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Waco Report Released

  • The recent release of the Interim Report on Waco clearing the government of any wrongdoing was no surprise to those who know how Washington politics work.
Exclusive to The SPOTLIGHT
By Christopher J. Petherick

Former Sen. John Danforth's recent announcement that the federal government did not cause the deaths of nearly 80 Branch Davidians at their Waco church was intended to be the government's final word on the tragedy.

But reports circulating in Washington, D.C., note that Danforth, who has been characterized by federal officials as the model for integrity and independence, should never have led the investigation into government wrongdoing. Danforth is the consummate Washington power politics insider.

"This is what I predicted would be the outcome ... Danforth is an establishment, status quo conservative," Dan Gifford, one of the producers of the definitive Waco movie, Rules of Engagement*, told Salon, a left-wing on-line magazine. "I think his heart would be in protecting the reputation of the Estab lish ment."

Monroe Freedman, writing in the Aug. 26, 1991, Legal Times, on Clarence Thom as' ethics and his appointment to the Supreme Court, cited Danforth in a typical Washington political partnership of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."

Danforth had been Thomas' chief pa tron after law school.

Danforth, as Missouri attorney general, hired Thomas just out of law school in 1974.

Danforth provided critical support to Thomas in his nomination for Supreme Court justice when detractors questioned his ethics after allegations of sexual harassment were brought by Anita Hill.

Freedman, a law professor, said that Thom as, in violation of U.S. law, returned Danforth's favor some years later after he was appointed to the Supreme Court.

Thomas ruled on an appeal case in which Alpo sued Ralston Purina for false advertising.

A $10.4 million fine had been assessed against Ralston. The case was taken to the Supreme Court.

Repaying the favor to his mentor and supporter, Thomas overturned the previous ruling and wrote the decision.

Ralston-Purina is part of the Danforth family's multi-million dollar fortune. Danforth owns $7.5 million in stock and is an heir to the fortune.

A British company, Vector Data Sys tems (VDS), a subsidiary of Anteon Cor poration, had been contracted by Dan forth to perform independent analysis of the forward looking infra-red (FLIR) tapes taken by an FBI Night Stalk er aircraft on the last day of the siege.

VDS was reportedly picked for its expertise and the fact that it was located outside of the United States and maintained no vested interest in the outcome of the Branch Davidians' case.

Though listed as a British company, VDS also has an office in Alexandria, Va., and is a major contractor to the U.S. government.

VDS' parent company, Anteon, maintains mutli-million dollar contracts with the U.S. military and military intelligence.

VDS analysts examined the tapes and reported that government agents did not fire at Branch Davidians, concluding that the images were all caused by the reflection of sunlight off of the building.

The report prepared for the Danforth investigation contradicted a number of U.S. specialists, who had scrutinized the tapes and found evidence to substantiate claims made by Branch Davidian survivors that federal agents had fired shots at the building.