Did Government Assassins Own a Tractor?:
A Response to In Plain Sight:
Fact Check Rebuttal

by Laurie Efrein Kahalas
Author Of The In Plain Sight Investigation

I will rebut Chris Knight-Griffin’s article on a point-by-point basis. Nothing he cites stands up to the evidence, but all the more need to rebut.

Mr. Knight-Griffin apparently has not even looked at the evidence, which is the “In Plain Sight” investigation, not just the “In Plain Sight” article that originally appeared in the 2008 Jonestown Report.

Where else would answers lie? In evidence caches! The article just laid out a scenario which now features proof, lots and ongoing.

But first I need to defuse the opening salvo of Knight-Griffin’s article. He says that I blame the government for the 900 deaths at Jonestown. I don’t. I blame that on Jim Jones.

What the evidence points to, however, is that it was the government (well, the CIA), not the cultists, who killed the Congressman, then withheld help for TWENTY HOURS (it was just a ONE HOUR flight to Port Kaituma) pending confirmation on a CIA radio band from on-site that everyone at Jonestown was already dead. As per the government’s own log!

Difficult to conclude that they did not want the people of Jonestown dead. The back story on that is a twisted ugly tale about “kill two birds with one stone“: Leo Ryan and Jim Jones both. The CIA had it in for them both. So kill the Congressman, do it in a third world jungle where no one will investigate, frame it on the cult crazies, then hope that the leader offs his own.

I’ve detailed this in other pieces, supported by smoking guns on the deliberate time delay; so at the least, the feds had no intent to rescue these people. To the contrary.

The feds, yes, played their own sinister role. The assassination; the shocking delay of aid; why they waited; that they apparently wanted that result. There is no way to call that innocent, nor did the handlers weep.

It’s just a twisty, convoluted story all ‘round. I can’t make it less ugly. All I can do is to untwist the convolutions. To finally comprehend; if not emotionally, at least through the evidence.

It is the filmed evidence of who committed the assassination that is at issue here, however. A film long-suppressed, now at least partly released.

O.k. Let’s address Knight-Griffin’s questions and rebut his claims:

First, Knight-Griffin’s critique infers knowledge of materials he’s apparently not examined. He does not cite documents pertaining to the airstrip massacre at all.

So make no mistake. His is not a review of the “In Plain Sight” investigation; only an editorial re the introductory piece (also called “in Plain Sight”) which appeared in the 2008 Jonestown Report.

Thus I must caution the reader to not be misled into thinking that his article is based upon evidentiary review. It isn’t. It is an opinion piece telling the reader to not even look.

He even questions if I really saw the NBC footage of the assassination in the news back in 1979. He doubts that at the first anniversary of the tragedy, that the tragedy was even covered! He knows for a fact, he says, that the lead story that night was about Iranian hostages, not Jonestown.

The most explosive story of 1978 worldwide and at the one-year-mark, no coverage? Who would believe that?; and no, you shouldn’t.

At one point, Knight-Griffin even complains that I have no evidence that the CIA paid the assassins in Guyana.

O.k. Black ops. Assassins in a foreign land. Do they pay by check or money order, those folks? And why wasn’t I just sent a copy of the payment invoices in the mail?

I find this disturbing. Let us be clear that it is evidence already produced that is at issue here, not any proposed wild goose chase.

In fact, it troubles me that not just Knight-Griffin, but no one but me across the board has subjected the on-site NBC film footage to review. It’s the heart of “Who killed the Congressman?” How can we ignore it?

Especially after all this time. Our system of justice was never in play here. Not even hearings. For a Congressional assassination! And that was/is a travesty, not an acceptable status quo.

Our system of justice is also based upon evidence, not speculation. Opinions of outside parties, even expert testimony, can be considered, but is never a substitute for physical evidence. Hearsay evidence from direct or supporting players, better but still subject to physical evidence. And hard physical evidence? Trumps all!

Yes, hard physical evidence always trumps all. So now that we have it, how can we not look?

Let’s finally yes, JUST LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE, not have sand thrown in our faces. The fact is that had I only had a simple VCR back in 1979, I would have “had it” and then no one would have cared which network it was on or how the film got there.

The point is that the ONLY credible eyewitness was the NBC film footage and the FBI’s mandate to investigate the assassination, not cover it up. To take the uncut (longer) footage of the assassination from NBC and show it to survivors with, “Do you recognize these men?”

Like Chris Kice, widow of accused assassin Tom Kice, was looking at the same newscast as me in 1979 and said, “I don’t see Tom. None of those men are Tom.” Note: She had the time to look at the (longer, uncut) film footage.

Or Al Morrison, an Army veteran friend (now deceased) also there, who said, “I know what that is. It’s a squad diamond. You learn that in basic training.” Because the footage was long enough for them to fall into formation and he had the time to look.

Or even me: I saw a symmetrical fanning-out upon advance, then I remember one figure standing over a body (the Congressman’s, perhaps?), jabbing a rifle butt downwards (to be sure he was dead?); and then the NBC camera only going to “snow” when a gunman advanced directly on the cameraman, Bob Brown. I had the time to look.

Even Ron Javers, the newsman standing beside Brown, attested to a longer film:

“Bob Brown stayed on his feet, and kept filming what was happening, even as the attackers advanced on him with their guns. He was incredibly tenacious. . . . Then I saw one of the attackers stick a shotgun right into Brown’s face, inches away, if that.”

All the FBI ever had to do, and was mandated to do, was to show that original uncut film footage to survivors with, “Do you recognize these men?”

They didn’t. So now I’ve had to prove that it was not Peoples Temple with just 5-6 seconds of finally-resurfaced film footage.

Just luckily, it’s doable. Indeed, the photo showing the assassins head-on, reprinted on the lead page of the “In Plain Sight“ investigation, rules out their being anyone from Jonestown at all. (See “There Was No Bob Kice.”)

There is additional footage, to boot, showing the placement of planes, people, vehicles, assassins. As well as newsmen’s reports that do not tally with anything but a professional hit.

“In Plain Sight” is the investigation that should have been done, but never was. So notwithstanding varying opinions, it’s opinions about what? It should be opinions about the now-on-hand evidence, yes?

O.k. On to specific rebuttals:

As for military logistics: Knight-Griffin claims that if they were really the military pros that I claim they were, then they had to do this, they had to do that. They would have used automatic weapons. They would have given each other hand signals. They wouldn’t have driven a vehicle so noisy as to attract attention prior to the attack.

Even that no real military team would have charged into plain sight and fired away! Well, except that that’s where the Congressman was, so they should have been shooting from where, exactly? The proverbial school book depository?

Theoreticals are pointless. The military plans the operation it has, not a theoretical. Though yes, this was the riskiest theatre, a wide-open terrain. (Well, except for one thing. We’ll get to that.)

Riskier still, they had to make it seem that it was not the CIA, but rather Peoples Temple who did it. To employ military planning, technology and personnel, all the while making it look like just a bunch of cult crazies.

Pointing towards an intricate “black op.” That is uncomfortable for people, yes, but regrettably, that’s what the evidence spells out.

Next, Knight-Griffin cites issues of camouflage but does not address the particulars. They did have to camouflage a) the tractor; b) the trailer; and c) the assassins best they could even in an risky wide-open terrain.

Regarding camouflaging the assassins so as to mimic men from Jonestown, well, since they were hidden prior to the shootings, no one could say that they were not from Jonestown — because they didn’t see them!

And why not? Well, you can hide inside a trailer, but the driver of a tractor would be sticking straight up! So him you could see, yes? Well, unless you modified the tractor to have the driver not sticking up into the air. As was indeed done. JUST LOOK. (See “The Vehicle Used in the Attack” from the “In Plain Sight” investigation.)

But what of when they emerged for the attack? Didn’t they need to look like civilians, not military? Yes. Namely the left and right flank assassins were dressed like civilians — light colored shirts, dark trousers.

Except ONE assassin, namely the LEAD assassin, first to charge at the Congressman with a gun, had to be and was, dressed like a walking rain forest. He was so decked in green military camouflage head-to-toe, that you have to pick out his form frame-by-frame from the greenery behind him!

Was it just coincidence that other assassins were dressed like civilians, but that the assassin who had to succeed, was decked in full military décor?

Moreover, no eyewitness identified anyone like that! Tells you something, doesn’t it? Like what else didn’t they notice while they were falling, fleeing, or hiding under plane seats? Not their fault, yet no one posed a critical question ever.

Now, regarding the next camouflage, namely, duplication of the Jonestown vehicles: I have laid that out in the “In Plain Sight“ investigation. I will also reveal who secured needed photos from the community (can’t duplicate what you can’t see) as well as, undoubtedly, on-site intelligence regarding which vehicles were used for transport.

I’ve taken the real Jonestown tractor and trailer as filmed by NBC, then compared them against the vehicle used in the attack. Different vehicle. JUST LOOK.

So let us again move past the smokescreens and sand:

As demonstrated in “The Vehicle Used in the Attack,“ a radically-modified tractor carried the killers onto the airstrip. Knight-Griffin just cites a tractor allegedly from Jonestown (i.e., the tractor as per a survivor was a Massey Ferguson 178, not a Massey Ferguson 185).

So they had a tractor “before” and a tractor was found at Jonestown “after.” So what? The gun was in the drawer BEFORE the crime. It was on the table AFTER the crime. That tells you who did it HOW? Do we just ignore what happened DURING the commission of a crime?

The real “so what” is that a visibly altered duplicate was used in the attack, not the vehicle from Jonestown at all. Of which PROOFS are in the “The Vehicle Used in the Attack” section of the “In Plain Sight” investigation.

As for other points relating to, respectively, the noise factor of a large, clunky farm vehicle; and film footage which allegedly showed two of the assassins “firing long rifles”:

Re “firing rifles,” this film is lopped off before anyone fires at the Congressman!! Knight-Griffin’s claim here is simply false.

There is only one gunman seen firing, at the front of that long vehicle. His shot is upwards, in the wrong direction. It is diversionary, to attract attention away from the assassins disembarking at the back of the trailer.

And diversions are pre-planned by definition. Just another clue that these were not ad hoc vigilantes, but rather a teams of pros.

Next, Knight-Griffin’s premise that they should have had weapons as per “an elite military assault team.” Or that they should have used a visibly military vehicle rather than a farm tractor.

O.k. Let me repeat this. They were supposed to look like they were from JONESTOWN, NOT LANGLEY!! If they looked like they were from Langley, there would have been a scandalous probe with the CIA on trial for the murder of a U.S. Congressman. The last thing they wanted!

Then why, with the need for camouflage, would they have been using military machine guns, military dress (well, save for the assassin who had to have the edge) and a military tank?

They wouldn’t have. Yet what I said about the vehicle used in the attack being “a custom-designed military vintage vehicle never available for public sale” is yes, true:

They used a farm tractor as a base, because they needed a mimic for the purpose of camouflage, yes, but then modified it for a military purpose.

Has that ever been done with a tractor before or since? I don’t know. But the question, “Did Government Assassins Own a Tractor?“ becomes disingenuous. This was a one-time deal. So all that unique twist would have meant was greater planning, expertise and yeah, expense to get it done — to procure the right model tractor and to implement the modifications.

What should have been the open, step-right-in area of the tractor (yes, visible in Knight-Griffin’s picture of a real tractor) was instead concealed with solid metal. Straight across, broadside, viewable in bright sunlight with no obstructions. Just look.

They also deleted the elevated steering wheel. Just look.

Wait. They rebuilt the steering below eye level so as to hide the driver (lest he be spotted as not being from Jonestown), yet that driver was still able to safely drive forwards? Look, your local car mechanic doesn’t get this done. That’s military issue.

This is exactly what I have called it: “a custom-designed military vehicle never available for public sale.”

Next to some claimed observation by Knight-Griffin that the film footage allegedly shows that the killers “paused” and seemed “confused” and “unsure where to go”:

Good God!! They did a trained, practiced, footwork-certain disembark onto a hard landing, then a sharp right turn, with still the momentum to charge straight forwards! They did it in five seconds flat!! Where did “confused and unsure where to go” come from? They could not have been less “confused and unsure where to go.”

And yes, as Knight-Griffin noted, they did it silently. Why? Well, they couldn’t speak, any more than they could be seen upon approaching the airstrip. Because they would risk visual NON-recognition (“These guys aren’t from Jonestown!”); then speaking would risk sound NON-recognition! (“These guys aren’t from Jonestown!”)

Yet Knight-Griffin says that they should have at least exchanged hand signals. What does that mean? Like a baseball game where the hitter gets waved in to home plate? Look. That they did this without any spoken or gestural coordination was astounding. Pros! Point proven.

Next. Shooting out in the open? The military wouldn’t do that? Maybe not normally, but it was the only option in that terrain. You just better be as trained, quick, and brutal as these guys were to pull it off!

And you know what? Best also to have whatever military on site stand down by pre-arrangement. Knight-Griffin is concerned how they “engaged the Guyanese soldiers guarding the airstrip”? Did he never see the news report of “soldiers with M-16s rifles [who] refused to intervene”? (newsman Bob Flick’s account.)

Well, unless that was just coincidental — that the assassins took a seemingly reckless risk that soldiers might shoot back, just coincidentally running into “soldiers with M-16 rifles who refused to intervene”?

Now as to the NOISE factor. Knight-Griffin questioned that they would have risked using a noisy farm vehicle out in the open which might have attracted attention on its approach.

Good question. So why did the victims not hear/notice it on the approach, as one of the eyewitnesses not only outright said (see “Eyewitness Identifications: The NBC on-Site Film Footage Versus the FBI Report“), but identified why, as the film footage also confirms:

Namely, there was a competing, also very loud (as recorded right on film!) even more immediate noise for the victims — namely, the plane’s engines revving up!

Even more remarkably, those engines began to roar a) when the Congressman had already arrived at the boarding area; yet b) before he had boarded. I.e., the engines were turned on just as the Congressman stepped into open target range!

Another coincidence? That engine noise also signaled the attackers who had NO LINE OF VISION, still being off-stage, not yet on the airstrip. They could not know on their own when to barrel on in. They couldn’t know because they couldn’t see. They needed a signal.

Even more remarkably, coincidentally the pilot had parked the plane with its boarding area exactly opposite the staging point for the attack!

The pilot, as the on-site film confirms, even had a line of vision outside his left-hand window to spot the boarding area on the ground.

Coincidence? Sheer dumb luck? What do you believe, Mr. Knight-Griffin? Were the soldiers with M-16’s who refused to intervene also just luck? Soldiers who should have done anything BUT stand down, yet they did? What a lucky break for the assassins!

Yet all these unlikely coincidences are also documented. So maybe it was not “coincidental” at all.

As for the tractor-trailer “driving back to Jonestown”: How does he know that? The vehicle was not pointed that way when it sped off. They would have had to make a 180. How does Knight-Griffin know that that happened? He doesn’t.

So far as “leaving pilots with the skills to escape“? Well, they didn’t!! Did Knight-Griffin never read that even in the midst of that way-risky op, they shot out the tires of the plane?

No way could they allow that plane out, to then bring in other planes and personnel who might stop the deaths at Jonestown.

Next. “Is it possible that there was another . . . tractor inside the dense jungle that day? Statistically, the chances are slim.” The ice-cream-can’t-be-sherbet-except-when-it’s-sherbet argument.

And no, chances not “slim” at all if an agent cons his way into Jonestown just two months earlier to film the vehicles used to shuttle visitors back and forth from the airstrip. Then “slim” can even become “certain.”

Not provable? No, it is — proofs that will be printed.

Next: Jim Jones had talked to Larry Layton before Larry joined the departing party by pretending to defect. So Jones saying on the final tape, “I know what will happen” means little. Because Jones also said, “now I know” [“now” = not at the time] what Larry meant to do. Whatever surmisal from an unknown conversation. (Though yes, PT people intended harm, whoever it came from. That’s not in dispute.)

But we can do even one better, effectively ruling out Knight-Griffin’s surmisal. And that is the statement on the final tape (also from Jones) about Larry intending to “shoot the plane out of the sky.”

How, pray tell, could you shoot a plane out the sky when the real assassins have shot out the plane’s tires to prevent it from taking off?!

Lastly, as for Knight-Griffin’s questioning of my assertion that “the eyewitness accounts were in error”:

What an understatement! Aside from such a hodge-podge that even the FBI wound up with “twelve possible candidates for three assassins” (declaring NO ONE the assassins!), there is just no mix-and-match possible against the on-site NBC film footage! (See “Eyewitness Identifications: The FBI Report Versus the On-Site NBC Film Footage.”)

Yes, it appears that every attempt to discredit this investigation, instead re-enforces the point. All that is left now is to actually LOOK at the “In Plain Sight” investigation which Knight-Griffin has sidelined as if it doesn’t exist.

O.k. This is where we stand:

Mr. Knight-Griffin, maybe you were so eager to rebut the “In Plain Sight” article, that you missed that it was only a prelude to the “In Plain Sight” investigation. That might have happened.

But please now look at the evidence, not just list hypotheticals about what you speculate should have happened, much less conclusions about my own allegedly “misguided and unsupported” findings based upon evidence that you have not even examined

I’m doing a documented, meticulous, attacked and thankless job here for history. Because I loved my friends. Because however deranged was their leader by the end, they were good people, long-time non-violent, and in so many constructive, even valiant ways living their “impossible dream” of escape from the ghettoes of the U.S. to a new life. That much redemption they deserve.

And because I don’t like intelligence agencies getting away with a political assassination and then deeming a thousand precious innocents “collateral damage.”

The scenario at the time was yes, twisty, convoluted and sinister, but my motives are not.

They’re pretty simple. I’m a real person with real, grounded, heartfelt motives and especially, real evidence.

So to the reader: The “In Plain Sight” investigation. JUST LOOK!

Last modified on January 31st, 2014.
Skip to main content