WHOOPEE FOR WACO

St. Louis will play host to former Sen. John Danforth's investigation of the Branch Davidian siege

Former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth, referred to by political friends and foes as "St. Jack," met with the press Friday morning in the offices of the Bryan Cave law firm, on the 36th floor of the Metropolitan Square Building downtown, to announce his plans for a thorough investigation into the 1993 Waco, Texas, siege by federal agents that ultimately led to the deaths of 80 followers of David Koresh.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Danforth special counsel to look into the matter in the wake of revelations last month that the FBI fired incendiary devices into the Branch Davidian compound during the assault that ended the 51-day standoff by Koresh and his minions.

Danforth picked Edward Dowd Jr., U.S. attorney for eastern Missouri, as his deputy. Dowd will resign his position with the Justice Department to take on the new responsibility. At the same time, the ex-prosecutor plans to join Bryan Cave as a private attorney. Danforth also picked Thomas A. Schweich, another Bryan Cave lawyer, to be his chief of staff. The investigators will have their offices in St. Louis.

Asked whether the new duties will conflict with his leadership role in St. Louis 2004, the local civic-booster outfit, Danforth quipped: "I'm going to walk and chew gum at the same time."

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