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Posts Tagged ‘COINTEL’

Carl Shoffler, Robert Merritt and the Scandal That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Friday, July 22nd, 2011


Nearly 40 years after the Watergate arrests, a former police spy has published a book in which he makes extraordinary claims about the FBI’s COINTEL program and, just as sensationally, the supposed dismantling of the Nixon Administration by a Pentagon spy-ring.

Watergate Exposed is the biography of a “Confidential Informant” named Robert Merritt, as told to one of the lawyers for the Watergate burglars.  It is not a very good book, or even a very reliable one.  But it may be a mistake to ignore it.  Among other things, Merritt claims to have tipped off the police in advance of the June 17th Watergate break-in, to have participated with police and Pentagon agents in the drugging, kidnapping and blackmailing of a senior CIA lawyer, while also having a hand in the poisoning of antiwar demonstrators.


Robert Merritt

The story begins in the tradition of the bildungsroman, with the young Merritt leaving an unhappy home in West Virginia, only to wash up at a Trailways bus station in the nation’s capital.  A good-looking kid with few, if any, moral inhibitions, it was apparently only a matter of minutes before he concluded a sex-for-hospitality arrangement with an employee at the bus station.  With his domestic situation efficiently sorted, Merritt then went looking for more gainful employment, and soon found it as a post-mortem technician in a local hospital.  His job?  Removing the hearts from the cadavers of children for use in a government study.

The work seems not to have bothered him overly much.  He toiled at it for two years before he found what became his life’s calling.  In January, 1970, while cruising the city’s “artsy” Dupont Circle neighborhood, Merritt attracted the attention of an undercover police detective named Carl Shoffler.

No ordinary cop, Shoffler was a born conspirator, forever setting traps for the wicked.  Affable and very intelligent, he was a veteran of the Army Security Agency and its “listening post” at the Vint Hill Farm station in Northern Virginia.  Working closely with the National Security Agency (NSA), Vint Hill was an antennae farm whose classified mission was to intercept Soviet Bloc radio transmissions – as well as communications among antiwar organizations, radical groups and left-wing think-tanks headquartered in the capital.

To an undercover cop like Shoffler, whose official responsibilities shifted between Vice and Intelligence, Merritt was quite the prize.

Undercover police detective Carl Shoffler.

Here, it should be recalled that the times were virtually radioactive.  Two months before Merritt and Shoffler hooked up, more than half-a-million demonstrators braved tear-gas in the streets of Washington to protest the Vietnam war.  Soon afterwards, college students were gunned down by National Guardsmen on the campus of Kent State University.  The antiwar movement, already white-hot, exploded.  So did the Army Mathematics Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin, where a cabal of students and townies detonated a van-load of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, inadvertently killing a graduate student who was working late that night.  In Washington, the Weather Underground detonated their own bomb – inside the Capitol itself.  Student riots became routine throughout the country, and to many people – Left, Right and Center -  it seemed like the wheels were coming off.

All of which combined to make Robert Merritt something of a find.  A gay street kid with long hair and very little “hold-back,” he could be relied upon to help Shoffler and his colleagues “infiltrate, expose, disrupt and discredit” dissident groups and their leaders.  That was the mandate of secret government undertakings to which Shoffler and his cohort were a party – illegal operations like the COINTEL program and the CIA’s Operation CHAOS.  In Washington, the Institute for Policy Studies was subjected to surveillance, infiltration, and disruption.  So were the Red House Bookstore and underground newspapers like the The Quicksilver Times.  Even the restrooms – especially the restrooms – came under surveillance.  At least the ones at Dupont Circle did.

Some of this was business as usual.  Washington’s gay community had been of special interest to the police and the feds since the Second World War.  For more than 20 years, the Washington Police Department’s Lt. Roy Blick compiled thousands of dossiers on the city’s “perverts.”  Testifying before a Senate subcommittee in 1950, “Blick described parties raided, officials high and low arrested, and ended with a real shocker,” Newsweek reported.  “’There are some 5,000 homosexuals in the District of Columbia,’ he testified, ‘and 3,750 of them work for the government.’”

Of particular interest were people of influence – wayward lawyers and politicians, judges and businessmen – and their families.  Male and female prostitutes and their clients were  also targeted, and the results shared with both the FBI and the Security Research Staff at the CIA.  That the dossiers were sometimes put to political use is undeniable, their compilation justified on the grounds that homosexuals were a national security threat.


Shoffler became Blick’s protege during the 1960s – and soon was known within the Department as “Little Blick.”  He seems to have “inherited” many of his namesake’s files when the latter retired and, like Blick, liaised regularly with his FBI and CIA counterparts.

And not just his counterparts.  If we can believe Merritt, Shoffler was also in touch with White House counsel John Dean.

This will give Watergate aficionados pause.  There are those of us who believe that Dean unilaterally ordered the Watergate break-in.  If then, it should turn out that in the weeks and months leading up to the break-in, Dean was meeting with the police officer who would eventually make the Watergate arrests, we will have arrived at an interesting and previously unknown intersectiion in the affair.

That said, it must be noted Merritt’s recollection of the supposed Shoffler-Dean meeting(s) is not in his book.  It’s a story he recounted on a radio program while attempting to publicize that book.  As Merritt tells it, he accompanied Shoffler to a soiree at the Old Stein restaurant in April, 1972.  This was two months before the Watergate break-ins and, according to Merritt, those in attendance included John Dean and a temblor of “military brass.”  Elsewhere, Merritt claims that he first met Dean before an antiwar demonstration in the capital.  He’d met up with Shoffler who was on his way to a meeting with a man the detective would only identify as “J.D.”  An antiwar demonstration was in the offing, and J.D. – whom Merritt later recognized as John Dean -  was seated in a parked car near Dupont Circle.  Merritt says he didn’t give the introduction much thought, until recently.

Why Shoffler would have brought Merritt to a kaffee-klatch of high-ranking military officers is unclear, and seems unlikely.  Still, it is not entirely beyond the realm of possibility that Shoffler would have introduced Merritt to Dean if, in fact, Shoffler was liaising with Dean.  And perhaps he was.  Antiwar demonstrations were a part of Dean’s brief at the White House, and he is known to have kept track of them.  It is at least possible, then, that he and Shoffler met from time to time to compare notes.

But revelations like these drive Merritt’s amenuensis, Douglas Caddy, crazy.

Douglas Caddy

Merritt and Caddy were in regular contact for years about the book.  Indeed, the book is Robert Merritt’s story as told to Douglas Caddy, who also added a thoughtful and interesting Prologue and Afterward.  The problem Caddy now has with the book is that some of Merritt’s most significant and/or outrageous claims are nowhere to be found in it.  They only came out when Merritt began to publicize the book, whereupon he did what Confidential Informants almost always do: he became an unstoppable raconteur.  And in so doing, he may well have embellished the tale to make it even more interesting (though this has yet to be demonstrated).

Caddy’s interest in the affair would seem to be transparent.  He worked with Howard Hunt at the Robert R. Mullen Company, a Washington-based PR firm that served, also, as a CIA cover and looked after Howard Hughes’s interests in the capital.

So it was that immediately after the Watergate arrests, Hunt contacted Caddy, urging him to represent the burglars at their arraignment.  Because Caddy’s new clients were mystery-men with fake IDs and refused to answer questions, the curiosity of the U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI and the cops was piqued.

And so the court brought pressure upon Caddy himself.

Subpoena’d to appear before a grand jury, Caddy at first refused to answer questions about how he had come to be involved in the case, invoking the attorney-client privilege.  Judge John Sirica promptly cited the lawyer for contempt.  Confronted with jail-time, Caddy relented, which meant that he was forced to testify as a witness against his own clients.

To Caddy’s way of thinking, this was not necessarily a bad thing.  Sirica’s order was so outrageous that if Caddy’s clients should be convicted, the case would likely be overturned on appeal.  In the event, however, this analysis was mooted when the burglars were persuaded to change their pleas to Guilty, thereby obviating any revelations about the burglary or its purpose.

Merritt’s tale brings Caddy even deeper into the Watergate story.  According to the Confidential Informant, officer Shoffler and his cohort lobbied him – hard -  to seduce the lawyer.

This was an allegation that Merritt had made years earlier, and which I had reported upon – somewhat skeptically – in Secret Agenda.  What made me skeptical was the absence of any evidence that Caddy was gay.  But I was wrong.  Caddy was, in fact, secretly gay and had gone to great lengths to conceal it.

So chalk one up for Merritt.  He is obviously telling the truth about this, and we can only wonder about the lengths to which Shoffler and his associates would go.  And had gone.  That he knew of Caddy’s homosexuality seems remarkable until we recall that Shoffler was known as “Little Blick,” and liaised with what Jack Anderson called “the CIA’s Sex Squad,” as well as basement operations at the FBI and NYPD Intelligence.

Caddy’s name no doubt appeared in one or more the “pervert files” that were available to him.

But the story doesn’t end there.  In Watergate Exposed, Merritt tells us that it wasn’t just Caddy’s seduction that was sought.  Shoffler and his cohort – a casserole of fellow cops, FBI agents and Pentagon spooks – actually wanted him to kill the lawyer, and offered him $10,000 – later raised to $100,000 – to carry out “the assignment.”  Merritt says he refused.  Apparently on…well, ethical grounds.

Let us pause.

Inasmuch as Robert Merritt’s ethical standards can only be described as “chthonic,” I find it incredible that he would turn down so much money – to do anything.  Even so, I am not sure that he’s lying in every direction.  Because what stands out about Merritt almost as much as his corruption is his naivete and immense desire to please.  It was these characteristics that made him so easily manipulated by his police handlers.  And we see it at work here, in the Caddy story, when Merritt attempts to explain the motivations of Shoffler and the Pentagon spooks.  It’s a mixed bag.  They certainly wanted to know how Caddy had come to represent the burglars.  But according to Merritt, there were other reasons, as well.  The spooks were homophobic and were happy to kill Caddy…because he was a fag.  And there were political reasons, also.  Caddy “knew too much about the CIA,” Merritt tells us.  He was “a communist…pro-Cuban and…” – wait for it – “a leader of the Young Americans for Freedom.”


As improbable story must seem, I am sure that something like it actually occurred.  What makes me think so is a further detail that Merritt provides.  “The exact description of the assignment,” he writes, is that “I was suppose to insert…(a) gelatin-like suppository into his rectum, which would have caused (Caddy’s) death within minutes.”

Yikes!  Death by suppository!  Poetic justice, no doubt, in the eyes of rightwing homophobes and yet…these are supposed to be serious people, the kinds of people who, when committing murder, place greater emphasis on efficiency than wit.  Instead, what we have is what sounds a bit like the macho b.s. that one sometimes hears in locker-rooms and bars with sticky floors.

So the question presents itself: am I overestimating the intelligence of Shoffler and his cohort, or am I underestimating the intelligence of Merritt?

There can be no certainty on this point, but some of Merritt’s other “revelations”

may help us to decide.  For instance, one of his many bombshells is the assertion that he tipped off Shoffler to what turned out to be the the final Watergate break-in.  He did this, we’re told, on June 1, 1972.

That Shoffler may have been tipped off is something I have long suspected.  I wrote about the possibility in Secret Agenda, noting that Shoffler and his buddies were waiting in an unmarked car outside the Watergate office building when the break-in took place.  I was 1:30 in the morning, and Shoffler had been off-duty for hours.  But this was by no means the only reason to suspect that the burglars walked into a trap.  Even if we leave aside the peculiar behavior of the burglary team’s leader, James McCord – about which I have written elsewhere – there is the testimony of Capt. Edmund Chung.

He was Shoffler’s commanding officer at Vint Hill Farm.  And according to Chung, who volunteered his testimony to the Senate, he had occasion to dine with Shoffler after the Watergate arrests.  The burglary was front-page news, and Chung asked Shoffler how he had made the arrests.  The police detective replied that he’d been in contact with Alfred Baldwin prior to the last break-in. (Baldwin was the former FBI agent hired by  McCord to eavesdrop on telephone conversations that McCord claimed were emanating  from the DNC.)

Shoffler’s implication, then, is that it was Baldwin who had tipped him off.  (Baldwin acknowledges having met Shoffler at an antiwar demonstration.)  If the whole story ever came out, Chung says Shoffler told him, “his life wouldn’t be worth a nickel.”

There is no mention of Chung in Merritt’s book, and the men’s stories are by no means of a piece.  While they are in agreement that Shoffler was given advance warning of the June 17 break-in, they differ on the source.  According to Merritt, it was he – and not Alfred Baldwin – who warned Shoffler.  He says he did this on June 1, after being told of the impending break-in by a switchboard operator at the nearby Columbia Plaza Apartments.  “She,” we are told, had learned of the break-in plan while eavesdropping on a telephone conversation between two men.

Merritt’s account of the incident is detailed.  The switchboard operator is said to have been “a drag-queen” named James Reed, a/k/a “Rita.”  The telephone connection apparently consisted of a so-called “reserve line” – one of three on the switchboard – that did not connect to the apartments.  Asked about this, a former supplier of bugging equipment to the FBI suggested that the line in question may have been in use by an eavesdropping operation in the basement or elsewhere in the apartment complex.

The problems with (this part of) Merritt’s tale are several, and fundamental.  For instance, the first successful burglary of the DNC occurred on the night of May 28th, 1972.   A handwritten log, summarizing telephone conversations that Baldwin overheard from his listening-post in the Howard Johnson’s Motel, was edited by McCord and given to Gordon Liddy two days later.  In other words, Liddy received the logs on June 1 – the same day Merritt says he told Shoffler about a break-in that was set for June 18th.

The problem, of course, is that there was no perceived need for a second entry at this time.

It was not until a week later – on Friday, June 9th – that the Committee to Re-Elect the President’s Jeb Magruder pronounced the eavesdropping logs “worthless.”   Coincidentally, this was the same day that a front-page story appeared in the The Washington Star, linking the White House to a “Capitol Hill call-girl ring” with ties to the Nixon White House.  John Dean reacted to the news with alacrity, if not panic.  Grabbing the phone, he summoned the Asst. U.S. Attorney who was handling the case to come to the White House – and ordered him to bring “all the evidence” with him.

The weekend intervened, and it was not until Monday, June 12th, that Dean’s subordinate, Jeb Magruder, told Liddy that there would have to be a second entry to the Watergate.

This sequence of events is a well-established part of the Watergate narrative.  On its face, it would seem to rule out a June 1 plan to re-enter the DNC more than two weeks later.

But maybe not.  When Douglas Caddy is asked about this, he acknowledges the problem and suggests a solution.  Perhaps, he says, Magruder and/or Dean were taking orders from a person or group outside the White House and the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CRP).  Like who?  Like what?  The Pentagon, Caddy suggests.  Or the CIA.

There is no evidence that this is what occurred, though it would tend to explain a second problem that is fundamental to Merritt’s account.

According to Merritt, his source (James “Rita” Reed) told him that the break-in would destroy the Nixon Administration.  Which, in a sense, it did.  But this could not have been foreseen as a consequence of the burglary itself.  The Administration was actually destroyed by a perfect storm that included the relentlessness of the liberal media; the influence of the Kennedy machine upon the Senate Judiciary Committee; the slow-motion hemorrhage of the Administration’s secrets, crimes and improprieties; the destructive duet of James McCord and John Dean; and, not least, the Administration’s clumsy attempts at a cover-up.

Until those events had come to pass, the Watergate incident was little more than a serious embarrassment – one that Nixon appeared to have overcome through his re-election.  To claim, as Merritt does, that Nixon’s downfall was foreseen in early June suggests either supernatural clairvoyance or a conspiracy of Byzantine proportions.

In the event, neither Caddy nor Merritt see this as an obstacle to the latter’s credibility.  On the contrary, they imagine the unfolding of a “Seven Days in May” scenario – in other words, they believe “Watergate” was a coup d’etat.

As evidence of the conspiracy, Merritt offers yet another revelation that is not in his book, but which he recounted (much to Caddy’s chagrin) after the book was published.

According to the police informant, Shoffler and a team of Pentagon spooks drugged and kidnapped the CIA’s special counsel, Mitch Rogovin, in 1975.  Though Nixon had resigned by then, the Church and Pike committees were investigating (respectively) CIA abuses and the Agency’s involvement in the Watergate affair.

According to Merritt, the Pentagon feared that an in-house CIA report (marked “Eyes Only,” “Secret,” and/or “Confidential”) would reveal the existence of a military spying operation targeted at the former Nixon White House.  The purpose of the Pentagon operation, we are told, was to bring down the Administration.

The 400-page CIA report was supposedly entitled Confidential Report on Intelligence of Military Secret Operations on Nixon.  By way of clarification, the report was said to be subtitled Report of Operations of Secret Surveillance and Eavesdropping.  Perhaps to facilitate discussion, the putative report was conveniently referred to by its acronym, C.R.I.M.S.O.N R.O.S.E. (though C.R.I.M.S.O.N R.O.S.S.E. would have been more accurate).

I must confess that I am not sure where to begin with this, as we seem to have arrived at a S.I.L.L.Y. P.L.A.C.E.  The most obvious point to make, I suppose, is that if Merritt is telling the truth, the CIA is in desperate need of a copy editor.  “Secret Surveillance and Eavesdropping”?  Sounds a bit like “wet water,” does it not?   As for the report’s classification, it is the first that I have ever seen to have been designated  “Secret,”  “Confidential” and “Eyes Only” – all at once.

No matter.  Shoffler and his alleged team of Pentagon spies were determined to obtain the supposed report – though it is by no means clear what they intended to do with it.  In the event, we’re told they lured CIA lawyer Mitch Rogovin to the Mayflower Hotel, spiked his drink with knock-out drops, and dragged him to the hotel’s freight elevator – which Merritt claims he was operating.  Carried to a room, the hapless and unconscious attorney was stripped to his wedding ring and placed in embarrassing postures with a whore.

The purpose of the exercise, we’re told, was to persuade Rogovin to retrieve the Crimson Rose report, which had been sequestered in a Secure Room at CIA headquarters in Langley.  There, it was chained to a table in a large binder.  Fearful that the photos might be leaked, Rogovin supposedly retrieved the Crimson Rose report and gave it – with the severed chains till dangling from the binder – to Shoffler and his team of Pentagon spooks.

Seems unlikely, does it not?  Even if Pentagon’s spies were so deranged as to mount an operation as crude and egregious as the one that Merritt describes, what did they hope to do with the report?  Would it not have occurred to them that there might be a copy?  Moreover, what was to be done about Rogovin?  The Secure Rooms that Merritt refers to are guarded by Marines and/or CIA Security staff.  A record is maintained of all who enter and leave them, and closed circuit television cameras record the comings and goings of all visitors.  Leaving aside the question of Rogovin being subject (as all CIA employees are) to regular polygraph testing, surely someone might would have noticed a dangling chain and missing binder in the Secure Room.

With the Crimson Rose story, Robert Merritt descends to opera bouffe.  The Pentagon spy-ring that he has christened “Crimson Rose” is obviously derived from the Moorer-Radford incident, in which a Navy yeoman rifled Henry Kissinger’s briefcase and burn-bags.  The secrets he obtained were dutifully conveyed to Adm. Thomas Moorer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – though it’s unlikely that any of it was news to him.    Washington Post reporter Jack Anderson, a friend and co-religionist of Yeoman Charles Radford, may also (and especially) have been a consumer of the looted materials.

The Moorer-Radford incident is, of course, anything but news.  It is discussed in Secret Agenda and other books and news articles.  The Pentagon and White House investigated the affair, which the Pentagon’s own chief investigator (Donald Stewart) compared to a “Seven Days in May” scenario.  If there was a secret report on the Moorer-Radford affair, it was therefore more likely to be held in a Secure Room at the Pentagon (and/or the White House) than at the CIA.

In this connection, it is at least ironic to note that Yeoman Radford’s espionage was, if anything, trivial compared to the CIA’s own surveillance of the Nixon White House.  It is a fact that all of the photos taken and all of the documents stolen by the Plumbers were diverted to the CIA – with the White House receiving either nothing at all, or adulterated versions of the take.


Finally, what may be said about Robert Merritt is that he is, by profession, a lifelong snitch and provocateur who admits to  having “committed so many crimes at the direction of the FBI that had I been indicted, the list of felony counts would have set a world record and, if convicted, I could have received one of the longest sentences in history.”

According to Caddy, Merritt’s activities included “lying to…two comittees of Congress and a Special Prosecutor; participating in the theft of a Top Secret…national security document obtained through kidnapping, blackmailing and extorting the General Counsel of the CIA; (and) distributing candy containing poison to anti-war demonstrators and later claiming over a hundred of these persons died as a result.”

To these sins, we may add that Merritt also admits to having whored for the police and the Feds, by going after liberal political targets such as Sen. William Proximire.

Merritt is, in other words, a “man for all seasons,” albeit a gay one.   His bottom-line is that, like all snitches, he needs a patron or a client – someone who will immunize him from own misdeeds, so long as he returns with whatever is needed (whether what’s needed is there or not).

That said, at this late date, it is doubtful that even Merritt knows what’s true or false about his past.  So desperate does he seem for validation – money or fame, infamy or redemption – he will, I think, “remember” whatever it takes to rescue himself from a clear view of his own life.

William Burroughs called it “the naked lunch,” and Merritt has been dining on it for quite awhile.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to him.  While reserving judgment on Merritt’s bona fides, journalist Phil Stanford notes that some of Merritt’s more interesting  and controversial claims would seem to be corroborated elsewhere.  Even so, to rely on Merritt as a source would be folly.  Best, then, to treat his information as leads and seek verification where it can be found.

As for Douglas Caddy, his contribution to the Merritt story is an important one.  His Prologue, Afterword and letter to FBI Director Mueller contain new revelations about Watergate and the COINTEL program, while raising any number of interesting questions.  For instance, we can only wonder why an experienced spook such as Howard Hunt would have turned to Caddy to represent the burglars at their arraignment.  Both Caddy and Hunt were employed by the Robert R. Mullen Company, which the CIA used as a cover – a cover that the Agency was desperate to protect.  Dragging Caddy into the Watergate affair could only have served to expose that cover (as, indeed, it did).  From a tradecraft point of view, this was madness and we can only wonder about Hunt’s inentions.

From a tradecraft point of view, this was madness – unless Hunt hoped that the CIA would intervene with cries of “National security!” and shut the investigation down.

Caddy is interesting, as well, for having been recruited at this time to build and run a luxury hotel in Nicaragua for the CIA.  The Agency, he was told, hoped that the hotel would attract Sandinista rebels to its gaming tables.  I emphasize “he was told” because the rebels were not exactly what Vegas would consider “a pod of whales.”  What seems more likely is that the putative hotel would have been used as a secret hospice for the CIA- (and Robert R. Mullen-) connected billionaire Howard Hughes.  In the end, the Agency’s offer to make Caddy a hotelier proved to be a non-starter.  The lawyer declined the post, knowing that a mandatory CIA polygraph would “out” him.

If nothing else comes out of Merritt’s tome, the book will have been worth it for those bits alone.



Throat: Mark Felt, Robert Bennett and the Post’s Cointelpro Problem

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

That Deep Throat should turn out to be Mark Felt is not the most welcome news at the Washington Post. The paper would have much preferred a crypto-liberal such as Leonard Garment in the role (assuming that Adam Sandler wasn’t available). Almost anyone, in other words, would have been better than the guy responsible for supervising the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO operations during the 1960s.

Mark Felt

Mark Felt (August 17, 1913 – December 18, 2008). FBI photo.

As anyone who marched in the Sixties knows, these were secret and unconstitutional counterintelligence programs targeting the Left and a handful of white supremacists. As head of the FBI’s Inspection Division, it was Felt’s responsibility to maximize the effectiveness of the program in the field. Lest there be any doubt about this, it should be emphasized that Felt’s brief was not to ensure that anyone’s civil liberties were protected, or even that the law was adhered to, but to make certain that Hoover’s attack on the anti-war movement ran smoothly.

So bestowing the mantle of Deep Throat on the Toscanini of black-bag jobs must have felt like crowning Jenna Jamison “Sweetheart of the Year.” (Yes, she’s done important work, but…no.) Watergate editor Ben Bradlee and his colleagues would no doubt like the public to see this as an irony—one of those wacky things that happen in Washington all the time. But it’s not that. It’s much more.

Historically, Deep Throat has been cast as an American hero, the Nixon Administration official who came forward, however secretively, to blow the whistle on the Administration’s improprieties and crimes. By helping the Post unravel the White House cover-up, Throat and his cub-reporter buddies almost single-handedly destroyed the Wicked Warlock of the West Wing. The rest is history.

And myth.

One of the most lasting consequences of the Watergate affair has been its corrosive effect upon investigative reporting. Through its unquestioning embrace of Deep Throat, Hollywood and the press have romanticized the anonymous source and, in so doing, legitimized him. The results are there to be seen in your daily newspaper: story after story, attributed to no one in particular. “Speaking on condition of anonymity… “ “White House sources denied…” “A Pentagon official said…”

As sources disappear, the news becomes more propagandistic. Ambitious and calculating pols drop innuendos and send up trial-balloons, without ever having to take responsibility for what they’ve said. Or not said. In the playground of anonymous sources, the public is increasingly informed by creative writers like Jason Blair (formerly of the New York Times), Stephen Glass (ex-New Republic), Jack Kelly (gone from USA Today), and, ironically, Woodward’s former protégé at the Post, Janet Cooke. Not surprisingly, the public becomes increasingly skeptical.

The problem with anonymous sources is not just that they might be “composite” characters, or that they might not exist at all, but rather that the source’s motives are beyond scrutiny. So the story is necessarily incomplete.

That said, our view of the Watergate affair may now be changed by the certain knowledge of Throat’s identity. Until recently, his motives could only be inferred. And the inference was that he was a government official so outraged by the Nixon Administration’s hubris and disregard for the law that he risked all to alert the public. A real Good Guy, in other words.

That’s what Hollywood and the Post would have us think, and it is what Mark Felt’s grandchildren believe. But inasmuch as Grandpa was himself convicted of “conspiring to injure and oppress citizens of the United States” by having authorized countless black-bags job and warrantless searches at the Bureau, it seems unlikely that Felt would be traumatized by a break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate office building.

If I am right about that, then it’s likely Throat’s concern was as much political as it was civic.

In his June 2, 2005 article in the Post, outing his source, Woodward tells us that Felt regarded the Nixon White House as “corrupt…sinister…(a) cabal.” And, as the Post reporter makes clear, this was a view that Felt held long before to the Watergate break-in. Indeed, Woodward says, “Felt thought the Nixon team were Nazis.”

As it happens, this is exactly what I thought at the time, as did nearly every other liberal that I knew. Strange, then, to learn that this same point of view was shared by Mark Felt, a professional Red-hunter so highly placed in the FBI that only the Director, J. Edgar Hoover, outranked him.

Or maybe it’s not so strange.

A similar view of the Nixon Administration was held by James McCord, the rightwing evangelist and former CIA Security chief who led the break-in team at the Watergate. In a series of bizarre “newsletters” written after he had been arrested, McCord put forward a conspiracy theory suggesting that the Rockefeller family was lunging for control of the government’s critical national security functions, using the Council on Foreign Relations and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger as its means to an end.

At the Pentagon, then-Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, went even further. To Zumwalt, the Nixon Administration was “inimical to the security of the United States.” [Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., On Watch (New York: Quadrangle Books, 1976), p. xiv.] Indeed, as the admiral later explained, he eventually left the Administration because “its own officials and experts reflected Henry Kissinger’s world view: that the dynamics of history are on the side of the Soviet Union; that before long the USSR will be the only superpower on earth and…that the duty of policy-makers, therefore, is at all costs to conceal from the people their probable fate…” [Ibid.]

Egad…they’ve sold us out!

But Zumwalt, Felt and McCord were by no means alone in their suspicions of the Nixon White House. Within the Pentagon, a military spy-ring was pillaging Kissinger’s secrets on behalf of Adm. Thomas Moorer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since 1970.

Within the offices of the National Security Council, and on secret missions to China, Kissinger’s briefcases were rifled and his burn-bags ransacked. In all, perhaps a thousand top-secret documents were stolen and transmitted to Moorer’s office (if not elsewhere, as well) by Yeoman Charles Radford, a young Mormon acting on orders of Adm. Robert Welander.

Here, matters become a bit incestuous.

Admiral Welander was an aide to Moorer. But he was also a mentor of Lt. Bob Woodward, whose commander Welander had been aboard the USS Fox. Reportedly, it was at the urging of Welander—who had yet to be implicated in “the Moorer-Radford affair”—that Woodward extended his tour of duty in 1969, going to the Pentagon to serve as Communications Duty Officer to then-Chief of Naval Operations, Tom Moorer.

In that capacity, Woodward presided over the CNO’s code-room, reading every communication that went in and out, while acting, also, as a briefer and a courier. This, he tells us, is how he met Deep Throat, while cooling his heels outside the Situation Room in the White House. It was 1970 and, according to Woodward, Mark Felt was sitting in the chair next to him, cooling his heels.

The Moorer-Radford affair is not usually considered a part of the Watergate story, though it deserves to be. The Nixon Administration learned of the Pentagon spy-ring in late 1971, but the affair itself did not become public until nearly three years later. By then, the Watergate story was almost played out.

While president, Nixon was determined to keep the affair secret, telling Kissinger aide David Young, “If you love your country, you’ll never mention it.” But the Pentagon’s chief investigator, W. Donald Stewart, was more forthcoming. Asked how seriously the affair should be taken, Stewart replied with a rhetorical question: “Did you see that film, ‘Seven Days in May’? That’s what we were dealing with…”

The film is about a military conspiracy to topple the president. A coup d’etat, in other words.

So it is interesting to learn that Mark Felt placed Yeoman Radford under electronic surveillance long after the White House learned of his activities, and even after Radford had been transferred to a dead-end military post 3000 miles from Washington, D.C. This suggests that Felt may have been more concerned with counterintelligence issues than he was with prosecutorial ones. (Radford was never charged with a crime.)

So why did Radford do it?

Jim Hougan’s, ‘Secret Agenda’ is available at Amazon.

According to Radford, whom I interviewed many years ago, his “superiors” believed that Kissinger’s foreign policy was “catastrophic” by design. His own espionage activities, Radford insisted, were intended to defeat a conspiracy conceived by “the Rockefeller family” and orchestrated by the Council on Foreign Relations. The purpose of this supposed conspiracy, according to Radford, was to win the Soviets’ cooperation in guaranteeing the Rockefellers’ “continued domination” over the world’s currencies. In return for this, Nixon and Kissinger were to construct a foreign policy that would ensure Soviet hegemony and a one-world government. [Jim Hougan, Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the CIA (Random House, New York, 1984), p. 75]

From Egad, we move to Yikes! It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for Nixon. But not quite.
It wasn’t just Donald Stewart who was worried about a Seven Days in May scenario. The CIA, was spying on the White House, as well. Enter Woodward’s second source: Robert Bennett.

Until Woodward identified Mark Felt as Deep Throat, I was of the firm opinion that the honor belonged to Bennett. This was so because it seemed to me that, at a minimum, for someone to be taken seriously as a candidate for Deep Throat, there should be some evidence that he met secretly with Woodward and fed him stories about Watergate.

Until Woodward outed Felt, the only candidate who fit the bill was Bennett.

In 1972, when Mark Felt was reading transcripts of Yeoman Radford’s conversations, Bennett was the new owner of the Robert R. Mullen Company. This was a CIA front with offices in Washington and abroad. Among Bennett’s employees was the seemingly retired CIA officer, E. Howard Hunt. Politically hyper-active during the Nixon Administration, Bennett was also the Washington representative of the Howard Hughes organization (which was just entering negotiations with the CIA over plans to recover a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean’s floor). It was Bennett who suggested that Hunt might want to interview ITT lobbyist Dita Beard, and it was Bennett who volunteered his own nephew to work as an infiltrator at the DNC. One might go on with Bennett’s contributions to the Watergate affair, but the point is made: Bennett was an extremely well-placed source, if not a co-conspirator.

Today, Senator Bennett is a Mormon elder and one of the richest men in Congress. That he was also a key source of Bob Woodward’s during the Watergate affair is memorialized in a Memorandum to the Record written by Martin J. Lukoskie, Bennett’s CIA case-officer in 1972 . [The memo was first published in the so-called “Nedzi Hearings” of the House Armed Services Committee’s “Inquiry into the Alleged Involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Watergate and Ellsberg Matters,” which began May 11, 1973. See, also, Secret Agenda, pages 329-31.] According to Lukoskie, Bennett “established a ‘backdoor entry’ to the Edward Bennett Williams law firm which is representing the Democratic Party (and the Washington Post )…” Bennett’s job was to “kill off any revelation” about the Mullen Company’s relationship to the CIA. A second part of his brief was to dissuade reporters from pursuing a ‘Seven Days in May’ scenario” that would have implicated the CIA in a conspiracy to “take over the country.”
Sounds like Bennett should to have had a word with Donald Stewart, as well.

The relationship between Bennett and the Post was subsequently clarified by Lukoskie’s CIA boss, Eric Eisenstadt. In a memo to the Deputy Director of Plans, Eisenstadt wrote that Bennett “has been feeding stories to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post with the understanding that there be no attribution to Bennett. Woodward is suitably grateful for the fine stories and by-lines he gets and protects Bennett (and the Mullen Company).” [The memo is dated March 1, 1973.]


It’s enough to make you wonder, though not, apparently, enough to make the press wonder. But this is what the Deep Throat mystery is all about. It’s not just a parlor game to canonize yet another celebrity. Rather, it’s a question of deciding whether or not the Post’s coverage was manipulated by a cabal of spooks who were working to destroy an unpopular president.
This is, of course, a conspiratorial point of view. Most of the press has embraced Mark Felt as the celebrity de jour and, toward that end, the only motive they impute to his behavior is a love of country. And that is what’s likely to be taught in the schools.
More objective observers, however, will point to the fact that FBI Director Hoover died a few weeks before the Watergate break-ins, and will suggest that his second-in-command, Mark Felt, went after the Nixon Administration because he was disappointed at not being named to take Hoover’s place.

That’s possible, of course, but even if Felt didn’t get to be Director, he got the next best thing. That is to say, he got the files. Within hours of Hoover’s death, Felt took charge of Hoover’s Official and Confidential files—including one that was headed “Black-Bag Jobs.” The fate of other files in Hoover’s executive suite, including the Director’s Personal and Confidential files and the so-called “Do Not File” files, remains a mystery. [For details, see Inquiry into The Destruction of Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s Files and FBI Record-keeping, Hearings before the Government Information and Individual Rights Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations, 94th Congress, 1st session, Dec. 1, 1975. ]

Now that we know that Mark Felt is Deep Throat, it would be grand to ask him about the Director’s missing files, his view of Yeoman Radford’s spying, and his reasons for going to the press, rather than to the Justice Department, with his concerns about Watergate. It’s clear, however, that his family has no intention of making the old man available. He is, after all, 91-years-old and not entirely well.

My guess, however, is that if Felt were asked about these issues, he would take a more conspiratorial view of them than most. What makes me think so is Woodward’s account of a meeting he had with Throat, shortly before the Watergate hearings began in the Senate. According to Woodward, Throat Felt told him:

Everyone’s life is in danger…
(E)lectronic surveillance is going on and we had better watch it.
Who’s responsible?
C-I-A… ”[Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, All the President’s Men (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1974), p. 317.]

Now, there’s a story! But curiously, it never appeared in the Post.

Jim Jones, Dan Mitrione and the Peoples Temple: Part 2

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011


Still, we’re not done with CIA.  Its relationship to Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, and therefore to the Jonestown massacre, is an important issue that will be discussed in subsequent pages.

Here, however, we are concerned with the initial reports of the massacre.  And, in particular with those responsible for labeling the disaster a “mass suicide”—contrary to the evidence being gathered by Dr. Mootoo.  The person who seems to have been most responsible for spinning the story in that way was Dr. Hardat Sukhdeo, a psychiatrist.

Dr. Sukhdeo is, or perhaps was, “an anti-cult activist” whose professional interests (according to an autobiographical note) were “homicide, suicide, and the behavior of animals in electro-magnetic fields.”  His arrival in Georgetown on November 27, 1978 came only three weeks after he had been named as a defendant in a controversial “deprogramming” case. [Sukhdeo was named with "deprogrammer" Galen Kelly in a suit brought by the Circle of Friends on behalf of Joan E. Stedrak.  The suit is believed to have been filed on November 6, 1978]  It is not entirely surprising, then, that within hours of his arrival in the capital, Dr. Sukhdeo began giving interviews to the press, including the New York Times, “explaining” what had happened.

Jim Jones

Jim Jones, he said, “was a genius of mind control, a master.  He knew exactly what he was doing.  I have never seen anything like this…but the jungle, the isolation, gave him absolute control.”  Just what Dr. Sukhdeo had been able to see in his few minutes in Georgetown is unclear.  But his importance in shaping the story is undoubted: he was one of the few civilian professionals at the scene, and his task was, quite simply, to help the press make sense of what had happened and to console those who had survived.  Accordingly, he was widely quoted, and what he had to say was immediately echoed by colleagues back in the States.

That Sukhdeo’s opinions were preconceived, rather than based upon evidence, however, seems obvious.  Even so, it is clear that he was aware of the work that Dr. Mootoo had done—which, as we have seen, contradicted Sukhdeo’s statements about “mass suicides.”

In an interview with Time, Sukhdeo refers to an “autopsy” that had been performed on Jim Jones in Guyana.  This can only have been a reference to Dr. Mootoo’s somewhat cursory examination, in which Jones’s body was slit open on the ground.  It is difficult to understand how Sukhdeo could have been aware of that procedure without also knowing of Mootoo’s finding that most of the victims had been murdered.

Dr. Sukhdeo was himself a native of Guyana, though a resident of the United States.  He claimed at the time that he’d come to Georgetown at his own expense to counsel and study those who had survived.  But that is in dispute.

According to his attorney, Robert Bockelman, Dr. Sukhdeo retained him to prevent his having to testify at the Larry Layton trial in San Francisco.  (Layton was a member of the Peoples Temple who participated in the events at the Port Kaituma airstrip.)  Dr. Sukhdeo’s primary concern, according to Bockelman, was that it should not be revealed that the State Department had paid his way to Guyana.  You see the issue: was Doctor Sukhdeo there to help the survivors—or to debrief them on behalf of some other person or agency? [Asked about this, Sukhdeo insists that he paid his own way to Guyana.]

Nor was this all.   Prior to retaining counsel in San Francisco, Dr. Sukhdeo had himself been retained by Larry Layton’s defense attorneys and family.  (Indeed, he testified in Layton’s trial in Guyana, where “most of his testimony concerned cults in general and observations about conditions at Jonestown.”) [United States v. Layton, Federal Rules (90 F.R.D. 520/1981), pp. 521-22, in re a "Memorandum and Order Denying Plaintiffs Motion to Compel Production of Sukhdeo Tapes." ]  During the time that he was helping Layton’s defense, it appears that Dr. Sukhdeo was also meeting  —surreptitiously, according to his own lawyer—with FBI agents.  Asked about this, Sukhdeo says that at no time during these meetings did he disclose any confidential communications between himself and Layton. [Ibid]

The suggestion that Dr. Sukhdeo may have secretly “debriefed” Jonestown’s survivors on behalf of the State Department (or some other government agency) may seem unduly suspicious.  On the other hand, a certain amount of suspicion would seem to prudent when discussing the unsolved deaths of more than 900 Americans who, in the weeks before they died, were preparing to defect en masse to the Soviet Union.  The government’s interest in this matter would logically have been intense. [The CIA has stated that, in deference to its Charter, which prohibits the Agency from collecting information on Americans, it took no notice of the Temple's approaches to Soviet embassy personnel in Guyana.  The disclaimer is widely disbelieved.]

It is true, of course, that not every psychiatrist agreed with Dr. Sukhdeo’s analysis.  Dr. Stephen P. Hersh,  then assistant director of the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), commented that “The charges of brainwashing are clearly exaggerated.  The concept of  ’thought control’ by cult leaders is elusive, difficult to define and even more difficult to prove.  Because cult converts adopt beliefs that seem bizarre to their families and friends, it does not follow that their choices are being dictated by cult leaders.” [Associated Press, story by Chris Connell, November 21, 1978.]

That said, there is more at stake here than public perceptions.  Investigators of the Guyana tragedy have a responsibility to both the living and the dead: to find out what actually happened, and to make certain that it cannot happen again.


To understand the fate of the Peoples Temple, one must first understand why the intelligence community seemed (against all odds) to ignore the organization for so long—appearing to become interested only when Congressman Ryan began his investigation.  Consider:

Image from a Peoples Temple brochure, portraying leader Jim Jones as the father of the “Rainbow Family”. Image courtesy of The Jonestown Institute,

The Peoples Temple was created in the political deep-freeze of the 1950s.  From its inception, it was a leftwing ally of black activist groups that were, in many cases, under FBI surveillance. [For many years, the FBI maintained a "Racial Intelligence" file.  A 1968 Airtel sent to that file refers to the Bureau's concerns the possible emergence of an American "Mau Mau," the "rise of a (black) messiah," and "the beginning of a true black revolution."]  During the 1960s, when the Bureau and the CIA mounted Operations COINTELPRO and CHAOS to infiltrate and disrupt black militant organizations and the Left, the Temple went out of its way to forge alliances with leaders of those same organizations: e.g., with the Black Panthers’ Huey Newton and with the Communist Party’s Angela Davis.  And yet, despite these associations, and its ultra-left orientation, we are told that the Temple was not a target of investigation by either intelligence agency.

In the early 1970s, suspicions began to surface in the press, implicating the Peoples Temple in an array of allegations including gunrunning, drug-smuggling, kidnapping, murder, brainwashing, extortion and torture.  Under attack at home, and feeling the pressure abroad, Temple officials undertook secret negotiations with the Soviet Embassy in Georgetown, laying the groundwork for the en masse defection of more than a thousand poor Americans.  According to the CIA, it took no interest in these discussions.

Under the circumstances, only the most naive could fail to be skeptical of the disinterested stance that the FBI and the CIA claim to have taken.  But what does it mean?  Why would the FBI and the CIA give the Peoples Temple a pass?

The answers to those questions are embedded in the contradictions of Jones’s own past and, in particular, in that most mysterious period in the preacher-man’s life: the 1960-64 interregnum that his biographers gloss over.  As I intend to show, the enigmas of Jones’s beginnings do much to explain the intelligence community’s hands-off stance toward the Temple, but also the bloodshed in which ended.


Jim Jones was born in Crete, Ind. in 1931.  When he was three, he moved with his family to the town of Lynn.

His father was a partially disabled World War I vet.  Embittered by the Depression and unable to find work, he is alleged (without much evidence) to have been a member of the Ku Klux Klan.  Jones’s mother, on the other hand, was well-liked, a hard-working woman who is universally credited with keeping the family together.

Jim Jones’s religious upbringing took place outside his own family.  Myrtle Kennedy, a friend of his mother’s who lived nearby, saw to it that he went to Sunday School, and gave him instruction in the Bible.  While not yet a teenager, Jones began to experiment, attending the services of several churches. [Raven: the Untold Story of Rev. Jim Jones and His People, by Tim Reiterman with John Jacobs, E.P. Dutton (New York, 1982), pp. 9-21.]  Before long, he came under the spell of a “fanatical” woman evangelist, the leader of faith-healing revivals at the Gospel Tabernacle Church on the edge of town. [It is Jones's biographer, Tim Reiterman, who characterizes the unidentified woman evangelist as "fanatical."  See Raven, p. 18.]  (This was a Pentecostal sect of so-called “Holy Rollers,” a charismatic group then believed in faith-healing and speaking in tongues.)   Whether there was more to their relationship than that of a priestess and her protege is unknown, but it is a fact that Jones’s association with the woman coincided with the onset of nightmares.  According to Jones’s mother, he was terrorized by dreams in which a snake figured prominently. [The possibility that Jones was sexually abused as a child should not be ruled out---particularly in light of his own abusive sexual behavior as an adult.  Even those who remain loyal to Jones, insisting that he was somehow "misunderstood," lament his enthusiasm for sexually humiliating those who had displeased him---not occasionally by resorting to homosexual rape.]

Whatever the nature of his relationship to the lady evangelist, Jones soon found himself in the pulpit, dressed in a white sheet, thumping the Bible.  The protege was a prodigy and, by all accounts, he loved the attention.

In 1947, 15-years-old and still a resident of Lynn, Jones began preaching in a “sidewalk ministry” on the wrong side of the tracks in Richmond, Ind.—sixteen miles from his home.  Why he traveled to Richmond to deliver his message, and why he picked a working-class black neighborhood in which to do it, is uncertain.

What is certain, however, is that, while in Richmond, Jones established a relationship with a man named Dan Mitrione.  Like the child evangelist, Mitrione would one day become internationally notorious and, like Jones, his violent death in South America would generate headlines around the world.  As Jones told his followers in Guyana,

“There was one guy that I knew growing up in Richmond, a cruel, cruel person, even as a kid, a vicious racist—Dan Mitrione.” [The quotation is from type-written fragments of an autobiography found amid the carnage at Jonestown.]

Myrtle Kennedy has confirmed that the two men knew one another, saying that they were friends. [ It was independent researcher John Judge who asked Kennedy about Jones's relationship to Mitrione.]

That Jones knew Mitrione is strange coincidence, but not entirely surprising.  A Navy veteran who’d joined the Richmond Police Department in 1945, Mitrione worked his way up through the ranks as a patrolman, a juvenile officer and, finally,  chief of police.  It is unlikely that he would have overlooked the strange white-boy from Lynn preaching on the sidewalk to blacks in front of a working-class bar on the industrial side of town.
What is surprising about Jones’s statement, however, is  his description of Mitrione as a “vicious racist.”  There is nothing anywhere else to suggest that Mitrione held any particular views on the subject of race.  Communism, certainly—but race, no. [A book about Mitrione, and his 1970 assassination in Uruguay, is Hidden Terrors, by A.J. Langguth, Pantheon Books (New York, 1978).]

Which is to say that either Jones was wrong about the Richmond cop, or else he knew something about Dan Mitrione that other people did not.
If Mitrione were to play no further part in Jones’s story, there would be little reason to speculate any further about their relationship.  But, as we’ll see, Jones and Mitrione cross each other’s paths repeatedly, and in the most unlikely places.  Neither family friends nor playmates (Mitrione was eleven years older than Jones), their relationship must have been based upon something.  But what?

Two possibilities suggest themselves: either Mitrione was counseling in Jones in the way policemen sometimes counsel children, or their relationship may have been professional.  That is to say, Mitrione may have recruited Jones as an informant within the black community.  This second possibility is one to which we’ll have reason to return.


Very little research seems to have been carried out by anyone with respect to Jones’s early career.  It is almost as if his biographers are uninterested in him until he begins to go off the deep end.  This is unfortunate—particularly in light of the possibility that Jones may have been a police or FBI informant, gathering “racial intelligence” for the Bureau’s files.

What is known about his early career is, therefore, known only in outline.

He graduated from Richmond High School in about January, 1949, and began attending the University of Indiana at Bloomington. [Jones moved from Lynn to Richmond in the Fall of 1948.] He was married to his high school sweetheart, Marceline Baldwin, in June of the same year.

In the Summer of 1951, Jones moved to Indianapolis to study law as an undergraduate.  While there, he began to attend political meetings of an uncertain kind.  Ronnie Baldwin, Marceline’s younger cousin, was living with the Joneses at the time.  And though he was only eleven years old, Baldwin recalls that Jones sometimes took him to political lectures.  On one such outing, Baldwin remembers, he and Jones went to a “churchlike” auditorium where “communism” was under discussion.  They didn’t stay long, however.  Soon after they’d arrived, someone came up to Jones and whispered in his ear—whereupon Jones took his ward by the arm and exited hurriedly.  Outside, Jones said “Good evening” to a man whom Baldwin believes was an FBI agent. [Op cit., Raven, p. 40]

It’s a peculiar story, and Jones’s biographers don’t seem to know what to make of it. What sort of meeting could it have been?  The assumption is made, in light of Jones’s later politics, that it was a leftist soiree of some kind.  After all, they were talking about communism.  But that makes very little sense.  Indianapolis was a very conservative city in 1951.  (It still is.)  Joe McCarthy was on the horizon, and the Korean War was beginning to take its toll.  If “communism” was being discussed in anything other than whispers, or anywhere else than a back-room, the debate was almost certainly one-sided and thumbs-down.

It was at about this same time that Jones gave up the study of law and, to everyone’s surprise, decided to become a minister.  By 1952, he was a student pastor at the Somerset Methodist Church in Indianapolis and, in 1953, made his “evangelical debut” at a ministerial seminar in Detroit, Michigan.

By 1954, Jones had established the “Community Unity” Church in Indianapolis, while preaching also at the Laurel Tabernacle.  To raise money, he began selling monkeys door-to-door. [One hardly knows what to make of this bizarre fund-raising method.  There can't have been that much demand for the beasts.  Nevertheless, the practice is worth noting, if only because it constitutes, however tenuously, Jones's first known link to South America.  Contrary to some reports, the monkeys were not obtained from university research laboratories in Indiana, but from suppliers below the Equator.]

By 1956, Jones had established the “Wings of Deliverance” Church as a successor to Community Unity.  Almost immediately, the Church was christened the Peoples Temple.  The inspiration for its new name stemmed from the fact that the church was housed in what was formerly a Jewish synagogue—a “temple” that Jones had purchased, with little or no money down, for $50,000.

Ironically, the man who gave the Peoples Temple its start was the Rabbi Maurice Davis.  It was he who sold the synagogue to Jones on such remarkably generous terms.  A prominent anti-cult activist and sometime “deprogrammer,” Rabbi Davis is an associate of Dr. Sukhdeo’s.


By the late 1950s, the Peoples Temple was a success, with a congregation of more than 2000 people.  Still, Jones had even larger ambitions and, to accommodate them, became the improbable protege of an extremely improbable man.  This was Father Divine, the Philadelphia-based “black messiah” whose Peace Mission movement attracted tens of thousands of black adherents and the close attention of the FBI, while earning its founder an annual income in seven figures.

For whatever reasons, beginning in about 1956, Jones made repeated pilgrimages to the black evangelist’s headquarters, where he literally “sat at the feet” (and at the table) of the great man, professing his devotion.  With the exception of Father Divine’s wife, Jones may well have been the man’s only white adherent.

It was not entirely inconvenient.  Living in Indianapolis, Jones could easily arrange to transport members of the Peoples Temple by bus to Philadelphia—where they were housed without charge in Father Divine’s hotels, feasted at banquets called “Holy Communions,” and treated to endless sermons. [When Father Divine died in the summer of 1972, years after Jones had moved his own congregation to California, Jones nevertheless arranged for a caravan of buses to cross the country to Philadelphia---where Jones announced that he was Father Divine's white reincarnation.  In that capacity, he said, he was quite prepared to take control of the Peace Mission movement (and its considerable assets).  Mrs. Divine said no.]

That Jones made a study of Father Divine, emulated him and hoped to succeed him, is clear.  The possibility should not be ruled out, however, that Jones was also engaged in collecting “racial intelligence” for a third party.

Whatever else Jones may have picked up from his study of Father Divine, there is reason to believe that it was in the context of his visits to Philadelphia that he was introduced to the subject of mass suicide.  Among Jones’s personal effects in Guyana was a book that had been checked out of the Indianapolis Public Library in the 1950s, and never returned.    In the pages of Father Divine: Holy Husband, the author quotes one of the black evangelist’s followers:

“‘If Father dies,’ she tells you in the calmest kind of a voice, ‘I sure ’nuff  would never be callin’ in myself to be goin’ on livin’ in this empty ol’ world. I’d be findin’ some way of gettin’ rid of the life I never been wantin’ before I  found him.’  “If Father Divine were to die, mass suicides among Negroes in his movement could certainly result.  They would be rooted deep, not alone in Father’s relationship with his followers, but also in America’s relationship with its Negroe citizens.  This would be the shame of America.”  (Emphasis added.) [Father Divine: Holy Husband, by Sara Harris, pp. 319-20.]


In January, 1959, Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista dictatorship, and seized power in Cuba.  Land reforms followed within a few months of the coup, alienating foreign investors and the rich.  By Summer, therefore, Cuba was in the midst of a low-intensity counter-revolution, with sabotage operations mounted from within and outside the country.

Within a year of Castro’s ascension, by January of 1960, mercenary pilots and anti-Castroites were flying bombing missions against the regime.  Meanwhile, in Washington, Vice-President Richard Nixon was lobbying on behalf of the military invasion that the CIA was plotting.

It was against this background, in February of 1960, that Jim Jones suddenly decided to visit Havana.

The news of Jones’s visit to Cuba—one is tempted to write “the cover-story for Jones’s trip to Cuba”—was first published in the New York Times in March, 1979 (four months after the massacre in Guyana).  The story was based upon an interview with a naturalized American named Carlos Foster.  A former Cuban cowboy, Baptist Pentecostal minister and sometime night-club singer, Foster showed up at the New York Times four months after the massacre.  Without being asked, he volunteered a strange story about meeting Jim Jones in Cuba during the Winter of 1960.  (Why Foster went to the newspaper with his story is uncertain: news of his friendship with Jones could hardly have helped his career as a childrens’ counselor). [New York Times, "Jim Jones 1960 Visit to Cuba Recounted," by Joseph B. Treaster.  As evidence of his veracity, Foster provided the Times with letters and an affidavit that Jones had signed, promising to support Foster if he should emigrate to the United States.]

Nevertheless, according to the Times story, the 29-year-old Jones traveled to Cuba to expedite plans to establish a communal organization with settlements in the U.S. and abroad.   The immediate goal, Foster said, was to recruit Cuban blacks to live in Indiana.

Foster told the Times that he and Jones met by chance at the Havana Hilton.  That is to say, Jones gave the Cuban a big hello, and took him by the arm.  He then solicited Foster’s help in locating forty families that would be willing to move to the Indianapolis area (at Jones’s expense).  Tim Reiterman, who repeats the Times‘ story, adds that the two men discussed the plan in Jones’s hotel-room, from 7 in the morning until 8 o’clock at night, for a week.  More recently, Foster has elaborated by saying that Jones offered to pay him $50,000 per year to help him establish an archipelago of offshore agricultural communes in Central and South America.  Foster said that Jones was an extremely well-traveled man, who knew Latin America well.  He had already been to Guyana, and wanted to start a collective there.

After a month in Cuba, Jones returned to the United States (alone).  Six months later, Foster followed, on his own initiative, but the immigration scheme went nowhere. [Foster came to Indianapolis in August, 1960.  He accepted the hospitality of the Peoples Temple for the remainder of that Summer, and then decamped for New York (where his fiance was living).]

The anomalies in this story are many, and one hardly knows what to make of them.   Foster’s information that Jones was well-traveled in Latin America, and had already been to Guyana, comes as a shock.  None of his biographers mentions Jones having taken trips out of the United States prior to this time.  Could Foster be mistaken?  Or have Jones’s biographers overlooked an important part of his life?

An even greater anomaly, however, concerns language.  While Reiterman reports that Foster was bilingual, and that he and Jones spoke English together, this isn’t true.  Foster learned English at Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx—after he’d emigrated to the United States. [Ascent, "Lure of the Cowboy Mystique," by Aubrey E. Zephyr, October, 1983.  This is an article about Foster's Urban Western Riding Program (for inner-city youngsters).] (Reiterman seems to have made an otherwise reasonable, but incorrect, assumption: knowing that Jones did not speak Spanish, he assumed that Foster must have been able to speak English.)

Today, when Foster is asked which language was spoken, he says that he and Jones made do with the latter’s broken Spanish.
The issue is an important one because Foster is, in effect, Jones’s alibi for whatever it was that Jones was actually doing in Cuba.  That the two men did not have a language in common makes the alibi suspect: how could they converse for 13 hours at a time, day in and day out, for a week—if neither man understood what the other was saying?

As for Jones’s own parishioners, those who’ve survived have only a dim recollection of the trip.  According to Reiterman, “Back in the States, Jones revealed little of his plan, depicting his stay more as tourism than church business.”  This sounds like a polite way of saying that the trip served no obvious purpose.  Nevertheless, he did bring back some strange souvenirs.  “He showed off photos of Cuba…  One picture—a gruesome shot of the mangled body of a pilot in some plane wreckage—indicated that Jones witnessed the pirate bombings of the cane fields.  Jones told his friends that he had met with some Cuban leaders, though the bearded man in fatigues standing beside Jones in a snapshot was too short to be Castro.” [Op cit., Raven, p. 62.]

It would be interesting to know just what Reiterman is talking about here.  The presumption must be that there is a photograph in which Jones is seen with a man who might easily be confused with Castro—if it weren’t for the latter’s diminutive size.  In fact, however, it probably was Castro.  When Jones arrived in Brazil in 1962, he carried a photograph of himself and his wife Marceline, posing with the Cuban premier.  Jones said that the picture was taken on a stopover in Cuba on the way to Sao Paulo. [The reference to a Cuban stopover on the way to Brazil, and to a photo of Jones, Marceline and Castro, is told in The Broken God, by Bonnie Thielmann with Dean Merill, David C. Cook Publishing Co. (Elgin, Ill.), 1979,  p. 27.] That is to say, in late 1961 or early 1962.

How Jones met Fidel Castro—and why—is an interesting question.  So, too, we can only wonder at his proclivity for taking photographs of mercenary pilots in their crashed planes.  Pictures of that sort could only have been of interest to Castro’s enemies and the CIA.
Returning to Carlos Foster, if the tale that he told to the Times was a pre-emptive cover-story, a “limited hang-out” of some sort, what was Jones actually doing?  Why had he gone to Havana?  At this late date, and in the absence of interviews with officials of the Cuban government, there is probably no way to know.  What may be said, however, is this:

Emigration was an extremely sensitive issue in the first years of the Castro regime.  The CIA and the State Department, in their determination to embarrass Castro, did everything possible to encourage would-be immigrants to leave the island.  As a part of this policy, U.S. Government agencies and conservative Christian religious organizations collaborated to facilitate departures. [Religion In Cuba Today, edited by Alice L. Hageman and Philip E. Wheaton, Association Press, New York, p. 32.]  Jones’s visit may well have been a part of this program.

But there is no way to be certain of that.  Cuba was in the midst of a parapolitical melt-down.  While the CIA was conspiring to launch an invasion, irate Mafiosans and American businessmen had joined together to finance the bombing-runs of mercenary pilots.  Meanwhile, the Soviets had sent their Deputy Premier, Anastas I. Mikoyan, to Havana for the opening of the Soviet Exhibition of Science, Technology and Culture. [Mikoyan was in Havana from February 4-13.] The visit coincided with the Soviets’ decision to give Cuba a long-term low-interest loan, while promising to buy a million tons of Cuban sugar per annum.  The “Hilton Hotel” at which Jones was staying was the temporary home of a Sputnik satellite that the Soviets had put on display.  According to former CIA officer Melvin Beck, the CIA was trying to photograph it, and the lobby was crawling with spies from as many five different services (FBI, CIA, KGB, GRU and DGI).

[In this connection, an interesting coincidence concerns the presence of New York Times reporter James Reston at the Hilton.  He was there to cover the Mikoyan visit, as well as the Soviet exhibition, and it seems fair to say that, in a literal sense, at least, he must have crossed paths with Jim Jones.
           It is ironic, then, that nearly twenty years later, his son should one day write a book (Our Father Who Art In Hell) about the decline and fall of the Peoples Temple.  And in that book, a peculiar story is told:
          "In December, 1978, James Reston, Jr. (met) a journalist friend at the Park Hotel in Georgetown.  The journalist announced ominously that he now knew the full story behind Jonestown.  But he would not write it.  He would not tell his editors he knew it.  He would forget it and flee Guyana as  soon as possible.  He told Reston the name of his informant. "'He will contact you at your hotel.  If you want it, you will get the full story.  I have just heard it, and I've sent the man away.  If I were you, I wouldn't take it either.  It will make you the most celebrated writer in America, and you will die for it.'
          "Reston felt a nervous laugh rising from his belly and controlled it."
           Reston seems not to have pursued the matter.]

While one cannot say that Jones’s 1960 visit to Cuba was necessarily a spying mission, the circumstantial evidence suggests that it was.  That is to say, virtually every element of the trip can be shown to have been of particular interest to the CIA: encouraging Cuban emigration; documenting the destruction of aircraft piloted by mercenaries; the Sputnik at the Hilton; and, it would seem, Castro himself.


Cuba wasn’t the only country to which Jones intended to travel in 1960.  On June 28 of that year, at about the same time that Foster arrived in Indianapolis from Cuba, the State Department issued a passport (#2288751) to Jones for a seventeen-day visit to Poland, Finland, the U.S.S.R., and England.  The purpose of the trip, according to Jones’s visa application, was “sightseeing – culture.”

Which presents us with an enigma.  According to State Department records, this was Jones’s first passport.  How, then, did he travel to Cuba in February if he did not receive a passport until the end of June?  Did he enter the country “black”?  Was he using someone else’s documents?  And what about Carlos Foster’s certainty that Jones had previously traveled throughout Latin America?  Was Foster mistaken, or had Jones in fact visited Guyana?

It is almost as if we are dealing with two Jim Joneses.  And perhaps we are.  It’s a subject to which we will need to return.

Here, however, I want to point out certain coincidences of timing in the lives of Jim Jones and Dan Mitrione, and to discuss Jones’s own file at the CIA.

Passports typically require about 4-6 weeks to be mailed out.  Since Jones’s passport was issued on June 28, 1960 his application would have been filed in early May.  As it happens, it was during that same month that Dan Mitrione was in Washington D.C., being interviewed for a new job with a component of the State Department’s Agency for International Development (AID), the International Cooperation Administration (ICA).  An acknowledged cover for CIA officers and contract-spooks such as Watergate’s E. Howard Hunt and the JFK assassination’s George de Mohrenschildt, the ICA would become infamous during the 1960s, funding the construction of tiger-cages in Vietnam, and training foreign police forces in the theory and practice of torture.

A few years earlier, in 1957, Mitrione had spent three months at the FBI’s National Academy. [Mitrione was then Chief of Police in Richmond. ]  The connections he’d  made stood him in good stead.  Immediately after his interview with the ICA, he was hired by the State Department as a “public safety adviser.”  Three months later, in September, 1960 he was in Rio de Janeiro, studying Portuguese; by December, he was living with his family in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Whether Mitrione was an undercover CIA officer in South America is disputed.  The Soviets say he was. [Who's Who in the CIA, by Dr. Julius Mader, Berlin (1968).] Officially, however,  Mitrione was an AID officer attached to the Office of Public Safety (OPS).  But OPS was very much a nest of spies: in the Dominican Republic during the mid-1960s, for example, six out of twenty positions were CIA covers. ["U.S. A.I.D. In the Dominican Republic - An Inside View," NACLA Newsletter, November, 1970.  This was according to David Fairchild, the Assistant Program Officer for USAID in Santo Domingo.  (NACLA is the North American Conference on Latin America.) ]  Moreover, Mitrione’s partner at the time of his 1970 kidnapping in Uruguay was a public safety officer named Lee Echols—whose previous assignment had been as a CIA officer in the Dominican Republic. ["Echols takes dead aim on laugh," San Diego Union, June 12, 1986, p. 11.]

Whether or not Mitrione was an undercover CIA officer, it is a fact that the CIA’s Office of Security opened a file on Jones, and conducted a name-check on him, coincident with Mitrione’s departure for Rio.  Why it did so is a mystery: the Agency won’t say.

It is speculated, of course, that the file and name-check were sparked by the Soviet Bloc destinations for which Jones had applied for a visa.  But that could hardly have been the case.  The visa requests had been made in May, and the passport issued in June.  It was not until November, some five months later, that the Office of Security sent agents to the State Department’s Passport Office, there to examine Jones’s records—an activity that would hardly have been necessary if the passport application had stimulated the name-check in the first place.

Given the CIA’s reluctance to clear up the matter, one can only speculate that the Agency may have been “vetting” Jones for employment as an agent.

Two points should be made here.  The first is that the CIA claimed, in the aftermath of the Jonestown massacre, that its file on “the Rev. Jimmie Jones” was virtually empty.  According to the Agency, it had never collected data—not a single piece of paper—on Jones or the Peoples Temple.  It simply had a file on him.

Which remained open for 10 years.  According to CIA record, the file was only closed—and closed without explanation—in the wake of Dan Mitrione’s assassination by Tupamaro guerrillas in Uruguay.

Which is to say that the lifespan of Jones’s file at the CIA coincided precisely with the dates of Dan Mitrione’s tenure at the State Department.  What I am suggesting, then, is that Richmond Police Chief Dan Mitrione was recruited into the CIA, under State Department cover, in May, 1960; that a CIA file was opened on Jones because Mitrione intended to use him as an agent; and that Jones’s file was closed and purged, ten years later, as a direct and logical result of Mitrione’s assassination in 1970.


To understand the significance of next occurred, one has to go back more than one hundred years.  It was then, in the Northwest District of Guyana, that a prophet named Smith issued a call to the country’s disenfranchised Amerindians, summoning them to a redoubt in the Pakaraima Mountains—the land of El Dorado.

Akawaios, Caribs and Arawaks came from all around to witness what they were told would be the Millennium.  “They would see God,” Smith promised, “be free from all calamities of life, and possess lands of such boundless fertility, that a…(large) crop of cassava would grow from a single stick.”

But Smith had lied.  And “when the Millennium failed to materialize, the followers were told they had to die in order to be resurrected as white people…

“At a great camp meeting in 1845, some 400 people killed themselves.” [Guyana Gold, by Wellesley A. Baird, Three Continents Press (Washington, 1982), pp. 164-181.  The quotation is from an Afterword by Kathleen A. Adams.  Ms. Adams wrote her doctoral thesis (for Case Western Reserve University) on the impact of the gold-mining industry on  Amerindian tribes in the North West District of Guyana.]

One-hundred-and-thirty-three years later, in the Fall of 1978, at a great camp meeting in the same Northwest District of Guyana, upwards of a thousand expatriate Americans, most of them black, and about as poor and disenfranchised as the Amerindians who’d preceded them, died under circumstances so similar as to be eerie.  They, too, had been promised that they would be freed from the calamities of life, and that they would possess lands of boundless fertility.  Like Smith, their charismatic leader had a generic sort of name and he, too, had lied.

This time, 913 people died in front of a large, hand-lettered sign that read: “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

The coincidence here is so dramatic that is impossible not to wonder if Jim Jones knew of Smith’s precedent.  Because, if he did know, and if his politics were, as seems very likely, a fraud, then the Jonestown massacre is revealed to have been a ghastly practical joke—the ultimate psychopathic prank.

According to Kathleen Adams, the anthropologist who first related the story about Smith and the Amerindians, Jim Jones was in fact familiar with the suicides of 1845.  He had learned of them, she said, while working as a missionary in the Northwest District.

Adams does not tell us when this was, but the implication is that it was long before the establishment of Jonestown.  The possibilities here are two:

The first is that Jones’s Cuban friend, Carlos Foster, is correct when he says that Jones was well-traveled and had been to Guyana prior to 1960.  The difficulty with this, of course, is that Jones’s biographers are ignorant of any such travels.  But if Jones did not go to Guyaya prior to 1960, he must have learned about Smith’s precedent while doing missionary work in Guyana—after his 1960 visit to Cuba.  But when could that have been?

The answer would appear to be at about the end of October, 1961.  Arriving at that conclusion is by no means an easy matter, however, given the chronological confusion that his most responsible biographer, Tim Reiterman, relates. [Op cit., Raven, pp. 75-78.]  Because this confusion raises a number of interesting questions about Jones’s activities, whereabouts and true loyalties, the matter is worth straightening out.

In the Fall of 1961, Jim Jones was becoming paranoid. Under treatment for stress, he was hearing “extraterrestrial voices,” and suffering seizures. [Dr. E. Paul Thomas was Jones's physician.]  Hospitalized during most of the first week in October, he resigned his position as Director of the Indianapolis Human Rights Commission. [Jones's hospital stay is related in the Indianapolis Recorder, October 7, 1961.]

It was then, according to Reiterman, that Jones confided in his ministerial assistant, Ross Case, that he’d had a vision of nuclear holocaust.

“A few weeks later, Jones took off alone in a plane for Hawaii, ostensibly to scout for a new site for Peoples Temple….”  (At a loss to explain why Jones should have gone to Hawaii, Reiterman implies that Jones viewed the islands as a potential nuclear refuge—a ludicrous notion in light of their role as stationary aircraft carriers.)

“On what would become a two-year sojourn, Jones made his first stop in Honolulu, where he explored a job as a university chaplain.  Though he did not like the job requirements, he decided to stay on the island for a while anyway, and sent for his family.  First, his wife, his mother and the children, except for Jimmy, joined him.  Then the Baldwins followed with the adopted black child….  During the couple of months in the islands, Jones seemed to decide that his sabbatical would be a long one.” [Ibid., p. 77.]

According to Reiterman’s chronology, therefore, Jones left Indianapolis for Hawaii near the end of October, 1961.  He then sent for his family, which joined him in what we may suppose was November.  The family remained in Hawaii for a “couple of months”: i.e., until January or February.

“In January, 1962, Esquire magazine published an article listing the nine safest places in the world to escape thermonuclear blasts and fallout….

The article’s advice was not lost on Jones.  Soon he was heading for the southern hemisphere, which was less vulnerable to fallout because of atmospheric and political factors.  The family planned to go eventually to Belo Horizonte, an inland Brazilian city of 600,000.”

Jones’s biographer goes on to say that, after leaving Hawaii, he subject traveled to California, and then to Mexico City, before continuing on to Guyana.  There, Jones’s visit “made page seven of the Guiana Graphic.” [Ibid., p. 78.]

That Jones made page 7 of the local newspaper is a matter of fact.  Unfortunately for Reiterman’s chronology, however, he did so on October 25 (1961).  Which is to say that the head of the Peoples Temple is alleged to have been in two places at that same time: in Hawaii and Guyana during the last week in October—with intervening stops in California and Mexico City.

Obviously, Reiterman is mistaken, but the issue is not merely one of a confused chronology.  There is evidence (including, as we’ll see, a photograph) which strongly suggests that two people may have been using Jones’s identity during the 1961-63 period.  Because of this, rumors that Jones was hospitalized in a “lunatic asylum” during that time should not be dismissed out of hand.  The rumors were started by a black minister in Indiana who is said to have been jealous of Jones’s success among blacks at the Peoples Temple.  While the allegation has yet to be documented, there are many other references to Jones’s having been under psychiatric care at one time or another.

Ross Case says that Jones sometimes referred to “my psychiatrist.”  Others have suggested that the real reason Jones went to Hawaii was to receive psychiatric care without publicity.

In later years, Temple member Loretta Cordell reported shock at seeing Jones described as “a sociopath.”  The description was contained in a psychiatrist’s report that Cordell said was in the files of Jones’s San Francisco physician (probably Dr. Carleton Goodlett).

In a recent interview with this author, Dr. Sukhdeo confirmed that Jones had been treated at the Langley-Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute in San Francisco during the 1960s and 70s.  According to Sukhdeo, he has repeatedly asked to see Jones’s medical file from the Institute, but to no avail.

“I have asked (Langley-Porter’s Dr.) Chris Hatcher to see the file several times,” Sukhdeo told this writer.  “But, each time, he has refused.  I don’t know why.  He won’t say.  It’s very peculiar.  Jones has been dead for more than 20 years.”

“The nation’s leading center for brain research,” Langley-Porter is noted for its hospitality to anti-cult activists such as Dr. Margaret Singer and, also, for experiments that it conducts on behalf of the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).  While much of that research is classified, the Institute has experimented with electromagnetic effects and behavioral modification techniques involving a wide variety of stimuli—including hypnosis-from-a-distance.

Some of the Institute’s classified research may be inferred from quotations attributed to its director, Dr. Alan Gevins (see Mind Wars, by Ron McRae, St. Martin’s Press, 1984, p. 136).  According to Dr. Gevins, the military potential of Extremely Low Frequency radiation (ELF) is enormous.  Used as a medium for secret communications between submarines, ELF waves are a thousand miles long, unobstructed by water, and theoretically “capable of shutting off the brain (and) killing everyone in l0 thousand square miles or larger target area.”

“‘No one paid any attention to the biological affects of ELF for years,’ says Dr. Gevins, ‘because the power levels are so low.  Then we realized that because the power levels are so low, the brain could mistake the outside signal for its own, mimic it (a process known as bioelectric entrainment), and respond when it changes.’”

The process is one that would no doubt fascinate Dr. Sukhdeo.  (As an aside, it’s worth noting that virtually every survivor of the Jonestown massacre was treated at Langley-Porter.  This occurred as a consequence of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone’s request that Dr. Hatcher undertake a study of the Peoples Temple while counseling its survivors.  (Hatcher’s appointment was made with surprising alacrity since Moscone himself was assassinated only nine days after the killings at Jonestown.)

Returning to the Guiana Graphic article about Jones’s visit to Guyana, it is worth pointing out that the story throws a crimp in much more than Reiterman’s chronology.  It makes a hash as well of Jones’s motive for going to South America.  The Esquire article, published in January, 1962 could hardly have prompted Jones to go anywhere in October, 1961.

So, too, the story in the Graphic provides clear evidence of Jones’s immersion in political intrigue.

At the time of his visit, the former British colony was wracked by covert operations being mounted by the CIA and MI-6.

By way of background, the most important political group in the country was the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), established by Dr. Cheddi Jagan during the 1940s.  A Marxist organization, the PPP’s activities had caused the British to declare “a crisis situation” in 1953.  Troops were sent, the Constitution was suspended, and recent elections were nullified in order to “prevent communist subversion.”

Over the next four years, MI-6 and the CIA established a de facto police state in Guyana.  Racial tensions were exacerbated between the East Indian and black populations—with the result that the PPP was soon split.  While Jagan, himself an East Indian, remained in charge of the party, another of its members—a black named Forbes Burnham—began (with the help of Western intelligence services) to challenge his leadership.

Despite the schism, the PPP was victorious in 1957 and, again, in 1961—just prior to Jones’s visit.  Coming on the heels of Castro’s embrace of the Soviets, Jagan’s re-election chilled the Kennedy Administration.  Accordingly, the CIA intensified its operations against Jagan and the PPP, doing everything in its power to increase its support for Burnham, provoke strikes and exacerbate racial and economic tensions.  It accomplished all these goals, secretly underwriting Burnham’s political campaigns, while using the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) as a cover for operations against local trade unions.

Eventually, these operations would succeed: Jagan would be ousted, and Burnham brought to power.  A decade later, that same Burnham regime would facilitate the creation of Jonestown, leasing the land to the Peoples Temple and approving its members’ immigration.

It was in this somewhat dangerous context that Jim Jones arrived in the Guyanese capital.  Putting on a series of tent-shows, replete with faith-healings and talking in tongues, he warned the local populace against thieving American missionaries and evangelists—who, he said, were largely responsible for the spread of Communism.

Even Reiterman, who accepts almost everything at face-value, is puzzled by this: “Entering politically volatile South America,” he writes, Jones “seemed to want to put himself on the record as an anticommunist.” [Op cit., Raven, p. 78.]
Exactly.  And how convenient for the CIA, whose activities were being hindered by reform-minded missionaries.