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When Richard Nixon ordered the Secret Service to investigate Scientology

Richard_NixonWe have another fun discovery found in a Freedom of Information Act request made by a friend to the Underground Bunker. Her request pried loose documents gathered by the Food and Drug Administration during its long investigation of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology.

In the late 1950s, the FDA had become concerned about the health claims being made by Hubbard for his auditing processes with “e-meters.” About 100 of the machines were seized when the FDA raided the Washington DC church in 1963, and inspectors continued to gather information about Hubbard as they prepared for what turned out to be a prolonged court fight. (In 1971 the case was settled when Scientology agreed to put a disclaimer on all e-meters that it was not a device for medical diagnosis.)

About a month after the raid, the FDA looked into an interesting lead: Five years earlier, in 1958, Scientology had been probed by the US Secret Service on a request from then Vice President Richard Nixon — and the reason why is pretty wild.

Nixon was unhappy that Hubbard was making use of the vice president’s name in a bizarre scheme that looked like a ham-fisted attempt to smear and shake down psychiatrists and psychologists.

On the last day of 1957, Hubbard announced his scheme on the final day of his three-day “Ability Congress” at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC. By now, seven years after he’d published Dianetics and five years after dreaming up Scientology, Hubbard was feeling his oats. Not only did he tell his followers he was the first person in 50,000 years to understand the human mind, it was time to push psychology and psychiatry out of the way, like they were a fallen log to be pushed out of his path. In order to teach his enemies a lesson, Hubbard had dreamed up the idea of starting an organization called the National Academy of American Psychology, and he’d had it staffed and organized there in Washington DC.

So what was the point of calling something a “psychology academy” that was actually staffed by Scientologists? Hubbard intended to use it to smear actual psychologists with the use of a loyalty oath he’d dreamed up.

“It is time that America cleaned up its psychology, psychiatry, and psycho-analysis; it’s time it cleaned it up, so therefore I have taken the occasion of its filthiness to write a loyalty oath which they better sign or else,” Hubbard said in the lecture. Psychiatry was a foreign export and its practitioners were suspect, he said.

Hubbard printed information about the NAAP and the loyalty oath in a copy of Ability magazine. This excerpt should give you a taste for it…


It goes on in that vein for several pages. Hubbard told his listeners at the Ability Congress that he wanted them to take copies of the loyalty oath and send it to every psychologist and psychiatrist in the country. The goal was “to place under the noses of every person in mental practice in the United States whether graduated from universities or anything else, a copy of this code and ask them to sign on the dotted line, whether it is done by mail or in person, and to carefully note down all those who refuse to sign it. Very important that last step,” he said.

Those people who signed the oath would be considered “safe.” They could then pay $80 in order to become “certified,” card-carrying NAAP members (Scientologists would pay only $25). Those that refused to take the loyalty oath would be labeled “potential subversive,” and those that “rail against it” would be labeled “subversive.”

And who would be interested in that information?

“One of the people most interested in such a program is Vice President Nixon,” the Ability article claimed.

Actually, Nixon wasn’t very happy at all to be named in the program. Hubbard had sent Nixon’s office a copy of the loyalty oath, along with a copy of the information in Ability magazine.

Hubbard was no doubt thinking of Nixon from his red-baiting days in Congress. In 1948, Nixon first made a name for himself nationally as a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and his efforts to investigate State Department lawyer Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy.

Hubbard himself had written the FBI numerous times in 1955, turning in many of his former friends and Dianetics colleagues for their “Communist activities” — even naming fellow science fiction writer A. E. Van Vogt for his “communistic leanings” after Van Vogt had been an early champion of Hubbard’s ideas. (A notation in FBI documents at the time referred to Hubbard and his paranoid letters with the words “appears mental.”)

If Hubbard was still in a mood to root out Reds, by 1958 Joseph McCarthy was dead and Nixon was in his second term as Dwight Eisenhower’s vice president. Sent that year on a goodwill tour to South America (see photo, above), Nixon was angling for his first presidential nomination.

And he didn’t appreciate being named in Hubbard’s scheme. According to a 1963 FDA document that was part of the new release of information, Nixon asked the Secret Service to look into the NAAP…

On February 21, 1958, the Secret Service was asked to investigate the National Academy of Psychology on the initiation of the office of Vice President Nixon. The investigation indicated that the Vice President was not interested in sponsoring the National Academy of Psychology, and would not permit the Vice President’s name to be used.

The Secret Service soon learned that the man Hubbard had put in charge of the organization, Glenn Elliot, had been arrested in 1957 for passing a bad check. The Service also dug up the 1951 press clippings about Hubbard’s ugly divorce to his second wife, Sara Northrup, who accused him of being a violent lunatic.

In 1963, when the FDA inspectors looked into it, the 1958 investigation by the Secret Service had been closed. And there’s no indication that Hubbard’s shakedown attempt convinced any psychologists anywhere to sign his loyalty oath.

UPDATE: As numerous readers have pointed out, Hubbard was unhappy about the 1958 Secret Service investigation, and it prompted him in 1960 to put out a policy letter encouraging Scientologists not to vote for Nixon in the presidential election that year. Now this policy letter suddenly makes more sense, readers say. (End of update.)

It’s tempting to think that Nixon hadn’t forgotten about his brush with Hubbard after he’d become president.

As we reported in a previous story on the FDA’s investigation, a few years later, in 1970, a letter to President Richard Nixon with complaints about Scientology got quick action from the FDA, who sent inspectors to interview Scientology’s first “Clear,” John McMaster. Perhaps Nixon took the complaint seriously because he remembered his earlier run-in with Hubbard and his odd organization.

And we want to point out one more thing about Hubbard’s rather strange attempt to shake down an entire intellectual pursuit — it turns out it wasn’t the first time.

We’ve written earlier about Hubbard’s attempt to scam the world’s scientists with an organization he promoted from about 1945 through 1951 which he called The Federation of Atomic Scientists and later the Allied Scientists of the World. With the (skeptical) help of his friend Robert Heinlein, Hubbard — while hiding his involvement — tried to convince scientists to become members of the organization at $25 a year so that the group could protest the use of nuclear weapons and then build an “atomproof library,” a vault where the world’s scientific knowledge could be stored safe from nuclear annihilation. (Many years later, in 1981, Hubbard revived the idea of a nuclear-proof vault when he came up with the idea of building vaults for his Scientology writings, and the Church of Spiritual Technology was born.) Like his later idea the National Academy for American Psychology, Allied Scientists of the World just seemed to melt away.

But then, by the 1960s, Hubbard had money pouring in, and he no longer had to try shaking down scientists or psychologists. He’d discovered a much easier mark: Scientologists.

Notes from the FDA 1963 investigation
Ability Issue 65

BONUS DOCUMENT: We managed to find for you the complete one-hour lecture by Hubbard given on December 31, 1957 of him announcing his plans for the National Academy of American Psychology….



Marty Rathbun nails it with ‘Scientology Beliefs’

The next time someone tries to convince you that Marty Rathbun is still a true believer and wants to depose David Miscavige so he can take over Scientology for himself, just send them this link.

Rathbun has produced one of the finest brief descriptions of Scientology’s beliefs we’ve ever seen. And here’s our favorite part:

7. Scientology ‘technology’ consists of a sophisticated mix of pop psychology and hypnotism carefully designed and administered so as to lead people to wholeheartedly accept and live according to these beliefs.

We’re interested to see how “indies” and Freezoners deal with that one.


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Food, fun, and regging! Get ready for wild times on the Freewinds


Cindy finished Grade 2! South Texas will be cleared in no time!


The gang’s all here at the Hubbard College of Administration in Milan!


This slogan from the Tampa org is catchy, right?


This is what happens when someone asks a Nation of Islam member why he uses Dianetics, a system dreamed up by the whitest man who ever lived…


Pirates for an Ideal Org! This Buenos Aires poster makes us think of a particular shoop by Observer…


We couldn’t resist….


Scientologists are using social media more than ever. Drop us a line if you spot them posting images to Instagram or Facebook!


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 3, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to 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.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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  • EnthralledObserver

    We gettin somsink new todayz? *waiting, waiting*

    • Wednesday is a day off in The Bunker.

      • EnthralledObserver

        You mean I stayed up to 10pm for nuthin?

        • Yeah. There is nothing to see here.

          • EnthralledObserver


          • EnthralledObserver

            Dodo lies – new story up! 😀

        • FromPolandWithLove

          You can get big hello(;p) and hugs from Poland. Better ?

          • EnthralledObserver

            Slightly satiated… 🙂 Thank you!

          • EnthralledObserver

            And, of course, hello and hugs back! 🙂 (where were my manners) 😉

    • FromPolandWithLove

      We are gettin more greeedy of news ;):)

    • FromPolandWithLove

      Sooo.. Tony is like Simon ant we are like his cat… F5

  • Leah!!!

  • J. Paul Zoccali

    Fascinating story…reminds me of a Luna song that mentions Nixon.

  • music8r

    Tony, thank you for pointing out Mark’s public process by linking his blog. I first saw Mark when he was Marty Rathbun. He was flanking David Miscavige in an intimidating fleet of uniformed enforcers, marching through the Orange County Org in Tustin, CA. I was stunned by panic when they walked past the course room where I was a “word clearer.”

    Mark is every bit himself in his own personality. He has changed his view of Scientology through his experiences, education, and growth. He has courageously documented and shared his thought process along the way.

    How many of us were brave enough to do so in front of a world-wide mirror?

    I dearly appreciate your challenge to your readers to review the out-dated (and always inaccurate!) notion that Mark has ever held a desire to “take over” the Church of Scientology.

    Mark left Planet Scientology with a goal to disappear from the forged reality of Scientology’s interpretation of human existence. He witnessed and propagated lies based on this forged reality. Because he was so prominent in the propagation of enormous lies he cannot seem to escape blame from those bent upon pinpointing and punishing objects of blame.

    This confuses me: Why blame Mark Rathbun for the horrors of Scientology when he is among the most prominent figures ACTING against the influence of the cult?

    • PoisonIvyHerself

      Exactly my thoughts. I’ve always felt Marty/Mark (is that what he’s using now?) would come around eventually, just as I believed Rinder would. They each took very separate and personal paths to their current positions, which I respect. If you have put that much of your heart and soul (and performed heinous deeds) in the name of something you so deeply believed in, when that belief unravels. you’re not going to “snap out of it” overnight. It takes a lot of time – years for some as we’ve seen here – and sometimes those beliefs have to be carefully dismantled piece by piece, so no crucial part of the person’s REAL identity or personality or soul is discarded along with the bad belief.

      I also agree that Rinder and Rathbun are men of character and courage for letting their views evolve publicly. It takes courage to admit that one was wrong. To let the world actually watch you coming to that realization is powerful. I truly wish more humans would honestly submit to the process of truth-finding and let the truth take them wherever it will.

      People seem to blame Marty because they feel he hasn’t apologized enough to his victims, particularly people like Gerry Armstrong. Perhaps he hasn’t apologized to them directly for whatever reason; perhaps he has apologized privately and that’s none of our business. But one thing is clear – what he and Mike are doing is what 12 step programs would call a “living amends.” The 9th step in 12 step program involves in making amends to those you’ve harmed, but sometimes that’s not possible (you can’t find them, they’ve passed away, you never knew their name in the first place, etc.). When you can’t, you have the option of making every day you live a living amends to them. I think that Marty and Mike are more than performing that service to help those wanting to leave the cult every day of their lives.

      In addition, I have noticed on Mike’s blog that when it started, you absolutely could NOT bash LRH without being jumped on – by the followers as well as – sometimes – by Mike. That changed gradually. But when “Going Clear” (the doc) came out, I checked out the comments over there. 90% of them were celebrating the fact that it’s now being acknowledged that the problem with Scientology didn’t begin with Miscavige, or Golden Age of Tech, or changes in policy, etc. Mike’s readers were vociferously agreeing that Hubbard was the original cancer that spread. I was shocked.

      How’s that for genuine evolution?

      The Indies have always had a big problem that required they hold on to a lot of cognitive dissonance, or perhaps even ignore or refuse to look at a whole lot of well-documented facts. That problem is only going to get bigger for them. Still, they provide a soft place to land for those who can’t manage to swallow the bitter pill of truth in one piece.

      • Jane

        Thank you both for so eloquently voicing my thoughts. I’ve been following Rathbun’s blog since it began and I am in awe of his courage and determination to find integrity. Rathbun and Rinder have been an awesome duet.

  • valshifter

    Lets all make videos telling JT how irresponsible he has been supporting a criminal organization disguised as religion.

  • valshifter

    2000 dead men a year under electric shock, ok that’s it, I learned not to trust scientology numbers and statistics, it comes from the laying mouth of Hubbard always making up numbers, stories and plans to bamboozle the world.

  • Waterhorse

    American Psychiatric Assn article by fox news:

    Here’s a quote:
    “We in America face an epidemic of fiction—manipulations of the truth on a scale never before known, fueled by technology and media. This epidemic threatens to rob us of ourselves—what we truly think and truly feel and truly know as fact. And this epidemic has clearly infected the American Psychiatric Association, which puts them on the wrong side of Truth, and puts patients at needless risk.”

    Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at

  • Kestrel

    As a point of reference, the $80 charge for “certification” translates to about $650 in 2015 money. The $25 fee for “card-carrying NAAP members” works out to about $200. Pretty steep for what you get. Oh, and the charge of $15 per reel in the Ability magazine would be $120 each today.