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 [12/14] NEW!
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 1995 15:15:18 +0200
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Scientologists' downfall began with phony IDs
The scope of it was astonishing.
For at least two years, Guardians of the Church of Scientology operated
an espionage system that spanned America.
They were heavily involved on the Florida Suncoast in 1976 and early
'77: Defaming the mayor of Clearwater, seeking to gag The St. Petersburg
Times, the Clearwater Sun, and a stubborn radio talk show host,
infiltrating an attorney's office and stealing files, framing schemes to
embarrass St. Petersburg police.
But that was just one scene in a panorama.
Church documents released by a federal court in Washington show that
the Guardian network linked Clearwater with Washington, New York, Los
Angeles, and it was as busy as a beehive in honeysuckle season.
But the end was coming ...
There was no hint of it on Feb. 17, 1976, a routine day for the
Guardians. That day they passed the word to the church's legal department
to prepare a formal letter to the Clearwater Sun demanding a retraction and
threatening a libel suit. That day, too, the deputy guardian for
information U.S., Dick Weigand, sent a letter to the deputy guardian U.S.,
Henning Heldt, "Re: Yorty and Wayne."
"I believe that you had asked that a check be done for Sam Yorty and
John Wayne in the 1361 agency's (Internal Revenue Service) files.
"Sam Yorty's file is attached ..."
However, Weigand said, the church's agent hadn't been able to locate
the file for actor John Wayne. He said he would keep trying.
The letter was signed "Love, Dick."
Guardians always signed their letters "love."
The letter from Weigand to Heldt was giving the latest developments on
Guardian Order 1361-3, which Weigand drafted and Heldt approved on Jan. 4,
1976. It directed a church agent to steal Los Angeles Internal Revenue
Service (IRS) intelligence files on "celebrities, politicians and big
names" so they could be leaked to the press.
Files on former California Gov. Edmund Brown, Gov. Edmund Brown Jr.,
Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley and his wife, and singer Frank Sinatra were
stolen and forwarded to Heldt and Weigand.
Heldt didn't want them around his office, however. He returned them to
Weigand, telling him "I don't need such hot stuff in my files."
The documents do not reveal why the Scientologists wanted the IRS
documents dealing with the "celebrities, politicians and big names." There
also was no indication that the church had anything personal against these
In Washington's Rock Creek Park the night of March 14, Mike Meisner was
the "victim" in a fake hit-and-run accident staged in an attempt to ruin
Clearwater Mayor Gabriel Cazares. A night or two later, Meisner and Gerald
Bennett Wolfe -- the agent "Silver" -- entered the IRS building at 1111
Constitution Ave. NW, flashing Wolfe's IRS identification card at the
Using a small piece of sheet metal, Wolfe forced the latch on the IRS
identification room. Inside, Meisner found a booklet giving instructions on
the use of the photographing machine. Wolfe took blank identification cards
and typed in fictitious names -- two for himself and two for Meisner. They
took the necessary photographs and made fake IRS ID cards.
In early April, the Clearwater edition of the church publication
FREEDOM accused St. Petersburg Times owner Nelson Poynter of being an agent
of the CIA. About that same time, the highest officials of the Guardian
Office ordered the implementation of "Operation Devil's Wop." It was
directed at Arizona Sen. Dennis DeConcini, who had supported various anti-
cult groups. The goal of the operation was to leak to the press a false
report linking the senator with organized crime.
And in Washington one evening in mid-April, Wolfe and Meisner showed
their false ID cards as they entered the building housing offices of the
International Operations Office of IRS. They went to the office of Thomas
Crate, an auditor who had tax records of L. Ron and Mary Sue Hubbard,
Scientology's founder and his wife. The door was locked. A cleaning woman
thought they looked suspicious. She called a security guard.
Meisner and Wolfe showed the guard their fake ID cards, and he was
satisfied. The cleaning woman then unlocked the office door for them. They
found several thick files on the Hubbards and Scientology, but they
couldn't find a photocopying machine.
They took the files to the main IRS building where they copied them,
and then returned the originals to Crate's office.
Twice more before the end of May, Meisner and Wolfe returned to Crate's
office, and both times the obliging cleaning woman let them in.
April 26, 1976: Sharon Thomas -- the driver of the car in the fake hit-
and-run accident set up to discredit Cazares -- entered the office of
Justice Department Attorney Paul Figley, who was supervising all Freedom of
Information (FOI) cases. She copied all documents relating to a pending FOI
lawsuit brought by Scientology against the Energy Research and Development
Administration and gave the copies to Meisner. Two months later she managed
to get assigned as Figley's secretary.
The Guardian's Office ground out one operation after another. In
Washington, Wolfe and Miss Thomas carted off stacks of copies of IRS and
Justice Department documents that they passed to Meisner who forwarded them
to Guardian executives.
Feb. 3, 1977: Heldt wrote Weigand that the Guardians, in order to
"ensure a win on the New York case against Hare Krishna leaders for Mind
Control," must have the minutes of the grand jury because they were "vital
to Legal's handling in the case and PR's actions." He told Weigand to
obtain them "through legal or other means." A reply came the next day that
legal means were out, "however, we have had some success (limited) in the
past in getting this type of data thru the steno service which transcribes
March 25, 1977: An order went out to all Guardians introducing the "red
box system." All red box material was to be centrally located in a moveable
container, ideally a briefcase, locked and marked and persons deputized to
remove it from the premises in case of a raid. "This procedure will be
drilled," the directive said. Red box material was defined as:
"(a) Proof that a Scnist is involved in criminal activities.
"(b) Anything that implicates MSH, LRH (the Hubbards).
"(c) Large amounts of non FOI docs.
"(d) Operations against any government group or persons.
"(e) All operations that contain illegal activities.
"(f) Evidence of incriminating activities.
"(g) Names and details of confidential financial accts."
June 24, 1977: A Guardian passed the word to other Guardian officials
that he had recruited and placed an FSM -- covert agent -- as a reporter-
researcher for Forbes magazine. "My FSM's name will appear on the masthead,
starting with the issue of 15 July 1977," he said.
The end actually began -- if an end has a beginning -- on the evening
of June 11, 1976.
The story is told in the uncontested evidence offered by the government
at the Washington trial of nine Scientologists on conspiracy charges.
Meisner and Wolfe were sitting in the library of the U.S. Courthouse on
John Marshall Place -- at the foot of Capitol Hill where Constitution
Avenue intersects with Pennsylvania. They were waiting for a cleaning crew
to get out of the office of Nathan Dodell -- an old foe of Scientology --
so they could steal Dodell's personal files in order to devise a covert
operation to remove him as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of
Two FBI agents, summoned by a suspicious night librarian, approached
them and asked for identification. Meisner showed his IRS identification
card. While agent Dan Hodges went to a telephone to call an assistant U.S.
attorney, agent Christine Hansen questioned the two men. Meisner said he
and Wolfe had been in the courthouse to do legal research and that they had
used the photocopying machine in the U.S. attorney's office to copy legal
books and cases.
After 15 minutes, Meisner inquired if they were under arrest. When
agent Hansen said they were not, Meisner said they were leaving and he and
Wolfe walked out.
The next day, Meisner flew to Los Angeles where he gave a full report
of the incident to Guardian officials. "All parties recognized," in the
words of U.S. attorneys who later described the moment in a Stipulation of
Evidence, "that the highest priority lay in stopping the FBI investigation
before it could connect the defendant Wolfe and Mr. Meisner to the Church
of Scientology and thereby expose other officials of the Guardian's Office
who had been involved in the burglaries, thefts, and buggings ..."
A cover story was devised and Wolfe was briefed. He was arrested in
Washington on June 30 and charged with use and possession of a forged
official pass of the United States. He later pleaded guilty.
He was called before a grand jury on July 28, where he stuck to his
cover story, a story that did not mention Scientology. A few days later a
warrant was issued for Meisner.
For the next 11 months, church officials harbored a fugitive. Meisner
was moved from one location to another in the Los Angeles area. His
appearance was changed. He grew restive and upset with his superiors. When
he threatened to return to Washington, they held him prisoner.
On June 20, 1977, while his guards were away, Meisner left his
apartment in Glendale, Calif., called the FBI, and surrendered to agents at
a bowling alley. At 6 a.m., July 8, 134 FBI agents armed with search
warrants and sledgehammers broke into church offices in Los Angeles,
Hollywood and Washington. They carted off 48,149 documents -- thousands of
them "red box material."
On Aug. 15, 1978, a grand jury in Washington indicted 11 Guardians --
from Mary Sue Hubbard at the top to Sharon Thomas at the lowest, agent
level. They were accused of 28 counts of conspiracy, theft and burglary.
Eventually, nine of them -- two are still fugitives -- were found guilty of
one count each.
With their convictions, much of the documentary evidence seized in the
1977 FBI raid was made public.
That was the end.