Tiananmen Square, Waco, and Posse Comitatus

The Sound-Byte

The experiences of Tienanmin Square and Waco underscore the wisdom of the Posse Comitatus act.

The Details

Ten years ago, Chinese students seeking a more democratic society were mowed down by the Communist Chinese military in Tienanmin Square. Six years ago, an unconventional multiracial Christian religious community in Waco, Texas was imolated by Federal forces.

What could these two events occurring on two different continents have in common? Simply this: in both cases, local "law enforcement" was not "agressive" enough to suit national authorities, so outsiders were brought in to do the dirty work.

In the case of Tienanmin Square, world-wide coverage was given to the unarmed Chinese student who brought a tank to a halt by standing in its path. The military driver could relate to the unarmed student who confronted the tank as a human being, not unlike his own children and neighbors. Ultimately the Communist dictatorship resorted to military units from a remote, rural province to crush the democratic student demonstration.

In the case of Waco, the local Sheriff's department was on good terms with the Branch Davidian religions community. They had found the community and its leader, David Koresh, to be cooperative when issues had arisen in the past. But the Federal government wanted a "photo-op" in their war against American public opinion. Thus the Bureua of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco (BATF) insigated a daybreak "dynamic assault" against the Davidian religious community in Waco. When this assualt soured, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) backed by Delta Force military units entered the situation with military-style weaponry. Ultimately, the members of the Branch Davidian religious community were destroyed just as surely as the Chinese students in Tienanmin Square. Similarly, outside forces were required to do the dirty work -- outsiders who could look on the Davidians as an impersonal "THEM" rather than as human beings not unlike their own children and neighbors.

Herein lies the wisdom of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act which forbids the use of military forces against United States civilians under the color of domestic law enforcement. With the increasing "militarization" of Federal and local law enforcement, the line between domestic law enforcement and and military action is becoming increasingly blurred.

With the increasing Federalization of crimes that were previously the domain of the States, the question has to be asked: are we opening ourselves up to a brutal assault by outsiders from remote regions who have an attitude that we are some impersonal THEM,  unlike their own children and neighbors, part of some different, misunderstood culture, and thus fair game for brutal and unnecessary tactics? Unfortunately, the lessons of Waco, Texas and Tiananamen Square, People's Republic of China sound a clear warning to all with ears to hear.

For Further Information Check Out These Books

Below we list a number of books that relate to China and the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and the Waco, Texas Branch Davidian Massacre. We have included all books we are aware of, from all points of view. If you know of any other books in print, please let us know.

Book Cover Mandate of Heaven; The Legacy of Tiananmen Square and the Next Generation of China's Leaders
Orville Schell
Details the mixture of cultural and political influences that collided in the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989, and that continue to swirl into the cultural, political, and economic future of Communist China.

Book Cover China after Deng Xiaoping; The Power Struggle in Beijing since Tiananmen
Willy Wo-Lap Lam
Examines the political, economic, and cultural legacy of Communist Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping, from the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre forward.

Book Cover The Legacy of Tiananmen; China in Disarray
James A. R. Miles
Documents the changing flux of social, economic, and political forces in modern Communist China, which threaten to plunge the most populous nation on Earth into chaos if corruption and societal dislocations are not brought under control.

Book Cover Almost a Revolution
Tong Shen, Marianne Yen
Chinese student leader Shen Tong offers his memoirs and analysis of the events leading up to the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4, 1989 in which hopes for meaningful political reform in Communist China were crushed under the tread of Red Army tanks.

Book Cover Spring Winds of Beijing
Gail Copeland
A Western business-woman and journalist documents her impressions of the common folk of the People's Republic of China and the events surrounding the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989.

Book Cover Wild Lily, Prairie Fire; China's Road to Democracy, Yan'an to Tian'anmen, 1942-1989
Gregor Benton, Alan Hunter
A source book of documents of democratic dissent under Chinese Communism, most of them previously untranslated and difficult to find in the West. Ranging from eye-witness accounts of a massacre to theoretical critiques of Chinese Marxist thought, these essays are among the most powerful and important works of Chinese dissident literature written in this century.

Book Cover Black Hands of Beijing : Lives of Defiance in China's Democracy Movement
George Black, Robin Munro
A riveting chronicle of Communist oppression and the struggle for democratic reform in China from 1976 to 1993. Reveals some of the first details of the years following Tiananmen Square focusing on three leading figures in the democracy movement. Features narratives from scores of other key figures in the movement told in their own words.

Book Cover Chaos under Heaven : The Shocking Story of China's Search for Democracy
Gordon Thomas
Documents how President Bush declined to help the students protesting for democracy in Tiananmen Square in order to further American business interests in Communist China and to gain Red Chinese support for the war against Iraq.

Book Cover Cries for Democracy; Writings and Speeches from the 1989 Chinese Democracy Movement
Han Minzhu, Hua Sheng, Jonathan Spence
A rich collection of translations of original writings and speeches from the 1989 Chinese Democracy Movement--flyers, posters, hand-bills, poems, articles from underground newspapers, and transcripts of tapes. Beginning with the student discontent and restlessness that pervaded Chinese campuses in the winter of 1989, and continuing through to the violent suppression of the Democracy Movement in June with the bloody army takeover of Tiananmen Square and sweeping arrests of activists, the story shows how moderate demands on the part of students grew into a mass anti-government protest and resistance to martial law in Beijing.

Book Cover China since Tiananmen; Political, Economic, and Social Conflicts
Lawrence R. Sullivan
A collection of translations of primary source documents from Communist China and other sources.

Book Cover Quelling the People: The Military Suppression of the Beijing Democracy Movement
Timothy Brook
A Canadian Sinologist tells both the nonspecialist and the China expert what happened at Tiananmen Square, based on a study of source documents and interviews.

Book Cover Beijing Spring, 1989: Confrontation and Conflict: The Basic Documents
Michel Oksenberg, Lawrence R. Sullivan, Marc Lambert
A political scientist examines the economic and political context of the 1989 Chinese student pro-democracy movement that culminated in the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Book Cover Broken Portraits: Personal Encounters with Chinese Students
Michael David Kwan
An ethnic Chinese from Canada returns to Communist China to teach English, and becomes involved with students in the pro-democracy movement that was crushed at the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Book Cover Chinese People's Movement: Perspectives on Spring 1989
Tony Saich
Essays examining the implications of suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement by the People's Republic of China.

Book Cover Chinese Society on the Eve of Tiananmen: The Impact of Reform
Deborah Davis, Ezra F. Vogel
An American journalist and Rainbow Coalition activist weighs in on the pro-democracy movement in the People's Republic of China.

Book Cover Ordinary and the Extraordinary: An Anthropological Study of Chinese Reform and the 1989 People's Movement In Beijing
Frank N. Pieke
An anthropologist presents a study in which the 1989 Chinese People's Movement is analyzed against the background of eight months of anthropological fieldwork in Beijing. The fieldwork began as a study of the dynamics of Chinese state socialist society under the impact of ten years of reform, approaching the problem from the perspective of the common Beijing resident. Pieke established that the increased role of the market economy and the use of personal connections forced Beijing citizens to engage in actions going against the grain of socialist ideology in which many still believed. Ideology and practice had increasingly little to do with each other and a deeply-felt moral crisis of society was the result.

Book Cover The Struggle for Tiananmen: Anatomy of the 1989 Mass Movement
Nan Lin
The author argues that the mass movement, which climaxed in Beijing, can be understood only if attention is given to the external environment that provided both opportunities and constraints to the interactions of participating groups, to the shifting participants and their goals and interests, and to the historical and cultural factors that guided the behavior of those participants. Unlike other works on this topic, The Struggle for Tiananmen analyzes the movement from its beginning to its end--presenting the entire process, providing information from both the authorities and non-student participants.

Book Cover China's Students: The Struggle for Democracy
Ruth Cherrington

Book Cover 1989: The Year the World Changed
Jeffrey B. Symynkywicz
Juvenile literature. Documents the pro-democracy movements in both Eastern Europe and Red China.

Book Cover Popular Protest and Political Culture in Modern China
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, Elizabeth J. Perry
A collection of essays motivated by the slaughter of Chinese students in Tiananmen Square.

Book Cover The Amerasia Spy Case; Prelude to McCarthyism
Harvey Klehr, Ronald Radosh
The real story behind the McCarthy era. De-classified documents show that in the Amerasia case, there really was a breach of American government security by Communists.

Book Cover The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II
Iris Chang
Documents Japanese atrocities in World War II that caused even the Nazi's to object. Featured on KFYI.

Book Cover The Coming Conflict with China
Richard Bernstein, Ross H. Munro
How Bill Clinton's policies (and possible Communist Chinese influence on U.S. elections) threaten the United States, Taiwan, Japan, and the Pacific Rim. The Red Chinese military buildup, economic warfare, and industrial espionage.

Book Cover The Year of the Rat: How Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash
Edward Timperlake, William C. Triplett.II
Two Congressional researchers document how the Clinton Administration facilitated transfer of sensitive military technology to the Communist Chinese. Was it incompetence? Bribery? Treason? Each American must decide for themself.

Book Cover Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security
Bill Gertz
Picking up where 'Year of the Rat left off, documents what is most charitably described as incompetence in the Clinton Administration, and more bluntly called treason. Security leaks and loss of military technology.

Book Cover Memoirs of Bishop Luna: The Life of Bishop Constantino Luna, O.F.M., D.D.
Joseph E. Riley
Memoirs of a Franciscan Monk born in the Italian Alps, who served as a missionary in China and Guatemala, becoming Bishop of Zacapa.

Book Cover Neither Gods nor Emperors : Students and the Struggle for Democracy in China
Craig J. Calhoun
A sociological analysis of the Chinese pro-democracy student movement that culminated in the brutal suppression by the People's Liberation Army.

  China Rising; The Meaning of Tiananmen
Lee Feigon
An American historian examines the pro-democracy movement that culminated in the massacre of student protesters in Tiananmen Square, People's Republic of China, in 1989.

  Mass Media and Tiananmen Square
Zhou He
An examination of the social dynamics of the interaction between the mass media and the protesters during the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

  Crisis at Tiananmen: Reform and Reality in Modern China
Yi Mu, Mark V. Thompson
Written from the viewpoint of an independent mainland Chinese journalist, this book is an excellent reference for the events of Spring 1989. Includes translations of source material from both sides of the conflict.

  Resistance Chaos Central China: Taiping Rebels, Taiwanese Ghosts, and Tiananmen
Rob P. Weller
This study examines how and when potential resistance may be transformed into an actual social movement. Its three cases - the Taiping Rebellion in the 1840s and 1850s, ghost worship in modern Taiwan and the aftermath of the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square - contribute to ongoing debates among historians, social scientists and literary theorists on the relationship between culture and resistance. Resistance, Chaos and Control in China compares active resistance movements with everyday actions that imply unspoken resistance.

  The Saga of Chinese Higher Education from the Tongzhi Restoration to Tiananmen Square: Revolution and Reform
Richard A. Hartnett
Examines higher education in China from 1861 to the present, including the student pro-democracy movement of 1989.

  Aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Crisis for Mainland China
Bih-jaw Lin
American and Taiwanese scholars discuss the implications of the massacre of the pro-democracy student protesters at Tiananmen Square by the Red Chinese People's Liberation Army.

  Tiananmen Square
Scott Simmie, Bob Nixon
Interviews with students and other Chinese citizens in the days leading up to the pro-democracy movement in Red China that was crushed by the Communists in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

  Culture and Politics in China : An Anatomy of Tiananmen Square
Peter Li, Steven Mark, Marjorie H. Li
Essays and source documents relating to the massacre of pro-democracy Chinese students by the Peoples' Liberation Army in 1989.

  Broken Mirror: China after Tiananmen
George Hicks
Essays and source documents relating to the massacre of pro-democracy Chinese students by the Peoples' Liberation Army in 1989.

  Beijing Spring 1989; An Outsider's inside Account
David J. Firestein

  Beijing; The New Forbidden City
Skya Gardner-Abbate

  Voices from Tiananmen Square: Beijing Spring and the Democracy Movement
Mok Chiu Yu, J. Fran Harrison

  Values VS. Interests: The U. S. Response to the Tiananmen Square Massacre
Eric A. Hyer

  Snatched from the Dragon
Megan Gabriel Lanham

  Two Years after Tiananmen: Political Prisoners in China

  The Democracy Movement of 1989 and China's Future
Jia Hao

  Tiananmen: China's Struggle for Democracy - Its Prelude, Development, Aftermath, and Impact
Winston L. Yang, Marsha L. Wager

  China at the Crossroads; Reform after Tiananmen
Steven M. Goldstein

  Tiananmen to Tiananment - China under Communism, 1947-1996: After Delusion and Disillusionment, a Nation at the Crossroads

Book Cover The Davidian Massacre: Disturbing Questions about Waco Which Must Be Answered
Carol Moore
Includes information from recent Congressional Hearings; documents government mis-handling of the situation and suggests that the government conspired to cover-up their shortcomings.

Book Cover A Place Called Waco; A Survivor's Story
David Thibodeau, Leon Whiteson
A survivor of the Waco massacre tells the inside story of the Branch Davidians, David Koresh, and what really happened at Mount Carmel. David Thibodeau reveals the unconventional life and beliefs of the Branch Davidian community, and also presents evidence that calls into question the actions of the Federal government.

Book Cover The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation
Dick J. Reavis
Drawing on interviews with survivors of Koresh's movement (which dates back to 1935, long before Koresh was born), on published accounts, on trial transcripts, on esoteric religious tracts and audiotapes that tell us who Koresh was and why people followed him, and most of all on secret documents that the government has not released to the public yet, Reavis has uncovered the real story from beginning to end, including the trial that followed. He concludes that the government had little reason to investigate Koresh and even less to raid the compound at Mount Carmel. The government lied to the public about most of what happened - about who fired the first shots, about drug allegations, about child abuse. The FBI was duplicitous and negligent in gassing Mount Carmel - and that alone could have started the fire that killed seventy-six people.

Book Cover Why Waco?: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America
James D. Tabor, Eugene V. Gallagher
Intolerance of unconventional religions and a failure to communicate lead to the Waco disaster. Includes David Koresh's previously unpublished manuscript on the Book of Revelation.

Book Cover No More Wacos: What's Wrong with Federal Law Enforcement and how to Fix It
David B. Kopel, Paul H. Blackman
BATF and FBI abuse of power threatens individual rights, the rule of law, and due process. Extensive documentation.

Book Cover Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict
Stuart A. Wright
Essays from various points of view explore the history of the Branch Davidians and David Koresh, why the group was labeled a 'cult,' how authorities used unsubstantiated allegations of child abuse to strengthen their case against the sect, the media's role, the orchestration of public relations by government officials, the ideologies of the journalists themselves, and the role played by 'experts' and 'consultants' in defining such conflicts.

Book Cover Massacre at Waco: The Shocking True Story of Cult Leader David Koresh and the Branch Davidians
Clifford L. Linedecker
A military, police and government reporter with a taste for the occult casts a jaundiced eye on David Koresh and the Branch Davidians: [Koresh] loved God. He loved guns. He was the Evil Messiah. 'I am Christ.' -- self-proclaimed Messiah David Koresh, to his followers. He promised them Heaven ... instead, he took them to Hell ....

Book Cover Tainting Evidence
John F. Kelly, Phillip Wearne
FBI crime labs are not trustworthy.

Book Cover The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Washington bureau chief of The Sunday Telegraph (London) documents a pattern of intimidation, harassment, and even strange deaths that seem to be standard operating procedure in the Clinton administrations in both Arkansas and Washington. Also raises questions about Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing, and possible obstruction of justice.

Book Cover Apocalypse in Oklahoma: Waco and Ruby Ridge Revenged
Mark S. Hamm
The author argues that the force used by the FBI during the sieges at the Branch Davidian community in Waco, Texas, and at Randy Weaver's cabin in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, followed by an unwillingness to admit to errors in judgment, fueled the radical right's suspicion and hatred of the federal government and provided the motive for the explosion in Oklahoma City.

Book Cover The Militia Movement in America: Before and After Oklahoma City
Tricia Andryszewski
Juvenile literature. Explores the roots of the militia movement's growth in the United States, its connection with mainstream society, the ideologies of anti-government groups, and the tragedies at Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Oklahoma City.

  From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco
James R. Lewis
Commentary and analysis of the Waco Incident from many points of view, ranging from The Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs to Eldridge Cleaver.

Book Cover Before the Flames: David Koresh and the Branch Davidians
A. Anthony Hibbert
The roots of the Branch Davidians in the Seventh Day Adventists and how we can prevent future tragedies like the torching near Waco.

Book Cover Standoff in Texas
Mike Cox
The Waco Branch Davidian disaster as seen through the eyes of the chief of media relations for the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Rangers.

Book Cover Religious Cults in America
Robert Emmet Long
An insurance investigator and literary critic ventures into non-fiction, examining religious cults, the Branch Davidians and the Waco disaster.

Book Cover Toward the Millennium: Messianic Expectations from the Bible to Waco
Peter Schafer, Mark R. Cohen
A collection of sixteen articles delivered at Princeton University. The volume covers messianic expectations from biblical time up to modern and contemporaneous adaptations, whereby the focus lies on the messianic concept within Judaism: diversity and variety of messianic expectations in antiquity; messianic movements at the time of the Crusades and around the fifth millennium (1240); the 'Pseudo'-Messiah Sabbatai Zvi in the early modern period; the philosophers Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig and Walter Benjamin with respect to their thinking about messianism as well as the Lubavitch movement.

Book Cover Wait-out in Waco
Sue L. Hamilton, Richard Smith, John C. Hamilton
Juvenile literature: 4-8 grade. A fictional dramatization of the Waco Branch Davidian disaster.

Book Cover The Waco Whitewash
Jack DeVault

  The Siege at Waco: Deadly Inferno
Michael D. Cole
Juvenile literature for young adults, details David Koresh's rise to head of the Branch Davidians, his buildup of firearms and followers, and his eventual deadly defiance of the United States government at Waco, Texas.

  Davidian Testimony
David Adair

  Boilerplate: Koreshians, Potential Rioters, and Bureaucratic Complicity in American Self-Destruction: Being a List of Eight Ways in Which the Dead at Waco Were a Lot like the Rest of Us
Daniel X. O'Neil

  Cult - Anti-Cult: How a National Mindset and Government Incompetence Aided and Abetted the Waco Disaster
James R. Lewis

  Waco Report of the U. S. Treasury Department
Rector Press
The BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco) version of what happened to the Branch Davidian community at Waco Texas.

  Bushwhacked by Bushmasters: Waco, the Raw Truth
Ronald R. Davidson

  Waco Massacre
Mike Tecton

  Anti-Militia: On the Link between the Massacres at Waco and Oklahoma City and the Yugoslav Civil War
Thomas J. Kuna-Jacob

  Evaluation of the Handling of the Branch Davidian Stand off in Waco
Edward Dennis

Book Cover A Culture of Secrecy: The Government Versus the People's Right to Know
Athan G. Theoharis

Copyright © 1999 Daniel Weyrich.

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Last updated: May 11, 2000; Version: 1.2