Time: Sun Dec 14 20:32:23 1997
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: GAO to Investigate ATF over WACO (fwd)
Bcc: sls

>>> Questions arise over cult siege - Military vehicles'use investigated
>>> 12/08/97
>>> Associated Press
>>> WACO - Investigators with the General Accounting Office want to determine
>>> whether federal agents improperly used military equipment during the 1993
>>> Branch Davidian standoff, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.
>>> GAO officials will visit Waco this week to find out how the Bureau of
>>> Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms obtained Texas National Guard helicopters and
>>> other military vehicles for the assault on cult leader David Koresh's
>>> compound.
>>> Two House subcommittees asked for an investigation by the accounting
>>> office - an independent auditing arm of Congress - after two weeks of
>>> hearings on the siege in July 1995.
>>> A staff member of the House Subcommittee on National Security,
>>> Affairs and Criminal Justice told the newspaper that the GAO investigation
>>> would examine whether the ATF rightfully acquired the military equipment
>>> whether it should reimburse the Pentagon for the assistance.
>>> Four ATF agents and six cult members died in a Feb. 28, 1993, shootout at
>>> the Branch Davidian compound. After a 51-day standoff, Mr. Koresh and about
>>> 80 followers died in a fire that swept through the building after the FBI
>>> rammed it with military vehicles and injected gas to force the Branch
>>> Davidians to surrender.
>>> "The image of Bradley fighting vehicles and M1 tanks set against the
>>> Mount Carmel compound calls into question the role of the military at
>>> U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., said during the House hearings two years
>>> Michael Reyes, a special agent in the ATF's Houston office, declined to
>>> comment on the inquiry but said the agency intended to cooperate.
>>> Members of Congress questioned whether the ATF lied about a possible drug
>>> lab at the compound to secure the helicopters. The choppers served as a
>>> distraction while about 100 agents rolled up in front of the cult's home.
>>> Republicans on the subcommittee charged that the drug allegations were a
>>> ruse to draw in military help.
>>> The military role in the botched raid remains a question because of an 1878
>>> statute called the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits use of the Army to
>>> enforce laws except in specific circumstances outlined by Congress -
>such as
>>> in the war on illegal drugs.
>>> Assistant Secretary of Defense Allen Holmes testified at the hearings that
>>> even without proof of a drug lab, the military legally could have assisted
>>> the ATF. However, the agency was not required to pay for the assistance by
>>> including the possibility of the drug lab.
>>> --------------
>>> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Monday December 8 8:59 AM EST
>>> GAO to investigate Waco standoff
>>> WACO, Texas, Dec. 8 (UPI) _ The General Accounting Office will
>>> investigate the use of military equipment during the Branch Davidian
>>> standoff near Waco in 1993.
>>> The Waco Tribune-Herald reports today that GAO investigators will be in
>>> Texas this week to review the use of Texas National Guard aircraft and
>>> armored vehicles during the 51-day siege.
>>> The investigation was requested by two House committees because an 1878
>>> federal law prohibits the military from enforcing laws except in certain
>>> circumstances allowed by Congress, such as drug enforcement.
>>> Texas National Guard helicopters were used in the initial raid on the
>>> Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four agents of the Bureau of
>>> Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and six Davidians died in the initial
>>> raid.
>>> Armored vehicles were used during the 51-day siege, and when the FBI
>>> tried to force leader David Koresh to surrender on April 19, they used
>>> armored vehicles to inject tear gas into the buildings. A fire killed
>>> Koresh and more than 80 of his followers.
>>> The committees want to know if the equipment was properly used, and if
>>> it was, whether the Defense Department should be reimbursed. Some
>>> members of Congress say the ATF's explanation that they suspected a drug
>>> lab was in the Davidian compound was a ruse to use the military
>>> hardware.
>>> _-
>>> Copyright 1997 by United Press International.
>>> All rights reserved.

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