Re: Waco: Govt Set Fire

Robin Hanson (
Fri, 10 Sep 1999 11:44:49 -0400

Hal Finney wrote:
>I purchased the Washington Post article mentioned here, and temporarily
>I have put it on my web site at
>At a minimum it suggests that the evidence is more equivocal than the
>film seems to imply.

Thanks Hal!

"Was Waco a Massacre? Four Years Later, The Question Hasn't Been Extinguished". By Richard Leiby and Jim McGee, Washington Post Staff Writers, Friday, April 18, 1997.

Here's the sequence of events described there: 1. FBI shows parts of tape to Post reporters, offers weak arguments.

Says if whole tape released, would support them, but refuses to do so for "national security reasons." Gives 1hr excerpt to Post. 2. Post reporters mails one hour excerpt to their own experts to examine.

Three are named as supporting the gunshot interpretation: Horn, Smith, Simpson. One is named as finding the evidence inconclusive: Friday. No one is named or mentioned supporting the reflection interpretation. 3. Post shows tape at Fort Belvoir to "the military's top scientists."

They watch the tape together at full speed and then vote immediately and unanimously for reflections. Only their leader Palmer is named and no count of them is given.
4. Tape is shown to Zegel, "one of the top FLIR readers in the world",

now retired from the Army, who "knows and greatly respects Ed Allard, the scientist in the documentary." On first fast viewing he supports reflections. On second slow viewing with Allard, he switches to gunshots.
"In all, 12 examiners offered opinions." But only 7 are named.

Yes of course things are more equivocal than the documentary suggests. How could they not be, since there one expert gives one confident opinion.

But not much more equivocal; this still looks pretty damning evidence to me. No named private expert supports reflections, while five support gunshots. And I find it really hard to buy the reflection interpretation of what I saw. But if you Hal will rent the video and tell me it looks equivocal to you, I will rent it again and reconsider.

Robin Hanson Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323