"But who are the judges? Fortner lawyers,
former politicians. Most commonly, lawyers
who knew politicians. Some rise
above their own human limitations,
but more do not."
- Time: August 20, 1979
WHEN the Scientology suppression hearings shifted once more to Washington, D.C., the whole tenor of the proceedings changed.
Perhaps judge Richey had, in the interim, read the transcript of the Los Angeles performance. Perhaps on his home turf in the nation's Capital, he felt constrained to put on once more the sober trappings of the law's majesty, which had slipped so badly in Southern California's heady atmosphere of laissez-faire. He told the lawyers from the bench: "After what you all did to me in California, I don't want to ever go there again."
Whatever his thinking, the judge now tightened the reins. He set a time limit of ten days for both sides to present evidence and conclude their arguments.
The testimony of FBI agents, who were called to the stand to be questioned about their roles in the July 8 raids, followed the earlier pattern unfolded by thier colleagues in Los Angeles: they admitted they had only a vague knowledge of what was to be seized; believed item 162 of the warrant gave them authority to take anything they felt might come in handy for the prosecution; and that the warrant for CedarsSinai authorized a search of the entire complex.
Special Agent Norbert Linker provided some insight into the intensity of the raids when he testified that between six and eight FBI agents spent 15 hours searching a single office.
The novel theory that the geographical area the agents were entitled to search included the entire Cedars complex apparently was not derived from reading the warrant, but was based upon discussions with Assistant U. S. Attorney Schuelke. So testified FBI Agent Joseph T. Varley.
With Agent Varley's appearance on the witness stand, the Cointelpro issue surfaced once again. As in the case of Agent Cleary in Los Angeles, defense counsel Boudin sought to question Varley concerning his prior connection with the Bureau's Cointel Program. As before, Judge Richey ruled such questions irrelevant and immaterial. And, as before, Boudin got something into the record, anyway, by telling what his proffer was:
"May I just for the record say that, since the witness will not be allowed to answer, that I was going to seek to establish that the witness was engaged in what is called the Cointel Program, which was the work of the Security Division of the FBI. And that it was directly related, therefore, to the subject of this exhibit, which deals with the functioning of the Cointel program."
He added that "the document that was seized is a document that raises a question of whether or not the FBI's program was not one of infiltration into 'church organiza-
He urged Judge Richey to reconsider his original ruling on that ground.
The court declined to do so.
Agent Varley's credibility as a witness was somewhat clouded when he was asked whether, on the morning of the raid, he had heard Scientologist John Lake advise the FBI agent in charge that the offices in the Information Bureau were unoccupied and that he had no keys to any of the offices in that area. Varley replied: "Absolutely not."
He was then shown a sworn affidavit he had made previously in which he had stated: "Between 6:10 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., I heard Mr. Lake repeatedly advise Special Agent in Charge Linberg and Supervisory Agent Calley that the office of the Information Bureau were unoccupied, and that he had no keys to any of the offices in this area."
During the final phases of the Washington hearings, the defense team sought to call aEi their witness Earl Lipps, an expert locksmith with more than 20 years experience, some of it in the service of the FBI and the IRS, two federal agencies which often have recourse to getting through locked doors.
Mr. Lipp was prepared to testify that locks on the doors which the FBI smashed their way through, could have been easily picked or drilled in a short time. It had not been necessary to apply the kind of excessive force which knocked foot-long pieces out of the doors as well as shattering door frames an even knocking me a door frames right out of the walls.
"I am going to sustain the objection of the Government to this," ruled judge Richey. "Now call your next witness."
There was still a legal manouever that would get the facts on the record, even if the court would not allow the locksmith to testify. It was the same move used earlier to include information concerning Cointelpro - the proffer.
Defense lawyer Leonard Koenick, who had interviewed the locksmith in preparation for his testimony, told the court
that Lipp had informed him that he could have opened 80% of the locks within five or ten minutes. He also stated that the Fire Department had equipment, which he was familiar with, similar to a brake-puller, that could easily have taker the, locks off without destroying the door.
He also said that some of the locks could have beer opened by using a simple wrench - you could twist them and then open them with your finger.
He added that the locks on some of the doors which had been battered down could have been opened by simply slipping a credit card into the latch.
But apparently easy entry had not figured in the FBI's plans.
During the court session of August 28, the prosecution was caught once again trying to deal from the bottom of the deck, so to speak.
On the witness stand was FBI Agent Harold Brunson. Defense attorney Michael Nussbaum had been trying manfully to elicit from him lucid answers to questions concerning the July 8th raid at Cedars. In his answers, he had been devious, hostile, unresponsive and at times insolent.
At one point in the examination, Mr. Nussbaum asked the agent whether a certain document folder was within the warrant. He replied: "I answered the question awhile ago."
"I am sorry," said the defense counsel. "I don't recall the answer."
Agent Brunson turned to the court reporter and ordered her: "Read it back to him."
That kind of behaviour was too much even for Judge Richey, who directed him to answer the question, "and don't be smart with counsel or with the court."
As the examination continued, it was clear that Agent Brunson was becoming an embarrassment to the Government attorney. AUSA Reardon asked if he might approach
the bench in regard to the matter. There he told the judge:
"This gentleman apparently has some form of leukemia, and he has just learned that in the last two weeks, it is my understanding, and he has taken medication. I must say, from my conversation with my partner, Mr. Banoun, this gentleman seems to have a totally different affect [aspect?] from when we saw him in Los Angeles. If I had seen this prior to his testifying at all, I would have brought it to the attention of Mr. Nussbaum and to the court." Reardon assured the court once again that Agent Brunson was a different person before he had "undergone the rather significant trauma in his psychological and physical life during the past couple of weeks."
This report of Agent Brunson's condition produced a serious dilemma for Mr. Nussbaum. The FBI man's testimony was important to his defense strategy, and he had spent considerable time preparing for it. But how far could one decently go in pressing a witness who had so recently experienced the terrible shock of learning that he had a fatal disease?
"It does seem to me," observed the defense counsel, "that he is today employed by the FBI, and I assume that someone employed by the FBI today is competent to be a witness. If his troubles are of the kind Mr. Reardon suggests, I would have thought the man would apply for disability or something.
"If I thought this agent was seriously ill in a manner that would have interfered with the testimony - if I had been told that last week - I could have used another agent.
"Because of this witness, I am now in the position of having really no questions to ask about seized documents in the area of interest to me. And I should tell your Honor that at least 40% of the case-in-chief documents were seized from the area that I am going into."
Mr. Nussbaum pointed out that the prosecution's belated account of Agent Brunson's illness could also be construed as being taken by the court as testimony that should be dis
regarded in findings of fact.
The following morning, Agent Brunson was recalled to the witness stand. The gentle probing of Attorney Nussbaum brought out some amazing facts:
Q. "Were you under any medication yesterday?"
A. "No, sir."
Q. "Are you today?"
The only "medication" he had taken in the past year, according to Agent Brunson's own testimony was vitamins andiron.
He further testified that he had not learned in the past two weeks that he had some form of leukemia, nor had he told anyone that he had just learned that he had some form of that disease. He did suffer from a non-fatal blood disorder which he had learned about three years prior to his testimony.
"What effect, if any", asked Mr. Nussbaum, "does that have on your ability to function and do the normal - perform the normal duties of an FBI agent?"
"It has no effect at all," the witness replied.
"Did that condition interfere with your ability to testify yesterday?"
"Not at all."
No further questions.
Just five days before the conclusion of the suppression hearings before Judge Richey, his intrepid confrÃ©re of the D.C. Circuit, Chief Judge Bryant, created a stir in legal circles by issuing a decision on the case remanded to him by the Court of Appeals to decide several issues which remained open. Undaunted by the reversal of his initial ruling, judge Bryant once again came down squarely on the side of Constitutional freedom.
The court held "that the agents of the United States illeg-
ally and unconstitutionally executed this warrant and Coverted their seizure of documents into a general exploratory seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment and of 18 U. S. C., Section 2234."
Judge Bryant noted that the seize-anything-and everything attitude of the FBI agents was evident by the fact that the inventory of items taken "reveals that these selection procedures led to the seizure of several hundred documents - nearly half or more of the seizure -which were not designated by the warrant; and by no stretch of the imagination could they be regarded as within the designated categories of documents to be seized. In effect, the agents conducted a general seizure."
After thus grabbing whatever they pleased, the Government subsequently determined what items were relevant to the warrant "at a more leisurely pace after the seized documents had been transferred to their office."
The prosecution's claim that the "innocuous" documents returned to the church were merely duplicative and that their return said nothing about whether they were in fact evidence of crime, Judge Bryant found "patently incredible and unworthy of belief."
The court added, however, that "I wish to emphasize that the quantity of innocuous documents seized, though significant in assessing the depth of the unlawful intrusion, is not the determining factor in my concluding that the seizure is unreasonable. Rather, it is the stark fact that they were seized, in spite of the fact that they were not included in any of the categories of items to be seized as contained in the warrant, and thus in flagrant violation of the statute (18 U.S.C. Section 2234) which is designed to bolster the effectiveness of the particularization requirements of the Fourth Amendment."
Were this courageous judge's ringing words - a tocsin of liberty -those of a voice crying in a totalitarian wilderness? Or did they signal a new resolve by some of the nation's judiciary, certifying that, then and there, the American child
of Independence was reborn?
Only the future could tell. The Government immediately appealed judge Bryant's decision to a higher court and, they hoped, to judges who had less concern for the Fourth Amendment.
Judge Bryant's decision had been pending for more than a year; and its release during the final few days of the suppression hearing - a twin litigation in a court of the same circuit - was said to have infuriated Judge Richey.
That was no doubt because he was not of one mind with the Chief Judge. Quite the contrary. When he issued his own ruling, it was, in effect, a judicially approved version of the Government's case. A layman could be forgiven for wondering if the prosecution had helped him write it; and in a way they had, because it quoted selectively from the testimony of the FBI agents as undisputed fact, and ignored the contrary evidence offered by the defense, as well as contradictory statements by the agents themselves.
Not that the 49-page opinion was lacking in those ruminant subtleties so dear to the hearts of legal practitioners. It was a masterpiece of his craft; it was meticulous, it was persuasive, it was learned. It cited case law, Supreme Court judgments, and Webster's International dictionary.
Even one of the forensic luminaries retained by an important defendant in the case went so far as to remark to this writer that, from a legal standpoint, Judge Richey wrote a better opinion than that of Judge Bryant.
Summarily dismissing the defense arguments in toto, Judge Richey found no illegality in the actions of the Government agents who executed the warrants (the exact opposite of Judge Bryant's findings), and ordered the defendants to proceed to trial.
He agreed with the Government contention that the defendants' Fourth Amendment rights had to be severly li-
mited to their own offices. He ignored the fact that even in these offices, thousands of documents outside the warrant had been seized.
He termed "vague and general" the defendants' argument that they had an expectation of privacy in the exercise of their First Amendment right to association and free exercise of religion. Apparently, it was quite permissible, in his view, for FBI agents to ransack sensitive, confessional files, which they scrutinized and seized for others' perusal.
Item 162 of the warrant, which Judge Bryant had correctly called a "wild card" permitting a general search, was also valid in Richey's view because it had been upheld by the Court of Appeals under the authority of Andresen.
"The agents did not use excessive force in the course of the searches," declared Richey. "There is no set time an agent must wait for a response" for his demand to have a door opened before he batters it to pieces, when he could have opened it more quickly and without damage by using a drill, lock pick, or simple credit card. Said Judge Richey: "The behavior of the agents was eminently reasonable with respect to the timing and scope of their forcible entries - including outside doors, inside doors, filing cabinets, and desks. No excessive damage was inflicted."
Judge Richey's hidden animus against the Scientologists came momentarily into full view when he wrote that "it is the defendants' somewhat bizarre 'theory of the case' that the Court is to decide whether the Government can introduce the 201 case-in-chief documents [out of the 48,000 they seized] at trial by examining everything seized during the search except the 201 case-in-chief documents."
That was not the defense "theory of the case," but the important thing to note here is the judge's use of the word bizarre - a legally inexact and injudicial word, if there ever was one. It was, in fact, precisely the kind of word he had ordered expunged from the indictment as being "prejudicial and unnecessarily loaded."
In dealing with the question of whether the feds exceeded
the geographical scope of the warrant, Judge Richey actvanced his own "bizarre" theory. The search of Janet Lawrence's office in the cabana on the roof of Fifield Manor was legal because, despite the fact that the hut was physically separate from the office suite of Henning Heldt, being nine feet from that office (the judge had paced off the distance himself), it was "right outside the doors" of the Heldt suite. Furthermore, Miss Lawrence and her co-workers used the restroom in the Heldt suite.
If this kind of reasoning is accepted, people working on any given floor of a general office building will be surprised to learn that because their office is less than nine feet removed from the adjoining one, and because they use the same restroom, the offices all comprise one suite.
That such an absurd rationalization as this could be admired by the legal profession as a well-written judicial opinion (as against what one member of the bar referred to as Judge Bryant's "analysis of abstract legal principles") is but another indication of the kind of justice system we now have in America. It does have a certain paradoxical usefulness, however, for, if upheld, it clearly foretells the doom of our historical freedoms.
I will cite but one more example of Judge Richey's judicial logic, lest the reader be obliged to beg for mercy.
FBI agents did not exceed the bounds of the warrant by taking some 600-odd photographs of church members and everything else in sight, according to Richey. "These photographs were taken by the FBI in order to accurately record the events of the search by showing that church personnel could freely move about the premises, to show the conditions of the premises before and after the search."
Was it the idea, then, to show Mrs. Hubbard's portraits, other photographs, certificates, etc. (photographed on the wall of Janet Lawrence's office by the agents) moving freely about the premises? Did the big organization board and other inanimate objects, including a copy of the book, Spy and Counterspy, take legs and circulate amongst the raiders?
Was it necessary to show their condition before and after the raid?
is it unreasonable to suggest that the Government agents had future use for the photographs, as they did for thousands of the documents they seized; that they violated the First Amendment rights of those church employees and members who were not in any way connected with the evidence ostensibly being sought under authority of the warrant?
"If you can see it, you can photograph it," wrote Judge Richey, "since this amounts to nothing more than making a record, not differing essentially from a full written description ... The Court finds that the creation of such a record is good police practice."
Good for the police, yes; bad for the innocent bystander, who will become the victim of future harrassment by the official conspirators, and whose right of privacy has been grossly abused.
The trial of the nine defendants was scheduled to begin on September 24 - just eleven days following Judge Richey's denial of the defence motion for supression of the evidence seized in the FBI raids. However, the date was repeatedly postponed to provide more time for plea-bargaining discussions between the opposing lawyers.
The private meetings and negotiations were carried out with the encouragement of Judge Richey, whose role was that of an impartial mediator.
As the deadline for an agreement between the parties approached, it appeared that a plea bargain acceptable to both sides had been worked out. However, when the defense attorneys called the Government representatives two minutes past the hour set for mutual acceptance of the negotiated settlement, AUSA Raymond Banoun declared the whole deal off.
Whereupon, Attorney Earl Dudley, a member of the defense team, prepared and filed what is known among lawyers as a "Cooper" motion. In effect, it petitioned Judge Richey to rule that there had been a valid agreement or, September 23rd and that the Government would have to adhere to it.
After conducting closed hearings for a week on the issue, Judge Richey ruled that there had been an agreement and that the Government was obliged to honour it.
U.S. Attorneys then prepared a 282-page stipulated record of evidence against the defendants. Under terms of the procedure, the defendants agreed to be found guilty without challenging the Government's evidence, but also without agreeing to its accuracy. "We don't agree to one fact, as stated by the Government," declared defense counsel. "We only agree that this is the Government's evidence, and we rest without putting on any evidence of our own."
By means of this unusual legal manouever, the Scientologists were able to avoid a lengthy and costly trial, and at the same time retain their rights to appeal their convictions to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which they would ask to overturn the verdict on grounds that the FBI raids had been illegal.
The stipulation of record prepared by the prosecution reduced the 28 counts in the original indictment to a single count of conspiracy.
Defense lawyers at first balked at signing the stipulation because they found that the narrative was filled with the Government's usual weasel wording. Throughout the stipulation, AUSA Banoun and his fellow prosecutors had used adjectives and legally conclusory terms such as "stole," "burglarized," and "illegally entered;" and at several points, had used the term, "pursuant to a lawful search," or "to a lawfully executed search."
That phrase, Dudley argued, would undercut his clients' chance to appeal. "They present us a document that we have to sign, they want our signature on, that says it is a lawful
search. Why would they want us to sign a document that says it is a lawful search, unless we are going to meet that document coming back some place else, some other day?"
Dudley told the court that inclusion of the term was a complete violation of the defense-prosecution agreement.
"I don't agree with that," said Judge Richey. "I think it is the prosecutors' right to choose the terminology they wish, just like they have the right to choose the terminology in drawing an indictment."
(The reader will recall that this was the same judge who had earlier made the prosecutors change the wording of their original indictment because it was "prejudicial and loaded.")
judge Richey gave the defendants the choice of signing the Government-drafted stipulation without change, or of going to trial. Take it or leave it. After consultation among themselves and their clients, the defense team agreed to signing.
The judge then explained to the defendants what the stipulation record meant to them and what rights they were waiving in agreeing to it. He asked each if he had entered into the agreement with full knowledge of the consequences.
Standing with their respective attorneys in a semi-circle around the bar of the court before the judge, each answered that query in the affirmative.
Judge Richey then found each of the nine guilty "of each and every element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt, based on the evidence before the court."
No sentences were imposed at that time. It was understood that they would be handed down sometime in midDecember. In the meantime, the court continued the defendants' release on their own recognizance.
At the same time that Judge Richey found the defendants guilty, he took another action which infuriated the defense counsel, and was an augury of things to come. Without prior notice of any kind, he ordered the release to the press and
public of all the seized documents used during the examination of witnesses, or studied by the court in making its decision on the suppression hearings, with the exception of those returned to the church by the FBI as "innocuous," and not used in court; and some which he said would violate the privacy of innocent third parties. The majority of the documents had never been marked as exhibits and had not been an integral part of the proceedings. They only stood as court records on the basis of a technicality. The mass of material had been under seal, in one form or another, virtually since they were seized two years previously.
The defense had felt secure that the documents would remain under wraps until their appeals had been heard and. decided. Futhermore, under terms of their agreement with the Government, the latter retained the right to distribute copies to state and federal law enforcement agencies and to other federal agencies; but it was agreed that "these documents will not be made available by the Government to the press or to any private individuals or entities except pursuant to lawful subpoenas and following ten days' notice to the Church of Scientology."
All locked up, safe and sound? No, not with Judge Richey, on the scene. "This was the agreement of the parties and not that of the court," he declared, apparently with a straight judicial face. The court, he said, had taken great pains to choose its words carefully, so the agreement was not binding on him.
(You can search all the books of the philosophers and you will not find any sophistry that can equal, in cunning ambiguity, legal sophistry. That is another reason why the law is too important a matter to be left to the lawyers.)
The defendants filed a motion, asking the court to reconsider its order, arguing that release of the documents would taint the ability of the two Scientologists still awaiting extradition in Great Britain to receive a fair trial, by prejudicing the public against them. Judge Richey rejected this argument and denied their petition.
The jurist said he was unsealing the documents because "there is a right in the public to know what occurs before the courts."
The Scientologists charged, with some persuasiveness, that the real reason for Richey's release of the mass of material was to punish the defendants, their church, and all its adherents. It was in fact a new tactic which has recently emerged in official Washington and at this writing is gaining ground: justice by public smear.
The Church of Scientology filed a civil action seeking a temporary restraining order, pleading that the church would be irreparably harmed by public disclosure of its private papers, seized in the FBI raids.
The case, instead of being randomly assigned to an available judge in the circuit, was given to Judge Richey as a matter related to the criminal case, despite its civil nature. Richey dismissed the motion forthwith. The Scientologists noted that the Judge was on the Calendar Committee, which determines by whom and when the case will be heard.
The wholesale release of the seized documents by judge Richey was like turning the hounds loose at a fox hunt. The brave coursers on horseback could hardly keep up with them. All across the nation, as well as internationally, newspapers carried long stories concerning the "covert activities revealed in new Scientology papers."
And, yes, the Scientology movement was irreparably harmed.
As the time for sentencing of the nine defendants approached, both the Government and defense counsel submitted sentencing memoranda, presumably to aid the court in arriving at a just penalty.
The 70-page document transmitted to Judge Richey by the prosecution was, indeed, enlightening. Whether helpful to the court or not, it did lay bare for the first time in an official,
written record, the fact that it was the Church of Scientology itself, not just the nine defendants in the case, that was the real target of the Department of justice.
Assistant U. S. Attorney Raymond Banoun had repeatedly told both the court and the press that the criminal case was one against individuals and had nothing to do with the Church of Scientology as such. It was, he had maintained, a simple prosecution of those criminal acts named in the indictment, nothing more.
Now, in their pre-sentence statement, the federal prosecutors made it clear that they considered the Church itself the principal culprit.
---Itis the position of the United States," they declared, "that each and everyone [sic] of the defendants herein fulfilled his duties as expected by the Church of Scientology, that all of their criminal activities, as well as those of all unindicted co-conspirators, were carried out in furtherance of the very goals of their Church."
They then reminded the court that before imposing sentence, " 'a judge may appropriately conduct an inquiry broad in scope, largely unlimited either as to the kind of information he may consider, or the source from which it may come.`
In short, having tried the defendants on the basis of hard facts, presented according to the rules of evidence in the court, the judge could now try them on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations, spiteful rumour, or any other kind of "information," regardless of source.
With that "right of this court," (United States v. Tucker, 40r U.S. 443, 446 (1972), clearly in view, the prosecution memorandum then embarked upon an elaborate recital of "evidence," including a rehash of the stipulated record, plus "other crimes committed by these defendants."
These latter "crimes," upon careful reading turned out to be unsupported allegations, never tried before any court.
It is highly significant that in the "other crimes" category, the Department of justice lawyers report that Scientologists
"infiltrated" the American Medical Association and photocopied various AMA internal documents which they covertly leaked to the press. "Newspapers subsequently referred to that anonymous source as 'Sore Throat.' "
The documents referred to, and which provoked a major expose in the media, revealed a number of unethical acts by AMA, including the keeping of falsified records to get lower mail rates for its publications. The AMA, had cheated the Postal Service out of more than one million dollars in postage. The Government attorneys who prepared the sentencing memorandum did not mention this aspect of the Sore Throat operation, but stated that: "This action was intended to provoke investigations of the AMA's tax-exempt status by Congressional Committees, the IRS, and the Federal Trade Commission."
After reading the complete Sore Throat file, most Americans would agree that such an investigation of the AMA was urgently called for.
The prosecution memorandum also mentioned that among the documents photocopied by a "covert operative" (meaning an employee) in AMA's District of Columbia office were reports of the Coordinating Committee on Health Information (CCHI).
The reader may be forgiven if he- has never heard of the CCHL It was a low-profile committee made up of representatives from the AMA, American Pharmaceutical Association, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Postal Service, the Council of Better Business Bureau, American Cancer Society (ACS) and others. The group held closed-door meetings to share information and to coordinate plans for combating "quackery" - that is, alternative healthcare programmes. in America. The principal targets were chiropractors, -health-food advocates, vitamin proponents and anyone else who challenged the infallible dogma of the medical monopolists, or the "bureaufacts" of federal agencies.
(I have treated this subject exhaustively in another work*
and can be spared further comment except to point out that the FDA had traditionally acted as the enforcement arm of the AMA, using public funds in an arrogant attempt to coerce American society in matters which clearly lie outside Government intervention.)
The memorandum composed by the assistant U.S. Attorneys to 'aid the court" goes on to cite the "infiltration" by Scientology "agents" of other special interest groups such as the Mental Health Organizations, Better Business Bureaus, and "Anti-Cult" groups (the deprogrammers, whose kidnappings,, assaults and other illegal acts have brought them before the courts).
There is no law, of course, which defines "infiltration" or names it as a crime, except in Mr. Banoun's imagination.
Other unproven crimes alleged in the U.S. Attorneys' memorandum included "covert operations" against private individuals and public officials.
One of the former was one Paulette Cooper, who, with the assistance of a number of Scientology's enemies produced a book entitled, The Scandal of Scientology. The church charged that the book contained falsehoods and had been written with reckless disregard for the truth, and filed a lawsuit against the book. Miss Cooper gave the church a notarized, 52-point retraction of false statements, after losing several legal decisions regarding the book.
Her attacks on the Church of Scientology continued however, and church spokesmen have expressed the belief that she has been working with the FBI. The Government alleges that the Scientologists retaliated by seeking to get Miss Cooper imprisoned or committed to a mental institution; and conspired to have her indicted for sending a bomb threat to the church; making it appear that she had threatened the President, and Henry Kissinger; and to imitate her voice in telephone threats to Arab consulates in New York.
For their part, the Scientologists claim that in 1972 or 1973 Miss Cooper contacted a Mafia figure to take out a "contract" on two of the church's members in New York, "to break their bones and pack them in ice." According to church spokesmen, she afterward cancelled the "contract" for fear it would be traced back to her.
Miss Cooper is currently suing the Church of Scientology of New York, "and allied organizations" for $20 million. In her complaint, she states that her court action is based in part on information from documents seized in the Scientology raids and leaked to her by the FBI (in violation of a court order placing them under seal.)
Another individual against whom the Guardian's Office was alleged to have directed covert operations was Gabriel Cazares, former mayor of Clearwater, Florida, an inveterate enemy of the church. These included a faked. hit-and-run accident while Cezares was riding in Washington's Rock Creek Park with a young woman during his attendance at a Mayor's Conference; the planting of false marriage documents in Tijuana, Mexico to make it appear that Cazares was a bigamist; and derogatory letters mailed to the citizens of Clearwater to discredit the mayor.
A whole volume could be written about the experiences of the Scientology Sea Organization, after its members left the ship Apollo and came ashore in the Fall of 1975 to establish a land base in Clearwater. Suffice it to say that within a short time after their arrival, they faced the same kind of fight for survival that had haunted their final months as seafarers.
According to the Scientologists, the attacks on their group followed the established pattern: it began with city officials who, aided by the local media, began to plant doubts in the public mind concerning the identity, nature and true purposes of the organization which had bought the venerable Jack Tar hotel and other property in downtown Clearwater.
The church had acquired the real estate through corporations apparently set up at that time - the Southern Land Development and Leasing Corporation, and the United Churches of Florida.
This anonymity (for which the group must have yearned after their recent experiences), and the fact that they paid cash for their purchases, opened the way for various dark hints as to their background and aims. Instead of being undercover agents from a CIA Spy-ship, rumours now identified them as a front for the Mafia, an advance team for gambling interests, and so on.'
Clearwater's then-mayor, "Taco Bill" Cazares told the townsfolk:
"I think that before they get too comfortable, we ought to know more about them." He said he wanted to know where their money came from, and all about the religious foundation of the group leasing the building as a center for religious vacations and conventions.
Scientologist spokesmen claim that thereafter, Cazares who privately hated "cults," became the principal attacker of the church, using his position as mayor to push government agencies and individuals into attacking the new citizens of Clearwater.
"At various times, he has attempted to stir up trouble with the FBI, the property tax assessors, the office of the Florida Secretary of State, the State Attorney's Office, Congressmen, and even President Carter.
"In Cazares' view, we are guilty of everything from attempting to take over the world, to eroding the Clearwater tax base. "
An Orlando (Fla) newspaper, the Sentinel-Star, reported that Cazares became a man obsessed with the presence of the Scientologists in Clearwater:
"In an endless stream of speaking appearances and fliers, Cazares rails against the church. He drives down Ft. Harrison Avenue, gesturing to the young Scientologists walking by on a chilly autumn afternoon.
"There's one!" he stabs at the windshield. "There's one ... and there's one! They're everywhere!"
Cazares resigned as mayor after the local media disclosed that he had been named in a divorce action as having carried on a five-year sexual relationship with one of his campaign workers. He continued his anti- Scientology crusade, however, as a private citizen. Both he and his wife filed lawsuits against the church, but later withdrew them. The Scientologists, in turn, sued Cazares, and lost the suit.
The small-town gestapo - the peepers from behind curtains and the whisperers behind the hand - added their bit to the agitation.
One of these, a woman who signed her letter "Anonomous" [sic], reported to City Hall:
"They come to our restaurant to eat sometimes, and as I sat eating my dinner I saw four pregnant girls come from the doorway two with their - I hope, husbands. I said, 'Well, four more little communists coming into the world."
Not only that, but "On Sunday night, from ten o'clock until 2:30 Monday morning, dances go on at the Scientology hotel [across the street from the letter writer]. Last night I did not hear their orchestra or see the swaying, however. Perhaps it has been reported.
"I did not know churches approved of such frolics on the Sabbath. Mine does not, neither would my parents have."
A talk-show moderator on a local station observed that Clearwater "is a medium-sized city where a lot of people know a lot of people; and I just wonder if Mr. Hubbard and others in some way didn't misjudge where they were moving in to. Maybe they thought they were moving into a kind of large metropolitan center, where their activities would be possibly unnoticed, where they wouldn't disturb the climate of the city . . . "
After the July 8, 1977 raids and the long court proceedings which followed, culminating in the release of the church's confidential files, the attack on the Scientologists developed into what the Clearwater Sun with satisfaction called "a full
The local press, in fact, were in the vanguard of those who "disturbed the climate of the city" with a noisy antiScientology campaign.
"It came sneaking into town," shrilled the St. Petersburg Times (which carried a private grudge, after being sued). "A religion with beliefs and practices so alien to the teachings of Jesus that are preached in Clearwater's Christian churches, so different from the law of the prophets that is taught in the city's synagogues."
The Clearwater Sun also damned the sect on theological grounds: "They are sad folks adrift in a strange life course with a dastardly hand on their rudder. Their minds have been poisoned by the venom of Scientology, which portends [sic] to be a religion but is in fact a nothing more than a psychologically devastating raid on its victims sensibilities and pockets. It's a joke - but not at all funny."
Some of the intemperate language of the Sun's editorials read like the speech of a lynch-mob orator. Referring to an anti- Scientology rally, the paper declared: "The inspiring rally was a brave first stop toward shipping the ruthless leaders and helpless followers of the cult out of Clearwater. The next step is for a core of responsible citizens to unite and keep the momentum going in the fight against this diabolical organization."
The results of this kind of incitement were soon evident on the streets of Clearwater:
Gene Dechoff, a 23 year-old Scientologist, was attacked by two youths wearing Star Wars masks, as he walked along one of the city's main streets. Another church member, Susan Anderson, had her car forced off the road by a Clearwater resident hostile to the sect. Vandals smashed windows in a church bus; and passersby hurled grapefruit inside the Scientology headquarters, injuring one woman. The church staff received several bomb threats and a number of harrassing telephone calls.
Noting that the church was "in a very difficult position," a
vulturine group of Clearwater businessmen got together to capitalize on the Scientologists' misfourtunes. They offered to purchase the Ft. Harrison hotel for less than half what the church had paid for it.
Richard Tenney, a young Clearwater city commissioner who saw a great political opportunity to grab some headlines while they were hot, organized a mass rally at the Jack Russell stadium. The speakers came from everywhere; in addition to local talent such as the inevitable "Taco Bill" Cazares, there was Paulette Cooper from New York; Julie Titchbourne, a disaffected Scientologist from Oregon, whom a bigoted court had receintly awarded $2 million in a damage suit against the church; and a Boston pettifogger who had just filed a similar suit and would welcome more clients.
The stupider, more excitable and aggressive elements of Clearwater's population were easily herded into the stadium. The appeal was to their religious bigotry, chauvinism, and ignorance.
The intellectual and emotional tone of the meeting may be savoured in the description of the proceedings as reported in the Clearwater Sun:
"Perhaps the person who triggered the most sentiment was Stuart Wilson, a local speaker who stood up with an American flag in one hand and a Bible in the other.
"As he spoke of his love for America in a quivering voice, one woman in the audience wiped away tears. A young man holding a flag in the audience, yelled out, 'God bless you.'"
H. L. Mencken's Boobus Americanus was still alive and well (and going strong) in Clearwater, Florida.