I wasn't sure whether this was a topic more suitable for a quick H/A thread or a more involved D&D thread, but given the scope of the subject matter I figured I may as well make the post here.
Waco? Where's that? And what 'siege'?
I'm going to assume everyone here already knows at least the basics of the Waco Siege (...which occurred in a rural area outside of the city of Waco, not within it). To encapsulate the background: a very disturbed man with a complex, violent & abusive history named Vernon Howell (who would change his name to David Koresh, the name he's commonly known by today) established a radical Christian cult & concubine in a compound on Mount Caramel. A package being delivered to the compound via UPS accidentally opened on the way there, revealing weaponry, black powder and grenade casings; the UPS driver immediately called the police, who contacted the ATF, who sent agents to the compound to investigate possible weapons violations.
What happened beyond this point for weeks, including an eventual escalation by the state to an FBI-organized siege of the Mount Caramel compound, is historically fuzzy as far as I've been able to gather.
Basically, I've been reading about the siege & the background of Mr. Howell, and I'm trying to get my sources straightened-out. There are two primary perspectives on the siege that aren't considered fringe (again, as far as I've been able to tell):
- The siege and eventual death of nearly 80 people in a fire within the compound was a result of mutual violence / aggression between law enforcement & Howell's cult, and the antagonizing force was the ATF. Koresh was not doing anything illegal until agents from the ATF arrived and, in a panic, started shooting at armed members of the cult who then returned fire. This escalated into the siege.
- More or less everything was the fault of Howell & his inner circle of followers, who attacked & murdered ATF agents on sight, refused any and all attempts at negotiation and was engaged in illegal activity that the state had every right to investigate / stop when they first dispatched the ATF (including statutory rape and various weapons violations that I honestly do not understand the legal complexities of, or how said legal complexities interact with the 2nd amendment within the U.S.).
The first perspective relies on the testimony of survivors from the compound (who obviously would have their own biases - but who also have independently testified in favor of the FBI agents who were present during the siege on multiple occasions, including testifying to the fact that Howell is the one who started the fire at the compound), allegedly deceptive statements made by the FBI (the FBI claims that no agents ever fired a weapon at the compound during the siege, despite coming under attack by cultists. They also initially claimed that no incendiary weapons were used) and evidence that is supposed to show these statements to be deceptive (FLIR imaging that is contended to show persons firing into the compound and at least two incendiary grenades thrown into an empty swimming pool which the FBI now acknowledge must have been used by their agents).
The second perspective relies on the testimony of the FBI (including retired agents who have no reason to lie on behalf of the bureau), local police (who have no reason to lie on behalf of the bureau, and who in the past have been very reluctant to testify in their favor), transcripts of negotiations between Howell and federal agents & eavesdropped audio from between Howell & his followers, Howell's violent past, and the (allegedly) plainly maniacal state of affairs at the compound (a very large weapons cache, a concubine that arguably was not free to leave the premises, alleged claims of ongoing statutory rape, etc).
Who is considered the most objective, third-party source to go to for information on the Waco siege? Does such a source even exist?
What the Hell happened on and after the 28th of February on Mount Caramel, and where/whom can I go to to read about it without being reasonably sure I'm being misled?