New Evidence Indicates FBI’s Complicity
in Waco Massacre
By Pat Shannan
More than 10
years after a raid by federal agents went horribly wrong at the Branch Davidian
church near Waco, Tex., a Tucson lawyer says he has evidence in his possession
that implicates law enforcement personnel in the deaths of 80 men, women and
children following a 52-day standoff of their compound.
Attorney David Hardy believes that the 100 agents
involved in the raid at Waco had received military training at Ft. Hood, an
Army post located 50 miles south of Waco. The team included a public
information officer who alerted the news media to standby for a story that
weekend. There would be a story—in addition to four agents who were killed, six
civilians would die, signaling the beginning of the media blitz at Waco, said
Hardy’s interest in the Waco case began years
after the tragedy when he met Carlos Ghigliotti of Laurel, Md., an infrared
expert renowned for working with tapes containing Forward Looking Infrared
(FLIR) imaging, a system that uses infrared (heat) sensors to take video
Ghigliotti, 42, was the owner of Infrared
Technologies Corp. and had, according to FBI documents acquired by a Washington
newspaper, “performed reliable work” as a thermal imaging expert for the Bureau
between 1991and 1995.
At the time Hardy met him, he was on a retainer
from The House Government Reform Committee to make sense out of what had
happened at Waco. Unknown to the Committee, he began faxing his findings to
Hardy’s Tucson law office for safekeeping.
“I’d pass him data when he needed it, and he knew
he could count on me to keep my mouth shut. He loved his work, and was proud of
some electronic inventions that enabled him to link together visual and
[infrared] imaging into a single image. He had two principles: if retained, he
would tell the absolute truth as to everything and he would never accept a
second retainer from a drug suspect. No matter how egregious the misuse a
second time around, he wasn’t interested in being of assistance to a man who
violated the law a second time,” Hardy recently told AFP in an interview.
For six years after the April 19 Waco fire and
deaths, the FBI insisted that it had only two Waco FLIR videotapes, the earlier
one beginning at 10:42 a.m. Although the raid began at 6 a.m., the FBI claimed
that there were no tapes from that period.
In Hardy’s FOIA lawsuits, FBI said that it had
interviewed the agent who operated the FLIR camera, and he confirmed that the
taping began at 10:42; the chief of FBI’s Litigation Unit filed a sworn
statement that no earlier tapes existed.
However, in September 1999, the FBI admitted that
it did have FLIR tapes going back to 6 a.m. on April 19.
What Ghigliotti found indicated why the FBI was so
intent on prohibiting the release of the earlier video, said Hardy.
The FBI had been insisting that it had not shot
pyrotechnic tear gas projectiles. Pyrotechnic projectiles start fires when used
against buildings. And the audio track of the early morning FLIRs contained
radio traffic showing FBI agents asking for, and receiving, permission to shoot
military pyrotechnic projectiles. The FBI was caught in a lie again, said
Exactly why the FBI worried about making a FLIR
tape on April 19, 1993, has never been explained. FLIR is useful at night, but
not particularly valuable in the daylight. Ordinary video shot during the day,
which the FBI insists its aircraft did not make, is much more useful.
Hardy told AFP that he believes the FBI used FLIR
because agents knew that a fire was going to occur and they wanted to be able
to document its spread.
“Carlos told me, the month before he died, that
he’d seen FLIRs from nights before April 19, and that it was apparent that the
FLIR aircraft was being used to monitor the Davidians’ water supply. The water
was stored in those big plastic tanks at the rear of the building, and the
coolness of the water inside showed up as a darker area. It was apparent that
the water supply was shrinking, and by April 19 was almost gone. He had heard
the aircraft crew talking about it, and noting that the level was going down.
So, essentially, they knew that thirst would force an end to the siege within a
few days of April 19,” said Hardy.
In a news interview in October 1999, Ghigliotti
made the following assertions:
“I conclude this based on the ground-view
videotapes taken from several different angles simultaneously and based on the
overhead thermal tape. The gunfire from the ground is there, without a doubt.”
Ghigliotti’s assessment was an important piece of
the puzzle to try and determine what happened on that day, said Hardy. As one
of the top FLIR experts for the Waco defense team and a consultant for Indiana
Republican Rep. Dan Burton’s House Government Reform Committee investigating
the Waco raid, Ghigliotti’s conclusions were highly regarded.
In Hardy’s view, Ghigliotti’s assessment was an
important piece of the puzzle to try and determine what happened on that day.
However, that all came to an end when Ghigliotti was found dead from a heart
attack in his apartment in Laurel, Md., on April 28, 2000.
In the aftermath of his death, rumors surfaced
that he was controversial and had been fired by the House Government Reform
committee. An AP story quoted committee staff as saying that “Ghigliotti’s work
for the committee ended some time ago.”
But that does not fit with the facts as Hardy sees
“He told me, in late March, that he’d met with
both the majority and the minority of the committee and shown them his results.
Each briefing was in detail and consumed several hours. Somewhere around three
to eight people, mostly attorneys for the committee, were present at each
briefing. He added that the minority staff had been rather surprised to see the
data, since apparently the majority had been informing them only of a minimal
amount of his results.”
Perhaps the most grisly of all was the
photographic evidence of the killing of women and children emerging from the
underground storm shelter, sometimes called “the pit,” said Hardy. The pit was
the exit of the underground tunnel leading out of the Davidian house.
During the viewing, Hardy said he noticed that the
angle of the gun flash from federal agents’ weapons was pointed downward.
Carlos explained that the FBI was shooting down into the Davidians’ tunnel as
people were attempting to get out.
“The FBI hadn’t merely fired shots that day,” says
Hardy. “It had hosed down the back of the building with rapid gunfire.”
Hardy said Ghigliotti had proof that the FBI was
lying—evidence that implicated the entire FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and FBI’s
Hardy said he has an audiotape of a discussion
among the FBI in which agents prevent fire trucks from coming to the scene
until buildings were engulfed in flames.
In March 2000, Hardy said Ghigliotti informed him
of several recent discoveries. Hardy said Ghigliotti discovered a section of
video showing a man emerging from a hatch on a tank which was at the back of
the main building. When the man got out, he then fired at what appeared to be a
man, who fled back into the burning building. Hardy said Ghigliotti told him
that the House Government Reform Committee knew the name of the FBI agent seen
in that footage firing.
“[Ghigliotti] was still working on a final report
when last I spoke with him,” said Hardy. “He said he was suffering from ‘Waco
fatigue’ and wanted to get back to his regular work or even a long-overdue
vacation.” That was the last time that Hardy said he spoke with Ghigliotti.