Interview With Harold May -- February 16, 1996
I spoke with Dr. Harold May, a scientist who worked for 30  years
at  the  Argonne  National Laboratory near Lemont, Illinois.  Dr.
May received his  Ph.D.  from  Northwestern  University and is an
expert in the field  of  radiation  physics,  particularly  human
reactions to whole body radiation.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  You  belong  to  the  Seventh  Day  Adventist
Church, right?
HAROLD MAY:  That's right.
CONSPIRACY  NATION:  In Dick Reavis' book [The Ashes Of Waco], he
goes into the religious background  of the Branch Davidians.  The
name "Branch" Davidian would mean that they're a  branch  of  the
Adventist church -- is that right?
HAROLD  MAY:   Well, I think it's a little more remote than that:
they  were  a  branch  of   what  primarily  came  to  be  called
"Shepherd's Rod".
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So maybe they're a branch of a branch?
HAROLD MAY:  That's more like it.  Yeah.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  Is  the  Seventh  Day  Adventist  Church,  or
portions  of  it...  to  your knowledge are they taking a special
interest in the Waco tragedy and its aftermath?
HAROLD MAY:   Actually,  the  official  church  tried  to have as
little to do with it as possible; they  acted  as  if  they  were
terribly  embarrassed,  and  they  didn't want to have their name
mentioned in the same  sentences  or  anything.  They went out of
their way to disassociate the church.  But individual members did
not  like  that  attitude.   They  thought  that  it  was  rather
hypocritical that, if you accept the literal teachings  of  Jesus
to  forgive  your  brother,  to  look  to  the  needy without any
reservations as to why they got  themselves into that fix -- then
I think that you act more like  a  real  Christian.   So  there's
rather a sharp division.
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   So you're, maybe, saying that the hierarchy
of the church wanted to disassociate themselves from this...
HAROLD MAY:  Exactly.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  ...but the  people within the church... there
was a kind of grassroots opposition to that;  that  they  thought
that they should protest against it.
HAROLD  MAY:   Yeah.   There probably are three actual reactions:
the two that you've mentioned,  and  a large, probably a majority
of people in the middle who took  [the  Waco  tragedy]  like  any
other  news:   namely,  as  hot  for  a  few  days  and then it's
CONSPIRACY NATION:  The way that I  had  some idea as to what was
really going on at the time was, I was connected to the  Internet
and I was getting news reports that were telling me things that I
wasn't getting from the mainstream media.
HAROLD MAY:  Oh sure!
CONSPIRACY NATION:  How were you able to see through the official
story  about  what was going on, to see that there was more going
on here?
HAROLD MAY:  Well, first of all  I collected from databases a lot
of articles quite distinct from what the mainline  media  carried
--  the "mainline media" being the big-circulation papers and the
TV.  I think the New York  Times had some fairly decent editorial
comments.   The  Washington  Times  had  a  great  deal  of  good
comments.  There were articles in places like The  New  Republic,
Christian Century.....
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   More  specifically,  why  is  it  that  you
bothered  to  ask questions, to look more deeply into things, and
other people just accepted what they were told? 
HAROLD MAY: [Laughs] That's a very good question. 
    There's  an  old  saying,   you  know:   "Trivial  minds  are
concerned with  people.   Many  minds  are  concerned  with  what
happened,  the  happenings.   And  truly  inquisitive  and  truly
intelligent  minds  ask  the 'why' questions:  'What's behind it?
Why did this happen?  What are the implications?'"
    I think that separates the  general reading public from those
who decided some things are truly important and others aren't.  I
personally think that this case says a great deal more about  our
justice system than the O.J. Simpson business does -- but compare
the  amount  of publicity they got.  (I'm thinking now more about
the trial of the Waco  survivors,  the trial down in San Antonio,
than I am about the lurid happenings at Waco.)
    Now to go back to your initial question:  I  wanted  to  find
out  why  the  Adventist  Church  acted  like it did and why most
Adventists really didn't  pay  much  attention.   And  so I began
reading extensively (as I mentioned).  And then I  went  down  to
Waco  to  see  the second memorial service [April 19, 1995] and I
met Dick Reavis, who's written a  good book.  (I was impressed by
Dick.  Dick is a journalism graduate who won a  very  prestigious
fellowship:  the Nieman Fellowship.)  And I had quite a talk with
Dick,  at Waco.  And I think that, as much as anything, convinced
me that there was much, behind the scenes.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  As an aside:  for  me,  I just kind of had an
awakening -- that, during the Gulf War, I just felt something was
wrong; that the story that I was being told by  the  major  media
just  didn't  make  sense.   It  seemed like there had to be more
    So would you say, did you have sort  of  an  awakening,  that
something  was  wrong;  where  you  used  to trust the media, and
HAROLD MAY:  Oh definitely.  Definitely.  Sure.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So there's kind of a sharp juncture there.
HAROLD MAY:  That's right.
    It's interesting that you mention the Gulf War,  because  the
former  Attorney  General,  Ramsey Clark, has also written a book
about the Gulf War and the  misuse  of power in the Gulf War. But
Ramsey Clark and some others have a lawsuit  coming  up  sometime
soon  in  Houston -- not against the FBI or ATF people, but going
after some of the  very  higher-ups.   I  don't  know who all the
defendants are, but I know that Lloyd Bentsen  and  Ann  Richards
are amongst the defendants.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  Yeah.  Carol Moore, in her book [The Davidian
Massacre], talks about this lawsuit.
    When we had  talked  before,  you  talked  about that you had
talked to some policeman, or policemen, and that  they  told  you
about this use of CS gas.
HAROLD MAY:  Yeah.  That's  a  very  interesting  portion  of  it
because,  being  a  scientist, I picked up on the CS gas business
quickly and wanted to know more about it.
    I talked to the head of the Cook County SWAT team.  The day I
got in touch with him,  I  was  down at the Cook County Coroner's
Office, looking at some of the forensic literature on CS gas  and
getting  some  references  out  of  stuff  that they had in their
library.  And there was a  squad  car  parked in the parking lot,
and I discovered that it was a member of  the  Cook  County  SWAT
team.   And  he referred me to their leader, and this guy told me
all about their experiences with  CS  gas...  [And] the leader of
the Cook County SWAT team said,  quite  casually,  "Oh  yes.   We
killed  a  man  with  CS gas a couple of years ago."  He was very
matter-of-fact, very cavalier about it.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  And you're still  continuing to look into the
Branch Davidian massacre?  Slowly digging up whatever information
you can?
HAROLD MAY:  Very much so.  There's a  fellow  in  Maine  who  is
quite  active  in  maintaining archives.  You can obtain from him
complete transcripts of the Senate hearings, complete transcripts
of the 911 tape (that  was  recorded  at the time that the people
inside the compound were talking with the sheriff and  trying  to
get him to call off the ATF.)
Regarding  CS gas:  This was the gas used by the FBI on April 19,
1993 against the Branch  Davidians  at  the now burned-down Mount
Carmel Center.  The United States is one of  100  countries  that
has  signed  an  agreement  banning  the  use of this gas in war.
According to Justice  Department  outside  expert  Alan A. Stone,
M.D., "It is difficult to believe that the U.S. government  would
deliberately  plan  to  expose  twenty-five  children [present at
Mount Carmel on April 19th],  most  of them infants and toddlers,
to C.S. gas..."  [qtd. in Moore, 293-294] The manufacturers of CS
specifically warn against its being used  indoors.   And,  "In  a
June  1,  1988,  report Amnesty International claimed that CS gas
had contributed  to  or  caused  the  deaths  of  more than forty
Palestinians -- including eighteen babies under six months of age
-- who had been exposed to tear gas in enclosed spaces."  [Moore,
Works cited
Moore, Carol.  *The Davidian Massacre* (Best is to order directly
from Moore; phone (202) 986-1847 for more info; or order from Gun
Owners of America.)
Reavis,  Dick  J.  *The  Ashes  Of  Waco*.   New  York:   Simon &
Schuster, 1995.  ISBN:  0-648-81132-4