FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Waco and the Press

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

The ashes of the murdered Branch Davidians and their children — all 74 of them — were still glowing as the nation’s major news institutions rousingly endorsed the decision of Janet Reno and her boss, Bill Clinton, to give the FBI (and, as it turned out, the Delta Force) the go-ahead for an operation that ensured massacre. Newsweek, we particularly remember, rushed out its cover of Koresh swathed in flames like one of the damned in a medieval painting. It was one of the great failures of American journalism, one of the most sickening, one of the most predictable and one of the most revealing. To this day one can meet progressive types who devote many of their waking hours to activities designed to save Mumia abu Jamal who didn’t give a toss about the Branch Davidians and their terrible slaughter by the federal government, and who still don’t. Use the word “cult” and both reason and moral judgement enter recess.

 

So now comes further proof of the lies, deceptions and cover-ups of the FBI, and how do the big press poobahs react? Do they make confession that they bought a cover-up and tried to sell it to the American people, the vast majority of whom steadfastly continued to believe that the government was lying and that an infamy had been perpetrated? Here’s Ted Koppel, the night of September l, discussing the siezure by federal marshals of tapes of FBI hostage “negotiators”, discussing the use of pyrotechnic grenades the morning of the Waco raid:

“… the credibility of the FBI, which probably did tell the truth about most of what happened, that credibility is badly damaged, while the credibility of conspiracy theorists, who tend to be wrong about most of what they’ve spun together about Waco, their credibility is newly enhanced. It is on these two fronts that the greatest damage has been done.”

In this disgusting paragraph Koppel defines his career role as flack for state power. For him the issue is not that an agency of government planned mass murder, just as the so-called conspiracy nuts first surmised, then proved. For him the issue is the credibility of the state. For the liberal elite — in whose ranks most so-called conservatives can be numbered — this is always the issue.

In the Koppel program that night was Henry Ruth, a former Watergate prosecutor who was appointed in the aftermath of Waco to investigate the federal raid. “The real issue,”Ruth said, “was whether any military force was actually used in the raid, separate and apart from just military advisors, and my guess is that such force is so dangerous, so controversial, that it probably did not happen, but it’s certainly worth looking at in this environment where the whole credibility of the investigation is now at stake.” Note here Ruth’s desperate eagerness to let the government off the hook, and preserve the cover-up (code-named “credibility”) intact.

Koppel was scarcely alone. Here’s a CBS broadcast of September 2:
“For years now the disaster near Waco has been exhibit number one for many who have deep distrust of the American government. From conspiracy sites on the Internet to documentary films, Waco has provided a focus for those who see the government as the enemy. And now they say there is proof the government has been lying, reports CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone. ‘This is just fodder for the conspiracy theorists,’ says psychologist Margaret Singer. She says this is just what the militia movement needs to say we told you so….Many are certain to see this as government out of control. ‘The anti-government movement, the militia, hate groups are absolutely going to get a boost out of this and I think it’s really a tragedy for that reason,’ said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. At one time conspiracy theorists may have been viewed as eccentrics far out on the fringe, but then Timothy McVeigh drove a truck full of explosives to Oklahoma City and we all discovered just how dangerous it can be when people stop trusting the government.”

As with Koppel, the problem for these CBS broadcasters , and for the shrink, Singer, and for Potok, from that fraudulent Dees outfit, is not one of overweening and murderous government, but of potential sedition. Anything that disturbs popular torpor is tactically inept. Accomplices in the great and ongoing Cover-up of Everything that Really Matters — the central mission of the Fourth Estate, they tremble for Power, whenever Power is displayed in an undignified or unappetising light. The film Waco, A New Revelation, whose disclosures about the pyrotechnic devices CounterPunch reported many weeks ago, has had the benign effect of discrediting the FBI and the Department of Justice and its chieftain, but in the end it may permit the FBI to recoup, by saying that the target of the pyrotechnic devices was just an outhouse and that these same projectiles never struck the main building in which the Branch Davidians were sheltered.

As Dan Gifford, executive producer of the earlier Waco: The Rules of Engagement asserted on September 3, “No national news organization is saying anything at all about the government’s careful prepping of the Davidian building to burn nor its machine-gunning of the Davidians in the burning building that is so clearly shown in the FBI’s own aerial surveillance video that is included in Waco: The Rules of Engagement.”

One riposte of the state to the Waco disclosures is to emphasize, as did the CBS man, that those who mistrust government are by definition subversive, dangerous and possibly homicidal and therefore presumptively deserving of incineration. A Reuters story by Jim Wolf, put out on August 31, sets the stage. “The U>S> government is preparing for possible violence from cults, guerrillas, hate groups and end-of-world-fearing zealots as 2000 approaches,” the report began. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation ‘expects to see increased and possibly violent activities among certain groups related to the millennium,’ a top official warned Congress in July. The official in question was Michael Vatis, head of a new FBI-led interagency center “to protect critical U.S. infrastructure”. According to Reuters’ Jim Wolf “Vatis did not cite possible targets but FBI director Louis Freeh has said they include Jews, non-whites and their ‘establishment allies, i.e. the federal government.”

So we can see the stage being set for the next Waco. Maybe the ATF, whose agents launched the first unprovoked assault on the Branch Davidian compound, should plan a preempive strike on the residence of former president Ronald Reagan. After all, Reagan more than once affirmed his confidence in impending Apocalypse, citing Holy Scripture as his source. Reagan even identified Megiddo as Ground Zero for the apocalyptic finale. Here’s just the sort of dangerous extremist the FBI is concerned about. Among upcoming Koppel broadcasts:

“Wounded Knee: the bitter legacy”: Koppel explains that “in many ways the saddest consequence of this infamous massacre of American Indians was that it served to buttress the position of extremist native Americans who have long argued that the white man was intent on exterminating Indians altogether.”

“Tuskegee: the tragic fall-out”: Koppel explains that “in many ways the saddest consequence of this infamous medical experiment in which federal scientists and doctors deliberately failed to treat 600 black men suffering from syphilis (while pretending that they were) is that it served to buttress the position of extremist advocates of ‘Black Power’ who have long argued that the white many is intent on exterminating blacks altogether.”

“Vietnam: The…” Enough. You get the idea.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

May 26, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Stage of Capitalism: Germany’s Assault on the IMF
Pepe Escobar
Hillary Clinton: A Major Gold-Digging Liability
Sam Pizzigati
America’s Cosmic Tax Gap
Ramzy Baroud
Time to End the ‘Hasbara’: Palestinian Media and the Search for a Common Story
José L. Flores
Wall Street’s New Man in Brazil: The Forces Behind Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment
Patrick Cockburn
The Battle of Fallujah: ISIS Unleashes Its Death Squads
John Feffer
The Coming Drone Blowback
Alex Ray
The Death Toll in Syria: What Do the Numbers Really Say?
Richard Pithouse
We Shall be the Prey and the Vulture
Binoy Kampmark
Trump and the Polls of Loathing
Manuel E. Yepe
A Cruise Ship Without Tourists Arrives in Havana
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt Negotiations: Will the IMF Exit the Troika?
Ajamu Nangwaya
Pan-Africanism, Feminism and Finding Missing Pan-Africanist Women
Howard Lisnoff
Israel, a Palestinian State and Anti-Semitism
May 25, 2016
Eric Draitser
Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work?
Dan Arel
The Socialist Revolution Beyond Sanders and the Democratic Party
Marc Estrin
Cocky-Doody Politics and World Affairs
Sam Husseini
Layers of Islamophobia: Do Liberals Care That Hillary Returned “Muslim Money”?
Susan Babbitt
Invisible in Life, Invisible in Death: How Information Becomes Useless
Mel Gurtov
Hillary’s Cowgirl Diplomacy?
Kathy Kelly
Hammering for Peace
Dick Reavis
The Impeachment of Donald Trump
Wahid Azal
Behind the Politics of a Current Brouhaha in Iran: an Ex-President Ayatollah’s Daughter and the Baha’is
Jesse Jackson
Obama Must Recommit to Eliminating Nuclear Arms
Colin Todhunter
From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Living in the Shadow of Global Agribusiness
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey as Terror: the Role of Ankara in the Brexit Referendum
Dave Lindorff
72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail