The following article was printed in the Conroe Courier daily newspaper in Conroe, TX by s
The following article was printed in the Conroe Courier daily
newspaper in Conroe, TX by staff reporter J.C. Deavours:
ATF WARRANTS SERIOUS SCRUTINY
While some say time heals wounds, time also allows one to forget.
There is at least one troubling question that must be answered, not
forgotten, in the aftermath of the Branch Davidian tragedy near Waco
The question is: did the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) aggressively break into David
Koresch's cult compound without first giving him an opportunity to
peacefully respond to an issuance of their warrants?
Koresch was a bizarre person, but his rights as a citizen were the
same as yours and mine. Those rights must not be violated by any person
or governmental agency.
If the ATF is found to have been improper in its actions and no
one is disciplined, you and I are among the losers.
Maybe we already are.
There have been previous instances in which the ATF has ravaged
residences, leaving innocent victims, in reality, with little hope for
recourse of damages incurred from one of their bust-the-door-down raids.
For example, in December 1991, at least 30 ATF agents, plus about
30 additional law enforcement officers, raided Johnnie Lawmaster's home
in Tulsa, Okla. according to the March 1992 edition of the American
Rifleman magazine, the official journal of the National Rifle
Lawmaster, a law-abiding citizen, wasn't at home, and neither was
anyone else at the time of the raid. The ATF, looking for an illegal
firearm, busted in the residence, ripped the place apart, but did not
find any illegal firearm. The ATF left the residence in a literal mess
with a simple note in the ruins: "Nothing Found - ATF."
Lawmaster's attorney attempted to obtain a copy of the affidavit
supporting the search warrant to determine whether there was probable
cause for the issuance of the warrant. Guess what? The U.S. attorney
asked that the affidavit be sealed.
In another instance, and only 23 days before the Branch Davidian
raid in Waco this year, ATF agents raided the Portland, Ore., home of
Janice Hart, a beautician and single mother of two little girls,
according to a Portland newspaper account.
Arriving at home Feb. 5, Ms. Hart found ATF agents tearing her
residence apart. She says they also interrogated her for an hour before
reading her rights and she says she was not allowed to call an attorney.
Her nightmare turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. After
the ordeal, and knowing what she had been through, a Portland police
officer quietly advised her to hire an attorney.
Consider also, there are allegations of corruption within the ATF.
On Jan, 10, this year, the television program "60 Minutes" interviewed
three female ATF agents stating they had been sexually harassed by
fellow ATF agents.
According to the television program, ATF Agent Bob Hoffman said he
has verified the complaints of one of the female ATF agents. Hoffman also
told "60 Minutes" "In my career with ATF, the people that I put in jail
have more honor than the top administration in this organization. I know
it's a sad commentary, but that's my experience with the ATF."
In that same program, ATF Director Stephen Higgins said he didn't
want to discuss the sexual harassment charges, citing there was an on-
going investigation into the matter.
Concerning the Branch Davidian misadventure, the ATF, itself has
made conflicting statements.
A May 17 story by Associated Press Writer James Rowley stated: "The
investigators also want to determine why were there conflicting accounts
by ATF about what happened on Feb. 28, 1993, Noble said. (Noble is
Ronald Noble, assistant Treasury Department secretary for enforcement.)
Initially, ATF said it did not know it had lost the element of
surprise, a statement that was later contradicted by agents in Waco.
I find this troubling, Who is telling, or has told, the truth?
What is the truth?
I asked U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm recently to respond to a Houston
lawyer's statement that ATF is a "Rambo"-type unit out of control.
Gramm said, "I don't want to get into the business of trying to point
the finger of blame, but anytime you get four law enforcement officers
killed, you have to go back and see what happened and see if you can
learn anything from it."
Gramm added, "I'm not interested in blaming anybody. I'm interested
in trying to learn from the tragedy that occurred, to be sure that we
never see it happen again."
A report of the Branch Davidian incident, to be gathered by Treasury
investigators, is to be submitted by Sept. 1 to Treasury Secretary Lloyd
The issue of your rights and mine as citizens must not be lost in
the pages of this report.
After all, the ATF, at any time, could come knocking on - or banging
through - your door. Don't be naive enough to think it couldn't happen
(end of article)
Another file from
The Soapbox BBS
"Your Infotainment Specialist"
An all text BBS specializing in e-zines
and other unique text files.
(919) 387-1152 - Up to 16.8 kbs - 8N1
Fidonet 1:151/142 - FREQ FILES for file list
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank