They Had “A Problem”
Actually they had several problems, but this one was paramount. Namely, enmity between the C.I.A. and Congressman Leo Ryan was well-known, notably through the Hughes-RYAN Amendment to the Foreign Relations Act of 1974, all but banning CIA black ops. (Well, understand, unless they opted for the now-legally-mandated alternative: reporting to eight Congressional committees! See “Pre-Planning the Frame,” panel .)
The CIA was also suspected of being entrenched in Guyana at that time. It was still classified, but by now DE-classified, as even a cursory look through Wikipedia reveals:
“Guyana 1967: A covert action was proposed to . . . an oversight committee of United States covert operations, which stated: ‘It is established U.S. policy that Cheddi Jagan, East Indian Marxist leader of the pro-Communist People’s Progressive Party in Guyana, will not be permitted to take over the government of . . . Guyana.. . . It is believed that Jagan has a good chance of coming to power . . . unless steps are taken to prevent this. . . Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. . . has stated that he is fully prepared to utilize the electoral machinery. . . to ensure his own re-election.. . It is recommended that he and his party be provided with covert support . . .”
Meanwhile, the CIA’s man, Forbes Burnham was still in power by 1978 and communist Cheddi Jagan was still trying to get him ousted! By 1978 in Guyana, CIA dominance in Guyana had become “the status quo.”
Leading the Ryan Contingent Down the Garden Path
The Ryan contingent knew full well the enmity between Congressman Ryan and the CIA, thus the fear that the Ryan camp (aides and family) would rush to presume that somehow it was the CIA who had killed the Congressman, “cult crazies” or not.
Thus the CIA did something quite devious, even if predictable in a long lens back view:
Suddenly, It was Peoples Temple Who Was (Allegedly) the CIA
Rather than denying CIA involvement in the assassination, they did a jiu-jitsu: They pushed that yes, of course the CIA killed the Congressman! But understand, not “the real CIA.” No. It was to be “the Peoples Temple CIA.”
Somehow, Jim Jones wasn’t really the one who visited exiled Black Panther leader Huey Newton in Castro’s Cuba or was vying to get his group re-relocated to the then-dreaded USSR. (See “Pre-Planning the Frame,” panel .) He wasn’t the one who had courted every left-wing activist in the United States at Peoples Temple San Francisco. He wasn’t the same one who railed against corporatism before it even had coinage in the culture. He wasn’t self-proclaimed communist Jim Jones.
Indeed, no one had clued the Ryan people into ANY of that. (Jones’ far left wing stance was NEVER in the public eye past the exodus to Guyana. Just one initial smear in Murdoch‘s fledging U.S. magazine, “New West” about “liberal, leftist” and they were done with it.) It was all just about “cult, cult, cult.”
Ah, but now “the [alleged] secret”: Jim Jones (allegedly) wasn’t just a cult leader at all. He was also a CIA operative in the most clever disguise. His group was infiltrated with agents and the assassination of Leo Ryan was done by them.
And the real CIA in Guyana? For eleven years by then, to prop up their puppet Forbes Burnham against incursion by communist Cheddi Jagan? Oh, suddenly they did not even exist! It was all about an alleged secret Jim Jones CIA front.
Who Would They Pick for the Honors and Why?
Quite despicably of course, they chose a mild-manned young man, Philip Blakey, one of the first settlers on the farm, for “the CIA agent in Jonestown.” It was patently ludicrous, but they needed to pick someone who went back to at least 1975, not 1978.
And the reason they had to pick someone who went back to at least 1975? Easy. The alleged cred for the one they picked is that he was supposedly involved in a CIA foreign operation that Ryan had targeted back then, namely the CIA meddling in Angola. Blakey was now said to be “a recruiter of mercenaries for the CIA in Angola in 1975.”
Not that Blakey was ever anywhere near Angola, much less in the CIA at all. Nor did anyone ever even attempt to prove that lie. Just say that it was so, and it would be so inflammatory to the Ryan contingent that they would jump to the bait.
Indeed, everything Ryan was known to oppose or had investigated, was fair game. Now Peoples Temple was suddenly “an MK Ultra experiment” too, because Ryan had tried to expose the CIA’s role in MK Ultra. The notorious “brainwashing.” That Jim-Jones-CIA-agent must have “brainwashed everyone in an MK Ultra experiment.“
Say, if Ryan had been investigating the CIA’s role in people standing on their heads, everyone in Peoples Temple would have been portrayed as turned upside-down….
Who In the Ryan Contingent Was Targeted For Disinformation and How?
Again, easy. They picked Ryan’s senior aide, one Joseph Holsinger. We have already seen in the previous section, “The Immediate Aftermath: It’s Not Just the Crime, It’s the Cover-Up,” that Holsinger’s own son was targeted for an anonymous (well, it was always “anonymous” — naturally) death threat the very night of the tragedy.
Soon after (“lo and behold”), there is an article in a (apparently black-run) paper, The Chicago Defender, alleging “the truth about Jim Jones and the CIA.” With the author of that article (if that was revealed at the time, it was not mentioned later) immediately tagging Holsinger for the whole crock of disinformation.
“On Information and Belief”
And the upshot? The ludicrous (were it not so tragic — by which I mean the deliberate misleading of a grieving family) lawsuit filed by the Ryan family suing the federal government for “the Jim Jones CIA” who murdered their father.
For those familiar with legal proceedings, the term “on information and belief” is a catch-all stand-in for rumor, hearsay, gossip or whatever-take-your-pick — namely, anything but PROOF!!
It’s a way of saying that we believe it to be so but we cannot PROVE it.
Well, the Ryan lawsuit is not only full of “on information and belief,” but there is nothing BUT “on information and belief.” See panel . Clauses XXVI. and XXVII. (= 26 and 27) start exactly that way, “On information and belief” — as that is the template for the entire lawsuit! There is nothing different, nothing more solid to be found anywhere.
Meaning that the lawsuit went nowhere but to “the round file.” How does one prosecute anything with NO PROOF?
Ah, but that was never the point. The point was to divert, to preclude any real investigation of (yes, folks) THE REAL CIA!!
People Temple Was FOR Forbes Burnham? Really?
The last thing the bogus lawsuit presses is that somehow Peoples Temple was in the hip pocket of CIA-propped-up Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. To the point where the Temple was “obviously enforcers to intimidate the opposition” for Burnham.
Based on what? Well, nothing. The OPPOSITE was what was true. The Temple would have way preferred communist Cheddi Jagan but was forced into lip support for Burnham since he was the host government. That’s the whole of it.
I was in the San Francisco Temple during the last election between Burnham and Jagan before the tragedy. Our instructions there were to write letters supporting Burnham even though we wanted Jagan, not Burnham, to run Guyana.
Next, on to getting a whole other group of interested parties off track: the black and leftist communities of the United States.
Who In the Black and Leftist Communities Were Targeted For Disinformation and How?
Well, both the black community and the leftist community were targeted for disinformation as Jim Jones had been known in the States as their champion.
So lo and behold, the article in The Chicago Defender is also picked up by the newspaper Worker’s World! Which the Black Panthers then cited as their “source.”
Like the CIA gave real authentic classified information to either the Black Panthers or the Communist Party??
But look, here was the result: December 2, 1978, The Black Panther, the publication of the then-Black Panther Party was left as virtually the only group still offering redemptive assessments of Jonestown, their headline reading, “Jonestown: We Have Tasted Total Equality,“ referring to full racial and economic equality at Jonestown.
No, not signaling their approval of anyone’s deaths. Not at all. But suspicious, maybe up for an investigation.
Well, just as they later threw Scientology off the trail of any real investigation into the all-too-real CIA (see “The Immediate Aftermath,“ panel [4-1]), they used a somewhat different, yet equally effective m.o. to throw The Black Panthers off any investigative trail.
Note that by December 30, 1978, all of four weeks after the “Jonestown: We Have Tasted Total Equality” headliner, comes the disinformation headliner, “Jones Aide Worked as Mercenary in Angola.” And their “credible source” for that allegation? Worker’s World!! From an article dated December 15, 1978. “Quick work,” I would say. The tragedy had happened just the month before on November 18, 1978. In less than a month, the CIA had installed this as “gospel” with the communists; within two weeks after that, it had misdirected any possible investigation on the part of the American black left of the time.
Disinforming the Media: David Brinkley, Thomas Smeeton and Me
Oh, by the way, there was NEVER any investigation into the killing of the Congressman at all . NEVER.
But even I was appalled to see prominent newsman (at that time) David Brinkley, hosting the first anniversary special in 1979 on NBC, the network who had had several newsmen shot and/or killed(!), announcing nearly smugly, that “There was never any investigation of the killings. Because all of the principals are dead. And besides, nobody liked that particular Congressman.”
Stomach-turning. People being allegedly “liked” or not (were it even so — that I doubt) should even factor into whether the killing of a Congressman was investigated? And when Brinkley’s own network’s newsmen were listed amongst the dead?
Well, apparently Congressman Ryan was at least “liked enough,” that the Hughes-RYAN Amendment passed Congress. . . . Which obviously the CIA could not have “liked.” Lest anyone reading this should miss the connection.
As for the other comment about “All of the principals are dead”:
That was exact, verbatim, word-for-word the same as what Congressional aide Thomas Smeeton told me personally when I traveled to D.C. in January, 1980 to demand that the NBC film footage be blown up to prove that the assassins were not from Peoples Temple at all: “Why would we do that? All of the principals are dead.”
Well, yeah, if they were the ones who actually did it….
It just does seem a bit odd that somehow David Brinkley of NBC was mouthing the exact same six words told verbatim to me.
(Of course I have exposed the footage of the assassins myself in this, the “In Plain Sight” project. Their photo is right on the cover page of the project, taken directly from the NBC on-site film footage. With proofs that it was IMPOSSIBLE that it was the Peoples Temple accuseds, including, “There Was No Bob Kice,” “Eyewitness Identifications: The FBI Report Versus the On-Site NBC Film Footage” and “The Master Schematic: Tim Reiterman Versus NBC.” I just did not have access to that footage until very recent years.)
A newsperson who had worked at NBC at the time of the tragedy even told me personally back in 1980 that Smeeton was suspected to be “the CIA plant on the Congressional committee.” Yeah, as if that could not be figured out. . . .
Covering Bases South of the Border and Beyond
And that was pretty much “it” for the local (meaning the States) personnel. The planted story in The Chicago Defender did its work “but good,” with both the Ryan contingent and the black/leftist communities. The media (notably NBC, whose own newsmen were injured and/or slain) was apparently handled more privately, hands-on, by the likes of Thomas Smeeton of the Congressional committee.
But one base remained uncovered — namely, how did Jim Jones’ alleged “career with the CIA” begin? If he was really “an international spy” (as per the likes of the Angola fiction), how did this well-known figure on the far left suddenly supposedly emerge on the far right?
Well, maybe it was just too tempting to go ahead and draw international connections anyway since Jones had in fact been in Brazil for missionary work in the early sixties. That certainly could opportunistically serve to create an alleged “right-wing CIA connection” that they hoped would stick.
Even then, if one thinks that this might have been a gratuitous kind of “overkill,” when the whole world already knew that “Jones (allegedly) ordered the killing of the Congressman,” bear in mind some key backdrops:
First, as an overall comment, there was probably no such thing as “overkill,” since one really could not do “enough” to divert, disinform and cover-up guilt for a Congressional assassination. Moreover, ALL of the key disinformation campaigns (this is the FOURTH delineated herein) were launched within days of the tragedy, showing (since these were very freaky out-of-the-blue maneuvers!) advance planning.
In other words, there was no way to KNOW how this would come down publicly in advance of the event. So the plan was apparently to cut every possible ally, or prod for investigation, off at the pass.
And they did have international concerns: Jim Jones had made a highly publicized trip to Cuba to visit exiled Black Panther leader Huey Newton. He had also met with Eric Gairy, then-Prime Minister of socialist Grenada. The Temple had hosted Laura Allende, sister of the slain Chilean President, Salvatore Allende, as well as Chilean refugees from the regime following the coup. (See panel  of “BEFORE: Pre-Planning the Frame.”)
The church was also on close terms with the dreaded then-USSR and desperately trying to re-relocate there by the time of the tragedy.
Jim Jones, in the CIA’s eyes, had to have been a real “Red Menace.”
Even Joseph Mazor (the same presumptive agent who came right into Jonestown to obtain photographs of the Jonestown vehicle for duplications to use in the look-alike frame; see “BEFORE: Pre-Planning the Frame”) got on television within days of the tragedy (I saw that myself) to announce that “It was considered that Jim Jones would become a major political force in the Caribbean within five years.” An international intelligence assessment.
Throwing the International Community Off the Trail
What better then (since Jones had in fact been in Brazil), than to claim that Jim Jones’ (albeit fictional) CIA career started in Rio? Get in there right away, virtually as soon as the “hit” came down, and claim that there was “a whole history of international CIA involvement.” That Jones’ whole left-wing stance was just a pose. That this fellow had really been perilously on the right.
The list of alleged “exposé” articles cited on panel  speak for themselves both by titles and dating: The likes of “To Brazilians, Jim Jones Was a CIA Agent,” and dated November 24, 1978, less than a week after the tragedy!!
Well, did Brazilians know who Jim Jones was at all? Ummm…….. probably not. But it sounds so authoritative, so accepted, so notorious. (And as we will see, so really really REALLY suspiciously “sourced“….) Also so close upon the tragedy, designed to place a wedge, a bar, into the brain of anyone who might think that investigation of the killings (I mean of the Congressman and his party), much less defense of the cult, would be the way to go because after all, Jim Jones was a champion of the left, a natural opponent of the CIA.
The Great “Find” of Smoke and Mirrors
Thus was Rio selected to dispense with the hatchet job. But understand, no attempt was even made to prove anything. Just make it seem like there were a lot of sources; meanwhile, the innuendoes were so notorious and extreme, as well as planted at such a volatile time, that who could proceed with any certainty against that?
Well, what do we actually know about the disinformation coverage in Brazil? O.k. No one has actually printed the articles themselves, but I found a summary of their contents on the internet. And it goes like this:
First we are told that Jim Jones was a long-time FBI/CIA asset, including implementing the CIA’s notorious MK-ULTRA mind control program.
This, we are told, is why “Jones’ 201-file was purged by the CIA immediately after Jones’ case officer, Dan Mitrione, was murdered in Montevideo, Uruguay.”
And we know that there ever even WAS a “Jim Jones CIA file,” much less that Jones had Dan Mitrione as his “case officer” how, exactly?
Well, we don’t know it. Actually NO ONE “knew” it. Not then, not now.
Well, now it has the status of “an internet allegation,” i.e., not supported by any traceable source. Then it had the status of appearing in a Brazilian newspaper — ALSO not supported by any traceable source!
Curiously, however, it is in fact prefaced by “There is no smoking gun in the pages that follow.” Well, gee, I might have wild-guessed that…..
We are, however, given a trail to follow:
We are told that it all went back to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, a Rio suburb where Jones briefly had a missionary project in the early sixties. The source of the allegations is cited as:
“…the English language Brazil Herald, a newspaper thought by many to have been owned, or secretly supported, by the CIA.”! Even adding that, “Curiously. . . . none of the articles originating in Rio quote identifiable sources.”
O.k. Let’s get this straight: The CIA sets up an English language newspaper front in a Portuguese-speaking South American country in the 70’s, to provide accurate classified information to the general public? What planet are we on that anyone would believe that?
O.k. The Brazil Herald. Yes, there are Portuguese papers cited too, but this is said to be the prime source. So from my perspective anyway, I would say that it’s source #1 down the drain.
Ah, but it gets worse:
Next we are told that a firm called Invesco was the “front” group for Jones in Brazil, by someone claiming Jones had worked there but “did not want his name used.” He goes on to say that Jones never actually sold anything for Invesco (whose company was umm…… sales!) , so there are no records anyway!
O.k. Jones’ alleged boss in the alleged front group Invesco. Source #2 down the drain.
Also bear in mind that source #2’s only claim to credibility was its inclusion in the Brazil Herald! As will be sources 3 & 4 (well, sources 5 & 6 for that matter, too…)
O.k. What of source #3? Now it’s someone who claimed to have been “Jim Jones’ closest friend in Rio.”
And who was THAT person? Whoops. “In the article, she is only identified as Madame X.” Who goes on to volunteer that source #4, “a friend of the family” was paying Jones’ rent during periods of his absence.
Except that, “The friend of the family, like Madame X and Jones’ boss at Invesco, is never identified.“
O.k. Source #3 (“friend of the family”) and source #4 (“Madame X”) down the drain.
Did anyone even KNOW who “Madame X” and “a friend of the family” were supposed to be? Well, don’t ask the very author of the so-called exposé!:
“The author of the Brazil Herald article, Harold Emert [that’s source #5 for anyone keeping track] doesn’t know!!! [italics and exclamation points mine]. The reason he doesn’t know is that he himself never spoke to her. Jim Bruce [source #6] did. Who, then, is Jim Bruce? According to Emert, Jim Bruce was at that time an American freelancer based in Brazil. It was he who inspired the Jim-Jones-in-Rio story and he who provided the sources: i.e., the Invesco executive and Madame X.”
Then comes the unbelievable punch line of, “Why Bruce failed to write the story himself is unclear.”
O.k. Source #5 (Harold Emert) and source #6 (Jim Bruce) down the drain. And I am simply puzzled as to why ANY of this is “unclear”….
O.k. Here Are All the Ducks In a Row
Source #1: The Brazil Herald, purportedly run by the CIA. Source #2, the Invesco boss who had no records and would not so much as give his name. Source #3, some so-called “Madame X” of the no-name variety. Source #4: “a friend of the family” who no one knows who it is. Source #5: Harold Emert, the hapless author(!!) of the article in the CIA-front newspaper who knows nothing from no one, since the “original source,” source #6, Jim Bruce (or Tom Smith, or John Wilson, or “whoever”) himself never wrote anything and is nowhere to be found.
Are We Supposed To Actually Believe This?
Well, no. At least not me. But what is instructive here is that this is just about what you would expect a CIA disinformation campaign to look like. It is exactly what it looks like.
But why would the CIA even bother if they did not themselves have something to cover up? Like a Congressional assassination, maybe? (Lady Macbeth, anybody?) Because honestly, “crazy cult leader” seemed to work just fine for the general public. The crazy cult leader who “ordered” the killing of the Congressman. Cult, cult, cult. No one was even looking for anything else.
But let’s also put this in context: It may be mindless to just swallow this as real authentic classified information. It wasn’t done mindlessly by the CIA disinformation purveyors, however. They actually did “have a problem” — the need to rule out the most obvious suspects –THEMSELVES!!– in their own known enmity for the Hughes-RYAN-Amendment Congressman.
As well as the need to rule out any international support for a (now-dead) man, Jim ones, who was by then known to have an array of international left-wing supporters.
Do We See a Pattern in the Press?
Whether American or international, yes, there were tell-tale patterns in the press. With Nicholas Horrock of The New York Times (see “The Immediate Aftermath,” panels [4-1] and [4-2]), all of the sources were “shadowy” as well. Note on panel [4-2] thirty-one nameless faceless “sources” for a lengthy article! They are so-called “generic” sources, such as not even “an unnamed official,” but rather “the government” and “the authorities,” and “they.”
The Brazilian “sources” are shadowy as well. There they are supposed to be specific people, except no one gives their name and they are untraceable to the point of “generic” as well. (“Madame X,” anyone?)
Of course, no one asked who were Nicholas Horrock’s sources, but the reality is that they were not just “generic,” but also generically suspicious, in that for this huge international story neither the Guyanese nor American government, either one, seemed to have any official spokesperson at all — just “they” and “the government” and “the authorities” and (well) “the sources”!
While the Brazilian story, with a different style but the m.o. on a parallel track, gives a whole new meaning to the word “unsourced”: There the very author of the key article claims to have had no contact with his own sources at all!!
But with the likes of internet allegations, we oftentimes have no recourse when a seeming something collapses into nothing. I was astonished to read that, “It is a fact that the CIA’s Office of Security opened a file on Jones. . . . Why it did so is a mystery; the Agency won’t say.“
Wait a minute. Was that the very same “file” that was “purged,” except that no one ever got to see the alleged contents in the interim?
We could go on but it gets pointless. How about the shadowy “Madame X,” of whom no one seems to know who she was or if she existed at all?
The Bottom Line Regarding Sourcing
This is the bottom line: If there is any credible named first-hand source, we might at least have something to build on. But this is more like, what do you do once insects have gotten into the grain? If no one is named and the very author of the expose claims NO CONTACT WITH HIS OWN ALLEGED SOURCES, while meanwhile, the alleged contactee wrote nothing of his own and has fled without a trace, why would we even be inquiring, well what kind of an insect was it, or dissecting his legs, wings or stinger.
I say that once insects have gotten in the grain, you have to dump the grain, not go dignifying their legs and wings and stingers.
Let’s Recognize Disinformation For What It Is
Why promote a mindless story which never made any sense, yet its MOTIVES were obvious. Why even do it?
Just rest assured, there is no actual information there. Just DIS-information with transparent motives. One can call it “on information and belief” if one likes. Just know that it’s “a story,” nothing more. A story designed to cover the CIA’s own genuine provable guilt.
It’s even more of a shame in that there are people left who actually care about the people who died and were never given any answers that made any sense. But unfortunately, unsourced fantastical stories from out of nowhere has never been the route to coherent answers.
Versus TONS of Smoking Guns
All I’ve done in “In Plain Sight” is to produce original, authentic “smoking gun” sources. I’ve surely established the baseline of difference. Does one really want to speculate “Who was Madame X?” when we can look at the likes of actual on-site NBC film footage from the airstrip at the time of the killings?
Now let’s sum this up:
Divert [the Ryan contingent], Disinform [the american media], Flip [the black/left community] and Scare Away [the international left] 
This was a CIA m.o. which worked for everyone: diverting the Ryan contingent; disinforming the American media; divesting the black-leftist communities of any appetite for investigation; sending the international community off-track.
The Black/Leftist Community in the States: Those who might have been most sympathetic, most eager to investigate conspiracy, most vocal in demanding an investigation. It took all of four weeks to flip The Black Panther Party from (December 2, 1978) “We Have Tasted Total [racial and economic] Equality” = Jim Jones, black-leftist hero; to (December 30, 1978) “Jones’ Aide Worked as Mercenary in Angola” = Jim Jones, CIA agent, scum of the earth.
The Media: David Brinkley from NBC, the network who had been on site and wound up with slain and injured newsmen, now wild-goose-chased off of any further questions. Even so much as questioning why the U.S. government never investigated the assassination of their own Congressman.
The Ryan Contingent: Fed disinformation leading nowhere to sidetrack any real line of inquiry into such an inane dead end, that it became impossible to pursue.
The International Community: Make any prior international supporters on the left think that Jim Jones was really coming from the right so don’t touch it.
So There We Have It
Thus was any entry into the “Pandora’s Box” of the assassination cut off at the pass. “Pandora’s Box” being the ACTUAL CIA guilt for the killing of the Congressman. NOT the “No one can prove it, not one shred of proof, but it must have been ‘the Jim Jones faction of the CIA’ who killed Leo Ryan.”
And that’s how come no one has tackled it between then and now. (Well, me, I’ve tackled it, but I did not have access to key source evidence until very recent years.) High-powered disinformation pervasively spread for years at a time. High-powered preclusion of ANY investigation. Combined with the natural preclusions of this subject anyway: Too scary. Dead kids. Deep dark jungle. The media never said different before. Can’t we just make a few more bad kool-aid jokes then leave it alone?
Why It Is Historically Important To Get This Right
It’s not right that quite evil forces overpower, disempower, and even frame innocents, HOWEVER crackers their leader may have been. It’s not right to assassinate a United States Congressman with impunity. It’s not right that there is no justice, with wickedly guilty parties having gone scot free. It wasn’t right for John F. Kennedy (the original “something is rotten in Denmark”) and it wasn’t right for Leo J. Ryan. It’s not right for America.
Finally at least, there is one real-live assassination conspiracy in the checkered American landscape that can be PROVEN. And it is THIS. I’ve done this project because it is the right thing to do.
God bless my friends. May they rest in peace.