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Jewish World Review May 8, 2000 /3 Iyar, 5760

Michelle Malkin

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Focus on the real Waco -- ELIAN GONZALEZ GROUPIES continue to call the Easter weekend raid in Miami "another Waco." These people need a Texas-sized kick in the rear.

There is only one Waco. It's a travesty to compare the government's bloodless, three-minute retrieval of one little Cuban boy to the 51-day federal siege, capped by a fatal inferno, which claimed the lives of 21 innocent children and 59 adults on their native soil. If Beltway opportunists truly cared a whit about the government's lethal use of force against defenseless citizens, they would determine the truth once and for all about shots fired at Branch Davidians trapped during the Waco assault.

Instead, we have the pathetic spectacle of Senate Republicans weeble-wobbling over whether to conduct a full-blown investigation for the sake of a single child who isn't even an American citizen.

One man who might have shed light on the lingering question of gunfire at Waco was Carlos Ghigliotti. Ghigliotti ran a Maryland-based firm called Infrared Technologies Corp., which had done extensive work for the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Ghigliotti was, by all accounts, a respected expert in forward-looking infrared (FLIR) imaging and analysis.

Last fall, after studying hundreds of hours of ground-view and overhead FLIR tapes of the Waco raid for the House Government Reform Committee, Ghigliotti concluded that the FBI had fired shots in the direction of the Branch Davidian compound during the final assault on April 19, 1993. The findings echo those of another prominent thermal-imaging expert: Dr. Edward Allard, a former Defense Department physicist, who designed the FLIR equipment used by the FBI and analyzed Waco footage for the ground-breaking documentary, "Waco: The Rules of Engagement." Allard had concluded that flashes on the tapes could only be interpreted as blasts from automatic weapons shot into the building and possibly at people trying to escape the fire.

The FBI continues to deny categorically that any agent fired any shots that day. But now, Carlos Ghigliotti cannot tell the public about his follow-up research refuting the government's claims.

Carlos Ghigliotti is dead.

The 42-year-old consultant's badly decomposed body was discovered last weekend at his lab in Laurel, Md., after a building manager -- worried that Ghigliotti had not been seen in several weeks -- contacted police. Police statements about Ghigliotti's death have evolved rather strangely. Initially, Officer Jim Collins told the press: "We're investigating it as a homicide." A few days later, despite not having seen final toxicology and autopsy reports, Collins stressed to me that "there is nothing to indicate foul play was involved."

Another spokesperson, Lt. Fred Carmen of the Laurel Police Department, said: "We are investigating it as an unintended death, that is, a deceased person with no immediately apparent cause of death."

Close followers of the Waco case are understandably suspicious. And why shouldn't they be? Law enforcement officials have repeatedly lied, stonewalled, and suppressed critical information on all aspects of the Waco case over the past seven years:

They lodged bogus charges of child abuse against Branch Davidians. They denied using incendiary devices during the raid only to acknowledge having fired at least two flammable tear-gas canisters into the compound. They "misplaced" audio recordings from infrared footage that demonstrated official government orders to use pyrotechnics. They confiscated then "lost" vital autopsy evidence from the Tarrant County, TX., coroner's office.

And now, they want us to believe that what Ghigliotti and Allard separately concluded were gunshots were merely flashes of sunlight and reflections of broken window glass. (This is the government's defense against a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit arising from the Waco siege, which goes to trial next month.)

Curiously, the investigative House committee headed by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana) is not interested in immediately reviewing the work Ghigliotti left behind. "As soon as we get all the necessary information, we will hold hearings and present the information to the American people," Burton said last fall. Still no hearings. Still no final answers.

How long will the real Waco take a backseat to the lesser outrages that have distracted the Attention Deficit Disorder-afflicted Congress?

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate