Dec 9, 78 • 1900 • State-Georgetown • 311088

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE311088_d.html.]

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STATE 311088
ORIGIN ARA-15
INFO OCT-01 IO-15 ISO-00 PA-02 SS-15 NSCE-00 SSO-00 JUSE-00 ICAE-00 /048 R
DRAFTED BY ARA/CAR:RWZIMMERMANN:LB
APPROVED BY ARA/CAR:RWZIMMERMANN
——————079724 091938Z /66

O P 091900Z DEC 78
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN IMMEDIATE
INFO USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY
UNCLAS STATE 311088
USUN FOR JOHN BLACKEN

E.O. 1206565: N/A
TAGS: GY, OREP (RYAN, LEO), CASC.
SUBJECT: NOON PRESS BRIEFING, DEC. 7, 1978

1. FOLLOWING IS TRANSCRIPT OF PORTION OF NOON PRESS BRIEFING DEC. 7 RELATING TO GUYANA.

2. Q. HODDING, YESTERDAY, I BELIEVE THAT YOU SAID -YOU GAVE US SOME HOPE THAT WE WOULD BE ABLE TO QUESTION MR. MCCOY, THAT IN EFFECT HE WOULD NO LONGER BE UNAVAILABLE, AND SO FORTH, AND YOU DIDN’T SPECIFY WHEN. I AM WONDERING, HODDING, ARE YOU SAVING MR. MCCOY SO THAT HIS FIRST DEBUT PUBLICLY, AND SO FORTH OR OTHERWISE, WILL BE WHEN HE IS — IF HE IS QUESTIONED AND ASKED TO COME TO THE HILL-TO THE HOUSE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE? IS THAT WHAT YOU HAD IN MIND, OR WHAT?

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A. I THINK THE GENERAL FEELING IS THAT THAT WOULD BE FIRST AND MOST PROPER PLACE FOR HIM TO.

Q. THAT WILL?

A. YES.

Q. IN OTHER WORDS, THAT IS WHY HE HAS BEEN UNAVAILABLE, HE HAS BEEN KIND OF KEPT UNDER WRAPS, IS THAT CORRECT?

A. I CAN HARDLY THINK HE HAS BEEN KEPT UNDER WRAPS, SINCE SOME OF THE QUESTIONS THAT WERE PUT TO ME YESTERDAY CAME FROM EARLIER INTERVIEWS THAT INDIVIDUALS HAD HAD WITH HIM.

Q. HODDING, THE SITUATION IN GUYANA IS RATHER CONFUSED, TO SAY THE LEAST. I WONDERED IF YOU COULD TELL US IF THE STATE DEPARTMENT HAS ASKED THE GUYANA GOVERNMENT TO GIVE ANY SPECIAL CONSIDERATION TO ANY PARTICULAR GROUP OF AMERICAN JOURNALISTS OR WRITERS WHO MIGHT BE GOING DOWN THERE? I ASK WITH REFERENCE TO THE “EAR” ITEM THIS AFTERNOON.

A. THAT’S TRUE, INSOFAR AS GIVING THE USUAL COURTESIES TO SOMEBODY WHO IS WRITING A BOOK. IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT IN THE COURSE OF MY 20-SOMETHING MONTHS IN THIS JOB, I’VE SENT OUT AT LEAST TWO DOZEN CABLES ASKING FOR THE SAME THING, INDICATING THAT SOMEBODY IS COMING TO DO A CERTAIN KIND OF JOB.

Q. YOU MEAN A BOOK OR A LARGE ARTICLE, A LONG ARTICLE?

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A. A LONG ARTICLE, OR SOMETIMES, IN FACT, A WORKING REPORTER WHO SIMPLY IS GOING TO SPEND A SPECIFIC AMOUNT OF TIME THERE. AS A MATTER OF FACT, I’VE NEVER TURNED DOWN A REQUEST FROM ANY JOURNALIST OR WRITER.

Q. BUT IN THIS CASE –

A. THE WHOLE ANSWER IS YES.

Q. BUT IN THIS CASE, IT IS ONE WRITER; AND THIS WRITER IS PLANNING A BOOK.

A. YES, BUT LET ME –

Q. YOU’RE SAYING IT’S NOT UNUSUAL?

A. BUT LET ME REPEAT THAT I HAVE NEVER TURNED DOWN A REQUEST FROM A JOURNALIST FOR THAT KIND OF CABLE ASSISTANCE.

Q. COULD YOU GIVE US AN IDEA WHAT KIND OF BASIC COURTESIES –

A. WHAT YOU USUALLY SAY IS, SO-AND-SO IS COMING, THAT THE DATES ARE SUCH-AND-SUCH, THAT WHAT HE HAS IN MIND IS WHATEVER IT IS HE HAS IN MIND, THAT WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE TO HIM IN WHATEVER THE FUNCTIONAL DESIRES ARE THAT HE HAS; I.E., SEEING MEMBERS OF THE HOST GOVERNMENT.

Q. THE HOST GOVERNMENT. NOT AMERICAN?

A. WELL, ALWAYS YOU SAY THE SAME THING. I DON’T KNOW WHAT WAS SAID IN THIS ONE, BUT I’M TALKING ABOUT GENERAL THINGS.

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Q. WELL, HERE WE ALL SIT, SEVERAL DOZEN OF US; AND YOU HAVE UPSTAIRS SITTING ON THE DESK THERE AN AMERICAN OFFICIAL WHO, AT THE VERY LEAST, PLAYED A MAJOR PART IN THE PEOPLES TEMPLE DRAMA. AND FOR A FEW MOMENTS, A COUPLE OF NETWORKS GOT IN, BUT THAT WAS THE END OF IT. AND HE’S BEEN SHIELDED FROM THE PRESS, AND YOU’RE BEING ASKED IF YOU CAN PRODUCE HIM, AND YOU CAN’T. AND YET I SUPPOSE THE FELLOW IS WRITING AND GOING DOWN THERE, AND YOU’LL TRY TO GET HIM INTERVIEWS WITH AMERICAN OFFICIALS AND GUYANESE THERE. DO YOU SEE ANY PROBLEM WITH THAT? WE CAN’T GET AT THE PEOPLE SITTING IN THIS BUILDING.

A. WELL, I’M NOT SURE THAT HE CAN EITHER, IN THIS SPECIFIC CASE THAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT — THAT PERSON, THAT WRITER — THOUGH I’M NOT EVEN SURE THAT SOME OF YOU CAN’T GET AT THIS PERSON INDIVIDUALLY, BECAUSE YOU HAVE. I MEAN, IT’S A FAIR ENOUGH QUESTION; AND THE ANSWER IS THAT THE PROCEDURE THAT IS BEING FOLLOWED HERE IS A GENERAL ONE WHICH MAY BE CALLED INTO SOME KIND OF GENERAL QUESTION. WE HAVE BEEN PRECEDED INTO SOME STOPS ON TRIPS THAT WE’VE TAKEN BY PEOPLE GOING IN THERE AHEAD OF US ON THE PLANE, TO WHOM WE ASKED CERTAIN KINDS OF COURTESIES TO BE EXTENDED.

Q. ANOTHER QUESTION ON GUYANA: I DON’T THINK WE’VE HAD AN UPDATED ESTIMATE OF THE COST OF THE OPERATION IN TWO WEEKS. AT THAT TIME, IT WAS DOLS 2 MILLION TO DOLS 3 MILLION, AND THIS WAS WELL BEFORE THE OPERATION WAS COMPLETED. DID YOU EVER COME UP WITH AN UPDATED FIGURE.

A. I DO NOT HAVE AN UPDATED FIGURE. I’M NOT GOING TO

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SEND YOU ON A CIRCULAR PATH; BUT AT ANY RATE, MAJOR COSTS WERE INCURRED IN SEVERAL PLACES. AND, AGAIN, FIGURING THEM THROUGH, THE PROCESS ISN’T COMPLETED YET. THAT FIGURE WILL, OF NECESSITY, HAVE TO BE MADE PUBLIC BECAUSE THIS IS A MATTER OF EXTREME PUBLIC INTEREST; BUT I DO NOT HAVE THAT FIGURE.

Q. THE DEPARTMENT ALSO SENT A LEGAL ADVISER TO GUYANA A WEEK AGO, I BELIEVE, TO SEE IF HE COULD RECOVER SOME OF THE MONEY THAT WAS LEFT THERE AT JONESTOWN AND TO SEE IF IT WAS POSSIBLE TO DEFRAY SOME OF THESE COSTS. WE HAVE NOT HEARD FROM HIM SINCE HE LEFT. COULD YOU –

A. THAT PROCESS OF TRYING TO DETERMINE WHETHER A LEGAL BASIS EXISTS FOR DEFRAYING THE COSTS OF THIS OPERATION FROM ASSETS OF THE PEOPLES TEMPLE HAS NOT BEEN CONCLUDED, AND I DON’T HAVE AN INTERIM REPORT TO GIVE YOU. I MEAN THAT LITERALLY.

Q. HODDING, I’D LIKE TO FOLLOW UP GEORGE’S QUESTION.

A. O.K. FOLLOW UP THE QUESTION.

Q. IT’S A FOLLOW-UP, AND THAT IS, GEORGE ASKED ABOUT TRYING TO RECOVER THE MONEY FROM GUYANA. IN VIEW OF THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERVIEW WITH WAYNE RUBICK, WHO IS THE ATTORNEY FOR THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, WHO WAS SENT FROM HEADQUARTERS IN INDIANAPOLIS TO UKIAH, AND HE ADMITS NOW THAT HE DIDN’T INSPECT THINGS VERY CAREFULLY — HE ONLY STAYED FOR ONE DAY; HE SAID, I WISH I’D DONE MORE. SINCE THIS IS A CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF INDIANA AND IS AN INCORPORATED BODY, AND IT WAS THEIR CLERGYMAN, THE REVEREND JIM JONES, IS THE STATE DEPARTMENT CONSIDERING SENDING ITS LAWYER TO INDIANAPOLIS TO SEE WHAT THIS DENOMINATION, THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, MIGHT BE PREPARED

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PAY FOR THE COST OF BRINGING BACK ALL OF THE VICTIMS OF ONE OF THEIR ORDAINED CLERGYMEN FROM WHOM THEY ACCEPTED MONEY?

A. LES, I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT. IN TERMS OF INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS, I DON’T THINK STATE WOULD BE SENDING SOMEBODY THERE; I THINK THAT JUSTICE WOULD.

Q. DO YOU KNOW WHETHER JUSTICE IS?

A. I DON’T. I’M SORRY.

Q. I SEE.

A. I RECOGNIZE HOW MUCH YOU ALL ENJOY THIS TOOTH-BY-TOOTH APPROACH, BUT NONETHELESS I WAS ASKED THE QUESTION YESTERDAY ABOUT MR. MCCOY’S INTERVIEWS AND THE LOCALE FOR THEM; I.E., IT WAS ALLEGED, BASED ON SOME KIND OF REPORTING, THAT SOME OF THOSE INTERVIEWS HAD TAKEN PLACE IN A RADIO SHACK OR SOME PLACE THAT WAS EASILY BUGGED. MR. MCCOY TELLS ME THAT NO INTERVIEWS TOOK PLACE INSIDE OF A BUILDING, THAT THE INTERVIEWS WERE HELD IN THE CENTRAL COMPOUND AREA — THAT IS TO SAY, CLOSE IN — BUT THAT EITHER THEY WERE HELD IN THAT KIND OF AREA OR WERE HELD OUT IN THE FIELD THAT HE REFERRED TO, HOLDING SOME 40 OR SO OF THOSE 70-SOMETHING INTERVIEWS. IN ANY CASE, ON THAT SPECIFIC QUESTION, WHICH I DID NOT REALLY IN FACT TAKE, BUT I’M JUST TRYING TO RESPOND TO SOMETHING REED SAID YESTERDAY.

CHRISTOPHER

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Originally posted on March 24th, 2020.

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