Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

September 6, 1999

The smoking gun
Waco revelations show true face of federal police

For years the Clinton Administration, with their willing allies in Congress and the mainstream press, have parroted the line that federal law enforcement officials did nothing wrong in the Branch Davidian stand-off at Waco. Anyone who questioned the government's official position was relegated to being either a far-right extremist, a militia kook, or a follower of the undeniably peculiar David Koresh.
It was just weeks after coming to Congress in 1997, while on a national television program, that I was asked about the then-four-year-old case. I responded with the position that the evidence was overwhelmingly strong that everything was not as bureaucrats in the Clinton Administration claimed. I cited recent polling data that indicated that most Americans simply did not trust the government, and that a goodly number feared the increasingly commonplace occurrence of federal agents taking violent action against American citizens.
Almost immediately the defenders of big government, the administration and the war on civil liberties launched into wild hysterics. I had committed the unpardonable sin of believing the facts rather than the government spin, which attempted to justify the murder of innocent children and untried, uncharged adults
The Attorney General and her minions in Congress maintained that the conflagration had been a rash act of mass suicide, ignoring that just hours before the raid those same people had requested their phone lines be reconnected. They also ignored the infrared evidence that government agents, as the fire was raging on one side of the house, were entering the home through the back, and that tanks were injecting gases banned under international treaties.
Now, though, even the most blind followers of the administration and its policies are left stunned with revelations that high-ranking FBI officials and others lied to Congress, hid evidence, broke the law and knowingly subverted justice.
According to press reports, the recently uncovered evidence has a clear recording of one FBI agent casually asking for permission to use highly flammable explosive devices against citizens of the United States just hours before the inferno began. The permission was, likewise, casually granted.
These people certainly held peculiar religious beliefs. They may have even been very odd in their habits and mores. But they were citizens of the United Sates. Not terrorists or child molesters -- despite early claims by the FBI, repudiated by the Waco child protective services offices. They were not drug dealers -- a lie told to justify the use of deadly military force; no drug manufacturing equipment was ever found or seriously believed to exist.
Worse still for defenders of statism is a growing recognition that our founding fathers were right when they prohibited the federal government from being involved in law enforcement. In Waco, America has seen the face of the growing federal police state, with its heavy emphasis on brute force, military machinery and deadly tactics.
With the veneer being stripped from the myth of federal law enforcement, Americans are beginning to realize that it is both unconstitutional and untenable. One cannot have a legion of heavily armed bureaucrats with unlimited jurisdiction, the might of the military at their call, and no accountability, yet expect they will respect civil liberties.
In Waco, we find the answer to a question that is far more troubling than as to why certain tactics were used, methods employed or even the sequence of events leading to all those deaths. The answer we find is to the question, "Why did this happen at all?"
"Because we could," we are told.
With that cavalier attitude so prevalent in federal law enforcement, it is hardly surprising that even greater numbers of Americans now do not trust their government.