Q255 Summary

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

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

FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “9/3/74 [78] News”

Date cues on tape:     News items consistent with date in 1978 

People named:

Public figures/National and international names:

Jimmy Carter, U.S. President
Richard Nixon, former U.S. President
Gerald Ford, former U.S. President
John F. Kennedy, former U.S. President
Dwight Eisenhower, former U.S. President
Teddy Roosevelt, former U.S. President

Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss)
Andrew Young, U.S. Ambassador to United Nations
Harold Brown, U.S. Secretary of Defense
Foy Kohler, former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union

Sen. Edward Brooke (R-Mass)
Elaine Noble, Democratic challenger to Brooke
Paul Guzzi, Democratic challenger to Brooke
Paul Tsongas, Democratic challenger to Brooke
Kathleen Sullivan Alioto, Democratic challenger to Brooke

John Mitchell, Attorney General under Nixon
H.R. Haldeman, Nixon White House Chief of Staff
Edgar Hoover, head of FBI

Ronald Reagan, California governor
Frank Rizzo, mayor of Philadelphia

Pope John Paul
Marshall Josip Broz Tito, President of Yugoslavia

Menachem Begin, Israeli Prime Minister
Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt
King Hussein of Jordan
Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran

Fidel Castro, leader of Cuba (by reference)
Anastasio Somoza, President of Nicaragua
General Romeo Lucas Garcia, President of Guatemala
Dr. Ptolemy Reid, Guyana Deputy Prime Minister
Fred Wills, former Guyana Minister of Foreign Affairs

Augusto Pinochet, military ruler of Chile
Orlando Letelier, assassinated Chilean ambassador to US
Ronni Moffit, assassinated aide to Orlando Letelier
Michael Moffit, husband of Ronni, injured in attack
Ignacio Novo Sampoli, accused assassin of Orlando Letelier
Michael V. Townley, accused assassin of Orlando Letelier

Ro Jai Hyam (phonetic), Korean Defense Minister
Park Chung-hee, President of Korea
Hua Kuo-feng, Chairman of Chinese Communist Party

Adolf Hitler, German Fuhrer
Vladimir Lenin, father of Russian Revolution
Thomas Edison, American inventor

Anatoly Shcharansky, Soviet dissident
Alexander Ginzburg, Soviet dissident
Roberto Mander, Italian political prisoner
Georgios Papanikolaou, creator of pap smear

James Dean, American actor
Evel Knievel, American daredevil
Charles Lindbergh, American aviator

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, civil rights leader
Lyndon Larouche, head of U.S. Labor Party
Ralph Nader, consumer advocate
Huey Newton, leader of Black Panther Party
Randolph Hearst, newspaper publisher
Rupert Murdoch, newspaper publisher
Rev. Sun Myung Moon, religious leader, newspaper publisher
Morris Golden, trade unionist
Wonsock [phonetic], war chief of the Chumash tribe

Charles Garry, Temple attorney
Carlton Goodlett, San Francisco publisher and physician
Walter Thain, American doctor who supported Temple

Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:

Mary Richter (phonetic)

Temple members not in Jonestown:

Vee Hollins

Jonestown residents, full name unknown:

Flo [likely Florence Heath, could be Florence Sanders or Florine Dyson]
Johnny [likely Johnny Moss Brown]

Jonestown residents:

Jack Beam
James Edwards
Don Fitch
Marceline Jones
Stephan Jones
Teresa King
Carolyn Looman
Jim McElvane
Kay Nelson
Laurence Schacht
Al Touchette
Charlie Touchette
Neal Shaun Welcome Touchette
Richard Tropp

Bible verses cited:     None 


Jim Jones reads the news for September 3, 1978.

As with many of the news tapes from this period in Jonestown’s history, Jones includes his own commentary periodically, ranging from politically-charged adjectives to sarcastic asides, from fatalistic observations to short object lessons for the people of his community. Although it is difficult to tell in other tapes whether the inclusion of some of this commentary is from the news sources themselves – which tend to be pro-Soviet Union – or from Jones, this tape illuminates Jones’ more active role. There are several slight pauses before he reads the words “United States” or “US,” then resumes with the descriptor “fascist” and/or “imperialist” accompanying the county’s name. In one article – written by an American ambassador – Jones reads “U.S.”, pauses, and then re-reads it as “Western U.S. imperialism.”

There are also at least six references to imminent or inevitable nuclear holocaust which underlay much of Jones’ worldview, and almost all seem to be supplied by Jones himself.

  • The very first news item, about the Israeli government approach to the upcoming Camp David talks, quotes the prime minister as saying that the talks represent the last chance for peace, and if they fail, the country “will use and employ every weapon that we have in our arsenal … with such devices as atomic bombs and neutron bombs.”
  • Early in the broadcast, Jones says that Moscow chastised Yugoslav leader Marshall Tito for giving certain concessions to China, including “encouragement in her nuclear genocide approach to life.” A few moments later, Jones reads that a spokesman for the British government said China “is trying to provoke World War III.”
  • At the end of an item about people collecting job applications in the South Bronx, Jones praises working class solidarity “though it’s too late for USA, according to all scientists, to avoid nuclear war.”

Jones also shows his tendency to exaggerate or expand upon a story about social and economic conditions in the U.S., and the new version always reinforces his underlying message that these conditions have deteriorated to the point that their home country is unlivable, that there is no reason to return. As he concludes one item, “That’s racism in the place you miss, some of you.” The assertions include:

  • “[G]angs already rule the ghettoes of every city in United States.”
  • A Supreme Court decision on affirmative action is “a prelude… to a fascist takeover and building apartheid system in USA, where blacks, Asians and Indians will be placed in concentration camps and will do the bidding of the government or the military.”
  • Philadelphia cops acting on the mayor’s orders had raided headquarters of two black groups – the Panthers and CORE – and “came in, strafing these two headquarters and killing some of the children therein.”
  • The racism is Boston “come to such a degree that there have been 37 young black children mutilated, girls’ breasts mutilated and the boys were castrated.”

In most of these examples, Jones offers credibility for his own words by citing a source, usually a radio network like the BBC, Radio Moscow, or Radio Canada.

There are few items unrelated to the news. Jones does alert the community that government officials could drop in at any time, and urges everyone to keep the place picked up, to plant flowers and edible plants wherever there is an open space, and – in anticipation of some of the visitors being from the Soviet Union – to practice their Russian and to know the definition of “avant garde,” which Jones himself uses to describe the USSR.

There are several references to death, including the observation noted below by the FBI that “Nobody is capable of being a socialist until they are not afraid of death. It’s just a quiet rest… It’s good for people to not be afraid to die for what they believe.” (The selected quote, however, deletes Jones’ other point from the middle of the quote that suicide is counter-productive: “We cannot take our lives because as certain as I am talking to you, you just have to come back and face it all over again.”) Nevertheless, Jones points out the courage of those who would rather die than compromise, including the chief of a Native American tribe in California which has been pushed to the sea who says, “We can’t go any further, he says. This is it. There’s nowhere to go. We might as well commit suicide.”

Among news items not already mentioned:

  • Israel supports Christian “fanatics” fighting in Lebanon;
  • Israel is in social crisis, with strikes and gangs in the street;
  • Arab nations wonder about U.S,. agenda behind Camp David;
  • The new pope is installed;
  • Nationwide general strike in Nicaragua continues;
  • Croatian separatists seize Yugoslav embassy in Australia;
  • The FBI tried to find and groom right wing black man to replace Martin Luther King;
  • More suspects arrested in Letelier assassination;
  • Watergate figures to be released from prison early;
  • The U.S. Labor Party charges the US with undermining the Guyana government;
  • Three New York daily newspapers shut down by strike;
  • Lesbian runs in Democratic primary in Massachusetts;
  • U.S. opposes the Law of the Sea Conference;
  • Steelworkers idled in Ohio;
  • Radiation and carcinogens show up in New York waterways;
  • House passes tax cut bill, as well as large defense appropriations bill;
  • Ronald Reagan considers White House bid;
  • Leftist activist Morris Golden dies;
  • Martial law declared in Iran; Shah vows to crush rebellion;
  • Guatemalan military government fires on crowd of demonstrators.

There are also a couple of longer pieces, such as an article about the amount “filth” – insect parts, rodent manure – which the FDA allows in the foods Americans eat; and a piece on America’s need to understand the meaning of “co-existence” from the Soviet perspective.

FBI Summary:

Date of transcription: 6/12/79

In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.

On May 30, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B93-1. This tape was found to contain the following:

News, commentary, and announcements by JIM JONES. During the commentary, JONES states, “Nobody is capable of being a socialist until they are not afraid” of death – it’s just a quiet rest. It’s good for people to not be afraid to die for what they believe.”

News items included topics such as:

  1. Israel
  2. Lebanon
  3. Pope JOHN PAUL
  4. FBI files re Dr. MARTIN L. KING
  8. Korea

The back of the tape also contains some news and commentary by JIM JONES.

Differences with FBI Summary:

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