REVIEW OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDA¬
TIONS RELATING TO THE DEATH OF REPRESENTATIVE
LEO J. RYAN
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FEBRUARY 20 AND MARCH 4, 1980
Printed for the nse of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
0.8. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI, Wisconsin, Chairman
L. H. FOUNTAIN, North Carolina
DANTE B. FASCELL, Florida
CHARLES C. DIOOS, Ja„ Michigan
BENJAMIN S. ROSENTHAL, New York
LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana
LESTER L. WOLFF, New York
JONATHAN B. BINGHAM, New York
GUS YATRON, Pennsylvania
CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois
STEPHEN J. SOLARZ, New York
DON BONKER, Washington
GERRY E, STUDDS, Massachusetts
ANDY IRELAND, Florida
DONALD J. PHASE, Ohio
DAN MICA, Florida
MICHAEL D. BARNES, Maryland
WILLIAM H. GRAY III, Pennsylvania
TONY P. HALL, Ohio
HOWARD WOLPE, Michigan
DAVID R. BOWEN, Mississippi
FLOYD J. FITHIAN, Indiana
WILLIAM 8. BROOMFIELD, Michigan
EDWARD J DERWINSKI, Illinois
PAUL FINDLEY, Illinois
JOHN H. BUCHANAN, Jr , Alabama
LARRY WINN, Jr.. Kansas
BENJAMIN A. OILMAN, New York
TENNYSON GUYER, Ohio
ROBERT J, LAQOMARSINO, California
WILLIAM F. DOODLING. Pennsylvania
JOEL PRITCHARD, Washington
MILLICENT FENWICK, New Jersey
DAN QUAYLB, Indiana
John J. Brady, Jr„ Chief of Staff
Sosan McCartan, Staff Assistant
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS
DANTE n. FASCELL, Florida, Chairman
ANDY IRELAND, Florida JOHN H. BUCHANAN, Jb„ Alabama
DAN MICA. Florida EDWARD J. DERWINSKI, Hllnola
WILLIAM H. GRAY III, Pennsylvania JOEL PRITCHARD, Washington
DAVID R. BOWEN, Mississippi
R. Michabi. Fini.by, Subcommittee Staff Director
Janian Mann. Minority Staff Consultant
Virginia 8'-iii.UNnT, Subcommittee Staff Attooiate
Karen Brennan, Subcommittee Btaff Attooiate
Wednesday, February 20, 1980:
Hon. Bill Royer, a Representative in Congress from the State of I> ®**
Joe Holsinger, administrative assistant to the late Representative Leo
J. Ryan_ 7
Jacqueline K. Speier, legal counsel to the late Representative Leo J.
Steven A. Katsaris, a member of the Organization of Concerned
Relatives of the Victims of Jonestown_ 23
Clare Bouquet, a member of the Organization of Concerned Relatives
of the victims of Jonestown_ 26
Tuesday, March 4, 1980:
Hon. Bill Royer, a Representative in Congress from the State of
Hon. Matthew Nimetz, Under Secretary of State for Security Assist¬
ance, Science and Technology_ 38
Hon. Barbara M. Watson, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular
MATERIAL SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
Letter from Hon. Matthew Nimetz, Under Secretary of State, to Hon.
Peter W. Rodino, Jr., chairman, House Judiciary Committee, regarding
the impact of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts upon Foreign
Service reporting_ 6
Guidelines issued by the Department of State for its officers and employees
on their responsibilities under the Freedom of Information and Privacy
Additional remarks of Hon. Bill Royer, a Representative in Congress from
the State of California_ 65
1. Questions submitted in writing by the subcommittee to the Department
of State and responses thereto_ 67
2. Questions submitted in writing by Representative Bill Royer to Hon.
Barbara M. Watson, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs,
and responses thereto_ 74
3. Letter from Hon. Dante B. Fascell, chairman of the Subcommittee on
International Operations, to Hon. Clement J. Zablocki, chairman of
the Committee on Foreign Affairs, requesting that the committee
review the subcommittee hearing transcripts to determine the need for
further action_ 75
4. Letter from Hon. Clement J. Zablocki. chairman of the Committee on
Foreign Affairs, to Hon. Dante B. Fascell, chairman of the Subcom¬
mittee on International Operations, recommending that the commitee
refer certain allegations concerning Jonestown to the House Perma¬
nent Select Committee on Intelligence_ 76
5. Letter from Hon. Clement J. Zablocki, chairman of the Committee on
Foreign Affairs, Hon. William S. Broomfield, Hon. Dante B. Fascell,
and Hon. John H. Buchanan, members of the Committee on Foreign
Affairs, to Hon. Edward P. Boland, chairman of the Permanent
Select Committee on Intelligence, urging the select committee to
review certain allegations concerning Jonestown_-_ 78
REVIEW OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDA-
TIONS RELATING TO THE DEATH OF REPRESENT
ATIVE LEO J. RYAN
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1980
House of Representatives,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Subcommittee on International Operations,
Washington , D.G.
The subcommittee met at 2:10 p.m. in room 2154, Rayburn House
Office Building, Hon. Dante B. Fascell (chairman of the subcommit¬
Mr. Fascell. Ladies and gentlemen, the subcommittee will come to
order, please. We have the usual problem that always besets us in the
Nation’s Capitol, which is that there is more to do than time to do it
in. When this meeting was set, we had hoped there would be no other
conflicts which would interfere with the attendance of some of our
members, including your chairman.
Unfortunately, after this time was set for these hearings, a confer¬
ence committee meeting has been called in which we are trying to wind
up the conference on the refugee bill. It’s the last day of the conference,
and therefore Congressman Buchanan, who is the ranking minority
member of this subcommittee, and I have to go over there tor a while.
We think we will not be too long. Hopefully we can get back as quickly
as possible, which I assure you we will try to do.
While we are gone, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee will
chair the meeting, Congressman Andy Ireland of Florida, my dear
friend and colleague, who is very much interested in this whole matter.
He will proceed to make the record and go as far as he possibly can, and
the rest of us will get back, with your indulgence, as rapidly as pos¬
sible. Thank you.
Mr. Ireland [presiding]. Today the Subcommittee on Interna¬
tional Operations begins oversight hearings on the implementation of
recommendations made bv the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the
Department of State following their investigations of the deaths of
Leo J. Ryan, Representative of the State of California, and more
than 900 other persons.
The report issued by the committee on May 15, 1979, followed 6
months of inquiry by a team of staff members of this committee. The
State Department report was on the performance of both the Depart¬
ment and the American Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana.
The two reports referred to do not conclusively answer all of the
many issues and questions raised by the tragic events of November
( 1 )
1978. They were not intended to definitively, once and for sill fully
answer each and every question. Perhaps all those qucstiom cun never
be fully answered. Other agencies, local, State and Federal, continue
to have key roles in determining what happened and in seeking appro¬
priate punitive or remedial actions.
The Committee on Foreign Affairs does have and will continue to
have a major responsibility for all aspects of this case which fall within
our jurisdiction under the rules of the House of Representatives. Our
actions in promptly initiating our own inquiry and in following it up
both through these hearings and through continued staff interviews
and other activities are indicative of our determination that the lessons
of Jonestown be learned and that those lessons be heeded.
Leo Ryan gave his life in pursuit of one of this subcommittee’s most
imporlnnl areas of jurisdiction the protection of American citizens
abroad, lie un n member of the subcommittee and, speaking for my
colleagues and I lie chairman, I want to ay that we are. determined t hat
his efforts will not have been in vain.
Today we begin our oversight hearing" with testimony from the
friends and relatives of those who died at Port Kiiilnma and at Jones¬
town. We. are all looking forward to hearing tlie te 11 tunny from all of
you yvho have traveled here from California. We want you to be as
frank and forthcoming as possible but, in this connection, I mmt point
out to you that, rule XT of the House require that testimony which
“may tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate any pel «.u" must be
held in executive session. In addition, any mailers which might en¬
danger the national security should appropriately be dr'teed in
executive session. If any witness feels it is necessary »<» testify in
executive session, please indicate, your desire and we will do •» ai the
end of the public hearing.
At this point I want to acknowledge the presence of the ranking
minority member of this committee, Mr. John Buchanan, our colleague
from Alabama. Mr. Buchanan?
Mr. Buchanan. Thank yon, Mr. Ireland. As Chairman Fa-ccll has
already indicated, 1 believe, he and I are unfortunately involved in a
conference with the US. Senate, which was scheduled in direct con
flict and which I must join momentarily. But I want to join in my
colleagues’ expression of the depth of love the members here fell for
Leo Rvan. He was admired and respected on lioth sides of the aisle. I
am one, and I know of many Members, who considered him a close and
treasured personal friend. We are grateful for his life and for his
service to our country. We want those of you who are close to him here
to know that we shall never forget who he was and what he meant in
We also want vou to know that the Members of this committee and of
this House stand available to serve von in any way in our power. As
we proceed with this hearing, we will listen with more than interest,
and with the deep hope that out of this tragedy and out of these hear¬
ings, we can learn something that will help us in the future and belli
us make sure that what we do is right in this matter.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We will get back as soon as we can.
Mr. Ireland. Thank you very much, Mr. Buchanan.
To make a brief statement at this point T am pleased to welcome f<>
the subcommittee Hon. Bill Royer, who succeeded .Congn- <*mnn
Ryan as the Representative from the 11th District in California.
Congressman Royer has been most vigorous in encouraging the com¬
mittee’s continued attention to these issues and we are most apprecia¬
tive for his support.
Mr. Royer, I believe they would prefer you at the table, if you
would, and afterward we would like to welcome you to the podium
for the entire hearing. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. BILL BOYER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Royer. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to indicate
from the outset my sincere appreciation for the opportunity to appear
here today before this subcommittee. I certainly want to commend and
applaud the courage displayed by the chairman of this committee in
calling these hearings and particularly permitting former staff mem¬
bers of the late Leo Ryan and members of the Concerned Relatives
group to testify.
Before I make my brief remarks, I’d like to indicate that two of
Congressman Ryan’s sisters are in the audience here today. They are
in the front row, both Sheila and Shannon and also an aunt, Dorothy
Mead, are here to witness the testimony.
It is really very difficult for me to convey to you the tremendous
frustrations that these witnesses and many others have felt in the
months which followed the assassination of Representative Ryan and
the suicide-murder of over 900 American citizens. The frustration has
stemmed from the fact that they feel they have not been permitted to
tell their story.
True, they all did give statements to the members of the Foreign
Affairs Committee staff investigatory group, but their statements were
labeled confidential, and kept from public view. I want to emphasize
that I do not draw into question at this time the necessity for keeping
those statements confidential. I only point it out as being one of the
greatest sources of frustration felt by the former staff aides of Rep¬
resentative Ryan and the members of the Concerned Relatives.
I therefore want to express my own heartfelt thanks that this com¬
mittee has given these people a forum to express their thoughts on the
subject matter of these hearings, to review the steps taken by the
State Department to implement the recommendations contained in
the report of the Foreign Affairs Committee staff investigatory group
and that of the State Department. I also wish to express my apprecia¬
tion for being permitted to attend and participate in the further
hearing tentatively set for March 4, at which representatives of the
State Department will testify.
Of course, your committee is no stranger to hearings into the ac¬
tivities of the State Department as they relate to Americans residing
in foreign countries. In July 1977, your subcommittee held exten¬
sive hearings on the protection of Americans abroad. Unfortunately,
many of the problems cited in that hearing will be repeated in these
proceedings. It is my sincere hope that perhaps after the second or
third time around, both the State Department and Congress may see
the need for taking concrete actions so we don’t keep repeating our
mistakes. I will make a more specific comment on the parallels Ih>. tween
the 1977 hearings and those we are undertaking now at a later time.
I would also like to take this opportunity to commend, on the. record,
the report and recommendations of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The effort and expertise which is displayed in this report have not
received adequate public recognition, in my opinion. Your staff mem¬
bers devoted more than talent and perspiration to this report. They
obviously took an intense personal interest in this work, and it stands
as a monument to their perserverance, dedication, and untiring devo¬
tion to uncovering all of the facts relevant to this inquiry.
Unfortunately, Decause of the strictures of confidentiality, the fruits
of their labors have been hidden from public view. You, my colleagues,
of course, know of the value of their labors, but I wanted to take this
opportunity to make of record my views of the work they have done.
I also want to commend Mr. Crimmins and Mr. Carpenter of the
State Department for their report and recommendations. I don’t be¬
lieve that it is sheer fortuitous circumstance that the findings and
recommendations contained in both reports parallel each other; rather
I believe this indicates the high caliber of effort which went into their
preparation. For that, this committee, myself, and the American peo¬
ple may be grateful.
I know that my call hearings on this matter was not received by
all amicably. I am sure that I did not observe all the niceties of Capi¬
tol Hill protocol. T did not. come to t.ho conclusion to ask for hearings
with a great deal of joy, l>elieve me. When T came back here last. April
as the most, junior freshman, T had no doaire. to do anything other than
apply myself wholeheartedly in learning the craft, of a Congressman.
I was, after all, .1 months behind everyone else. ITowevor, (hiring my
campaign, I was approached by many friends of Leo Ryan and many
representatives of t.ho Concerned Relatives. They all had one theme,
one requestr—to come back here and see if everything had lieen done
that could be done to bring the killer or killers of Too Ryan to justice,
and to see that never again would there be a situation where 900
American citizens would die in a foreign land under the tyrannical
control of a false prophet such as Jim Jones.
And when I came back here, I read the fine report of your staff
investigatory group with its many astute recommendations and the
State Department’s report with its near identical recommendations. T
found that at that time, through no fault of the subcommittee, vir¬
tually nothing had been done to implement them. I had come to the
conclusion that I could not say to these people that their concerns
So I called for the hearings. Subsequently, of course, and completely
independent of anything I was doing, Chairman Zablocki and Bill
Broomfield of the full committee testified at the White House Con¬
ference on the Family and thus that recommendation has been fully
implemented, and I congratulate and applaud both of these dis¬
tinguished members for this service to all Americans.
I am concerned, however, as to the other recommendations. It is
not mere chance, in my opinion, that the first recommendation of both
the staff investigatory group and the State Department was a review
of the exemption provisions under the Privacy Act and the Freedom
of Information Act, in light of the Jonestown experience. This has
not been done. I am aware that the Department of Justice is review
ing the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act now for
what it deems to be necessary amendments. I am also aware, as are
you, that the State Department has sent the Justice Department its
recommendations as to those acts.
However, when my aide called the Justice Department staff person
who was handling this review and inquired as to whether he or anyone
in Justice was conducting that review in light of the Jonestown
experience, the reply was that he could not possibly conceive how the
Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts could have played a part in
that tragedy. He readily admitted that he had not read this commit¬
tee’s staff report, nor that of the State Department. I provided him
with copies of both reports, and suggested that any review of amend¬
ments to those acts be made in consideration of these reports.
I wish to make just a few more comments to underscore the urgent
need for attention to this area. The first has to do with the now famous
report of the November 7,1978, visit by consular officers to Jonestown.
That report, you may recall, did not issue until after the assassination
of Representative Ryan and the tragic deaths of the residents of
Jonestown. In it, Jones is described as unstable, his speech slurred,
complaining of apparently nonexistent fever, wearing a surgical mask
The reasons given later for so much graphic detail was that Jones
was now dead and could not sue. We can only speculate how that report
would have been actually written prior to November 18, 1978, or
what Representative Ryan’s actions would have been if he would have
had that report prior to going to Guyana.
The second comment I have to make is to draw your attention to
the July 1977 hearings on the protection of Americans abroad. During
those hearings before this subcommittee, the Assistant Legal Adviser
of the Department of State testified that there are no inhibitions on
disclosure of personal information under the Privacy Act to subcom¬
mittees or committees or to Congress.
However, on February 28, 1979, 21/2 years later, the State Depart¬
ment denied the request of Chairman Zablocki of the full committee
for such information, citing the Privacy Act. Over 21/2 years later,
confusion still abounds. Surely we can do better. Surely we must.
I therefore respectfully urge and request this subcommittee to re¬
quest the appropriate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Justice
Department and the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts for
an immediate report and update on any proposed amendments to the
Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts. I am convinced that there
must be amendments to these acts if we are to truly take every step
necessary to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy.
Let me briefly address myself to the staff group’s recommendations
numbered 2 and 4 dealing with tax treatment of religious institutions
such as the People’s Temple and the need for a concentrated program
of research and training on cults. As to these recommendations, I
would respectfully request that your subcommittee ask the relevant
subcommittees with jurisdiction in these areas to take every step
necessary to implement them also.
Mr. Chairman, because the witnesses from the State Department are
not going to appear today, I would like to reserve some time prior to
that testimony in which to make my remarks concerning my views of
the steps that the State Department has taken to implement the recom¬
mendations in the two report*. I make that request so that the State
Department’s witnesses may hear my comments firsthand and thus they
will be able to respond to questions that follow.
I would like to also brine to your attention the fact that I have sub¬
mitted to you a copy of the letter from the State Department from
then counselor Nimetz dated November 21,1979. That letter sets forth
the steps the State Department has taken to implement the various
recommendations contained in the two reports which were issued sub¬
sequent to the tragedy.
Before I introduce Mr. Holsinger, I would like to, knowing the
dedication of this subcommittee, indicate to those who are testifying
and also to the family members that even though a number of the sub¬
committee members are not able to be present, I am confident that the
testimony taken here today will be looked at very closely and recom¬
mendations that will be necessary will be forthcoming.
At this time, Mr. Chairman, I would like to introduce Mr. Joe Hol¬
singer, the administrative assistant to the late Representative Ryan, a
person who is I am sure well known to most of you.
At this time, Mr. Holsinger.
Mr. Ireland. Thank you, Mr. Royer. I hope you will join us up here.
Before we ask Mr. Holsinger for his testimony, I want to assure you
that the letter which you have referred to from the State Department
will be made a part of the record, and that as well your request to
testify when the State Department appears March 4.
[The letter referred to follows:]
Department or State,
Washington, D.O., November 21,1979.
Hon. Peter W. Rodino, Jr.,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
U.S. House of Representatives.
Dear Mr. Chairman : The Secretary has asked me to reply to your letter of
October 31 concerning the Department of State’s Investigation Into the events sur¬
rounding the People’s Temple case In which Congressman Leo Ryan was mur¬
dered by members of the American community In Jonestown, Guyana. I am
pleased to be able to report to you on the steps the Department has taken to Im¬
plement the recommendations of that Investigation, as well as additional meas¬
ures we have Inaugurated to minimize the likelihood that such an occur¬
rence could ever happen again.
Immediately following the events at Jonestown, the Department undertook
a comprehensive examination of the contacts between the Department, the Amer¬
ican Embassy In Georgetown, Guyana, and the People’s Temple Agricultural
Community prior to November 18, 1978. We sought to understand the nature of
the Department’s relationship with the People’s Temple so as to Improve our
own procedures for dealing with similar situations should they arise In the
future. The final report of the Department’s examination, which was made public
In May of this year, is enclosed.
Drawing upon the recommendations contained In this report, the Department
took a number of actions designed to Improve training opportunities for consular
officers, provide better security protection for traveling Congressional delega¬
tions, strengthen the degree of coordination between the Bureau of Consular
Affairs and the Department’s regional bureaus, and upgrade the sensitivity of
our country desk officers to the potential ramifications of significant consular
problems overseas. We have also Just completed a major review of the Impact of
the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts upon foreign service reporting,
both to ensure that the Department obtains adequate Information on the welfare
of Americans resident abroad and to guarantee that general reporting Is not ad¬
versely affected by the unintended application of the requirements contained
In these two laws.
In our study, we canvassed key U.S. embassies and their constituent posts In
all geographic areas, and we met with a number of groups in the Department to
obtain first-hand views as to the operation of both the Freedom of Information
Act and the Privacy Act as they affect the conduct of foreign relations. We have
communicated our recommendations as to possible legislative changes to the
Justice Department, the agency responsible for coordinating the over-all position
of the Executive Branch in this matter. I would be happy to meet with you and
your staff to review the findings of our study and discuss the conclusions that
we have drawn.
You may already be familiar with the measures we have implemented to im¬
prove security protection afforded to Congressional delegations traveling in for¬
eign countries. We have made it a standard practice to request a threat assess¬
ment from our posts describing the current security situation in a country to be
visited by any member of the U.S. Congress. These threat assessments are period¬
ically updated during the time a delegation may be out of the country, and their
contents are shared with the members of the delegation before their departure
and during the time of their actual visit. Our Office of Security in the Department
accumulates a great deal of information regarding potentially unstable situa¬
tions abroad and, in cooperation with the Office of Congressional Relations,
promptly notifies any Congressional delegation about dangerous situations that
may arise during the course of a Congressional visit. In addition, we have also
considered providing mobile communications equipment to Congressional dele¬
gations that may be traveling to remote or isolated areas of the world, and we
have undertaken to provide such equipment on at least one occasion.
With regard to training opportunities for consular officers, we have employed
the Jonestown experience specifically as a case study for some advanced con¬
sular training exercises. From time to time, consular officers have also been
introduced to the psychological aspects of various mind control techniques with
specific attention to the implications of these methods for the provision of normal
consular services. We have generally endeavored to heighten the awareness of
our consular officers to Jonestown situations, and we have encouraged closer co¬
ordination between consular officers In the field and their political and economic
Prior to the Jonestown episode, the Department had begun a re-organization
of its Office of Overseas Citizens Services. That re-organization has now been com¬
pleted, and a number of Important changes have been made to enable the Depart¬
ment to respond more effectively to situations involving the protection and assist¬
ance of U.S. citizens abroad. A Citizens Emergency Center has been established
to provide emergency consular assistance, and the Office of Citizens Consular
Services has been re-organized on a regional basis so as to improve coordination
between consular officials and the regional officers with whom they must often
I hope that this review of the programs inaugurated by the Department since
the Jonestown event has been helpful. I would welcome the opportunity to
discuss this matter with you in greater depth, and to learn your views as to any
further measures that you might consider advisable.
Mr. Royer. If we may, to conserve time I would like Ms. Speier to
come up at the same time because she will be the next person testify¬
ing. So Jackie, if you would come up, too.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Ireland. Thank you.
Welcome, Mr. Holsinger. We are pleased to have you with us. If
you will, please proceed.
STATEMENT OF JOE HOLSINGER, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
TO THE LATE REPRESENTATIVE LEO J. RYAN
Mr. Holsinger. This is a day I was not sure would ever happen, to
be able to present this information today or these questions. But I am
gratified that it has come about.
I would first like to express my appreciation to Chairman Fascell for
convening these oversight hearings. 1 know that Leo Ryan had the
highest personal regard for Mr. Fascell, whom he. considered to be his
mentor on this committee, as well as his very good friend.
I also want to thank Representative Bill Royer for his role in press¬
ing for these hearings. His efforts have earned him the respect of every¬
one who was touched by the tragedy in Guyana in November 1978.
It is an irony of fate that this subcommittee is one on which Leo
Ryan served and worked closely with members. I was going to say
some of whom are here today, but we seem to have a problem as far as
who could attend today.
The conduct of this open congressional hearing can help to determine
if our Government withheld vital information from Representative
Ryan and if his death and the death of over 900 persons could have
Leo went to Guyana in a last ditch effort to determine the validity
of serious charges made about Jim Jones and the People’s Temple in
Jonestown. Representative Ryan had received detailed allegations that
at least some of the more than 900 Americans there were being held
against their will under brutal and inhuman circumstances. He would
not have led a congressional delegation there if the facts could have
been determined any other way.
Representative Royer’s office has informed me that the purpose of
these oversight hearings is to determine what the State Department
has done to implement the recommendations contained in the Foreign
Affairs Committee staff report and the State Department report on
the performance of the State Department in the Jonestown matter.
The recommendations appear to be useful and, if implemented prop¬
erly, they should improve the quality of State Department perform¬
ance overseas. One of the most difficult areas is that of review of exemp¬
tion provisions under the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information
Act, which Representative Royer alluded to. It is clear that the Privacy
Act was interpreted by the State Department to deny Representative
Ryan access to pertinent information concerning Jim Jones and the
People’s Temple in Guyana.
It is also clear that the Freedom of Information Act was interpreted
by .State Department personnel in such a way as to provide complete
access to Jim Jones about inquiries or actions concerning Jones and the
People’s Temple. Our experience in the Ryan office in that regard is
detailed in the attached news story in the San Mateo Times of Decem¬
ber 6, 1979, “Somehow the Word Would Get to People’s Temple,”
which is attached as exhibit A, and I think there is a lot of informa¬
tion in that news story which has not been generally known elsewhere
outside the San Mateo Times area. 1
That free flow of information to Jones from the State Department,
and the reasons for it, have never been properly addressed. Was it de
facto State Department policy or was it the work of a few key officials
who had close ties to Jim Jones?
A major issue that has escaped scrutiny is the emphasis placed by
the State Department on promoting American commercial interests
overseas as its first priority, to the detriment of the problems of indi¬
vidual U.S. citizens abroad. That issue was raised by Representative
Paul McCloskey in an interview published in the San Mateo Times on
1 Exhibits A through B are retained In committee files.
December 8,1978, “McCloskey Slams State Department,” exhibit B as
The following is an excerpt from that news story:
A congressional Investigation of the Jonestown massacre is likely to show that
the U.S. State Department was more concerned with promoting exportation of
natural resources from Guyana than exposing Injustices within Peoples Temple or
protecting Americans visiting that country. Representative Paul McCloskey told
the Times Thursday.
The Republican congressman from Menlo Park who had worked with his slain
colleague, Representative Leo ,T. Ryan, for State Department Intervention in the
Jonestown commune, stated: “I think an Investigation will bring out that the
Guyanese Government had a relationship with (the Reverend Jim) Jones and
that the U.S. Embassy (in Georgetown) knew about It, accepted it and didn’t try
to Intrude. Based on my dealings with the State Department, I think it is ap¬
parent that the department was more concerned with getting along with the
Guyanese • • * and promoting exports from that country than it was In pro¬
tecting U.S. citizens.”
The most important mineral resources in Guyana are bauxite and manganese.
Gold and diamonds are also mined. Bauxite Is the principal source of aluminum.
I should say also that Jackie Speier’s research before Leo went down
to Guyana indicated that up until that time, at least until 1977, reports
were that 91 percent of the world’s current supply of bauxite was
coming from Guyana.
Going back to the article,
McCloskey said It is the "inherent mission” of all U.S. embassies, as repre¬
sentatives of the President, to place more emphasis on maintaining an amiable
relationship with a host country and promoting exports than looking after the
interests of citizens abroad.
He said it is his hope that the Investigation will result in an order by the House
International Relations Committee that embassies take a "stronger position on
the well-being of Americans.”
That is the end of the quotation from the news article. I find nothing
in the State Department recommendations that remotely touches on
However, one of the State Department recommendations most perti¬
nent to the Guyana tragedy was item G(l) which stated, and this is a
quotation from the report,
The Department should strengthen its support for congressional delegations
traveling overseas. We endorse the current efforts of the Department to provide:
(1) more definitive threat assessments in areas to be visited by Congressional
Threat assessments, to be effective, must necessarily include cur¬
rent intelligence data from the area involved. The question is whether
the results of such intelligence data will be shared with congressional
delegations or withheld from them. The record shows that no such in¬
telligence data was made available to Leo Ryan concerning Guyana.
T should also repeat that there were no warnings from the State
Department to Leo Ryan. At first the State Department said they had
warned Leo. They later retracted that. The impression was made first
that he had been warned, and many people in this country believed it.
They were later forced to retract it, and T want that on the record.
In fact, the State Department denied knowledge of any intelligence
data concerning the People’s Temple in Guyana in its report of Decem¬
ber 13, 1978 from Douglas Bennet, Assistant Secretary for Congres¬
sional Relations, to Representative Clement Zablocki, chairman of the
International Relations Committee. Question No. 8 from Chairman
Were the activities of the Peoples’ Temple Church Investigated by the FBI
and/or other U.S. Government agencies and, if so, were their findings made avail¬
able to the Department of State?
The State Department response was:
The Department of Justice has informed the Department that It conducted no
investigations of the Peoples’ Temple prior to the death of Congressman Ryan.
We have been Informed that the Federal Communications Commission investi¬
gated use of amateur radio stations by the Peoples’ Temple to determine whether
that use violated the Federal Communications Act of 1934.
The Department Is unaware of any other Investigations that may have been
conducted by other U.S. Government agencies of the Peoples’ Temple or Its ac¬
tivities other than the single report of the Customs Investigation noted In our
response to question No. 7 above.
I submit that response can be true only if you believe that U.S. Gov¬
ernment intelligence operations in Guyana were completely shielded
from the State Department. Our Government did have an intelligence
presence in Guyana prior to Leo Ryan’s trip there. I know that an
agent of the Central Intelligence Agency witnessed his death. On the
afternoon of November 18, 1978. I received two phone calls in Cali¬
fornia from Washington, D.C. The first was from the Caribbean desk
at the State Department. I had been in touch with them several times
that day because of my concern over Leo’s presence at. Jonestown and
the potential danger there.
The State Department caller told me that they had just received a
report from the American Embassy in Georgetown of a shooting inci¬
dent at the Port Kaituma airstrip. The report said that 3 people had
been killed and 15 wounded, and that Representative Ryan may have
been one of those killed.
Within 15 minutes, I had a second phone call, this time from a mem¬
ber of the White House staff whom I know personally. He told me that
five people had been killed, including Leo. When I said that his infor¬
mation differed from that which I just received from the State De¬
partment, he responded, “Joe, our information is correct. We have a
CTA report from the scene.”
The White House aide then asked my assistance in identifying the
other four persons by describing their roles. Because of mv familiarity
with the mission, I was able to identify Don Harris as the TV news¬
caster, Bob Brown as the TV camermap, and Greg Robinson as the still
Since a CIA agent was present at the assassination of Congressman
Ryan, it seems reasonable to assume that our Government had received
prior reports on the People’s Temple.
Further confirmation of CIA activities in Guyana are contained in
a San Mateo Times news story of December H, 1979, “CIA Agent
Witnessed Jonestown Mass Suicide,” exhibit C as attached. I have
been informed that House rules forbid specific charges against named
individuals in open session, but I am ready to discuss such charges
against more than one individual in executive session if this committee
chooses to hear them.
I believe that the tragic consequences of withholding intelligence
data from Leo Ryan in Guyana should serve as a warning to all future
congressional delegations abroad. Unless the Congress insists on the
inclusion of such data in State Department threat assessments, the
ability of Congress to fulfill its factfinding and investigative responsi¬
bilities will be at the mercy of the executive branch of the Government.
It also appears that existing law may have been broken by the
Central Intelligence Agency in failing to report to the appropriate
committees in Congress on its covert activities in Guyana. In December
1974, as an amendment to the Foreign Aid Act, Congress approved
a provision sponsored by Harold Hughes of Iowa in the Senate and
by Leo Ryan of California in the House. This is what it said:
No funds appropriated under the authority of this or any other act may be
expended by or on behalf of the CIA for operations in foreign countries, other
than activities intended solely for obtaining necessary Intelligence, unless and
until the President finds that each such operation Is important to the national
security and reports, in a timely fashion, a description and scope of such operation
to the appropriate committees of the Congress.
The CIA did have an operation in Guyana in addition to the obtain¬
ing of necessary intelligence. I charge that that operation was specific¬
ally designed to support the Government of Prime Minister Forbes
Burnham, and there are credible reports that it included covert sup¬
port for Jim Jones as an ally of Forbes Burnham. Specifically, the
People’s Temple provided funds to the Burnham group and also acted
as a terrorist organization to intimidate the opponents of the Burnham
regime. And the Burnham government was cooperative with our com¬
mercial interests and with the policy of the U.S. State Department in
promoting the exportation of natural resources from Guyana.
It seems almost certain now that our intelligence sources were aware
that charges that American citizens were being held in bondage were
true, and that they allowed that condition to continue in the interest
of their mission. They also withheld that information from Members of
Congress, including Leo Ryan, and from desperate relatives who
pleaded tor Government assistance for their loved ones. The Depart¬
ment of State consistently reassured such relatives that all was well in
Jonestown. A typical example is the State Department response of
June 16, 1978, to Sherwin Harris of Lafayette, Calif., exhibit D.
I would like to say that if anyone can read that letter to Sherwin
Harris and in any way tie it to its response by Hodding Carter, it does
not wash. It is typical of the responses concerned relatives got.
By the time that Leo Ryan led the congressional delegation to
Guyana in November 1978, the difficult question posed for our Govern¬
ment was whether or not it should admit to Ryan that one, a covert
intelligence operation existed in Guyana that had not been reported
to appropriate committees in Congress as required by law. I would like
to add at this point that Leo was a member of the Oversight Committee
of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that he would have been
one of those to whom the CIA would have reported about a covert
operation in Guyana. They knew of his interest in the People’s Temple.
It seems possible to me the reason they did not report that operation
may have been because Leo was one of the coauthors of Hughes-Ryan
and sat on that committee.
Item two, American citizens were being held in Jonestown against
their will. And item three, our Government was using Jim Jones as
an ally of the Burnham government to maintain its control of Guyana.
Someone, or some group, made the decision to “stonewall” the Ryan
delegation. That was a fatal mistake, although at the time it must
have appeared that Leo’s mission would fail since it was obvious that
neither our Government, the Government of Guyana nor Jim Jones
wanted him in Guyana, or especially in Jonestown. Under those cir¬
cumstances, it appeared very unlikely that one lone Congressman
would be able to “kick down the doors, to use one of Leo’s pet phrases.
On the other hand, it was likely that if Leo Ryan had been given
intelligence data indicating that American citizens were being held
against their will under brutal circumstances, he would have used
that information with the appropriate committee in Congress to force
our Government to free those people. Leo would not have had to go
to Guyana. And all those deaths would have been averted.
News accounts from Georgetown at the time of the Ryan mission
there said that Leo was winning the media or public opinion battle
against Jim Jones. Before Leo’s departure for Guyana, he and I dis¬
cussed his plan to go up to the gates of Jonestown, in the presence of
the media, and request permission to enter. If such permission were
refused, Leo would then return to Congress with proof that Jonestown
was a closed settlement. If he was allowed to enter, he intended to
assess the situation there fairly, but to insist on talking alone to spe¬
cific people and to personally escort anyone out who wished to leave.
When it became obvious that Leo Ryan was going to Jonestown even
without prior agreement by Jim Jones, our Government had its last
chance to disclose the true nature of the situation there to Leo. Some¬
one decided at this juncture to take the chance that Jones would be
able to put on a show that would convince the Ryan group that all was
well in Jonestown. It seems incredible to me that our Government,
knowing what it did about the situation inside Jonestown and the
potential for violence there, would take that chance. It is a terribly
harsh question as ask, but is it possible that even the terrible tragedy
that occurred was preferred over disclosure of our covert operation
In reviewing the adequacy of the recommendations from the State
Department, the most significant omission is that of the presence of
CIA personnel in key roles within the State Department. Their ex¬
istence is known to our allies and to our potential enemies alike. It is
a secret only from the American public. I believe that the CIA serves
a vital and essential purpose in our national interest. I also understand
that its personnel operate under orders from the National Security
Agency and the President. Their work is often dangerous and they
must be protected. It may be necessary under some circumstances for
CIA personnel to use the cover of the State Department employees.
However, such usage should be kept to an absolute minimum since
it can obviously create radical mutations in policy and endanger the
lives of American citizens abroad unless great care is taken.
If, as seems probable, our State Department policy toward the
People’s Temple and Guyana was dominated by the CIA operations
there, the Department’s laxness and indifference to petitions and com¬
plaints from refugees, or defectors as they’re sometimes called, and
from Concerned Relatives becomes more understandable.
I should say parenthetically I cannot believe the State Depart¬
ment has made all the errors they claim to have made. Every time
something is brought to them, they say we made another error. If
that’s an example of their errors, we have one hell of a State Depart¬
Some of the major petitions and affidavits which were ignored or
“lost” included one, the Concerned Relatives petition of May 10,
1978, to the Secretary of State, which included sworn notarized affi¬
davits concerning the abuse of human rights by Jones. Two, the April
10, 1978, affidavit of Yolanda D. A. Crawford, a People’s Temple
defector, describing beatings and abuses in Jonestown. Three, the affi¬
davits of May and June 1978 by Debbie Blakey describing suicide re¬
hearsals and other serious charges.
The State Department’s response of June 26, 1978, to Ambassador
Burke’s telegram of June 6, 1978, was covered in the State Depart¬
ment review and the investigative report by the Foreign Affairs Com¬
mittee staff. A situation occurred, and I am departing from my text,
where the Ambassador sent a request up to the State Department
saying that he wanted to go to the Government of Guyana and ask
permission for them and suggest to them that they exercise greater
police powers and greater authority in Jonestown, in fact recom¬
mended that that be done. That came to the State Department. His
message was clear. The response was clear. But the State Department
response to that telegram of June 6, 1978, was a clear rejection of
Burke’s request for permission to discuss the Jonestown situation with
the Government of Guyana. It seems quite possible in retrospect that
this rejection was influenced by intelligence agency considerations.
And going back again, some of these reports criticized Ambassador
Burke for not coming back and arguing with his superiors. He sent
a very clear request in. They rejected it. Someone blamed Burke for
not fighting harder against the rejection of his superiors. That does
not wash with me at all. I understand this was the first time that
Burke had made such a request concerning Jonestown. It was sent
up to the seventh floor of the State Department and that response
was drafted upstairs with great care. I don’t think it is any accident
Some knowledgeable observers may argue that the deaths of Leo
Ryan, the media members, and over 900 American residents of Jones¬
town may be the price we had to pay to keep control of Guyana. Sort
of a “that’s war, folks, that’s the way it is” attitude. But what if
Guyana falls anyway, and soon ? That specter was raised in a news
article from London and published in the San Francisco Chronicle
on December 9, 1979, “Guyana May Be the Next to Fall.” That is
That article detailed the desperate economic plight of the Guyanese
people and their growing opposition, now estimated at 75 to 80 per¬
cent, to the Burnham Government. It also discussed the use of vio¬
lence by another U.S.-based pseudo-religious group. This group, “The
House of Israel,” appears to be the strong-arm successor to the People’s
Temple in support of Burnham. If the tragedy at Jonestown was in
fact allowed to happen to protect the secrecy of our intelligence opera¬
tions in Guyana, the ultimate tragedy when Guyana falls will be that
it was in vain.
I submit that our Government policy in the underdeveloped coun¬
tries in the Caribbean is fatally flawed if it is based solely on the pro¬
tection of U.S. commercial interests. We must be more supportive to
the native economies in the Caribbean if we are to maintain our sphere
of influence against Cuba and Russia.
Grenada, a small island nation near Guyana, has already been taken
into the Communist sphere of influence, despite our support for the
government of Sir Eric Gairy, which fell in March 1979. That was
another intelligence-supported operation, the government of Gairy.
It is of interest to note that Gairy and Jim Jones were close enough
for Gairy to visit Jones at the People’s Temple in San Francisco prior
to Jones’ departure to Guyana. A photograph of the two together
appears in a book, “The Suicide Cult,” written by a San Francisco
Chronicle reporter, Ron Javers.
It has been reported that Jim Jones had planned to escape to
Grenada with a select group of supporters following the mass mur¬
ders in Jonestown. And I should state here also in September 1978,
a private investigator in Jonestown counted 1,100 passports there;
900 people’s bodies were found. There were a few missing, like be¬
tween 900 and 1,100.
Jones did not intend to die in Jonestown. No paraffin tests were ever
made to determine if he had fired a gun. It should also be noted here,
it is now known that more than $1 million of People’s Temple money
was deposited in a Grenada bank.
It should also be noted here that the pathology report by the Guya¬
nese coroner showed that a high percentage of the victims examined
were injected in the back with the poison. The proof was the blisters
on the backs at the point of injection. And if we don’t care too much
about events of people who commit suicide, and we put those aside,
if we thought a lot more of those were murders, it would be harder
to forget about it. So I wonder about the accuracy of the reporting,
or the lack of accuracy from the scene.
We also know that an undetermined number of Jonestown resi¬
dents showed up in Grenada following the Jonestown tragedy. And
the Marcettine. Jim’s boat, was over there.
Mv reason for going beyond a discussion of the recommendations
by the State Department is that the fault may be with Government
policy rather than with the day-to-day conduct of State Department
employees. When a tragedy of this magnitude occurs, we should do
more, much more, than be content with a surface examination of
I realize that many of the matters I have discussed today are beyond
the purview of this subcommittee, or in fact of any standing com¬
mittee of the Congress. For that reason, I ask now for the formation
of a special House committee with full power to investigate all aspects
of the Jonestown tragedy, including its impact on our foreign policy
and our relations with neighboring nations in the Caribbean.
Some of the questions to be addressed by such a select committee
would include the following:
One, is it State Department policy to make protection of American
commercial interests abroad its top priority at the expense of the safety
of American citizens?
Two, to what extent is the CIA used to promote and protect Ameri¬
can commercial interests abroad, in addition to its normal functions
of gathering intelligence ? Does such protection result in the creation
of animosity toward our country by citizens of these nations?
Three, did our Government use Jones and the People’s Temple to
support the Burnham government? If so, was the purpose to protect
the commercial export of raw materials such as bauxite and
Four, were members of our intelligence agencies serving in key
positions in our Embassy in Guyana and in the State Department in
Washington, D.C., and were they directed by our Government to
use those positions to control State Department conduct regarding
complaints against the People’s Temple ?
Five, did our Government knowingly acquiesce in the intolerable
conditions of bondage at Jonestown m order to maintain control of
the Guyanese Government?
Six, was our Government, through its intelligence operation, fully
aware of the arms in Jonestown and the potential for violence there?
If so, why did it fail to insist on armed protection by the Guyanese
Government for the Ryan mission ? Was Leo Ryan set up for murder ?
Seven, did a member of the CIA, who was also a State Department
official, go back into Jonestown after the killings at Port Kaituma and
witness the mass murder-suicide scene there, as reported in the San
Mateo Times ? If so, why ?
Eight, who killed Jim Jones and why?
Nine, has the administration used “national security” as an excuse
to cover up the monumental error of withholding vital information
from Leo Ryan concerning Jim Jones and the People’s Temple in
Jonestown, an error that led directly to the tragedy ?
I thank you for the opportunity to present this statement in an open
hearing before this committee. My personal feelings about the tragic
death of my good friend, Leo Ryan, are obvious. He is gone, but I
believe that we should now proceed to examine fully the causes of this
tragedy and to insure that the errors leading to it are corrected for
the good of our Nation.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Ireland. Thank you, Mr. Holsinger. The testimony, I’m sure
we all feel and will contmue to feel, has made an important contribu¬
tion to an ongoing investigation.
Mr. Royer, do you have any questions ?
Mr. Royer. Mr. Chairman, I think at this point I would like to call
on Ms. Jackie Speier. If there are questions after she testifies, while
they are both here we can ask them. But I would like her to proceed
now if she may.
Mr. Ireland. If you will, Ms. Speier, please proceed.
STATEMENT OF JACQUELINE K. SPEIER, LEGAL COUNSEL TO THE
LATE REPRESENTATIVE LEO J. RYAN
Ms. Speier. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, a little
more than a year ago I sat in the chairman of this committee’s office
and together we grieved, in fact we cried because we’d lost a friend
and a colleague in the man of the late Congressman Leo J. Ryan.
During our meeting together, Chairman Fascell promised me that he
would do whatever was necessary to get the answers to the questions
that had gone unanswered. I urged him to hold public hearings on
the tragedy. He said he would call hearings if they were warranted.
I am grateful to him for calling this hearing today. As a congressional
assistant for 5 years, I sat in this room many times and marveled at
the chairman’s depth of perception and extensive knowledge regard¬
ing foreign policy. I thank him, the members of this committee, and
the staff for the opportunity to speak before you today.
I would also like to express my appreciation to Congressman Bill
Royer who has shown a responsiveness to his contituents in his efforts
to arrange these hearings.
Since the tragic events of November 18, 1978, forums all across the
country and in fact around the world have challenged spokespersons
to speculate as to why Jonestown happened. The Washington commu¬
nity has not been excluded from this discussion. Rather, both the Con¬
gress and the executive branch conducted hearings and investigations
into the Jonestown tragedy. I have read the documents prepared by
the State Department and the House Foreign Affairs Committee and
cooperated fully with both of these investigations. Without question,
the efforts of these groups were genuine. Both investigative teams took
their mandate seriously and conducted the inquiries in a highly pro¬
fessional manner. The recommendations offered were adequate, but
I respectfully submit that they address the symptoms and not the
The focus of this hearing is to monitor and evaluate the extent to
which the State Department has effectuated the recommendations
enumerated in the Foreign Affairs Committee report and the State
Department report. I am not prepared, nor am I qualified, to respond
to that line of questioning. Certainly State Department officials are
the only persons who can address that question. What’s more, I find
such questioning somewhat premature.
We still have not received plausible explanations regarding the
performance of State before, during, and after the tragedy. A U.S.
Congressman, and over 900 people lost their lives in Guyana and the
conclusions reached indicate that:
1. The U.S. Embassy in Guyana “did not demonstrate adequate
initiative, sensitive reaction, and appreciation of progressively mount¬
ing indications of highly irregular and illegal activities in Jonestown.”
2. “There was a laxness in State Department procedures for dis¬
tributing certain important documents relative to People’s Temple
thereby inhibiting the opportunity for taking appropriate action.”
Both these quotations are from the House Foreign Affairs Committee
report on pages 29 and 31.
We lost a U.S. Congressman and 900 Americans and all we say is
that our Embassy did not “demonstrate initiative or sensitivity” and
the State Department was “lax.” Such an evaluation of the State
Department’s performance is incomplete and oversimplified. And yet,
with these inconclusive results, recommendations have been made
which the State Department has taken steps to implement. In my
mind it is a classic case of the cart before the horse.
In my estimation the State Department failed in three respects
regarding the Codel trip. The Department failed in its duty to warn,
its duty to investigate, and its duty to inform.
The ramifications of these hearings far exceed whether or not we
will ultimately find out why the Jonestown tragedy occurred. The
issue here cuts to the quick of what kind of relationship exists between
the State Department and the Congress.
Is full disclosure by State Department to the Congress presumed or
even anticipated? “Duty to warn.” Is our Embassy’s allegiance in a
foreign country first to the foreign government or to the Congress and
the American people? “Duty to investigate.” Is the relationship be¬
tween Congress and the State Department cooperative or adversative ?
“Duty to inform.”
I will discuss the “duty to warn.” In the letter from Matthew
Nimetz to Chairman Rodino of the Judiciary Committee on November
21, 1979, Nimetz outlines the steps which have been implemented in
the aftermath of the Guyana tragedy and the recommendations of the
various reports. I quote:
We have made it a standard practice to request a threat assessment from our
posts describing the current security situation in a country to be visited * * *
The contents (of the threat assessments) are shared with the members of the
delegation before their departure.
Had this guideline been in effect when we made the trip to Guyana,
I am certain the threat assessment would have been reported as
“benign” by the State Department. State never shared with the con¬
gressional delegation any of the information and reports which it had
in its files for over 1 year before our trip which pointed to a possible
illegal export of up to 170 guns from California to Jonestown. The
U.S. Customs Service, August 26, 1977, made that report. It was re¬
ceived by the State Department Bureau of Inter-American Affairs on
I must presume State Department did not consider such gun run¬
ning to be “threatening.” Further, we were not even given the oppor¬
tunity to make our own threat assessment on a personal level because
we were not privy to that vital information. A State Department
spokesman in December 1978, 1 month after the tragedy, still main¬
tained there was no potential violence in State’s view and was quoted
We did not specifically advise Congressman Ryan with respect to potential
violence • • • There was no prior Instance, known or alleged, of use of physical
violence against a visitor.
That was reported in the Redwood City Tribune, Redwood City, Calif.,
December 16, 1978.
At this time I would like to show a visual example of the violence
that State Department did not expect, because there was no prior his¬
tory. This bullet was removed from my arm 2 months ago. The FBI
has subsequently run ballistics tests on it.
The State Department did not anticipate violence although they
were put on notice not just once, by the Customs Service report, but at
least twice about the armed camp environment at Jonestown.
The second instance refers to an affidavit received in June 1978 by
the State Department from Deborah Layton Blakey in which she
testifies the “settlement swarming with armed guards,” “persons ap¬
proximately 50 in number would arm themselves with rifles.” The
affidavit also described white night suicide trials, brutality and severe
working and subsistence conditions. Not only were these charges made
in a formal affidavit to the State Department in June 1978, they were
also communicated firsthand to the consular officer in Guyana. He
suggested Blakey contact the Justice Department.
Had the consular officer no responsibility to make an inquiry re¬
garding the charges leveled? Had he no responsibility to inform the
Justice Department himself?
The duty to investigate. The Foreign Affairs Committee report
makes the statement, “The Embassy did not have an investigative or
judicial function.” I submit that the treaty we signed with the United
Kingdom on June 6, 1951, and which continues to be the controlling
document regarding our relationship with the Government of Guyana
today specifically provides that our consular officers have investigat¬
ing powers. In 3 UST 3439, part V, Protection of Nationals, article
15, it states:
A consular officer shall be entitled within his district to: (a) interview, com¬
municate with and advise any national of the sending state; (b) inquire into any
incidents, repeat, inquire into any incidents which have occurred affecting the
interests of any such national.
Proper interpretation of this section bv our Embassv officials in
Guyana could have provided them with persuasive authority to in¬
vestigate the charges made by Deborah Layton Blakey and others
about the conditions in Jonestown and the potential for violence.
At every junction within the State Department framework in
Washington and in Guyana’, officials failed to act. They failed to act
not out of ignorance but with full knowledge of possible significant
criminal activity by Jim Jones. The failure of State Department in
performing its responsibilities is not the result of any lack of power
to act. The treaty clearly provides for such an action.
I do not believe the unresponsiveness of State to make inquiries
regarding the Blakey affidavit or the numerous letters from concerned
relatives is the result of a bureaucratic fouluo of the documents never
reaching the appropriate officials in State. We have the admission of
the consular officer in charge at Georgetown, who accompanied Blakey
to New York, that he was aware of her concerns and charges. The
Blakey defection occurred in May; the Blakey affidavit was filed in
June. The Codel departed in November. No action was ever taken by
the State Department or the Embassy to verify the charges made by
Blakey. It was assumed, erroneously by both Congressman Ryan and
myself that the affidavit had been reviewed and no evidence found
to support the charges. We presumed, what a congresional delegation
relying on assistance from State would have presumed, that the State
Department was doing its job. We still do not know today why the
affidavit did not prompt a full investigation. I cun only speculate that:
(1) the charges were already known to be true: (21 the Jonestown
“problem” did not merit priority consideration by State; or (3) an
investigation would somehow jeopardize the U.S. economic or political
relationship with Guvana.
Until we can determine what the motivation was for the “non¬
action,” making recommendations in an attempt to avert another trag-
edv such as Jonestown is an exercise in futility.
The duty to inform. Whether or not a cooperative relationship exists
between the State Department .and Congress must be assessed more
Congressman Ryan and I met with Assistant Secretary for Tnter-
American Affairs Viron P. Vaky and other State Department offi-
cials in September 1978 to discuss the Congressman’s interest in travel¬
ing to Guyana in November 1978. State Department was kept advised
on an almost daily basis as the trip became more defined. During Oc¬
tober and the first 2 weeks of November, the Guyana desk officer was
consulted daily and informed by me regarding every new develop¬
ment of the trip including the possible media coverage. My relation¬
ship with State could only be described as cooperative and candid.
On the other hand, the Congressman’s efforts as well as mine to
obtain information and assistance were consistently thwarted or
In the days that followed the tragedy, the State Department com¬
plied with the Foreign Affairs Committee requests and handed over
900 documents regarding the People’s Temple in Guyana—I repeat,
900 documents. In our requests for information from State we were
never once told of the 900 documents the Department had on the temple
and furthermore we were never given access to those documents.
Had we had the opportunity to review the documents, even a
limited number of them, we might have “located” the U.S. Customs
Service report regarding the suspected 170 guns in Jonestown, a re¬
port State nad “misplaced” prior to the congressional trip.
Had we been afforded a cursory review, we would have realized that
the Blakey affidavit of June 1978 was never acted upon.
The question still haunts me today. Why was critical, life and death
information regarding the People’s Temple hidden from the view of
the congressional delegation before the trip? Was the State Depart¬
ment fearful that we would discover that it had been wantonly
negligent in protecting American citizens abroad in Guyana?
If the relationship between the Congress and State Department is
indeed cooperative and not adversative, I implore this committee to
seek the answers to these unanswered questions.
The late Congressman Leo Ryan was eulogized by many of his col¬
leagues after his death for his courage and tenacious spirit in seeking
out the truth regardless of the obstacles or political ramifications. I
trust that the members of the International Operations Subcommittee
will continue in his spirit of leadership and representation of the
American people by seeking the whole truth about the Jonestown
It is my firm belief that the State Department must share heavily in
the responsibility for the deaths of Leo Ryan and the 900 Americans
in Guyana. I cannot be confident in our Government’s protection of
Americans abroad or in our State Department until the whole truth
about the Jonestown tragedy is finally exposed. Our lives depend on it.
Mr. Ireland. Thank you, Ms. Speier.
Mr. Royer, would you care to asK questions ?
Mr. Royer. Thank you very much. I think you can feel, as I do, from
the testimony received by both these people that their testimony sets
forth some very serious questions which I believe we are going to have
to ask the State Department on March 4.
I would like to ask Jackie first of all if she remembers, at any point
during the briefing periods, requesting any information that State
might have pertaining to the overall situation in Guyana?
Ms. Sfeier. There were constant requests made for information. The
only information which was shared with us was superficial telegrams
and cables transmitted from the State Department to Georgetown and
from Georgetown to the State Department. Most of those cables dealt
with just tne preliminary aspects of the trip, nothing of any substance.
Mr. Royer. I am thinking more specifically of some of the charges
made by Concerned Relatives, such as the Blakey affidavit and other
information that was given to State. Was it your thought to ask for
information as to whether that affidavit had been reviewed by the State
Department, or did they just give you the impression that it had been
Ms. Speeer. The impression we had was the affidavit had been re¬
viewed. Our information regarding that affidavit did not come from
State Department. They were very closed-mouth in their dealings with
us. They provided us only with technical assistance about making the
trip, technical information in terms of what kind of clothing to wear,
what kind of weather we would be having, what kind of difficulties we
would encounter regarding transportation.
Mr. Royer. What about the information from either of you pertain¬
ing to the November 7 visit? To me, that seems to be a critical visit.
Mr. Holsinger. Before that, your first question, we made many in¬
quiries on behalf of Concerned Relatives, the specific cases, ana the
answer would come back from the State Department that they had
gone out and visited, the consular officer had visited and found that
everything was fine. All we ever got back was everything is OK.
We found out later that the consular officer would advise Jones and
the People’s Temple in advance who he was going to talk to, what he
was going to say and where he would talk to them. They set it up like
a stage, and then when they got there, those things would happen just
like that. People were warned in advance that he was coming and this
is what he was going to say, this is how he was going to act, and in
effect, intimating that the consular office was in league with the Peo¬
ple’s Temple. People were afraid because everything that they were
told would happen happened, and here was Jim Jones apparently con¬
trolling the consular officer or Embassy people down there, and they
were afraid that Jones had that power, and I questioned why. In other
words, it was a setup, Mr. Royer.
When we would inquire, they would set it up in such a staging and
come back with a prearranged staging, and when they got back, they
would say everything is benign, everything is fine.
As far as the November 7 thing is concerned, when I found out
afterward about that and the fact that it had not been transmitted, I
could not believe that when Leo came down there and Jackie, having
had that visit, that they would not have informed the congressional
delegation and the leader of that delegation specifically of what they
later put in their report.
I think it would take some tall talking to convince anyone that that
information was not deliberately withheld from Congressman Ryan,
but I want to find out why they did it and who ordered them to
Mr. Royer. As I understand it, both of the gentlemen who were on
the tour of Jonestown were in on the last briefing, as I understand it,
with you before you left?
Ms. Speier. That’s correct.
Mr. Royer. And their response was that they didn’t give you the
information because you didn’t ask for it?
Ms. Speier. We couldn’t ask for information we did not know
existed, and that kind of response to any of our inquiries-
Mr. Royer. I think for the record, what you are indicating is you
had no knowledge of the November 7 tour before hearing about it
later on ?
Ms. Speier. No, that is not correct. When we had our first briefing
at the Embassy in Georgetown, there was reference made to the fact
that Doug Ellice had just returned from a trip to the Jonestown settle¬
ment a week before, and that Jim Jones appeared to be not feeling
very well. But that is the extent of the information.
I might also add that during that briefing at the Embassy, Mr.
Dwyer showed slides of the Jonestown settlement to give us a preview
of what we would be seeing. They were helpful, but the most sig¬
nificant f r&me in the slides that were shown was a slide that was taken
of Dick Dwyer arm in arm with Jim Jones and Marcelline Jones.
With the kind of intimidation that was rampant in that settlement
and for any of the adherents to Jim Jones who would have watched
that picture being taken, it was clearly a situation where it appeared
that they were very close friends, that there was an amicable relation¬
ship there, and in my estimation the objectivity that was absolutely
necessary for any of our consular officers in going to Jonestown and
talking to the young people there was totally destroyed by a picture
such as that.
Mr. Royer. I have one last question, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Holsinger, there are, in your remarks, references to the CIA,
but you don’t clearly indicate whether you feel that any of their work
had to do with Jonestown itself. Are you inferring that it was broader
than what you have suggested in here ? I get the feeling you feel they
were there, but I don’t get the feeling that you have indicated
specifically that they were particularly aware of all of the concerns.
Is that a misinterpretation ?
Mr. Holsinger. I would like to make that clear, then, for the rec¬
ord. It is my belief, based upon what I found out and what I have
here, that our intelligence agencies, whether it was the CIA or an¬
other branch of our intelligence service, had a covert operation there,
more than just gathering intelligence. If you refer to the article in
the Chronicle. “Guyana May Be the Next To Fall.” you will find we
had a very active agency there in the mid-1960’s. We installed the
Forbes Burnham government in our own interest. We have had an
ongoing operation there, and I specifically say that our Central In¬
telligence Agency did probably, under direction, work with Jim Jones
to support the government oi Burnham, to support that, to support
our commercial interests and our position there, that they had an ac¬
tive operation, that they knew about Jonestown, they had information
that what was happening there was true, and that what happened be¬
cause of all of this was they controlled not only operations in George¬
town and Guyana, but they had a heavy hand in the State Department
in controlling State Department reaction in Washington, D.C., to our
inquiries about the People’s Temple in Jonestown.
I think this was an intelligence operation from beginning to end,
and it ended in disaster.
Mr. Royer. But in your opinion, it is an operation you found out
about later, and therefore at no time prior to the trip did you ask for
the intelligence information from either the OIA or-
Mr. Holsinger. We had no idea it was anything other than what it
seemed on the surface. We were not even thinking in terms of an in¬
telligence operation there. We had no 9ueh evidence. Leo simply did
not think in those terms and was not even aware. He was concerned
with the welfare of individuals there, and we had no way of knowing
that there might be overriding national interests.
I would like to say in the end that we have shown a great concern
for human rights throughout the world in other nations. We have
shown concerns for some human rights for citizens abroad, as in Iran.
It seems to me our State Department is rather selective in when it
chooses to be concerned about human rights and when it does not.
I would like to point out that no one connected with the Georgetown
Embassy operation was ever rebuked, it was never put on their record
they were rebuked for having taken any actions wrong. I have pictures
of them being commended for their actions down there.
Obviously, it was a very difficult circumstance, that you have the
people involved all promoted or commended and no one even rebuked.
It seems to me that when you have this kind of disaster of this magni¬
tude, to promote and commend everyone involved with it does not
speak very well of a real investigation of the Department, of its own
Mr. Ireland. If I could pursue a point, Ms. Speier, about the reports
that you got back from the State Department, well, “we didn’t give
them any indication because they didn’t ask,” which certainly was a
source of great frustration to all of us and all of you, I’m sure.
First of all, in the slide presentation that you received, did you know
or could you tell or did you later find out when those slides were taken ?
How long before your visit had the slides been taken ? Had they been
taken over a period of a year or on that November 7 visit? What were
they purported to be ?
Ms. Speier. Those slides were taken by Mr. Dwyer in his visit of
Georgetown in, I believe, May 1978, and it was from that specific
Mr. Ireland. I see, and they were to give you a background 6 or 8
months later of what was going on and really, that was the purported
only contact with what was going on ?
Ms. Speier. Yes. I might also add that our Ambassador to Guyana,
had never once made a trip to the Jonestown settlement in his entire
tenure there as Ambassador. I find that unconscionable when you have
900 Americans living in that kind of a community, and there was so
much controversy surrounding whether or not they were being held
against their will, for him never to have made an onsite inspection.
Mr. Ireland. I understand there was no record of any visit from
that community to our Embassy, as well ?
Ms. Speier. There were members from the Jonestown community
who frequentlv came to Georgetown and the Embassy; who made
charges and allegations about what the State Department or the U.S.
Government, was doing to them such as harassment. They were much
more mobile in terms of making contact with our Embassy-
Mr. Ireland. Than the Embassy was ?
Ms. Speier. Yes.
Mr. Ireland. One last question about the Blakey report. You were
aware of the Blakey report, of course, before you went, but it was my
understanding that being aware of it and the ramifications of it being
as severe as they were, you came away with the impression that since
nothing had been done, the allegations there must not have been true
because the State Department had had it for a considerable amount of
time and done nothing about it. Is that correct ?
Ms. Speter. Yes. First of all, the affidavit was not an affidavit we
ever saw. We were only told about the affidavit, and were told that the
State Department had a copy of it. We presumed, as I said, erroneously
that that affidavit had been reviewed and the charges found not to be
accurate. I think we had a sense, as I’m sure many Members of Con¬
gress do, that the State Department is there to assist us, provide us with
information we may not even know exists regarding a country or a cer¬
tain issue or a problem we are investigating or looking into.
They were totally uncooperative in that respect. They gave us
nothing. They led us to believe they knew nothing about Jonestown.
We had a "briefing only days before we left. It was a briefing by
the legal staff at State that I had personally requested myself. Dur¬
ing that briefing the restrictions regarding the Privacy Act were
made apparent to me. But one of the things many of those people
said to me upon our leaving the meeting was, “After you’ve made
the trip please come back and tell us what is happening there. We
don’t really know very much about what is going on down there.”
That kind of comment cannot be accurate when they had 900 docu¬
ments in their possession at that time.
Mr. Ireland. Mr. Chairman ?
Mr. Fascell. I just wanted to say at an appropriate time we will
go into executive session and discuss some matters with Mr. Holsinger.
Mr. Ireland. The gentleman from Alabama, we welcome you back.
We are glad you are here.
Mr. Buchanan. Thank you. I have no questions at this time.
Mr. Ireland. Thank you very much, Mr. Holsinger, Ms. Speier.
Mr. Royer, if you would care to introduce the other witnesses?
Mr. Royer. Yes; we have two other witnesses I would like to have
come forward at the same time, Mr. Katsaris and also Mrs. Clare
Bouquet, members of Concerned Relatives who have traveled all the
way from California to be here. I think with your approval, Mr.
Chairman, I would call upon Mr. Steven Katsaris first.
Mr. Ireland. Welcome to the committee and proceed.
STATEMENT BY STEVEN A. KATSARIS, A MEMBER OF THE
ORGANIZATION OF CONCERNED RELATIVES OF THE VICTIMS
Mr. Katsaris. Thank you, Congressman, Mr. Chairman.
In the 15 months that have passed since Jonestown, there has not
been a day when thoughts of that tragedy have not crept into my
mind or been thrust upon me. There is still a lot of unfinished Jones¬
town business yet.
In the early months after Jonestown, there was media coverage to
such an extent that one poll showed more people were aware of what
happened in Guyana than of the dropping of the first atomic bomb.
During this time, a committee of the congressional staff members
began an investigation and issued a report. The Department of State
issued its own report And then silence and apparently apathy on the
part of our Government. Understandable in a sense, for who wants to
be reminded of those morbid events. Better to attribute them to a
strange set of circumstances that could never happen again. Yet, a
U.S. Congressman was assassinated, members of the news media were
murdered, and others, including my son, were seriously wounded at
the Port Kaituma airstrip. In Jonestown itself, almost 1,000 Ameri¬
cans died, among them my daughter.
My thoughts have ranged from depression and a sense of profound
personal loss to dismay over the apparent reluctance of our Govern¬
ment to probe with a full-scale investigation the facts and deeper im¬
plications of that singular event. Meanwhile, books are published
with fact, fantasy, speculations, and accusations that need to be sub¬
jected to the searing light of a hard, comprehensive, and bold investi¬
gation. Otherwise, Jonestown will be surrounded with more myth,
innuendo, and contorted conspiracy theories than the Kennedy and
King assassinations and leave Americans even more cynical when it
comes to trusting the ability and willingness of their elected officials
to seek the truth.
I am grateful for the opportunity to appear before this committee.
There are questions that need to be askea, and I am trusting that you
will ask them and demand responsible and full answers.
Why was the Department of State so timid in investigating the
many charges made against People’s Temple in the year preceding the
tragedy? And is it really true that we are better prepared, as the State
Department today claims, to respond to such situations today ?
More than 6 months before Congressman Ryan went to Guyana the
Concerned Relatives group issued a statement of charges of human
rights violations of both United States and Guyanese law. Every
charge made against People’s Temple was proved true with one ex¬
ception—there was no high fence surrounding the commune. They
did not really need one. But people’s mail was censored. Our relatives
were being intimidated. They were subjected to mind control tech¬
niques. We could not make free contact with our family members in
Jonestown. There were suicide rehearsals.
Officials in the Department of State were aware of all of our con¬
cerns. We asked for their help. And who were we? Not radicals nor
ideologues who did not agree with Jim Jones’ particular social ideas.
We were parents and relatives with substantial evidence their loved
ones were in danger. It would not have taken very much to check us
out. It could have been easily ascertained we were responsible Amer¬
ican citizens turning to their Government for a service it is supposed
to provide. Yet, the response was negligible, an aloof hands-off position
implying that it would be improper for the Department of State to
be involved in family differences.
How does this contrast with other events involving the Department
of State? Some months ago our Government detained a Russian air¬
liner, with all passengers onboard, on the runway in New York for
several days in an effort to make certain a ballerina truly wanted to
return to Russia. All this in the middle of SALT II and the height
of detente. Yet we were willing to confront Russia over the possibility
that one person’s human rights were being violated.
Why did the Department of State fail to respond in kind when it
came to the human rights of almost 1.000 American citizens in Guy¬
ana? It is hard to believe that our national interests in Guyana pre¬
cluded forceful representations on behalf of our relatives.
Consider also the following contrast: One Congressman and the
media went to Jonestown and determined in a matter of hours some¬
thing was wrong. People came forward and asked to leave that hell¬
hole. Yet, for over a year, our State Department assured us that
conditions in Jonestown were satisfactory. We were told that repre¬
sentatives of our Embassy in Guyana regularly visited Jonestown
and had determined that no one wanted to leave.
It does not appear unfair to draw the obvious conclusion that the
Jonestown residents felt safer talking to a Congressman and the news¬
men than to the Embassy staff in Guyana. Why ?
Is it not our right to expect meaningful and practical assistance
from the Department of State when there is evidence that our rela¬
tives abroad are in danger? In past months revelations have been
made which if true indicate that the people I turned to for help at
the Department of State and at our Embassy in Guyana knew far
more of the insidious nature of Jonestown than they have admitted.
Indeed, there is evidence that they too were subjected to the same
pattern of lies, accusations, and manipulations that People’s Temple
used against us, the Concerned Relatives. Yet, in my three trips to
Guyana and on mv visits to the Department of State my appeals for
help were handled by officials of the Department of State who gave
me the impression they were more concerned with not rocking the
boat than getting to the truth.
So much for tne past performance of the Department of State. But
what about now? I have read that the Department has undertaken
a number of actions to remedy the situation. But what concrete plans
really exist to react to similar situations today ? It isn’t enough to be
aware today that such problems can arise, for the Department of State
was aware of the situation long before the tragic day of November 18,
1978. What was lacking then was the ability of the State Department
to receive information from Guyana, process it effectively, and in turn
send back adequate guidance.
It also appears to me that we did not try to make use of the support
systems that could have been provided by the Guyanese themselves.
They do have a police force and a criminal investigation department.
To my knowledge we did not even ask them to look into the situa¬
American citizens have rights, even in foreign countries. In Guy¬
ana our Embassy could have explained to the residents of Jonestown
their rights under Guyanese law. The failure to do so and the inability
of our Embassy staff to project an image of being capable of protect¬
ing those rights of Americans certainly reinforced the impression on
many who died that they wore isolated, cut off and without a chance
of help either from their host government, Guyana, or from the
When I asked for help either from the officials at the Department
of State when I came to Washington or from the embassy staff when
I was in Guyana, I always felt frustration. I believed then that it
was due to my failure to get them to understand and accept the strong
evidence that something was terribly wrong in Jonestown. I no longer
believe that. My frustration has changed to disillusion and anger over
the inability and unwillingness of tne Department of State to act.
1 think there is adequate evidence today that they knew as much, even
more than I, about the true conditions in Jonestown, but chose not
to act. They decided to play it safe—safe for themselves, perhaps.
Unfortunately, not for all those who died.
Mr. Royer. Thank you, Mr. Katsaris. Now Mrs. Bouquet, please.
STATEMENT OF CLARE BOUQUET, A CONCERNED RELATIVE OF
THE VICTIMS OF JONESTOWN
Mrs. Bouquet. I would like to express my gratitude to Congress¬
man Royer and to the members of this subcommittee for giving me an
opportunity to come here and for allowing me to speak to them on a
subject which has, for some time, been very close to my heart. I believe
I can speak for all the people who have been drawn close to each other
in this tragedy when I say, “Please hear us!” I refer particularly to
Beverly Oliver, who was asked to be here today, but is unable to leave
the side of her husband, who became disabled by a stroke suffered in
the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana on November 19, 1978.
Beverly and Howard lost their two sons, their only children.
I want to especially thank Chairman Fascell for his kind words
in his memorial address, delivered in Congress, in tribute to Leo
Ryan. I quote from that address: “We pay tribute to a man who be¬
lieved that every person was worth helping, and that every problem
could, and should, be confronted.” I implore all of you to confront
the problem before us now, in the names of Leo Ryan, of my son
Brian, and his wife, and of all the tragic victims of Jonestown.
Before I continue with my statement, I would like to share some¬
thing with you that I experienced yesterday. This is my first visit to
this oeautiful city of Washington, D.C., and I have been walking and
walking since I came. There is so much to see. And late yesterday after¬
noon I happened to go into the National Archives and I stood there in
that very impressive place and looked at the faded documents there,
and I felt kind of awed and I felt a certain pride and also a certain
sadness. The pride was felt because this still is the best country there
is, and I am very proud to be an American, but the sadness because I
believe that some of the spirit of those documents has been somehow
I want to say that the people in Jonestown, I feel, were some of the
best that we had as Americans. They were idealistic people who really
believed that all men are created equal, and that is what led them to
their deaths in Guyana.
It has been 15 months since that day when over 900 Americans died
in the jungle of Guyana. The shock and horror experienced by those
of us who went to Guyana to attempt to see our family members and,
if possible, bring them home, is still with us and I think always will be.
Some segments of our society have dismissed them as a bunch of
crazy fanatics, or a grotesque spectacle. But someone loved each one
of them. They went to Guyana looking for some sort of promised
land, and found themselves prisoners in hell.
The problem before us now, I believe, is discovering the real truth
about what happened in Guyana. I think it has been oversimplified and
it may take a very long time to unfold. However, I for one will not
rest until I know for sure what really happened. I personally con¬
tributed 86 pages of testimony to the staff investigative group of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee. I know of several others who did
the same thing. Yet our specific testimony is included only in a classified
edition of the report, which has not been available to any of us. All
we received was the unclassified version, a 37-page work with only
very general statements about our testimony. The report states on
page 29, and I quote, and this is the same quote Jackie had. I guess
we were thinking along the same lines.
The U.S. Embassy In Guyana did not demonstrate adequate Initiative, sensitive
reaction to, and appreciation of progressively mounting Indications of highly
Irregular and Illegal activities in Jonestown.
On page 39 it says, “Absent in the Embassy’s dealings with People’s
Temple were the vital elements of commonsense and an honest and
healthy skepticism.” We are talking about the loss of 914 lives, includ¬
ing a U.S. Congressman, not a simple mistake. The frustration I per¬
sonally feel ana felt, and I am certain others paralleled me in their
attempts to get help, is overwhelming. I turned to everyone I could
think of in any position of authority, from the President right down to
direct appeals to the Embassy officials in Georgetown, Guyana, dating
back to March 1978, 9 months before my son was finally killed.
I myself mailed copies of the affidavits of Yolanda Crawford and
Debbie Layton Blakey, both of whom escaped from Jonestown, to
Mr. Ellice, the U.S. consul in Guyana. I asked in July 1978, for a team
of inspectors to be sent into Jonestown to stay for several days in order
to accurately assess what was really true. I even sent a recent picture
of my son and his wife, which I have with me, so that there would be
no mistake about who the embassy officials were talking to, and so that
they would know what they looked like before they left this country.
I was told in writing by two consular officials, Mr. McCoy and Mr.
Ellice, that a visit to Jonestown would occur about the end of August.
No one actually went there until November 7, 1 week before Leo
Ryan’s previously announced visit, along with the rest of us, to
On Thursday, November 16, the day our group had an appointment
with the ambassador, I called the embassy to inquire from Mr. Ellice
why I had heard nothing since August. I was told by him that a visit
had been made, and that a letter had been mailed to me at home. As
we walked into the embassy at 2,1 was handed a letter regarding the
November 7 visit to Jonestown, with Mr. Ellice’s comment that evi¬
dently someone had “forgotten” to mail it.
In the State Department’s own report on their performance in
Guyana it states that quarterly visits had been set up to Jonestown, due
to the allegations against the Temple. Why, then, did no one go out
there for 6 months® I have heard it said that the trips were “delayed”.
What embassy business could possibly have been more urgent than a
threat to the lives and well being of over 900 Americans F The State
Department points the finger at the embassy for, and I quote from the
Foreign Affairs report, “the lamentable'breakdown in oommunica-
tions” and the embassy points back at the State Department. Where
does the buck stop ?
Who exactly is responsible ? I think it’s very commendable that the
State Department is now implementing the recommendations of that
committee’s report by doing threat assessments before a Congressman
visits a foreign country, by training consular officials in the psychologi¬
cal aspects of mind control, and so forth. But that won’t help Leo or
Brian or Maria Katsaris or any of the rest of them.
Finally, I would like to ask why, although I realize that the cir¬
cumstances were somewhat different, were the lives of our hostages,
including over 250 innocent children, not equally as important as
those of the hostages in Iran? Why were they slaughtered without
any help from anyone except one very brave Congressman ? What will
it take to put the puzzle together? When are we, in this country, going
to start thinking about people as our No. 1 priority, rather than oil ?
I’d rather get a norse any day than give up any of my children.
I ask this subcommittee to assist us in our pursuit of the whole truth
of the story of Guyana.
Again, I wish to thank Congressman Royer and his able staff for
their interest and assistance, and I thank this subcommittee in advance
for the help which I feel sure they will not deny us.
Mr. Ireland. The gentleman from Alabama.
Mr. Buchanan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I just want to thank the witnesses for their testimony, which is very
moving and which makes a very strong case. May I say, as one mem¬
ber of the subcommittee, but I think i speak for all of the members,
there is nothing more important that the State Department has to do
than to see to the lives and welfare of American citizens. This is their
business, and it is first and foremost.
Mr. Ireland. Mr. Royer.
Mr. Royer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just a couple of quick
I wonder, Mrs. Bouquet, you did mention about sending the docu¬
ments to the State Department, the affidavits ?
Mrs. Bouquet. Yes, I did, Mr. Royer.
Mr. Royer. I am wondering, did you get a response back from
Mrs. Bouquet. Yes, I have the response right there.
Mr. Royer. Could you quickly summarize that? Not in full detail,
but what was the response?
Mrs. Bouquet. As you can see, I have quite a few documents.
Mr. Royer. Mr. Katsaris, while she is looking for that, maybe you
would want to be thinking for a few minutes. The question I wanted
to ask you is about some of your experiences a little more directly and
some of the frustrations you found. I know that you made three differ¬
ent trips, and it seems to me you might cover that in just a little more
Mr. Katsaris. On my first trip to Guyana, I came to Washington,
D.C. first. I visited the State Department and talked with the head of
the Guyanese desk. I went to the Guyanese Embassy. I made several
other contacts to prepare the way so that the embassy officials would
help me when I got down there.
When I got there, the consular officer, Richard McCoy, was expect¬
ing me. It turned out that the People’s Temple had sent a representa¬
tive there to defame me, to give them a message from my daughter that
she did not want to see me. I asked if Mr. McCoy would accompany me
into the jungle to see Maria. I told them there must be something
definitely wrong because my daughter was not like that. I showed him
her most recent letters where she told me she missed me and was con¬
cerned about mv health. I had been scheduled for some surgery at that
time, anything out what they had told them at the embassy about me.
I got nowhere.
Mr. Royer. You were on that trip by yourself ?
Mr. Katsaris. I was on that trip By myself. A month later I con¬
vinced Ambassador Mann, the Guyanese Ambassador to the United
States, to arrange a visit between my daughter and me. We went to
Guyana and eventually, after a long delay, they brought my daughter
in from the jungle. They did not permit me to see her alone, but
Richard McCoy from our Embassy was there and also Ambassador
Mann was there and other representatives from the People’s Temple.
I was devastated by that visit with my daughter. She was paranoid,
obviously had been sleep-deprived. She was filled with wild accusations
of what I had done to destroy the People’s Temple commune. There had
been a radical change in her personality.
When I got to the airport that day—I left the same day after wait¬
ing a whole week to see my daughter—I was truly in fear that what I
had done might have jeopardized her life. I knew they were going to
take her back into the jungle. I got no indication from Dick McCoy
or the ambassador they would help me try to get her out of the country.
I got to the airport in Guyana and Dick McCoy had a message for
me at the Pan Am desk to call him. I called him and he said, “I didn’t
get a chance to see you before you left. I stayed back to talk with Am¬
bassador Mann, and both of us are convinced something dreadfully
wrong is going on here, something is very strange about all of that
today. I will write a full report to State and send you a copy.” Those
are direct quotes, if I am not mistaken.
Mr. Royer. Do you remember that date ? What was that date ?
Mr. Katsaris. That was November 4,1977.
Mr. Royer. That was a full year prior to the tragedy ?
Mr. Katsaris. That was a full year prior to that. After that I was
in communication by telephone and letter with Richard McCoy. I had
made numerous trips to the State Department. I was one of the orga¬
nizers of the Concerned Relatives. I personally sent the State Depart¬
ment a copy of our 17-page document detailing what we believed was
the actual situation in Guyana.
Mr. Royer. Thank you, Mr. Katsaris.
Mrs. Bouquet. Yes, Mr. Royer. I found a copy of a letter which I
wrote to Mr. Ellice on July 18 in which I said—
Mr. Royer. July 18 of what year?
Mrs. Bouquet. 1978. 1 said:
I am sending you some material on this organization, which I hope may be
helpful to you In assessing the situation. The two enclosed affidavits have been
sent to the U.S. State Department, but It appears to be very difficult to get any
help, perhaps due to the fact that the People’s Temple Is a “religion.”
Then I have a response here. I had received Mr. Ellice’s name from
someone in Guyana with whom I had been put in touch through a
friend of mine in San Francisco who was trying to find out what he
could about the People’s Temple, and he sent me tne name of Mr. Ellice.
And Mr. McCoy evidently was still there because I received a letter
from him on August 2 in which he said:
Dear Mbs. Bouquet: I refer to your letter of July 18 concerning your son
Brian. I am departing Guyana In the near future. However, my successor, Mr.
Douglas Ellice, Is planing a visit to the People's Temple agricultural community
later this month. During his visit Mr. Ellice will arrange a personal private meet¬
ing with your son. He will Inform you of the results of his visit.
I would like to say also at the same time I wrote my first letter to the
Prime Minister of Guyana asking for help, I sent copies to President
Carter, Secretary Vance, Leo Ryan, the Ambassador from Guyana to
Washington, Mr. Lawrence Mann, and to Mr. Paul McCloskey. And
I do wish to say that Mr. McCloskey also responded to me and he
sent a letter. His office advised that I send a personal letter to my son
through his office in Washington to be hand-delivered by the Embassy
in Guyana, which was delivered to my son on November 7. That letter
was sent in June.
Mr. Royer. Again, what year?
Mrs. Bouquet. 1978.1 know Mr. McCloskey forwarded the letter to
them and it was held up until they went out there in November. But
Mr. Ellice wrote and said that he did give my son the letter, and that
letter is dated November 8, 1978. That is the one he handed me as we
walked into the Embassy.
Mr. Royer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That concludes my questions.
I did have a couple of requests I would like to make. If they’re inap¬
propriate, I hope you will let me know.
I would like to ask unanimous consent to have the Olivers, whom I
had hoped to have here today but cannot be here due to the ill health
of Mr. Oliver, I would like unanimous consent that they be allowed to
put their testimony in writing within a fixed time.
Mr. Fascell. Without objection.
Mr. Royer. I would also like to ask unanimous consent, Mr. Chair¬
man, if it’s possible for those of us who testified today, including my¬
self, to have an opportunity to extend and revise our remarks.
Mr. Fascell. Without objection, that certainly will be done.
Mr. Royer. Thank you.
Mr. Fascell. Let me say, Mr. Royer, we express our appreciation to
vou for your perserverence and dedication on this matter. We are
happy to have the opportunity to work with you.
As for Mr. Katsaris and Mrs. Bouquet, both of you have presented
very thoughtful statements. They were certainly penetrating with re¬
spect to the assessments of the responsibility, in a broad general way
for this horrible tragedy. The events themselves determined responsi¬
bility. In the final analysis, the entire Government has some responsi¬
bility. Whoever they are, the individuals who were involved in this
process, they are all responsible to some degree.
As far as the general cast of the statements which have been made,
you are quite accurate. It has been a difficult job, and our subcommittee
has done its best. Certainly there has not been anything comparable
to this particular tragedy, but we have had others which were quite
bad where we have been struggling to provide the attitudinal sensi¬
tivity required in a large bureaucracy to deal with these problems;
and that is difficult at best. You can always say the guy at the top is
responsible. It’s his job and something should have happened. And it is
true. But it is extremely difficult where there are several thousand
people involved, and all Kinds of communications are required, as well
as actions. Commonsense would dictate certainly on review that some¬
thing which should have been done wasn’t done.
So we have been trying to get the sensitivity inculcated throughout
the Department. That is a big job. You are talking about a lot of
people. We have been reasonably successful. That is about all I can
I would like to say we have been eminently successful but we have
not been, because the entire issue of the protection of Americans abroad
and the ability of the IT.S. Government to respond is diffuse. It is
spotty and it is subject to a great deal of criticism. It has been for some
We are trying to change all of that. You are, too. We hope that we
will have more success in increasing the capability of the State De¬
partment which is in the forefront in foreign countries in carrying out
that responsibility. Admittedly, it is difficult. There are a lot of reasons
with which all of us are familiar. None of those should stand in the
way it seems to me. That is the position that our subcommittee has
taken consistently, and we will just keep pressing and pushing.
I say all of that because my experience tells me that no matter how
hard we try, we are not going to achieve an overnight miracle. It will
take perseverance on our part and on the part of other Americans. And
I do not believe the responsibility is just yours because you have suf¬
fered the loss of loved ones. It is not. It is the responsibility of all
Americans to decide exactly what the response of the American Gov¬
ernment will be and to make that meaningful, sensible and quick be¬
cause we have not had an appropriate response by our Government in
a great many cases.
This problem has been a common thread. It has been running through
hearings we have been holding now for a good many years. Every time
we have a case that comes before us we try to provide a forum and
make a record in order to delineate the problem. We could have done
without that because there is ample media record and public knowl¬
edge. But we wanted an official record and that is why we have been
doing all of this, taking testimony and holding hearings. We’ll prob¬
ably continue to do this. That is why we are interested in pursuing the
implementation of the recommendations to the best of out ability.
We will explore whatever changes in law are necessary. We have
been doing that over a long period of time. We have even made changes
in the law to give the Department greater capability than that which
they said they were able to muster. We have provided additional money
where necessary in areas where we felt the Department ought to have
the capability to respond.
Speaking specifically with respect to this tragedy, I don’t know
that we can provide a visible, identifiable mechanism that would sat¬
isfy you. because we are talking about the Department’s total capa¬
bility, which is another way of saying the commitment of the United
States to do something. That has to start at every level—at the top, in
Congress, and with the people at the lower level. When faced with
the problem, they ought to nave commonsense to do something but a
lot of times that doesn’t happen. You call it a human failure if you
want to, or a lack of commonsense. We have run across that many
times, and we have been trying to deal with that problem in a broad,
general way. We have been trying to provide incentives for better
people and to provide them the necessary money to attract better
This is not an indictment of the entire personnel system. It is just
a fact of life that we are trying to improve that capability. The biggest
problem we have had throughout this whole thing is what I call the
commonsense attitudinal problem that should not permit something
to go so far along that it ends up in a horrible tragedy of this kind. The
fact that it happened in this case demonstrates beyond any question
that something is wrong, and it speaks for itself that it is wrong.
So the culpability is fixed. And we are going to have to do our best
now to try to look to improve whatever we have in our system so that
it never happens again, if that’s at all possible. This is what we are
trying to do.
We want to thank you and the others who have testified here. We
cannot share in your loss in any way, but we can certainly feel it. We
feel it very deeply. As responsible officials, we want to bear our share
of responsibility to do whatever we can to answer all of the questions
which you have asked. I say that in a broad, general way because a lot
of those questions cannot really be answered, I am sorry to sav. I don’t
know of any way to get those questions answered specifically. It is a
So we are not sweeping anything under the rug. We are doing our
best and will continue to do our best to try and improve the entire
response mechanism of the U.S. Government, particularly the Depart¬
ment of State.
I want to thank all of you and the families of those who have made
the trip here to be with this subcommittee. When we can pinpoint a
specific change in law we have had no opposition, and with Mr. Royer’s
help we will keep doing the best we can.
I want to thank you again. This is not a personal matter. As I see it,
what you are doing here, all of you who have come and testified or who
worked on an investigating group, are trying to do something for your
country, as well as for the individuals who have been lost.
What we would like to do now, if we can, is ask you to please leave
the hearing room. We want to go into executive session with Mr.
Holsinger on some matters. If there is any way of making them public,
we will. I don’t know that we can. Under our rules we are required,
if it involved any allegations against an individual or group of in¬
dividuals, it requires us to go into executive session to receive that
testimony. That is the only reason we are doing it.
Mr. Royer. Mr. Chairman, while they are leaving, as I understand
the schedule after this, it will be March 4 for the State Department
Mr. Fasceoo. That is our present intention, yes.
[Whereupon, the hearing in open session was concluded, to resume
in executive session.]
REVIEW OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDA¬
TIONS RELATING TO THE DEATH OF REPRESENT¬
ATIVE LEO J. RYAN
TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 1980
House of Representatives,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Subcommittee on International Operations,
Washington , D.G.
The subcommittee met at 2:20 p.m. in room 2255, Rayburn House
Office Building, Hon. Dante B. Fascell (chairman of the subcommit¬
Mr. Fascell. The subcommittee will come to order.
This afternoon the Subcommittee on International Operations con¬
tinues its hearings on Jonestown. The focus of these hearings is the
implementation of recommendations made as a result of inquiries
previously conducted into the Jonestown tragedy.
At my request, following the Jonestown tragedy, Secretary of State
Cyrus Vance ordered the Department of State to conduct a thorough
review of how the Department and the U.S. Embassy in Guyana
handled all matters dealing with Jonestown and Representative Ryan’s
That report was issued last May at approximately the same time as
the report by the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Both reports con-
I ained recommendations for further study and for actions to be taken
to avert future tragedies and to assure more effective handling of
citizen complaints in the future.
Our witnesses today are here to describe for us the steps taken by
the Department of State to carry out those recommendations.
Before turning to the State Department representatives, Congress¬
man Royer has asked to make a few remarks. I am delighted to yield
the podium to him at this time.
STATEMENT OE HON. BILL ROYER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OE CALIFORNIA
Mr. Rover. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcom¬
mittee. I certainly want to thank you once again for permitting me to
speak before you on this, the second day of hearings on the imple¬
mentation measures taken bv the State Department following the
reports which were issued after the assassination of Representative
Leo Ryan and the Jonestown tragedy.
( 33 )
Mr. Chairman, before I proceed with my testimony I want to ac¬
knowledge that Chris Ryan, Congressman Ryan’s son, is here in the
front row with us; also Leo’s sister and his aunt are with us today. I
might mention to you that we did have a telephone conversation with
Congressman Ryan’s mother yesterday. She is in Denmark. She is
sorry she couldn’t be here participating but does want to extend her
thanks to you, Mr. Chairman, for holding these hearings.
I would like at this point, if I may, to ask unanimous consent that
I be permitted to reserve a few minutes of time for some short con¬
cluding remarks after the witnesses for the State Department have
Mr. Fasceia. We will be glad to hear you at that point.
Mr. Royer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I think, Mr. Chairman, I would be terribly remiss if I did not
commend the State Department for the candid and forthright manner
in which they have treated my inquiries since I have come back here
to Washington to fill the seat of the late Leo Ryan. I would particu¬
larly like to commend Under Secretary Nimetz, his staff assistant Paul
Bunge and Guyana desk officer Richard McCoy for their personal
cooperation and assistance.
Wliile I may have serious disagreement with the methods of opera¬
tion of the State Department, I certainly can find no fault with the
level of cooperation and candor displayed to me by the officers of
State with whom I have dealt here in Washington.
Let me also candidly say that my views on the part that the State
Department has played in this entire unfortunate affair have altered
appreciably in the months that I have addressed myself to this matter.
How I view their role, of course, affects my perception of the effec¬
tiveness of the measures that they have taken to implement the recom¬
mendations of the committee staff report and the Crimmins report.
Let me state what my perceptions are now, and then I will comment
on the steps that the State Department has taken.
In my view, the Guyana tragedy is traceable to the creation of that
country as an independent nation out of the British colonial system.
I believe that our Government was not unhappy to see the establish¬
ment of the Burnham government in Guyana as perhaps the lesser of
To be sure, it has been apparently socialistic and at times hostile.
There were also all of those foreign intelligence services present. But
it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It was not, for example, another
Because of these and other factors it was very important for our
Government to maintain the Burnham government in existence in
Guyana; hence the status quo was to be preserved: Nothing should
occur which would exacerbate relations between the United States
and Guyana. I believe, then, that Ambassador Burke’s duty was to
maintain a condition of levelness.
Into this situation suddenly stepped the People’s Temple. After es¬
tablishing rapport with the Burnham government, Rev. Jim Jones
proceeded to move over 900 American citizens into one of the most
remote areas of Guyana, in deep jungle, near the contested Venezuela
This concentration of apparently disaffected American citizens in
this area posed at once a singular and unique consular and political
problem to the Embassy, one which potentially threatened the rela¬
tionship between the Government of Guyana and the Government of
the United States.
The problem was aggravated by the lack of cooperation of the
Government of Guyana, which must share in the responsibility for
Several uncomfortable things began to happen. The Guyanese Police
told of finding-an American wandering in the jungle near Matthews
Ridge, telling of beatings and forced labor in Jonestown. Families
began to complain that their relatives were being held against their
will and subjected to psychological mind control.
The incredible child custody case involving both natural parents
of John Stoen trying to wrest the child away from Rev. Jim Jones
occurred. There were threats of mass suicide if the child were removed
Parents visited Guyana from America and were not allowed to see
their children or were allowed to see them in the most peculiar, ten¬
sion-laden circumstances. Petitions were sent by concerned relatives.
Letters were sent by U.S. Congressmen. Affidavits were sent from a
defector detailing, in the most specific manner, the human rights viola¬
tions which were occurring on a daily basis in Jonestown.
Yet, during this entire period of time, all official responses by the
State Department to the letters, affidavits, and petitions were that there
were no detectable human rights violations, that everything was just
fine. This was the Embassy’s position; this was Washington’s posi¬
tion. There was the exchange of cables in June, an expression by Am¬
bassador Burke of concern. The reply, however, was unmistakable:
Maintain the status quo.
It is clear, then, Mr. Chairman, that there evolved early on an of¬
ficial State Department policy to embargo the Jonestown matter. They
were to do nothing, to say nothing, to volunteer nothing to anyone,
including a U.S. Congressman, in order to maintain the current state
of relationship between Guyana and the United States. The testimony
of all of the witnesses on February 20,1980, as well as my own inves¬
tigation leads me to believe this to be the case.
I realize that these are harsh words. I realize that they do not square
with the published findings that this incredible episode was entirely
the result of a series of negligent, nonwillful mistakes. I say that there
was no negligence. I say that it was a cognizant, deliberate policy of
the State Department to embargo all information of wrongdoing and
human rights violations in Jonestown as being necessary to protect
our national interests.
It also appears that this may have contributed to the assassination
of Representative Leo Ryan and the death of 900 Americans in
Mr. Fasceix. Mr. Royer, let us stop right here and catch this vote
and pick it up at this point. The subcommittee will stand in recess until
we get back.
[ A brief recess was taken.]
Mr. Fasceix. Mr. Royer.
Mr. Royer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think that to point the
finger at the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts is to raise a
smoke screen. And I certainly want to say that we have indicated very
strongly that we feel there are amendments necessary to them. And I
think, to be sure, on its face, some people may find restraining con¬
siderations in each of these acts. I intend to pursue amendments to
these acts which will, hopefully, remove these restraints.
But the fact is that these acts did not prevent meaningful communi¬
cations between the Embassy and Washington. Both Ambassador
Burke and Consular Officer McCoy had ample opportunities to orally
state all of the facts to State Department officials nere in Washington
and to the Ryan party in the most graphic detail possible. It is clear
that at least as to the Ryan party they did not.
So any implementation steps addressed to the Freedom of Informa¬
tion Act should be taken in context, Mr. Chairman, with the fact that,
when the policy is to embargo, it doesn’t matter what the law is.
There is nothing that we will hear today, Mr. Chairman, that will
put your mind at ease that, given the same facts, the same result as
occurred in Jonestown will not occur again. Instead, we will hear of
procedures, of meetings, of training classes, of memoranda, and
monthly assessments. But we will not hear of commitment to the wel¬
fare of Americans residing in a foreign country, or that of a U.S.
Congressman, where there are countervailing national interests that
must be protected.
Let me turn now to the steps that the State Department has taken.
The principal document which sets forth what State has done since
the tragedy is the letter of November 21, 1979, from then Counselor
Matthew Nimetz to Hon. Peter W. Rodino, Jr., chairman of the Com¬
mittee on the Judiciary.
That letter was written in response to Chairman Rodino’s inquiry,
which he kindly made at my request, as to the current state of imple¬
mentation of the recommendations. Chairman Zablocki of the full
committee had also requested this information.
I have previously provided the members of this subcommittee with
a copy of that letter. 1 The letter indicates that, subsequent to the
Crimmins report, the State Department undertook a program of ad¬
vanced training opportunities for consular officials, which includes an
introduction to psychological mind control techniques and emphasizes
closer coordination between consular officers and their political
My response to this statement is that all of the training and coordi¬
nation does not excuse lack of commitment to the welfare of American
citizens and to Members of Congress. Coordination between the politi¬
cal and consular sections is fine, but you must remember. Chairman,
that all functions, consular and political, are under the control of the
Ambassador; and in a small embassy such as existed in Guvana, we
must, assume that the Ambassador knew all of what was going on.
What we don’t see in the State Department’s letter is a statement
of what the Ambassador is going to do after the training and the
coordination when the lives of Americans and their Congressmen are
The letter further indicates that procedures have been devised to
provide for better security for congressional delegations bv providing
for threat assessments prior to departure. Recall, Mr. Chairman, if
1 The letter referred to appears on p. 6.
you will, Jackie Speier’s testimony that, in her opinion, if such a
threat assessment had been made for Representative Ryan it probably
would have been that there was no danger.
I think I concur. I believe that State would have determined that
it was in the national interest to tell Representative Ryan that there
was no threat to his life in going to Guyana. A threat assessment, then,
appears to be a fine move if State will tell you what it finds.
Other security matters bother me. The letter does not indicate,
for instance, that State will, as an ordinary and routine matter, trans¬
mit to all local and appropriate U.S. authorities information they
receive of criminal behavior by or against American citizens residing
Nor is there any indication that State will routinely advise Ameri¬
can citizens residing in a foreign country what their legal rights are
in that country. The hearings this subcommittee held in 1977 touched
on these specific issues, and I am disappointed that they again are
State’s letter also refers to the Freedom of Information and Privacy
Acts. I have already spoken of my views on this matter. I will, never¬
theless, continue to press for amendments to these acts which will
remove every impediment to candid communication within the State
Finally, Mr. Chairman, the letter calls attention to citizens emer¬
gency centers which are or have been established, I presume, in coun¬
tries with large American populations, tourist or otherwise. In light
of the concerns I have expressed today and in view of the peculiar
nature of the Jonestown experience, the establishment of these cen¬
ters does not give me much hope that they will prevent a recurrence
of the tragedy.
I would like to just summarize in concluding my opening statement,
Mr. Chairman, and would like to emphasize my perception of the
All of the training, procedures, coordination, and assessments are
meaningless if the State Department finds itself in the awkward situa¬
tion of choosing between prevailing mistakes—if, by so doing, they
may affect a sensitive relationship between the host country and the
United States—or doing nothing and hoping that the problem will go
away, choosing the latter course regardless of the fact that American
lives, including the life of a Member of Congress, may be lost by so
The Congress and the State Department must devise a procedure
whereby the lives of Americans living abroad, the lives of Congress¬
men traveling abroad, and our national interests may be protected. If
nothing else comes of these hearings, this must.
I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman and mv colleagues, and again I
would like to reserve some time at the end of the hearing.
Mr. Farcell. Thank vou very much. It is certainly very clear what
your opinion is. I don’t think anybody has any doubt about that.
From the State Department, we have Hon. Matthew Nimetz. who
was recently named Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance,
Science and Technolo«w. and who. in his previous position as Counsel¬
or to the Department, had responsibility for the Department’s review
of the Jonestown matter. We have also Hon. Barbara M. Watson. As¬
sistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. Secretary Nimetz.
STATEMENT OF HON. MATTHEW NIMETZ, UNDER SECRETARY
OF STATE FOR SECURITY ASSISTANCE, SCIENCE AND
Mr. Nimittz. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of
the subcommittee. I am pleased to appear before this committee today
to report on the steps that the Department of State has taken in the
aftermath of the tragic events which occurred in Jonestown, Guyana,
in November 1978.
With me today is Ms. Barbara Watson. Assistant Secretary of State
for Consular Affairs, who has been directly responsible for implement¬
ing many of the initiatives that the Department has undertaken since
the Jonestown event took place.
I am also accompanied by Mr. Gene Krizek, of the Department’s
Office of Congressional Affairs, and by Ms. Lucy Hummer, of the
Legal Adviser’s staff. All of us will be prepared to answer any ques¬
tions that the committee may have.
The mass murders and suicides that took place in Jonestown 16
months ago were, without question, one of the most bizarre and un¬
precedented occurrences of modem times. It is still almost beyond
comprehension that a band of 900 Americans could have engaged in
this ritual of self-extinction.
Tragically, Congressman Rvan and some members of the media
who ha/d accompanied him to Guyana also lost their lives as this fan¬
tastic tragedy unfolded.
Jonestown was, to a laree degree, an aberration, an event that was
so horrendous that it would have been difficult to anticipate in its full
dimensions even had there been clear-cut evidence that Jones and his
followers were willing to use violent means to carry out their distorted
No one can deny, however, that the Jonestown incident has caused
immense pain and suffering for the relatives who had family members
in the People’s Temple community and for the family and friends of
Congressman Rvan and the reporters who were killed at Port Kaituma
in November 1978.
Despite the fact that Jonestown has now become synonymous with
a unique type of collective madness, the scope of the incident makes it
imperative that the Federal Government do everything in its power to
insure that a similar occurrence could not take place in the future.
Within the Department of State we have instituted a number of
measures designed to improve our handling of unusual or difficult con¬
sular cases abroad, and we have also inaugurated new programs in¬
tended to provide better security to congressional delegations traveling
We have also instituted some changes in the consular field both with
respect to internal administrative matters and the adequacy of consular
My first involvement with the People’s Temple issue came after the
Jonestown tragedy had already taken place. As Counselor of the De¬
partment of State, I had had no responsibility previously for policy
oversight in the consular area or for the protection of American resi¬
In December 1978, however, Secretary Vance asked me to organize
an effort within the Department to examine the chain of events which
led to the Jonestown tragedy and prepare a set of recommendations
based upon these findings.
Accordingly, I arranged for two consultants to be retained by the
Department to conduct an exhaustive study of the performance of the
Department of State and the American Embassy in Guyana in the
People’s Temple case.
I should add, Mr. Chairman, that your discussions and wi9e counsel
to Secretary Vance were very important in preparing the approach
we took to our study of this problem.
Our two consultants, both retired senior Foreign Service officers,
visited Guyana and spoke with nearly all of the U.S. officials who had
been involved in handling People’s Temple affairs until November 18,
1978. Their study was released to the public in May of last year and
copies were provided to the Congress.
The findings and recommendations of that report, along with the
conclusions of the report prepared by the staff of this committee,
formed the basis for the actions we have since taken to insure that the
Jonestown experience would not be repeated.
For purposes of discussion those actions can be divided into three
principal categories: (1) improvements in congressional delegation
security, (2) impact of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts
on foreign policy operations and (3) enhancement of the provision of
Let me address first our actions to improve the security of congres¬
sional delegations. Individual Members of Congress and congressional
delegations annually conduct a large number of factfinding missions
to virtually all parts of the world. Most, but not all, of these visits are
coordinated through the Department of State.
The Department stands ready to provide logistic support, back¬
ground information, and briefings, and facilitate security arrange¬
ments for all Members of Congress and their staffs who may be travel¬
ing to a foreign country.
We have always made it a standard practice to work closely with
law enforcement authorities in other nations regarding any special
seourity problems that may arise and we have also endeavored to
alert congressional delegations to any particular dangers that might
pose some risk to the members of a delegation or to its staff. ,
In this regard there have been a number of instances in the past
when the Department has recommended that specific missions be can¬
celed because of the security situation in a nation to be visited. Mem¬
bers of Congress, of course, retain the absolute right, as a part of their
oversight function, to travel anywhere in the world regardless of the
danger that may exist.
Following the Jonestown incident, we conducted a review of the
security measures afforded to congressional delegations by the De¬
partment, and we concluded we could do more to insure that each
delegation is given complete information on possible security threats
that could arise during the course of an overseas mission.
Accordingly we have now made it a standard practice to request
up-to-date information in this area from all of our missions and em¬
bassies as a part of the general support that we provide to the Congress.
This information is shared with Members of Congress who will
be traveling overseas, and the chairman of each delegation is invited
to attend a Driefing on security matters before his delegation departs
from the United States.
We also considered a number of other steps the Department could
take to strengthen the security arrangements for traveling congres¬
sional delegations. We even examined the feasibility of establishing
a permanent security force that could accompany Members of Con¬
gress when they travel abroad, but the cost of such a service would
nave been prohibitive.
We are, however, prepared to provide mobile communications equip¬
ment, as appropriate, to congressional delegations that may be visit¬
ing remote or isolated areas of the world, and we have actually done
so on at least one occasion.
The Department is concerned that Members of Congress not come
to harm once they have left this Nation’s borders, and we shall con¬
tinue to take whatever action we can to guarantee the physical secur¬
ity of congressional delegations during the times they are overseas.
A second area of our focus has been the impact of the Freedom of
Information and Privacy Acts on reporting from our embassies. One
of the principal conclusions of the Department’s examination of the
Jonestown incident was the discovery that a number of officials in
our Embassy in Guyana felt constrained by the Privacy and Freedom
of Information Acts as to the sort of information they could com¬
pile regarding the activities of American citizens resident abroad.
We launched an extensive examination of the general impact of
these two statutes on Foreign Service reporting to determine whether
these apprehensions were widely shared. We canvassed key U.S. em¬
bassies and their constituent posts in all geographic areas and we met
with a variety of interested groups in Washington.
Our survey confirmed that many officers feel they are constrained
in their reporting by the criminal sanctions in the Privacy Act, by the
restriction on maintaining records on activities that may be protected
by the first amendment, and by the lack of an exemption in the Pri¬
vacy Act for inter- and intra-agency memoranda.
We also uncovered a number of anomalies in the operation of the
Freedom of Information Act which may have made it more difficult
in recent years to obtain and report accurately information derived
from foreign sources.
On November 13 I wrote to the Department of Justice outlining
the results of our study and proposing certain legislative changes to
the Freedom of Information Act to be incorporated in an omnibus
review that the Justice Department was then preparing.
On December 12 I wrote to Chairman Zablocki and to Congressman
Preyer, chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Information
and Individual Rights, reviewing the findings of our study as they
related to both statutes and offering to discuss our specific recommen¬
dations in greater detail. I would like to reiterate our complete will¬
ingness to work closely with the Congress on this matter.
In summary, we have proposed a number of modifications to the
provisions of both acts that would eliminate certain undesirable fea¬
tures and tighten the statutory language of others.
With regard to the Privacy Act, we believe that the criminal sanc¬
tions contained in the statute are unnecessary and should be elimi¬
nated. We would like to see the language concerning recordkeeping
involving first amendment activities made more specific. We have also
proposed certain changes designed to better protect the identities of
confidential sources, and we would like to have greater discretion in
notifying relatives about detention cases than is now permitted by
With regard to the Freedom of Information Act, we believe that
certain changes of an administrative nature would be desirable to
prevent abuses of the act by foreign nationals, and we believe that
certain sections could be improved to afford greater protection for
confidential sources and scientific data.
I would be happy to discuss our findings in greater detail during
the question period, and I am willing to provide copies of my letter
to Chairman Zablocki to the members of this subcommittee.
The Department recognizes that the proper functioning of the
Privacy and Freedom of Information Acts is not dependent solely
upon the language contained in these two statutes. Certainly the De¬
partment itself has an obligation to insure that its officers are ac¬
curately informed about the meaning of these laws and their proper
We have always provided regular guidance in this area to the De¬
partment’s officers, both in the field and in Washington, and we are
sending an updated letter of instruction on the Privacy and Freedom
of Information Acts to all of our posts worldwide. We shall continue
to provide regular guidance on this issue to our Embassies to insure
that individual officers are not interpreting the legal requirements in
a manner that is more restrictive than the Taw actually provides.
Of course, while certain changes to the Privacy ana Freedom of
Information Acts may be desirable from the standpoint of effectively
conducting our foreign relations, we should not lose sight of the
original purposes of these two statutes.
Both laws have made a major contribution to strengthening the
public’s right to know about the operations of its government. The
Privacy Act has been generally effective in enhancing the individual’s
right to be protected against unwarranted government recordkeeping.
Our concern is that both of these purposes be preserved and strength¬
ened but that the operation of these laws not inhibit the conduct of
U.S. foreign relations when there is not a clear benefit to be derived
in terms of individual liberties.
A balance can be struck, and the changes we have proposed will
further our foreign policv goals without diminishing the public’s
right to know and the public’s right to be lefjt alone.
The third general area which we reviewed after the Jonestown in¬
cident was the provision of consular services. The Department of
State has instituted a number of organizational and substantive
changes designed to sensitize our consular officers to the potential
ramifications of Jonestown-like situations.
In this regard we have expanded and upgraded the training op¬
portunities offered to the Consular Corps and we have provided some
orientation to the psychological aspects of various mind control tech¬
niques. This basic consular couree, for example, includes a videotape
lecture on the management of stress.
We have also employed the Jonestown incident as an actual case
study for use in some advanced consular training exercises, and the
problems of dealing with organized American communities overseas
are regularly discussed at periodic consular conferences and at the
Foreign Service Institute.
We are also examining the possibility of making funds available
from the emergency medical and dietary assistance program for use
by our posts in enlisting the services of psychiatrists to deal with in¬
dividuals or groups who may be in need of such attention.
We have generally endeavored to heighten the awareness of our
consular officers to Jonestown situations, and we have encouraged
closer cooperation between consular officers in the field and their polit¬
ical and economic counterparts.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs has been reorganized and the staff
of the Bureau has been strengthened through the creation of three
Deputy Assistant Secretary positions. We nave expanded the staff
of the Legal Adviser’s office assigned to consular matters and we have
authorized some posts to hire attorneys for assistance with consular
problems. New offices have been established within the Department
to provide emergency consular assistance on a 24-hour basis.
To conclude, the Jonestown incident was a unique tragedy of ex¬
treme and bizarre proportions. The Department of State recognizes
its obligations to all Americans to assist them to the fullest extent
possible whenever they are involved in troublesome situations overseas.
We shall continue to carry out this responsibility as effectively as
we can within the law and with due regard to the limits of our man¬
date as an agency with no law enforcement authority.
My colleagues and I would be happy to answer any questions this
committee may have. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Fascell. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I must add at this point
that, in my own experience as a Member of Congress, traveling abroad,
I have had occasion many times to either request a briefing or to be
briefed by the Department on the area that I was going into, partic¬
ularly, with respect to any security problems.
And over the years on any number of occasions the Department has
from time to time advocated that the trip not be made. And in some
cases I have not made the trip and in other cases have advised our
group what kind of security problem we would run into and what the
feelings of the host government were. It obviously varies from gov¬
ernment to government.
I remember in one case particularly I was not very happy with the
security because we had a carload of people carrying machineguns
following us around all of the time. And I was trying to remain
anonymous and it is very hard to do. But as soon as I took off my coat
and tie I became anonymous and I lost them and was all right.
So there are elements of both involved here—that is, the decision of
the Congressman himself and his party and also the responsibility on
the part of State. I think it is very difficult to generalize in any one
One thing that interests me, though, through your whole statement
is the fact that you keep talking about consular officers as if nobody
else is involved in this process. Now, I know that strictly from a me¬
chanical and operating standpoint, we do have a consular section as
such and the head of it is Ms. Watson, who is the Assistant Secretary,
and that for practical purposes in the field you have a consular section
in the embassy, in the chancery.
I notice that you make a reference here that, as a result of your
studies on this matter, you are talking about closer cooperation be¬
tween consular officers and other officers. Yet I have to go back to Mr.
Royer’s testimony, where you would hope the ambassador knows
what is going on in an embassy.
We all know that probably every day the embassy starts out with
a meeting with the ambassador. The problem that worries us—and
we have heard this in the subcommittee for some time and far pre¬
ceding Jonestown—is how these issues are handled as an internal
operation of the Department. You have different cones and different
sections and it just seems to be a kind of an unwritten rule that these
issues are a strictly consular problem.
Now, I am not happy with the fact that you say we are going to
have some kind of cultural cross-fertilization discussion between peo¬
ple in the political cone and the poor guys in the consular section, be¬
cause I don’t think that this is what it is all about and never have
thought that is what it is all about.
You didn’t build the State Department bureaucracy, I know. You
just barely got there and have been there for 3 years. And you have
had a tough job in those 3 years. But I just wonder what your own
feelings are both as the result of being charged with the responsibility
and now that you have had 3 years to look at the Department, having
come from outside of the Department.
Mr. Nimetz. Mr. Chairman, I think that is a very fair point. One of
the reasons there was so much concentration on the consular function
with respect to the Jonestown event was because the Jonestown com¬
munity and the problems that arose with members of that community
were primarily consular problems—adoption questions, family ques¬
tions, social security, and so forth.
So one of the issues we faced—and I think it is indicated in the
Crimmins report, as well as in the committee report—was that, at
least within the Department, there may not have been as much coor¬
dination as there should have been between the people looking at it
from a consular point of view and those looking at it from a political
point of view.
Mr. Fabcell. I have to agree on that.
Mr. Nimetz. I think that was a very fair criticism. But a more gen¬
eral problem, I believe, is that there is a growing closeness between
the issues that consular officers deal with and the issues that political
and economic officers deal with. In my own experience for 3 years
dealing, for example, with bilateral relations with Mexico, many of
the questions of Mexico have to do with migration questions, border
questions, and I spend a good bit of time on a political level dealing
with issues that in many cases consular officers have to administer.
Another example I dealt with was relations with Eastern Europe.
There we had many problems of divided families, of people who
want to get exit permits, and we had to intercede for them. These were
basically again consular questions which became political issues on
the highest level.
The Questions of prisoner transfer agreements is another issue of
a consular nature. Narcotics issues and law enforcement issues also
often come up in a consular context.
I believe that the consular function is, in many areas, at the very
forefront of our relationships with a country, posing potential points
of tension, points of irritation. And as we have a world in which
terrorism flourishes, kidnapings of Americans take place, and fami¬
lies here are trying to locate children and others abroad, I don’t think
a day goes by when there isn’t a consular issue that is raised on the
Ms. Watson may want to elaborate on that. But certainly my experi¬
ence as an outsider is that you can’t divorce the consular function as
an administrative function off on the side in one room and the political
in another room. There is a close connection between the two.
Mr. Fascell. Ms. Watson.
STATEMENT OF HON. BARBARA M. WATSON, ASSISTANT SEC¬
RETARY OF STATE FOR CONSULAR AFFAIRS
Ms. Watson. I would like to add one other significant fact, Mr.
Chairman, and that is, that I do now, as a matter of form, brief every
Ambassador before he goes to his post. I brief him with respect to
consular problems and the staffing he has as well as encourage him
to recognize the importance of the consular role within the whole,
overall Embassy project.
Consular officers and certainly the chief of the consular section of
the consul general are members of and do participate in the country
Mr. Fascell. They better.
Ms. Watson. Pardon ?
Mr. Fascell. I say, they better. I would hope so.
Ms. Watson. This has been more and more stressed so that there is
no question. And there is a greater integration of the respective roles
that each one has in the overall foreign policy-
Mr. Fascell. I think that is a very important statement you j'ust
made. After all, the Ambassador is ultimately responsible. It doesn’t
make any difference what happens; he is responsible. And whatever
can be done, it seems to me, in terms of creating the sensitivity, the
awareness, and of giving the Ambassador the assistance that he needs
to deal with these problems, needs to be done.
But that is where the problem fundamentally is out in the field. If
the ambassador is not politically sensitive or astute enough to recognize
that the complaint of an American citizen is a serious matter, no matter
what it is, and that it has political ramifications both at home and in
the host country, he shouldn’t be an ambassador; you ought to fire him.
You might say that the same thing would apply here in Washington.
It is not sufficient to say, in my judgment, well, we have a section
that handles citizens’ complaints. After all, we are supposed to be
doing other things as well. And I can appreciate that and sympathize
with it. Goodness knows there is enough to do and the State Depart¬
ment is understaffed: they are undermanned; they are underpaid. They
have all kinds of problems.
But the American citizen doesn’t care about that. I mean, it is his
problem you are confronted with and not Afghanistan directly. And
until a satisfactory system is achieved for handling that promptly and
thoroughly, we are just going to continue to have problems.
This is just another unfortunate step in a long line of unfortunate
incidents. And there is none as tragic or as devastating as this one.
There have been others and there will be others until that whole
Now, how do you do that? I don’t think structuring the Department
is going to do it. I think maybe getting some specialists in might do it;
I don’t know. I don’t know what the answer is. We are struggling with
that as far as the committee is concerned.
As you know, we have taken many steps in this committee on this
whole issue. And Leo Ryan, Mr. Buchanan, and I and others were in
the forefront in trying to change the legislation, trying to give the
Department the direction and the tools in order to get this job done.
Now, somewhere, somehow, inside the Department this whole issue
has to be raised at a high enough level. I think it is absolutely erroneous
to lay the whole thing in the lap of Ms. Watson at any time on any
given issue, for example, not withstanding the fact that the issue may
arise in the consular service and, just because it is the consular serv¬
ice, it is her baby and nobody else’s.
Now, that has happened before. I hope that changes. I mean, she has
really been stuck with this. I am talking to you because you are the only
person we can talk to right now, Mr. Nimetz. I would talk this way to
the Secretary, and I have several times. And I know that the Secretary
is aware of this. He is sensitive to it. He really wants to make the
Now, what do we have to do? An order at the top never gets delivered
to the bottom for some reason; or, if it does get delivered, nobody pays
any attention to it or very little attention. That is the problem as I see
it. President Eisenhower used to say—I think I am probably para¬
phrasing a famous quote—you issue an order and 2 years later you
don’t even recognize it.
So I don’t agree with a conspiracy theory as such with regard to
Jonestown or anything else. But I am very much aware of the normal
operations of a bureaucracy. And I don’t think there is any excuse for
what happened in Jonestown; I don’t care what anybody says, whether
the consular officer is the greatest man in the world and the ambassador
has the highest rating in the world—just none whatever.
Let us take a complaint that comes to Washington on a citizen. I am
familiar with the Privacy Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and
the right of sovereignty. I don’t want anybody following me around
when I am overseas, eitner, and I don’t necessarily want my parents to
know what I am doing if I am of age.
But a parent comes to the Department of State and says he is wor¬
ried about something, so and so and so and so, and gives you all of the
facts. Somebody looks at that and says, “Well, I can’t do anything
about that; that is a legal matter.” You know, “Put it in the file.” Yet
you know that if you get three or four of those, you have yourself a
Now, even a cursory examination of the evidence in the Jonestown
case indicates that here was a real problem that had deep, festering
roots and yet, out of the whole mass of people who had to deal with this,
no one person grabbed that and said, “This is really a bad problem; we
have got to get to the bottom of this thing.” Nobody took responsibility
to do it.
Now, I have heard all of the arguments that it is outside of the
charter, you have legal restraints, you have lawsuit problems in terms
of counterlawsuits, you don’t have the facilities, you don’t have the
staff. And a lot of this is true.
But, nevertheless, someway we have to come to grips with this prob¬
lem. Otherwise, you know, we have one of the world’s great tragedies
on our hands and on our conscience and from which we will not be able
to do anything. I think the steps that have been taken so far are fine,
but do they go far enough? In my judgment, no.
Mr. Nimetz. Mr. Chairman, may I respond to just that example?
Mr. Fascell. Yes, sir.
Mr. Nimetz. I don’t want to leave the impression that, if a family
comes in and says their child is abroad and they heard some bad things,
wo just put it in the file. It is my understanding—Ms. Watson can
elaborate—that we certainly go out and try to contact the person. The
problem comes if the person says-
Mr. Fascell. “Leave me alone.”
Mr. Nimetz [continuing]. “I am happy here and I don’t want any¬
thing to do with my parents.” I think then we usually get back to the
parents and say: “Your child is there, but frankly he doesn’t want to
give you his address.” And we leave it at that. But it is not a matter of
just throwing away the request.
Mr. Fascell. You are not a missing persons bureau as I have heard
many times by some people. And that is true. You can’t be running
around the world trying to find missing people or bailing people out
who have run out of money or who have other problems. On the other
hand, I don’t know how you can duck it, either.
Ms. Watson. We don’t duck it, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Fascell. Ms. Watson.
Ms. Watson. We do respond to the inquiry. We do go out to the
post and ask them to search for the person. If we get the information
and do find the person and if the person is over 21 we then must, ac¬
cording to the law of the Privacy Act, ask for a release.
If that person says, “I am sorry; I will not sign it,” there is nothing
we can do other than to assure the person who has made the inquiry
that the person has been found, is in good health-
Mr. Fascell. You can’t even tell them where they are?
Ms. Watson. No, we can’t.
Mr. Fascell. I am not sure you should have to.
Ms. Watson. You have the right to be lost if you want to or be let
Mr. Nimetz. I was involved in one case of a death abroad; the family
contacted mo because I knew them. The family member had died up in
a mountain village, and the consular officer took care of all of the
arrangements and devoted basically l 1 /? days to that one death and
had the body transported back. And I discovered, in doing that—we
have how many deaths a year?
Ms. Watson. About 10,000 a year.
Mr. Nimetz. 10,000 die abroad.
Ms. Watson. We have 10 million living abroad.
Mr. NiM etz. If you take just the burden of handling overseas deaths
and you have one consular day per death—now, most of them probably
don’t take that long to handle them, but the correspondence with the
family, the relationship with the host country, getting the coffin, mak¬
ing the arrangements—that is 10,000 person-days-
Mr. F ascf.ll. We are familiar with that. Of course, we have had hear¬
ings in this subcommittee on that. One of the matters Mr. Ryan was
very much interested in was that. And we were trying to find some way
whereby, even in cases where financial assistance was necessary, it
could be funded in some way through the Department. That was one of
the things Mr. Ryan was working on.
Well, we have come a long way from the dav when somebody said to
me over the telephone: “Man, I don’t have time to worry about that
dead body; I have a lot of important things to do.” So we have come a
long way from that.
Mr. Buchanan. Thank you. First, I would like to associate myself
with the concerns that the chairman has expressed. They have been
rather long-term concerns of this subcommittee. Second, Mr. Secretary,
you said—and I certainly hope that will prove correct—that Jones¬
town was, to a large degree, an aberration, that it has become synony¬
mous with a unique type of collective madness and we should do
something to insure that a similar occurrence would not take place
in the future.
The thing that really concerns me is that, while I hope it is an aber¬
ration and I hope that it is unique and it certainly is a tragedy of
very major proportions, I am not positive that nothing like this
will ever happen again.
For example, I hold in my hand a report of another, comparable
group of some 10,000 followers operating in the United States and
which, according to the reports—and I have no expertise—may have
characteristics very similar to those of the Jonestown setup.
Assuming for a moment that that is the case, is the Department
really better equipped at this point to handle those problems? I am
not talking about the tragedy; I am not talking about the suicides
and murder; I am talking about the fact that you have reports com¬
ing in of human rights violations, of child abuse, of people being held
against their will, of beatings, and so forth.
These could hardly be normal religious activities covered by the
first amendment. They are hardly merely consular problems, either.
Do you feel that the Department is really better able to handle such
a situation if such a situation should arise again in which the De-
g airtment is getting the kind of reports to which the gentleman from
alifomia earlier referred?
Mr. Nr metz. I do believe we are in a better position now, but I
would also say that these types of groups and tnese types of events
are very, very difficult to deal with. Let me put it in the domestic pos¬
ture because I have dealt in local government as well as in foreign
Let us not worry about a group like this out in Guyana or some
other country abroad; let us deal with a group like this in the District
of Columbia or in New York State or California or elsewhere. What
can the local authorities do in the United States with a group like
There is often a lot of difficulty. Local officials have gone to court
many times with regard to issues of reprograming, kidnaping back
and forth. But generally the courts have held, to my knowledge, that
when people of age freely choose to associate themselves with an or¬
ganization, 90 long as they don’t do anything unlawful, they have
the right to be left alone.
Under our system, we bend over a little backward. We do that to
protect the right of free association, especially when it is combined
with a religious or spiritual concern.
Now, if you take the problems we have in dealing with these issues
in the United States, you magnify it many times when it is abroad
because we don’t have police authority, we don’t have health author¬
ity, we don’t have the courts, we don’t have the law enforcement, and
we have to rely on the local people. And usually these are groups of
Americans who have gone abroad precisely because they don’t want
to be under our law or system of government Under our Constitution
we have the right to do that.
I have discussed, as the chairman knows as a member of the CSCE
Commission, human rights in many countries. I was once in a Com¬
munist country talking about freedom of religion and association.
And they raised the Jonestown incident with me. They said: “Under
our system we don’t allow people to join together because of what
might happen in a Jonestown situation.” Under our constitutional
system, ana under our historical system, we do err on the side of let¬
ting people have their freedom.
To answer your question more specifically, we have gone to all
posts to sensitize them on this, to be aware of groups and to be aware
of the problems of Americans living together. Now, we have not
phrased that in religious terms at all. We are concerned about many
groups of Americans, secular or otherwise, who have law enforce¬
ment problems, who have drug problems or other types of problems
that might be cause for concern. And we have sensitized our people
to think about the psychological aspect of stress.
So I think we will catch these things a little faster than before. We
are more aware of them. We are mare aware of the seriousness of what
might happen and we are quicker to be in touch with local authorities
to check into these things. But I do think this is a problem for our
country as a society and not so much as a foreign policy issue.
Mr. Buchanan. That certainly is correct. This is a problem for the
entire Department of State, as the chairman was saying, al 90 a prob¬
lem for the Congress and for the Government. It is a matter for the
Congress and the Government because there was a time when you
dunked a woman to see if she was a witch and ; if she drowned, it
proved she was innocent; if she didn’t drown, it proved she was a
witch and so you burned her at the stake on the basis of being a
Well, that is no longer lawful in the United States. It may have
been a religious practice and carried on by religious people but I don’t
believe you could dunk anybody in the United States today or burn
anybody at the stake.
So it does seem to me there is some way we can find to handle a
& roblem where there is substantial evidence that people are being
eaten, held against their will or that child abuse has taken place.
Mr. Nimetz. We do. When there is a case of an American citizen
involved in child abuse or any other type of abuse and it is abroad, we
go to the local autliorities. One of the problems in Jonestown is that,
although we had consular checks there, we did not have, in the view
of those dealing with it, enough solid evidence to go to the local po¬
lice authorities to tell them there was a violation of law. This was one
of the problems there.
Mr. Fascell. Mr. Ireland.
Mr. Ireland. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am a little confused, Mr. Nimetz, at just what is the State Depart¬
ment’s normal practice. On page 8 of your testimony you talk of
guidelines to “provide guidance in relationship to the Privacy Act and
such to the field and in Washington.”
Then just before that you were telling us that after this terrible
thing in Jonestown you decided well, we ought to find out about this.
So you took a survey of all of this.
It occurs to me that maybe it is just as the chairman says, nobody
follows anybody’s orders. Is it the normal practice. No. 1, for there
not to be any leadership in these activities from the higher echelon of
the State Department? Because, obviously there isn’t any despite the
fact that you say you issue some guidance.
The first thing you do is turn around and go to the employer so to
speak and the employer says, what do you think about it? Now, if that
isn’t the silliest thing I have ever heard. I think the public deserves an
explanation of that.
Mr. Nimetz. Let me expand upon the study we did. We have had
only limited experience with the Privacy Act and the Freedom of In¬
formation Act. They are relatively new acts. We are learning how to
deal with them.
The question we posed is whether these acts inhibit communication
within the system? I frankly wanted to have a feel for this. I asked
our people to go in not just to Guyana, but really to go around the
world to sit down desk-by-desk with people in the Department and
try to find out from the people who are actually dealing with the issues
and what affect these laws have had on their day-to-dav operations.
Mr. Ireland. But, I thought they had a guideline from you ex¬
plaining how to act.
Mr. Nimetz. They do.
Mr. Ireland. They are not going by that guideline?
Mr. Nimetz. It is a matter of interpretation. For example, the
Privacy Act says you shouldn’t disclose information about any Amer¬
ican to any other individual. There is a criminal penalty. Now, people
in the field and in Washington know there is a criminal penalty and
they bear a substantial risk.
Therefore, let’s say you have information about, say, John Smith.
You know that he has been arrested on a pot charge in Paris, but he
just got a 1-day sentence and his father comes to town and wants to
know what happened to his son John. You know that if you disclose
that information you might be charged criminally and that John
Smith might go to the prosecutor and say I didn’t want my father to
know that I was arrested and you disclosed that information. This is
a criminal offense which includes a $5,000 fine.
Now, we wanted to get a sense of whether this was inhibiting com¬
munication. We founa it was. To find this out you have to sit down
with a fellow who works at the desk and you find out people may not
be writing things down, for example, or are using the telephone much,
much more now than before.
Mr. Ireland. Obviously that is not so good either because every¬
thing is recorded.
Mr. Nimetz. No, we don’t record things.
Mr. Ireland. I don’t mean in the Department. I mean just as a
matter of general practice.
Mr. Nimetz. Well, it is not a good idea to use the phone for any
sensitive information. There are security problems. But, there are
other problems as well. The information is not then distributed around
the Department, it may be misunderstood, it has more of a temporary
It is something that troubles me because you find that more and more
cables come in very, very bland language. So, rather than saying “I
am really worried about this son-of-a-gun, et cetera, et cetera, et
cetera,” you find some very general language without mentioning
names, without mentioning specifics to protect against these disclo¬
sures. That was the purpose of our study: to get a feeling on how wide¬
spread these practices are.
Another thing we were trying to find out was how much time was
actually spent administering the Freedom of Information Act. This
was not connected with Jonestown. This was something quite shock¬
ing to me because given all of our other pressures, we have to process
several thousand requests a year. They come from foreigners, too.
Tass, the Soviet news agency, has come in with a Freedom of In¬
formation Act request and our Foreign Service officers have to spend
taxpayers’ time doing research for a foreign newspaper.
There is no restriction in the Freedom of Information Act that only
American citizens can take advantage of it. This was the sort of thing
we were looking into and seeing how much time was used on it. The
survey we did was to get more experience on how actually the laws
We have now pointed out that the criminal penalties have not been
used against State Department personnel. I think only one criminal
charge has ever been made under the Privacy Act. We point out that
our people should not be afraid of .being Charged criminally, that if
they use good faith, they will not be liable criminally, that they have
an obligation to report, that they can protect foreign sources.
One of the problems we found, for example, was that since every¬
thing is disclosed in the Freedom of Information Act, foreigners were
not willing to give us as much information because it sometimes be¬
comes public right away. So, sources were drying up. We studied ways
of protecting these sources.
These are problems that go a little bit beyond the concerns here on
Jonestown, but in my view they are still important. You have two new
acts that are very basic policy decisions. One is to keep people’s pri-
vacy intact. The other is to open up government. After a few years you
see how it works in practice and you may want some amendments.
Mr. Ireland. Am I to understand you have put out some new guide¬
Mr. Nimetz. Yes.
Mr. Ireland. Are those guidelines available?
Mr. Nimetz. Yes, we would be glad to make them available to the
[The information referred to follows:]
Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts
The Under Secretary for Management has signed the following
letter to all ambassadors and principal officers:
As a result of the Crimmins/Carpenter and House Foreign
Affairs Committee reports on the Jonestown tragedy, a Depart¬
ment Task Force has been studying the effect of the Freedom
of Information and Privacy Acts on Department operations and
Foreign Service reporting. One of our findings has been that
the Department has focused its educational efforts about these
Acts at the Junior and Mid-Grade Officer, and has neglected the
We have seen some evidence that, as a result of our lack of
guidance to Senior Officers, some Senior Officers misunderstand
the FOIA and Privacy Act and react overcautiously in reporting
to Washington, particularly if the report contains information
about U.S. citizens. I, therefore, want to take this opportu¬
nity to explain to you some of the more troublesome FOIA and
Privacy Act problems we face and give you some guidance about
them. I hope that you will pass this message along to all
Senior Officers working under you.
Disclosure and Liability - There appears to be a perception
that the FOIA and the Privacy Act, particularly the latter, strip
away the immunity that officers and employees of the Government
enjoy in most circumstances for acts taken in the scope of their
employment. This is not true.
The Privacy Act contains a provision allowing a person damaged
by what the Government has unlawfully revealed about him to others
to collect money damages, but the damages are to be paid solely by
the United States Government and not the individual officer who was
the author of the information' revealed.
The Privacy Act does contain criminal sanctions for unauthor¬
ized disclosure of personal information by an officer, but requires
that the disclosure be "willfull" and that the officer know that
disclosure was prohibited. The sanction, therefore, requires that
an officer consciously and intentionally disclose information to
someone he knows is not authorized to receive it.
Moreover, I would like to stress that reporting of infor¬
mation to the Department from the field is never a disclosure
for purposes of the criminal sanctions provision of the Privacy
Act. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has established procedures
for reporting arrests and other sensitive information about
Americans from the field to Washington and, generally, infor¬
mation tagged for that channel goes only to the Department
unless the Post specifically determines that it is also to
go elsewhere by, for example, deciding that a drug arrest
should also be reported to DEA.
We provided guidance to the field in 1977 by a A-4671 of
of 18 November 1977 which addresses common instances where
other Federal agencies in the field, such as DEA or Customs,
might request information directly from a Post or where a
Post would be authorized, on its own initiative, to report
information to another agency. A-4671 should be reviewed
by all Department of State employees who work with employees
of other Federal agencies, particularly law enforcement
Reporting of Facts and Opinion - Officers have reported
to us that they are reluctant to include in reports opinions
and observations about individuals, whether American or foreign,
for fear of being sued for libel. Officers in Washington have
told us that a reporting officer’s comments about an individual
are often important in evaluating the report, particularly if
the individual is a source of information.
Our study has led us to conclude that, as a general rule,
when the facts—a narrative description of a person’s actions—
tell the story, the facts should be permitted to speak for them¬
selves. Speculation on such things as a person's motives or
state of mind should be avoided unless the facts themselves
don't accurately depict what the Department should know. If
an officer believes that opinion about an individual is relevant
and that the comment is necessary for Washington to be able to
assess the individual’s credibility and the importance of the
information the individual is providing, the officer should
report his opinions, preferably in a separate paragraph labeled
as comment. The officer should realize that in this situation
he is acting within the scope of his responsibilities to inform
the Department, and he should not be unduly concerned over the
threat of a law suit against him for what he reports.
In any event, however, an officer should avoid totally
speculative opinion and intemperate language and should write
knowing that opinions he reports about American citizens may
be available to them under the Privacy Act.
Records Subject to the Privacy Act - Not all records on the
activities of Americans overseas are subject to the Privacy Act
disclosure provisions. The Privacy Act mandates disclosure of
"records" and defines "record" as "any item . . . about an
individual . . . that contains his name ... or other identi¬
fying particular . . . .“ Thus, reporting that refers only to
the actions of groups without naming individual members is out¬
side the scope of the Privacy Act. Furthermore, even if the
reporting contains an individual's name, it need not be disclosed
under the Privacy Act if it cannot be retrieved by use of that
name. Properly classified information is also protected from
First Amendment, Record Keeping - One study has confirmed
a reluctance to report activities of religious cults or other
groups of Americans on the ground that doing so would violate
a provision of the Privacy Act prohibiting reporting on Ameri¬
can's exercise of first amendment rights. The first amendment
provides that Congress will not legislate in ways that abridge
the freedom to practice ones religion, to assemble, to publish,
to speak freely.
The Privacy Act provision is the following:
Each agency that maintains a system of records
shall . . . maintain no record describing how any
individual exercises rights guaranteed by the first
amendment unless expressly authorized by statute or
by the individual about whom the record is maintained
or unless pertinent to and within the scope of an
authorized law enforcement activity: ....
Despite this language. Congress, as evidenced by the 1978
Fraser Committee inquiry and report on the activities of the
Unification Church, has expressed the view that actions as
opposed to beliefs, of certain cults may be examined if there
is a question as to possible violation of law. The same would
be true of individuals. The Justice Department has recently
advised all Federal Agencies that courts, in interpreting the
first amendment, have distinguished between the freedom to
believe and the freedom to act, which may be subject to regu¬
lation for the protection of society. This is not to say that
decisions on whether or not to report on activities of Americans
abroad, particularly groups of Americans in religious associations,
are easy. X would like to distinguish here the Department's Con¬
sular function and its foreign policy function.
In the consular area, we consider it within the scope of
an officer's duties, and not prohibited by the Privacy Act, to
report on activities of religious cults which affect the safety,
health or welfare of Americans in the group. This would include,
to use the Jonestown tragedy as an example, reporting on exorta-
tions of suicide by cult leaders. It would also include child
abuse within a cult which condoned such activity. Similarly,
an officer should feel free to report suspected criminal
activity or advocacy of criminal activity by any cult member.
In the foreign policy area, our concerns are different.
As an example, we have received an inquiry from one Post as
to whether and to what extent it could report on the activities
of a group of Americans with a defined ethnic background who
traveled abroad to meet with high-level foreign government
officials. The Department's response was, essentially, as
A. Public activities and activities learned from public
sources, e.g., the press, may be reported if they might have
an impact on foreign relations.
B. Activities you learn about from non-public sources may
also be reported, if they have a significant impact on U.S.
relations with your country.
C. To the maximum extent possible, the Americans should
not be identified by name. However, names may be reported if
they are necessary to understand the activity or assess its
D. Pure expression of an individual's views is not, standing
alone, sufficient to justify reporting. A meeting with foreign
government officials entails more than the mere expression of
opinion if it, for example, includes attempts by the officials
to suggest strategies, statements, etc. that the Americans should
make, or if it includes advice from U.S. citizens as to statements
foreign government officials should make to effect their objectives
in the United States. In these examples, the names are probably
necessary and should be reported.
E. Any information on activities of Americans which violates,
or may violate, U.S. law should be reported. This includes
violations of the Foregin Agent's Registration Act.
Protection of Sources - In a survey of posts a few months
ago in connection with ithe work of our Task Force, a majority
of the posts surveyed reported a perceived inability to protect
names of foreign sources or information received from them.
Some posts recognized the ability to classify sources and
foreign government information at the RDS or XDS level, but
felt that the requirement that this be authorized by the
Ambassador or the DCM created undue hindrances and delay.
You should be aware that, in the absence of the official
occupying the position to which classification authority
attaches, an officer officially acting for such official
may exercise the same classifying authority. In practial
terms this means that it is fully within the prerogatives
of the Chief of Mission to resolve through practical admi¬
nistrative procedures the marking of documents as XDS or
RDS by, for example, authorizing Chiefs of Political and
Economic Sections to initial in the name of those who have
classification authority if they are unavailable at the
time the telegram must be sent. While the Department
believes such practical procedures should resolve most of
Post problems in these respects, we are examining the desira¬
bility of extending its classification authority at posts
where rapid reporting requirements are particularly heavy.
I also think it bears reiterating to your Consular
officers that the classification authority is available to
protect their sources, such as prison officials, local
police, etc. In our survey we received several complaints
over perceived inability to protect these officials, and
what they may tell us about American citizens of consular
Interest. Section 1-301(B) or E.O. 12065 provides that
foreign government information may be classified and
Section 1-303 states that "unauthorized disclosure of
foreign government information or the identity of a
confidential foreign source is presumed to cause at least
identifiable damage to the national security." Protection
of the identity of a foreign source is broader than a name,
and includes protection of an official identified only by
tile, and protection of a foreign government agency (e.g.,
French policy) if the agency provides the information in
confidence. The provisions of the Executive Order are
available to protect foreign officials who give us infor¬
mation in confidence about Americans.
While I hope this advice is helpful to you, I realize that
you have to cope with several problems created by FOIA and
Privacy which cannot be remedied without legislation. One
problem, for example, is the inability to protect the iden¬
tities of Americans as sources of information given in
confidence. We are discussing our FOIA and Privacy problems
with several Congressional committees. If you have any
specific problems not addressed in this letter you would
like us to take up with them, any questions about the advice
provided above, or any other questions about the FOIA or the
Privacy Act, please let me know.
Mr. Ireland. And, just in summary, how would those guidelines in
your view affect the noninformation and the bland information and
the misleading information if not the out and out dishonest informa¬
tion that came from our embassy concerning Jonestown?
Mr. Nr metz. I don’t think there was any dishonest information
from Jonestown. I think there may have been some that was not as
sharply focused as it could have been. It is hard for me to discuss
briefly our guidelines because they are awfully detailed. They explain
ways to protect foreign sources so that people shouldn’t be afraid of
alluding to foreign sources-
Mr. Ireland. In other words all of this survey and all of this new
everything wouldn’t have changed the result we got in Jonestown is
what you are saying. Would it have helped it? Has all of this exercise
Mr. Nimetz. I think it has been worthwhile. Whether it would
change the result, I really cannot say. I think the famous interchange
of cables could have been more sharply focused and alerted people
here in Washington a little more to the intensity of feeling in Jones¬
town. But, you laiow, it is very hard to say that things would have been
I certainly cannot, in retrospect, say how things would have been
different. It is very hard to say.
Mr. Ireland. One further question if I may. You mentioned, I think
your word was communications, was not really sharply focused. I
think the thrust of what we are talking about is that a very inadequate
and negligent job was done in the communications that were set up
and that made the terrible tragedy what it was.
Is it my understanding that still up to this time nobody in the
State Department at any level has been reprimanded for what has
taken place down there ?
Mr. Nimetz. Well, let me go back. I cannot accept the charge of
negligence. I think the Crimmins-Carpenter study and the study by
the staff of your committee pointed out some shortcomings and pointed
out that the Embassy in Guyana should have perhaps pushed more.
There was no formal reprimand; no.
Mr. Ireland. But, to answer my question, despite all of these things
that have been in our hearings and about the mishandling of a lot of
things, but what I want to know and have for the record no one has
been reprimanded or criticized at all in the Department? It is all
hunky-dory in the Department ?
Mr. Nimetz. No; I think there has been criticism.
Mr. Ireland. Has there been a reprimand ? Inside the Department
nobodv has been reprimanded?
Mr. Nimetz. I would say the most critical study-
Mr. Ireland. I don’t mean study. Has any individual of the cast of
characters in that Embassy been reprimanded?
Mr. Nimetz. No individual has been formally reprimanded. No, sir.
Mr. Fascell. As a matter of fact, the Ambassador received a special
reward for the handling of the Jonestown matter.
Mr. Nimetz. Well, I would say, sir, that the post-Jonestown opera¬
tion was. in my view, handled very, very effectively.
Mr. Ireland. That is a little bit like saying Mrs. Lincoln, other than
that, how did you enjoy the play?
Mr. Nimetz. You know, it is not my view that the ambassador is
responsible for the tragedy.
Mr. Ireland. What is he responsible for? Who is responsible? That
goes to the heart of what we are talking about. You send guidelines and
nobody pays any attention to them. You send out new guidelines and
you cannot even tell if that improves the thing.
Mr. Nimetz. The tragedy of Jonestown was the responsibility of
the people in Jonestown. There were people there murdered and who
committed suicide. The question is not whether the State Department
was responsible for what a group of people did in Jonestown. The
question is could it have been averted in some way. We have done a lot
of soul searching. We have concluded that, given the information we
had then, given the fact there was no violence at Jonestown to my
knowledge, given the fact there were no reports of arms, given the fact
they had never molested-
Sir. Ireland. No reports of arms? Wait a minute, Customs had a
Mr. Nimetz. There was a Customs report. It was looked into.
Mr. Fascell. Will the gentleman yield ?
Mr. Ireland. Yes, sir.
Mr. Fascell. Let’s turn this thing around the other way. There were
some 900 documents that came out of the State Department with re¬
spect to this matter of the investigation. One was a petition by con¬
cerned families. One was an affidavit. And, I don’t need to recite for
the record because the record will speak for itself on the other 900
Now, none of this got to Ms. Watson’s level. None ever got to any¬
body else’s level. I mean what does it take in the Department ? This is
the issue as I see it. The consular office raises an issue and the Ambas¬
sador makes a request to the Department of State and State never even
You know, something is wrong somewhere. We are talking about
Jonestown now. We are not talking about some hypothetical case. So,
these are the unanswered questions that raise, it seems to me, consider¬
able doubt. But, aside from that, that is why I say where are we going
right now? I am not sure that we are doing what can be done. Part of
the problem has been in the past, and we have heard this many times
in testimony in this subcommittee. With 10 million people abroad as
Ms. Watson said, what is the responsibility of the Department of
How far can they go? What should they do? Well, somebody better
start telling the Department of State what it is. This committee has
tried to do it on a case-by-case basis over quite a period of time. I
think one of the recommendations that was made in the Crimmins
report, which is very essential, which is that the Executive better take
a look at this so the Department of State can decide what are the
parameters of their responsibility with respect to their constitutional
charter on the protection of Americans abroad.
It does not mean sending the Marines. It might, but it does not mean
sending the Marines in every case. That better be spelled out and it
better be done throughout the Department in whatever fashion it takes
to arrive at this decision.
Then, the request needs to be made to the Congress specifically. This
is what we are going to do. We will have investigative staff, we will
have this, we will do that, whatever it is. Congress will be required to
provide whatever it takes in order to meet the decision. But, the way it
is now, it is a never-never land as far as I can see.
Mr. Nimetz. I think we have done quite a bit in trying to alert
Americans as to what their rights are when abroad and the limits to
them. It is very important for them to know the limits to which they
can be helped. Maybe Ms. Watson would comment on that.
Ms. Watson. You are aware of the intensive public relations program
that we have embarked on, Mr. Chairman, not only in terms of giving
conferences to consulars, but also congressional seminars. We have em¬
barked on television, radio, and public service print in the news media.
We have done everything that we possibly can to point out the limits
within which the consular operations can operate abroad in terms of
protecting the Americans ana also giving them as much advice as pos¬
sible to protect them.
Beyond that, we are, as you know, not an investigative—we don’t
have investigative powers neither by international practice nor by the
constitutional and the legal laws on the statutes. But, we do everything
in our power to make certain that their interests and rights are pro¬
tected within the limits of international law and, of course, the limits
of our limited personnel, which is getting slimmer and slimmer every
Mr. Fascell. You are going to lose some more. You have an 18 -
percent cut. But, you are not going to be able to tell the 10 million
Americans abroad that you had an 18-percent cut and that you had to
have your staff cut down and you don’t have the services available be¬
cause as far as that .American is concerned, you are dealing with a
matter of perception.
He is looking at the flag and the flag is his protection and there are
no limits to his protection.
Mr. Nimetz. I must say, Mr. Chairman, when you look at the last
year of the various things we have done, for example, getting some
45,000 Americans out of Iran, private citizens I am talking about, and
how our consular officers worked with them getting them out without
any loss of life at all, and getting people out of Afghanistan without
any loss of life there.
We have had lots of situations in which Americans have been ex¬
tremely well protected in the last few years. Obviously, there are cases
that come to your attention that haven’t been handled as well as they
could, but I think one has to look at the many successes and the fact
that most people don’t write their Congressmen when they get ade¬
quately treated at the U.S. consular offices.
Mr. Fascell. How about the study that was recommended in the
report: A blue ribbon committee appointed by the President to look
at this whole problem in terms of the ability of the Federal Govern¬
ment through the Department of State and its consular officials and
other officials in the Department to provide the perceived services
which the American thinks he is entitled to or should be entitled to.
Now, the Department as I see it has been struggling with its own
internal review and making whatever recommendations it seems might
be necessary. The Department probably welcomes another study about
the Department like I don’t know what.
Mr. Nimetz. Well, one of the focuses-
Mr. Fascell. I gather that is the reason nothing has happened with
the study’s recommendations.
Mr. Nimetz. There is one recommendation for the study of the
Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act.
Mr. Fascell. And, you have done that?
Mr. Nimetz. Yes, sir.
Mr. Fascell. And, you are prepared to come forward with recom¬
mendations for amendments?
Mr. Nimetz. The Justice Department coordinates this matter within
the executive branch. We have sent them our proposals and sent them
directly to the Congress as well.
Mr. Fascell. They are now pending before the committee that is
going to start hearings on the subject?
Mr. Ni mettz. I am not sure there are hearings scheduled.
Mr. Fascell. But, the executive’s positions on the recommended
changes to the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act
have been made public?
Mr. Nimetz. I cannot even say that. I can say that the State Depart¬
ment has made its recommendations, has transmitted it to the Con¬
gress. The Justice Department to my knowledge has not yet made
formal executive department recommendations.
Mr. Fascell. We will have to check that to determine whether or
not there are any amendments being submitted by Justice that origi¬
nated with the Department of State. I think that would be very im-
E ortant. Mr. Royer would like to know that. If he is going to have
is own amendments, he needs to follow up to see whether or not
they are coordinated with the changes he has in mind.
The question is now that the Department was not constituted finan¬
cially or otherwise to have lawyers in the field. Now, is there any
problem with that?
Mr. Nimetz. We have now retained some lawyers in the field, haven’t
Ms. Watson. We have authorized the post whenever they perceive
that there is a need for expert legal counsel, that they are authorized
to hire them on a contract basis. We have done so several times.
Mr. Fascell. Now, how about other kinds of experts? Is there free¬
dom or guidelines or money within the Department for an ambassador
to hire such other experts as he might need in a given case? You see
what concerns me here is that Jonestown clearly shows from an ex¬
amination of documentation, transmission, and cables that here
was a serious pattern of events that occurred, and it slept right there.
Someway that has to be changed. One way to do that would be to lay
the responsibility on the ambassador but give him the tools to do it.
Mr. Nimetz. Mr. Chairman, we have had a psychiatrist on the staff
at the State Department and, as I mentioned in my statement, we are
looking into using some of our health money to retain psychiatrists
in the field. But, I would have to caution, you know, not to be over¬
confident here. The detecting of this type of behavior, potential
suicides, or potential murders of this type is very, very difficult.
Mr. F ascell. I am just talking about the problem itself was there.
Mr. Nimetz. That is what I mean. That even if the ambassador in
the field was able to retain a psychiatrist to come down and advise
him, I am not sure-
Mr. F ascell. Mr. Nimetz, that is not what I am talking about. I
think you ought to have a special team. I have been arguing this for
years with the Department and am tired of arguing about it. I think
there ought to be a special interdisciplinary team in Washington
available that could be sent in the field anytime the ambassador pushes
the panic button. He ought to also have the right to hire specialists
as he needs them, but that is a different matter.
I still think that would be essential. But, here is a case where the
pattern of events just never got to a high-enough level by anybody
until after the fact. That is the thing. There it was spread all over the
place. That is the problem.
Mr. Nimetz. But, in retrospect, the pattern is clearer.
Mr. Fascell. Agreed.
Mr. Nimetz. But, you take what it was, a case of a child with a
divided family and with a court case and anxiety about that case and a
few other isolated incidents, you know, put it all together without hind¬
sight, it is hard to see that even having a team in Washington or even
bringing it up would necessarily have alerted people to the tragedy
that later happened.
Mr. Fascell. Ms. Watson, you are sending out on a regular basis to
the assistant secretaries, I gather that is the regional secretaries, con¬
sular concerns of one kind or another ?
Ms. Watson. We are in constant communication with the regional
assistant secretaries especially with respect to unique cases that should
be brought up to the highest level. In view of our recent reorganization,
we are able to handle this very much better than we were before in
that we have the overseas citizens service center set up and, of course,
there is a citizens emergency center set up about which we have spoken
to you before.
They are operating on an around-the-clock basis.
Mr. Fascell. Well, how do you translate the consular concerns that
would come out of a field operation to anybody !
Ms. Watson. Because, if it comes up in the citizens emergency cen¬
ter, they then immediately contact the desk officer of that particular
Mr. Fascell. You mean from the field directly to-
Ms. Watson. If you have a problem in the field, they then immedi¬
ately contact the citizens emergency center.
Mr. Fascell. In Washington?
Ms. Watson. In Washington, that’s correct.
Mr. F ascell. And, then it doesn’t go through the desk officer ?
Ms. Watson. It goes direct.
Mr. F ascell. Then, what happens ?
Ms. Watson. Of course, at the same time if it is sent out by cable
the information is also sent to the bureau that is involved. The officers
in our citizens emergency center then contact the desk officer of that
We do a far more thorough screening of all cable traffic to spot
Mr. Fascell. How does that get over to the political side?
Ms. Watson. Well, the desk officer is the political side.
Mr. Fascell. Oh, he is a funnel? The desk officer doesn’t do any¬
thing? He just funnels the information one way or another? He
doesn’t call any shots ?
Ms. Watson. No, sir. He has to be in touch not only with the polit¬
ical sensitivities of the country-
Mr. Fascell. I don’t mean to degrade the desk officer. I am just talk¬
ing about what his actual responsibility is. Does the desk officer tell
the ambassador what to do ?
Ms. Watson. Very often they are in touch with-
Mr. Fascell. I know they are in touch with them.
Ms. Watson [continuing]. With the desk officer or the country di¬
rector of that particular area.
Mr. Nimetz. I think it would depend on the typo of case as to what
level you would handle it on.
Mr. Fascell. Let’s start from the beginning. Let’s start with the
normal daily flow going from the field where the ambassador signs off
on it obviously and comes to Washington. Who gets first crack at it?
Ms. Watson. Who gets first crack at it? They are the communica¬
Mr. Fascell. I know that. And, they distribute it to whatever the
distribution code is for that particular message. I understand that.
But, I am talking about the working responsibility officer with respect
Ms. Watson. Well, let’s say, for example, there is a death. This is
immediately sent to the citizens-
Mr. Fascell. Yes, but you are talking about consular service now,
which is a whole new route. You just bypassed everything we are talk¬
ing about, you see.
Mr. Nimetz. Most of the cases will be deaths, arrests, accidents,
things like that, airplane crashes-
Mr. Fascell. Yes. without being derogatory, they are called routine,
nonpolitical cases. Therefore, they run up the consular cone and never
get over to the political side. The desk officer doesn’t even have the first
idea about it or the country director.
Mr. Nimetz. But, a kidnaping would, an airplane crash would,
things like that would. You have to give an example that is the-
Mr. Fascell. Yes, but I am trying to find out what the criteria is.
Now, you are telling me it is subjective. The next question is once you
exercise the subjective judgment, who gets the benefit of it? I am over
in the consular side. I get the things sent up to the citizens emergency
center. Do I get on the phone and call the country desk?
Ms. Watson. The desk officer also gets copies of the cables.
Mr. Fascell. But, then he says it is your job. What you are telling
me is you put a big responsibility on that desk officer because he has to
be the guy politically sensitized because all cables come to him.
Mr. Nimetz. That is the whole system in the State Department. The
desk officer gets everything on the country so-
Mr. Fascell. So, it is his fault? Anything that goes wrong is his
fault? He has the responsibility of making decisions on the responsi¬
bility and getting back to the ambassador ?
Mr. Nimetz. No, he can go up.
Mr. Fascell. He cannot go back to the ambassador?
Mr. Nimetz. He can go back.
Mr. Fasceix. Well, in this one case he didn’t go up or down. I mean
on the ambassador’s request he didn’t go up or down. He didn’t go up
and he didn’t go back.
Mr. Nimetz. No, they did go back, but they didn’t go up.
Mr. Fasceix. I don’t recall the recording saying that.
Mr. Nimetz. No, there was a response saying that it was inappro¬
priate to go to the Guyanese authorities.
Mr. Fasceix. Well, I stand corrected.
Mr. Ireland. If I may. That would mean that that gentleman that
sent that response, he was not responsible line. It was then, when he
sent it back, the person to whom he sent the message was then responsi¬
ble? Right? I think the key to this thing is we get all of this gobbledy-
gook about hindsight and everything else.
I disagree with it. That wasn’t a matter of ever looking different
with hindsight. The record was out there if anybody had any backbone
or took any accountability to know what was going on. In all candor,
there is not accountability in your service and you are all running
around looking for a place to hide.
And, you know, I think that the real key to this thing is, everybody
has theoretically got responsibility, but there is no accountability for it.
Mr. Nimetz. Well, the Crimmins-Carpenter report said in their
view, the ambassador and the embassy should not have taken that re¬
sponse as the final response. They should have, if they felt strongly
about it, gone back to a higher level. They felt-
Mr. Ireland. Then they are accountable. Then it was their respon¬
sibility. But, they haven’t been reprimanded. And, actually they have
been promoted since then. But, you have just this instant told me that
they were accountable and in error.
Mr. Nimetz. Well I know-
Mr. Ireland. But, everybody in your organization comes up here
and dodges around who is accountable. This is the biggest game we
Mr. Nimetz. Well, there is a difference between being accountable
and being reprimanded.
Mr. Ireland. You mean people can be accountable and never repri¬
manded? What a dumb world that is. The rest of these people don’t
live in that kind of a world.
Mr. Nimetz. Well, the-
Mr. Ireland. But, you are saying that you for the first time said
here is somebody who is accountable and yet at the same time you are
telling me that no action has been taken, no nothing, right? That iB
all. What a wonderful way to operate. ,
Mr. Fasceix. Well, the report is quite clear on the very thing you are
talking about. There is no question about that. It points out this in
cold black print. There it is.
Mr. Rover. Well, Mr. Chairman, again—and I know that this meet¬
ing is to get into the implementation of the recommendations and 90 on.
But, I do have to harp back to what both of you gentlemen have indi¬
cated, however, and say as I said in my opening remarks, that there are
just too many coincidences of mistakes or of apparent mistakes. I am
still convinced that there is more involved than just mistakes.
I guess the first question I would like to ask you in reference to your
implementation is do we assume that your November 21, 1979, com¬
munique happens to be your guidelines or is that just one series of re¬
ports you put out ?
Mr. Nimerz. I am not sure which document you mean.
Mr. Royer. Excuse me, it is February-
Mr Fascell. Have you got a copy you can show him so he can
identify what you are talking about ?
Mr. Royer. It is a February document.
Mr. Nimetz. Yes, to Congressman Rodino? Yes. Oh, I am sorry—
yes, this is it.
Mr. Royer. This is the cable that was sent out ?
Mr. Nimetz. This is the cable, yes, this is the cable we sent out last
year. This is not detailed instructions on the Privacy Act, but it is a
cable that we sent out to sensitize all posts with respect to these types
Mr. Fascell. The question was is that the final guidelines or is that
just some kind of preliminary step?
Mr. Nimetz. We are sending out additional detailed, more legal
guidelines on the act. But, this was a general guideline on Jonestown,
on the Jonestown tragedy and alerting people to be aware of these type
of organized groups.
Mr. Royer. Well, Mr. Secretary, do I understand you correctly to
say that there have been others other than this sent out or is this the
only one that so far has been sent out as far as guidelines to implement
some of these things that you are recommending?
I guess I have to make this statement first. I don’t think there are
any of us here who want to infringe on people’s constitutional rights
or infringe on the Privacy or Freedom of Information Acts. But, at
the same time, it seems that when there are a sufficient number of docu¬
ments that show up that indicate the sincere concerns that were indi¬
cated in this case, there has to be sufficient flexibility for you to do your
I have to tell you I have come to the conclusion that it was more than
just doing the job. That is why at some point I am going to have to
ask the question if higher policies determine how you do the job. I
think if you refer to that one report, and it may be coincidental, but
somebody evidently thought of it in that order, the priorities seem
to be the foreign government that you were in, the Government of the
United States, and then the American people.
I mean in that order. That is the way they are listed. Now, again it
may have been that somebody only happened to think about them in
that order. But, at least it came out in your cable that the concerns
had to be one, as they affected the foreign government; two, the U.S.
Government; and, three, finally the American people.
Although I didn’t base my testimony today on this report, I think it
justifies my thinking as to what has taken place as far as the State
Department is concerned. What is most important? Does foreign
policy come ahead of everything else? I think at some point, Mr.
Chairman, that these questions are going to have to be asked of the
people who are in the position to respond.
I guess the other question I would like to ask you, and I haven’t
given you a chance to answer and I apologize for that. But, this docu-
ment that was prepared, is that a document that would have been
prepared by you ? *
Mr. Nimetz. This cable was cleared by me. A number of people
worked on this. Our legal bureau, our consular bureau, and a number
of others. But, I did clear this cable which seeks to alert people.
Let me comment on your opening statement if I may. I appreciate
the kind words you have said about me and that I have tried to work
with your office. But, there is an implication in your statement that the
State Department, that the U.S. Government has a policy of purpose¬
fully risking American lives for foreign policy reasons. Let me just
put on the record that there is nothing more important to us than the
lives of American citizens.
That is our highest foreign policy consideration. It is certainly in¬
correct to say that we would or we did in the Jonestown case or would
in the future in any way jeopardize American lives or that we would
let a Congressman go into danger without warning in order to pursue
some other foreign policy goal.
I think that some of the criticism that we have had on Jonestown,
I think that some of the points that the chairman or Congressman
Ireland have made have been fair points. We don’t always operate
perfectly, but any suggestion that we purposefully tolerated or knew
about a dangerous situation and purposefully jeopardized American
lives just to have good relations with a government is, I think, totally
I would like to be made very clear.
Mr. Royer. In other words, you are saying without question all of
the information that the State Department nad which indicated all
of the dangers that were there—and don’t think anybody can deny
that they weren’t out there—that there was no other reason, no other
government reason for not making that information available other
than somebody just slipped up on its
Mr. Nimetz. Well, I think you would have to note, as you did, that
both of the studies made on this don’t sustain your conclusion that
there was information about a risk to life that was in any way sup¬
pressed. There have been arguments that we weren’t sensitive enough
to certain things and the like. But, I don’t think there is any sugges¬
tion in any of the investigative work that has been done that we knew
about a threat to life and that we purposefully hid that threat so as
to permit a very dangerous situation to continue.
Mr. Royer. Mr. Secretary, I am sure you are aware that the affidavit
that was prepared and signed and was turned over supposedly to the
State Department, at least to State Department personnel certainly
indicated those dangers. I mean they told about the guns that were
there, they told about the suicide drills, they told about the misdoings
as far as the Americans were concerned. I mean how can you say-
Mr. Nimetz. Are you saying that we purposefully hid that informa¬
tion as a policy matter in order to jeopardize American lives?
Mr. Royer. I am not suggesting. I am asking the question does there
come a time when American policy is more important than the possible
risks? I am certainly not indicating that you knew it was going to
happen because you probably didn’t, but it does appear that there were
real serious risks in going there that the State Department was not
willing to indicate to the Ryan delegation for some reason.
My own personal feeling is that that some reason is not just complete
Mr. Nimktz. Well, I would answer it no, it is not our policy to risk
American lives in the interest of any other foreign policy issue.
Mr. Fasceix. I think it fair to say, Mr. Secretary, that has been
demonstrated time and time again on the record as far as American
policy is concerned. So, I would not concur with my colleague in his
conclusion and his opinion with respect to policy. At least mere is no
evidence of that anywhere.
I don’t think there was any decision. But, I can tell you this: That
you can arrive at the same point by nobody saying anything or doing
anything. You can arrive at the same point where it has the same effect
It is not a conscious thing, however. I don’t think you could make it a
culpable thing. It just works out that is the net result of what hap¬
pens as the result of a lot of related circumstances but, not as a direct
policy coming from the top.
I would have to agree with Secretary Nimetz. I think that is a little
Well, we have to go vote. I want to thank both of you for coming
up here. We have some questions from the subcommittee which for
the purpose of completing the record we would like to submit to you
and we would like to pursue the questions of implementation and
improvement in this entire process at some future time subject to the
call of the Chair. 1
Mr. Fasceix. The committee stands adjourned.
Mr. Royer. I will be able to put these remarks in the record ?
Mr. Fasceix. Yes, absolutely. They are in the record now.
Mr. Royer. No, I am talking about I had some additional remarks.
Mr. Fasceix. Without objection, we will allow you to put those
remarks in the record at the conclusion of the questioning.
[The statement referred to follows:]
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to make a few remarks, In closing,
If I may.
On February 20, 1080, we heard from former staff aides of Representative
Ryan and members of the Concerned Relatives. While their testimony may not
have been specifically addressed to the precise steps that the State Department
has taken since the tragedy, tbelr testimony certainly provided a basis for mem¬
bers of this subcommittee to use when determining whether. In your mind, the
steps taken were adequate.
Many of you are aware that I requested Ambassador Burke, Deputy Chief of
Mission Dwyer, and Consular Officers McCoy and Ellice to testify today, in order
that the allegations raised by Joe Holslnger, Jackie Speler, Steven Katsarls and
Mrs. Clare Bouquet could be responded to by those Involved.
As you also know, the chairman did not call these witnesses, because they
were not responsible for the Implementation of the recommendations whl^h are
the subject of these hearings. Of course, the chairman was right—they do not.
This does not mean, however, that the further questioning of these people should
not take place. I believe that the evidence which we now have, including the
testimony taken on February 20, 1980, indicates much more than bumbling
bureaucrats were at fault.
There are many questions which have either not been answered, or were In¬
adequately answered. Specifically, this subcommittee should be told why the
allegations In the Debbie Blakey affidavit were not investigated by Embassy staff,
and the results communicated to Washington either In writing or verbally. The
same may be said as to the allegations contained in the petition sent by the
1 The questions and responses appear In appendix 1.
Why weren’t the terrorist acts against Kathy Hunter communicated to Wash¬
ington? Did the ambassador or Mr. McCoy, when they were in Washington in
1978, prior to November, communicate the facts they knew to senior officials? I
understand that Mr. McCoy states that he did, in fact relate all of the facts
and his concerns to senior officals after his return in August of 1978. I also under¬
stand that this has been denied. This conflict must be resolved.
If, as alleged, this communication took place, then why was nothing done? Why
wasn’t the Ryan delegation informed of these things? Why were none of the
documents which were made available to the committee staff not given to the
Ryan delegation? Why wasn’t the Ryan delegation informed of the details
of the November 7,1978, Jonestown visit by Embassy officers during the “briefing”
that took place in Georgetown after the Ryan delegation arrived in Guyana? What
did Ambassador Burke tell Representative Ryan about Jonestown during his stay
at the ambassador’s house when he first got to Georgetown?
I could go on and on. These questions should be responded to, on the record, for
this Congress and the American people to see. Furthermore, Mr. Holsinger’s
allegations of CIA involvement should be investigated, and this subcommittee
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I hereby request the chairman as well as every
member of this subcommittee, to join with me in requesting the chairman of the
full committee, to direct the staff Investigatory group to fully and adequately
investigate the allegations raised by the four witnesses who testified on February
20, in addition to the questions I have just raised, and to report back to the full
committee its findings. All material in the hands of the FBI, including the tape
recording of the mass murder-suicides must be requested for and on behalf of the
I would also like to request your assistance in my call for oversight hearings at
which the Department of Justice would be called to testify as to the current state
of the investigation into the assassination of Representative Ryan. I would like to
point out two events which have occurred since the staff group completed its in¬
vestigation which point to the need for these hearings: The first has to do with a
recent report that Sharon Amos, a high Temple official who was killed on Novem¬
ber 18,1978, had been previously instructed by Rev. Jim Jones to shoot the pilot of
the airplane that was to take Representative Ryan to Port Kaituma on the trip to
Jonestown. Also, this report indicates that at least one former People’s Temple
member has returned to the United States from the country of Grenada, where
apparently a number of Temple members fled following the suicide-murders.
The other recent occurrence that forms a basis for the hearings I have called
for are the killings, last week, of two former Temple members who had defected
from the Temple. I have been informed that a family member who was a former
member of the People’s Temple has been questioned concerning the murders. I am
also informed that this person did not share in the disaffection of the parents for
Rev. Jim Jones.
Until we hear firsthand from the Department of Justice as to what they have
done, and are doing, with regard to the assassination of Representative Ryan
and the death of the over 900 Americans, none of us can be assured that the evil
that was People’s Temple has, in fact, been destroyed.
Therefore, I respectfully request that you all join with me in requesting any
and all subcommittees of jurisdiction to convene oversight hearings to call the
Department of Justice in to explain what they have and have not done.
Mr. Royer. Thank you. Are you planning on having another
Mr. Fascell. Well, I don’t know right now. But, right now we will
have to adjourn until we go vote. The subcommittee stands adjourned
sub ject to the call of the Chair.
[Thereupon, at 4:10 p.m., the hearing in the above-entitled matter
was recessed, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]
Questions Submitted bt Subcommittee on International Opera¬
tions to the Department of State and Responses Thereto
Question 1. On page 27 of the testimony It is stated that SCS (Office of Special
Consular Services) and the Embassy saw the Stoen custody case as part of a
larger issue, but the rest of the Department didn’t. What’s being done to Insure
that senior officials in the future will automatically be alerted to the accurate
and full nature of such potentially serious situations?
Answer. Among the most important legacies of the Jonestown experience is a
heightened awareness throughout the Department of the necessity for following
our consular cases closely and keeping alert to potential problems and potential
opportunities for protective or preventive action. Our consular officers here and
abroad are sensitive to the necessity for keeping in contact with the political
and other areas in the Department. We closely follow the daily cable traffic on
consular affairs which is routinely disseminated to the geographic bureaus, and
we make sure that all concerned officers, including officers not normally involved
with consular affairs, are kept informed about cases with more than Just con¬
The Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs makes it a point to raise at the
Secretary’s and Deputy Secretary’s regular meetings, any consular Issues which
senior officers of the Department should be aware of. During briefings of am¬
bassadors and other senior officers and through other forums (consular con¬
ferences, visits to posts, training programs and workshops) we emphasize, at
all levels, that consular matters, particularly those involving the protection of
American citizens, must be of concern to the entire mission abroad. What is
true abroad is equally true here in Washington.
An important consideration contributing to consular access to other senior
officials in the Department is the fact that the person in charge of Overseas
Citizens Services has been elevated to the rank of Deputy Assistant Secretary.
This is one of the results of the reorganization of the Bureau of Consular
Question 2. The Department, according to your report, Insisted on "hard evi¬
dence” as the only basis for action. You also claim no investigative authority.
What do you mean by “hard evidence?" You had affidavits. If you have “soft
evidence” from hundreds, do you ever become suspicious or do you just wait for
tragedy to strike? How do you Justify your “hard evidence” guidelines?
Answer. The Department of State and the Embassy at Georgetown sent consu¬
lar officers to Jonestown to Interview every American citizen about whom rela¬
tives or friends had expressed concern. It was only after repeated visits, careful
observation, many private interviews, and discussions with Guyanese police
officials had failed to turn up any substantial evidence to support the allegations
made against the People’s Temple that the Embassy and the Department felt
that “hard evidence” was needed before pressing the Guyanese Government to
assert greater jurisdiction over the community at Jonestown.
The insistence upon more substantial evidence as opposed to affidavits arose
from the fact that many conflicting and unsubstantiated allegations had been
made by both supporters and opponents of the People’s Temple; accordingly
those officers most familiar with the situation became increasingly skeptical
and wary of the statements made on both sides.
Our experience has shown that when approaching a foreign government about
the alleged activities of our citizens it certainly is desirable to present sup¬
portive evidence about those activities. The Crimmlns/Carpenter Report (page
67) points out that thiB was not only our concern but the concern of the Guyan¬
ese Government as well. The Report (page 67) mentions “• • • the stress laid
by both the United States and Guyanese Government on the need for ‘hard
evidence’ as the only basis for action * • •
( 67 )
Question S. Has the Department received complaints about groups such as the
People’s Temple involving Americans abroad? What, If anything, are you doing
about such complaints? Are you receiving full cooperation from the Department
Answer. Since Jonestown, the Department has received information on less
than 10 organizations or groups of American citizens overseas Involving such
allegations as the use of mind control techniques, abuse of rights, or child
neglect. It is standard procedure to ask the Foreign Service post to inquire
into the situation and report promptly. Our consular officers seek the assist¬
ance of foreign government authorities in investigating the situation and pro¬
tecting the American citizens involved.
We are alert to the possibility of the exercise of undue Influence by a leader,
and the need for the consular officer to try to protect American citizens who
may not be able to care for themselves, such as minors and the mentally ill.
In these few instances to date we have had no occasion to request the assist¬
ance of the Department of Justice but we have no reason to believe that their
cooperation would not be forthcoming, if requested.
Question 4 . In June, Ambassador Burke attempted to get State approval for
him to ask Guyana to exercise its jurisdiction more fully in Jonestown. No
senior officials acted on the response. What’s been done to assure that serious
concerns of our ambassadors are taken seriously by senior departmental offi¬
cials? Cables were exchanged but communication did not take place. What is
being done about effective communications? Did the use of cables instead of
the telephone inhibit actual communications?
Answer. As indicated in the answer to question number 2 we utilize a variety of
forums to emphasize that assisting and protecting United States citizens abroad Is
of major importance to the mission and the Department. Our ambassadors, con-
sulars and other officers are instructed to give priority to communicating their
concerns in detail to Washington. Use of the telephone to ensure a dialogue is
encouraged where security considerations do not rule out such means. The use
of cables alone should not inhibit communications.
Question 5. The Foreign Service is proud of the high caliber of people which
it recruits. How do you explain the repeated failures of judgment by Foreign
Service officers; the failures to appropriately disseminate, absorb, and evaluate
the information they were getting? The failures to consult experts in the kinds
of phenomena being described to the Department and the Embassy? What im¬
plications does this episode have for recruitment and training?
Answer. The actions of officers in the Embassy and the Department with
respect to the situation at Jonestown are described at length in the Crlmmins/
We consistently seek to improve our procedures and performance in the han¬
dling of consular problems. As with any unique phenomenon the value of expert
assistance becomes readily evident. We are aware of the advantages of expert
guidance in dealing with situations of unusual psychological stress. For ex¬
ample we have utilized the services of a psychiatrist with specialized training
and experience to provide training guides for use at the Foreign Service Institute.
The implications for recruitment and training, not only of the Jonestown ex¬
perience, but of the sum total of demands being made upon Foreign Service
officers today are indeed serious. The Department makes great efforts to re¬
cruit and train officers who have the requisite skills and qualities for their
profession, and to inspire or reinforce in them the dedication they will need to
withstand the pressures and, increasingly, the dangers, which a Foreign Service
Question 6. Should the Department have legislated responsibility to investi¬
gate difficulties a U.S. citizen may be encountering abroad? (This would not,
of course, affect restrictions imposed by the necessity for operating in confor¬
mity with other countries’ laws.) Should we seek investigative authority in our
Answer. We believe that the authority which consular officers presently have
to inquire into situations affecting the welfare of U.S. citizens overseas, to take
appropriate steps, or to urge local authorities to take steps, to protect Americans,
offers a sufficient scope for the protective functions our consular officers perform.
As new consular conventions are drafted, specific provisions are being in¬
cluded that provide for our officers to seek the assistance of the receiving state
in gathering information about the location of and matters pertinent to the
welfare and safety of the sending state’s nationals. Receiving states under such
conventions are obligated to provide such assistance.
The sensitivities of foreign governments to extraterritorial investigative ac¬
tivities is a major obstacle to any foreigner engaging in any such activity. It
would also require the extension of reciprocal authority to other governments
to “Investigate” their nationals living in the United States. Accordingly, it
would not be practical or desirable to seek to include investigative authority in
our consular treaties.
Question 7. Miss Watson, the petition by concerned relatives was apparently
never responded bo by SCS or State. Moreover, a June letter from the Stoen’s
attorney transmitting the Blakey affidavit of June 15, 1978 was never answered.
Does your bureau have a policy about answering letters from U.S. citizens?
(The Department was asked to take specific actions including the forwarding
of a petition to the Prime Minister of Guyana.)
Answer. The policy of the Bureau of Consular Affairs is to respond to letters
and requests as promptly, completely, and helpful as possible.
Overseas Citizens Services has developed tighter procedures for controlling
correspondence and for following-up on problems or correspondence which is
referred to other offices for guidance, clearance, or reply.
Question 8. On page 28 of the report, it Is suggested that the knowledge that
U.S. law enforcement agencies were not doing anything about the People’s
Temple furthered the feeling of constraint under which State officials operated.
Specifically, what steps is State now taking to initiate alerts to our own law
enforcement agencies about the possible need for action? How will the Depart¬
ment pursue such requests?
Answer. In fulfilling its role and function of providing assistance to American
citizens overseas the Department has consistently not had or been given pri¬
mary law enforcement responsibility save those areas connected with suspected
passport or visa fraud cases, or misconduct of its personnel involving possible
violations of U.S. laws. Within existing authority and guidelines the Department
cooperates with agencies that have primary law enforcement responsibility. In
this context when evidence of suspected criminal violations of U.S. laws comes
to the Department’s attention it is made available to the competent agency
having particular statutory responsibility. Subsequent to Jonestown the Depart¬
ment of Justice requested that its Criminal Division be furnished information
about any suspected criminal activity of American citizen groups overseas. Sev¬
eral other Departments and bureaus Including the Treasury Department, Fed¬
eral Bureau of Investigation, Comptroller of the Currency, Securities and Ex¬
change Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and Immigration and Nat¬
uralization Service received similar requests. All were requested to designate
a particular person as a contact point for investigations of possible criminal
activities. The Department’s liaison with the Justice Department is maintained
by a member of the staff of the Office of the Legal Adviser.
Question 9. The Department’s report urged periodic and structured meetings
hetween consular officers and regional desk officers to assure better information
sharing and maximize problem identification. Is that being done? How often—
monthly ns suggested? Are the minutes of such meetings shared with embassies
and other field offices?
Answer. The recommendation about monthly meetings is more attractive in
theory than practice. There are 200 country desks In the Department. Monthly
meetings with each would require ten meetings every workday. Such an over¬
whelmingly heavy schedule of meetings would be a formidable obstacle to
carrying out our essential function of providing assistance to American citizens
We have, however, taken alternative steps to improve coordination and in¬
formation sharing. Consular officers follow the daily cable traffic closely to en¬
sure that all concerned areas of the Department are informed, and that they in
turn alert us to problems or cases with consular Implications. We carefully mon¬
itor consular cases overseas, keeping alert to potential problems and potential
opportunities for protective or preventive action.
Question 10. Miss Watson, are you sending regional Assistant Secretaries
monthly memoranda listing consular concerns? How Is this working? Is it helpful?
Can the Subcommittee routinely receive copies of these reports?
Answer. Assistant Secretary Watson does not send monthly memoranda dis¬
cussing consular Issues to regional Assistant Secretaries. All Assistant Secre¬
taries meet twice weekly in a staff meeting chaired by the Deputy Secretary.
These meetings provide a more timely and effective forum for Identifying and
acting on Issues of major concern. Miss Watson also brings individual cases or
problems of particular concern to the attention of other Assistant Secretaries,
the Deputy Secretary, or the Secretary by telephone or memorandum as ap¬
Question 11. What is being done to “strengthen and accelerate” improvement
in the quality of consular personnel and to enrich their training? Do you have
the money to do this?
Answer. We continue to emphasize the Importance of training for consular
officers and staff, and to seek ways in which to adapt new training courses to
the limited time that can be made available from the pressures of increasing
consular workload. The Department has developed a highly effective entry level
consular training program utilizing simulation techniques. In addition to the
consular cone officers selected for university training and senior training each
year, the Department has developed an advanced training course for consular
officers which broadens their understanding of current Issues in the consular
field, as well as of modern management theory and practice, psychological tech¬
niques for dealing with stress, relations with Congress, and other areas of par¬
ticular concern. The Department has also developed a three-week training course
for senior Foreign Service National consular assistants which gives them direct
exposure to the officers in the Department providing guidance for their work,
and to the staffs of Members of Congress handling the consular problems of
constituents. Technical workshops for working level consular officer and FSN
employees are scheduled for each geographical area, and a hew overseas super¬
visory training program for American consular and administrative officers will
further strengthen the management of consular sections. Moreover, the Depart¬
ment schedules annual consular conferences in all geographic areas to ensure
that consular officers are kept abreast of current problems and policies.
We have taken specialized citizen services training courses to the field on
several occasions with regional workshops for both officers and consular assist¬
ants. We plan to continue using annual regional consular conferences, visits to
posts abroad, and briefings in Washington, to Increase the dialogue between
the Department and posts in the field on consular problems. Part of the normal
consular training of junior Foreign Service officers in Washington includes work¬
shop sessions in all directorates of the consular affairs bureau.
As a result of severe Congressional and OMB reductions in travel funds this
year, the Department has had to cancel all travel for internal conferences, in¬
cluding consular conferences. However, within the limited resources available,
we continue to give priority to consular training requirements.
Question IS. The report says that those who knew of reports of a mass suicide
threat "gave them no credence.” Were these trained experts in the psychology
of suicide? On what basis did they dismiss such grave allegations?
Answer. Consular officers visited Jonestown repeatedly and Interviewed many
of its inhabitants. Officers in the Department received and forwarded the com¬
plaints and allegations by parents and friends of the members of the People’s
Temple. None of these officers were trained experts in psychology, but as con¬
sular officers many had had direct exposure to persons suffering from various
types of mental problems. These officers as well as all other officers In the Depart¬
ment and Embassy who had any contact with Jonestown found the mass suicide
Question IS. What was the involvement to the best of your knowledge of the
INR with regard to the Jonestown situation on the Guyana situation in general
Answer. The relevant office In the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR),
i.e., the Office of Research and Analysis for American Republics Affairs, was not
involved in “the Jonestown situation”. That is, the Office originated no reporting
or analysis on the situation and was not represented on any Department or
Inter-Agency working group or task force concerned with Jonestown.
The same Office was “Involved” in “the Guyana situation” in the same way it is
involved with all countries in the Latin America-Caribbean area: the office
monitors developments in these countries and prepares analysis reports for the
attention of policy making officials as necessary or as requested by tasking offices.
The analyst responsible for Guyana simultaneously monitors developments in
approximately ten other countries. Attention to Guyana during 1978 was rela¬
Question 14 . The House Government Operations Committee has begun hear¬
ings on amending the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act. Has the
Department asked or been asked to testify at those hearings? Has the Depart¬
ment prepared a specific legislative remedy for the problems cited In your report?
Answer. The Department of State was not Invited to testify before the House
Government Operations Committee on the subject of the Privacy and Freedom
of Information Acts. The Department has, however, completed a study of the
Impact of both statutes on Foreign Service operations, and It has transmitted
its recommendations for legislative changes to the Department of Justice. Simi¬
lar letters were sent to Chairman Richardson Preyer of the House Government
Operations Committee, and Chairman Clement Zablockl of the House Foreign
Question 15. How and to what degree do political considerations mandate the
content and tenor of communications to and from an embassy and the State
Department In Washington?
Answer. It Is Impossible to generalize regarding the motivations which Influ¬
ence the content and tenor of the millions of telegrams which are exchanged
annually between Washington and U.S. posts overseas. As the U.S. govern¬
ment agency charged with implementing foreign policy, the Department of State
attempts to secure Information and distribute instructions calculated to best
serve the Interests of the United States in light of all factors which may affect
the outcome of a particular situation. Those factors may Include political con¬
siderations In the broad sense that bilateral and multilateral relations are often
characterized by political (as well as economic, humanitarian, and other)
Question 16. What Is the sensitivity of the State Department officials here In
Washington to the fact that political considerations may In fact Impede candor
and frankness in communications from embassies?
Answer. It is not clear in what sense the term “political considerations" Is
used in this question, nor is it self-evident that these considerations do Impede
a full and frank exchange of views between the Department of State and its
overseas posts. Accurate and complete Information is essential to the formula¬
tion and Implementation of foreign policy, and the Department encourages Its
officers to report on developments abroad in a comprehensive and candid manner.
In addition, a procedure exists within the Department whereby minority or
dissenting viewpoints and opinions can be communicated by officers of any rank
to the highest levels of the Department for consideration.
Question 17. Are there any documents other than the unclassified cable dated
February 19, 1979 from Secretary Nimetz entitled “Post Reports on American
Communities’’ relative to guidelines to be followed when preparing and commu¬
nicating reports of activities of American citizens abroad?
Answer. Yes. The Department of State has issued a document entitled “Privacy
Act Guidelines’’ that contains detailed guidance regarding the preparation and
communication of reports on the activities of American citizens abroad.
Question 18. The Crlmmins report seems to find that there was an unfortunate
concentration of Information in one person—a consular official in Jonestown who
was later transferred to Washington. It seems to follow that this “undue con¬
centration” somehow prevented meaningful communication to higher officials In
the State Department. What steps have you taken to prevent a recurrence of
Ansrwer. The Department of State has never had a consular official stationed
In Jonefftown; the question must refer to the Chief of the Consular Section at
the U.S. embassy in Georgetown. Until the arrival of Congressman Ryan’s party
In November, 1978, the People’s Temple Agricultural Community primarily dealt
with the U.S. embassy on matters of consular concern—such Issues as social
security payments, welfare and whereabouts questions, and recordation of births
and deaths. While most of the People’s Temple business was consular In nature,
the entire country team of the embassy was aware of the community’s existence
and activities. It was not the case that information relating to the People’s
Temple was limited to a single officer.
Question 19. The Privacy Act forbids reporting on the manner in which Ameri¬
can citizens abroad engage In First Amendment activities. Yet your February 1979
cable restricts reporting on all activities which may constitute the exercise of a
constitutionally protected liberty. What Is the justification for this? The cable,
furthermore, Indicates that a consular official should take no action which
would Impart a “chilling effect” on the exercise of constitutional liberties by
reporting unusual or threatening conduct. What circumstances can [you] per¬
ceive which would impart such an effect on the exercise of constitutional liber¬
ties by the mere act of reporting an unusual or threatening situation?
Answer. The February 1979 telegram encouraged posts to report on the activi¬
ties of American citizens abroad when those activities are of legitimate interest
to the Department and are not specifically protected by the provisions of the
Privacy Act. The Department does not wish to limit or inhibit the full exercise
of Constitutional liberties by American citizens, whether In the United States
or abroad, either through direct action by Department officials or through burden¬
some and unwarranted reporting requirements.
Question 20. How do you define “the exercise of constitutional liberties”?
Answer. Subsection (e)(7) of the Privacy Act directs each agency to:
“* * * maintain no record describing how any individual exercises rights
guaranteed by the First Amendment unless expressly authorized by statute or by
the individual about whom the record is maintained or unless pertinent to and
within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity * *
The Department of State’s “ Privacy Act Quidelines" states that: “[t]here Is no
universal agreement on the exact meaning of ‘rights guaranteed by the First
Amendment.’ In its regulations for implementing the Privacy Act, OMB has di¬
rected that Federal agencies:
‘[i]n determining whether or not a particular activity constitutes the exercise
of a right “guaranteed by the First Amendment”, agencies will apply the broad¬
est reasonable Interpretation * * "
With regard to the requirements of the Privacy Act as they relate to the exer¬
cise of First Amendment rights, the “Guidelines” set forth the following general
“1. The Privacy Act does not distinguish between information acquired from
public sources and information acquired from nonpublic sources. However, public
activities—or those activities learned of from public sources such as press re¬
ports, public statements, or other media reports—may be reported if they might
impact on U.S. foreign relations.
“2. Information collected from nonpublic sources should be handled carefully.
“3. If the Department of post learns from nonpublic sources of activities of U.S.
citizens which may have a significant impact upon U.S. foreign relations, they
may be reported or retained.
“4. Whether the information comes from public or nonpublic sources, it should
be, to the greatest extent possible, reported or retained in a way which does not
identify U.S. citizens by name. For example, ‘A group of U.S. business representa¬
tives met last week with * • Names may be reported if they are necessary to
understand the activity or to assess its importance.
“5. Pure expression of an individual’s views, such as criticism of U.S. policy, is
not, of Itself, sufficient to justify reporting.
“6. Any first-hand information or reliable reports of activities of U.S. citizens
which may involve a violation of U.S. law should be reported and the citizens in¬
volved should be named. The Department will pass the information to the re¬
sponsible law enforcement agency. Mere rumors or gossip should not be reported.
Unless specifically authorized, the Department or post has no mandate to in¬
vestigate violations of U.S. law by U.S. citizens overseas.
“7. Officers should avoid characterizing the behavior of U.S. citizens and should
refrain from including other gratuitous remarka
“8. Generally, commercial information may be reported or retained, although it
should not Include irrelevant personal information about the U.S. citizens in¬
Question 21. Is that reduced in writing?
Answer. Yes. The material quoted above can be found in “Privacy Act Guide¬
lines,” compiled by the Department of State's Foreign Affairs Document and
Question 22. Has that been communicated in any way to embassy or consular
Answer. Yea Copies of the "Privacy Act Guidelines” have been widely dis¬
tributed within the Department and to overseas posts.
Question 2S. What specifically is being done to enhance the security of Members
of Congress when they travel ?
Answer. The Department requests Embassies overseas for an assessment of
the security situation for each Congressional delegation (CODEL) prior to de¬
parture from the United States. The Office of Security, in coordination with the
Office for Combatting Terrorism, notifies the Office of Congressional Relations
about any threat situation which would pertain to a congressional visit in ques¬
tion. The Office of Congressional Relations seeks to brief the head of the CODEL
as appropriate before departure, and Embassies are instructed to update and
brief travellers as appropriate enroute.
The protection of a Member of Congress abroad is the responsibility of the
host government. Security questions are raised directly with the host govern¬
ment where any threat is perceived to exist and, as appropriate, security protec¬
tion is requested of the host government.
Question 2lf. When making a threat assessment under the current procedures,
are intelligence agencies consulted?
Answer. The Office of Security (and/or the Bureau of Intelligence) consults
with intelligence agencies on threat assessments only when additional informa¬
tion is required, then in turn briefs the traveller. A total of approximately twelve
significant briefings have been provided to travellers directly by the Office of
Security and the Office for Combatting Terrorism during the past eighteen
Question 25. When making such a threat assessment, are the underlying docu¬
ments made available to the Congressional Delegation?
Answer. If a threat exists and the provisions of the document would be useful
in informing Members of Congress about conditions, they would be made avail¬
able for review by the Congressional Delegation.
Questions Submitted by Representative Bill Royer to Hon. Bar¬
bara M. Watson, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular
Affairs, and Responses Thereto
Question 1. What is your personal role in the threat assessment process?
Answer. Whenever a Congressional delegation is visiting a country where
there are consular problems of which the delegation should be aware it is stand¬
ard procedure for the Office of Congressional Relations to inform CA and ask for
our input. In most cases of Congressional travel consular issues are not involved.
Question 2. Is it your custom to discuss consular matters from time to time
with Ambassadors when they visit Washington?
Answer. Assistant Secretary Watson or her senior deputy meets with all am¬
bassadors and most principal officers proceeding to their post of assignment, as
well as with many ambassadors and principal officers on home leave or con¬
sultation in Washington. All of the constituent offices of CA (OCS, PPT and VO)
submit briefing papers on pertinent issues to CA for discussion during the briefing.
Question 8. How often do these visits typically occur in a year?
Answer. About 100 times a year. Thus far in 1980 Assistant Secretary Watson
or her senior deputy have briefed 26 principal officers.
Question 4. If you have such personal discussions with Ambassadors do you
encourage them to describe to you in graphic detail any specific problems they
Answer. The CA Bureau is keenly aware that if we do not have the broadest
possible understanding of the problems posts are confronting we cannot be fully
responsible to them. Assistant Secretary Watson encourages all of our ambassa¬
dors and other officers to be as candid and informative as possible and assures
them that within the limits of our own resources, we will support them to the
At the same time, Miss Watson impresses on these Ambassadors and other
senior officers the importance of their being personally aware of the consular
functions within their missions, and of becoming personally involved in serious
consular problems, particularly those dealing with United States citizens.
Question S. I assume you are aware of another group of Americans in Guyana
who call themselves the "House of Israel.” Have you received any communica¬
tions subsequent to your February 1979 cable with regard to this group? If so
Answer. To our knowledge none of the members of the nouse of Israel are
United States citizens except the leader, who calls himself "Rabbi” Washington.
We have received few communications on this group, and these primarily concern
the status of “Rabbi” Washington. Although we understand be is the subject of
an outstanding state warrant in the United States his extradition appears un¬
likely, since the state authorities issuing the warrant have declined to request
Question 6. Does the presence of this group pose to you any singular consular
or political problems in Guyana?
Answer. Excluding the potential extradition problem noted above, neither
"Rabbi" Washington nor his group have placed any singular consular demands on
the Embassy. Politically, we understand the group and its activities have been
the subject of some controversy within Guyana.
Question 7. Is there in effect now a process whereby consular officers who are
rotated back to Washington are debriefed?
Answer. Officers on consultation in Washington are expected and encouraged to
contact Department officers concerned with activities at their last post of assign¬
ment and they normally do so. The Consular Affairs Bureau has discussions with
many such officers every month.
Question 8. Was such a process followed when Mr. McCoy rotated back from
Guyana to Washington in August of 1978?
Answer. As indicated on page 71 of the Crimmins/Carpenter Report, Mr. McCoy
met with Assistant Secretary Watson on September 7, 1978 after Mr. McCoy had
become Desk Officer for Guyana. The report states that “they discussed coordina¬
tion between SCS and ARA/CAR in addition to general aspects of the Temple and
( 74 )
Letter From Hon. Dante B. Fascell, Chairman of the Subcommit¬
tee on International Operations, to Hon. Clement J. Zablocki,
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Requesting
That the Committee Review the Subcommittee Hearing Trans¬
scripts to Determine the Need for Further Action
March 10, 1980.
Hon. Clement J. Zablocki,
Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee, 2170 Rayburn House Office Build¬
ing, Washington, D.O.
Dear Mb. Chairman : The Subcommittee on International Operations recently
concluded two days of bearings on Implementation of recommendations made as
a result of our committee’s Inquiry into the Jonestown tragedy and a separate
Investigation by the Department of State. During our hearings, several witnesses
raised questions and made allegations regarding events leading up to the tragedy.
These statements were not related to the purpose of our subcommittee hearings,
but may merit further attention by the full committee. I request that you have the
Committee Investigative staff group review the February 20 and March 4, 1980
testimony before our subcommittee to determine whether any further Investiga¬
tion Is required.
Dante B. Fabcell,
Chairman, Subcommittee on
Letter From Hon. Clement J. Zablocki, Chairman of the Com¬
mittee on Foreign Affairs, to Hon. Dante B. Fascell, Chairman
of the Subcommittee on International Operations, Recommend¬
ing That the Committee Refer Certain Allegations Concerning
Jonestown to the House Permanent Select Committee on
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
House of Representatives,
Washington, D.C., March SI, 1980.
Hon. Dante B. Fascell,
Chairman, Subcommittee on International Operations,
Committee on Foreign Affairs, Washington, D.C.
Dear Dante: In further reference to my letter of March 18 I am enclosing the
Staff Investigative Group’s letter reporting on their review of your Subcom¬
mittee’s hearings on the Jonestown matter.
As you will note, the Staff Investigative Group's evaluation Is that your hear¬
ings, useful and informative as they were in many respects, did not produce
any substantive information which has not already been considered in the
The one qualified exception to that determination relates to various allega¬
tions regarding a possible CIA involvement, the details of which are outlined
in their letter. While noting that these allegations are largely speculative and
generally unsubstantiated, a fact conceded even by the witness who offers them,
the Staff Investigative Group recommends that these contentions be referred for
review to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence with subse¬
quent report to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
In particular I would underscore and endorse the Staff Investigative Group’s
belief that the recommendations in the Committee’s report require fuller imple¬
mentation, especially those requiring the action of appropriate Congressional
committees. To that end, I invite your continued support and the assistance of
all Members of Congress. In addition, you may wish to consider pursuing, as
appropriate, those elements of the report on your own witnesses’ comments and
suggestions regarding the actions of the Department of State before, during and
after the tragedy.
If you feel there is anything further I can do in this matter please do not
hesitate to contact me.
With best wishes, I am
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
House of Representatives,
Washington, D.C., March 28, 1980.
Hon. Clement J. Zablocki,
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives,
Dear Mr. Chairman : Pursuant to your directive, we have carefully reviewed
the transcripts of the February 20 and March 4 hearings of the International
Operations Subcommittee on the Jonestown matter. On the basis of that review
we have reached the following conclusions:
1. The testimony and questioning did not generate any substantive informa¬
tion which has not already been considered in the Committee’s investigation as
contained in our report of May 15,1979.
( 76 )
2. Various allegations voiced during the Subcommittee’s hearings regarding
possible CIA Involvement were examined by the Staff Investigative Group,
resulting In the findings contained on page 21 of the Committee report. However,
In view of the persistence of these allegations we believe It would be appropriate
to refer them for review to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelli¬
gence, with a report on findings made to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Recognizing, as do Subcommittee witnesses, that these Jonestown-related al¬
legations are largely speculative and unsubstantiated, the Select Committee
should examine among others the following :
(а) The contention that the CIA conducted a varied range of “activities”
(б) The contention that a CIA agent witnessed Representative Ryan’s
(o) The contention that the CIA may have violated the Hughes-Ryan Act
by failing to report a covert operation in Guyana;
(d) The contention that the CIA made a conscious decision to allow the
tragic events of November 18, 1978 to occur in order to avoid disclosure of
CIA covert activities in Guyana ;
(e) The contention that this alleged reporting failure was conscious and
calculated because Representative Ryan was a coauthor of the Hughes-Ryan
(/) The contention that the CIA was used to promote and protect Ameri¬
can commercial interests in Guyana.
3. The transcripts of the Committee’s investigation were classified “confiden¬
tial" for the security of the witnesses and to maximize the accuracy and scope of
the Information they provided. Because those considerations will dissipate with
the passage of time, we believe the classification should be removed by January 1,
1985, assuming the formal agreement of the witnesses. We believe such an action
would not only complement the recommendations of our own report but also
serve important scholarly studies.
4. As to allegations that Jim Jones had previously Instructed Sharon Amos
to shoot the pilot of the airplane which flew Representative Ryan to Jonestown,
this matter appears to be within the purview of the Department of Justice's
Investigation into a possible People’s Temple conspiracy to kill Mr. Ryan, and
should therefore be referred to the Department of Justice.
Aside from these conclusions we believe that the Subcommittee’s hearings
have reinforced the importance of Implementing the various recommendations
of the Committee’s Investigative report. As you know, although this Committee
has undertaken a strenuous effort to achieve such implementation, especially
with Congressional Committees which have jurisdiction in such areas as the
Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, and Internal Revenue Service regula¬
tions, little has actually been accomplished.
We trust you find this evaluation and analysis of the Subcommittee’s hearings
useful and Informative.
Ivo Spalatin, Staff Director,
Subcommittee on International Security
and Scientific Affaire.
Geobge R. Besdes,
Thomas R. Smeeton,
Minority Staff Consultant.
Letter From Hon. Clement J. Zablocki, Chairman or the Commit¬
tee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. William S. Broomfield, Hon. Dante
B. Fascell, and Hon. John H. Buchanan, Members of the
CoMMITEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, TO HON. EDWARD P. BOLAND, CHAIR¬
MAN of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,. TTi> 0 .
ing the Select Committee To Review Certain Allegations Con¬
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
House or Representatives,
Washington, D.O., April 8, 1980.
Hon. Edward P. Boland,
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,
Room H405, The Capitol,
Dear Mr. Chairman : Following the tragic assassination of oor fellow col¬
league, Representative Leo J. Ryan, Chairman Clement J. Zablocki appointed a
Staff Investigative Group to conduct a comprehensive inquiry Into the inter¬
national relations aspects of the activities of the People’s Temple, the tragic
events that led to the murder of Representative Leo J. Ryan and other members of
his party, and the mass suicide/murder of the followers of People’s Temple that
occurred in Jonestown, Guyana on November 18,1978.
After a six-month investigation, the Staff Investigative Group (SIG) pre¬
sented its findings and recommendations in a report to the Committee on For¬
eign Affairs on May 15,1979, a copy of which is enclosed for your perusal.
As a part of this Committee's commitment to oversee implementation of those
SIG recommendations which are under its legislative jurisdiction, Representa¬
tive Dante B. Fascell, Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Opera¬
tions, conducted public hearings on February 20 and March 4 to determine what
additional action may be required. Based on these hearings and subsequent re¬
view by the SIG, it is our conclusion that—with one exception—these hearings
did not produce any substantive information which has not already been con¬
sidered in this Committee’s investigation.
That one exception relates to various allegations regarding a possible CIA
involvement, which fall within the purview of the House Permanent Select Com¬
mittee on Intelligence. Accordingly, we respectfully urge your Committee to
review these allegations and to report your findings to the Committee on Foreign
With best wishes, we are
Clement J. Zablocki,
William S. Broomfield,
Ranking Minority Member.
Dante B. Fascell,
on International Operations.
John H. Buchanan, Jr.,
Ranking Minority Member,
Subcommittee on International Operations.