SAN FRANCISCO -- Survivors of the Peoples Temple tragedy and relatives of the dead followers of the Rev. Jim Jones sued the federal government Wednesday for $63.4 million for conspiring in the deaths of more than 900 cult members.
The suit for personal injury and violation of civil rights charges that former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and former CIA director Stanfield Turner participated in a conspiracy with Jones to control temple members who held socialist beliefs.
The suit alleges Jones was an 'employee, servant, agent, or operative' of the CIA from 1963 until his death along with 912 other temple members in a mass murder suicide at the cult's agricultural compound in Guyana.
The mass deaths were ignited by the assassination of Rep. Leo Ryan, who was visiting the jungle colony to investigate charges that Jones was using physical and mental abuse to control his flock.
The suit charged the CIA knew 'that they had commissioned James Warren Jones to embark upon a plan to control and to ultimately massacre members of the Peoples Temple.'
Monika Bagby, Thomas Bogue and Teena M. Turner, wounded in the Nov. 18, 1978, attack on Ryan, filed the suit in U.S. District Court, joined by relatives of several cult members who perished in the murder-suicide rite.
'The purpose of this plan was to amass ... economic and political power in James Warren Jones so that persons tending toward a socialistic perspective would align themselves with James Warren Jones so that he and said Defendants could best control these persons,' the suit said.
The suit also charges that the CIA knew and participated in mind-control and drug experiments and was aware as early as April 10, 1978, of a plan to destroy the Peoples Temple flock.
By not acting to stop the tragedy, the State Department and CIA 'wrongfully neglected' the situation and their inaction violated the civil rights of the survivors and relatives of the dead.
Also charged in the suit were former Attorney General Griffin Bell, Rep. Clement Zablocki, Ambassador to Guyana John R. Burke, Deputy Chief of Missions in Guyana Richard A. Dwyer and other members of the State Department and U.S. Customs Service.