On December 30, 2008, Southwestern Writers Collection archivist Joel Minor (JM) had the opportunity to visit The Ashes of Waco author Dick Reavis (DR) and to interview him about his experiences surrounding the Branch Davidian incident and its aftermath. They also discussed all sorts of political and philosophical topics that arise when one studies these events, and how Reavis feels about the incident and its broader implications these days.

The following is an edited transcript of that interview, with a table of contents added for easier accessibility. The unedited transcript and recording are both available for research at The Wittliff Collections, although most of the transcript is included here.

Click on any of the following headings to go directly to that section. Click on "Return to Top" to come back to the table of contents.


Initial reactions to the raid

"They're all crazy"

"Satellite City"

Reporters stenographers for government

Stereotypes starting to break down

Plan to sneak into Mt. Carmel and getting to know the "Constitutionalists"

Debating gun control with the "Constitutionalists"

Press abandons the story after the fire

Comparing treatment of Native Americans to that of Branch Davidians

Getting to know Branch Davidians at Brittney Hotel in Waco and wanting to write a book

Getting the book contract and starting his research

Receiving "a religious education"

The charges against Koresh

Probable motivations behind the raid

What the FBI learned from Waco

Riled up Americans; difference in a 1993 Mexican standoff

Breaking the cordon in Montana

The ATF and Branch Davidian mentalities on Feb. 28

Koresh's Biblical identity and taking the Bible literally

The fallacy of "Freedom of Religion"

The possibility of Koresh purposefully goading the government

The steadfastness, guilt, education, normalcy of the Branch Davidians

Handicaps and skills as an investigative reporter

Fellow reporters at the trial

Use of the word "cult"

Protesters and non protesters; best location for the trial

The 'Constitutionalists' acting up at the trial, and the FBI suppressing them after the Oklahoma City bombing

McVeigh's philosophical and cold blooded nature. The disparate concerns of the Branch Davidians and the "Constitutionalists"

What if the government had been more forthcoming with information?

The criminal negligence of the April 19 assault; the unreliability of the surveillance tapes; "the cops of the world"

Possibility of scripture inspiring 4/19 fire; Koresh 4/19 meeting with his 'lieutenants'; Reavis' clear conscience about his conclusions

The question of "murder" comparing Mount Carmel to Iraq

Using a military solution for a police problem

Revisiting the book; doing his duty as a reporter; the scale of Waco compared to other injustices

The lasting interest in Waco; investigative reporters not doing their job during the siege

Testifying before Congress



Initial reactions to the raid


JM: You describe in the book in the introduction what you were doing, where you were, when the raid happened in February of 1993. But I think that'd be good for you to just tell us where you were working, what you were doing at the time.

DR: When the ATF raided Mount Carmel, I was working at the Dallas Observer an old alt [alternative] weekly newspaper owned [by] the New Times chain. Everybody saw, I think that Sunday, the raid on television or a piece of the footage and knew that four ATF guys had been killed. And the news programs and the newspapers and all said that they were raiding Mount Carmel which either our assumptions or the coverage pictured as a compound of white fundamentalist Christians. [They] said they were raiding it because those guys had four automatic weapons prohibited weapons. And I just thought, 'eh, crazy things happen in this country,' and didn't think anymore about it than that. I went to work the next day every Monday we had editorial meetings, five or six writers and the editor and they sat down to discuss what stories we should be doing and somebody said 'well, Reavis ought to do Waco.' And I think the suggestion was made that I should do it, because I spent most of my life covering what in some way you would call the 'Great Unwashed,' meaning people who didn't have education or money or didn't speak English. I'm not defending that conception of the world and certainly Mexico is not a part of the 'Great Unwashed,' but I've spent a great deal [of time] doing it because that's the way my editors looked at it, I guess. So, they suggested I go down there and do a story about it, and I said, 'I don't think there's much there. I'm not interested.' And the editor and one or two others began to ask why I wasn't interested and to give arguments why I should be. They said 'but those guys had automatic weapons,' and I said, 'yeah, they are supposed to have four of them. I know dope dealers that have more than that.' And they said, 'but he's molesting little children,' and I said, 'well, police actions aren't going to help that, at least in the short run.' And they said, 'but he thinks he's Jesus,' and I said 'so what?,' because that just seemed to me absolutely ludicrous, and I think I got out of going at that meeting.

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"They're all crazy"


During the standoff a friend of mine was working for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, was sent down to Waco to do the story and by then I had heard from other reporters that the only source of news was the government. The ATF and the FBI held joint press conferences at ten o'clock every morning. The people who came out of Mount Carmel were all put in jail, the adults were. The children weren't available for interview because they were children and the adults were put in jail and were being held incommunicado. It was so bad that the Dallas Morning News was suing the government saying, 'you can't hold people incommunicado.' And a friend of mine from the Star Telegram went down and I said, 'look, all you're going to get is government propaganda from what I hear. If you get a chance try to figure out why these people are doing this. Go talk to some of them.' Well she was a pretty enterprising reporter, and during her time down there she ran across a pamphlet written by the Davidians, meaning not Koresh's followers, but the predecessor group. She came back to see me when she had done her week in Waco or whatever it was and said, 'look, I couldn't get to the people who were inside that compound, but they're all crazy.' And I said, 'what do you mean? You got a hundred and fifty unsupervised schizophrenics living together? I don't think so. They may be weird back they're not crazy.' And she reached into her purse, she was sitting in my living room, reached into her purse, pulled out the little pamphlet and she was so mad at me she threw it at me. She said, 'You read that! You'll see they're crazy.' And the next day I picked it up and started reading it, and it was all this "Bible babble" about the book of Revelation. I didn't understand a word of it. But I said to myself 'There are people who do understand it. That's why it's in print. You don't have to be insane. You have to have a certain background to understand what it's talking about and I just don't have it.' I laid it aside.

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"Satellite City"


And at some point, it may have been before this encounter with the Star Telegram reporter, my editor told me to 'Go down to Waco and bring back a story.' So I went down there and I found out that you couldn't get closer than I believe it was 2.3 miles from Mt. Carmel. Police had the roads blocked. The road that led up to the checkpoint, the last mile of it, was full of big vans with TV cameras and all kinds of electronic gear coming out of them. The Red Cross or Salvation Army had a 24 hour donut truck there to serve the press. There must have been 20 trailers and 60 cars around there all the time. They had telephoto lenses on still cameras. The lenses were between two and three feet long they had to have tripods to support them pointed at Mt. Carmel. And the scene was so busy that they even elected a mayor of that satellite city or whatever they called it. But I found out there was no news there. You know, I made my rounds talking to people I knew in the press, found out they weren't getting any news there. They were just sitting there waiting for the day when the people would come out.

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Reporters stenographers for government


And the only thing was going on was the FBI and the ATF press conference. The one I went to was... First of all it reminded me of work in Mexico. In Mexico back when the PRI, the Revolutionary Institutional Party, was in power, you went to a press conference, your only source of news was what the government said. And the government always had wonderful buffets. And at the FBI/ATF press conference they had doughnuts and coffee. I mean, the food was inferior to what I got in Mexico working as a stenographer for the government. And the room was full of reporters being stenographers for the government. That was the only news they could get at. And a couple of weeks before, a guy named Louis Bean, a notorious racist and the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Texas, had asked a significant question. He had asked the ATF and FBI something to the effect of, 'When are you going to stop using tanks on children?' or something like that. And they had escorted him out of the press conference and barred him from coming back. Well, I asked the reporters about that because the facts of the matter are Louis Bean was a reporter for some Ku Klux Klan type publication. And my feeling is that if you read our constitution it says that in order for the people to be informed there should be no restrictions on the freedom of the press, which to me means, and which traditionally to news people has meant, the government doesn't decide who the press is. If the government decides who the press is, then we only get the government's version of the news. And I asked the other reporters, I said, 'Why did ya'll stand by when the Ku Klux Klan guy, Louis Beam, was thrown out? Why didn't you protest?' And they said, 'Well, he wasn't really a reporter.' And I thought, 'What hypocrisy.' He was writing for people who were interested, even if we don't like them and don't agree with them. And, a lot of the people they were writing for, at the mainstream newspapers, I don't like and agree with either. So what the hell is this?

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Stereotypes starting to break down


And I thought, 'The press cannot get this story because it doesn't have access to the people inside the house or those who come out. And even if the press could get this story, it would not understand it because of all the 'Bible babble' and because it's prejudice against these folks inside.' By then, I had come to understand, that it wasn't true, among other things, that Koresh's followers were a white cult. About twenty percent of the people in that building were black and in fact the Ku Klux Klan was protesting on the knoll where tourists went to buy t shirts and stuff, souvenir t shirts and all. Ku Klux Klan was protesting saying the FBI should go in, cause it didn't like the fact that blacks and whites were living together under the same roof. So I went back to my paper, after two or three days there, and I said, 'The story is un gettable. Don't send me back.' And I guess they believed me. I mean, I wasn't the sort of guy who would say that for a story that was gettable.

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Plan to sneak into Mt. Carmel and getting to know the "Constitutionalists"


And a couple weeks later, I heard, I don't recall how I made the connection with him, but there was a guy working for Soldier of Fortune, in Waco, and somehow through a connection with him, he may have told me, but I got word, that a certain Patriot militia Constitutionalist figure was going to try to violate the FBI's seal on Mount Carmel and get into the place. And, I thought, 'Ah ha. If he goes in, maybe I can cover that event.' And I wanted to go in, because by then it was probably thirty days on in the siege, I don't know. I felt there were clearly two sides to the story that it takes two to tango one outside the city, outside Mt. Carmel the FBI and ATF Show, and the other inside of Mount Carmel. I also thought that if reporters were inside Mount Carmel, there was less attempt, there was less danger that something truly tragic would happen, because governments don't like to kill reporters. And so, I went to my editor and I said, 'Look, if this guy goes in, can I cover it? Can I follow him in? And, for that matter, can I just go in myself?' Well, he wound up having me talk to Michael Lacey, the owner of the New Times chain and Lacey says, 'You can't go in, but if somebody else goes in, you can follow him and cover it. Which I thought was a pretty ballsy call. [...]

So, I went back to Waco and met up with the guys who were going in. The guy who was going in was a guy named Gary Hunt, who was a surveyor by trade and who lived, I think, in Arizona, and published a little weekly or monthly Patriot newsletter. And I thought a fairly civil and decent guy. I went down there. He had rented a motel room or maybe two or three of them in a motel in [Waco]. I rented one there with them, as they prepared to go in. Now, one of the preparations that Gary Hunt said he was making, maybe he was just stalling, was he decided to go to one of the ATF/FBI press conferences. I had DPS Department of Public Safety ID as press, so I got in easily. He must have been six or twelve feet behind me, and they stopped him. And then, 'Where's your press ID?' And he showed him an ID card for his Patriot newsletter, whatever it was called. And they wouldn't let him in. They said to him 'Where did you get this press ID?' And he said, 'Same place NBC gets theirs. I made it myself.' Which is the gospel truth. That's where NBC gets theirs. But they wouldn't let old Gary in. And I went to the press conference and it was usual FBI/ATF stuff, which I didn't necessarily disbelieve, I just wanted to hear the Devil's Advocate challenge some of it. Then I came back out and I went and hung out with Gary and them, and these were a group of people who, now I don't know if the belief has entirely disappeared, but who talked about the identity question in a sense that I had never heard of it before. Usually in right wing circles this means racial identity, it means: who are the 'Children of Israel'? And the answer is: us redneck crackers, but...including me. I would fall in the same definition they use as a 'Child of Israel.' I pity God if that's true. But in any case, they had a new twist on the identity deal, which was they say the United States Constitution made all of the citizens of the states in which we lived, or in which we were born, I don't know which, so that I for example would have been a citizen of the Republic of Texas but not of the United States. The only people in their reading of the Constitution, who are citizens of the United States are those who live in Washington DC. Unless you choose to forfeit your citizenship or have it taken away you're not a citizen of the United States unless you live in Washington DC. Now I don't recall the details, but something about one of the anti slavery amendments they saw as a move by the government to make everybody a citizen of the United States, and it had to do with the fact that if you read old copies of the Constitution 'Citizen' came in with a capital 'C' in the old copies and during the post bellum period it came in with a lower case 'c,' and they say 'huh, this is when the change was made.' Who knows?

In any case, they did not regard themselves as citizens of the United States and they didn't want to do anything that would consent to being a citizen. Among the things that would give consent would be paying federal income taxes, I don't know what all, and a great deal of them wouldn't even take a drivers license. Because first of all, they thought driver's licenses were unconstitutional, because they said that in the days they were adopted a driver was someone who drove for pay, meaning a taxi driver or a delivery person or something like that. Nobody else was driving; they were just operating motor vehicles on a public conveyance, a street. So they said, 'if you've been trapped into thinking you are a United States citizen and you have unwittingly agreed that you were in your past life by doing things like paying taxes and getting driver's license, quit doing it. Don't do it no more. Because then, the Constitution is on your side: if you will not be a citizen of the United States.' And they started arguing about whether or not Koresh was a citizen of the United States. There were five or six of them. And their feeling was, that if Koresh was a citizen, if he had given in and accepted citizenship dumbly or on purpose, he was no longer a citizen of the Republic of Texas and a Patriot. In other words he was lost. And they got to arguing this, and they must have spent a day or two arguing over it. And I think that's why they finally decided not to go in. So I lost the story! But I think I got a pretty story about them out of it, in which I explain some of their theories of life. And in the middle of it and I don't know if I ever wrote this one night I was sitting in the room when they were arguing about identity and all and an old ex John Bircher type shows up with Louis Beam in the Ku Klux Klan. And he says, 'Brothers, I want to introduce to a great patriot, Louis Beam.' Well, I shook hands with him too. Beam didn't remember me. I had done a story about him five years earlier. Fortunately, he didn't recognize me because the story had not been favorable to him. But in any case this was the milieu that I fell into trying to get the story.

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Debating gun control with the "Constitutionalists"


JM: Where were you during all of this debate?

DR: I was in there listening to them. I told them I didn't know any of this stuff, which is the fact of the matter.

JM: But they accepted you as somebody who was trustworthy to their beliefs?

DR: Yeah, and I don't know why. Maybe because when they cussed the government...well, maybe because I agreed with them on gun rights, or they thought I did. Their position on gun rights was that the Constitution gives us all the right to bear firearms, and I've always believed that. I've always thought, at least at that time I thought, 'if we don't have free gun sales here in the United States, how are they ever going to make a revolution in Mexico?' Because Mexico had gun control under the PRI, right? I had known priests who had smuggled guns into Mexico to help starving peasants. And so I certainly didn't want to see a supply of guns dry up here, while starving peasants in Mexico needed them to fight landlords and the government. So, I guess maybe cause I was for gun rights.

Now, over the course of time, because I came to know some of these people for quite a while, I began to argue with them about it. I would say, 'You know, the nicest thing could happen in America, would be for factory workers, we had factories back then, to go to work with them guns and the foreman commits an outrage, and they raise their guns in the air and they say, 'We want a union.' They'd have it in a minute.' [But the gun rights people would say,] 'Oh, well no, we believe in gun rights, but there's also property rights.' That would be their argument, right? And so, globally, I didn't agree with them. Furthermore, if you read the Constitution and if you read about it, gun rights existed before the American Revolution. The British didn't prohibit you from owning guns or forming militias, and we did it under British control. The founders beat the British and their concern was that the people have access to the same armaments that the army had. That's why we have the [Second] Amendment, so that the people can overthrow a tyrannical government. And all gun rights people understand this. But what do you do about missiles? Well, I played with theory a lot. I don't always take it seriously. My answer is, oh, the founders didn't want the government to have any weapons that we the people didn't have, because if the government had superior weapons, tyranny can develop. So either the government gives me the right to own a missile or it gets rid of those it owns, which I think would be a very good idea. So you might say I'm an extreme gun rights advocate. I would like to see the United States have an army equipped as light infantry, right? We couldn't be razing Baghdad and places like that if that's all we had. We might have stayed out of some of the more unfortunate adventures we've gotten into. So, I don't think we agreed about gun rights, because I thought about it a little deeper. But, in any case, I don't know why they accepted me. But they did. And I never would tell the police. I mean, at least they could trust me that far. But anyhow, they decided not to go in. So I went back, and there was another time I didn't have a story.

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Press abandons the story after the fire


DR: What ultimately happened was the place burned down, and something very strange happened when the place burned down. First of all, the search warrant, which the press had not been able to get for 51 days, because there was an ongoing crime and the police didn't have to turn loose of it, the authorities didn't. The search warrant was moot, there was nothing left to search, and was therefore declassified, or released for public inspection. Secondly, a bunch of the people who were in jail were let out, because they were being held as material witnesses to an ongoing crime. Well, no more ongoing crime. When that happened, because the building burned down, all the press left. Within three days, everybody was cleared out. Yet, that was the first time they had a chance to interview any of the people who had been inside. They left because even the print media had begun to think like the visual media: nothing to film, nothing to report. And I thought that was a great collapse on the part of the print media, of belief in its own role. Because when that happened, investigation became possible.

JM: Did you get a sense though that the FBI and the government were still suppressing any investigative inquiries?

DR: Well they were still refusing to talk, other than at press conferences, because they said now there's an ongoing prosecution.

JM: They weren't letting the press onto the site after it burned or anything like that, right?

DR: After it burned, you could walk on the site. I was there within a week afterwards. My wife and I walked around it.

JM: After the Texas Rangers had done their investigation?

DR: I say within a week. It seems to me it was. At some point, it was put off limits for sanitary reasons, but there was a gap.

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Comparing treatment of Native Americans to that of Branch Davidians


JM: Because people were taking souvenirs, and things like that?

DR: Yeah, people were doing that. My wife and I walked the grounds. You have to understand, she is a South American. We were walking through all this charred stuff. I'm trying to think why I was down there. I think I know, but anyway. I said, 'What do you think of this?' I didn't know what to think of it. She said, 'I never thought I would get a chance to see what your country did to the Indians.' And I thought, 'What the heck is this? What do the Indians got to do with this?' And she said, 'The Indians had a different religion. They had different marriage customs. And they had guns. So, you wiped them out.' And I thought, 'Oh my gosh! Revelation to me.'

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Getting to know Branch Davidians at Brittney Hotel in Waco and wanting to write a book


Now, I'll tell you why I was down there. After this place burned, I looked for two or three days for the stories that would tell me the other side of the story, and I didn't see a one. Meaning, the press didn't interview the people who came out of jail. And I thought, 'That ain't right.' And then I got a call. I'm pretty sure it was from [Jim] Pace at Soldier of Fortune, who told me that all of the people who had gotten out of jail and all of the other assorted Koresh followers who had never been put in, or whatever, and the children, were all in one hotel in Waco. He called and told me that. And I said, 'Well, Jesus, they've been wanting me to do a story about this and I've been refusing cause I couldn't get the other side.' Well I went to my editor and I said, 'Let me check into that hotel for a week.' And it was probably at the end of that week that I brought my wife to Mt. Carmel. I went down there for a week or so, a week or ten days. Checked into the hotel. It was pretty obvious who the Koresh followers were. I'd seen some of them on TV as they were arrested. And they wouldn't talk to me. And I said what am I going to do this happens to reporters. And I said: I'm going to sit here in the lobby and see what I can learn. Sitting in the lobby, I heard one of them, Ruth Riddle, call her insurance company to file a claim on her car, and they said, 'What happened to your car?' 'Tanks ran over it.' 'Do you have a title?' 'No. It burned up in the fire.' And I saw they didn't have cars anymore. That's why she was making the call. Taxis were showing up. Well, I had a car. I said, 'If I just sit here in this lobby long enough, somebody's going to need a ride. And on the second or third day, somebody did. And the next thing you know, I was taxi service for the survivors. I didn't charge them nothing. And while I drove them places, I asked them questions. They couldn't refuse. Three or four days of that, and I had made friends with them.

JM: Did you tell them you were a reporter?

DR: Oh yeah. I told them I was a reporter. When I say they're not talking, they might have talked to me if I had said, 'I'm a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church at Podunk, Texas.' But I told them up front I was a reporter. So they wouldn't talk to me until they needed a ride. So that's how I began to get into the story, was as a taxi guy to them. Little by little, they'd start inviting me to lunch and stuff. There was a restaurant where they all went, cause they could eat cheap. One day at the restaurant, I said, 'look, ya'll have seen me smoking and stuff, and nobody yet has asked me when I'm going to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. What kind of religious group are you?' And they said, 'We don't do those kind of things.' And I said, 'Why not?' 'Because it would take us more than 15 minutes to explain our religion.' Well I decided as long as 15 minutes never came, I'd be willing to talk to them and I began to hear things from them that contrasted greatly from what I had read in the press. And some of them were black, and I began to think, 'There's a story here.' I went to my editor and I said, 'Look. This is like the Kennedy assassination. It's going to take a year after it happens to figure out what happened. Put me on it.' He said talk to Lacey. Lacey said no. Lacey had to attend a conference of alternative weeklies in Austin and I went down there. And I said, 'look, you gotta let me spend at least six months figuring out what happened.' And he said 'no', again. I mean, he said it to my face. And I said, 'Why not?' And he said it's not a Dallas story. And I said, 'yeah, well, neither was the Kennedy assassination.' And besides, in Dallas at that time, there was a great movement of gun rights Patriot Constitutionalism militia people. They held monthly meetings at which six and eight hundred people showed up. And I had readers. Everything I had written about Waco, we got letters from. So it was a hot topic, just inside of Dallas, and then nationally it seemed to me of some import. He told me no and I said, 'I'm going to have to write a book about this to get to the bottom of it. And if I write the book, I'm going to have to quit my job.' So I wrote a letter to my agent, proposing a book. When I got the contract, I quit my job.

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Getting the book contract and starting his research


JM: When you proposed this to your agent, how long did it take her to find a publisher?

DR: I think not very long, maybe two or three weeks. I don't know for a fact why they decided to let me do the book. I had done one before, for the same agent, and it had sold fairly well. And the other thing was that the ATF/FBI press conferences had been live on television every day for 51 days in Texas. And it had been mentioned in the news many times before, so they knew, I mean, there are these things that happen in American life that you're going to have a book come out of. Madoff is one, right now the swindler, or the accused swindler, the governor of the state of [Illinois], Joe the Plumber. There are incidents in national life that will sell a book. And apparently Waco had been an incident of that size.

JM: Did you feel like you were under any pressure to get going on a book before anybody else did?

DR: I knew that other people were thinking about it, or I found out pretty quickly. Carlton Stowers, a Dallas writer, the dean of Texas crime writers, was collecting files to do one. And I knew of two or three amateurs that said they were going to do one, but you never know about that. Carlton is the one I worried about. Well turns out that I got a contract before he did and I went out to see him and I said 'Carlton, I hear you've got some files, I've got a contract, give me your files,' and he said to me, 'well, there is one thing I want to know first: whose side are you going to take?' And I told him, 'Carlton, I don't know about this yet, but I'm an old civil rights worker and you ain't going to convince me that because the cops do something that means it was right.' So he gave me his files, and we became pretty close friends after that. As for other people outside of Texas doing it, I don't know that any writer would have, certainly some of them must have proposed it, but part of the reason Mount Carmel burned was because it ain't easy to spent 51 days in Waco if you don't live there, and I can't imagine a New York writer wanting to do it. Where as for me Waco was, I mean, I have to admit it's not the most entertaining town in the world, but it was livable.

JM: Basically you were coming at it like you were going to investigate it impartially, but with the hope of uncovering things that hadn't come out yet?

DR: I wanted to find out what had happened and why. I needed to explain the event.

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Receiving "a religious education"


JM: Did you know at the time that was going to involve a lot of Biblical study and things like that?

DR: Well, after my encounter with Fort Worth Star Telegram reporter, I knew that I'd have to learn plenty about the Bible, and the first thing I did after I got on the speaking basis with the survivors, was I said, 'look, give me someone who can teach me to understand the Bible the way you did.' Because see, when I would ask them serious questions about what happened or about David, the answers they would give me I couldn't understand. Then I knew I had to have a religious education. Meaning they lived in a different world than you and I do. Their common sense was centered inside the Bible, not outside it.

JM: So if you asked why didn't Koresh come out or why didn't he send more people out, they might say well it says in...

DR: They would make scriptural references. Look, it was so bad I had one of the first people I gave a ride to was a guy in his fifties, who was goi,ng to a health food store to buy Saw Palmetto for prostate trouble, and I said, 'Well have you seen a doctor about this,' because I had a pretty dim view of naturalist cures outside of Mexico. We'll put it that way. If we'd been in Mexico it might've made some sense. I said, 'have you seen a doctor about this?' and he said, 'yes, I saw a doctor, he told me to masturbate.' I said, 'so what's wrong with that?' He says, 'who am I going to obey the doctor or the Bible?' And I thought... I had a bit of prostate trouble either I had it maybe I hadn't had it yet, but I knew of it and I thought, 'wait a minute, this stuff is painful and he's going to ignore what his doctor tells him in favor of what the Bible does, about what the Bible tells him? What kind of nonsense is this?' And so I knew there was plenty of stuff in the Bible that I didn't understand anything about. And I had taken in college, I've got six hours on my undergraduate transcript of New Testament studies, or one of New Testament studies and one of Bible studies, I wasn't completely illiterate. But to understand it like they did, I didn't. So I had them name me, I told them to give me somebody who can teach me. Well Livingston Fagan was in jail, but he could telephone me once a week. So every Saturday morning he'd call me collect, and he'd ask me about the scriptures he had given me the week before and asked me how I understood them. Sort of supervising my reading and then he would give me a new list for the next week. And probably for six months and intensely for three, I was reading the Bible as his pupil. That was my first job. I said until I understand that, I don't understand the reasons those people give for everything they did in life. And I had to learn to think like them, which I came close, as close as a person can think like them, with knowledge of only the first four seals. The last three are only for people who accept. And I never told them that I accepted

JM: And was that ok with Livingston that...

DR: Livingston was teaching me.

JM: Was he going at it just trying to educate you or was he also trying to...maybe hoping that you would 'see the light,' so to speak?

DR: No, he had hope. As with anybody with a marginal ideology always hopes, that he can convert you. And so they of course had hope that I would come to see the world in the way they did.

JM: Did he get frustrated at all that you weren't picking up on it or do you...

DR: No, I was picking up on it, I just wasn't believing it.

JM: And did all this come before investigating the history White & Houteff and all of them or was it kind of at the same time?

DR: It may have been at the same time.

JM: Kind of complementing each other?

DR: Yeah, I mean in order to understand what he saying... Look, the Bible has got a lot of stuff in it and I began to realize that I was getting a version of the Bible. The Bible is like life, we can all read it and come to different opinions. Life, you can all live it and come to different opinions. So I realized that I was getting a version of it and I went and bought all of the standard reference books on the Bible; Bible dictionaries, concordances. And started reading the history of the Bible and then I read, and I think the thing that helped me most was that Ellen White's chief work, the founder of the Seventh Day Adventists. You cannot understand David Koresh without understanding the Seventh Day Adventists, because he was to them what Leon Trotsky was to Marx. And that may not make any sense to you, but I've got a Marxist education, it fits perfectly. Alright? So, I read Ellen White, I read Isaac Newton, who wrote a couple of books about Revelation and the Seven Seals. I found out that some other people were doing a book. James Tabor, theologian at Charlotte, North Carolina at University North Carolina Charlotte. I called him up, got him to explain to me stuff he had a much better biblical understanding than I did. He began to send me books that helped elucidate this. For example, Koresh sort of pictured himself as the umpteenth messiah, Jesus having been one, but there having been others before Jesus. And Tabor and his biblical research had run into a Jewish guy, I don't know of what nationality, who lived in Palestine before there was an Israel, who had a two messiah theory, and Koresh fits as the second messiah if you've got a two messiah theory. So he sent me that guy's book. And I began to discovery that... I mean from the historical work I did there is a long tradition of this multi messiah theory inside of Christianity. Even goes back to some peasant revolts, I think in Hungary, back in the 1500's.

But in any case, I began to acquire some biblical literacy with a heavy bent towards the Koresh reading. I also corresponded with an aunt of mine who was an old Church of Christ er, she was giving me her take on it. My general position was anybody who can tell me anything, can help me understand the Bible. And they're talking Bible all the time. So I reached a point where I could at least see that the ideas Koresh had where not unusual, no more unusual than Dick Cheney is to the American Constitution was David Koresh to Christianity. Just a recurrence of a bunch of old ideas in a new combination and so on, but it's all traceable to Ellen White and the Bible at least to those two.

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The charges against Koresh


JM: Reading your book, I really got the strong sense that almost everything they did could be explained by their beliefs in the Bible and where they saw themselves and what they saw the ATF and the outside world as. Then on the other hand you've got the Constitution that the government is supposed to be following and you talk about that [in relation to] David, the search warrant, and what they did during the siege and then during the assault on the final day. It seems that [the behavior of] Koresh and his followers was almost more excusable than the government's as far as following their doctrine.

DR: Well, both were following the documents that guided them. But the ATF was a bit roguish in it's handling of them.

JM: Very, very much so.

DR: Well, we can't say that Koresh wasn't roguish from his side. I don't think we know about him for sure. We know about them for sure, they were sleazy, and their understanding of the Constitution and of those sorts of things.

JM: Its seems like the assault weapon charge didn't hold water.

DR: It didn't hold water.

JM: The molesting children didn't hold water.

DR: Well, that may have held water. Koresh was sleeping with women who were under the age of consent.

JM: But again, that wasn't their jurisdiction, that didn't give them the right to raid the building.

DR: The ATF didn't have any jurisdiction over statutory rape. No, that was a state matter, and worse, the FBI, which had no business investigating it, had already investigated it and been unable to make a case. The local authorities had investigated it and been unable to make a case. ATF had no jurisdiction over there, so they were being roguish in their reading of their mission. They say that their mission was to get those automatic weapons. The problem is Koresh knew from his gun dealer that they were inquiring about them and if he had any, which we to this day don't know. Well, we know he had one 50 caliber gun, but that was bought legally. If he had any converted any AR15s to M16s, he probably got rid of them when he found out that the ATF was looking at him. That's like the coke dealer who hears you're looking at him and he flushes everything down the commode. And the ATF says it was making a raid principally to get those weapons. And it said it had to be a raid it couldn't walk up and knock on the door and say, 'please let us in,' because Koresh might have destroyed the evidence. Well, pretty hard to destroy an AR15 or M16. And in any case, think about it in terms of the drug law in which the ATF thinks. If you rush it, if you knock on a door and say, 'we think you have marijuana in this house' and you say, 'I will let you in [in] two minutes' and you go off and flush it down the commode. They've gotten rid of the marijuana. I'd call that a successful action. No, they want to put you in jail for it. Right? So, I think they overreacted quite a bit.

JM: That was the other bogus thing they had, was the drug component.

DR: Oh, they claimed he was cooking meth in his kitchen, when all they had was FLIR tape that showed that there was a kitchen, that showed there were hot stoves inside.

JM: And the testimony from Mark Breault, that meth lab that Koresh had actually turned in to the authorities, because George Roden had...

DR: Okay, Koresh had turned in one that existed during the Roden era. But, in defense of the ATF, and I assume it must have known, Koresh had a younger brother who [people said] was a meth freak and had been in prison for it and had come in and out of Mt. Carmel. Now, the survivors say David threw him out a couple times for backsliding, but Koresh was no stranger. He knew what meth was, put it that way. And, there was an incident a couple of years prior, when Koresh thought he was having a heart attack and was taken to a hospital in Waco and admitted and kept overnight. Very unusual for a man that age to think he's having a heart attack. I wanted to find out, this is the kind of investigation I did, whether or not he might have been doing crack or meth, and that had caused what he thought was a heart attack, caused the symptoms. And I went and tried to get the medical records. Went all the way to the attorney general of Texas trying to get permission to look at the medical records and was denied, because the law takes the point of view of the American Medical Association. A patient's relationship with his doctor is confidential, not until the day when the patient dies, but forever. But I wanted to unearth this story because there were those two incidents and there was scuttlebutt around town about Koresh being a speed freak. And I think it's still possible, I would not be surprised if there was some way we could find out that David in his special little cubbyhole had speed. His behavior's entirely consistent with it. But, that's never been proven. And to go from that, to say he was cooking it in the house, is a long step. If he had been cooking it in the house, I think there would've been plenty of people who knew, who would have said so. And if he had been selling any of it, you damn straight there would have been. There'd be guys sitting in prison now who bought from him or who sold him materials and they'd be happy to talk.

JM: And he would have lost a lot of followers who were devout, [who] came from that SDA background of no drugs and alcohol, and they would have not followed him, don't you think, if they knew he was a drug addict.

DR: Well, he had alcohol.

JM: Oh, he had that 'sinful messiah' thing.

DR: That's right. So I'm not sure he would have lost any followers, but I'm sure that we would have heard of it. And in fact, when the ATF came out and said that Mount Carmel had a prior history of methamphetamine manufacturing, talking about the Roden period, I got a letter from a convict, one of the guys who had had the lab. He said, 'Yeah! We had a meth lab out there but we never knew Koresh. The ATF is lying.' Which as a convict of course he is glad to say, but we would have heard if he were making meth out there or selling meth. We would have heard.

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Probable motivations behind the raid


JM: Now, in the book you were talking about how the ATF had budget hearings coming up that March. It made me wonder, why would a big dramatic raid help their cause more than just making a successful arrest?

DR: No. They thought that the big dramatic raid would culminate in a successful arrest. We have to give them credit for that, but here's the situation. The ATF was being sued at that time by two groups of employees, the blacks and the females, for employment discrimination, not promoting them. And you had a Democratic Congress headed by a so called liberal Bill Clinton, and you are going to go ask that Congress for more money and you think they're not going to ask about these lawsuits pending against the agency? You're damn straight they're going to be asking about that. What is your response? 'We just shut down some white, Christian fundamentalists who had guns.' That sounds pretty good to liberals. This is why they raided Waco. They had to have something to offset them lawsuits. I mean, I say this is why. This is among the reasons. The other thing was that in New Orleans and other jurisdictions they had gone on raids with reality TV crews, and it had earned them great fame, and so they thought that they would film this big raid, it would be a successful raid, it would net these white, fundamentalist Christians with guns, which would please the liberals in Congress, and yeah, we are being sued by the women and the blacks but we're trying to resolve those disputes, we're doing good work. Now, you have to remember that the Clinton administration was anti gun. And if they had pulled all those automatic weapons in the hands of white, Christian fundamentalists they would have made points. So, I think that was among their motives. It may have been the chief motive, but when you ask that question you're asking [about] the motive in whose head? The four guys who died there, that wasn't their motive, they were just doing their jobs. But up that chain you get increasingly political and PR conscious. Somewhere up at the top, that was the thought.

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What the FBI learned from Waco


JM: What do you see that have been the repercussions from this incident as far as the ATF goes? We don't really hear about any more raids. How often did these happen before Waco?

DR: Well. there's Ruby Ridge.

JM: Yeah, there's that and that happened the year before I guess.

DR: I think there were three incidents: Ruby Ridge, Waco, and some people would think there was an incident with a group called Cross and Shield, I think, in Arkansas before Ruby Ridge. Then Ruby Ridge, then Waco, and then the Montana Freemen. The ATF and the FBI learned from Waco. They have never admitted to making any mistakes, but at Montana, I was up there, so was Jim Pace, the Soldier of Fortune [writer]. They did not hold daily press conferences. Start with that, because what those daily press conferences did is created what I call the atmosphere [for an] electronic lynching. They hold a press conference every day, they tell the American public, 'there are bad guys out there who want to shoot up your McDonald's, and the public says 'Go get 'em.' It's not much different making a speech on the courthouse lawn in 1924 in Waco when this actually happened. 'In that jail is a black rapist who raped a white woman, go in and get him!' Same sort of thing they were stirring up the public, 'Who does David Koresh think he is to thumb his nose at us when he's molesting children and planning to attack our McDonald's with those automatic weapons of his? Go in and get him.' Well they didn't hold those press conferences. That was the first smart move they made. The second smart move they made after Waco was this: when they sealed off Mount Carmel they wouldn't let anybody in. The only people they let in the whole 51 day siege were two lawyers. They would not let in family members of those inside. A lot of them showed up. David's mother showed up. David's grandmother showed up. And what the family members would have said, nine tenths of them, is 'I don't care what you believe, you're my son, or daughter,' or whatever other relationship 'and it would break my heart if you died here,' and that has a lot of force. At Montana they let family members in, across the lines and go talk to them, then the family members said what I just told you. They also let in a lawyer whom the FBI wouldn't let in at Waco, named Kirk Lyons, who had tried to go in at Waco. Kirk Lyons is the William Kunstler of the far right wing, defender of the Ku Klux Klan and of people like that, of the Rebel flag, of the Patriots, of the militia, of all those types of people. The William Kunstler of the right, no other way of saying it. Well, they wouldn't let him in at Waco. They let him at Montana.

JM: What was he trying to achieve in Waco? Was he trying to represent Koresh?

DR: He wanted to represent Koresh and them, and he would have told them to surrender. He had caught wind through the radio programs, through Ron Engleman, and so on in Dallas, that Steve Schnieder had Patriot Constitutionalist ideas. And Koresh, in so far as he paid attention to politics, had Patriot Constitutionalist ideas. And so Lyons was going to go in and talk to him about all this, and what Lyons tells people like this is, 'all of your theories about of who we're citizens of and the fact that the United States Constitution creates as a basic instrument of government, the county commission. That's bunk, or if it isn't bunk, nobody is going to buy it. You're living in a modern legal system which we may not like but you need a lawyer who understands what you think of the law and does the best he can with the law that's being enforced.' So Kirk Lyons is a, you have to say he is a right wing intellectual, he's an intellectual of the far right. And he told the Freemen just what I told you. These were people who thought that they were the local authorities and they had absolute sovereignty. The United States government had less constitutional authority in Montana then they did. Well, he went in and talked them into surrendering finally, because to get people negotiate you have to find common ground. And the ATF and FBI didn't know how to do that. Kirk Lyons knew, family members know, lots of people know but the average American doesn't and that's who the ATF and the FBI was.

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Riled up Americans; difference in a 1993 Mexican standoff


DR: DeGuerin and Zimmerman had come up with an agreement that may have worked. It appears, from what happened, that David was trying to write the Seven Seals and would have surrendered at the end. Of course with David there's always the caveat: God might have told him not to. But, had the government not raided on April the 19th, in another month we would have known. The problem was, they had the American people riled up and the American people can be awful bully when they get riled up. I'm going to mention two things that may be a bit off the subject, but in 1993, the Zapatistas, the followers of Subcomandante Marcos in Mexico, took over a part of the state of Chiapas. The Mexican federal government surrounded that area with tanks and troops. It never went in. Only five years later did Marcos come out and this was after his troops had killed some state and Mexican federal authorities in taking over some towns. They took over a group of towns and then retreated to the jungle or to the hills. The Mexican government surrounded that area and never went in. Why didn't it go in? It says because in the area where they are, there are families with children. If we go in, there are going to be children killed. We have family values, we don't do that. OK? So the Mexican government, which is supposed to be backward, had a far more patient, tolerant... It didn't feel threatened by people whose stated aim was the overthrow of the Mexican government. Right? This wasn't even Koresh's stated aim. He didn't want to overthrow the United States government. But, Americans no, you get 'em riled up... And following that, there was a mean, tyrannical man in Baghdad whose cruelties were documented, had used poison gas on his own people, who had weapons of mass destruction equivalent to the M16s David Koresh had only much more powerful. And our government got to pointing out him as a threat to our McDonald's and look what we did in Iraq. Wonderful success wasn't it? So, the FBI learned that you don't do that way, and if there was [another] Montana, it'd handle [it] well.


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Breaking the cordon in Montana


JM: And that was only a couple years after, right?

DR: That was I think two years after. Incidentally at Montana, two people broke the FBI cordon: me and Jim Pace. We did it separately.

JM: And you got in, but they refused to talk to you cause you were press, right?

DR: Well, I crossed the line and went up to the house. They sent a man out. I gave him a copy of my book, told him who I was, what I wanted. He says, 'Look. We have a deal with them. They will let family members in on the condition we don't talk to anybody else.' Very smart. I have to hand it to the FBI, that was smart. Now, Pace had known them before all this came up and he got in and they wouldn't let him in the house where they were held up, but they did talk to him on the front porch for about fifteen minutes. What they told him was, 'Jim, we can't tell you anything, cause if we do, my father in law can't come see me.' The same thing they told me. But Jim and I both went in because we were convinced, after what happened at Waco, that if the press didn't, the whole thing could go crazy again and another group of people would die. What we didn't understand was that the FBI, though it wasn't admitting any fault, had learned very well from its errors. And then there was the stand off at the Republic of Texas out by Alpine, Marfa, in that area, far west Texas. I don't recall what year, in which the FBI advised the Texas Department of Public Safety what to do, and it was defused with one death, a guy who tried to run away, and I don't know what the circumstances were, but it was one death and not a dozen. So, my feeling is, the FBI learned very well, not to screw up that way again. Who knows how long the lesson will last? Now, I haven't followed it closely, if the same thing happened at a mosque tomorrow, I wouldn't be surprised, but I think they're a bit smarter now. They were just used to having their way and everybody approving of what they did. And, our work, meaning me and Pace and Tabor's and some of the other people, I think helped cure them of that.

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The ATF and Branch Davidian mentalities on Feb. 28


JM: And [with] what you say in the book about the ATF being used to having their way, [it] seems like they didn't feel they had to have rock solid reason or even planning because they were used to raiding places, like of drug dealers and stuff, who put their hands up when they were surrounded and came out.

DR: Yeah. The ATF was, by the time of Waco, very well practiced at raids. But the raids they were practiced at is your dope dealer, where they would encircle his house, they would shout through a megaphone, 'We're the ATF. We're here to get you, Mr. Drug Dealer.' And he would say, he'd pick up his cell phone and say, 'Let me call my lawyer.' Five minutes later, he would surrender. They were very experienced at this and they thought that's what would happen. What they didn't realize was that Koresh and his people didn't say, 'Oh, there's the ATF. We're guilty. We're going to have to call our lawyers. We may have to do eighteen months in prison. I'll leave my wife in charge of my drug business while I'm gone.' They didn't think like that. They said, 'It's the army of Babylon. They're attacking us, according to prophecy. You have to defend the faith.' And incidentally, this is a question I raised with them, I said, 'Look. Jesus was a pacifist. What is this stuff about having guns?' That was my own understanding of the Bible. They pointed me to a scripture, which you can look up in a concordance with the word sword, where the night before he was crucified, Jesus and his disciples know he's going to be arrested, and Jesus says, 'Let he among you, who has no sword, sell his cloak and buy one.' And Koresh's followers pointed that out to me and they said, 'What was he buying a sword for the night before he was going to be arrested? What do you use swords for? What's the difference between a sword and a rifle? Didn't Peter chop off one of the Roman soldier's ears with that sword, with the sword he had? That's all we were doing in Mt. Carmel.'

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Koresh's Biblical identity and taking the Bible literally


JM: But, then Jesus stopped him and healed the ear, which they don't bring up.

DR: Well, that's true. They don't go past that. Maybe they would've healed the ATFers if they could. I have not heard whether they prayed for that.

JM: But Koresh saw himself as a different role than Jesus...

DR: Yeah, he was the latter day Jesus the, what's the word, the dumbed down, diluted, corrupted model.

JM: Right. But his job on Earth was to reveal the Seven Seals, which no one had done in all of Christendom, ever, and [show] that God was not really a merciful god, so much...

DR: And to do that, he had to be as sinful as you and me, and they point out... Look, their picture of history, you and me, as Americans, inherit a picture of history, which I think is probably inaccurate, but we all have it anyway, and it's onward and upward. Things are getting better and better every year. There's progress. We believe there's been progress in history. David's followers believe there'd been devolution. They said, 'Look. Adam and Eve had everything they needed and didn't have to work. Read the Bible. There were giants in those days, the Bible says. Read how long people lived. Methuselah lived nine hundred and something years. With every year, human beings are less moral, less intelligent, and less healthy.' That was their line. Well David comes along, he's less moral, he called himself 'Mr. Retardo,' less intelligent, and less healthy, cause he's got all these bad habits, than you and I are. The only thing is, is God's talking through him. He's a very imperfect vehicle. He's the future. Right? Almost the future, he's down here as weak and as depraved as we are. That was their point of view and they could trace it all the way back to the Garden of Eden. And I'm not saying any of that's true, I'm saying they believed it and there's a certain logic to it, if you believe the story about the Garden of Eden, if you believe that Methuselah was nine hundred and something years old, and if you believe there were giants in those days, which I don't believe.

JM: But you can see their logic.

DR: I can see that anyone who believes in the literal truth of the Bible has to believe as they did.

JM: You have to give them credit. A lot of people try to say they believe in the literal truth of the Bible, [but] there's a lot of it they don't believe. It doesn't jibe with modern times.

DR: That's right. When it conflicts with modern times, your ordinary Christian forgets about that part of the Bible. Koresh and his followers, at least with parts of it, because the doggone thing is contradictory, preferred it to the opportunities of modern life. And I have to say that his rank and file, I respected them as very religious people. Meaning I have no religion, but if I had one I would want to be as faithful to it as they were to theirs. It just doesn't make sense to me, none of it, right, none of it.

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The fallacy of "Freedom of Religion"


JM: This is another thing you point out, this supposed freedom of religion that we have guaranteed by the Constitution. I took away two parts [from the book]: the freedom of religion and the freedom to bear arms. Both of which were very much violated in the action at Waco.

DR: You know, there is a funny thing about this and I learned about it from my wife again. I told her one day, 'How could they be criticizing, the FBI and ATF, in these press conferences, David's religion, when we have freedom of religion in this country?' She said, 'guess who defines it.' I said, 'what do you mean?' She said, 'who says what the freedom of religion is? Do the churches say or does the government?' I said, 'well, the government does.' She said 'Oh, you have freedom of any religion the government approves of!' Again, her genius, not mine. Then when you begin to read the Constitution that way, we have the freedom to bear firearms if the government says so, freedom of press if the government says so, look at McCarthyism, blah, blah, blah. We have to understand that when you have two conflicting interests, one of them is going to dominate in a world of conflict, and the government dominates in ours, over religion, blah, blah, blah. So, this came very much to the fore with the question of child abuse. David slept with girls who were younger then the age of legal consent. That's the state talking. Their parents consented, but the state doesn't give the parents permission to consent to that. The law doesn't say you can't sleep with anybody under sixteen if their parents don't approve, it says you can't do it. David and them pointed out in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, girls the age of twelve getting married and sleeping with men. They said this is not God's law that says sixteen; this is the government. Well, think about it, can you have the freedom of religion if the church defines it? And Janet Reno, before she became Attorney General, had a case in Miami where a man had decapitated another man, chopped off his head with a machete, because his priest in some sort of Caribbean Santeria religion or another, had told him that God had ordered the man killed. So as a religious act he chopped a man's head off. Well, we don't have that kind of freedom of religion; we have freedom of religion as the government defines it.

JM: As long as it doesn't trump the government's standards.

DR: That's right. As long as it doesn't trump the government's prerogatives. So I don't know of a solution to this problem, except I think it would be more honest is if we did say 'we have regulation of religion. We have government regulation of religion, and we are very liberal.' But that's different from freedom of religion. We have government regulation and you get in to it again when you look at the tax codes. To be a religious organization, you have to file a 501C exemption, I think, that exempts the church from income taxes. Lewis Beam, the Klu Klux Klansman, was a preacher, and there are all sorts of identity preachers out there, or were, and they refused to request the 501C exemption because they say that is showing that we recognize the government as a higher authority than God. They understood that we have regulated religion and they stayed out of tax exemption because they didn't want to be regulated. Well, we have regulated religion, we have regulated press, we have regulated gun ownership, let's be honest. Waco was the sort of thing that demonstrated that a lot of the things we Americans believe are na´ve, and demonstrated that to me about my own beliefs.

JM: America does have the history of, even before the Constitution, and also after, of excluding sex and groups that deviated from the so called norm. Look at the Mormons and the Native American religions, of course, and African religions brought over. But even just among the Christians, I mean, Millennialism movements very much...

DR: No, there is a long history of us regulating religion.

JM: Yeah, and sometimes it turns very violent.

DR: And exterminating religion, there's a long history of it.

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The possibility of Koresh purposefully goading the government


JM: As far as the guns go, do you get the sense that Koresh, because he was telling his followers that something was going to happen soon, [needed to fulfill his prophecy]? I don't know if it was Brad Branch, he came thinking that something was going to happen soon, and I got the sense in one part of your book that there was some talk among them like, 'well we've been here for a year or two years when is something going to happen?' Do you feel like Koresh was hoping or even working toward getting the government interested in taking action against them?

DR: Well, it's very hard to get inside the head of a dead man, who was a manipulator to boot. So, I don't know what he thought. According to their doctrine, and I never ran into anything that showed me he had altered it. They expected Armageddon to happen, the return, and all of that stuff, about 1997, but the plan, which Koresh had inherited from the real Davidians, or the original Davidians, was that they were to be in Palestine when that happened. They weren't. They hadn't begun planning to go there anytime soon. I say in Palestine, maybe it's in Israel, its in one of those damn holy cities. They hadn't begun to move there, but Koresh had not said, 'Waco is the new Israel,' or anything like that. So some decision on that score in 1993 was certainly pending. People were wondering when are we going to Israel, right? And he hadn't answered. I tend to think that this came upon him, now they have been used to investigators before because of Mark Berault's activity, and they had seen over flights by helicopters and planes taking photographs and they knew that the guys across the street were undercover agents, and so he knew that some time in the next few weeks there was going to be some attempt against him to arrest him for one thing or another. He knew that. I have never heard that he was telling the people inside 'the day is near.' He was telling them, 'look there are undercover agents there, look they're photographing us.' Something was going to happen, but he was not specifying this is Armageddon day or Return to Jesus day. I haven't heard that. Then again, he might have been smart enough to know that when they looked out their windows and saw all these armed men coming at them, that was definitely the Army of Babylon. He might have known they would put two and two together. I don't know the answer to that. They had been doing some arms training, there was some confusion, I would say, in their minds about who exactly the Army of Babylon would be, because they referred to us, to the rest of the world as Babylon. It means Waco, Texas is Babylon, Austin, San Marcos, and its Army would naturally be the army of Babylon, but I have never heard anyone say, 'and we pressed David to see if the British army is also apart of the army of Babylon.' I haven't heard that sort of discussion from them.

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The steadfastness, guilt, education, normalcy of the Branch Davidians



JM: Did you get the sense from the people that you interviewed in those early days, after the [incident], that they all were still very much believers in Koresh, I mean that their faith wasn't shattered or anything?

DR: They all were believers. Of those who survived, one way or another, maybe 30 adults, maybe 25, only two or three recanted. And those I knew were living with a great anxiety. None of them hated the ATF or the FBI. God had willed all of them, it was all God's plan. God had seen fit to take Koresh and all of the dead inhabitants of that house to be with Him for His future work. 'Why did he not take me? What was wrong with me? When will they come back and get me?' Their belief was that strong, that they felt guilt at having survived.

JM: You talk about that in the book, with Wayne Martin and Katherine Shroeder, after the raid, feeling like they had failed somehow. After or during the raid they were expecting some great help from God, and their impression was, 'well I wasn't good enough, I haven't been following the right diet or [I didn't quit] smoking.'

DR: They were not expecting to die, to start with. They thought that God would save them and punish everybody else. And secondly, when everybody died it was a fact. They said, 'well, God did this, he took our people, so why didn't he take me?' If you're going to believe that everything that happens in life God is behind it, you wind up in situations like that. There is nothing important in which you can say 'it just happened because the world is insane,' or, 'it happened for reasons we can't figure out,' and neither God nor Koresh nor anyone can tell us or will tell us. You don't live with mystery, you find that God is the cause of these things. So, it was very strange to me, they were not bitter towards the government, because somehow God had been behind this.

JM: So the people that told you the most about life at Mount Carmel...

DR: Were the people that had the theological understanding, I mean I talked to all of them. But it was the people who understood the Bible really well who were able to help me the most. Sheila Martin, she knew quite a bit.

JM: And Livingstone?

DR: Livingstone.

JM: How bout Clive Doyle?

DR: Clive Doyle.

JM: And he's really considered the living historian of the Mount Carmel community there, right?

DR: Yeah, he'd been there the longest except for Catherine Matteson. And Catherine Matteson could tell you quite a bit about their beliefs. It was like any other group: you had people who were more integrated into the ideology and people who were less integrated. Ruth Riddle, surprisingly, was real good on the theology.

JM: And another thing that your book brings out, contradicting the common misconception that they're all backwards cult followers, is that a lot of these people were highly educated. People who weren't out just to live some weird lifestyle because some charismatic guy was leading them.

DR: Well at least you could make that case especially with Wayne Martin.

JM: Yeah. Steve Schroeder.

DR: Yeah. No, these people were competent and in fact, once Mt. Carmel burned, a health food store in Waco hired one of them. I believe it was Clyde who was hired first, and then hired a second, and then a third. It reached a point where there were six of them working there. Not because the owner was a follower of Koresh. These people were punctual. They were honest. You could trust them at the cash register. And they were hard working. They had, if I can steal the phrase, 'purpose driven lives.' Model employees. There was nothing, how do you say? If you had met them on the street, you would have been pleased with them. If you had been their employer, you would have been pleased with them. The only strange thing about them was that they wouldn't let go of that Bible. And they wanted all of the questions it raised, which means they read it well enough to recognize that there were questions it raised and didn't answer, it wanted them all answered. And that's what got them in trouble.

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Handicaps and skills as an investigative reporter


JM: So when you decided 'OK, this needs to be a book,' what did you feel like, you mentioned already you background on covering the 'unwashed,' did you feel that experience you had did, in fact, give you good journalistic background to find out what these people believed and what they were about?

DR: Well look, I felt very handicapped at first by my lack of knowledge of the Bible, and it so happens that at every publication I have worked, I have been the shop authority on the Bible. Meaning, the little I knew, was a heck of a lot more than other reporters knew. So I felt that the American press had a great hole in it. It did not understand religion as a group, that it was incapable of understanding it. And I felt, not only ashamed for my own part, but for everybody else. Meaning there had been this big factor in people's lives, which I had not understood, yet I was supposed to report about their lives? I mean, people in general. And so, look, my reporting background told me what questions had to be answered and what the legal means were to get answers. And I found out with the Waco book, that it didn't matter because the ATF and the FBI said, 'There's litigation pending. We're being sued for killing those people. We're not giving you anything.'

JM: It wasn't much better than during the standoff itself, then?

DR: No. Most of my skills as an investigative reporter were not useful. Two things were useful. One, I was used to talking with people and hanging out with people. By hanging out, I mean helping him empty his storage locker, giving them rides, that kind of stuff. Going to backyard barbecues. Not asking questions with a notepad in my hand. Just trying to hear things that might help me understand them. Or see things that might help me understand them and having patience, which most reporters can't have because they have to get in the story the same day. Alright? And, so I learned a lot just hanging out and there is one other place where I learned a lot and this speaks badly of our press, though it's not the reporters' fault, again.

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Fellow reporters at the trial


JM: There must have been other reporters covering the trial from those papers. Did you get a sense that they were trying to be more investigative than they were?

DR: No. No, during the trial, no, if you could understand what the training of courthouse reporters is, the Waco standoff was covered by state desk people. These are the people who work in a metro area and the state desk covers everything in their readership area or that their readers would be interested in, that's outside city or county limits. So these were the people who were used to covering county courthouse disputes, elections in Podunk, the drug war, that kind of stuff. When we got to the trial, it was the cops and courts reporters. Now, the cops and courts reporter goes to a trial, and this is the first time he sees the defendant, who's usually a dope dealer or a murderer. Who's usually guilty. Not a high type person, doesn't have many documents, for business reasons; if he's a dope dealer, doesn't have any documents you can read. Doesn't have any ideas. He's just like the rest of us, he's trying to get ahead in this world. Right? He's a dull interview. And his lawyer won't let him talk anyway. So they get the information from what's presented in court and they present it to you. It is a highly sanitized view of life. Right? The defendant ain't going to say much on the stand, cause he might get prosecuted for some other crime he committed, or he might reveal something about himself that shocks the jurors and they say, 'Oh, what a gross man.' So the defendant ain't saying much. And, you never hear his side of the story, which at least would be bizarre sometimes. But they never hear that. It's stenography work. You report what happened. You don't investigate it. No cops and courts reporter goes in to find out if the client is really guilty. They go in to find out if he was convicted or not, with the possible exception of the OJ Simpson trial. Now I don't know about it, anything could've happened there. But, they're reporting what happened, not what the truth was. That's their routine. Well, that's what they did in San Antone. They reported what the courts said and what the defense attorneys said, and the survivors wanted to testify and their lawyers wouldn't let them. So, it was open and shut routine work for them. And, at lunch break and at recesses, everybody had to go outside, and I would go over to the group of survivors and their families and Patriot Constitutionalists and that's who I'd talk to. The other reporters would talk maybe to the prosecutors, who weren't saying much, but mostly to other reporters. And one of the reporters started telling people, the other reporters would say, 'Why is Reavis always over there with the defendant's families?' 'Oh, he's a groupie of the Davidians.' That was the name attached to me. I was 'the groupie of the Davidians.' And so, they did not show curiosity. Does that make sense? They didn't go up to the families and say, 'Is what the prosecutor just said, does that square with what you know?' No. They didn't [ask about] those things.

JM: They weren't there to write an investigative piece for the paper, much less an investigative book, which was what you were doing.

DR: Yeah, they were there to write what happened in the courtroom that day. And so, they weren't interested. And I think I say in my introduction that there was one reporter in San Antonio who had made some efforts during the siege to try to find out some things, and I believe she may have been at the trial a couple of days. I think I recall her speaking to one of the survivors, I think, an old lady who had lived in a trailer in Spanish, because this old lady didn't speak English. But other than that, they didn't care.

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Use of the word "cult"


Oh, you mentioned a minute ago the word cult. The government called Koresh and his people a cult. They lived in the compound. They had bunkers. There was a whole vocabulary invented to demonize them. I did not use the word cult in my book. I've decided in the years since that it's true that David Koresh ran a cult, and I think so because of the way they adored him. To me that's the defining characteristic. But I still don't like to use the word, because once upon a time there was a fellow who told people to abandon their families and follow him. And, he had 12 people who belonged to his cult, at least 12 and a couple women. And so, if he led a cult then what does the word mean. Right? Maybe a church is a cult that's lost its savior, okay? Or lost its faith, I don't know which. But I thought the word as it was used in that day and time was unfair.

JM: Yeah, it has too much weight on it.

DR: And I told my Church of Christ aunt this. 'Heck, the disciples belonged to a cult.' She was horrified but could not explain to me why not, except that Koresh was not respectable and the Church of Christ was.

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Protesters and non protesters; best location for the trial


JM: Still speaking of the trial, I know it attracted groups, protesters, people who were angry about what happened in Waco and maybe protesters from both sides, I don't know. Did you meet many people from those outside of the courtroom that...

DR: Ok, there were not protesters on both sides. The United States government was the protester on the other side. There were lots of Patriot Constitutionalist types who came in and out of the courtroom, meaning I don't know any of them who stayed all six weeks.

JM: Those were basically the groups that were upset? I mean, did you get any sense from mainstream churches that they were upset?

DR: None at all. All the mainstream churches, including the Seventh Day Adventist church, disowned them. Seventh Day Adventists said, 'They're not us.' When, in fact, they were, how do you say, they were radical Seventh Day Adventists. But no, the churches wanted nothing to do with them. And, I think it was a mistake for the defense attorneys to ask for a change of venue from Waco to San Antonio because San Antonio is a Catholic town, and they are used to authority in religion, whereas Waco is a protestant town where you're used to, how do you say, there ain't no authority among protestants, they argue among themselves all the time and split churches every six months. There's more debate in Protestant circles, in ordinary circles. Now, I want to say it, that the highest levels of the Catholic Church there's plenty of debate, about everything. But, go ahead.

JM: But in Waco, it's a very conservative, Baptist town, right? They did try to get it to Austin, right? That would have been probably the best they could have hoped for.

DR: They tried to get it to Austin. Well, you would have run into gun control types there. I don't know. I would have done it in Waco because look, when it came to the Bible, David was a very conservative person.

JM: But he was still ostracized, especially after this. I mean, weren't people of Waco really upset because the world's attention came and when you think of Waco, you think of these crazy cultists.

DR: Wacko. Yeah. No, the people of Waco were upset by the image it gave them. But, had I been picking a jury in Waco, I would have looked for Pentecostals, Church of the Nazarene, Adventists. I would have looked for the serious fringe of mainstream Christianity, and tried to get them on the jury. Now, I might have wound up with a couple of Baptists and Methodists who would have convicted anybody the government accused of anything. But, San Antonio is a military town and a Catholic town. Those two things don't bode well. And even then, two or three of the jurors didn't want to convict, and none of them, as a group, they did not want to convict as the judge wound up convicting. So, the government had a pretty weak case, if you look at the fine points of it.

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The "Constitutionalists" acting up at the trial, and the FBI suppressing them after the Oklahoma City bombing


DR: By the way, the Patriots got a jury list. Or a jury pool list, a list of all the people who had been called to be interviewed as potential jurors, and sent out a mailing arguing for jury nullification. This is the doctrine that says that according to the framers of our Constitution and all history prior to the Civil War, juries could refuse to convict, even if the defendant was guilty under the law, they could refuse to convict because they didn't approve of the law. And they were saying, be mindful of your power just to nullify this whole proceeding, just to say, 'We ain't convicting because we don't like it.' And the judge was very shocked that this had happened and they started inquiring as to how it happened, which was all stupid because the jury pool list was a matter of public record. And they put soldiers, or federal marshals, on the roof with automatic weapons, all around the courthouse. They drove the jurors to a distant parking lot, I think it was on an Air Force base, in a bus whose windows were covered so they wouldn't see protesters. I mean, just the way they treated the jury convicted the defendants. For some reason, you're a juror in this case and the defendants are such bad guys. Now, in their defense, they said, 'Oh, we have the guards on top of the roof because we're also in another courtroom trying some drug lords, which might have been the case. But it wasn't the case about the bus for the jurors and all of that.

So there were those people around and I had to deal with them for a couple of years and I'd deal with them again, the Patriot Constitutionalist types. What happened to them, incidentally, you mentioned that we had had a series of these incidents and then no more. And I told you the FBI had gotten smarter. When such incidents happen, the FBI will not deal with them in the same way as it did in Waco. It's smarter now. But these incidents aren't going to happen, not with the Patriot Constitutionalist movement, or the white religions, for that matter the black religions, the biblical religions, the Christians. Who knows what we might do to the Muslims? But, they're not going to happen because when Timothy McVeigh bombed that Murrow building in Oklahoma City, the FBI, afterwards, came down on the Patriot Constitutionalist groups like white on rice. They hadn't violated any laws but the FBI went and visited all of them who were visible. And it scared them. It was like McCarthyism. And they had to decide: 'do our Patriot Constitutionalist principles make us revolutionaries, or are we really just patriots with a little 'p''? And they decided the latter and, promptly, the militia movement, in which revolutionary rhetoric was common before the Oklahoma City bombing, promptly, it started, instead of training people to resist tyrannical armies, started training people to cope with civil disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes. And then, it started marching in July 4th parades. They had to decide, were they patriots or revolutionaries, and they decided they were patriots. That's what happened to them. A Little McCarthyism came, lasted about six months and scared most of them out of their wits.

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McVeigh's philosophical and cold blooded nature. The disparate concerns of the Branch Davidians and the "Constitutionalists"


DR: This is part of the reason why I think McVeigh killed himself. McVeigh thought he was going to plant the bomb that would be heard around the world and a revolution would follow.

JM: Kind of like bin Laden thought 9/11 would start the big Muslim uprising around the world.

DR: Right. But what McVeigh saw happen is that all of his Patriot Constitutionalist militia buddies were running in the July 4th parade. So that he was not a hero, they saw him as liability instead of as a hero.

JM: And so when you say he killed himself, you mean he stopped appealing?

DR: He volunteered to be executed. [...] But, if McVeigh had stayed in, he did have some conversations with this guy Kaczynski, is that his name? The Unabomber. He wrote me and told me, 'I'm in jail with this guy Kaczynski. You'd enjoy talking to him.' I think if he had run into some Osama type, they would've had interesting conversations.

JM: Yeah. I got the impression from his letters that he was very philosophical minded and was very interested in discussing [issues].

DR: He was a guy who liked ideas. So, I mean, he had me read John Locke, who, I had never read. And if you read John Locke, you've read Timothy McVeigh. It's just that McVeigh had been a soldier and learned to kill, and learned that that was the way you get ahead in the world and was cold blooded about it. Whereas I don't think Locke ever learned any of that, but... So anyway, I dealt with [the Patriots/Constitutionalists] for years and I never saw them as such bad people. I disagreed with them. I felt they were trying to make our country better in the only way they knew how. Not my way. I felt they were uneducated. Or, more than uneducated, they were ignorant, meaning, they had not been exposed to much in life. But, they were patriots in the sense that it did matter to them what happened to our country. I had to respect to them for that, even if I didn't agree with them.

JM: And they were one of the few groups, you know, in general, that took up the Waco cause and saw it as an injustice and something, you know, like an alarm bell, that should frighten us.

DR: And Koresh's followers never jived with that, because you see, they believed that human beings can't improve our circumstances. We're on this downward slide since Adam and Eve. Every year, we're weaker and dumber and less competent. 'And these guys think we can change the government and things will get better? Things ain't going to get better till Jesus comes back.' That's what they believed. And most of the Patriots, of that type of people, who read my book and for whom, in some sense, I was a hero, didn't understand that disjunct. Like the people who supported the FBI, they had one set of point of view and didn't understand that the Waco people didn't fit into it, that Koresh's followers didn't fit into it. Gun rights was not a cause to the followers of David Koresh. If David said they needed guns, they needed guns to defend God. I he had told them they needed guns to shoot rabbits, they'd have said, 'Ehh, I won't eat rabbit. Right? I don't care.'

JM: Or to defend the Constitution.

DR: No. The Constitution, all of that is illusory. And though David and Schneider had certain critiques of the government, they thought it had abandoned the Constitution in the same way the Patriots and the Constitutionalists did. They didn't think the remedy was political. The remedy was the return of Jesus. There ain't no remedy short of that. Right? And, they were not, they were anti political people, essentially, whereas the Patriots were political people. And, [it's a] big difference.

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What if the government had been more forthcoming with information?


JM: Another speculative question that I thought of here is, if the government was much more forthcoming with the people involved in the raid, their records, with you in your investigation, do you think your book would have been more or less sympathetic to their side?

DR: Well, abstractly, I would say it would've have to have been more sympathetic to the government because, as a reporter, you can't deal with anybody and hate him entirely. Now, I didn't hate the government, but I mean, they would've made points with me. I would've said, 'Oh, agent so and so is a good ole boy.' Right? And they may also have known things that I didn't know, that would've made headway for their side. I don't think there's ever any way I could excuse what they did, but I could perhaps excuse it more than I did in my book, if I knew more. And this is just a question, I think, of being in the press. If you're a source and the press wants to talk to you, and the press who's asking you is competent, you'd better talk to them. You're going to come off better than you will if you refuse to talk to them. Right? And so, the government could not have, it would've made some headway with me, though I don't think it would have been dispositive. I still would've said, because Waco, to me, was not one incident. It was the war in Iraq. I mean, the war in Iraq was a repeat of Waco. It was our dealings with the Native Americans. It was the reflection, not just of the ATF and the FBI, but of who we as Americans are. And we, as Americans, are too quick to reach for the pistol. I mean, that's our history. There was a standoff in Brazil, I think in 2001 that is known through a film called 'Bus 174.' The standoff didn't last but six hours, but the film is very dramatic. And in it, one of the policemen says, 'In any standoff situation, all of the problems, all of the characteristics of the nation are revealed.' And I thought, 'Oh, he's studied Waco.' Alright? It's the lynch mob, it's the Indians are over the hill, it's that mentality again. It's, we have to prevail by beating up on somebody. And, I'm not a pacifist, but what I saw in the government's handling of Waco was needless intolerance and needless use of force. I think they could've put ten agents on the ground and said, 'David, whenever you come out, we're going to arrest you.' And those ten agents might still be there today, but David would not have attacked any McDonalds, right? And he might have had a few more kids. And so the question is, 'Do you risk people's lives to prevent child abuse?' Myself, I wouldn't. But, if there's a good argument to be made, I think it comes there a good argument to be made for their side. But I just found, I'd say, the more I looked at it, the less I thought that the raid of the 19th of April was sensible. They could've waited.

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The criminal negligence of the April 19 assault; the unreliability of the surveillance tapes; "the cops of the world"


JM: And you've mentioned this before, the excuse they gave that they needed to act was for protecting the children inside, because they were concerned about continued child abuse inside, and that Reno basically gave the go ahead without really seeing the whole plan or knowing what all they were going to do.

DR: Yeah, she didn't know.

JM: Or not knowing what that tear gas could actually do, and what the tanks could actually do, what they were. So in doing that, they ended up killing the children they were trying to protect.

DR: And, I did rainfall figures. I don't know anyone else who did this in handling Waco. I said, 'How long would they had to wait it [out]?' The only source the people inside Mount Carmel had of water, which I might say is essential for human life, was rainfall. If you run the rainfall records in Waco, they would have run out in July. If we could only have waited. Now, I don't know what they would've done in July. Maybe they all would've committed suicide. But, if they committed suicide, our negligence didn't kill them or our gung ho attitude didn't kill them. So I would've waited. I don't know if the FBI ran rainfall records. I'd love to get an answer to that. I did it, and I'm just a dumb reporter. Right? I mean, just thinking about it, I thought about that and went and checked. I don't know, if they'd have told me, 'Mr. Reavis, we did rainfall records and we think they could have held out till October of 2001,' then they've got a little stronger, how do you say, they would've made some ground with me. But I couldn't find out those kinds of things. They wouldn't talk to me.

JM: I don't know if you want to talk about the fire much, or if you have your own opinions about it, or...

DR: Well, it's reported in the book better than I can recall, but there's a long history of, if you shoot CS gas into a confined area, into a building, fires start. Because apparently, though it will put out a fire, if you go buy about a gallon of methylene chloride, which is the carrier for the CS particles, you can put out a fire if you pour methylene chloride on it. But, apparently, at some stage in its decomposition or its mixture with air, it becomes explosive, and you will find on the gallon you buy, a warning: 'Caution, this thing can cause explosions.' And it was on, that warning was on the doggoned CS canisters they shot into Mount Carmel. So they were shooting a chemical that, under certain conditions, can be explosive, into Mount Carmel, and it burns up and they're going to tell me the people inside did it. Well, I never found any reason to believe the people inside did it. There is one possibility that I can't discount but, given the history of, let's put it this way, my position is this: The government did not intentionally start that fire. I don't know if the people inside intentionally started that fire, though I doubt it. What I do know is the government set up conditions in which a fire could break out that would kill everybody. The government set up those conditions and then it wants to pass the blame. That's negligent, right? I pour oil on the street in front of my house. You come down the street. There's a child playing in the street. You hit your brakes and slide through the oil. Who are we going to arrest me or you? Our government put oil on that street when it shot that CS gas in there. It says on the label, don't use it indoors cause of danger of fire.

JM: Yeah, what about their claims of, in the bug tapes and everything, hearing them talk about spreading the [fire]?

DR: Have you listened to those tapes yourself?

JM: No. I mean, I've listened to some bug tapes but, you know, it's mostly silence.

DR: Well, my response to that is, go listen to those tapes. I think you're going to find a Rorschach test the inkblot test. You can hear anything you want. It's indistinct. Mark Swett, a Waco reviewer, heard them plotting a fire. I heard them, couldn't tell you what they said. In the trial, the defense produced one transcript and the prosecution produced another of the very same tapes. I sat in the courtroom, listened to the tapes, and I did this at home later, with both transcripts in my hand. I can't tell you which one's accurate. And, it's an example of what I told my friend Mike McNulty, the brains behind the film 'Waco: The Rules of Engagement.' Mexicans would say, 'These gringos. When they don't know something, they think their machines will tell them.' I told McNulty this. Gringos and our machines. We think the truth comes from machines. I'm waiting for it to come from people. Alright? Meaning, if the FBI really intended to murder those folks, if it did, someday, somebody's going to tell us. I believe that. In the mean time, I will take what the machines say under advisement. It has to be interpreted.

And so, I think that it was an act of negligence caused by the arrogance of the FBI and of the American people at large. 'Who is David Koresh to challenge us? We're worried about going to McDonald's.' And of the boredom and the...what is the word, when a man longs for his family? The fact that the FBI agents had been in Waco for 51 days and they wanted to go home, alright? I can't blame them for that, but you don't kill people to do it, or you don't get negligent to do it. I think those are the two causes. One of them very mundane, they were ready to go home, and the other very serious and still a problem, something goes wrong, let's invade. There's no difference between Waco and Iraq, in that sense. Something's wrong, we're the cops of the world, we can whip anybody. Make short work of anybody. Well it's not true.

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Possibility of scripture inspiring 4/19 fire; Koresh 4/19 meeting with his 'lieutenants'; Reavis' clear conscience about his conclusions


JM: I don't remember if I read it in your book or not about Koresh [referring to] scripture about fire being the transformative [agent].

DR: There was a theory brought up by a Bible scholar, after the fire, that refers to a scripture in which there is a fire and an Old Testament character says: 'Don't worry. God will protect us. He will burn the bad people outside.' And he said this is what Koresh thought was going to happen. That's possible, because it's in the Bible. There are a lot of things in the Bible. I thought, though it could still have happened, I thought that if David was, as you mentioned earlier, waiting for an attack and hoping for an attack, he would have made use of that scripture before. And in all the recordings I listened to of things he said, and of all the conversations I had with people, that scripture never came up. When this guy mentioned it, I went and asked some of them. They didn't know that scripture and they're not the type of people who would lie to you about what they knew about the Bible. That's getting pretty close to something that they won't do. Right? Because, their normal response would be, 'Oh yes, I've read that in the Bible but you don't understand it until you read this passage in the Old Testament, which tells you how to interpret it.' That's what they would've told me. Right? They'd have said, 'Oh, you've got one piece of the argument, but here are the others. Here's how you interpret that.' No, they said that it didn't ring a bell with them.

And so, I think that is one of the infinite possibilities available in the Bible, which, could have happened. There are infinite possibilities, but I can't put that into, I can't establish that as a part of Koresh's theology. And, the one thing that I think, that I hold open, is that there was a meeting about 9 or 10 o'clock that morning of Koresh and certain of his lieutenants, the only living one of whom is Renos Avraam, and we don't know what was said at that meeting. And Renos wouldn't tell me. I wrote him. He would not respond. Does that mean that at that meeting they planned to burn down the building and Renos doesn't want to tell us? It could mean that. It could also mean he told them something else and they don't want to tell me because I haven't been through anything but the fourth seal. Or, he told them not to say. But it could have been a lot of stuff. It could've been, 'If any of y'all get out of here, get a hold of my little brother and tell him the ATF is going to be looking for him for meth.' I mean, right? It could have been a lot of things.

JM: It could've been, 'Sorry guys, I've been a fraud this whole time.'

DR: Yeah, it could've been that. We don't know. So you don't, I didn't want to jump to conclusions for either side with no proof. And, I became, the real hardcore critics of that incident think I sold out, because all I would say is the government was negligent here and arrogant. I didn't say it was murderous. And they think that I'm sort of soft core and that's fine with me. I mean, let anybody think what they want, I did the job that pleased my conscience.

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The question of "murder" comparing Mount Carmel to Iraq


JM: So, you draw the line kind of at negligence. There are a lot of people, a lot of groups, in the years that have followed Waco, who believe the government was murderous.

DR: Murderous.

JM: They went in, guns blazing, running over the kids on purpose, burning it down on purpose, firing into the compound to prevent people from escaping. I'm sure you've seen those FLIR tapes, you know, 'well, this shows a person firing an automatic weapon from the tank.' Any thoughts on all that?

DR: Two thoughts. First of all, for those who've seen 'Rules of Engagement,' a film worth watching, where, essentially, Mike McNulty says, 'Look at the evidence on the ground from aerial photographs they're shooting. Here's a body. That body belongs to so and so.' Mike McNulty's background for doing this, the reason why he was able to look at the tapes that way is, first, a character named Gordon Novell in New Orleans, and secondly, Mike's own background. Mike is a Vietnam Vet and in Vietnam his job was examining post combat photos and doing body counts, meaning he looked at photos of where a battle had been, or shooting had been, and counted bodies that he'd found in them. We all know that body counts in Vietnam were terribly inflated. It may have been because they counted anything that might have been a body as a body. Maybe Mike McNulty is an expert examiner of photos, but the body counts reported out of Vietnam were terribly exaggerated. And, but maybe it's true. Let me go one step beyond that. If you believe that Waco was murder, then you believe there were certain conscious agents who were responsible for that murder and I would presume that you believe these people ought to be brought to court, convicted, and put in prison. You can do that. The FBI has already showed that it's probably not going to do this again, at least for a generation or two. So, I don't know what it accomplishes, putting them in prison, though it may satisfy a sense of justice. But I don't think that the only guilty parties, if there was murder at Waco, are those who consciously carried it out, because, at least the majority of the state of Texas and, according to polls, the majority of people in the United States were cheering them on. Now, five or six murderous guys in the FBI can kill quite a few people in their lifetimes, I guess, two or three hundred, anyway, maybe two or three thousand. A nation that is too quick to the trigger and that sees killing people as the solution to the problem can kill far more than that. You could've put everybody in the FBI in jail and that still wouldn't have stopped the war in Iraq, in which far more people, innocent civilians and children, have died than in Waco. Why you wanna solve the problem in retail? Let's solve it wholesale. Meaning, let's talk about why this country is always drawing its guns. That's the problem. Waco is just a symptom of that. Now, I have to say that I came to this attitude post war in Iraq. I could've come to it before. [...] I was alive during Vietnam. I didn't come to it until the war in Iraq, but the thing is, is I saw the same doggone thing. I was watching the war in Iraq with a new, with knowledge of Waco. And I saw the same charges being made: Weapons of mass destruction, yeah; automatic weapons.

JM: Rape rooms.

DR: Rape rooms! In league with bad people! Alright? Going to shoot up our McDonald's. All of that stuff. Right? We gotta get Saddam Hussein cause he's going to be sending suicide bombers. Same stuff. And, the war in Iraq, far more bloody, far more children have died there, and nobody's talking about that being murder. Why's Waco any different? I don't see it.

JM: Well, I mean, cynically, I see the difference being, even though a lot of people in Waco weren't American citizens, it happened on American soil to a lot of American citizens. That happened over [there], that was them, you know. Waco was more 'us', even though, we did...

DR: I'll agree with you, I mean, Waco had more Americans. Though, if you count our soldier deaths in Iraq, I mean, that makes the four ATF casualties look minor. I would have to agree with that distinction, but if our attitude is, 'We can kill other people without worrying about it, but we have to be very careful about killing our own citizens,' I hope those other people stop us pretty soon, because it doesn't seem to me that that's a very neighborly attitude, if the world is getting smaller all the time. Here's the similarity: Everybody said David Koresh was crazy. Right? Whether or not all of his followers were, everybody believed he was. 'He's insane.' I said, 'lemme see what he believes.' And after studying it, I didn't know if he was crazy or, I don't think he was crazy. He may have been a con man and a manipulator, but I think he was sane. His interpretations of the Bible are entirely rational. Why he believed in the Bible, I don't know. Okay. 9/11 happens. Bush says, 'Osama did it and he's crazy, or these people are crazy.' If you go read what the radical Muslims have been saying since 1950, they're not crazy either. They believe in the Koran. They believe in Arab culture. And they are doing things that are cruel, that are consistent with those beliefs. If we had known that David Koresh was going to kill those ATF agents, we could have sent in James Tabor to argue theology with him for six months beforehand. The same about the Muslims. If our government, it should've gone to its books right away, and say, 'why did these guys do this?' Of course it knew. It has to do with Israel, American banking, various things that are happening in the Arab world. Well the answer is that you argue with them in terms of the doctrine which they believe. You try to persuade them. In the case of 9/11 you try to take out the people who have the technical expertise and are outside the consensus. But I think you take them out, you don't take whole nations out. It's kind of like, any plan that would have resulted in the death of David Koresh, I could have lived with. But when you kill all them other people wait a minute! That's no different situation in Iraq, or for that matter Afghanistan. We took over the whole doggone country. A lot of those people hated the Taliban. They don't like us any better. [...] And so it's that kind of deal. Military power has its uses, but they're not universal.

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Using a military solution for a police problem


JM: And it goes along with what you say in the book, that the federal government didn't have the authority to use military hardware, use this military raid, which could have been handled by local or state police.

DR: Much better handled.

JM: Right. You know, you need to leave police work to police, and military work to the military.

DR: It could have been much better handled. You could have sent the sheriff out there, whom they knew. He could have said, 'David, I'm told you got M 16's, let me search the place. David would have either got rid of him; I think he would have got rid of him. Right? He would have told the guy, 'come back next week. I'll let you search the place.' Four M 16s, was that worth the death of all those people? If there were four M 16s. I am willing to believe there were. Though the FBI hadn't permitted anybody to examine the weapons that came out of Mount Carmel. The last time I knew they were sitting in an evidence room in Waco. The NRA managed to get entry into the room. The FBI showed them. McNulty was there, I think. Showed them the weapons, which were in plastic bags. The NRA people wanted to check the mechanisms to see if they had been converted, but the FBI wouldn't let them take the guns out of the bags. So were there or weren't there? But if there were, dope dealers got more than four.

Now if they said they had 400, again, had they talked to me, they would have told me, 'We said he had four, but we think he had 400.' Well if that is showing me that they believe that and why, they might have made some headway, but they didn't talk to me. And I think their not talking to me, I see it as a violation of ethics. Meaning this: in private lawsuits, if you sue me, your lawyer is not going to let you say anything, or me say anything about that subject without the lawyers present. 'There's a lawsuit so we won't talk about it.' So that's the way private justice works. Public justice is supposed to work differently. The government is supposed to represent Justice with a capital J, and therefore should have nothing to hide. Its action should be open and public. Where it gets the excuse that there's litigation pending, so we can't talk, I don't know. To me that goes against the idea, the job of the prosecutor is not to get a conviction, it is to get justice by fair means. And not talking doesn't fit that picture. It fits the picture of a prosecutor who thinks his job is to get a conviction, you know, by hook or by crook. So the morality of private lawsuits and that of one that which the government is involved seems to me should be different.

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Revisiting the book; doing his duty as a reporter; the scale of Waco compared to other injustices


JM: Your book was published in '95. There has been a lot that has happened since then. Evidence, trials, books, movies, documentaries, websites, it doesn't go away. Have you ever thought about writing a new forward, or doing any updates to your book? Has anybody pushed you about that?

DR: No. If someone were to suggest republishing and writing a forward I would do it. But the facts are that my book is still in print with Syracuse University Press. And so that question hadn't arisen.

JM: How does it work when it went from Simon and Schuster to them?

DR: They just republished it in paperback, exactly as it was. I had wanted to make two or three changes but I don't think they got made. I think name spellings or facts here and there. I know one of them was a fact. But I haven't followed most of what happened since the McVeigh affair, since the decline of the Patriot Constitutionalists. Because I no longer get the phone calls from talk radio and that kind of stuff. It's very hard to revisit a subject. I might do it if I can talk about it in the context of the war in Iraq. But essentially I haven't kept track and my own conclusion is: the government did this. It won. That's over. There's nothing we can do about it. Now as far as I know Ramsey Clark still has a lawsuit against the government. Maybe he will some day do [something] about it, but if he still has that suit...look it's been 15 years. There are things that happen in the world, for which you do not live to see justice done, and generations, and millennia, do not live to see justice done, and that could happen with Waco. This is a pretty tough world we live in. I can't do anything for Native Americans, and Lord knows they've been wronged.

JM: Well, what if you have had that attitude in 1993, right after it was over? There wouldn't be...

DR: I didn't expect that I was going to get justice for them then. I wanted to find out what happened.

JM: For the general public, or more of the general public?

DR: I wanted to do my duty as a reporter. I didn't think it would have any consequences, except one, and I was wrong about that.

JM: What's that?

DR: I felt that if I did my duty as a reporter, I would be a hero to the press. I was instead the villain who said it did a bad job. I went to do my duty as a reporter and a reporter goes and finds what he can and puts it out there and is not responsible for the consequences. And in some sense, why should I even bother with Waco now when we have Iraq? Or tomorrow we'll have Palestine, if the current Israeli bombardment and pending invasion... I mean, there are a lot of injustices in the world. I examined one of them, a fairly minor one, on a scale of global history, it's absolutely minor. That's about all I know I can say about it. I do not have faith in the American justice system. I am not one of these people who believes, 'this is America, if you raise it long enough, loudly enough, and often enough justice will be done.' And I don't think that's unpatriotic. I think Frederick Douglass died feeling the same way, alright, when the freedmen didn't get a good deal. If he didn't, several generations of black people did die before we ever began to give them justice. Who am I to think I'm special? Right?

JM: Well maybe not for getting final justice, but for curiosity's sake, and having invested a certain number of years of your life and being well known for the book, what other evidence is out there that hasn't been revealed? The guns?

DR: The guns, for one.

JM: What about the door? Has that ever been [found]?

DR: It's never turned up. Janet Reno would talk about it now and no one's interviewed her. Bill Clinton said two or three years ago that if there's anything to regret in his presidency, it was the April 19th assault. Someone should go ask him why. If I had a million dollars, I'd look up all the ATF and FBI guys who've since retired and see what they can tell us. If somebody were to give me a million dollars, hire me to do it, I'd be happy to do it. So, all of that's out there, the human witnesses. I don't feel compelled to do it.

JM: Do you hope someone else does?

DR: I would certainly be pleased if someone else did it, because that would mean to me that there is a journalist that takes his job seriously, or a historian. But it would not mean to me, how do you say, I would like to see a journalist or historian investigate everything under the sun, also Waco. It is not any particular cause of mine. Lord knows there are bigger injustices: the war in Iraq, the treatment of black folks, what happened to the Indians... There's lots of it. So, what about poor, what's the name of this character who's in jail still in Florida? Was the ruler of Panama? Noriega! There's another one. There was thousands of people killed in his country when we went to get him. Waco! Right? That has to be done, or maybe it's been done, but there's just lots of it out there. And I mean, Noriega may be a closed case because the guy was obviously a rogue of some sort, but whether or not all those people deserved to die because he was a rogue is, in my mind, questionable and was from the jump. Meaning, when that happened, when Waco happened, I didn't know what to think of it. When we invaded Panama, I knew exactly what to think of it. They were tearing up somebody's country. How do you say, we're depriving the Panamanian people of the right to choose their government. That ain't fair. And so, where do you want to start? Ultimately, you come to the conclusion that the pen is not mightier than the sword, and that, it's more likely that ye shall not know the truth and ye shall never be free, than what the Bible says.

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The lasting interest in Waco; investigative reporters not doing their job during the siege


JM: Yeah, but it's little things, I mean I'm hoping you having this research collection [promotes further study]. You've said so in a letter, that you investigated it but there's a lot more, there are deeper issues here that are waiting for other people to discover the whys, the more broader questions, the pattern questions and fitting it together.

DR: I think people will be doing masters theses about Waco for 50 years. And that's good, right? And like all history, it'll probably be controversial for as long as anybody reads it. But that's good activity. And I have to say, if anybody wants to try it, they've got my best wishes.

JM: I guess my main point is, even though we're not going to have really any hope of getting final justice, we need to always be talking about the injustices, no matter how minor keeping them alive in the national conscious.

DR: Well, and it doesn't harm anything. I won't tell you that it helps, but it doesn't harm anything. What's missing now with Waco is the Patriot Constitutionalist movement, that's why we paid attention the first time. Those folks were raising hell. It's dead. And though I occasionally will have a student who comes to my class because he knows I wrote about Waco, and they have Patriot Constitutionalist outlooks, but there are very few of them now. And, I don't know where that will all go, but, how do you say, I'm in favor of the investigation and intellectualization and debate over anything whatsoever, including Waco. I did my job, because I felt that somebody should get to the bottom of it, and it was another thing. At one point, when that standoff was going on, Jim Pace tried to go in. I don't know if I knew it at the time, but he did try to go in and he got caught. They didn't punish him but they caught him. They scared him off, that's what happened. Helicopter swooped down on him and he ran and they never knew he had done it. But I thought to myself, somebody needs to be inside that house, hearing what is said, getting their side of the story. And I told my wife, 'Somebody needs to go in.' I felt this was my duty as a reporter. And, I think she said, 'If you have to do it, do it.' Then I thought, 'and if I go to jail for doing it, who's going to make my house payments?' And then a few weeks later, all those people burned up. If there had been reporters inside, they wouldn't have burned up.

JM: What about those other two that got in? They were kind of more Jesus freaks types who snuck in and they both, I think one left around the third and then the other one on the seventeenth.

DR: Yeah, I talked to him.

JM: Do you think if they were still in there, the nineteenth would have happened?

DR: Yeah, it would have happened.

JM: They wouldn't have waited.

DR: They fall into the category of religious fanatics, read: other, read: subhuman, read: expendable. Right? But if a reporter, if the guy from the New York Times or the Washington Post had been in there, they wouldn't have gone, let me tell you. Alright? We should have gone. We failed in our duty as reporters. When that place burned down, I said, 'There's still some of our duty as reporters that hasn't been done, I'm going to do it.' And I thought the press would say, 'Model investigative reporter.' I knew I'd be short of money for a while, but I thought in the long run, I would establish that I was a model investigative reporter. What the press said was, 'We don't want to be bothered with that and this guy keeps bringing it up. And he says we didn't do our job.'

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Testifying before Congress


JM: Well, let's talk a little bit about testifying before Congress. I remember watching, I think in probably 'Rules of Engagement' and elsewhere, some of your testimony and the people who questioned you. First of all, how did you find the whole experience? It seemed like there was a lot of hostility, especially from the Democrats.

DR: You know, I'm 63 years old, and I've been into a lot of strange situations in my life, both as a reporter and not, and one in Congress has to be the most farcical of all. It was a circus. It started when I got a call from somebody in Washington, D.C. who was working on one of the committees that was to hold hearings on Waco and he said, 'We want to know if you will come to Washington and testify.' And he was a Republican, he told me that. He was working for some Republican congressman. And I said to him, 'I'm willing to talk about Waco anywhere, but I'm not sure you want me. You see sir, I have a long record as a civil rights worker and Vietnam era protester, and somebody might bring that up.' And he said, 'Well, that sounds more like the people on the other side of the aisle than it does my people. I don't think the people on the other side of the aisle are going to mention it. We sure won't.' But I was afraid they'd get me up there and ask me questions about my political activities when I was younger. But he said it wouldn't happen, so I agreed to go. Now I didn't know what the background to this was. I was responding as a dumb citizen. I don't much believe in Congress, but if they say they want to make things right or look at the thing, I should do what I can to help them.

JM: Was this like summer of '95? This was post [Okahoma City]?

DR: I think it was probably March or April of '95.

JM: OK, so it was around the time of Oklahoma City?

DR: It was right after that. About a month or so after it.

JM: Had the connection been made already between?

DR: Oh yeah, it was made immediately. It was made within 48 hours. Because at first, they thought it was Arabs. But, that was premature. They'd thought that a few years later those Arabs would still be in jail. But anyway, they called me and I thought, well I had better go. And frankly I thought it can't be bad for sales of the book. And I didn't know the background. I learned it afterwards. The background was this: the NRA had been lobbying to keep the Clinton administration from banning semi-automatic weapons, AR-15's. It lost. Clinton had them banned them. Its members were furious. The leadership of the NRA apparently said, 'What can we do to placate the members, the rank and file?' Well they are also upset about Waco. Good, we'll investigate Waco. So they go to their Republican connections, and they say, 'investigate Waco.' That's the background to this thing. The lines are already drawn before the hearing opens. The Democrats will defend everything the government did, and assail all the Republican witnesses, and vice versa. Right?

So I go up there, and among others, Conyers gets to questioning me real hard. Congressman Conyers, who is a very respected figure in my household because he gave Rosa Parks a job when she needed one. She worked in his office for many years after she stood up on that bus in Alabama. And she couldn't have lived in Alabama at that time, let me tell you, I was there! Her life would have been in danger! So he is a guy I like. And he starts trying to trap me into giving an authoritative interpretation of the Constitution, because I say in my book that the constitutional scholars think that there ought to be a right to have weapons. And if you watch that tape, he's trying to trap me, and I am not going to say what I think the Constitution says cause I know if I say that he's going to say, 'And Mr. Reavis where did you attend law school?' Right? We were playing this little cat and mouse game, and incidentally, since then the Supreme Court has ruled that the constitutional authorities I cited were correct. You can go out and buy an AR-15 or an M-16, or an AK. You can do that today. So I was right and Congress was wrong, but both of us were laymen, and I wasn't going to pose as anything else. But they start giving me hassles like that, and it was pretty clear to me that this was a partisan game.

Oh, and incidentally, about Conyers, in '93, a month or two after [April] 19th, Congress also held a one day hearing on Waco. And if you read the transcript of it, after the hearing was already under way, and while Janet Reno was testifying, Conyers walks into the hearing room, takes a seat, they give him the mike, and he says to her, 'Miss Reno when are we going to stop burning women and children?' And she starts one of these pro forma answers. Now, what he's thinking of is the MOVE Massacre in Philadelphia, where the government, the city government in this case, firebombed some religious radicals. That's what he's thinking of. While she's answering he gets disgusted and walks out. His position in '93 was that we were murdering women and children, and in '95 he is giving me hell because Bill Clinton done sent down the party line. Right? After the hearing I got on the elevator with him and he was cordial and I was cordial. I didn't say anything more than that, but I still respect him. He did what his party required him to do. None of them were after justice, don't kid me, it was a partisan fight. It was a circus, and I just felt like the whole thing was fraudulent, and it went on for days.

And the press gave most of its coverage to that Kerri Jewell who said Koresh had tried to molest her when she was like 12, which was not new evidence. That'd been around for years. And I ask a reporter, 'Why did you lead with that?' She said, 'Well, it was the most scandalous testimony we had, or the sexiest, or most dramatic,' she said. 'It was the most dramatic testimony of the day.' And I said, 'What is your business, drama or facts?' But I should have known the answer by then. It's drama. In any case, I thought the whole thing was farcical and I didn't expect anything to come of it, and nothing did. At some point in my testimony I introduced my freedom of information request to the FBI, which had been made 18 months before. The law says they have to respond within 6 weeks. They hadn't. I said, 'While you guys are at this, you're in charge of the Justice Department, why don't you find out why the Freedom of Information Act has become the Stalling Act?' It's still the Stalling Act. The whole thing was a drama conducted to placate the NRA members. I mean, that was the origin of it. And I got nothing against the NRA members. They were right to be outraged.

JM: So really, but it had nothing to do with the Oklahoma City bombing? That was a, kind of a coincidental...

DR: No, but I think that attracted everybody's attention to Waco. Right?

JM: It brought it up again, right?

DR: Yeah. If these things are going to be happening, Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, because of Waco, let's find out what happened at Waco. It would be kind of like if after 9/11 we had held committees to discuss our relationship with Israel. We might have found some reasons that the Arabs were mad at us, and then we would have gone on done whatever we were going to go on to do, before the hearings, right? Foreign policy's not quite as advanced in its scripting as domestic policy is. But, that's what I thought of it. I covered Mexico for a long time, and while the PRI was in office, there was no democracy. There was drama. If you look back in Mexican history, there are what we call the 'Florid Wars' I guess in English, Las Guerras Floridas, where the Aztecs would go to their subject people, other civilizations, and say, 'Next year, we have to sacrifice 20,000 people to the God of the Sun, and your tribe is going to provide 4,000 of them, and here's what's going to happen: We're going to attack at this point, you're going to do this and that, and we're going to capture the 4,000 in this way.' They had these wars, scripted.

JM: Where only the leaders knew?

DR: Only the leaders knew. That's what democracy became in Mexico, under the PRI. They had satellite parties, opposition parties, but it was all scripted. OK? That's the road we're heading down in this country, if people don't hold their newspapers and politicians accountable. It's going to become the same way. And Waco, we were already at that level. The hearings were held to placate the NRA's members, which the Republicans needed the continued support of the NRA, blah blah blah. But nobody, I think neither Republicans nor Democrats, is going to do anything about it. It's just going to put on the drama, make the noise, see how long the Patriot Constitutionalist, gun rights people stay outraged, and they wore 'em down. Wore 'em down and scared 'em off. So, it's very much like Guerras Floridas, what's happening to our politics. And, I don't know, I was really disappointed, and it wasn't because they questioned me hard. Let them question me hard. They embarrassed me at one point. They got me good, on how tall the prosecutor was. I had said in my book he was a short man. I sat in the courtroom with him six weeks. He's 6'1'! Alright? They asked him, this is how scripted it was. They asked him to stand up. They asked him, hey said, 'Have you read Mr. Reavis' book?' 'Yes.' 'Is it an accurate book?' 'Well, in some senses it's accurate and in others it's way off.' 'Will you give us an example of an inaccuracy?' 'Well, he says I'm a short man.' He then stands up. He says, 'I played college football. I'm only 6'1' but I don't think of myself as a short man.' And he looked around at me. And it was pretty clear I wasn't even 6 feet, right? And I felt two inches tall because there, as a reporter, I had made a significant mistake and had no excuse for it. I was in the courtroom with him for six weeks. Dumbness on my part, right? But, I had that coming.

JM: But, that's beside the point.

DR: Right, I had it coming.

JM: Yeah. He didn't point out any inaccuracies that had to do with...?

DR: None of, no, no, none that are significant.

JM: Right.

DR: And, I don't know if I sent ya'll a copy. I had this hanging here. Before I testified, the ATF spread this press release and was handing it out at the, in the House hearing room. It says Dick Reavis' questions' and it's about me. And I looked at it, and as a reporter, I said, 'When did I ever see a press release that started with a person's name? What kind of amateur wrote this?' But it accuses me of lying about the guns on the helicopters.

JM: Is that the one that had, I know we have like a fax, I don't know if it's from the FBI or the ATF, it's a multiple page thing.

DR: No. This is only one page.

JM: Oh, OK.

DR: I can give you a Xerox if you haven't got one.

JM: I think it was when your book came out and then you...

DR: This is when the book came out.

JM: And then you did a counter press release.

DR: Oh, I don't know. [Reading through press release.] Here it is. [...] Ahh, 'The helicopters used to assist ATF were not armed.' I never said they were armed. I said there may have been people on there who had guns. So here, this is pure sophistry, or deceit on their part.

JM: Well, and Koresh even caught them, when they were talking, he caught them with that...

DR: Common knowledge, and you've seen 'Rules [of Engagement]', it debunks this little press release. They were handing that out on the floor of the damn deal when I walked up there. And I just thought, 'ehh, pretty dumb.' And I kept a copy of it. I thought it was a good souvenir, but... It was a circus.

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