Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “Aug 26 SAT News”
Date cues on tape: Contents consistent with tape label
Jimmy Carter, President of US
Franklin D. Roosevelt, former U.S. President
Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State
Sem. S. I. Hayakawa (R-CA)
Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC)
John Carbaugh, on staff of Sen. Helms
Sen. James McClure (R-ID)
Sen. John Stennis (D-MS)
Griffin Bell, U.S. Attorney General
Thomas P. Griesa, U.S. District Court Judge [by reference]
Jon O. Newman, judge in Xerox antitrust suit [by reference]
Mervyn Dymally, California Lieutenant Governor
Nikita Khrushchev, former Soviet premier
Adolf Hitler, German Führer
Pope Paul VI
Sebastiano Baggio, Italian cardinal, candidate for papacy
Josip Broz Tito, president of Yugoslavia
Hua Kuo-fenj, Chairman of Chinese Communist Party
Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran
Mohammad Mosaddegh, former premier of Iran [by reference]
Johannes Vorster, South African Prime Minister
Joshua Nkomo, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front in Rhodesia
Robert Mugabe, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front in Rhodesia
Ian Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia
Bishop Abel Muzorewa, leader of Zimbabwe independence
Ndabaningi Sithole, Rhodesian black leader
Anastasio Somoza Debayle, President of Nicaragua
Forbes Burnham, Prime Minister of Guyana
Cheddi Jagan, Guyana opposition leader
Hamilton Green, Guyana Minister of Health, Welfare and Labour
Lee Harvey Oswald, convicted assassin of JFK
Unita Blackwell Wright, Mayor of Mayerville, MS
Martin Luther King, civil rights activist
James Earl Ray, convicted assassin of Martin Luther King
Russell G. Byers, alleged conspirator in King killing
John R. Kauffmann, alleged conspirator in King killing
John H. Sutherland, head of St. Louis White Citizens Council
Julian Temple, CIA officer charged with espionage
Earl Jones, Kansas judge
Herb Overton, man arrested on marijuana charges in Kansas
Clarence M. Ditlow, director of the Center for Automobile Safety
Ralph Nader, consumer advocate
Louis Malle, film director
Sven Nykvist, cinematographer
E. J. Bellocq, American photographer
Brooke Shields, American actress
Suzanne Sarandon, American actress
Howard Hughes, eccentric American billionaire
J. Paul Getty, Getty Oil heir, philanthropist
Don Freed, author and playwright, friend of Peoples Temple
Tim O. Stoen
Bible verses cited: None
(This tape was transcribed by Kristian Klippenstein. The editors gratefully acknowledge his invaluable assistance.)
Jim Jones reads the news for August 26, 1978.
There are numerous elements that characterize these readings – especially in Jones’ insertion of editorial comments and inclusion of extraneous asides – but for much of this tape, the Temple leader speaks in fairly measured tones. Towards the end – and especially in the two short additional sessions – his voice becomes slurred and less certain, but it is not known whether this was due to his fatigue or to the drugs he used to stay awake.
Evidence of this quieter tone can be found in the fact that he does not vilify the United States or champion the Soviet Union every time the countries come up. He mentions the bugaboo of monopoly capitalism a half dozen times, and describes the US as an imperialist power even less often than that. Similarly, American allies are puppets fewer than a half dozen times, and lackeys not at all. The Communist and Third World nations of the world remain the forces of liberation, but not as aggressively so.
One throughline from Jones’ history does appear, though as he describes the threat – if not the inevitability – of nuclear war about a dozen times. At one point, he does remind his followers that their lives in Jonestown protect them from that holocaust.
Indeed, one subject he returns to several times is his assertion that many people want to live in Jonestown than are already there – beyond the Temple members who have been approved to come, there are several important political figures from the US – and given how the community is as free of racism and age-ism and sexism as it is, that is not surprising.
There is a charitable word for Martin Luther King – whom he often disparages in other tapes – referring to him in this tape as “beloved.” But his only other reference to religion in this reading is a back-handed one. After noting that a criminal defendant’s reliance upon the Bible for proof of his innocence was unsuccessful because “the high court of God has never been known to speak,” Jones adds, “All that comes down from the sky is bird shit.”
One positive sentiment he does express is familiar both to the jungle community and – further back in Temple history – to the congregations back in the States, when he expresses his belief that “as long as there’s life, there’s hope.” It is a sentiment that Christine Miller repeats to the community on the last day as she tries to remind Jones’ of what he has always taught them.
Miller also reminds Jones on the last day of something else he says here. In telling the people of Jonestown that the Soviet Union has free education, medical care, dental care, and rent, he adds his oft-repeated message, “the Soviet Union [is] willing to give us sanctuary.”
Jones does offer object lessons for the people in Jonestown in his asides. In reporting a human interest story about some kids assembling the world’s largest sandwich, some 600 pounds, he points out that there was as much waste as food that went into the sandwich, proof of the decadence of living in the US.
Among the items Jones covers in the news:
- President Carter vetoes the defense bill;
- The US government insists on the single assassin theory in MLK’s death; House committee ties plot to Missouri segregationists;
- The US government may pay $40 million to socialist group to prevent release of files;
- Government policies serve to support airlines, prop up corporations;
- US inflation rate is 10%;
- More automobiles recalled in US than were sold in calendar year;
- Xerox loses antitrust suit;
- Proposition 13 in California has resulted in many problems;
- California releases list of 200 organizations under police surveillance;
- Accidents at missile silos and a workers exposure to plutonium show the danger of nuclear weapons;
- Cardinals in Rome have not decided on a successor to Pope Paul VI;
- President Tito of Yugoslavia seeks to reassure Soviets he has not fallen from their orbit;
- A CIA officer is arrested for passing secrets to USSR;
- Zimbabwean liberation forces control 90% of Rhodesia; Britain and US make contingency plans for evacuations of whites;
- Senate to consider lifting arms embargo on Rhodesia;
- UN waffles on Namibian Pact over Walvis Bay, after passing resolutions supporting independence;
- Iran hit by nationwide revellion;
- Nicaragua seeks general strikes against Somoza;
- The International Youth Festival in Cuba ends with a condemnation of Chinese aggression;
- China fears being squeezed by USSR with Soviet presence in Afghanistan;
- Chinese and Vietnamese troops skirmish at their border;
- Guam will hold a vote on whether to become a state, remain a territory, or become independent;
- Repression increases in Puerto Rico against forces of independence
The first session of the reading – taking up most of the tape – ends with his usual declarations of love for his people and calls to produce. He also coaches residents to tell their relatives in the US that they love Jonestown and would never want to return. The second session features more instructions, repeating earlier advice, and adding requests that people smile more, to keep the place beautiful – he singles out several places that need attention – and finally, most importantly, not to accept any letters that someone may try to pass along to them.
Date of transcription: 6/25/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On June 6, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B100-39. This tape was found to contain the following:
News of the day and commentary by JIM JONES.
JONES also speaks of administrative matters,, i.e. cleaning up the area, planting shrubbery, flyswatters, mosquito control, etc.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted December 2022.