More on Waco
Date: Sat, 28 Mar 1998 08:43:56 -0600
A Memorial Service will be held in Waco, Texas on Sunday, April 19 at Mt. Carmel, on the outskirts of Waco. This church property was called "home" by nearly 100 men, women and children until that fateful Federal Massacre and mass execution in 1993. Hundreds if not thousands of magazines, newspapers and other mass media outlets have published the memorial photo dedicated to those who died on this site in 1993. It is interesting to note that in nearly every case where this memorial is published, the inscription at the bottom is somehow clipped from view. Attached is the un- clipped photo of that memorial so that at least YOU will know who it was who spent the time and resources to insure these victims would not easily be forgotten in time. The media does not like to publish the entire photo of the memorial ...... For those who cannot view this Memorial Stone, at the Bottom it is Inscribed: ___________________________________
"This Memorial Donated by the NORTHEAST TEXAS REGIONAL MILITIA OF TEXARKANA, TEXAS Major Dan Powell, Commander" ____________________________________
The Novell Factor: A Profile of Waco Investigator Gordon Novell
American Freedom Magazine, published in Johnstown, Colorado has been running a series of articles based upon interviews with a man named Gordon Novell. Gordon has been a guest on the radio program Freedom Forum several times recently. I've been associated with Gordon since September 1993 when he called me to get himself involved with the investigations then going on in Waco, Texas.
Gordon is an interesting guy with a truly unique character. The information he has been disseminating through radio and magazine articles, however, is not always based on fact. In Waco, those of us who worked with Gordon learned about "the Novell factor." Simply put, Gordon comes up with some great information based on his many inside contacts, but, a fairly predictable percentage of his theories are baseless. These theories are often put forth by him as fact, and unless you know Gordon well enough to separate the wheat from the chaff, you wind up being misled. Gordon also takes great artistic liberty when talking about his own past.
If Gordon and I disagreed over politics or Militia strategy, I would not raise my voice against him. The person he is passing himself off as, however, is not who he really is. What Gordon has said previously, and who he has affiliated himself with, must be known to those tempted to take him seriously. I refer to the book "What Wars are Made Of" (Copyright 1996) to help illustrate my relationship with Novell and the peculiarities of his character, motives, and allies.
In September 1993 I received a phone call while I was living in Waco working on the continuing investigations of the raid and fire (Gordon does not believe in the common use of breaks between sentences, and I quote him verbatim):
"Hello Mr. Cole? This is Gordon Novell special investigator for the law firm of McQuaig and Solomon calling from New Orleans and I need to talk to Mr. Cole and it's very important that I speak with him," the voice on the other end of my telephone bleated without the slightest hesitation.
"Yeah, this is Ron Cole, how may I help you," I responded. I wondered who in the world Gordon Novell was. I had never heard of him before, and at first I figured that he was just another interested person who had a question or two about something.
"Well now you're the man I need to be speakin' with here on this Waco thing and I represent Ramsey Clark and the law firm of McQuaig and Solomon and I've studied the hell out of what happened there to your friends and I'll tell ya that we wanna tear those FBI cock-suckers a new ass and we're gonna do it see," he then paused briefly, but not long enough for me to get a word in, "I've put a case here together with fuckin' Ramsey that we want to file on behalf of your friends but now the thing is that we need to sign on as many family members as possible as quickly as possible and get this thing filed ASAP so now I want to get together with you real soon so I can show you what we have here and I'll tell ya it'll blow your fucking socks off and I ain't' jokin' with you right?"
"Sure . . . " I began to respond.
"Cause it'll blow your fuckin' socks off!" he repeated.
"And I ain't exaggerating, we're gonna get those cock-suckers for murder you hear? Murder!"
"Well, great. Lets meet then," I said. As my head spun and as Gordon generally explained things to me, I realized who Mr. Novell was. Gordon Novell was the head investigator on Jim Garrison's investigation of the Kennedy assassination. He also helped represent John Delorian in his highly publicized legal troubles in the 1980's. Now, evidently, Gordon was getting into the Waco case and he had put together a civil suit with a law firm in New Orleans and Ramsey Clark, the former U.S. Attorney General and civil rights leader. Gordon wanted to essentially use me to get the survivors to sign with the law firm he was working with. Evidently Gordon believed that if he could sell me on his case, then the survivors would take my advice and sign with his firm. There were several high profile lawyers bidding for the civil suit. Each one put together a portfolio for their prospective clients (the survivors and families) hoping that they would get most or all of the signatures they needed to make big bucks if they won the case. In theory, an attorney who signed most of the possible plaintiffs on could take their percentage out of up to a billion dollars; if they won in court.
In the latest issue of American Freedom Magazine, (Vol. 1, Number 7) Gordon claimed that he had been deeply involved with the Waco disaster since three weeks before the ATF raid on February 28, 1993. He claimed that he had been made aware of the raid before it even happened via a friend of his who was a retired Special Agent in Charge for the ATF. He also claimed that he had been an insider throughout the 51 day siege and was in constant touch with his friends inside the ATF, FBI and CIA.
Although I believe Gordon has friends in high places, he never mentioned of any of these disturbing revelations to me at any time during our daily interaction in Waco. Furthermore, Gordon contacted me five months after the April 19 fire, after being completely out of touch with the situation all that time. I was contacted primarily because he didn't know who else to call, and he knew I had the trust of the Branch Davidian survivors.
Gordon often bragged about his intimate knowledge of every significant event since the Kennedy assassination (that he claimed to have been a part of), but he never claimed to have known about the raid on Mt. Carmel in advance. I believe he would have mentioned it to me if it had been true. In fact, I most likely would never have heard the end of it. Gordon eventually cooperated with our own investigations in Waco as the hired investigator for a New Orleans law firm, and nothing more.
I put Gordon into contact with the Branch Davidian survivors as he requested, and a meeting was set up in Waco at the same time that we all appeared on the Maury Povitch Show taped that same week:
Since everyone was in town for the Povitch show, that had ended in disaster for us, we all met at Mary Bell Jones' house the following afternoon to meet with Gordon Novell and another representative from the New Orleans law firm. I had met with Gordon at a Waco hotel a few days before and he outlined to me his master plan. I was impressed with the level of research that he had conducted and I was also impressed with his tenacity and spirit. He seemed to be a real go-getter. As we all arrived at Mary Bell's, however, I was still skeptical of his grand strategy that theoretically guaranteed us a big win in court. I never trusted anyone who trusted the system.
"Now if you all sign the papers that I've just given you, we will get the show on the road and we can fry these criminals," Gordon exclaimed to the survivors in a much toned-down and less vulgar tone than usual. "But we can't wait on this, I've told Ron here that we have to get this filed and get the show on the road or forget it. This needs to be done today or at least before I leave." There were few questions or comments as Gordon went on and on about how everyone had to sign right then and there. Nobody liked being pressured. In addition, Gordon spoke primarily in terms of money, and that was a different language than we cared to learn. Just the same, the case itself was bold and impressive. Basically, we could expose the criminals in court. We could put Janet Reno on the stand under oath. Even Bill Clinton was on the list of those to be called as witnesses.
That night, Wally, Gordon and I went to Denny's restaurant for a snack and to talk more about the civil suit. Gordon was a bit flustered because nobody had signed yet and I think that perhaps he was feeling desperate. "What can you do to get your friends to sign? We need this. We fuckin' need this and you understand that me and fuckin' Ramsey wanna nail those cock-suckers. Bill Clinton, Fuckin' Reno. All of them man but we've gotta move," he pleaded.
"I know that the survivors don't like feeling pressured," I ventured. "All I can say is that you've got to let them think about it. They are impressed with the case you and Ramsey Clark have put before us here, just give it time."
"The former Attorney General of the United States is waiting to stick Bill Clinton on the stand in a court of law right now," Gordon said quietly. "If we go ahead with this suit and Ramsey starts pulling his strings, it will bring down the President. Do you understand that I'm serious about this? That is Ramsey Clark's signature there on those papers. We can bring down the first American president since Nixon, it'll make Watergate look like a piss-pond, and all you have to do is help me."
Enter here "the Novell factor." Of course, none of that ever happened. It was Gordon's way of getting his way. Everything he said was said for its impact value. People should understand "the Novell factor" when they listen to Gordon go on about his alleged black-ops activities and back alley meetings.
Gordon went back to New Orleans after our first Waco meeting, but he returned again after the trial of our friends (the other survivors then in jail) in San Antonio had begun. The prosecution had flubbed a piece of evidence shown in court, and it became known that the FBI had "misplaced" the front door of Mt. Carmel that would have indicated who fired first on February 28. Gordon was ecstatic about the prosecutor's mistake, as we all were, but Gordon was not very rational about exploiting it:
Days after the door incident, Wally and I met again with Gordon Novell in Waco to get ourselves updated on his and Ramsey Clark's civil suit. Since the meeting at Mary Belle's, many survivors and family members had signed on to the case. Most had come to the conclusion, as had I, that Ramsey Clark carried the weight and respect we needed if we wanted to successfully expose the government in court. That's not to say that we expected success, in fact Gordon was always about a hundred million times more excited about the case than any of us were. We had lost faith in the system long before then, but we had nothing more to lose.
"That missing door is gonna bury the FBI man I tell ya," Gordon bleated over a piece of pie at the IHOP. "And I know how to really fuckin' bury them if we put our heads together." I was listening, so was Wally. "If I provide you two with another door just like the door to Mt. Carmel that's missing, and we shoot it up with bullets from the outside in . . . " I became instantly horrified. "You two have to be super careful about this! Then, you bury it out there in the ruins to be discovered before the trial ends!"
"I see," I stammered, as I tried to hide my real feelings on the matter of manufacturing evidence. "Don't you think the FBI will know it's a fake?"
"Of coarse they'll know it's a fake!" Gordon yelled. "They've got that fuckin' door someplace, but what are they going to do, suddenly find the real door? If they do, then we've got them by their balls because we all know what that real door shows; it shows the ATF fired first! This doesn't go beyond us three! Now, are you with me on this?"
I couldn't read Wally's mind as he sat there listening, but I had no intention of doing anything so foolish. If I thought it would actually work and I was 100% sure of success, then I would have thought about it, but if the hoax were uncovered and publicized then my credibility would be shot forever and so would everyone else's.
I called Rita and Dave Thibodeau (Branch Davidian survivors), who had not yet signed with Gordon and Ramsey, as soon as I got back home from the meeting. "Don't sign with Gordon!" I exclaimed to Rita. "He's only going to destroy any hope of justice." I explained to her in detail my conversation with Novell and his idiotic plan. I explained to Thibodeau the situation as well and neither of them ever signed or even cooperated with Gordon Novell ever again.
When word of the plan spread to Ramsey Clark, he nearly dropped the case altogether, which actually scared me when I heard of it. I hoped at the time that he would fire Novell, and find another investigator. As it was, Gordon talked his way out of the scandal and never suggested anything so ridiculous again. In fact, Gordon eventually won my respect back to an extent as he spearheaded a brilliant, though occasionally misdirected, investigation. I came to know Gordon better, and I could tell when he got in "one of those moods" that made him say crazy things without thinking. "I've got fuckin' pictures of a space ship hovering over the courthouse in San Antonio during the trial," he explained in the midst of one of his irrational tirades, "the aliens were using mind control I tell ya!" Alright Gordon, whatever you say. I met a lot of crazy people while in Waco, and none of them were Branch Davidians.
Recently Gordon has made a lot of claims about what went on during the fire on April 19, 1993 at Mt. Carmel. These are essentially the same ideas he tossed my way in February 1995 just before I left Waco for Colorado and our association essentially ceased.
He was very excited about his idea that the FBI had blown up the concrete bunker (actually, it was a walk-in cooler) where the children had taken refuge the day of the fire. He tried to persuade me that the fire-ball over Mt. Carmel, that I think everyone has seen, was this detonation.
I told Gordon at the time that it simply wasn't true. The fire-ball was a propane tank bursting. I'd seen the ruptured tank myself, it's now buried under a pile of dirt out on the property, and all the fire survivors who were their confirmed the fact that the tank had been located near the base of the tower and it had exploded.
I also pointed out that the hole in the roof of the concrete bunker that Gordon attributed to the FBI's explosive, was in fact caused by an FBI tank that rammed the structure before the fire ever started. I reminded him of Dr. Rodney Crow's examinations of the children who had been crushed by the falling concrete. They had no smoke inhalation at all.
That did not dissuade Gordon Novell from trying to convince the lawyers, including Ramsey Clark, who were then representing the church in a civil suit against the government to run with the theory! Gordon Novell was operating for his own gain, and the fact that he was insulting the truth as it was well known by all of the Waco survivors and all the Waco investigators meant nothing to him.
It should also be pointed out that, in spite of our patience with Gordon while we worked with him in Waco, his employers in New Orleans were not so patient. He was fired by McQuaig and Solomon and the firm confiscated all his paperwork to continue their own investigation on behalf of the Branch Davidian families and survivors.
I would finally like to address the subject of Gordon Novell's allegedly powerful friends. There is no doubt in my mind that he knows some very powerful people. I've talked with Ramsey Clark many times about Gordon, and although Gordon uses his association with the former Attorney General of the United States to his advantage, Ramsey is as aware of Gordon's personality quirks as I am. But Gordon has other powerful friends that he's less apt to talk about on the radio. I was thrown into the middle of one of these strange relationships (as was David Thibodeau, one of the Waco fire survivors) during a visit to New Orleans:
Dave and I had been touring Florida for more than a month. We had done a speaking engagement every weekend, plus several radio and television show appearances in between. We had planned to go down to Key West, but after pouring out all our energy into the speeches, we were too worn out.
The law firm of McQuaig and Solomon, one of the firms that wanted to take the civil suit on behalf of the survivors (Gordon Novell's group) had invited Dave and I to visit them in New Orleans on our way back West from Florida. At first we had no desire to do this, but we were told that we would receive free lodging and food so . . . we chose not to look a gift horse in the mouth. At the last minute, we decided to go.
"This hotel is rated third highest in the United States," our host told us as we met him at our hotel in New Orleans. Gordon Novell was there too, but he was strangely silent. "It is owned by the same people who own the Orient Express in Europe. Do you guys want a suite?" Thibodeau looked at me like we had just been admitted to the Kingdom.
"A suite would do fine," I said, trying not to sound too excited. We went up to our room, all two stories of it, and of all things fell straight to sleep. It had been a long trip.
The next morning I slept in while Dave met with the lawyers. I was told to charge anything I wanted to the room and our host, Mr. Harvey, would happily cover it. For breakfast I ate poached salmon. Too stuffed from breakfast to eat a full lunch, I had a few pastry the likes of which I'd never seen. Inside one was a raspberry the size of a golf ball. That night Mr. Harvey personally treated us to a steak dinner. I was walking through the lobby to get something out of our room, when a short guy passed me carrying a bag of popcorn the size of a small child. It was none other than Billy Joel. He had just returned from his concert and was preparing for a party in his room at our hotel.
We stayed in New Orleans for four days, and even then only left despite the urging of Mr. Harvey and Gordon Novell to stay longer. Room and meals for the two of us came to over $1,760, all of which was graciously paid for! I was even given extra cash for gas.
For the next month or so I occasionally wondered about those four days, and why we were treated to such pomp and splendor. The law firm who allegedly flipped the bill was the same firm that Gordon Novell worked for, and he was always complaining about being short on petty cash. It didn't add up. Some time later I found out by accident that the law firm did not pay for our happy four days, it was Mr. Harvey. He paid our bills out of his own pocket, and I also discovered that he had no official connection to the firm we were there to visit. Mr. Harvey was a lawyer all right, a lawyer in the Mafia! Furthermore, he personally controlled every Mississippi River casino within 100 miles of New Orleans, and was one of the most powerful "family" men in the country. He also had invested a large sum of "Family" cash into the prospective civil suit. I never learned the specific details beyond that, but of all the strange scenarios that came into being after the Waco fire, that was one of the strangest! Our being wined and dined by the Mafia was a prospect not readily envisaged by Dave Thibodeau back on April 19, 1993 as he narrowly escaped the fire at Mt. Carmel.
Mr. Harvey was not connected to the law firm, but he was connected to Gordon Novell. Novell was using at least part of the invested Mafia money for his investigation of the Waco disaster, and I never did learn how much cash was involved. I had to assume, based on how much the Mob spent on Thibodeau and I during our visit, that there was a significant sum of money involved someplace. Gordon has always pleaded the 5th on the subject.
Gordon did admit to having close connections with the Mob much later in October 1994. Gordon wanted me to go back to New Orleans again to help him with the civil suit. He told me that his files were in complete chaos and the law firm was acting as if they were going to fire him (as they soon did). Because I was too busy trying to get the church's business in order, I just didn't have the time. Frustrated, Gordon hired two of my friends to go in my place.
Steve Roberts and Jim Huggins (the latter a former CIA operative), returned from New Orleans two days after leaving Waco. I was summoned out into the yard of our house to hear a message that was left by Gordon Novell on Jim's answering machine. It said in part, "You mother-fuckers don't know who you're dealing with! I paid you for two weeks of service in advance and you walked out on me! That was the Family's money you stole you stupid fools! Don't you realize that all I have to do is make a call to either the Family or the Agency (the CIA) and your bodies will never be found!" I heard the tape myself, and there was no doubt that the distinctive voice belonged to my old friend.
Taking into consideration "the Novell factor," there was likely more bark than bite behind what I heard Gordon say. His admission that he was using Mafia money, however, was not a lie. Steve and Jim had bailed from New Orleans upon meeting Mr. Harvey. They knew who he was, and wanted nothing to do with Gordon Novell after that.
On the flip side of the coin, Gordon used his unique attributes and friends to dig up a lot of stuff we had been hard pressed to find in Waco. I remember when he handed me a confidential independent fire investigation report that the FBI had ordered and then suppressed. It had "confidential" stamped in red on every page, it was full of 8x10 color photos taken from the air during the fire. I still have it. Gordon once told a mutual friend, "That Ron is a cock-sucker, but he's brilliant." I guess, applying "the Novel factor" to those words, the feeling is mutual.
Last updated on 04/28/10 09:50 PM