[from my pre-weblog, 19 April 1993]
oday the standoff between federal agents and a religious commune in Texas ended with considerable loss of life—on the part of the religious folk, anyway. One national guardsman was supposedly injured, but there are no details at the moment. There seems to be no escaping the fact that the Firearms people, the FBI, and the government in general mishandled this thing from the beginning, and the lame attempts of the various spokesmen today to make it look as though the group had initiated the violence were pathetic.
The fact remains that there was really no reason for the Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco people to be there in the first place. Whatever infractions of the law may have been involved—and my understanding is that they had only to do with possession of certain firearms—they were only minor violations, surely not worth this bloody armageddon. The initial assault on the compound was grotesquely mishandled, the result, I suspect, of overweening arrogance on the part of the federal officials involved. The FBI account of the final disaster is ludicrous—they say that, even though they knew that the group members planned to commit suicide rather than give up (that’s their story, anyway), they decided to inject gas into the buildings in order to force them to give up. They never intended to provoke a suicide. And yet, if they had intended to, they could hardly have gone about it better. If they really knew this, and they actually expected that they would give up, then the FBI are bigger fools than I think they are.
Of course, all this assumes that I can actually believe anything the FBI says about what went on there, which in light of past experience, seems to be an unlikely assumption.