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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A documentary of paradigm-shifting significance, 18 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Waco: Rules of Engagement [DVD] [1997] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Obviously, not enough people have seen this documentary. If they had, the Waco "incident" at the Branch Davidian compound in 1993 would not be the ancient history it has become today. When the event played out with the fiery destruction of the compound and most of the "cultists" inside, I didn't question the government's story that David Koresh led a dangerous cult that ultimately chose to commit mass suicide. I no longer believe that. I don't see how anyone could believe that after watching Waco: The Rules of Engagement. I don't know if the FBI set the fire intentionally, but I'm convinced they did set the fire and prevented a number of the Branch Davidians from escaping the inferno. If nothing else, the government told Congress and the American people numerous lies about the Waco tragedy in what must now be seen as a pretty successful cover-up of their own mistakes and/or crimes. In this documentary, you will see how the government's own evidence clearly contradicts FBI, ATF, and other government agencies' testimony and, much more disheartening, even some of the assumptions making up the official record.

While Waco: The Rules of Engagement obviously leans toward a conspiracy interpretation of events, the documentary actually does a pretty good job of stating both sides of the testimony and analysis. There is far too much information for me to even begin summarizing it. You'll hear from ATF, FBI, and Justice department agents and other government officials; Branch Davidian members (including some of the few survivors of the fire) and professionals who stepped up to defend them; a number of experts (including some former government employees) critical of different aspects of the operation; and you'll even hear from numerous of the slain Branch Davidians themselves on video recordings made inside the compound during the siege, videos that were initially suppressed by the government. You'll hear recordings of 911 tapes and negotiations between Koresh's group and government negotiators and watch the damning surveillance tape of the fateful assault on the compound that puts the lie to the government's cover story. You will also see some disturbing pictures of the burned bodies of a number of Branch Davidians, one of which - the charred body of a young girl - shows the torturous effects of cyanide (a byproduct of CS gas) on the human body (more evidence that the government never wanted the public to see). You will also gain great insight into the aggressive mindset espoused by government forces seemingly determined to exact some measure of revenge on Koresh and his followers.

Let me say that I am not a fan of David Koresh or his teachings. I don't understand why a man of God would be involved with gun dealership (although I'm not convinced any of the guns in the compound were technically illegal), and I do believe he engaged in sex with underage females. Once the raid commenced, however, I think almost all culpability lies with the government. It seems pretty evident to me that the ATF fired the first shots - and fired from the air as well as the ground. Even the search warrant is highly suspect - dominated by abuse charges that were not in the ATF's jurisdiction and then citing the wrong gun law code it was supposed to be enforcing. The excessive use of force was ill-conceived and unwarranted, and, given the fact the ATF was in full PR mode but had to rely on reporters to call for ambulances, seemingly designed to put on a good show with an eye toward upcoming budget decisions. In terms of the FBI's siege-ending actions, I find it appalling for government forces to fire CS gas into a population including many young children. I obviously question why a plan to inject CS gas into the compound had to involve the destruction of walls and buildings, creating the very conditions that allowed fire to spread throughout the compound so rapidly.

Whatever faith you have in the official government story cannot survive the analysis of the FLIR infrared surveillance video taken from the air during the April 19 assault. An expert who helped design the surveillance technology takes you through one example after another of agents firing on the compound during the tank assault - this includes the sight of gunfire coming from two sources at the only exit point for many of the Branch Davidians seeking to escape the inferno. You can see all of this for yourself, as the DVD includes all of the applicable FLIR footage along with 25 minutes of the 911 call the Branch Davidians placed during the initial attack. After watching this documentary (which won an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary), I have no choice but to believe that the American government murdered - either directly or indirectly - David Koresh and his followers.
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Initial post: 21 Mar 2011 12:24:02 GMT
bernie says:
Great review. Well done.
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