When Mt. Carmel Center burned down on April 19, 1993, Janet Reno stepped forward to offer the public her reasons for approving the assault. However, her rationales are so flimsy that they might be better termed "irrationales."
I. The children were being abused. The question of whether or not the Davidian children were abused is a serious one. However, I think that Davidian defenders have gotten so caught up in debating whether there was child abuse, and whether there was evidence of abuse, that it often appears they agree with Reno that if there was abuse, it would justify the assault. The point gets lost that even if it were true, it would not have justified the April 19 assault. In order to justify precipitate action that risked the lives of all the children, and everyone else, in the building, a LIFE-THREATENING level of abuse would be required- and the fact that no child had died or been hospitalized during David Koresh's years as leader argues that there was not. Given the stakes, this reason is simply preposterous as a serious rationale for the FBI's action.
When the FBI admitted that it did not have current evidence of child abuse, as Reno had thought,
II. The Hostage Rescue Team was becoming fatigued, and would have to be pulled out. If the HRT had withdrawn, the FBI would have had to replace it with their SWAT teams. And the Hostage Rescue Team regards itself as so super-elite that they sneered at the idea that "mere" SWAT teams could do the job. Together with the FBI brass, they convinced Reno that they were absolutely indispensable. The blatant absurdity of the idea that non-HRT forces could not have maintained the perimeter can be seen when one realizes that before 1983, there was no HRT. Logically, then, if the standoff had taken place a decade or more earlier, the FBI would have had no choice but to launch an immediate assault, since they had no forces capable of besieging Mt. Carmel! Or, since the HRT presumably doesn't consider SWAT teams capable of assaulting the building either, that the US government would have been forced to surrender! This silliness shows that SWAT teams could, and should, have been used if the HRT had ever pulled out.
III. The negotiations were making no progress. In fact, the siege had already been resolved- the FBI just refused to believe it! David had already pledged to come out when he finished writing a manuscript on the Seven Seals. The FBI's false tales of David's "broken promises" have led most of the public to dismiss this pledge, but in fact we know that he was working on the manuscript, because the floppy disk on which it was being transcribed was carried out of the building in the coat pocket of one of the survivors! The FBI claimed right after the fire to have "incontrovertible" evidence that David hadn't even bothered to start writing, but it is the evidence to the contrary that is truly incontrovertible!
IV. Sanitation was deteriorating inside the "compound." This one is a howler. Reno related how horrified she was by stories that Davidians were dumping their waste out of windows, and worried about deteriorating sanitation. But just why were the Davidians unable to remove their waste from the complex? Because the FBI wouldn't let them! To satisfy this concern, all Reno had to do was to order the FBI to allow the Davidians to dispose of their waste properly.
V. The experts all said there would not be
a mass suicide. Leaving aside the question of whether there
really was a mass suicide, it simply isn't true that there was a solid