No More Wacos: What's Wrong With Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It
Since April 19, 1993, the fiery image of BATF and FBI agents conducting a deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas, is seared into America's consciousness. Equally intense is the debate over the federal government's actions to end the 52-day standoff. Two years earlier, agents and federal marshals opened fire on illegal weapons trafficking suspect Randy Weaver and his family in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Are these the actions of responsible, accountable law enforcement agencies, or tragic mistakes that should have been avoided? Each new incident -- and there are dozens each year -- forces us to rethink the role of federal law enforcement and the risks that their enormous powers pose to individual rights, judicial authority, and arrest procedures in the name of public safety, as society's fears increase with the specter of the Oklahoma City bombing and the assault on the World Trade Center.
Waco and Ruby Ridge represent the worst-case scenario of problems that now plague federal law enforcement, including militarization, judicial rubberstamping of search and arrest applications, aggressive and violent arrest procedures, indifference to religious beliefs, the complicity of an overzealous media, and failed Congressional investigations. In No More Wacos authors David B. Kopel and Paul H. Blackman use their expertise in law and criminology to outline the evidence in these cases and dozens of others in an accessible yet methodical manner to explain how and why such tragedies occur. Meticulously documented, this volume contains more than 1,500 endnotes which aid in analyzing all sides of this complex subject. Whenever problems are found, specific remedies are proposed -- over 100solutions in all -- both comprehensive and technical in nature. Each is offered in the hope of preventing future Wacos by putting federal law enforcement under the rule of law. The authors discuss flawed search warrants, authorities ignoring the difference between religious and criminal suspects, interdepartmental deception, and failed safeguards, and, most importantly, remedies to these problems.
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My reaction to reading this book in 1998. Apart from an exploration of the theology of the Branch Davidians (more completely covered in Dick Reavisí The Ashes of Waco), this is the most complete treatment Iíve come across (though there are a couple of books I havenít read on the subject) about Waco. Just as thoroughly as he covered the gun control issues in his The Cowboy, the Mountie, and the Samurai, lawyer Kopel (Blackman is a criminologist who works as a researcher for the National Rifle Association and his writing editorials under a pen name was unjustly the subject of criticism by gun control advocates and defenders of the government actions at Waco) shows, in detail, how Waco and Ruby Ridge are not atypical results of federal law enforcement Ė just highly publicized confluences of much that is wrong with federal law enforcement. The authors point out a scary picture of a federal government enforcing an ever increasing roster of federal laws with increasing arbitrariness, increasing militarism, and increasing violence to the generally accepted rule of law. Their solutions are plentiful (some legal, some symbolic): repealing many federal criminal laws, stop the rubber stamping of search warrants, eliminate the legal abomination of forfeiture laws, and prohibit police hiding behind ninja mass and using military hardware and range from basic ones like repealing many federal criminal laws to tightening exclusionary laws of evidence. They also call for the cessation of declaring symbolic war on things. In regard to the particulars of Waco, the authors seem a little hard on Vernon Wayne Howell aka David Koresh. Despite the findings of the state of Texas, they think Koresh was guilty of child abuse. While Reavis argued that parental consent may have absolved Koresh of statutory rape in Texas, Kopel and Blackman think he was guilty. And, while acknowledging that many of Koresh beliefs (like sexual intercourse with young girls) had a Biblical basis, they regard Koresh as a manipulative sociopath with mental problems (e.g. those divine voices he heard). However, they still see the government behaving illegally, with too much force, and needlessly involving all the Davidians. They present a convincing case that not only was increased funding and publicity a motive for the Waco raid but also an attempt at rehabilitation after late 1992 BATF scandals. They present even more evidence for a BATF coverup than the 1995 House hearings. (Though they only mention in passing a missing Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms videotape of the raid, they donít specifically address the absurd excuse the BATF gave at the 1995 hearings: that the large number of cell phones somehow caused the tape to spontaneously eject from the vcr without recording anything. At least thatís how I remember it.) They have also reversed my opinion from the hearings that CS gas was justifiably used. They present compelling evidence that it may have directly killed people at Waco (the autopsies were badly handled) to say nothing of a fire hazard. They present many possibilities for the fire breaking out. They also detail more examples of FBI misbehavior at Waco apart from the militaristic antics of the Hostage Rescue Unit (a paramilitary unit originally created to rescue hostages in foreign countries and kill their captors) such as withholding surveillance tapes of the final assault and looting Mount Carmel. (Withholding information by law enforcement agencies is, as the authors state, utterly unconscionable. I would say it is justified only in espionage matters.). Many irregularities at the trial of the Branch Davidians are noted. It is also by no means proved that they were illegally making automatic weapons. The book has a synopsis of the negotiation tapes which were interesting. I was interested to learn that Steve Schneider didnít personally like Koresh but followed him (including giving his wife to Koresh for sex which galled him somewhat since he sometimes denied it) since he thought he was Godís spokesman however imperfect. As...
Review: No More Wacos: What's Wrong With Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix ItUser Review - Benjamin - Goodreads
This book is a carefully researched analysis of the 1993 Waco siege. The authors have explicit opinions concerning the appropriate lessons of that event, but they take great pains to justify their ... Read full review
Why Waco?: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America
James D. Tabor
Limited preview - 1997
The Unwarranted Warrant
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