Sunday Morning Quotation – Waco Edition

According to the PBS website accompanying its Waco: The Inside Story edition of Frontline:

Have any federal agents been disciplined for wrongdoing in the Waco affair? And were any of the surviving Davidians convicted of federal charges?

Two ATF supervisors, Chuck Sarabyn and Phillip Chojinacki, were fired, although they were later reinstated at a lower rank. No FBI agents have been officially disciplined. Eight of the surviving Branch Davidians were convicted on charges ranging from voluntary manslaughter to weapons violations. Seven got 40-year prison terms, and the eighth got five years. A ninth, Kathy Schroeder, got three years in prison after testifying for the government.

The 18th anniversary of this terrible episode in American history is Tuesday.  Given that the post-1994 Clinton presidency was so much better than the two administrations that followed, we sometimes forget that the early Clinton years had some real down moments (especially the Brady Bill, Waco, and the Clintons’ health care initiatives).

4 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Quotation – Waco Edition

  1. The manslaughter charges would, of course, have come from the attack itself. A lot of people died for no good reason whatsoever except so that the likes of Sarabyn and Chojinacki could feel butch.

  2. Waco was the first event, for me, in a series of events where I went from being a big state, law and order conservative to an anarchist. Nobody, had to die there. It reminded me of Cool Hand Luke. The Branch Davidians decided to be a hard case. They refused to respect the states authoritah. But they wouldn’t accept a night in the box so the state chose to kill them.

  3. Many were outraged by what happened. But amazingly, so many people seem relatively unbothered by the episode given they think the Branch Davidians were “wackos from waco” and thus unworthy of their concern (or even deserving of the rough treatment by the state). One could argue that the state had a proper role to play in trying to ascertain if there was child abuse occurring. However, from what I know of the case, the officials had many opportunities to handle the case in a way that would not have led to this terrible ending (not least of which was avoiding the psychological warfare they attempted during the standoff).

  4. The county sheriff had been dealing with various complaints, legal and otherwise, about the Branch Davidians for some years prior to their immolation by the feds. They were quirky, in most cases, but after some persuasion they were usually compliant. He practiced law enforcement the way a peace officer should, by recognizing his role in maintaining the peace and the public safety, for everyone, the accused, their families and innocent bystanders.

    He also understood that justice can be patient. If you can’t collar and arraign a suspect today, there is always tomorrow. That, to me is the most important thing. Most suspects in criminal complaints are not inherently dangerous; you don’t have to collar them immediately. That urgency to get the collar is what allows harm to befall innocent bystanders as well as the accused. That urgency is what killed so many innocents in the Branch Davidian compound.

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