|Some dare call it|
David Koresh, a self-styled messiah, led a smallish cult called the Branch Davidians in a compound just outside of Waco, Texas, a splinter of the Seventh Day Adventists with interests in the miraculous revival of the dead (a.k.a. "the power") and physical presence in Israel/Palestine at the time of the Second Coming. Koresh was in many ways the European image of the quintessential contemporary American: a heretical Christian, an anti-government gun nut, and set on going his own way. Statistically, he was not a typical American but stereotyping is just too much fun.
These events—a bungled arrest, a siege, and a subsequent disastrous fire—are fodder for conspiracy theorists. The word "Waco" has become synonymous with an epic disaster on the part of federal law enforcement.
 The crimes
For Koresh and his followers, the contents of his gun collection overstepped the bounds of what is legal, even in the U.S. (meaning he was probably "into" machine guns and/or explosive devices). This brought the attention, ire, and wrath of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) down on him. He also exhibited the sexual predation common to leaders in many cults. Koresh fathered children with several female followers and was alleged to have been in relationships with underaged girls.
 The bungled arrest, followed by more crime
The ATF made a terrible tactical error, and instead of asking the local sheriff what supermarket they could probably pick Koresh up at, they stealthily sneaked up onto the roof of the compound one 'night' at 9:45 AM. Koresh and his buddies did the natural thing when encountering nighttime intruders on private property in Texas: they shot them. Precisely why isn't known—Koresh did not answer calls for an interview—but it can be assumed that it was a case of mistaken identity. Now that there were dead cops in the story, things spiraled out of control.
 The standoff
A siege was initiated on February 28th, 1993. For 51 days, while the nation was transfixed by the story of the cop-killer, the feds set up various attempts to drive Koresh and his followers out of the compound. Loud music was blared at them. Bad movies saturated their cable stations. Demands for surrender were blared through loudhailers.
Aware that this delicate situation demanded finesse, the government forces stormed the compound with a tank-mounted battering ram, and shot tear gas inside. A fire started, which disastrously consumed the compound and most of the people inside.
 Jack-booted thugs
At the time, the Attorney General was Janet Reno (named for the "biggest little city in America"). Since wingnuts hated anything Clinton and anything gun control, she was demonized for bungling the confrontation, and the term "jack-booted thug" became popular with some talk radio hosts to refer to government employees. While they may not have been willing to actually side with Koresh, they sure weren't on Reno's or the federal government's side.
The incident was one of the influences that inspired the rabid anti-government philosophy of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols which led to their bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, resulting in the deaths of 168 people, on the anniversay of the deaths which occurred there (great, more death). McVeigh had visited Waco during the standoff, later returning numerous times (including before the bombing) and had spoken out in anger at the government siege.
 See also
- ↑ There has been debate about whether the tear-gas canisters were flammable or not.
- ↑ A few survived and were later convicted of manslaughter and weapons charges.
- ↑ We stress "may not" because whenever they talk about Waco today, the rants are almost fully focused on Reno, as opposed to the extremist responsible for pushing it too far in the first place.