The following is a more detailed version of a post submitted by Carol Moore a couple of w

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The following is a more detailed version of a post submitted by Carol Moore a couple of weeks back. I'm posting it here as a favor to its author, Nancy Ross. Post it everywhere you can think of; it looks like a good way to get some feedback to the FBI _______________________________________________________________ PROPOSED TOUR OF CONGRESS FOR BRANCH DAVIDIAN DEFENSE LAWYERS March 10, 1994 The recent acquittal of the eleven members of the Branch Davidian sect on conspiracy charges has raised once again the question of whether Federal law enforcement agencies used excessive force in their attempt to serve a warrant on the Branch Davidians, and in the "resolution" of the subsequent standoff. The government's own review of both the ATF and FBI actions suggest that law enforcement violated its own procedures, rejected less confrontational methods of performing its duties in favor of high profile paramilitary options, and ignored the advice of its own behavioral experts in discounting the religious world view of the Branch Davidians. The conclusions drawn by the Department of Justice and Treasury largely center on procedural or organizational remedies (e.g., enlarging the FBI's hostage rescue team) and do not reach the constitutional issues raised by law enforcement actions at Waco. The Washington lobbying firm of Ross & Green has proposed to set up a one week tour of Congress for the Branch Davidians' defense team. The purpose of this tour would be for the lawyers to visit members of Congress who sit on the committees who have oversight responsibilities for Federal law enforcement agencies, and push for a more complete investigation of what happened at Waco. There is draft legislation in Congress which would create an independent commission with broad powers to investigate law enforcement actions from the February 28 assault to the conclusion of the standoff. We would like to use these meetings between members of the Branch Davidian defense team and Congress members to support this legislation and to allow the attorneys to raise their concerns about the actions of law enforcement. Some of the questions that have been raised that could possibly be addressed by such a commission are: Who did the ATF and FBI use as outside consultants and "experts," and what is the procedure by which such consultants are selected? What was the justification for using paramilitary tactics against the Mt. Carmel community, and how are such decisions reached? What was the justification (and legality) of using military equipment in the course of domestic law enforcement? What is the justification (and morality) of planning to expose infants and children to CS gas for 48 hours? We would like to arrange meetings between the defense lawyers and those Senators and Representatives who are members of the following committees (in some instances we would also meet with high level staff): the House and Senate Judiciary Committees; the Commerce, Justice and State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies Subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees; the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees; the House Committee on Government Operations. About Ross & Green: Ross & Green is a lobbying firm which specializes in democracy and human rights issues, both in the United States and internationally. Since last summer we have been lobbying Congress to take up the question of how the serving of a warrant on an individual and a community with no prior history of violence against their neighbors or officers of the law turned into a bloody confrontation in which over 80 people were to lose their lives. We are concerned by the possibility that the Branch Davidians' adherence to a non- mainstream religion (characterized by a communal life style, unconventional domestic arrangements and apocalyptical outlook) may have influenced the approach of law enforcement and resulted in discriminatory investigative and law enforcement actions by the ATF and the FBI. It is clear that associates of the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) successfully demonized the Branch Davidians for these constitutionally-protected activities, and brought the Davidians to the attention of law enforcement. The actions of the ATF and the FBI and their CAN informants have dire consequences for First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment freedoms. Our firm has dedicated as much of our modest resources as we can to lobbying Congress and conducting grassroots information campaigns to fight what we regard as a dangerous development in law enforcement: using a citizen's religious or political beliefs and the exercise of those beliefs as a predicate for opening criminal investigations or for law enforcement action. In the past nine months our firm has: Lobbied the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to the confirmation hearings of Louis Freeh, the new FBI director. We asked them to query Judge Freeh concerning his opinion of the FBI's practice of investigating non-mainstream political and religious groups who are merely engaged in First Amendment activities. Distributed a white paper entitled, "The Cult Awareness Network and Its Role in Waco Events" to 150 members of Congress, targeting members who sit on key oversight committees. Lobbied the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to open an investigation of Waco events that would go beyond the operational or procedural errors committed by government to reach the constitutional issues raised by law enforcement decisions and actions. Contacted the independent experts recruited by the Justice and Treasury Department to review the Waco events, and provided them with information we had about the role of CAN and CAN-influenced media in provoking law enforcement. Organized a congressional briefing entitled, "Did Waco set a Dangerous Precedent for Religious and Civil Liberties? What are the Lessons for Law Enforcement?" The panel of religious, psychology and legal experts who spoke included: Dr. H. Newton Malony, representing Division 36 (Psychology of Religion) of the American Psychological Association; Dr. James Tabor, associate professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina; Dr. David Bromley of Virginia Commonwealth University, who is president of the Association for the Sociology of Religion; and Arthur Block, Esq., attorney representing the New Alliance Party in its suit against the FBI. Represented on Capitol Hill Dr. Lenora Fulani and the New Alliance Party (NAP), one of the many organizations that have been stigmatized with the "cult" label. Since 1988, NAP has been the target of an improper investigation and harassment by the FBI. In 1988, using information received from an informant described by the agency as "of unknown reliability," the FBI opened a nationwide inquiry of the political party. Although the FBI had no evidence of any illegal activity on the part of NAP, it issued warnings to its offices around the country that NAP members were "armed and dangerous." On closing its inquiry, the Bureau retracted this characterization, concluding that the political party was "none other than a political/cult organization." Organized a coalition of 49 religious scholars, civil libertarians, legal experts and members of stigmatized groups to protest the Illinois State Senate's Resolution 448,wwhich called on the Senate Education Committee to hold public hearings on "cult" activities on state university campuses. The Committee's report was widely criticized in the mainstream press (which quoted our firm and other members of the coalition) as a violation of separation of church and state and a waste of taxpayer money. We are eager to continue to raise these issues for dialogue among the American people and their elected representatives. We believe that such a dialogue could be advanced by having the Branch Davidian defense team visit with members of Congress. In order to meet the expenses of such a tour we need to raise about $6,000. Contributions would be greatly appreciated. Please make checks payable to: Ross & Green, 1010 Vermont Ave. NW #811, Washington, DC 20005.


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