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I had received information from FBI headquarters that FBI officials were not happy with the tone of my memos. From the standpoint that they felt it was tying their hands, meaning they were not going to be able to increase any type of pressure within that compound and instead were going to have to rely on strictly negotiations.469
Smerick developed profiles and memoranda that corroborated the opinions of qualified experts both in and outside the FBI. Smerick's opinion on this matter is the only expert opinion that changed as the crisis continued.
E. THE DECISION TO DISMISS THE SURRENDER PLAN
On March 2, everyone in the residence was lined up, ready to exit, when Koresh was "told by God to wait." 470 As far as the FBI was concerned, Koresh's credibility was broken. After a trip into the residence, DeGuerin and Zimmermann told Jamar of a new surrender plan based on the writing of the Seven Seals. The FBI did not believe it. But there was evidence that pointed to a genuine change in attitude.471
1. "KIDS LINED UP WITH THEIR JACKETS ON"
The surrender plan on March 2 was marked by evidence that everyone but Koresh was prepared to exit the residence. After making much of his promise to come out, Koresh maintained that God told him to wait. In preparation for the surrender, the FBI and the Davidians worked out a complicated plan that involved everything from buses that would carry the Davidians to the order in which everyone would stand. A proposal to involve the Texas Rangers in a surrender "wasn't rejected, but it wasn't greeted with a lot of enthusiasm." 472
In connection with the DeGuerin and Zimmermann visits to the residence, Jamar negotiated a similar surrender plan with the attorneys. The only change that the attorneys and the Davidians suggested was that the children come out with their parents, rather than separately.473
2. BREAKTHROUGH WITH KORESH'S LETTER
Following one visit to the residence by DeGuerin and Zimmermann, Koresh sent out a letter attesting to the fact that he was working on the Seven Seals.474 On April 13 and 14, Koresh said that he had "received his mission" from God and that he would be out of the residence soon. According to DeGuerin, "everyone was relieved they did not have to die."475 Koresh had written letters before. Most had been rambling biblical dissertations. The final letter was different, because it mentioned a deadline by which to deter
470 Justice Department Report at 35.
471 Hearings, Part 2 at 68-69.
472 Id. at 49.
473 Id. at 77.
474 Letter from David Koresh to Dick DeGuerin (April 4, 1993).
mine when Koresh would surrender. That deadline was the writing of Koresh's interpretation of the Seven Seals.
There were other reasons that some saw the letter as a true breakthrough. The April 14 letter was written in a prosaic form different from the other letters. Koresh's letter expressed the desire to come out of the residence and to "stand before man to answer any and all questions regarding my actions." 476 More important to some religious scholars and observers than a professed desire to surrender, however, was the fact that the letter indicated Koresh had found a basis for surrender in his own religious doctrine.477 Tabor and Arnold had been attempting to persuade Koresh that adequate reason for surrendering could be found in the Bible. The major change in the April 14 letter, according to Tabor, was that "Koresh used the religious arguments in this letter for why he had now seen that the scriptures told him to come out." 478 Arnold and Tabor, among others, found affirmative evidence that Koresh would surrender in the fact that "[Koresh] could come out and preach his message.' "479 Tabor told the subcommittees that "[t]hat was the positive end. And court was negative. But DeGuerin convinced (Koresh] that court would end positively." 480 Tabor, Arnold, DeGuerin and Zimmermann believed that a surrender was eminent.
Further evidence of the fact that Koresh's letter was a genuine breakthrough was the reaction of those in the residence to the news of the surrender. Upon discovery that Koresh had given a deadline for surrender, there was obvious "jubilation" at the prospect of ending the siege.481 In the background of the tapes, cheering can be heard. As Tabor told the subcommittees, "You can exactly see the mental state of the people inside. It is buoyant. They are talking about coming out. They are excited about it." 482 And in interviews on the subject, Tabor quotes surviving Davidians as saying, "We were so joyful that weekend because we knew we were coming out, that finally David had got his word of how to do this legally, the lawyers, and theologically in terms of his system." 483 The Davidians believed that they were coming out.
3. THE BREAKTHROUGH COMMUNICATED TO JAMAR
On April 14, DeGuerin gave Koresh's letter to Jamar. Jamar testified that he knew of the "breakthrough." Upon reading the letter and talking with DeGuerin and Zimmermann, Jamar told them "that there was plenty of time." 484 In his testimony before the subcommittees, Jamar recalled, "What I said was, if there is writing of a manuscript, if there is progress, we will take the time." 485 Jamar gave DeGuerin and Zimmermann the impression that he believed the offer to surrender was serious. DeGuerin and Zimmermann were so confident that Koresh was writing the seals and
476 Letter from David Koresh to Dick DeGuerin (April 14, 1993).
477 Hearings, Part 2 at 68–69. 478 Id.
479 Id. at 199–200.
481 Negotiation transcripts April 14, 1993.
482 Hearings, Part 2 at 172.
483 Id. at 173.
484 Id. at 42.
would soon surrender, that they returned to Houston. Jamar, however, never took the surrender offer seriously. He told the subcommittees, "It was serious in [DeGuerin's and Zimmermann's] minds. I think they were earnest and really hopeful but in Koresh's mind, never a chance. I'm sorry." 486
4. THE FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE THIS BREAKTHROUGH UP THE CHAIN OF COMMAND
In the final days of the standoff, no one communicated to the Attorney General or anyone senior to Jamar that there might be a genuine attempt to end the siege by Koresh. No one put forth the possibility that a surrender was in the future. When asked by the subcommittees whether the Attorney General had been notified of the surrender plan, Jamar said, "I doubt it because it was not, from our understanding . . . a serious plan." 487 In an April 15 conversation, Sage told Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell that there was little use in negotiating further.488 Sage, Jamar, and Ricks all acted as though nothing out of the ordinary had occurred in Waco on April 14. They did not give the Department of Justice all of the information they had about the situation in Waco and misled them about the previous success of some negotiators.
It appears that DeGuerin and Zimmermann were the only people involved in the negotiations who took Koresh's promise seriously. SAC Jamar and the FBI negotiators saw this as another attempt at delay by Koresh. As a result, they did not give this new surrender offer a chance to work.
5. EVIDENCE THAT KORESH WAS WRITING HIS INTERPRETATION OF THE SEVEN SEALS
The FBI had no concrete evidence that the Seals were being written.489 Even negotiation transcripts give conflicting indications as to whether the work was in progress. Only after physical evidence was removed from the destroyed residence did the FBI find proof that the Seals were being written. Surviving Branch Davidian Ruth Riddle said that the Seals were being written.490 Judy Schneider was transcribing the Seals and Riddle had the computer disc containing that writing.491 It is clear that some work was being done on Koresh's interpretation of the Seven Seals.
6. WHY THE FBI DISREGARDED THE EVIDENCE THAT THE SEVEN SEALS WERE BEING WRITTEN
Although Koresh indicated he was writing his interpretation of the Seven Seals, the FBI was not willing to give the surrender plan
486 Id. at 323. 487 Id. at 305.
488 Justice Department Report at 270. "Hubbell recalls that Sage said further negotiations with the subjects in the residence would be fruitless. The only people Koresh had released were older, or people who had given him problems during the time they were in the residence, or children who he had not fathered." Sage further advised Hubbell that Koresh had been disingenuous in his discussions with Sage about the "Seven Seals." He was also convinced that the FBI had not succeeded in getting anyone released from the residence through negotiation. Sage indicated that he had never been in any previous situation in which he had experienced such an impasse. Id.
489 Hearings, Part 2 at 323.
an opportunity to work. The FBI was frustrated and appeared to give to Justice Department officials only one option. Of the breakthrough to write the Seals, Sage testified before the subcommittees that "this first of all was not a new revelation to us as far as the Seven Seals." 492 From early in the standoff it appeared that the FBI had made up its mind that the Davidians weren't coming out of the residence of their own free will. Of the possibility of surrender, Jamar testified, "From [Koresh's] conduct from February 28th until April 19th, I would have every reason to believe he would not [surrender]." 493 The FBI was convinced Koresh would never surrender.
F. FINDINGS CONCERNING THE NEGOTIATIONS TO END THE
1. The FBI allowed negotiators to remain in position at the Branch Davidian residence for too long, resulting in the physical and emotional fatigue, affecting the course of the negotiations. The negotiators were in place for 51 days. Negotiations occurred almost constantly 24 hours a day. Despite a steady rotation of negotiators, it is clear from the transcripts that negotiators allowed their emotions to influence the discussions.
2. The FBI did not take appropriate steps to understand the mindset of the subjects of the negotiations. Numerous experts offered their advice on the specific beliefs of Koresh and the Davidians. Throughout the process, it is clear that the negotiators did not engage the Davidians in meaningful negotiations by ignoring the Davidian point of view. The subcommittees believe that the course of the negotiations could have been better directed by an increased understanding of the Davidians' religious perspective.
3. The FBI leadership failed to make crucial decisions about which strategy to employ. Two separate strategies were enacted simultaneously. The tactical pressure constantly worked against the strategy of negotiation. FBI leadership engaged these two strategies in a way that bonded the Davidians together and perpetuated the standoff.
1. Federal law enforcement agencies should redesign negotiation policies and training so that physical and emotional fatigue will not influence the course of negotiations. In anticipation of future negotiations involving unusually emotional subjects, such as Koresh, or those which may involve prolonged periods of time during which negotiators may become physically or emotionally fatigued, law enforcement agencies should implement procedures to ensure that these factors do not influence the recommendations of negotiators to senior commanders. Such procedures may involve using additional negotiators in a team approach, limiting the amount of time a particular negotiator remains on duty, limiting the amount of interaction between law enforcement officials and the subject of the negotiations until satisfactory behavior is elicited from the subject,
492 Id. at 357.
or applying other "rewards" and "punishments" in order to elicit positive responses from the subject during negotiators.
2. Federal law enforcement agencies must take steps to foster greater understanding of the target under investigation. The subcommittees believe that had the Government officials involved at Waco taken steps to understand better the philosophy of the Davidians, they might have been able to negotiate more effectively with them, perhaps accomplishing a peaceful end to the standoff. The training, policies and procedures of Federal agencies should be revised to emphasize the importance of developing an understanding of their investigative targets.
3. Federal law enforcement agencies should implement changes in operational procedures and training to provide better leadership in future negotiations. The subcommittees believe that senior commanders should be given additional training in critical decisionmaking and that operational procedures be modified in accordance with this training. The subcommittees believe that the result of these changes should be that commanders will be better equipped to make necessary decisions from limited options with limited information during critical incidents. The benefits of these changes will protect not only the targets of Government action but, by making it more likely that Federal law enforcement officials will carry out their mission in the manner most likely to succeed, but will help to protect the safety of the law enforcement officers as well.
4. Federal law enforcement agencies should take steps to increase the willingness of its agents to consider the advice of outside experts. The subcommittees recommend that Federal law enforcement officials expand their capacity to obtain behavioral analyses of the targets of their investigations. This could be done through an expansion of those parts of the agencies in which behavioral analyses is performed. Additionally, this capacity could be enhanced through more formal arrangements with reputable outside consultants. The Nation's universities contain a wealth of experts whose expertise cuts across all fields of human behavior. Federal law enforcement should consider a more formal process for identifying qualified experts and entering into arrangements with them whereby they would be available when called upon.
5. Federal law enforcement agencies should modify standard negotiation policies to allow senior commanders to seek outside expert participation in negotiations when warranted by special and extenuating circumstances and the absence of in-house expertise. The immense number of people seeking to assist in the negotiations at Waco provided a good pool of resources from which to choose experts. Some of those people offering their assistance could have proven useful in the negotiations. The FBI should encourage agents to reach out for creative solutions to barricade situations in the fu