Boys With Their Toys

In August, 2000, through yet another FOIA suit, I received over 6,000 pages of Waco materials from the Department of Defense. These indicate the following:

FBI and ATF drew upon military assets and budgets for virtually all their material needs. ATF had of course gotten recon jets to photograph Mt. Carmel on several occasions; FBI's involvement began with a Special Air Mission which used C-141s to move not only HRT, but four Suburbans, to Waco. Click here for that set of orders. Click here for a briefing memo which outlines the major aid. These included not only the tanks, but the clothing they wore, the helmets on their heads, the cots they slept on, the MREs they ate in the field, the sandbags they used for bunkers, and even the ammunition and magazines for their guns. (Over $5,000 in ammunition was issued and not returned). Click here for an Army log of requests for BDU uniforms, litters, litter stands, night vision equipment, ready-filled sandbags and a truck to move them, and other supplies. They also requested issuance of M-24 sniping rifles; click here for that memo. Indeed, they even tried to draw the tear gas they used from military stores. Click here for that note. Other equipment was drawn from the Texas National Guard; here is a memo outlining the major Guard requisitions. The State of Texas also got into the act, requesting over $200,000 from counter-drug funding. Click here for its request. Click here for another request, for $500,000.

At points, the agencies were obviously treating the military as their servants. ATF requisitioned a 44-person bus, and military driver, to ferry them to and from the airport. When the Ft. Hood training area was in use during the time they wanted to train, they got Joint Task Force 6 to pester. Click here for one memo.

FBI treated the military equipment with something approaching abandon, managing to lose nine night vision devices, worth about $45,000. Click here for that memo.

The entire operation--not just the first day, but the entire siege--was underwritten by funds intended for military aid for the war on drugs. Mostly it was treated as non-reimbursable (military aid to law enforcement has to be reimbursed to Defense, unless it relates to drug law enforcement), but (as noted above) the State of Texas put in for direct cash aid from drug-related funding.

Three years later, the Army realized that the operation had been improperly funded, and demanded return of the funds. In March, 1996, the Army's General Counsel advised that the funds had been improperly used. Click here for a memo. The Office of the Judge Advocate General wrote ATF requesting reimbursement. Click on the following for page one, page two, and page three. Its Comptroller likewise wrote ATF, stating that the expenditure had violated two statutes. Click here for his letter. GAO got involved, and the Army stated that it had collected over $200,000 but had never been reimbursed for $9,000 in night vision equipment, or $5,000 in ammunition. Click here for the memo. A pointed note to ATF suggested that they had GAO looking over their shoulder and might be called to testify again in Congress. Click here for it.

The FBI also drew upon the military for some incredibly high-tech support. The U.S. Missile Command (MICOM) provided three battlefield recon robots. Click here for the memo on the request. Another memo notes that OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) had approved, and two military and one civilian operator were sent. A military log of their use shows that FBI wanted to send them right up to the building, to see "if they'll shoot at it." Unfortunately, the log later notes, the FBI ran over the fiber optic (FO) cables which controlled the robots. The Air Force provided special jamming equipment and operators, which jammed the Davidians' television and radio reception. Click here for its memo on the jamming operation.

How high did this approval go? We have a few clues:

A memo (almost entirely redacted) to the Joint Staff in Washingon reported on observations at Waco early in the siege. It was carboned to U.S. Special Operations Command (which commands Delta, the Seals, and other special units), and to another recipient, whose name is deleted. The memo is highly classified -- Secret, to be handled via Focal Point (the special antiterrorism channel) and Praetor Guide (meaning unknown). Click here for it.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs himself authorized use of classified equipment at Waco, with two technical operators. The cable is cc'd to the Secretary of Defense. Click here for it.

The Secretary of Defense authorized the release of M-1 tanks to the FBI. Click here for the memo. The Secretary of the Army authorized the use of the other military assets. Click here for documentation.

How much higher did it go? There is the Joint Staff memo, with its one deleted recipient. But on April 20, the assistant to the Secretary of Defense sent his boss a memo, attaching a transcript of President Clinton's press conference, in which Clinton stated that, when the crisis at Waco began, the "first thing I did" was to bring the military in to analyse the situation. For the assistant's memo, click here; for the attached press conference transcript, click here.

Oh, yes. One final, and rather rattling, piece of data. One of the military kept a log of events. After the fire of April 19, he makes an entry reflecting a report he had received from the site. The report states that cries for help are being heard from the rubble, "but not many." Click here for the log.