Re: quarantine of the Branch-Davidian site
Fri Aug 22 19:18:56 2003
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: medical quarantine
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003 16:21:01 -0500
From: "D. Laird"
I failed to notice on your website about Waco the fact that Ann Richards,
fulfilling the request of the Clinton administration, authorized a medical
quarantine of the Branch-Davidian site to protect the area from reporters
and others trying to learn or investigate what happened. It was the first
medical quarantine in the nation for over 80 years. This fact was publicly
released in 2003.
If you proved updated information to subscribers, please add me to the list.
According to TDH officials, in 1993 Texas Governor Ann Richards implemented
a quarantine at the site of the Branch Davidian massacre after the FBI and
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) had finished with the area as a
According to TDH, the Clinton administration asked Richards to have the
Texas DPS seal off the Branch Davidian site to keep the media from combing
through the charred ruins of the Mt. Carmel site in Waco. But DPS officials
rightfully replied that they had no authority to restrict access to the area
after the investigation was over and it was no longer a crime scene.
Governor Richards then exercised her authority under the law to declare a
quarantine around the site, even though no public evidence indicates that
any communicable diseases infested the location.
So, the only time Texas' human quarantine law has been used in living
memory, it was actually misused in a fairly egregious abuse of power, solely
for political public relations purposes, not any medical reason.
The quarantine at Mount Carmel illustrates graphically the dangers of
vesting too much power in government officials in the name of homeland
security. While acts of terrorism may well arise that will trigger these
laws, it's much more likely they will be used in response to natural
disasters or more routine law enforcement scenarios.
In Waco, Texas officials abused the public trust by using powers vested in
them to protect their political allies in Washington. The same temptations
may await Governor Rick Perry in the future, or his successor. Which is why
legislation purporting to respond to bioterrorism must be carefully vetted.
These old laws do need to be updated, but they should be improved by
increasing protections for the public, not by releasing the fetters on
Scott Henson was recently appointed to a Texas Department of Health advisory
committee on bioterrorism.
Searched the web for medical quarantine of the Branch-Davidian site. Results 1 -
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