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For week ended September 05, 1999 Posted 4 Sep 1999

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Mormon helps bring Waco back to spotlight (Tenacity of 2 Played a Role in Reviving Inquiry on Waco)

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Mormon helps bring Waco back to spotlight (Tenacity of 2 Played a Role in Reviving Inquiry on Waco)
New York Times 2Sep99 L5
By Jim Yardley

HOUSTON -- A Colorado Mormon is one of two men who have waged a quest to discredit the official account of what happened at the 1993 standoff between Federal agents and the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas. Michael McNulty, along with non-Mormon David Hardy, has refused to give up a quest to prove that Federal agents were to blame for the deaths of about 80 people in Waco.

Espousing the same views that are popular with many right-wing groups, McNulty has gathered evidence and suspicions that have led the Justice Department to reopen the case and consider a new investigation. He and Hardy have requested documents and evidence related to the seige and fire, and then filed suit to get them. They got the Texas Rangers to open an investigation and gave information to the families of the deceased, allowing them to file a wrongful-death lawsuit. And McNulty toured state evidence storage facilities four times, uncovering devices he says are capable of starting the fire that ended the seige.

The lawyer for the families in the wrongful death suit, Joe Phillips, says that McNulty and Hardy were persistent. "Mike and Dave deserve the lion's share of the credit for coming up with the evidence. They've been working on this for years."

Now McNulty and Hardy are getting a lot of attention, appearing on radio and television programs regularly. McNulty, a documentary film maker, is promoting his forthcoming film, "Waco: A New Revelation."

Some critics, however, say that McNulty and Hardy are causing more problems than they are solving. While they admit that the two have come up with some evidence worth re-examining, they say that the evidence is mixed with and poluted by other material that is not credible.

Until the early 1990s McNulty sold insurance in Southern California. He is a Vietnam veteran who joined the LDS Church 20 years ago. When the national company he worked for decided to leave California, McNulty decided to move to Fort Collins, Colorado, where he became the producer for the documentary, "Waco: Rules of Engagement"which was nominated for (but did not win) an Academy Award.

Critics claimed that the film was heavily biased against the government, ignoring evidence that would put the government's actions in a favorable light. But the film turned McNulty into a celebrity among right-wing extremist groups. "The Waco documentary was highly publicized, but the inaccuracies were not," says Mark Pitcavage, a historian who operates the Militia Watchdog website. "I don't think the McNulty Waco documentary could even remotely be considered objective." Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors paramilitary groups, says the attention given to McNulty's findings is also supporting some of his more radical views, "It's really unfortunate. This has given credence to the rest of McNulty's views, which are unsupported."

Now the issue has been pushed into the public view again, with the admission by the FBI that two potentially flamable cannisters had been fired by the FBI into the compound. While government officials still claim that these devices did not start the fire, they are now indicating that earlier statements about the case were inaccurate, and in the process are giving McNulty and Hardy a lot of ammunition.

Critics of the two are rather frustrated at the latest turn of events. "They deserve a little bit of credit," Pitcavage said. "But you wish that someone else had discovered this stuff instead. These guys have ulterior motives."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information