No More Wacos:
What's Wrong with Federal Law
Enforcement, and How to Fix It

By David B. Kopel and Paul H. Blackman

No More Wacos is published by Prometheus Books (Amherst, N.Y.). $26.95 plus $4.00 shipping and handling.

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The book is the Winner of the 1997 Thomas S. Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, presented by the Center for Independent Thought!

Publisher's Weekly review: "...provides insights and facts not found in most newspaper or TV coverage...[The authors] propose pertinent policy measures to compel law enforcement to act lawfully." (Jan. 6, 1997.)

Summary of the Book

This is the definitive book on Waco. No More Wacos uses the Waco disaster as the starting point for a comprehensive investigation of the increased militarization, violence, and lawlessness of federal law enforcement in the 1990s.

The book uses a narrative format to examine the events at Waco. Each chapter focuses on a particular general topic (e.g., the search warrant, the BATF raid, the April 19 tank assault), and uses the topic to investigate not only what went wrong at Waco, but also how Waco is illustrative of general problems with federal law enforcement.

While the book is about Waco, dozens of other cases of federal law enforcement abuse are brought into the discussion, including a lengthy analysis of the Randy Weaver shooting, as well as many lesser-known cases. As each problem is presented, the authors propose specific solutions. Over the course of the book, more than one hundred specific solutions are presented, ranging from the most comprehensive (banning military involvement in domestic law enforcement) to the technical (changes in the kind of statements that may be used in search warrant applications).

The book concludes with a comprehensive chapter of policy analysis which looks at institutional problems in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the FBI; other federal agencies; and the national media, and proposes additional remedies. These remedies include reform of federal forfeiture laws, and removing federal law enforcement from fields for which it has no Constitutional authorization.

The appendix is a comprehensive Federal Law Enforcement Improvement Bill, which proposes specific statutory language to address each one of solutions discussed in the book. A second appendix provides the only summary available of the fifty-one days of negotiations on a day-by-day, conversation-by-conversation basis. Finally, there is comprehensive bibliography, which includes discussion and evaluation of various sources. The bibliography includes not only the usual types of citations, but also videos and Internet sites.

Meticulously documented, with over 2,000 endnotes, No More Wacos is scrupulously careful to analyze all sides of the argument, and to discuss conflicting evidence.

What is the central thesis of the book?

Waco did not come about either as a result of a conspiracy or a fluke. Waco represents the worst-case scenario of problems that are now pervasive in federal law enforcement, including militarization, judicial rubberstamping of search warrant applications, aggressive and unnecessarily violent arrest procedures, indifference to religious beliefs, and politicized, incompetent media and congressional investigation of abuses. Four years after the Waco disaster, this is the book which explains how and why the tragedy occurred, and shows America how to prevent future such tragedies by putting federal law enforcement back under the rule of law.

Why is this book different from all other Waco Books?

This is only book which offers specific solutions for how to prevent another Waco, and how to fix the general problem of which Waco is the visible tip of a very large iceberg. Placing the Waco disaster in the context of the increasingly militaristic, violent, lawless federal law enforcement, the book offers numerous examples of other federal law enforcement abuses. Every place in the book where a problem is found, a specific remedy is proposed. The appendix to the book includes a proposed comprehensive federal law enforcement reform bill, which can set the law enforcement agenda in Congress for the remainder of the century.

No More Wacos is better documented than more journalistic accounts; more balanced than books which refuse to acknowledge David Koresh as anything worse than an innocent victim; broader than the collections of scholarly essays concerned with the nature of the Branch Davidians' religious beliefs and the need for respect for freedom of religion (of course we do address this important issue, in detail); and less partisan than Republican evaluations and investigations.

The authors' backgrounds in law and criminology help them lay out the evidence in an accessible, methodical manner. Where the evidence is conflicting, they carefully analyze the pros and cons of each possible explanation. The careful analysis of both sides of the evidence stands in marked contrast to almost everything else ever written about Waco, and makes the book especially valuable for library or academic purposes.

The book contains the clearest, most thorough explanation of topics such as:

In contrast to every other Waco book, No More Wacos offers specific solutions for every problem identified.

As the millennium approaches, there is a very high risk for more "cult" activity, and more federal confrontations with unconventional religious groups. This is the only Waco book which looks forward, and sets forth a detailed agenda which can ensure that there will never again be a Waco.

On-Line Reviews

The Fire Last Time. Jacob Sullum's review of No More Wacos in Reason magazine, May 1998 issue.

Excerpts from the Book

Table of Contents for No More Wacos

Prologue. The first chapter from No More Wacos. Discusses the Book of Revelation, the history of the Branch Davidians and David Koresh up to February 1993, and the Randy Weaver case. (This manuscript version differs in some respects from the final published version.)

Articles or Speeches about Waco and Ruby Ridge

Journal articles

From Razing a Village to Razing the Constitution: The Branch Davidian Stand-Off Twenty Years Later. 36 Reason Papers 72 (2014). With Paul Blackman.

Can Soldiers be Peace Officers? The Waco Disaster and the Militarization of Law Enforcement. 30 Akron Law Review 619 (1997). With Paul Blackman. Reprinted in Italian in Carlo Stagnaro, editor, Waco: Una Strage di Stato Americano (Stampa Alternativa 2001). With Paul Blackman. Italiano: La libertà, l'esercito e la legge in Waco: Una strage di stato Americana (Stampa Alternativa 2001).

The Unwarranted Warrant: The Waco Search Warrant and the Decline of the Fourth Amendment. 18 Hamline Journal of Public Law and Policy 1 (1996). Includes (but in a substantially revised format) material from chapters 2 and 6 of No More Wacos, discussing how the BATF search warrant was obtained, and why the low-quality search warrant--and others like it--are the inevitable result of Supreme Court decisions weakening the Fourth Amendment. With Paul Blackman.

Short articles

At War in America. Sept. 23, 1999.

Imbalance of Power. By Linda Gorman. Waco illustrates the danger of centralized government.

Fanning the Flames of Waco. Cato Institute. Sept. 8, 1999. With Paul Blackman.

The Ruby Ridge Prosecutions. The decision of an Idaho prosecutor to prosecute two people involved in the Ruby Ridge tragedy, and the federal decision not to prosecute any of the FBI and U.S. Marshal perpetrators. August 27, 1997. With Paul Blackman.

Child Abuse at Waco. Chronicles magazine, Dec. 1995.

Justice for Waco and Oklahoma City. Applauding the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh, and bemoaning the non-prosecution of many perpetrators at Waco

Knock, Knock. National Review. Mar. 20, 1995. Discusses defects in the Waco search warrant and the violent BATF warrant services. Suggests various reforms to prevent future abuses.

Summary of Don Kates' lecture at Harvard Law School, on Waco and that BATF. Delivered April 20, 1993.

Books about Waco

Carol Moore. The Davidian Massacre. Paperback book published in 1995. Plus updated information from the Committee for Waco Justice.

Judicial Proceedings and Department of Justice

Grand Jury indictment of the Waco defendants.

Jury Instructions at Waco trial. Notably, the instructions do not allow the jury to consider self-defense in determining the Davidians' guilt manslaughter.

Judge Smith's memorandum granting the prosecution's motion to reinstate inconsistent guilty verdicts.

Sentencing Memorandum of trial Judge Walter Smith.

Appellate Brief to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Filed by attorney Stephen Halbrook.

Reply Brief to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Halbrook's brief answers claims made in the brief of the federal government.

Petition for certiorari, to the United States Supreme Court. Filed by attorney Stephen Halbrook, on behalf of Jamie Castillo.

Other Waco Pages

Mount Carmel today. Photos of the property.

David Hardy's website. Extensive material uncovered through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. Very worthwhile site.

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