Q249 Summary

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: Labeled in part “Sept 7 News”

Date cues on tape:     While some news items seem consistent with the tape identification note, others place it around August 20 

People named:

Public figures/National and international names:
Jimmy Carter, U.S. President
Jody Powell, White House press secretary
Rick Hernandez, White House aide
Gerald Ford, former U.S. President
Lyndon B. Johnson, former U.S. President
Cyrus Vance, U.S. Secretary of State
Anthony M. Solomon, Undersecretary of the Treasury
Malcolm Toon, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union (by reference)
Sen. Russell Long (D-GA), chair of Senate Finance Committee
Sen. William Roth (R-Delaware)
Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA)
Rep. Jack Kemp (R-NY)
Baltasar Corrada del Río, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, non-voting member of Congress (by reference)
Milton Gross, Chief of FCC Fairness and Political Broadcasting Division
Ronald Reagan, former California governor
Dennis Kucinich, mayor of Cleveland
Adolf Hitler, German Fuhrer
Kurt Waldheim, Secretary General of United Nations
Pope John Paul
James Callaghan, British Prime Minister (by reference)
John Jeremy Thorpe, head of British Liberal Party
Margaret Thatcher, leader of British Conservative Party
Bruno Kreisky, Chancellor of Austria (by reference)
Leonid Brezhnev, Secretary of the Communist Party in USSR
Andrei Gromyko, Foreign Secretary of the Soviet Union
Alexei Kosygin, Premier of the Soviet Union
Francis Jay Crawford, International Harvester executive arrested in Soviet Union

Menachem Begin, Israeli Prime Minister
Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt
Ian Smith, prime minister of Rhodesia (by reference)
P.K. van der Byl, foreign minister of Rhodesia
Joshua Nkomo, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front in Rhodesia
Robert Mugabe, leader of Zimbabwean Patriotic Front in Rhodesia
Johannes Vorster, prime minister of Republic of South Africa
Emmanuel Erskine, leader of UN peace-keeping force in Lebanon
Moammar Khadafy, Libyan leader
Ferdinand Marcos, president of Philippines

Anastasio Somoza, President of Nicaragua

Ptolemy Reid, Deputy Prime Minister of Guyana
Leonard Duvant, Guyanese regional minister

Ralph Nader, consumer advocate
Julian Bond, civil rights activist
Ben Chavis, member of Wilmington 10
J. B. Stoner, Ku Klux Klansman
George Busbee, Georgia governor
Antonio Provenzano, union official convicted of embezzlement
Unnamed 23-year-old daughter of Antonio Provenzano
Robert Luisi, official in Provenzano’s union
Bertell Ollman, Marxist political scientist at University of Maryland
John Toll, University of Maryland president
Bob Greene, columnist for New York Times (by reference)

John Barbagelata, San Francisco councilman, Moscone opponent
Herb Caen, Columnist for San Francisco Chronicle
Don Freed, author and screenwriter
Mark Lane, author and lawyer
Joe Mazor, private detective hired by Concerned Relatives (by reference)

Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Jim Cobb
Deanna Mertle
Tim Stoen
David Conn, Elder in Disciples of Christ denomination, Jones critic


Bible verses cited:     None


Jim Jones reads the news, inserting only a few announcements for the Jonestown community.

As he does in other tapes from this period, Jones has an admonition for his followers regarding the impending arrival of Joe Mazor, a private investigator who had been hired by Concerned Relatives to spirit various family members out of Jonestown, and who in the course of his work, became disenchanted with the message of the oppositional group and switched his allegiance to Peoples Temple. Jones warns people about engaging in conversation with the man – who could, in fact, be a double agent – and advises them to smile and to be polite, limiting their conversation to observations on how much they enjoy life in Guyana.

The balance of the tape consists principally of news items, most of them read in the hurried – almost staccato – style of a 1940’s radio announcer, presented as bulletins as they come over the wire. Only at the end of the tape does Jones read longer, more detailed pieces, including an analysis of tax legislation recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the problems resulting from a design flaw in the Ford Pinto which causes gas tanks to explode, and the speculation that former California Governor Ronald Reagan will run for president in 1980.

Whether the item is long or short, Jones often includes his own commentary and editorial asides. The United States is generally characterized as fascist and run by monopoly capitalists, and he invokes the specter of Adolf Hitler on three separate occasions in connection with American allies. The Soviet Union and its allies, on the other hand, are uniformly brave and courageous. He ends one story with a description of the Soviet people as “very lenient and understanding … very compassionate.”

Jones also makes other asides which are familiar to the community: “capitalists always sell out capitalists,” he comments at the end of an item about employees of the United Nations buying and selling defense secrets; our tax dollars support right wing dictatorships and regimes that suppress resistance movements; and in the course of reading the story about proposed tax breaks for the rich – combined with increased Social Security taxes on the poor and middle class – he chides the malcontents in Jonestown, “some of you still talk of USA as a place you’d like to go. You must have a masochistic complex.”

Also characteristic of many of these readings, Jones inserts his views on the dangers – and sometimes the inevitability – of nuclear war. The Camp David peace process – which he often denigrates as Egyptian capitulation to the Israelis – will either lead to a settlement or “it’s going to be a nuclear war.” President Carter has not committed to a resumption of the SALT talks, because he’s “like a little child that’s spoiled. He will do nothing more to try to stop nuclear war.” The Soviet Union is not afraid of the West, as demonstrated by recently-leaked documents showing they “are in a position to wipe out all of the capitalist world.” Jones reiterates the final point in commenting on a later item about a potential outcome of the Camp David talks – the presence of an American military base in the Middle East, or even the creation of a NATO-styled alliance in the region – and the Soviet condemnation of the idea: “the only statement Moscow said [was], ‘Try it, and you’ll find yourself dead.’ The war talk is very heavy these days. But America started it, and I guess the Soviet Union is showing they can finish it.”

Among other items in the news:

  • The leader of the Wilmington 10 appeals to President Carter for his release;
  • The FCC rules that politicians can make racial slurs in paid advertising;
  • The Longest Walk – a Native American protest action – is frustrated in attempts to see Carter;
  • A union leader convicted of embezzlement sets up a defense fund to finance his appeal;
  • The mayor of Cleveland wins a recall vote;
  • The president of the University of Maryland turns down the appointment of a Marxist professor;
  • Cancer-causing agents are found in American drinking water;
  • The dollar hits new lows in Japan and Europe, but US exports boosted;
  • The Camp David summit begins, as its principals greet each other warmly, and as its critics in Libya, other Middle Eastern States and the Soviet Union voice their opposition;
  • Anti-Semitism sweeps across Europe;
  • Britain moves toward general elections;
  • An American convicted of crimes in the Soviet Union seeks a five-year suspended sentence;
  • Two Soviet citizens go on trial for espionage in New Jersey;
  • Moammar Khadafy of Libya demands the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian lands, and threatens his own military intervention in Morocco and Chad;
  • Iran bans unauthorized gatherings;
  • Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith takes a hard line against rebel groups after an airliner is shot down;
  • Meanwhile, a secret meeting between Smith and rebel leader Joshua Nkomo is criticized;
  • A UN peace-keeping force in Lebanon may leave the country if it can’t get more support;
  • South Africa objects to a UN peace-keeping force being placed in Namibia;
  • Angola accuses South Africa of cross-border raids;
  • The Organization of African Unity is planning to create a pan-African army;
  • Japan seeks a treaty with the Soviet Union;
  • Guyana also seeks closer relations with the Soviet Union;
  • The embattled Nicaraguan president has been forced to retreat into his palace;
  • India faces starvation following monsoon rains, possibly enhanced by CIA cloud-seeding;

The last item on the tape – a partial reading of a column by New York Times reporter Bob Greene decrying the loss of personal safety in suburban and rural areas – was later reprinted in 1980 in the Fredericksburg (Virginia) Free-Lance Star. The commentary in the article, warning of an American embrace of a dictator, comes from Jones himself.

As is also typical of the news casts from this period, most segments end with Jones’ declaration of his love for his people.


FBI Summary:

Date of transcription: 6/27/79

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 29, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B70-35. This tape was found to contain the following:

JIM JONES reading news and announcements.

Differences with FBI Summary:

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

 Tape originally posted May 2016