Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
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FBI Catalogue: Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Marked in part “White Night”
Date cues on tape: March 20, 1978, in context of Edith Roller Journal (continues on Q 051)
U.S. President Jimmy Carter (by reference)
Griffin Bell, U.S. Attorney General (by reference)
former President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Former U.S. President John Kennedy
David Duke, leader in Ku Klux Klan
Chloe Hardin Duke, wife of David Duke
Huey Newton, Black Panther leader
Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet Union General Secretary (by reference)
Cuban leader Fidel Castro
Che Guevara, Latin American revolutionary
Charles DeGaulle, former President of France
Nikita Khrushchev, former premier of Soviet Union
Patrice Lumumba, assassinated Prime Minister of Zaire
Forbes Burnham, Guyana prime minister
Shirley Field-Ridley, Guyana Minister of Information
Hamilton Green, Guyana Minister of Health and Labor
Desmond Hoyte, Guyana Minister of Development
Hubert Jack, [Guyana Minister of Energy and Natural Resources]
Cheddi Jagan, leader of People’s Progressive Party
Sir Lionel Luckhoo, Guyana lawyer
Vibert Mingo, Guyana Minister of Home Affairs
Paul E./Polly Moore [phonetic], “old time PNC moderate socialist”
Ptolemy Reid, Guyana deputy prime minister
Fred Wills, Guyana Minister of Foreign Affairs
Inspector Benjamin, first name unknown, Guyanese official
Inspector Brown, first name unknown, Guyanese official
Clark, first name unknown, senior advisor to Burnham
Dr. Baird, first name unknown, Guyanese medical officer
Peter Fernandes, chairman of Guyana Livestock Board
Brigadier General Clarence Price, GDF commander in NWD
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Temple members not in Guyana:
Names possibly in code:
Mrs. White (likely code for “final White Night”)
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Paula Adams (Speaks)
Lee Ingram (Speaks)
Marceline Jones (Speaks)
Larry Schacht (Speaks)
John Victor Stoen
Dana Truss, aka Dana Danielle Truss
Bible verses cited:
“So if somebody disappears one night, you’ll uh, understand they have been translated like Jesus was.” (Colossians 1:13, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.”
“I’m not going to take up a lot of time with you now, honey. It’ll be it is an old proverb: one will be taken, the other left. You heard about that proverb? There were two, two by the mill there was two in their bed and one was taken and the other left?”(Matt. 24:41-42: “Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”)
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Michael Bellefountaine. It was also reviewed by Don Beck, who identified several additional voices. The editors gratefully acknowledge their invaluable assistance.)
(Note: This tape was one of the 53 tapes initially withheld from disclosure.)
There are numerous expressions of emergency and urgency in this undated White Night in Jonestown – ranging from the presumption that some of the Guyanese government officials with whom they have to work are under the control of the CIA, to the possibility that some new arrivals to Jonestown are under the control of the CIA, to the uncertainty created by the lawsuits, custody battles and arrest orders that are pending for Jim Jones and other members of the Temple leadership – but the underlying reason for the crisis seems to be that Larry Schacht, the Jonestown doctor, has not received national certification as a physician.
Several characteristics of a White Night punctuate the conversation. In this two-hour tape, recorded late at night, Jones urges people to stay awake, criticizes some who do not appreciate the “war time situation” they’re in, and demands that his followers emulate other resisters of oppression, including the Cubans of the current day, the Russian citizenry in World War II, and the fighters of ongoing liberation movements. What is unusual is that Jones brandishes a weapon and – late in the tape – fires it once, apparently in an effort to emphasize that he does not want people randomly moving around the pavilion.
At the beginning of the tape – with the White Night already underway – Jones speaks about the community’s relations with the various ministers in the government of Guyana. They have several friends, he says, but sometimes the officials are “unreachable,” which leaves them vulnerable to the “element in the country that is under the control of the CIA.” This is the same CIA, Jones adds, which has tried to undercut the Cuban revolution. He then speaks of other liberation movements around the world, including in Africa and the Middle East, and reminds his followers repeatedly that the struggle will not be won unless people are willing to die for what they believe. “If you don’t have something you’re prepared to die for, you have nothing worth living for,” he says early in the tape. A few moments later, he makes a more pointed assertion: “I don’t think we’ve got a reason to expect that we might not have to die at some point for what we believe. I think we got any kind of guts, we ought to be willing to die for what we believe.”
Despite this refrain, to which he returns several times, Jones also expresses the need for them to live. “[T]o me it’s braver to try to stay alive and bring more babies, to bring more socialists, to try to be able to be in position to win more, and just because you had [lived] through White Nights. that doesn’t mean you’re going to lose.” The need to live brings an accompanying responsibility to defend what’s important, as he adds a moment later with a cry of defiance: “I don’t think we’ve got a right to expect revolutions to come easy. As I said, we’ve got a lovely land . [but] we can’t expect to keep it without fighting for it, and be ready to fight at the drop of a goddamn hat, and I am ready at a drop of a goddamn hat.”
The willingness to die, the right to defend themselves, both are based on a hope for the future, Jones concludes. He speaks of his miracle cures as an affirmation of life. To warm applause, he says, “So I think that there’s hope, [as] long as there’s life, there’s a lot of hope around Jim Jones.”
[Note: On the so-called “death tape,” the recording made on November 18, 1978 in Jonestown, Temple member Christine Miller disagrees with the decision to die, and echoes the words Jones uses on this tape. “I feel like that, as long as there’s life, there’s hope. That’s my faith.”]
Eventually, though, Jones returns to the inevitability of death and how the community should face it. “The only guarantee you’ve got [in life] is a graveyard,” he says, despite the healings he has performed and the resurrections they have all witnessed. But that’s good, he adds. Their knowledge and acceptance of that puts them in a strong position. “I would hate to be doomed with the curse of immortality. Then you couldn’t bargain so freely. But we are equipped if we had to, to commit revolutionary suicide.”
He expands upon the theme to reiterate his views on reincarnation and his lack of faith in a loving god. They tie into his beliefs in the differentiation between selfish suicide and revolutionary suicide. “I know you don’t want to mess with committing suicide, because . if you do it, you commit suicide for selfish reasons, you’ll come back. It’s immoral to commit suicide for selfish reason. It’s hostile. It’s an act of vengeance to do it.”
But, he continues, “if tonight, we couldn’t get our freedom and we all said we’re all going to commit suicide and drink some potion, that would be an honorable act, if that was our only alternative. That would be revolutionary suicide, and that would be an honorable thing to do.”
The commitment to revolutionary suicide also means a willingness to undergo – and withstand – torture. The people of Jonestown should study the lives of those who were tortured for their beliefs, to appreciate the “dignity and control” they’ve shown in enduring the pain. That takes training, Jones says, and everyone should take that training. “That’s why every nurse should report anybody that makes a big fuss about taking a shot or when the doctor has to look in somebody’s asshole and they make a big fuss, or in their vagina or he has to push on something and it hurts, and they scream, that person ought to be reported, because that person’s a potential traitor.”
More than that, the people’s reluctance to endure torture – which he says he can hear in their response – puts them at odds with their revolutionary counterparts elsewhere in the world. It is part of the softness and decadence they have brought with them from the U.S. Popular culture has a corrupting influence on them, he says. The music and dancing of the youth lead away from thoughts of the revolution and towards the selfishness of love and romance. Movies and television shows are good only when they educate the viewers on socialist principles. “Comedies don’t teach me shit,” he says. “I don’t need to laugh while two out of three babies are going bed hungry.”
The only reason he tolerates the people of Jonestown participating in musical performances “is that socialism can be gotten across, that we could . show that socialist communes can work.” The only other thing that popular culture in Jonestown does is to bring about White Nights.
Jones speaks highly about the people of the Soviet Union throughout the tape. He praises their role in revolutionary struggles, he lauds their fortitude in times of strife, and he compliments their resistance to imperialist forces. He reports of the return praise which the Soviets have given to them, and raises the possibility of emigrating. One thing is certain, he adds, whatever the Soviets asked of him, he would do.
The problem of Dr. Schacht’s lack of official certification – and ideas on how the community should respond to the Guyana’s government decision – recur throughout the evening. Jones is combative on the issue whenever it arises. Recalling the pugnacious tactics of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in his dealings with adversaries, Jones speaks of going “eyeball-to-eyeball” with Georgetown. “Now, the situation is this: we have been refused the license of a doctor. I have refused the admission of any doctors or reporters on this property.” Moments later, he reminds the community, they have had to travel this route before. “The last time, we threw our bodies out in front of a car and stopped the deputy prime minister. [I]t took that kind of an attack to get him to understand that he wasn’t communicating with us.” Later in the tape, an unknown male offers a possible resolution, by pointing out to the government that Schacht has been practicing medicine for a while in the community, and suggesting that his de factosatisfaction of residency requirements should allow Jonestown to ask for license. “We’re demanding and not asking,” Jones replies.
In other issues with Guyana’s government, though, relations are more cordial and satisfactory. An unidentified woman reports that, despite a few setbacks, the government is cooperating with them. Arrest orders against Jones and other Temple leaders – presumably originating with legal difficulties in the U.S. – will not be enforced, pending child custody cases will be dropped, and Tim Stoen will not be allowed into Guyana.”
As different advisers present reports to the community, the crowd becomes alternately restless and sleepy. Jones angrily tells some people to wake up and others to shut up. About three-quarters into the tape, Jones talks about the gun in his hand – “I wasn’t pointing no gun at you, honey” – and a few minutes before the tape’s end, he fires it. He has just asked why people are moving around “without any clearance” and reminded them that they are in a “war emergency” when he fires the gun. In the silence that follows, a bullet casing falls to the ground. “The next time I’m going to fire it over your heads,” he says. “If you want to get out of here, you clear it. You clear it. I don’t want to put the gun on our own people.”
The crowd’s restlessness and disregard of Jones’ commands have other repercussions beyond the gunshot. Jones has spoken earlier about CIA infiltration in the country and possible CIA infiltration into Jonestown. He has spoken earlier about the fact that a new group of people has just arrived. At this point, though, he makes a connection between the two subjects.
“How do we know that one of you not a CIA agent when you moving?” he says into the silence. “It’s funny, since the last group came in, all this shit began, we’d had weeks of peace. Funny kind of correlation. Maybe there some knowledge of our activities and mood. Maybe somebody communicated something since they’ve been here.”
The tape ends with a relatively short exchange following a lengthy pause caused by technical problems during the recording, so the context for calling out for a confession has been lost. Apparently someone has talked about leaving Guyana from Georgetown, and Jones wants her – the presumption is it’s a woman, since Jones refers to the person as “honey” – to make it easy on herself by volunteering the information. “You better get straight with us,” he says. A moment later he adds, “You either talk about it, or honey, you’re gonna pay for it. Won’t nothing will happen to you, if you get up and talk about it now.” Whether Jones actually knew who the miscreant was or if the person eventually confessed is unknown, as those are the last words on the tape.
Date of transcription: 6/8/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 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 8, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B60-8. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES, addressing a large room of his followers, is discussing the security problem relating to all of the new people which had just come to Jonestown. The problem lies in the presence of possible CIA Agents in the country. JONES said he was told by a friend in the U. S. Embassy that there was an element in the country which was being controlled by the CIA.
JONES then relates the events leading to and including the Cuban missile crisis of 1963 and describes the events which he experienced while he was in Cuba in the early 1960s. He describes the crises of the time leading up to and including the missile crisis as Cuba’s white nights. He added that he learned about revolution in Cuba.
He said that decadence was being allowed in Jonestown because people could only be expected to make changes slowly, but that they should, at least some of the time, think about things of a revolutionary nature.
He advises that Jonestown is under a white night alert and that several groups of people had not reported; he said that supervisors of these groups should make an accountability check immediately.
He then continues discussion of revolutions around the world, including that of CASTRO in Cuba, the Israeli-Palestinian situation as well as revolution by the Soviet people. The Soviet people have had to face white nights for three years while their country was being invaded.
He complained to the audience that there was a lack of attention during the news broadcasts which are made daily by him and adds that if they had listened they would have known that something was in the wind when he jumped onto Central Supply earlier in the day.
He states then that he would like to be able to fight a revolution and that he was ready to fight for this land on which Jonestown was centered, at the drop of a hat.
He then relates the reason for the white night alert, which consists of a confrontation between him and representatives of the AMA, as well as of the press, whom he had refused admission to Jonestown. The AMA was refusing to give a license to any doctor in Jonestown until an inspection by the AMA had been made.
He then continues to speak of the revolutionary nature of the Soviet Union and the fact that they had won more revolutions than anyone else and had thus shown their revolutionary leadership. He said he would be meeting with the Soviet Union and added that “their wish is our command.” He then began a discussion of the support of the Guyanese ministers for Jonestown, as well as the political situation in Guyana, and relates incidents of civil, racial strife within the United States recently.
He then states that they (Jonestown) were equipped to commit revolutionary suicide if it were to become necessary. He adds that it is immoral to commit selfish suicide or suicide for selfish reasons. He says that if tonight they were to drink some potion, that this would be a revolutionary suicide and that such a suicide would be committed if there were no other alternative. He adds that this would be an honorable thing to do.
He continues by saying that he is glad that there is a point where people die. He says that one should train himself not to react to pain so that he would be steeled against torture designed to extract information.
He says that this reason for coming to Jonestown was to prove that a socialized commune could work.
He says that he is sometimes nervous about some of his followers, which often brings on a white night or a crisis such as this.
He then states that he wants to learn all that he can about assassinations and mentions the movie, “Day of the Jackal” (a movie which deals with a terrorist plot to assassinate French President CHARLES DE GAULLE), and adds that everyone should watch this movie. He says that the movie was obtained by “special concession” for Jonestown. He states that the book is even better. At this point, a female begins to give a briefing on a meeting of the Guyanese ministers. It is mentioned that JONES has made a good friend with the head of the GDF (Guyana Defense Force). JONES reiterates that a state of emergency exists at this time.
Further discussion of the influence of the various Guyanese ministers ensues.
He then mentions, apparently to someone in the audience, that he was not pointing the gun at that person and adds that before “this cannon” goes off, he would have to cock it.
He says that some people need to be reminded not to walk over the hill in order to tell of all of the capabilities of Jonestown. Again a discussion of the power and influence of the various Guyanese ministers who are favorable toward Jonestown continues.
Then an unidentified male mentions that we (Jonestown) had gone through a number of white nights and due to the strategy of JONES had come through them successfully. He then goes into a discussion of the AMA coming into and inspecting the medical facilities in Jonestown, as well as the AMA’s refusal to license a doctor which already had been treating people in this area.
The name TIM STOEN (phonetic) is brought up by JONES, who discusses the possibility that he may be an Agent sent to work against Jonestown.
Throughout the tape, JONES has told people in the audience to stay awake or to wake up. He reminds them that they are in a wartime situation. He says, “Are you people gonna take notice that we’re in a war emergency room?” At this point a sound similar to that of a shot from a shotgun is heard and is followed by the sound of a shotgun being racked and an empty shell casing hitting the floor of the room. JONES then says, “Next time I’m gonna fire it over your heads.”
JONES then relates again the possibility of a CIA Agent being in Jonestown and even in the room where this meeting is being conducted. He then mentions that maybe they will take a flame thrower or this cannon and shoot it out into the trees just in case that there is someone out there with whom someone inside of Jonestown is communicating. He adds that he had reason to believe that someone is predicting the behavior Jonestown too accurately. He says that someone may be getting out of Jonestown and adds that if someone disappears one night, “You’ll understand that they’ve been translated like Jesus was.”
He then asks if a person in the room would like to confess before the matter is dealt with in another way. He relates that someone had been overheard saying that they were lucky that they were not being sent to Georgetown for the show or they would run. JONES again asks that person to talk about it and then says, “Sleep tight tonight. Good dreams.” He continues by saying that that person should either talk about it or they would pay for it and adds that there are witnesses to that statement having been made. He adds that nothing would happen if that person were to get up and talk about it at this time.
At that point the tape ends.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes. It is also quite detailed, especially compared to most other FBI summaries.
Tape originally posted June 2005