Missing Delta Force member arrived after fire at Waco, colleague testifies

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 21, 2000
By William H. Freivogel and Terry Ganey

The whereabouts of the Delta Force commando assigned to provide tactical assistance to the FBI at Waco in 1993 has not been determined for the seven hours leading up to the fire that destroyed the Branch Davidians' complex.

One of the three Delta Force members present that day testified in a deposition that the tactical expert showed up after the fire had destroyed the complex, explaining that he had gotten drunk the night before and slept through the entire operation.

Michael Caddell, the attorney for the Branch Davidians, released the testimony Thursday but said he found it hard to believe. "To think that a guy as highly trained as that and considered one of our nation's best somehow goes out and gets drunk and sleeps through the whole show, that is just not credible. Remember that was Sunday night in Waco."

The Branch Davidians claim that government agents fired into the complex during the April 19 assault, which ended in a fire and the death of about 80 members of the sect. They have claimed that members of the Delta Force might have been involved. The government denies that any government agents fired their guns.

The Pentagon has acknowledged that 10 members of the secret Delta team visited Waco to provide advice during the siege. They were present in teams of three, each team including a technician, a communications specialist and an expert in tactics and weapons.

In the slang of the Delta Force, the tactics and weapons expert is known as an "operator, shooter, door knocker, or FAG" - the latter short for "former action guy."

But the communications specialist, whose name is not given in the deposition, says that the operatons expert showed up after the fire on April 19 looking "hung over, just kind of red-eyed."

"The conversation was that he had gone out drinking and had been up most of the night and had just gone to bed ... and when he came out, all this had happened," the communications specialist testified. He said he did not know where the operator had gotten drunk or with whom he had spent the night.

Caddell has not yet been able to depose the operator, who is out of the country.

The depositions also show that the FBI agents in the tanks at the back of the complex did not see any gunfire from government agents. Caddell says he no longer expects to find an FBI agent who will testify to government gunfire.

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