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Report Backs Up FBI's Claim No Shots Fired During Waco Fire

Aired May 10, 2000 - 1:19 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A new report is backing up longstanding claims by the FBI that its agents did not fire shots during the deadly 1993 fire at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Independent experts analyzed infrared tapes taken at Waco that night, and examined a reenactment of the taping. They found all 57 instances in which flashes occurred are attributable to reflections in light and atmospheric conditions. The report was paid for by special counsel John Danforth, who is heading a special investigation of the government's actions at Waco.

Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas joins us now with more on Mr. Danforth's work.

Pierre, how will this affect the wrongful death lawsuit against the government?

PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's clear that the FBI is very pleased. As you said, the report concluded the FBI did not fire shots. And, in fact, we just got a statement from the FBI deputy director, Thomas Pickard, in which he says: "This analysis vindicates the FBI people long accused of shooting into the compound. We are grateful for these impartial findings. Scientific analysis can now replace speculation and rhetoric."

So the FBI is viewing this as a major victory for them, but there is still the question about these pyrotechnic devices that were found or discovered years after the Branch Davidian final standoff, and the question of: Did they play a role in the fire? The FBI maintains they did not. But the fact that they were found years afterward, or discussed years afterward, is still a major point of contention.

ALLEN: All right, Pierre Thomas in Washington, thank you.

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