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News Briefs

Documents Raise Questions About Allegations of Waco Cover-Up


Justice Department documents released Monday by a senior House Democrat raise questions about Republican allegations that the FBI and Justice Department deliberately covered up the use of military rounds at the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco, Texas.

The documents, which have been in the possession of House Republicans for the past four years, disclose the FBI’s use of potentially incendiary tear gas rounds during the disastrous assault in 1993.

“They appear to conflict fundamentally with the assertions ... that evidence about the use of military tear gas rounds was deliberately withheld from Congress,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., in a letter to former Sen. John C. Danforth, the newly appointed special counsel investigating the Waco incident.

GOP aides said they were not aware of the documents, and they countered that their own accusations of a possible Justice Department cover-up were influenced by Attorney General Janet Reno’s own assertions that information about pyrotechnic tear gas rounds had been withheld from her.

The newly released documents mesh well with a report released Monday by the Texas Rangers, in which Ranger Sgt. George L. Turner revealed that FBI agents told him in January 1994 about the use of military rounds. Turner indicated that he did not see the significance of the admission.

House Panel to Consider Plan To Stop Assisted Suicides


Congress is aiming to overturn Oregon’s law allowing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients and to make it a federal crime for doctors everywhere to prescribe narcotics to help those patients end their lives.

The measure could send a physician to prison for 20 years for prescribing a drug such as morphine to help patients kill themselves, according to lawyers in Oregon and California who have analyzed the bill.

A House committee is expected to approve the bill Tuesday, and it could go before the full House this month and the Senate before the end of the year. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has promised a filibuster on the Senate floor; a White House aide, asked if President Clinton would sign such a measure if one reached him, called the issue particularly delicate and said no decision had been made.

Several other states, mostly in the West, have begun considering proposals similar to Oregon’s law.

The Oregon law took effect in 1997 after the state’s voters approved an assisted suicide ballot initiative and then decisively rejected an initiative to repeal it.