"People started waking up, running around. I started to hear popping sounds around the building. They started to break the walls, break the windows down, spread the CS gas out. The speakers said, 'This is not an assault.' I thought, 'If this isn’t an assault, I’d hate to see what is.'"
David Thibodeau was a resident of the Branch Davidians' Mt. Carmel "compound," located just outside Waco, Texas, when the place was raided in 1993 first by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and, later, by the FBI. Thibodeau is one of nine Branch Davidians to survive what is widely recognized as the single biggest disaster in federal law enforcement history: As a result of the two raids, 80 Branch Davidians were killed, including 21 children; four federal agents also died there as well. The 30-year-old Thibodeau, one of four Waco survivors not charged with any crimes, is the author, with Leon Whiteson, of A Place Called Waco: A Survivor's Story (New York: Public Affairs). He recently talked via telephone with Reason's Washington Editor, Michael Lynch.
Reason: How did you get involved with David Koresh and the Mount Carmel community?
David Thibodeau: I was a drummer living in Los Angeles in 1990. I had finished music school and was playing with a band. It wasn’t going as well as it should have been. I went into Guitar Center and David Koresh and Steven Schneider were looking at a drum set and they asked me to play it. They handed me their card, which said, "Messiah Productions." All this religious scripture was written on the back. The last thing I wanted was to join any kind of Christian band. So I said, "I’m not really looking for a Christian band, but thank you very much." David said, "We’re not exactly a Christian band. We’ve just been studying scriptures." We started talking a bit.
I ended up giving him a call and we started to play music. Over the course of the next three months or so, Steve Schneider would come over to my roommate’s house and we did studies. I started to see something there. I didn’t know exactly what. I could see that they had studied the scriptures. Steve had one of those one-inch margin bibles and in every page he had cross-references. I was really impressed with it. I was invited to come out to Mount Carmel during Passover season. I started to really see that there was something there. I was interested. I got out to Mount Carmel and saw people from all over the world.
Reason: Was anyone manufacturing machine guns or grenades at Mount Carmel?
Thibodeau: Not to my knowledge.
Reason: What was the relationship to guns?
Thibodeau: Basically, David believed that he was an American and a Texan. In Texas there are 68 million firearms for 16 million people, so they are not unusual there. He met a man named Henry McMahon, who was a licensed firearm dealer and he started going to shows and learning about the business. He started to buy through Henry and create an inventory.
The scriptural relevance of this is, let’s go to the New Testament. There’s a period of time in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Christ is saying, "If you have a cloak, sell your cloak and buy a dagger....My servants should fight that I not be delivered to the hands of the Romans." That’s just one example.
Reason: You seem to suggest in your book that the most logical explanation for Koresh’s recklessness with underage girls, if not just purely sexual, was a desire to provoke confrontations with authorities and therefore, "His message to the world was bound to fail." Can you comment on that?
Thibodeau: He often said, "Woe to them who take the good for the evil and the evil for the good." What he meant by that is there would be message of truth and it would not be understood. Koresh believed that God had a plan that would go contrary to any human planning. People would not understand this and it would be a stumbling block to the wicked. People wouldn’t get to know the message before they made the judgment. They would just wipe it out.
As far as the sexuality is concerned, David didn’t have sex just to have sex. He always had a goal, a focus and that was to have kids. He wanted to have as many kids as possible. A lot of people forget that. They just say there’s this guy, all these stupid people followed him, and he just wanted to have sex, and that was it. I can think of 100 million better ways to do it. A lot of people have a wife and then mistresses and they hide it and cover it up. David was very open about what he was doing because he believed it was a scriptural thing. It was a very complicated thing but the plan all fit together. I never understood how so many women could live together under those circumstances. It’s a mystery of God, let me tell you. How could all these guys hang out, let that happen and not do anything?
Reason: Didn’t the guys get upset? You were single--but for other guys, it was their wives Koresh was sleeping with.
Thibodeau: Of course. Steve Schneider was often upset about it but at the same time he had spent six months trying to rip David apart to prove him wrong before he joined the group. So did Paul Fatta. They worked together trying to prove the message wrong. They couldn’t do it. So they said, "He has the truth."
Reason: So at that point they fell into line?
Thibodeau: They believed it was the message of God, that is was for this higher purpose. And that they were in the inner circle of the anointed one. Think about that. They would sacrifice everything to be with this person and to have some part in the fulfillment of this eternal plan. It’s something the world wouldn’t understand, they might be wiped out for it, but eternally they will have great position. It’s a pretty amazing dynamic. They believed that Koresh was the next sprit messiah, the guy who would come to fulfill this part of the truth. They would stand with him and come back to set up the kingdom here on earth.
Reason: In your book, you complain that the media demonized Koresh. But don’t you think much of the material in your book – especially his attraction to young girls – vindicates some of the harsher portraits of Koresh?
Thibodeau: That’s no reason to go in and kill the people. But, as for the allegations that Koresh slept with minors, in some of the cases it’s true and some of the cases are not. Most of the women were of age. There were only a couple that weren’t. I can’t deny [that some of them were under age]. I wish I could. But I can’t.
Reason: What was the day in and day out life like at Mount Carmel before the ATF raid?
Thibodeau: A basic day consisted of waking up, eating breakfast and going to work on the property. We had been working on building the place up and beautifying it, if you will. We put in a track. We put in a pool. At 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM very day, we would keep the "daily," which is participating in the grape juice and crackers. We would do that and have a small prayer. After dinner, David would go onstage and start playing guitar, which was my cue to play drums and we would jam for a while. After that, it was study time, and David would come and give a study.
Reason: You indicate that you knew the feds were coming and that it was just a matter of when they would come. They had an infiltrator amongst you whom you knew about. Why didn’t anyone contact them in a more formal way?
Thibodeau: That’s what Wayne Martin, a Harvard-educated attorney [and Branch Davidian], wanted to do. David didn’t want to do that. David felt he had a truth and he wanted to present that truth. He felt that Robert Rodriguez [the infiltrator] was a soul and David wanted to work with this one particular soul.
That’s why you send an uncover guy in right, to find evidence of illegal activity before you move on them. That’s what I don’t understand. They sent their undercover guy in, he found no examples of illegal activity, and they still moved on us. Even their warrant was shoddy.
Reason: What was the decision-making process? Was this talked about openly?
Thibodeau: It was talked about. Wayne indicated what he wanted to do. David indicated what he wanted to do: work through Robert. He felt that was the best way. He just felt that this one person he could relate to him, and he liked him.
The funny thing is that when the FBI came in and took over, they asked Robert, "You’ve been there, what’s he going to do?" Robert said, "Give me a Bible and I’ll show you exactly what he’s going to do next." They looked at him like he was crazy. But frankly, it was all there. Robert literally could have told the FBI what Koresh could do next because it was all there in the scripture.
Reason: Do you think it was a mistake for the FBI to ignore him?
Thibodeau: Absolutely. I think law enforcement should respect their undercover agents and listen to what they have to say. It makes not sense whatsoever. But they ignored him. They ignored their psychologist. Any time someone tell them something that went against what the power structure wanted to do, they ignored it. They wanted to get Koresh. There is a scene in Waco: Rules of Engagement when the cameras are recording the government negotiators. They have a picture of Mount Carmel and David Koresh. The attitude was this was the enemy, we've got to get them. They should have had pictures of [the kids in there]. The attitude should have been that these are the kids, they are innocent, and we need to save them.
"It’s like [the federal agents] followed the guidebook for what wouldn’t work."
Reason: What do you think happened at the front door? What was your experience?
Thibodeau: I was in the cafeteria area. When I started to hear the helicopters, David came downstairs. There were a lot of people with him. David said this, and I will never forget this, "They’re coming, they are on their way. Don’t anybody do anything stupid. We want to talk to them. We want to work it out. That’s what we are all about here." He ran down the hallway to meet the ATF. I spoke to several people who were at the front door, and they all told me the same thing. They said, "David held the door in his hand, he held his hand out, and said, ‘Hold on, there’s women and children here, let’s talk about this, let’s work this out.’" They said the door went back in his hand from the velocity of the bullets hitting it. And he slammed the door and fell back and all these bullets started coming into the foyer. And that’s when people started firing back.
There’s another thing. The four agents that died didn’t die until 20 minutes into the gun battle. If we were planning an ambush, they never would have gotten out of those cattle trailers.
There are two major indications that the FBI isn’t being truthful about who fired first. The one of course is the metal door. One of the two attorneys who came inside the compound during the siege was a Marshall judge in the Marines. He said that all the bullet holes were coming from the outside in, not the inside out. One of the doors was entered as evidence in the trial, but the important door was not. When the defense attorneys asked about the other door, the government said it must have disintegrated, yet the other door was intact. The other indication that they were not being truthful is that they were filming us. They had video cameras at the house. When the FBI said they wanted videotapes at the beginning of the raid, the ATF said, "We don’t have any because all of our cameras malfunctioned." It’s a cover up. It’s so disgusting.
Reason: What about the helicopters?
Thibodeau: Three eyewitnesses that I spoke to all saw the helicopters firing.
Reason: What’s the government’s explanation?
Thibodeau: That they weren’t firing. What the government says is that the helicopters have no mounted guns. So technically it wasn’t the helicopters but it could have been the agents on board who were armed.
Reason: Why would they be so reckless?
Thibodeau: I don’t know. But they did fire. I saw the evidence. I got on my knees and looked at a bullet hole trajectory in a plastic tank and in that plastic tank I could see where it was fired from.
Reason: How can you tell?
Thibodeau: It was really interesting. It went into a side of the tank and came out of another point in front.
Reason: So it came out lower?
Thibodeau: Yes, that’s correct. I got on my knees and looked. It lined up perfectly. I was next to Winston Blake’s bed, the man who died with French Toast in his mouth.
Reason: During the siege, did you ever have agreement with the FBI or government to come out?
Thibodeau: The first one was in the first three days. This is where David lost a lot of credibility. Frankly I can understand. We were set to come out and David said, "God has told me to wait." So we didn’t come out. I had mixed feelings on that.
I felt it was good because frankly I wasn’t too anxious to get out and get processed and see how they were going to cover up the information and send us off to jail. I didn’t want to go out into that world at this point in my life. At the same time, I felt that we would never be able to effect the American public after that. David had lost a lot of credibility after that. I did believe that it was part of a plan and that we were there for a purpose. We all felt that this was our home, that we were attacked unjustly, and that we had the right to defend it.
Reason: Did you ever have another plan to come out?
Thibodeau: Absolutely. We established a plan with attorneys after James Tabor and Phil Arnold, both theologians, said that David’s 58-minute tape wasn’t just Bible-babble. What he was saying was scriptural. Once David heard this he was elated. He said there are people out there who want to hear my message. We should write it down. So he made an agreement with the attorneys that he would complete his Seven Seals manuscript and then he would come out.
"David [Koresh] said, 'What are you people going to do when the tanks are surrounding this building? When there are hundreds of agents out there. When the people of Babylon come to get us? What are you going to do then? Are you going to believe this truth?' I said, 'David, this is America, they’re not going to bring tanks on this property. I don’t care what happens. They’re not going to bring tanks out here.'"
Reason: Do you think that the government intended that no one would survive the April 19th attack?
Thibodeau: I don’t know. After seeing Rules of Engagement, I believe that. It was hard for me to believe that until I saw the film. It makes sense to me now because the nine people who survived came out of the front and side of the building. No one came out of the back and lived to tell about it. You got Jimmy Riddle back there who was ripped in half by what I think was a tank. You should see the autopsy report on him. Seventeen people were autopsied with bullet wounds in their heads. They say it was a mass suicide.
Reason: What’s the explanation for this?
Thibodeau: That people were shot at short range and that they killed themselves.
Reason: That’s the government’s explanation. What’s your explanation?
Thibodeau: My explanation is that they exited the back of the building and were being shot down.
Reason: Did anyone ever talk to you about a suicide pact?
Thibodeau: No. You have to understand that it was scriptural. Koresh believed and taught that if you take you life, you don’t go through God’s plan for you in this world and therefore you have no right to salvation. He also taught not to kill your leader. He was a little paranoid. There were people inside who didn’t like his message. So he taught, on a few occasions, the lesson of King Saul.
Basically the Philistines wounded King Saul and they were going to capture and torture him, and he said to a kid, "Fall on me with your sword, may I not be delivered over to the hands of the Philistines." When King David found out, he killed the kid for killing the king. David Koresh taught this so that people wouldn’t kill him.
Reason: Did you ever feel that the confrontation with the government was the fulfillment of prophecies?
Thibodeau: All the time. I’ll give you an example. We were tearing down the small houses, in preparation of building up the big house. I was up on the roof and David said, "What are you people going to do when the tanks are surrounding this building? When there are hundreds of agents out there. When the people of Babylon come to get us? What are you going to do then? Are you going to believe this truth?" I said, "David, this is America, they’re not going to bring tanks on this property. I don’t care what happens. They’re not going to bring tanks out here." A few months later I was looking out the door and there are tanks on the property destroying everything we own.
Reason: At this point did you already know you were under surveillance?
Thibodeau: No, this was before that.
Reason: Why do you think he would say this?
Thibodeau: I think he would say this because scripturally he believed his message would be fought against because, in Psalms 2 it says, "The rulers take counsel against the lord and against his anointed." Koresh believed he was God’s anointed. He also believed because of that and other scriptures the world would take counsel and come in and try to destroy him.
The psychologists knew this. That’s why they told the FBI to pull back. Don’t make his apocalypse come to pass.
Reason: What was daily life like during the siege? How was the moral, the mood? What were people thinking? At one point in your book, you mention that you had a celebration with whiskey.
Thibodeau: That came out of guilt. When you are attacked and you are terrified and any minute you think you are going to die. That does something to you. You need some kind of release. My release was I had a very vivid sexual dream. And that point I hadn’t thought about sex for quite some time. I had been pretty good at curbing my appetite. I’m a pretty randy guy. I never wanted to give up that.
Reason: Does it really clear up your mind not to have sex for two years?
Thibodeau: Yeah it does. After three months it’s not as hard as you think. I got a lot done. I got a lot of reading done. I started to really expand the aspects of my mind because I wasn’t thinking about sex all the time
Reason: Your favorite thing was taken off the table?
Thibodeau: Yeah. I thought about sex all the time. When I was in high school I never did any work. I just looked at the girls. I had a problem when I was a kid. I mean, [laughter], it was drums and the pursuit of girls. I was too big to get girls. That’s why I became a very good drummer [laughter].
Reason: Why didn’t you leave during the siege?
Thibodeau: I never wanted to. I don’t know if I even know why. I felt safe there. Even though authorities surrounded us, for the first time in my life I knew that the path for which I had always quested was on the verge of fulfillment. I believe that 100 percent. If that meant dying, I was prepared. If that meant being wounded or going to jail, I would have done it. I would have gone to jail with pride, because I would have been there for God. I would have done it for my beliefs.
Being inside there during the siege was a very cleansing period of time. I didn’t want to go out to Babylon, I wanted to stay with the truth. It was my birthday, February 13, just a week or two before the raid, I was sitting in a room with David Koresh and Steve Schneider and we were talking about the people who lived across the street. Steve was worried. He wanted to show our hand and talk to them. David said, I’m going to work with these people. I said, "David, I don’t care what happens, I don’t care if we all die or we all go to jail, I just want to be with the group, I don’t want to be left alone." He just looked at me, he stared me down for about 30 seconds and didn’t say anything. I knew right then I was going to survive.
A lot of people there believed that it would be a terrible thing to have to face the world with the truth we had because people wouldn’t understand. They believed it was impossible. Who wants to live their life being shunned? Every single apostle was killed for what they believed in. The prophets as well. They were all killed for what they believed in and were hated in their society. It wasn’t until generations after their death were they brought up to be good people that all Christians and Jews believed in.
Reason: The missing door and some of the other details (e.g., the blank videotape of the raid, the insistence that no incendiary rounds were fired by the FBI) raise such obvious questions that they seem to count against the idea of a carefully orchestrated cover-up. Was the government's behavior as incompetent and haphazard as it looks? How do you account for the bungling?
Thibodeau: I don’t know. I think that they were perfectly brilliant in orchestrating the total destruction of the building. No matter how you cut it -- no matter who was responsible for the fire -- the government and the FBI benefited greatly from that building burning to the ground. It hid a lot of the evidence. It was great for them. I am sure that most of the agents were torn up about the kids dying, as I am, and a lot of people in America are. But nonetheless the destruction of the evidence definitely benefited the government.
It’s like they followed the guidebook for what wouldn’t work. And I think they are smarter than that. I don’t know why they wouldn’t listen to their psychologists or why they wouldn’t listen to their undercover agent, or why they wouldn’t listen to their own negotiators. There was no one that said, "Stop. We need to back off and think about this. There are kids here. What we are doing is wrong." And that’s very strange. I think these people should understand. They have the best psychologists. They should know how a group of people is going to react to what they are doing, and yet they didn’t.
Reason: Did you see any church members ever start a fire? Was there ever any talk among your friends and community members about burning the place down if it came to that?
Thibodeau: No. Never. Not in the areas I was in. I can’t say a couple of people in Koresh’s inner circle didn’t take on that role.
Reason: How many people were in Koresh’s inner circle?
Thibodeau: I don’t know. Everybody was part of the body. But there were some people who would have done anything for Koresh. I don’t know who would have done it. But I have to acknowledge that it may have happened. But I don’ t think it did.
I think they lied about the pyrotechnic devices for six years for a reason. Their position was strong, "There were no pyrotechnic devices fired into that building." It was like Clinton, "I did not have sex with that woman."
"I think [Janet Reno] was lied to and used as a pawn. I don’t think she lied outright."
Reason: Do you think Janet Reno has lied or was just lied to about Waco?
Thibodeau: I think she was lied to and used as a pawn. I don’t think she lied outright.
Reason: What charges about the government's actions at Waco do you consider to be untrue or unproven?
Thibodeau: There’s no flame-throwing tank. Linda Thompson did a documentary called Waco: The Big Lie. She cut video to make it look like a flame came from the tank. It’s an optical illusion, a damn good optical illusion, but one nevertheless.
Reason: What was your role in the attack? What were you doing, how did you get out?
Thibodeau: I started off on the second story, sitting in a window looking out at the Texas night. As dawn was breaking the phone rang and it was the FBI negotiator saying we need to talk with Steve Schneider right now. I went to wake up Steve and he didn’t want to get up. He said, "We’ll call them later." So I went back up and told him. He said "No, we need to speak to them right now." And this point the tanks came up and started surrounding the building. The speaker system came on and said, "We are going to be inserting tear gas into the building. This is not an assault. This is not an assault. The siege is over. Come out with your hands up. You’re all under arrest." They just kept repeating this over and over. "We’re going to insert tear gas. It will inhabit your clothing and food and make everything in there uninhabitable. Come out now."
People started waking up, running around. Steve was yelling, "Everybody get your masks." I started to hear popping sounds around the building. They started to break the walls, break the windows down, spread the CS gas out. The speakers said, "This is not an assault." Yet I hear glass breaking. I thought, "If this isn’t an assault, I’d hate to see what is."
At that point, people running around getting their gas masks, I spoke to Jennifer Andrade who said the kids were getting put in the bus. That’s where I thought the kids were going to be. I decided I was going to stay in the chapel area for the day. What the tanks would do--after the popping sound subsided and their ferret rounds ran out--the tanks would come up to the building and rip out portions and segments of the building and spray the MP-5 bottles, which held a very large amount of CS gas. The tanks would shake the building like it was an earthquake. I remember that Jaime Castillos’ gas mask wasn’t working and he was in tears. I went to his room to get another one. He had a lakeside view and from his room I could see how the tanks had I had come down and destroyed the lake, destroyed everything.
Later I was listening to the Ron Engelman show and heard the news, "The Branch Davidian compound is being raided by the FBI. They are putting in tear gas in hope and effort to get the Davidians to come out. The FBI has received 80 to 200 gunshots against their CEVs. But to the credit of the FBI, they have not fired back."
When I heard that, my heart sank. I knew that we were being set up for a massacre. I had never heard any gun shots that morning. I remember this very distinctly because I remember being very happy that no one was firing at the FBI and giving them the chance to come in and assault us. They were setting the American people up for a massacre. That is one of the reasons I didn’t want to come out.
It was very surreal. After I heard that report, I pretty much lost hope that we were going to come out of this okay. Later on the tanks started to increase their efforts. They would come through the front door, moving the piano back to the area that we were in. I remember hiding behind two stacks of speakers. Then a tank came in the side of the building. I thought it was going to run over me and crush me so I hopped up on the stage. I heard that there was a fire upstairs. I ran up the stairwell to the back of the building where David Koresh’s bedroom was. I couldn’t get in the door because there was a beam in from of me. I pulled myself up and dropped into Koresh’s office area. I went over a catwalk that led to the Chapel area where the second story hallway began. We had a blanket over the doorway because we hadn’t put a door in yet. I opened up the blanket and a big gust of smoke came at me. I had to back up. Once the smoke dissipated, I went to get in to that hallway, thinking of getting to the children to make sure they were being put in the bus. When that happened, a wall of flames shot down the hallway from left to right. I couldn’t get in there, the place was totally ablaze. By the time I got downstairs there was already smoke all around. I remember looking at my black leather jacket, it was pelted white dots from the CS gas. I took off my jacket and my gas mask and knelt down. The wall to my right caught fire. I say Jaime Castillo and Derek Lovelock exit the building. I followed suit behind them.
Reason: How long was the total assault?
Thibodeau: Six hours.
Reason: You write, "At times, I suspected David might just have conned everyone into allowing him an exclusive harem, so to speak. Still, I knew there was more to it than that." Do you still think there’s more to it than that?
Thibodeau: I believe that Koresh was the first to reveal the Seven Seals. I will put it to you this way: The first study I had when I went to Waco, he put a book up to his forehead and said, "Most people think this is two pieces of cow leather with pages in between. I see it panoramically, as if it’s all happening now in front of me." Over the course of the next two weeks I was convinced that that was true. When he gave a study of any particular subject, he gave a study as if he was there and knew the expressions on the faces of all the people involved in whatever story he was representing to such an extent that he never had to think about what was natural. It was literally like he saw the whole Bible happen. And I’ve never seen anyone that can do that. It was like he was the word made flesh.
"At times, I suspected David might just have conned everyone into allowing him an exclusive harem, so to speak."
Reason: Do you still see him as a messiah?
Thibodeau: He never wanted us to see him as a messiah. He said, "I don’t want you people worshiping me or bowing down to the person. I’m a Dixie cup to be used and thrown away. I have a truth and that’s what I want you to focus on. It’s what God is saying in the scripture. Do you think the way I’m bringing it out is correct, if you don’t, tell me." He always had us question it. And I did.
Reason: Did others see him as a messiah, a living embodiment of god’s will?
Thibodeau: I think sometimes. In the flesh no. If people really saw him as the messiah they would have been worshiping him. No one worshiped him. Some people often wondered, and the concept hit me every once in a while, "I’m living, with the word of God made flesh. I’ve living with the anointed one."
I just believed that I was on a path, that God led me there. I believe that God sent me to the guitar center and that I was meant to go through this experience.
Reason: Do you still feel this way?
Reason: Didn’t Koresh recruit in a way typical of cults: one on one connection with people as loners, beer, music, fast cars, and even women? Also he worked in stages. Could it be that he was just a charismatic cult leader?
Thibodeau: I never thought he was that charismatic. At first it was the testimonies of the other people who had studied the Bible all their lives, he answered all their questions, and they were confident that he had the truth, because they had studied it all their lives. I hadn’t. And I did see that on a day to day level living with them. When people would say, where did you get your education, he would say, "High school, a very high school." He didn’t get his wisdom from studying books all his life. It was something that was given to him, a vision that he had in Israel.
The older people knew him as he came when he came on to the scene as Vernon Howell, a guy that stuttered and could barely form a thought but knew the book fairly well. They saw him take over the teaching all of a sudden not stuttering, formulating entire sentences, and showing them an aspect of the truth they had never seen before. It’s almost like an overnight thing. That he was given something. He was the person that the other three prophets at Mount Carmel were pointing to who would usher in the final days.
Reason: You see him as a prophet to this day?
Reason: How did you manage to stay out of prison?
Thibodeau: I didn’t have a gun in my hand on February 28 when they attack us. That’s the bottom line. If you had a gun in your hand you wen to prison. If you didn’t, you didn’t.
Reason: How have you put your life back together?
Thibodeau: Pretty well. I always knew that life is an experience and you experience it to the fullest. I wanted to know why the Bible was so powerful when I was a kid. Why did thousands of people die for this book? Why do we swear on it in the courtroom? Yet none of my friends around me believed it. I found out why. I did have my questions answered and I have a faith that helps me through. I am still human. I still go through the depression and all that stuff comes with it. I would not give up my experience for anything.
Reason: Are you back in a band now? How are you making a living?
Thibodeau: I work for a marketing firm in Austin, Texas. I am in a band called Groovius Maximus, a funk rock band. I live my life.
Reason: You’re married with a kid now. How’s that?
Thibodeau: It’s great. I have a beautiful little girl.
Reason: Do you attend church regularly?
Thibodeau: No. We went for a little while. But it’s like when you have an understanding of the scriptures the way I do, why do you need to go to church? I still believe that a lot of churches are there to make money and give people good feeling. If you want good feeling, that’s great. But if you believe in the word of God you should take it literally. The word of God is not about a good feeling. Faith will get you through if you are having a bad time. God will also give you that bad time to test you and strengthen you. I like studying with a group still. They are rebuilding the church out there.
Reason: Is the community going to rebuild in Waco?
Thibodeau: They want to have a sanctuary out there where people can come and study.
Reason: Will you ever return to it?
Thibodeau: Sure, once in a while.
Reason: When I read your book, Koresh doesn’t come off as a good person. Do you think he was a good person?
Thibodeau: It’s hard to understand. I think he was a good person. But there are a lot of things that people wouldn’t understand about what he was doing. There were a lot of things that people wouldn’t consider good acts. But I believe that he had a role to fulfill.
Reason: The documentary, Waco: Rules of Engagement, has been very influential in reopening this issue. Do you have any problems with what it includes and what it leaves out?
Thibodeau: I think it’s very good. There’s so much material that a lot had to be left out. You just can’t cover it in two-and-a-half hours. Let’s see what happens when that new film comes out.