ARMED AND DANGEROUS
Senators take fresh look at Waco evidence
New activity said to be part of 'interest in cleaning up the FBI'
A small group of senators is set to take a fresh look at materials that cast doubt on former special counsel John Danforth's conclusion that FBI agents did not fire on Branch Davidians who were fleeing their burning Mount Carmel complex outside of Waco, Texas, nearly nine years ago.
A spokesman in the Tempe, Ariz., office of Republican Sen. John McCain confirmed that he has been given "a tape" as well as a summation of findings "submitted by another individual" that refute Danforth's November 2000 report, where the former Missouri senator concluded "with complete certainty that the government did not direct gunfire at the Branch Davidian complex. ..."
Tom McCanna, an aide to McCain, told WorldNetDaily that he is currently examining the materials.
"I'm just now finishing up my review of the tape and this document, and I'm going to send it up to Washington [D.C.] within the next few weeks," he said.
When asked about McCain's plans for the materials, McCanna quickly said, "No one has decided to do anything. They don't even know anything about this. This is all premature," he added, noting that even his boss didn't know he was looking at the materials. "They will figure out where they need to go with it."
Without naming names, McCanna said, "There are other senators looking at" the materials as well.
One source familiar with the events said the renewed interest in Danforth's conclusions could be related to reforming an FBI hurt by years of scandals.
"This is all being done in the context of renewed interest in cleaning up the FBI," said the source, who asked not to be identified.
Danforth was assigned by then-Attorney General Janet Reno in 1999 to take one final look at allegations that FBI agents shot at fleeing Davidians. As part of that effort, he staged a recreation of the assault in March 2000 at Fort Hood, Texas.
One of his mandates was to see if flashes of light picked up by an aircraft-mounted FBI infrared camera during the final assault in 1993 were agents firing their weapons at fleeing Davidians.
Infrared and weapons experts who saw the tape identified the flashes as gunfire, but the government has long maintained the flashes, called "glint," were reflections of sunlight off debris.
After the fire, government officials said some of the 80-plus Davidians who burned to death were found with gunshot wounds to their heads. The FBI maintained that some Davidians committed suicide or were shot by other members of the group.
When he issued his final report in November 2000, Danforth backed the FBI, noting that his recreation proved "that the government did not direct gunfire" at Davidians.
Said to be part of the materials currently under examination by McCain's office, WorldNetDaily has obtained a copy of a draft report criticizing Danforth's conclusions and recreation. The report, whose author requests anonymity, also suggests that many of the conditions present at Waco in 1993 were not present in the March 2000 recreation.
"If considered individually, the numerous errors that riddle the [March 2000] Danforth 'Waco Recreation' might be consistent simply with massive incompetence," said the draft report. "But when all of these errors are considered cumulatively, it becomes much more difficult to accept the 'bumbling idiot' explanation."
The report goes on to say Danforth's conclusions that FBI agents did not fire at Davidians "is more suggestive of an intentionally rigged test, and thus of a continuing cover-up of the Waco tragedy by the very persons who were charged with finding the answers" to lingering questions.
The firm Danforth employed to help stage the recreation and analyze FLIR – forward-looking infrared – videotape of staged gunfire "had never before been hired" for that task, the draft report said.
The company, Vector, of Great Britain, "is a wholly-controlled subsidiary of a firm (Anteon Inc.) which draws a majority of its income from contracts with the U.S. government, whose customers include the Justice Department and the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms)," the draft charged, and "was neither expert nor independent."
Those charges echo earlier ones made by Waco documentary filmmaker Michael McNulty and others in a series of exclusive WND reports last year, in which McNulty – citing his own findings as well as those of other experts – claimed that Danforth's test was rigged.
McNulty said Danforth's team used the wrong weapons and ammunition to stage the recreation and failed to adequately reproduce dust conditions, all of which combined to reduce gunfire signatures on Danforth's infrared tape when compared to the FBI's original.
"Determining whether the flashes were gunshots keyed to a large degree on determining the brightness, size and duration of gunshot flashes," the draft report stated. "The FBI riflemen at Waco were issued civilian ammunition. The Danforth 'recreation' protocol called for use of the same ammunition that [was] used at Waco. Instead, someone substituted military ammunition treated with a flash retardant composition. ..."
Also, the report said, FBI agents at Waco were carrying carbine versions of the M-16 rifle, but shooters in Danforth's recreation "were instead issued a standard M-16" with a longer barrel. Carbines tend to produce more flash, experts say.
Environmental conditions were also questioned.
"Dust is an important variable in a test of this type," the draft said. "Experiments have demonstrated that airborne dust greatly increases the size, intensity and duration of a gunshot flash as seen by a FLIR sensor."
Noting that conditions at Waco were "quite dusty," the draft report said Danforth's team took "exceptional measures ... to suppress dust" during the recreation, such as saturating the test area with water, then keeping it "covered with tarps until the test was ready to begin. ..."
"No explanation has ever been given for these measures," the report states.
McNulty, a court-sanctioned weapons expert, also told WND in the past that the flashes on the FBI infrared tape could not be sunlight "glint" because the "cyclic rate" of reflection is too rapid.
Others have questioned whether Danforth was ever in a position to be impartial.
Appointed by President Bush to be special envoy to Sudan in September, Danforth also was recently asked by troubled Enron auditor Arthur Andersen, LLP "to conduct an immediate and comprehensive review of Andersen's records management policy and to recommend improvements," the Associated Press reported last week.
Also, at the time he was asked to re-examine Waco-related charges, Danforth was being considered as a running mate for George W. Bush. That lone fact, believes Mike Caddell, an attorney for surviving Branch Davidians, should have disqualified him.
"I think Danforth is a very ambitious person, and I always distrust someone who says they are not ambitious and yet seems to pursue ambitious goals," Caddell said.
"At the same time that he was claiming that he had no interest in political office, he was spending hours with Bush interviewing for the job of vice president."
Danforth's recreation was held in March 2000; by May, Bush was contemplating him as a running mate.
"He had his people working around the clock in May  so he could get his report out and eliminate that as an obstacle to his becoming Bush's running mate," said Caddell. "When he issued that report, he believed he would become Bush's running mate."
Caddell said that alone doesn't prove that Danforth consciously covered up wrongdoing, "but does it mean that he dug as deeply as he could have?"
"It was easier for him, if he was to have any shot at becoming Bush's running mate, to not author a report that was going to be critical of the Justice Department and the FBI," Caddell said. "He could not go into a campaign with that cloud hanging over his ability to work with those people."
"At the same time he was examining the ethics and morals of the FBI and the Justice Department, he himself was compromised," he added. "Inevitably, no matter how moral a person you are, you cannot help but have that influence you. Were they going to issue a report that said that high FBI officials and lawyers with the Justice Department should be criminally prosecuted? No – and they didn't."
The draft report lists four recommendations for action to reverse what its authors believe were a series of "biases" in Danforth's recreation.
The authors recommend a new recreation be conducted "in Texas ... with non-federal family member[s] presiding." Also, any new recreation "must incorporate all of the principles illustrated in [McNulty's third documentary film] The F.L.I.R. Project, conform to a proper scientific protocol, and be observed by all concerned parties and the press."
Also, the results of any new recreation "must be published for any interested party to view freely," though authors did not list how or where results should be posted.
"Depending on the results," the authors said, "further investigations or criminal referrals may be warranted. ..."
Finally, the report suggested that "an appropriate congressional committee" investigate Danforth's recreation "and the firm which conducted it," with an eye toward disciplinary actions.
"A U.S. district court was induced, by Mr. Danforth's staff, to accept a supposedly impartial and expert firm as a witness for the court," the draft report said. "The firm was paid considerable sums for meeting a fixed protocol, and yet violated its most critical elements..."
"Offenses which may merit investigation," the draft continued, "include obstruction of justice, perjury, filing false information with federal agencies or departments, and violations of the False Claims Act."
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Jon E. Dougherty is a staff reporter and columnist for WorldNetDaily, and author of the special report, "Election 2000: How the Military Vote Was Suppressed."
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