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Framing Problems in Crisis Negotiation: Reframing in the Case of Waco
Unformatted Document Text:  Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 23 that he cuts off Wren’s report of the trouble (“but I need to go to my bosses”). This treats Wren’s “Certainly. I’m happy to…” as a preferred response to Koresh’s question (“Would you like to know the Seven Seals”) (Pomerantz, 1984) with no expectation of any account. The upshot is that Wren is stuck with some discussion of the Seven Seals. This is particularly so because Koresh’s second question which cuts off Wren, “do you got your bible?” (line 359) repeats the function of “Would you like to know the Seven Seals.” Further, Wren has asked for help twice. By the time he says, “I’ll be happy to go with it, but please let’s do this first” (line 360) his account for his dispreferred response loses its effectiveness. Changing the Contest Typically, in a barricade situation, part of the goal of the negotiators is to move the subject from the barricaded area to a more appropriate venue in which the subjects issues can be addressed (e.g., a mental health center, the courts). The negotiators in Waco presented Koresh’s coming out as a challenge, or context, to face his fears, face the courts, set the media straight, and give up his children for the sake of their safety. Koresh, however, reframed the negotiations by presenting his own context to the negotiators regarding his biblical knowledge. He repeatedly argued (usually with biblical evidence) that he was the only one (the Lamb of God) who could reveal the secrets of the Seven Seals and their connection to prophetic writings of the Old Testament. With this argument came his frequent challenge to bring in religious ministers and scholars so he could prove he was right. If the scholars could prove him wrong, he submitted, then he would willingly come out. 9 This contest to prove him wrong was posed to a specific negotiator in the following excerpt. In it the negotiator and Koresh are talking about why Koresh was keeping the children

Authors: Agne, Robert.
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Reframing in the Waco Negotiations 23
that he cuts off Wren’s report of the trouble (“but I need to go to my bosses”). This treats
Wren’s “Certainly. I’m happy to…” as a preferred response to Koresh’s question (“Would you
like to know the Seven Seals”) (Pomerantz, 1984) with no expectation of any account. The
upshot is that Wren is stuck with some discussion of the Seven Seals. This is particularly so
because Koresh’s second question which cuts off Wren, “do you got your bible?” (line 359)
repeats the function of “Would you like to know the Seven Seals.” Further, Wren has asked for
help twice. By the time he says, “I’ll be happy to go with it, but please let’s do this first” (line
360) his account for his dispreferred response loses its effectiveness.
Changing the Contest
Typically, in a barricade situation, part of the goal of the negotiators is to move the
subject from the barricaded area to a more appropriate venue in which the subjects issues can be
addressed (e.g., a mental health center, the courts). The negotiators in Waco presented Koresh’s
coming out as a challenge, or context, to face his fears, face the courts, set the media straight,
and give up his children for the sake of their safety. Koresh, however, reframed the negotiations
by presenting his own context to the negotiators regarding his biblical knowledge. He repeatedly
argued (usually with biblical evidence) that he was the only one (the Lamb of God) who could
reveal the secrets of the Seven Seals and their connection to prophetic writings of the Old
Testament. With this argument came his frequent challenge to bring in religious ministers and
scholars so he could prove he was right. If the scholars could prove him wrong, he submitted,
then he would willingly come out.
9
This contest to prove him wrong was posed to a specific negotiator in the following
excerpt. In it the negotiator and Koresh are talking about why Koresh was keeping the children


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