THIS IS NOT AN ASSAULT, by Tucson attorney David T. Hardy, tells a tale of deception, obfuscation and outright lies by the United States government which led to the deaths of seventy-four civilians “including twenty-four children and two pregnant women who delivered in their death throes.” Hardy has written the ultimate book on the tragedy that spanned seven weeks in 1993 when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were responsible for a barbarous attack on men, women, and children who lived and worshipped at Mt.Carmel in WacoTexas.
Dave Hardy is a practicing attorney who worked for eight years as a federal government lawyer during the 1980s. In 1996, after being presented with a government-produced Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) videotape that experts said showed definite images of gunfire coming from outside the Mt. Carmel Center during the FBI’s final assault against the Branch Davidians on April 19, 1993, he decided to request copies of all government documents regarding ATF and FBI activity using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
This is Not an Assault covers not only Hardy’s legal battle over release of the documents, but also uses the government’s own words and videotapes to graphically illustrate the massive government lies and cover-ups. Although Hardy had made FOIA requests to ATF and FBI prior to the lawsuit, “the results were predictable. The ATF did not respond. The FBI sent a form letter stating that its FOIA branch was backlogged and would, essentially, handle my request when they got to it.”
Hardy cajoled his former law partner, John Sando, into representing him for the lawsuit he filed in Tucson, Arizona against the U.S. government. The presiding judge was U.S District Judge Alfredo C. Marquez.
After the suit was filed, ATF released a few documents including outright lies and a few “limited disclosures.” The FBI disclosed nothing, filing to dismiss, citing six-year backlogs of FOIA. Judge Marquez denied both motions and ordered the FBI to file a status report within six months and gave them one year to comply.
The battle was joined. ATF would release a few more documents and move to dismiss. Hardy would carefully review the new documents and file counter motions showing why the government had more documentation. As the ATF kept stalling, Judge Marquez became less and less tolerant of their tactics and ordered them to deliver material to Hardy. This phase of the litigation lasted over three years.
During that period, Hardy also submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Defense (DOD). The DOD documents became a gold mine of information. As Hardy writes, “the military had provided massive support to operations at Waco…military lawyers discovered that the entire operation, right up to the fire, had been funded out of their “war on drugs” appropriations.”
“The military also disclosed, albeit with considerable deletions, a document that stated that two military officers had met with Attorney General Janet Reno and the FBI on April 14, 1993… the memorandum differed sharply with the version Reno and the FBI had given of the meeting. The military officers seemed to be arguing against the gassing plan, suggesting it could lead to panic and harm to the children.” But the biggest surprise read, “All support to the (FBI’s) HRT was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
David Hardy and John Sando’s FOIA attack against the United States Government has produced a book full of documentation that will amaze even the biggest skeptic of raw government power. It is a book that clearly demonstrates how power corrupts and absolute power in the hands of a militarized police power corrupts absolutely.
Hardy illustrates how a BATF raid, code-named “Showtime,” against a small group of religious zealots was designed by the BATF as a public relations fundraising gimmick turned deadly. But, more importantly, he shows how easily the BATF and FBI succeeded in completely bamboozling the Congress, the Judiciary, and the American people into believing that they had done nothing wrong.
What is truly sad about the events at Waco in 1993 is that every possible governmental group—three Congressional investigations, several court trials, and even an investigation by the Office of Special Counsel — that has been charged with finding the truth of what really happened at Waco in 1993 has lacked the fortitude to look beyond the government supplied “facts” or face the hostility of government police agencies. It is a frightening tale of the total abuse of raw government power.