What really occurred outside Waco on April 19, 1993? Is the U.S. government responsible for the deaths of more than 70 men, women, and children at the Branch Davidian compound? For years anti-government conspiracy theorists have argued that the answer was yes. The Waco incident was the subject of two congressional investigations, an independent counsel, and a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against the government. As producer Christopher Martin recalls, a 1999 New Yorker article had explored the recently found photograph of a spent round of tear gas grenade, one that had an incendiary component. The 60 Minutes II team went back to Waco to re-open the case and look at some of the contentious points. They interviewed Byron Sage, who had been the chief hostage negotiator for the FBI.
Not unlike the Kennedy assassination, Waco remained a very touchy subject for many Americans, especially in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing and Timothy McVeigh referencing the siege of the Davidians as a motivation for his actions. As a Texan, Dan Rather had a special interest in the story. He had reported from Waco in 1993 and had written a column in the Waco Tribune-Herald in which he wrote "I'd like to defend a perfectly decent city—Waco."