Since some of the materials which describe the $cientology cult could be
considered to be copywritten materials, I have censored myself and The
Skeptic Tank by deleting any and all possible text files which describes
the cult's hidden mythologies. I have elected to quote just a bit of the
questionable text according to the "Fair Use" legal findings afforded to
those who report. - Fredric L. Rice, The Skeptic Tank, 09/Sep/95
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Subject: St. Petersburg Times series, won 1980 Pulitzer [09/14] NEW!
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 1995 15:14:55 +0200
Organization: RePLaY aND CoMPaNY UnLimited
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Operation Bunny Bust
The Guardians of Scientology called their scheme to "restrain Orsini"
Operation Bunny Bust.
It is worthy of full description, now that its dimensions have been
laid out in Scientology documents made public by a federal court in
Washington. For it demonstrates the callous disregard of the Church of
Scientology's Guardian Office for the innocent when it embarks on an
operation against someone it has decided is an enemy.
St. Petersburg Times reporter Bette Orsini had dug deeply into the
background of Scientology and its founder, science fiction writer L. Ron
Hubbard, in the early weeks of 1976. She was writing a great deal about
them. In their new offices in the old Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater,
the Guardians placed her near the top of their enemies list.
They were aware of the scope of her investigations. "Silver," their
secret agent in the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service in
Washington who spent his weekends copying IRS documents and passing them
along to the Guardian Office, came across the tracks of Mrs. Orsini's
He supplied them, for example, with a copy of a February 1976 letter
from reporter Orsini to Richard Arter, public affairs officer of the
Philadelphia Service Center, requesting copies of the applications
submitted by 14 churches of Scientology for tax exempt status.
On Jan. 26, 1976, two days before the Church of Scientology
acknowledged that it was the new owner of the Fort Harrison Hotel, the
assistant guardian for information at Flag -- the church headquarters
occupying the hotel -- outlined in a letter to the deputy guardian for
information U.S. a program "to get Bette Orsini removed from a position of
power and attack at The St. Petersburg Times.
Scientologist Joe Lisa suggested to Dick Weigand that an agent posing
as an aide to some local Mafia figure go to the Times office and leave $100
for Mrs. Orsini with an editor, hinting that it was a payoff to her for
supplying the Mafia with information from Times files. There is no
indication that "Operation Information" was ever attempted.
On Feb. 4, the church did threaten Mrs. Orsini and The Times with a
libel suit. The Times retaliated eight days later by filing suit to enjoin
the church from harassing Mrs. Orsini and other Times' reporters.
The suit never came to trial. Early in 1977, Editor and President
Eugene Patterson announced The Times was withdrawing the lawsuit.
"We made no deals with the Scientologists whatsoever," Patterson said.
"There was no settlement. We simply instructed our attorneys to file a
notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice, rather than risk bringing
harm to a completely innocent organization that might have lacked the means
to defend itself against the Scientologists."
It can now be told that the organization was the Easter Seal Society
for Crippled Children and Adults of Pinellas County Inc.
On July 15, 1976, Dick Weigand informed Morris (Mo) Budlong, deputy
guardian for information worldwide, that information had been collected on
"Preliminary investigation into her husband Andrew Orsini who is the
head of Easter Seal of Pinellas County uncovered that the group had their
corporation dissolved by the Florida Secretary of State in 1972-1973 for
not filing an annual report. A project has been drawn up and is now being
implemented to show Easter Seal Society that Orsini (the executive
secretary) has been operating as a fraud and has broken laws. This data is
intended for a PR (public relations) attack."
The operation began that November when an anonymous letter was mailed
to various newspapers in Florida and to the St. Petersburg Consumer Affairs
Department, the St. Petersburg Charitable Solicitations Board and the state
attorney's office. The letter purported to be from a wealthy businessman.
It began: "I have, for many years, supported worthwhile charitable
causes which benefit the handicapped, mentally retarded and the needy. Not
just for personal reasons guaranteed me under law for tax purposes but
because I always cared about the less fortunate than myself, both
financially and physically. I have in the past donated large amounts of
money to one such organization which, until recently, I thought was a
Recently, this "businessman" said, he had been informed by his attorney
that his contributions to the Easter Seal Society might not be tax
deductible. He said he had begun "an exhaustive independent probe" that
found criminal misconduct in the financial and administrative affairs of
the Easter Seal Society. The letter called for the issuance of an arrest
warrant for Executive Director Orsini and his prosecution. It was
accompanied by copies of documents from the Florida secretary of state's
The Times assigned reporter Chris Cubbison to investigate the
allegations. He found them false. The charges were constructed around an
administrative mistake. The state had sent the Easter Seal Society's
franchise tax form to the wrong address, the tax was not paid, the
corporate charter was revoked as forfeited, and the society was dissolved
by proclamation. The error had been remedied by payment of the fee long
before the Scientologists moved into Clearwater.
Bette Orsini was assigned to trace the source of the letter. She found
that someone had purchased copies of the secretary of state's complete file
on the Easter Seal Society on July 12-13, 1976. She traced the money order
used for payment to Ben A. Shaw, and found that he had represented himself
to the Division of Licensing in Miami as a reporter for a University of
Florida newspaper. Shaw was, in fact, administrative assistant to the
president of the Church of Scientology of Florida.
He was subpoenaed and a deposition was taken. Shaw denied he had
written the anonymous letter and claimed he knew nothing about it. He gave
as his reason for spending $52 of Scientology funds to copy the entire
Easter Seal Society file that it somehow pertained to an investigation of
Pinellas County State Attorney James Russell's connection with the society.
However, he could not explain anything he had done or planned to do with
the information. He said he had given copies to one other person who he
refused to name.
In a file memorandum, John M. Bray, a Washington attorney representing
The Times, related the attack on the Easter Seal Society to Scientology
policies of founder L. Ron Hubbard. He said:
"The technique of using anonymous or covert methods to destroy an
enemy's reputation is a Hubbard tactic called 'Black Propaganda.'
Instruction in the use of this technique is contained in a set of books
used by all Scientology organizations ... This policy directive states that
'the most involved employment of PR (public relations) is its covert use in
destroying the repute of individuals and groups. More correctly, this is
technically called BLACK PROPAGANDA. Basically, it is an intelligence
technique.' He cautions that 'it can be a serious error to cross
intelligence and PR.' 'Noisy Investigations' are described as follows ...:
"When we investigate we do so noisily always. And usually mere
investigation damps out the trouble even when we discover no really
pertinent facts ... Remember, intelligence we get with a whisper.
Investigation we do with a yell. Always ...'
"Finally, there is the following blunt description of the technique:
'The technique is: A hidden source injects lies and derogatory data into
Reporter Orsini traced other documents obtained in Tallahassee to R.
Wanda Martin who lived in an apartment at 704 1/2 Oak Avenue in Clearwater.
A divorcee, she was a former Navy Department employee who had moved to
Clearwater in late '75 or early '76 and taken a job with the Clearwater
Chamber of Commerce. She gave as a reference Hubbert Alan of Hollywood,
Calif., who was found to be a minister of Scientology.
Her roommate in Clearwater was June Phillips (also known as June Byrne)
from England, who was employed by the Clearwater Sun.
In April 1977, Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Scientology's founder and
commodore staff guardian, wrote Weigand: "Please explain what the scene is
-- was the same person used in the Easter Seal scene used at the CW Sun and
also used in the AMA (American Medical Association)? What are the
On May 12, Weigand replied: "Basically the scene is that we had two
agents one in the CW Sun and one in the CW Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber
of Commerce agent was used in the Easter Seal operation, not the CW Sun
agent but the clincher is that both of these agents were in the AMA and had
previously been blown." He said the liabilities of the situation were that
agents Martin and Phillips could be traced back to Mike Meisner in
Meisner, the supervisor of "Silver" and other church agents who had
infiltrated government agencies in Washington, was then being sought by the
FBI on a fugitive warrant.
Weigand explained to Mrs. Hubbard that June Phillips had been placed at
the American Medical Association offices in Washington in 1974, where she
stole AMA documents relating to Scientology, but was pulled out in 1975
when her connection with the church became known. She was sent to
Clearwater where she worked as a church agent at the Sun. Wanda Martin, or
Jodie, was also placed at AMA but transferred to Clearwater after her
connection with the church became known.
Weigand said the situation was alarming. "The chain does lead to Orsini
uncovering a Church operative network that could be used as a handle for a
Grand Jury investigation of the Church activities which would include the
Before Bette Orsini could connect the Bunny Bust operatives to a church
espionage network, however, Meisner surrendered to the FBI. Information he
supplied led to raids on church offices in which documents were seized that
led to indictment of 11 Scientologists, including Mary Sue Hubbard.