L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 83, July 31, 2000
Preliminary Critique of the Danforth Report
by Jon Roland
Special to TLE
This critique is based on news reports and television interviews of Danforth, as I do not yet had a copy of the complete report. However, several conclusions can be reached.
Jack Danforth is lying. It is not possible to reach the conclusions he has announced based on the evidence that has been discussed. Such evidence and analysis cannot prove a negative, and therefore one cannot be "100 percent" certain that government agents did not start the fire, direct gunfire at the Davidians on April 19, 1993, use military personnel, properly or otherwise, or conduct a coverup. Danforth maintains there must be a "presumption" of innocence of the government. Nonsense. The standard of presumption of innocence unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt applies to individuals charged with a crime, but not to institutions or government offices. The appropriate standard for those who hold a public trust is merely "probable cause to suspect", and if such probable cause exists, it justifies defunding the agency, excluding its personnel from further government employment, and the creation of a new agency with new personnel to take over its functions. Such probable cause to suspect certainly applies in this case and justifies such terminating action for the FBI.
First, Danforth is lying about the alleged tape of the Davidians presented as evidence they started the fire. Even if they had started some fires, that is not proof the FBI or Delta force agents did not also do so, and their use of incendiary rounds during the engagement is strong evidence that the agents either intended to start a fire or were reckless in their use of methods that could be expected to cause one. The Davidians might have been intending to use Molotov cocktails against the tanks. The injection of CS gas alone could be expected to have caused a fire in that environment, when any spark or even gunfire could have set it off. The progress of the fire clearly indicates the detonation of CS, and therefore the injection of CS must be considered the primary cause of the fire, along with those who decided to inject it.
I have heard the tape before it was "enhanced" and it is incomprehensible. That is not to say that computer "enhancement" could not extract voices saying words like that. I would have to have the original tape and try to do it myself. But from what I heard, I doubt that it is possible to extract what they presented in court from that tape. Nor would it be possible to reliably use such an enhanced version either as evidence or to identify the person speaking. At best it is an indication, which might be used to find other evidence, if it existed, but not as evidence in itself.
Similar considerations apply to computer enhancements of video or film footage. You might be able to identify, say, a license plate number, which might point to which vehicle to further examine for evidence it was involved in a crime, but lacking such further evidence, the computer-enhanced image alone should not be used as evidence.
Second, Danforth is also lying about the gunfire. He stated categorically that there was no credible evidence of gunfire by government agents, when he has the preliminary report of Carlos Ghigliotti and the earlier report by Allard, which are nothing if not credible. Perhaps not conclusive in the view of some, but certainly enough to doubt and prevent any conclusion that one can be "100 percent" certain no gunfire occurred. The fact that Ghigliotti is no longer alive to present his conclusions in personal testimony, and that Allard is unable or unwilling to do so because of his stroke, is not grounds to dismiss their work from consideration, and accept only the work of a contractor controlled by the government.
However, the fates of Ghigliotti and Allard could explain why Danforth is lying. Perhaps he got the message.
Third, Danforth is lying about the use of military personnel. He states that their use was not "improper" in a way that is intended to convey the impression that they were not used at all, but that is tergiversation. Statements by military personnel make it clear they were used, and any such use was not just "improper" but illegal, despite attempts to wiggle out from under the Posse Comitatus Act.
Fourth, Danforth is lying about the absence of a coverup. He admits the FBI had a "bunker mentality" and failed to "be forthcoming" with evidence, especially about the use of incendiary rounds, but claims that is not obstruction of justice? Of course it is a coverup. It continues to this day. Does he think the American people are idiots to believe such a preposterous quibbling over words? That it depends on what "is" is? Gimme a break!
It is reported that polls indicate 61 percent of the American people think the federal government caused the tragedy at Mount Carmel, and is guilty of crimes in that matter. After the Danforth Report, that percentage will only increase. The only thing that will make this issue go away is to criminally prosecute all the government personnel involved, up to the President of the United States, to exonerate the Davidians charged with crimes, to fully compensate the survivors of the victims, and to make reforms to insure that nothing like this ever happens again. Nothing less will do.