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Dick Reavis WILL VAN OVERBEEK After Waco: The “Elite’ vs. The “People’ A Conversation with Dick Reavis Editor’s note: Dick Reavis is a Texas journalist who has covered the Mt. Carmel/ Waco story from its beginnings, and recently published a book about the case, titled The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation. He testified before the House subcommittees currently holding hearings on the Waco episode. He spoke to the Observer about his impressions of the hearings and the aftermath of the Waco disaster. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation. For a review of Reavis’ book, see page 8 . M.K. Observer: What’s your sense of the hearings thus far [July 26], and particularly about their ability to get at anything approximating the truth about what happened? Dick Reavis: The Republican committee members’ research, without question, is excellent, under the circumstancesthe FBI didn’t turn over a lot of its documents until a few days before the hearings. The federal agencies involved have been consistently dragging their feet. Given that, they did a pretty good job. I find the committee members are either pulling their punches, or just aren’t quite up to par. They’re advancing the ball, but it’s very slow. As for the Democrats, they do not understand the importance of investigating Waco. They are staring history in the face and they do not know it. My impression with them is that they must be only in touch with some elites on this, who think the NRA is the devil, and who don’t have fear or misgivings about the powers of government. Do you think that party politics have blinded both sides on this? No. The Republicans know that people out there want to know what happened at Waco. They’re not making sniping partisan attacks. They’re trying to be as fair as they can. But you’ve got [Rep. John] Conyers and [Rep. Charles] Schumer up there showboating, and [Rep. Karen] Thurman from Florida. Those three people are not trying to get to the bottom of this; they’re just playing politics, and Schumer is just trying to get himself in front of the cameras. So, the only way I can explain it is they don’t know what world they’re living in. Remember the November “Republican revolution,” as it was called? It’s as if this was the eve of that, and [the Democrats] were still thinking nothing like that was possible. But don’t you think that the Republican eagerness to defend constitutional rights contradicts their earlier fervor to undermine them, particularly to gut the Fourth Amendment? Well, my understanding of the Republicans’ motivation would be as follows….They’re not going over the evidence with a fine-tooth comb; 9/10 of what’s coming out in the hearings is already in my book. I’m looking for that last 10 percent. But in any case, the Republicans are apparently smart enough to know that there are millions of people out there who may have voted Republican in November, but whose allegiance to the Republican party is tenuous, because of questions like NAFTA. And they’re trying to keep those peopleI call them “Constitutionalists” in the fold. It’s sort of the situation you had with the Democrats in the late ’60s, Robert Kennedy trying to appeal to the anti-war voters. That’s what the Republicans are -trying to do, is trying to maintain the strength they had in November. They’re smart enough to know that there’s something at issue there, whereas the Democrats apparently don’t believe those people exist. That traditional Democratic constituency, the same people who voted for George Wallace, voted Republican in November. They’re traditional Democrats, or at least they’re splitbut the Democrats are off in yuppie-land. So they’re just denying the importance of these people, and of this issue. Do you think there’s any contradiction, Congress-wide, between what they’re saying about Waco and Mt. Carmel, and what they’re doing about constitutional protections generally in the last session? I think that for the last 10 or 12 years, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have cared much about constitutional liberties, because they’ve all jumped on the drug war bandwagon. So yeah, this is a switch off of thatbut don’t tell me the Democrats were ever the protectors of constitutional liberties. In terms of that “10 percent” of missing information about Waco, do you think the hearings have as yet turned up anything that you were hoping to confirm? One thing I would have liked to have seen them do is to call [as witnesses] every ATF 10 AUGUST 11, 1995