Nov 20 1978
Benjamin R. Civiletti
Deputy Attorney General
Philip B. Heymann
Assistant Attorney General
Criminal Division Activity Regarding Assassination of Congressman Leo J. Ryan
Shortly after the enactment of 18 U.S.C. 351 (Congressional assassination) in 1971, the Criminal Division took the position that the new provision of law applied extraterritorially. Attached is a copy of the General Crimes Section memorandum to me, outlining the rationale for that position. In conjunction with the subject assassination in Guyana, we have advised the FBI that it has jurisdiction to investigate the matter.
Currently, the FBI is trying to send two agents into Guyana from Caracas, Venezuela, to commence the investigation. Civil air transport is presently unavailable, and to overcome this problem, we have put the FBI in touch with the Department of State in order to obtain a military transport. In light of the provisions of 18 U.S.C. 351 (f) and (g), we have also advised the FBI that upon arrival of the Congressman’s body in the United States, they could properly arrange for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology to conduct an autopsy.
In response to the FBI’s inquiry regarding possible dispatch of a disaster squad to Guyana for processing of the host of suicide victims, we advised that such operational activity was a matter for the Emergency Programs Center, acting under your supervision. Mr. Charles R. Newhouser of the Center was advised of the inquiry and given the names of points of contact in both the FBI and State Department.
We will, of course, promptly advise you of any significant developments in the investigation of the assassination.
cc: Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation