Q048 Summary

Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.

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FBI Catalogue : Unidentified Individuals Speaking

FBI preliminary tape identification note: Marked in part “17/11/78 Congressman Leo Ryan”

Date cues on tape: November 17, 1978

People named:

Public figures/National and international names:
Rep. Leo Ryan (speaks)

Jonestown residents:
Marceline Jones (speaks)

Bible verses cited: None


(Note: This tape was one of the 53 tapes initially withheld from public disclosure.)

In this fairly short tape, Rep. Leo Ryan addresses the Jonestown community on the evening of November 17, 1978. He notes that he is there in an official capacity, to answer questions about Jonestown which both the media and some relatives of Jonestown’s residents have raised. To thunderous applause, he remarks that “whatever the [questions and criticisms] are, there are some people here who believe this is the best thing that ever happened to them in their whole life.”

This is one of the few tapes known to have a separate and independent videotape documenting the same event. NBC taped the speech, and aired it numerous times in the weeks following the deaths of the congressman (and of the NBC cameraman who taped it, among others) at the Port Kaituma airstrip, and the deaths in Jonestown on November 18.

FBI Summary:

Date of transcription: 6/27/79

In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.

On June 24, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B60-1. This tape was found to contain the following:

A short speech by a male, identified on the tape as Congressman RYAN. He states he is leaving the next day. During the speech he states his visit was a congressional inquiry but everything was acceptable. There was applause on several occasions.

Differences with FBI Summary:

The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes. The reason for the FBI’s decision to label the only speech that Congressman Ryan made to the entire Jonestown community before the tragic events of the next day as “Unidentified Individuals Speaking” — especially since the agency’s summary itself identifies Ryan — is unknown.

Tape originally posted September 2003