The Davidian Intervention Work and Waco Tragedy

Cults Inside Out, written by American cult expert Rick Alan Ross, is recommended by many main-stream media, and also well received by other cult experts, scholars and professionals in press and legal circles. In 2005, Mr. Rick Alan Ross accepted the interview with Ms Mindy Bond, who was an editor, writer and journalist from In order to broaden our readers’ horizons and enrich their knowledge of the western counter-cult movement, (aka has translated the interview record into Chinese. The interview record has been divided into seven parts, and added a subheading for every part in view of its relatively independent topic.

In this part, Mr. Rick Alan Ross introduces his intervention work for two Davidian families and the causes of Waco tragedy.   

Let’s talk about your intervention work. Didn’t you deprogram some Branch Davidians?

Years before the Davidian standoff I assisted families concerned about loved ones following Vernon Howell, who later took the name David Koresh. Two families retained me for intervention work. One before the standoff (during the summer of 1992) and another actually during the standoff. The second intervention was with a Davidian locked out from the compound because of the standoff. Both these interventions were successful.

So you were in Waco during the standoff. Did you consult the authorities? What do you think about what happened?

I was first interviewed by the BAFT and later by the FBI, though the FBI spun this somewhat differently after everything ended so badly. One academic scholar filed a report criticizing the FBI for relying on me too much, while the official Justice Department report says they didn’t rely upon me at all. The truth lies somewhere in between.

The government did make mistakes. The ATF was apparently poorly prepared and too aggressive in serving its warrants. The FBI never really fully recognized the cult dynamic central to the standoff and instead saw it as a terrorist “hostage-rescue” situation, despite my advice and the input from others they consulted. But in the final analysis David Koresh caused the standoff and controlled its final outcome.