Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue: Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “Tues 19 News”
Date cues on tape: Tape contents consistent with Tuesday, September 19, 1978
President Jimmy Carter
John F. Kennedy, assassinated president
Robert Kennedy, assassinated Senator
Sen. John C. Stennis (D-Mississippi)
Emmanuel Erskine, leader of UN peace-keeping force in LebanonAdolf Hitler
Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel
Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt
Muhammad Ibrahim Kamal, Egyptian Foreign Minister
King Hussein of Jordan
Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran
Mohammad Mosaddegh, deposed premier of Iran (by reference)
Johannes Vorster, Prime Minister of South Africa
Che Guevara, Latin American Revolutionary
Anastasio Somoza, President of Nicaragua
Forbes Burnham, Prime Minister of Guyana (by reference)
Cheddi Jagan, leader of People’s Progressive Party, Guyana opposition party
Guyana Minister of Foreign Affairs (by reference) (either Fred Wills, former minister, or Rashleigh E. Jackson)
Carl Blackman, reporter for Guyana Chronicle
Mervyn Dymally, Lieutenant Governor of California
Muhammad Ali, American boxer
Don Freed, American novelist and screenwriter
Carlton Goodlett, San Francisco physician, newspaper publisher
Martin Luther King
Mark Lane, Temple attorney
Joe Mazor, private investigator
Paul Robeson, American black actor, musician, activist
Paul Schrader, American writer and screenwriter
Tom Snyder, television talk show host
Walter Thain, American doctor, consultant with Dr. Schacht
Tim StoenTemple members not on death or survivors’ lists:
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Barbara (numerous in Jonestown)
Tim (likely Tim Tupper)
Donald James Fields
Jim Arthur Jones
Larry Schacht (speaks)
Rita Tupper, aka Rita Lenin
Bible verses cited: None
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Vicki Perry. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
Despite running a fever of 105, Jim Jones reads the news of the day, and issues both warnings and instructions to members of the Jonestown community.
Jones spends more time on the top story of the day – reporting the details of the Camp David agreement, reactions from around the world, and his own editorial asides and sarcastic comments – than any other news item or any particular instruction. Moreover, many of the instructions are familiar ones: people should keep their areas clean; they should take care of the weeds. Nevertheless, there are several concerns that seem to be as pressing as they are unusual, and much of the underlying tension seems to stem from one or two incidents. The incidents are unknown, however, and the warnings are without context.
As with many tapes which combine both news and messages to the community, the news comes first. Jones’ concerns that people are trying to get “private messages” from Jonestown to the outside world – without going through censors – arises several times, beginning early in the tape, when he vows “we’re going to deal with this.” He explains the procedure: when incoming mail arrives in Georgetown, “we open and read it there and transfer it to you here so you can know how to read.” As for outgoing mail, it must be written in front of the letter-writing committee. People must not send out newspaper articles, nor may they ask the photographer to take pictures to send back to the States.
The censorship is important for a socialist community, he says. Relatives on the outside misinterpret what people inside Jonestown report, even small, seemingly insignificant items. Those “little words can . be used by the CIA.”
There are related issues. In the course of his critique of Camp David, Jones talks about the squabbling among capitalist nations over the accords, but notes that that’s to be expected, since “[c]apitalists are based on distrust, you see.” Compare that to socialism, he says, which “is based on trust, unity. And that’s how you build it, by not gossiping behind people’s back, but by talking directly to them.”
As with the issues of censorship, the subject of gossip returns. He warns people about gossiping about other people’s medical conditions, and issues a special warning to those who would leak information from the clinic. “I better not see one bit of a patient’s history ever talked about. I want to see no gossip ever. And I will come down on [you] . in the next rally, which could be tonight, if this keeps up, you will see what I mean. I’m going to put gossips in the Public Service work.” The incident triggering this lengthy and passionate warning is also unknown.
A third similar warning relates to contacts with guests who visit the community. Repeating the words as Jones coaches him, Jonestown doctor Larry Schacht cautions people that “[w]e better see no handshake between any guest and anybody here that lasts too long . and no rubbing by anybody’s pockets.” The guest could be CIA, Schacht/Jones notes, adding, “the [Guyana] government feels sure that we do have a CIA agent here.”
But Guyana isn’t the only source of Jones’ expressions of paranoia. Jones quotes advice from their new attorney, Mark Lane, who says the only way to keep secret messages from being passed would be to “make every person that entered this community go naked and look in their vagina and their penis and in their mouth.” Lane’s recent visit has confirmed to Jones that there is a conspiracy against them, a conspiracy they’ve suspected since Joe Mazor visited them earlier. But, as opposed to what the private investigator could do for them, Jones reports that Lane – who has written extensively on the conspiracies against JFK, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy – is “going to devote his life” to exposing the plotters against them.
Jones is so impressed with his new allies – Mazor, director Paul Schrader, but more especially Mark Lane and Don Freed – that he suggests that the next newborns in the community “should be named after Mark Lane or Don Freed. That is the good diplomatic sense to do and only the honorable thing to do.”
To back up the new instructions, there is new surveillance and security around the encampment. “Have those surveillance protections, as we shall call them, all stationed through out this entire project,” Jones says through Schacht’s mouth, “and don’t let anybody to cause us harm.”
There are other places where the context is missing. In the course of reading an item about the white Secretary General of the UN and the black general leading UN peace-keeping forces in Lebanon, Jones adds, “you can’t tell who’s good by the color of their skin, and I do want that stopped here. There’s always people who are bad, but you can find just as many bad whites as you can blacks or any other color.”
But there are just as many times when Jones relates an item in the news to a concern known throughout the community. The Temple leader blasts Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for selling out his country, an action which will likely cost him his position and maybe his life, “because his own country’s trying to kill him.” In the next breath, Jones talks about the treachery of a former close aide and now Temple enemy: “Right now, they’re after Timothy O. Stoen. We know that because of the conspirator [Joe Mazor] that broke. They want him to be the fall guy..
“And let that be reminded tonight,” Jones says in conclusion. “So now he’s going to have to run the rest of his life because everybody’s got a bounty on him.” By this time, it isn’t clear if Jones means Sadat or Stoen, but the message is the same.
The bulk of the tape is spent on the news, though. In addition to Camp David, Jones reports on the following:
. The uncertainty of South Africa’s future with the impending resignation of Prime Minister Vorster;
. Nicaragua’s government punishment of insurgents, including torture and execution;
. The UN peace-keeping force on Lebanon
Jones’ sense of outrage and betrayal over Camp David infect the entirety of the newscast. His scorn for American support of Nicaragua, expressed on other tapes as well, turns into bitterness here. “Goddamned Carter. He’s a goddamned stinking hypocrite. Let Carter stick his human rights up his ass.” Later in the same item about Nicaragua – and Jones’ predictions that insurgents will be tortured – he becomes reflective, but equally passionate, in his critique. “[It’s] Sad that there’s such evil in the world,” he says quietly.
Overall, though, there is an atmosphere of Jones’ physical illness pervading the community. His fever – which he reports as closely as he does other breaking news items – will not deter him from taking care of his people. There are Russian doctors on the way, both he and Schacht say at different times, but in the meantime, he does so much for the community. “My work never stops. I don’t want it to. There are other socialists that are suffering worse than I am, so I’ll gladly take my joints that are achy and all the other symptoms.” Late in the tape, he thanks people for the letters they send him – even if some of them seem somewhat calculating, since they include a request for a special dispensation – but he says even more important would be a pat on the back or softly taking his hand, “but don’t hold on to it for an hour, because I’m crippled with arthritis.”
Date of transcription: 6/12/79
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 30, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B93-18. This tape was found to contain the following:
News and commentary by JIM JONES.
In the tape, JONES discusses mail censorship at Jonestown. Furthermore, he makes the statement, “Security can be involved in that now you have these new long range things that can protect us,” at the middle of the tape.
JONES also states, “Have those surveillance protections all stationed throughout the entire project and don’t let anybody, don’t let anybody try to cause us harm.
It is noted that JONES repeatedly states that people are supposed to follow the letter writing rules and states, “Every person is to write letters as she says, as they say, because we’ve been told to by the Guyanese Government how to do it.”
Further into the tape, he (JONES) makes the statement, “You’ve got the equipment to take care of the enemy.”
On the back side of the tape, JONES makes the statement, “We are quite capable of protecting ourselves, but all alert now look to see if anyone is approaching from any angle.”
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted May 2009