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Space blankets may aid Waco investigators

March 11, 2000
Web posted at: 3:26 a.m. EST (0826 GMT)

ST. LOUIS (CNN) -- The Justice Department plans to use "heat- reflective space blankets" to show that something other than gunfire could account for flashes seen on infrared videotape shot on the final day of the Branch Davidian seige.

A test of the infrared taping system is to be conducted at Fort Hood this month.

Infrared tape shot April 19, 1993, from an airplane over the Branch Davidian complex shows rapid flashes of light. Attorneys for the Davidians contend the flashes represent federal agents shooting at the Davidians.

The FBI has insisted its agents fired no shots. Its experts say the flashes of light are reflections.

According to a letter from the Office of Special Counsel John Danforth, the Justice Department wants the test to include a 79-square-foot steel frame tent covered with the "space blankets" in order to create a "hemispherical reflector."

The reflector-covered tent will be videotaped from planes equipped with infrared cameras.

In addition, soldiers will fire different types of weapons to determine if the muzzle flashes show up as flashes on the infrared tape.

Mike Caddell, lead attorney in a civil suit brought by the Davidians against the government, described the space-blanket reflector as a desperate effort by the Justice Department to disprove his claim that agents were shooting at the Davidians.

"It is clear to everyone," Caddell said, "that there was nothing like a 6-foot-high safari tent covered with space blankets at Mt. Carmel on April 19."

But Caddell said he did not object to having the reflector added to the tests because any flashes detected on the infrared tape "would have no credibility in any subsequent analysis."

More than 80 members of the religious sect perished in a fire that began after federal agents attempted to storm the Davidians compound.



RELATED STORIES:
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Six years later, Waco's horror is still hazy
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Senate Republicans launch probe of FBI, Justice Department
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Hatch proposes special congressional panel to investigate Justice Department
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Jailed Branch Davidians wait, hope as Waco probe reopened
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Report: Rifle shell casings found in federal outpost at Waco
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Waco probe seeks evidence of 'bad acts'
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Reno close to naming Danforth to head independent Waco probe
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Lawmakers divided over blaming Reno or FBI for Waco
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Waco, Oklahoma City mark anniversary of tragedies
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U.S. News Year in Review - Waco Hearings
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RELATED SITES:
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Committee on Government Reform
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of the Attorney General
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Branch Davidians
The Dallas Morning News
Texas Department of Public Safety

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