Waco: The Rules of Engagement, directed by William Gazecki, Fifth Estate Productions, 136 minutes, $25.00
No More Wacos: What’s Wrong with Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It, by David B. Kopel and Paul H. Blackman, Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 524 pages, $26.95
During the 1995 congressional hearings on Waco, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) was mystified that “the lunatic fringe still clings to the notion that there was a gigantic government conspiracy that brought about this nightmare.” He said “it is difficult to see how any rational human being subscribes to such a notion.” But as you examine the details of what happened at Waco and what government officials said about it, the tendency to see a conspiracy is not so hard to understand.
The bald-faced lies highlighted in Waco: The Rules of Engagement, William Gazecki’s critically acclaimed documentary, leave you shaking your head. The catalog of incompetence, arrogance, ignorance, recklessness, dishonesty, and moral obtuseness in No More Wacos, David B. Kopel and Paul Blackman’s comprehensive account of the disaster, is overwhelming. In many ways, it is easier to believe that the whole thing was planned by a few evil men at the top than to think that it unfolded haphazardly, without rhyme or reason.