Feb 8, 1979 • 1900 • Georgetown-State • 0609

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979GEORGE00609_e.html. The State Department FOIA release of 1981 withheld substantial portions from this cable. They are denoted below in red type.]

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O 081900Z FEB 79
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8939
C O N F I D E N T I A L GEORGETOWN 0609

E.O 12065: GDS 2/8/85 (BURKE, JOHN R.) OR-M
TAGS: PINT, GY
SUBJ: (C) HFAC REQUEST TO INTERVIEW GUYANESE OFFICIALS
REF: STATE 32688

1. (C – ENTIRE TEXT)

2. HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE’S REQUEST CONTAINED REFTEL RAISES NOT ONLY THE OBVIOUS QUESTION OF PRECEDENT BUT ALSO THOSE OF IMMUNITY, STRICT DELINEATION OF THE LIMITS OF INQUIRY, PERSONAL LIABILITY OF WITNESSES, ETC. AS DEPARTMENT IS AWARE, THE GOG HAS ALREADY ANNOUNCED ITS INTENTION TO HOLD A PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO THE PEOPLES TEMPLE AND THE JONESTOWN INCIDENT. JUST YESTERDAY (FEB. 7) THE EMBASSY WAS INFORMED CONFIDENTIALLY BY A MEMBER OF THE GUYANESE JUDICIARY THAT THE GOG HAS UNDER CONSIDERATION THE CALLING OF AMERICAN OFFICIALS AS WITNESSES IN THE COURSE OF ITS INQUIRY. IT SEEMS OBVIOUS THEREFORE THAT IF THE U.S. CONGRESS REQUESTS THE APPEARANCE OF GUYANESE WITNESSES IN MEETINGS WITH THE HFAC STAFF OR IN HEARINGS, THE GOG WILL EXPECT NO LESS THAN RECIPROCITY.

3. THE DEPARTMENT IS IN THE BEST POSITION TO WEIGH THE VARIOUS LEGAL QUESTIONS INVOLVED IN THE PROPOSAL THAT XGUYANESE OFFICIALS MEET WITH CONGRESSIONAL STAFF

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AND/OR COMMITTEES AND THE U.S. OFFICIALS APPEAR BEFORE THE BOARD OF INQUIRY WHICH THE GOG EXPECTS SHORTLY TO CONVENE. OBVIOUSLY, THE PARALLEL INVESTIGATIONS OF PEOPLES TEMPLE AND JONESTOWN WHICH EACH GOVERNMENT IS UNDERTAKING ARE A POTENTIAL OPPORTUNITY FOR THE REVELATION OF BILATERAL DIFFERENCES AND DISAGREEMENTS AS WELL AS POSSIBLE RECRIMINATIONS BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT NECESSARILY HAVE THE SAME OBJECTIVES. A GUYANESE BORAD OF INQUIRY, THOUGH IT WILL PROBABLY CONDUCT ITS WORK IN A BUSINESS-LIKE WAY, WILL UNDOUBTEDLY HAVE THE SPECIFIC AND PRIMARY GOAL OF ABSOLVING THE GOG FROM ANY BLAME IN CONNECTION WITH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE IN GUYANA AND THE MASS MURDERS/SUICIDES IN JONESTOWN ON NOMVEMBER 18. FACTFINDING WHICH IS THE HFAC’S PURPOSE WILL THE ONLY A SUBORDINATE AND PROBABLY DISPENSABLE GOAL.

4. GIVEN THE FOREGOING, IT SEEMS FROM THIS COIGN OF VANTAGE THAT THE BEST WAY OF ADDRESSING THIS PROBLEM WOULD BE FOR THE GOVERNMENTS TO AGREE TO ACCEPT WRITTEN INTERROGATORIES FROM EACH OTHER WHICH WOULD BE SUBMITTED BY DIPLOMATIC NOTE AND WHICH COULD BE RESPONDED TO AGAINST WHATEVER DEADLINE MIGHT BE REQUIRED. AGREEMENT TO SUCH A MODUS OPERANDI SHOULD PERMIT US TO AVOID MOST OF THE PITFALLS, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME ENABLING EACH GOVERNMENT TO BE AS HELPFUL TO THE OTHER AS POSSIBLE.

5. IF THE DEPARTMENT AND HFAC AGREE TO THE PROPOSAL SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPH 4, IT IS REQUESTED THAT WE BE INSTRUCTED TO PRESENT IT TO THE GOG ASAP IN ORDER TO PER-EMPT THE FIELD BEFORE THEY PUT FORWARD THEIR OWN REQUEST FOR THE APPEARANCE OF U.S. OFFICIALS AS

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WITNESSES BEFORE THEIR INQUIRY.

BURKE

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Originally posted on October 22nd, 2020.

Last modified on November 15th, 2020.
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