On Nov. 18, 1978, more than 900 Americans died in Jonestown, Guyana. Some committed suicide. More were murdered. And until 9/11, it was the largest single mass killing of American citizens. U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan was assassinated as he tried to rescue Jonestown residents desperate for freedom.
In CQ Roll Call's new podcast, we investigate Jonestown through the prism of congressional oversight, telling a story of corruption, international intrigue, race and betrayal.
Oversight. How can the lessons of the past inform decisions of today?
Epilogue: Shattered Lives
Betrayal — it's the tie that binds everyone who was touched by Jim Jones' evil ways. In this final episode of Oversight: Jonestown, we take you into the lives of survivors and victims' families who were shunned, humiliated and then blamed in the days, months and years following Jonestown. What happened to their lives? And what happened to their children's lives?
Who's to Blame?
Listen as we detail how nearly every government agency that came into contact with Jim Jones dodged responsibility for the tragedy. We bring you the facts of how investigation and oversight at all levels failed the American public and the more than 900 dead Peoples Temple members, which included 304 murdered children.
In the waning months of Jonestown, the only primary American officials in touch with the Rev*.* Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple were U.S. diplomats at the tiny embassy in Georgetown, Guyana. We tell you about a 6-year-old boy who became central to Jones and to the existence of the commune, a flirtation with the KGB and the Soviet Union and preparations for mass murder and suicide. How much did embassy officials know? We ask: Were American diplomats negligent? You decide.
The Cover Up
In this episode, we reveal how the FBI refused to investigate Jim Jones, how the San Francisco district attorney was involved with the Peoples Temple and how a mole was working for both Jones and the DA.
Descent Into Madness
Oversight: Jonestown takes a step back to the mid-1970s, a time of tumult, to explain how the Rev. Jim Jones went from Midwest preacher to messiah to maniac. It's the story of how he became a master of exploitation. He used the Black Power movement against the African-American community, politicians' own votes against them — and abuse and coercion against his own flock.
In this first episode of Oversight: Jonestown, we take you deep into the Guyanese jungle, behind the harrowing scenes of the last 24 hours of the Peoples Temple Agricultural Collective. We have new information and a new understanding of how one man — the Rev. Jim Jones — orchestrated the deaths of 917 people, including Congressman Leo Ryan.
For more: http://www.rollcall.com/Jonestown and http://www.rollcall.com/podcasts