Report of the Department of the Treasury on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Investigation of Vernon Wayne Howell Also Known as David Koresh September 1993/Opinion of the Inspector General

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September 24, 1993


FROM: Robert P. Cesca, Deputy Inspector General

SUBJECT: Department of Treasury's Waco Administrative Review

On April 29, 1993, the Department announced its plans to examine the events leading to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) execution of search and arrest warrants at the Branch Davidian compound, near Waco, Texas, on February 28, 1993. The purpose of the Department's administrative review was to comprehensively evaluate all aspects of ATF's investigation of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians through and including the events occurring at the compound on February 28, 1993. The review was performed under the leadership and direction of Mr. Ronald K. Noble, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Enforcement. As part of this review, the Department was to analyze and assess whether ATF's procedures, policies, and practices were adequate and whether they were followed up and until the time ATF decided to raid the compound.

In addition, on May 3, 1993, the Department further announced the selection of three independent reviewers to ensure that the Department's administrative review was comprehensively and impartially conducted. These reviewers were selected because of their national prominence, integrity and law enforcement expertise. The reviewers are responsible for providing guidance to the investigation, reviewing the investigative team's findings and providing an independent assessment of the information contained in the final report.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) was requested to monitor the administrative review for the purpose of providing assurance to the Department that the project plan was complete and properly implemented. Moreover, the OIG was to comment on whether relevant information obtained during the investigation was properly considered and included in the final report.

This memorandum transmits the results of our assessment and provides a level of assurance that the Departmental effort was objective and comprehensively performed. It is our opinion that the administrative review team vigorously and thoroughly examined all significant information surrounding the events leading to ATF's execution of the search warrant at the Branch Davidian compound on February 28, 1993. In addition, the administrative

review team's report addresses all the issues that are included in the team's investigative plan. To the best of our knowledge, the review team's findings are consistent with the facts developed and, to the extent possible, accurately reflect the circumstances surrounding ATF's investigation and subsequent raid of the Branch Davidian compound on February 28, 1993.

To arrive at our conclusions, we focused on determining whether

- all appropriate issues were identified for investigation and appropriately considered in the team's planning process;

- the team reviewed pertinent documentation and information obtained by other law enforcement organizations involved in the incident;

- all appropriate individuals were identified and interviewed that could provide insight of the events leading up to ATF's raid and/or the issues being examined;

- all appropriate leads from interviews with ATF agents and management personnel and other relevant persons were properly followed up and satisfactorily resolved;

- external experts were consulted in order to obtain an independent assessment of ATF's planning, training, and execution of the search and arrest warrants;

- input and advice provided by the independent reviewers were properly considered by the project team leaders; and,

- the resultant report reflects the body of information examined and that any conclusions made by the review team are well-founded.

From the outset of the project, we provided our views and comments to the project leadership as we thought would be appropriate. We provided the team with an extensive list of issues and questions that we felt needed to be examined during the course of the administrative investigation. These issues and associated questions were included in the team's investigative plan.

Our opinions are based primarily upon a review of information contained in memoranda of interview from selected interviews with ATF agents involved in the execution of the search warrant; memoranda of interview of selected ATF management personnel; and,

the Texas Rangers' investigation of the murders of four ATF agents. In addition, we attended numerous daily team debriefing sessions conducted by project leaders discussing the status of the administrative teams efforts and the required follow-up that should be performed to satisfactorily pursue/resolve issues being examined. These briefing sessions provided an excellent opportunity to gain insight of the quality of the project management and direction and provided a comfort level regarding the integrity of the efforts of the administrative review team.

We also attended the briefings held with the three independent reviewers selected to review the team's findings to judge the quality of the information being provided for use in their assessment of the Treasury's administrative investigation. We believe that the information provided to the reviewers was accurate, based on information obtained at that time by team investigators, and was relevant to the main issues under examination. Additionally, we attended the briefings held with the tactical experts employed to assist in evaluating ATF's tactical operations plan and Special-Response Team training. The tactical experts' recommendations have adequately been considered and the results of their reports have been incorporated in the final report.

With regard to the contents of the administrative review team's report, it is our opinion that the report provides an accurate account of the events leading up to the ATF's assault of the Branch Davidian compound. Furthermore, we believe that any conclusions made by the review team have a basis in fact and are consistent with the nature of the findings developed.

During the course of our oversight role, we experienced total cooperation on the part of the project leaders and had unlimited access to the information and documentation compiled by the administrative review team during its investigation. We would like to compliment the team for vigorously and aggressively pursuing this enormous undertaking in order to determine what really happened in Waco, Texas on February 28, 1993. The findings and recommendations in this report should be invaluable to the law enforcement community as a whole and hopefully will serve as a guide for improving how law enforcement approaches the new waves of violent behaviors and the groups that perpetuate them.