Unsettling Waco uncovers truths
media reports left out
A review of Waco: The Rules of Engagement
by Fiona Hughes, The Vancouver Courier, 1997-10-08

Politicians wonder why cynicism is rampant toward government — the disturbing Waco: The Rules of Engagement explains why. When you hear U.S. Attorney-General Janet Reno lie to a congressional hearing about what happened at Waco, you feel relieved to be Canadian.

The film is such an indictment of the American government and media tht an American in the audience left halfway through the screening Sunday. He couldn't take anymore of what he was seeing. He told an usher on the way out he was ashamed to be an American. Waco, however, will hardly leave non-Americans complacent about what goes on in their own country. Oka springs to mind.

The salient lesson learned from the documentary is, of course, to question everything you hear, see and read in the media. If you still believe the Branch Davidian members committed suicide, Waco will shock and unsettle.

Using 911 tapes, infrared surveillance footage, televised congressional hearings and survivor testimonies, the filmmakers mount a strong case against the ATF ([Bureau of] Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and FBI, and paints them as cold-blooded murderers who clearly had the intent of killing people who stubbornly stood up to them. The FBI gassed the people who remained in the Branch Davidian compound and then let them burn to death.

Exhaustively researched and edited with stunning clarity, Waco never bores during its two hour and 16 minute length. It does what a good documentary should: it backs up its thesis with facts that are impossible to ignore. It also has a few laughs for such a disconcerting film.

If there is one element lacking in Waco, it's the absence of a clear understanding of oddball Branch Davidian leader David Koresh. As different or as misguided as he might have been from the rest of us, was it worth killing 79 men, women and children to get to him?

The Waco Massacre Serendipity Home Page