​WACO: The story that shook the world

December 23, 2018
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Waco, Texas 1993: one of the most misunderstood battles in the US takes place across a 51-day siege. 

So many events around what really happened that year remain shrouded in mystery. 

The world watched in shock as a standoff unfolded between David Koshner, self-proclaimed leader of his followers the Branch Davidians in Waco’s Mount Carmel compound, and US law enforcement from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm (ATF). The raid was prompted by a tip to government officials about illegal weapon trafficking in the compound.

Paramount Network’s new miniseries, titled WACO, documents the event in 6 episodes and relies heavily on the perspectives of two people who saw it unfold from opposite sides: Waco survivor David Thibodeau and chief FBI negotiator Gary Noesner.

But how much of it is truth and how much is creative liberty in the new WACO series?

Read on to find out and remember, you can watch the series starting January 6 at 23:00 KSA on Paramount.

David Koresh considered himself a rock star

David-koresh.png

TRUE

Portrayed by Taylor Kitsch in the series, the leader of the Branch Davidians did view himself as an accomplished musician. So much so that he had a stage built for himself in the Mount Carmel compound where he could sing to his followers, rock-star style. He would ask his community to don t-shirts with his picture on them, which many willingly wore. 

Did he really play music to the government officials holding them under siege?

ALSO TRUE.

According to a 1993 People article on the showdown, yes he did. In an attempt to get the Branch Davidians to fall, the FBI are reported to have used sonic warfare tactis by playing Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin”, to which Koresh responded to by turning his amps up, rifting on his guitar and singing right back to them. 

Koresh successfully converted an undercover ATF agent 

FALSE.

The ATF did in fact send in an undercover man, named Robert Rodriguez, and he was in reality able to convince Koresh he was a believer, enough to discover condemning evidence about the Branch Davidians’ illegal weapon trade – but he never actually followed the doctrine. In the series, we meet John Leguizamom, played by Jacob Vasquez, as the ATF agent sent in and the events unfold quite differently there. No spoilers, but this particularly plot twist was not true to fact. 

The press was invited to film the raid

ALMOST TRUE!

There was a public relations representative from the ATF available on ground to cover the raid, but once it turned violent they were asked to stop filming and to leave. The actual press was kept at arm’s length by the FBI, while the Branch Davidians kept sending messaged from the Carmel Compound saying they wanted their voice heard and wanted to speak to the media.

In one instance, they had pushed a flag out of a compound window that read “God Help Us We Want the Press.” Reporters, exhausted at being unable to do their jobs, gathered in front of their cameras yelling back “God help us, we are the press!”

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