Transcript of Waco Negotiations
In July 1995, the Justice Department released tapes of negotiations between David Koresh and the FBI during the 1993 Waco standoff.
Mark Swett (email@example.com) transcribed some of the last tape.
The tape has two segments. In the first, recorded in the early morning hours of Friday, April 16, 1993, Koresh and Davidian Steve Schneider discuss surrender terms with the FBI negotiator. In the second, recorded on the afternoon of Sunday, April 18, 1993, Koresh is clearly upset over what he considers provocative actions by the FBI.
April 16, 1993
Koresh: ... I say that when I get through writing these, and they're given to my attorney, and my attorney hands them over - What's the two theologians names?
Steve Schneider: Ah - Philip Arnold and Jim Tabor.
Koresh: Philip Arnold and Jim Tabor who has shown that they have a sincere interest in these things - you see? Then I can spend all my time in jail, and people can go ahead and ask me all the stupid questions they want - cause they're not gonna ask me about the seals. They're gonna say, "Ah, do you molest young ladies?" "Ah, have you eaten babies?" "Do you sacrifice people?" "Ah, do you make automatic weapons?" "Ah, do you have [unintelligible]" That's what they're gonna be interested in - sensationalism.
FBI: That's why you need to get it done before you leave there then.
Koresh: That's why I'm gonna complete it, because you see, you know as well as I do that people in this world they want something dramatic and sensational. They don't want to have to sit - No one's gonna sit there - and let me sit there in front of a camera and read Psalms 40 to them - to prove the first seal. Dick, it's a real world, and that's why I'm sympathetic with your position. I realize you're frustrated, and I agree with you.
FBI: I'm not frustrated. I went home and I'm back. I'm no longer frustrated. I never was frustrated.
Koresh: Did you take a shower for me?
FBI: Well, yeah. I took a couple of them for you.
Koresh: Thank you. I appreciate it.
FBI: Now listen. Let's get back to the point in hand. This ah - you know - the writing of the seals. OK. You've got to do that in there, and it's gonna take you x amount of time. But - just tell me this David - are you saying that when you finish that manuscript -
Koresh: Then I'm not bound any longer [unintelligible] -
FBI: No. But see, that doesn't answer the question.
Koresh: Then I'll be out - yes - definitely.
FBI: I know you'll be out, but that could - excuse me I've got a cold. That could mean a lot of things David. That could mean -
Koresh: I'll be in custody in the jailhouse. You can come down there and feed me bananas if you want.
FBI: I know - I know that some point in time that's true. But I'm getting from you - I'm asking you, "When that is finished, are you than telling me that you are coming out the next day, or two hours after you send that out or what?"
Koresh: Oh, I'll probably - when I - when I bring it out - see - my attorney is gonna get the - get to the copy.
Koresh: OK? And as soon as he hands it over to the scholars - the theologians - right?
FBI: Um, hm.
Koresh: That's when - he's gonna come back, and that's when I'm going to go out with him, because he said point blank that - you know - one of the guarantees of me arriving down there is that he is gonna go with me.
FBI: So you go on paper here and said that David Koresh told me that as soon as he finishes this manuscript - the seven seals - of which you've finished the first chapter dealing with the first seal -
Koresh: The first seal - right.
FBI: That you're gonna make that available -
Koresh: I'll be splitting out of this place. I'm so sick of MRE's - Dick - that ah -
FBI: Well, I just want to make sure that I have this right - that you're coming out. As soon as that's finished -
Koresh: That's what - it was said by the attorney's -
FBI: Well, I know - I know.
Koresh: That's what I'm saying -
Koresh: It's clarified. Lock, stock, and barrel it.
FBI: I mean - I've heard you say that you're coming out after, but that is not specific. You know - that's a game that we all can play.
Koresh: It's - look, I know. Dick -
FBI: But I'm asking you for your word. You say that you're coming out as soon as that's done, and you give up the manuscript to DeGuerin who is gonna make copies available for Arnold and the other - the other fella -
FBI: The other Biblical scholar, and then you are coming out with that manuscript.
Koresh: I'm outta here. And he's he's gonna come, and the way the procession is to be - I'm to go out first with him, and then I think, "You're last, right Steve?"
Steve Schneider: Yeah.
Koresh: With his attorney, and the other people - the other people in between.
FBI: OK. Then - you know what? I'm keeping you from getting back to work. So I'm - you know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna let you go so that you can get back to work, because David, frankly I'm eagerly awaiting this manuscript.
Koresh: Well, I'll tell you what. It's gonna blow your socks off.
FBI: Well - I'm - I'm perfectly willing to - to read it, and I'm looking forward to it as a member -
Koresh: You'll either hate me or love me then.
FBI: Well, I want to read it - and then - I'll - you know - make a decision then, and we'll see how it goes. And in the meantime, ah - you know - let's get that thing written.
April 16, 1993 - Part II
FBI: Now are you telling me David - I want to get this clear in my own mind. Are you telling me here and now that as soon as you reduce the seven seals to a written form that you're coming out of there. I don't mean two days later -
Koresh: I have no reason - I have no reason to -
FBI: I know what you're saying, but answer my question if you would please - definitely. I mean - I want to get an answer to this, "Are you coming out as soon as your done -"
Koresh: I'm coming out.
FBI: Or are you coming out afterwards at some point in time.
Koresh: After I get the thing - see Dick, you don't seem to understand. We are going to fulfill our commitment to God. Now, if you would allow me to show you what has been pre-written by the prophets you would know what I am doing.
FBI: Well, I'm asking you -
Koresh: You see -
FBI: A simple question though. I -
Koresh: And I'm giving you the simple answer. Yes. Yes. Yes. I never intended to die in here.
April 18, 1993
FBI: This is Henry.
Koresh: Ah - Henry, this is Dave.
FBI: Hi Dave.
Koresh: Look. The ah - the generals out here - right? You have a hard time controlling them, right?
FBI: I don't control them. No.
Koresh: OK. Well look. We have done everything we can to be able to communicate in a nice, passionate way. We've ah - you know - I've told you what our work with God is. And ah - we've been kind. We've not been your everyday kind of cult. We've not been your everyday kind of terrorist which I'm sure you - you're familiar with having to deal with.
FBI: Um, hm.
Koresh: And a lot of the things that the FBI, or these generals are doing is just kinda way beyond the scope of reason. And they're not only destroying private property, they're also removing evidences. And this doesn't seem like that ah - these are - these are moves that should be made by a government who says to a people that we're going to be able to take this up in a court of law. I mean - they're not ever - they're not going to be able to replace a lot of things here. Like that 68 SS El Camino that belonged to Paul Fatta?
FBI: Um, hm.
Koresh: They'll never be able to replace that. They don't have any more of those. And ah - the 68 Camaro and other things out here in the front.
FBI: Um, hm.
Koresh: They can't replace that. They just can't replace it.
FBI: Um, hm.
Koresh: And - ah - they keep - they keep doing these kind of things it's just proving to us that they're not - they're not showing good faith in their part, and I just - I just suggest they shouldn't do it.
FBI: I understand what you're saying, and I will impart that ah -
Koresh: In all courtesy's please - please impart that, because - because it's coming to the point to where ah - you know - God in heaven has somewhat to do also. And it's just really coming to the point of really, "What - What do you men really want?"
FBI: I think what - you know - just - this is - I'm just imparting to you what my perception is. And my perception is that - that - what they want is they want you and everybody to come out. You know - I -
Koresh: I don't think so. I think what they're showing is that they don't want that.
FBI: Well, I think that - that is exactly what they want.
Koresh: No. They're not gonna - they're not gonna - they're not gonna get that. They're not gonna get that by what they're doing right now. They're gonna get exactly the opposite - exactly the opposite. They're gonna get wrath on certain people. They're gonna get anger from certain guys. Now I can't control everybody here.
FBI: I think you can.
Koresh: No. I can't. You gotta understand John -
Koresh: Henry - I'm sorry. In 1985, I presented a truth. And everybody that's here - I had to debate and I had to talk to, and I had show from the scriptures. I had to prove my point for many hours, days, months, and sometimes years with certain people here.
FBI: Um, hm.
Koresh: They went to scholars. They went to theologians. I have a very unique group here.
FBI: Yes. You do.
Koresh: Not ignorant people - not stupid people. Now there are some people - that in the beginning - that went out like Kevin and Brad. Individuals that were - you know - people that were out there - bar rollers and stuff like that. Rough and tough guys. Now they're not - they're not the theologians of the world, but they're guys that need a lot of patience, and - you know - with a little bit of refinement and a little bit of proof to them - they can - they can be good people.
FBI: Um, hm.
Koresh: But ah - but I would really and in all honesty and in good faith tell these generals to ah - to - to back up. They don't need to tear up anymore of this property. You tell us out of one side of the mouth, we're going to be able to come back here and all this. And ah - you know - we're gonna take this up in court, and on the other hand you're showing us there's not gonna be nothing to come back to.
FBI: I think the problem with this thing David is that this thing has lasted way too long.
Koresh: Oh, it - it - it has. It should have never gotten started this way -
FBI: You're right.
Koresh: And that was not our fault.
FBI: Ok. But -
Koresh: Now you don't wish to speak to the issues of the beginning of this -
FBI: No. I don't. And - and what the issues were - you know at that time is something else. The problem is not what the issues were at that time - the problem is this has lasted way too long. You know -
Koresh: I'm gonna finish my book or I'm not gonna finish my book.
FBI: Well, I hope that you do.
Koresh: Well, let me tell you this. These men who everyday we try to show them good faith. They've walked out in front of us, they've driven their tanks up to us, they've bust in the side of the building a little bit one time. You said that was a mistake - it was not in your control - that wasn't in the commander's wishes. You know - all of this has been shown that if these guys want to fight - Now I don't want to fight. I - I want - I'm a life too, and there's a lot of people in here that are lives. There's children in here.
FBI: That's right.
Koresh: And we're also Americans. And I think - I think that America has a patronage - a very clear patronage of individual citizens who - who - who - who have a breaking point.
FBI: Well, that's true.
Koresh: Now if the government is gotten this stronger - it can come on to something that we have worked for hard. We worked when we got on this property. A lot of hard hours. This place was a dump. We fixed it up. We built this little house here. It's not extravagant. You know - there's a lot of people here with a high commission and a lot of love and concern, not just for our own lives, but for everybody's life. And if this is the way our government is showing the world that its tactics are to get someone to - to - to - to - to do as they wish when realistically, our - our rights have been infringed upon right and left.
FBI: But there's a way to resolve that David.
Koresh: Yes. Yes.
FBI: And the way to resolve it is for you to come out and lead your people out.
Koresh: Your way - your way is that you're gonna keep - you're gonna keep destroying our property.
FBI: This - this probably would not have had to happen -
Koresh: It never did have to happen.
FBI: That's right. And - and then - you know - if you would have come out on - on the day that you indicated that you promised that you were gonna come out none of this would have taken place.
Koresh: Look. You denounce the fact that I have a God that communicates with me. That's - that's the first mistake that we - that we make.
FBI: Nobody - nobody - nobody is saying anything about your religious beliefs, your thoughts. your ideas -
Koresh: Listen. But you are -
FBI: Or anything like that.
Koresh: You're - you're saying -
FBI: The same things that you can do there you could do out - out here.
Koresh: That's what you say. I - I think that you are lying. As a matter of fact, I know that when the first month or so that I'm out, I'm gonna be bombarded all of the time with nothing but people wanting to know Koresh - asking this - asking that.
FBI: And if you were working on the seven seals - I mean - nobody would bother you. I mean - why would you - why would that have to happen?
Koresh: I have my responsibility also you know. Come on, look at the reality of things.
FBI: And the reality of things is that there are priorities.
Koresh: OK. But you put your priorities -
FBI: And you're priority and everybody's priority should be in the safety of the children -
Koresh: All right.
FBI: And the safety of the women, and the safety of everybody
Koresh: You're fixing - you are fixing to ruin - your commanders are fixing to ruin the safety of my and my children. My life - the lives of my wives - the lives of my friends - my family. You're fixing to step across the ribbon.
FBI: I think that - that was something that you brought on. It has nothing to do with the commanders, David.
Koresh: All right. I brought on - if this - if this is the corner of the box that you place me into -
FBI: I think that you're placing yourself in that David. I don't think anybody is forcing it -
Koresh: No. No. You're the one who moving forward. You're the one who - who has violated - your generals have violated our constitutional rights. You have made us guilty before proving so.
FBI: I don't think so.
Koresh: You actively brought a band of - of - of people who didn't announce themselves. They came - I was at the front door. I was willing to talk to them. They shot at me first.
FBI: See, now you're talking about - you're talking about the ATF.
Koresh: About something that you don't want to prove as a matter of a fact. You're telling me - now you've - now you telling me that I am under arrest. I have to come out and I -
FBI: When somebody's under arrest that doesn't mean that it - that you've already been proven guilty. It just means that you've been charged.
Koresh: No. I'm being punished. We've already been punished. We've been placed in jail. We're being punished as guilty.
FBI: Well, that is something that you chose for everybody inside.
Koresh: That is not correct.
FBI: Sure it is because -
Koresh: That is something that you chose as a confinement.
FBI: Because if you had walked out on that day as you promised, by now who knows where we would have been You know - you probably would be out on bail for God sakes.
Koresh: John - all I can say is - is that if you want to - to - to place this in the history books as one of the saddest days in the world -
FBI: Well, I think that the - the - the rules for your safety still apply. There's no reason - you know - to think that - that - that they shouldn't apply.
Koresh: OK. I understand your rules. I'm just simply asking you in all good faith, and all good manner to - you tell the general it's enough to tear up our property.
FBI: I will tell them exactly what you said. But you need to understand that - um - I'm talking up. It's not - you know - talking down. So - you know - what I suggest and what I will suggest is exactly what you said. I've suggested that and I've suggested other things. I have no - no problem in - ah - you know -
Koresh: You tell em we love em. We love em and - you know -
FBI: And you're willing to send out thirty people.
Koresh: Whoever wants to go out can go out.
FBI: No. No. No. No. Don't tell me - don't tell me that. Tell me that you're sending somebody out.
Koresh: I'm not going to - you don't - see - you don't understand about these people yet.
FBI: And you don't understand about the people here yet either.
Koresh: OK. Well if that's the way we want to play then we come to a point where -
FBI: I'm not wanting to play anything -
Koresh: But it - you are playing.
FBI: No. I'm not. I'm telling you.
Koresh: Everyone in the tanks - everyone in the tanks out there is playing.
FBI: No. Nobody is. People just want to see some progress.
Koresh: Look some progress is being made. You don't realize what kind of progress is being made. There are people all over this world who are going to benefit from this book of the seven seals. You don't seem to understand.
FBI: And what you don't seem to understand is - is that the people here want to see that kind of progress, but other kind of progress. There's no reason why you couldn't be doing the same very thing that you are doing now within the place out here.
Koresh: That's not true. What you're saying is not based on truth.
FBI: Why not? Why not? What do you mean it's not -
Koresh: Because it's just not.
FBI: Your attorney is gonna be your attorney whether you're in there or out here. Anything that you want your - all you - all you'd have to do is - is furnish it to him.
Koresh: An attorney -
FBI: Why would he not comply with your wishes?
Koresh: That's - the legal system is not the majority of the attorney. The legal system is a completely sophisticated - lots of - lots of Indian chief - ah -system. It's not just where you got one guy who is hired to speak in your behalf in a court case in front of a jury.
FBI: Yes. But - but what I'm saying -
Koresh: There's more to it than just - I was in jail in 1988.
FBI: And - and how did it come out?
Koresh: It came out wonderful, because -
FBI: Well, there you go. There you go.
Koresh: Well the thing of it is - is that you don't understand the amount of cost it takes to get that legal representation too.
FBI: Well -
Koresh: And this was something - this was something that the Sheriff's department got us in.
FBI: Well, that was - that was then. You have an attorney now. You know - the same work that you're doing there you can be doing out here.
Koresh: It's a different more high profile case type situation. I just - I just suggest that it - it would be a very bad thing for you to - to keep destroying all this evidence out here.
FBI: Well - you - know - I really don't have any control over that.
Koresh: I mean what are they doing? Are they - are you covering up the ATF? That's exactly what it appears you're doing.
FBI: David, what we're trying to do is were trying -
Koresh: It's wrong! You're doing wrong before God - before man. You are doing wrong! You adding to your wrong.
FBI: David, you're the one that's doing wrong.
Koresh: No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
FBI: You seem to have -
FBI: No concern about -
Koresh: You know we can't stay in here forever.
FBI: Anybody within the place except yourself.
Koresh: You know that we can't stay in here forever.
FBI: You know - if you could send - OK. Well send fifty people out. Send fifty people out right now.
Koresh: Does fifty of you want to go out?
FBI: You don't have to ask. All you have to do is say, "Look, I want fifty volunteers," and they'll come out. If you send fifty people out.
Koresh: They're saying because of these things they want to stay the more.
FBI: And I guess that you have no control over anybody. You know -
Koresh: You've got to understand, what I have control -
FBI: This is your responsibility. This is your responsibility because you're the leader. Their safety is in your hands. These people look -
(The tape breaks off at this point.)