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Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 7 Num. 67

("Quid coniuratio est?")

Interview With Harold May -- February 16, 1996

I spoke with Dr. Harold May, a scientist who worked for 30 years at the Argonne National Laboratory near Lemont, Illinois. Dr. May received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University and is an expert in the field of radiation physics, particularly human reactions to whole body radiation.

CONSPIRACY NATION: You belong to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, right?

HAROLD MAY: That's right.

CONSPIRACY NATION: In Dick Reavis' book [The Ashes Of Waco], he goes into the religious background of the Branch Davidians. The name "Branch" Davidian would mean that they're a branch of the Adventist church -- is that right?

HAROLD MAY: Well, I think it's a little more remote than that: they were a branch of what primarily came to be called "Shepherd's Rod".

CONSPIRACY NATION: So maybe they're a branch of a branch?

HAROLD MAY: That's more like it. Yeah.

CONSPIRACY NATION: Is the Seventh Day Adventist Church, or portions of it... to your knowledge are they taking a special interest in the Waco tragedy and its aftermath?

HAROLD MAY: Actually, the official church tried to have as little to do with it as possible; they acted as if they were terribly embarrassed, and they didn't want to have their name mentioned in the same sentences or anything. They went out of their way to disassociate the church. But individual members did not like that attitude. They thought that it was rather hypocritical that, if you accept the literal teachings of Jesus to forgive your brother, to look to the needy without any reservations as to why they got themselves into that fix -- then I think that you act more like a real Christian. So there's rather a sharp division.

CONSPIRACY NATION: So you're, maybe, saying that the hierarchy of the church wanted to disassociate themselves from this...

HAROLD MAY: Exactly.

CONSPIRACY NATION: ...but the people within the church... there was a kind of grassroots opposition to that; that they thought that they should protest against it.

HAROLD MAY: Yeah. There probably are three actual reactions: the two that you've mentioned, and a large, probably a majority of people in the middle who took [the Waco tragedy] like any other news: namely, as hot for a few days and then it's forgotten.

CONSPIRACY NATION: The way that I had some idea as to what was really going on at the time was, I was connected to the Internet and I was getting news reports that were telling me things that I wasn't getting from the mainstream media.

HAROLD MAY: Oh sure!

CONSPIRACY NATION: How were you able to see through the official story about what was going on, to see that there was more going on here?

HAROLD MAY: Well, first of all I collected from databases a lot of articles quite distinct from what the mainline media carried -- the "mainline media" being the big-circulation papers and the TV. I think the New York Times had some fairly decent editorial comments. The Washington Times had a great deal of good comments. There were articles in places like The New Republic, Christian Century.....

CONSPIRACY NATION: More specifically, why is it that you bothered to ask questions, to look more deeply into things, and other people just accepted what they were told?

HAROLD MAY: [Laughs] That's a very good question.

There's an old saying, you know: "Trivial minds are concerned with people. Many minds are concerned with what happened, the happenings. And truly inquisitive and truly intelligent minds ask the 'why' questions: 'What's behind it? Why did this happen? What are the implications?'"

I think that separates the general reading public from those who decided some things are truly important and others aren't. I personally think that this case says a great deal more about our justice system than the O.J. Simpson business does -- but compare the amount of publicity they got. (I'm thinking now more about the trial of the Waco survivors, the trial down in San Antonio, than I am about the lurid happenings at Waco.)

Now to go back to your initial question: I wanted to find out why the Adventist Church acted like it did and why most Adventists really didn't pay much attention. And so I began reading extensively (as I mentioned). And then I went down to Waco to see the second memorial service [April 19, 1995] and I met Dick Reavis, who's written a good book. (I was impressed by Dick. Dick is a journalism graduate who won a very prestigious fellowship: the Nieman Fellowship.) And I had quite a talk with Dick, at Waco. And I think that, as much as anything, convinced me that there was much, behind the scenes.

CONSPIRACY NATION: As an aside: for me, I just kind of had an awakening -- that, during the Gulf War, I just felt something was wrong; that the story that I was being told by the major media just didn't make sense. It seemed like there had to be more there.

So would you say, did you have sort of an awakening, that something was wrong; where you used to trust the media, and then...

HAROLD MAY: Oh definitely. Definitely. Sure.

CONSPIRACY NATION: So there's kind of a sharp juncture there.

HAROLD MAY: That's right.

It's interesting that you mention the Gulf War, because the former Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, has also written a book about the Gulf War and the misuse of power in the Gulf War. But Ramsey Clark and some others have a lawsuit coming up sometime soon in Houston -- not against the FBI or ATF people, but going after some of the very higher-ups. I don't know who all the defendants are, but I know that Lloyd Bentsen and Ann Richards are amongst the defendants.

CONSPIRACY NATION: Yeah. Carol Moore, in her book [The Davidian Massacre], talks about this lawsuit.

When we had talked before, you talked about that you had talked to some policeman, or policemen, and that they told you about this use of CS gas.

HAROLD MAY: Yeah. That's a very interesting portion of it because, being a scientist, I picked up on the CS gas business quickly and wanted to know more about it.

I talked to the head of the Cook County SWAT team. The day I got in touch with him, I was down at the Cook County Coroner's Office, looking at some of the forensic literature on CS gas and getting some references out of stuff that they had in their library. And there was a squad car parked in the parking lot, and I discovered that it was a member of the Cook County SWAT team. And he referred me to their leader, and this guy told me all about their experiences with CS gas... [And] the leader of the Cook County SWAT team said, quite casually, "Oh yes. We killed a man with CS gas a couple of years ago." He was very matter-of-fact, very cavalier about it.

CONSPIRACY NATION: And you're still continuing to look into the Branch Davidian massacre? Slowly digging up whatever information you can?

HAROLD MAY: Very much so. There's a fellow in Maine who is quite active in maintaining archives. You can obtain from him complete transcripts of the Senate hearings, complete transcripts of the 911 tape (that was recorded at the time that the people inside the compound were talking with the sheriff and trying to get him to call off the ATF.)

Regarding CS gas: This was the gas used by the FBI on April 19, 1993 against the Branch Davidians at the now burned-down Mount Carmel Center. The United States is one of 100 countries that has signed an agreement banning the use of this gas in war. According to Justice Department outside expert Alan A. Stone, M.D., "It is difficult to believe that the U.S. government would deliberately plan to expose twenty-five children [present at Mount Carmel on April 19th], most of them infants and toddlers, to C.S. gas..." [qtd. in Moore, 293-294] The manufacturers of CS specifically warn against its being used indoors. And, "In a June 1, 1988, report Amnesty International claimed that CS gas had contributed to or caused the deaths of more than forty Palestinians -- including eighteen babies under six months of age -- who had been exposed to tear gas in enclosed spaces." [Moore, 294-295]
Works cited

Moore, Carol. The Davidian Massacre (Best is to order directly from Moore; phone (202) 986-1847 for more info; or order from Gun Owners of America.)

Reavis, Dick J. The Ashes Of Waco. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. ISBN: 0-648-81132-4

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