Re: Waco: Govt Set Fire
Thu, 9 Sep 1999 16:03:20 -0700

A common attribute of fringe communities is a collection of widely variant viewpoints. People spend as much time sniping at each other as they do at the mainstream which they all oppose. We see this to some extent in the Extropian community itself.

In the case of Waco, the same thing happens. There is a web site devoted largely to debunking and opposing the film, Waco, the Rules of Engagement. The web site maintainers have their own theories about what happened at Waco, different ones from the ones in the film, but just as suspicious of the actions of the government agents.

> Gravest Charge Based on Weakest Evidence
> WTROE rests its gravest charge against the FBI--the charge of deliberate
> murder--on aerial footage of the Mt. Carmel Center taken on the day of
> the fire. The footage was taken by a surveillance plane equipped with
> Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) equipment which records differences in
> heat on the ground.
> The resulting FLIR footage, of course, must be interpreted by an
> expert. Classically, whenever you rely on high-tech, esoteric evidence
> that must be interpreted by experts, other experts will disagree on what
> the evidence shows.
> The FLIR expert interviewed in WTROE says the footage shows a rapid fire
> weapon being fired at the back of the Mt. Carmel Center. The narrator
> says two men were firing machine guns at the Branch Davidians who were
> trying to escape from the burning building.
> "Experts Disagree"
> Of course, other experts have come forward since the release of WTROE to
> dispute the claim that the footage shows gun fire. No so, they say. The
> Washington Post ran an article on April 18, 1997 "Still Burning,"
> in which reporters tell us that they saw the FLIR tapes in the FBI's
> audiovisual lab, where film quality was far superior to the footage in
> WTROE. Of course.
> After viewing the FLIR footage, The Post reporters took a one-hour
> excerpts to 12 FLIR experts. What did these experts find? Why, the
> experts disagreed. Some saw gunfire. Some saw sunlight reflections.
> "How could so many analysts come to such different conclusions?" asks the
> Post, and then supplies the answer: "Reading FLIR, it turns out, is as
> much an art as it is a science . . . Everyone sees things differently." So
> much for the case that the government machine-gunned the Branch Davidians
> on April 19.

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.