Bob Barr

Similarly, despite government assertions that Koresh and his followers were manufacturing illicit drugs within the compound, no evidence was ever found to support such allegations. As was revealed during the 1995 congressional hearings, assertions that the Branch Davidians were engaged in the manufacture of methamphetamine and possibly other controlled substances provided justification for the FBI to request and obtain assistance from the U.S. military; assistance that would have been prohibited under the Posse Comitatus law without such evidence.

The manner in which the government used the flimsiest of evidence to justify, and then broaden, the assault on the Davidian compound, and the overall manner in which a massive assault was carried out against a religious group -- albeit not a mainstream one -- led many Americans to lose faith in, or at least question, their confidence in federal government power. This always should be of concern to citizens and government officials alike. Actions tending to undermine that relationship should be addressed openly and vigorously by both groups, but especially by the government, which depends on the confidence of the People for its proper functioning, and ultimately for the success of its programs.

The lack of concern for the human cost of the Waco Siege reflected in the refusal by the Clinton Administration ultimately to account for the conduct of the operation, however, is perhaps the darkest and most tragic aftermath of the siege. The government used armored tank-like vehicles to break down walls of the building in which dozens of men, women, children and infants were known to be huddling, then injected massive quantities of tear gas (known to be highly flammable) into that structure. Witnessing the not-unexpected resulting deadly fire seared in the minds of many good, law-abiding Americans the true human cost of unfettered and unaccountable government power.

On this 20th anniversary of the Waco Siege, and in memory of all who died in the tragedy, including four ATF agents, we all should pause and pray that never again might we witness power run so tragically amuck.


Bob Barr

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.