Q399 Summary

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

To read the Tape Transcript, click here. Listen to MP3 (Pt. 1, Pt. 2).
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FBI Catalogue: Jones Speaking

FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “Fri Aug 25 News”

Date cues on tape: News items consistent with note on tape box

People named:

Public figures/National and international names:

    President Jimmy Carter
    Lyndon B. Johnson, former president (by reference)
    Former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (by reference)
    Sen. John Stennis (D-Mississippi)

    Adolf Hitler
    Pope Paul VI
    Leonid Brezhnev, Communist Party General Secretary, Soviet Union
    Haxhi Lleshi, president of Albania
    Josip Broz Tito, president of Yugoslavia
    Lord David Owen, British Foreign Minister (by reference)

    Kenneth David Kaunda, president of Zambia
    Samora Machel, president of Mozambique (by reference)
    Mobutu Sese Seko, president of Zaire
    Bishop Abel Muzorewa, leader of Zimbabwe independence
    Joshua Nkomo, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front in Rhodesia
    Julius Nyerere, president of Tanzania
    Robert Mugabe, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front in Rhodesia
    Ian Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia
    Johannes Vorster, prime minister of Republic of South Africa

    Hua Kuo-fenj, chairman of Chinese Communist Party

    Forbes Burnham, Guyana prime minister
    Anastasio Somoza Debayle, President of Nicaragua
    Ernesto Geisel, President of Brazil
    João Figueiredo, Brazilian military leader, challenger to Geisel

    Armand Hammer, head of Occidental Oil
    Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, executed U.S. spies
    Carlton Goodlett, San Francisco newspaper publisher, physician
    Don Freed, author and playwright

Bible verses cited: None


This tape consists of the news of the day read by Jim Jones.

As with many newscasts, Jones seems to rely most heavily upon Soviet or Eastern bloc news sources, although he quotes other sources such as BBC and Voice of America as well. The items themselves focus on more international news than most Americans are used to, especially in their coverage of Central America, Africa and Eastern bloc countries.

The origin of the Soviet-oriented news services likely accounts for much of the use of adjectives in describing US or Western European countries. American interests are pursued “because USA has no sense of human dignity,” and the nations themselves are “lackeys” and “puppet regime[s] of the imperialist” or – in the case of Nicaragua – “the dread … puppet regime of USA capitalism.” 

The Soviet bent is especially apparent in stories involving either the USSR or its main adversary, China. One item on a treaty of peace and friendship between Japan and China is described as “openly anti-Soviet … because it supports the chauvinism and expansionism of China.” As a result, the item continues, “USSR says it will not remain passive in view of it.”

Some of the editorial comments undoubtedly come from Jones himself, though. As he reports the previous item, for example, in the midst of declaring that “in case of nuclear war, … Japan will have to be listed as an enemy of the Soviet people for signing the treaty,” Jones adds that nuclear war “seems ominously hanging over all of our heads,” and indeed, that China may indeed be pressing for the treaty, “maybe, to bring about the nuclear war that she feels certain will come.”

As is the case with other news tapes, Jones often reads the tapes as they come over the wire, which means that he updates several stories as news becomes available. This is the case with the story of a leak of toxic gas from a Titan II missile silo in Kansas; the Sandinista takeover of the National Palace in Managua, Nicaragua, resulting in 5000 hostages being taken at once; and the dangers presented by the British plutonium industry to workers in its plants.

The recurring stories also give Jones a chance to formulate his own interpretations. After the third time he reports on the gas leaked from the Titan II silo, for example, he adds his own rhetorical flourish: “Where will it fall, or, are they really telling the truth? Will US citizens, all the way from Kansas to New York before it goes to the Atlantic Ocean, suffer permanent damage from it? Probably so. We would never be told one way or the other.”

But – as is also the case in other tapes – Jones reserves his greatest scorn for religion. The unfolding story of the liberation forces of Nicaragua, and their seizure of a “leading member of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy [and] rightwing supporter of General Somoza” to guarantee their safe passage to another country, segues into a familiar critique: “Religion goes right hand in hand with oppression. It is the opiate. All religion, all mysticism, all astrology…. It purely puts people to sleep. It is used by the slavemasters to intensify their slave hold over the minds of the working class.”

There are other messages and object lessons specifically for the people of Jonestown. After telling his followers that Carter has vetoed a defense bill over the objections of the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Jones reminds them who that chairman is – John Stennis of Mississippi – and warns, “This could be ominous for Carter, because Senator Stennis is the one that started the conspiracy against us without a shadow of a doubt.”

Among the other news items which Jones reads:

    • Tanzania president protests Western intervention in Africa
    • Mozambique opposes US presence in Indian Ocean
    • Kenyan government declares itself as non-aligned
    • South African incursions into Zambia and Angola protested
    • Zimbabwean Patriotic Front prevails in several battles
    • Plans for all-party talks on Rhodesia move progress
    • Eritrean nationalists divided on strategy
    • USSR leader and US industrialist discuss development of oil resources in Siberia
    • Geneva Conference on Racism ends
    • Basque resistance forces Spain to reverse policy on fishing
    • Members of IRA tortured
    • NATO conducts military exercises near Warsaw Pact nations’ borders
    • Brazilian elections approach
    • Peruvian miners demand removal of troops from mines
    • China and Vietnam troops clash at border
    • Increase in price of American cars put them out of reach for middle class
    • Carter’s natural gas bill blocked in Senate
    • Senate passes Civil Service Reform, reducing civil service protections

FBI Summary:

Date of transcription: 6/25/79

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 5, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B100-7. This tape was found to contain the following:

JIM JONES reading news, commentary and announcements.

Differences with FBI Summary:

The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.

Tape originally posted January 2012