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Author Jim Hougan on the CIA and the Jonestown Massacre & a Summary of Survivors vs. CIA Lawsuits

Alex Constantine - January 15, 2014

Photo: Jynona Norwood, (R), her sister Junna Norwood (2-R) and their grand-daugther Julana, aged three comfort each other as Reverend Dr. Amos Brown (C) says a prayer after the unveiling of Jonestown Memorial wall during the 30th annual anniversary service marking the Jonestown/People Temple Massacre in Guyana at the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California, USA 18 November 2008.

"The CIA became involved with Jim Jones way before he moved to California - it all started with Dan Mitrione ..."

The 35th Anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre

Jim Hougan’s take on the Jonestown Massacre

VOR, December 27, 2013

Download audio file

The opinions expressed below are those of the interviewee and not necessarily those of VOR America.

“People who think of Jonestown fall into two different groups - those who support the mainstream story and those who believe that CIA is behind the massive suicide.”

“We should understand that those people who died in Jonestown were murdered, according to the autopsy report performed 35 years ago. They have not taken the drug willingly but had it forcibly injected into them.

“When so many people died in Jonestown the State Department sent many doctors, including psychiatrists to Guyana who in their interviews later were saying that the Jonestown is a mind cult who were told to kill themselves.”

“In reality, on the very last night the people were surrounded by the shotguns and those who tried to escape were killed right away. Dr Mootoo was the only doctor who performed the autopsy and his findings were explicit: he said that hypodermic needles were laying all around and when he cut open the bodies on the ground he said that most of them had needle marks on their shoulders as if they have been forcibly injected.”

“Jim Jones as a speaker was extremely powerful, not like one would imagine, very seductive. He is a great seducer and certainly some people did commit suicide there because Jones told them so, but they were a minority.

The CIA became involved with Jim Jones way before he moved to California - it all started with Dan Mitrione, a police officer from Richmond, Indiana. The CIA file was opened on Jones when he made a trip to Brazil where he went to study mass conversion techniques followed by Jones. Two years later Mitrione was killed and thats when CIA stopped looking into Jones's personality. That's how they created a "Frankenstein" - the monster they could not control who killed 900 Americans.”

“Jones and his followers attempted to use Soviet Union and the cold war as the exercise in obtaining leverage over the American government by threatening to create what would be a huge cold war embarrassment.”

“One of the tragedies of Jonestown was that the work and living conditions were horrible there - and the reason for that was very, very simple: Jones hid all the money. He had millions of dollars on his secret bank accounts. But Jones just won't allow them to spend it.”

What happened in Jonestown was not spontaneous - Jones definitely knew they were going to attack congressional delegation and he knew they are going to demand that everyone commit suicide that night.”

“I think Jones realized that what was going to happen was that he was going to be exposed on many different levels as a result of the interest of the press and relatives to Jonestown temple and as a result of congressmen Ryan's visit. Not only he would go to jail, but also become exposed and disgraced as a predator that he was. And it would probably come to light that he was working secretly for the FBI for the number of years, and then CIA with Mitrione. And that would have discredited him completely in the eyes of the people whose admiration he most wanted - the people who were working for him. He was trying to protect his reputation with his followers. He was a megalomaniac!”


Summary of Lawsuits Filed by Jonestown Survivors against the CIA

We the Mighty, December 23, 2022

Things started off well enough in the settlement, but after Jones himself migrated there, life became harsh and unsustainable. Reports of mistreatment, torture and imprisonment force Congressman Leo Ryan to fly to Guyana to investigate Jones and the cult encampment. After inspecting the site, Ryan was assassinated by cult members as he attempted to fly home.

Then, in 1978, Jones forced more than 900 members of the People’s Temple to drink poisoned Flavor Aid, including the children of Temple members, at gunpoint. Jones took his own life with a pistol.

In the days that followed, some of the relatives of the Jonestown victims filed a lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency, claiming it was the CIA, not Jim Jones, who was practicing mind control in the jungles of Guyana.

The children of the fallen Congressman first sued the CIA, claiming it knew in advance that Jonestown had received shipments of drugs and guns and that violence was an ongoing issue there. These are all factors that might have made Ryan reconsider his visit, had he known. The Ryan family claimed the U.S. State Department knew these things, as did the U.S. Embassy in Guyana.

Their claim was that the CIA was complicit in the settlement as part of its ongoing MKULTRA program, a “massive mind control experiment.” Keeping the program a secret was a factor that superseded any interest in protecting Rep. Ryan’s life. As a result, the Jonestown settlement was filled with CIA operatives. They also claimed the U.S. government was as guilty for Ryan’s death as the Jonestown gunmen were.

By 1981, more lawsuits were filed by survivors of the massacre and family members of victims against then-Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and former CIA director Stanfield Turner. They believed the agency was targeting the cult for their socialist and communist beliefs. The lawsuit alleged that Jones was an agent of the CIA and had been since 1963.

Also charged in the suit were former Attorney General Griffin Bell, Rep. Clement Zablocki, Ambassador to Guyana John R. Burke, Deputy Chief of Missions in Guyana Richard A. Dwyer and other members of the State Department and U.S. Customs Service.

Other sources claimed Jones was a childhood friend of U.S. government official Dan Mitrione, an American torture expert who trained South American governments and rebel groups in torture and interrogation techniques. Mitrione was recruited by the CIA in 1960. Though Mitrione was killed in 1970, many believe he was Jones’ first link to the CIA.

In the end, the Ryan Family’s lawsuit was mysteriously dropped for reasons that are still unknown today. The families and relatives who sued the cult were successful in gathering funds dispersed throughout Central and South America, winning various sums, but no suit against the United States ever went to trial.

The Federal Government also sued the Peoples Temple, to recover the more than $4 million spent on the U.S. military mission to gather the American dead from the Jonestown site and repatriate their remains to the United S

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