The 'Final' word on Waco? Maybe

Fort Worth, USA - Tonight the National Geographic Channel launches The Final Report, a look back at a major news story aided by the benefit of time and new information. It kicks off at 8 p.m. with D.C. Sniper Case, about the two men who terrorized the nation's capital in the fall of 2002, and continues at 9 p.m. with Waco Tragedy, which revisits the 1993 standoff between federal officials and David Koresh's Branch Davidian cult.

Judging solely by Waco Tragedy, The Final Report is hardly groundbreaking documentary TV. The Waco installment gets overly dramatic with its graphics and -- with its pandering Q-and-A format -- seems aimed at those who totally slept through the events in '93. But as a step-by-step guide to how the conflict mushroomed into one of this state's gravest tragedies, ending in the death of several federal agents and almost all of the Davidians, it's compelling viewing.

The filmmakers don't let anyone -- neither the Davidians nor the federal agencies involved -- off the hook. The turf war between those feds who wanted to negotiate and those who preferred to storm Koresh's compound led to many poor decisions. Ultimately, the blame fell on then-Attorney General Janet Reno and President Bill Clinton, who gave Reno carte blanche and later called the handling of Waco one of the biggest mistakes of his presidency.

While The Final Report may not indeed be the last word on the Waco standoff, it's an informed, even-handed reflection on a particularly disturbing event.