Counter Offensive: Projected Offensive Program for the Peoples Temple


Even a cursory examination reveals that there has been a coordinated campaign to destroy the People’s Temple and to impugn the reputation of its leader Bishop Jim Jones. This campaign has involved various agencies of the U.S. Government, agencies of various states and the actions of numerous individuals who at the present time cannot be proven to have a working relationship with the state or federal authorities. Among the suspect organizations are the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Post Office, the Federal Communications Commission and their agents and employees. It is apparent that various newspapers and freelance writers or reporters for newspapers have participated wittingly or unwittingly in the coordinated effort to destroy Bishop Jones and the People’s Temple. Accordingly, it is necessary to conduct a full-scale investigation into each of the actions referred to above through meetings, interviews, the examination of documents and through the filing of applications with the specific agencies for records and documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The purpose of these procedures is to prepare for the filing of a multi-million dollar action in the appropriate federal court against each of the individuals, organizations and agencies of government which have participated in the campaign against the People’s Temple.

The intention of those who have launched the campaign to destroy the People’s Temple was clearly to create an atmosphere in which:

  1. Energies and funds of the People’s Temple would be devoted to defending the Temple and Jim Jones against various charges.
  2. To create an atmosphere and publicity surrounding the People’s Temple for the purpose of reducing the effectiveness of the People’s Temple, and
  3. To create an atmosphere around the People’s Temple which would be communicated to the supporters of the People’s Temple for the purpose of reducing support, especially financial support for the Temple.

A viable counter offensive must take into account the effectiveness of the campaign thus far against the People’s Temple and must contemplate a program to restore the People’s Temple to the position that it was at prior to the campaign in terms of its effectiveness.

I. Legal Counter Offensive

Although it is necessary to become involved in a defensive action regarding each of the cases pending against People’s Temple, maintaining merely a defense posture as the cases increase, provides a victory for those seeking to discredit and to destroy People’s Temple. That is, if every legal action against People’s Temple is met successfully in the court and People’s Temple eventually wins the dismissal of all charges against the organization and Jim Jones, those devoted to the destruction of People’s Temple will have been successful. Huge sums of money and a substantial amount of energy will have been diverted from the ongoing work of People’s Temple for purely defensive purposes. While the defense of each action is of course necessary, a purely defensive posture is self-defeating for People’s Temple.

In view of these circumstances it is essential that the origin of the campaign against People’s Temple be determined through an intensive intelligence operation. After all of the information has been secured at the first stage of inquiry, specific applications under the FOIA will be filed, thereby placing the agencies for the first time in a defensive position. Responses under the FOIA will then be utilized to make even more specific demands under the FOIA.

Ultimately, all of the information secured through the intensive investigations and through the responses to the FOIA inquiries will be compiled and an action against the agencies, organizations and individuals, (including the CIA, FBI, FCC, IRS, newspapers, reporters, writers and others) will be filed in the federal district court. The filing of such a lawsuit will place the People’s Temple in a clearly offensive situation in which it can begin to demand under federal discovery rules, depositions from the defendants and their agents. It is through those depositions and through the available methods of cross-examination that the full significance of the campaign against People’s Temple will be understood and appreciated for the first time in detail.

Since much of the campaign against People’s Temple was for the purpose of destroying its reputation and reducing its effectiveness by forcing it to spend substantial sums of money in defending itself, it is anticipated that a verdict for a substantial sum will help to compensate the People’s Temple for its financial losses.

II. Public Relations Counter Offensive

Since a substantial portion of the campaign against People’s Temple has focused upon a public relations campaign designed to place the People’s Temple in extremely bad light, it is essential that a public relations campaign be begun to tell the truth about the People’s Temple and about the charges against it. Such a campaign should focus in two separate and different areas. It should begin in the San Francisco Bay area where the People’s Temple is located in the U.S. as well as in Guyana where the agricultural project is located. We have already begun to work in Guyana through a press conference and through individual meetings with ministers of government, a Catholic religious leader, reporters, lawyers and just about everyone responsible for creating public opinion in Guyana, including the leadership of the opposition party. This, of course, should be continued in Guyana through the release of additional information from the U.S. about our progress in the investigation and in the case. In addition, all of the available media in the San Francisco Bay area should be utilized following a press conference to be held there. Marcy [Marceline Jones], Don Freed, Terri [Buford] and I and perhaps others should embark upon a campaign following the San Francisco press conference in which we appear on numerous radio and television talk programs. These appearances should be followed by telephone calls to the talk shows to keep the matter under discussion in the days that follow the press conference.

It is important to create an appropriate and truthful image of the People’s Temple among organizations on the Left in the U.S. and among Black organizations in the U.S. I have already relayed the facts about the People’s Temple to Dick Gregory, to Ralph Abernathy and to various people in organizations and publications on the Left. Among the publications on the Left which should be contacted for in-depth articles are, Mother Jones, In These Times, The Guardian and others. Two different kinds of feature articles should be written about People’s Temple to be placed in publications on the Left. One should deal with the campaign to destroy the People’s Temple together with the work the People’s Temple has done in opposition to the war in Viet Nam and in opposition to racism. An entirely separate article could be an in-depth look at the miracle of Jonestown.

In addition, other special publications should be approached for the purpose of publishing articles about the specific interest of the publication. For example, at the suggestion of Marcy, I have already talked with Charles Preston, the editor of the Gray Panther publications, and he has agreed to arrange for an article in those publications to be printed about the work done with elderly people in Jonestown. Similar efforts should be made in American Indian newspapers, in medical journals, in Black publications and in all other relevant newspaper and magazines where there is a special interest which would be obviously concerned about what is taking place in Jonestown. In addition, it is important for there to be a comprehensive film which could be seen throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean and elsewhere in the world which tells the Jonestown story. It would be extremely expensive for People’s Temple to produce such a film and the film might be suspect if it were not produced under individual and objective auspices. I have already, therefore, made contact with the finest French television documentary film maker and have urged him to spend time in Jonestown for the purpose of producing a film which tells the whole story of Jonestown. I would suggest to the People’s Temple that the Temple give all rights to French TV but arrange for itself to keep rights to sell or distribute in any fashion it wishes, the film in the U.S. and in the Caribbean countries.

III. Fund Raiding Counter Offensive

The campaign against the People’s Temple has been very costly to it financially. I think it is necessary for every effort to be made to reduce the financial burden now imposed upon the People’s Temple. A good portion of the funds utilized in Jonestown are for the purposes of securing various medicines and drugs for the treatment of diseases for the people that reside there. I believe that a coordinated campaign requesting governments throughout the world to contribute medicines to Jonestown might be successful. I should think that if Socialist countries agreed to contribute medicines to Americans in Guyana that it would be embarrassing to the U.S. Government not to do likewise. Such a campaign should be called to the attention of Andrew Young. In addition, I believe that a coordinated campaign should solicit medical supplies from various pharmaceutical houses, hospitals and medical associations within the U.S.

There are, of course, numerous other efforts for fund raising for People’s Temple which can be developed in addition to the fund raising revolving around the medical program.

IV. Congressional Counter Offensive

In meeting with various cabinet members in Guyana it became clear to me that many members of the U.S. Congress have communicated to the Government of Guyana in an effort to destroy the People’s Temple. While each of those members of Congress may very well end up as a defendant in the conspiracy case brought by People’s Temple, very likely there is a more effective way to turn them around on this question. In order to halt the flow of misinformation reaching Guyana from members of the U.S. Congress, it will be necessary to halt the flow of misinformation reaching the members of Congress from those involved in a conspiracy against People’s Temple. A massive educational campaign should be done with the members of Congress to give them the facts about Jonestown and a campaign in support of People’s Temple should be initiated in key Congressional districts so that the constituents can write directly to their own representatives. This kind of a campaign was launched in 1975 by the CCI [Citizens Commission of Inquiry] to bring about investigations into the murders of President [John F.] Kennedy and Dr. [Martin Luther] King.


I think it would be advisable for Jonestown, Guyana to open an “embassy” in Washington, D.C. or New York City for the purpose of carrying out some of the ideas listed above. New York City has the advantage of being the base of operations of the United Nations and the national offices of a number of religious denominations. Washington, D.C. is also the base for some of the national religious denominations including the United Methodist Church with which we have worked closely over the years, and of course the members of Congress are located there as is the Chief Executive and his cabinet members. I am inclined to think that the office should be opened in Washington, D.C. and that it should be staffed primarily by people who are not directly related to People’s Temple although it is important, I think, for people who are related to People’s Temple to be present there. Such an office on Capitol Hill in Washington could begin a flow of information to members of Congress, could meet with the relevant officials in Washington, D.C. regarding the actions of the FCC, the IRS and others, and could initiate a nationwide campaign for medical support of Jonestown. Among the Associate Directors of the Citizens Commission of Inquiry are a number who might be willing to lend their names to this project. I am referring to Rev. John Adams, the national social action director of the United Methodist Church, to Dr. Linus Pauling, whose extremely important work with Vitamin C might be directly related to programs which he might initiate in Jonestown, to Dick Gregory, who has now agreed to go to Jonestown, to Morton Halperin, who was the former Deputy Secretary of Defense under Richard Nixon but who now takes a different position on these questions and who is currently the director for the Center For National Security Studies in Washington, D.C. and an expert in the area of FOIA. I would suggest that Rev. James Lawson of Los Angeles and Rev. Ralph Abernathy might be invited to participate in this humanitarian program in behalf of the people of Jonestown. I have in mind for the embassy in Washington, a three story building on Capitol Hill directly across the street from the U.S. Supreme Court. It is a building which I own and while it is now occupied, I think that in the near future it may not be occupied and I could make it available to the People’s Temple for cost. It is within walking distance of the House and Senate office buildings and the U.S. capitol.

I believe that although there would be an outlay of funds at the very beginning to carry out a campaign through a Washington based office, that in the near future, sufficient medicines and drugs might be secured without charge to more than compensate for the funds. In addition, it is my own reading of the events in Guyana that the efforts of the members of Congress have created a problem and should be met directly head on.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark Lane

Supplementary Memo

Today I spoke with Art Kevin who is the News Director of KVI radio in Seattle, Washington which is a Golden West Broadcast station. Kevin, Don Freed and I have worked together over the last 14 years in investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. I discussed the Jonestown project with Kevin in some detail and I discussed the conspiracy against the People’s Temple as well. Her is currently completing a one hour radio program to be broadcast nationally by a network in the U.S.

He has agreed to do a one hour program on Jonestown and the People’s Temple also to be broadcast nationally. We have discussed the possibility of his interviewing Jim Jones and other people at Jonestown through a radio connection. He is now exploring the technical possibilities as to how to handle that from Seattle. I have the utmost confidence in Kevin’s ability to be incisive and fair and I think that his one hour program will be of great value. He can be reached at KVI radio in Seattle at (206) 223-5700. His home number in Seattle is [withheld by FBI].

Among those who might be contacted following Kevin’s program are, Jerry Williams at NBC radio in Washington, D.C. (starting there in two weeks), Roger Aldi in Los Angeles, Mort Sahl who will also be starting in Washington, D.C. in two weeks. In addition, we should concentrate upon Geraldo Rivera for a special report from Jonestown for ABC Television. In addition to that, we should meet with Jack Anderson and his aide who is a friend of mine, Les Whitten, who can run a story predicting that we will be filing action in the near future.

Mark Lane

9/27/78 – Memphis

Originally posted on February 17th, 2013.

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