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 “11/3/78 News”
Date cues on tape: November 3, 1978 (note on tape box verified by tape contents)
Kenneth Kaunda, President of Zambia
Joshua Nkomo, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front
Robert Mugabe, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front
Idi Amin, dictator of Uganda
Samora Machel, President of Mozambique [by reference]
Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt
Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel
Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran
Marais Viljoen, acting president of South Africa [by reference]
Pieter Willem Botha, Prime Minister of South Africa [by reference]
Johannes Vorster, former Prime Minister of South Africa
Steven Biko, activist in South Africa
Margaret Ackman, leader in Guyana’s People’s National Congress
Forbes Burnham, Prime Minister of Guyana
U.S. President Jimmy Carter
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
John McGraw, American publisher
John Van De Camp, Los Angeles District Attorney [by reference]
Suzanne Jones [by reference]
“Jonestown’s Moms Mabley”
Harriet Sarah Tropp
Bible verses cited: None
Jim Jones reads the news of 3 November 1978 to the Jonestown community. The stories include:
• Fallout in the Arab world following the Camp David peace agreement;
• Tensions between African nations, including battles between Uganda and Tanzania, and between Zambia and Rhodesia;
• A border dispute between China and Vietnam, and a friendship pact between the USSR and Vietnam;
• Leaders of the Zimbabwe Patriotic Front visiting Eastern Europe;
• Devaluation of the American dollar;
• An attempted assassination of a Lebanese official;
• The return of Soviet cosmonauts to earth; and
• Corruption in South Africa, a UN resolution condemning South Africa, and the attempted purchase of an American newspaper by South African interests.
In addition to the international aspects of the news and the issues which are covered – especially since much of the news relates to Soviet interests around the world – the rhetoric in the newscast demonstrates that Jones is using a Soviet wire service. In coverage of the dispute between China and Vietnam, for example, Jones reads that, “Vietnam held its own against the aggression of the Chinese mainland.” In reporting on the cosmonauts return to earth after the longest space mission in history, Jones describes it as “a development in space that has not been able to be achieved by any other country.” A later addition to the second story – that the mission “cracked into areas of space venture that the world has been trying to do, but only the Soviet avant garde was able to achieve” – may be Jones’ language. The numerous references to “fascist,” “capitalist,” “imperialist,” and “Zionist” western policies could be either.
The Temple leader does make other editorial comments of his own, however. Following his reading of one news item which came from “the Western press,” Jones pauses and then adds, “if you can believe anything it says. The capitalist press.” Other observations have been repeated enough that they are familiar to the Jonestown population. When he first mentions the “fascist regime” of South Africa, he notes that it is “upheld by our tax dollars which should weigh us down with guilt.” He expands upon that point later in the broadcast. “[W]e all should feel guilty for supplying [South Africa] tax dollars to put our black brothers and sisters [in concentration camps]. Imagine your son, your daughter, your husband, your wife, in a concentration camp. Barefoot, unable to get enough to eat, imagine them crowded into great barbed wire sections, and I imagine then you’d have a little bit of feeling against the United States.”
His criticism of the U.S. government has more pointed relevance for the people of Jonestown. After criticizing another oppressive government – that of Iran under the Shah – he notes that the U.S. supports it as well. “That’s the kind of government that some of you long to look for, and would want to go back to. For me, I would rather die by any death than to go back into a mess like that.”
After Jones finishes reading the news, he urges that people approach strangers and guests in Jonestown with caution. We know the CIA has been here before, he says, and the people who are coming soon intend “to spy out your liberty.”
Two weeks before the arrival of Rep. Leo Ryan, though, it is apparently unclear to Jones who those strangers and guests may be. He demands that people write letters of opposition to NBC (the broadcast network which did send representatives down to Guyana) and to the Los Angeles D.A. (which didn’t). He talks about the “former radicals” who may be coming, a description which fits only a handful of Concerned Relatives.
As with other newscasts from the last months of Jonestown, Jones seems to have trouble reading the words before him. Early in the tape, he repeats two news items he has just read, both times with the comment, “as I said,” as though they were worth repeating. Later, after a pause of unknown duration, he returns to the microphone with more disorientation than before, and in the course of only a few minutes, his voice noticeably slurs and slows. He repeats his warning to Jonestown residents about how to deal with strangers, and says that even though the people who are coming are part of “one classic hell of conspiracy,” they won’t succeed. As his voice fades, he makes a final plea: “We’re urging you to be very cautious and don’t engage in conversation. Say hello. You know, hello. Understand?”
Date of transcription: 6/18/79
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 2, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B93-63. This tape was found to contain the following:
Reverend JIM JONES giving the review of the dally news and world events to the PT members at Jonestown.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted March 2008