Live

Watch CBSN Live

Waco Questions Remain

The government's extensive re-enactment this weekend of the end of the Branch Davidian siege near Waco, Texas, was supposed to help settle -- once and for all -- whether federal agents fired on the compound before it went up in flames. But as CBS News Correspondent Maureen Maher reports, it may have only created more questions.

Both the Branch Davidians and the government proclaimed Monday that their positions were bolstered by the results of an elaborate field test aimed at resolving whether federal agents shot at sect members during the 1993 siege on the sect's Mount Carmel compound.

What was initially designed to provide answers about what really happened appears to have only created more questions.

Officials were trying to determine what the white flashes recorded by infrared equipment during the final moments of the Branch Davidian siege were.

So they set up a test, using similar equipment under similar circumstances.

"It clearly demonstrates that there was government gunfire at the back of Mount Carmel April 19, 1993," said Branch Davidian attorney Michael Caddell.

Attorneys representing the Branch Davidians in a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit initially requested the test hoping to prove the white flashes came from FBI agents firing on the compound -- effectively trapping more than 80 people inside the burning building.

But the FBI disagrees, saying sunlight reflecting off debris recorded during the test more closely resembles the light flare on the original tape.

They also claim the infrared camera clearly picks up agents as they run across the roof of one building, but during the period of alleged gunfire only black spots, not people can be seen.

"If people had been running around from position to position and doing the things that they appear to be alleging, it's just difficult for us to believe that at no point anywhere in the tape would no one have appeared," said U.S. attorney Michael Bradford.

Infrared experts from both sides are comparing video footage from Sunday's nonpublic field test with the FBI's 1993 aerial surveillance tape.

The test - ordered by a federal court - was designed to determine whether the flashes were gunfire from heavily armed FBI agents, as the Davidians' attorneys claim. Two infrared cameras at Fort Hood recorded how gunfire, body movement, and debris appeared under many of the same conditions present during the standoff's final moments.

Caddell and Bradford were present at Sunday's test, as was former Missouri Senator John Danforth, who's conducting an ongoing independent investigation of the standoff. The test site at Fort Hood was tightly controlled and closed to reporters and the general public.

An FBI plane equipped with the since-upgraded FLIR and a Lynx helicopter on loan from the British Royal Navy with an infrared camera, of the same generation as the one used in 1993, flew over the test site.

U.S. District Judge Waltr Smith - the presiding judge in the Davidian lawsuit - barred release of the re-enactment film, but permitted discussion of its contents. The judge, who ruled the video as evidence, said the court's infrared expert will release its own analysis of the reenactment within 30 days.

View CBS News In