From the February 2009 Idaho Observer:

After the Twilight: The post-Waco saga

By Ron Cole

I spent the hot summer of 1993 in the crosshairs of a riflescope living just outside Waco, Texas, in a small single story home. Occupying every available space in that house lived those few who had survived the terrible atrocity of earlier that year when federal authorities had attacked our Christian community, known to the outside world as the "Branch Davidian cult compound."

Rather than assent to a warrantless raid on our home, we had decided to defend ourselves from the violent and lawless military-style assault on our community and, after a 51-day standoff, we were exterminated—almost to the last man, woman and child—in a horrid conflagration.

I was 24-years-old then, thrust by circumstance and passion onto a collision course with those forces responsible for all of that death. I channeled my anger into writing and publishing a book about what had happened ("Sinister Twilight" [1993]). While wielding my pen as if it were mightier than the sword, I was hoping to bring about positive change in America and spare others from experiencing the kind of violence that befell my brethren at Mount Carmel.

That idealism died hard and the persecution I’d hoped to avoid would all but consume my life over the next 15 years.

In the spring of 1994 I acquired a secluded ranch in the mountains of Colorado to serve as a safe retreat for the survivors of our church. We were immediately subjected to terror tactics, overt surveillance, government agents bullying our neighbors and, ultimately, signs of an impending assault. When Americans learned of the government’s ongoing aggression, however, many rallied to our defense—in person, on the radio and through direct pressure against the FBI. Attorney General Janet Reno later referred to our terrifying experience as "almost another ‘Waco standoff’" and, for awhile, the threats subsided. But our intended retreat had by then become an epicenter, so we returned to Waco.

The incident fueled my determination and that fall I embarked on a national speaking tour with one of the Waco fire survivors. We also filed a billion-dollar civil lawsuit against the federal government for their handling of the ‘93 standoff.

In late 1994 the by-then-expected pressure tactics were again escalating with the disturbing addition of local police visiting our home almost every day with their guns drawn, allegedly responding to 911 calls we never made.

Then all hell broke loose. Gunfire erupted outside our house in the dead of night.

A car wrecked, intruders in the yard; shouted warnings were ignored and shots were fired. A fully-equipped SWAT team suddenly appeared. By some miracle nobody was hurt and very mysteriously nobody was arrested. A retired Waco police detective later explained,

"This was a ‘soft raid,’ [The police] tried to lure you outside where they could have shot you down and made-up whatever story they wanted."

I was thunderstruck by the attempt and we again left Waco for Colorado where at least we’d had good relations with local law enforcement.

We were living in Boulder when, on the 2nd anniversary of the Waco fire, the federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed. A young man, Timothy McVeigh, was arrested for the act and a copy of my book Sinister Twilight was recovered from his getaway car. Federal authorities claimed publicly that my words were a "motivating factor" behind the bombing, a clear attempt to bloody my hands. I was mortified by both the act and the government’s response.

Under the broad justification of counter-terrorism, the FBI declared war against anyone remotely connected to "antigovernment" activity which, by extension, included just about everyone who’d been supportive of us since the fire. Those who could be tied to petty violations of federal law and who, under any other circumstances would never be prosecuted, were the first to fall victim.

I could have retired from public view at that point and maybe I should have. But the fallout after the OKC bombing had turned the spotlight again upon our plight; upon the government’s violence that had been the source of so much rage. I did Nightline and Maury Povich - I racheted up my public rhetoric as the federal authorities escalated theirs.

On May 1, 1997, our home in Colorado was raided by the FBI in an operation that dwarfed the original ‘93 Waco assault.

The crime: Unregistered firearms - technically a tax offense.

I was told that prison was a foregone conclusion and was allowed no bail—all in spite of a previously spotless record.

Prison was a nightmare - but thanks to outside support I was able to maintain my websites and continued to publish articles highly critical of the government’s abuse of its powers.

In 1999 I was released on probation after serving a 27-month sentence. I was then 30 years old and my first priority was to marry my fiance’. I never expected the government to be so petty as to stand in the way, but my "supervised release" officer did, refusing to authorize a legal union under threat of a probation violation and a return to prison.

I couldn’t accept that outrage, as I’m sure they knew I wouldn’t and I fled the country with my new wife.

As the FBI and U.S. Marshals beat the bushes from New York to Texas, my wife and I had an improvised honeymoon in a safehouse thousands of miles away—all made possible by some very generous supporters. But we ultimately required a real life, and when we learned we’d soon be parents, we returned to the United States and I turned myself in.

I served another 18 months in federal prison, during which time our son was born. All in all it was a small price to pay for my beautiful family, but one had to spend.

Over the next few years I focused on being a good husband and father, while establishing myself as a successful industrial designer.

In late 2005 an employee of mine found a drivers’ license in my office with a different name under my picture - a relic from the old days. He called the police; the police uncovered my history and called the FBI. A federal "anti-terrorist unit" ransacked my home, car and office and took all of my computers. Then nothing happened.

On November 20, 2007—two years later—I was picking my son up from school. A SWAT team forced my car off the road and violently pulled me into the street; they were screaming and pointing their guns. The FBI placed me under arrest. The crime: Possession of an altered drivers’ license; I was sentenced to another 27 months in prison. My wife was expelled from her masters’ degree program and physically banned from campus. Her crime: Being married to me.

These experiences spanning 15 years are extreme but not unique. Many Americans who run afoul of the government—due to their religious or political beliefs and outspoken determination—are enduring similar experiences right now and it’s getting worse.

"Government is a living organism. Like every living thing its prime characteristic is a blind, unreasoned instinct to survive. You hit it, it will fight back," wrote Robert Heinlein in his classic epic "Stranger in a Strange Land."

I hope that through sharing some of my story I can help reveal the sinister methods our government uses to fight against its own people. That it has happened to me, means that it can happen to you.

Ron Cole


FCI Elkton, PO Box 10

Lisbon, Ohio 44432