<Unless somebody suggests something I could write about, weekly updates will cease.>
by Timothy Chilman
So, what does the faux religion of Scientology entail? Tom Cruise denied it, the website www.scientologymths.info still denies it, and the Church of Scientology has attempted to suppress the story by means of copyright and trade secrecy lawsuits, but it goes like this: after Scientologists have shelled out an estimated $350,000 to reach Operating Thetan Level III, they hear the story of Xenu, the overlord of the 76 planets of the Galactic Confederation. He solved overpopulation by transporting people to the planet Teegeeack – Earth – on spaceships that resembled Douglas DC-8s and destroying them with H bombs. The souls of the dead are called Thetans, which attach themselves to people, and Scientology is largely based on ridding people of them.
Xenu was overthrown by the Loyal Officers, and imprisoned in a mountain on Madeira where he remains to this day. A document handwritten by Hubbard tells the story and Church spokesman Tommy Davis confirmed it. Wikileaks released details of the OTIII procedure. The official Scientology line is that anybody reading the story of Xenu without undergoing the appropriate preparation could die of pneumonia.
The Snow White Program was devised by the founder of the Church of Scientology, science fiction hack author, L. Ron Hubbard, in 1973. It is sometimes wrongly referred to as Operation Snow White, which annoys Scientologists. It was so-called because Hubbard wished it to make his Church appear snow white.
The Church claimed that the Program aimed to nullify government reports about the cult which were perceived to be untrue by Hubbard and his followers. The stated objective of the program was “to engage in various litigation in all countries affected so as to expose to view all such derogatory and false reports, to engage in further litigation in the countries originating such reports, to exhaust recourse in these countries and then finally to take the matter to the United Nations… and to the European Commission on Human Rights, meanwhile uprooting and canceling all such files and reports wherever found.” This would entail the submission of Freedom of Information Act requests to federal agencies, the requesting of public records, and litigation.
The Program was created while Hubbard and the management of Scientology were aboard the ship, Apollo, which Scientologists described as “the sanest place on the planet.” The 3,280 ton Apollo had for almost a decade been the personal yacht of Hubbard. The Program was largely prompted by the difficulties encountered by the Apollo as it shuttled between ports in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and Madeira. The Apollo had often visited ports without problems from 1969 to the first half of 1974, but in July, 1973, rumors surfaced in Portugal that the vessel was a “CIA ship.” The same had been rumored in Spain in 1972. When the Apollo stopped at the port of Funchal in Madeira, Portugal, on October 3, 1974, the ship was attacked by a sizable crowd who threw rocks and shouted: “CIA ship!” One crew member said that Molotova cocktails were thrown, but were not lit. “Fortunately, “ he said, “this was not an experienced mob.” Nearby police and army units declined to intervene. Some Church members were injured and property was damaged: lines were cut and Scientologists’ autos and motorcycles were pushed off the dock and into the water. Attackers were fended off with fire hoses, and the ship departed in haste.
The Scientologists were perhaps not best placed to complain of their reception. On June 25, 1971, a young woman from Colorado, Susan Meister, died in an apparent suicide aboard the Apollo. The next month, her father went to the ship when it was in Safi in Morocco to inquire about his daughter’s death. Hubbard was reportedly on the ship, but declined to meet Meister. Meister questioned the explanation of Susan’s suicide which he received from Scientology personnel, and suggested that he might seek further investigation. In the present of the American vice consul from Casablanca, William J. Galbraith, the Apollo’s captain said that “he had enough material, including compromising photographs of Miss Meister, to smear Mr. Meister first.”
The captain’s threat was likely empty. A person acquainted with Susan who later left the Church said, “There was no way that girl could have been involved in anything compromising. She was very quiet, very nice.”
The captain also said that “”his organization, backed by money and friends in high places, ‘would cause a nosy vice consul severe problems’.” In Safi, he said, his ship was well-regarded and “Accidents could easily happen to people.”
The two most senior officers of the ship filed a formal complaint with the State Department, claiming that Galbraith had said he could “get the ship sunk … by the CIA” or arrange its sabotage “by getting a couple of bottles of Coca-Cola into the (engine) oil, or, even better, commercial diamond dust.”
The Apollo was registered in Panama with its owner designated as Operation and Transport Corp, Ltd., a Panamanian company which declined to divulge the names of its clients. The Panamanian consul said the Apollo was “in a very bad state of repair” and “the lives of the crew had been in jeopardy while the vessel was at sea.”
The Apollo transmitted messages in code. A U.S. diplomatic cable from Tangier which was dated April 26, 1972 said that there had been rumors in town that the Apollo was “involved in drug or white slave traffic.” The latter is a delightful term for prostitution, and the cable said that the allegation arose because aboard the Apollo were “a large number of strikingly beautiful young ladies.” The cable added that these allegations were likely false, as the vessel stood out “like a sore thumb,” and would not have been employed by anybody not wishing to attract attention. The rumors followed the Apollo to the Caribbean. In Trinidad, the tabloid, The Bomb, connected the Apollo not only with Scientology, but also the CIA and the Sharon Tate murder. The Church sued for libel.
The American Consul General in Tangier, Howard D. Jones, told of a social encounter with a lady from the Apollo’s owner, the mysterious OTC company. She told him: “’I am Meredith Thomas. I am here with a Panamanian corporation, and that is all I can tell you.”
The Apollo attracted attention in Portugal because the ship purported to be owned by a wealthy consultant, but dirty laundry was hung from it, children could be seen running around the decks, and the vessel was a wreck.
The Snow White Program was, in truth, a systematic attempt to infiltrate the U.S. government and steal files relating to the Church. The Program was divided into Snow White Operating Targets, each of which had a codename.
The highest priority targets included the IRS, CIA, FBI, FDA, NSA, DEA, U.S. air force, army, navy, and coast guard, the U.S. attorney general, the Departments of Justice, Labor, State, Treasury, Immigration, the Post Office, and the Senate and House of Representatives.
Project Hunter targeted the IRS in addition to other federal and state agencies. The plan was written by Hubbard on 20 April, 1973. He said the Project was one of “record correction”: French police, he said, had reported that the U.S. government had made false accusations against him. He described the resultant damage as “incredible,” causing problems with immigration and suchlike. This would be the subject of a complaint to the UN, a venture which did not get anywhere. The Church’s representative at the UN was John McMaster, who wore a ministerial collar and was addressed as “Father McMaster.” Hubbard’s plan was entirely legal: government agencies would be asked for relevant information, and if that could not be “corrected,” suit would be filed. In practice, it was all terribly illegal, and encompassed the governments of several nations.
The Guardian’s Office (G.O.) was an organization within the Church headed by Hubbard’s wife, Mary Sue. It was, in effect, a private CIA.
The G.O. was responsible for the planting of a bug in a conference room of the IRS Chief Counsel, where the Church was discussed. Jane Kember, the Guardian World Wide, who resided in East Grinstead, in England, issued Guardian Order 1361, which called for the insertion of a Scientologist agent into the IRS in Los Angeles. This individual was to be “trustworthy and well grooved-in.” G.O. member, Gerald Wolfe, codenamed Silver, was given this mission.
Wolfe was hired as a clerk typist in May, 1975. He acted in concert with the G.O.’s Assistant Guardian for the Bureau of Information, Michael Meisner. Between May, 1975 and June, 1976, the pair burglarized the offices of the IRS’s Chief Counsel, a number of attorneys, the Interpol Liaison Office, the Office of Intelligence Operations, and the Deputy General of the United States using Wolfe’s I.D. card and five forged ones.
Documents were taken relating to organizations other than the Church, so that another body would be suspected. Information was obtained to resist a financial audit by the IRS in California, and to assist with a Freedom of Information Act suit against the IRS. IRS stationery was stolen to be used to draft fake letters from a disgruntled employee.
In June, 1976, Wolfe was apprehended by the FBI with a forged I.D. Card, after a security guard at the U.S. Courthouse became suspicious of his credentials. He was arrested and convicted of forging identity documents. Meisner escaped justice for a year, but he did not escape imprisonment: the G.O. held him captive when he threatened to flee Los Angeles to Canada or Washington, D.C. He escaped and turned himself over to the FBI and agreed to cooperate. A month after that, the FBI raided the G.O.’s offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. The thousands of documents seized included most of those stolen from IRS offices.
Eleven G.O. Officials were indicted, and nine landed prison sentences of between six months and, in the case of Mary Sue Hubbard, five years and a fine of $10,000. Mary Sue pleaded for leniency, but was criticized by her judge for attempting to “destroy the very foundation of the government.” She served one year before being released, and was ousted from her position as head of the G.O. L. Ron Hubbard was named as an unindicted co-conspirator, and it is unlikely he was unaware of the activities of his spouse. Other of the Church of Scientology’s covert operatives were uncovered. Nancy Douglass, codename Pitts, worked for the Drug Enforcement administration while the attractive Sharon Thomas, codename Judy, was employed by the American Psychiatric Association, the Coast Guard and then the Department of Justice. Both stole or photocopied documents, and received light sentences for their actions.
Documents obtained by the FBI told of Project Apple, an attempt to remove negative references to Scientology from the files of Interpol, the Paris police, and the French ministry of immigration and Project Coal, an attempt to have German critics of the Church charged with genocide.
Some of the seized documents detailed Operation Freakout PC. This was a series of efforts to undermine Paulette Cooper, author of The Scandal of Scientology. The aim was to have her “incarcerated in a mental institution or jail or at least to hit her so hard that she drops her attacks.” Some of her stationery was stolen and her fingerprints acquired, which were used to make bomb threats against the Church. Until the evidence revealed by the FBI raids, Cooper faced 15 years in jail. No indictments resulted from Freakout, but it has been speculated that Cooper filed civil charges and received a cash settlement. Church documents discussed framing Cooper for bomb threats against an Arab consulate and Henry Kissenger, and threats to then-President Nixon.
One policy which fell into the hands of the FBI was entitled, Security and Theft of Materials, which talked about how to burglarize. Premises would be cased before operatives entered, wearing gloves. A series of cover stories would be created for presentation to authorities, and anybody arrested would say only the minimum required by law. Operatives were to carry nothing which connected them to the Church. A document named Walk-Ins detailed how to break into a locked xerox machine, how to open a locked door with a credit card, how to make a metal tool for lockpicking, how to use a strand of wire for the same, how to defeat a combination lock, and more. Illustrations were provided.
The document, B & Es (breaking and entering), commented that “some of our most successful collections actions fall into this category.” Another document spoke of bugging and debugging. Policy #121669, Programme: Intelligence: Internal Security, said that personnel files should be used against targets. One document concerned plans to put agents into the offices of the U.S. Attorney, the headquarters of the AMA, and different state and local district attorneys. Compliance Report GO#121569 said that with the World Federation of Mental Health, “everything possible was done to collect the data, everything from infiltrating to stealing to eavesdropping, etc.”
The policy documents, The Correct Use of Codes and Re: Coding/Wording of Messages, said messages should be encoded if they concerned incriminating activities, particularly those that might require more payment of tax. Specified were activities that would call into question the Church’s humanitarian motives, and admission to unpunished crimes, breaking and entering, posing as a government agent, illegal wiretapping of taping of conversations, harassment, and bribery. Wording such as “let’s wipe him out,” in particular, was to be encoded.
The document, Re.: Intelligence, listed infiltration, bribery, purchasing information, robbery, and blackmail as methods of obtaining information. Another document described the system of the Red Box, where evidence of illicit activities was kept in a folder or briefcase which could be quickly destroyed in the event of a raid. Basic and Essential Security said that G.O. Staff should be capable of destroying incriminating material within 30 to 60 seconds. It said that “Fire is usually most thorough and practical,” and recommended having lighter fluid and matches to hand.
G.O. Agents attended a course known as Information Full Hat. The reading list for the course included Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, The Spy and His Master, and KGB, CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. Training in lying was given.
The G.O. maintained files on all Scientologists and people perceived to be enemies. As Hubbard said in a policy later dated 5 August, 1959, “Remember one thing, we are not running a business, we are running a government. We are in direct control of people’s lives.” Information divulged by Church members during “auditing” sessions where confidentiality had been promised ended up with the G.O. The information was used for intimidation and, specifically, blackmail. One such file, on a member who became disaffected, detailed her promiscuity (“She slept with four or five men during the course… She had quite a record of promiscuity… She has masturbated regularly since she was eight years old, mentions doing it once with coffee grounds and once had a puppy lick her”), Another report talked of the subject’s several abortions, appointments with a psychiatrist due to alcohol problems, drug history, and son being in jail.
New members to the Church were interviewed, where they were asked questions about all their past lives. Inquiries included: “Have you ever enslaved a population?”, “Have you ever eaten a human body?”, and “Did you come to Earth for evil purposes?” Adherents sign a billion year contract.
The Church says that the Guardian’s Office was disbanded in 1983, but it appears to have been merely renamed the Office of Special Affairs. The Apollo was sold on and became a restaurant in Texas before it was cut into scrap. While the Church of Scientology claims to work toward global social betterment, its true function was apparent from a 1972 policy letter written by Hubbard to senior Scientologists: “Make money… make more money… make other people produce so as to make money.”
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“Lies Debunked: Operation Snow White – FOIA.” Church of Scientology volunteer ministry Program. n.d. 10 January 2012. <http://www.cosvm.org/swfoia.htm.>
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Leyden, John. “Scientology spokesman confirms Xenu story.” The Register. 16 March 2009. 10 January 2012. <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/16/scientology_xenu_confirmation/.>