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Reno Mulls Waco Probe

Attorney General Janet Reno is inching closer toward naming someone from outside the Justice Department to head up the latest investigation into the government's handling of the standoff with the Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas. CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports.

Reno's search comes as the House Government Reform Committee subpoenaed all that remained of the Davidian complex -- a warehouse of charred weapons now being held by the Texas Rangers -- plus witnesses for a new round of hearings on the Waco siege set for this fall.

More subpoenas are expected, including one for the Defense Department, whose secretive Delta Force had members at the scene. It has been a source of controversy for some who contend the military played more than an observer's role. Only under tightly proscribed rules is the military allowed to participate in domestic law enforcement operations.

Pentagon officials have said three Army Special Forces officers were present outside Waco, Texas, on April 19, 1993, but they were not involved in the FBI operation.


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Six years after the Branch Davidian standoff, the FBI acknowledged using incendiary devices.

FBI Director Louis Freeh is also urging Reno to pick an outside investigator to lead the inquiry into whether the bureau withheld any information about what happened at Waco.

CBS News Reporter Stephanie Lambidakis reports Freeh dodged all questions regarding Waco during groundbreaking for the new FBI laboratory Wednesday.

The FBI has listed 40 agents who could team up for the investigation, but bureau spokesman Tron Brekke says Freeh supports a probe without FBI involvement.

Brekke says the bureau recognizes that it has been damaged by the recent disclosure that it hadn't told all it knew about incendiary tear gas used against Branch Davidians.

The renewed interest in the standoff centers on Reno's testimony four years ago that the FBI used no incendiary tear gas canisters in their assault on the compound. "I'm very satisfied in the information provided to me by the FBI," she said on August 1, 1995. "I was informed." Only now it seems she wasn't.

Internal documents recently uncovered imply that some people in both the FBI and Justice Department have always known that at least two incendiary devices were used that day. But both were deployed six hours before the fire started and both were aimed at a bunker not housing the Davidians.

A Feb. 15, 1996 internal FBI memorandum, for example, cites a request from the bureau's Hostage Rescue Team C to use military-style tear gaswhich is incendiary, and notes that authority was granted at 6:07 a.m. Two rounds were fired, according to the memo.

But it wasn't until six hours later that flames were first noticed in the main compound. Several outside review panels have already concluded that the Davidians set those fires themselves after the bureau doused their fortress with nonflammable tear gas.

The new investigation will apparently center on who authorized the use of the two military-style gas canisters and, just as importantly, why that information was never conveyed to a now angry attorney general.