Nosing around in a Waco storage facility Friday, the Lone Star lads turned up one of the infamous missing pyrotechnic tear gas grenades, a star parachute flare that could have set the fire — although an FBI spokesman insisted that "categorically, we did not use illumination rounds on the 19th." But James B. Francis Jr., the very suspicious head of the Texas Department of Public Safety (of which the Rangers are a part), wants to know why the flares were used at all. "These flares are potentially a very important issue, inasmuch as the government had enormous spotlights trained on the compound throughout the standoff," Francis told The Dallas Morning News. Flares, fires, those redacted-out mentions of the role of Army special forces in the siege — Danforth had better decide quickly whether he's taking the job if he wants any of the good evidence to be left when he starts work. The House Committee on Government Reform (that’s Dan Burton’s boys), the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Henry Hyde – oh no, not him again – all have investigations of their own in the works. The founding fathers would be proud.
Janet Reno is finally learning the value of checks and balances. Evidently unwilling to court still more Republican ire with the internal, FBI-staffed investigation she initially promised, the attorney general is wooing straight-shooting former senator John Danforth of Missouri to head the new probe into the Waco conflagration. Danforth, a party-line-bucking iconoclast who retired from the Senate in 1995, is a former Missouri attorney general, an ordained Episcopal priest and the kind of guy who won’t stop to consider the FBI’s feelings if he finds anything rotten in the state of the agency’s disastrous siege of the Branch Davidian compound all those Aprils ago. And if Danforth, 63, is looking for some gumshoes, he might consider the Texas Rangers — these guys have never been too fond of the FBI, and they’ve already got a few leads.