ARMED AND DANGEROUS
Danforth trusted FBI during Waco probe
Filmmaker says agency's misstatements about raid prove unreliability
Former Waco special counsel John Danforth relied heavily on the FBI for information during his investigation of the 1993 raid on a religious sect by the agency, despite earlier statements that his query was an independent effort designed to examine controversial evidence.
Mike McNulty -- producer of three separate films detailing the April 19, 1993, assault on the Branch Davidian center in Waco, Texas, by the FBI and some U.S. military elements -- told WorldNetDaily that Danforth failed to entirely conduct his own independent probe of the incident.
"Rather than check, confirm and verify himself, just like we did," Danforth relied heavily on FBI information, even though the bureau was caught in a series of misstatements in 1999.
For six years, the FBI vehemently denied that it used pyrotechnic devices during the raid, but finally admitted it had after evidence gathered by the Texas Department of Public Safety -- including used pyrotechnic devices -- was reported.
Also, the FBI initially said that only one videotape showing infrared images of the final raid existed, which was discovered to be inaccurate.
McNulty, who has helped produce, "Waco: The Rules of Engagement," "Waco: A New Revelation," and his latest effort, "The F.L.I.R. Project," said Danforth's chief of staff during his days as a U.S. senator from Missouri and during his independent counsel probe of Waco, Tom Schweick, also told him that Danforth was not responsible for conducting accurate weapons tests during a Waco re-enactment at Fort Hood, Texas.
"None of these guys were weapons experts," McNulty said. "When I challenged them about not confirming or checking" the types of weapons used at Waco and during the re-enactment, "he told me, 'Well, that was Vector Corporation's responsibility'" -- the firm charged with staging the re-enactment.
"But they're not weapons experts, either," McNulty said, "they're F.L.I.R. experts." "F.L.I.R." is an acronym for "forward looking infrared," a type of imaging device used during overhead surveillance of the Waco center during the final FBI assault.
McNulty has said F.L.I.R. experts who have examined the FBI's own videotape say it clearly shows that agents positioned at the back of the Davidian's living areas were firing automatic weapons at Davidian members as they tried to escape a fire that erupted as the government began its assault.
Danforth has maintained in his final report, issued Nov. 8, 2000, that no government agents fired at Branch Davidians.
"The hard bottom line is, Mr. Danforth -- as he came into office as special counsel -- was … witness to the fact that the FBI had been caught in two lies that brought about his appointment," McNulty said.
"One was the allegation of use of pyrotechnics, which [the agency] had denied for six years, and the other was the non-existence -- or claim of non-existence -- of additional F.L.I.R. tape.
"Both of those issues had been testified to before Congress and a federal court judge, and sworn to under oath, that neither of those circumstances was reality," McNulty said.
"Mr. Danforth should have looked at that and said, 'We've just caught these guys committing institutional perjury here on two major issues. … Should I trust them to give me the accurate information about the weapons used?'"
McNulty added, "Mr. Schweick's comments to me were, 'Well, Mike, we both know that you don't trust the FBI, but we do.'"
McNulty said he has video evidence that the type of weapons carried by FBI agents the day of the raid were newly developed M-4s, a smaller, carbine-type variant of the military's standard M-16 rifle.
However, he said Danforth's re-enactment used "a standard M-16A2 rifle with a 20-inch barrel" and military ammunition designed to suppress gun barrel "flashes."
The ammunition used by the FBI on the day of the raid was also most likely commercial ammunition that does not have anti-flash ingredients. Plus, McNulty said, the M-4 carbine has a much shorter barrel and would naturally produce a brighter flash anyway.
Danforth said, in his final report, that the British experts he used to examine the F.L.I.R. videotape concluded that flashes seen were reflections of sunlight off nearby objects, not gunfire.
According to Danforth's final report, he "concluded that certain members of the Department of Justice's trial team that prosecuted the Branch Davidians knew about the pyrotechnic tear gas rounds in 1993" but "wrongly chose not to disclose this information to defense attorneys for the Davidians, to Congress and to others within" Justice.
Though he was "sharply critical" of these individuals for obstructing his investigation "by misleading investigators and attempting to cast blame on others in order to conceal their own role in this matter," no indictments against Justice officials or FBI agents were handed down.
Danforth's mandate, received from then-Attorney General Janet Reno when Danforth was empowered as special counsel, said he was "authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from his investigation," as well as "federal crimes committed with the intent to interfere with the special counsel's investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence or intimidation of witnesses" if he "believes it is necessary and appropriate. …"
McNulty's allegations follow charges leveled by The CATO Institute, a libertarian-oriented think tank, accusing Danforth of reaching conclusions in his investigation "that are not supported by the factual evidence."
The CATO assessment, authored by Timothy Lynch, director of the organization's Project on Criminal Justice, is entitled, "No Confidence: An Unofficial Account of the Waco Incident." It concludes that Danforth's inquiry was "soft and incomplete," and ignored compelling and documented evidence that the government has consistently overlooked in its numerous Waco inquiries.
McNulty said he did not have the budget to thoroughly conduct the kind of re-enactment staged by Danforth. He said he asked Schweick why Danforth, with his extensive investigative budget, did not spend more time accurately recreating exact environmental and weapons conditions.
"I got no response," McNulty said. "At the end of our latest film, we ask Danforth for a new F.L.I.R. recreation."
The Waco producer said it was important to reveal the flaws in Danforth's examination of the Waco incident because "word has it" that he may be considered by the Bush administration for an appointment to the Supreme Court later this summer, if any current justices decide to retire.
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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