Serial 769

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 769 of the FBI’s RYMUR release.

[The text for this document was released in 2014 by the now-defunct Wikileaks website at]

GEORGE 04116 061120Z
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 FBIE-00 SCS-06 CA-01 PPT-01 SS-15 SP-02 L-03 H-02 NSCE-00 PA-02 ICAE-00 CIAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 JUSE-00 SY-05 SYE-00 SSO-00 INRE-00 /063 W
——————031478 061204Z /11

O 052110Z DEC 78

E.O. 12065: NA
REF: STATE 306421.

1. Following represent embassy’s initial comments on the interview given by Jacqueline Speier, Legal Counsel to Congressman Leo J. Ryan, in the New York Times:

A. Both the department and the embassy were seriously involved in the preparation of Codel Ryan from the moment the congressman first suggested the trip to department officers. The numerous briefings provided the Codel staff by department officers as well as the several cables on the Codel originated by embassy Georgetown as plans for the visit progressed clearly support this statement. A review of the content of those cables and the substance of the briefings would not bear out Miss Speier’s charge that “the State Department and the U.S. embassy in Georgetown (were) indifferent and hostile to congressman Ryan’s projected trip.”

B. Implicit in all of the embassy’s cables in preparation for Codel Ryan was the clear message that the Codel must

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obtain the approval of the Peoples Temple in advance of any attempt to visit Peoples Temple agricultural mission at Jonestown. Failing this the Codel might be faced with a confrontation with the Peoples Temple organization itself and/or the Government of Guyana if a forced entry were attempted. The embassy did not, however, feel that the Codel would encounter a violent reception if prior agreement to the visit were obtained and particularly if Peoples Temple representatives such as lawyers Charles Garry and Mark Lane, accompanied the Codel to Jonestown.

C. At no time was there a reluctance by State or by the embassy to have the trip “come off.” In fact, the point was made on several occasions in contacts between the embassy and Peoples Temple that the visit of the Codel should be viewed by them as an opportunity to refute various allegations against the organization that had appeared in the press in the U.S. Conversely, it was pointed out to the Peoples Temple that a failure to receive the Codel might result in confirmation of such allegations in the minds of many. As far as US/Guyanese relations were concerned, the embassy did not at any time feel the Codel visit would submit them to undue strain. Accordingly, arrangements were made for Congressman Ryan to meet with the Guyanese foreign minister and also the deputy prime minister during his visit to Guyana.

D. From the first moment that the possibility of a visit by Codel Ryan to Guyana became known, the embassy did its best to provide background information to the department for use in briefing the Codel and to give active thought to the legal questions posed for the department and the embassy in view of the possibly conflicting obilgations [obligations] the mission would have in discharging its consular and representational obligations to two groups of American citizens of potentially opposing aims and desires. Given the obvious thought and

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work that went into preparations for the visit of Codel Ryan by embassy Georgetown, the word “blasé” certainly does not characterize the embassy’s attitude toward the visit.

E. The embassy was never fully informed either by the department or Codel Ryan of the precise relationship between the congressman and staff, the media people traveling with the congressman, and the Concerned Relatives group which also arrived on the same aircraft which brought the Codel to Georgetown. In fact, the embassy’s failure to receive precise information as to these relationships inhibited its ability to help the Codel in obtaining a firm commitment from the Peoples Temple to receive the group at Jonestown. For example, the embassy heard about the possibility of the press group traveling with Ryan only after that information was already available to the Peoples Temple office in Georgetown.

F. Mr. Dwyer’s “slight wound” is still draining and because of the location of the bullet the local American surgeon has been unwilling to undertake its extraction for fear of possible damage to adjacent bones and vertebrae.

G. Mr. Dwyer did express to Miss Speier and Mr. [James] Schollaert in the ride in from the airport the view that had an advance staffer come to Georgetown prior to the arrival of Congressman Ryan, precise timing of the visit to Jonestown might have been worked out well in advance. Furthermore the embassy would have been in a position to suggest the best possible use of his time in Guyana. However, being ignorant of the direct negotiations which had been carried out between Peoples Temple lawyer Mark Lane and the congressman’s office, the embassy had been unable to prepare for the visit with the precision which normally should be the case in preparing a Codel’s schedule.

H. The ambassador’s [John Burke] attitude toward Codel Ryan or any other Codel with which he has been involved during his 20-odd years of foreign service has never been blasé. He was obviously concerned that Congressman Ryan be able to achieve the objectives he had set for himself during his visit to

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Guyana. Furthermore, he had invited Congressman Ryan to be his house guest during his stay in Georgetown hoping thereby to make the congressman as comfortable as possible, and at the same time make himself available to the congressman for informal discussions.

I. The ambassador’s meeting with the Concerned Relatives has been reported in Georgetown 3761. During that meeting the ambassador made clear to the group the limitations under which the embassy is obliged to operate in dealing with separate, and sometimes conflicting, groups of U.S. citizens. (State 289798) Miss Speier is correct in reporting that the ambassador indicated to the group that he had not seen a notarized affidavit from San Francisco inquiring into allegations about the abuses in Jonestown. As the department is aware a copy of this affidavit was received by the consulate as an enclosure to a letter from one of the Concerned Relatives. It was never brought to the embassy’s attention as an instruction directly by the department or by the individual who had executed the affidavit. Miss Speier’s report that the ambassador made a call to the Peoples Temple during the course of his meeting with the Concerned Relatives is accurate. The purpose of that call, however, is inaccurately portrayed in her account. (Georgetown 3761 gives the precise purpose of that call.)

J. The embassy suggests that Miss Speier’s evaluation of the consular officers’ visits to Jonestown as “inadequate” may not represent a best judgment. Full details of these visits are available to the department and will shortly be availalbe [available] to the House International Relations Committee.

K. Miss Speier is quite inaccurate as to the venue for the private interviews held between Jonestown residents and the consular officers during the periodic visits. The Jonestown radio room was, as far as the embassy knows, never the

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venue for such meetings.

L. Investigation carried on by the Guyana law enforcement authorities has so far revealed a total of 32 shotguns, pistols, and rifles at the Jonestown site. The Peoples Temple had officially applied for licenses for some of these arms though probably as many as 28 were unlicensed. So far the investigation has not revealed any shipment of guns and ammunition in “falsely marked crates” from the U.S. to Guyana.

Burke [John Burke, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana]