I am not keen on the idea of federal police, and the record does seem to show a propensity on their part for abuse of power. Without going into the motivation for the Waco raid, I would like to discuss what could have been done better.
1. The idea of a dynamic raid on a survivalist sect seems ludicrous if any other reasonable choices exist. Other choices did exist, as it was known that the sect leader went into town every Tuesday.
2. If dynamic entry is the only reasonable option, surprise must surely be essential. The Branch Davidians knew the ATF was going to raid in advance. The SAC was informed that the sect knew, and still went ahead with the raid.
3. Fire control has got to be one of the most essential areas for any police agency. I watched, disbelieving, as ATF agents pumped rounds out of their sidearms at distance at obscured targets, when there were known numbers of innocents inside. I also watched, swearing, as several agents stepped into an upstairs window, and then the agent behind them tossed in a device (flash-bang?), then fired into the same room his compatriots had just entered. What the hell?
4. There were evidently suppressive rounds fired from choppers. This is, again, in an atmosphere where there are a high number of known innocents, and I do not believe that the agency in question regularly practiced such fire with the surgical accuracy needed, if they were even fired from platforms capable of the extreme accuracy and stability needed at the ranges used.
5. The vehicles used for the assault (towed cattle trailers) were totally unsuited for the purpose.
6. The media had been invited, and was within harm's way.
7. Many, if not most, of the team seemed to be armed with sidearms.
8. The agencies in question used tactics designed to break down an opponent (PsyOp warfare) on someone they described as being unstable, again with numerous innocents still in danger.
9. There was CS gas introduced into a confined space with children present (with no known current threat to children, but concentrated CS is a threat).
10. The chemical agent used kerosene as a carrier. This is in a target that was constructed of salvaged '50's lumber, that had hay bales in front of the windows, and known to be lit by gas lanterns.
I know there are numerous legal issues, but those can be addressed elsewhere.