This post was written by Connor Balough
The Clintons saw every one of their controversial scandals brought up into the light when Hillary ran for president her second and likely final time. Benghazi was small potatoes compared to the level of corruption we saw: foreign dictatorships giving millions to Hillary through her crooked foundation in a massive pay to play scandal using the State Department as the cake. Spirit cookings with pedophilia-linked pagan worshippers. The hiding of early staged dementia patterns showing up in Hillary along the campaign trail. Rigging the Democratic primary to ensure she wins. Using the entire media as a tool to try and convince voters of massive lies against people’s candidate Donald Trump. But never was the brutal tyranny of the Clintons see when Bill was President mentioned once on the campaign trail: the massacre at Waco and the slaughtering at Ruby Ridge.
Ruby Ridge was the site of a deadly confrontation and siege near Naples, Idaho in 1992 between Randy Weaver, his family, his friend Kevin Harris, and agents of the United States Marshals Service (USMS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Randy Weaver, a former US Army combat engineer and Iowa factory worker resided in Idaho with his wife Vicky and their children. Randy was the opposite of most Americans when it came to love for his country. While most teenagers protested and draft dodged the Vietnam War, Randy Weaver dropped out of community college to join the US Army and fight. Randy was a patriot; after the military he went back to school to pursue criminal justice in the hopes of becoming an FBI agent. However with tuition being too expensive, he didn’t complete school.
He met his wife Vicky Jordison after the army and the two married soon after meeting. Originally Vicky worked as well as a secretary while Randy worked a job at the local John Deere factory. Eventually Vicky would stop working to be a homemaker and homeschool their children. Randy and Vicky begun to see a lot of the world as morally corrupt and wished to relocate to a rural mountain cabin at a location called Ruby Ridge where they could live off the grid in a back-to-earth lifestyle, free from the burdens of modern society.
With President Clinton taking office and making massive expansions to the federal government, many rural Idahoan Americans began to feel like civil liberties in the country were being eroded. The local group leading the anti-federalist advocacy was the Aryan Nations and the group would hold huge rallies throughout towns in Idaho. Randy Weaver attended some in his local area.
The FBI and ATF of course watched these rallies and wanted to gain more information on the locals. They set up an operation to try and ensnare an informant in the community.
An ATF agent named Kenneth Faderley posed as a biker from New jersey named Gus Magisono and started up conversation with Randy Weaver. Faderley struck up a friendship with Randy and allegedly convinced him to supply Faderley with two shotguns, which Randy would saw off for him, making them illegal. Randy disputes the claim of this to this day, saying that Faderley sawed the guns off himself to frame Randy.
By June 1990, Faderley had been outed to Aryan Nations security. Weaver was then approached by ATF agents and told that they had evidence of his possession and sale of illegal weapons, and offered to drop the charges in return for his co-operation in infiltrating the Aryan Nations. Weaver refused. He was initially arrested by ATF agents on charges relating to transfer of a short-barreled shotgun without a license in January 1991.
On that same day, Weaver called the U.S. probation officer Karl Richins and informed him that Weaver was instructed to contact him on that date. Richins did not have the case file at that time, so he asked Weaver to leave his contact information and Richins would contact him when he received the paperwork. According to Richins, Weaver did not give him a telephone number. The defense counsel Hofmeister sent letters to Weaver on January 19, January 31, and February 5 asking Weaver to contact him to work on his defense within the federal court system.
On February 5, the trial date was changed from February 19 to February 20 to give participants more travel time following a federal holiday. The court clerk sent a letter to the parties informing them of the date change, but the notice was not sent directly to Weaver, only to his attorney. On February 7, the probation officer sent Weaver a letter indicating that he now had the case file and needed to talk with Weaver. This letter erroneously indicated that Weaver’s trial date was set for March 20. On February 8, Hofmeister again attempted to contact Weaver by letter informing him that the trial was to begin on February 20 and that Weaver needed to contact him immediately. Hofmeister also made several calls to individuals who knew Weaver asking them to have Weaver call him. Hofmeister told Judge Harold L. Ryan he did not hear from Weaver before the scheduled court date.
When Weaver did not appear in court on February 20, Judge Ryan issued a bench warrant for failure to appear in court. On February 26, Ken Keller, a reporter for the Kootenai Valley Times, telephoned the U.S. Probation Office and asked whether the reason that Weaver did not show in court on February 20 was because the letter sent to him by Richins had the incorrect date. Upon finding a copy of the letter, the Chief Probation Officer, Terrence Hummel, contacted Judge Ryan’s clerk and informed them of the incorrect date in the letter. Hummel also contacted the U.S. Marshals Service and Weaver’s attorney informing them of the error. The judge, however, refused to withdraw the bench warrant.
Finding out that there was warrant issued for Randy over missing a courtdate he didn’t even know he had, Vicky and Randy became more convinced of the corrupt unfairness of the federal system and decided to break off completely from society and remain at Ruby Ridge indefinitely.
After long-term surveillance, the Deputy Director of the Special Operations Group of the Marshals Service recommended against a tactical assault on the Weaver residence. He recommended that the indictment be dismissed and then refiled later under seal, so that Weaver would be unaware of the new indictment, in hope of causing him to drop his guard. An undercover operation could then be executed to arrest Weaver without incident. His recommendation was rejected.
On August 21, 1992 Samuel Weaver and his father Randy Weaver along with partially adopted Kevin Harris walk out of their remote Idaho cabin on Ruby Ridge to see why the family dog was barking incessantly.
Suspecting there was an animal that “Striker” had sniffed out, Sam, Kevin, and Randy take their rifles to investigate. Daughter and sister, Sara Weaver remained in the house with her mother Vicki, little sister Rachel, and infant sister Elisheba. Minutes later several rifle shots rung out. When Randy and Kevin returned to the house stunned, they informed Vicki and the girls that little Samuel was dead and they needed to go retrieve his body. Striker, the Labrador retriever had also been shot dead. Harris and Randy were unaware that one of Kevin’s three fired bullets had killed U.S. Marshall William Degan when bullets from everywhere were flying.
several well-armed U.S. Marshals had went to the Weaver property that morning to clandestinely survey it; they hoped to update their information about the property, since it had last been surveyed in May 1992. The group had strict orders that they were to avoid all contact with the Weaver family. The marshalls ignored this order.
The next day, August 22, 1992, HRT sniper/observer teams were deployed on the north ridge overlooking the cabin. Randy Weaver, Harris, and Weaver’s 16-year-old daughter Sara were seen outside the cabin. Weaver went to view the body of Sammy Weaver, which had been placed in a shed after being recovered the previous day. Weaver’s back was to FBI HRT sniper Lon Horiuchi. Horiuchi aimed to sever Weaver’s spine for an instant kill. Weaver moved in the last split second as Horiuchi fired and the bullet entered Weaver’s right shoulder and exited the armpit. As the three ran back to the house, Horiuchi fired again at Kevin Harris as he ran away, but this time hit Weaver’s wife Vicki in the head as she held their 10-month-old daughter Elishiba at the door. Vicki Weaver collapsed on the floor, dying instantly with her bloody but uninjured daughter in her arms. Harris was hit in the chest by the same bullet.
Much later, a robot vehicle approached the cabin and announced the presence of law enforcement. According to the Weavers, this was the first announcement of the source of the violence.
A stand-off ensued for 10 days as several hundred federal agents surrounded the house, in which Weaver and his three surviving children remained with Harris and the body of Vicki Weaver, under a blood-soaked blanket. During the stand-off, the government force, which numbered 350 to 400 men, had named their temporary camp “Camp Vicki”. The FBI negotiators would call out in the morning ‘Vicki, we have blueberry pancakes.’ To Sara Weaver inside with her dead mother’s body, they were deliberately taunting the survivors.
Both FBI HQ and the Site Commanders in Idaho re-evaluated the situation based on information they were receiving from U.S. Marshals Hunt, Cooper and Roderick about what had happened on August 21. On about August 24, 1992, the fourth day of the siege on the Weaver family, FBI Deputy Assistant Director Danny Coulson wrote a memo:
Something to Consider
1. Charge against Weaver is Bull Shit.
2. No one saw Weaver do any shooting.
3. Vicki has no charges against her.
4. Weaver’s defense. He ran down the hill to see what dog was
barking at. Some guys in camys shot his dog.
Started shooting at him. Killed his son. Harris did the
shooting [of Degan]. He [Weaver] is in pretty strong legal position.”
The stand-off was ultimately resolved by sympathetic civilian negotiators including James “Bo” Gritz, then a third-party presidential candidate who had formerly been Weaver’s commanding officer during the Vietnam War, served as a mediator between Weaver and the government. Harris surrendered on August 30. FBI HRT Commander gave Gritz a deadline to get the remaining Weavers to surrender, else the standoff would be resolved by a tactical assault. Randy Weaver and his daughters surrendered the next day. Both Harris and Randy Weaver were arrested. Weaver’s daughters were released to the custody of relatives, although some consideration was given to charging Sara, who was 16, as an adult.
At the trial that followed, Weaver was ultimately acquitted of all charges except missing his original court date and violating his bail conditions, for which he was sentenced to 18 months and fined $10,000. Credited with time served, Weaver spent an additional 4 months in prison. Weaver’s defense attorney, Gerry Spence, rested his case without calling any witnesses for the defense. Instead he convinced the jury to find as they did merely through his cross-examination and discrediting of the government witnesses and evidence.
Kevin Harris was defended by attorney David Niven and acquitted of all charges.
Defense counsels for Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris alleged throughout their 1993 trial that agents of the ATF, USMS, and FBI were themselves guilty of serious wrongdoing, leading the Department of Justice (DOJ) to create a “Ruby Ridge Task Force,” which delivered a 542-page report on June 10, 1994, to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The report was never officially released, although a redacted version was circulated by Lexis Counsel Connect, an information service for attorneys.
n August 1995, the US government avoided trial on a civil lawsuit filed by the Weavers, by awarding the three surviving daughters $1,000,000 each, and Randy Weaver $100,000 over the deaths of Sammy and Vicki Weaver. The attorney for Kevin Harris pressed Harris’ civil suit for damages, although federal officials vowed they would never pay someone who had killed a U.S. Marshal (Harris had been acquitted by a jury trial on grounds of self-defense). In September 2000 after persistent appeals, Harris was awarded a $380,000 settlement from the government.
The massacre at Ruby Ridge led to many calls for an overhaul of the FBI standards of procedure and Rules of Engagement. Instead, President Clinton pushed against any calls for reform of the FBI, only hardening the outcome of the next and even more deadly massacre of his Presidency.
In the spring 0f 1993, one year after Ruby Ridge, David Koresh and the Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas, held center stage in America for fifty-one days. A Rambo-style raid on a quiet Sunday morning in February by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) touched off one of the most incredible and tragic events in American history. The ATF stormed the Branch Davidian home to serve a search warrant issued on the suspicion that the group was stockpiling automatic weapons.
The religious group had weapons in their compound, but the weapons were all legal.
Within minutes it was evident that the raid was an utter failure. It was a fiasco from the start that resulted in senseless, needless, carnage and human suffering – not only of those inside the home, but also of the ATF agents who were wounded or killed and forced to retreat. a firefight broke out during the raid with it in dispute over who fired the first shots. However, after a firefight, Four agents were shot to death; 15 were wounded; in addition to that, an indeterminate number within the home were killed or wounded. Thus began the long siege of the waco compound.
The Branch Davidians sprang out of the Davidian Seventh Day Adventist church – which itself had emerged out of the Seventh-day Adventists in the 1930s. The Davidian church was started by a Bulgarian immigrant named Victor Houteff who believed he had the gift of prophecy and wanted to reform the Seventh-day Adventist movement. After Houteff’s death in 1955, there was a schism in the Davidian church, and a man named Benjamin Roden formed the Branch Davidians in Waco. Both the Davidians and Branch Davidians believe we are living in a time of final judgment, that we are about to witness the imminent Second Coming of Christ.
After Roden died in 1978, his wife Lois took over, claiming to have a message of her own—that the Holy Spirit is feminine in gender—and rebuffed an attempt by her son George to assume the leadership. Vernon Howell appeared on the scene in 1981, but it wasn’t until 1983 that many in the group accepted his message that he was an end-time prophet. By the time Lois Roden died in 1986, Howell had taken over and re-named himself David Koresh.
One of Koresh’s followers was Clive Doyle, an Australian who joined the Branch Davidians in 1964 under Ben Roden. On April 19,1993, Doyle escaped from the fire at the Mt. Carmel Center with severe burns to his hands and body; his 18-year-old daughter, Shari, perished.
Koresh urged Ofelia Santoyo, another member, to leave during the 51-day standoff to look after her elderly mother. But Santoyo’s daughter and five grandchildren were killed in the blaze.
Byron Sage, an FBI agent, had the unenviable task of negotiating with Koresh throughout the entire siege.
At first, the Davidians had telephone contact with local news media and Koresh gave phone interviews. The FBI cut Davidian communication to the outside world. For the next 51 days, communication with those inside was by telephone by a group of 25 FBI negotiators. The final Justice Department report found that negotiators criticized the tactical commanders for undercutting negotiations.
As the siege wore on, two factions developed within the FBI, one believing negotiation to be the answer, the other, force. Increasingly aggressive techniques were used to try to force the Branch Davidians out (for instance, sleep deprivation of the inhabitants by means of all-night broadcasts of recordings of jet planes, pop music, chanting, and the screams of rabbits being slaughtered). Outside the compound, nine Bradley Fighting Vehicles and five M728 Combat Engineer Vehicles (CEVs) (obtained from the U.S. Army) began patrolling. The armored vehicles were used to destroy perimeter fencing and outbuildings and crush cars belonging to the Branch Davidians. Armored vehicles repeatedly drove over the grave of Branch Davidian Peter Gent despite protests by the Branch Davidians and the negotiators. Two of the three water storage tanks on the roof of the main building had been shot at and holed in the initial ATF raid. Eventually the FBI cut all power and water to the compound, forcing those inside to survive on rain water and stockpiled military MRE rations.Criticism was later leveled by Schneider’s attorney, Jack Zimmerman, at the tactic of using sleep- and peace-disrupting sound against the Branch Davidians: “The point was this – they were trying to have sleep disturbance and they were trying to take someone that they viewed as unstable to start with, and they were trying to drive him crazy. And then they got mad ‘cos he does something that they think is irrational!”
Despite the increasingly aggressive tactics, Koresh ordered a group of followers to leave. Eleven people left and were arrested as material witnesses, with one person charged with conspiracy to murder. The children’s willingness to stay with Koresh disturbed the negotiators, who were unprepared to work around the Branch Davidians’ religious zeal. However, as the siege went on, the children were aware that an earlier group of children who had left with some women were immediately separated, and the women arrested. During the siege, a number of scholars who study apocalypticism in religious groups attempted to persuade the FBI that the siege tactics being used by government agents would only reinforce the impression within the Branch Davidians that they were part of a Biblical “end-of-times” confrontation that had cosmic significance. This would likely increase the chances of a violent and deadly outcome. The religious scholars pointed out that—while, on the outside, the beliefs of the group may have appeared to be extreme—to the Branch Davidians, their religious beliefs were deeply meaningful, and they were willing to die for them.
Koresh’s discussions with the negotiating team became increasingly difficult. He proclaimed that he was the Second Coming of Christ and had been commanded by his father in heaven to remain in the compound. One week prior to the April 19 assault, FBI planners considered using snipers to kill David Koresh and possibly other key Branch Davidians. The FBI voiced concern that the Branch Davidians might commit mass suicide, as had happened at Jonestown where over 900 Peoples Temple members and other people killed themselves or were murdered at leader Jim Jones’s behest in 1978, although Koresh had repeatedly denied any plans for this when confronted by negotiators during the standoff, and people leaving the compound had not seen any such preparation.
U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno approved recommendations by the FBI to mount an assault, after being told that conditions were deteriorating and that children were being abused inside the compound. Reno made the FBI’s case to President Bill Clinton. Recalling the April 19, 1985, The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSAL) siege in Arkansas(which was ended without loss of life by a blockade without a deadline), President Clinton suggested similar tactics against the Branch Davidians. Reno countered that the FBI was tired of waiting; that the standoff was costing a million dollars a week; that the Branch Davidians could hold out longer than the CSAL; and that the chances of child sexual abuse and mass suicide were real. Clinton later recounted: “Finally, I told her that if she thought it was the right thing to do, she could go ahead.” Over the next several months, Janet Reno’s reason for approving the final gas attack varied from her initial claim that the FBI had told her that Koresh was sexually abusing children and beating babies (the FBI later denied evidence of child abuse during the standoff) to her claim that Linda Thompson and her one-woman “Unorganized Militia of the United States” was on the way to Waco to aid or attack Koresh.
Because the Branch Davidians were heavily armed, the FBI’s arms included .50 caliber (12.7 mm) rifles and armored Combat Engineering Vehicles (CEV). The assault took place on April 19, 1993. CEVs used explosives to puncture holes in the walls of buildings of the compound so they could pump in CS gas (“tear gas”) and try to flush out the Branch Davidians without harming them. The stated plan called for increasing amounts of gas to be pumped in over two days to increase pressure. Officially, no armed assault was to be made, and loudspeakers were used to tell the Branch Davidians that there would be no armed assault and to ask them not to fire on the vehicles. FBI agents had been permitted to return any incoming fire, but no shots were fired by federal agents on April 19. When several Branch Davidians opened fire, the FBI’s response was to increase the amount of gas being used.
FBI also delivered 40-millimetre (1.6 in) CS grenade fire from M79 grenade launchers; very early in the morning, the FBI fired two military M651 rounds at the Branch Davidian construction site. Around mid-morning, the FBI began to run low on 40mm Ferret CS rounds, and asked Texas Ranger Captain David Byrnes for tear gas rounds; the tear gas rounds procured from Company “F” in Waco turned out to be unusable pyrotechnic rounds and were returned to the Company “F” office after the fire. 40mm munitions recovered by the Texas Rangers at Waco included dozens of plastic Ferret Model SGA-400 Liquid CS rounds, two metal M651E1 military pyrotechnic tear gas rounds, two metal NICO Pyrotechnik Sound & Flash grenades, and parachute illumination flares. After more than six hours, no Branch Davidians had left the building, sheltering instead in a cinder block room within the building or using gas masks. The FBI claimed that CEVs were used to punch large holes in the building to provide exits for those inside.
At around noon, three fires broke out almost simultaneously in different parts of the building and spread quickly. The government maintains the fires were deliberately started by Branch Davidians. Some of the Branch Davidian survivors maintain that the fires were accidentally or deliberately started by the assault. Only nine people left the building during the fire. The remaining Branch Davidians, including the children, were either buried alive by rubble, suffocated by the effects of the fire, or shot. Many who suffocated from the fire were killed by smoke or carbon monoxide inhalation and other causes as fire engulfed the building. According to the FBI, Steve Schneider—Koresh’s top aide, who “probably realized he was dealing with a fraud”—shot and killed Koresh and then killed himself with the same gun. Footage of the blaze was broadcast live by television crews.
The events at Waco spurred both criminal prosecution and civil litigation. On August 3, 1993, a federal grand jury returned a superseding ten-count indictment against 12 of the surviving Branch Davidians. The grand jury charged, among other things, that the Branch Davidians had conspired to, and aided and abetted in, murder of federal officers, and had unlawfully possessed and used various firearms. The government dismissed the charges against one of the 12 Branch Davidians pursuant to a plea bargain.
After a jury trial lasting nearly two months, the jury acquitted four of the Branch Davidians on all charges. Additionally, the jury acquitted all of the Branch Davidians on the murder-related charges, but convicted five of them on lesser charges, including aiding and abetting the voluntary manslaughter of federal agents. Eight Branch Davidians were convicted on firearms charges.
The convicted Branch Davidians, who received sentences of up to 40 years, were:
- Kevin A. Whitecliff—convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
- Jaime Castillo—convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
- Paul Gordon Fatta—convicted of conspiracy to possess machine guns and aiding Branch Davidian leader David Koresh in possessing machine guns.
- Renos Lenny Avraam (British national)—convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
- Graeme Leonard Craddock (Australian national)—convicted of possessing a grenade and using or possessing a firearm during a crime.
- Brad Eugene Branch—convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
- Livingstone Fagan (British national)—convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
- Ruth Riddle (Canadian national)—convicted of using or carrying a weapon during a crime.
- Kathryn Schroeder—sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of forcibly resisting arrest.
Six of the eight Branch Davidians appealed both their sentences and their convictions. They raised a host of issues, challenging the constitutionality of the prohibition on possession of machine guns, the jury instructions, the district court’s conduct of the trial, the sufficiency of the evidence, and the sentences imposed.
President Bill Clinton addressed the nation on TV to defend Attorney General Janet Reno and her handling of the assault, by saying that he could not understand why anyone would suggest that she resign as attorney general “because some religious fanatic killed all those people.”
Thirty-three British citizens were among the members of the Branch Davidians during the siege. Twenty-four of them were among the 80 Branch Davidian fatalities (in the raid of February 28 and the assault of April 19), including at least one child. Two more British nationals who survived the siege were immediately arrested as “material witnesses” and imprisoned without trial for months.
Derek Lovelock was held in McLennan County Jail for seven months, often in solitary confinement. Livingstone Fagan, another British citizen, who was among those convicted and imprisoned, says he received multiple beatings at the hands of correctional officers, particularly at Leavenworth, Kansas. There, Fagan claims to have been doused inside his cell with cold water from a high-pressure hose, after which an industrial fan was placed outside the cell, blasting him with cold air. Fagan was repeatedly moved between at least nine different facilities. He was strip-searched every time he took exercise, so he refused exercise. Released and deported back to the UK in July 2007, he still held on to his religious beliefs.
Even after these incidents unfolded, the Clintons only furthered their resolve to challenge dissent in America. The coldness of the clintons and the heavy handedness of the FBI was what prompted Timothy McVeigh to launch his truck bombing of the FBI building in Oklahoma City, which killed almost 200 people and injured over 600. The Clintons are a ruthless family when in control, causing unrest and civil dissent. Let’s remember the worst of what it was like the last time they were in control.