House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing

THE DEATH OF REPRESENTATIVE LEO J. RYAN, PEOPLE’S TEMPLE, AND JONESTOWN: UNDERSTANDING A TRAGEDY

HEARING

Before the

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

NINETY-SIXTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION

MAY 15, 1979

Printed For The Use Of The Committee On Foreign Affairs

U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

WASHINGTON: 1979

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI, Wisconsin, Chairman

L. H. FOUNTAIN, North Carolina

DANTE B. FASCELL, Florida

CHARLES C. DIGGS, Jr., Michigan

BENJAMIN S. ROSENTHAL, New York

LEE B. HAMILTON, Indiana

LESTER L. WOLFF, New York

JONATHAN B. BINGHAM, New York

GUS YATRON, Pennsylvania

CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois

STEPHEN J. SOLARZ, New York

DON BONKER, Washington

GERRY E. STUDDS, Massachusetts

ANDY IRELAND, Florida

DONALD J. PEASE, Ohio

DAN MICA, Florida

MICHAEL D. BARNES, Maryland

WILLIAM B. GRAY III, Pennsylvania

TONY P. HALL, Ohio

HOWARD WOLPE, Michigan

DAVID R. BOWEN, Mississippi

FLOYD J. FITHIAN, Indiana

WILLIAM S. BROOMFIELD, Michigan

EDWARD J. DERWINSKI, Illinois

PAUL FINDLAY, Illinois

JOHN B. BUCHANAN, Jr., Alabama

LARRY WINN, Jr., Kansas

BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York

TENNYSON GUYER, Ohio

ROBERT J. LAGOMARSINO, California

WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania

JOEL PRITCHARD, Washington

MILLICENT FENWICK, New Jersey

DAN QUAYLE, Indiana

JOHN J. BRADY, JR., Chief of Staff

ROBERT T. HUBER, Staff Consultant

ROXANNE PERUGINO, Staff Assistant

SHARON M. WILLCOX, Staff Assistant

Staff Investigative Group

GEORGE R. BERDES, Staff Consultant

IVO J. SPALATIN, Subcommittee Staff Director

THOMAS R. SMEETON, Minority Staff Consultant/Special Projects

 

CONTENTS

WITNESSES

Tuesday, May 15, 1979

George R. Berdes, staff consultant, Committee on Foreign Affairs
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Ivo J. Spalatin, staff director, Subcommittee on International Security and Scientific Matters, Committee on Foreign Affairs
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Thomas R. Smeeton, minority staff consultant, Committee on Foreign Affairs
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MATERIAL SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD

Statement of Hon. Lester L. Wolff, a Representative in Congress from the State of New York
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APPENDIXES

1. Log No. 126 – Text of June 6, 1978 cable from U.S. Embassy in Guyana to U.S. Department of State
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2. Log No. 130 – Text of June 26, 1978 cable from U.S. Department of State in response to cable from U.S. Embassy in Guyana
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THE DEATH OF REPRESENTATIVE LEO J. RYAN, PEOPLE’S TEMPLE, AND JONESTOWN: UNDER­STANDING A TRAGEDY

TUESDAY, May 15, 1979

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,

Washington, D.C.

The committee met at 10:25 a.m. in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Clement J. Zablocki (chairman) presiding.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. The committee will please come to order.

We meet this morning to receive the report of the staff investiga­tive group on the assassination of Representative Leo J. Ryan and the Jonestown, Guyana tragedy.

Before we consider the results of that inquiry I would like to call upon my distinguished colleague, the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Fascell, to bring the committee up to date on the arrangements which have been made to commemorate Mr. Ryan’s service, both to the Con­gress and to the Nation on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Fascell.

RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE AD HOC COMMITTEE

Mr. FASCELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

As the members will recall, Chairman Zablocki appointed the gentle­man from Illinois, Mr. Derwinski; the gentleman from New York, Mr. Solarz; and me as an ad hoc group to recommend to the full membership appropriate measures which the committee might like to honor the memory of our late esteemed colleague, Hon. Leo J. Ryan of California.

Mr. Chairman, we have unanimously agreed to the following rec­ommendations, which I would like to bring to the committee’s atten­tion at this time. First, we drafted a resolution, which I would ask the clerk to read in a few moments, and which I would then ask the committee to act on and for all members to cosponsor.

We have ordered a special custom-designed plaque, Mr. Chairman, to be made up, engraved with the following inscription:

In memory of Leo J. Ryan of California, Member of Congress, January 1973­-November 1978, who died in the course of an official mission undertaken on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs to promote the safety and welfare of United States citizens abroad. Presented in grateful recognition of his service to the Nation by the Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, May 16, 1979.

 

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We have included, an appropriate Shakespearian quotation which reads as follows:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The stings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

Finally, Mr. Chairman, we have made as part of this plaque a raised metal Seal of the Congress of the United States, and in relief we will have an original stone from Port Kaituma Airstrip near the spot where Hon. Leo J. Ryan was assassinated on November 18, 1978.

We recommend, Mr. Chairman, that this plaque, together with a framed copy of the resolution be displayed in an appropriate loca­tion in the committee rooms of the Committee on Foreign Affairs as a permanent memorial to our late colleague, and as a reminder to future generations of his dedication and his service on behalf of his fellowman.

CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION COMMEMORATING REPRESENTATIVE RYAN

And now, Mr. Chairman, with your permission I would like the resolution I referred to be read in its entirety, and to be considered by the committee.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Without objection, the chief of staff will read the text of the resolution.

Mr. BRADY [reading]:

Recognizing that Hon. Leo J. Ryan served with great honor and distinction for 5 years as a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs;

Recalling that he was universally admired all a man of courage and conviction, as an effective representative of the people of the 11th District of California, and as a valued friend and colleague: and

Recording that his tragic and untimely death occurred during the course of an official mission undertaken in behalf of the committee to promote safety and welfare of U.S. citizens abroad; Therefore, be it

Resolved by the membership of the Committee on Foreign Affairs assembled, That a plaque with inscription be appropriately placed in the committee rooms as an expression of our esteem for the dedicated and consecrated service rendered to his country and in memory of our distinguished colleague, Hon. Leo J. Ryan of California.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Are there any comments on the resolution?

Mr. FASCELL. Mr. Chairman ?

Chairman ZABLOCKI. The gentleman from Florida.

COMMENTS ON THE RESOLUTION

Mr. FASCELL. Mr. Chairman, the expression contained in this res­olution is a genuine one for all of us who knew and worked with Leo Ryan. I had the privilege of working with Leo on two committees and worked with him very closely. I got to know him in his public service about as well as anyone.

I never met a person who was any more dedicated to doing his job and doing it well. I recall a few environmental issues: One was the rupture of an earthen dam. You will remember the thorough hearings and the pertinent recommendations; and the whole follow-up that Leo Ryan did on nuclear waste. These and many other very complex

 

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questions, were also very emotional questions, but were pursued with the kind of dedication and tenacity, determination, and open-mindedness to identify the problem and achieve a solution. This was Leo’s style.

He was, in other words, unafraid to approach the most complex problem in order to try to get something done. He was very sincere about his feelings in the way these matters affected his fellowman­ there was no sham, no put-on; it was a very deeply held conviction on his part.

In the field of foreign affairs he was the same way. He was deeply interested in one of our principal jurisdictions, Mr. Chairman, the pro­tection of citizens abroad. For a long time Leo had beep extremely sensitive to the whole range of problems concerning the operations of the Department of State and the U.S. Government in the matter of service to Americans abroad. This concern for his fellowman cost him his life, Mr. Chairman and we all know there is no greater sacrifice.

I must say that in all the time and in the hearing I served with him I was always very happy to work with Leo because I knew that we were going to work. He never took a languid approach to whatever the prob­lem was. I valued his judgment. I fully appreciated his effort. As chair­man of a subcommittee I can say that I would be proud and happy to have members of his caliber, his intelligence, and his dedication any time.

I think it is thoroughly appropriate and fitting that the Committee on Foreign Affairs express their gratitude to Leo Ryan for his service, not only on this committee, but to the Congress and to the country, and that we have some recognition of his service here in the committee rooms for future generations to consider and appreciate.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. FASCELL. I yield.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. I desire to associate myself wholeheartedly with the remarks made by our colleague, the gentleman from Florida.

Over the years that I have served on this committee with Leo Ryan, and particularly since I became chairman, I deeply valued his contri­bution not only to this committee but to the Congress as well. Not only was he excellent in attendance, but his sincerity, his youth, his determi­nation to do what is proper and correct in the interest of our country, the role that he played in legislation, the amendments that he pro­posed – carefully thought out – were all in the best interest of our country.

Before I go further, I must commend the ad hoc committee, chaired by the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Fascell, as well as Mr. Derwinski and Mr. Solarz, for the work they have done. I have seen the plaque that is in the process of being made. I think it is very tastefully pre­pared. They have given much time and work to this project. I think the resolution that the ad hoc committee now has before the full com­mittee ably demonstrates the love we had for our departed colleague.

We miss him. We will always miss him. Let me say that this resolu­tion and the plaque are a most fitting tribute and a memorial that, I am sure, will constantly remind us of his service and dedication.

Mr. BROOMFIELD. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. FASCELL: Certainly.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. The gentleman from Michigan.

 

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Mr. BROOMFIELD. Mr. Chairman, I wish to associate myself with your remarks as well as those of the gentleman, from Florida. Throughout the 5 years that Leo Ryan served on this committee his performance was characterized by a very special sensitivity to the human concerns and needs of his constituency.

He was never reluctant to go that extra mile. Leo walked his last in a heroic effort to liberate American citizens from a remote South American jungle environment that they could no longer endure. Many have paid lip service to human concerns, Leo Ryan paid with his life.

The resolution before us calls for an inscribed plaque to be placed in this room as an expression of our individual and collective esteem for a dedicated colleague, felled in the line of duty.

Mr. Chairman, I also want to commend you and the ad hoc com­mittee for this appropriate memorial which I know will be a lasting one. We will miss Leo for the work that he has done, not only for his constituency, but for his country. I appreciate being part of this program.

Chairman ZABLOCKI, The gentleman from Indiana.

Mr. HAMILTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 Let me express my appreciation to Mr. Fascell, Mr. Derwinski and Mr. Solarz for this resolution and the memorial.

I think one of the really great privileges of serving in the House of Representatives is the people you get to serve with. I am sure this is the thing that most of us will remember about our service in the Congress perhaps longer than any other feature. One of the Members who will always stand out in my mind will be Leo Ryan. His service in the Congress was relatively brief, as some terms go, but it was, service of real distinction. l think, in my mind at least, Leo Ryan was a Congressman. who “marched to the beat of a different drummer’” than most Congressmen do. He was a Congress­man who brought a very healthy skepticism to his work. He just did not take the word of other people. He wanted to see for himself how things were, and what the best solutions were. Of course, it was that very trait which took him on his final journey.

He was also a Congressman – and in this respect he shares this with many other Members of this body – a Congressman of very great com­passion. I think Leo probably asked himself when he weighed particu­lar pieces of legislation: “How does this impact on people? What is the effect of this bill, or this act on the people?”

It was in an act of compassion, of course, which led him to that journey, also. That was a noble act, and he was a great Congressman in carrying that out. He paid the ultimate sacrifice. As the chairman has said, we will miss him, but we are grateful for the kind of life that he lived, for the contributions that he made, and for the memories that he left behind.:

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Will the gentleman from Florida yield to the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Derwinski ?

Mr. FASCELL. I yield.

Mr. DERWINSKI. I thank the gentleman.

I served with Leo on the Post Office Committee as well as on this committee. He was an unusually effective and hardworking-member. He was quite imaginative in his approach to legislation. In this in-­

 

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stance he went far beyond the normal call of duty to look after the well-being of constituents. It was this intense interest in his con­stituents that motivated his activities.

I am pleased to serve as a member of the committee, and in this small, but hopefully appropriate way honoring our colleague and showing the respect that we all had for him.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Will the gentleman from Florida yield to the gentleman from New York?

Mr. FASCELL. I yield.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Mr. Solarz.

Mr. SOLARZ. I thank the gentleman for yielding. Mr. Hamilton spoke a few minutes ago about how for most of us the opportunity to work with our colleagues in the House is really the most memorable aspect of our service in Congress. And yet, I some­times think that we have a tendency to relate to each other primarily in our political, rather than our personal capacities. We rarely have an opportunity to get to know each other on a personal, as distin­guished from a political level.

I say this now because I had an opportunity several years ago in the course of a trip to the Republic of Ireland, on which Leo went, to spend an evening with him in that city. We went to see It show in the Abbey Theatre by Eugene O’Neill, “Desire Under the Elms,” and then afterward we went out for dinner.

In the course of a lengthy evening, which really gave us more time together on a personal level than we had spent in several years work­ing together on the committee, he told me a number of things about himself which I will aways [always] remember. One was that when he was in the State legislature in California he had become very concerned about conditions in prisons in the State, and undertook to spend a week in a California prison in order to see for himself what condi­tions were like for people who were incarcerated in that State.

I think that that initiative on his part was a reflection of the kind of initiative which ultimately took him to Guyana because above all else Leo was the kind of person who wanted to see for himself what conditions were like, so that he could make judgments based on first­-hand experience.

The other thing he told me, which really impressed me, was that as a result of his experience in the prison he had written a play about prison life. I doubt that many of us thought of Leo as a playwright. But the fact is that someone on our committee had the literary talent and determination to try to put in writing in the form of a play an experience which he had personally gone through, I think, lent an interesting dimension to Leo which we did not often think of.

I consider myself privileged to have served with him and to have known him, as the other members of the committee did. As Lee Hamil­ton said, he did “march to the beat of his own drummer.” But I think he lent an important additional dimension to the work of the committee – ­he had a penchant for esoteric causes, ranging from the U.N. Uni­versity in Japan to repression in the Philippines, to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

I think it meant a lot to have someone on the committee who was prepared to invest major amounts of effort and energy into issues that

 

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many of the rest of us overlooked. I think that Leo will be sorely missed, not only as a friend, but as a valuable colleague on this committee.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Will the gentleman from Florida yield to the gentleman from Alabama?

Mr. FASCELL. I yield, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. BUCHANAN. Mr. Chairman, like my colleagues from Florida and from Illinois, it was my privilege to serve with Leo Ryan in two basic capacities, one as a member of this committee and of the gentleman from Florida’s subcommittee; the other as a member of the board of Gallaudet College. I observed him with great admiration as he demonstrated repeatedly the concern and compassion for people, of which our colleagues have spoken. Not only for deaf people in our society, as in his work in Gallaudet, but for his constituents and for all the people of our country.

It. was this responsible concern and compassion which brought him to his death. Perhaps there are only two kinds of people in the world in the last analysis, the people who care, and the people who do not. Leo Ryan was clearly one of the people who cared. In fulfillment of his understanding of his responsibility to his constituents he went to Guyana and to his death.

He was a man of consistent courage. He wore the red badge of courage to the very end of his life and never let any kind of feat deter him from his duty.

Mr. Chairman, in his uniqueness, of which our colleagues have spoken, I think he reflected and represented the very essence of the strength of this Republic which is vested, in the last analysis, in the character and the strength, and the individuality of its people. Leo Ryan was a good representative of the people. He gave his life serv­ing his constituents and his country.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Will the gentleman from Florida yield to the gentlelady from Illinois. Mrs. Cardiss Collins?

Mr. FASCELL. I yield, Mr. Chairman.

Mrs. COLLINS. Thank you very much

Mr. Chairman, I am particularly sorry for the death of Leo Ryan. Leo came to Congress at the same time that I did, and he sat just to my left on both this committee and the Committee on Government Opera­tions. Over the years, we had many discussions on a number of issues that he felt were very, very important, and I got to know Leo fairly well. I had a great deal of respect for him because his thinking was not only similar to my own on specific matters but differed on a number of occasions.

I happened to be in Africa when I learned that Leo had been killed. There were a number of members of the Congressional Black Caucus attending the same meeting that I was, and we were all saddened by the fact that Leo had lost his life in Guyana. He had gone there to see about the well-being of black people. Most of the people who were there and lost their lives were black. We who are black owe very large debt of gratitude for his concern that our people were not living the life they had hoped for a while there. He gave his life so that they could know real freedom in this country.

 Some say, and yes, that he did “march to the beat of a different drummer.” I happen to think but that kind of drum-beating is the sym-

 

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phony of democratic philosophy in our country. I. am proud to have known him, and I am proud to have served with him. Thank you.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Will the gentleman from Florida yield to the gentleman from New York, Mr. Gilman?

Mr. FASCELL. I yield, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. GILMAN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, this is certainly a sad hour for all of us on the com­mittee who have shared so much of Leo’s time, thinking, and views, and had the opportunity of traveling around the world with Leo.

I had the privilege of serving with Leo in the 93d, 94th, and 95th Congresses. I came to recognize Leo’s intense interest in human rights that extended beyond the usual fulfillment of his duties as a Congress­man. He had not only an intense desire to protect human rights, but he also pursued these ideals to the far corners of the earth.

Leo was an outstanding member of our committee. We went together on our first study mission to Latin America in 1973, and I recall then how Leo’s insatiable curiosity led him to pursue an issue, not just at the conference table, but to go beyond it; to reach out into the com­munity to find out what the real background was on every issue that he became involved in. Just recently, before his death, Leo had invited some of us on the committee – including myself – to join him in his last mission. As it turned out, I was not able to join him in that mission, but our hearts were with him when we learned what he was attempting to do, and the tragic ending of that mission.

I am hoping that through Leo’s efforts and through his tragic death that the Congress and our entire Nation will have learned some im­portant lessons.

I want to commend the gentleman from Florida, and the gentleman from New York for arranging to bring this resolution before us. I consider it an honor to join in this tribute to what I consider to be not only an outstanding legislator and warm human being, but a good friend.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Will the gentleman from Florida. yield to the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Pease?

Mr. FASCELL. I yield.

Mr. PEASE. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I will be very brief.

I knew Leo for only one term, and only as a member of this com­mittee, but he sat approximately where the gentlelady from New Jer­sey is sitting now. I did recognize him as a person very much inter­ested in unusual issues; a person who felt very strongly about his own positions and could be described properly, I think, as a “bulldog” on those issues.

On a personal level I got to know him a little bit better, not much, on a trip to the Middle East, led by our Chairman, in January of last year. I recall him chiefly on that occasion as a person who did not like to be programed [programmed] on the trip; a person who wanted very much to explore his own avenues and his own interests.

I am really happy that I had the opportunity to be here this morning and be present for the tributes paid by my colleagues to Leo

 

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Ryan. What they have said is fully consistent with the glimpses I was able to get of Leo Ryan during our short association. It only makes me wish that I had known him better.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Will the gentleman from Florida yield to the Chair?

Mr. FASCELL. I yield, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. I would ask unanimous consent that all mem­bers would have an opportunity to revise and extend their remarks at this point in the record. Just to summarize, hearing my colleagues in the committee reminisce and report some of the anecdotes of their acquaintance with Leo Ryan certainly must impress on all of us that he must have been working day and night. As we have heard, he was a member of this committee, the Committees on Post Office and Civil Service, Government Operations, and a commissioner of the Gallaudet College. I might say to my colleague, on the trip to the Middle East that Leo Ryan joined us on a year ago last January, he did work day and night.

[Mr. Wolff’s statement follows:]

STATEMENT OF HON. LESTER L. WOLFF, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK

Mr. Chairman: I rise to join my colleagues in commemorating our late friend and colleague, Leo Ryan. This distinguished body has had in its midst many people of courage, many Members whose public service has aided not only their constituents, but the entire Nation.

Leo Ryan epitomized these traits. He approached his role of serving his constituency with a sense of mission. He was of the people and never far from their concerns. Where others have come to Washington to represent their constituents and have soon become removed from them, Leo Ryan remained in touch and involved.

What is most extraordinary about Leo Ryan is the compassion he displayed for his constitutents [constituents] and his determination in getting the facts about the People’s Temple. On the face of it, it seems incredible that he persisted in investigating the People’s Temple. Jim Jones was hailed from all sides as a religious sociologist, a civil rights worker whose inspiration uplifted the hopeless poor. Jones had friends among the powerful, and had held public office in San Francisco. The few dissent­ing voices about his character and his mission were often and easily discounted in the face of the intense support from his followers and friends. When reports of mistreatment and involuntary residence at Jonestown came to Ryan through his constituents, he at first employed the normal channels of investigation, the proper Federal agencies. Most people would have quit when positive reports of the Jonestown commune came back from the State Department. Few would have checked further after the State Department reported that they had interviewed many members of the cult in privacy. But Ryan knew his constituents well enough to be skeptical of such reports, and he cared enough about them to do more than his duty.

Ryan was the kind of investigative Congressman that this Nation needs and values. His courage in getting to the bottom of the People’s Temple situation was unparalleled. He was undaunted by warnings of personal danger in his mission to Guyana. His trip was not a “media event” or a publicity stunt to get himself in the news.

Leo Ryan’s compassion and perseverence [perseverance] can be a lesson to us all. His tragic death and the ghastly events which followed horrified the Nation and the world. The entire situation has sparked a national debate concerning the nature of cults and the role of the Federal Government in investigating them. Long­-avoided questions concerning religious freedom versus the phenomenon of cults are being addressed head-on. In-depth discussion of these questions is long overdue.

We in the Congress can say that we respect the ideal that Leo Ryan represented. and will hold him as an example of a public servant who envisioned his role as one of unqualified pursuit and promotion of America’s most cherished values.

 

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Chairman ZABLOCKI. The Chair will entertain a motion to adopt the resolution.

VOTE ON RESOLUTION

Mr. FASCELL. Mr. Chairman, I move the adoption of the resolution.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. All those in favor signify by saying “aye.”

[Chorus of “ayes.”]

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Opposed, “no.”

[No response.]

Chairman ZABLOCKI. The “ayes” have it, and the resolution is adopted. The Chair would invite all members desiring to cosponsor the resolu­tion to advise the chief of staff.

REPORT OF THE STAFF INVESTIGATIVE GROUP

We now turn to the formal business before the committee, which is the report of the Staff Investigative Group on the assassination of Representative Leo J. Ryan and related events which took place at Jonestown, Guyana.

Pursuant to my directives and the committee’s investigative au­thority, the Staff Investigative Group conducted a comprehensive in­quiry into the role and performance of the Department of State in the following major areas: The international relations aspects of the activities of the People’s Temple; the tragic events that led to the murder of Representative Leo J. Ryan; and the mass suicide-murder of 909 Americans that occurred in Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978.

The staff report before the committee reflects a considerable and ex­tensive undertaking by the three-member team. I and others have al­ready congratulated them and commended them for the vast task that they have undertaken and so successfully and thoroughly concluded.

Let me say further that it did not cost $800,000, it was done by our staff, committee staff. I commend all our staff for their extensive ef­forts in regard to the work that they are doing for the committee. In particular I commend Mr. Berdes, Mr. Spalatin, and Mr. Smeeton.

I would be remiss at this point also if I did not share with you the ap­preciation of one of our staff who had accompanied Mr. Ryan to Guy­ana, Jim Schollaert. He experienced the proceedings that led to that dramatic event. He had gone there with Leo, knowing full well it was a difficult task.

The report we have before us represents 6 months of effort, starting 3 days – 3 days after the tragic assassination of our former committee member and colleague. It is the Chair’s hope that this fact-finding investigation will bring an improved understanding of this tragic event and help to avert such incidents in the future; and improve the performance of the State Department in providing better and more effective service to Americans abroad.

As I stated earlier, the members of the Staff Investigative Group are George Berdes, Ivo Spalatin, and Thomas Smeeton.

Gentleman, please proceed with your report.

 

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STATEMENT OF GEORGE R. BERDES, STAFF CONSULTANT,

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Mr. BERDES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. With your permission, I would like to summarize our joint prepared statement.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Without objection, so ordered. Proceed.

INTRODUCTION

Mr. BERDES. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. Based on your directives, Mr. Chairman, we are reporting today the results of the staff investigation you ordered into the assassination of Repre­sentative Leo J. Ryan and the resulting mass suicide-murder at Jonestown, Guyana on November 18,1978.

The complete report of our 6-month fact-finding investigation is be­fore you. In addition, there is also a confidential appendix, necessitated by security concerns and the need to protect the confidentiality of sources.

In presenting these findings we recognize that we are the beneficiaries of retrospect on the events which preceded November 18. In this re­spect, we have tried to utilize the advantages of retrospect without fall­ing victim to the pitfalls accompanying them. We have sought to be objective and balanced, but not frozen from judgment. In attempting to be fair we have not been timid.

As outlined in Chairman Zablocki’s mandate to the Staff Investigative Group, the role and performance of the State Department in this matter was the central issue earmarked for investigation.

On the basis of the factual evidence we obtained we render the fol­lowing findings on that point:

U.S. EMBASSY AND STATE DEPARTMENT PERFORMANCE

First. The U.S. Embassy in Guyana did not demonstrate ade­quate initiative, sensitive reaction to, and appreciation of progressively mounting indications of highly irregular and illegal activities in Jones­town. The Embassy’s one attempt to confront the situation and affect a solution did not occur until June of 1978. Essentially embodying what could at best be described as the Embassy’s heightened suspicion of problems with People’s Temple, the effort was made in the form of a cable – log 126 [For text of log 126, see appendix 1, p. 58 [59]] to the State Department requesting permission to approach the Guyanese Government and “request that the Govern­ment exercise normal administrative jurisdiction over the community, particularly to insure that all of its residents are informed and under­stand that they are subject to the laws and authority of the Government of Guyana.” The State Department, failing to detect any linkage between log 126 and the then recent defection of Temple member Debbie Blakey and other incidents, rejected the request in a terse cable – log 130 [See appendix 2, p. 60 [61] for text of log 130] – because such an overture “could be construed by some as U.S. Government interference.”

Second. The Department’s negative response to log 126 had the net effect of reinforcing the Embassy’s already cautious attitude in all dealings with the People’s Temple. Despite the fact that an affirmative

 

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response was anticipated, the Embassy surprisingly made no effort to challenge the Department’s negative decision. Equally surprising was the Department’s failure to contact the Ambassador and determine what specifically triggered his request.

Testimony from Department witnesses indicates that the lack of specificity in log 126 was the primary reason for the negative response in log 130. Such specificity – for example the Blakey defection – was deliberately avoided, according to the Ambassador, because of Privacy Act considerations. The upshot of this exchange was a lamentable breakdown in communication with neither side making any further efforts to discuss or follow up on the matter.

Third. Absent in the Embassy’s dealings with People’s Temple were the vital elements of commonsense and an honest and healthy skep­ticism. Despite the acknowledged handicaps under which it worked, the Embassy could have exerted sounder overall judgment and a by far more aggressive posture. One important result of such an effort would have been more accurate and straightforward reporting on the People’s Temple situation which, in turn, could have given the State Department a stronger and wider base on which to draw on briefing Representative Ryan and his staff.

Fourth. State Department organization and day-to-day operations created a distinction between its consular activities and its diplomatic responsibilities. Inadequate coordination between those two functions led to a situation in which matters involving People’s Temple were regarded almost exclusively as consular. Despite mounting indications that the People’s Temple issue was spilling over into the United States-Guyana diplomatic area, the mentality persisted of relegating it to the consular side only.

Fifth. In the area of crisis management following the tragedy of November 18 the State Department and Embassy performed with dis­tinction. Also commendable was the competent and efficient work of the Department of Defense personnel in assisting the wounded and others and returning them to the United States.

Sixth. There was a laxness in State Department procedures for dis­tributing certain important documents relative to People’s Temple, thereby inhibiting the opportunity for taking appropriate action. Among these was the U.S. Customs Service report on possible gun shipments to Jonestown; the April 10, 1978, affidavit of Yolanda D. A. Crawford, a People’s Temple defector, describing beatings and abuses in Jonestown; the affidavits of May and June 1978 by Debbie Blakey, another People’s Temple defector, describing suicide rehearsals and other serious charges; and finally, the New West magazine article of August 1, 1977, which exposed Jones. A wider awareness of these and similar materials would have significantly enhanced the State Depart­ment’s ability to evaluate the situation.

1977 CUSTOMS SERVICE INVESTIGATION

The significance of the State Department’s careless procedure for distributing such key documents is best illustrated by reviewing the 1977 Customs Service investigation of reported illegal gun shipments and other contraband to Jonestown. The evidence on that subject warrants the following findings:

 

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The investigation was begun in February 1977 and was based on an allegation that more than 170 weapons once stored in Ukiah, California had been transferred to the People’s Temple San Francisco headquarters and then possibly on to Jonestown.

The investigation was compromised 1 month after it began, not through any inadvertence on the part of the Customs Service, but when an individual conveyed some information on the matter to Dennis Banks, head of the American Indian Movement in an effort to dissuade Banks from any further contact with Jones. That conversation was apparently taped and word was passed to Jones. Complete details of the investigation’s final report were further compromised when a copy of the report was sent to Interpol. From Interpol it was, by normal procedure, shared with the Guyanese police. According to information provided us, Guyanese Police Commissioner C. A. “Skip” Roberts reportedly showed a copy of that report to either Paula Adams or Carolyn Layton, two of Mr. Jones’ most trusted aides, one of whom passed the information to Jones.

Although the Customs Service investigation was not diluted or diminished in any way, it was clear that it was carried out in an unusu­ally sensitive mode because of what was perceived to be Jim Jones’ considerable political influence in San Francisco. Surveillance relating to the investigation was virtually impossible to carry out because of the tight security screen Jones placed around the Geary Street head­quarters of the People’s Temple in San Francisco.

The investigation was concluded in August-September of 1977 after a shipment of crates destined for Jonestown was opened and inspected by the Customs Service in Miami in August of 1977. Shortly there­after a report on the investigation was filed, with negative results. Nonetheless, investigators apparently felt enough residual suspicion to send copies of the report to Interpol and the U.S. Department of State “because the investigation disclosed allegations that Jones in­tends to establish a political power base in Guyana, and that he may currently have several hundred firearms in that country.”

The copy of the Customs Service report was received in the State Department’s Office of Munitions Control on September 1, 1977, and on September 6, 1977, a copy was forwarded to the Department’s Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. Although standard routing pro­cedures provided that a copy should have been sent to the U.S. Embassy in Guyana there is no indication that a copy was ever sent. In addition, only the Guyana desk officer saw the report; none of the more than 26 State Department officials we interviewed saw the report until after November 18, 1978, although one professed an “awareness” of it earlier.

PRIVACY ACT AND FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

Another aspect of the State Department’s and the Embassy’s per­formance relative to the Ryan murder and Jonestown tragedy involves the pervasive influence on the entire matter of the Privacy Act, and also to a lesser degree, the Freedom of Information Act. On that issue the following findings are offered:

Officials within both the State Department and the Embassy clearly tended to confuse the Privacy Act with the Freedom of Information Act, thereby inhibiting the comprehensiveness of written reports and exchanges of information.

 

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Representative Ryan’s legal adviser contended that the State Department’s interpretation of the Privacy Act was unreasonably narrow and restrictive, and further felt that fact had ramifications on what the Ryan Codel wished to accomplish.

The State Department’s interpretation of the Privacy Act led them to deny Mr. Ryan access to certain information and documents rela­tive to People’s Temple. That problem could have been avoided, or at least alleviated, if Mr. Ryan had followed the Department’s advice to obtain a letter from the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs authorizing him such access under an exemption clause in the act. That exemption provision permits disclosure to any committee of Con­gress “to the extent of matter within its jurisdiction.” However, reflect­ing the State Department’s lack of knowledge of the law and its application, it is pertinent to note that on February 28, 1979, the State Department was unaware of the exemption provision in denying to Chairman Zablocki requested information germane to this investigation.

Prior to the Codel’s departure, the U.S. Embassy in Guyana re­flected its own acute sensitivity to the Privacy Act by urging that Mr. Ryan be fully informed of the act’s limitations. That sensitivity was reinforced by the Embassy’s request that a Department legal expert accompany the Codel, a request denied by the State Depart­ment because of travel freeze restrictions and the heavy press of other work.

Among the Embassy officials interviewed there is almost unanimous agreement that the Privacy Act is complex, difficult to understand, and confusing. Accordingly, they believe that regular guidance is required to guarantee proper implementation. Nonetheless, initial State Department guidance on the Privacy Act provided to the U.S. Embassy in Guyana was so highly technical and legalistic that it had little if any practical value; a problem compounded by subsequent communications.

Given the confusion surrounding the Privacy Act and the lack of practical and understandable guidance, it appears that Embassy con­sular officials in Guyana found the act difficult to implement properly.

Also contributing to those officials’ ability to effectively implement the Privacy Act vis-à-vis the People’s Temple was the understanding they held that as a religious organization People’s Temple merited added protection under the act. Disregarding for now the question of whether or not People’s Temple was a religion, few of the officials knew that the act’s prohibition on maintaining records describing the exercise of first amendment rights also provides an exemption from mandatory agency disclosure of information pertinent to law enforce­ment activities.

The legal recourse which Jones and the People’s Temple exercised under the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act to obtain Embassy cables had the chilling effect on Embassy personnel of mak­ing their communications to the State Department on People’s Temple less candid than they might have otherwise been. Not to be discounted is the strong possibility that, knowing the law and the effect it could produce, Jones used the legal claim actions as a tactic in order to achieve the very effect that it did.

Overall, many State Department officials appeared to be highly aware of the civil and/or criminal penalty provisions of both acts.

 

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That fact reinforced their perceived image of both acts as threaten­ing and troublesome in that failure to comply could present them with serious personal legal problems. In turn, that thought made them doubly cautious in their dealings with People’s Temple.

MITIGATING FACTORS REGARDING STATE DEPARTMENT PERFORMANCE

In concluding this summary of our findings on the performance of the State Department, the following mitigating factors require acknowledgement:

First. The Embassy did not have an investigative or judicial function.

Second. The Embassy tried to abide by U.S. laws as well as strict State Department rules and regulations, while simultaneously re­specting the hospitality of Guyana; and

Third. The Embassy’s ability to break through the facade and get a realistic and accurate picture of what was happening in Jonestown was severely hampered by the fact that Jones staged a show for selective visitors to Jonestown.

GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA REFUSAL TO PERMIT INTERVIEWS BY THE
STAFF INVESTIGATIVE GROUP

Citing reasons of protocol and their own internal investigation, the Government of Guyana refused to permit the Staff Investigative Group to interview Guyanese Government officials. That fact has re­sulted in a conspicuous void in our report.

Accordingly, we offer the following incomplete findings:

First. There is evidence of a strong working realtionship [relationship] between the People’s Temple and some officials of the Government of Guyana, especially in the areas of customs and immigration.

Second. Support for People’s Temple by senior Government of Guyana officials ranged from an ideological compatibility with Peo­ple’s Temple socialist philosophy to repeated charges of the exploitation of a sexual relationship between a People’s Temple member closely associated with Jim Jones and a high-ranking Government of Guyana
official.

TACTICS OF JIM JONES

The primary purpose of Chairman Zablocki’s charge to us in this investigation pertains to the role and performance of the State Depart­ment. What became readily obvious to us, however, was that it was virtually impossible to comprehend and in turn to intelligently judge the Department’s actions without a keen understanding of Jim Jones, his tactics, the motivation of the People’s Temple membership, and the historical development of the organization. Therefore, in an effort to offer a full and meaningful context, we present the following findings:

The mental deviations and distortions, and the psychological tactics which culminated and were manifest in the holocaust of Jonestown on November 18 were rooted in Indiana and perfected in California. Who and what was Jim Jones? We believe it is accurate to say that he was charismatic; in some respects in fact, he was a genius, especially
in the area of human psychology.

As we have studied him and interviewed those who knew him well and had come under his influence, we have concluded that he was first

 

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and foremost a master of mind control. Among the tactics he practiced with engineered precision are the following recognized strategies of brainwashing:

First. Isolation from all vestiges of former life, including and es­pecially all sources of information, and substituting himself as the single source of all knowledge, wisdom, and information.

Second. An exacting daily regimen requiring absolute obedience and humility, extracted by deception, intimidation, threats and harassment.

Third. Physical pressure, ranging from deprivation of food and sleep to the possibility and reality of severe beatings. As a complement to the physical pressures, he exerted mental pressures on his followers which he subsequently relieved in an effort to demonstrate and establish his omnipotent “powers.”

Fourth. So-called struggle meetings or catharsis sessions in which recalcitrant members were interrogated, required to confess their “wrongdoing,” and then punished with alternate harshness and leni­ency. Interrogation could be gentle and polite, but often it involved harassment, humiliation, revilement, and degradation. Vital to this strategy were two of Jones’ favorite techniques. The first involved an exhaustive and detailed record for each member of People’s Temple kept on file cards and generated by his vast intelligence network. A member would suddenly be confronted by Jones with knowledge of some action he was unaware had been observed. Jones would state his “mystic” awareness of that action and then direct the outcome to his desired end.

The second technique was to establish in each of his followers a mistrust of everyone else. Consequently, no one dared voice a negative view – even to the closest family member or friend – for fear of being turned in. Often as not, trusted aides were directed to test individuals by expressing some comment critical of Jones or the life-style in Jones­town to see if that person would report the incident. The end result was that no one person could trust another. The system was so effective that children turned in their own parents, brothers informed on sisters, and husbands and wifes [wives] reported on spouse.

Inherent in these practices which Mr. Jones masterfully and regu­larly employed was his central strategy of “divide and conquer” through which he consolidated his power over people.

In addition to these tactics, however, Mr. Jones regularly used other devices and methods to achieve his ends:

First. Requiring People’s Temple members to contribute as much as 25 percent of their income and sign over to the People’s Temple their properties and other assets.

Second. At times dictating marriage between unwilling partners and at other times not allowing cohabitation between married couples.

Third. Undermining and breaking a child’s ties with his parents. In progressive degrees, the child was led to mistrust the parents and become more and more secretive in his or her actions and evasive to his or her parents’ questions.

Fourth. As a symbol of their trust in him, followers were required to sign statements admitting homosexuality, theft, and other self-­incriminating acts; often as not People’s Temple members would also sign blank pages which could be filled in later. Depending on Jones’ need or objective, such documents were frequently used in attempts to defame defectors.

 

16

Fifth. Rumor spreading in an attempt to ruin reputations or gener­ally implant disinformation, thereby making the true facts difficult if not impossible to establish.

Sixth. Infiltration of groups opposed to People’s Temple and sur­veillance of suspected People’s Temple enemies.

Seventh. Intense public relations efforts, ranging from letter-writing campaigns to attempted control of news media in an effort to influence public opinion with a favorable image of People’s Temple; likewise, an aggressive program of seeking out political leaders and other in­fluential leaders of the community in order to cull their favor and establish identification with them.

In the process of manipulating the control board of this extraor­dinary system, Jones suffered extreme paranoia. One can speculate that while it may have been initially staged, this paranoia ultimately became a self-created Frankenstein that led not only to his fall, but the tragic deaths of 900 others, including Representative Leo J. Ryan. His par­anoia ranged from “dark unnamed forces,” to individuals such as Tim Stoen and other defectors from the People’s Temple, to organiza­tions such as the concerned relatives group, and ultimately to the U.S. Government in the form of the CIA and the FBI – all of which he ultimately believed were out to destroy him.

Further, in establishing this analysis of Jim Jones it is worth noting that he apparently had several bisexual perversions. Finally, there is some irony, I think, in the fact that although he controlled consider­able wealth – estimated upward of $12 million in fact – he sought out special privileges but none of the usual trappings of wealth, such as fancy cars or expensive homes. In short, Mr. Jones was more interested in ideas than in things. He was not driven by greed for money, but for power and control over others.

PROFILE OF FOLLOWERS OF JIM JONES

The tactics and techniques of Jim Jones outlined above found fertile ground and were greatly facilitated because of the background and motivation of those who joined People’s Temple. On the basis of the information which has come to us in the course of this investigation one can draw the following general profile of many who became People’s Temple members and followers of Jim Jones.

Some of the young adults were college graduates out of upper ­middle-class backgrounds which provided privilege and even luxury. Their parents were often college-educated professionals or executives. Frequently, their families were active in demonstrations against the Vietnam war, campaigns for racial equality, and other social causes.

A larger number, especially young blacks, had their roots in the other end of the American social and economic spectrum. The products of poor ghetto neighborhoods and limited education, some had been drug addicts, prostitutes, and street hustlers.

An even greater percentage were elderly, again predominantly black, who had come out of the San Francisco ghetto. They appeared to find in Jim Jones an abiding and protective concern.

A goodly number of middle-class blacks and whites came out of strong fundamentalist religious family backgrounds and were at­tracted to Jones by what they saw as the evangelical nature of People’s Temple.

 

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By contrast, many of the younger people had little if any religious motivation in joining People’s Temple. Rather, they tended to be compelled by humanitarian interests. Altruistic and idealistic, they were impressed by Jones’ involvement in social causes and what they saw as the “political sophistication” of People’s Temple. To the extent that a religious motivation was involved, it was seen chiefly in terms of Jones’ seemingly concrete application of Judeo-Christian prin­ciples. Over time, the dimension of their motivation was not only nonsectarian but eventually became embodied in the Socialist-Marxist agnostic philosophy which Jones espoused.

PEOPLE’S TEMPLE AS A “CHURCH”

Out of the findings outlined above regarding Jim Jones and mem­bers of his People’s Temple emerges one additional finding. It relates to the question of whether or not People’s Temple was a church in the generally accepted sense of that word. Again, on the basis of testi­mony and compelling evidence collected in the course of this investigation we offer the following conclusion on that question: Although People’s Temple may have been a bona fide church in its Indiana and early California origins, it progressively lost that char­acterization in almost every respect. Rather, by 1972 and following in progressive degrees, it evolved into what could be described as a sociopolitical movement. Under the direction and inspiration of its founder and director and the Marxist-Leninist-Communist philosophy that he embraced, People’s Temple was in the end a Socialist structure, devoted to socialism. Despite that fact, People’s Temple continued to enjoy the tax-exempt status it received in 1962 under Internal Revenue Service rules and regulations. The issue of People’s Temple’s status as a church is also significant in connection with first amendment protection which is sought and received. Obviously, the latter issue is difficult and complex and beyond the purview of this committee and its investigation.

INTIMIDATION AND HARASSMENT OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE DEFECTORS AND OPPONENTS

As part of Jones’ constant and pervasive effort to control people and events, the evidence obtained by the Staff Investigative Group es­tablished that he persistently intimidated and harassed those who left People’s Temple, and anyone else, especially the media, whom he felt were opposed to his interests. This clear pattern of intimidation and harassment was reinforced and compounded into success by the widely held belief by People’s Temple defectors and opponents that govern­ment officials were friendly toward People’s Temple or had in some way been compromised. Consequently, attempts at early efforts to alert the public to the nature of People’s Temple activities were largely ignored and/or rejected.

Typical of some of Jones’ tactics to intimidate and harass People’s Temple defectors who were actively opposed to him were the following:

Undermining their credibility as witnesses by spreading falsehoods and releasing the so-called confessions they had signed while members of the Temple.

 

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Fear campaigns generated through break-ins, late night phone calls, and unsigned letters threatening beatings and even death. One such break-in carried out against a couple who had left People’s Temple was done with the help of their daughter who remained in the organization.

As a result of such tactics, People’s Temple defectors were fre­quently frozen in fear and severely hampered in their efforts to counteract Jones.

PEOPLE’S TEMPLE EFFORTS TO SILENCE SAN FRANCISCO MEDIA

With respect to Jones’ and the People’s Temple efforts to stifle the San Francisco media, some of the following methods were used:

The threat of law suits, extensive letter-writing campaigns, picketing of newspaper offices, break-ins, and threatening phone calls, all of which were aimed at preventing the publication of articles regarded as anti-People’s Temple. The end result of these tactics was to make most editors arid publishers highly sensitive and cautious regarding such critical stories.

In addition, he also encouraged San Francisco merchants and busi­nesses to remove their advertising from “offending” publications. The chief target of such an effort was the New West magazine immediately prior to its publication in August 1977 of an article critical of Jones. The editors of the magazine persisted and the article is generally credited with breaking Jones’ stronghold on San Francisco and led him to go to Guyana immediately before it appeared.

JIM JONES RELATIONSHIP WITH CALIFORNIA OFFICIALS

Finally, as to the question of whether or not certain California officials had in fact been compromised by Jones, the Staff Investiga­tive Group believes the evidence is mixed. What is indisputably clear and solidly based on evidence is that many such officials were perceived of by Jones’ opponents as extremely friendly to, or enthusiastically supportive of Jones, thereby precluding those officials, or their offices, from pursuing action against Jones in an impartial manner. Political figures in San Francisco appear to have been enticed by Jones’ ability to turn out hundreds of his followers to attend rallies, conduct mail­ings, man phone-banks, and otherwise provide support ‘to political elec­tion campaigns, including some direct cash contributions.

Similarly, the media were not immune from Jones’ wiles and at­tempted flatteries. For example, Jones made contributions of various sums totaling $4,400 to the San Francisco Examiner, the San Fran­cisco Chronicle, and 10 other newspapers to be used as they saw fit in the “defense of press freedom.” Although the Examiner returned the money to the People’s Temple, the management of the Chronicle sent the check to Sigma Delta Chi, the national journalism society, which in turn rejected suggestions that it be returned to People’s Temple.

PREDICTING THE DEGREE OF VIOLENCE

On the question of whether (1) Representative Ryan had been ade­quately advised of the potential danger involved in his trip and (2)

 

19

how accurately “anyone could have predicted the degree of violence employed, the following findings are offered:

First. Representative Ryan was advised on more than one occasion of the possibility of violence inherent in his trip to Jonestown. How­ever, he tended to discount such warnings with the thought that his office as a Congressman would protect him.

Second. The warnings Mr. Ryan did receive regarding the prospect for violence came chiefly from his own staff and the concerned relatives group. When the issue was raised in the State Department briefings prior to his trip, Mr. Ryan did not challenge State’s assessment that potential danger was “unlikely.”

Third. No one interviewed by the staff investigative group ever anticipated the degree of violence actually encountered. Many ex­pected that there might be adversarial encounters, arguments, or shouting; the worst anticipated was that someone might “get punched in the mouth.”

Fourth. From a variety of sources, Representative Ryan and some representatives of the media were cautioned that they were regarded as adversaries of People’s Temple and Jones. It is appropriate to note here that Mr. Ryan apparently did not advise anyone in the State Department or the U.S. Embassy in Guyana that one of the purposes of his trip was to help possible defectors leave Jonestown with him on November 18.

CONSPIRACY TO KILL REPRESENTATIVE RYAN

Based on available evidence we have reached the following conclu­sions and findings relative to the likelihood of (1) a People’s Temple­-Jim Jones conspiracy to kill Representative Ryan and (2) on the ques­tion of whether there was a conspiracy against Mr. Jones perpetrated by the U.S. Government.

The first of those, the possibility of any prior conspiracy to kill Mr. Ryan, tends to be diminished by the fact that Gordon Lindsay, a reporter whom Mr. Jones regarded as an arch enemy of the People’s Temple was not allowed to enter Jonestown with the Ryan party.

CONTINGENCY CONSPIRACY

Still not to be discounted entirely, however, is the possible existence of a contingency conspiracy. In this connection, there are reports of an “understanding” in Jonestown that if efforts to delude Ryan as to the true conditions at Jonestown failed, he would have to be killed, supposedly by arranging for his plane to crash in the jungle after leaving Jonestown. While circumstantial evidence is available on this theory we have not found any hard evidence.

Providing some moderate credence to the idea of a contingency con­spiracy is the fact that the Jonestown mass suicide-murder ritual started before the Port Kaituma assailants returned to confirm the shootings of Representative Ryan and others.

Also lending some substance to the contingency conspiracy theory are unconfirmed reports that a large shipment of cyanide, used in the mass suicide-murder, arrived in Jonestown only 2 days before Mr. Ryan’s visit. Also related is the reported statement of a Jonestown

 

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survivor that several days before Mr. Ryan arrived in Jonestown he heard Jones say that the Congressman’s plane “might fall from the sky.”

CONSPIRACY AGAINST JIM JONES AND PEOPLE’S TEMPLE

Regarding a possible conspiracy against Jim Jones and the Peo­ple’s Temple we offer these findings:

Jones’ idea that there were elements opposed to his views and ob­jectives began in Indiana and were expressed in the adverse reactions he encountered because of his racial integration and other policies. His complaints of opposition increased when the People’s Temple moved to California in 1965, but proved unfounded when investigated by police. The mood of Jones’ allegations of an anti-People’s Temple conspiracy grew darker when the group moved to San Francisco in 1972 with its chief target being the media and, again, unspecified “forces.”

Jones’ idea of a U.S. Government plot against him, embodied mainly in the CIA and FBI, took full bloom after he and the vast bulk of People’s Temple members moved to Guyana in 1977. Opposition of the concerned relatives group was eventually attributed to CIA backing as were periodic “alerts” which he called to protect the People’s Temple Jonestown community from alleged mercenaries in the jungle around Jonestown.

On this question of a possible conspiracy against People’s Temple and Jones, Jones’ two lawyers, Mark Lane and Charles Garry, offer contradictory opinions.

Granting the strong likelihood of Jones’ paranoia, compounded by his manipulative abilities, Jones staged and exploited the idea of a conspiracy as a means of generating fear in his adherents and thereby gaining further control over them. The tactic also served to keep any opponents on the defensive and even had the apparent effect of sensitiz­ing the U.S. Embassy in Guyana.

No conclusive evidence to indicate that the CIA was acquiring information on Mr. Jones of the People’s Temple. The FBI’s only point of contact with the group involved its review of two com­plaints, which were subsequently determined to be unfounded.

FRAUDULENT USE OF SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS

Although this inquiry’s scope did not require investigating allega­tions that the People’s Temple stole or fraudulently used its members’ social security benefits, some information regarding those charges did surface during the course of this probe that is worth noting.

At the time of the tragedy on November 18, 1978, a total of 199 social security annuitants reportedly lived in Jonestown. Altogether their annuities amounted to approximately $37,000 per month. It is readily apparent that this income contributed substantially to the mainte­nance of Jonestown.

In response to the Social Security Administration’s request, U.S. Consul Richard McCoy, during January and May of 1978 visits to Jonestown, determined that each annuitant interviewed was receiving and controlling the use of his monthly payments, and that none had assigned their checks to the Temple. However, he also noted that while

 

21

Jonestown social security beneficiaries were heavily influenced to turn over their monthly benefits to the Temple, they apparently did so voluntarily.

Some 656 social security uncashed checks were found in Jonestown after the November 18 tragedy, totaling $160,000.

At last report, 173 social security beneficiaries have been positively indentified [identified] as dead; 8 others are known to have survived. The balance of 18 are still unaccounted for, but the presumption is that they are among the unidentified deceased.

Possibly as many as 150 foster children have been alleged to have died in Jonestown during the mass suicide-murder ritual of last November. Preliminary indications are that 12 California foster children may be identified as having died. Also, the staff investigative group was informed by State Department witnesses that the U.S. Em­bassy in Guyana was never asked by California welfare officials to check on the welfare and whereabouts of California foster children reportedly living in Jonestown.

FUTURE STATUS OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE

Although it was beyond the purview of this investigation as man­dated by Chairman Zablocki, the Staff Investigative Group obtained evidence and impressions relative to the possible future status of People’s Temple and some related matters which we believe are use­ful and wish to establish for this record.

Accordingly, it is our judgment at this time that one cannot dis­count the possibility of People’s Temple being reconstituted. This be­lief is based in large measure on the distinction made by surviving People’s Temple members between Jim Jones as an individual and what People’s Temple represented as an organization. Thus, while some remaining People’s Temple members express varying degrees of regret, dismay, and disapproval over what Jim Jones did, they still ap­pear to embrace the principles and objectives which they believe People’s Temple sought to achieve.

While the existence of a reported “hit squad” whose purported pur­pose is to eliminate Jones’ staunchest opponents cannot be conceretely [concretely] documented, it should not be totally discounted either. This group has been described as including some of Jones’ most zealous adherents. There is evidence to suggest that Jones and some of his key lieutenants discussed and had “understandings” to eliminate various officials, in­cluding national political leaders.

Mr. Chairman, on the basis of the findings and other elements of our investigation we have formed five recommendations, the complete text of which appears on pages 36 and 37 of the full report. We respect­fully submit those for your appropriate consideration.

Finally, we want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, as well as Mr. Broom­field and other members of this committee for the generous encouragem­ent and help which has been provided to us. It should also be noted that this report is the product of a truly cooperative three-man effort and reflects our unanimous judgment.

We submit this report to you and to the committee with the hope that it will provide a sound and adequate basis on which the commit­tee’s judgment can now be made on whether any further action is waranted [war­ranted] or necessary.

 

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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 [The joint prepared statement of Messrs. Berdes, Spalatin, and Smeeton follows:]

JOINT PREPARED STATEMENT OF GEORGE R. BERDES, STAFF CONSULTANT; IVO J. SPALATIN, SUBCOMMITTEE STAFF DIRECTOR; AND THOMAS R. SMEETON, MINORITY STAFF CONSULTANT

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. Based on your directives, Mr. Chairman, we are reporting today the results of the staff investigation you ordered into the assassination of Representative Leo J. Ryan and the resulting mass suicide/murder at Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978. The horror and extent of that tragedy shocked the world and produced many perplexing questions.

On November 21, 1978, Mr. Chairman, you wrote the Department of State pos­ing 13 specific questions regarding Mr. Ryan’s death and the events at Jones­town. That letter also indicated that “In determining what steps might be taken in the wake of this matter, the Committee intends to look into all of the circumstances which might have a bearing on this tragic incident.”

Subsequently, you directed a Staff Investigative Group to conduct a compre­hensive inquiry Into the international relations aspects of those events. The complete report of our 6-month fact-finding investigation is before you. In addi­tion, there is also a confidential appendix necessitated by security concerns and the need to protect the confidentiality of sources.

In presenting these findings we recognize that we are the beneficiaries of retrospect on the events which preceded November 18, 1978. In this respect, we have tried to utilize these advantages without falling victim to the pitfalls accom­panying them. We have sought to be objective and balanced but not frozen from judgment. In attempting to be fair we have not been timid.

THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE

As outlined in Chairman Zablocki’s mandate to the Staff Investigative Group, the role and performance of the State Department in this matter was the central issue earmarked for investigation. On the basis of the factual evidence we ob­tained we render the following findings on that point:

The U.S. Embassy in Guyana did not demonstrate adequate initiative, sensi­tive reaction to, and appreciation of progressively mounting indications of highly irregular and illegal activities in Jonestown. The Embassy’s one attempt to con­front the situation and affect a solution did not occur until June 1978. Essentially embodying what could at best be described as the Embassy’s heightened sus­picion of problems with People’s Temple, the effort was made in the form of a cable (Log 126) to the State Department requesting permission to approach the Guyanese Government and “request that the government exercise normal ad­ministrative jurisdiction over the community, particularly to insure that all of its residents are informed and understand that they are subject to the laws and authority of the Government of Guyana.…” The State Department, failing to detect any linkage between Log 126 and the then recent defection of Temple member Debbie Blakey and other incidents, rejected the request in a terse cable (Log 130) because such an overture “could be construed by some as U.S. Govern­ment interference.”

The Department’s negative response to Log 126 had the net effect of reinforc­ing the Embassy’s already cautious attitude in all dealings with the People’s Temple. Despite the fact that an affirmative response was anticipated, the Embassy surprisingly made no effort to challenge the Department’s negative decision. Equally surprising was the Department’s failure to contact the Am­bassador and determine what specifically triggered his request. Testimony from Department witnesses indicates that the lack of specificity in Log 126 was the primary reason for the negative response in Log 130. Such specificity (e.g., Blakey defection) was deliberately avoided, according to the Ambassador, because of Privacy Act considerations. The upshot of this exchange was a lamentable breakdown in communication with neither side making any further efforts to discuss or follow up on the matter.

Absent in the Embassy’s dealings with People’s Temple were the vital elements of common sense and an honest and healthy skepticism. Despite the acknowl­edged handicaps under which it worked the Embassy could have exerted sounder overall judgment and a more aggressive posture. One important result

 

23

of such an effort would have been more accurate and straightforward reporting on the People’s Temple situation which, in turn, could have given the State Department a stronger and wider base on which to draw in briefing Representa­tive Ryan and his staff.

State Department organization and day-to-day operations created a dis­tinciton [distinction] between its consular activities and its diplomatic responsibilities. Inadequate coordination between those two functions led to a situation in which matters involving People’s Temple were regarded almost exclusively as con­sular. Despite mounting indications that the People’s Temple issue was spilling over into the United States-Guyana diplomatic area, the mentality persisted of relegating it to the consular side.

In the area of crisis management following the tragedy of November 18 the State Department and Embassy performed with distinction. Also commendable was the competent and efficient work of Department of Defense personnel in assisting the wounded and others and returning them to the United States.

There was a laxness in State Department procedures for distributing certain important documents relative to People’s Temple, thereby inhibiting the oppor­tunity for taking appropriate action. Among these was the U.S. Customs Service report on possible gun shipments to Jonestown; the April 10, 1978 affidavit by Yolanda D. A. Crawford, a People’s Temple defector, describing beatings and abuses in Jonestown; the affidavits of May and June 1978 by Debbie Blakey, another People’s Temple defector, describing suicide rehearsals and other seri­ous charges; and finally the New West magazine article of August 1, 1977, which exposed Jones. A wider awareness of these and similar materials would have significantly enhanced the State Department’s ability to evaluate the situation.

The significance of the State Department’s careless procedures for distribut­ing such key documents is best illustrated by reviewing the 1977 Customs Service investigation of reported illegal gun shipments and other contraband to Jonestown. The evidence on that subject warrants the following findings:

The investigation was begun in February 1977 and was based on an allegation that more than 170 weapons once stored in Ukiah had been transferred to the People’s Temple San Francisco headquarters and then possibly on to Jonestown.

The investigation was compromised one month after it began, not through an inadvertence on the part of the Customs Service, but when an individual conveyed some information on the matter to Dennis Banks, head of the American Indian Movement in an effort to dissuade Banks from any further contact with Jones. That conversation was apparently taped and word was passed to Jones. Complete details of the investigation’s final report were further compromised when a copy of the report was sent to Interpol. From Interpol it was, by normal procedure, shared with the Guyanese police. According to information pro­vided us, Guyana Police Commissioner C. A. “Skip” Roberts reported showed a copy to either Paula Adams or Carolyn Layton, two of Mr. Jones’ most trusted aides, one of whom passed the information to Mr. Jones.

Although the Customs Service investigation was not diluted or diminished in any way, it is clear that it was carried out in an unusually sensitive mode because of what was perceived to be Jim Jones’ considerable political influence In San Francisco. Surveillance relating to the investigation was virtually im­possible to carry out because of the tight security screen Jones placed around the Geary Street headquarters of People’s Temple in San Francisco.

The investigation was concluded in August-September 1977 after a shipment of crates destined for Jonestown was opened and inspected by the Customs Service in Miami in August 1977. Shortly thereafter a report on the investiga­tion was filed with negative results. Nonetheless, investigators apparently felt enough residual suspicion to send copies of the report to Interpol and the U.S. Department of State “because (the) investigation disclosed allegations that Jones intends to establish a political power base in, Guyana, and that he may currently have several hundred firearms in that country.…”

The copy of the Customs Service report was received in the State Depart­ment’s Office of Munitions Control on September 1, 1977 and on September 6, 1977, a copy was forwarded to the Department’s Bureau of Inter-American Af­fairs. Although standard routing procedures provided that a copy should have­ been sent to the U.S. Embassy in Guyana there is no indication a copy was ever sent. In addition, only the Guyana desk officer saw the report; none of the more than 26 State Department officials we interviewed saw the report until after November 18, 1978, although one professed “awareness” of it earlier.

 

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Another aspect of the State Department’s and the Embassy’s performance relative to the Ryan murder and Jonestown tragedy involves the pervasive influ­ence on the entire matter of the Privacy Act, and also to a lesser degree, the Freedom of Information Act. On that issue the following findings are offered:

Officials within both the State Department and the Embassy clearly tended to confuse the Privacy Act with the Freedom of Information Act thereby inhibit­ing the comprehensiveness of written reports and exchanges of information. One key Embassy official, for instance, was operating under the mistaken as­sumption that People’s Temple was seeking cables reporting on consular visits to Jonestown under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

Representative Ryan’s legal advisors contended that the State Department’s interpretation of the Privacy Act was unreasonably narrow and restrictive, and further felt that fact had ramifications on what the Codel wished to accom­plish. Those differences, which began in Washington and continued in Guyana, resulted in somewhat strained relations between the State Department and the Codel.

The State Department’s interpretation of the Privacy Act led them to deny Ryan access to certain information and documents relative to People’s Temple. That problem could have been provided or at least alleviated if Mr. Ryan had followed the Department’s advice to obtain a letter from the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs authorizing him such access under an exemption clause in the Act. That exemption provision permits disclosure to any committee of Congress “to the extent of matter within its jurisdiction.” Reflecting the State Department’s lack of knowledge of the law and its application, it is perti­nent to note, however, that on February 28, 1979, the State Department was unaware of the exemption provision in denying to Chairman Zablocki requested information germane to this investigation.

Prior to the Codel’s departure, the U.S. Embassy in Guyana reflected its own acute sensitivity to the Privacy Act by urging that Mr. Ryan be fully informed of the Act’s limitations. That sensitivity was reinformed by the Embassy’s request that a Department legal expert accompany the Codel, a request denied by State because of travel freeze restrictions and the heavy press of other work.

Among the Embassy officials interviewed there is almost unanimous agree­ment that the Privacy Act is complex, difficult to understand, and confusing. Accordingly, they believe that regular guidance is required to guarantee proper implementation.

Initial State Department guidance on the Privacy Act provided to the U.S. Embassy in Guyana was so highly technical and legalistic that it had little if any practical value, a problem compounded by subsequent communications.

Given the confusion surrounding the Privacy Act and the lack of practical and understandable guidance, it appears that Embassy consular officers in Guyana found the Act difficult to implement properly.

Also contributing to those officials’ ability to effectively implement the Privacy, Act vis-à-vis the People’s Temple was the understanding they held that as a religious organization People’s Temple merited added protection under the Act. Disregarding for now the question of whether or not People’s Temple was a religion, few of the officials knew that the Act’s prohibition on maintaining records describing the exercise of First Amendment rights also provides an exemption from mandatory agency disclosure of information pertinent to law enforcement activities. Further, there appeared to be little general awareness, among State Department personnel of other exemptions provided in both the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act.

The legal recourse Jones and People’s Temple exercised under the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act to obtain Embassy cables had the chilling effect on Embassy personnel of making their communications to the State Department on People’s Temple less candid than they might have otherwise been. Not to be discounted is the strong possibility that, knowing the law and the effect it could produce, Jones used the legal claim actions as a tactic in order to achieve the very effect it did.

Overall, many State Department officials appeared to be highly aware of the civil and/or criminal penalty provisions of both Acts. The fact reinforced their perceived image of both Acts as threatening and troublesome in that failure to comply could present them with serious personal legal problems. In turn, that thought made them doubly cautious in their dealings with People’s Temple.

In concluding this summary of our findings on the performance of the State Department, the following mitigating factors require acknowledgement:

The Embassy did not have an investigative or judicial function;

 

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The Embassy tried to abide by U.S. laws as well as strict State Department rules and regulations while simultaneously respecting the hospitality of Guyana.

The Embassy’s ability to break through the facade and get a realistic and accurate picture of what was happening in Jonestown was severely hampered by the fact that Jones staged a show for selective visitors to Jonestown.

INVOLVEMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA

Citing reasons of protocol and their own internal investigation, the Government of Guyana refused to permit the Staff Investigative Group to interview Guyanese Government officials. That fact has resulted in a conspicuous void in our report.

Accordingly, we offer the following incomplete findings:

 There is evidence of a strong working relationship between the People’s Tem­ple and some officials of the Government of Guyana, especially in the areas of customs and immigration.

Support for People’s Temple by senior Government of Guyana officials ranged from an ideological compatibility with People’s Temple socialist philosophy to repeated charges of the exploitation of a sexual relationship between a People’s Temple member closely associated with Jim Jones and a high-ranking govern­ment official.

There is also evidence, incomplete and inconclusive, that unknown officials of the Guyanese Government may have taken action to influence the outcome of the Stoen custody case proceedings in the Guyanese court system.

JIM JONES AND PEOPLE’S TEMPLE

The primary purpose of Chairman Zablocki’s charge to us in this investigation pertains to the role and performance of the State Department. What became readily obvious to us, however, was that it was virtually impossible to compre­hend and in turn judge the Department’s actions without a keen understanding of Jim Jones, his tactics, the motivations of the People’s Temple membership, and the historical development of the organization. Therefore, in an effort to offer a full and meaningful context, we present the following findings:

The mental deviations and distortions and the psychological tactics which culminated and were most manifest in the holocaust of Jonestown on November 18 were rooted in Indiana and perfected in California. Who and what was Jim Jones? We believe it is accurate to say he was charismatic; in same respects, in fact, he was genius in the area of human psychology.

As we have studied him and interviewed those who knew him well and had come under his influence, we have concluded that he was first and foremost a master of mind control. Among the tactics he practiced with engineered precision are the following recognized strategies of brainwashing:

Isolation from all vestiges of former life, including and especially all sources of information, and substituting himself as the single source of all knowledge, wisdom and information;

An exacting daily regimen requiring absolute obedience and humility extracted by deception, intimidation. threats, and harassment;

Physical pressure, ranging from deprivation of food and sleep to the possibility and reality of severe beatings. As a complement to the physical pressures, he experted [exerted] mental pressures on his followers which he subsequently relieved in an effort to demonstrate and establish his omnipotent “powers.” For example, he inculcated fictional fears which he would eventually counterpoint and dispel and thereby establish himself as a “savior.” One of his favorite tactics was to generate and then exploit a sense of guilt for clinging to life’s luxuries, for want­ing special privileges, and for seeking recognition and reward;

So-called struggle meetings or catharsis sessions in which recalcitrant mem­bers. were interrogated, required to confess their “wrongdoing,” and then punished with alternate harshness and leniency. Interrogation could be gentle ­and polite, but more often it involved harassment, humiliation, revilement and degradation. Vital to this strategy were two of Jones’s favorite techniques. The first involved an exhaustive and detailed record for each member kept on file cards and generated by his vast intelligence network. A member would sud­denly be confronted by Jones with knowledge of some action he was unaware had been observed. Jones would stage his “mystic” awareness of that action and then direct the outcome to his desired end. The second technique was to establish

 

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in each of his followers a mistrust of everyone else. Consequently, no one dared voice a negative view – even to the closest family member or friend – for fear of being turned in. Often as not, trusted aides were directed to test individuals by expressing some comment critical of Jones or the life-style in Jones­town to see if that person would report the incident. The end result was that no one person could trust another. As a result everyone feared expressing even the slightest negative comment. The system was so effective that children turned in their own parents, brothers informed on sisters, and husbands and wives reported on spouses.

Inherent in these practices which Mr. Jones masterfully and regularly em­ployed was his central strategy of “divide and conquer” through which he consolidated his power over people.

In addition to these tactics, however, Mr. Jones regularly used other devices and methods to achieve his ends:

Requiring People’s Temple members to contribute as much as 25 percent of their income and sign over to the People’s Temple their properties and other assets;

At times dictating marriage between unwilling partners and at other times not allowing cohabitation between married couples;

Undermining and breaking a child’s ties with parents. In progressive degrees the child was led to mistrust the parents and become more and more secretive in his actions and evasive to his parent’s questions;

As a symbol of their trust in him, followers were required to sign statements admitting homosexuality, theft, and other self-incriminating acts; often as not People’s Temple members would also sign blank pages which could be filled in later. Depending on Jones’ need or objective, such documents were frequently used in attempts to defame defectors;

Rumor spreading in an attempt to ruin reputations or generally implant dis­information, thereby making the true facts difficult if not impossible to establish ;

Infiltration of groups opposed to People’s Temple and surveillance of suspected People’s Temple enemies; and

Intense public relations efforts ranging from letter-writing campaigns to at­tempted control of news media in an effort to influence public opinion with a favorable image of People’s Temple; likewise, an aggressive program of seeking out political leaders and other influential members of a community in order to cull their favor and establish identification with them.

In the process of manipulating the control board of this extraordinary sys­tem Jones suffered extreme paranoia. One can speculate that while it may have been initially staged, his paranoia ultimately became a self-created Franken­tein [Frankenstein] that led not only to his fall but the tragic death of more than 900 others, including Representative Leo J. Ryan. His paranoia ranged from “dark un­named forces,” to individuals such as Tim Stoen and other defectors from the People’s Temple, to organizations such as the concerned Relatives group, and ultimately to the U.S. Government in the form of the CIA and the FBI – all of which he ultimately believed were out to destroy him.

Further, in establishing this analysis of Jim Jones it is worth noting that he apparently had several bisexual perversions. Finally, there is some irony in the fact that although he controlled considerable wealth (estimated at $12 mil­lion), he sought out special privileges but none of the usual trappings of wealth such as fancy cars or expensive houses. In short, Mr. Jones was more interested in ideas than in things. He was not driven by greed for money but for power and control over others. That control continues to be exerted even after his death on the minds of some of his followers. It is graphically illustrated by the suicide of Michael Prokes, one of Jones’ closest associates, during a March 13, 1979 press conference in California in which he defended Jones and cited the achievements of People’s Temple and Jonestown.

MOTIVATION OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE MEMBERS

The tactics and techniques of Jim Jones outlined above found fertile ground and were greatly facilitated because of the background and motivation of those who joined People’s Temple. Generalities, of course, are always difficult if not dangerous. However, on the basis of the information which has come to us in the course of this investigation one can draw the following general profile of many who became People’s Temple members and followers of Jim Jones:

Some of the young adults were college graduates out of upper-middle-class backgrounds which provided privilege and even luxury. Their parents were

 

27

often college-educated professionals or executives. Frequently, their families were active in demonstrations against the Vietnam war, campaigns for racial equality, and other social causes.

A large number, especially young blacks, had their roots in the other end of the American social and economic spectrum. The products of poor ghetto neighborhoods and limited education, some had been drug addicts, prostitutes, and street hustlers.

An even greater percentage were elderly, again predominatly [predominantly] black, who had come out of the San Francisco ghetto. They appeared to find in Jim Jones an abiding and protective concern.

A goodly number of middle-class blacks and whites came out of strong fundamentalist religious family backgrounds and were attracted by what they saw as the evangelical nature of People’s Temple.

By contrast, many of the younger people had little if any religious motivation in joining People’s Temple. Rather, they tended to be compelled by humanitarian interests. Altruistic and idealistic, they were impressed by Jones’ involvement in social causes and what they saw as the “political sophistication” of People’s Temple. To the extent that a religious motivation was involved, it was seen chiefly in terms of Jones’ seeming concrete application of Judeo-Christian principles. Over time, the dimension of their motivation was not only nonsectarian but eventually became embodied in the Socialist-Marxist agnostic philosophy which Jones espoused.

PEOPLE’S TEMPLE AS A “CHURCH”

Out of the findings outlined above regarding Jim Jones and members of his People’s Temple, emerges one additional finding. It relates to the question of whether or not People’s Temple was a “church” in the generally accepted sense of that word. Again, on the basis of testimony and compelling evidence collected in the course of this investigation we offer the following conclusion on that question:

Although People’s Temple may have been a bona fide church in its Indiana and early California origins, it progressively lost that characterization in almost every respect. Rather, by 1972 and following in progressive degrees, it evolved into what could be described as a sociopolitical movement. Under the direction and inspiration of its founder and director and the Marxist-Leninist-Communist philosophy he embraced, People’s Temple was in the end a Socialist structure devoted to socialism. Despite that fact, People’s Temple continued to enjoy the tax-exempt status it received in 1962 under Internal Revenue Service rules and regulations. The issue of People’s Temple’s status as a “church” is also sig­nificant in connection with First Amendment protections it sought and received. Obviously, the latter issue is a difficult and complex matter beyond the purview of this committee and its investigation.

OPPONENTS AND MEDIA INTIMIDATED, PUBLIC OFFICIALS USED

As part of Jones’ constant and pervasive effort to control people and events, the evidence obtained by the Staff Investigative Group established that he persistently intimidated and harassed those who left People’s Temple and anyone else, especially the media, whom he felt were opposed to his interests. This clear pattern of intimidation and harassment was reinforced and compounded into success by the widely held belief by People’s Temple defectors and opponents, that government officials were friendly toward People’s Temple or had in some way been compromised. Consequently, attempts at early efforts to alert the public to the nature of People’s Temple’s activities were largely ignored and/or rejected.

Typical of some of Jones’ tactics to intimidate and harass People’s Temple defectors who were actively opposed to him were the following:

Undermining of their credibility as witnesses by spreading falsehoods and releasing the so-called “confessions” they had signed while members of People’s Temple.

Fear campaigns generated through break-ins, late night phone calls, and unsigned letters threatening beatings and even death. One such break-in carried out against a couple who had left People’s Temple was done with the help of their daughter who remained in the organization.

As a result of such tactics People’s Temple defectors were frequently frozen in fear and severely hampered in their efforts to counteract Jones. The problem is illustrated in the following example which points up the desperate lengths to which opponents of People’s Temple were driven as well as the degree to which

 
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officials in San Francisco appear to have been involved. Afraid to contact any public officials for fear that they were tied in or friendly to Jones, one individual went to the length of writing consumer advocate Ralph Nader because he could not think of anyone else he could trust. The letter to Nader outlined many of the allegations against People’s Temple which were later proven true. It also indicated that the letter writer feared for his life. It closed as follows: “If you want to help us, please write in the personal column of the Chronicle to ‘Angelo’ and sign it Ralph and then we will respond and talk to you.”

Rather than do that, Nader sent the letter to the District Attorney’s Office in San Francisco. By some means, the letter filtered back to People’s Temple and the writer soon thereafter received a threatening phone call that said “We know all about your letter to Angelo.”

With respect to Jones’ and the People’s Temple efforts to stifle the San Fran­cisco media, some of the following methods were used:

The threat of law suits, extensive letter-writing campaigns, picketing of news­paper offices, break-ins, and threatening phone calls, all of which were aimed at preventing the publication of articles regarded as anti-People’s Temple. The end result of these tactics was to make most editors and publishers highly sensitive and cautious regarding such critical stories.

Encouraging San Francisco merchants and businesses to remove their advertising from “offending” publications. The chief target of such an effort was the New West magazine immediately prior to its publication in August 1977, of an article critical of Jones. The editors of the magazine persisted and the article is generally credited with breaking Jones’ stronghold on San Francisco and led him to go to Guyana immediately before it appeared. Finally, as to the question of whether or not certain California officials had in fact been compromised by Jones, the Staff Investigative Group believes the evidence is mixed. What is indisputably clear and solidly based on evidence is that many such officials were perceived of by Jones’ opponents as extremely friendly to or enthusiastically supportive of Jones, thereby precluding them or their offices from pursuing actions against Jones in an impartial manner. In this regard, it should be kept in mind that Jones had endowed himself with the cloak of official legitimacy through his appointment by Mayor Moscone as Direc­tor of the San Francisco Housing Authority. In addition, political figures in San Francisco appear to have been enticed by Jones’ ability to turn out hun­dreds of his followers to attend rallys [rallies], conduct mailings, man phone-banks, and otherwise provide support to political election campaigns, including some direct contributions.

Similarly, the media were not immune from Jones’ wiles and attempted flat­teries. For example, Jones made contributions of various sums totalling $4,400 to the San Francisco Examiner, the San Francisco Chronicle, and 10 other news­papers to be used as they saw fit in the “defense of a free press’.” Although the Examiner returned the money to the People’s Temple, the management of the Chronicle sent the check to Sigma Delta Chi, the national journalism society, which in turn rejected suggestions that it be returned to People’s Temple.

AWARENESS OF DANGER: PREDICTING THE DEGREE OF VIOLENCE

On the questions of whether (a) Representative Ryan had been adequately advised of the potential danger, and (b) how accurately anyone could have pre­dicted the degree of violence employed, the following findings are offered:

Representative Ryan was advised on more than one occasion of the possibility of violence inherent in his trip to Jonestown. However, he tended to discount such warnings with the thought the [that] his office as a Congressman would protect him.

The warnings Mr. Ryan did receive regarding the prospect far violence came chiefly from his own staff and the Concerned Relatives group. When the issue was raised in the State Department briefings prior to the trip, Mr. Ryan did not challenge State’s assessment that potential danger was “unlikely.”

No one interviewed by the Staff Investigative Group ever anticipated the degree of violence actually encountered. Many expected that there might be adversarial encounters, arguments, or shouting; the worst anticipated was that someone might “get punched in the mouth.”

From a variety of sources, Representative Ryan and some representatives of the media were cautioned that they were regarded as adversaries of People’s Temple and Jones. They were further informed that Jones was paranoid. It is appropriate to note here that Mr. Ryan apparently did not advise anyone in the State Department or the U.S. Embassy in Guyana that one of the purposes of his trip was to help possible defectors leave Jonestown with him on November 18.

 

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Based on available evidence we have reached the following conclusions relative to (a) the likelihood of a People’s Temple-Jim Jones conspiracy to kill Repre­sentative Ryan, and (b) on the question of whether there was a conspiracy against Mr. Jones perpetrated by the U.S. Government.

CONSPIRACY TO KILL REPRESENTATIVE RYAN?

The possibility of any prior conspiracy tends to be diminished by the fact that Gordon Lindsay, a reporter whom Mr. Jones regarded as an arch enemy of the People’s Temple, was not allowed to enter Jonestown with the Ryan party.

Still not to be discounted entirely, however, is the possible existence of a con­tingency conspiracy. In this connection, there are reports of an “understanding” in Jonestown that if efforts to delude Ryan as to the true conditions at Jones­town failed he would have to be killed, supposedly by arranging for his plane to crash in the jungle after leaving Jonestown. While circumstantial evidence is available of this theory we have not found any hard evidence.

Providing some moderate credence to the idea of a contingency conspiracy is the fact that the Jonestown mass suicide/murder ritual started before the Port Kaituma assailants returned to confirm the shootings of Representative Ryan and others.

Also lending some substance to the contingency conspiracy theory are unconfirmed reports that a large shipment of cyanide, used in the mass suicide/murder, arrived in Jonestown two days before Ryan’s visit. Also related is the reported statement of a Jonestown survivor that several days before Mr. Ryan arrived in Jonestown he heard Jones say that the Congressman’s plane “might fall from the sky.”

In an effort to obtain detailed information on Mr. Ryan’s upcoming trip, Jones placed a phony defector within the ranks of the Concerned Relatives group in San Francisco one month before the Codel’s departure for Guyana. The “de­fector” was seen back in Jonestown when the Ryan party arrived. The late awareness that the defector was false produced a heightened sense of danger in the minds of some making the trip.

CONSPIRACY AGAINST JIM JONES AND PEOPLE’S TEMPLE?

Jones[‘] idea that there were elements opposed to his views and objectives began in Indiana and were expressed in the adverse reactions he encountered because of his racial integration and other policies. His complaints of opposition in­creased when the People’s Temple moved to California in 1965 but proved unfounded when investigated by police. The mood of Jones’ allegations of an anti-People’s Temple conspiracy grew darker when the group moved to San Francisco in 1972 with its chief target being the media and unspecified “forces.”

Jones’ idea of a U.S. Government plot against him, embodied mainly in the CIA and FBI, took full bloom after he and the vast bulk of People’s Temple members moved to Guyana in 1977. Opposition of the Concerned Relatives group was eventually attributed to CIA backing as were periodic “alerts” he called to protect the People’s Temple Jonestown community from mercenaries in the jungle around Jonestown.

On this question of a possible conspiracy against People’s Temple and Jones,
Jones’ two lawyers, Mark Lane and Charles Garry, offer contradictory opinions.

Granting the strong likelihood of Jones’ paranoia, compounded by his manipulative abilities, Jones staged and exploited the idea of a conspiracy as a means of generating fear in his adherents and thereby gaining further control over them. The tactic also served to keep any opponents on the defensive and even had the apparent effect of sensitizing the U.S. Embassy in Guyana.

No conclusive evidence is available to indicate that the CIA was acquiring information on Mr. Jones or People’s Temple. The FBI’s only point of contact with the group involved its review of two complaints that individuals were being lured to Jonestown and held there against their will. When the FBI determined that no criminal violations were involved, the Justice Department forwarded the matter to the State Department.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Although this inquiry’s scope did not require Investigating allegations that the People’s Temple stole or fraudulently used its members’ Social Security benefits, some information regarding these charges did surface during the course of the probe that is worth noting.

 

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At the time of the tragedy on November 18, 1978, a total of 199 Social Security annuitants reportedly lived in Jonestown. Altogether their annuities amounted to approximately $37,000 per month. It is readily apparent that this income con­tributed substantially to the maintenance of Jonestown. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is presently conducting a review of its responsibilities and performances in paying benefits to Temple members. In this regard, the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare has submitted an interim report to the committee. In essence, the report indicates that to date no wrongdoing on the part of the Temple has been discovered.

In response to the Social Security Administration’s request, U.S. Consul Richard McCoy, during January and May 1978 visits to Jonestown, determined that each annuitant interviewed was receiving and controlling the use of his monthly payment, and that none had assigned their checks to the Temple. How­ever, he also noted that while Jonestown Social Security beneficiaries were heavily influenced to turn over their monthly benefits to the Temple they did so voluntarily.

Some 656 Social Security checks were found uncashed and undeposited in Jonestown after the November 18 tragedy. According to one State Department official, the vast majority of the approximately $160,000 in checks recovered in Jonestown were August, September, and October 1978 Social Security checks.

At last report, 173 Social Security beneficiaries have been positively identified as dead. Eight others are known to have survived, The balance of 18 are still unaccounted for but the presumption is that they are among the unidentified deceased.

FOSTER CHILDREN

Possibly as many as 150 foster children have been alleged to have died in Jonestown during the mass suicide/murder ritual of last November. Senator Alan Cranston’s Subcommittee on Child and Human Development is conducting an investigation of these charges with the assistance of the GAO. Preliminary indi­cations are that 12 California foster children may be identified as having died.

The Staff Investigative Group was informed by State Department witnesses that the U.S. Embassy in Guyana was never asked by California welfare officials to check on the welfare and whereabouts of California foster children reportedly living in Jonestown. The U.S. Embassy, however, was aware that some foster children may have been living there and asked the Department of State to deter­mine whether it was legal for such wards of the State to leave the United States. One Department witness stated that he queried appropriate California authorities and was told that court permission was required to take them out of the State.

FUTURE STATUS OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE

Although it was beyond the purview of the inquiry as mandated by Chairman Zablocki, the Staff Investigative Group obtained evidence and impressions rela­tive to the possible future status of People’s Temple and some related matters which the Group believes are useful to establish for this record.

Accordingly, it is our judgment at this time that one cannot discount the pos­sibility of People’s Temple being reconstituted. This belief is based in large measure on the distinction made by surviving People’s Temple members between Jim Jones as an individual and what People’s Temple represented as an organiza­tion. Thus, while some remaining People’s Temple members express varying degrees of regret, dismay, and disapproval over what Jim Jones did, they still seem to embrace the principles and objectives which they believe People’s Temple sought to achieve.

While the existence of a reported “hit squad” whose purported purpose is to eliminate Jones’ staunchest opponents cannot be concretely documented it should not be totally discounted. This group has been described as including one of Jones’ most zealous adherents. There is evidence to suggest Jones and some of his key lieutenants discussed and had “understandings” to eliminate various individ­uals, including national political leaders.

CONCLUSION

Mr. Chairman, on the basis of the findings and other elements of our investiga­tion we have formed five recommendations, the complete text of which appears on pages 36 and 37 of the full report. We respectfully submit those for your appro­priate consideration.

 

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Finally, we want to thank you Mr. Chairman, as well as Mr. Broomfield and other members of this Committee for the generous encouragement and help which has been provided to us. It should also be noted that this report is the product of a truly cooperative three-man team effort and reflects our unanimous judgment.

We, submit this report to you and the Committee with the hope that it will provide a sound and adequate basis on which the Committee’s judgment can now be made on whether any further action is warranted or necessary.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Thank you, Mr. Berdes, Mr. Spalatin, Mr. Smeeton, who have, as a team, by unanimous decision, presented the report to the committee, and its recommendations.

At the very outset, again, I want to commend you for the work you have done. and certainly congratulate you for summarizing to a 20-­page statement a volume of over 700 pages, including appendixes.

We will now have members, under the normal 5-minute rule, ask questions of the witnesses.

Mr. BROOMFIELD. Mr. Chairman, before we proceed with questions, may I make a comment?

Mr. Chairman ZABLOCKI. You are certainly welcome to make a comment.

Mr. BROOMFIELD. I would like to join with our chairman in paying tribute to all of you on our staff. I think this is probably one of the best examples of the majority, as well as the minority staff, working closely in a very sensitive investigation. I deeply appreciate the comprehensiveness with which you have gone into this entire manner. I think you have cleared the air on many of the questions. I think it is rather unfortunate that one aspect, the cooperation of the Guyana Government, leaves this incomplete.

I certainly want to join with Clem Zablocki in paying tribute to all of you who worked on this. You have made a fine presentation today.

LACK OF COOPERATION BY THE GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA

Chairman ZABLOCKI. If I may further comment on your last observation on the lack of cooperation of the Guyana Government. I am particularly disturbed because I was fully assured by that Government that it would cooperate. It did not.

STATUS OF OTHER INVESTIGATIONS AND REVIEWS

To put in proper perspective the report we are hearing today I would ask the Staff Investigative Group to advise us on the status of the other investigations and reviews being made of the Ryan matter.

You mentioned that Senator Cranston is conducting an investigation on the specific issue on foster children. Mr. Berdes, would you tell us what are the other major investigations of the assassination of Rep­resentative Leo Ryan and the J Jonestown tragedy?

Mr. BERDES. Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman. There are, by our reckoning, three currently ongoing investigations. The first one, we alluded to is being undertaken by the Government of Guyana. We understand it is beginning today and may take several months to complete. The chief investigation in this country is that being conducted by the Department of Justice and the FBI San Francisco, in the form of a grand jury investigation. On completion of that grand jury

 

32

proceeding, possibly sometime this summer, any resulting prosecu­tions could well take the balance of this year before final resolution.

The third investigation is being conducted by the State of Cali­fornia attorney general’s office and is focusing chiefly on charges of unethical conduct in the district attorney’s office of San Francisco involving the People’s Temple. That hopefully may be completed by June or July of this year.

STATE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATION

Chairman ZABLOCKI. You inadvertently did not mention, I am sure, the State Department’s own in-house investigation. Could you please comment on the State Department’s April 24, 1979 report on the Peo­ple’s Temple case, as it compares to your report?

Mr. BERDES. Yes, sir.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. I presume you did not mention it because it is not an ongoing investigation.

Mr. BERDES. The report is completed, of course. One can antici­pate that its recommendations will be acted upon.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Could yon give a comparative judgment?

Mr. BERDES. I will try, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I think it is appropriate that the Department be commended for undertaking that internal investigation, and I think we have to thank Mr. Fascell, the gentleman from Florida, for repeatedly urging them to do so.

I would point out, however, that the State Department’s report of April 21 was released after our own report had been completed. It is always reassuring, I suppose is one way to say it, it is always reas­suring to know that people using some of the same bases of information can reach some of the same conclusions. I do not mean to suggest anything by that other than that the State Department was the bene­ficiary of all the transcripts of our interviews with State Department officials and were very much aware, I think, of the general direction in which our emerging ideas and conclusions were going.

There is one other comment I think that needs to be made about the State Department. report, and that is this: Regrettably it is what I would call a one-dimensional report. It deals almost exclusively with the State Department’s personnel only.

As I hope our report reflects, one cannot really understand what the State Department did or did not do without understanding the broad context in which they were operating. One has to understand Jim Jones’ tactics, his methods, the people over whom he had influ­ence and a variety of other sources, in order to make really compre­hensive sense out of this whole matter.

In that connection, they did not – as I indicated – talk to any of the People’s Temple defectors. They did not talk to any of the concerned relatives, nor any of the media; nor did they talk to any of the individuals in California who were in various ways involved in this matter.

So, while we commend the report, we believe that there are certain aspects of it that are wanting.

OBLIGATION OF STATE DEPARTMENT TO FOLLOW A “CAUTIOUS” POLICY

Chairman ZABLOCKI. The State Department report concludes that the State Department and the Embassy were obliged throughout the

 

33

People’s Temple case to follow a cautious policy. Carefully listening to your summarized report, the blame lies not only in the Embassy, but also here in Washington with the Department of State. It is diffi­cult to say who is more to blame.

On page 30, for example, you say that:

Absent in the Embassy’s dealings with the People’s Temple were the vital elements of common sense, and an honest and healthy skepticism. Despite the acknowledged handicaps under which it worked, the Embassy could have exerted sounder overall judgment and a more aggressive posture, which would have brought about more accurate and straightforward reporting to the Department which, in turn, the Department could have shared with Leo Ryan.

Do you gentlemen think the State Department was obliged to fol­low a cautious policy in dealing with the People’s Temple?

Mr. BERDES. Mr. Chairman, I want my two colleagues to speak to that also. My own view is that one would hope that the State Depart­ment’s first obligation was to the truth, to the accuracy of their report­ing, and ultimately thereby the increased protection of the welfare and whereabouts of Americans.

My feeling in this matter is that the State Department used their embrace of impartiality and objectivity as a sort of cloak in which they hid. In the process they rejected the overwhelming reality of the tip­ping scales of what was happening in Jonestown. The smoke was overwhelming, the fire was there. They constantly turned away from it and tried to make to go away, but it would not.

I invite Mr. Spalatin and Mr. Smeeton to comment.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Mr. Spalatin.

STATEMENT OF IVO J. SPALATIN, STAFF DIRECTOR, SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND SCIENTIFIC AFFAIRS, COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Mr. SPALATIN. Mr. Chairman, I would subscribe to the answer that Mr. Berdes just gave to you and the committee, and I would simply add, I generally found the State Department report to be commend­able. As one individual from the State Department advised me last Friday: “You three were good teachers, and we were good students.”

In addition to that observation, as to your specific question as to whether they were obliged to follow a cautious policy, I frankly was aghast that they would still contend that they were obliged to follow a cautious policy. As far as policy of objectivity, I have no problems with that; but I am hard pressed to understand why it had to be cautious.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Mr. Smeeton.

STATEMENT OF THOMAS R. SMEETON, MINORITY STAFF
CONSULTANT, COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Mr. SMEETON. I essentially agree with the views expressed by my two colleagues. With respect to State Department’s perceived need to be cautious in its dealings with the Temple, I would note especially log No. 126, which we addressed in some detail in our report. That was, in essence, an effort on the part of the Embassy and the Ambas­sador in particular, to call the Department’s attention to what they thought might be some problems germane to the Temple. But, because

 

34

of Privacy Act considerations, it was couched in such nonspecific lan­guage that nobody at the Department was able to detect what the Am­bassador was driving at.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. My time has expired. I merely want to reiterate what I stated at the very first press conference when this investiga­tion was initiated. It was not the committee’s intention, certainly not the chairman’s, to seek a scapegoat – whether it is the State Depart­ment or anyone else, but indeed to correct the shortcomings for the future, so there will not be a recurrence.

If the Department or any other U.S. Government agency has learned a lesson, then something has been accomplished. I can assure you, my colleagues, that the chairman of the Subcommittee on International Operations is going to see to it, if there is no evidence that the State Department has made a correction, that he will make sure that they will.

Again I want to commend you gentleman for a job well done. Mr. Broomfield.

Mr. BROOMFIELD. I have no further questions at this time.

CHAIRMAN ZABLOCKI. Mr. Fascell.

Mr. FASCELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COST TO THE U.S. GOVERNMENT FROM THE TRAGEDY

Would you relate to us what the situation is at the present moment with respect to costs which were encountered by the U.S. Government in this event?

Mr. BERDES. The costs of returning the bodies—­

Mr. FASCELL. Whatever costs, all costs.

Mr. BERDES. The all-encompassing costs to the U.S. Government are currently estimated at approximately $3.5 to $4 million. Within the past month or so the Justice Department has undertaken litigation to reclaim that money from the Temple’s assets, which are in the proc­ess of liquidation right now in California.

But the total generally estimated costs to the U.S. Government of the entire matter was approximately $3.5 million to $4 million.

Mr. FASCELL. Is there ample evidence to indicate that assets are sufficient to cover the costs?

Mr. BERDES. The assets which we have been able to pinpoint as I indicated, amount to approximately $12 million. However, I should note that in addition to the claim of the U.S. Government, there are several others now pending in litigation, all of which amount to per­haps several hundred million, obviously far exceeding the total assets of the Temple.

Mr. FASCELL. Three members of the media were killed at Jonestown?

Mr. BERDES. Yes, sir.

ATTITUDE OF THE MEDIA

Mr. FASCELL. What does the evidence show about the attitude of the media as they entered into Guyana, during the days that are covered by your investigative report?

Mr. BERDES. Basically, I believe, they first of all regarded it as a good story, it had a lot of “smack” to it, they thought, and indeed they were right.

 

35

To the extent that they may have sensed any fear of their own, however, it is somewhat ironical to note that they really looked to Mr. Ryan and his office to provide protection. They generally tended to discount the thought of danger because they thought they were with a Congressman of the United States.

On the whole, from what we have been able to learn about their performance in Jonestown, it was a strong, aggressive posture that they put forward in questioning Mr. Jones. In some respects, as a matter of fact, they played an active role in expediting some of the people who wanted to leave Jonestown. One such defector passed a note to one of the members of the media on Friday night, indicating a desire to leave.

Perhaps Mr. Smeeton or Mr. Spalatin might have some other ideas on it.

Mr. SPALATIN. To that, Mr. Fascell, I would like to point out for the record that of the five people that were killed at Port Kaituma three were newsmen: Don Harris and Bob Brown of NBC, and Greg Robinson from the San Francisco Examiner. I just want to put that in the record at this time. I have nothing else to add at this time.

Mr. FASCELL. What was the attitude of the media during the visit at Jonestown, at the camp itself? Did they start out more or less in an acceptable frame of mind in terms of what was going on? Did they change their attitude after they had been there awhile?

Mr. BERDES. I think they started soft and easy, recognizing the situation that they were involved with, having been briefed about it and recognizing that an initial delicate approach was required.

Among others, Gordon Lindsay who had, as I indicated earlier, in­curred Jim Jones’ wrath because of his reporting activities earlier, made them well aware of the situation they were up against.

So, initially, on Friday evening when the group first arrived in Jonestown, the approach was a very soft one; it progressively evolved to the point where the curtain was raised, so to speak; the notebooks came out of the pockets, and the questioning of Mr. Jones went on with somewhat more intensity than it had at the outset.

There are some who suggest that that very intensity of questioning had an effect on Mr. Jones in terms of sharpening the point of his fuse. Whether it did or not, we have not been able to determine ex­actly, however.

Mr. FASCELL. But it was clear that the press was sensitized to the fact that something there was not right, and they knew they were on it. Is that generally what you are trying to say?

Mr. BERDES. Yes.

Mr. FASCELL. Therefore, they began to act just like press people are supposed to act to get their job done.

Mr. BERDES. Precisely.

Mr. SPALATIN. That is correct. They ranged from Charles Krause of the Washington Post having hardly any awareness of People’s Temple up to 48 hours before he got his assignment, to other members of the media – the California press especially – having a much better understanding, or some insight as to some potential wrong-doing; at least a better understanding of the potentiality of the situation. Noth­ing approaching, though, what transpired. ­

It should also be noted for the record that after Friday evening, everybody including the media except for Mr. Ryan, Mr. Dwyer, Mr.

 

36

Annibourne and the two lawyers who stayed in Jonestown overnight as guests of Mr. Jones, were required by Jones to go back to Port Kaituma for the evening. So, from about 11 or 12 0 clock Friday night until about 11 o’clock the following morning they (the media) were not in Jonestown. That was something that irritated them because their understanding was – the media especially – that they were to be allowed back into Jonestown about 8 or 8:30 in the morning. Typi­cal of Jones’ tactics, they did not get back into Jonestown until about 11, and they knew they had to leave by 2 or 3 that afternoon because you cannot fly out of Port Kaituma at nighttime. So, there was that added pressure on the media.

Mr. FASCELL. They figured they had been set up and there was some kind of cover-up going on.

Mr. SPALATIN. That is a very possible thought that might have crossed their minds.

Mr. FASCELL. Mr. Smeeton?

Mr. SMEETON. I might add, Mr. Fascell, that while members of the­ media were in Port Kaituma overnight, some of them had an op­portunity to meet with local police officials in the Port Kaituma area. During the course of conversations they held with these officials they learned that possibly something was amiss in Jonestown. Reportedly these officials reflected concerns which evidently they kept to them­selves; they did not disclose them to people higher up in the Guyanese­ security hierarchy. But, apparently as a result of those conversa­tions, these reporters were a little more sensitized to something maybe being amiss, and that might have contributed to a more aggressive media posture the following morning when they had an opportunity to confront Jones and interview some of the people living in Jonestown.

PROBLEMS WITH REGARD TO STATE DEPARTMENT

Mr. FASCELL. I see three problems that emerge through this report with regard to the State Department. One is sensitivity, or aware­ness; that is, early sensitivity to problems affecting Americans abroad. They are relegated, basically, to the consular section, and the atti­tudinal and actual function problem of getting that over in the politi­cal section.

Do you gentleman have any comments as to how that could be improved?

The next thing, it seems to me, is the usual difficulty that State­ encounters with these matters – whether it is used as a protective cloak or not is another subject – and that is that they have no investiga­tive capacity. The State Department has no investigative capacity. Legal advice is usually not available to them, except out of the Wash­ington office. Therefore they assume, I suppose, under their charter, that they are limited in their efforts to protect Americans abroad. Simply as a matter of charter, as a matter of function, and as a matter of attitude.

Finally, that they are impinged, of course, in their activity by virtue of the sovereignty of the government of the country they happen to be located in at the time.

What comments would you gentlemen make on all of those matters?

 

37

DISTINCTION BETWEEN CONSULAR AND DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITIES

Mr. BERDES. On the first question of the distinction between the consular and diplomatic activities, I think the first and best way to eliminate that problem is to break down the distinction that obviously exists in the State Department between those two sections. I must say in all honesty, I get the general impression that the State Department people on the diplomatic side regard themselves as sort of the white collar part of the Department, and the consular people are the blue col­lar trench workers. There is a certain demeaning mentality with which they look toward that consular assignment.

The whole idea is to bring them closer together in regularized, con­stant meetings, so that the exchanges that are taking place are truly meaningful and productive. In some degree that is done, but perhaps not as consistently or regularly as it should be.

INVESTIGATIVE AUTHORITY

On the question of investigative authority I would simply observe that when you have people of the alleged intelligence capability of our State Department officials aboard you do in fact have observers – ­perhaps as opposed to investigators – but people whose intelligence should uphold and carry the day when matters such as People’s Temple are taking place. The weight of the evidence there was too overwhelm­ing. I do not think they really needed an intensive, structured sort of investigation authority. What they needed were people with common sense and a half-way objective attitude to see what was happening and call it as it was.

SOVEREIGNTY

On the third point, the sovereignty question, I cannot help but agree with you. It is a difficult problem and has to be accounted for. An at­tempt was made to overcome it in log 126 by requesting permission to call to the attention of the Government of Guyana the at least mount­ing suspicions that the Embassy had.

Mr. FASCELL. Now, is there phone service between Guyana and Washington; does the phone work?

Mr. BERDES. It would appear to work, Mr. Fascell; whether it is used is quite another question.

Mr. FASCELL. Thank you.

Mr. SMEETON. With respect to log 126, Mr. Fascell, it is generally agreed that nobody at the decision-making level of the Department understood what the Ambassador was trying to say. But of the 902 documents that we reviewed in the time frame that we were focusing on, it is quite clear that this is not a routine document. The Ambassa­dor was obviously trying to say something of import. It is, therefore, surprising to us that nobody in the Department called him up or cabled him and asked, “What are you driving at, what gives?” On the other hand, the Embassy’s failure to challenge the Department’s negative response to log 126 was equally surprising, especially in view of the fact that the Ambassador was anticipating an affirmative response to his request in that cable.

Mr. FASCELL. Thank you very much.

 

38

Chainman ZABLOCKI. The Chair would like to recognize at this time a former colleague of ours, the gentlewoman from California, Shirley Pettis, who had the opportunity to work with Congressman Ryan. Without objection, I ask unanimous consent – if there is no objection, first – for Mrs. Pettis to give her observations or statement.

Mrs. PETTIS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It is a great privilege for me to be invited up to the podium this morning.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. You must come more often.

Mrs. PETTIS. I have no specific question, except I would like to con­gratulate the staff on an excellently done piece of work.

Mr. BERDES. Thank you.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Mr. Derwinski.

Mr. DERWINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

LINKAGE BETWEEN LOG 126 AND LOG 130

I would like to pick up the point Mr. Fascell closed with, which was the State Department and specifically the Embassy awareness. Now, in your report, gentlemen, you referred to log 126, which was a cable from the Embassy in Guyana to the State Department, asking for permission to approach the Guyana Government on this subject. Then the response is log 130, in which they were advised not to do so because this could be construed by some as U.S. Government inter­ference.

As I understand the situation, the Department was not concerned for the safety and well-being of these U.S. citizens. The Embassy felt they should discuss it with the Guayanese [Guyanese] Government since these peo­ple were subject to the laws of that state, while residents there. The response from the State Department was basically a message which prohibited our officials on the spot from looking into any problems affecting our citizens.

Would you go into that in more detail and explain, if you could: why there was this insensitivity, and what the legal basis might have been for denying our officials at the Embassy permission to look after these U.S. citizens?

Mr. BERDES. As to the Embassy’s position regarding the welfare and whereabouts of more than 900 Americans in Jonestown, I think it is important to point out – at least as we absorbed it from the Em­bassy officials with whom we spoke – that their concern centered more on the prospect, possibility, that they might someday be saddled with 900 Americans who would be destitute and without funds, and for whom they would have to provide assistance in returning to the United States. As to their actual concern over their welfare, I think the final facts speak for themselves in their own tragic way.

Mr. DERWINSKI. In other words, what you are trying to say is, they did not want an unexpected workload suddenly thrust upon them?

Mr. BERDES. That is exactly right. It was a question, it seems to me of, “Don’t rock any boats.”

The legal ramifications, it seems to me, are reasonably clear. There is within the diplomatic treaty between the United States and Guyana, provision for the kind of overture which the Embassy was suggesting. In other words, there was no question as to the propriety of

 

39

it The issue it seemed to us, centered on who was going to interpret it as U.S. Government interference; was it going to be the Government of Guyana, or possibly others.

But I turn to my two colleagues for whatever elaboration they may wish to offer.

Mr. SMEETON. I might add, to give you a little more in the way of backdrop, that the Ambassador was very sensitive to Privacy Act considerations. That was the reason why he was not specific with respect to what he was driving at in log 126. Shortly before it was drafted there was a very significant defection from the People’s Temple headquarters in Georgetown. A woman by the name of Debbie Blakey defected about the middle of May of 1978, and subsequently filed an affidavit alleging, among other things, the existence of guns in Jonestown, mass suicide rehearsals at Jonestown, and staged scenarios for visits to Jonestown by Embassy officials. She defected with the assistance of two officers in the Embassy, one of whom was very much involved – on almost a daily basis – with Temple affairs. Shortly after that episode another episode occurred involving People’s Tem­ple and a reporter who was trying to write a story on Jones and Jonestown but failed because of alleged intimidation from Temple members in Georgetown.

The Ambassador subsequently got together with Mr. Dwyer, the Deputy Chief of Mission and with Mr. McCoy, who was then the principal Embassy officer on Temple matters, to determine what to do. After some deliberation, the Ambassador decided upon log 126 as the appropriate action and Debbie Blakey’s defection was one of the reasons he gave for sending that message to the Department.

Mr. McCoy, who was the Ambassador’s principal source of informa­tion on Temple affairs claims it was basically the Debbie Blakey defection, plus this other episode I just alluded to, that triggered log 126. But none of that is specifically spelled out in that cable.

Therefore, when log 126 came to Washington, the people who read it at this end could not detect its linkage to either those two episodes or others of concern to the Ambassador.

It should also be mentioned in this connection that the appropriate political section in the Department took note of log 126 and thought about coordinating with the consular section before a final reply went out. But from testimony it is quite clear that the leadership of the political section became preoccupied with other matters and never signed off on the final response and did not even see the response until after the November 18 tragedy. Meanwhile, consular section per­sonnel and their legal staff composed and ultimately sent out the re­sponse to the Embassy without haying any clue as to what the Ambassador was specifically driving at.

The upshot was a really lamentable breakdown in communication, as we note in our report.

Mr. SPALATIN. To that, Mr. Derwinski, I might add – and I think it addresses to that part of your question dealing with legal ramifica­tions. The reply that Mr. Smeeton just referred to, which is log No. 130 is a terse 13-line response, which took 12 or 13 days to get through the system. It says basically three things. First, that the host govern­ment has governmental jurisdiction over U.S. citizens. I would as­

 

40

sume that the Embassy had known that all along, they had even stated that in their original incoming cable. Therefore, the Embassy learned nothing from that first point.

Second, log No. 130 says: “We assume that Jones must be aware that he must subscribe to the laws of Guyana.” Ironically, that was the very point that log No. 126 said when it stated that “We are not sure if that assumption is being held by Jones and being enforced by the Guyanese Government.”

Third and finally log No. 130 says: “Any overture on your part could be construed as U.S. Government interference.” Well, there was confusion over what that meant in the Embassy as well as what it meant in State. Some people at the Embassy thought it was inter­ference with People’s Temple’s rights; others thought it was interference with the Guyanese Government’s operations. So, about the only common elements on those two telegrams was that they were both vague and did not address the point.

Mr. DERWINSKI. And from then on, in effect, the Embassy felt handcuffed.

Mr. SMEETON. I think you can say with reasonable assurance that that reply had a distinct bearing on the Embassy’s performance vis-à-vis the Temple from that point forward.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. The Chair would like to note that there is a roll call vote on approving the Journal.

The committee will stand in recess for about 10 minutes.

[Whereupon, a short recess was taken.]

Chairman ZABLOCKI. The committee will resume its sitting and the questioning of our witnesses. The gentleman from New York, Mr. Solarz.

Mr. SOLARZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

ACTIONS STATE DEPARTMENT COULD HAVE TAKEN TO PREVENT TRAGEDY

Let me first of all pay tribute to you and to the members of the staff for having pursued this matter so diligently, and for having presented the committee with a really first-rate report on this terribly tragic situation.

Leo Ryan was a student of Shakespeare, but it seems to me that, this has all the elements of a Greek tragedy. I would like to ask you three interrelated questions about the extent to which this was a situation whose end was inevitable in its beginning, and the extent to which, on the other hand, there were things that might have been done to have prevented the ultimate tragedy which eventually took place.

First, given the fact that the People’s Temple was located in the remote jungles of a foreign country where we had no legal jurisdiction, what could the State Department have done – which it did not do – to determine the truth and reality of what was happening in Jonestown, particularly with respect that there were people in Jones­town who wanted to leave but who were being kept against their will; and the extent to which in that regard there were plans in prepara­tion for some kind of mass murder or suicide?

Second, assuming the State Department had been able to determine the truth and reality of that situation, what could they have done

 

41

that they did not do, from a realistic point of view, to have pre­vented this tragedy from taking place, and to have made it possible for those who wanted to leave the People’s Temple, to do so?

Third, if such a situation should develop in the future, should Members of Congress or other government officials be informed of other foreign communes in which American citizens are either pre­sumptively held against their will, or in which bizarre and presumptively illegal and improper activities are taking place. Based on your review of this whole situation, what would you recommend be done and would it prevent a repetition of the Jonestown tragedy?

Mr. BERDES. First of all, let me say that in my personal opinion I do not believe the end, the Greek tragic end, was inevitable. I think a whole variety of things could have, should have been done to pre­vent it. However, the whole weight of that effort should not have rested only on the shoulders of the State Department. As our testi­mony reflected, there were a variety of breakdowns dating back several years. There were less than responsible performances from the public officials at various levels, and so on. If all of those institu­tions, structures, and individuals had done what they should have done, the situation would not have progressed to the degree that it had, where Jim Jones had such a total stranglehold, in effect, on all events and circumstances

As to the first question, the remoteness of the jungle in which Jonestown was located, indeed, it is remote. It is isolated. It in fact fed the very paranoia which Jim Jones played on and used so effectively. It was difficult to reach, there is absolutely no doubt about that. We have been there, and we recognized some of the logistic problems of trying to get there.

As to what the State Department could have done in that context, however, I would point out that over a period of 14 months there were only four U.S. Embassy visits to Jonestown for a total of only 20 hours time spent in Jonestown. Given the fact that there were­ 900 people there, that is not very much time to spend, especially in view of the allegations that were being made about what was hap­pening there.

At no time did any of those visitors from the Embassy stay over­night. I think that is significant. It is also significant that Leo Ryan did stay overnight, for more than a 4-or 5-hour period. The point being as we have been advised by many people who have been asso­ciated with and were part of Jonestown and had come under Jones’­ influence, he was not able to keep up the facade of paradise for an extended period of time.

In terms of the style and methods which the consular people used in visiting Jonestown, I think they could have insisted that their ­interviews with people with whom they spoke be much more private.

Mr. SOLARZ. I was under the impression from reports in the press that the consular officer who went to Jonestown interviewed people in an open field, away from anyone else, so that they could speak in confidence. He indicated that they wanted to leave on the spot, he was prepared to take them with him.

Mr. BERDES. Indeed he did, in most instances. But he also provided the names of those people well in advance of his arrival. Conse­quently, when those names became known the usual procedure was

 

42

that those individuals would be well-rehearsed, orchestrated in fact, almost computerized as to what kinds of answers and reactions were to be provided for that consular visitor.

Further, despite the remoteness, there was information available to the State Department which, if it had been properly utilized, should have made them more skeptical of the materials we Itemized here, the various affidavits and so on. Those materials could have sharpened the awareness of the State Department on this whole matter and would have enhanced their performance across the board, if they had followed through on those alerts that they were getting in the form of affidavits from Debbie Blakey, Yolanda Crawford, and several others. They had repeated – repeated – charges, references, letters of complaints from concerned relatives around the country about what was happening in Jonestown.

On the second question, I think it involves, really, the essence of what we have been talking about. I know, it may sound too esoteric to people who have not been immersed in it as we have, but logs 126 and 130 are extremely important. They reflect in many ways mentalities within the State Department; the reality of what was happening there, and what could have been done if as you premise your question, what could the State Department have done.

What they could have done is what we have been trying to say in this report, that is, exercise a whole lot more commonsense, a whole lot more initiative and follow-through. A simple matter of picking up a telephone and asking, “What is this all about?”

Mr. SOLARZ. What I am trying to get at, assuming they were fully aware of the reality of Jonestown and they now want to do something to help these people down there, at that point, what specific actions could they have taken that could have been helpful?

Mr. BERDES. They would have, I presume, been able to take the initia­tive that was requested in log 126, approach the Government of Guyana to not necessarily “lower the boom,” but at least tighten the screw on what was happening in Jonestown.

Jonestown was in effect a nation within a nation. Jones was totally independent and totally in control of that situation. He was called to task, by no one and was accountable to no one.

Mr. SOLARZ. But, given the kind of paranoia from which he suffered, which you described in your report, what gives you reason to believe that, assuming the Government of Guyana had been persuaded to send some people down there to exercise their authority, or to determine what was going on, that it would not have triggered precisely the same kind of mass suicide which the visit of the Ryan delegation triggered?

Mr. BERDES. That is entirely possible, and there would be no way for me to guarantee that that would not have happened. However, I think you have to see it in terms of the sequence of events as they were build­ing up, and what was really happening to Jones. His powder keg was getting hotter as time and events progressed. The proposed approach to the Government of Guyana was made in June, a good 5, 6 months before Mr. Ryan reached Jonestown. The situation then was somewhat different than it was in November.

It is conceivable, I think, that a well-calibrated, thought out ap­proach by the Government of Guyana, in coordination with the Gov­ernment of the United States, could have had a very positive effect. The Jonestown community was there under the privilege of the Gov­-

 

43

ernment of Guyana, under a lease arrangement. We have examined that lease, and there were conditions in it that would have permitted, I think, the Government of Guyana, if they had been so disposed, to break the lease and request the removal of that organization – or at least provide greater control over its activities.

FUTURE ACTIONS OF STATE REGARDING OTHER AMERICAN GROUPS ABROAD

As to the question of what the State Department might do in the future regarding other organizations abroad, it seems to me this whole experience offers a rather horribly tragic lesson from which the State Department ought to make an intensive learning effort and enhance their operation, organization, and structure in a variety of ways to minimize, at best, the possibility of it happening again. There are other similar groups of Americans in other countries.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Alabama.

RELATIONSHIP OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE MEMBER AND GOG OFFICIAL

Mr. BUCHANAN. Mr. Chairman, I will seek another term to ask some additional questions pertaining to the State Department.

There is a matter pertaining to your findings of the involvement of the Government of Guyana that I think we had better pursue. You say in your oral statement, you make a brief reference to repeated charges of the exploitation of a sexual relationship between a People’s Temple member, closely associated with Jim Jones, and a high-ranking government official.

However, in your written report you are much more specific. On page 30 you state:

There are in the investigative record repeated charges of a sexual liaison between People’s Temple member Paula Adams and Lawrence Mann, Guyana’s Ambassador to the United States. It has been reported that Ms. Adams made tape recordings of her sexual encounters with Mann. Transcripts of some of these tapes were apparently made for Mr. Jones and periodically turned over to high officials in the Guyanese Government.

This is in your findings section and it is quite specific, and there are other serious allegations. I wonder if you would explain to me the presence of this particular matter in your findings and the evidence upon which it is based.

Mr. BERDES. I would be happy to, Mr. Buchanan.

First of all, let me say that it would have been much easier to leave that finding out of this report. We chose not to do so because we be­lieved we were committed to do the most comprehensive, honest, and fullest possible investigation that we could.

I would point your attention to what are in effect two modifying disclaimers relative to the findings regarding the Government of Guyana. Essentially they say that on the issue of the People’s Temple involvement with the Government of Guyana the staff investigative group renders the following incomplete findings – and they are incom­plete because the Government of Guyana refused to allow us to inter­view their officials. We elaborate it somewhat in the note which appears at the bottom of page 32.

The point of all of this it seems to me, however, is essentially this: The involvement of the Government of Guyana in this matter, which

 

44

led to Representative Ryan’s death and the deaths of more than 90() people, is very much central and at full issue in this entire matter. The degree to which a key official, such as Ambassador Mann was in­volved in this kind of a relationship and thereby made it possible for Jim Jones to compromise the Government of Guyana is significant and important in understanding what, if anything, his government, was able to do, or unwilling to do, perhaps.

Mr. BUCHANAN. This is rather serious, both an allegation against the Government of Guyana and the Ambassador; it also is an allega­tion against Jim Jones as an alleged religious leader. The use, en­couragement and/or exploitation of that kind of a relationship and its use in that way by one of his close associates is certainly not in keeping with the actions of a church. What evidence, therefore, is there to substantiate this allegation?

Mr. BERDES. Let me preface what I have to say by observing that we set for ourselves several criteria in trying to reach these find­ings, one of which was that we had to have a minimum of two con­firming pieces of evidence before we included any matter in this finding section. We have that evidence. It is not as compelling, per­haps, as it is in other instances because of our inability to interview Government of Guyana officials, as I have noted.

But, among other things, there are published accounts that have not been denied, an admission on the part of the woman involved, Paula Adams, as to the relationship, indicating it was a personal thing. We also have indications that those two individuals used the radio facili­ties between Jonestown and Georgetown to conduct personal conversa­tions which readily reflected the nature of that relationship.

I think it bears repeating: we called them as we saw them, we did not try to pull any punches.

Mr. BUCHANAN. What about transcripts? You mention their use by Jones with the Guyanese Government.

Mr. BERDES. The indication is that on a selective basis Mr. Jones had the tapes of those encounters between Ms. Adams and Ambassador Mann transcribed and provided copies of those transcripts to certain officials in the Government of Guyana. All of this is very much in keeping with Jim Jones’ basic style of operation.

Mr. SPALATIN. Mr. Buchanan, it should be added, in addition to the staff report that is in front of you, we also have a classified appendix which is in the black binder here next to me which amounts to some 350 pages. Such a document, as Mr. Berdes indicated in our prepared statement, was required for security and confidentiality purposes. In terms of this particular matter involving the Guyanese Ambassador and Paula Adams, we followed the same criteria as we did for other items in trying to ascertain the facts. We had to ascertain at least two citations, two people, two pieces of evidence that would substantiate a fact.

In these classified appendixes there are – and they are not all in this particular document –there are at least six citations of this particular relationship from six different individuals. There are more than six, but those are the only six we cited for purposes of this classified ap­pendix. If you would read every one of the 5,038 pages of classified: transcript you will find quite a bit more than the six citations I just referred to about this particular relationship.

 

45

Mr. BUCHANAN. Do any of these persons claim to have seen or heard these transcripts that were allegedly made.

Mr. SMEETON. In that connection, Mr. Buchanan, there is testimony from one witness indicating that individual actually saw a tape transcription taking place.

Mr. BUCHANAN. Thank you.

Mr. SPALATIN. In addition, as Mr. Berdes mentioned earlier, we have transcripts telling us that there was this radio communication between Paula Adams and Ambassador Mann, between Jonestown and George­town, that would confirm the personal nature of this relationship.

Mr. BUCHANAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Mrs. Fenwick.

CONSULAR RESPONSIBILITIES

Mrs. FENWICK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It seems incredible to listen to this, over 900 American citizens left there without any intelli­gent, concerned, active help or protection from their Government. And one of our most distinguished Congressmen dead, and two newsmen.

You wonder how we can have procedures that permit this. If I read this correctly, the magazine, New West, was able to publish something in August of 1977, and the State Department received in September information about some guns reported by the U.S. Customs Depart­ment. That went to the State Department where there were 26 people who never read it.

Mr. BERDES. That is right.

Mrs. FENWICK. And nobody moved, apparently, until June of 1978, although the New West article was published and other things had come out.

Now, if the Embassy is too delicate to move, why did not the consular people, who were more in touch with all this? What is their reaction? Do they feel, if they turn something over to the Embassy and the Embassy does nothing, that they have no further responsibility?

Mr. BERDES. I believe that is essentially true. The consular section, of course, is under the direction and supervision of the Ambassador. He is the captain of the ship, he sets the course. He decides what happens and what does not happen. Under the circumstances and given the adver­sary that they were up against, the consular people were doing a rea­sonably creditable job. However, the final decisions on all of these matters have to rest at the feet of the Ambassador, who is the man who makes the decisions on what is or is not done.

Mrs. FENWICK. And you interviewed the Ambassador on this?

Mr. BERDES. Yes, we have, extensively.

U.S. AMBASSADOR’S RESPONSE

Mrs. FENWICK. What was his response to these discoveries? I mean, when he got no particular answer in log 130, to be specific, did he not feel it his duty to go to America, or to telephone America, or to take some action?

Mr. SMEETON. The Ambassador’s response is best described in the State Department report on the matter. He seemed to be philosoph­ically resigned to the Department’s answer. As I indicated to Mr. Derwinski earlier, the Embassy’s posture with respect to People’s Temple from that point was – as the Ambassador put it –”cautionary.”

 

46

ROLES OF MESSRS. BLATCHFORD AND LANE REGARDING PEOPLE’S TEMPLE MEMBERS

Mrs. FENWICK. I would like to ask also, what is this Committee for the Caribbean?

Mr. SMEETON. You are referring to Mr. Blatchford’s appendix?

Mrs. FENWICK. Yes.

Mr. SMEETON. Mr. Blatchford’s association with that organization is not relevant to this investigation. The reason why his statement is in the report is because he was involved with several survivors of Jones­town during the post-tragedy period.

Mrs. FENWICK. Right; gave them legal counsel, and so on. But what interested me about it was his very different attitude as compared to Mr. Mark Lane because, if I read his statement correctly, Mr. Lane tried to persuade those people not to talk the FBI. They were terri­fied of being killed and, if I understand Mr. Blatchford’s statement, he was told by them that Mark Lane had said, “Do not tell anything to the FBI because they will sell you out to the avengers of the People’s Temple.”

Now, have you questioned Mr. Lane about these things? Did he re­spond in any way? What is his role?

Mr. SPALATIN. We did interview attorney Mark Lane. On page 21 of our report before you is a quote taken from the classified transcript of our interview with Mr. Lane. We had asked Mr. Lane if we could use this quote and he authorized our usage of it; no longer necessitating it to remain classified. I think it is important to quote it at this time for it goes a long way in answering your question as to his vantage point, his perception, and his attitude about the alleged U.S. Government con­spiracy against Mr. Jones and People’s Temple.

I refer you to page 21 of the report.

Mrs. FENWICK. I am looking at that.

Mr. SPALATIN. I will just quote from it, so you get the perspective. Mark Lane told the committee’s investigators:

There is no doubt in my mind that various people sought to destroy Jonestown, and that people in various government agencies manipulated Jones. Jones himself saw the efforts to manipulate him into an overreaction, but somehow he was able to control his own responses.

The quote continues:

I believe that a responsible investigation by the Congress should seek to determine why various elements within the U.S. Government, including those in the State Department, withheld from Congressman Ryan and the rest of us who accompanied him to Jonestown the fact that they knew the place was an armed camp and that Jones was capable of killing the Congressman and many others.

Mr. Lane evidently did not have great confidence in various aspects or agencies of the U.S. Government. Mr. Blatchford submitted testi­mony to us which states that Mr. Lane had encouraged People’s Temple members and/or defectors not to communicate with appropriate law­ enforcement agencies such as the FBI, which seems to be generally consistent with the information that Mr. Lane gave to us in our interview with him in California.

Mrs. FENWICK. What reason did Mr. Lane have for believing the Government was persecuting Mr. Jones; what did he have as an ex­planation for that?

 

47

Mr. SPALATIN. That is a very good question. He never answered it to my satisfaction.

POLITICAL CONNECTIONS OF JIM JONES

Mrs. FENWICK. What were the political connections of Mr. Jones, what party was he tied up with? Why any hesitation about politics deterring people from going further with investigating it?

Mr. SPALATIN. I know of no particular party that Mr. Jones was affil­iated with, except that he certainly had a leftist, socialist, Marxist bent that permeated his attitude, statements, philosophy and relationship with other people.

Mrs. FENWICK. Well, what political influence would that have in this country? I mean, why were people deterred by stories of his political influence from making further investigations or keeping a tighter rein on him, according to your report?

Mr. SPALATIN. At the time, you have to recognize that his power base was in San Francisco, and at that time he was appointed the director of the San Francisco Housing Authority by the mayor and had a symbol of social and political acceptance within the commu­nity, and was considered a community leader.

In fact, in retrospect one can now see that the facts indicate he was totally to the contrary. But the perception at that time by the general public, by the media, by other local officials across the political spectrum, was that Jones was a community leader.

Mrs. FENWICK. A power.

Mr. SPALATIN. A power to be reckoned with and to be related to.

Mrs. FENWICK. I see that my time is up, but I do think that we have to examine both the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Informa­tion Act, and the gray area wherein religious organizations slip into being political. That is something we have to come to grips with in this country.

Mr. BERDES. Mrs. Fenwick, I would just add that Jim Jones was strictly bipartisan.

Mr. SMEETON. He worked both sides of the street.

Mrs. FENWICK. He did. I thought maybe he was Socialist Worker’s Party, or something of that kind.

Mr. SPALATIN. Anyone that caught his particular fancy and need at a given time was utilized. It made no difference whether they came from the far right – the far left – the middle, or anywhere else. He used whatever was available to him and whenever the opportunity pre­sented itself.

Mrs. FENWICK. And when the Guyanese police gave him that in­formation, that was a very unfortunate thing.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Mr. Solarz.

Mr. SOLARZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

WERE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE MEMBERS HELD AGAINST THEIR WILL?

Based on your investigation, were you convinced that there were a substantial number of members of the People’s Temple at Jones­town who were being kept there against their conscious will?

Mr. BERDES. The operative words in your question, Mr. Solarz, are “conscious will.” I think the evidence is overwhelming that there were

 

48

very few people left in Jonestown who had any conscious will left. He had in effect preempted their will so totally that they were vir­tually never under their own control.

Mr. SOLARZ. Do I understand you then to be suggesting that if somehow or other the Guyanese Government had shown up in force one day and. said, “Anybody who wants to is free to leave, and we will escort you out of Jonestown. We will even give you a free plane ride out of the country” that the overwhelming majority of the people there probably would have rejected the offer because they had been so thoroughly conditioned, or brainwashed, or whatever?

Mr. BERDES. This is merely speculation on my part, but I would say that the answer is, yes. The overwhelming majority would prob­ably have rejected the offer for that reason. But I cannot discount the strong possibility, also, that in a limited number of cases there were people that were really genuinely happy there. We heard in fact of one woman who lost two children in Jonestown and several days later said that despite that loss, the years she spent in Jones­town were some of the happiest years of her life.

Mr. SOLARZ. Was it your finding that when the mass suicide took place that there were many people, particularly young children, who in effect were murdered, as distinguished from those who voluntarily took the potion?

Mr. BERDES. The suicide ritual started with the children, and per­haps even in that horrible fact resides a sort of last testament of Jim Jones’ fantastic psychology because what happened as a result of that is that many of the parents of those children, seeing their young babies and tots convulsing, eyes rolling back, foaming at the mouth, and so on, were caught up in such an emotional frenzy that they vol­untarily came forward and took the poison more out of a sense of wanting to join their children, than any other sense. But even beyond that, the likelihood is that probably the larger majority of the people took the poison “voluntarily” in the sense they were so totally under Jones’ influence.

ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE OF JIM JONES

Mr. SOLARZ. What was Jones’ ultimate objective, was he more or less satisfied, in your judgment, to preside over the destinies of the people who were in his encampment; or did he harbor ambitions to become some kind of “Global Messiah” or whatever? Did his ambi­tions transcend the encampment in Jonestown, or was that more or less the limit of what he wanted to accomplish?

Mr. BERDES. We do not have very much hard, compelling evidence on that question but the indication is, yes, that he had progressively mounting ambitions that he sought to fulfill.

ORGANIZATION OF A “HIT SQUAD”

,Mr. SOLARZ. Now, you indicated in your summary report that there was evidence of the organization of “hit squads,” who had the mis­sion of assassinating not only the enemies of the People’s Temple, but prominent national political leaders.

 

49

Could you show us any of that evidence, and could you give us your impression of the extent to which any of these people may be at large, intent on fulfilling their original instructions?

Mr. BERDES. Perhaps with one exception, which we can explain, it might be preferable to try to answer that question more comprehen­sively in executive session. But, I think I can reflect the process by which certain people would earn placement on that list.

There was an incident in which a car was noticed in front of the Geary Street headquarters of People’s Temple at San Francisco. We have indicated the enormous security network that Jones employed in that headquarters, having people stationed on the roof, for ex­ample, 24 hours a day. There was an extraordinary security net around that building. That car was obviously noticed.

Demonstrating their tenacity and other talents, the car was ulti­mately traced. It turned out to be a rental car. Their initiative pur­sued the information to the point of learning who had rented the car and then even further, that the two people involved had in some way been associated with Senator Stennis. The assumption at that point was that he had in some way been actively involved in seeking infor­mation about the People’s Temple. That apparently earned Senator Stennis a place on the hit list.

There are other illustrations which I think would perhaps be better provided in closed session.

Mr. SOLARZ. If I can pursue this for just a minute. I do not want you to disclose anything you feel to be inappropriate, but is it your conclusion, and the conclusion of the investigating team, that there are individuals at large in this country, or elsewhere, who are intent upon assassinating enemies of the People’s Temple, or public officials in our own country?

I am not asking now for the evidence for the conclusion, I want the conclusion. I think it is a terribly important point. Do you think such people are there, or not there?

Mr. BERDES. I think such people are there. They may no longer be a part of an organized so-called hit squad as such, but there are some people, yes.

Mr. SOLARZ. Is there a list of people who are designated for assas­sination?

Mr. BERDES. Yes.

Mr. SOLARZ. Do you have that list?

Mr. BERDES. Not at the moment.

Mr. SOLARZ. But is it available to the members of the committee?

Mr. BERDES. Yes.

Mr. SOLARZ. Has the list been made available to the Justice Depart­ment, or the FBI?

Mr. BERDES. Yes.

Mr. SOLARZ. Are the individuals on that list being given protection?

Mr. BERDES. That I cannot answer, Mr. Solarz.

Mr. SOLARZ. Do we know the individuals who were associated with the People’s Temple who were given the mission of executing the people who are on the list? Do we know who they are?

Mr. BERDES. Some, yes.

Mr. SOLARZ. Are those people being in any way pursued by the re­sponsible authorities, the FBI, or whoever?

Mr. BERDES. They are under a degree of surveillance, yes.

 

50

Mr. SOLARZ. Well, is there sufficient evidence, in your judgment, to bring proceedings against any of them for conspiracy to engage in these activities?

Mr. BERDES. I do not believe so, not at this time.

Mr. SOLARZ. How many people are on the list?

Mr. SPALATIN. It is somewhat of a “floating list”.

Mr. SMEETON. After the tragedy I believe there reportedly was a so-called list with some names that probably, in retrospect, should not have been on it. But in the immediate wake of the tragedy the list purportedly contained close to 40 names, as I recall.

Mr. SOLARZ. Was the list developed before the tragedy, or after?

Mr. SMEETON. It is reportedly a post-tragedy list.

Mr. SOLARZ. Is there any evidence whatsoever that a post-tragedy conspiracy was undertaken to do anything about the people on the list, any evidence that there were meetings of any of the people involved who had the responsibility for carrying out the instructions of Jones in this regard?

Mr. SMEETON. I respectfully suggest that it might be best to elabo­rate in executive session to protect the source of the information.

Mr. SOLARZ. There were prominent public officials on this list as well, though, without mentioning their names?

Mr. SMEETON. Yes.

Mr. SOLARZ. Officials of the Federal Government?

Mr. BERDES. Yes.

Mr. SOLARZ. Members of Congress?

Mr. BERDES. Yes.

Mr. SOLARZ. I assume that all of this information has been given to the FBI.

Mr. BERDES. Yes.

Mr. SOLARZ. Have the individuals whose names are on the list been informed of the fact that they are on this list?

Mr. BERDES. They have. I think what Mr. Spalatin began to say here a moment ago was significant. We never underestimated the pos­sible seriousness of this matter. At the same time we recognized that the list, as Mr. Spalatin indicated, was a floating list. People were placed on it because they incurred the temporary wrath of Mr. Jones, for whatever reason. Every indication is that nothing was ever done to execute that list.

Mr. SOLARZ. Well, the reason I am pursuing this point – and I will be finished in a moment, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your willingness to let me pursue it because I think this is a significant revelation and in many respects a very frightening revelation – but I certainly believe that anybody whose name was on this list, whatever the justification for it – I suspect in many instances there was no more justification than for the inclusion on many of the names on Nixon’s enemy list – but to the extent that names were there, people associated with Jones, pre­sumptively dangerous characters, at the very least I would think these people are entitled to know that their names are on a “hit list.” I certainly would want to know if my name was on such a list.

Have they been given that information?

Mr. BERDES. I believe they have, Mr. Solarz, yes.

Mr. GILMAN. Would the gentlemen yield?

Mr. SOLARZ. I yield to my colleague.

 

51

Mr. GILMAN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Is there a pending Justice Department investigation with regard to that list?

Mr. BERDES. Yes, there is.

Mr. SPALATIN. There is indeed.

Mr. GILMAN. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. SOLARZ. Mr. Chairman, I have one final question, if I might. I certainly hope we would pursue some of this in executive session be­cause I think it is much too  important to just let trail off.

CONTINGENCY CONSPIRACY

You also said in your report on page 16 that you had indications of an “understanding” that Ryan would be killed if Jones and his fol­lowers were not successful in deceiving the Congressman about the reality of the situation in Jonestown.

Could you indicate what evidence you have for that contention in your report, that there may have been a plan before Congressman Ryan even got there, to assassinate him, if they were unsuccessful in deceiving him?

Mr. BERDES. It is what we have tried to describe as the so-called contingency conspiracy. I would turn to both Mr. Smeeton and Mr. Spalatin for an answer.

Mr. SMEETON. It has been described to us as a contingency con­spiracy that was to be implemented if the staged scenario for the Ryan party began to become unraveled. There is some fairly recent information – from somebody who was there in Jonestown at the time, indicating that about noon – which was not too long before Mr. Ryan and his party left – that a number of rifles were seen by this individual being moved from one location in the settlement to another. From that, one could possibly deduce that at that moment a decision was made to begin to implement that contingency conspiracy plan.

Mr. Spalatin will elaborate on other information that we have received.

Mr. SPALATIN. Mr. Solarz, there is other circumstantial evidence. But I would like to make one very important point. We found no hard evidence in this respect. Beyond that I feel quite hesitant in public session to go into detail as to specific examples without going into executive session. One fact we could make public is in the report before you, but which is not in our prepared testimony simply because of limited time. This is in reference to an individual that had been planted by Jones as an assumed defector in California a month prior to Mr. Ryan’s arrival and that he had then returned to Jonestown just as Mr. Ryan arrived in Guyana. There are other bits of information that could possibly indicate that there was some premeditation on the part of Jim Jones and People’s Temple to assassinate Representative Ryan.

Mr. SOLARZ. You said there was a hit list. Was there, and is there a “hit squad”?

Mr. BERDES. I think that is a question that would perhaps best be reserved for an executive session so that the chemistry, the very delicate

 

52

chemistry of some of the people involved in this matter, does not turn the answer to that question into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Mr. SOLARZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Mr. Gilman.

Mr. GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

IMPROVING SECURITY FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TRAVELING ABROAD

I too want to commend, along with my colleagues, the staff members who worked on this, George Berdes, Ivo Spalatin, and Tom Smeeton for a very extensive and very thorough report. I. think it will be bene­ficial not only to this committee, but to the entire House; and hope­fully to future missions of this nature.

Speaking of future missions, in looking back over the overall picture, what do you think we could do to improve security for a member who  has to venture into an area such as this? Many of us do from time to time.

Mr. BERDES. The State Department report happily addresses some of those questions. Out of this particular and specific example of Mr. Ryan and the very remote jungle presence that Jonestown was located in, certainly, some type of improved communications capa­bility without a doubt, was very much needed. They were highly handicapped in many ways by the lack of that kind of capability. In fact they were dependent upon the People’s Temple radio facilities to communicate with the Embassy at Georgetown. One can even specu­late that they were not able to speak as freely or candidly as they might have if they had their own capability.

LACK OF PREPARATION FOR SECURITY ASSISTANCE TO RYAN CODE [CODEL]

Mr. GILMAN. Permit me to interrupt you a moment. Did our Em­bassy take any preparation at all for some security assistance for Mr. Ryan when he left Georgetown and went up to Jonestown?

Mr. BERDES. No.

Mr. GILMAN. Did he have any security personnel with him at all?

Mr. BERDES. No.

Mr. GILMAN. Did they provide him with communications equipment.

Mr. BERDES. No.

GOG LACK OF COOPERATION

Mr. GILMAN. You talked about the lack of cooperation by the Gov­ernment of Guyana. Could you tell us a little more about where you were inhibited, or prevented or obstructed from moving ahead?

Mr. BERDES. The entire matter, of course, is very much spelled out in detail in the correspondence exchange which Chairman Zablocki had with the Prime Minister of Guyana, in terms of what was requested and hoped for; and the answers explaining the reasons for refusing that cooperation.

I think what resulted because of that denial was the inability for us to confirm in specific and concrete ways many of the allegations that had been made about the involvement of the Government of Guyana, compromising arrangements that had apparently been worked out, especially in the areas of customs and immigration, for example;

 

53

to find out by what method, and who may have been specifically re­sponsible for allowing those kinds of privileged arrangements for People’s Temple in Guyana.

There is no doubt in our minds that they did have a special privileged status there. Clearly, we were precluded from confirming that, however.

Mr. GILMAN. Is that still information that would be helpful to you if the Guyana Government would cooperate?

Mr. BERDES. Absolutely.

U.S. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AID TO GUYANA

Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Chairman, as an aside I note that in fiscal year 1979 we contributed $5.9 million in economic development aid to Guyana; in the fiscal year 1980 budget we have a $6.9 million economic development aid grant, and Public Law 480 funds, in fiscal year 1979 there were $2.4 million and in fiscal year 1980, $2.3 million. We might want to remind the Government of Guyana of the need to help us in this investigation, which is extremely important to the Congress.

I certainly would be interested in hearing a response to a further inquiry that we might make in pursuit of your efforts, Mr. Chairman, to try to gain the information that is needed.

Mr. BERDES. May I just make one further observation, please, Mr. Gilman?

I think we all recognize that this entire matter has claimed enough victims. In some respects the 800,000 people of Guyana might in fact become further victims of this entire tragic situation. It is important, therefore, to distinguish between a country with serious economic problems and people who are in many ways in urgent and desperate need for a variety of assistance, to distinguish between that and the Government of that country.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. If the gentleman would yield.

Mr. GILMAN. I would be pleased to yield to the chairman.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. It has always been my policy not to use the legislative process in order to bring pressure against any government. I think this would be counterproductive, it has proved so in the past. Further, I must remind the gentleman that the Guyanese Government is now conducting an investigation which was begun today. I think we should give them every opportunity to complete their own investigation before putting any more blame, or pressure, as the gentleman would suggest, on them.

Furthermore, if the investigation by the Guyanese Government will not be satisfactory, I think the better way of doing it would be through the diplomatic channels.

Mr. GILMAN. I would hope this effort will be successful, Mr. Chair­man. Certainly, we will all be watching this with a great deal of interest.

GENERAL SECURITY RECOMMENDATIONS

Again, is there some general recommendation for security that you might want to recommend to our committee or to the State Department to prevent this kind of event from occurring again that you would like to put in the record at this time?

 

54

Mr. BERDES. I am sorry, we have not really concentrated on that as much as perhaps we should have. But your point is well taken. One approach might be to do a coordinated review of this report and the State Department’s report, out of which would emerge some very specific recommendations.

Mr. GILMAN. If the three of you, after consulting with each other do have some kind of recommendation, of course, the committee would welcome your thoughts with regard to it.

I note that my time is up, and I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. I might state to the gentleman from New York, the staff has done an excellent job in bringing some of the detailed information and facts before the committee; indeed, they have added some recommendations. But it will be the committee that will have to make the decision as to what further steps best be taken as far as the future, to protect Members of Congress in the future, and indeed to see to what extent American nationals abroad can be given the security necessary so there will not be a recurrence of this tragic incident.

I might add, this is not only an example, a lesson to our U.S. Gov­ernment – the State Department and other agencies – but I hope that other governments, other countries that have similar organizations of Americans in their country, where there is evidence of any lack of human rights or due process for the people – regardless of whether they are under church auspices, so-called church auspices or not – that these governments will look into it and prevent the recurrence of the Guyana incident.

Mrs. Millicent Fenwick. Ladies first.

PEOPLE’S TEMPLE RELATIONSHIP TO THE GOG

Mrs. FENWICK. I wonder if it would be fair to say that to some extent, as suggested on page 4 of your spoken testimony, the Com­missioner of Police was very close to Mr. Jones and cooperating very nicely with him.

On the other hand, it also suggests that perhaps to some extent the Guyana Government was blackmailed by Jones; or that he was pre­paring to exert that kind of pressure. Is that fair to say?

Mr. BERDES. That is a very reasonable assumption, yes.

RECONSTITUTING PEOPLE’S TEMPLE

Mrs. FENWICK. Now, I noticed you said that there are members who are still anxious to reconstitute the People’s Temple. This interests me very much. What kinds of people are they? In the absence of this charismatic and brainwashing capacity that you referred to that Mr. Jones was so powerful in exerting, what kinds of people are still convinced that this sort of thing-ought to be allowed?

Mr. BERDES. As we tried to say in the prepared statement. one has to distinguish in their reactions and their thinking at this point be­tween that Jim Jones was and did, and what they believe People’s Temple stood for. There is a sharp distinction in their thinking on that count.

On the whole, however, they tend to be highly altruistic and idealistically committed to worthy social goals. They range from

 

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that, I think, to the more zealous, intensively committed people who were closely associated with Jim Jones, his so-called inner circle, which, by the way I might note, Mrs. Fenwick, was made up chiefly of white females – interestingly enough.

They tend, I think, to be younger individuals, also.

Mrs. FENWICK. You did mention that there were various types, the elderly, very religious persons. I imagine they are not the ones trying to reconstitute. Are these the middle class intellectual, pro­fessional, highly educated, and zealous thinkers; are they the ones who are planning to reconstitute?

Mr. BERDES. On the whole, yes.

Mrs. FENWICK. I see. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. Mr. Buchanan.

Mr. BUCHANAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CONSPIRACY TO KILL REPRESENTATIVE RYAN

First, one more question along the line the gentleman from New York, Mr. Solarz, was pursuing, on the subject of whether there was or was not a conspiracy to kill Representative Ryan. You cast some doubt on the fact of a prior conspiracy, and suggest the possibility of a contingency conspiracy.

However, in light of the fact that you earlier testified in response to an earlier question that few of the followers there seem to be possessed of conscious will, that Mr. Jones had the group pretty thoroughly under his personal control.

The fact that what occurred did occur, that Leo Ryan was, in fact, assassinated, that others were also killed by an armed ambush of persons from People’s Temple, one of whom was on a plane and posing as someone who was defecting and was armed, does not that in itself imply that at some point there came to be a conspiracy? Whether there were plans before Congressman Ryan left this coun­try; whether a contingency plan that was long-standing, or whether a plan that was dreamed up at the scene, is there not rather clear evidence of the fact that at some point Mr. Jones either was knowl­edgeable about or involved in a conspiracy which resulted in the assassination of Leo Ryan and the death of several others ?

Mr. BERDES. I think that is entirely likely, but it is best seen in the context of his final recognition that he was not able to prevent Mr. Ryan from seeing the reality of Jonestown. Perhaps the knife attack on Mr. Ryan was a telling blow in that connection.

Up until that point things had gone reasonably well. In fact, they had gone extremely well on Friday evening. As a matter of fact, Mr. Ryan addressed the entire group in Jonestown, and in response to his observation – which I paraphrase now, this is Mr. Ryan making this comment – “It appears to me that for many of the people here, Jonestown has been one of the best things that could possibly have happened to them,” there was a resounding and extended ovation of applause and cheering.

The point is that things began to unravel, it seems to us, on Satur­day morning, when it became apparent that some people were leav­ing. Jim Jones’ pride, or whatever it may have been that came to the fore at that point, simply could not tolerate the thought that even 15

 

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people were about to leave the community, as a result of which he may have in fact thrown the switch on what became an active, con­scious conspiracy along the lines you suggest.

I would suggest, by the way, that you may wish to listen to or examine the transcript of the last tape to get some very interesting enlightenment of his own mentality about what his role in the Port Kaituma shootings was.

Mr. SMEETON. Mr. Buchanan, the testimony clearly indicates that Mr. Jones was visibly upset by the defection of 15 members on the morning and early afternoon of the 18th. His two attorneys and others tried to disabuse him of the notion that that meant the end of the Temple.

I believe one of his attorneys pointed out that 15 people out of a population of approximately 900 is a small fraction and consequently he should not be that disturbed by such a turn of events. But that kind of logic did not persuade him.

Mr. BUCHANAN. Thank you.

Mr. SPALATIN. To that, Mr. Buchanan, should also be added the observation made earlier by Mr. Berdes about the matter of ques­tioning the conscious will of the membership of the People’s Temple of following the order of Jim Jones to their ultimate tragedy. In that respect there is some evidence that we have accumulated, especially in the last 6 months in Jonestown prior to November 18­ – even prior to that but especially in the last 6 months – that there was growing evidence that Mr. Jones was under some degree of medica­tion, drug or whatever. To whatever degree that “freed him” of any responsibility or not is a matter that has to be considered and weighed in the balance of this entire matter.

Mr. BUCHANAN. Mr. Chairman, if I may try your patience for one more moment.

NEED FOR IN-HOUSE ATTORNEY WITHIN CONSULAR AFFAIRS

In your first finding pertaining to the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act and the need for review, you appear to find, as others have found, a high degree of sensitivity on the part of the Department of State and persons in the Department of State to these two acts of Congress – confusion, concerns about personal prosecu­tion, as well as what the Department can and cannot do.

I wonder, Mr. Fascell’s subcommittee authorized two in-house lawyers for Consular Affairs in recent legislation. OMB opposed it and the Appropriations Committee did not appropriate the money for those two lawyers. Consular Affairs has no in-house lawyers. May I ask if you think the presence of a competent attorney within Con­sular Affairs might have been of some help in this matter?

Mr. BERDES. I do not want to characterize or in any way impinge on the ability of any of the legal people associated with the State Department.

Mr. BUCHANAN. I did not mean to imply any lack of ability.

Mr. BERDES. If I understand your question correctly, I would merely respond that deferred penalty spending is always twice as expensive as doing it in advance. Yes, by all means.

 

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Mr. BUCHANAN. The Department of State did its own study. They indicated in their report that the activities were not complicated by a “consular versus political syndrome”. Do you concur with that finding?

Mr. BERDES. No, absolutely not.

Mr. SPALATIN. In fact, we might argue that that might be a reflec­tion of the mentality we are trying to redress.

Mr. BUCHANAN. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. SMEETON. I might add one thing, Mr. Buchanan regarding the Privacy Act and its impact on Embassy reporting. I invite your atten­tion to page 143 of our report, which contains an Embassy cable dated December 5, 1978. It summarizes the last visit of consular officers to Jonestown prior to the tragedy of November 18. What struck us about this report vis-à-vis others prepared on previous visits is that it has more evaluative and insightful information. If you note in the right-­hand column, about half-way down in that paragraph they talk about Jones’ speech being markedly slurred. They also mention his inability to spell a word. He appeared to be operating in a state of apparent confusion.

When we posed the question as to why that cable contained such information, one of its authors indicated, that since Jones was dead he was not “likely to take me to court” as might have resulted from reflecting that kind of evaluative information while he was alive.

Mr. BUCHANAN. Mr. Chairman, I just want to say that along with my subcommittee chairman, Mr. Fascell, I will pursue these staff recommendations pertaining to the Department of State. We have been working for some time to beef up the consular service and to improve its status within the Department. It appears here that there was some failure of working relationship and some grounds for beefing up improvement.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. The Chair would like to state that several members who were unable to be here have asked that the Chair obtain the unanimous consent for questions to be asked of the panel after they digest the report and the summary of the report. Without ob­jection, it is so ordered. The record will be open for the remainder of the week for that purpose, for any questions that members might have.

DID REPRESENTATIVE RYAN CARRY A GUN TO GUYANA?

I think one question should be on the record, that I shall ask now. Since it has been reported in the press that Congressman Ryan had a sidearm, had a gun, or intended to take one to Guyana; has your finding substantiated that allegation? Personally I believe it was erroneous reporting, but we would like to have it for the record.

Mr. BERDES. We investigated that allegation and found that it was unproven. In fact, those who knew Mr. Ryan best indicated that it would have been totally out of keeping with his character to carry a weapon. Even more so, it would have played right into Jim Jones’ hands for Mr. Ryan to have carried a weapon into Jonestown.

Every indication is not only that he did not have a gun, but that in all likelihood he did not even consider taking one.

 

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NEED FOR VARIOUS U.S. AGENCIES TO READ REPORT

Chairman ZABLOCKI. I would hope that this report, this excellent report that you three gentlemen have presented to the full committee, will be read and acted upon by various agencies of our Government, not only the State Department, but also by the IRS relative to what constitutes a church. The section on People’s Temple as a “church” on page 20 is very interesting.

It should also be read by other agencies of Government, including the Justice Department. If our Government and the departments of Government are going to do their job, I am confident we will not have a recurrence of November 18, 1978.

Thank you, gentlemen for your excellent presentation, again, on behalf of the entire committee and myself. I congratulate and com­mend you for excellent work.

Mr. BERDES. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Chairman ZABLOCKI. The committee stands adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.

[Whereupon, at 1:25 p.m. the committee adjourned, to reconvene subject to the call of the Chair.]

 

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APPENDIX 1

Log No. 126 – TEXT OF JUNE 6, 1978, CABLE FROM U.S. EMBASSY IN GUYANA TO U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Subject: People’s Temple and the Community at Jonestown.

1. Discussion. – As the Department is aware considerable public, press and Congressional interest has been focused, over the last year, on the People’s Temple settlement at Jonestown. Located in a remote part of northwest Guyana, this agricultural community consists of a group of American citizens thought to number in excess of 1,000 who have immigrated to Guyana from various parts of the U.S. The preponderance of attention has turned around the question of the welfare and whereabouts of individual members of the community raised by their next of kin in the U.S., either directly or by using the intermediary of various senators and congressmen.

2. Responding to this interest, the Embassy has established a procedure whereby one of the consular officers visits Jonestown on a quarterly basis to perform routine consular functions and to communicate with various individuals within the community who may have been the subject of specific inquiries. (It should be noted that because of its remote location, travel to Jonestown from Georgetown and back requires some three to four days using the uncertain com­mercial transport facilities available. Travel to and from the site can be ac­complished in one day but this requires that an aircraft be chartered and that ground transport from the nearest airstrip be provided by the nearest govern­ment of Guyana administrative office.) So far there have been three such visits and the procedure seems to be functioning satisfactorily.

3. During the consular visits it has been observed that the local Guyanese administration exercises little or no control over the Jonestown community, and that the settlement’s autonomy seems virtually total. This is due to a variety of reasons which include the fact that the area in question is remote and thus the government’s rather primitive administrative machinery is already over­strained by its obligations to the Guyanese citizens living in the region, as well as an understandable disinterest on the part of the local officials to bother with an apparently self-sufficient community of non-Guyanese who obviously are not actively seeking any extensive contact with the Guyanese environment in which their settlement is located.

4. What we have, therefore, is a community of American citizens existing as a self-contained and self-governing unit in a foreign land and which, for all intents and purposes, is furnishing to the residents all of the community services such as civil administration, police and fire protection, education, health care, etc., normally provided by a central government within its territory.

5. Given the nature of many of the inquiries, both private and congressional, concerning the welfare/whereabouts of various members of the residents of Jonestown, as well as many of the articles appearing in the press which have alleged that individuals were being held in the community against their will, the lack of any objective elected or appointed political presence in Jonestown raises a legal question which this mission is not qualified to answer.

6. The Embassy is not, of course, in a position to exercise any control over private American citizens; however, private Americans traveling to or resident in a foreign country are expected to observe and conform to the laws of the host government. Conversely, can the host government be obliged to extend its governmental control and the protection of its legal system over an individual or group of aliens residing within its territory?

 

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7. Recommendation. – It is requested that the Office of the Legal Adviser re­view the situation described above, as well as other pertinent data concerning the People’s Temple and the Jonestown community which are available in CA/SCS in the Department. If, after such review, and assuming that the answer to the question posed in the preceding paragraph is affirmative, it is requested that we be instructed to approach the government of Guyana at an appropriate level to discuss the People’s Temple community and request that the government exercise normal administrative jurisdiction over the community, particularly to insure that all of its residents are informed and understand that they are subject to the laws and authority of the GOG and that they enjoy the protec­tion of the Guyanese legal system.

 

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APPENDIX 2

LOG No. 130 – TEXT OF JUNE 26,1978 CABLE FROM U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE IN RESPONSE TO JUNE 6, 1978 CABLE FROM U.S. EMBASSY IN GUYANA

Subject: People’s Temple and the community at Jonestown.

Ref. Georgetown 1815.

1. Department can appreciate the uniqueness of the situation described in ref tel and the problems post has encountered in attempting to deal with this situation.

2. We agree with post’s position set forth in paragraph 6 of ref tel and concur that host government has governmental jurisdiction over U.S. citizens and other aliens residing within its boundaries. Department assumes that both the Guyanese Government and the leader of the People’s Temple are aware that the community is under the jurisdiction of tile GOG and that all members of the community are subject to the laws and authority of the GOG. Department at present of view that any action initiated by the Embassy to approach the GOG concerning matters raised in ref tel could, he construed by some as U.S. Government interference, unless Amcit member or family requests assistance or there is evidence of law­lessness within the community of Jonestown.

Last modified on August 30th, 2014.
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