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Scientologists tried to silence enemies

by Sherman R. Frederick, R-J City Editor

April 22, 1980

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.

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