• It depends on who you ask. Several friends and I were following the standoff as it occured and for some time after, trying to sort out what happened from all the conflicting evidence and tapping some obscure sorces of information that we had available at the time. I have no doubt there will be those who will mark this answer down for not being the "official" story, but it's what we were able to determine at the time. It all started with the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) wanting to stage a big, showy bust just in time to impress the Senate Appropriations Committee into giving them a bigger appropriation. They apparently decided that the Branch Davidian would fit the bill. I don't recall how they talked the Army into putting ATF guys through the Army's MOUT training (Military Operations for Urban Terrain), but apparently the trainees were bragging about what they intended to do with the highly specialized military training. Come time for the bust, did the ATF quietly pick up David Koresh on one of his frequent long-distance runs on the rural roads around the compound, when he was usually alone or with only a few others? Or at any other regular times when he was out in the open with few companions? What kind of show would that have been for the Appropriations committee? Instead they had to make it a frontal assault on his homestead, which they knew was going to be defended. They went in complete with air support, having told the Texas Air National Guard that they expected drugs to be involved (that being the only way the Air National Guard could participate legally). And they had the media close at show the raid in all its political glory. I don't recall what went wrong, but instead of being a showy bust, it turned into an ugly and, for the ATF, deeply embarrassing seige. Things continued to go from bad to worse when several officers were killed during an attempt to infiltrate the compound. The FBI claimed the cultists had started the shooting, but later there were also reports that the first shot was actually an accidental discharge of a sheriff's weapon. And, although the surviving Davidians were tried for those deaths, there were also reports that at least two of them died of frienly fire in the panic shooting that followed the first shot. (Having seen the footage, I know at least one was killed by friendly fire, and not from someone shooting from inside the window, as was claimed.) Needless to say, something had to be done. Getting a good appropriation was no longer the prime motivation; it had reached the point where something had to be done to end the stand-off and cover up the blunders and errors that led to such a negative situation, which were slowly coming to light the longer the seige went on. The final assault on the compound has been obfuscated in a number of ways, but it seems clear enough that the FBI didn't want many (any?) survivors to tell the tale to the media. As I recall, there was even some interesting evidence that might well have indicated that it wasn't the Davidians who went around killing themselves and each other to avoid capture or avoid being burned to death. It seemed just as likely that the FBI had moved in to eliminate the Davidians and used the fire to cover up (or at least confuse) the evidence. I was and remain deeply disturbed by the events at Waco. It seems clear to me it was a boondoggle from the first, with the final massacre and fire used to cover up the evidence.
  • What genocide? gen-o-cide: systematic measures for the extermination of a national, cultural, religious, or radical group (from Greek, genos race, + -cide). Coined by Raphael Lemkin and first used in print in “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe”, 1944. Applying the term ‘genocide’ to the events that occurred at the Branch Dravidian compound is misleading at best and, at worst, demeaning to the memories of the millions of persons who have perished in genocides. The great tragedy was the misreading of the situation by the various police forces involved and their subsequent actions based on these errors. This is not surprising, since police forces are trained, for the most part, to handle situations very different from those at the Branch Dravidian compound. Police are trained in the belief that a large-scale and sudden assault on a defended position will work to their advantage. You could describe this as the “Okay, Rocky, we’ve got you surrounded. Come out with your hands up or we’re coming in after you.” method. This usually works, since the person(s) who are the subject of the police raid are quite interested in saving their own skins. Tragically, this is sometimes not the case. From a Canadian perspective, the assault by the Sureté Québec on the barricades at Oka used similar, ineffective tactics. David Koresh, unfortunately, was not Rocky. He was a sociopath with a messiah complex, who was actively seeking his own personal apocalypse. The children who died in the compound were his victims, more so than of the police who botched the raid. He betrayed those of his adult followers who had (mis)placed their trust in him and believed him to be someone special. Others were active participants in the events and are equally guilty for the outcome of the standoff. The parallels between this event and the tragedy at Jonestown, the responsibility of Jim Jones, yet another false messiah figure, are very close. When the outside world intruded beyond a certain point, they sought their own destruction. We have the luxury of sitting here now, looking back on these tragic events, and analyzing them to our hearts’ content. There was no genocide, only a tragedy brought on by people who failed to recognize David Koresh for what he was. Hindsight is 20/20. Reply: The actions were not "systematic", nor were their goals "extermination". A world of difference. Note when and where the term was coined and under what circumstances it was first used. It has become a widely misused term.
  • Genocide? Really? Maybe the Branch Davidians shouldn't have been breaking the law. Koresh was a wacko.
    • Thinker
      Just where did they break the law? They stayed in their compound and had weapons for their protection of their property and rights being violated. Yes, he was weird in his beliefs. Janet Reno violated their rights in many ways and even used weapons that were not authorized to be used by federal law. The US stinking government was in violation not the Branch Devidians...
    • Hardcore Conservative
      Molesting kids. Possession of automatic weapons and high explosives. All illegal. I'm pretty sure that's all written down somewhere.
    • Thinker
      It is not against the law to own automatic weapons and many places have high explosives especially in mining areas, again not against the la. Molesting children is pretty much hearsay and if the government says it I would not believe it as the government does not know how to tell the truth.
    • Hardcore Conservative
      Owning semi-automatic weapons and then converting them to select-fire, IS illegal. And they were not miners and had no legal authority to possess the explosives. Also, when the siege started and some of the children were released, they said that they had been molested, including some of Koresh's wives, who were underage. I too don't believe everything the government says, and while there were mistakes made in the raid, the fact that HungryGuy calls it genocide is laughable.
    • Hardcore Conservative
      What you forget, Thinker, is that they had lawful warrants and had every right to be there. Just because you don't agree with the reasoning behind a warrant, doesn't mean you're legally justified in repelling the police.
  • Janet Reno was high on testosterone. That's why they put cyclone fencing around the DOJ building in those years - to protect the public from Reno.

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