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example, in dissecting the actions of trial Judge Walter Smith for The Ashes of Waco, I observed that “he imposed guilt where a jury had found none.” Whiteson’s able word processor transcribes: “…the judge found guilt where the jury had found innocence.” But as the author of a competing book about the Waco affair, I do not hesitate to recommend Thibodeau’s memoir to anyone who has an interest in American justice. It’s the only first-person account of the whole bloody affair, it’s as invigorating as a November stroll, and it’s a quick read. The saga of Mount Carmel has lately acquired new wind. The first gust came from the most unlikely spot on the globe, the Waco bunker of Judge Walter Smith, who originally upended a jury verdict in order to send Koresh’s minions to prison. On July 1, he ruled that a suit filed against the government for wrongful death, by some of the survivors not including Thibodeau could proceed on three lines. Beginning Oc tober 17, the court will hear evidence that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms used excessive force during its fatal assault on Mount Carmel, that the F.B.I. and/or soldiers shot at the residents on the morning of April 19, and that federal authorities were negligent in regard to the inferno, which left more than seventy people dead. Striking the names of a dozen other defendants, Judge Smith let stand the suit’s accusation that F.B.I. agent Lon Horiuchi fired upon Mount Carmel on April 19. Horiuchi is the public guardian who killed Vickie Weaver in an earlier standoff; lamentably, he was on duty during Mount Carmel’s final day. A few days after Judge Smith’s ruling, James B. Francis, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told Dallas Morning News reporter Lee Hancock that there’s a possibility that Mount Carmel was set ablaze by one or more incendiary devices. Francis, whose Rangers worked hand in glove with the F.B.I. during the siege, also said that at least some federal agents gave accounts of the fire’s origin that were at variance with the official truth. If the plaintiff’s attorneys do their jobs, there of course will be more of this in court. If the citizenry is lucky, Thibodeau’s book will be a voice in a storm of new opinion about the Waco affair. It is frank, unpretentious, even action packed, though leavened with irony. When the A.T.F. stormed Mount Carmel, Thibodeau recalls, “I saw an armed, black-suited figure coming toward me and thought, ‘This guy is going to come in here and kill me.’ He vanished and I burst out laughing, releasing a tension of terror and fury. ‘You have no honor!’ I shouted….” Dick J. Reavis is author of The Ashes of Waco, and testified before Congress about the Mount Carmel assault. to the stairway ;leading to the o ve rhead an aerial bomb. Trying not do get cut bythe shattered glass, I inch along the :catwalk that crosses the length of the chapel; ceding, hoping to . , ‘find sco rche s t sP firebal l p he4 – ,k flash n s u catwa lk na 7 the is 0 withits roaring. down my red.ana retreat that th e chape l I p o k e a my ears hav e finu L” er.t e yes m I leve The opening at the end of the catwalk is covered by a blanket. When I tentatively lift its edge a blast .of smoke staggers me. Ging eY _fens ard, er fOre my a nd d e afen s o f1′ the 1w cheeks can’t g g et to t c sinee When n g fairs’ vv the st esr airs. fire. Another fireball, from the gym area, races across the ceiling. The tank has knocked a hole in the wall at the edge of the stage and I see people huddled there, trying to get away from the thick smoke. The air’s heat causes me to remove my black leather gnt sine or nis lack man from Britain, sh eared off at the hip. Amid these horrors, a mutt puppy, one of comes trotting toward me out of the smoke. I toss window, shooing him away into the open air, buttheTterri keeps coming back. In the distance I hear the moCking cries the F.B.I. speakers: “David, you’ve had your fifteen minute s of fame! Now bring your people out, the siege is over.” Now I’m down on my hands and knees, praying, God, if I’n going to die just make it quick. Just then, the wall of the stage catches fire, scorching the side of my face. The sharp smell of singed hair fills my nose and I scream from the depths of my gut. Seeing Jamie and Derek run out of the hole in the wall at the edge of the stage, I follow, preferring a swift death by the agents’ bullets to being roasted by fire. from David Thibodeau and Leon Whiteson, A Place Called Waco SEPTEMBER 3, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23