The following article was printed in the Conroe Courier daily newspaper in Conroe, TX by s

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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 in March. 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 Association. 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 Bentsen. 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 to you. (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 ===============================================

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