ARMED AND DANGEROUS
Senators to scrutinize Waco siege evidence?
Judiciary Committee considering probe into allegations FBI fired on Davidians
The official conclusions made by a former Missouri senator and special counsel, that the FBI did not fire weapons at fleeing Branch Davidians the day their Mount Carmel complex burned to the ground at Waco, Texas, may come under the scrutiny of the Senate Judiciary Committee, WorldNetDaily has learned.
Michael McNulty, producer of "The F.L.I.R. Project," a video claiming the FBI fired at fleeing Branch Davidians during the government's final assault April 19, 1993, said he has sent the committee evidence that contradicts John Danforth's official conclusion that agents did not fire their weapons.
In McNulty's video, flashes of light caught by an FBI-operated infrared camera located in an airplane circling the complex during the raid are said to have been caused by gunfire, but the FBI – along with Danforth – have repeatedly refuted that charge. Rather, Danforth and the agency both say the flashes are sunlight "glint" reflecting off debris.
However, McNulty – who has made two other videos critical of the government's claims about Waco – has said Danforth's re-creation of those flashes was flawed, mostly because the wrong weapon was used during reenactment tests, as WorldNetDaily reported May 12.
On the day of the final assault, McNulty said FBI agents were not carrying standard military M-16 rifles – which has a 20-inch barrel – but instead were carrying a shorter, 14-inch barrel "carbine" version now known as a CAR-16/M-4.
During the reenactment and testing at Fort Hood on March 19, 2000, Danforth's team instead tested the longer, standard-sized rifle – tests which were conducted while shooters were being filmed with an infrared camera. The FBI maintains it sent along a carbine, as well as a standard-sized rifle, to be tested.
McNulty and other weapons experts say that because of the dramatically shorter barrel length of the M-4, it would create a much larger muzzle flash and, hence, be more noticeable on infrared. Because of the discrepancy, the Waco producer wants the Judiciary Committee to reexamine both sides.
"I have provided you with the basic information on the subject, and there is more data and certainly more questions to be asked of Mr. Danforth and his staff," McNulty wrote in a July 25 letter to Ben Wilson, a legal clerk with the committee.
WND obtained a copy of the letter, but in an interview, Wilson declined to verify whether he had received McNulty's materials, citing official policy restraints. Instead, WND was referred to Mimi Devlin, a committee spokeswoman who had not returned verification requests by press time.
"That so-called recreation was meant to be an end-all, be-all answer to the 'darkest' Waco question – did the FBI fire upon the men, women and children trying to escape the burning building?" McNulty wrote in his letter.
The committee "is looking into what Danforth did, or didn't do, vis-à-vis the test," McNulty said in an interview Friday.
When asked if Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the committee's chairman, was interested in examining McNulty's evidence, McNulty said he has had "some colleagues of mine talk to the committee and Mr. Leahy in particular and his chief counsel. I was assured the committee would look into this matter."
McNulty said the committee would examine his charges "during the course of the FBI concept hearings, which will be going through September."
He said Wilson called him and asked him to send in the "Waco-Danforth test issue materials, which I did."
"At the very least, our evidence demands a re-test of the Fort Hood 'recreation' and an investigation into Mr. Danforth's actions in staging the test," McNulty said in his letter to the committee.
Weeks after WND reported McNulty's charges, The Associated Press also reported that an official involved in the weapons tests said that Danforth's team tested the wrong weapon.
"The test, conducted last year, used a standard M-16 military rifle with a 20-inch barrel, that official, Robert Stewart, a Postal Service inspector, said in interviews," the June 1 report said.
"The difference could have been important to any such test, firearms experts say, because the longer gun, the one Mr. Stewart says was tested, has less muzzle flash and as a result would be less likely to cause the kind of glittering of light that was caught on an FBI infrared videotape shot from an aircraft at the very end of the 51-day siege," said AP.
For its part, the Danforth team has defended its testing protocols and results.
Tom Schweich, a lawyer who was Danforth's chief of staff last year when he was empowered by the Justice Department to conduct a final review of the FBI's raid, told WND in May that the former Missouri senator's investigation "left no doubt" that the FBI did not fire on residents as they fled the conflagration.
He said that all weapons tested by Danforth's office were agreed upon by all relevant parties in the investigation.
"The protocol by which we conducted the FLIR test [at Fort Hood] was developed with substantial input both from government entities that were interested in the event, as well as parties representing Branch Davidians," he said.
However, even Danforth himself admitted he did not know which weapons were actually tested.
"I don't know what weapons were tested myself," Danforth told the AP. "But all of this was part of the agreement" on how the test should be conducted, he added, citing an accord between the government and lawyers for the Davidians.
"And all of it was pronounced fair at the end of the test," he said.
Michael Caddell, a lawyer for the surviving Davidians, said that he had repeatedly insisted that the test include the smaller rifle, but that Danforth's office had prevented him from inspecting the weapons used in it, both before the simulation and afterward, AP said.
The government's expert, though – Vector Data Systems, a British contractor – said the flashes were glints of sunlight.
McNulty, in his video, counters that the "speed" of the flashes do not coincide with the lazy circular motion of an aircraft, but rather, they mimic the cyclic rate of an automatic weapon.
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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