May 4, 1979 • 1445 • State-Rome • 113321

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979STATE113321_e.html.]

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STATE 113321
ORIGIN CA-01
INFO OCT-01 EUR-12 ADS-00 OCS-06 PA-02 ICAE-00 L-03 ARA-15 /040 R
DRAFTED BY CA:HHORAN:SAS
APPROVED BY CA:HHORAN
——————054476 041458Z /50

O 041445Z MAY 79
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY ROME
IMMEDIATE UNCLAS STATE 113321
FOR ASST. SECRETARY BARBARA WATSON FROM HUME HORAN

E.O. 12065 N/A
TAGS: CGEN
SUBJECT: NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ON CRIMMINS/CARPENTER REPORT

1. FOLLOWING IS TEXT OF ARTICLE IN MAY 4 NEW YORK TIMES. “STUDY CRITICIZES STATE DEPT. ON HANDLING OF JONESTOWN BY GRAHAM HOVEY.

“WASHINGTON, MAY 3 – A GOVERNMENT REPORT ON THE JONESTOWN TRAGEDY IN GUYANA CHARGES THE STATE DEPARTMENT WITH ‘ERRORS AND LAPSES’ IN HANDLING AND EVALUATING INFORMATION ABOUT THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE BEFORE THE MASS MURDERS AND SUICIDES OF LAST NOV. 18.

“THE REPORT EMPHASIZES, HOWEVER, THAT OFFICIALS OF BOTH THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND THE UNITED STATES EMBASSY IN GEORGETOWN FELT THAT THEY WERE BOUND BY SEVERE LEGAL AND

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OTHER RESTRAINTS THAT PREVENTED THEM FROM PROBING DEEPLY INTO CONDITIONS AT THE JONESTOWN SETTLEMENT. “MORE THAN 900 MEMBERS OF THE RELIGIOUS-POLITICAL COMMUNITY EITHER COMMITTED SUICIDE OR WERE MURDERED AFTER THE KILLING AT A NEARBY AIRFIELD OF REPRESENTATIVE LEO J. RYAN, DEMOCRAT OF CALIFORNIA, WHO HAD GONE THERE TO INVESTIGATE THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE, AND OF FOUR PERSONS ACCOMPANYING HIM.

“COMMISSIONED BY SECRETARY OF STATE CYRUS R. VANCE, THE STUDY MADE PUBLIC TODAY WAS CARRIED OUT BY TWO RETIRED SENIOR FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICERS, JOHN HUGH CRIMMINS AND STANLEY S. CARPENTER.

“INDIFFERENCE AND MISHANDLING”

“BEGINNING IN MAY 1978, THE REPORT SAYS, THERE WERE FREQUENT EXAMPLES OF STATE DEPARTMENT INDIFFERENCE TO OR MISHANDLING OF INFORMATION WARNING OF IMPENDING DISASTER IN JONESTOWN AND A BREAKDOWN IN COMMUNICATION WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT AND BETWEEN IT AND THE EMBASSY IN GUYANA.

“‘THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT SUBSTANTIVE FAILURE’ OF THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY, IT SAYS, WAS THE SCRAPPING OF AN EMBASSY REQUEST IN JUNE 1978 FOR PERMISSION TO ASK THE GUYANESE GOVERNMENT TO TIGHTEN ITS CONTROL OVER JONESTOWN TO CHECK ON THE ALLEGED ABUSES THERE.

“AMBASSADOR JOHN R. BURKE DRAFTED THE TELEGRAM CONTAINING THE REQUEST AND TELEPHONED THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S DESK OFFICER FOR GUYANA, ASKING THAT IT BE GIVEN CAREFUL CONSIDERATION. INSTEAD, A NEGATIVE REPLY WAS DRAFTED IN THE

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BUREAU OF CONSULAR AFFAIRS AND WAS NEVER CLEARED BY THE BUREAU OF INTER-AMERICAN AFFAIRS, WHICH HAS POLITICAL JURISDICTION OVER GUYANA.

“IT WAS CLEAR, THE REPORT SAYS, THAT THE CONSULAR AND LEGAL OFFICERS WHO DRAFTED THE MESSAGE REJECTING THE AMBASSADOR’S REQUEST ‘HAD NOT THE SLIGHTEST NOTION OF WHAT LAY BEHIND THE EMBASSY’S TELEGRAM OR WHAT THE EMBASSY IN ITS EXQUISITELY CAREFUL WAY WAS TRYING TO SAY.’

“SOME BLAME FOR BURKE”

“THE REPORT ALSO BLAMES AMBASSADOR BURKE FOR NOT PERSISTING WITH HIS PROJECT, EVEN WHEN HE CAME BACK TO WASHINGTON FOR HOME LEAVE AND CONSULTATIONS LATER IN THE SUMMER.

“THE REPORT ACCUSES THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF ‘EXTREMELY INEFFICIENT HANDLING’ OF A PETITION TO SECRETARY OF STATE CYRUS R. VANCE IN MAY 1978 BY 57 PARENTS AND RELATIVES OF JONESTOWN MEMBERS. IT CHARGES ‘CARELESS AND CASUAL PROCESSING AND SUPERFICIAL ABSORPTION’ OF INFORMATION FROM A TEMPLE DEFECTOR, DEBORAH LAYTON BLAKEY.

“IN THE PETITION, TIMOTHY O. STOEN, A PEOPLE’S TEMPLE DEFECTOR WHO WAS TRYING TO REGAIN CUSTODY OF HIS SMALL SON FROM THE FOUNDER OF THE SETTLEMENT, THE REV. JIM JONES, TOLD MR. VANCE: ‘I WISH THERE WERE SOME WAY TO CONVINCE YOU THAT THE SITUATION IN JONESTOWN IS DESPERATE.’

“THE PETITION CHARGED MR. JONES WITH TURNING THE SETTLEMENT INTO A ‘CONCENTRATION CAMP,’ STATIONING GUARDS TO PREVENT DEPARTURES WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION, CENSORING MAIL AND THREATENING DEATH TO ANYONE PROPOSING TO LEAVE THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE.

“LOW LEVELS FOR PETITION”

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“‘IN THE DEPARTMENT, THE PETITION TO THE SECRETARY RECEIVED VERY LITTLE ATTENTION,’ THE REPORT SAYS. IT WAS CIRCULATED AT LOW LEVELS OF THE DEPARTMENT BUT NO REPLY WAS EVER SENT TO MR. STOEN.

“IT WAS MRS. BLAKEY WHO WARNED AT AN INTERVIEW IN THE GEORGETOWN EMBASSY AFTER HER DEFECTION IN MAY 1978 THAT MR. JONES WAS CONDUCTING REHEARSALS FOR MASS SUICIDE. SHE SIGNED A SWORN STATEMENT TO THAT EFFECT BEFORE LEAVING GEORGETOWN AND REPEATED THE CHARGE LATER IN AN AFFIDAVIT IN SAN FRANCISCO AND TO MR. RYAN BEFORE HIS DEPARTURE FOR GUYANA.

“THROUGHOUT THE 102-PAGE REPORT, THE AUTHORS CITE THE CONSTRAINTS THAT AMERICAN OFFICIALS IN WASHINGTON AND GEORGETOWN FELT IN INVESTIGATING CHARGES OF REPRESSION, MIND-CONTROL AND REHEARSALS FOR MASS SUICIDE, MADE AGAINST THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE BY DEFECTORS OR RELATIVES OF MEMBERS. “THESE INCLUDED THE FIRST AMENDMENT’S RELIGIOUS FREEDOM GUARANTEE, PROVISIONS OF THE PRIVACY ACT AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, THE LEGAL PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE UNTIL GUILT IS PROVED AND THE FACT THAT THE JONESTOWN COLONY WAS SUBJECT TO GUYANESE RATHER THAN AMERICAN LAW.

“NONE FOUND READY TO LEAVE”

THERE WAS THE ADDITIONAL FACT THAT AMERICAN CONSULS, IN SEVERAL VISITS TO JONESTOWN TO INQUIRE INTO ALLEGATIONS THAT SPECIFIC INDIVIDUALS WERE BEING HELD THERE AGAINST THEIR WILL, NEVER UNCOVERED A CASE OF A PEOPLE’S TEMPLE

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MEMBER WHO WISHED TO LEAVE.

“THE REPORT HAD BEEN SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE TOMORROW AFTER A PRESS BRIEFING BY THE TWO AUTHORS, BUT THE WASHINGTON STAR BROKE THE EMBARGO AND PUBLISHED AN ACCOUNT IN ITS EDITIONS TODAY, AN ACTION THAT PROVOKED SHARP CRITICISM FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN, HODDING CARTER 3D.

“WOULD ANY OF THE ERRORS OR DEFICIENCIES CITED IN THE REPORT HAVE PREVENTED THE JONESTOWN TRAGEDY? MR. CRIMMINS AND MR. CARPENTER LIST A SERIES OF WHAT THEY CALL ‘WHAT IF’ QUESTIONS, BUT SAY IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO REACH ANY CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THEM.”

2. A WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE FOLLOWS IN SEPARATE CABLE.

VANCE

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Originally posted on October 23rd, 2020.

Last modified on November 15th, 2020.
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