Las Vegas Review Journal, 4/22/80
—Scientologists tried to silence enemies—
by Sherman R. Frederick, R—J City Editor Editors note: This is the first of a two part series on the questionable activities of the Church of Scientology in Nevada and the mysterious connection between its founder and Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Church of Scientology attempted to silence its enemies and critics in Nevada by waging propaganda and espionage campaigns against Las Vegas law—enforcement and business agencies.
Documents seized from the church by the FBI reveal the church on a national scale conspired to steal grand jury transcripts, attempted to infiltrate the CIA, and launched a myriad of dirty tricks against public officials.
The documents also show church members ran covert operations against the Clark County district attorneys office, infiltrated and claimed to break up the now defunct Clark County Mental Health Association, and kept close tabs on the US. attorney's office, the attorney general's office and other Southern Nevada law—enforcement agencies.
In addition, Scientologists waged a negative propaganda — a "black" public relations — campaign against the Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada for giving out what was perceived to be unfavorable information about the church.
The Review—Journal obtained copies of the documents pertaining to Las Vegas through Paulette Cooper, author of the book "The Scandal of Scientology."
They were found amid the 35 cartons of FBI seized documents used to convict nine top Scientologists last year of conspiring to steal government documents.
A federal judge in Washington DC made public the documents after the trial.
A summary of the previously undisclosed documents follow:
— A letter dated DEC 11, 1973 from Chuck Reese, a top local church officer at the time, to Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of the church founder and one of the nine convicted Scientologists, stated the Clark County Mental Health Association "was investigated by myself in June of 1971 to January of 1972." It was also infiltrated by Doug Jacobsen, code name six, in June or July of '71.
"I attest that everything possible was done to collect this data, everything from infiltrating to stealing to eavesdropping, etc.," the document states.
"Actions directed against us were stopped by us stopping them," it continues.
—A kind of spy—target log talks about finding out what kind of anti—Scientology documents were on file with the Clark County district attorney's office.
It read: "AG Info LV RE: DA's Office log 313. I would be very interested in the DA's files when you finally work out a method of getting them as per W/R 15 Nov. '73."
A similar log then continues: "We should follow up this LV cycle as Carter almost certainly saw a Scotland Yard report. The report must exist somewhere, probably the LV DA's office. I would suggest also the LV Police or the Nevada AG's office if the DA fails. You should get someone into that area or get someone there to start going for the files."
—A document titled "analysis US Atty's office — Nevada LV #7 concluded:
"This agency probably has additional files on the church due to the above documentation that we do have knowledge of. It is not verified that these documents went to the US attorney (in) Nevada, but it is probable."
—In a dispatch marked "OPERATION BLACK FRIDAY" from the local church to higher ups in the church chain of command, the plot to discredit the Better Business Bureau was detailed.
"I wrote a letter & Remeo'd 500 copys (sic) off here in the Org myself, then took page 1 of the BBB letter to Henderson Nev. and had a man in a little shop run off 500 copys, (sic) then I took page 2 of the BBB letter to an off the wall place in Vegas and had a man run off 500 copys (sic). I then got the membership list of the LV BBB (around 460 members) of which I had to look up every address in the phone book. My wife and I addressed and licked a letter for every member of the LV BBB. I then drove to Henderson Nev. and mailed them so the postmark would be Henderson and seemingly the source of the attack.
"Operation Black Friday went very smooth and was very successful.
I'll let you know as soon as the s... hits the fan."
The letter concludes: P.S. Review Journal, Las Vegas Sun and Free Press also received copies of the letter.
A later letter explained that the black PR campaign was waged against the bureau because it was spreading unfavorable information about the church. The information the church felt would discredit the bureau was a letter that indicated the bureau was having "a very hard time financially."
Because of plots like these that were apparently hatched all over the United States, the church at one point found that it had taken so many documents that just reading them threatened to bog down the church's spy network, documents revealed.
Other documents show how the church infiltrated government offices.
"You should have a story already made up that will be plausible should you be asked what you are doing," it said. "A story that you would tell a guard on the way into the building may be entirely inappropriate if your caught with your hand in the file cabinet."
"And it will make a difference if the person questioning you is a cleaner, guard, employee... So think it out before you go in."
Coupled with the Las Vegas documents, it was learned that at least three of the top leaders of the local church in the 1970's — the time documents show covert activity — have since risen to top posts at larger branches of the church.
The three are:
—Susan Reed. She became a close underling of Mary Sue Hubbard, who is the wife of Scientology founder LRH and the head of the intelligence gathering arm of the church called the Guardian Office.
Mary Sue Hubbard was one of the nine convicted in Washington DC. —Madelyn Reese. She became a secretary of the church in California and is now a high official in the Los Angeles branch of the church. It was at the Los Angeles branch of the church that the FBI seized the thousands of secret church documents that provided the basis for the Washington DC convictions. —Chuck Reese. The husband of Madelyn, he became a high official in the Los Angeles Guardian Office and was an unindicted co—conspirator of the Washington Nine.
About ten other members of the Las Vegas church during the '70s also went on to hold high jobs in other more important Scientology outposts, informed sources said.
"They were paranoid," a former high ranking Las Vegas Scientologist, who asked not to be identified, said of church members who apparently engaged in the questionable activity in Las Vegas.
He said a common way the church infiltrated these agencies was by planting a church member in them as a secretary or a janitor.
When the opportunity presented itself, the plant would search for anti—scientology evidence.
He also claimed the church has five prime targets in Nevada. He said they are:
—The Clark County district attorneys office.
—The attorney generals office.
—The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
—The North Las Vegas Police Department.
—The Las Vegas Review Journal.
The alleged current illegal activity by the church in Southern Nevada could not be immediately confirmed, however.
When asked for a comment on the documents and allegations made by the former Scientologist, a church spokesman produced a Guardian Order dated DEC 27, 1979, which stated that certain church members may have engaged in "harassive or illegal acts." But, the order adds, the acts "misrepresent the basic tenets of the Church."
Las Vegas Church spokesman Carol Garrity also said that to her knowledge no "harassive or illegal" acts are being carried out by church members.
She added that when Hubbard was convicted of stealing the documents in Washington DC the founders wife said "it won't happen again."
However, because the documents seem to indicate such silencing tactics were a systematic church effort, many observers wonder.
Part Two, 4/23/80
Howard Hughes was certainly the most famous recluse billionaire to cast his mysterious shadow over the Las Vegas Strip, but there is another just as controversial: L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology.
Although Hubbard (the "L" stands for Lafayette), has not been known to reside in Las Vegas, the ties that bind him are many.
The Las Vegas branch of the Church of Scientology was officially dedicated OCT. 31, 1968. It's listed in a table of significant dates in Scientology organization development in the book "What is Scientology."
Three years later, one of the most mysterious documents purported to exist relating to the Las Vegas branch of the church was reportedly written by Hubbard.
According to church members who say they have seen it, Hubbard outlined in a 1971 directive a plan to make Las Vegas the "center of the planet" for Scientology.
It called for a "big buildup" of the church here, according to a former Scientologist who claims to have hand delivered the directive.
The former Scientologist, who asked not to be identified, also said the directive explained the reasoning behind the directive.
The courier claimed the directive stated Scientology thrives on three conditions that were perceived to exist in Las Vegas.
—The free flow of cash.
—An expanding population.
Another former Scientologist, Las Vegan Tonja Burden, claims she also saw the directive.
At the time it was allegedly written, Burden was an aide to Hubbard. In a recent interview she said the document was real and was sent to Las Vegas. But she does not recall exactly what the directive said, other than it called for a special emphasis on Las Vegas.
Church spokesman deny the directive existed.
If the directive did exist, it all went awry somewhere along the line. Today, the Las Vegas church is relatively small, with about 1,000 active members.
Last year nine top Scientologist pleaded guilty and were convicted by a federal judge in Washington DC of conspiring to steal government documents.
The conviction stemmed from a 1977 FBI raid on the Los Angeles branch of the church, in which some 35 cartons of documents were seized. When the documents were made public, after the trial, a myriad of spy—like activity by church members was revealed.
A handful of the documents pertained to Nevada and indicated the church as far back as the 1960's attempted to steal files from Southern Nevada law—enforcement agencies and waged a negative propaganda campaign against the local Better Business Bureau.
—On Oct. 28, 1976, Geoffrey Quentin Hubbard, the eldest son of the Scientology founder, was found unconscious in a parked car near McCarran International Airport.
He had no identification and the car had been stripped of license plates and registration certificates. Young Hubbard died a John Doe Nov. 12, 1976, in Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital, never having gained consciousness. He was 22.
Later, police found his personal identification, license plates and vehicle registration hidden under a rock near where the car had been parked.
The death stumped Clark County medical officers and led Chief Medical Examiner Dr. G Sheldon Green to issue the following written statement: "At this time, this department does not have a preponderance of evidence to substantiate in a court of law what the mode and manner of death might have been. Therefore, the mode and or manner of death in this instance is classified as undetermined."
However, police found that Hubbard's car had a defective exhaust system and Greene said it is probable he died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Hubbard's body was ordered immediately cremated by a representative of his family.
A simmering, multi—million dollar legal battle between the Las Vegas Church of Scientology and a handful of its former members has boiled over into federal courtrooms in Boston and Clearwater, Fla.
So far two cases against the church — one asking for $200 million in damages — have been filed by Boston attorney Michael Flynn.
A third is expected to be filed in two weeks. All involve Las Vegans.
The church has filed two countersuits, charging Flynn and his clients with stealing church documents and conspiring to destroy the church.
The two suits involve Las Vegans who claim the church has failed to live up to its promises.
One pending suit comes from Del and Ernest Hartwell, who claimed they were held captive at a secret camp near Palm Springs. In addition they claimed to have worked with the elusive Hubbard, who is rarely seen even by high church officials.
When their story was published in March 1979 in the Review—Journal, Hubbard fled the secret camp to another hideout, informed sources report.
Church spokesman view the rash of lawsuits as cases of individuals trying to cash in on recent judgments against the church.
Lawyer Flynn is "arrogant as Khomeini" local church spokesman Charles Orr said.
"He lures his clients with come—ons of big money, of which he takes a sizable cut, but he really has no concern for others."
Meanwhile, Flynn claims he can't wait to get his cases to court and called a recent church suit that may speed up the judicial process "the biggest break we've had so far."
So who is Hubbard?
His official biography appears in the church printed book "What is Scientology."
According to it, his early years were spent breaking broncs on a ranch in Montana, becoming a blood brother with the Blackfoot Indians, and reading the classics at age 12.
And that's only the beginning, his church biographers write.
He then traveled with his father across Asia, where he became a student of Eastern Religions and met with mystics and magicians.
The biographers continue to paint a pastoral picture of Hubbard.
But they don't tell it all — and they may have been a little less than accurate about what they did tell.
Here's the whole story, according to experts from an investigation conducted by the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
"Documents seized by the FBI in 1977 during raids on Scientology offices show that Hubbard attended three different high schools during the years that he supposedly was traveling in Asia.
"In 1930, at the age of 19, Hubbard entered George Washington University, where he experienced a lackluster academic career.
"Placed on probation because of poor grades after his freshman year. He earned no degree.
"He did receive a degree of sorts in 1950 when he was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from Sequoia University, an unaccredited institution in Los Angeles. The university was closed in 1958 after the California Legislature enacted measures designed to shut down 'diploma mills,' says Roy Stevens of the California Department of Education.
"Despite his academic credentials, Hubbard —who flunked his college physics course— has boasted of being 'a scientist in the field of atomic and molecular phenomena. At least, that was my course in college.'
"During the 1930's Hubbard blazed a trail as something of an adventurer and explorer, his biographers say. He is reputed to have led expeditions to Alaska and the Caribbean before World War II.
"It was during this period that he also began to make a name as a science fiction writer. One of his principal markets was a magazine called 'Astounding Science Fiction.'
"Hubbard wasn't in the same league as Robert Heinlein or A.E. van Vogt, but I would say he was one of about a dozen of our most popular authors, said Ben Bove, editor of 'Analog,' the later version of 'Astounding,' in 1976.
"Hubbard's literary career was interrupted by the war. He served in the US. Navy from 1941 to 1946, attaining the rank of lieutenant.
"He seems to have emerged from the Navy as a deeply troubled man, and a letter he wrote in 1947 to the Veterans Administration in Los Angeles, where he was living, indicated the depth of his despair.
"I cannot account for nor rise above long periods of moroseness and suicidal inclinations and have newly come to realize that I must first triumph above this before I can hope to rehabilitate myself at all.
"He went on to explain that he desired psychiatric help but could not afford it.
"During the early 1950's Hubbard often wrote to the FBI to complain about bizarre plots and schemes that he believed to be unfolding around him.
"This is an excerpt from one of the letters the FBI received from Hubbard:
"About two or three o'clock in the morning, (my) apartment was entered, I was knocked out, had a needle thrust into my heart to give it a jet of air to produce a coronary thrombosis and was given an electric shock with a 110—volt current. All this is very blurred to me.
I had no witnesses.
"By 1955, the FBI had tired of acknowledging the rambling, disjointed letters and the notation "appears mental" was made on one of them.
A text file of this newspaper article.