June 1, 1999
The Delta Force Was There
Amid Nato military supremo Wesley Clark's
onslaught on the civilians of Serbia the question arose: did
Clark hone his civilian-killing skills at Waco, where the FBI
oversaw the largest single spasm of slaughter of civilians by
law enforcement in US history, when nearly a hundred Branch Davidians
died amid an assault by tanks, flame-throwers and snipers.
The tanks were from Fort Hood, where Wesley
Clark was, in early 1993, commander of the Cavalry Division of
the US Army's III Corps. In our last issue we cited a congressional
report commissioned in the aftermath of Waco which described
how Texas governor Anne Richards had consulted with Clark's number
two at Fort Hood. Then, on April 14, there was a summit at the
Justice Department in Washington, where Attorney General Janet
Reno, top Justice Department and FBI officials and two unnamed
senior Army officers reviewed the final assault plan scheduled
for April 19.
The two Army officers at the Justice Department
that day were Colonel Gerald Boykin, and his superior, Gen. Peter
J. Schoomaker, the head of Special Forces at Fort Bragg. Though
Clark (who had served with Schoomaker) was not directly involved
in the onslaught on the Branch Davidians, the role of the US
Army in that affair throws into harsh relief the way prohibitions
against the use of the US military for civilian law enforcement
can be swiftly by-passed.
Boykin and Schoomacher were present because
the Army's Fort Bragg-based Combat Applications Group-popularly
known as the Delta Force-had been enlisted as part of the assault
team on the Branch Davidian Compound. It appears that President
Clinton had signed a waiver of the Posse Comitatus Act, with
the precedent being Ronald Reagan's revocation of the Act in
1987, allowing the Delta Force to be involved in suppressing
the Atlanta prison riot.
The role of the Delta Force, the identity
of the two Army officers, the revocation of Posse Comitatus all
form part of the disclosures of a forthcoming documentary film,
Waco: A New Revelation, put together by part of the team that
produced an earlier, excellent film, Waco: Rules of Engagement.
Following our questions about Wesley Clark's possible involvement
at Waco, producer/researcher Mike McNulty called us with some
details of his new documentary-directed by Jason van Fleet and
due to be released in July.
After energetic use of Freedom of Information
Act enquiries, plus research in three repositories in Texas holding
evidence from the Waco inferno, plus other extensive investigations,
McNulty and his team have put together an explosive file:
· 28 video tapes from the repositories
show that in the final onslaught on the Waco compound were members
of the US military in special assault gear and with name tags
obscured. As noted above, Clinton's revocation of the Posse Comitatus
Act made this presence legal. McNulty isolates Vince Foster as
the White House point man for the Waco operation.
McNulty cites Foster's widow as saying that
the depression that prompted the White House lawyer's death was
fueled by horror at the carnage at Waco for which the White House
had given the ultimate green light. Foster was writing a Waco
report when he died. McNulty says that some documents about Foster
and Waco were among those removed from his office after his death,
later to surface in a White house store room sheltering archives
of the First Lady.
The film, McNulty says, discloses how the
federal assault team placed explosives on top of a compound bunker
whither the feds believed the Branch Davidian leaders might flee.
Material evidence collected by McNulty shows that the FBI/Delta
assault force bombarded the compound with pyrophoric - i.e. fire-causing
Erosion of Posse Comitatus Act prohibitions
on the involvement of the US military in law enforcement here
is particularly sinister. The congressional report on Waco showed
that some Army officers were extremely disturbed at requests
for military assistance by the FBI, and there were some acrimonious
exchanges at the time. The drug war, needless to say, has been
a prime solvent in this process of erosion. One factor is the
malign cross-fertilization occurring when these so-called "elite
units" - the Army's Combat Application Group, the FBI's
Hostage Rescue Team, the Navy's SEALs - all train together, along
with SWAT teams from police forces across the country. Thousands
of law enforcement officers have now cut their teeth on the homicidal
commando techniques most flagrantly displayed by the killers
assembled in the British SAS, members of which were also present
at the Waco siege. The Rambo mindset now saturates law enforcement,
and even the rangers in Fish and Game Departments now pack heat.
Both CounterPunch editors have had the experience of being asked
to down their fly rods and produce ID, by young Fish and Game
rangers with semi-automatics on their hips.
AWOL from Albania?
Chris Sorochin, a CounterPuncher in Brooklyn,
tells us of the momentous climax to a visit he recently paid
to Hitler's mountain retreat, Berchtesgaden. As Chris and his
companions stood surveying the vertiginous spectacle so savored
by the Fuehrer, their attention was seized by a helicopter which
rose to eye level, as the pilot surveyed them. Knowledgeable
chopper buffs in Chris's party identified the helicopter as an
Recycle, Then Kill
As Nato airstrikes flattened oil refineries
and showered depleted uranium across Yugoslavia, the US Army
mounted a gung-ho pr campaign touting its new sensitivity to
the environment. The Army's green credo, "Sustaining the
Land We Defend", is displayed in a glossy ad in Soldier
magazine depicting an M-16 toting soldier, equipped with night-vision
goggles, striding across the earth. The text of the ad proclaims:
"The Army's ability to train effectively and meet the highest
standards in service to America depends on your actions as soldiers
today. By considering the environment in everything you do, you
help sustain the Army's training lands, protect the nation's
natural resources, and ensure a safe and healthy environment
for fellow soldiers, their families and our civilian communities".
The ad urges soldiers "to follow environmental guidelines"
during drills because "readiness depends on healthy landscapes
and training ranges".
In an era when many enlisted men are on food
stamps, the Army tells soldiers to recycle at every opportunity,
noting that it "lightens the load on America's landfills,
decreases the Army's disposal costs and helps installations pay
for quality of life programs". The Army, ever vigilant when
it comes to fighting wasteful spending, notes that "preventing
pollution reduces waste and save millions of dollars for readiness".
Alas, the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory cites the Pentagon as
being one of the top ten polluters in the nation. This is probably
an gross understatement, since the Army is exempt from many reporting
requirements and there is little legal recourse to compel the
military to clean up its mess. When it comes to dump sites, no
company comes close. A report by the Military Toxics Projects
shows that there are more than 11,000 hazardous waste dumps at
the Pentagon's 900-plus sites in the United States. Cleanup has
taken place at less than 400 of the dumps. Somehow we don't think
this is what Ed Abbey had in mind when he called for a new generation
of eco-warriors. CP