCH 


BBL, (W/EZ 


& AZFS) 


4 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,152.00 


4/24/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


20" MATCH 


BBL, (W/EZ) 




4 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,228.00 


UlZkin 


UPPER RECEIVER 


20" HATCH 


BBL, (W/EZ) 




4 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,232.00 


4/28/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


20" MATCH 


BBL, (W/EZ) 




4 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,232.00 


4/02/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


20" MATCH 


BBL, (W/EZ UPPER & AZFS FLASH SUPP) 


2 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


516.00 


I./Q2/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


20" MATCH 


BBL, (W/EZ UPPER & AZFS) 


2 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


576.00 


4/24/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


20" MATCH 


BBL, (W/EZ) 




4 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


1,228.00 


4/02/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


BBL, (W/EZ, UPPER) 




3 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


879.00 


3/30/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


BBL, ASSEMBLED & TEST 


FIRED 


4 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


972.00 


4/24/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


BBL, (W/EZ) 




2 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


598.00 


'./92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


BBL, (W/EZ) 




2 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


598.00 


/92 


UPPER RECEIVER 


BBL, (W/EZ 


, UPPER) 




3 


OLYMPIC 


ARMS 


INC 


879.00 


j/14/92 


VESTS, 4-POUCH 


EACH FOR AK47, 30 RD. 


MAGAZINES 


50 


UNKNOWN 








4/15/92 


WALKIE-TAKIES 








6 


UNKNOWN 








4/22/92 


UEB BELTS 








144 


UNKNOWN 








6/18/92 


WRENCH, COMBO ( 


FOR AR15/M16) 




3 


SARCO, 


NC 




30.00 



B-170 



Enclosure 1 -3 



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B-174 



Enclosure 2-4 



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B-175 



Enclosure 2-5 



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B-177 



Enclosure 2-7 



TIOGA ENGINEERING COMPANY, INC. 
P.O. Box 913, 13 Cone Street 

Wellsboro, PA 16901 telephones: 

Charles R. Fagg (717)724-3533 

REGISTRATION 40239 TX. (717) 662-2730 

FAX (717) 662-3347 



August 5, 1993 



LETTER REPORT 



Subject: 

Investigation of the Circumstances Leading to the February 28, 1993 
Raid and Subsequent Siege of the Branch Davidian Compound, Waco, 
Texas. 

To: 

Joseph A. Masonis 

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W. , Rm. 4121 

Washington, D.C. 20220 

Background ; 

In the Spring of 1993, virtually every television and radio 
station in America broadcast the events which occurred at the 
Branch Davidian Compound at Waco, Texas. This extensive coverage, 
coupled with the tragic ending , raised questions in the minds of 
both the American people and the Government responsible to those 
people. In order to provide answers to these questions, the 
Government has mounted a massive investigation into the events 
which led to the raid, and into the execution of that raid. Mr. 
William C. Davis, Jr. and the undersigned, both of Tioga Engineer- 
ing Co., Wellsboro, PA, were asked to participate in this investi- 
gation. To provide the necessary information and an understanding 
of the part we were to play, Mr. Joseph A. Masonis, of the Treasury 
Department, provided a briefing on July 1, 1993, at the test 
facilities of Tioga Engineering. At that briefing, we were 
provided written information and verbal direction. This took the 
following form. 

1. The written material consisted of lists of the firearm and 
explosive-related materials known to have been received prior to 
February, 1993, by the "Mag Bag Corp.", a mailing address of the 
Branch Davidians. 

2. The verbal direction consisted of an overview of the 
investigation and a clear delineation of the scope of our involve- 

B-179 



ment. My understanding of this direction was that Mr. Davis and I 
were to independently review the information available to the 
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms prior to the incident, and 
to determine if they acted reasonably in seeking and executing a 
search warrant. 

Information Provided 

1. A five-page list of deliveries to "Mag Bag Corp." from 
March 26 through August 12, 1992, This document is undated but 
contains the number I. N. 53110-92-1069X. (see Appendix 1.) 

2. Olympic Arms, Inc. retail catalog, dated January, 1992. 
(example not enclosed) 

3. A two-page document "Firearms Technology Branch Report of 
Technical Examination" dated Dec. 15, 1992. This document refers 
to 53110-92-1069 X, and lists some of the same materials listed in 
document number 1., above, (see Appendix 2.) 

4. A two-page, undated document purported to provide a history 
of weapon-related transactions of certain members of the Branch 
Davidians from February, 1992 to February, 1993. (see Appendix 3.) 

5. A two-page "Report of Investigation (Law Enforcement)", 
dated 23 July, 1992, referring to Investigation No, 53110-92-1069-X 
(see 1. and 3. above) . This document lists the known firearms parts 
and accessories received by "Mag Bag Corp." from March, 1992 to 
July, 1992, and requests an evaluation as to whether Vernon Howell 
and Mike Schroeder were "possibly converting or manufacturing Title 
II weapons". (see Appendix 4.) 

6. A list containing the names, addresses and telephone 
numbers of other parties involved in the investigation. (copy not 
included) 

7. A written outline and verbal review of the overall scope of 
the investigation. (copy not included) 

8. At a later date, in response to a verbal request for 
further information, Mr. Masonis reported that an engine lathe and 
a milling machine were known to be within the compound. 

Comments 

Though the information upon which this study is based was 
prepared by the organization under scrutiny, there is no reason to 
doubt its accuracy or objectivity. 

The lists of materials are difficult to interpret because they 
often, but not always, include the same equipment as duplicate 
entries. Some items appear on more than one list, and others do 

B-180 



not. In document number 4., lower receivers are listed as "lower 
receivers" in the monthly acquisitions, but are listed as "fire- 
arms" in the totals. Whether or not the "lower receivers" are 
also counted among the monthly firearms acquisitions is unclear. 
To overcome these problems, only approximate quantities are 
included in the recap list below. 

Since the ammunition acquisitions are sometimes listed in case 
lots without indication of the size of these cases, and since the 
5.56 mm ammunition is listed only by dollar value, it is impossible 
to establish the exact amount of ammunition received. Here, again, 
quantities are estimated. 

Partial List of Materials Present ; 

The following is an approximate recap of the firearm and 
explosive-related materials known to be within the complex by 28 
February, 1993. 

1. 249 firearms (over 60 % of military derivation) 

2. Parts to construct an additional 68 AR-15 rifles 

3. Incomplete parts kits to construct 52 AR-15 rifles 

4. One belt-fed AR-15 rifle 

5. 260 magazines for AR-15 rifles 

6. 20 100-round magazines for AK-47 rifles 

7. 100 magazines for 7.62 mm weapons (probably AK-47 rifles) 

8. 6 caliber .22 conversion unit magazines 

9. 30 magazines for M14 rifles 

10. M203 Grenade launcher (quantity unknown) 

11. 1 M76 (?) grenade launcher 

12. 6 Walkie Talkies 

13. Kits for converting AR-15, AK-47 and MINI-14 to fire cal. 

.22 Rimfire ammunition (quantity unknown) 

14. 2 kits for converting AR-15 to fire cal. .45 ammunition 

15. 10 kits for converting AR-15 to fire 9 mm ammunition 

16. 4 Flair Launchers 

17. Over 200,000 rounds of assorted ammunition 

18. 200 M31 practice rifle grenades 

19. 2 cases of practice grenades (quantity and type unknown) 

20. 5 manuals for activating M31 practice rifle grenades 

21. Black powder (quantity unknown) 

22. 90 pounds of aluminum powder 

23. 5 pounds of Magnesium (assumed to be powder) 

24. 30 pounds of potassium nitrate 

25. An engine lathe and a milling machine 

Rationale ; 

The above is an approximate list of the firearm and explosive- 
related materials known to have been acquired by the Branch 
Davidians before Feb. 28, 1993. Most had been acquired between 
March 26, 1992 and Aug. 12, 1992. During this brief period of 4 

B-181 



1/2 months, their expenditures for weapon-related materials was in 
excess of $43,000. Had they been functioning as dealers, had they 
been acquiring collector-type materials, or had the firearms market 
been such as to make investment lucrative, these acquisitions might 
be explained as some form of peaceful endeavor, but when none of 
these conditions exist, the only logical explanation is that the 
Branch Davidians were preparing for a massive, armed confrontation. 

Particularly revealing is their acquisition of practice rifle 
grenades, manuals for activation of these grenades, black powder 
and materials for manufacturing explosives. This, more than any 
other item of information, indicates their willingness to modify 
material to enhance their capability of armed resistance. 

Having concluded that the Branch Davidians were arming, and 
that they were willing to modify materials to meet their needs, it 
is reasonable to assume that they were also contemplating means of 
increasing the effectiveness of other weapons. Since it is 
popularly believed that the combat effectiveness of automatic 
weapons is superior to that of semiautomatic weapons, it is highly 
probable that attempts were being made to convert some, or all, of 
their semiautomatic weapons to fire automatically. To do so, and at 
the same time retain acceptable reliability, requires the installa- 
tion of some form of automatic sear, and an appropriate selection 
of parts of M16 configuration. Except for automatic sears, the 
remaining M16 configuration internal parts are easily and legally 
obtainable. Appendix 5. indicates the ease with which these parts 
may be obtained. While not specifically stipulated in Appendix 3., 
the 120 parts kits called "machinegun kits" probably consisted of 
such parts. 

Automatic sears for the AR-15 or M16 rifle are of two basic 
types. The military-type and the drop-in type. Unless modified 
through the use of machine tools, specifically a milling machine, 
the design of the lower receiver of the AR-15 rifle prevents 
installation of the military-type automatic sear. The drop-in 
automatic sear, however, is specifically designed to function in 
conjunction with the aforementioned M16 parts, but to be capable of 
installation in an unmodified, AR-15, lower receiver. They are a 
simple assembly, and can be installed or removed in less than one 
minute by an inexpert craftsman. 

The material made available does not indicate that the Branch 
Davidians received shipments containing automatic sears. However, 
with the machine tools known to exist within the compound, a 
knowledgeable and motivated individual could easily modify AR-15 
lower receivers for installation of military-type automatic sears, 
or fabricate automatic sears of the drop-in type. 

Conclusions; 



B-182 



Applying the above rationale leads to the following conclu- 
sions. 

The Branch Davidians were arming with the intent of entering 
into an armed confrontation. 

In their pursuit of arms, they were attempting to activate 
grenades through use of black powder or other crude explosives. 

In an attempt to increase the combat effectiveness of the 
weapons available to them, it is highly probable that they were 
attempting to convert semiautomatic weapons to fire automatically, 
and it is possible that they had succeeded. 

In view of the information available prior to February 28, 
1993, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was fully 
justified in seeking and attempting to execute a search warrant at 
the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas. 

Respectfully submitted, 



/ /'/■' y/' / 



Charles R. Fagg, _£-y<' ^. 



B-183 



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B-185 



Appendix 1 -(continued) 



o 

•e 





in 


n 






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H 






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B-186 



Appendix 1 -(continued) 



s 

u 
o 

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a. 



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B-187 



Appendix 1 -(continued) 



A 

o 

< 
a. 



< n 

H Ov 

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O H 

n •■ r« M 

O r^ 9\ 

< < «> o 

^ S ■ rt 

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■n o 

1 3 -< 

M h iH 

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> . vo • 

M r» p« a 

a a a • 

Q H u >-< 

o a 

K X 



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0. 
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s 



B-188 



Appendix 2 




DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURV 

BUREAU OF ALCOHOL. TOOACCO AND FIREARMS 

Firearms Technology Branch 
Report of Tcchnicnl Fixaininntion 



Wtt wimdmw tmrti»pt, lltgtm typing bttwttn Jolt.) 



Special Agant Davy Agulleca 

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms 

P.O. Box 20-2828 

Austin, TX 78720-2828 



Law Knriircciiirnt 
Wnsliinglun, t).C. 10U6 



■■ r: 1101} 927.7VI0 



DATE: 12/15/92 

YOUR: 53110-92-1069 X 

RE: Howell, V.H. et.al. 

OUR: 3-184-CHB 



DATE EXHIBITS RECEIVEO: 12/15/92 
DELIVERED SV: Fax. 



TYPE OF EXAMINATION REQUESTED: 
Classic ication 



EXHIBITS: 

OCBcrlption of firearm parts and components including the following: 

From Olympic Arma: 

1. 9nvm and .45 ACP upper assefflblics/rcceivers/convcrsion units. 

2. Barrel units and upper receiver assemblies. 



Heavy match barrel units with assault handguards and upper receiver 
assembly. 



4. Flash suppressors. 

5. K-IB 16- with AZFS. 

6. K-2B with EZ and AZFS. 

7. Car 9 unite. 
From Sarco Inc. : 

1. H16 parts set kit with sling and magazine. 

2. Bolt catch extractor pin and buttcap screw. 

3. H16 "A* kits. 

4. M-261 rifle conversion kits. 

5. H-203 handguards. 
From Nesard Gun Parts Co. t 

1. H16 Car kits. 

2. H16 EZ Car kits. 

3. Flash suppressor. 



B-189 



Appendix 2-(continued) 
^pWcLal Agent Oavy Aguilera 



53110-92-1069 X 
3-104-CHB 
pngo 2 



From unknown company: 

1. H16/AR15 magazines. 



PINDINCSt Baaed on the description provided the above items are consistent with 

component parts and accessories for AR-15 rifles or M16 machineguns. 

CONCLUSIONi The described parts and accessories are not firearms as defined in 18 
U.S.C. Chapter 44, or 26 U.S.C. Chapter 53. 




Curtis H.A. Bartlett 
Firearms Enforcement Officer 



m 



B-190 



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(Y) 







B-191 



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B-192 



Appendix 4 



CrA^i*»l-NT OP THE TREASURY- BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS 

REPORT OF INVESTIGATION (Law Enforcement) 



'heif. Firearms Technology Branch 
hington, D.C. 

£ OF INVESTIGATION 

-well, Vernon Wayne et.al... 



I. INVESTIGATION IS 
H ROUTINE 

n scNsrrivE Qsicn 



IFICANT 



Pifc I of 
1 2 oir 



3. MONfTOItrO INVr.'iTIflATIOri lr4rOUNiATION<M*m6^ra/*rf 0r<incA ) 

Cll': HOUSTON l-Y-92 
FIREARMS VIOLATIONS 
REPORT 002 



TYPE OF REPOIlT(Oi«t appUcahlt baxei ) 



PREUMIMARY 



STATUS 



FINAL 



SUPPLEMENTAL 



COLLATERAL (.Rt<iucit ). 



COLLATERAL (Rf/i/y ) 



INTELLIGENCE 



REFERRAL Umcntat ) 



J. INVESTIGATION No. llneluJt Saiptcl fJa.) 

53110-92-1069-X 



7. BUREAU PROGRAM 



TITLCI 



TITLE II 



TTTLEVn 



FIREARMS 



EXPLOSIVES 



!. PRO)ECr(S) 



TARGETED OFFENDER 



TERRORIST/EXTREMIST 



OCD 



ITAR 



SEAR 



OMO 



OTHER (5>«(/V) 

GENERAL 



DETAILS: 

This collateral request relates to an investigation initiated in response 
to a "Referral" from the McLennan County Sheriff's Department, Waco, 
Texas, concerning the alleged illegal possession and or illegal 
conversion/manufacturing of Title II, NFA weapons and explosives by Vernon 
W. Howell, AKA: David Koresh, Route 7, Box 471-8, Waco, McLennan County, 
Texas. 

Assorted firearm parts and accessories have been shipped to the "Mag Bag" 
rporation, addressed to Vernon Howell and Mike Schrocdcr from March of 
j92, to the present. Additional firearm parts currently being shipped to 

the "Kag Bag" corporation are being closely monitored and documented. It 
; requested that following documented firearm parts and accessories 
eceivcd by the "Mag Bag" corporation be evaluated, to determine if, that 

with these parts, the aforementioned subjects are possibly converting or 

manufacturing Title II weapons: 



Shipped from: 



Olympic Arms Inc. 
624 Old Pacific Hwy. , 
Olympia, Wa. 
(206) 456-3471 



S.E. 



1) Four (4) 9min and .45, ACP upper assemblies/receivers/conversion units, 

2) Twenty-three (23) Barrel units and upper receiver assembly. 

3) Eighteen (18) heavy match barrel units with assault handquards and 
upper receiver assembly. 

4) Eleven (11) flash suppressors. 

5) Twenty-five (25) K-IB 16", with AZFS. 

6) Fourteen (14) K-2B with EZ and AZFS. 



SUDMHTED BY (W«m« ) 

Davy Aguiler 




1 1. TITLE AND OFFICE 

Special Agent, Austin 



II. DATE 

07/23/92 



14. TnLE AND OFFICE 

Resident Agent in Charge 



15. DATE 



APPROVED BY (AAim«) 

Phillip J. Chojnacki 



17. TITLE AND OFFICE 

Special Agent in Charge 



18. DATE 

/ / 



AT»'l>:iZn^U>9a| 



B-193 



Appendix 4-(continued) 



ucr/UMrvici'tl \jr lite, ikca^uki 1 pirp 

• UKEAUOFAUMIIOUTOIIACCOANOnKEAIlMS I 



it. 



REPORT OF INVESTIGATION - CONTINUATION SHEET 

(Law Enrprccmcnl) 



VESTICATION 

1, Vernon Wayne et.al. 



INVIISTIGATION NO. 

:i3110-92-10C9-X 



(Cwui'mmW ) 

Four (4) Car-9 units. 

ipped from: Sarco Inc. 

Union street 
Stirling, N.J. 
(908) 647-3800 

One (1) set of M-16 parts set kit with sling and magazine. 

One (1) bolt catch extractor pin and buttcap screw. 

Three (3) M-16 "A" kits. 

Two (2) M-261 rifle conversion kits. 

Four (4) M-203 handguards. 

ipped from: Nessard Gun Parts Co. 

27 W. 990 Industrial Rd. 
Barrington, 111. 
(708) 381-7629 

Two" (2) M-16 car kits, which contain everything that an M-16 contains, 

to include a 16" barrel, with out the lower receiver. 

Two (2) M-16 EZ car kits, which contain everything that an M-16, with 

the 20" barrel, with out the lower receiver. 

One (1) flash suppressor. 

ipped from: Unknown Company at this time. 

Two (2) boxes containing a total of M-16/AR-15 magazines, 30 in each 
box. 

has been recently learned that the "Mag Bag" Corporation have also been 
ceiving other firearm parts and accessories from the following companies 
at have not yet been identified: 

ooters Equipment Co. Center Fire Systems Inc. 

0. B^X 517 102 Fieldview 

chland, S.C. 29765 Versailies, Ky. 40383 

tached are copies of invoices for your assistance and information. 

ould you have any questions regarding this request, please contact 
ecial Agent Davy Aguilera at (512) 482-5333. Please submit the results 
your evaluation to: 

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms 
ATTN: Special Agent Davy Aguilera 
P.O. Box 20-2828 
Austin, Texas 78720-2828 



TSTTioTSlor 



B-194 



Appendix 5 



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B-195 



Appendix C 



ATF Operations Plans 



C-l 



Original Operations 
Plan 



February 25, 1993 



C-3 



OPERATIONS PLAN 
SITUATION: 



A. CIRCUMSTANCES: 

On March 1, 1993 a Federal Search Warrant 
will be executed on the premises known as the residence 
of Vernon Wayne Howell, AKA: David Koresh, and others, 
along with all outbuildings and appurtenances and 
vehicles located on the premises. 

B. TERRAIN: 

The premises is in a rural setting, located on an 
approximate 77 acre tract of land, nearly 14 miles 
north and east of Waco, Texas. The premises contains 
the residences of approximately eighty (80) men, women 
and children, along with storage buildings and other 
structures . 

C. TARGET: 

Howell is the leader of a religious cult known as 
Branch Davidian and the premises has been named the 
Mount Carmel Center. For the past several years Howell 
has been receiving firearms parts which, if combined, 
could constitute the manufacture of machineguns. Also, 
he has been receiving shipments of chemicals and 
explosive materials which, if combined, could 
constitute the manufacture of explosive devices. These 
deliveries have been made through a cult operated mail 
drop known as the "Mag Bag". Additionally, nearby 
neighbors have reported hearing what they believe to be 
the sound of automatic weapons being fired in the 
nighttime coming from the Howell residence. 

D. SUBJECT: 

Vernon Wayne Howell is a white, male, born on August 
17, 1959. He first took control of the Mount Carmel 
Center in early 1988 after an armed assault on the 
previous occupant in November of 1987. Howell, 
according to credible witnesses, depicts himself as 
Jesus Christ incarnate, requires all cult members to 
turn over all of their personal belongings to him, and 
he also sexually appropriates all of the female cult 
members for himself exclusively, to include female 
children as young as thirteen. Howell has surrounded 
himself with a group of approximately ten male cult 
members who have either criminal records and/or special 
skills which might precipitate violence during the 
execution of the search warrant. 



C-5 



2. MISSION : 

The objective of the operation is to safely enter the 
premises of the Mount Carmel Center, to search the 
entire premises (to include the upper level residence 
of Howell and all other living quarters) for evidence 
of the manufacture of machineguns and explosive devices 
and for the machineguns and devices which may have 
already been manufactured. Personal identification of 
all persons on the premises will be accomplished and 
any persons who have outstanding warrants and/or 
immigration violations will be detained pending release 
to proper authorities. All others will be allowed to 
either leave the premises or to remain, as they may 
desire, once the search has been concluded. 

3. EXECUTION; 



A. HOW THE OBJECTIVE WILL BE ATTAINED: 

Utilizing a number of facilities and the services of a 
wide array of Federal, State and local agencies, ATF 
will accomplish the mission. On Sunday, February 28, 
1993, at approximately 8:30 p.m., an undercover ATF 
special agent will admit the Deputy Tactical 
Coordinator into an undercover residence which is 
across the road from the premises where the warrant 
will be served. Sometime prior to 8:30 a.m., on 
Monday, March 1, 1993, the undercover agent will 
position Forward Observers outside the premises, front 
and rear, in semi-concealed locations. At 9:00 a.m., 
Monday, March 1, 1993, the Tactical Coordinator will 
gather the tactical elements at a large parking lot 
site approximately eight miles away from the premises. 
The Tactical Coordinator will advise the undercover 
special agent by STU phone that the tactical elements 
are in position at which time the undercover special 
agent will visit the premises and identify the location 
of Howell and other principals. He will also check for 
recent changes at the premises and for any barriers or 
obstructions which may have recently been erected which 
might deter entry. 

After his check of the premises, the undercover special 
agent will return to the undercover residence across 
the road and he will advise the Deputy Tactical 
Coordinator of his findings. The Deputy Tactical 
Coordinator will advise the Tactical Coordinator by STU 
phone of the conditions at the premises. Once the 



C-6 



premises site has been determined to be functioning 
normally, the Tactical Coordinator will advise the 
three road block sites to begin their road blocks and 
he will deploy his tactical force of approximately 
seventy SRT special agents into two cattle trailers 
being pulled by civilian trucks and being driven by 
qualified special agents. The Tactical Coordinator 
will ride as a passenger in one of the trucks pulling a 
cattle trailer. He will be accompanied by an EMT 
trained special agent assigned to the SRT. As the 
Tactical Coordinator deploys, he will notify the Deputy 
Tactical Coordinator, who will then broadcast a radio 
message to the Command Post, air support units, the 
road block units and the standby ambulance unit that 
the tactical operation has begun. 

Following a prearranged flight schedule, the three 
helicopters participating in the operation as well as 
the fixed wing aircraft, will depart from their staging 
area and will proceed to approach and hold a position 
at the rear of the premises. Their arrival at the rear 
of the premises will coincide with and cause a 
diversion for the entry by the SRT trailers at the 
front entrance to the premises. One of the helicopters 
will be occupied by the Incident Commander or his 
Deputy to provide an overall assessment of the tactical 
operation from his vantage point. 

The New Orleans Division SRT will lead the entry into 
the main structure of the premises and will P^sh 
straight ahead toward the interior staircase. They 
will proceed to the third level and will contain all 

persons found at that location. Next^" It^'Sn^ft in to 
will be the Houston Division SRT which will split in to 

two separate groups. The ^^^''^^^Z''l-''i<'^LTT.^^ 
to the main structure immediately behind the New 
Orleans SRT and will spread to the left which is a 
series of bedrooms. The second group will disperse 
around the perimeter of the premises and contain any 
persons found. The Dallas Division SRT will 
immediately follow the Houston SRT which entered the 
structure and will spread to the right and to the rear. 

once all persons on the premises have been lo^^^ed, 
they will be assembled in the central area of the 

stSctire. Vernon Howell will be ^^g^^^^^jf^^^^^^^^ts 
rest of the group so as to minimize any attempt on his 
part to exhort his followers to some action. Once 
?acili?ils have been erected outside the structure on 
the premises, all persons will be removed to those 



C-7 



outside facilities to be identified and interviewed. 
Simultaneous with the structure being cleared of the 
cult members, a search of the entire premises will 
begin by those who have been designated to perform this 
function. Perimeter and internal security duties will 
be performed by additional ATF special agents until 
such time as the scene can be released. 

B. CONTINGENCIES: 

On February 28, 1993, a Texas Air National Guard 
aircraft will overfly the premises and will photograph 
the entire area. This reconnaisance will provide 
information regarding any late changes at the site of 
the tactical operation which will take place the 
following day. 

On March 1, 1993, an ambulance will be positioned at 
the site of the road block closest to the premises. 
This ambulance will be manned by qualified Emergency 
Medical Technicians and will provide nearly immediate 
response to any injuries sustained in the tactical 
operation. 

At the airfield at TSTC, immediately adjacent to the 
CP, a Careflight helicopter with a registered nurse 
aboard will be standing by in the event that an aerial 
evacuation of an injured person from the premises is 
required. 



4. ADMINISTRATION AND LOGISTICS; 

A. ASSIGNMENTS AND LODGING: 

On February 23, 1993 the case agent will appear before 
the United States Magistrate and have the Federal 
Search Warrant Affidavit approved and the Federal 
Search Warrant signed. 

On February 24, 1993 the Tactical Coordinator, the 
Deputy Tactical Coordinator, and the ATF SRT Team 
Leaders and their assistants will travel so as to 
arrive at Fort Hood, Texas by 1400 hours. Lodging will 
be arranged in the military barracks at Fort Hood to 
accomodate twenty (20) persons. 

On February 24, 1993 the Incident Commander, the Deputy 
Incident Commander, the Support Coordinator, and his 
support staff will travel to the Texas State Technical 
College (TSTC) , Waco, Texas to set up the Command Post 



C-8 



(CP) . Accomodations will be arranged in a Waco motel 
for eleven (11) persons. 

On February 24, 1993, two Communications Specialists 
will assist in the set up of the CP. Once the CP has 
been established, they will depart for Temple/Belton, 
Texas where they will establish a radio repeater site 
and be lodged in a motel. The Temple/Belton location 
is equidistant between Fort Hood and Waco and the 
repeater site at this location will facilitate radio 
transmissions between the SRT elements at Fort Hood and 
the CP at TSTC in Waco. 

On February 25, 1993, the thirty-seven (37) Sector SRT 
members arrive at Fort Hood, Texas by 1400 hours and 
they are initially briefed by the Incident Commander 
and his staff. They will be lodged in the military 
barracks at Fort Hood to accomodate what is now a group 
of fifty-seven (57) persons. 

On February 26, 1993, thirty-four (34) ATF special 
agents from the Houston, New Orleans, and Dallas 
Divisions arrive at Fort Hood, Texas by 1400 hours. 
These special agents represent auxiliary personnel who 
will be utilized in the identification and interviewing 
of detainees at the site of the warrant execution. 
They will be lodged in the military barracks at Fort 
Hood to accomodate what has now become a group of 
ninety-one (91) persons. 

On February 26, 1993, one ATF special agent/pilot and 
two Texas Air National Guard pilots arrive in Waco at 
TSTC with their aircraft. They are lodged in a Waco 
motel and their presence increases the number of 
operational personnel in Waco to fourteen (14) persons. 

On February 27, 1993, the Sector SRT personnel and 
other special agents assigned to the tactical operation 
will practice the tactics of the warrant execution at 
Fort Hood, Texas. 

On February 27, 1993, two Public Information Officers 
(PIO) will arrive at the CP at TSTC in Waco. They will 
be lodged in Waco and will increase the number of 
personnel at this location to sixteen (16) persons. 

On February 27, 1993, the Project Alliance Coordinator 
will arrive at the Temple/Belton, Texas location where 
he will meet with the Communications Specialists, 
bringing the number of operational personnel in this 



C-9 



outside facilities to be identified and interviewed. 
Simultaneous with the structure being cleared of the 
cult members, a search of the entire premises will 
begin by those who have been designated to perform this 
function. Perimeter and internal security duties will 
be performed by additional ATF special agents until 
such time as the scene can be released. 

B. CONTINGENCIES: 

On February 28, 1993, a Texas Air National Guard 
aircraft will overfly the premises and will photograph 
the entire area. This reconnaisance will provide 
information regarding any late changes at the site of 
the tactical operation which will take place the 
following day. 

On March 1, 1993, an ambulance will be positioned at 
the site of the road block closest to the premises. 
This ambulance will be manned by qualified Emergency 
Medical Technicians and will provide nearly immediate 
response to any injuries sustained in the tactical 
operation. 

At the airfield at TSTC, immediately adjacent to the 
CP, a Careflight helicopter with a registered nurse 
aboard will be standing by in the event that an aerial 
evacuation of an injured person from the premises is 
required. 



4. ADMINISTRATION AND LOGISTICS; 

A. ASSIGNMENTS AND LODGING: 

On February 23, 1993 the case agent will appear before 
the United States Magistrate and have the Federal 
Search Warrant Affidavit approved and the Federal 
Search Warrant signed. 

On February 24, 1993 the Tactical Coordinator, the 
Deputy Tactical Coordinator, and the ATF SRT Team 
Leaders and their assistants will travel so as to 
arrive at Fort Hood, Texas by 1400 hours. Lodging will 
be arranged in the military barracks at Fort Hood to 
accomodate twenty (20) persons. 

On February 24, 1993 the Incident Commander, the Deputy 
Incident Commander, the Support Coordinator, and his 
support staff will travel to the Texas State Technical 
College (TSTC) , Waco, Texas to set up the Command Post 



C-8 



(CP) . Accomodations will be arranged in a Waco motel 
for eleven (11) persons. 

On February 24, 1993, two Communications Specialists 
will assist in the set up of the CP. Once the CP has 
been established, they will depart for Temple/Belton, 
Texas where they will establish a radio repeater site 
and be lodged in a motel. The Temple/Belton location 
is equidistant between Fort Hood and Waco and the 
repeater site at this location will facilitate radio 
transmissions between the SRT elements at Fort Hood and 
the CP at TSTC in Waco. 

On February 25, 1993, the thirty-seven (37) Sector SRT 
members arrive at Fort Hood, Texas by 1400 hours and 
they are initially briefed by the Incident Commander 
and his staff. They will be lodged in the military 
barracks at Fort Hood to accomodate what is now a group 
of fifty-seven (57) persons. 

On February 26, 1993, thirty-four (34) ATF special 
agents from the Houston, New Orleans, and Dallas 
Divisions arrive at Fort Hood, Texas by 1400 hours. 
These special agents represent auxiliary personnel who 
will be utilized in the identification and interviewing 
of detainees at the site of the warrant execution. 
They will be lodged in the military barracks at Fort 
Hood to accomodate what has now become a group of 
ninety-one (91) persons. 

On February 26, 1993, one ATF special agent/pilot and 
two Texas Air National Guard pilots arrive in Waco at 
TSTC with their aircraft. They are lodged in a Waco 
motel and their presence increases the number of 
operational personnel in Waco to fourteen (14) persons. 

On February 27, 1993, the Sector SRT personnel and 
other special agents assigned to the tactical operation 
will practice the tactics of the warrant execution at 
Fort Hood, Texas. 

On February 27, 1993, two Public Information Officers 
(PIO) will arrive at the CP at TSTC in Waco. They will 
be lodged in Waco and will increase the number of 
personnel at this location to sixteen (16) persons. 

On February 27, 1993, the Project Alliance Coordinator 
will arrive at the Temple/Belton, Texas location where 
he will meet with the Communications Specialists, 
bringing the number of operational personnel in this 



C-9 



location to three (3). 

On February 28, 1993, the ninety-one (91) Sector SRT 
members and additional support special agents will 
travel from Fort Hood, Texas to Waco, Texas. The 
Communications Specialists and the Project Alliance 
Coordinator in Temple/Belton, Texas will relocate to 
Waco, Texas. A representative from the Tactical 
Response Branch, Special Operations Division, Bureau 
Headquarters will arrive in Waco. Two (2) 
representatives from the Explosives Technology Branch 
will arrive in Waco and two (2) fingerprint examiners 
from the ATF Laboratory will also arrive in Waco. On 
this date ten (10) Texas National Guard Aviation 
support personnel will arrive in Waco as well as 
twenty-five (25) additional ATF special agents from the 
Houston and Dallas Divisions. The total number of 
operational personnel lodged in Waco this night will be 
one hundred-fifty (150) persons. 

On March 1, 1993 the Federal Search Warrant will be 
executed as outlined in section 3A of this plan. 



B. EQUIPMENT: 

The following special equipment, beyond what is 
normally carried by SRT members, was authorized for 
purchase during this tactical operation: 

100 Flex Cuffs 

250 Hospital ID Bracelets 
2 Inertial Rams 

1 Bolt Cutters 

2 "Hooligan" pry bars, 30 inch 
31 Sets of knee and elbow pads 
26 Pair of Protective Goggles 

3 Halon type, 13 lb, fire extinguishers 



5. COMMAND AND SIGNALS: 

A. COMMAND POST: 

The Command Post (CP) will be physically located at the 
Airport Manager's Building, immediately adjacent to the 
airfield at the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) , 
approximately eight (8) miles north of Waco, Texas. 
The CP will be the operational headquarters for the 
Incident Commander, the Deputy Incident Commander, and 
the Support Coordinator and his staff. 



C-10 



B. SIGNALS: 

The CP will provide the Incident Commander with point- 
to-point Coded DES communications between all elements 
of the tactical operation and the National Command 
Center. These communications capabilities are: 
handheld radios, mobile radios, fixed site equipment, 
satellite cellular communication with secure STU III 
and Secure/Clear FAX. This will be accomplished through 
the installation of a Motorola Micor 100 watt repeater 
in the airfield control tower, an antenna installed on 
top of the airfield control tower, a portable System 
Saber base station and a secure STU III telephone unit 
with Secure/Clear FAX capability along with four secure 
point-to-point deskset telephones. 

C. COMMANDS: 



C-II 



Modified Operations 
Plan 

Provided to 
Texas Rangers 

on 
March 11, 1993 



C-I3 



OPERATIONS PIJ^N 
SITUATION: 



A. CIRCUMSTANCES: 

On February 28, 1993 a Federal Search Warrant 
will be executed on the premises known as the 
residence of Vernon Wayne Howell, AKA: David 
Koresh, and others, along with all 
outbuildings and appurtenances and vehicles 
located on the premises. 

' (Annex B, Affidavit for Federal Search, 
Warrant) 

B. TERRAIN: 

The premises is in a rural setting, located 
on an approximate 77 acre tract of land, 
nearly 14 miles north and east of Waco, 
Texas. The premises contains the residences 
of approximately eighty (80) men, women and 
children, along with storage buildings and 
other structures. (Annex C) 

C . TARGET : 

Howell is the leader of a religious cult 
known as Branch Davidian and the premises 
has been named the Mount Carmel Center. For 
the past several years Howell has been 
receiving firearms parts which, if combined, 
could constitute the manufacture of 
machineguns. Also, he has been receiving 
shipments of chemicals and explosive 
materials which, if combined, could 
constitute the manufacture of explosive 
devices. These deliveries have been made 
through a cult operated mail drop known as 
the "Mag Bag". Additionally, nearby 
neighbors have reported hearing what they 
believe to be the sound of automatic weapons 
being fired in the nighttime coming from the 

Howell residence. jAnnex^ D^, Deliveries^ to Mag 

Bag) 



I I Shaded area represents text that was added to the original operations plan. 

Underlined sentences represent original text which was moved to a different part of the operations plan. 



C-15 



D. SUBJECT: 



Vernon Wayne Howell is a white, male, born on 
August 17, 1959. He first took control of 
the Mount Carmel Center in early 1988 after 
an armed assault on the previous occupant in 
November of 1987. Howell, according to 
credible witnesses, depicts himself as Jesus 
Christ incarnate, requires all cult members 
to turn over all of their personal belongings 
to him, and he also sexually appropriates all 
of the female cult members for himself 
exclusively, to include female children as 
young as thirteen. Howell has surrounded 
himself with a group of approximately ten 
male cult members who have either criminal 
records and/or special skills which might 
precipitate violence during the execution of 
jthe search warrant. The subject has not left 
the compound in months and has made 
statements that h e does not _pl an to leave. 
(Annex E) 



2. MISSION; 

The objective of the operation is to safely enter the 
premises of the Mount Carmel Center, to search the 
entire premises (to include the upper level residence 
of Howell and all other living quarters) for evidence 
of the manufacture of machineguns and explosive devices 
and for the machineguns and devices which may have 
already been manufactured. The women, men and firearms 
are kept in different areas in the structure. Usually 
at approximately 10:00 a.m. in the morning, the 
majority of the males and Howell should be in the ^^ 
underground area. SRT teams have been divided to JHJ 
handle the areas listed above. Personal identification 
of all persons on the premises will be accomplished and 
any persons who have outstanding warrants and/or 
immigration violations will be detained pending release 
to proper authorities. All others will be allowed to 
either leave the premises or to remain, as they may 
desire, once the search has been concluded. 



C-16 



-i. EXECUTION: 

A. CONCEPT OF OPERATION: 

Utilizing a number of facilities and the 
services of a wide array of Federal , State 
and local agencies, ATF will accomplish the 
mission. On Sunday, February 27, 1993, at 
approximately 8:30 p.m., an undercover ATF 
special agent will admit the Deputy Tactical 
Coordinator into an undercover residence 
which is across the road from the premises 
where the warrant will be served. Sometime 
prior to 8:30 a.m., on Sunday, February 28, 
1993, the undercover agent will position 
Forward Observers outside the premises, front 
and rear, in semi-concealed locations. At 
9:00 a.m., Sunday, February 28, 1993, the 
Tactical Coordinator will gather the tactical 
elements at a large parking lot site 
approximately thirteen miles away from the 
premises. The Tactical Coordinator will 
advise the undercover special agent by STU 
phone that the tactical elements are in 
position at which time the undercover special 
agent will visit the premises and identify 
the location of Howell and other principals. 
He will also check for recent changes at the 
premises and for any barriers or obstructions 
which may have recently been erected which 
might deter entry. 

After his check of the premises, the 
undercover special agent will return to the 
undercover residence across the road and he 
will advise the Deputy Tactical Coordinator 
of his findings. The undercover special 
agent will advise the Tactical Coordinator by 
STU phone of the conditions at the premises. 
Once the premises site has been determined to 
be functioning normally, the Tactical 
Coordinator will advise the three road block 
sites to begin their road blocks and he will 
deploy his tactical force of approximately 
eighty SRT special agents into two cattle 
trailers being pulled by civilian trucks and 
being driven by qualified special agents. 
The Tactical Coordinator will ride as a 
passenger in one of the trucks pulling a 
cattle trailer. He will be accompanied by an 
EMT trained special agent assigned to the 
SRT. 

C-17 



As the Tactical Coordinator deploys, he will 
notify the Deputy Tactical Coordinator, who 
will notify him if the operation is a go 
until they reach the residence. The Deputy 
Tactical Coordinator then will broadcast a 
radio message to the Command Post, air 
support units, the road block units and the 
standby ambulance unit that the tactical 
operation has begun. (Annex F, Block Map) 

Following a prearranged flight schedule, the 
three helicopters participating in the 
operation as well as the fixed wing aircraft, 
will depart from their staging area and will 
proceed to approach and hold a position at 
the rear of the premises. Their arrival at 
the rear of the premises will coincide with 
and cause a diversion for the entry by the 
SRT trailers at the front entrance to the 
premises. One of the helicopters will be 
occupied by the Incident Commander or his 
Deputy to provide an overall assessment of 
the tactical operation from his vantage 
point. 

The New Orleans Division SRT will lead the 
entry to the right side of the main structure 
of the premises and will make entry from the 
roof into the second floor windows of the 
Arms room and Koresh's room. They will 
proceed to the rear of the structure and will 
contain all persons found at that location 
after entry. Next in line of entry will be 
the Houston Division SRT which will split 
into two separate groups. The first group 
will make entry to the main structure front 
door area and will spread to the left which 
is a series of mens bedrooms. 

The second group will disperse around the 
perimeter of the premises and contain those 
persons found in the underground area. The 
Dallas Division SRT will immediately follow 
the Houston SRT which entered the structure 
and will go upstairs and clear 2nd, 3rd, and 
4th floor areas which contains the womens 
bedrooms. Two outside teams of non-SRT team 
neiTibers will provide outside cover on all 
sides of the structure. A third team of non- 
SRT team members will be used for custody 
control of people. 



C-18 



Once all persons on the premises have been 
located, they will be assembled in the 
central area of the structure. Vernon Howell 
will be segregated from the rest of the group 
so as to minimize any attempt on his part to 
exhort his followers to some action. Once 
facilities have been erected outside the 
structure on the premises, all persons will 
be removed to those outside facilities to be 
identified and interviewed. Simultaneous 
with the structure being cleared of the cult 
members, a search of the entire premises will 
begin by those who have been designated to 
perform this function. Perimeter and 
internal security duties will be performed by 
additional ATF special agents until such time 
as the scene can be released. 

B. CONTINGENCIES: 

On February 28, 1993, a Texas Air National 
Guard aircraft will overfly the premises and 
will photograph the entire area. This 
reconnaissance will provide information 
regarding any late changes at the site of the 
tactical operation which will take place the 
following day. 

On February 28, 1993, an ambulance will be 
positioned at the site of the road block 
closest to the premises. This ambulance will 
be manned by qualified Emergency Medical 
Technicians and will provide nearly immediate 
response to any injuries sustained in the 
tactical operation. 

At the airfield at TSTC, immediately adjacent 
to the CP, a Careflight helicopter with a 
registered nurse aboard will be standing by 
in the event that an aerial evacuation of an 
injured person from the premises is required. 



C-19 



ADMINISTRATION AND LOGISTICS; 

A. ASSIGNMENTS AND LODGING: 

On February 23, 1993 the case agent will 

appear before the United States Magistrate 

and have the Federal Search Warrant Affidavit 

approved and the Federal Search Warrant 

signed. 

On February 24, 1993 the Tactical 
Coordinator, the Deputy Tactical Coordinator, 
and the ATF SRT Team Leaders and their 
assistants will travel so as to arrive at 
Fort Hood, Texas by 1400 hours. Lodging will 
be arranged in the military barracks at Fort 
Hood to accommodate twenty (20) persons. 

On February 24, 1993 the Incident Commander, 
the Deputy Incident Commander, the Support 
Coordinator, and his support staff will 
travel to the Texas State Technical College 
(TSTC) , Waco, Texas to set up the Command 
Post (CP) . Accommodations will be arranged 
in a Waco motel for eleven (11) persons. 

On February 24, 1993, two Communications 
Specialists will assist in the set up of the 
CP. Once the CP has been established, they 
will depart for Temple/Belton, Texas where 
they will establish a radio repeater site and 
be lodged in a motel. The Temple/Belton 
location is equidistant between Fort Hood and 
Waco and the repeater site at this location 
will facilitate radio transmissions between 
the SRT elements at Fort Hood and the CP at 
TSTC in Waco. 

On February 25, 1993, the thirty-seven (37) 
Sector SRT members arrive at Fort Hood, Texas 
by 1400 hours and they are initially briefed 
by the Incident Commander and his staff. 
They will be lodged in the military barracks 
at Fort Hood to accommodate what is now a 
group of fifty-seven (57) persons. 



C-20 



On February 26, 1993, thirty-four (34) ATF 
special agents from the Houston, New Orleans, 
and Dallas Divisions arrive at Fort Hood, 
Texas by 1400 hours. These special agents 
represent auxiliary personnel who will be 
utilized in the identification and 
interviewing of detainees at the site of the 
warrant execution. They will be lodged in 
the military barracks at Fort Hood to 
accommodate what has now become a group of 
ninety-one (91) persons. 

On February 26, 1993, one ATF special 
agent/pilot and two Texas Air National Guard 
pilots arrive in Waco at TSTC with their 
aircraft. They are lodged in a Waco motel 
and their presence increases the number of 
operational personnel in Waco to fourteen 
(14) persons. 

On February 27, 1993, the Sector SRT 
personnel and other special agents assigned 
to the tactical operation will practice the 
tactics of the warrant execution at Fort 
Hood, Texas. 

On February 27, 1993, two Public Information 
Officers (PIO) will arrive at the CP at TSTC 
in Waco. They will be lodged in Waco and 
will increase the number of personnel at this 
location to sixteen (16) persons. 

On February 27, 1993, the Project Alliance 
Coordinator will arrive at the Temple/Belton, 
Texas location where he will meet with the 
Communications Specialists, bringing the 
number of operational personnel in this 
location to three (3). Two ( 2 ) 
representatives from the Explosives 
Technology Branch will arrive in Waco and two 
(2) fingerprint examiners from the ATF 
Laboratory will also arrive in Waco. On this 
date ten (10) Texas National Guard Aviation 
support personnel will arrive in Waco as well 
as twenty-five (25) additional AFT special 
agents from the Houston and Dallas Divisions. 
The total number of operational personnel 
lodged in Waco this night will be one 
hundred-fifty (150) persons. 



C-21 



On February 28, 1993, the ninety-one (91) 
Sector SRT members and additional support 
special agents will travel from Fort Hood, 
Texas to Waco, Texas to the staging area Broin 
which point they will prepare to execute the 
search warrant as outlined in Section 3A of 
this plan. 



B. EQUIPMENT: 

The following special equipment, beyond what 
is normally carried by SRT members, was 
authorized for purchase during this tactical 
operation: 

100 Flex Cuffs 

250 Hospital ID Bracelets 

2 Inertial Rams 

1 Bolt Cutters 

2 "Hooligan" pry bars, 30 inch 
31 Sets of knee and elbow pads 
26 Pair of Protective Goggles 

3 Halon type, 13 lb, fire extinguisher 



COMMAND AND SIGNALS: 



COMMAND POST: 

The Command Post (CP) will be physically 
located at the Airport Manager's Building, 
immediately adjacent to the airfield at the 
Texas State Technical College (TSTC) , 
approximately eight (8) miles north of Waco, 
Texas. The CP will be the operational 
headquarters for the Incident Commander, the 
Deputy Incident Commander, and the Support 
Coordinator and his staff. (Annex G, 
Reporting Instructions) 



C-22 



B. SIGNALS: 



The CP will provide the Incident Commander 
with point-to-point Coded DES communications 
between all elements of the tactical 
operation and the National Command Center. 
These communications capabilities are: 
handheld radios, mobile radios, fixed site 
equipment, satellite cellular communication 
with secure STU III and Secure/Clear FAX. 
This will be accomplished through the 
installation of a Motorola Micor 100 watt 
repeater in the airfield control tower, an 
antenna installed on top of the airfield 
control tower, a portable System Saber base 
station and a secure STU III telephone unit 
with Secure/Clear FAX capability along with 
four secure point-to-point deskset 
telephones. (Annex H, Common Plan) 



C-23 



Final Raid Plan incorporating the handwritten 

changes from March 11, 1993 version. This 

document was provided to Texas Rangers on 

March 22, 1993 and later to the Review 



C-25 



OPERATIONS PLAN 
SITUATION: 



A. CIRCUMSTANCES: 

On February 28, 1993 a Federal Search Warrant 
will be executed on the premises known as the 
residence of Vernon Wayne Howell, AKA: David 
Koresh, and others, along with all 
outbuildings and appurtenances and vehicles 
located on the premises. 
(Annex B, Affidavit for Federal Search 
Warrant) 

B. TERRAIN: 

The premises is in a rural setting, located 
on an approximate 77 acre tract of land, 
nearly 14 miles north and east of Waco, 
Texas. The premises contains the residences 
of approximately eighty (80) men, women and 
children, along with storage buildings and 
other structures. (Annex C) 

C . TARGET : 

Howell is the leader of a religious cult 
known as Branch Davidian and the premises 
has been named the Mount Carmel Center. For 
the past several years Howell has been 
receiving firearms parts which, if combined, 
could constitute the manufacture of 
machineguns. Also, he has been receiving 
shipments of chemicals and explosive 
materials which, if combined, could 
constitute the manufacture of explosive 
devices. These deliveries have been made 
through a cult operated mail drop known as 
the "Mag Bag". Additionally, nearby 
neighbors have reported hearing what they 
believe to be the sound of automatic weapons 
being fired in the nighttime coming from the 
Howell residence. (Annex D, Deliveries to Mag 
Bag) 



nZ\ Shaded text represents the handwritten notes of the incdent commander incorporated into operations plan. 



C-27 



D. SUBJECT: 



Vernon Wayne Howell is a white, male, born on 
August 17, 1959. He first took control of 
the Mount Carmel Center in early 1988 after 
an armed assault on the previous occupant in 
November of 1987. Howell, according to 
credible witnesses, depicts himself as Jesus 
Christ incarnate, requires all cult members 
to turn over all of their personal belongings 
to him, and he also sexually appropriates all 
of the female cult members for himself 
exclusively, to include female children as 
young as thirteen. Howell has surrounded 
himself with a group of approximately ten 
male cult members who have either criminal 
records and/or special skills which might 
precipitate violence during the execution of 
the search warrant. The subject has not left 
the compound in months and has made 
statements that he does not plan to leave. 
(Annex E) 



2. MISSION; 

The objective of the operation is to safely enter the 
premises of the Mount Carmel Center, to search the 
entire premises (to include the upper level residence 
of Howell and all other living quarters) for evidence 
of the manufacture of machineguns and explosive devices 
and for the machineguns and devices which may have 
already been manufactured. The women, men and firearms 
are kept in different areas in the structure. Usually 
at approximately 10:00 a.m. in the morning, the 
majority of the males and Howell should be in the 
underground area. SRT teams have been divided to 
handle the areas listed above. Personal identification 
of all persons on the premises will be accomplished and 
any persons who have outstanding warrants and/or 
immigration violations will be detained pending release 
to proper authorities. All others will be allowed to 
either leave the premises or to remain, as they may 
desire, once the search has been concluded. 



C-28 



3. EXECUTION: 

A. CONCEPT OF OPERATION: 

Utilizing a number of facilities and the 
services of a wide array of Federal, State 
and local agencies, ATF will accomplish the 
mission. On Sunday, February 27, 1993, at 
approximately 8:30 p.m., an undercover ATF 
special agent will admit the Deputy Tactical 
Coordinator into an undercover residence 
which is across the road from the premises 
where the warrant will be served. Sometime 
prior to 8:30 a.m., on Sunday, February 28, 
1993, the undercover agent will position 
Forward Observers outside the premises, front 
and rear, in semi-concealed locations. At 
9:00 a.m., Sunday, February 28, 1993, the 
Tactical Coordinator will gather the tactical 
elements at a large parking lot site 
approximately thirteen miles away from the 
premises. The Tactical Coordinator will 
advise the undercover special agent by STU 
phone that the tactical elements are in 
position at which time the undercover special 
agent will visit the premises and identify 
the location of Howell and other principals. 
He will also check for recent changes at the 
premises and for any barriers or obstructions 
which may have recently been erected which 
might deter entry. 

After his check of the premises, the 
undercover special agent will return to the 
undercover residence across the road and he 
will advise the Deputy Tactical Coordinator 
of his findings. The undercover special 
agent will advise the Tactical Coordinator by 
STU phone of the conditions at the premises. 
Once the premises site has been determined to 
be functioning normally, the Tactical 
Coordinator will advise the three road block 
sites to begin their road blocks and he will 
deploy his tactical force of approximately 
eighty SRT special agents into two cattle 
trailers being pulled by civilian trucks and 
being driven by qualified special agents. 
The Tactical Coordinator will ride as a 
passenger in one of the trucks pulling a 
cattle trailer. He will be accompanied by an 
EMT trained special agent assigned to the 
SRT. 

C-29 



As the Tactical Coordinator deploys, he will 
notify the Deputy Tactical Coordinator, who 
will notify him if the operation is a go 
until they reach the residence. The Deputy 
Tactical Coordinator then will broadcast a 
radio message to the Command Post, air 
support units, the road block units and the 
standby ambulance unit that the tactical 
operation has begun (Annex F, Block Map) 

Following a prearranged flight schedule, the 
three helicopters participating in the 
operation as well as the fixed wing aircraft, 
will depart from their staging area and will 
proceed to approach and hold a position at 
the rear of the premises. Their arrival at 
the rear of the premises will coincide with 
and cause a diversion for the entry by the 
SRT trailers at the front entrance to the 
premises. One of the helicopters will be 
occupied by the Incident Commander or his 
Deputy to provide an overall assessment of 
the tactical operation from his vantage 
point. 

The New Orleans Division SRT will lead the 
entry to the right side of the main structure 
of the premises and will make entry from the 
roof into the second floor windows of the 
Arms room and Koresh ' s room. They will 
proceed to the rear of the structure and will 
contain all persons found at that location 
after entry. Next in line of entry will be 
the Houston Division SRT which will split 
into two separate groups. The first group 
will make entry to the main structure front 
door area and will spread to the left which 
is a series of mens bedrooms. 

The second group will enter the underground 
area, contain those persons found 
in the underground area, in order to keep 
them from returning through the "tunnel" into 
the men's dormitory area encountering the 
Houston SRT. The Dallas Division SRT will 
immediately follow the Houston SRT which 
entered the structure and will go upstairs 
and clear 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor area which 
contains the womens bedrooms. Two outside 
teams of non-SRT team members will provide 
outside cover on all sides of the structure. 
A third team of non-SRT team members will be 
used for custody control of people. 

C-30 



Once all persons on the premises have been 
located, they will be assembled in the 
central area of the structure. Vernon Howell 
will be segregated from the rest of the group 
so as to minimize any attempt on his part to 
exhort his followers to some action. Once 
facilities have been erected outside the 
structure on the premises, all persons will 
be removed to those outside facilities to be 
identified and interviewed. Simultaneous 
with the structure being cleared of the cult 
members, a search of the entire premises will 
begin by those who have been designated to 
perform this function. Perimeter and 
internal security duties will be performed by 
additional ATF special agents until such time 
as the scene can be released. 

B. CONTINGENCIES: 

On February 28, 1993, a Texas Air National 
Guard aircraft will overfly the premises and 
will photograph the entire area. This 
reconnaissance will provide information 
regarding any late changes at the site of the 
tactical operation which will take place the 
following day. 

On February 28, 1993, an ambulance will be 
positioned at the site of the road block 
closest to the premises. This ambulance will 
be manned by qualified Emergency Medical 
Technicians and will provide nearly immediate 
response to any injuries sustained in the 
tactical operation. 

At the airfield at TSTC, immediately adjacent 
to the CP, a Careflight helicopter with a 
registered nurse aboard will be standing by 
in the event that an aerial evacuation of an 
injured person from the premises is required. 



C-31 



ADMINISTRATION AND LOGISTICS; 

A. ASSIGNMENTS AND LODGING: 

On February 23, 1993 the case agent will 

appear before the United States Magistrate 

and have the Federal Search Warrant Affidavit 

approved and the Federal Search Warrant 

signed. 

On February 24, 1993 the Tactical 
Coordinator, the Deputy Tactical Coordinator, 
and the ATF SRT Team Leaders and their 
assistants will travel so as to arrive at 
Fort Hood, Texas by 1400 hours. Lodging will 
be arranged in the military barracks at Fort 
Hood to accommodate twenty (20) persons. 

On February 24, 1993 the Incident Commander, 
the Deputy Incident Commander, the Support 
Coordinator, and his support staff will 
travel to the Texas State Technical College 
(TSTC) , Waco, Texas to set up the Command 
Post (CP) . Accommodations will be arranged 
in a Waco motel for eleven (11) persons. 

On February 24, 1993, two Communications 
Specialists will assist in the set up of the 
CP. Once the CP has been established, they 
will depart for Temple/Belton, Texas where 
they will establish a radio repeater site and 
be lodged in a motel. The Temple/Belton 
location is equidistant between Fort Hood and 
Waco and the repeater site at this location 
will facilitate radio transmissions between 
the SRT elements at Fort Hood and the CP at 
TSTC in Waco. 

On February 25, 1993, the thirty-seven (37) 
Sector SRT members arrive at Fort Hood, Texas 
by 1400 hours and they are initially briefed 
by the Incident Commander and his staff. 
They will be lodged in the military barracks 
at Fort Hood to accommodate what is now a 
group of fifty-seven (57) persons. 



C-32 



On February 26, 1993, thirty-four (34) ATF 
special agents from the Houston, New Orleans, 
and Dallas Divisions arrive at Fort Hood, 
Texas by 1400 hours. These special agents 
represent auxiliary personnel who will be 
utilized in the identification and 
interviewing of detainees at the site of the 
warrant execution. They will be lodged in 
the military barracks at Fort Hood to 
accommodate what has now become a group of 
ninety-one (91) persons. 

On February 26, 1993, one ATF special 
agent/pilot and two Texas Air National Guard 
pilots arrive in Waco at TSTC with their 
aircraft. They are lodged in a Waco motel 
and their presence increases the number of 
operational personnel in Waco to fourteen 
(14) persons. 

On February 27, 1993, the Sector SRT 
personnel and other special agents assigned 
to the tactical operation will practice the 
tactics of the warrant execution at Fort 
Hood, Texas. 

On February 27, 1993, two Public Information 
Officers (PIO) will arrive at the CP at TSTC 
in Waco. They will be lodged in Waco and 
will increase the number of personnel at this 
location to sixteen (16) persons. 

On February 27, 1993, the Project Alliance 
Coordinator will arrive at the Temple/Belton, 
Texas location where he will meet with the 
Communications Specialists, bringing the 
number of operational personnel in this 
location to three (3) . Two (2) 
representatives from the Explosives 
Technology Branch will arrive in Waco and two 
(2) fingerprint examiners from the ATF 
LalDoratory will also arrive in Waco. On this 
date ten (10) Texas National Guard Aviation 
support personnel will arrive in Waco as well 
as twenty-five (25) additional AFT special 
agents from the Houston and Dallas Divisions. 
The total number of operational personnel 
lodged in Waco this night will be one 
hundred-fifty (150) persons. 



C-33 



On February 28, 1993, the ninety-one (91) 
Sector SRT members and additional support 
special agents will travel from Fort Hood, 
Texas to Waco, Texas to the staging area from 
which point they will prepare to execute the 
search warrant as outlined in Section 3 A of 
this plan. 



B. EQUIPMENT: 

The following special equipment, beyond what 
is normally carried by SRT members, was 
authorized for purchase during this tactical 
operation: 

100 Flex Cuffs 

250 Hospital ID Bracelets 

2 Inertial Rams 

1 Bolt Cutters 

2 "Hooligan" pry bars, 3 inch 
31 Sets of knee and elbow pads 
26 Pair of Protective Goggles 

3 Halon type, 13 lb, fire extinguisher 



5. COMMAND AND SIGNALS: 

A. COMMAND POST: 

The Command Post (CP) will be physically 
located at the Airport Manager's Building, 
immediately adjacent to the airfield at the 
Texas State Technical College (TSTC) , 
approximately eight (8) miles north of Waco, 
Texas. The CP will be the operational 
headquarters for the Incident Commander, the 
Deputy Incident Commander, and the Support 
Coordinator and his staff. (Annex G, 
Reporting Instructions) 



C-34 



B. SIGNALS: 



The CP will provide the Incident Commander 
with point-to-point Coded DES communications 
between all elements of the tactical 
operation and the National Command Center. 
These communications capabilities are: 
handheld radios, mobile radios, fixed site 
equipment, satellite cellular communication 
with secure STU III and Secure/Clear FAX. 
This will be accomplished through the 
installation of a Motorola Micor 100 watt 
repeater in the airfield control tower, an 
antenna installed on top of the airfield 
control tower, a portable System Saber base 
station and a secure STU III telephone unit 
with Secure/Clear FAX capability along with 
four secure point-to-point deskset 
telephones. (Annex H, Common Plan) 



C-35 



Appendix D 



Chronology of Events 



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Appendix E 



ATF Advisory 



to 



Treasury Office of Enforcement 



E-1 



TREASURY 



INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM 



Date: 26-Feb-1993 02:27pm EST 
From: Christopher Cuyler 

CUYLERC 
Dept: Asst Sec Enforcement 
Tel No: 

TO: Michael D. Langan ( LANGAN ) 

Subject: ATF Special Operation 

Mike, be advised that ATF will be executing both arrest warrants and search 
warrants on Sunday, February 28, 1993, at the compound of the Branch Davidian 
Seventh-day Adventists, a religious cult near Waco, Texas. The leader of this 
cult is Vernon Wayne Howell and they are housed on a 70 acre compound in rural 
Waco. It is believed there are approximately 75 people (men, women and child- 
ren) currently on the compound. 

ATF has an arrest warrant for Howell and search warrants for the main compound 
and a second storage site about two miles from the compound. Howell has a 
history of violence and has been acquitted of attempted murder in the past. 
Members of this cult come from all over the world and it is believed that many 
are aliens unlawfully in this country. INS will participate in this raid. 

Automatic weapons fire has been heard from this compound and ATF has undercover 
agents that have gained access to the compound. It is known that UPS has 
delivered enough firearms parts to convert 200 AR-15's (semi-auto) to M-16's 
(full auto) . Howell has an unknown quantity of explosives on site and in the 
past has been involved in a shootout with a rival religious cult. 

When a member joins the Branch Davidian, he turns over all possessions, 
including his wife and any daughters. Howell is the only male allowed to have 
sexual relations with any of the women, and in general the women are not allowed 
outside the main compound. Howell strips these people of all dignity and his 
treatment of them is atrocious across the board - from eating habits to sanitary 
depravation. 

On Sunday, February 28, 1993, at 11 AM, ATF, assisted by State, local and 
military authorities, will raid this compound. Our Special Response Teams from 
Houston, Dallas and New Orleans will be used, along with a host of other law 
enforcement officers. A well-reasoned, comprehensive plan has been approved 
which allows for all contingencies. ATF's National Command Center at Bureau 
Headquarters will be on-line for this operation at 9 AM Sunday morning. 

It is felt this operation will generate considerable media attention, both 
locally (Texas) and nationally. If necessary, I can be contacted over the 
weekend at my residence or on my pager (1-800-759-7243 — PIN 595-3161). 

End of message. 



E-3 



Appendix F 



Mission Charter 



F-l 



CHARTER 

POST - WACO ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW 

Mission; 

There is established a comprehensive, impartial investigation into the planning, decisions, 
and related issues leading to the events occurring in Waco, Texas, on February 28, 1993. 
The purpose of this administrative inquiry is to determine whether the procedures 
followed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were correct and appropriate 
to the law enforcement situation, whether the operational decisions were correct based 
on the available intelligence and whether the tactical planning and execution met generally 
accepted law enforcement standards. The Review will be carefully planned in order to 
ensure effective and regular coordination with the criminal investigations and prosecutions 
underway. The inquiry will be completed as quickly as possible, and no later than six 
months after its inception, a report will be presented to the Secretary of Treasury and 
the President. 



Or ganization; 

The Review Team: The administrative investigation will be conducted by a dedicated, 
full-time team of investigators, analysts and administrative staff detailed from several 
bureaus and offices within Treasury. (The Secret Service, IRS - Criminal Investigative 
Division, The Customs Service, the Office of General Counsel, and the Office of the 
Inspector General). The review team will be organizationally located within the Office 
of Enforcement. The Director of the review team will be selected from outside Treasury. 
He will develop the investigative plan and supervise the day to day investigation and 
analysis of the events as well as the development of the draft report. The Review Team 
Director will be under the overall supervision of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement. 

The Review Board: In order to provide effective oversight and guidance to the 
administrative inquiry, an independent Review Board will be established. It will be 
comprised of a Chairman and four other members from outside the Federal Government. 
The Assistant Secretary for Enforcement will serve, ex officio , as a sixth member of the 
Board. Its membership will include individuals of unparalleled expertise, independence 
and integrity. It will be responsible for two distinct roles during the pendency of the 
review. First, it will provide advice and guidance during the review process. Following 
the completion of the investigation, it will provide a complete and independent assessment 



F-3 



of the process and findings. Specifically the Review Board will have the following 
responsibilities: 

1 . Review the investigative plan developed by the Review Team Director and provide 
guidance on its adequacy in terms of both scope and depth. 

2. Evaluate the investigative and analytical materials developed by the Review Team 
throughout the investigation and meet as a Board at the times and locations as 
determined by the Review Board. 

3. Provide guidance and direction to the Assistant Secretary for enforcement (or the 
project review team?) including the identification of outside experts or additional 
interviews which should be undertaken to ensure a comprehensive and balanced 
inquiry. Only in cases where the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement determines 
that such direction may adversely affect the interests of the criminal investigation 
and prosecution or the ability of the Review team to meet the report deadlines, will 
such guidance not be followed. 

4. Finally, the Review Board will be expected to provide the Secretary and the 
President its judgment regarding the quality of the administrative inquiry including, 
but not limited to, the substance of the report, the nature of the investigation and 
the procedures followed in conducting the review. It will also concur or dissent 
with the recommendations in the report and provide separate findings and 
conclusions if it determines this is necessary. The Review Board's independent 
assessment will be made a part of the final report. 

Expert Consultants: In order to further en'^ure that the Treasury Department has the 
broadest available expertise in conducting its review, outside expert consultants will be 
engaged to address such areas as law enforcement tactical operations, crisis decision- 
making, management of law enforcement intelligence, media relations, etc. Expert 
consultants may be identified by the Review Board or the Review Team and made 
available to advise both. 

Concluding Guidance; 

It is expected that a comprehensive, impartial Report will be completed and delivered to 
the Secretary of the Treasury and the President no later than six months after the 
inception of the review. The report will analyze the actions taken by the Bureau of 
Alcohol. Tobacco and Firearms (ATE) from the outset of its investigation of David 
Koresh and the Davidians through and including the events occurring on February 28, 
1993. The report will be based on the interviews of participants in the events as well as 
independent analysis of standard law enforcement practices and procedures in order to 
determine the adequacy of ATE training, procedures and practices. The Review Board 

F-4 



will ensure that the review is unbiased, comprehensive and forthright. If problems occur 
that cannot be reconciled, it is the obligation of the Chairman of the Review Board to 
report them to the Secretary. To the extent that certain investigative paths were not 
followed because of potential interference with the concurrent criminal investigations, the 
final report must explain the reports shortcomings and recommend further investigation 
as appropriate. 



F-5 



Appendix G 



A Brief History 

of 

Federal Firearms Enforcement 



G-l 



A BRIEF HISTORY OF FEDERAL FIREARMS ENFORCEMENT 

Frederick S. Calhoun, Ph.D. 

Historian 

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center 



The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) is a relatively young law 
enforcement organization, having been created formally in 1972. Yet, measured by the federal 
laws related to the regulation and taxing of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms — the laws ATF now 
enforces — the history of the bureau's duties and responsibilities stretches across the full two 
centuries of American history. As early as 1791, revenue acts taxed both alcohol and tobacco 
and created the offices of tax inspector, collector, and supervisor. During the next century, the 
offices changed names as frequently as the tax rates changed, but the federal interest in raising 
revenues from alcohol and tobacco remained strong. Indeed, the formal organization of an 
independent bureau within the Department of Treasury specializing in alcohol, tobacco, and 
firearms law enforcement belatedly recognized the distinct need for such an agency. 

After the Civil War, revenue agents battled moonshiners throughout the South in 
some of the bloodiest opposition ever to federal law enforcement. Revenue agents and deputy 
U.S. marshals by the score were killed as they roamed the hills and hollows searching out illicit 
stills. Prohibition changed the government's focus from taxing whiskey to banning it, yet the 
revenue agent's job remained as dangerous. After experimenting in social adjustment a dozen 
years. Prohibition was rescinded. Spawned by the 1933 repeal of Prohibition, the Alcohol Tax 
Unit was established as a tax-collecting branch within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 



G-3 



Continued concern over the violent, organized mobs that plagued the major cities 
compelled the federal government to try to curb the gangsters" ability to arm themselves. Rather 
than ban outright the purchase of machineguns and sawed-off shotguns — the weapons of choice 
for the mobsters — Congress in 1934 simply imposed a tax those weapons. Paying the tax 
required registering the weapon. The registration requirement was intended to discourage 
ownership of such weapons without outlawing them. No self-respecting gangster would want 
to register, much less pay the tax, on his Tommygun. Their evasion of the tax gave the govern- 
ment another legal tool to use in arresting the gangsters and breaking up the mobs. 

Because it was a tax rather than a prohibition, it fell to Treasury to enforce the 
law as part of Treasury's role in collecting all funds due the government. Within Treasury, the 
Alcohol Tax Unit seemed the logical branch to enforce the new law. Registering and taxing 
stills required many of the same procedures and investigatory talents that would be needed to 
register and tax weapons. In the end, the new assignment proved comparatively easy. The unit 
was not overwhelmed with registrations nor by the 1940s were the investigations into evasions 
of the tax very time-consuming. As the gangsters declined in number and power, so did their 
use of machineguns and sawed-off shotguns. Enforcing the alcohol taxes again occupied most 
of the unit's attention. 

In 1951, the Alcohol Tax Unit began enforcing federal taxes on tobacco, thus 
prompting a name change in 1952 to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division. Once again, the 
logic seemed to be that collecting the tax on tobacco closely resembled the work necessary to 
collect the tax on alcohol, machineguns, and sawed-off shotguns. The 1968 passage of the 
Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act and the Gun Control Act expanded the IRS unit's 



G-4 



jurisdiction to the criminal use of explosives and bombs. The new laws also defined specific 
federal offenses involving firearms, including transportation across state lines and use in 
organized crimes. In recognition of this new enforcement responsibility, the Alcohol and To- 
bacco Tax Division changed its name to the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Division (ATFD). 
Two years later, Congress passed the Explosives Control Act defining certain bombings and acts 
of arson as federal crimes. It assigned jurisdiction for enforcing this new law to ATFD. 

With these expanded responsibilities, the Treasury Department on July 1, 1972 
created the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms under the general oversight of the 
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement, Tariffs and Trade, and Operations. For 
the past twenty-one years, ATE has enforced the collection of federal taxes on alcohol and 
tobacco and the federal controls and regulations on firearms, with particular attention to their 
use by criminals. Although on its face the bureau seems a discordant collection of separate 
duties, the techniques for enforcing the taxes and ferreting out the illicit products, whether cases 
of whiskey, cartons of cigarettes, crates of automatic weapons, or containers of bombs, are 
strikingly similar. 

Subsequent laws have expanded ATF's jurisdiction. The 1976 Arms Export 
Control Act focused the bureau's attention on international gun smuggling. The 1982 Anti- 
Arson Act gave ATE authority to investigate the destruction of property by fire as well as by 
explosives. Increased taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, and enhanced regulatory measures such 
as the 1978 Contraband Cigarette Act, have also enhanced the bureau's responsibility to ensure 
the government receives its lawful taxes. 



G-5 



The bureau has been an effective force in law enforcement. Supplies of illicit 
alcohol and smuggled tobacco have steadily decreased, and tax revenues have risen. During 
1991, for example, ATF collected $7.7 billion in alcohol taxes and $4.8 billion in tocacco taxes. 
ATF agents have also focused on tracking down armed career criminals and criminal gang 
members. Investigations in Florida resulted in the arrest of 45 Warlock motorcycle gang 
members in 1991. Members of the Gullymen Posse, a gang of Jamaican drug dealers known 
for its propensity to commit murder, were arrested in New York by ATF agents in January 
1991. Similarly, an ATF investigation into the activities of the Born to Kill gang culminated 
in the arrest of a dozen gang members in August 1991. Sixteen members of the San Diego 
chapter of the Hells Angels were convicted in 1992. As a result of these and similar investiga- 
tions, ATF has become the nation's principal repository for gang-related information and 
intelligence. The bureau has also earned an excellent reputation for working well with federal, 
state, and local law enforcement agencies. 

ATF agents also specialize in identifying anonymous bombers by their "signature" 
habits in making bombs. For example, in 1990, the assassin of Eleventh Circuit Court of 
Appeals Judge Robert Vance was ultimately identified by ATF agents who recognized the way 
the bomb was constructed. Similarly, in the midst of the tragedy in Waco, Texas, ATF agents 
investigating the World Trade Center bombing helped to identify the van that was used to hold 
the bomb. This early identification led FBI agents to the rental car company and thereafter to 
arrests of the terrorists before they could escape the country. 

The bureau has developed considerable expertise in arson investigations. At the 
request of the National Fire Protection Agency, ATF began developing nationwide standards for 



G-6 



fire investigators. The State Department's Diplomatic Security Service invited ATF to develop 
a protocol establishing an International Response Team of investigators trained to search blast 
scenes involving U.S. property abroad. Despite a rather eclectic array of duties, ATF has 
succeeded in developing considerable expertise in each area of its enforcement responsibilities. 

The raid by ATF agents on the Branch Davidian compound resulted from its 
enforcement of contemporary federal firearms laws. In a larger sense, however, the raid fit 
within an historic, well-established and well-defended government interest in prohibiting and 
breaking up all organized groups that sought to arm or fortify themselves. The 1934 law taxing 
weapons was only the first time the federal government addressed private ownership of weapons; 
it was not the first federal effort to control firearms. From its earliest formation, the federal 
government has actively suppressed any effort by disgruntled or rebellious citizens to coalesce 
into an armed group, however small the group, petty its complaint, or grandiose its ambition. 
The collection of large arsenals by organized groups lent itself, ultimately, to the violent use of 
those weapons against the government itself or portions of its citizenry. Indeed, federal agents 
who tried to disband the groups frequently became the targets. 

The discomfort over armed organizations predated the Constitution. The outbreak 
of what became known as Shays' Rebellion in 1786 gave added urgency to the establishment of 
a strong national government. During the rebellion, hundreds of angry Massachusetts farmers, 
most veterans of the Revolution and facing foreclosures on their farms, banded together to keep 
the courts from issuing any executions. Calling themselves Regulators, the farmers quickly 
organized into a small army. Significantly, their first foray was to capture the arsenal at Spring- 



G-7 



field. Although the Regulators failed, the specter survived. Five months, delegates from each 
of the thirteen states met in Philadelphia to design a new experiment in government. 

The lesson of Shays" Rebellion was not forgotten, even after the new government 
was formed. In 1792, Congress passed a law empowering the president to call out the state 
militias to suppress insurrections if either an associate justice of the Supreme Court or a local 
district court judge certified that opposition to the laws was beyond the powers of the civil 
authority to suppress. Ironically, the first occasion to resort to that law grew out of the violent, 
organized, and armed resistance to the federal government's whiskey tax. Thus, two of the 
duties that ATF would later inherent — enforcing alcohol taxes and controlling firearms — co- 
mbusted in 1794 into the Whiskey Rebellion, the first violent opposition to the new federal 
government.' 

Across the next century, succeeding presidents had sporadic, though no less 
fearsome, occasion to dispatch the Army and the state militias to suppress various outbreaks of 
armed opposition to federal laws, taxes, and interests. In 1799, Fries Rebellion against a federal 
tax on houses forced President John Adams to muster the militia. Fugitive slave rescues during 
the 1850s prompted the government to call out the military. Organized resistance in Mas- 
sachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin raised a troublesome specter. "The 
main opposition," President Millard Fillmore warned Congress in December 1851, "is aimed 
against the Constitution itself." At the end of the decade, John Brown's ill-fated raid on 



' Bowen. Miracle at Philadelphia, p. 287; Frederick S. Calhoun. The Lawmen: United 
States Marshals and Their Deputies, 1789-1989, (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution 
Press, 1990), p. 32. 



G-8 



Harper's Ferry. Virginia, sparked the government to decisive action. Brown chose Harper's 
Ferry because of the federal arsenal there. His intent was to distribute the weapons among 
Southern slaves and lead them in revolt for their freedom. Federal troops, however, thwarted 
the plan.- 

After the Civil War, the federal government battled unrepentant Southerners to 
protect the rights of the freedmen. Nonetheless, federal officials acted only after the 
innumerable Klan-style attacks were finally perceived as organized. "Outrages of various 
descriptions," Attorney General George Williams advised southern U.S. Attorneys and Marshals 
in 1874. "and in some cases atrocious murders have been committed in your district by bodies 
of armed men, sometimes in disguise and with the view it is believed of overawing and 
intimidating peaceable and law abiding citizens and depriving them of the rights guaranteed to 
them by the Constitution and laws of the United States." The attorney general ordered his 
attorneys and marshals "to detect, expose, arrest, and punish the perpetrators of these crimes."^ 

Throughout the western territories and along the Mexican border, the federal 
government found occasional need to suppress armed bands of outlaws, ganged together to steal 
cattle or rob the mails. General William Tecumseh Sherman, sent to the Arizona border in 
April 1882 to investigate the outlaw troubles there, advised President Chester A. Arthur that "the 



- Fillmore quoted in W.U. Hensel, The Christiana Rio and the Treason Trials of 1851: An 
Historical Sketch, (New York; Negro Universities Press, 1911), pp. 92-3; Calhoun, The 
Lawmen, pp. 82-93. 



•^ Attorney General George Williams, circular letter to U.S. Attorneys and Marshals, 
September 3, 1874, Attorney General Instruction Book E, Record Group 60, Records of the 
Department of Justice, National Archives. 



G-9 



Civil Officers have not sufficient forces to make arrests, to hold prisoners for trial or punish 
when convicted." The President promptly proclaimed on May 31 that the areas plagued hy the 
outlaws were in a state of rebellion.'* 

The federal government looked no more kindly on the labor strikes that broke out 
in the closing years of the nineteenth century and the opening years of the twentieth. What 
seemed so dangerous about events such as the 1894 Pullman strike was not just the disruption 
of the mails, which was the legal basis on which the government relied to break the strike, but 
the fact that the mails were being violently disrupted by organized groups. "We have been 
brought to the ragged edge of anarchy," Attorney General Richard Olney frantically explained 
when he ordered that the trains be kept running. Eventually, Eugene Debs and his colleagues 
in the American Railway Union, which took the lead in the strike, were indicted and convicted. 
Once again, it was the volatile mixture of violence and organization — combinations determined 
difficult to suppress — that evoked the full power of the federal government.^ 

The passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934, the first federal effort to 
control private ownership of firearms, grew out of this historic fear of armed organizations. The 
various collections of gangsters that proliferated during Prohibition were the true targets of the 
law, which required a tax and registration on the sale of their weapons of choice — machineguns 



'* General William Tecumseh Sherman to Attorney General Benjamin Brewster, April 12, 
1882, Source-Chronological Files, Record Group 60, National Archives; Calhoun, The Lawmen, 
p. 196; Larry Ball, United Slates Marshals of Arizona and New Mexico, 1846-1912, 
(Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1978), pp. 125-6. 

^ Almont Lindsey, The Pullman Strike, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), p. 
245, 274-92; Calhoun, The Lawmen, 209, 214. 



G-lO 



and sawed-off shotguns. Subsequent federal firearms laws have been of a piece. Other than the 
1968 ban on mail-order sales, which was in direct, though delayed, response to the assassination 
of President Kennedy, federal gun laws have typically been concerned with the weapons of 
considerable destructive power generally preferred by organized groups — bombs, machineguns, 
and automatic weapons. 

In recent times, the federal government has shown itself even less patient with 
armed groups than it had historically. Radical extremists of both the Right and the Left have 
been pursued aggressively once they began breaking the law. For instance, after the Symbionese 
Liberation Army (SLA) launched its self-styled "people's war" by kidnapping newspaper heiress 
Patty Hearst and committing a number of daring baiikrobberies, the federal government 
dedicated its full resources to tracking the group down. Within approximately three months, FBI 
agents and Los Angeles police closed in on the group at a house just outside what was then 
known as Watts. During an intense gun battle and fire, every member of the SLA in the house 
was killed.^ 

Gordon Kahl, who stood at the opposite end of the political spectrum from the 
SLA, met a similar end. Kahl belonged to the Posse Comitatus which refused to recognize the 
authority of any government above the county level. Accordingly, Kahl consistently refused to 
pay his federal taxes, even after he served time in prison for not doing so. When U.S. Marshals 
attempted to arrest him for violating the terms of his probation, Kahl killed two of them. For 
the next five months, Kahl hid among his friends and sympathizers until FBI agents located him 



Los Angeles Times. May 18, 1974. 



G-U 



in a farmhouse just outside Smithville, Arkansas. After refusing to surrender, Kahl was killed, 
and the farmhouse was burned down.^ 

Robert Matthews, the head of a group of right-wing fanatics known as the Order, 
embraced many of Kahl's beliefs. Unlike Kahl, whose resistance was essentially passive until 
the marshals tried to arrest him, Matthews and the Order launched an aggressive private war 
against the country. Like the SLA. the Order committed a series of bank and armored car 
robberies, netting $3.6 million in one heist alone. The Order also assassinated Alan Berg, a 
radio talk show host in Denver, Colorado. 

The FBI began an equally aggressive pursuit. After a brief, violent skirmish in 
Idaho and another in Portland, Oregon, FBI agents finally closed in on Matthews hiding out 
among three adjoining houses on Whidbey Island, some fifty miles north of Seattle. After 
negotiating his surrender for two days, Matthews began firing on an FBI Hostage Response 
Team that attempted to enter the house. Protected by a full suit of body armor, Matthews ran 
from the first floor to the second floor filing automatic weapons. The FBI dropped a 
magnesium flare from a helicopter. The flare landed on the roof of the house and burned 
through it to the room where Matthews had stored his ammunition and explosives. These 
ignited, setting off a roaring, exploding fire that consumed Matthews.^ 



^ James Corcoran, Bitter Harx'est Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus: Murder in the 
Heartland, (New York: Viking Press, 1990). 

^ James Coates, Armed and Dangerous: The Rise of the Survivalist Right, (New York: Hill 
and Wang, 1987), pp. 41-76. 



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A year later, in the spring of 1985, ATF collected considerable evidence that an 
80-member group styling itself the Covenant of the Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) had 
stockpiled a large arsenal at its fortified compound in Arkansas. The group had collected over 
150 firearms, (including 35 machineguns), two anti-personnel mines, three anti-aircraft rockets, 
50 pounds of military plastic explosives, 300 blasting caps, 2,000 feet of detonating cord, and 
around 100 explosive devices. CSA had also stockpiled food, water, and supplies. 

ATF led the assault on the CSA compound on April 20, 1985. CSA members 
retreated farther into the compound, barricading themselves behind their defenses. The agents 
set up a siege perimeter and settled in to wait. The group used the wait to destroy many of the 
weapons (and hence evidence) illegally obtained. Negotiators from the FBI arrived and began 
the tedious, frustrating process of talking the group out. Three days later, on April 22, 1985, 
James D. Ellison and the 75 members of the CSA surrendered.^ 

As both history and recent events clearly show, the United States has never 
tolerated armed groups residing within its borders. The intent of the particular organization, 
whether ideological or criminal, mattered little. If the group was building an illegal arsenal, the 
group was subject to a federal enforcement action. To this day, ATF's enforcement focus re- 
tains the flavor of that historic concern with armed organizations. The agency has developed 
considerable expertise and success in investigating the activities of motorcycle, street, and drug 
gangs, all of which share in common a proclivity to amass large arsenals of powerful weapons. 



^ James Coates, Armed and Dangerous: The Rise of the Survivalist Right, (New York: Hil 
and Wang, 1987), pp. 142-4. 



G-I3 



The raid on the Branch Davidian compound occurred in the context of that historical 
background. 



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