June 5, 1979 • 1621 • Georgetown-State • 2485

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979GEORGE02485_e.html.]

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GEORGE 02485 061054Z
ACTION PPT-01
INFO OCT-01 ARA-15 ADS-00 OCS-06 L-03 SS-15 SP-02 SY-05 INR-10 CA-01 H-02 /061 W
——————068964 061124Z /10

P 051621Z JUN 79
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9817
UNCLAS GEORGETOWN 2485

E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: AINF, CPAS
SUBJ: PRIVACY ACT, FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT GUIDANCE.
REF: A. STATE 140300 B. GEORGETOWN 2384

1. EMBASSY IS GRATEFUL FOR INFORMATION PROVIDED REFTEL A.

2. WE SUGGEST THAT IF THE PAPER IN QUESTION IS TO BE USED AS A BASIS FOR DEVELOPING BETTER GUIDELINES FOR POSTS THAT THE FOLLOWING POINTS BE CONSIDERED AS IT IS BEING PUT IN FINAL FORM:

(A) IF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE/JONESTOWN IS TO BE THE PAPER’S PRINCIPAL FOCUS, THEN CONSIDERATION MUST ALSO BE GIVEN TO THE FIRST AMENDMENT CONSTRAINTS, AS WELL AS THOSE IMPOSED BY THE PRIVACY ACT AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT WHICH BOTH DEPARTMENT AND EMBASSY WERE OBLIGED TO CONSIDER IN DEALING WITH PEOPLE’S TEMPLE. REGARDLESS OF WHAT IS NOW BEING SAID ABOUT THE IRRELIGIOUSNESS OF THE REV. JAMES JONES, THE FACT REMAINS THAT UP UNTIL NOVEMBER 18, THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE ENJOYED TAX-FREE STATUS IN THE UNITED STATES AS A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION AND, FORTHEMORE, WAS A MEMBER IN GOOD STANDING OF THE GUYANA COUNCIL OF CHURCHES, AN ORGANIZATION WHICH INCLUDES EVERY MAJOR CHRISTIAN SECT IN GUYANA, ANGLICAN, BAPTIST, METHODIST, PRESBYTERIAN, ROMAN

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CATHOLIC, ETC. THEREFORE, THERE WAS NO CHOICE BUT TO CONSIDER IT AS A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION UNDER THE TERMS OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT.

(B) ON PAGE 7, THE REPORT STATES THAT THE EMBASSY’S REPORT ON THE NOVEMBER 7 VISIT FAILED TO INCLUDE A STATEMENT ON JONES’ HEALTH. IN FACT GEORGETOWN 4109 DOES INCLUDE THE STATEMENT ON JONES’ HEALTH.

(C) FINALLY, ON PAGE 9, THE PAPER SUGGEST THAT “THE EMBASSY’S RECOMMENDATION THAT AN APPROACH BE MADE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA. . .COULD HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED AS A ‘POLITICAL’ OR FOREIGN POLICY MATTER OF GREAT MOMENT REQUIRING THE SAFEGUARDS OF CLASSIFICATION.” THE THOUGHT IS APPARENTLY THAT SUCH A DETERMINATION WOULD HAVE ENABLED THE DEPARTMENT TO RESIST ANY EFFORT TO OBTAIN THE RELEASE OF THE CABLE UNDER THE FOIA. IN NO WAY COULD THE APPROACH TO THE GOG PROPOSED IN THE JUNE 6 CABLE BE CONSTRUED AS A “FOREIGN POLICY MATTER OF GREAT MOMENT.” THE FACTS OF THE MATTER WOULD NOT HAVE SUPPORTED SUCH A DETERMINATION.

BURKE

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Originally posted on October 24th, 2020.

Last modified on November 16th, 2020.
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