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 “9/8/78”
Date cues on tape: Context is consistent with date of tape identification note
Public figures/National and international names:
James Callaghan, British Prime Minister (by reference)
Margaret Thatcher, leader of British Conservative Party
John Jeremy Thorpe, leader of British Liberal Party
Kurt Waldheim, Secretary General of the United Nations
Leonid Brezhnev, Communist Party General Secretary, Soviet Union
Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran
Ian Smith, Rhodesian Prime Minister
Steve Biko, South African political prisoner
Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated civil rights leader
Francis Jay Crawford, International Harvester executive arrested and tried in Moscow
Charles Garry, Temple attorney
Mark Lane, Temple attorney, author
Don Freed, filmmaker and author
Joseph Mazor, private detective hired by Concerned Relatives (by reference)
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Deanna Mertle, aka Jeannie Mills
Unnamed defector, mother of Jonestown resident Valerie [likely Jones]
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Carol Dennis (aka Carol Ann McCoy, aka Carol Ann Cordell)
Bible verses cited: None
(This tape was transcribed by Katherine Hill. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
This tape, consisting of four parts all recorded the same day, includes the news of the day for September 8, 1978, and a lengthy reading from Leonid Brezhnev’s memoir, but the most significant message of the day, reiterated several times, is the impending arrival of the “conspirator” and “agent provocateur” in the company of Mark Lane, and the ways in which the people of Jonestown are to treat the visitor.
The unnamed agent is Joe Mazor, a private detective who was hired by the Concerned Relatives to spirit children away from the concentration camp-like conditions which they perceived Jonestown to be. Whatever Mazor’s perceptions of his original clients were, and whatever his relationship with Peoples Temple and Jonestown turned out to be – both of which will never be resolved following his death in 1985 – the man reversed his allegiances, according to Jones, because “he could not condone kidnapping, murder, [and] mercenary actions” anticipated by his original employers.
Nevertheless, as Jones points out, Mazor needs to explain himself on several counts: “why it was that he told Carol Dennis that I would be assassinated, … why he told her that no one could come and go from Jonestown without him being informed by [Central Intelligence] agent here,” and other issues as well.
If Jones doesn’t fully trust Mazor – and he doesn’t – he wants to be sure that no one in Jonestown falls under the man’s influence. After all, Jones says more than once, the man could be a double agent, and indeed, since Mazor has jumped the fence to their side, Jones might have reason to believe he’d jump back. For that reason, he tells the residents of Jonestown to smile, greet Mazor warmly, act friendly around him, but to be careful as well. Towards the end of the tape, he is more forceful than that. Mazor may seek individuals out – in which case, “you just say, ‘I’m so happy here, I wouldn’t dream of returning to the United States, to the pollution, to the gangs, to the drugs, to the lack of school opportunities’” – but they are not to seek him out. “I want you to again warn your neighbor,” Jones says in the tape’s closing minutes, “that anyone caught talking to this person will be dealt with as a traitor, in the severest fashion.”
Jones is the most animated in the third part of the tape, after reading the news, and after first telling the residents about the visitors coming the next day, when he expresses his displeasure of seeing people “sitting around, chatting, walking slowly, aimlessly,” when there is so much work to be done to beautify the community. There are barren patches of ground where flowers could be planted, there are areas with debris lying around, and all of it is upsetting. He invokes a familiar litany of reasons to inspire them: he himself is sick (which he describes in some detail), but he keeps working; Mark Lane, who charges them $1000 per hour, is coming, and they can’t afford for Jonestown to look bad; the Soviets are coming, and they hold the key to Jonestown’s future; and magazines are sending photographers to take pictures, which will result in positive coverage and additional funding for the project.
Among the items in the news portion of the tape:
• A scandal in British politics and its implication in upcoming elections
• Civil unrest in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe); Rhodesia may get the neutron bomb
• Black liberation groups hijack South African fertilizer shipment
• England visits Venezuela to discuss oil
• Cuba/West relations
• U.S. corporate executive guilty of financial crimes in USSR, but sentence suspended
• New tactical nuclear weapon being developed
• Hundreds killed in flood in India
• Iranians demonstrate against Shah
• Value of US dollar compared to yen
• Steve Biko’s death remembered by South African demonstrators
• United Nations’ plan for Namibia
• Beached whale at French seaport
As with other news tapes, most of the readings come from Soviet or Eastern Bloc news services, although he quotes the BBC and Voice of America as well. Jones presents commentary on a number of the stories, the shorter snatches – oftentimes only a adjective – likely from the news source itself, and the longer asides more likely spontaneous observations that Jones adds. In the second news item, for example, about Rhodesia’s government being supported by American military hardware and weaponry, he adds sarcastically, “That should make us feel good. A billion dollars of our taxpayers’ money that could’ve helped rebuild [American] cities.” Later, in talking about the resistance of the British Prime Minister to calling for elections in the face of Conservative Party demands, Jones intones, “That’s a brave action on his part.”
One unique construction of Jim Jones appears on several occasions here. Noting that the adjective “black” is often associated with the evil and criminal – and the effects that has upon the vast majority of his followers – Jones often recast the words in their opposite. Here, he substitutes “whitemail” for “blackmail,” and talks about items being sold on the “white market.” (The most infamous use of this construction was on Jonestown’s last day, which is known as the final “White Night.”)
Jones also reads a longer piece which considers the value of snakes in the world – and especially how well they are respected and honored in the Soviet Union, which recognizes the reptiles’ role in the ecosystem – then reads a chapter from Leonid Brezhnev’s memoir which considers the World War II battle at Malaya Zemlya on the Ukrainian seacoast of the Black Sea.
Date of transcription: 6/13/79
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 June 1, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B93-43. This tape was found to contain the following:
News of the day and commentary by JAMES JONES.
JONES urges the people to work hard and be productive, so Jonestown can be a model to the rest of the world. JONES wants the area cleaned up, as the Soviets will be visiting shortly.
JONES advised that a conspirator will be arriving with CHARLES GARRY and MARK LANE. No one is to talk with this person, just smile. If anyone is caught talking with the conspirator they will be dealt with severely.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted July 2011