913 people died in Jonestown, a small compound carved out of the jungles of Guyana, a small country on the northeast coast of South America. The media at the time reported that it was a fanatical group of followers of the Rev. Jim Jones, lead to the jungles of South America to get away from the oppression of life here in America. They also reported that his followers willingly followed their leader into the great beyond by sipping on some cyanide cocktails, laced with purple Kool-Aid. In fact, the notion of a mass suicide at Jonestown has been repeated so many times that it is accepted as fact, and the association is so strong that when most people hear “Jonestown,” the first thing which pops in their head is “Kool-Aid.” This association is false.
The source of the “Kool-Aid Suicide” stories was the U.S. State Department, which presented the story immediately after the “suicides” were reported as though it was the only obvious truth. A U.S. Army spokesman pronounced with complete authority, “No autopsies are needed. The cause of death is not an issue here.” The bodies were then allowed to rot in the jungle. Despite the lack of need for autopsies, Dr. C. Leslie Mootoo, the top Guyanese pathologist, was at Jonestown hours after the deaths, and, refusing the assistance of U.S. pathologists, accompanied the teams that examined the bodies. His conclusions? Dr. Mootoo found fresh needle marks at the back of the left shoulder blades on 80 to 90 percent of the victims. Others had been shot or strangled. A surviving witness stated that those who resisted were forced by armed guards to comply. Dr. Mootoo’s opinion, and that of the Guyanese grand jury investigating Jonestown, was that all but three (only two of which were suicides) were murdered by “persons unknown.”
The original death count was 408 (an odd number to use if the number was an estimate), with the added claim that 700 had fled into the jungle. The final total was changed to 913. To explain this rather minor difference in arithmetic, American authorities first explained that those backward ignorant Guyanese “could not count.” Perhaps because the first “official” explanation of the bad math was so insulting, it was then proposed that they missed a pile of bodies, as if a pile of dead bodies is something that is easily overlooked. Finally, the official explanation that settled the whole question was presented: Bodies were stacked on top of each other.
Of the 150 photos taken of the massacre, not one shows any body lying under any others. Those who first worked on the bodies, to release the gasses of decay, had to puncture the dead, making it unlikely that they missed anyone. These facts aside, one must wonder how 408 bodies — 82 belonging to children — could cover 505 others. Talk about bad math. With minor exceptions, pictures show the dead were found in neat rows, face down. The pictures also show drag marks leading to the bodies, indicating that victims were murdered elsewhere and placed there by someone else.
These facts have lead to a more likely conclusion: 408 was indeed the correct original body count. The other 505 were hunted down and slaughtered, then dragged back. But who would do such a thing, and why? Furthermore, why were American officials giving such deceptive answers about Jonestown? To answer these questions, one must unravel the mystery of a man named Jim Jones. Jones became a Bible-thumping “faith healer,” using wet chicken livers as evidence of cancer which he removed by “divine powers.”
He adopted eight children, some black, some white. Already the stench of criminal activity surrounded him, and his landlady referred to him as “a gangster who used the Bible instead of a gun.” Fortunately for Jones, the local police chief at the time was Dan Mitrione, a friend from childhood. Mitrione kept him from being arrested or run out of town. Mitrione would later enter the International Police Academy, a CIA front for training counterinsurgency and torture techniques.
Despite having few sources for known funds, Jones found enough money to travel with his wife and family to Brazil in 1961. Coincidentally, Mitrione was there as well, having advanced quickly in the IPA. Mitrione had honed his skills at torture and assassination by practicing on kidnapped beggars. He himself was later kidnapped and murdered by guerrillas in Uruguay, an incident which became the basis of the Costa Gavras film State of Siege. Jones made regular trips to Belo Horizonte, site of CIA headquarters in Brazil — and Mitrione’s town of residence.
Apparently, this wasn’t the only curious intelligence link to Jones. He told some of his neighbors that he was involved in the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence. The U.S. embassy provided Jones with transportation, groceries, and a large home. Considering his dear friendship to Mitrione and the funding of “ministries” in Latin America by the CIA, the theory that Jones was a U.S. intelligence asset makes quite a bit of sense.
In any case, according to his neighbor, Jones “lived like a rich man.” Soon after the JFK assassination, Jones returned to the states with $10,000. In 1965, he formed the first People’s Temple in Ukiah, California, and set up Happy Havens Rest Home. Without trained personnel or proper licensing, Jones’ camp drew in prisoners, the elderly, people from mental institutions, and 150 foster children, many of whom were transferred by court order. Among those who contacted him: “missionaries” from World Vision (an international evangelical order that often fronts for the CIA); the local chapter head to the John Birch Society; and leaders of the Republican party, for whom his “church” members conducted voter organization and fund-raising activities for the Dick Nixon ’68 campaign. Jones’ advisors included a mercenary from UNITA, the CIA-backed Angola army. Also jumping on board was the Layton family, whose patriarch, U.C.-Berkeley chemist Dr. Laurence Laird Layton, had worked on the Manhattan Project. Dr. Layton was also chief of the Army’s Chemical Warfare Division in the early 1950’s. (Mrs. Layton was the daughter of Hugo Phillips, a German banker/stockbroker who became rich representing Siemans & Halske and I.G. Farben, two notorious Nazi Holocaust profiteers.)
Despite his rather right-wing background, Jones suddenly declared himself a liberal socialist — in fact, he called himself a dual reincarnation of both Jesus Christ and Lenin. At this point, a cloud of suspicion began to gather around his church, which was staffed by jack-booted armed thugs who dressed in black uniforms.
Jones took everything he could from his followers, much of it in the form of welfare and social security checks, using blackmail, extortions, and any other available means. The local press reported about seven mysterious deaths of those who attempted to leave the “church” due to conflicts with Jones. Accusations of kidnapping, beatings, and sexual abuse began to circulate. To escape controversy, Jones moved to San Francisco and became an important fundraiser for the Bay area political establishment. Soon, he was schmoozing with the liberal and radical elite, meeting with (among others) Rosalynn Carter and Angela Davis.
Jones was rewarded by being put in charge of the city Housing Commission, and key followers were awarded jobs in the Welfare Department. The bulk of Jones’ flock came from the unemployed and dispossessed people found there. The cult preyed on the poor and helpless, going out of its way to enlist women, children and minorities. Many members were recruited directly from San Francisco mental hospitals. However, the move to San Francisco did little to quiet the controversy surrounding his “church,” and a 1977 expose put Jones on the defensive. He then moved his Utopia to Guyana, aided once again by the U.S. Embassy. After receiving complaints lodged by relatives of cult members, Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown on November 18, 1978 to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. Congressman Ryan, a noted CIA critic, had authored the Hughes-Ryan Amendment, which would have required the CIA to disclose to Congress — in advance — details of all covert operations. The State department offered Ryan no answers or assistance, despite numerous inquiries. He arrived with U.S. embassy official Richard Dwyer, as well as some journalists. Among the reporters was Tim Reiterman, who had covered the Patty Hearst story for the San Francisco Examiner.
In all likelihood, Ryan already suspected what was really going on at Jonestown. That was when all hell broke loose.
At the airstrip, Leo Ryan soon became the first congressman to die in the line of duty, along with four reporters. (The Hughes-Ryan Amendment was killed in Congress soon afterwards.) The assassins were described by witnesses as “glassy eyed,” “mechanically-walking zombies,” and “devoid of any emotion.” Dwyer (video above indicates Dwyer actually left before the tractor arrived and the shooting began) and Reiterman were also shot. Soon after that, the mass slaughter began. A plausible explanation for the events that unfolded is that Jim Jones (or someone else) ordered the murders after Ryan’s unexpected visit threatened to expose what was happening. In the chaos that followed, a mass extermination was carried out.
Just who were the zombie assassins? Well, besides the 913 dead, 167 survivors returned from the camp. All news reports concede that there were at least 1100 individuals at the camp (and most reports place the number at 1200.) Who are these 200 or more people unaccounted for? The survivors report that there was a special all-white group that was well-armed, well-treated and free to exit the compound. These guards were never accounted for by any news reports.
Perhaps it is these same guards (assuming the total population was 1200) whom a congressional aide was referring to in an Associated Press quote which stated, “There are 120 white, brainwashed assassins out from Jonestown awaiting the trigger word to pick up their hit.” Of course, they may have had a little help. Over 300 U.S. Green Berets — trained for CIA covert assassinations — were in the area at the time. So were nearly 600 British Black Watch commandos, who were in Guyana conducting a “training exercise.” Suddenly, the death toll seems relatively low. The killings didn’t stop in Guyana. Nine days later, San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were slain by Dan White, who was either a “disgruntled police agent” or someone who was “angry about gays.” These explanations were supplied to explain his utterly irrational behavior during the killings; sure enough, he was described as being in a bizarre “zombie state.” During White’s trial, his lawyers came up with the inventive but deservedly mocked “Twinkie defense,” in which they claimed he went insane during a sugar high induced by eating too many sweets. Moscone and Milk received substantial financial backing from Jim Jones during his stay by the Bay; afterwards they were both investigated in connection to missing funds from the People’s Temple. That is, until a “lone gunman” took them out.
Michael Prokes, a Jones aide, held a press conference and stated that the CIA and FBI were withholding an audiotape of the massacre. He also stated that he was an FBI informant. Right after that, he went to the restroom… and never left. His death was proclaimed a “suicide.” In Georgetown, several more Temple members were killed following the Guyana massacre. The man charged with the murders, Charles Beikman, was an early follower of Jones who had become an “adopted son.” Beikman was also a Green Beret.
Jeanne and Al Mills, who were writing a book on Jonestown, were bound and shot to death at their home. In Detroit another survivor was killed near his home, and yet another was involved in a mass murder of school children in Los Angeles. Ironically, the dead may not have included Jim Jones himself. The body alleged to be his didn’t show his tattoos in the photographs. Fingerprints had to be checked twice, and his dental records were never looked at. He was known to use doubles. As the massacre unfolded, Jones can be heard on a tape recording yelling, “Get Dwyer out of here!” Richard Dwyer was later found at the airstrip, methodically washing his hands. In 1968, Dwyer was listed in the publication Who’s Who in the CIA. When asked if the allegation was true, he replied, “No comment.”
Of course, Dwyer wasn’t the only link to the CIA in Guyana. Besides those previously mentioned, U.S. ambassador John Burke and another official named Richard McCoy were both heavily involved with the intelligence community. The U.S. embassy in Georgetown also housed the Georgetown CIA station. At the time, Guyana had a socialist government, and thus was a likely target for covert operations. Dan Webber, sent to Guyana after the massacre, was also with the CIA. The “official” attorney for the survivors, Joseph Blatchford, was involved in a scandal involving CIA infiltration of the Peace Corps. Then we have the missing money that just “disappeared” after the slaughter. Conservative estimates place the amount at $26 million. Others place it at $2 billion. At the time, a major international money laundering operation was headquartered in Italy, involving the Vatican and a fascist quasi-Masonic lodge known as the P-2, or Propaganda Duo. (This operation probably led to the murder of Pope John Paul I — but that’s another conspiracy.) The CIA-linked P-2 had a major operation located in Panama, not too far from Jonestown.
Add in the FBI files on the Black Panthers and Weathermen found at the site, an attempt to lure Mark Lane (JFK assassination critic and James Earl Ray lawyer, among other things) and Donald Freed (Lane’s sometime JFK collaborator and recent Simpson case investigator who has linked the Brentwood murders to Mafia in the L.A. underworld) to Guyana (which succeeded in having Lane witness the airstrip murders after Jones hired him as a lawyer), and a bizarre plot to kidnap Grace Walden Stephens (a key Martin Luther King assassination witness) and smuggle her to Jonestown, and you have the makings of a full fledge spook operation.
One of the strangest CIA connections to Jonestown was the previously mentioned World Vision, an evangelical order which often fronts for the CIA. They performed espionage work for the CIA in Southeast Asia while Operation Phoenix (the murderous project that left 40,000 people dead) was in full effect. In Honduras, they maintained a presence at CIA contra recruiting camps in the war against the Sandinistas. In Lebanon, the fascist Phalange butchered Palestinians at World Vision’s camp. In Cuba, their refugee camps hosted numerous members of the anti-Castro terrorist group Alpha 66 of Bay of Pigs fame. After the Guyana massacre, World Vision developed a scheme to repopulate Jonestown with CIA-linked mercenaries from Laos. Laos, of course, was where the CIA was running it’s “secret war” during Vietnam, which for the most part was a smokescreen for a widespread opium trafficking operation.
One particularly important World Vision official was John Hinckley, Sr., an oil man, reputed CIA officer, and friend of George Bush. You may have heard of his son. Less than four months before Hinckley Jr. became known as Jodie Foster’s biggest fan, another member of the World Vision order, Mark Chapman, gunned down John Lennon in what may have been a practice run for the bigger hit on President Reagan. One of the policeman who found him was convinced that he was a mind-controlled assassin. Chapman was clutching a copy of the novel Catcher in the Rye, which was also owned by John Hinckley Jr. (The book was written by J.D. Salinger, who worked in military intelligence with Henry Kissinger during World War II.) Before going to trial, Chapman plead guilty after a voice in his head (which he attributed it to God) commanded him to do so.
WHEN THE BODIES WERE SHIPPED BACK TO AMERICA, THERE WERE NO AUTOPSIES DONE, THEY WERE BURIED, AND THE FAMILIES WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE THEM.
Considering the history of World Vision and what went on previously in Guyana, it is possible that the real purpose behind repopulating Jonestown was to create another breeding ground for brainwashed zombies like Chapman and Hinckley. Nearby Jonestown there was a place called Hilltown, a compound of 8,000 blacks that followed cult leader Rabbi David Hill, who held his flock with an iron fist. Hill had so much power that he was referred to as the “vice prime minister” of Guyana. There was also another place in Guyana called “Johnstown,” as well as similar operations in the Phillipines and Chile. It appears that Jonestown (and World Vision’s later attempt) is hardly the exception to the rule of using obscure locations in Third World nations as laboratories for covert cult operations. The Jonestown site in Guyana was originally a Union Carbide mine, and was loaded with an abundance of precious natural resources. It is very likely that the site was chosen to exploit these resources with cheap labor — and cheap labor was plentiful.
Members of Jim Jones’ “church” were bound and gagged immediately after landing in Guyana and taken to the compound. They were pumped with drugs, which were available in vast amounts at Jonestown — enough to drug 200,000 people for more than a year. Among the drugs found there: Quaaludes, Valium, morphine, Demerol, Thorazine (a dangerous tranquilizer), sodium pentathol (a truth serum), chloral hydrate (a hypnotic chemical agent), thallium (which confuses thinking), and, of course, cyanide. Jonestown residents lived in cramped quarters and ate meager rations of often spoiled food. They were then forced to give 16 to 18 hours of slave labor per day. When they weren’t working, they were required to stay up day and night listening to Jim Jones lecture.
Among the charming punishments the flock endured were forced druggings, sensory deprivation in an underground box, physical torture, and public sexual rape and humiliation, not to mention your average ordinary beatings and verbal abuse. All of the drugs and environmental conditions forced upon Jonestown residents were also employed in the CIA’s notorious MKULTRA program, which was implemented to test and implement brainwashing and mind control techniques. A 1974 government report admitted that certain “target populations” were used, namely blacks, women, prisoners, the elderly, children, and inmates of psychiatric wards. The Center for the Study and Reduction of Violence, using the research of Strangelovian doctors Jose Delgado and Louis “Jolly” West, drew guinea pigs from the “target populations” to test drugs, implants, and psychosurgery techniques at an isolated military missile base in California. The dead at Jonestown were 90% women, 80% black, and included 276 children.
Which leads us back to Auschwitz and the ultimate deja vu. Auschwitz, after all, was not just a death camp: It was also a slave labor camp for Nazi military-industrial monolith I.G. Farben. There, the outcasts and refuse of society who no one cared about faced similar abuses, while an elite few profited from their misery. The brains behind the Final Solution became the brains behind MKULTRA. The MK is often said to stand for “Mind Kontrol” — representing the Germanic origins of the project. Going the full ten yards, however, it is possible that MK merely stands for “Mein Kampf”.Congressman Ryan probably suspected that Jonestown was a front for sinister covert activity. In 1980, Ryan aide Joseph Holsinger received a paper entitled “The Penal Colony,” which explained that CIA MKULTRA operations did not terminate in 1973, as officially proclaimed, but instead continued in public hospitals, prisons, and religious cults which were used as fronts. Holsinger later stated at a San Francisco psychology forum on Jonestown that he believed the CIA worked with Jones to perform medical and mind control experiments at People’s Temple. If Congressman Ryan had not been killed — a big if — many skeletons in the CIA’s closet may have been exposed.
Michael Meiers, author of “Was Jonestown a CIA Medical Experiment?” had this to say: “The Jonestown experiment was conceived by Dr. Layton, staffed by Dr. Layton and financed by Dr. Layton. It was as much his project as it was Jim Jones’s.” Layton, remember, was head of the Army’s Chemical Warfare Division. Former Temple member Joyce Shaw wondered if Jonestown was “some kind of horrible government experiment, or some sort of sick, racist thing… a plan like that of the Germans, to exterminate blacks.” In October 1981, Jonestown survivors filed a $63 million lawsuit against Jonestown-era Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and CIA director Stansfield Turner. The suit stated that the State Department and CIA conspired to “enhance the economic and political powers of James Warren Jones,” conducting “mind control and drug experimentation” there. The suit was dismissed four months later for “failure to prosecute timely,” and all requests for appeal were denied. (Turner would become a director of Monsanto, now best known for providing the world with the brain-damaging, cancer causing poison bearing the innocuous moniker “NutraSweet”.)
All this, of course, is forgotten in official accounts of the events at Jonestown. Instead, the more palatable — but less accurate — version of the Jonestown story blames the victims, echoing the ignorant grunt uttered by Pete Hamill, who dismissed the dead as “all the loose change of the sixties.”Hanging over Jonestown was a mocking sign that proclaimed, “THOSE WHO DO NOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT.” One of the most elegant slogans of Holocaust survivors is “Never forget.” Jonestown makes it clear that, no matter how well meaning, all these slogans are but words. Never forget? We obviously already have. That Jonestown could unfold before our eyes without the realization of precisely what was going on says volumes. Certainly the blame falls partly at the feet of a powerful military-industrial complex that feels no shame for its deeds, and certainly partly at a Korporate Media that has become the witting mouthpiece (and collaborator) for this same cabal.
But ultimately, the blame falls at the feet of the people, their brains dulled by sitcoms and soap operas, their reality gradually drawn within the boundaries of the cathode ray tube. By the time the Guyana massacre rolled around, the masses were too ignorant and apathetic to know or care about the truth. Instead, they swallowed the official version and waited obediently for the next big lie.
What’s worse, the truth itself has become untenable. Instead of outrage and calls for justice, attacks are most often leveled at those who openly question the official account of the Jonestown massacre. Witness the treatment of Gary Webb (of CIA/contra/crack fame) by his editors and fellow journalists. Or try bringing up Jonestown in polite company and see the kind of response you get.
Could the Holocaust happen again? It already has, and will continue to happen. One wonders if it ever really ended.
BELOW: Harrison Smith exposes the truth behind Jonestown and the terrifying parallels we can see playing out in our current society: