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  1. Matt, another
    Matt, another March 24, 2014 7:32 am

    I think the only thing that went wrong at Waco was that the FBI met resistance. I believe the intent from the beginning was to destroy the religious sect called Branch Davidans. Considering the raid that started things, a negotiated surrender was never part of the planning. I am sure that to the Clintons and Janet Reno, the children were just collateral damage and would of wound up in reeducation centers (child protective services) any way. The FBI got scared and negotiated while they tried to find a way to save face and finally had to call in the U.S. Army for the final assault because they were to afraid to face the Davidians again.

  2. KenK
    KenK March 24, 2014 7:56 am

    Ah…what Gladwell gets wrong is that BATF wasn’t there to negotiate anything. They were there to seize people and guns and provide a talking point for the Clintonista’s gun control agenda. It just never occurred to the pigs that these silly religious nuts would just shit themselves and meekly surrender. Being met by return fire and then have their target go Masada on them never occurred them either. Gladwell gets it all wrong from what I can see (tl:dr all of it).

  3. KenK
    KenK March 24, 2014 8:00 am

    Oops. I meant to say ” ‘wouldn’t’ just shit themselves and meekly surrender”. My bad.

  4. Mike
    Mike March 24, 2014 9:24 am

    KenK – While I agree with you about the fact that the entire situation was built upon the desire to have a bogeyman for the gun control agenda, I don’t see Gladwell as getting it wrong. The burning of women and children, even when you can blame it on some 3rd party (Koresh) doesn’t look good when you’re the one who lit the fire.

    I think they’d gladly have taken Koresh alive and thrown him on trial as a “deranged child molestor with an unhealthy obsession over firearms.” He’d probably have made a pretty easy target in the courtroom as well, as I’ll bet anything that he would have started talking scripture…Which never works well in a legal defense.

    Gladwell’s explanation as to the WHY rings true for me. I hope this article gets a decently widespread audience. Even as an agnostic atheist myself, I can understand this “why,” and it does nothing to defend the actions of the government that murdered the Davidians. If anything, it further illustrates the lumbering incompetence of government.

  5. Mike
    Mike March 24, 2014 9:28 am

    Oh… And one more year goes by with Horiuchi above ground, and Deval Patrick now potentially looking at Federal office / appointment.

  6. Laird
    Laird March 24, 2014 9:43 am

    I don’t know if Gladwell got it “all wrong” or not with respect to the FBI/BATF mindset, but it’s nonetheless a fascinating glimpse into the heads of Koresh and his followers. Theirs is certainly not a belief system that I share, or can even really understand, but I think I can sort of empathize with it by analogy to my personal faith in the Constitution. The Branch Davidians (and other millennials and fundamentalists) believe in the literal words of the Bible, and I “believe” in the literal words of the Constitution. I can understand fighting for that.

  7. LarryA
    LarryA March 24, 2014 10:08 am

    They were there to seize people and guns and provide a talking point for the Clintonista’s gun control agenda.

    Not to disagree, but I’ll also note that the initial assault occurred during ATF budget negotiations.

    The scary part of the article is that as a freedomista I’ve had very similar conversations with those who simply don’t understand the concept of personal liberty.
    “We need to end the war on drugs.”
    “You want to do drugs?”
    “No. I want to end the violence.”
    “But drugs are bad.”
    “But the war is worse than the drugs.”
    “What about the children?”
    “The war is bad for children.”
    “You want children to do drugs.”
    “No, I want them to have parents that aren’t in prison.”
    “You really just want to do drugs.”

  8. Steve B.
    Steve B. March 24, 2014 10:40 am

    I will read the article as time permits, thank you for the link. I find it interesting that it was published, and published now.
    Re Waco: As has been observed by noted experts in political and unconventional warfare, had the Davidians counter-attacked when the JBT’s assault faltered, they could have easily killed them all. The situational result would have been the same (children and mothers murdered by “their” government), but long term, the political situation we find ourselves in today would be a different. One only has to look at the vulnerable gaps exposed by that dirtbag Dorner to understand this.

  9. Joel
    Joel March 24, 2014 1:08 pm

    The burning of women and children, even when you can blame it on some 3rd party (Koresh) doesn’t look good when you’re the one who lit the fire.

    Did the FBI ever stop denying that they started the fire? Because I suspect most people (who think about Waco at all) still beleve it was self-immolation.

  10. KenK
    KenK March 24, 2014 5:21 pm

    I wish I could find the pic of the BATF retreat. Holding up their hands in surrender pose as they back tracked limping and dragging their casualties. Had it for my screen. Saver for years.

  11. KenK
    KenK March 24, 2014 5:29 pm

    Not only is Horiuchi still living he retired as a fed and did a ad endorsing sniper rifles for a tactical gear company. There is no justice in the world. Too bad the Weaver family can’t do a thing about it.

  12. ENthePeasant
    ENthePeasant March 25, 2014 1:14 am

    What I took out of it and have been concerned about for a long time is the sneers that libertarians receive from most liberals and the likes of Rush Limbaugh are no different than what the ATF and FBI negotiators felt for the Dividians. I would call the Feds nothing more than hard core believers that would make most Memebersof Al Qaeda blush… their self righteousness is dangerous. They believe with all the religious fervor of children slaughtering Federal Agents that we’re pot smoking slackers with guns. Of course we’re not just a bunch of slackers and are numbers are way beyond what Koresh possessed at Mt Carmel. In their view the “purification” of those “sexually abused” children is plainly the correct answer.

  13. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein March 25, 2014 7:07 am

    “I think they’d gladly have taken Koresh alive and thrown him on trial as a ‘deranged child molestor…”

    Sorry, doesn’t fit the facts. There had already been a State investigation on precisely that charge, and the Davidians were cleared. Plus, they could’ve taken him alive on one of his many known walks. He wasn’t a recluse.

    To a more general principle, I think a common error among freedomistas is to misunderstand what “success” and “failure” mean. We all tend to project our own values onto the actions of others. But that’s wrong, of course; those others have THEIR values.

    Waco, Ruby Ridge, Solyndra, unemployment, massive debt and deficits, constant wars…these are all SUCCESSES by the standards of the actors’ values.

    “Aw no, that’s not right. They say unequivocally that they seek the same good results we seek.” Well no duh…what do liars do?

  14. Matt, another
    Matt, another March 25, 2014 7:14 am

    “Well no duh…what do liars do?” They run for political office or host talk shows, some become network reporters, they do lots of things…

  15. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein March 25, 2014 9:39 am

    Sorry I wasn’t clear M,a. I meant what do they ALL do.

  16. Shel
    Shel March 26, 2014 8:43 pm

    While the next day’s post on this blog talks about how some writers write best when they’re angry, I was unable to comment on this one when it came out.

    The “Ruby Ridge” experience had to have influenced decisions made at Waco. The former incident began with an attack by two or three U.S. Marshals, I believe, against two teenagers. They successfully killed one of the teenagers while losing one killed themselves. They were able, however, to shoot a Labrador retriever in the rectum because they felt threatened by it. Subsequent events included Horiuchi’s shooting of Vicki Weaver in the face while she held her infant child and the taunting of the surviving Weaver children by the shotgun-wielding robot sent to the front porch. Also relevant were Draconian “rules of engagement” that ordered the besiegers to “shoot on sight” anyone who happened to have a weapon in their hands, regardless of the distance or the absence of an immediate threat. A congressional investigative committee was unable to uncover the author of these rules (a friend told me that later it was determined who authored them, but I don’t know who it was). Randy Weaver said he didn’t know why he hadn’t been shot when he went down the hill to pick up his son’s body. I believe it meant that somebody on the scene had a conscience, an apparent rarity in these events. And Randy Weaver’s daughter said that one time when he and she were going back in the front door, she intentionally got right behind him so that if someone were to shoot, they would hit her. She may well have saved his life.

    All could have been swept under the rug but for the (1) massive news coverage, (2) appearance of Bo Gritz, Weaver’s former Special Forces commander, on the scene to arrange a peaceful surrender, and (3) Gerry Spence’s masterful
    work for free as Weaver’s defense attorney.

    The Feds needed something to appear as a success to the general public. At the time, the theory that BATF was competing for $$ with other agencies was also prominent. They likely concluded that the cause for failure at “Ruby Ridge” was insufficient force at the time of the initial attack. I imagine they believed, too, that successful use of overwhelming force would also send an intimidating message.

    So they went for it. Actions there included even the killing of a sect member who was trying to get back in. His body was left hanging on the fence for five days.

    While I believe the morals and intentions of the politicians and higher-ups in the agency were execrable (and Horiuchi’s, too, for he was there), most of the rest probably were just bureaucrats, including those with guns. They had gone through school and followed instructions, then found jobs with excellent pay and benefits including retirement. If they obeyed the instructions of their superiors in their agency, they could move up the ladder and have more of the material things that they desired. There’s no way people like that could relate to individuals for whom principles far outweighed material possessions in value.

    As this was dragging on, to protect themselves politically, they simply decided to attack. While I have heard an opinion believable to me that the fire likely was started from the inside (that statement ought to start a fire in itself), still the intent was to overrun the compound with no loss to the attackers and little or no regard for the lives of those inside. Afterwards the place was razed, for no purpose I can imagine other than to destroy the evidence.

    The survivors at least had the opportunity to make statements.

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