How Reno's Court Action Helps Fuel Waco Fires

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Janet Reno can't seem to stop stoking the fires of the Waco conspiracy theory. On one hand, she is reported to be pushing for an independent inquiry into the debacle; on the other, she appears to be trying to stop the facts from coming out. While the attorney general was reported Wednesday to be searching for a qualified outsider to lead an investigation, her department also filed a motion Tuesday challenging U.S. District Judge Walter Smith’s right to claim custody of all evidence relating to the siege collected at the Branch Davidian compound. Judge Smith, whose district is in Texas, ruled that he would take control of the evidence following a motion brought by the Texas Public Safety Commission to make evidence gathered at the massacre site available to civil litigants, the media and members of the public.

"Texas Public Safety Commissioner Jim Francis wanted to end the catch-22 situation where anyone bringing a civil claim against the government over Waco was bounced back and forth between the Texas Rangers and the Justice Department, with neither apparently able to authorize access to the material," says TIME reporter Hilary Hylton. "He also made clear that he was concerned about aspects of the evidence that were ‘problematic’ for the official version of events as told by the FBI." With conspiracy theorists crying cover-up and Congressman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) threatening to go ballistic on Capitol Hill, Justice’s attempt to keep a lid on the evidence may simply fuel the clamor. "A lot of different parties want to take a look at this material, and any perceived foot-dragging or reluctance by Reno to make it available will simply deepen suspicion in some quarters," says Hylton. Then again, six years of evasiveness has done a pretty good job of that already.