EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATIONS?: THE FBI REPORT VERSUS THE ON-SITE NBC FILM FOOTAGE

This section examines the alleged eyewitness identifications of the Port Kaituma assassins using the NBC film footage, the FBI eyewitness reports and other authenticated documents.

 

            Note that this is a process that has not only never before been done, but is full of surprises and shocks.  As will be verified in this section:

 

This Was Never Handled Like a “Real” Investigation

 

            The FBI had the NBC film footage of the assassination, yet never showed it to survivors — the first mandate of any “real” investigation.  Instead, they suppressed the film and recorded a hodge-podge of “I saw this one, I saw that one…,” implicating four times as many men (namely, twelve) as actually did the shooting (namely, three.) 

 

            All they had to do and should have done unfailingly, was to show the NBC footage to the survivors of the airstrip massacre with, “Do you recognize these men?”  That was never done.

 

            Nor did the FBI (or anyone else) ever plot out the logistics of the crime scene (again, as with a “real” investigation) to determine who saw who, what, when, from what angle or to clarify their wildly conflicting tales. 

 

            But wasn’t there some kind of a hearing?  Wasn’t anyone publicly questioned?  No, there was never a hearing nor were eyewitnesses ever questioned. 

 

Weren’t There Too Many Eyewitnesses to Discount?  And Didn’t They All Agree on What They Saw?

 

            But aren’t we talking about discounting too many eyewitnesses?  Not at all.  No one but the defectors could identify men from Jonestown at all.  Most had already boarded when the shooting broke out and those still on the ground either fell or fled. 

 

            Even those on the ground, by the survivors’ own account, neither heard nor saw their attackers approaching.  And that’s confirmed on the film footage.  You hear the plane’s engines, easily blocking out the sound of an approach; you see their backs turned to the staging point of the attack.

 

            To boot, again as verified by the NBC footage, the real Jonestown vehicle (i.e., not the attack vehicle; see “The Vehicle Used in the Attack“), was just a stone’s throw away.  So the departing passengers yes, saw the real Jonestown tractor-trailer — in fact were filmed right in front of it minutes prior to the attack.  They also saw it after the attack. 

 

            What a huge shock that no one was identified during the attack!!  They were, you say?  No, the primary evidence, the NBC film footage, confirms that they weren’t

 

            Quite a charge.  How can we know that?  Because even with confusion, mistaken identity, key details missing and the like, don’t you also have to prove that it was someone else?  Maybe you just haven’t picked the right three out of the twelve from Jonestown to nail as “the assassins.”  Maybe it was a different three.  But that would still be “They did it!,” wouldn’t it?

 

            No, it was in fact “someone else,” and the NBC film footage is still the primary eyewitness.  But let’s first clarify how “confused, mistaken, and missing details” were the accounts:

 

They All Saw Something Different?  How Could That Be?

 

            To begin with, there were just two accounts of anyone specific shooting anyone else specific — one fingering “an unknown individual” (not too helpful) on page 381 of the FBI report; the other claiming to have FIRST fled fifty yards and THEN “looked back and observed…at point blank range” (not too believable) on page 61 of the FBI report. 

 

            In that sense, there were no viable eyewitness identifications.

 

            The rest is a hodge-podge of “I saw this one, I saw that one.”  No agreement on the shooters, no agreement on the vehicle, no agreement on how they disembarked.  So how would they even know if it was the real Jonestown vehicle?  They wouldn’t. 

 

            Indeed, one of the newsmen (see panel 14 ) tried to tell the FBI that there was another vehicle, an unidentified tractor-trailer “with canvas over the top,” carrying strangers (= “someone else”) who inquired which plane were the Peoples Temple people on?  His account was buried and ignored. 

 

            So it is already clear that it could have been “someone else.” 

 

How Could So Many People Have Gotten It Wrong?

 

            But first, how could all the eyewitnesses have gotten it wrong?  Not so difficult to explain.  This was a tiny airstrip with no known outsiders.  The defectors knew everyone from Jonestown.  They knew the vehicles, they knew the men.  They looked and they saw them parked at rest (as did the NBC camera!) under the wing flap of the smaller plane. 

 

            Then they were boarding.  Then came the sudden, swift, brutal, fleeting attack.  Maybe like someone comes up from behind and hits you with a lead pipe, then two minutes later you come to and look around.  Who do you see?  You look again and you see the same men you saw before! 

 

            So what were they doing during those two minutes rather than looking their attackers in the face?  Wouldn’t that be the key question for every so-called “eyewitness”?:  “Did you see anyone during the attack?  If you didn’t, what were you doing instead?”

 

            Well, it is clear from the FBI report “what they were doing instead”:  They were falling to the ground, they were fleeing, they were hiding under plane seats and the like.  This was an open airfield.  There was no one hiding around some corner looking.  There wasn’t even someone hiding behind a plane wheel looking — the wheels were shot out. 

 

            The only one who even claimed he was looking at a gunman in the act was a reporter (not a defector) lying on the ground, looking at he said, “an unknown individual.”

 

            So you look, then you’re assaulted with two minutes of violence, then you look again.  And the mind “sews the whole thing up.”  Did you know that six defector “eyewitnesses” swore that Stanley Gieg, a young, blond, fair-skinned white man was driving the attack vehicle, because they saw him before the attack and possibly after?  But what about during?  The NBC film footage reveals only a dark-skinned black man up front.  In plain sight.  Not fair-skinned white.  Dark-skinned black.

 

How Do We Know that the Assassins Were NOT From Jonestown At All?

 

O.k.  So the eyewitness reports were confused, mistaken, missing details, etc.  Traumatized people, did the best they could, no blame.  But there’s no legal value in their accounts, moreover they lack believability.  The accounts cancel each other out, they are so conflicting.  (Panel 13 samples the mix-and-match disgrace that got labeled “an investigation.”)

 

            But still, how can we know that the assassins were not from Jonestown at all?

 

            Well, we know that from the primary eyewitness, the NBC film footage.  It’s old, it’s worn, it’s lopped off after several seconds, the faces aren’t close up.  It might not have decided the matter.  But it does. 

 

            In many respects.  Not the Jonestown vehicle, not Jonestown men, too practiced and professional to be ad hoc vigilante bumblers.  All that will be addressed in various parts of the “In Plain Sight“ project. 

 

            But let’s go right to why the assassins could not have been from Jonestown:

 

            The disembarkation was into a triangle formation.  (That will be traced out frame by frame in “Logistics:  Military Execution.”)  Properly it’s called a “squad diamond,” but all we need to note here is that the lead assassin charges out first with soldiers behind him on his right and left flanks, respectively. 

 

            Every “dramatic reconstruction” ever done, except for showing the NBC film footage itself, has been fiction.  There was no standing up and shooting.  There was no chaos of shooters tumbling off the trailer.  There were no shooters in a line. 

 

            No.  There was a fiercely kinetic, aggressive, professionally-trained lead assassin charging forward with two soldiers on his flanks.  But it’s way more.  That lead assassin (photographed in plain sight!!) was about seven feet tall and dressed in solid green military camouflage including long sleeves in the tropics!!   Yet no one (I repeat:  no one) seemed to have even noticed “The Terminator.” 

 

            There was zero possibility of missing this guy were anyone only looking right at him.  He was the one no one could miss, yet they all missed him!  No one mentioned anyone near that tall.  No one mentioned anyone in military dress at all. 

 

            But it’s worse.  Enough to make the whole FBI eyewitness report cascade down like a house of cards?  Easily.  Because no one at Jonestown was that tall, period. 

 

            What am I saying?  That the lead assassin was not only not on the list of the twelve accused, but could not have been from Jonestown at all? 

 

            Well, how do you know someone’s height from looking at a film?  You don’t.  But if someone is standing right next to him, then you can gauge height proportionally.  And proportionally (as detailed in panel 11 ), there had to have been a minimum of 18 inches height discrepancy between the lead assassin and the soldier on his right flank. 

 

            The short guy would have to have been five feet, zero inches even (no grown man, much less anyone on the list of the accused) for the lead assassin to even be as “short” as 6’5”.  And 6’5” was maximum height at Jonestown.  In fact, the only two that tall were Stephan Jones, in Georgetown with the whole not-even-as-tall basketball team at the time of the tragedy; and Jim McElvane, photographed seeing passengers off minutes earlier in civilian clothing and never implicated in the attack.

 

            Even 6’5” is a no-probability baseline.  If any of the white accused (the short man was visibly white) were even as short as 5’3” (they weren’t), then “the giant” was 6’9”.  And so on proportionally.  Moreover, the assassins that most were “sure of” (see “Eyewitness Identifications?:  The View from Jonestown), were all more in the range of six feet.  There is no accounting for the height discrepancy between shooters. 

 

            The lead assassin wasn’t from Jonestown.  None of these men were. 

 

Didn’t the FBI At Least Use the “Congressional Assassination Statute” to Figure Out Who Killed the Congressman?

 

            So who killed the Congressman?  Don’t expect to find out from the FBI report.  It says he was hit, it says he went down, but “who did it” is not even addressed. Apparently “it must have been someone from Jonestown,” but you would never know who.  You have twelve accused, take your pick.  They’re all dead anyway.  “It must have been them” will have to do.

 

            But then again, from the looks of the film footage, it was the seven-foot-tall “terminator” rather than anyone on the list of the accused, who was leading the charge; so wouldn’t that mean that “it wasn’t anyone from Jonestown”? 

 

A Synopsis of the Findings

 

To introduce findings so shockingly at odds with the official story, what follows is a summarized preview so the reader can see where we will be going and how we will get there. 

 

            The seventeen panels of pictures and documents are laid out step-by-step as follows:

 

            1.  Four views of the Massey Ferguson 178, the make/model tractor at Jonestown which was used to transport the Congressman’s party back and forth from the airstrip.  Picture 1 was taken from the internet for the clarity of its “178” and “Massey Ferguson” insignias on the side.  Picture 2 shows same tractor photographed on site at the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project.  Pictures 3 and 4 show the vehicle as filmed transporting the Congressman’s party on November 17 and November 18, 1978, respectively. 

 

            2.  On-site NBC film footage from the Port Kaituma airstrip just minutes prior to the Congressman’s would-be departure showing same Massey Ferguson 178 tractor from Jonestown in plain sight of the departing party. 

 

            3.  Shows the approximate distance between, as well as the directional angle between where the real tractor was parked and the plane that was about to transport the Congressman back to the States. 

            Note that Jim Cobb (black man in green shirt), the government’s main eyewitness is filmed right in front of the real Jonestown tractor.  He and everyone else saw this vehicle shortly prior to the shootings.

            Also note that this photo panel is critical to assessing the trajectory between the smaller plane on the side of the airstrip (under which wing flap the real Jonestown tractor was parked) and the larger plane ready for the Congressman to board at center stage of the airstrip:

            Note that the two photo extracts from the NBC film footage are spaced just seven seconds apart:  01:26:05 and 01:33:04.  A young man named Chris O’Neal (blue shirt with insignia over the left pocket, suitcase in one hand, duffel bag in the other) is first shown first leaving the area of the smaller plane and then shown approaching the larger plane. 

            Note that in the bottom photo, O’Neal is not moving in the direction he is facing — he is looking backwards, as confirmed by the complete patch of footage.  He and Brenda Parks next to him look back, perhaps to see who is still coming, then move on forwards towards to larger plane.

            Now consider the angles at which the cameraman had to be facing to shoot these respective shots

            The cameraman was first facing Chris O’Neal approaching him; 

            Then Chris O’Neal would be passing by the cameraman’s right on his way to the larger plane to board; 

            Then the cameraman had to turn to his right 180 degrees (i.e. the opposite direction) to film what would have been O’Neal’s back moving towards the larger plane.  This shot was chosen, however, as O’Neal had momentarily turned back making visible the insignia on the front of his shirt as a proof-positive identification.

            It will be helpful for the reader to review panel 3 when approaching picture panel 7, showing the physical logistics of the crime scene.  You will then see that “stone’s throw away” is the few seconds elapsing between the top and the bottom photo; and the diagonal between POINT A and POINT C is the trajectory traced by the cameraman in these two respective photos.

 

            4.  Verifications from both the on-site footage and eyewitnesses that they neither saw nor heard the attack vehicle approach.  Note that the departing passengers had their backs to the staging point for the attack.  Note also that the footage itself features the loud noise of the engines revving up, confirming the eyewitness report of sound being blocked out.  

 

            5.  Quotes suggesting that alleged eyewitness identifications of the assassins were based upon the earlier sighting of the real Jonestown vehicle, where it and its occupants were viewed out in the open.  One eyewitness specifies that by contrast, the occupants of the vehicle used in the attack had been “hid” prior to the shooting, suggesting two different vehicles.

            Identification of “Stanley Gieg as the driver of the [Jonestown] tractor that brought seven men –including at least three gunmen– into the vicinity of the plane.”  This is a key to X-ing out the so-called “eyewitness identifications.”  The NBC footage shows no white blond Stanley Gieg at all but rather a dark-skinned black man.  If it was Gieg who allegedly drove seven assassins to the staging point of the attack, and it’s clearly not Gieg but “someone else,” than what about the other seven (or however many) others?

            Note also that the lengthy FBI eyewitness report never questions this allegedly hard-and-fast finding.  (Panel 14 examines the one eyewitness who saw a different vehicle but that eyewitness was ignored.)

            Note also that this panel introduces key components in the huge shocker of mass blanket misidentifications.  The most direct proof is of course the photos of assassins in the act.  If any reader wants to skip ahead to see that first, they should feel free to do so.  But the reader will still have many questions as to how this could have happened and panel 5 begins addressing that.

 

            6.  This begins to sketch in misidentification of the attack vehicle.  Not the target of this section, but introduces a key cross-reference in any eyewitness identification snafu.  I.e., if this is proven to have been another vehicle, a different vehicle, a second vehicle, one provably not from Jonestown at all, then how could the assassins have been from Jonestown?  Different vehicle, different occupants, different assassins.  (See also, “The Vehicle Used in the Attack.”)

 

            7.  How could so many people have been wrong?  For the first time we see the layout of the crime scene as verified by on-site NBC film footage.  This clarifies how none of the would-be departing passengers might have been positioned to identify the advancing assassins.  Where the victims were at the time, backs turned or already on the plane; falling, fleeing, hiding, the direction in which they fled; the direction the vehicle came from and fled to; the proximity of the real Jonestown tractor to the would-be-departing plane. 

            Remember that we have not yet viewed photos of the assassins directly.  We are still laying the groundwork for how such a massive mismatch could have happened.

 

            8.  Summary of indirect proof as a prelude to the direct proof of photos of the assassins on-site.  Indirect proof (spelled out in length in other sections) is briefly cited, such as the vehicle mismatch and that this was professional military, not the work of untrained ad hoc vigilantes. 

            Direct proof will be photos of the assassins.  The two most flagrant mismatches are previewed on this panel:  that the only “identification” given by (many of) the eyewitnesses of the driver was a blond, fair-skinned white man (Stanley Gieg) whereas the actual footage reveals a dark-skinned black man; and that the lead assassin was outlandishly tall, taller than anyone at Jonestown by far.

             9.  Black man wasn’t white man.  Photos examined.

 

            10.  Same black man was not any of the black accused either.  Photos of the accused printed.

             11.  Lead assassin, referred to as “The Not-So-Jolly Green Giant,” a huge military brute dressed in solid green military camouflage khakis including long sleeves in the tropics, was never noticed, identified, nor was it remotely possible that he was from Jonestown.  This assassin was “impossible to miss,” yet he was missed by everyone! 

            12.  Names of accused assassins eliminated by the evidence applied to the FBI’s list of the accused, leaving no one.  The black shooters were already eliminated.  The only two white shooters “positively identified” as alleged seen shooting specific individuals (Tom Kice and Bob Kice) were both fairly tall, both had ram-rod erect posture; whereas one of the assassins shows curvature of the spine; another was unusually short; a third abnormally tall.  No match.

 

            13.  Examples of alleged eyewitness identifications ruled out by factors covered thus far.  The reader is welcome to peruse the 417-page FBI report for anything better. 

            Note especially center page, testimony of Jim Cobb, p. 61:  “Tom Kice, Bob Kice, Joe Wilson and Albert Touchette shooting the victims in the head at point blank range…”  This was the only (I repeat, only) eyewitness in the entire FBI report who claimed to see any specific shooter fire at any specific victim. 

            Moreover, his claim isn’t of him being at “point blank range” at all!  It’s that he [allegedly] saw that a shooting was happening at “point blank range” from a distance of “fifty yards away“!!  In other words, he claimed that FIRST he fled fifty yards away, THEN he “looked back and observed” that the shooter was at “point blank range” from the victim.  He himself was fifty yards away and could see no one’s face! 

            It is unlikely enough that any shooting could be spotted (i.e., shooter, victim, seeing shot fired) at a distance of fifty yards, especially when the victim was already wounded on the ground; all the less so, identification of a shooter’s face. 

            Also note that Cobb speaks for himself on a “Biography” special saying that he neither saw nor heard the attack vehicle approaching; yet he told the FBI that he “spotted Peoples Temple hitmen at a distance.” 

            Was this just a classic case of “We need to put names on the shooters.  Sign on the dotted line.”? 

 

            14.  The ignored eyewitness, in context probably a reporter:  He saw a different tractor-trailer, one “with canvas over the top” and transporting strangers who did not even know who the Peoples Temple people were.  Certainly not the uncovered, wide-open Jonestown vehicle parked under the wing flap of the smaller plane on the edge of the airstrip. 

            No one ever questioned this eyewitness further.

 

            1516.  Summary of the evidence presented in sequential order.  Again note exact quote from the “eyewitness testimony” of Jim Cobb, in points 12-14 on panel 16 of this summary:  “Upon arriving at the edge of the clearing [which he had already specified as ‘fifty yards away’] he look back and observed [i.e., from a distance of fifty yards] Tom Kice [Peoples Temple] shot Don Harris [a newsman already wounded on the ground] in the head at point blank range…” 

            Note that a) Cobb is claiming a physically impossible (due to distance) “eyewitness identification”; b) he had no line of vision to identify anyone on the ground; and c) Tom Kice has been ruled out visually using the NBC film footage:  he would have to have been black (no), excessively short (no), excessively tall (no) or have had curvature of the spine (no). 

                       17.  A declassified log. evidence directly from the U.S. government of the only outside party known to enter Jonestown, or the area at all, that night:  the C.I.A.

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on August 21st, 2014.
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