Serial 437 • SITREP 22

[Editor’s notes:The full text of this text was taken from https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE300009_d.html

[This document appears as Serial 437 in the FBI RYMUR release and as State
Department cable 300009
in the State Department release.]

CONFIDENTIAL
PAGE 01
STATE 300009
ORIGIN ARA-15
INFO OCT-01 EUR-12 ISO-00 SS-15 SSO-00 SY-05 SYE-00 L-03 H-01 DODE-00 CA-01 CIAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 INRE-00 PA-01 ICAE-00 SCS-06 PM-05 NSCE-00 CG-00 DOTE-00 HEW-04 AS-02 SIG-03 /084 R
DRAFTED BY GUYANA WORKING FORCE:RLBRUCE
APPROVED BY GWC:ROBERT L. BRUCE
S/S:O – MR. CASTRODALE
——————091978 270646Z /17

O 270602Z NOV 78
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY PANAMA IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY CARACAS IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO IMMEDIATE
FBI WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0043
DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
CINCSOUTHCOM QUARRY HTS CANAL ZONE IMMEDIATE
CINCMAC SCOTT AFB ILL IMMEDIATE
US REDCOM/RCJ2 MACDILL AFS FLA IMMEDIATE
UNCINCARRED FT MCPHERSON GA IMMEDIATE
CDR 18TH AIRBORNE CORPS FT BRAGG NC IMMEDIATE
UNCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE ATTEN: J-2 IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 300009

E.O. 11652: GDS
TAGS: CASC, GY
SUBJECT: SITUATION REPORT:22-11/26/78 (2400 EST)
REF: STATE 299149

1. The final count of bodies removed from Jonestown and transported to Dover Air Force Base is being confirmed but will total 912 or 913. Personnel at Dover are continuing the slow and difficult process of attempting to identify the victims. SCS is collating Guyana immigration files with passport applications in our files to prepare a next of kin list. The medical records from Jonestown are scheduled in Dover tonight and should prove helpful in the identification process. In a reversal, the Guyanese decided not to permit fingerprint cards in official immigration files to leave the country. Our embassy is making arrangements to have the cards photographed and the film sent to Dover to help in the identification process.

2. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has participated in the department’s twenty-four hour multi-bureau and multi-agency Guyana task force. Between 10 and 20 officers and staff have manned nine telephone lines. It is conservatively estimated that they have handled 4,000 telephone calls from relatives and friends of the victims and the general public. As part of the effort to identify the victims and inform next of kin, the SCS staff has sent over 1,000 names of possible People’s Temple members resident in Guyana to the embassy on the basis of information telephoned into the department. The SCS job has really just begun; they will have a major role in obtaining information to assist in identifying bodies and notifying next of kin.

3. There is still no definite word on when the Guyanese will release survivors. The embassy may learn something on Monday. Preparations to receive survivors at Charleston AFB are well advanced, but there may well be problems as the large press contingent sees this as a major media event, while many of the survivors still fear for their lives and may not want to be photographed.

4. The U.S. military retrograde operations continue. Approximately half of the sixteen missions scheduled will be completed by morning. Reduced helicopter support for the embassy will be retained for the time being. Two extended range Hueys are being sent to Guyana to replace the H-;3’s for this purpose. The Air Force is also making contingency plans to pick up survivors and ferry them to the U.S. on twenty-four hour notice.

5. Ambassador burke has an appointment to meet with Prime Minister [Forbes] Burnham at his country place at 0800 hours EST time Monday to discuss the issue of FBI presence and related matters.

6. We are still consulting with the embassy on the retention of local legal counsel for the USG [U.S. Government] in connection with events in Jonestown. In addition, a member of the department’s legal office will arrive in Georgetown no later than Tuesday evening to assist the embassy.

7. In response to press inquiries we have asked the embassy to verify information passed to us last week to the effect that Guyanese authorities intended to conduct sample autopsies in Jonestown.

8. With the completion of the removal of the bodies from Guyana and the rapid phase down of military operations, situation reports will be prepared only once a day.

Vance [Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State]

CONFIDENTIAL

Originally posted on March 24th, 2019.

Last modified on March 30th, 2021.
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