Scientology Crime Syndicate

The Washington Post
Friday, April 28, 1978
page 1

Effort to Silence Critics Seen in Scientology Data

by Ron Shaffer, Washington Post Staff Writer

Church of Scientology documents seized by the FBI indicate that the church has been waging an extensive, sophisticated campaign to identify, attack and discredit its "enemies," including Justice Department invetigators, other public officials and inquiring journalists.

The "attack and destroy" campaign carried out by the Church of Scientology's "Guardian's Office" to silence critics has involved illegal surveillance, burglaries, forgeries and many forms of harassment, according to sources close to an intensive federal investigation of the Scientologists' activities.

Sources said the "covert operations" documented in the Scientologists' own internal memoranda and directives, which were seized by the FBI under court subpoena last July, include the following incidents:

* Scientologists obtained the personal stationery of a woman, typed a bomb threat on it, mailed it to a Scientology office and reported the threat to police. The woman, who had written a book critical of Scientology, was arrested, charged with making a bomb threat, and then charged with perjury when she denied doing it. She suffered a nervous breakdown before the case eventually was dismissed.

* Scientology agents staged a false hit-and-run accident designed to compromise a former mayor of Clearwater, Fla., who had criticized the Scientologists' purchase of a Clearwater hotel. A woman Scientology agent driving a car in which the Clearwater mayor was riding here ran into another Scientology agent posing as a pedestrian in Rock Creek Park, sped away from the scene, and urged the mayor not to report the "accident." The Scientologists then tried to use the incident against the Clearwater mayor in a political campaign.

* The Scientologists attempted to discredit a Clearwater reporter by forging the rough draft of a newspaper story under his name; purportedly linking Florida politicans to the Mafia. They then passed the fake story to state legislators whom the reporter was covering. Earlier, the reporter had written stories critical of the Scientologists.

* A campaign was mounted to harass prosecutors who have been handling Scientology cases, including calls and background investigations ranging from grades in school to personal habits.

Asked last night about these alleged operations, Gregory Layton, a spokesman for the Church of Scientology, said the government evidence is a compilation of "false reports" put out by the government as part of "20 years of harassment." Layton said the church has extensive documentation to refute the existence of the incidents described in this story.

Layton accused the key federal prosecutor in the Scientology investigation, Raymond Banoun of disseminating false information in retaliation for a demonstration yesterday by Scientologists against Banoun that was staged in front of the Justice Department. The demonstration, Layton said, was to protest Banoun's "blatant misrepresentations in court." Banoun yesterday declined to comment on details of the investigation.

Layton said the allegation that the Scientologists framed the New York woman with a bomb threat "is typical of outrageous false statements that some people feel they need to pass on regarding the church." He said the woman had written "many false statements and facts in her book."

The former mayor of Clearwater, Fla. "has lost some of his marbles," Layton said, and the allegation that the Scientologists fabricating a news story "is ridiculous."

The Scientologists have contended in court documents, in press releases and in interviews that they are the victims of extensive harassment by the federal government, which is attempting to suppress their religion.

They have filed complaints against federal investigators working on the case, repeatedly accused the FBI of "Gestapo" tactics in carrying out raids, and sued virtually every federal official they have identified as being involved with the case.

The Scientologists' broadcast suit pending in federal court here accuses numerous government agencies of conducting a 20-year campaign to infiltrate and harass the religious group in violation of the First Amendment. They say the current federal investigation into alleged illegal break-ins and buggings by the Scientologists is only the latest and most visible act by the government against them.

The Church of Scientology was begun by L. Ron Hubbard, a former science fiction writer whose book "Dianetics, The Modern Science of Mental Health," has become a best-seller. The church asserts that man is essentially a free spirit, and in order to achieve his true nature, an individual must rid himself of emotional constraints through counseling conducted by members of the church.

The fees for this and other services sustain the church, which is fighting a continuous battle against the federal and local governments to preserve its tax-exempt status. The church's wealth is such that it paid cash for a $2.3 million headquarters building in Clearwater.

FBI agents seized truckloads of Scientology documents in simultaneous raids on church headquarters here and in Los Angeles last July 8.

The warrant was based on information provided by a former church official who claimed the church had heavily infiltrated the government and that he himself had broken into government offices here and copied documents, and had seen copies of a transcript of an IRS meeting that the Scientologists had bugged.

The church immediately began a legal assault on the warrant's validity here and in Los Angeles that immediately prevented prosecutors and FBI officials from using the documents in their investigation.

U.S. District Chief Judge William B. Bryant ruled that the warrant was too broad and the search was therefore illegal. He was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals, and that appellate ruling was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Scientologists then began a new legal assault on the manner in which the searches here and in Los Angeles were executed. A Los Angeles judge ruled about a month ago in favor of the government concerning the Los Angeles raid and investigators began reviewing the California documents in detail.

A similar suit against the manner in which the Scientologist headquarters here near Dupont Circle was raided is being heard by Judge Bryant. The latest hearing in that proceeding is scheduled for today.

The documents in government possession include internal memorandums allegedly taken from IRS, Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration files and details of covert actions in Scientology memos and orders, according to informed sources.

In one document, Scientologists had reportedly done their own legal research concerning the definitions of "break-in" and "burglary" under California law and had determined that one was a felony and the other a misdemeanor. The document then concluded that the church's most successful "actions" had been felonies instead of misdemeanors, one source said.

According to the testimony of a former Scientologist, the church has a "fair game" doctrine that requires the church to attack and destroy its enemies.

The government's principal informant, who sought to leave the church, believed that he, too, had become fair game, according to government sources.

The Scientologists' confidential papers, according to sources, are filled with the words "identify," "attack," "destroy" and "enemies," and projects against government agencies were given code names like "Snow White," "Hunter," and "Witch."

Asked whether these words were used in Scientology documents, Layton, the Scientology Church spokesman said, "I haven't seen them so I can't say."

Layton also said the term "fair game," in the Scientology lexicon, is sometimes misunderstood.

The church has its own judicial system to handle internal maters, he said. When a member leaves the church he no longer has the "protection" of the Scientology judicial system, Layton said. "That's what 'fair game' meant," he said. "We canceled it (the term) years ago because people were misconstruing it."

Gabriel Cazares, the former mayor of Clearwater, Fla., said in a telephone interview yesterday that he became involved with the Church of Scientology when he tried to find out the identity of a group that bought a 50-year-old hotel in his town.

When he found out that they were Scientologists, "I let it be known that they had lied to public officials, (and) had deceived our ministers in town," Cazares said.

"They sued me for a million dollars to start with," Cazares said. Then he gave more interviews and the Scientologists sued him for another $2 million, he said.

"Instead of running for cover as they expected me to, I sued them for $8 million and my wife sued them for $1 million," he said. Each side decided to drop its suits, Cazares said, but he is trying recover $25,000 he said he spent defending himself against the Scientologists.

Cazares, who is now a stockbroker in Clearwater, spoke at length and in detail about his involvement with the Scientologists, but he would not comment on the hit-and-run incident in the District of Columbia that was described in the Scientology documents seized by federal agents.

The documents and testimony of the government's informant, according to informed sources, indicate that church members carefully rehearsed staging a hit and run accident in the District and then executed it in the following manner:

When Cazares was in Washington for a mayor's conference in May 1978, he was invited to an interview with a Scientology publication at a restaurant off DuPont Circle. Cazares accepted and during the interview caught flirtatious glances from a woman nearby.

Afterward he and the woman began conversing and he left with her in her car, according to the sources.

As they drove through Northwest Washington the woman, who was herself a Scientologist, apparently struck a pedestrian at roadside.

The woman then sped away, explaining she was too scared to stop. In fact the pedestrian was a Scientologist, according to informed sources, and was uninjured.

The mayor, apparently unaware of [sic] that the driver was a church member, returned to Florida, and Scientologists then attempted to use against him reports that he had been in a hit and run accident and had not reported it, the sources said.

Cazares, who confirmed that he was in Washington for the mayor's conference, said that the Scientologists attacks on him caused citizens of Clearwater to rally around him and had nothing to do with the fact he is now out of public life.

Layton, the church spokesman, denied the whole account. "That is pretty wild," he said. "It sounds like a plot for a movie."

Mark Sableman, a former reporter for the Clearwater Sun, was identified in the documents as another target of attack, according to sources close to the investigation.

Sableman had written newspaper stories investigating the Scientologists purchase of the old Fort Harrison Hotel, and later contributed to a series of articles scrutinizing the church.

According to documents in government possession, when Sableman later covered the Florida legislature, the Scientologists planted a forged rough draft of a story, purportedly by Sableman linking Florida politicians to the Mafia, illicit sex, and other crimes.

Sableman, contacted yesterday, said his credibility was such that he was hardly damaged by the plant and the effect of the plant "was minimal," but he said he "could not believe what had been done."

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