Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “10/15/78”
Date cues on tape: Tape contents consistent with label
President Jimmy Carter
Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor
Rep. Ike Andrews (D-North Carolina)
Agostinho Neto, President of Angola
Joshua Nkomo, leader in Zimbabwean Liberation Patriotic Front
Robert Mugabe, leader in Zimbabwean Liberation Patriotic Front
Samuel Nujoma, leader of SWAPO
Ian Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia
Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt
Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines
Imelda Marcos, wife of Ferdinand Marcos (by reference)
Sister Caridal, Filipino Catholic nun, leader of Marcos opposition
Theresa Rodriguez, leader of the Union of Democratic Filipinos
Lloyd Wake, minister, community activist, in opposition to Marcos
Jackson (many people named Jackson)
Karen (likely Karen Layton)
Bernell Maurice Hines
Larry Schacht (speaks)
Bible verses cited: None
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Vicki Perry. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
This tape consists of two parts, although they may have been recorded on the same day. In Part 1, Jim Jones reads the news of 15 October 1978. In Part 2, Jones reads requests for assistance and notes of praise from individual members of the Jonestown community.
Part 1 features Jones reading the news of the day. The principal – perhaps only – news service upon which he relies is Tass or another Soviet news agency. The tape begins in the midst of a statement of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party as it celebrates an anniversary of the October 1917 revolution. A few minutes later, Jones reads a news item with language usually reserved to describe Western powers, but the words “provocation,” “intrusions,” and “provocateurs” are also used to characterize Chinese “disturbances against Vietnam territorial integrity.”
Other news items include:
• Demonstrations in New York against Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith’s visit to the US
• Scheduled elections in Namibia
• The US military budget
• Protests against the regime of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines
Jim Jones includes some of his own editorial comments as he reads. After describing US military aid support for Marcos, even after the “dictator’s” invocation of martial law, Jones adds, “That’s where your [tax] money goes.” And the adjectives used for Ian Smith – racist, fascist, sellout, butcher – are likely Jones’.
But he spends some time decrying the apathy of the left in the US and reminisces how much of an impact Peoples Temple had while it was in the States. Early in the tape, he remarks how “shameful” it was that there were not more protestors “right at this moment” protesting Ian Smith’s presence in the country. A few minutes later, he describes the 30 marchers in Washington against the Marcos regime as “not even worth mentioning, but that’s where US is with its apathy.” As for the 35 marching in San Francisco – “see? thirty-five people” – he says that if the Temple was still in the Bay Area, “it’d been a thousand thirty-five, at least.”
“We actually are the life, the pulse of resistance in USA,” he says. “We were the crowd. We were the assemblies at every speaking engagement at every left or progressive activity. It was Peoples Temple that had to produce the numbers.” It was no wonder, he concludes, that they were “the brunt of so much harassment.”
In another longer aside, he extrapolates upon the US support of brutal regimes overseas such as Rhodesia and the Philippines, and considers “how much more will they do to protect their own home base when it becomes threatened as it now is with high inflation, cost of living, untold increase in unemployment and all sorts of racial antagonisms and ecological disturbances.” He summarizes his thoughts later: “So again, as I say, we train for the Philippines, obviously they’ll train for California and Kansas.”
“The threat of genocide will then become much more meaningful,” he predicts. “Because somebody’s got to go. Can’t have unnecessary people on the streets, can’t have people out of work… There’ll be extermination and we’ve certainly seen it begun.”
As Jones does in other tapes from this period, he tries to dissuade people from thinking about suicide. In the context of a young man who drank gasoline – the same context as elsewhere – Jones declares that the suicide of even one person in their community would give aid and comfort to the racists in America. He also reminds them that their mind would continue to live, even if the body dies, and the stigma of self-death would set the soul back “five hundred generations.” These words are as familiar to the Jonestown community as the opposite message – pledges to die as a community – voiced during community meetings.
Jones speaks of the miracles which Jonestown has witnessed in recent days – things that cannot happen “unless there’s one that has power above natural law as we now know it” – and after he signs off from the reading of the news, Jonestown doctor Larry Schacht comes on to offer details of the medical miracles which everyone in the clinic has seen. These events are commonplace by now, Schacht says. “There’s not a day goes by when [Jones’] power doesn’t save someone’s life.” To acknowledge that power, he concludes, each person in Jonestown “should turn to your neighbor now, turn to your neighbor and say three things which you are grateful for.”
In Part 2 of the tape, Jones reads several messages to him which seek advice. The section opens in mid-sentence, and whether the anger he expresses about a person who is defying the council – and thereby “defying me” – is in response to a criticism someone has written about another community member or something he himself observed, is unknown. He urges people not to protest when they are brought up on the floor. “Your worst enemy will give you your best criticism, and everybody has faults. So … you ought to be thankful that someone will step forward and tell you, something is wrong with you.” Resistance to criticism is evidence of the worst crime in Jonestown: egotism or narcissism.
At this point, he adds that he knows there are people who hate him, someone who “looked like they were getting ready to stab me the other day,” but whether he had perceived some of the ill feelings among his followers and believed his own words or merely used them for theatrics to drive home a point, is also unknown.
The section includes as many praises for people who take on hard or additional work as it contains issues of difficulty which Jones needed to address, and in that regard is typical of many of the catharsis sessions often held during nighttime community meetings.
The tape closes with several snatches of non-contextual conversation, which demonstrate nothing more than the radio room’s tendency to reuse tape.
Date of transcription: 6/8/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On May 28, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B69-16. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES reading radio Moscow and Havanna [Havana] radio news and an unknown male announcing two “miracle” cures performed by JIM JONES. This is followed by JONES reading notes and announcements.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted April 2008