Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He now has a new edition of the book out, and on Saturdays he’s helping us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet.
Jon, we have to admit that we’re pretty skeptical about Scientology’s “R2-45” policy, which was mentioned on this blog earlier this week. Supposedly, L. Ron Hubbard instructed his followers that to use the R2-45 method was to eliminate church enemies with the use of a Colt semi-automatic pistol (with .45 caliber ammunition). What’s the evidence that LRH ever really invented a policy of murder?
JON: “R2-45” did become a code in the cult. Outside of the Guardian’s Office (the church’s original intelligence unit, 1966-1981), no one took it seriously — at least for a moment.
R2-45 came about while Hubbard was exploring some new “creative processes” (actually visualization, borrowed directly from his “very dear friend” Aleister Crowley), which were gathered together in The Creation of Human Ability. R-2 is “route 2” and was supposed to result in superhuman powers for those brave enough to travel it. Sadly, as with all Hubbard’s promises of supernatural powers, it failed. It is said that Hubbard took a Colt pistol on stage and fired a shot through the stage to make his point that there was a simple and effective way of “exteriorizing” the being (or “thetan”) from the “meat” body. As the text says, it is a method that is “frowned upon”:
“AN ENORMOUSLY EFFECTIVE PROCESS FOR EXTERIORIZATION BUT ITS USE IS FROWNED UPON BY THIS SOCIETY AT THIS TIME.” (emphasis in the original)
This becomes rather more sinister in the light of Hubbard’s 1967 policy letter, “Responsibilities of Leaders”:
When you move off a point of power, pay all your obligations on the nail, empower all your friends completely and move off with your pockets full of artillery, potential blackmail an every erstwhile rival, unlimited funds in your private account and the addresses of experienced assassins and go live in Bulgravia and bribe the police. And even then you may not live long if you have retained one scrap of domination in any camp you do not now control…
When you’re close to power get some delegated to you, enough to do your job and protect yourself and your interests, for you can be shot, fellow, shot, as the position near power is delicious but dangerous, dangerous always, open to the taunts of any enemy of the power who dare not really boot the power but can boot you. So to live at all in the shadow or employ of a power you must yourself gather and USE enough power to hold your own — without just nattering to the power to “kill Pete,” in straightforward or more suppressive veiled ways to him as these wreck the power that supports yours. He doesn’t have to know all the bad news and if lie’s a power really he won’t ask all the time, “What are all those dead bodies doing at the door?” And if you are clever, you never let it be thought HE killed them — that weakens you and also hurts the power source.
“Well, boss, about all those dead bodies, nobody at all will suppose you did it. She over there, those pink legs sticking out, didn’t like me,” “Well,” he’ll say if he really is a power, “why are you bothering me with it if it’s done and you did it. Where’s my blue ink?” Or “Skipper, three shore patrolmen will be along soon with your cook, Dober, and they’ll want to tell you he beat up Simson.” “Who’s Simson?” “He’s a clerk in the enemy office downtown.” “Good, when they’ve done it, take Dober down to the dispensary for any treatment he needs. Oh yes. Raise his pay.”
THE BUNKER: That is some seriously bizarre writing.
JON: Add to this just one final notion. I interviewed two people who had read all of the Scientology documents seized in the FBI raid. Both were former GO officials. They told me that the FBI had been unable to comprehend the dense Scientologese, so the agency had missed a gun-carrying gang which functioned out of the GO’s Branch One in the US. Bill Franks, one time Executive Director International, has said in an interview that he was asked to kill someone by the GO’s Jimmy Mulligan back in the seventies (he declined). David Mayo has said that he spoke with the hit man hired to kill him. Over the years, there have been many deaths associated with the cult, whether suicide after “processing” failed to live up to its promises, or some other form of neglect or maltreatment (there were at least eight deaths at Flag before Lisa McPherson). But in “Responsibilities of Leaders,” Hubbard gives the nod to “dispensing of existence” and there are certainly some among the followers who may well take that seriously.
THE BUNKER: So, the way we’re reading this, we have some typical Hubbard bluster which maybe was more talk than action. But subsequent events lead you to think it would be a mistake to dismiss entirely the possibility that lethal violence could be done in the name of Scientology. Is that it?
JON: Yes. We return to the same problem every time: Are believers meant to follow Hubbard’s directions exactly, and the answer is a very hearty yes. His tales are told as true and his directives are to be followed to the letter. That is the nature of “Standard Tech” and, according to the “scripture” of Scientology, it is dangerous to do anything other than follow Hubbard’s word precisely. So, when Hubbard says that you should act according to the leader’s needs, he will be taken seriously by the fanatics who make up the core of the group. And that if that means killing someone, they might not hesitate. Hubbard followed Crowley in speaking of the “abyss.” He claimed that his “Bridge” crossed that abyss and that anyone failing to follow the steps exactly would fall into that abyss. This applies not only to the supposed counseling procedures, but to the “ethics” practices of the cult. So, we find the Liability Formula, where members must “cause an effective blow” to the “enemies” of Scientology. In the past, this has frequently meant using dirty tricks against critics. As Scientology has long housed an intelligence agency, it is unsurprising that it keeps its agenda very much hidden. As more former members of Branch One become willing to speak out, I would not be surprised to hear of murders. And many Branch One covert intelligence agents were simply moved into the Guardian’s Office replacement, the Office of Special Affairs — Peter Stumbke and Miles Mellor, for instance — while a great show was made of punishing members of the PR and Legal Bureaux as if they had been responsible for the break-ins and the full-on harassment which all but destroyed the lives of the few people brave enough to speak out.
THE BUNKER: Are former Branch One operatives becoming willing to speak out? If so, we’d like to talk to them. We have a particular interest in those days, and we invite anyone who worked in the GO — in its B1 branch or not — to contact us. Isn’t it time to come forward about what was done in the name of Scientology some 40 years ago?
Video from yesterday’s Narconon raid
In case you missed the excitement yesterday afternoon, here’s last night’s report from WSB-TV in Atlanta…
Really striking images. But we notice the word “Scientology” is never uttered in this report.
Posted by Tony Ortega on April 27, 2013 at 07:00
E-mail your tips and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.