November 9, 2000 09:06 AM (ET)
A former federal prosecutor who played a major role in the government’s siege of the Branch Davidians was indicted by a federal grand jury in St. Louis on Wednesday on charges that he obstructed the investigation of special Waco counsel John Danforth.
William W. Johnston, a former U.S. attorney in Waco, Texas, was accused in a five-count indictment of concealing information about the government’s use of pyrotechnic tear gas rounds during the siege.
The indictment was issued as Danforth released his final report on Waco. He said he would have preferred releasing the report without prosecuting anyone, but that the charges were too serious to be ignored.
November 15, 2000 (ET)
The feds want revenge on a Waco whistleblower
by J.D. Truccille
The rumors are true! The world has continued to rotate even as the United States’ presidential election remains unresolved. But don’t expect former federal prosecutor Bill Johnston to be too pleased about the onward course of events; one of the things rotating is his butt, on a spit over a fire set by one-time colleagues pissed-off by his whistleblowing ways.
Former assistant U.S. Attorney William Johnston was, by all accounts once upon a time a happy Justice Department camper, enforcing the laws of the land, good, bad and indifferent, from his base in Waco, Texas. Unlike some of his colleagues, though, Mr. Johnston apparently believed that the word “Justice” extended beyond some print on his paycheck, and demanded more than lip service from employees of the United States government.
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.