[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 82 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE296856_d.html.]
INFO OCT-01 ARA-15 ISO-00 CA-01 SIG-03 DODE-00 PM-05 FBIE-00 CIAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 PA-02 TRSE-00 MCT-02 INRE-00 SY-05 USSS-00 H-02 AID-05 SS-15 SSO-00 NSCE-00 CCO-00 OC-06 JUSE-00 ICAE-00 CG-00 L-03 DOTE-00 /081 R
DRAFTED BY CA/SCS:JDIETERICH:ACM
APPROVED BY ARA:JBUSHNELL
——————043709 232121Z /64
O 232043Z NOV 78
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS STATE 296856
E.O. 11652: N/A
SUBJECT: PRESS GUIDANCE
Q. To what extent are US military forces involved in search efforts in Guyana?
A. Although actual ground search efforts in the Jonestown area are the responsibility of the Guyanese police and military, the US military is providing any support they require. In particular, we have made available helicopters including one with loudspeakers. We have also furnished walkie talkies and other supplies.
Q. Why aren’t U.S. forces being used for ground search?
PAGE 02 STATE 296856
A. Both the US government and the Guyanese government agree that searching in the jungle around Jonestown can best be handled by those local forces familiar with the area and the prevailing jungle conditions. Both also agree that US military forces can be used most efficiently in air search and supply activities as well as in the transportation of the deceased from Guyana to the U.S.
Q. What is the cost to the US government of all these operations related to the Jonestown tragedy?
A. These are obviously very complex operations involving various departments of the US government and many subdivisions within those departments. At any rate it is very difficult to come up with a definitive cost since many elements involved are in fact ongoing activities which are already funded. It will take time to define and identify which parts of those activities are specifically attributable to the Guyana situation.
Q. Do you have any information about the return of survivors to the US?
A. It is our understanding that most, if not all, of the survivors, except those against whom there are Guyanese legal charges pending, will be returning to the US. However, I have no specifics for you at this time.
Christopher [Acting Secretary of State Warren Christopher]