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Davidian Tragedy - Letters Re: Attorney General

October 25, 1993
By Rick Ross

Attorney General Janet Reno

Department of Justice

Constitution Ave. and 10th St. N.W.

Washington D.C. 20530

I am mentioned in the Department of Justice report, regarding events at Waco concerning the Branch Davidians, released October 8th, on page 190 under "E. Cult Experts" (see attached). This version of events is not correct.

First, the report states that "the FBI did not solicit advice from any "cult experts' or ' cult deprogrammers.'" On March 4th 1993 I was in Dallas, retained as an expert consultant to CBS affiliate KDFW (I worked there for a total of 10 days during and after the standoff); At about 1:00 P.M. I received a message from FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Bobby L. Siller. This call was not solicited by me. When I returned his call agent Siller requested that I come to his office for an interview concerning the Branch Davidians. KDFW provided a driver and I went that day.

My interview with agent Siller lasted about 30 minutes. We discussed my experience dealing with the Waco Davidians going back to 1988-89 and a voluntary deprogramming case I handled successfully in 1992. Also, the fact that I had worked with the ATF prior to the raid on the compound. He then asked me to speak with Special Agent Lewis M. "Matt" Chapman. Agent Chapman and I spoke for hours in great detail about the Davidians, their history, mind-control techniques employed by David Koresh to manipulate his followers and any advice I might have specifically in dealing with him. I also referred them (FBI) to the former member, David Block, that I had deprogrammed with his consent in 1992.

Agent Chapman took copious notes. He then gave me his card and told me to call and have him paged for any further ideas I might have. Over the following days I did page agent Chapman and he would return my calls within several minutes. He was always courteous. There were at least four more conversations between us, on March 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th.

On March 11th agent Chapman referred me to agent Miles Burden who seemed to be more directly involved in events at Waco. On the 11th agent Burden gave me both his direct paging number and his mobile phone number. From that point forward, according to my phone records, we had more than a dozen conversations, the last on April 13th. Agent Burden was attentive and always cordial.

On the evening of March 27th in Waco (one of two times I was there during the standoff for a lecture at Baylor University, the other when retained to talk with a Davidian left outside the compound) I received a call arranged through Burden at my hotel room from a man about 50 who identified himself as a FBI negotiator working with Koresh. He interviewed me for about 30 minutes, asking many questions regarding failed prophecies and predictions Koresh had made in the past to his followers.

Some examples of my advice to the FBI are as follows: at first, to talk to Koresh in a language he understood, that is the religious jargon and biblical references he used and to avoid confrontational tactics. Later, after the loud speakers were set up, I urged the FBI to use them differently, as an alternative source of information and communication to the cult members inside the compound. I suggested that audio tapes could be submitted by concerned families and former members and then reviewed and edited for broadcast. This might offer an outside frame of reference beyond Koresh's control. Many within the compound had expressed doubts, this strategy might have validated some of those doubts. Perhaps reactivating some part of their pre-cultic identity and critical thinking. This might have caused some to leave, or to release their children.

Several families of cult members were in touch with me through the standoff and wanted to speak with their loved ones. I constantly encouraged the FBI to use them, in an effort to persuade the Davidians to release children, or to come out themselves. Near the end of the standoff I asked if the FBI might appear less aggressive around the parameter of the compound. For example, to restrain the movement of the Bradleys. In this way the FBI might have contradicted Koresh's dark prophecies of violent confrontation.

I was interviewed extensively for a Treasury report that reviewed ATF involvement at Waco, by Treasury Secret Service Special Agent in Charge, Technical Security Division, Joe Masonis. He suggested that I call the Justice Department concerning their review of events at Waco. I left messages with Assistant Deputy Attorney Rod Rosentien and Richard Scruggs, an independent consultant retained by the Justice Department to review events at Waco. However, I was never interviewed concerning the specific details regarding my consultation with the FBI. Perhaps this explains why there is such a wide gap between the Justice Department's report of my work with the FBI and the actual sequence of events that I have detailed.

In closing I would like to say that the FBI and I may have disagreed on certain matters, but they were always fair and willing to listen. It is impossible to say if more lives could have been saved with different tactics. We will never know. One thing is sure, David Koresh was an absolute authoritarian cult leader who exercised total control over his followers/victims. In the final analysis he decided the end of the standoff.

Sincerely,

Rick Ross

C.C. to the following:

The Senate Judiciary Committee

Michael Secrist, V.P. News KDFW Dallas

Bobby Siller, S.A.I.C. FBI Dallas

Lewis M. Chapman, S.A., FBI Dallas

Miles Burden, S.A. FBI Dallas

Joseph Masonis, S.A.I.C. Secret Service

Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney Justice Department

Richard Scruggs, Independent Consultant Justice Department


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