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He was Scientology’s most famous spy, then he turned witness and vanished. Now, here he is.

[L. Ron Hubbard and his wife Mary Sue — undone by Snow White]

In 2014, while we were working on our book about Paulette Cooper, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, we got a fascinating break.

A researcher who was helping us said that he had managed to track down Michael Meisner.

For those of us who study Scientology’s history, it’s a name that has always been shrouded in mystery. We have often wondered what happened to the super spy who carried out much of the legendary Snow White Program, the largest domestic infiltration of the U.S. federal government in its history, on behalf of Scientology’s infamous original spy wing, the Guardian’s Office.

Meisner was born in Chicago in 1950, and was a college student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when he became interested in the Scientology mission there in November 1970. He was later trained for the Guardian’s Office and then was sent to Washington DC in 1973 as L. Ron Hubbard’s Snow White Program was going into effect around the world.

Meisner became responsible for a stunning amount of burglarizing in Washington DC federal agencies, as we explain at some length in our book.


But then, one of the FBI’s first female agents, a woman named Christine Hansen, answered a call about a pair of suspicious characters at a DC law library on June 11, 1976. She questioned the men, Michael Meisner and his partner, Gerald Wolfe, and then let them go, but later realized they had given her false information. By pure luck, on June 30 she ran into Wolfe again at the IRS headquarters and put him under arrest.

Scientology sent Meisner into hiding in Los Angeles as they watched what would happen with Wolfe, and then put Meisner under guard when he became impatient.

A year later, in June 1977, Meisner escaped his Scientology guards and turned himself in to the FBI. Three weeks after that, on July 8, 1977, the FBI served search warrants at three Scientology locations in DC and Los Angeles in what was the largest raid in FBI history.

Meisner then served as a witness as the Justice Department prosecuted and got convictions for eleven top Scientology officials, including Hubbard’s wife, Mary Sue.

And then, Meisner vanished.

Now, our researcher told us where he was living, and showed us how he knew this was the same Michael J. Meisner, born August 8, 1950, who had attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and who had turned witness for the FBI.

We sent a letter to Meisner and called him, asking if he’d be interested in speaking to us for our book, and hoping that he would — one of the things that we were trying to do in Miss Lovely was get multiple perspectives on the operations that had been aimed at Paulette Cooper.

Meisner claimed we had the wrong guy, and told us not to call him again.

We let the matter rest for several years.

But now, we are bringing it up for multiple reasons. First, because we obtained the FBI file on former Clearwater mayor Gabe Cazares, which we made public Tuesday. It was Meisner who told the FBI about the details of Scientology’s plot to ruin Cazares with a bizarre hit-and-run accident in DC in 1976.

And also, in the years since we first contacted Meisner, one of our excellent helpers, researcher Eivol Ekdal, has tracked down photographs of Meisner which helped us learn how he managed to transform himself and his life in almost unbelievable ways.

After he provided testimony in the Snow White case and then obtained a new identity in a witness protection program, Michael Meisner went back to school, got an engineering degree, and then by 1981 found work in, of all places, the nuclear power industry.

He started out as a licensing engineer with the company that became Entergy in New Orleans, then moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1988 at the Grand Gulf nuclear power station. By 1996, he was the director of licensing for five Entergy nuclear power plants, and then he became president of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company in 1998 and then its chief nuclear officer.

His rise was meteoric, and it was all done under his original name. (He apparently only used the assumed identity for his return to college.) From 1997 to 2005, Meisner oversaw the decommissioning and deconstruction of the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant in Wiscasset, and then retired.


And almost as surprising, we learned that Meisner’s sister, Mary Jo Meisner, became well known as a newspaper reporter and editor — she was city editor of the Washington Post from 1987 to 1991, editor in chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from 1993 to 1997 and a vice president of the prestigious Boston Foundation from 2001 to 2016. Three times, she was a judge for the Pulitzer Prizes. Today, she teaches at Harvard. But she sure sat on one hell of a story during all that time.

Fascinated that Mike Meisner felt so secure that he had gone back to his original name, we hoped he would talk to us about his amazing second life. But he’s not interested.

By 2014, we knew about Meisner’s career, and his job running Maine Yankee. And we even found a video of him being interviewed about the plant. Here’s what he looked like in recent years…


Our helper, Ekdal, kept digging, hoping to find photos of Meisner as a younger man. According to the Justice Department, Meisner had gone to a parochial high school. After some research and some educated guesswork, Ekdal managed to figure out which private Catholic school Meisner had attended in Illinois.

With that information, we located a yearbook on eBay, and purchased it so we could get a copy of Meisner’s junior year 1967 photo…


Ekdal kept digging, and he hit paydirt again. He found Meisner’s 1980 college yearbook after the former Scientologist went back to school for a nuclear engineering degree at the University of Wisconsin. At this point, he was using the name “Jeffrey Nelson.”


We showed the University of Wisconsin photograph, which would have been taken about four years after his work as a Scientology spy, to two former Scientologists who worked with Meisner at the DC Scientology org. One of them said he was “pretty sure” it was the Meisner they knew, the other said she was “almost certain.”

And now, all three photos together, so you can see the progression of Meisner through the years, in 1967 (age 16), 1980 (age 29), and circa 2010 (age 60)…


And just a few weeks ago, Meisner made a presentation, “Minimizing Nuclear Power Plant Long-Term Liability Through Decommissioning” at an international conference in St. Petersburg, Russia. Here was the photo from the program…


It’s amazing to us that Meisner went from spying for Scientology, to state’s witness, to running a nuclear power plant in Maine.

“I think he came to us from Entergy, which took over plant operations around 1994,” says David Flanagan, who was a member of Maine Yankee’s board of directors when Meisner was running the company. “It seemed to me that he was a knowledgeable and conscientious guy. I have a favorable impression.”

We asked Flanagan if he had any idea that the president of Maine Yankee was the FBI’s witness in the largest prosecution of domestic espionage in the country’s history.

He said he didn’t.

“I find that surprising,” he said.

It is an impressive transformation, and we wish that Meisner would talk to us about it.

But for now, we finally have photos of the man who helped put Mary Sue Hubbard in prison, and who was at least partly responsible for L. Ron Hubbard spending his final years in hiding.

What a legacy.


Chris Shelton and Lloyd Evans on banning Scientology

Says Chris: “In May 2017, the state of Russia banned the religion and practice of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Church of Scientology is being faced with the same kind of ban in Russia. This is a controversial subject because many in the anti-Scientology community feel this is a good and just action. In this video, former Jehovah’s Witness and anti-cult activist Lloyd Evans and I discuss why this is a terrible idea and what some of the consequences have already been for JWs in Russia under this new ban.”



David Miscavige pens letter to Russian Scientologists in custody

We’ve been critical of Russia’s harsh crackdown on Scientology, which seems heavy-handed for the large number of raids and book banning. A criminal investigation regarding money being funneled from a pyramid scheme into Scientology donations has resulted in five Scientologists being held in custody. We have no way of knowing if that incarceration is legitimate or not.

But David Miscavige’s letter, addressed to the five Scientologists in custody, is a masterwork in bullshit as the church leader lays on the religious cloaking and ignores all of Scientology’s controversies and well-documented abuses.

Thanks to Pete Griffiths for posting this letter on Facebook. We know you’re going to enjoy it.

David Miscavige Letter to Russia by Tony Ortega on Scribd


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,963 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 109 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,172 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,946 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,720 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,066 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,560 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,600 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,312 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 838 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,927 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,067 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,387 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,362 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 718 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,020 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,126 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,529 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,402 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 983 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,488 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,732 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,841 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on December 14, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. 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

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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