Correspondence to Deputy Attorney General Heymann regarding Waco Report - Addendum

Correspondence to Deputy Attorney General Heymann regarding Waco Report - Addendum  (1993) 
by Nancy T. Ammerman
TO: Deputy Attorney General Heymann
and Assistant Secretary Noble
FROM: Nancy T. Ammerman
RE: Waco Report - Addendum
September 10, 1993

Since completing my report, I have received additional information from Steven Zipperstein regarding the experts consulted during the siege in Waco. He was able to supply an expanded list of persons consulted and, for several of them, background on the nature of the consultation. While none of this information causes me to alter my basic assessment of the situation of my recommendations, it does warrant this brief addendum to my report.

1. During March, agents on the scene received communication from several persons who claimed biblical expertise and urged the negotiators to take Koresh's beliefs seriously. In all cases, it appears, the information was taken down, passed along, and ignored. For instance, the logs from March 17 make clear that agents on the scene did not take seriously the possibility that Dr. Philip Arnold's broadcast discussion of biblical prophecy might be useful to their negotiations. They recognize that Arnold is a reputable scholar, but had apparently not talked with him or listened to the broadcast themselves.

Some of the theologians who got through to Waco were of doubtful credentials, but they were uniform in their suggestions that successful negotiations would require meeting Koresh on his own biblical ground. However, in the log of March 15, negotiators report that they will start being "more firm with the group - no more Bible babble...".

2. The interview transcripts document that Mr. Rick Ross was, in fact, closely involved with both the ATF and the FBI. He supplied ATF with "all information he had regarding the Branch Davidian cult," including the name of an ex-member he believed would have important strategic information. He also supplied information to the Waco newspaper and talked with the FBI both in early March and in late March. He clearly had the most extensive access to both agencies of any person on the "cult expert" list, and he was apparently listened to more attentively. The ATF interviewed the persons he directed them to and evidently used information from those interviews in planning their February 28 raid. In late March, Ross recommended that agents attempt to publicly humiliate Koresh, hoping to drive a wedge between him and his followers. While Ross's suggestions may not have been followed to the letter, such embarrassment tactics were indeed tried.

The FBI interview report includes the note that Ross "has a personal hatred for all religious cults" and would willingly aid law enforcement in an attempt to "destroy a cult." The FBI report does not include any mention of the numerous legal challenges to the tactics employed by Mr. Ross in extricating members from the groups he hates.

Both the seriousness with which agents treated Ross and the lack of seriousness with which they treated various theologians demonstrate again the inability of agents on the scene to make informed judgements about the information to which they had access and their inability to seek out better information. It also demonstrates the preference given to anti-cult psychological tactics over strategies that would meet the group on grounds that took faith seriously.

Prof. David Bromley
Department of Sociology
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, VA 23284
Prof. James Richardson
Department of Sociology
University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557
Prof. Jeffrey Hadden
Department of Sociology
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22381
Prof. Larry Greil
Alfred University
Box 545
Alfred, NY 14802
Dr. Thomas Robbins
College Apts., 8-A
427 4th Street, SW
Richester, MN 55902
Prof. Gordon Melton
Institute for the Study of American Religion
Box 9079
Santa Barbara, CA 93190-0709
Prof. Anson Shupe
Department of Sociology
Indiana University-Purdue University
Fort Wayne, IN 46805
Prof. Stuart Wright
Dept. of Sociology
Lamar University
Beaumont, TX 77710
Dr. William Sims Bainbridge
Director, Sociology Program
National Science Foundation
1800 G Street, NW, Room 336
Washington, DC 20550

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).