Question 2

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During the 1990s, two controversial incidents became symbolic of excesses in federal law enforcement and raised new questions about FBI operations, particularly whether agents had used excessive force in effecting arrests. Both incidents involved standoffs with heavily armed groups that resulted in the loss of life. The first resulted in a shootout and 11-day standoff at a cabin in Ruby Ridge, Idaho in August 1992. FBI sharpshooter, attempting to arrest Randall Weaver, a survivalist, and anti-government activist, accidentally killed members of his family. The second incident occurred about six months later, near Waco, Texas. A 51-day standoff occurred involving a religious cult and agents from the FBI and ATF. On April 19, 1993, FBI agents launched a tear-gas assault on the group’s barricaded compound during which more than 80 members of the sect died. Serious questions were raised about the FBI’s power as a result of these two incidents. Had the Bureau become a paramilitary force? Could the FBI police itself? Was federal law enforcement out of control? Ruby Ridge and Waco were seen as “wake-up calls.” FBI Director Louis Freeh instituted several reforms in response to these public and congressional concerns. One reform was to establish the FBI Core Values, and it can be found at:…

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