May 5, 1979 • 0021 • State-Georgetown • 113954

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979STATE113954_e.html.]

PAGE 01
STATE 113954
ORIGIN CA-01
INFO OCT-01 ADS-00 L-03 OCS-06 ARA-15 H-02 PA-02 ICAE-00 /030 R
DRAFTED BY CA:MAYODEN:SAS
APPROVED BY CA:HHORAN
——————062624 050354Z /15

O 050021Z MAY 79
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY ROME IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS STATE 113954
FOR ASST. SECRETARY BARBARA WATSON FROM HUME HORAN

E.O. 12065N/A
TAGS: CGEN
SUBJECT: EXCERPTS FROM TRANSCRIPT OF SPECIAL NEWS BRIEFING BY AMB. CRIMMINS ON CRIMMINS/CARPENTER REPORT FRIDAY, MAY 4, 1979

1. “AMB. CRIMMINS: I SHOULD LIKE TO EXERCISE THE PREROGATIVE THAT USUALLY IS GIVEN TO PERSONS IN THIS POSITION TO MAKE A STATEMENT AT THE BEGINNING. REALLY, I THINK THAT THE STATEMENT WOULD CONSIST ESSENTIALLY OF A READING OF THE FIRST PARAGRAPH, THE VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH OF THE SUMMARY OF THE STUDY.

2. “MY PURPOSES IN DOING THIS ARE TWO, REALLY. FIRST, THE SUBSTANCE OF THE FIRST PARAGRAPH, IN SOME OF THE INITIAL MEDIA REACTION TO THE REPORT WAS LOST SIGHT OF, IN MY JUDGMENT; AND SECOND, I THINK THE SUBSTANCE OF THE PARAGRAPH DIRECTS ITSELF TOWARD A MATTER OF CONSIDERABLE IMPORTANCE IN PUBLIC POLICY. YOU WILL RECALL THAT THE PARA GRAPH

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PAGE 02 STATE 113954

THAT I REFER TO STATES ESSENTIALLY THIS, THAT THE STUDY REACHES THE PRIME CONCLUSION THAT THE PRINCIPAL DETERMINANT OF THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY WITH RESPECT TO THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE CASE WAS THE OPERATION OF AN ARRAY OF CONSTRAINTS THAT SHARPLY LIMITED THE FIELD OF PERMISSIBLE ACTION OF THE TWO ORGANIZATIONS.

3. “THERE WERE OTHER IMPORTANT FACTORS THAT AFFECTED FOR GOOD OR ILL THE WAY IN WHICH OFFICIAL RESPONSIBILITIES WERE CARRIED OUT. NOT A FEW OF THEM REFLECT INSTITUTIONAL WEAKNESSES AND HUMAN ERROR OF ONE KIND OR ANOTHER. BUT THE MOST POWERFUL FORCE SHAPING THE PERFORMANCE WAS THE PERVASIVE AND CONSTANT EFFECT OF THE CONSTRAINTS.

4. “IN THE CASE, THE CHOICE OF ACTIONS OPEN TO THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY WERE SEVERELY CIRCUMSCRIBED IN THE FIRST INSTANCE BY THEIR BASIC LACK OF POLICE AND INVESTIGATIVE AUTHORITY. AT THE HEART OF THE OTHER CONSTRAINTS WAS THE FACT THAT THE TWO CONTENDING PARTIES, THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE ON THE ONE HAND, AND CONCERNED RELATIVES OF TEMPLE MEMBERS ON THE OTHER, WERE AMERICAN CITIZENS. EACH GROUP HAD A RIGHT TO OFFICIAL SERVICES. TO EACH OF THEM, THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY HAD RESPONSIBILITIES. SINCE BOTH GROUPS ENJOYED THE PROTECTION AND FACILITIES AFFORDED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT, THE PRIVACY ACT AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY WERE OBLIGED TO FOLLOW A CAUTIOUS POLICY THAT EMPHASIZED IMPARTIALITY, ADHERENCE TO STRICT LEGALITY, ACCURACY, AND INSISTENCE ON HARD EVIDENCE AS THE ONLY BASIS FOR ACTION.

5. “IN ELABORATION OF THESE POINTS IN THE BODY OF THE REPORT–AND THIS APPEARS ON PAGE 67 OF THE REPORT–THIS SECTION BEING ESSENTIALLY A SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS

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PAGE 03 STATE 113954

IN THE DEPARTMENT’S ACTIONS AND THE EMBASSY’S ACTIONS IN ACQUITTING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES TOWARD THE AMERICAN CITIZENS INVOLVED, THE POINT IS MADE HERE THAT ALL OF THESE CONSTRAINTS WERE LEGITIMATE, THAT THEY WERE VALID AND THAT THE EXECUTION OF ACTIONS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THESE RESTRAINTS WAS CONSCIENTIOUS AND CAREFUL. THEY WERE TAKEN SERIOUSLY; THEY WERE SERIOUS CONSTRAINTS AND THEY SHAPED, REALLY, THE MANNER IN WHICH THE DEPARTMENT CARRIED OUT ITS RESPONSIBILITIES.

6. “AS WE HAVE SAID, AND AS YOU ALL HAVE NOTED, THERE WERE WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THESE CONSTRAINTS, WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THESE CONSTRAINTS, INSTITUTIONAL WEAKNESSES AND HUMAN ERRORS THAT OCCURRED. I REPEAT THAT I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THIS FUNDAMENTAL CONTEXT, THIS PERSPECTIVE, BE PRESERVED IN LOOKING AT THE STUDY WHICH WAS INTENDED TO BE AN OBJECTIVE DISPASSIONATE EXAMINATION OF THE PERFORMANCE, WARTS AND ALL, OF THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY IN THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE CASE.”

7. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOLLOW:

Q. MR. CRIMMINS …TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THAT THERE WAS SOME LACK OF COMMUNICATIONS WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT AND SO ON, IN THE FUTURE, HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE THAT IF YOU STILL HAVE THOSE LEGAL CONSTRAINTS, CONSTITUTIONAL CONSTRAINTS, UNLESS YOU MAKE CHANGES IN THEM. WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND DOING ABOUT THESE, SAY, THE PRIVACY ACT, F.O.I.A. AND SO ON TO MAKE IT EASIER TO WORK?

A. (AMBASSADOR CRIMMINS) YOU PUT YOUR FINGER ON A CRITICAL ASPECT OF THE CASE ITSELF AND THE POSSIBLE TREATMENT OF, GOD FORBID, FUTURE CASES LIKE THIS. THERE IS AN ISSUE RAISED, AS I SAID, AN ISSUE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RAISED BY THIS ARRAY OF CONSTRAINTS THAT OPERATED IN THE JONESTOWN

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PAGE 04 STATE 113954

CASE. HOW THESE CONSTRAINTS ARE TO BE HANDLED, WHETHER THEY SHOULD BE MODIFIED. WHETHER THEY SHOULD BE RELAXED, WHETHER THEY SHOULD BE TIGHTENED EVEN, IS A QUESTION THAT GOES WELL BEYOND THE SCOPE OF THIS REPORT. YOU WILL RECALL THAT OUR KEY, OUR FIRST AND PRINCIPAL RECOMMENDATION IN THE STUDY IS THAT THIS QUESTION BE EXAMINED IN ALL ITS ASPECTS AS A MATTER OF URGENCY. THERE ARE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS INVOLVED. THE QUESTION ARISES–AND IT’S A VERY LEGITIMATE QUESTION–HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE RIGHTS OF CONTENDING CITIZENS IN CIRCUMSTANCES LIKE THIS?

THIS IS A VERY, VERY LARGE QUESTION, AND ONE WHICH, IN OUR JUDGMENT, REQUIRES VERY CAREFUL ADDRESS.

Q. ONE OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE REPORT IS THAT YOU SUGGEST THAT CONSULAR OFFICERS RECEIVE TRAINING IN DETECTING MIND CONTROL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL COERCION TECHNIQUES.

I AM WONDERING HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DETERMINE WHEN SUCH TECHNIQUES ARE BEING USED, PARTICULARLY IN REFERENCE TO RELIGIOUS GROUPS AND WHO WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR GIVING THIS TRAINING?

A. …THIS IS A QUESTION FOR EXPERTS, A QUESTION FOR PSYCHIATRISTS. IT CAN BE IMPARTED, I BELIEVE, BUT I WANT TO EMPHASIZE–AND HERE WE GO BACK INTO THIS QUESTION OF PERSPECTIVE WITH RESPECT TO CONSTRAINTS–THAT THIS RECOMMENDATION CAREFULLY NOTES THE IMPORTANCE OF SAFEGUARDING THE CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS AS THIS TRAINING IS GIVEN.

Q. CAN I FOLLOW UP ON THAT? I THINK THERE IS SOME DIVISION, THOUGH, AMONG PSYCHIATRISTS AS TO WHETHER SOME OF

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PAGE 05 STATE 113954

THESE NEW RELIGIOUS GROUPS USE PSYCHOLOGICAL COERCION, MIND CONTROL, ET CETERA. I’M WONDERING IF YOU WANT THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THESE GROUPS TO BE DEPENDENT ON THE DECISION OF STATE DEPARTMENT-APPOINTED PSYCHOLOGISTS.

A. I CERTAINLY DO NOT WANT THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS-AND I KNOW I SPEAK FOR STANLEY CARPENTER WHEN I SAY THIS-THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS IMPAIRED IN ANY WAY, IN ANY WAY; AND THIS IS THE REASON FOR THIS VERY STRONG CAVEAT IN THIS PARTICULAR RECOMMENDATION. THIS IS A VERY, VERY DELICATE FIELD, AND IT IS RELATED TO THE WHOLE QUESTION OF HOW YOU OPERATE IN CIRCUMSTANCES LIKE THOSE OBTAINING IN THE JONESTOWN CASE, IN WAYS THAT DO NOT INFRINGE UPON OR IMPAIR IN ANY WAY THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS AND THE RIGHTS UNDER THE ACTS WHICH IN EFFECT FLOW FROM THE FIRST AMENDMENT. IT’S A VERY DIFFICULT QUESTION, AND IF IT WERE A QUESTION OF THIS KIND OF SENSITIVITY TRAINING, IF YOU WILL, OR THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS, THEN I THINK THE ANSWER IN THIS COUNTRY IS VERY CLEAR, THAT YOU FOREGO THE SENSITIVITY TRAINING IF IN ANY WAY IT IMPINGES UPON THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS.

Q. MAY I ASK–WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF CONSTRAINTS AS YOU HAVE DEFINED THEM IN THAT PERSPECTIVE, HOW DO YOU EVALUATE THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY? WERE THEY TOO CAUTIOUS? WERE THEY LACKING IN BOLD AND IMAGINATIVE DIPLOMACY? HOW WOULD YOU PUT IT?

A. WE USE IN THE STUDY, THE TERM “CAUTIOUS”. WE SAY THAT, “AS A RESULT OF THE OPERATION OF THESE CONSTRAINTS” –AND I THINK I READ THIS IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF THE SUMMARY–“WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THESE CONSTRAINTS, THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY FOLLOWED A CAUTIOUS POLICY.”

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PAGE 06 STATE 113954

ELSEWHERE IN THE STUDY, I BELIEVE WE SAY, “THEY WERE OBLIGED TO FOLLOW A CAUTIOUS POLICY,” WHICH I THINK IS THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION.

I WANT TO NOTE VERY CAREFULLY THAT NOWHERE IN THE REPORT DO WE USE THE TERMS “OVERCAUTIOUS,” “LEGALISTIC,” OR “TIMID”–WORDS THAT HAVE BEEN USED IN SOME OF THE MEDIA REACTIONS TO THIS–IN A CONTEXT THAT SUGGESTS THAT THESE TERMS, THESE HIGHLY PEJORATIVE TERMS WERE USED IN THE STUDY.

Q. MR. AMBASSADOR, DOESN’T IT REALLY BOIL DOWN TO AN EXERCISE OF JUDGMENT IN THE FIELD BY THE CHIEF OF MISSION, AND IN THIS CASE, HIS JUDGMENT DIDN’T MEASURE UP? WELL,THE LAST PART OF YOUR COMMENT IS YOUR OWN, NOT MINE. THERE IS AN AREA OF JUDGMENT IN THE EXECUTION OF ACTIONS WITHIN THE WEB OF CONSTRAINTS THAT EXIST. WE HAVE SAID IN THE REPORT THAT THOSE ACTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CONSTRAINTS WERE TAKEN CONSCIENTIOUSLY, THAT THE CONSTRAINTS MOREOVER, WERE PERVASIVE AND CONSTANT, AND THEY WERE REAL. THERE WAS NO ATTEMPT, WE FOUND, TO USE THE CONSTRAINTS, THAT IS THE FIRST AMENDMENT, THE PRIVACY ACT, THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, THE NECESSITY TO DEAL EVEN-HANDEDLY WITH CONTENDING GROUPS OF AMERICANS AS A MEANS OF EVADING RESPONSIBILITY. IT WAS A CONSCIENTIOUS AND HONEST APPLICATION OF THE CONSTRAINTS TO A VERY COMPLEX SITUATION.

Q. ARE YOU SAYING THAT AN AMBASSADOR REALLY CAN’T LEVEL WITH THE DEPARTMENT ANY MORE IN A CONFIDENTIAL DESPATCH, CONFIDENTIAL TELEGRAM, BECAUSE HE THINKS THAT THE PEOPLE AFFECTED MIGHT BE ABLE TO GET THEIR HANDS ON IT ONE WAY

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PAGE 07 STATE 113954

OR ANOTHER?

A. …FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE OTHERS THE REPORT STATES: “IN DRAFTING THE TELEGRAM, THE AMBASSADOR CONSCIOUSLY PUT THE ISSUES IN LEGAL TERMS, USING AS CAREFUL AND JUDICIOUS LANGUAGE AS HE COULD. ASSUMING THAT THE TELEGRAM WOULD GET INTO THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER AND HAVING SPECIFICALLY IN MIND THE FOIA, THE AMBASSADOR PREPARED THE TELEGRAM WITH THE PURPOSE OF HAVING IT STAND ABSOLUTELY BY ITSELF.”

THERE WERE TWO ELEMENTS IN THIS SITUATION. THE AMBASSADOR’S ACTIONS WERE PARALLELED BY THE ACTIONS OF OTHERS WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THE CASE. THERE WAS THE CONCERN OF A REPORT BEING MADE AVAILABLE, EITHER UNDER THE PRIVACY ACT OR THE FOIA, TO INTERESTED PARTIES, AND THIS, AS WE POINT OUT, TENDED TO PUT GREAT STRESS ON THE NEED FOR ACCURACY AND FACT, AS OPPOSED TO SPECULATION. THERE WAS ANOTHER CONCERN, OF COURSE, THAT OPERATED AT THE SAME TIME, AND THIS WAS THE GENERAL ONE OF PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS.

IT WAS NOT, I REPEAT–AND THIS IS THE POINT I AM TRYING TO MAKE–A DEFENSIVE ACTION IN TOTAL. IT WAS A CONCERN FOR FAIR, JUST, EVEN-HANDED AND LEGAL TREATMENT OF AMERICAN CITIZENS. IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, THERE WAS NO QUESTION IN OUR MINDS BUT THAT THE CONSTRAINTS PRODUCED A REDUCTION IN REPORTING FROM THE EMBASSY AND A DIRECTION, IN CONTENT OF REPORTING, THAT, I REPEAT, EMPHASIZED THE FACTUAL AND DISCOURAGED, IN PRACTICE, THE SPECULATIVE OR INTERPRETATIVE. NOW, THIS IS A BROAD QUESTION, AND I THINK WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT AND WITHIN THE FIELD MISSIONS ABROAD, YOU WILL FIND DIFFERING OPINIONS ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF THESE VARIOUS STATUTORY LIMITATIONS UPON REPORTING.

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PAGE 08
STATE 113954

Q. MR. CRIMMINS, IF I COULD FOLLOW THAT UP JUST A MINUTE.. MY READING OF THIS SECTION ABOUT THE AMBASSADOR’S TELEGRAM WHICH YOU SAY WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT SINGLE FACTOR HERE, WOULD LEAD ME TO THINK WHAT HE WAS GUILTY OF WAS BAD WRITING, WHICH COULDN’T BE UNDERSTOOD VERY WELL AT THIS END, AND THEN THE FAILURE TO FOLLOW THROUGH, AND INSIST THAT SOME ATTENTION BE GIVEN TO IT AFTER HE HAD PERSONALLY TELEPHONED THE COUNTRY OFFICER TO ASK THAT THAT KIND OF ATTENTION BE GIVEN. BUT MY QUESTION IS, DOESN’T THAT WHOLE EPISODE REALLY REFLECT VERY, VERY SHODDY HANDLING AT THIS END OF A TELEGRAM THAT THE AMBASSADOR HAD TRIED TO INDICATE IN ADVANCE HAD GREAT IMPORTANCE? THIS WAS, AFTER ALL, ONLY IN JUNE; AND I WONDER HOW YOU GET AT THAT INSTITUTIONAL WEAKNESS THAT CAUSED THAT REPLY TO BE DRAFTED AT A VERY LOW LEVEL WITH NOT EVEN ANY REFERENCE TO THE COUNTRY OFFICER, OR THE DESK OFFICER?

A. WELL, FIRST, LET ME MAKE TWO PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS. IF I APPEAR TO BE PROTESTING TOO MUCH, THAT CERTAINLY IS NOT MY INTENT, AND I REGRET THAT I’VE GIVEN THAT IMPRESSION. SECOND, I THINK WE DESCRIBED THE JUNE EXCHANGE OF TELEGRAMS AS THE SINGLE ACTION WITH THE MOST POTENTIAL SUBSTANTIVE IMPORTANCE IN THE ARRAY, THE RANGE OF ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY.

WE STATE IN THE REPORT THAT THERE WERE VARIOUS DIFFICULTIES, VARIOUS ERRORS, VARIOUS EXAMPLES OF MISHANDLING OF THIS EXCHANGE. THE FIRST ONE WAS, IN OUR JUDGMENT, THAT THE TELEGRAM FROM THE EMBASSY WAS SO CAREFULLY DRAFTED–I THINK WE USE AT ONE POINT THE TERM “EXQUISITELY CAREFULLY DRAFTED–THAT ITS FULL IMPORT WAS NOT UNDERSTOOD. THE SECOND WAS THAT BECAUSE OF THIS VERY PRECISELY CHOSEN LANGUAGE,

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PAGE 09
STATE 113954

THE ACTION OFFICERS IN THE DEPARTMENT DID NOT REALLY UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF THE TELEGRAM–WHAT THE AMBASSADOR WAS GETTING AT. THIS WAS ANALYZED AT CONSIDERABLE LENGTH AT AN APPROPRIATE PLACE IN THE REPORT.

THERE WAS AN UNDERSTANDING ON THE PART OF THE DESK OFFICER OF WHAT THE EMBASSY WAS TRYING TO GET AT, WHAT IT WAS TRYING TO PRODUCE, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, THAT INTERPRETATION WAS NOT MADE KNOWN TO THE ACTION OFFICERS IN SCS. THE RESULT WAS THAT THE REPLY FROM THE DEPARTMENT WAS DRAFTED IN WHAT, IN RETROSPECT, APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN A CASUAL WAY.

NOW, THE LAST ACT IN THIS PARTICULAR DRAMA WAS THE DECISION TAKEN BY THE AMBASSADOR NOT TO FOLLOW UP ON THE REPLY FROM THE DEPARTMENT, WHICH, IN THE EMBASSY–AND SPECIFICALLY BY THE AMBASSADOR–WAS CONSIDERED TO BE UNSATISFACTORY.

Q. THERE WAS SUSPICION, AND I THINK WE’VE HEARD IN THIS ROOM THAT THERE ARE POSSIBLY OTHER SIMILAR COMMUNES AROUND THE WORLD. WHO KNOWS HOW FAR THEY GO? IS THERE ANYTHING IN ALL OF THIS THAT WOULD STOP THE EXACT SAME THING FROM HAPPENING AGAIN, GIVEN THE CONSTITUTIONAL RESTRAINTS?

A. THIS IS A VERY LARGE QUESTION. AND THIS IS WHY I EMPHASIZED THE CONTEXT OF CONSTRAINTS IN WHICH THE CASE WAS HANDLED. THIS IS REALLY THE BURDEN OF THE FIRST AND PRINCIPAL RECOMMENDATION THAT THE STUDY MAKES. THIS IS A QUESTION THAT HAS TO BE EXAMINED.

AS YOU RECALL FROM THE RECOMMENDATIONS, WE RUN THROUGH A SERIES OF POSSIBLE EFFORTS TO EXAMINE THIS, BEGINNING WITH AN INTRA-DEPARTMENTAL EXAMINATION, THEN AN INTER-DEPARTMENTAL EXAMINATION AS A POSSIBILITY–GIVEN THE FACT THAT THIS AFFECTS THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND MANY OTHER AGENCIES OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT–AND, FINALLY, THERE IS

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PAGE 10 STATE 113954

A MODEST PROPOSAL FOR CONSIDERATION TO BE GIVEN TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A BLUE-RIBBON PANEL TO LOOK AT THIS WHOLE QUESTION.

REALLY, YOU’RE DEALING WITH THE HEART OF THE ISSUES THAT LIE BETWEEN A GOVERNMENT AND ITS CITIZENS–AND IN THIS KIND OF CASE BETWEEN A GOVERNMENT AND TWO CONTENDING GROUPS OF CITIZENS–WHICH ENORMOUSLY MAGNIFY, COMPLICATE AND ENHANCE THE PROBLEM.

Q. AND I HAVE A GENERAL QUESTION. BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE IN WRITING THIS REPORT–I KNOW YOUR MANY YEARS IN THE FOREIGN SERVICE–DO YOU FEEL THAT IF THESE ACTS, LIKE THE PRIVACY ACT AND OTHERS, ARE CARRIED TO THEIR ABSOLUTE THAT THEY COULD HAMPER THE WORK OF DIPLOMATS OVERSEAS–OR DO THEY HAMPER IT?

A. WELL, THIS IS–AS I INDICATED IN RESPONSE TO AN EARLIER QUESTION, THIS IS A MATTER OF CONSIDERABLE DEBATE. I THINK IN THE JONESTOWN CASE THEY CERTAINLY HAMPERED THE ACTIONS OF THE EMBASSY IN THE SENSE THAT THE MOST SEVERE CRITICS OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT HAVE DESCRIBED THOSE ACTIONS. I MEAN THE CRITICS–THE SEVERE CRITICS–HAVE ASKED WHY COULDN’T THE EMBASSY OR THE DEPARTMENT HAVE DONE SUCH-AND-SUCH AND SUCH-AND-SUCH AND SUCH-AND-SUCH–THESE ACTIONS ALL BEING PROHIBITED UNDER THE FIRST AMENDMENT OR THE STATUTORY PROVISIONS THAT WE’VE ALREADY CITED.

NOW, ONE OF THE DIMENSIONS OF THE ISSUE, OF COURSE, WHETHER SUCH IMPAIRMENT OF ACTION THAT MANY OCCUR AS A RESULT OF THE CONSTRAINTS–THE STATUTORY AND CONSTITUTIONAL CONSTRAINTS–IS A PRICE WORTH ACCEPTING IN THE LIGHT OF THE PURPOSES OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND OF THE PRIVACY ACT AND

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PAGE 11 STATE 113954

THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. THIS IS A VERY REAL QUESTION. IF THERE IS A DIMINUTION OR IMPAIRMENT OF AN OFFICIAL AGENCY’S ACTIONS AS A RESULT OF THESE LAWS AND THESE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS, IS IT IN THE INTEREST OF THE BODY POLITIC TO ACCEPT THESE IMPAIRMENTS IN ORDER TO PRESERVE THE BENEFITS THAT ARE PROVIDED BY SUCH PROVISIONS?

Q. MR. AMBASSADOR, IF I MIGHT TRY TO PARAPHRASE A LOT OF WHAT HAS BEEN SAID HERE, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, WE HAD NO IDEA THAT SUCH A THING COULD HAPPEN AS JONESTOWN. THUS WE HAD NO CONTINGENCY PLANS TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT SHOULD IT HAPPEN. AND WE’RE STILL IN THAT SAME BOAT–WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO IF IT HAPPENS AGAIN OR HOW TO DO IT.

A. WELL, I’M NOT SURE THAT THAT’S A REASONABLE SUMMING UP OF THE QUESTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN PUT. IT MAY BE A SUMMING UP OF YOUR OWN THOUGHTS, IF I MAY SAY THIS. NOW, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THAT STANLEY’S AND MY WRIT RUNS ONLY TO WHAT WE HOPED WOULD BE A DISPASSIONATE, CAREFUL, COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION OF THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY. WE MADE CERTAIN RECOMMENDATIONS THAT RELATED TO THE KIND OF CONCERNS THAT YOU HAVE.

YOU WERE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT IN SAYING THAT THE KILLINGS AT PORT KAITUMA AIRSTRIP AND THE MASS SUICIDE WERE NOT FORESEEN BY THE DEPARTMENT OR THE EMBASSY NOR, ACCORDING TO AVAILABLE INFORMATION, BY ANYBODY ELSE. THERE WERE NO CONTINGENCY PLANS FOR THIS KIND OF EVENT. AS WE SAY IN THE STUDY, THE WORSE CONTINGENCY FORESEEN BY THE EMBASSY-AND, TO A SOMEWHAT LESS DEGREE, GIVEN THE RELATIVE REMOTENESS BY THE DEPARTMENT–WAS A COLLAPSE OF THE SETTLEMENT, OF THE COMMUNITY, FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, WITH A MASSIVE REPATRIATION TASK OF PENNILESS PEOPLE.

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PAGE 12 STATE 113954

…NOW, I CERTAINLY THINK THAT THE DEPARTMENT, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, THE AMERICAN PUBLIC AND ITS PURVEYORS OF INFORMATION LIKE YOU GENTLEMEN, HAVE BEEN SENSITIZED TO THIS POSSIBILITY.

NOW, AS YOU KNOW, THE DEPARTMENT HAS ISSUED A CIRCULAR TO MISSIONS IN THE FIELD CONCERNING REPORTING OF THIS KIND OF SITUATION–AND I’M SPEAKING IN SHORTHAND TERMS. WE REFER TO THIS IN OUR RECOMMENDATION.

SO I THINK THAT ALTHOUGH THIS KIND OF QUESTION–THE PREPARATION OF CONTINGENCY PLANS–ESCAPES STANLEY CARPENTER’S AND MY WRIT, I THINK THAT THE SENSITIZATION WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT, WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT, WOULD SUGGEST THAT THIS KIND OF BIZARRE, UNHEARD-OF, EVENT IS BEING LOOKED AT IN TERMS OF ITS POSSIBLE REPETITION.

CHRISTOPHER

UNCLASSIFIED
PAGE 01
STATE 113954
ORIGIN ARA-15 INFO OCT-01 ADS-00 CA-01 /017 R 66011
DRAFTED BY:ARA/CAR:RMCCOY
APPROVED BY:ARA/CAR:RICHARD MCCOY
CA:MAYODEN
——————001736 110917Z /15

R 101901Z MAY 79
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
INFO AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN 0000
UNCLAS STATE 113954
FOLLOWING REPEAT STATE 113954 ACTION ROME MAY 5.
QUOTE: UNCLAS STATE 113954
FOR ASST. SECRETARY BARBARA WATSON FROM HUME HORAN

E.O. 12065N/A
TAGS: CGEN
SUBJECT: EXCERPTS FROM TRANSCRIPT OF SPECIAL NEWS BRIEFING BY AMB. CRIMMINS ON CRIMMINS/CARPENTER REPORT FRIDAY, MAY 4, 1979

1. “AMB. CRIMMINS: I SHOULD LIKE TO EXERCISE THE PREROGATIVE THAT USUALLY IS GIVEN TO PERSONS IN THIS POSITION TO MAKE A STATEMENT AT THE BEGINNING. REALLY, I THINK THAT THE STATEMENT WOULD CONSIST ESSENTIALLY OF A READING OF THE FIRST PARAGRAPH, THE VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH OF THE SUMMARY OF THE STUDY.

2. “MY PURPOSES IN DOING THIS ARE TWO, REALLY. FIRST,

UNCLASSIFIED
PAGE 02 STATE 113954

THE SUBSTANCE OF THE FIRST PARAGRAPH, IN SOME OF THE INITIAL MEDIA REACTION TO THE REPORT WAS LOST SIGHT OF, IN MY JUDGMENT; AND SECOND, I THINK THE SUBSTANCE OF THE PARAGRAPH DIRECTS ITSELF TOWARD A MATTER OF CONSIDERABLE IMPORTANCE IN PUBLIC POLICY. YOU WILL RECALL THAT THE PARAGRAPH THAT I REFER TO STATES ESSENTIALLY THIS, THAT THE STUDY REACHES THE PRIME CONCLUSION THAT THE PRINCIPAL DETERMINANT OF THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY WITH RESPECT TO THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE CASE WAS THE OPERATION OF AN ARRAY OF CONSTRAINTS THAT SHARPLY LIMITED THE FIELD OF PERMISSIBLE ACTION OF THE TWO ORGANIZATIONS.

3. “THERE WERE OTHER IMPORTANT FACTORS THAT AFFECTED FOR GOOD OR ILL THE WAY IN WHICH OFFICIAL RESPONSIBILITIES WERE CARRIED OUT. NOT A FEW OF THEM REFLECT INSTITUTIONAL WEAKNESSES AND HUMAN ERROR OF ONE KIND OR ANOTHER. BUT THE MOST POWERFUL FORCE SHAPING THE PERFORMANCE WAS THE PERVASIVE AND CONSTANT EFFECT OF THE CONSTRAINTS.

4. “IN THE CASE, THE CHOICE OF ACTIONS OPEN TO THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY WERE SEVERELY CIRCUMSCRIBED IN THE FIRST INSTANCE BY THEIR BASIC LACK OF POLICE AND INVESTIGATIVE AUTHORITY. AT THE HEART OF THE OTHER CONSTRAINTS WAS THE FACT THAT THE TWO CONTENDING PARTIES, THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE ON THE ONE HAND, AND CONCERNED RELATIVES OF TEMPLE MEMBERS ON THE OTHER, WERE AMERICAN CITIZENS. EACH GROUP HAD A RIGHT TO OFFICIAL SERVICES. TO EACH OF THEM, THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY HAD RESPONSIBILITIES. SINCE BOTH GROUPS ENJOYED THE PROTECTION AND FACILITIES AFFORDED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT, THE PRIVACY ACT AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY WERE OBLIGED TO FOLLOW A CAUTIOUS POLICY THAT EMPHASIZED IMPARTIALITY, ADHERENCE TO STRICT LEGALITY, ACCURACY, AND

UNCLASSIFIED
PAGE 03 STATE 113954

INSISTENCE ON HARD EVIDENCE AS THE ONLY BASIS FOR ACTION.

5. “IN ELABORATION OF THESE POINTS IN THE BODY OF THE REPORT–AND THIS APPEARS ON PAGE 67 OF THE REPORT–THIS SECTION BEING ESSENTIALLY A SUMMARY OF THE PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS IN THE DEPARTMENT’S ACTIONS AND THE EMBASSY’S ACTIONS IN ACQUITTING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES TOWARD THE AMERICAN CITIZENS INVOLVED, THE POINT IS MADE HERE THAT ALL OF THESE CONSTRAINTS WERE LEGITIMATE, THAT THEY WERE VALID AND THAT THE EXECUTION OF ACTIONS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THESE RESTRAINTS WAS CONSCIENTIOUS AND CAREFUL. THEY WERE TAKEN SERIOUSLY; THEY WERE SERIOUS CONSTRAINTS AND THEY SHAPED, REALLY, THE MANNER IN WHICH THE DEPARTMENT CARRIED OUT ITS RESPONSIBILITIES.

6. “AS WE HAVE SAID, AND AS YOU ALL HAVE NOTED, THERE WERE WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THESE CONSTRAINTS, WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THESE CONSTRAINTS, INSTITUTIONAL WEAKNESSES AND HUMAN ERRORS THAT OCCURRED. I REPEAT THAT I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THIS FUNDAMENTAL CONTEXT, THIS PERSPECTIVE, BE PRESERVED IN LOOKING AT THE STUDY WHICH WAS INTENDED TO BE AN OBJECTIVE DISPASSIONATE EXAMINATION OF THE PERFORMANCE, WARTS AND ALL, OF THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY IN THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE CASE.”

7. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOLLOW:

Q. MR. CRIMMINS …TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THAT THERE WAS SOME LACK OF COMMUNICATIONS WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT AND SO ON, IN THE FUTURE, HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE THAT IF YOU STILL HAVE THOSE LEGAL CONSTRAINTS, CONSTITUTIONAL CONSTRAINTS, UNLESS YOU MAKE CHANGES IN THEM. WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND DOING ABOUT THESE, SAY, THE PRIVACY ACT, F.O.I.A. AND SO ON TO MAKE IT EASIER TO WORK?

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A. (AMBASSADOR CRIMMINS) YOU PUT YOUR FINGER ON A CRITICAL ASPECT OF THE CASE ITSELF AND THE POSSIBLE TREATMENT OF, GOD FORBID, FUTURE CASES LIKE THIS. THERE IS AN ISSUE RAISED, AS I SAID, AN ISSUE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RAISED BY THIS ARRAY OF CONSTRAINTS THAT OPERATED IN THE JONESTOWN CASE. HOW THESE CONSTRAINTS ARE TO BE HANDLED, WHETHER THEY SHOULD BE MODIFIED. WHETHER THEY SHOULD BE RELAXED, WHETHER THEY SHOULD BE TIGHTENED EVEN, IS A QUESTION THAT GOES WELL BEYOND THE SCOPE OF THIS REPORT.

YOU WILL RECALL THAT OUR KEY, OUR FIRST AND PRINCIPAL RECOMMENDATION IN THE STUDY IS THAT THIS QUESTION BE EXAMINED IN ALL ITS ASPECTS AS A MATTER OF URGENCY. THERE ARE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS INVOLVED. THE QUESTION ARISES–AND IT’S A VERY LEGITIMATE QUESTION–HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE RIGHTS OF CONTENDING CITIZENS IN CIRCUMSTANCES LIKE THIS? THIS IS A VERY, VERY LARGE QUESTION, AND ONE WHICH, IN OUR JUDGMENT, REQUIRES VERY CAREFUL ADDRESS.

Q. ONE OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE REPORT IS THAT YOU SUGGEST THAT CONSULAR OFFICERS RECEIVE TRAINING IN DETECTING MIND CONTROL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL COERCION TECHNIQUES. I AM WONDERING HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DETERMINE WHEN SUCH TECHNIQUES ARE BEING USED, PARTICULARLY IN REFERENCE TO RELIGIOUS GROUPS AND WHO WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR GIVING THIS TRAINING?

A. …THIS IS A QUESTION FOR EXPERTS, A QUESTION FOR PSYCHIATRISTS. IT CAN BE IMPARTED, I BELIEVE, BUT I WANT TO EMPHASIZE–AND HERE WE GO BACK INTO THIS QUESTION OF PERSPECTIVE WITH RESPECT TO CONSTRAINTS–THAT THIS RECOMMENDATION CAREFULLY NOTES THE IMPORTANCE OF SAFEGUARDING

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THE CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS AS THIS TRAINING IS GIVEN.

Q. CAN I FOLLOW UP ON THAT? I THINK THERE IS SOME DIVISION, THOUGH, AMONG PSYCHIATRISTS AS TO WHETHER SOME OF THESE NEW RELIGIOUS GROUPS USE PSYCHOLOGICAL COERCION, MIND CONTROL, ET CETERA. I’M WONDERING IF YOU WANT THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THESE GROUPS TO BE DEPENDENT ON THE DECISION OF STATE DEPARTMENT-APPOINTED PSYCHOLOGISTS.

A. I CERTAINLY DO NOT WANT THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS-AND I KNOW I SPEAK FOR STANLEY CARPENTER WHEN I SAY THIS-THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS IMPAIRED IN ANY WAY, IN ANY WAY; AND THIS IS THE REASON FOR THIS VERY STRONG CAVEAT IN THIS PARTICULAR RECOMMENDATION. THIS IS A VERY, VERY DELICATE FIELD, AND IT IS RELATED TO THE WHOLE QUESTION OF HOW YOU OPERATE IN CIRCUMSTANCES LIKE THOSE OBTAINING IN THE JONESTOWN CASE, IN WAYS THAT DO NOT INFRINGE UPON OR IMPAIR IN ANY WAY THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS AND THE RIGHTS UNDER THE ACTS WHICH IN EFFECT FLOW FROM THE FIRST AMENDMENT. IT’S A VERY DIFFICULT QUESTION, AND IF IT WERE A QUESTION OF THIS KIND OF SENSITIVITY TRAINING, IF YOU WILL, OR THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS, THEN I THINK THE ANSWER IN THIS COUNTRY IS VERY CLEAR, THAT YOU FOREGO THE SENSITIVITY TRAINING IF IN ANY WAY IT IMPINGES UPON THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS.

Q. MAY I ASK–WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF CONSTRAINTS AS YOU HAVE DEFINED THEM IN THAT PERSPECTIVE, HOW DO YOU EVALUATE THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY? WERE THEY TOO CAUTIOUS? WERE THEY LACKING IN BOLD AND IMAGINATIVE DIPLOMACY? HOW WOULD YOU PUT IT?

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A. WE USE IN THE STUDY, THE TERM “CAUTIOUS”. WE SAY THAT, “AS A RESULT OF THE OPERATION OF THESE CONSTRAINTS” –AND I THINK I READ THIS IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH OF THE SUMMARY–“WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THESE CONSTRAINTS, THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY FOLLOWED A CAUTIOUS POLICY.” ELSEWHERE IN THE STUDY, I BELIEVE WE SAY, “THEY WERE OBLIGED TO FOLLOW A CAUTIOUS POLICY,” WHICH I THINK IS THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION.

I WANT TO NOTE VERY CAREFULLY THAT NOWHERE IN THE REPORT DO WE USE THE TERMS “OVERCAUTIOUS,” “LEGALISTIC,” OR “TIMID”–WORDS THAT HAVE BEEN USED IN SOME OF THE MEDIA REACTIONS TO THIS–IN A CONTEXT THAT SUGGESTS THAT THESE TERMS, THESE HIGHLY PEJORATIVE TERMS WERE USED IN THE STUDY.

Q. MR. AMBASSADOR, DOESN’T IT REALLY BOIL DOWN TO AN EXERCISE OF JUDGMENT IN THE FIELD BY THE CHIEF OF MISSION, AND IN THIS CASE, HIS JUDGMENT DIDN’T MEASURE UP?

WELL, THE LAST PART OF YOUR COMMENT IS YOUR OWN, NOT MINE. THERE IS AN AREA OF JUDGMENT IN THE EXECUTION OF ACTIONS WITHIN THE WEB OF CONSTRAINTS THAT EXIST. WE HAVE SAID IN THE REPORT THAT THOSE ACTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CONSTRAINTS WERE TAKEN CONSCIENTIOUSLY, THAT THE CONSTRAINTS MOREOVER, WERE PERVASIVE AND CONSTANT, AND THEY WERE REAL. THERE WAS NO ATTEMPT, WE FOUND, TO USE THE CONSTRAINTS, THAT IS THE FIRST AMENDMENT, THE PRIVACY ACT, THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, THE NECESSITY TO DEAL EVEN-HANDEDLY WITH CONTENDING GROUPS OF AMERICANS AS A MEANS OF EVADING RESPONSIBILITY. IT WAS A CONSCIENTIOUS AND HONEST APPLICATION OF THE CONSTRAINTS TO A VERY COMPLEX SITUATION.

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Q. ARE YOU SAYING THAT AN AMBASSADOR REALLY CAN’T LEVEL WITH THE DEPARTMENT ANY MORE IN A CONFIDENTIAL DESPATCH, CONFIDENTIAL TELEGRAM, BECAUSE HE THINKS THAT THE PEOPLE AFFECTED MIGHT BE ABLE TO GET THEIR HANDS ON IT ONE WAY OR ANOTHER?

A. …FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE OTHERS THE REPORT STATES: “IN DRAFTING THE TELEGRAM, THE AMBASSADOR CONSCIOUSLY PUT THE ISSUES IN LEGAL TERMS, USING AS CAREFUL AND JUDICIOUS LANGUAGE AS HE COULD. ASSUMING THAT THE TELEGRAM WOULD GET INTO THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER AND HAVING SPECIFICALLY IN MIND THE FOIA, THE AMBASSADOR PREPARED THE TELEGRAM WITH THE PURPOSE OF HAVING IT STAND ABSOLUTELY BY ITSELF.” THERE WERE TWO ELEMENTS IN THIS SITUATION. THE AMBASSADOR’S ACTIONS WERE PARALLELED BY THE ACTIONS OF OTHERS WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THE CASE. THERE WAS THE CONCERN OF A REPORT BEING MADE AVAILABLE, EITHER UNDER THE PRIVACY ACT OR THE FOIA, TO INTERESTED PARTIES, AND THIS, AS WE POINT OUT, TENDED TO PUT GREAT STRESS ON THE NEED FOR ACCURACY AND FACT, AS OPPOSED TO SPECULATION. THERE WAS ANOTHER CONCERN, OF COURSE, THAT OPERATED AT THE SAME TIME, AND THIS WAS THE GENERAL ONE OF PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS. IT WAS NOT, I REPEAT–AND THIS IS THE POINT I AM TRYING TO MAKE–A DEFENSIVE ACTION IN TOTAL. IT WAS A CONCERN FOR FAIR, JUST, EVEN-HANDED AND LEGAL TREATMENT OF AMERICAN CITIZENS. IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, THERE WAS NO QUESTION IN OUR MINDS BUT THAT THE CONSTRAINTS PRODUCED A REDUCTION IN REPORTING FROM THE EMBASSY AND A DIRECTION, IN CONTENT OF REPORTING, THAT, I REPEAT, EMPHASIZED THE FACTUAL AND DISCOURAGED, IN PRACTICE, THE SPECULATIVE OR INTERPRETATIVE. NOW, THIS

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IS A BROAD QUESTION, AND I THINK WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT AND WITHIN THE FIELD MISSIONS ABROAD, YOU WILL FIND DIFFERING OPINIONS ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF THESE VARIOUS STATUTORY LIMITATIONS UPON REPORTING.

Q. MR. CRIMMINS, IF I COULD FOLLOW THAT UP JUST A MINUTE.. MY READING OF THIS SECTION ABOUT THE AMBASSADOR’S TELEGRAM WHICH YOU SAY WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT SINGLE FACTOR HERE, WOULD LEAD ME TO THINK WHAT HE WAS GUILTY OF WAS BAD WRITING, WHICH COULDN’T BE UNDERSTOOD VERY WELL AT THIS END, AND THEN THE FAILURE TO FOLLOW THROUGH, AND INSIST THAT SOME ATTENTION BE GIVEN TO IT AFTER HE HAD PERSONALLY TELEPHONED THE COUNTRY OFFICER TO ASK THAT THAT KIND OF ATTENTION BE GIVEN. BUT MY QUESTION IS, DOESN’T THAT WHOLE EPISODE REALLY REFLECT VERY, VERY SHODDY HANDLING AT THIS END OF A TELEGRAM THAT THE AMBASSADOR HAD TRIED TO INDICATE IN ADVANCE HAD GREAT IMPORTANCE? THIS WAS, AFTER ALL, ONLY IN JUNE; AND I WONDER HOW YOU GET AT THAT INSTITUTIONAL WEAKNESS THAT CAUSED THAT REPLY TO BE DRAFTED AT A VERY LOW LEVEL WITH NOT EVEN ANY REFERENCE TO THE COUNTRY OFFICER, OR THE DESK OFFICER?

A. WELL, FIRST, LET ME MAKE TWO PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS. IF I APPEAR TO BE PROTESTING TOO MUCH, THAT CERTAINLY IS NOT MY INTENT, AND I REGRET THAT I’VE GIVEN THAT IMPRESSION. SECOND, I THINK WE DESCRIBED THE JUNE EXCHANGE OF TELEGRAMS AS THE SINGLE ACTION WITH THE MOST POTENTIAL SUBSTANTIVE IMPORTANCE IN THE ARRAY, THE RANGE OF ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY. WE STATE IN THE REPORT THAT THERE WERE VARIOUS DIFFICULTIES, VARIOUS ERRORS, VARIOUS EXAMPLES OF MISHANDLING OF THIS

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EXCHANGE. THE FIRST ONE WAS, IN OUR JUDGMENT, THAT THE TELEGRAM FROM THE EMBASSY WAS SO CAREFULLY DRAFTED–I THINK WE USE AT ONE POINT THE TERM “EXQUISITELY CAREFULLY DRAFTED–THAT ITS FULL IMPORT WAS NOT UNDERSTOOD. THE SECOND WAS THAT BECAUSE OF THIS VERY PRECISELY CHOSEN LANGUAGE, THE ACTION OFFICERS IN THE DEPARTMENT DID NOT REALLY UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF THE TELEGRAM–WHAT THE AMBASSADOR WAS GETTING AT. THIS WAS ANALYZED AT CONSIDERABLE LENGTH AT AN APPROPRIATE PLACE IN THE REPORT. THERE WAS AN UNDERSTANDING ON THE PART OF THE DESK OFFICER OF WHAT THE EMBASSY WAS TRYING TO GET AT, WHAT IT WAS TRYING TO PRODUCE, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, THAT INTERPRETATION WAS NOT MADE KNOWN TO THE ACTION OFFICERS IN SCS. THE RESULT WAS THAT THE REPLY FROM THE DEPARTMENT WAS DRAFTED IN WHAT, IN RETROSPECT, APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN A CASUAL WAY. NOW, THE LAST ACT IN THIS PARTICULAR DRAMA WAS THE DECISION TAKEN BY THE AMBASSADOR NOT TO FOLLOW UP ON THE REPLY FROM THE DEPARTMENT, WHICH, IN THE EMBASSY–AND SPECIFICALLY BY THE AMBASSADOR–WAS CONSIDERED TO BE UNSATISFACTORY.

Q. THERE WAS SUSPICION, AND I THINK WE’VE HEARD IN THIS ROOM THAT THERE ARE POSSIBLY OTHER SIMILAR COMMUNES AROUND THE WORLD. WHO KNOWS HOW FAR THEY GO? IS THERE ANYTHING IN ALL OF THIS THAT WOULD STOP THE EXACT SAME THING FROM HAPPENING AGAIN, GIVEN THE CONSTITUTIONAL RESTRAINTS?

A. THIS IS A VERY LARGE QUESTION. AND THIS IS WHY I EMPHASIZED THE CONTEXT OF CONSTRAINTS IN WHICH THE CASE WAS HANDLED. THIS IS REALLY THE BURDEN OF THE FIRST AND PRINCIPAL RECOMMENDATION THAT THE STUDY MAKES. THIS IS A QUESTION THAT HAS TO BE EXAMINED. AS YOU RECALL FROM THE RECOMMENDATIONS, WE RUN THROUGH A

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SERIES OF POSSIBLE EFFORTS TO EXAMINE THIS, BEGINNING WITH AN INTRA-DEPARTMENTAL EXAMINATION, THEN AN INTER-DEPARTMENTAL EXAMINATION AS A POSSIBILITY–GIVEN THE FACT THAT THIS AFFECTS THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND MANY OTHER AGENCIES OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT–AND, FINALLY, THERE IS A MODEST PROPOSAL FOR CONSIDERATION TO BE GIVEN TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A BLUE-RIBBON PANEL TO LOOK AT THIS WHOLE QUESTION. REALLY, YOU’RE DEALING WITH THE HEART OF THE ISSUES THAT LIE BETWEEN A GOVERNMENT AND ITS CITIZENS–AND IN THIS KIND OF CASE BETWEEN A GOVERNMENT AND TWO CONTENDING GROUPS OF CITIZENS–WHICH ENORMOUSLY MAGNIFY, COMPLICATE AND ENHANCE THE PROBLEM.

Q. AND I HAVE A GENERAL QUESTION. BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE IN WRITING THIS REPORT–I KNOW YOUR MANY YEARS IN THE FOREIGN SERVICE–DO YOU FEEL THAT IF THESE ACTS, LIKE THE PRIVACY ACT AND OTHERS, ARE CARRIED TO THEIR ABSOLUTE THAT THEY COULD HAMPER THE WORK OF DIPLOMATS OVERSEAS–OR DO THEY HAMPER IT?

A. WELL, THIS IS–AS I INDICATED IN RESPONSE TO AN EARLIER QUESTION, THIS IS A MATTER OF CONSIDERABLE DEBATE. I THINK IN THE JONESTOWN CASE THEY CERTAINLY HAMPERED THE ACTIONS OF THE EMBASSY IN THE SENSE THAT THE MOST SEVERE CRITICS OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT HAVE DESCRIBED THOSE ACTIONS. I MEAN THE CRITICS–THE SEVERE CRITICS–HAVE ASKED WHY COULDN’T THE EMBASSY OR THE DEPARTMENT HAVE DONE SUCH-ANDSUCH AND SUCH-AND-SUCH AND SUCH-AND-SUCH–THESE ACTIONS ALL BEING PROHIBITED UNDER THE FIRST AMENDMENT OR THE STATUTORY PROVISIONS THAT WE’VE ALREADY CITED.

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NOW, ONE OF THE DIMENSIONS OF THE ISSUE, OF COURSE, WHETHER SUCH IMPAIRMENT OF ACTION THAT MANY OCCUR AS A RESULT OF THE CONSTRAINTS–THE STATUTORY AND CONSTITUTIONAL CONSTRAINTS–IS A PRICE WORTH ACCEPTING IN THE LIGHT OF THE PURPOSES OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND OF THE PRIVACY ACT AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. THIS IS A VERY REAL QUESTION. IF THERE IS A DIMINUTION OR IMPAIRMENT OF AN OFFICIAL AGENCY’S ACTIONS AS A RESULT OF THESE LAWS AND THESE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS, IS IT IN THE INTEREST OF THE BODY POLITIC TO ACCEPT THESE IMPAIRMENTS IN ORDER TO PRESERVE THE BENEFITS THAT ARE PROVIDED BY SUCH PROVISIONS?

Q. MR. AMBASSADOR, IF I MIGHT TRY TO PARAPHRASE A LOT OF WHAT HAS BEEN SAID HERE, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, WE HAD NO IDEA THAT SUCH A THING COULD HAPPEN AS JONESTOWN. THUS WE HAD NO CONTINGENCY PLANS TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT SHOULD IT HAPPEN. AND WE’RE STILL IN THAT SAME BOAT–WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO IF IT HAPPENS AGAIN OR HOW TO DO IT.

A. WELL, I’M NOT SURE THAT THAT’S A REASONABLE SUMMING UP OF THE QUESTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN PUT. IT MAY BE A SUMMING UP OF YOUR OWN THOUGHTS, IF I MAY SAY THIS. NOW, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THAT STANLEY’S AND MY WRIT RUNS ONLY TO WHAT WE HOPED WOULD BE A DISPASSIONATE, CAREFUL, COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION OF THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DEPARTMENT AND THE EMBASSY. WE MADE CERTAIN RECOMMENDATIONS THAT RELATED TO THE KIND OF CONCERNS THAT YOU HAVE. YOU WERE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT IN SAYING THAT THE KILLINGS AT PORT KAITUMA AIRSTRIP AND THE MASS SUICIDE WERE NOT FORESEEN BY THE DEPARTMENT OR THEEMBASSY NOR, ACCORDING TO AVAILABLE INFORMATION, BY ANYBODY ELSE. THERE WERE NO CONTINGENCY PLANS FOR THIS KIND OF EVENT. AS WE SAY IN UNCLASSIFIED PAGE 12 STATE 113954 THE STUDY, THE WORSE CONTINGENCY FORESEEN BY THE EMBASSY-AND, TO A SOMEWHAT LESS DEGREE, GIVEN THE RELATIVE REMOTENESS BY THE DEPARTMENT–WAS A COLLAPSE OF THE SETTLEMENT, OF THE COMMUNITY, FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, WITH A MASSIVE REPATRIATION TASK OF PENNILESS PEOPLE. …NOW, I CERTAINLY THINK THAT THE DEPARTMENT, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, THE AMERICAN PUBLIC AND ITS PURVEYORS OF INFORMATION LIKE YOU GENTLEMEN, HAVE BEEN SENSITIZED TO THIS POSSIBILITY. NOW, AS YOU KNOW, THE DEPARTMENT HAS ISSUED A CIRCULAR TO MISSIONS IN THE FIELD CONCERNING REPORTING OF THIS KIND OF SITUATION–AND I’M SPEAKING IN SHORTHAND TERMS. WE REFER TO THIS IN OUR RECOMMENDATION. SO I THINK THAT ALTHOUGH THIS KIND OF QUESTION–THE PREPARATION OF CONTINGENCY PLANS–ESCAPES STANLEY CARPENTER’S AND MY WRIT, I THINK THAT THE SENSITIZATION WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT, WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT, WOULD SUGGEST THAT THIS KIND OF BIZARRE, UNHEARD-OF, EVENT IS BEING LOOKED AT IN TERMS OF ITS POSSIBLE REPETITION. CHRISTOPHER UNQUOTE

VANCE

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<< END OF DOCUMENT >>

Originally posted on October 23rd, 2020.

Last modified on November 15th, 2020.
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