Serial 1633

United States Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Date: 12/28/78
To: The Director
From: Legal Counsel

[handwritten addition] Assassination Congressman Leo Ryan by People’s Temple members

Purpose: The purpose of this memorandum is to advise you of our policy regarding Congressional Committee requests when the information sought is relative to an ongoing investigation.

Details: The FBI, in consultation with the Department of Justice, has generally refused to respond to Congressional inquiries where those inquiries involve ongoing FBI investigations. It has been our policy to furnish no documentation to a Committee in these situations.

In very few instances we have agreed to conduct all briefings where those briefings would not interfere with or jeopardize ongoing investigative matters. We have used this technique for the intelligence oversight committees and it has been satisfactory to all parties. We have had a long time investigation involving the “NUMEC” matter and have been instructed by the Department to furnish no documentation in response to Committee requests. In view of the strong Congressional interest in that matter, numerous oral briefings were conducted for Congressional Committees and representatives of the General Accounting Office.

For your further information, the House International Relations Committee has furnished representatives of the Legal Counsel Division a list of individuals that they wish to identify and interview. That list has been furnished

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Memorandum to the Director

to the Criminal Investigative Division for review to determine whether we have interviewed any of these individuals. In addition, they requested the San Francisco Office to comment on these individuals with regard to their propensity for violence if interviewed by Committee staffers. That office has been advised not to comply with that request.

Well we have a specific Congressional Committee Memorandum of Understanding, provisions are made to exercise information regarding ongoing investigative matters.

It should be noted that we have no such memorandum with a full Committee for this purpose. We have had a memorandum of understanding with the Subcommittee on International Organizations concerning the KCIA investigation.

Recommendation: That the FBI declined to furnish specific information while this case is pending.


This matter was discussed with the Director and Assistant Director Donald Moore on December 28, 1978, at which time the Director instructed that the Department be advised our policy is to decline to furnish specific information concerning pending investigations. The Director further instructed that Associate Director Adams advised Assistant Attorney General Heymann of the Director’s decision in this matter. At 1:50 PM on December 28, I discussed this with Mr. Adams and requested him to so advise Assistant Attorney General Heymann.

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[Photocopy of routing slip with following handwritten remarks]

What has been our past policy with response to ongoing investigations –? Committee could inadvertently bolix [bollix] prosecution.