VITAL SIGNSrnCOMMONWEALrn’^«»^^rn^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ • ^ – ‘ S i ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ‘ ‘ – « f e s « « – •rnThe Revolutionrnin Wacornby Egon Richard TauschrnTorching the ConstitutionrnAhundred years from now historians,rnif they are still permitted to researchrnand write, will argue about whenrnthe United States started down the slipperyrnslope to totalitarianism. ManyrnSouthern historians believe it began withrnthe erosion of the U.S. Constitution occasionedrnby President Lincoln’s disregardrnof that document and by the ReconstructionrnEra. Some historians pointrnto the massive powers assumed by thernfederal government during the ProgressivernEra. Others might date the slide tornFDR’s “New Deal” or LBJ’s “Great Society”rnprograms. A few might even highlightrnChief Justice John Marshall and hisrndoctrine of judicial review. In truth, thernpath returning the United States to constitutionalrngovernment was visible andrncould have been taken at any time afterrnthese periods, either by a conscientiousrngovernment or by an American publicrnsufficiently outraged.rnBut when a government uses massivernphysical force against its people, illegallyrnand unconstitutionally, the power of thernpublic and the extent of its outrage isrntested. It is either found ultimately victoriousrnover tyranny—as after the BostonrnMassacre and the Alamo—or intimidated,rnconfused, and indifferent, as is rapidlyrnbecoming the case in the aftermath ofrnthe Waco Massacre. When the latter occurs,rnthe future of a republic becomesrnpredictably tragic.rnWhat are the national and local purveyorsrnof public knowledge doing inrnwhat they call their “quest for answers”rnabout the events near Waco, Texas?rnThey are demanding investigations as tornwhether David Koresh knew of the raidrnin advance, whether the ATE knew of hisrnknowledge, and what tactical flaws ultimatelyrnresulted in the deaths of dozensrnof men, women, and children. The federalrngovernment, knowing that these arernnot the right questions, is dutifully complying,rnby limiting its investigations tornthese areas and by repeating, day afterrnday, that the ATE attack was “an attemptrnto serve a warrant.”rnWhat are the known facts, what questionsrnshould be investigated and byrnwhom, and what are the implications ofrnthe Waco Massacre for the policies, presentrnand future, of our Republic? OnrnFebruary 28, 1995, approximately 150rnpeople, armed with automatic weapons,rngrenades, and ladders, invaded and attackedrna complex of buildings near Waco,rnTexas, which was inhabited by a religiousrngroup. The attackers killed at leastrnfive of the inhabitants, and the defendersrnkilled four of the attackers.rnLet’s start with the uncontested facts.rnWhat was the justification for the initialrnassault, if any? We have been told thatrnthe attackers were part of the FederalrnBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, andrnFirearms (ATE) and were attempting tornserve a warrant on a member or membersrnof the religious group. This is a veryrnimportant allegation, on which any justificationrnof any of the subsequent eventsrndepends.rnWas there an attempt, howeverrnbotched, to serve a warrant at all?rnInitially wc were told by the governmentrnspokesman that the warrant wasrn”sealed,” but that the allegations in thernaffidavit involved possession of illegalrnweapons. When it was discovered thatrnseveral persons in the complex, includingrnDavid Koresh, had dealers’ permits forrnthose same weapons, issued by the selfsamernATE, the story changed.rnNow, we were informed, the affidavitrnconcerned alleged child abuse. Whenrnthe release of dozens of children fromrnthe complex, their meticulous medicalrnexaminations, and their extensive interrogationrnby the feds revealed no signs ofrnabuse, and when it was pointed out thatrnthe ATE never had any jurisdiction overrnabuse cases anyway, the governmentrnspokesman announced that the real intentionrnof the raid was to prevent massrnsuicide. The government spokesmanrnnext changed the focus to the four deadrnagents and the supposed nuttiness ofrnBranch-Davidians in general. Finally,rnafter the slaughter, the warrant and affidavitrnwere opened. Geraldo Rivera’srngrand opening of “Al Capone’s SecretrnVault” could not have been a greater anticlimax.rnThe 15-page, single-spaced affidavit,rnsigned by ATE agent Davy Aguilera, is arnmess, though it covers two years of investigation.rnAt least half of it deals withrnhow the affiant disagrees with Koresh’srntheology. It dwells for paragraphs on arnnervous UPS deliveryman who fearedrnthat he had actually delivered weapons.rnThe ATE affiant says he called the licensingrndepartment of the ATF and discoveredrnthat Koresh was not licensed torndeal in firearms. (This was proven false,rntwo days after the raid.)rnThe rest of the affidavit concernsrnthird- or fourth-hand hearsay (oncernthrough two translators) about how Koreshrnmight be able to convert his legal ARrn15’s and legal AK 47’s into illegal automaticrnweapons, if he had the skills andrnequipment. The only expert witness isrnquoted as saying that everything Koreshrnhad is used for legal, as well as illegal,rnpurposes by gun owners (the affiantrncalled this a “loophole in the law”). Nornone quoted in the affidavit had ever seenrnan automatic weapon in the complex—rnnot even the ATE agent, Rodriguez, whornlived there undercover as a Koreshian.rnThe affidavit cites some fourth-handrnhearsay about the possibility of child molestationrn(but no mention of anyone whornhad witnessed any abuse). All that onernchild-protective agent could report afterrnher thorough investigation inside therncomplex was that one eight-year-old boyrn44/CHRONICLESrnrnrn