- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2000

FORT HOOD, Texas A court-supervised series of weaponry tests designed to find out whether FBI agents shot at Branch Davidians just before the April 19, 1993, tragedy that ended with more than 80 of the sect dying in an inferno near Waco ended late yesterday with the results unknown.

"The test today went smoothly, but we're really kind of limited right now as to what we can share with you," said U.S. Attorney Mike Bradford, as he and Houston lawyer Michael Caddell met briefly with the media following the unusual tests here.

Mr. Caddell did not hint what the experiment indicated, but said that if the newly obtained video proves the FBI did shoot that day, he would push for indictments of those commanders who ordered such action.

The reply came to a specific question about what should occur if the plaintiffs' claims were proven and the FBI was proven less than truthful.

"Yes, I would [seek indictments], because I think people lied to Congress and lied to the American people. I think they should be prosecuted."

Mr. Bradford, based in Beaumont, recently became the lead government lawyer in defending against a series of Branch Davidian civil lawsuits. Mr. Caddell is the lead lawyer for several families who lost relatives in the showdown at Mount Carmel almost seven years ago.

It was this civil litigation a multimillion-dollar wrongful-death suit slated to begin in mid-May in Waco that forced the issue and prompted U.S. District Judge Walter Smith of Waco to order yesterday's tests.

The government continually has denied FBI agents fired even a single shot. Mr. Caddell's experts claim flashes on FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) video tapes clearly indicate dozens of such firings.

Yesterday, a British Royal Navy Lynx Mk8 helicopter and an FBI Night Stalker fixed-wing aircraft flew the same patterns the government used to fly aircraft the day of the fire. They filmed camouflaged soldiers on the ground as they fired several different kinds of weapons.

Fort Hood personnel had helped with preparation of the site, down to strewing broken glass, debris, pieces of metal and tires, so the terrain would approximate the Mount Carmel scene.

Mr. Caddell said he felt certain that the question of whether the FBI fired on the Davidians would be determined when all participants and their experts had a chance to examine the footage shot yesterday and compare it with the FLIR videos taken in 1993.

"I'm an optimist," said Mr. Caddell, "and I continue to believe that … if the test concludes that there are flashes from gunfire, and they look like the flashes from April 19, I believe I'm hoping, that the FBI leadership will acknowledge that gunfire and will commence an internal investigation to determine who was firing and upon whose orders."

FBI officials have claimed that the flashes seen on the earlier video came from sunlight bouncing off pools of water or off pieces of strewn metal and other debris as the army tanks pierced the compound's walls to thrust tear gas inside.

FBI officials have said the critical issue remained whether the infrared cameras could detect people on the ground. No people were visible on the 1993 tapes until after the fire began.

"I don't think this is a big conspiracy," said Mr. Caddell. "This is a small conspiracy. There were a handful of people who took matters into their own hands, who disobeyed the orders of the attorney general and the FBI leadership and I think those people should be held responsible."

Mr. Caddell said he would release copies of the videos today at a Houston news conference.

"You're not going to need me or an expert, or the FBI to tell you the answer to this question," he said yesterday. "You're going to know if those flashes from April 19 were gunfire or not just by looking and comparing."

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