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Reno questioned by Danforth for six hours; Davidians lawyer attacks Vector report

Danforth and Reno
Attorney General Janet Reno appointed John Danforth (R-MO) to head a special investigation into the Waco seige in September, 1999  

May 11, 2000
Web posted at: 4:54 p.m. EDT (2054 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Attorney General Janet Reno disclosed Thursday she had been questioned extensively behind closed doors last week by Waco Special Counsel John Danforth whom she appointed last year to investigate the government's conduct in the 51-day siege and its aftermath.

An aide to Reno said the questioning of Reno by Danforth and three others from the Special Counsel's office had last six hours. Reno was accompanied by a single Justice Department aide for note-taking. "Her interview was not conducted under oath, and no court reporter was present," an official said.

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Waco survivor says the government is to blame

FBI negotiator at Waco says Davidians set the fire
 
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Justice lawyers would not comment on the substance of the questioning which took place in Reno's Justice Department office. Danforth was selected by Reno to examine allegations FBI agents may have caused the deaths on the final day of the siege, and engaged in a cover-up.

Danforth spokesperson Jan Diltz refused any comment on the investigation and refused to confirm that the attorney general had been questioned.

A senior Justice Department official said Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, has requested and received Justice Department documents as he continues to pursue his investigation of the government's role on the day of the deadly fire and in the government's follow up investigations. A legal source involved in the case told CNN the Danforth investigation appears to be months away from concluding.

A crucial piece of the investigation was made public Wednesday when a report by technical experts hired by Danforth and approved by a federal judge concluded infrared videotape on the day of the fire showed no evidence of FBI gunfire.

The analysis by Vector Data Systems, a British firm that conducted the March simulation of the FBI infrared taping, concluded the flashes on the FBI tape resulted from solar reflections.

The FBI hailed the results and said the report "vindicates those FBI people long accused of shooting into the compound".

The lead attorney for the Branch Davidians' surviving family members suing the government in a wrongful-death civil case attacked the report.

"I cannot concede our points based on these findings," attorney Michael Caddell of Houston told CNN. Caddell said he finds the report "disappointing" and questions the firm's independence.

"There are so many inconsistencies between their data and their conclusions you have to question either their competence or their integrity," Caddell said.

"Clearly Vector is a company with many ties to the U.S. government," Caddell charged. It has hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with the U.S. government. ... This is hardly an outside, disinterested third party," he insisted.

Caddell's contention directly contradicted the earlier statement by FBI Deputy Director Thomas Pickard. "We are grateful for these impartial findings. Scientific analysis can now replace speculation and rhetoric," Pickard said.

The report is expected to play a key role in the upcoming trial against the government scheduled to open June 19 in Waco, Texas.





RELATED STORIES:
Waco investigator found dead at his office in Maryland
April 30, 2000
Judge: Question of whether FBI shot at Branch Davidians remains open
April 24, 2000
Branch Davidians attorney critical of Reno's deposition
March 28, 2000
Opposing views of new test videotape in Waco debate
March 20, 2000
Documents: FBI wanted clearance to shoot unarmed Branch Davidians
October 8, 1999
Tear gas canister 'bounced off' Waco bunker
September 3, 1999
FBI tape shows field commander OK'd use of tear gas at Waco
September 2, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Federal Bureau of Investigation
United States Attorney's Office, Central District of California
Branch Davidian


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