Waco Hearings - Congressional Record: August 11, 1995 (Senate)

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Waco Hearings
by Joe Lieberman

Waco Hearings. Congressional Record: August 11, 1995 (Senate) Page S12421. DOCID:cr11au95-73.


Mr. LIEBERMAN. Mr. President, I just wanted to take a few moments in morning business today to comment on the Waco hearings completed 2 weeks ago in the other body.

Whatever one thinks of the manner in which those hearings were conducted or, indeed, about what happened at Waco itself, several important facts bear noting. Federal law enforcement agents risked their lives there, as they do every day and four of them died enforcing a search warrant authorized by a Federal court order. These are the same Federal agents who walk the most dangerous streets in America investigating crimes and arresting violent, conscience-less thugs; these are the same agents who have infiltrated the most vicious organized crime groups and shut them down; these are the same agents who have captured kidnappers and rescued the kidnapped; these are the same agents to whom we look when terrorists construct bombs and explode them in our midst.

In our horror at the conflagration and deaths at Waco, we should not forget who those agents were and are.

In addition, in too many of the discussions of what happened at Waco, there seems to be a blurring of who set in motion the horrible cycle of violence and death. There is a tendency on the part of some to hold everyone equally responsible for those nightmarish hours because Federal law enforcement agents and their supervisors made mistakes-- mistakes they have acknowledged and, most importantly, have taken steps not to repeat. We cannot forget that those mistakes were of an entirely different character and magnitude that those of David Koresh.

Indeed, the person who is most responsible for what happened at Waco is dead. His death should not justify discounting his responsibility for what happened and somehow equating his behavior with the actions of Federal law enforcement agencies.

It is David Koresh who stockpiled automatic weapons and established an arsenal large enough to start a war. It is he who fired first. It is he who abused some of his followers, psychologically and sexually, including a 10-year-old girl. It is he who shot and killed some of his followers and it is he who started the fire that killed so many others.

The hearings in the other body served some good purposes. It reminded people what kind of person the Federal agents on the scene were dealing with. It reminded everyone that these agents must make life-and-death decisions on a daily basis on limited, sometimes conflicting information. It reminded everyone that they are human, and so embody all the frailties and nobility of human beings of good will.

Somehow in the understandable concern about whether Federal agents had overreacted or acted too quickly at Waco, those points were too often overlooked. Our Federal law enforcement officers are some of the bravest, most extraordinary citizens I know. They deserve our respect and our gratitude.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).