“I feel like we’ve gotta call 911. But who do you call when it’s your own government attacking?”
-David Thibodeau, from inside the Branch Davidian compound
One of the most troubling political developments of the past few years is that I’ve heard people – from the Right and the Left – defend the FBI.
Like I always say, if Republicans and Democrats agree on something, it must be a terrible idea.
The scary thing is: I didn’t think that the FBI was even trying to behave in a defensible way. I thought that they were working hard to be cool fascist villains in nice suits.
The FBI systematically gathered dirt on politicians and told them about the secrets. In this way, the FBI politely blackmailed elected officials into silence and ensured that they’d stand back and let the Agency do what it pleased.
And what the FBI has always done is flout the rule of law and due process to harass and destroy its perceived enemies. The FBI’s enemies were anti-war activists, feminists, and civil rights workers.
The FBI tried to destroy Martin Luther King. The Bureau sent Dr. King an anonymous letter detailing his extra-marital affairs and urging him to commit suicide.
There has never been anything defensible about the FBI. It is the enemy of freedom, democracy, and our Republic. Any leader who tries to disband the FBI is a great American hero. Sadly, he will probably be sabotaged and assassinated before he succeeds.
The TV mini-series “Waco” chronicles the darkest hour of Federal Law Enforcement: the completely unprovoked murder of 76 Texans in the spring of 1993.
The Branch Davidians were a peaceful little Christian cult that centered around prophet David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch).
The oddest thing about the group was that Koresh made a rule that he must be the only man among them to have sex. He began marrying his friends’ wives and he even married the teenage sister of his first wife. Obviously this was selfish, disgusting, inexcusable behavior. But it was no danger to the general public or to our society. The Branch Davidians just wanted to be left alone.
On the morning of Feb 28, the ATF raided their isolated church compound with dozens of heavily armed men and three helicopters. The Branch Davidians fought back. In the firefight, 4 federal agents and 5 Branch Davidians were killed.
This is the point where the story goes from unfortunate to upsetting. The Feds could have admitted their error, sent a letter of apology to the church, and left Waco forever. Instead they lied about the facts of the raid, demonized Koresh and his followers, and began an insane and cruel siege.
The sole voice of reason in “Waco” is real-life FBI negotiator Gary Noesner (Michael Shannon). He is constantly calling for restraint and transparency and all it gets him is confused looks and active hostility from his fellow agents.
Some viewers are going to be turned off by “Waco” because creators John and Drew Dowdle are unambiguously sympathetic to the Branch Davidians. FBI leaders are portrayed as dishonest and blood-thirsty.
But, really, is there any other way to look at it? As Agent Noesner cautions to his supervisor: an organization that arms itself with machine guns and tanks is destined to become a murderous war-machine.
I doubt that the FBI will ever do anything to make my community safer. There is a decent chance, however, that the FBI will bug my phone and put me on an Enemies List because I wrote this column.