The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Henry Tatum

Tragedy from start to finish

Fifty-one days. Federal agents waited and watched for 51 days. They analyzed every square inch of the Branch Davidian compound at Mount Carmel. They bugged the building. They played mind games with cult members. And they tried desperately to figure out what David Koresh, the self-styled messiah of this tragic flock, really wanted.

But when it all came to a fiery end, federal authorities proved they were no more capable of dealing with this religious sect Monday than they were when their deadly siege on the compound began Feb. 28.

Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Bob Ricks was visibly shaken when he stood before a roomful of reporters Monday afternoon and vainly attempted to say why his agency was unprepared for Branch Davidians to burn down their own building rather than surrender. "I can't tell you the shock and horror that all of us felt when we saw those flames,' Mr. Ricks said. "It was, "Oh, my God. They're killing themselves.' '

With embers still smoldering at the compound site outside Waco, Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI officials tried hard to explain how the suicide deaths of as many as 86 Branch Davidian members never could have been anticipated. Yet the very nature of this standoff between federal authorities and the religious cult seemed to dictate that there would be a dramatic ending.

Throughout the endless number of days that law enforcement officers negotiated with Mr. Koresh to surrender peacefully, he delivered disturbing messages that should have been a sign of what could occur. The Branch Davidian leader told radio reporters early on that he expected to be "going back to join my father' if the confrontation continued.

But somehow Ms. Reno and Mr. Ricks seemed determined Monday to lay the entire failure of the siege at the feet of David Koresh. The FBI special agent pointed out how Mr. Koresh had lied to them. He said the fire Monday was "the final lie' because children were burned up with everyone else.

The FBI response seems contradictory. Just moments earlier, the agency said the blaze couldn't have been anticipated because nothing Mr. Koresh ever said during the 51-day standoff indicated he might do something so drastic. If he was someone who repeatedly lied to them, why would the FBI believe anything Mr. Koresh said regarding the prospects for a violent ending?

The Branch Davidian tragedy provides frightening evidence of what federal authorities are not yet willing to admit. Federal law enforcement agencies still don't seem to have a clue how to deal with the growing number of religious cults in the United States today.

Following the ill-fated Mount Carmel raid by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in February, the federal government's only real goal was to correct the terrible mess that had been made. With four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents and at least a half-dozen cult members dead, the FBI was determined to negotiate a peaceful solution.

But as the days dragged on and federal authorities became increasingly frustrated by Mr. Koresh, the emphasis shifted to ending the standoff once and for all. Is it any wonder that agents were caught flat-footed when their decision to release low-grade tear gas into the compound was met with a suicidal blaze? By all appearances, it seems they had stopped thinking about what David Koresh might do.

There will be a federal investigation of the Branch Davidian debacle. Heads could roll. And policies almost certainly will be revised. But will the federal government truly be prepared the next time they receive complaints about a religious cult stockpiling weapons in preparation for their day of Apocalypse?

During the long weeks of waiting, newspapers and TV networks did a good job of showing us just how many other groups with messiah-like leaders are out there in the farmlands and back roads of this nation.

And there are plenty of people just like you and me who have given up on this fractured society and moved to the wilderness in search of their own destiny. Will federal agents be knocking on their door someday to find out if they are armed survivalists? The thought is a chilling one to me.

Make no mistake about it. David Koresh is responsible for the horrible deaths of those who blindly chose to follow him. But unless the federal government admits how poorly prepared it is to deal with religious cults and is willing to learn from its costly mistakes, the tragedy at Mount Carmel is destined to be repeated somewhere else.

Henry Tatum is an associate editor of The Dallas Morning News editorial page.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Steve Kenny

Koresh anticipated agents would face criticism after inferno, psychiatrist says

Federal officials could have done little to prevent the mass suicide of David Koresh's followers, no matter what tactic was used to end the Branch Davidian standoff, a Dallas psychiatrist said Tuesday.

The criticism of federal actions that led to the Branch Davidian fire was probably anticipated by Mr. Koresh, said Dr. J. Douglas Crowder, an assistant professor of forensic psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

In a way, he said, the calls for federal investigations, the threats of lawsuits, and the criticism by news media and governments across the world give the cult leader the last laugh.

"He was a sophisticated enough man to know the sense of guilt and endless second-guessing which would plague authorities after a lethal outcome,' the psychiatrist said. "This ultimate act of control and influence would have been a high-priority option for Koresh at any point . . . even if the crisis ended months later.'

It's likely that Mr. Koresh, from the beginning, planned the fiery end that apparently took his life and those of dozens of his supporters Monday, the doctor said.

"He was going to be in control, no matter what,' Dr. Crowder said. "I see this with individual suicides as well. Some people try to hurt themselves when other people are trying to help them. . . . They're saying, "Nobody else is going to control my environment.' '

His followers were probably more than willing to follow Mr. Koresh to their deaths, he added.

"The idea of martyrdom to attain a higher spiritual standing in an afterlife was likely quite appealing to cult members,' Dr. Crowder said. "There may even have been a sadistic component in the way he ended it.'

Dr. Crowder called the cult leader a classic "existential assassin' along the lines of John Hinckley, who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and another cult leader, Jim Jones, who led hundreds of followers to their deaths in the South American country of Guyana in 1979.

"They have otherwise drab, underachieving lives . . . and the deaths validate them,' Dr. Crowder said.

Mr. Koresh, however, never would have compared himself to either Mr. Hinckley or Mr. Jones, Dr. Crowder said.

"He would have seen himself as different and better than Jim Jones,' Dr. Crowder said. "I don't think there was any conscious decision on his part to copy what happened in Jonestown.'

The long siege at Mount Carmel -- and the intense media coverage -- might have encouraged Mr. Koresh to end the standoff violently, Dr. Crowder said.

"The media kept talking about how they (the Branch Davidians) were going to commit mass suicide,' he said. "That makes it all the more attractive. . . . After a certain point, the illogic of it melts away.'

Dr. Crowder also said that people criticizing Attorney General Janet Reno and the FBI leaders who decided to assault the compound are "doing so on a more emotional than rational basis.'

Dr. Crowder said many of the critics, especially those with close ties to the compound, may be acting out their private pain in a public way.

"Family members and other persons, such as attorneys who had contact with cult members who perished, may also unconsciously seek to diffuse their own sense of guilt from (their) inability to help those they cared for by finding a scapegoat,' he said.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Steve Scott

Parkland turns down offers of skin for burn victims

Dozens of people who wanted to donate their skin for transplants to three Branch Davidians recuperating from burns at Parkland Memorial Hospital were turned away, officials at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said Tuesday.

The volunteers were denied because skin is taken only from cadavers, school officials said. Also, the medical school, which stores skin for transplants at Parkland and other hospitals, had enough skin to handle the three patients.

"There were a lot of calls,' said Ellen Heck, the medical school's director of transplant services. "Fortunately, right now we have an adequate supply.'

Also Tuesday, Parkland officials confirmed the identities of the three patients, who were taken by helicopter to Dallas after the sect's compound outside Waco burned to the ground Monday afternoon.

Clive Doyle, 52, was in good condition with second- and third-degree burns on both hands.

Misty Ferguson, 17, and Marjorie Thomas, 30, were in critical condition, with ventilators regulating their breathing.

Doctors were treating both women for second- and third-degree burns. The flames seared Ms. Thomas' buttocks, feet, neck and face, burning 50 percent of her body. Ms. Ferguson's right arm and face were burned, covering a quarter of her body.

The only other injured cult member, Ruth Riddle, was in stable condition Tuesday at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco. Ms. Riddle, 29, suffered first- and second-degree burns on 5 percent of her body, on her arms and legs.

Parkland officials would not say what treatments were planned for the three patients there.

But UT Southwestern officials said doctors usually try to stabilize burn patients for a few days to prepare them for skin transplant surgery. The first skin transplants on Branch Davidian patients aren't expected until at least Wednesday, Ms. Heck said. Patients usually receive skin transplants only if their burns cover more than 35 percent of their body, she said.

People began calling UT Southwestern on Monday afternoon to offer their skin for transplants, Ms. Heck said.

"For a living individual to donate skin, they would have to be in the hospital in order to do it and would experience pain and discomfort,' Ms. Heck said. "For that reason, it's imperative that we get skin donations at the time of death.'

Officials said they still did not know where the three had lived before moving into David Koresh's compound.

Armed agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms continued standing guard over the three patients.

Staff writer Steve Kenny contributed to this report.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Victoria Loe

Cultists' prosecution will be challenging
Few similar cases were as tough, legal experts say

Waco is still reeling from its 51-day nightmare, but for the authorities charged with bringing the surviving Branch Davidians to justice, an even longer ordeal is just beginning.

Even though David Koresh and most other potential defendants are believed to have been killed in the inferno that consumed their compound, charges have been brought against some sect members and may be brought against others.

And few legal cases, even those arising from confrontations with other disaffected political or religious groups, have been as daunting, say legal scholars and prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges.

"These are the kinds of cases where you really earn your money,' said Morris Arnold, a judge on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who presided over a high-profile 1988 sedition trial in Arkansas. "They consume your life.'

"We had no concept of how hard it was going to be,' said David Schwendiman, an assistant U.S. attorney, referring to the prosecution of a Utah polygamist clan after a deadly 1988 standoff. Yet, for all its difficulties, that case was simpler than this one, he said.

Challenges to come

Virtually every aspect of the Branch Davidian case presents unique challenges:

"There's going to be plenty to worry about,' said McLennan County District Attorney John Segrest, whose office will prosecute any charges brought in state court. "I wish it (the site of the standoff) was in Limestone County.'

As of Tuesday, six Branch Davidians had been charged with federal offenses. Five -- Kathryn Schroeder, Brad Branch, Kevin Whitecliff, Woodrow Kendrick and Norman Washington Allison -- left the compound during the standoff. The other -- Jaime Castillo -- escaped Monday and was arraigned Tuesday.

The FBI has portrayed most of those released by Mr. Koresh as unimportant figures within the cult. However, prosecutors said Mrs. Schroeder was a leader among the women, and federal affidavits have named Mr. Whitecliff, Mr. Castillo and two others as members of Mr. Koresh's elite fighting force, known as "mighty men.'

Charges will be brought in state court if authorities decide to seek the death penalty available for murder under state law. The federal death penalty law, as written, can be used only in certain drug cases.

Possible federal charges include murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder and racketeering.

Most of the charges lodged so far have been for conspiracy to murder or attempted murder. Prosecutors may have to settle for those charges if they can't prove that any surviving cult members actually fired the fatal shots during the Feb. 28 raid by ATF agents, but they carry lesser penalties than murder.

Who is responsible?

Before anyone can be brought to trial, however, investigators have the gargantuan task of determining who is responsible for the Feb. 28 deaths of four agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

It may take weeks to determine what, if any, evidence survived Monday's fire. The FBI has said it expected the scene to be of little use even before the fire because sect members had weeks to alter or destroy evidence.

After the Utah polygamist standoff, which involved only four defendants and the death of one state officer, investigators spent five weeks "scouring every inch of land' on the 3-acre site, Mr. Schwendiman said.

"What you've got (in Waco) is hundreds of times more complex,' he said.

Even before fire destroyed the compound, ATF spokesman David Troy acknowledged that this will be "one of the most difficult -- if not the most difficult' crime scene investigations in the history of the agency.

If physical evidence is scarce, testimony of those who survived the Feb. 28 shootout could become more critical.

But gathering coherent accounts -- even from from federal officers -- can be frustrating, Mr. Schwendiman said. It's difficult for even trained officers to clearly perceive events around them in the heat of battle. And once the event ends, Mr. Schwendiman said, they unwittingly begin to embroider it with tales heard either colleagues or through the news media.

Lawyers say much will hinge on the testimony of sect members who were inside the compound. But even though Mr. Koresh is apparently dead, their devotion may prove stronger than prosecutors' powers of persuasion.

"You're not going to see a lot of them turning on each other,' said Fred Metows, one of the defense lawyers in the Utah polygamy trial.

Prosecutors can't let such obstacles stop them, however.

"You take your facts as you find them,' said Susan Barnes, an assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle who helped convict members of a neo-Nazi group, The Order, on racketeering charges. "Then you get your statute book and find the one most likely to work.'

Like prosecutors, defense attorneys may find the case frustrating.

"They had a strange attitude: None of this really matters, it will be played out in a higher court,' Mr. Metows said of his polygamist client and his co-defendants.

"Because they didn't recognize government authority, they threatened to turn the trial into a sham,' said Brent Ward, the former U.S. attorney for Utah. "We had to protect their rights for them.'

Especially in light of the standoff's tragic end, defense attorneys may try to portray their clients as victims of an overzealous federal government.

"Some defense attorneys will try to bring in everything -- including the kitchen sink,' said Mr. Segrest, the McLennan prosecutor. "If the judge is inclined to let everyone throw up on the record, it could turn into an absolute circus.'

Other difficulties

Regardless of what tack defense lawyers choose, the trial is almost certain to present logistical challenges for the judge.

In addition to providing facilities for multiple defendants and their attorneys, there will be scores of reporters clamoring for a view of the action.

The spectators, too, may create problems. "Religious nuts just came out of the woodwork,' said Mr. Metows, recalling the polygamist trial.

"Management becomes a challenge,' said Judge Arnold.

Because of the highly charged nature of the Arkansas sedition case, he said, authorities placed 15 to 20 armed federal marshals in the courtroom and tactical teams outside the courthouse.

One intriguing question is whether defendants will assert either insanity or brainwashing as a defense, both of which are difficult to demonstrate, according to legal experts.

To successfully plead insanity, a defendant must prove that a "severe' mental defect prevented his grasping the wrongness of his actions, said Harvey Wingo, a law professor at Southern Methodist University.

Brainwashing is even chancier because it's not generally recognized as a legal concept. In addition, Dr. Wingo said, juries are instinctively hesitant to believe that defendants have been stripped of their free will.

"Brainwashing as a defense has been relatively unsuccessful,' he said.

In the end, much may hinge on the tide of public sentiment that will swirl around the case.

"Most Americans thoroughly approve of giving the government hell,' Judge Arnold said.

And of tolerance toward nontraditional religions.

"So they're kooks, so what?" said David Dunagin, one of the defense attorneys in the Arkansas sedition trial.

Although jurors will be sworn to disregard philosophical matters, juries often have a mind of their own.

And "all it takes is one juror' to hang a jury, said. Mr. Ward, the former U.S. attorney for Utah.

All these factors may add up to an impossible task for officials charged with balancing the scales of justice. "I don't think we'll ever know the truth,' said Mr. Dunagin.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Diane Jennings

Waco students seem little affected by cult children's deaths

WACO -- The horrifying deaths of 17 children at the Branch Davidian complex doesn't seem to have fazed local youths, but educators said they are ready to deal with any problems that might arise.

School counselors were alerted after the first firefight at the religious cult's compound Feb. 28 and were reminded to "be sensitive' after Monday's inferno, said Estelle Geno, chairwoman of guidance and counseling for the Waco Independent School District.

Parents and teachers should be particularly sensitive to the fears of children, said Dr. Beeman Phillips, professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Some children might not understand what happened and would add puzzlement to typical concerns about death, he said.

So far, incidents involving children disturbed by the death and destruction have been minimal, Ms. Geno said.

Any negative effect was softened by the remoteness of the compound, said several educators. Because the Branch Davidian children had been schooled at home in recent years, few local children knew those who perished in the fire.

One of the few incidents Ms. Geno could recall happened with a child who got in trouble at home several weeks ago. After hearing about children of cult members being turned over to authorities upon leaving their compound home, the child inquired whether he would be taken away as well.

Waco school counselors were prepared to answer such queries through monthly meetings with a local psychologist who specializes in crisis management, Ms. Geno said.

That psychologist, Dr. Hap Le-Crone Jr., said he doesn't expect many emotional problems from the Branch Davidian disaster.

"It's a terrible tragedy, and we're all treating it as a grief and loss issue,' Dr. Le-Crone said.

How children react to such a situation depends "to a large degree on the way the community handles it and the models they see, the parents and the teachers.'

Interest among children in events at the compound was high Monday, said Waco bus driver Linda Horne.

She said she asked students on her elementary and middle school routes what they thought of the tragedy and was surprised by their thoughtful answers.

"This is a religious community,' she said, and many students quoted the Bible, dismissing the actions of cult leader David Koresh and his followers as "crazy.'

"They followed it, I think, more than some adults,' Ms. Horne said, adding that students weren't particularly upset by the fiery ending but were disturbed by the parents who sentenced their children to die with them in the inferno.

"They said that their mamas were stupid and didn't love them,' Ms. Horne said.

That's exactly the issue that should be discussed, Dr. Phillips said.

Children may be anxious "about how some of these mothers might have been responsible,' he said. "That would be the source of some serious kinds of worries.'

At University High School, students also seemed undisturbed by events.

Patrick McMillan, a sophomore, said he was "tired of hearing about it' and noted that Waco wasn't used to so much publicity.

Other students also said they were glad the standoff had ended.

"It's just something that happens,' freshman Jermaine Chappell said.

During the day Monday, some students searched the horizon for smoke, and others watched events unfold on television.

But some adminstrators turned off school televisions Monday.

John Bass, superintendent of the Mart Independent School District southeast of Waco, did not allow younger children to watch news coverage.

"We knew they would hear about it, but we thought it was something better heard at home with your parents,' he said.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Lee Hancock

FBI agent tried to prod Koresh toward surrender

WACO -- FBI Agent Bob Ricks began and ended the Branch Davidian siege watching in utter, impotent horror as the cult's apocalyptic violence played itself out on national TV.

The Oklahoma City-based special agent, one of four FBI officials who helped manage the Waco siege, said he was at home watching a Sunday golf tournament when network news programs broke in Feb. 28 to report that four ATF agents had died in a firefight at the McLennan County compound.

Within hours, he said Tuesday, he was on his way to Waco, where he had attended Baylor University as an undergraduate and law school student. He helped oversee almost two months of negotiations and worked on plans for the gas attacks that ended with cult leader David Koresh and his followers setting fire to the compound in what appeared to be mass suicide.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Dallas Morning News, the 48-year-old chief of the FBI's Oklahoma City office provided new details of how FBI agents tried -- and failed -- to end the standoff and rescue of 17 children inside the compound.

In Waco, Agent Ricks was the FBI's chief spokesman, conducting 32 news conferences during the 51-day siege. The Del Rio native was a distinctive but understated presence, giving the agency's perspective on the unfolding crisis with more than an occasional flash of dry humor.

He acknowledged Tuesday -- as he did during some briefings -- that the agency's news media statements were often most aimed at Mr. Koresh and his followers.

"What I would do, generally every afternoon . . . I'd meet with psychologists and negotiators, and I would say, what is the theme that we were trying to put over,' Agent Ricks said.

He would alternately praise and scold Mr. Koresh in the briefings, producing an ebb and flow of messages that shaped negotiations, he said.

When Mr. Koresh quit talking or became too abusive, "I would scold him' in the news briefings, he said. "And when I would take on that (role), amazingly he would come back and start to talk.' At one point, he said, he attempted to speak directly to the American public.

"It appeared that people just weren't getting it. They were saying why didn't we just leave this religious guy alone,' he said. "So I went through a period where I said (to negotiators), I want the "wacko in Waco' quote of the day. I want the worst thing that he's said.'

In addition to his duties as a spokesman, Agent Ricks said, he helped develop FBI strategies for ending the siege.

On Feb. 28, Agent Ricks said, he and others devised an emergency rescue plan to take the compound if it became apparent that cult members had begun killing children.

"The immediate plan was quite similar to the one we ended up with Monday,' he said.

It had two basic goals: rescuing all the children and doing so with no injuries to any federal agents, Agent Ricks said. "We knew that the chances were great that the adults would not come out unharmed. So we felt that if we got any of them out safely, that would be a great bonus,' he said.

Authorities became convinced within the last few weeks that the plan was needed because negotiations were going nowhere. Mr. Koresh seemed increasingly anxious to provoke a deadly firefight, Agent Ricks said.

"We were not going to end it on their terms,' he said.

But in all the worst scenarios they considered, Agent Ricks said, no one suspected that the cult might die in what amounted to a mass immolation.

"It was a horrible sight. As soon as I saw that smoke, it immediately struck me what was happening,' Mr. Ricks said. "The FBI considers itself part of the good guys. We basically viewed our whole reason for being there was to save lives. . . . It was agonizing for us to see those flames spread and have no power to stop it.'

It is the loss of the children about which agents feel worst, said Agent Ricks, a devout Baptist and father of two. His voice chokes as he talks about the children burned to death, children he saw on videotapes sent out by the cult.

"We felt deeply for those children. I looked at those tapes. I looked them in the eyes. They're etched in my memory,' he said.

"And there are voices that will always be there. They will never go away,' he said. "David Koresh, his voice is in my head.'

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Diane Jennings

Grandmom defends Koresh

David Koresh's grandmother complained Tuesday night that authorities have kept her from going to the ruins of the burned Branch Davidian compound to see for herself whether her grandson died in the inferno.

"God could have brought him right on out of there,' said Jean Holub of Houston.

If he is dead, she said, "I do have a right to go to his bones, don't I?'

Mrs. Holub, who also lost great-grandchildren in the fire, expressed gratitude for well-wishers' expressions of sympathy and concern over federal officials' actions.

"Everybody from all over the world has come by and told me how sorry they (federal officials) done,' she said.

Mrs. Holub, fresh from taping a segment of television's Montel Williams Show outside the compound Tuesday, staunchly defended Mr. Koresh.

She said he never talked about suicide or dying by fire. And she denied reports that he abused children.

Mrs. Holub blamed federal authorities for the blaze at the compound.

"I knew they was gonna get him one way or the other,' she said.

Mrs. Holub said that although she is not a follower of the Branch Davidians, she respected them.

"I respect them, I certainly did,' she said, "and I respected my grandson. You've got a right to believe what you want to, and I know he studied the Bible.'

Mrs. Holub was accompanied by the wife of jailed cultist Woodrow Kendrick.

Mrs. Kendrick said the world has not seen the last of David Koresh.

"He's coming back. He's coming back right here,' she said. "Not in the flesh he left in, but he's coming back. As himself. You'll have to study your Bible. He's coming.'

But Mrs. Kendrick said Mr. Koresh was not Jesus.

"He never claimed to be Christ,' she said. "He claimed to have the same spirit that Christ had, not to be Christ. I never heard him say that.'

She also said she doubted that Mr. Koresh ordered the compound torched, adding, "I think the truth of all this will come out.'

Mrs. Kendrick said she thinks an earthquake will break the Lake Waco dam as Mr. Koresh prophesied and cause a flood.

"I expect it to happen,' she said. "It's going to be a natural disaster.'

But she said God will give humanity a chance to be saved before the end of the world.

"This is what I call the beginning of the end,' she said. "It's going to take a period of time. . . . I believe God's going to give everyone a chance to get prepared.'

Mrs. Kendrick, still wearing the Star of David necklace she has had for 20 years, said that she remains a Branch Davidian and that the sect will go on.

She said she planned to stay in Waco, where her husband remains in jail.

"All the people in the group are going to be here in Waco,' she said. "I'm going to stay with them.'

And Mrs. Kendrick said she is as committed as ever.

"You'd better believe it,' she said. "And I'm not crazy, and I'm not brainwashed.'

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Todd J. Gillman

Many officers making plans to head home
FBI dismantling command post

WACO -- By Tuesday afternoon, many federal agents in Waco for the Branch Davidian siege already were arranging flights back home.

"I'm leaving tomorrow,' said Jerry Singer, a Chicago-based agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. "I'm starting my sixth week in Waco.'

More than 150 ATF agents are among about 400 officers from various state and federal agencies who had gathered in Waco since the Feb. 28 raid that left four ATF agents dead and 16 wounded. More than 80 state Department of Public Safety troopers and 25 to 35 Texas Rangers also were assigned to Waco during the siege.

ATF agents from around the country have taken turns on cult standoff duty, Agent Singer said. The largest contingents now in Waco are from the Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston and St. Paul, Minn., offices, he said.

But after the hourlong blaze Monday that ended the standoff and apparently killed all but nine cult members, FBI and ATF officials said that far fewer officers are needed.

FBI hostage negotiators will leave Waco soon, although the agency's specialists in disaster response have been called in to help Rangers and medical examiners identify remains, Agent Jeffrey Jamar, the FBI special agent who headed the bureau's Waco operation, said Tuesday in the last of the agency's daily news conferences.

Electricity and phone lines had already been disconnected late Tuesday at the FBI command post at Texas State Technical College, and agents were putting equipment into trailers.

Although FBI forensics experts will assist in the investigation, the agency's primary mission in Waco ended Monday, Agent Carlos Fernandez said. "We had jurisdiction over the whole situation here. Since that came to a resolution, our business is pretty much over with.'

Also Tuesday, local law enforcement agencies began planning for life after the siege.

"Hopefully, we'll return to some semblance of normalcy,' said McLennan County Sheriff's Lt. Truman Simons, head of criminal investigations.

Lt. Simons said his department was stretched thin but has been aided by a relatively light crime load for the past seven weeks.

The Texas Rangers now take charge of the criminal investigation into the siege.

"The crime scene is now the Texas Rangers',' said Agent Jamar.

The Rangers will lead the investigation because "murder is a state crime,' said ATF spokesman Bruce Snyder.

Besides investigating the shootings at the compound, the Texas Rangers also have been charged with finding the person who ATF agents say alerted cult leader David Koresh to the Feb. 28 raid.

ATF officials contend that the warning cost the agents the element of surprise and was largely responsible for the deaths on both sides.

Capt. Maurice Cook, in charge of the Rangers, has declined to discuss the investigation into the alleged leak. He referred all questions to federal prosecutors.

An ATF agent wounded in the raid has filed a civil lawsuit accusing the Waco Tribune-Herald and one of its reporters of tipping off Mr. Koresh.

The newspaper and the reporter have denied the allegation.

Staff writer George Kuempel contributed to this report.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Todd J. Gillman

Diplomats decline to fault FBI
Australian envoy pleased that Rangers to lead probe

WACO -- Diplomats from Australia and Great Britain withheld criticism over the FBI's handling of the Branch Davidian cult standoff, despite the deaths of their citizens in the inferno that ended the siege.

Australian Consul-General Peter Urban, based in Houston, said he was pleased that state officials would lead the investigation.

"Personally, I think the FBI could have handled the investigation perfectly professionally,' he said, "but obviously it's nice in these sad circumstances to have an independent third party. . . . In the sense of delivering both justice and what is seen as justice, I think that it is important that the Texas Rangers handle the investigation at this stage.'

Mr. Urban said he has requested that Texas Rangers ask one Australian cult member who survived, Clive Doyle, about the other Australians in the compound.

"Up to yesterday I thought the FBI handled this case very professionally,' Mr. Urban said outside the Waco Convention Center after the FBI briefing Tuesday morning. "I can't question their judgment on this. . . . People can make their own judgment.'

Seven Australian citizens were in the compound. Oliver Gyarfas has been in federal custody as a material witness. Graeme Craddock emerged Monday. The other five, plus an infant belonging to one, whom officials said was born in America and fathered by Mr. Koresh, are believed dead.

British Vice Consul Helen Mann, also based in Houston, said that 26 British citizens were alive in the compound when the fire started -- 17 women, 8 men and one child. Two British men escaped; one is in custody, the other is hospitalized. Five more Britons, including three children, left the compound earlier in the siege, she said.

Ms. Mann offered neither praise nor condemnation for the FBI's handling of the situation, saying her country is awaiting a full report from investigators.

"I don't think it would be appropriate to comment one way or the other,' she said.

Foreign newspapers bluntly criticized U.S. authorities' handling of the Waco standoff, saying miscalculations cost dozens of lives.

"What happened in Waco is unbelievable. And for the FBI, unpardonable,' the Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias said Tuesday. "What is inexcusable, for such a powerful American federal agency, is that at the end of those 51 days everything happened exactly the way David Koresh said it would.'

America's detractors "will be only too happy to exploit once more the stereotype of the trigger-happy cop,' said the English-language Gulf News in the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai.

Assaf Hefetz, the founder of a special Israeli anti-guerrilla unit, criticized the FBI for using armored vehicles to punch holes in the cult's compound and pumping in tear gas. "Tear gas always allows time and room for action' by the other side, said Mr. Hefetz, who is a deputy to Israel's national police commissioner.

The Daily Telegraph in London said some good could come out of the tragedy if President Clinton uses it as an opportunity to tighten gun control laws.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Nancy Kruh

Church service begins healing process for Waco area

WACO -- The church service lasted only 30 minutes -- about all the time the fire needed to destroy the Branch Davidian compound.

But in that half-hour Tuesday, Waco began its long process of healing the wound that David Koresh left on this city.

About 100 worshipers -- including Gov. Ann Richards -- came together for a personal moment, this "service of prayer and lament,' held at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Waco.

"We need our feelings helped -- you just don't know what to do,' explained Louise Herbert, an Epis-copalian who took an early seat for the 12:15 p.m. service.

George and Trish Holland, the husband and wife who pastor the church, had volunteered the 70-year-old sanctuary for the hastily called ecumenical gathering.

On Monday night, Mr. Holland spoke to "four or five reporters' to get the word out. He was surprised that the open invitation brought just as many members of the media to observe as there were townspeople to worship.

Throughout the service, the sounds of the reporters and photographers -- shutters clicking, pens on paper -- mingled with the sounds of worship -- the soothing organ, the murmured prayers.

"The purpose,' Mr. Holland said at the start of the service, "is to give each of us an opportunity to lift up our pain and our shock and our hurt to almighty God.'

And there was pain, shock, hurt -- all written across the faces of the congregation.

Just as authorities Tuesday began poring over the charred rubble, looking for answers to their investigation, so these Waco people searched for their own answers.

Why did this spiritual aberration happen just a few miles from their home of spiritual tradition? Why did the ordeal end this way? And why, most of all, why the children?

"O God, the children -- we weep for the children,' began Jo Pendleton, the local director of the private housing program Habitat for Humanity.

A member of the Waco Ministerial Alliance that sponsored the service, Ms. Pendleton wrote and delivered "A Mother's Lament' in memory of the 17 children presumed dead at the compound.

"We lay before you our outrage, our terrible sadness, our fears about our own children,' Ms. Pendleton said, "and we thank you for the healing and grace of tears.'

As she spoke the words, tears rimmed the eyes of many of the congregants. Later, Ms. Richards said she, too, was most struck by the lamentation.

"It was particularly appropriate,' she said. "First and foremost, we must remember our children.'

Ms. Richards grew up in Waco and has many family friends there. "She made it clear,' said Mr. Holland, that she was there as a participant, and not a leader, of the service.

During the service she sat in the amber glow of one of the church's two massive stained-glass windows, which depict five scenes from Jesus' life, and one parable -- the lost lamb.

Ms. Pendleton's presentation came halfway into the service -- after a rabbi had read the 36th Psalm, expressing the spiritual extremes of human wickedness and divine goodness; after a Baptist preacher had implored God to "heal our city, our state, our country'; and just before Waco Mayor Bob Sheehy implored residents to find some meaning in the senselessness.

"After our mourning is over, I pray that we can come together as a community and become more concerned with each other,' the mayor said, "and see that nothing like this happens again.'

Once the congregants had risen to recite the 23rd Psalm -- "The Lord is my shepherd . . . ' -- Ms. Holland then charged them to "have courage' and "hold fast to what is good.'

Silently, the crowd filtered out through the church's dark doors and into the light of the spring day.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Lee Hancock

Koresh vowed not to give in
ATF cites Feb. 28 statement

WACO -- A defiant David Koresh swore that he would never give in to federal law officers trying to arrest him, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

"Neither ATF or the National Guard will ever get me. They got me once and they will never get me again,' the documents quoted Mr. Koresh as saying.

"They are coming: The time has come.'

The court papers said the leader of the Branch Davidian cult made the statements Feb. 28, shortly before a shootout with raiding agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

His remarks were overheard by an undercover ATF agent who left the cult's headquarters just before the assault, which sparked a seven-week standoff, according to the documents filed in federal court April 18.

The documents and affidavits from the ATF appeared to bolster claims, made repeatedly by authorities the past two days, that Mr. Koresh was bent on destroying not only himself but also those holed up with him in the cult's compound east of Waco.

The compound was leveled Monday by a roaring fire believed to have been set from within. The blaze apparently killed 86 of the 95 cult members -- including 17 children -- that Mr. Koresh said had remained.

In other developments Tuesday:

* One of the nine people who escaped from the compound during the fire was charged Tuesday with conspiracy to murder federal agents and was jailed. Four others were ordered held in the McLennan County Jail as material witnesses. Four remained hospitalized with burns and other injuries.

* FBI Agent Jeff Jamar said investigators had inconclusive evidence some of the cult members may have been killed as they tried to escape the inferno. One body with a gunshot wound was found, but the person could have been dead for weeks, the agent said.

* Exploding rounds ignited by embers continued to thwart authorities trying to search the rubble for bodies and evidence, said Mike Cox, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Two ATF demolition experts and a Texas Ranger spotted several badly charred bodies, including some of children, amid the rubble but were unable to remove the bodies, he said. "The biggest fear right now is that if we try to move a body, something will blow up,' Mr. Cox said.

* Many of the children released earlier by Mr. Koresh remain in the care of state child welfare workers. Those children were told Tuesday that their parents had died in the conflagration. Caseworkers and counselors also contacted the families of the 10 children who already had been released to relatives.

On Tuesday, the FBI said the messianic cult leader could have spared the children from fiery death by stowing them away in an underground bunker at the compound.

Bunker found

As authorities made their way through the still-smoldering rubble of the compound, they came upon an area behind the buildings where followers of Mr. Koresh had buried a bus for use as a bunker, Agent Jamar said.

"In that bus, the air was cool,' he said, and there was no trace of the irritant gas that agents used Monday morning in a failed attempt to peaceably end the 51-day standoff between authorities and the Branch Davidians.

"Had Koresh wished those children to survive, that was one place they could have hidden safely when he had the fires started,' Agent Jamar said.

He said the FBI was not responsible for the fatalities. "Those children are dead because David Koresh had them killed,' he said. "There's no question about that. He had those fires started. He had 51 days to release those children. He chose those children to die.'

In response to a question, he likened the deaths of the cult members to the Jonestown massacre.

"Is it where the leader causes the deaths of all the people in the compound?' he asked. "Yes, it is another Jonestown.'

Federal officials -- up to and including President Clinton -- on Tuesday continued to defend their actions in bringing the standoff to a head. One person and one alone, they said, was to blame for the horrific last chapter to the Brach Davidian saga.

"He killed those he controlled,' the president said of Mr. Koresh.

Mr. Clinton, while expressing unequivocal support for the decisions made by Attorney General Janet Reno and the FBI, ordered an inquiry into the government's handling of the standoff. Congressional hearings also have been scheduled.

Others continued their criticism of Monday's action.

Speaking in Tuesday night in Dallas, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said the Branch Davidians "were not a threat to society, only an embarassment to the government and its tacticians.'

"The government lost its patience, and the people lost their lives,' said Mr. Jackson, the civil rights leader and former presidential candidate.

Dick DeGuerin of Houston, who served as Mr. Koresh's lawyer, told reporters that the cult did not have a death pact and that the fire was not deliberately set. That assertion comes from information he said he received from two of the survivors.

FBI Agent Bob Ricks told The Dallas Morning News that federal officials have evidence that every adult in the compound had been trained in handling weapons -- and using them to kill.

"David would test them. He would say, "Are you willing to die for God?' ' Agent Ricks said. "Then he would ask, "Well, are you willing to kill for God?' He would convince them that if you're willing to die, you've got to be willing to kill.'

A 70-year-old woman among those who surrendered during the siege came out of the compound with a handwritten notebook detailing how to kill police wearing body armor, he said. An ATF affidavit unsealed Tuesday in federal court identified the woman as Catherine Mattson, who left the compound on March 2 and was one of the first two adults released.

"In her notes . . . it said to shoot them in the head,' Agent Ricks said. "Even the ladies who came out yesterday (during the fire) had flak jackets with hand grenades and multiple cartridges.'

The agent depicted the cult headquarters as a veritable fortress, housing a massive aresenal. He said that when he inspected the ruins after the fire, he saw crates of ammunition "stacked 10 feet high.'

Agent Ricks said the FBI, after weeks of stalled negotiations, became convinced that it was time to act against the cult members because Mr. Koresh seemed to be increasingly anxious to provoke a massive gunbattle.

"He was making statements to the effect that he could die in jail or he could die in here. He preferred to die in here,' Agent Ricks said.

Agent Jamar said Mr. Koresh's last pledge to his lawyer, to surrender after completing a prophetic manuscript, was nothing more than "another sham, another stall.' He said the agency had "absolute certain intelligence' to that effect, but did not elaborate.

"Where does that leave us? Do we wait 90 more days until children die? How would the federal government look when we finally get in the compound and there are children dying of hunger?' Agent Jamar said.

The original affidavit -- used to obtain the warrant to search the compound Feb. 28 -- detailed the group's purchases of almost $200,000 in assault rifles, explosives, tons of ammunition and other ordnance, federal officials have said.

According to one of the new affidavits, signed by an ATF agent and obtained from the U.S. attorney's office, government witnesses reported that the cult collected at least 100 fully automatic AR-15 assault rifles by January 1993, several silencers for the assault weapons and grenades.

Federal agents also said that some cult members asserted that Mr. Koresh was abusive, claiming exclusive sexual relationships with all women in the group and girls as young as 11.

An escalating fear nagging authorities during the last days of the siege was that Mr. Koresh would order women to run from the compound with babies in arms and fire guns at agents to try to provoke an attack, Agent Ricks said.

Under the plan implemented Monday, FBI officials were prepared to inject gas into the compound continuously for up to 48 hours, he said.

"There was a friendly dispute amongst ourselves,' he said "In effect, we were kind of wagering among ourselves on when they would come out. Some people thought they'd get a taste of the gas and run out immediately. . . . My bet in the pool was probably that zero would come out on the first day.'

Emergency call

Waco fire officials said they received the fire alarm from the compound via a 911 emergency call at 12:13 p.m. -- eight minutes after the blaze erupted.

Agent Jamar said the firetrucks were not allowed in sooner for fear that cult members might shoot at them.

When the fires began, Agent Ricks said, he and other agents in the FBI's command center at Texas State Technical College were monitoring the agency's video of the compound as well as live network news shows.

Incredibly, almost no one even tried to escape, he said. "People just don't know how hardened those people were in there,' he said. "The last two people to leave were the two guys who snuck in. Once they realized what this person was bent on doing, they beat a hasty retreat.'

Staff writers George Kuempel and Steve Scott contributed to this report.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Anne Marie Kilday

Clinton pledges probe of siege
President blames Koresh for deaths, staunchly defends Reno

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton on Tuesday pledged a "vigorous and thorough investigation' of the siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco but said that sect leader David Koresh "bears the ultimate responsibility' for the fiery deaths of his followers.

"David Koresh was dangerous, irrational and probably insane,' Mr. Clinton said. "He killed those he controlled, and he bears ultimate responsibility for the carnage that ensued.'

The president staunchly defended Attorney General Janet Reno, the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for their actions during the standoff, which began Feb. 28 when four ATF agents were killed in an aborted raid on the cult's compound.

The president called on the Justice Department, which oversees the FBI, and the Treasury Department, which oversees the ATF, to conduct a joint investigation of the 51-day siege with the help of independent, professional law enforcement personnel.

The investigation is needed "to uncover what happened and why and whether anything could have been done differently,' the president said at a brief news conference in the White House Rose Garden. In a joint statement, Ms. Reno and Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen said they had directed their staffs to begin planning the inquiry.

"We deeply regret the terrible tragedy that occurred in the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco yesterday. It is a shocking end to a long siege, something that goes beyond immediate comprehension,' the statement said.

Mr. Clinton said that "frankly, surprised would be a mild word' for his reaction to suggestions that Ms. Reno resign "because some religious fanatics murdered themselves.'

He said he was "bewildered' by reports that he had tried to distance himself from Ms. Reno's decision to ram the compound with tear gas-dispersing armored vehicles Monday.

The last call

"It's not possible for a president to distance himself from things that happen when the federal government is in control,' he said.

"I'm the president of the United States, and I signed off on the general decision and giving her the authority to make the last call,' he said. "She is not ultimately responsible to the American people. I am.'

The president said he approved the FBI's effort to use tear gas to drive sect members from their compound, after consulting with Ms. Reno by telephone Sunday.

"I then told her to do what she thought was right, and I take full responsibility for the implementation of the decision,' the president said.

The FBI "made every reasonable effort to bring the perilous situation to an end without bloodshed and further loss of life,' the president said. "We did everything we could to avoid the loss of life. They made the decision to immolate themselves, and I feel terrible about the loss of life, especially the children.'

FBI Agent Bob Ricks, one of the agency's commanders in Waco, appeared to contradict statements by Ms. Reno that one reason for Monday's assault was evidence that an increasingly agitated Mr. Koresh was physically abusing children inside the compound.

Although there is evidence that the cult leader had a history of sexual and physical abuse of children, there was no explicit evidence that such abuse had taken place since the siege began, Agent Ricks said.

"To say that we had intelligence that that was going on, I can't say that,' he said.

Carl Stern, a Justice Department spokesman in Washington, said: "All I can tell you is, I was personally present when Ms. Reno was told by the FBI that somebody inside the compound had reported that children were being beaten or struck.' Among those at that meeting, he said, was FBI Director William Sessions.

Mr. Sessions was quoted by The Associated Press as saying Tuesday:

"There was in fact evidence of the mistreatment of children. We know, for instance, from the beginning that some of those children were in fact wives to Mr. Koresh, that there were children who were born to children. . . . The pattern of abuse was there, and it was systematic.'

In an interview on NBC-TV's Today show, Mr. Sessions denied that impatience played any role in the FBI's attempt to end the standoff Monday.

"It was not a special day,' he said. "It was a day in which we believed that the introduction of the tear gas into the compound and the opening of an ability for them to get out would result in their actually coming out.'

"We had no anticipation at all of fire,' he said.

The president also promised full cooperation with congressional inquiries as House and Senate leaders scheduled hearings and stepped up their demands for a full explanation of the confrontation that authorities said left 86 cult members, including 17 children, dead.

"When I saw the building burning, I was sick. I felt terrible,' Mr. Clinton said. "My immediate concern was whether the children had gotten out and whether they were escaping or whether they were inside trying to burn themselves up. That's the first thing I wanted to know.'

In the wake of the tragedy, the president said a thorough federal inquiry was necessary.

"We must review the past with an eye toward the future,' he said.

He also directed the agencies to cooperate with congressional inquiries, "so that we can continue to be fully accountable to the American people.'

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jack Brooks, D-Beaumont, has scheduled a hearing of his committee for next Wednesday. Ms. Reno, Mr. Sessions and ATF Director Stephen Higgins are scheduled to testify.

Mr. Brooks said the hearings by his committee were "an extraordinary occurrence. But in this instance, the issues involved in the standoff and tragic fiery suicide encompass matters and issues well beyond a single subcommittee's jurisdiction.'

In hindsight

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on the Today show that he was reluctant to prematurely judge the actions of the FBI and other federal agents.

"Obviously it's easy to sit back and Monday-morning quarterback and say, "Geez, why did they do what they did, and shouldn't they have known?' I think that's a premature judgment,' he said.

The senator said he was willing to wait for the Justice and Treasury departments to complete their investigations before holding Senate hearings.

The agencies should then "lay out for the American people why they decided to do what they did and what, in fact, actually transpired inside the building to the extent that they know it,' Mr. Biden said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, repeated his call for congressional investigations.

In a speech on the House floor Tuesday, Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, also called for a congressional investigation.

"Now that the siege is over,' he said, "I think it is appropriate for Congress to review the actions of the ATF, the FBI. And in doing so, I hope we ask this, "Were the decisions reasonable at the time,' not, "Were they perfect in 20-20 hindsight?' If unreasonable mistakes were made, let there be accountability, as well as lessons learned.'

Staff writer Bruce Tomaso in Dallas contributed to this report.

The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:Lee Hancock

Koresh vowed not to give in
FBI bugged compound, heard plans

WACO -- Law enforcement officials heard the Branch Davidians plan the fire that apparently killed most of them shortly thereafter, a federal official said Tuesday.

In fact, federal officials had been listening to conversations inside the cult compound for some time, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

During the seven weeks of negotiations, agents slipped electronic listening devices into material delivered to the compound, the official said.

In the last week, FBI officials listening to conversations inside the compound became increasingly alarmed that the cult was planning to provoke a shootout with federal authorities.

"They were gearing up in there -- bunkering in, readying for a fight. No talk of suicide, but they were getting ready for a fight,' the federal official said. "They talked freely of that. They just couldn't get the FBI to do it.'

The planted bugs also enabled federal officials to learn that their plans for a peaceful resolution had failed. They heard cult members giving instructions about setting the fires that consumed the buildings Monday afternoon, the official said.

Jeffrey Jamar, San Antonio-based special agent in charge of the FBI's Waco operation, refused to comment Tuesday morning on reports that listening devices had been planted inside the compound during the 51-day siege.

"I won't discuss what our intelligence techniques are. I'll just say to you that we had outstanding intelligence in many respects with varying consistency and sometimes very inconclusive,' he said at a news briefing.

But he later said that the FBI had "absolute certain intelligence' that cult leader David Koresh's latest promise to his attorneys to come out after completing a seven-part manuscript was "another sham, another stall.'

The federal official who would comment said that agents could be so certain because they had "ears' inside the compound: tiny, battery-powered listening devices sent inside with periodic deliveries of magazines, videotapes, video camera batteries and milk.

Officials mum

Federal officials would not describe the devices in detail or say how many were used.

But state-of-the-art bugs are not much bigger than a dime, have antennas as thin as a human hair and cost about $1,000, said Richard Aznaran, president of Phoenix Investigative Services and Spy Supply in Dallas. The devices can easily broadcast a roomful of conversation to a receiver hundreds of yards away, he said.

"We do a lot of electronic counter-measures,' he said, "which is basically finding bugs.'

Mr. Aznaran said federal agents would have access to the best in modern technology.

But even the best has limitations, which may explain why Agent Jamar said federal intelligence was sometimes "inconclusive.'

For instance, if the bug were hidden in a videocassette and the cassette were in a camera, the camera's electronics would interfere with the signal. And if the device were in a room like the central concrete "blockhouse' described by federal officials, metal reinforcements in the walls would block the signal far more than the wooden frame of the rest of the compound, Mr. Aznaran said.

Even in the best of broadcasting conditions, the battery would go dead in about a week, he said.

Federal negotiators worked out several deliveries during the seven-week standoff, offering the chance to send in new bugs as the batteries on the old ones died. And that's why the negotiators agreed to the deliveries, the official said.

"That's why they sent stuff in occasionally,' the official said. "They had a purpose.'

The devices operated on a frequency unaffected by federal jamming devices around the compound and were small enough to place unobtrusively inside the packages sent in, the official said.

"They put it in all kinds of different things.'

Heard mood shifts

Authorities were able to listen in on the mood shift of the cult and its leaders, Mr. Koresh and Steve Schneider, the official said.

"They heard things that were being said inside, comments about how they thought things were going,' the official said.

Equipment supplied by the Federal Communications Commission was used to jam radio and television reception in the compound, but authorities ceased jamming every morning so the cult could monitor daily news briefings.

Those briefings provoked some of the most virulent responses from cult members, the official said.

"You would hear their comments about news conferences, yelling about (FBI Special Agent Bob) Ricks and (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Intelligence Chief David) Troy, yelling and screaming about people were lying about them,' the official said, referring to the two federal officials who served as spokesmen for their agencies in the briefings. "That came mostly from Schneider.'

The listening device was switched off during the five visits that a Houston attorney had with Mr. Koresh, the official said. But authorities later eavesdropped on conversations between Mr. Schneider, Mr. Koresh and others disparaging the meetings as a ruse for more time.

"The conversations about Koresh playing games with the attorneys came after those meetings,' the official said.

Staff writer Jeffrey Weiss contributed to this report.