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DATELINE TEXAS The Wounds of Waco The Disaster that Keeps on Killing BY ROBERT BRYCE The latest victim of the federal government’s assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco died shortly before Thanksgiving. There Were no gun battles. There were no reporters or TV satellite trucks anywhere nearby. And there will be no high-profile government investigations into his death. But there is no doubt that Dan Mulloney was mortally wounded at Mount Carmel on February 28, 1993. It just took him eight and a half years to die from his wounds. Mulloney wasn’t infamous in the way that David Koresh was. He wasn’t a media star like FBI agent Byron Sage, who did much of the hostage negotiations with the Davidians and later became the FBI’s chief apologist. He wasn’t a lawyer or a cop. But without Mulloney’s hard-nosed approach to his job, the world would never have fully understood or appreciated the deadly beginnings of the clash between religion and government that took place on the rolling plains east of Waco. Mulloney, a cameraman at KWTX-TV, shot the TV footage that was shown around the world, of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms storming the Davidians’ home. He risked his life to capture the images of ATF agents as they exchanged gunfire with the wellarmed Davidians. Mulloney and his partner, reporter John M.cLemore, later used their vehicle to transport injured ATF agents away from the shootout. Mulloney, fellow KWTX cameraman. Jim Peeler, and McLemore were the only non-combatants at Mount Carmel that fateful day. And the three became the only independent witnesses in the subsequent trials that attempted to assess blame for the botched raid as well as the subsequent federal assault and fire on April 19, 1993, that left about 80 people dead. The federal government and the media were quick to blame the TV guys for tipping off the Davidians. They were convenient scapegoats. Shortly before the ATF arrived at Mount Carmel that morning, Peeler had run into a Davidian named David Jones on a road near the compound. Jones, a letter carrier for the U.S. Post Office, had immediately gone back to Mount Carmel and alerted Koresh that something was happening. The TV crew shouldn’t have been there in the first place, said the critics. But why blame the TV guys for the botched raid? The ATF had standing orders to abort the raid if they knew the element of surprise had been lost. Yet the ATF commanders, Charles Sarabyn and Phil Chojnacki, ignored reports from ATF agent Robert Rodriguez, who was working undercover inside the Davidian compound. Rodriguez told the commanders that the Davidians knew the ATF was coming long before the lightly armed agentshidden inside two cattle trailersleft EE Ranch Road and drove onto the long muddy driveway at Mount Carmel. Yet the two commanders ordered their agents to go ahead with the raid. The U.S. Treasury Department’s report on the botched raid, in which four ATF agents were killed and more than a dozen injured, contains unusually harsh words for the ATF commanders. “Sarabyn and Chojnacki lied to their superiors and investigators about what Rodriguez had reported,” says the report. The 200-page document also says the commanders altered records after the raid, in order to mislead investigators. Treasury Department investigators said the officers’ attempts to cover their tracks is “extremely troubling and reflects a lack of judgment.” Sarabyn and Chojnacki lied. They ignored a standing order. They altered federal documents. Yet they were never prosecuted for their misdeeds. It was that lack of accountability, that lack of honesty by the ATF and the Department of Justice, says one prominent law enforcement official in Waco, that Mulloney simply could not accept. The fact that he was blamed for an incident that wasn’t his fault, “was like a cancer that finally ate him up.” Mulloney watched as his partner John McLemore was forced out of the TV business. He saw his long-time friend, Jim Peeler, who still works at KWTX, torn apart. “He was tormented by it,” says the law enforcement official. “I think he basically grieved himself to death.” ulloney was an average cameraman. But he was an extraordinary news man. He knew almost every cop in Waco. He also knew most of the firemen, lawyers, ambulance drivers, and anyone else who might know things that could help him get a story. That’s not braggadocio, it’s just true. Mulloney was a better reporter than any of the reporters at KWTX, and everyone at the station knew it. Those connections allowed Mull 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 12/21/01