by Brian McKay
“We’re from the government, and we’re here to . . . kill you?”
WACO: THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT is a highly unflattering (to say the least) account of the FBI and ATF’s disastrous handling of the incident in which cult leader David Koresh and over 70 of his followers were killed while trapped inside their burning compound, following a standoff that lasted over two months. Whether you believe that the deaths at Waco were the result of conspiracy, blatant incompetence, or simply an unforeseeable tragedy, it is likely that this documentary will surprise, disturb, and even anger you with the evidence presented.
Most Americans (including your humble reviewer) probably let Waco slip through the cracks of our collective consciousness. What little we knew about it was what came through momentary media sound bites. David Koresh, a fanatical cult leader accused of stockpiling illegal weapons in his compound, resisted ATF efforts to serve a search warrant. A firefight ensued, leaving a few agents dead and several more injured. The agents withdrew, and then called in the FBI to clean up their mess. What followed was a standoff that lasted for several weeks, followed by a fire that trapped most of the sect’s members inside the compound, with only a few escaping alive. The fire was explained away at the time as a tragic accident, or perhaps being set by the cult itself as part of a mass suicide, ala Jonestown.