Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Davidians/Additional Views of Hon. William H. Zeliff, Jr.
In response to concerns raised by two members of the minority at the committee mark-up, I want to set the record straight regarding the extensive majority efforts to cooperate with the minority throughout the entire investigative process.
First, the subcommittees made an unprecedented attempt at genuine accommodation in holding 10 days of investigative hearings. In a concession that had no apparent precedent during prior Congresses, the majority accepted 90% of the witnesses suggested by the Democrats.
Second, minority members were invited on key fact-finding trips, such as to Waco itself.
Third, the majority shared all available documents, set up a document room accessible to all staff, and shared all indexes received to those documents; by contrast the majority subsequently learned that the minority staff received and intentionally withheld from majority staff the key Treasury Department index to tens of thousands of documents. This minority tactic led to the unnecessary expenditure of tens of hours of indexing by the majority prior to being able to use the documents they received. As another indication of the difficulties the majority facted, two Democrat staffers apparently met secretly with the Texas Rangers and told them that they should not or did not need to honor subpoenas issued by the majority; these kinds of obfuscatory tactics during and prior to the hearings did not enhance majority- minority cooperation.
Fourth, the appendix to this report consists largely of documents that are in the public domain from the hearings, or are otherwise available to the minority; we have never had a request to see these documents, and we know that most were separately sent to the minority staff by the departments themselves; accordingly, complaints about not seeing the appendix ring hollow.
Fifth, the 10 footnotes missing from the distributed draft are either in documents the minority already have or are merely ids or ibids to documents already once cited elsewhere in the report's other 600 footnotes.
Sixth, the post-hearing investigation consisted largely of asking for documents that the majority had already asked for on June 5, 1995, and never received from the departments; interrogatories that pertained to unanswered hearing questions; and issues first raised at the hearings or interviews. There were no surprises in these requests.
Seventh, the press conference held on the day the report was distributed to Members simply made available the recommendations of the two subcommittee chairmen to the respective subcommittees and committees, and the summary--well within the House Rules--was made available to the minority at the same time. Ironically, the week prior to the business meeting, one of my staffers received a call from the Justice Department in which the Department indicated that they had received--presumably from a minority staff member or member--a copy of the whole Waco report. For the record, that is a clear and unequivocal violation of Rule 4, if any majority member had wished raise it--and when asked for a chance to correct facts that might be unclear or wrong, the department made no such proffer. In fact, they never sent any corrections whatsoever, despite five follow-up telephone calls to get fact corrections.
Eighth, cooperation with the departments was, frankly, an exercise in extreme patience; the majority even had to suffer having the Secretary of Treasury calling Democrats and telling them not to ask any embarrassing questions at the hearings. Surely, that is not the proper reaction to congressional oversight, and it is not consistent with President Clinton's promises of full cooperation. In a further example of unjustifiable manipulation, the Treasury Department also flew the Texas Rangers who were going to testify to Washington ahead of time and at taxpayer expense--to brief them for 2 days on what they should say. In my view, there can be little question that that action was patently offensive to both the word and spirit of cooperation.
Ninth, the majority has actually allowed the minority four times the amount of time normally allowed--and under House rules required--to review a report prior to a business meeting. On balance, I believe the record will show clearly that the entire investigative process was conducted not only patiently, inclusively, exhaustively and with an extraordinary emphasis on cooperation, but with an incontrovertible premium on fairness. In fact, I know of no set of investigative hearings or report that has ever been conducted with this level of inclusiveness, cooperation, or fairness.
- Hon. William H. Zeliff, Jr.