New Evidence Indicates FBI’s Complicity in Waco Massacre
More than 10 years after a raid by federal agents went horribly wrong at the Branch Davidian church near Waco, Tex., a Tucson lawyer says he has evidence in his possession that implicates law enforcement personnel in the deaths of 80 men, women and children following a 52-day standoff of their compound.
By Pat Shannan
Attorney David Hardy believes that the 100 agents involved in the raid at Waco had received military training at Ft. Hood, an Army post located 50 miles south of Waco. The team included a public information officer who alerted the news media to standby for a story that weekend. There would be a story—in addition to four agents who were killed, six civilians would die, signaling the beginning of the media blitz at Waco, said Hardy.
Hardy's interest in the Waco case began years after the tragedy when he met Carlos Ghigliotti of Laurel, Md., an infrared expert renowned for working with tapes containing Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) imaging, a system that uses infrared (heat) sensors to take video footage.
Ghigliotti, 42, was the owner of Infrared Technologies Corp. and had, according to FBI documents acquired by a Washington newspaper, "performed reliable work" as a thermal imaging expert for the Bureau between 1991and 1995.
At the time Hardy met him, he was on a retainer from The House Government Reform Committee to make sense out of what had happened at Waco. Unknown to the Committee, he began faxing his findings to Hardy's Tucson law office for safekeeping.
"I'd pass him data when he needed it, and he knew he could count on me to keep my mouth shut. He loved his work, and was proud of some electronic inventions that enabled him to link together visual and [infrared] imaging into a single image. He had two principles: if retained, he would tell the absolute truth as to everything and he would never accept a second retainer from a drug suspect. No matter how egregious the misuse a second time around, he wasn't interested in being of assistance to a man who violated the law a second time," Hardy recently told AFP in an interview.
For six years after the April 19 Waco fire and deaths, the FBI insisted that it had only two Waco FLIR videotapes, the earlier one beginning at 10:42 a.m. Although the raid began at 6 a.m., the FBI claimed that there were no tapes from that period.
In Hardy's FOIA lawsuits, FBI said that it had interviewed the agent who operated the FLIR camera, and he confirmed that the taping began at 10:42; the chief of FBI's Litigation Unit filed a sworn statement that no earlier tapes existed.
However, in September 1999, the FBI admitted that it did have FLIR tapes going back to 6 a.m. on April 19.
What Ghigliotti found indicated why the FBI was so intent on prohibiting the release of the earlier video, said Hardy.
The FBI had been insisting that it had not shot pyrotechnic tear gas projectiles. Pyrotechnic projectiles start fires when used against buildings. And the audio track of the early morning FLIRs contained radio traffic showing FBI agents asking for, and receiving, permission to shoot military pyrotechnic projectiles. The FBI was caught in a lie again, said Hardy.
Exactly why the FBI worried about making a FLIR tape on April 19, 1993, has never been explained. FLIR is useful at night, but not particularly valuable in the daylight. Ordinary video shot during the day, which the FBI insists its aircraft did not make, is much more useful.
Hardy told AFP that he believes the FBI used FLIR because agents knew that a fire was going to occur and they wanted to be able to document its spread.
"Carlos told me, the month before he died, that he'd seen FLIRs from nights before April 19, and that it was apparent that the FLIR aircraft was being used to monitor the Davidians' water supply. The water was stored in those big plastic tanks at the rear of the building, and the coolness of the water inside showed up as a darker area. It was apparent that the water supply was shrinking, and by April 19 was almost gone. He had heard the aircraft crew talking about it, and noting that the level was going down. So, essentially, they knew that thirst would force an end to the siege within a few days of April 19," said Hardy.
In a news interview in October 1999, Ghigliotti made the following assertions:
"I conclude this based on the ground-view videotapes taken from several different angles simultaneously and based on the overhead thermal tape. The gunfire from the ground is there, without a doubt."
Ghigliotti's assessment was an important piece of the puzzle to try and determine what happened on that day, said Hardy. As one of the top FLIR experts for the Waco defense team and a consultant for Indiana Republican Rep. Dan Burton's House Government Reform Committee investigating the Waco raid, Ghigliotti's conclusions were highly regarded.
In Hardy's view, Ghigliotti's assessment was an important piece of the puzzle to try and determine what happened on that day. However, that all came to an end when Ghigliotti was found dead from a heart attack in his apartment in Laurel, Md., on April 28, 2000.
In the aftermath of his death, rumors surfaced that he was controversial and had been fired by the House Government Reform committee. An AP story quoted committee staff as saying that "Ghigliotti's work for the committee ended some time ago."
But that does not fit with the facts as Hardy sees them:
"He told me, in late March, that he'd met with both the majority and the minority of the committee and shown them his results. Each briefing was in detail and consumed several hours. Somewhere around three to eight people, mostly attorneys for the committee, were present at each briefing. He added that the minority staff had been rather surprised to see the data, since apparently the majority had been informing them only of a minimal amount of his results."
Perhaps the most grisly of all was the photographic evidence of the killing of women and children emerging from the underground storm shelter, sometimes called "the pit," said Hardy. The pit was the exit of the underground tunnel leading out of the Davidian house.
During the viewing, Hardy said he noticed that the angle of the gun flash from federal agents' weapons was pointed downward. Carlos explained that the FBI was shooting down into the Davidians' tunnel as people were attempting to get out.
"The FBI hadn't merely fired shots that day," says Hardy. "It had hosed down the back of the building with rapid gunfire."
Hardy said Ghigliotti had proof that the FBI was lying—evidence that implicated the entire FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and FBI's high command.
Hardy said he has an audiotape of a discussion among the FBI in which agents prevent fire trucks from coming to the scene until buildings were engulfed in flames.
In March 2000, Hardy said Ghigliotti informed him of several recent discoveries. Hardy said Ghigliotti discovered a section of video showing a man emerging from a hatch on a tank which was at the back of the main building. When the man got out, he then fired at what appeared to be a man, who fled back into the burning building. Hardy said Ghigliotti told him that the House Government Reform Committee knew the name of the FBI agent seen in that footage firing.
"[Ghigliotti] was still working on a final report when last I spoke with him," said Hardy. "He said he was suffering from 'Waco fatigue' and wanted to get back to his regular work or even a long-overdue vacation." That was the last time that Hardy said he spoke with Ghigliotti.
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