WASHINGTON -- An independent investigation into the siege of the Branch Davidian fortress at Waco, Texas, revealed Friday the fire that consumed the cult compound was deliberately set by people inside, and was not started by the FBI's tear-gas operation.
That was the conclusion of an investigation conducted by Philadelphia attorney Edward S. G. Dennis Jr.
The valuation was part of a massive four-part report released by the Justice Department Friday.
Sections of the report include proposed changes in law enforcement and a Justice Department review of the events at Waco from the time the siege began on Feb. 28, when four agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms were killed in a bungled raid, to the fiery conclusion of the standoff on April 19.
The fire -- which started after federal agents began knocking down compounds walls and firing tear gas inside the structure in an effort to force cult members to leave -- destroyed cult leader David Koresh's compound and killed more than 80 people inside.
The independent review, which was requested by the Justice Department, largely praised the actions of the FBI.
The report covered only the FBI portion of the siege, not the initial raid by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in which four ATF agents were killed.
The only criticism expressed in the independent report was over the apparent disagreement between negotiators trying to influence those inside the compound and field officers who were using 'presure tactics' outside the compound such as armored military vehicles.
Attorney General Janet Reno rejected the suggestion that the evaluation was a 'whitewash.' She said investigators were only trying to bring out the truth.