Time's up for cult leader he's had 48 days too many


April 16, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

As of today, David Koresh has held off the U.S. government four days longer than Saddam Hussein did.

It took us 44 days to defeat Iraq, which had the fourth-largest army in the world.

Koresh and his 95 followers have held out for 48 days, and there is no end in sight.

But you know what?

I think it's time we went in there and got him.

I think it's time our law enforcement officers got off their butts and into their tanks.

I know the arguments against this, but I think those arguments have stopped making any sense.

The big argument against storming Koresh's compound in Waco, Texas, is that there are 17 children in there with him. (Twenty-one children, 13 adults and some puppy-dogs have left.)

Outside, there are as many as 700 state and local officers and federal agents including 250 from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 175 from the FBI, and 35 Texas Rangers.

Aside from sidearms, rifles, tear gas and concussion grenades, these agents also have helicopters, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 67-ton Abrams M1 main battle tanks.

But if the government sends in its firepower, the argument goes, those kids might get killed by stray bullets or Koresh might kill them himself.

So the FBI, which has been placed in charge of the siege, continues to bombard Koresh with recordings of Tibetan chants, Christmas carols, the sound of dental drills and Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin' ."

But doing nothing is not risk free.

Let's not forget what happened in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978, when 912 people killed themselves by taking cyanide on the orders of their messiah, Jim Jones. Nearly 200 of the dead were children.

Is there a danger to the children if law enforcement agents storm Koresh? Sure. But there is a danger if they don't.

There is the danger that when the FBI eventually gets around to making its move, everybody inside will already be dead.

There is another argument against taking action against Koresh, however:

He and his followers are heavily armed and four federal agents have already been killed.

After Koresh was acquitted of murder two years ago, the government returned to him his AR-15s, M-16s, Uzi-type assault rifles, Luger pistols, and .357 Magnums, all of which are legal for him to own. (Is this a great country or what?)

And since then, Koresh claims to have obtained grenade launchers and a .50-caliber machine gun.

So would our law enforcement officers be sitting ducks if they stormed Koresh?

NTC No way. The M1 tank has an armored hull that is reinforced with a mesh of depleted uranium that is 2 1/2 times denser than steel.

Koresh has nothing that could pierce it.

But there is something else denser than steel that is working in Koresh's favor: The minds of the bureaucrats who are afraid to take any action against him.

Their decision to allow Koresh to talk with his lawyers (he has no legal right to do so until after he has been arrested) was nuts.

Lawyers get paid by the hour. What do they care if this drags on? Besides, there are still TV, book and movie rights to be negotiated.

"There are a lot of options we have available," the FBI's Richard Swensen said last week. "Clearly, we're not going to go on here forever."

Oh, yeah? Says who?

The cost of waiting is not merely financial -- estimates run from a high of $48 million to the government's low estimate of around $3 million -- but includes the cost of encouraging others, especially those who take hostages, to endlessly delay rather than negotiate surrender.

Surely it must be clear even to the most trusting of FBI agents that Koresh's word is worthless.

First Koresh said he would come out if God sent an earthquake or other major disaster as a sign to him.

Then he said he'd come out when Passover was over.

Now he says he will come out when he finishes his "manuscript" and scholars review it.

I don't believe any of it.

After 48 days, there is only one thing left to "negotiate" with David Koresh:

Whether he walks out or gets carried out. Now.

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