The Mystery Tape
by David Parker Wise
A mysterious tape (labeled as Q875) was allegedly found at Jones-town by the FBI. What makes this tape so very mysterious is that it was made after the deaths, as proven by the radio broadcasts playing in the background. For several years, folks have thrown out lots of ideas in an attempt to explain this tape. I believe that for some, my explanation of the tape will answer lots of questions.
I believe the mystery tape is important physical evidence left by a medical team under the control of the CIA, whose role was to inject all of the bodies between the shoulder blades, a location preselected because it is the only place on the body that humans cannot inject themselves. A leader on the CIA medical team was likely charged with monitoring the media as events unfolded. He attempted to record the press coverage off of a radio at Jonestown. Then, due to a hurried operation, the tape was left behind. This was not a big blunder, in a way, because there is nothing much on the tape. The only real oversight in leaving the tape is that the tape was made in Jonestown after the mass deaths, thus begging the question "by whom?"
There is adequate evidence that the CIA had been monitoring Jonestown before the mass suicides. Members of Green Berets who were there confirm that the plan was to go in and kill any survivors. This was necessary in order to execute a bigger plan, which was to inject all the bodies in a way that would make it look like mass murder. This plan did not fit into reality very well, however, since survivors popped up who had watched the suicides from the jungle and reported how people hugged and kissed before voluntarily killing themselves. This forced the CIA to backtrack quickly.
Whether or not there was a real necessity for the population of Jonestown to have it put upon them to commit suicide to show their commitment to Liberation Theology is really not the question. For the CIA the question was, "How do we stop Jim Jones from making a social statement on behalf of Liberation Theology and the Left?" After the bodies were all injected, they had a new problem. Reports from eyewitnesses (such as Stanley Clayton, who had watched from the jungle) and reports of a "death tape" recorded at the time of the mass suicide threatened to blow their cover.
The CIA now had to keep their first plan from backfiring on them. Guyana Coroner Leslie Mootoo's first official report on the Jonestown deaths said there were needle marks between the shoulder blades on virtually all of the bodies found there. According one Jonestown survivor who assisted the coroner in early identifications, "Mootoo did not seem like the kind of man who would be easily intimidated, but something really scared him. He said that someone made him change his story." It was obviously the CIA that pressured Dr. Mootoo into changing his report. He altered the report to say that only a few people were injected, thus making the information fit the death tape, witnesses' accounts, etc. This later report is what became the "Official Report" for the press and for history.
In my unique search for the truth regarding what really happened at Jonestown for my upcoming book The Jonestown Legacy, I was fortunate to interview one of the Green Berets who landed there shortly after the Jonestown suicides. For the purposes of the book he asked me to call him Scott Hooker, explaining that this name will identify him to the other soldiers who were there. He told me how he pulled Jones' dead body out of his chair and how haunting his hazel-colored eyes were, as they seemed to stare into space. Most shocking of all, he told me in detail how the Green Berets were under instructions to kill the survivors. This was the same story told by Lt. Col. James "Bo" Gritz, the commander in charge of all the Green Berets in Latin and South America at that time. Gritz said openly that he did not know too much beyond the fact that it was the Green Berets' mission to go in and kill survivors. He said this is because it was a compartmentalized CIA operation.
Gritz also reported afterward that the man in charge of the operation returned and said, "The niggers are all dead." In ways Gritz is a press-hungry and egotistical character. The most decorated soldier in Vietnam, he now makes it as a celebrity of sorts. He was on the news while negotiating a peaceful settlement between the police and white separatist Randy Weaver. Gritz was also caught on TV giving the Nazi salute to skinheads as he left a building where negotiations were going on in a standoff between right-wing extremists and the police.
Stanley Clayton and both of the Temple attorneys who fled Jonestown all reported hearing bursts of automatic machine-gun fire - and even three cheers by the soldiers - after their mission was accomplished and the survivors who remained were killed. Since there had been no automatic weapons in Jonestown, the bodies of those who were shot by the Green Berets had to be removed via helicopter and dropped into the jungle.
Scott Hooker told me that as their helicopter was landing, survivors were waving to be rescued. However the Green Berets were ordered to shoot them dead. Scott described the blood misting into a red cloud around the first man he shot - with his automatic weapon - upon exiting the helicopter. He emphasized that the Green Berets were under orders to turn over the dead bodies in search of explosives before the CIA medical team took over. This is further proof that the CIA has been monitoring Jonestown, because as one survivor remembers, Jones publicly announced the idea or threat of putting explosives on their bodies before committing suicide as a sort of booby trap for the enemy.
In 1978 it was the CIA's job to represent the Radical Right in the destruction of the Radical Left. The Cold War was at its height. Bo Gritz was quoted as saying that Jones had become "very politically connected." After leaving the United States, Jones was attempting to transform his followers from the peace and love of Jesus to the by-any-means-necessary and change-only-comes-out-of-the-barrel-of-a-gun philosophies of more violent leaders such as Mao Tse-Tung and Malcolm X. Ironically, Peoples Temple had been founded as a passivist and humanitarian group that denounced violence, dictatorship and totalitarian government. But over the years, Jones' drug-induced psychosis mounted. He became very passive-aggressive and was dreaming and scheming in his war against the Right Wing, capitalism and the CIA - just as the CIA schemed to demonize both him and Liberation Theology.
We know this: On that day the Radical Right enjoyed the destruction of the Radical Left. In his megalomaniacal desire to go down in history, Jim Jones did the work for them. He did not realize he was doing the Radical Right a favor. He actually believed that this ridiculous plan would be seen internationally as a meaningful and virtuous protest. In Buddhist societies, both individual and group suicides have been seen as effective protests, but it simply did not work in American society.
My friend Tim Carter has told me that a sound on the tape which is very similar to the slamming of a screen door leads him to believe the Q875 tape could have been made in Port Kaituma. However, he also admitted to me that this sound could be any number of other things, such as a cabinet door or the sound of closing a piece of portable gear, and that, indeed, the tape could have been made other places, including Jonestown. Loud jungle birds are clearly audible in the background on the tape. Trees for such jungle birds did not exist near the Temple's Georgetown headquarters at Lamaha Gardens. At Port Kaituma there were trees but nothing else much more than a bar. Finally, the FBI had reason to be in Jonestown, because the suicides there made it a crime scene. The Temple headquarters in Georgetown was also a crime scene because Sharon Amos and her children died there.
The protocol used by the FBI in categorizing evidence and using evidence bags is very scientific. The FBI is made up of extensively trained people with college educations. Considering the evidence, I believe the tape was made in Jonestown, found in Jonestown by the FBI, properly labeled and entered into evidence.
I hired an international transcriber for a major Maharaja to listen to the mystery tape over and over with her professional transcription equipment and to transcribe it. Because of the broad difference in what people have been hearing on the tape, it was very important to me to get an experienced and objective transcriptionist with high-dollar equipment. This transcriptionist has been doing tape transcription on the average of five days a week for most of the past thirty years. She has transcribed not only for a spiritual teacher with a decided Hindi accent, but various and sundry recordings with different dialects, accents and background noises for top institutions, including the University of California San Diego. When given this tape to transcribe, she was not told what to listen for.
Her objectivity was very important to me, because other people were reading things into the tape that were not there. Sometimes the mind, especially in a state of paranoia or fear - such as surrounds the entire Jonestown phenomena - can project what it wants to hear (or thinks it will hear). The right-wingers or the Jones demonizers for instance were sure that they heard Jones' voice on the tape - implying that he was alive after all the other people were dead. This is not true. The voice of Jones is absolutely nowhere to be found on the tape.
One of the most interesting things that this professional transcriptionist heard was a man's voice saying, "I'll meet you on the way out." Among other interesting things did hear was the word "triage" amongst an array of professional-sounding voices going about a busy job. Someone said "Sue," after which someone else says, "Shut up."
I was so intrigued by her results that I borrowed one of her professional transcription machines, which allowed me to toy with the pitch on the tape to experiment with both speed and tone. After this I gave the tape to a professional soundman. He recorded it onto the computer as a waveform and phase-shifted it and messed with various sound effects from hiss removal to vocal removal. We took waveform photos of each interesting section with numbers referencing each increment. This means that anyone can listen to the same pieces and email them back and forth.