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Buried in US archives, a stunning indictment of Scientology and prediction of the future

[Judge Stanley S. Harris]

It’s another red-letter day here in the Underground Bunker, thanks to the tireless work of researcher R.M. Seibert. After years of persistence, she coaxed another eye-opening release out of the US government about Scientology, in this case a collection of documents from the US Justice Department that have never been made public before.

They capture a moment in 1983 when several US government agencies were considering a legal settlement with Scientology over a lawsuit that had gone on for six years. Some agencies were in favor of the proposed settlement, others were bitterly opposed to it. One memo in particular, written by the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Stanley S. Harris, stands out as a stunning indictment of Scientology after years of litigation over its dirty tricks against the government. We knew you’d want to see it, and we have Harris’s memo in full below. We’ve also taken out some choice excerpts from it that should be framed and put on government office walls for future reference.

But before we get into those details, we shared the release with historian Chris Owen, who was good enough to provide this background on these documents to help us all understand their significance. We’ll also point out that much of this background is spelled out in our book about these years, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely. Take it away, Chris…

This is a very interesting document release from the agencies targeted by one of Scientology’s most infamous campaigns – the Snow White Program, often dubbed “Operation Snow White.”

On April 28, 1973, L. Ron Hubbard wrote Guardian Order 732, the Snow White Program, under which scores of government agencies in the US and abroad were targeted for espionage, infiltration, and litigation. Snow White was subdivided into a series of country-focused projects named after characters from the 1937 Disney film.

Snow White’s goals were to purge government files around the world of “false reports” (i.e. unflattering information) on Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, to enable Scientology to operate freely in countries where it faced bans or legal pressures, and to build evidence to sue opponents for “suppressing” Scientology. Ludicrously, this even included suing critics for genocide.

The goals of Project HUNTER, the portion of Snow White targeting the US government, were only slightly less modest. Scientology sought to obtain records from government agencies and compel the government to “correct” its files, inform any recipients of that its previous reports had been false, and provide compensation for “incredible” damages caused by the files. It stole vast quantities of documents from the government to assist its campaign of litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), with the aim of proving the existence of a government conspiracy against Scientology.

In February 1977, Scientology filed a $750 million lawsuit against the FBI, CIA, NSA, Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of the Treasury, Department of the Army, US Postal Service and Interpol, alleging that they had engaged in a conspiracy against Scientology since 1955. Drawing on the documents that it had acquired through the FOIA and its campaign of theft, the church claimed that Scientology had been subjected to infiltration, illegal surveillance, and disinformation, and its members had been harassed, blackmailed, and spied upon. Only six months later, the FBI raided Scientology’s Guardian’s Office (GO) and found evidence that the GO’s spies had done to the government all of the things that it claimed the government had done to Scientology. (The Snow White Program was mandated by Hubbard and so survived the demise of the GO, lasting at least into the early 1990s.)

It appears from these new documents obtained by R.M. Seibert that the government made a serious effort to settle the $750 million lawsuit in 1983. The agencies targeted by the lawsuit had suffered years of expensive and futile litigation, and with no apparent end in sight most of them were evidently willing to throw in the towel and give Scientology at least some of what it wanted.

The DOJ’s Civil and Criminal Divisions took opposing views, with the Civil Division recommending settlement and the Criminal Division and FBI – which had spent four and a half years prosecuting the GO leadership – opposed. Ironically, the Civil Division had been one of the arms of the DOJ that had been raided by the GO’s spies. The GO had claimed that its actions had been justified as self-defense against a government conspiracy. As the Criminal Division pointed out, the proposed settlement implicitly conceded Scientology’s conspiracy theory, handing the church an undeserved propaganda victory.

More importantly, the terms of the settlement required the government to set up a mechanism that would effectively allow Scientology to screen and approve or disapprove any new information that the government held about it. The Criminal Division pointed out that not only was this hugely onerous but it would seriously hinder investigations – at the time, Scientology’s tax affairs were under investigation – and facilitate even more litigation.

The settlement seems to have fallen through, as I’ve not found any evidence that it was ever enacted. The lawsuit fell apart in April 1985 when Hubbard was ordered to appear for a deposition but failed to show up. Scientology attorneys argued that they could not produce Hubbard for depositions and had no way of contacting him.

In fact, Hubbard was living in hiding on a ranch in Creston, California and was in no shape for a deposition. As Jesse Prince’s recent book has revealed, Scientology’s leadership was well aware that Hubbard was not only in poor physical health, but his mental health had degraded to the point that he would come across as “crazy” to outsiders. Ironically, Scientology’s aim of achieving Project HUNTER’s goals was sunk by the very man who had devised the Snow White Project in the first place.

Thank you for that rundown, Chris. So again, here’s the situation: Although the government had put in prison 11 top Scientology officials for burglarizing, infiltrating, and otherwise spying on the government, the church was suing the government claiming that it was the real victim. Isn’t that classic Scientology?

After years of grinding litigation, the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, US Customs, and other branches were ready to throw in the towel. They had agreed to a settlement that, while somewhat neutral, would certainly give the impression that the government was admitting to treating Scientology badly, and that would put an onerous burden on the government going forward regarding what was kept in files about Scientology.

The Criminal Division was appalled. They had just spent more than four years putting Scientology’s Mary Sue Hubbard and her lieutenants in prison for what the church was now accusing the government of doing. Why would the US throw in the towel when they were happy to go through with a trial and prove that it was Scientology which had acted badly?

In the documents, there are a number of memos going back and forth between departments arguing over the proposed settlement. But one of them stands out. It was written by DC’s chief federal prosecutor, Harris.

Stanley Sutherland Harris turns 91 this month, and we’ve begun to reach out to his family to see if he’d be interested in talking about his memo and his relatively brief stint as the US Attorney for the District of Columbia. (And our thanks also to Eivol Ekdal for additional invaluable help with research for this story.)

Stan, as he’s known (he also grew up with the nickname Salty Harris, according to his high school yearbook), was the son of a famous baseball player and manager. Bucky Harris was inducted in the baseball Hall of Fame in 1975 after he had spent years managing the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, and the World Series-winning 1947 New York Yankees.

But he’s mostly remembered for being the 2nd baseman and player-manager for the only Washington Senators team to win the World Series, in 1924, which featured an extra-inning 7th game that was won by pitcher Walter Johnson against the John McGraw-managed New York Giants. Bucky homered in the game.

He and his wife Mary had their son Stanley three years later, in 1927, and Stan talked about the sometimes chaotic life of a child being raised by a baseball manager who, like all the rest, tended to get fired every couple of years.

 

[Bucky Harris, 1896-1977]

That detail comes courtesy of an oral history that Stan Harris provided in 1996, near the end of his long career as a federal judge in DC. In that very helpful history, Judge Harris describes how he went from high school directly to the Army in 1945 for the tail end of the war, then law school at the University of Virginia before spending more than a decade as a lawyer in the field of radio and television. He then had a long career as a jurist, on the DC Court of Appeals and then as a senior judge of the US District Court.

Between those two appointments, for 18 months in 1982 and 1983, he was DC’s US Attorney.

“Greatest, most fun job I have ever had. Never before or since have I been a part of an organization where everybody was approaching their jobs with the same sort of an attitude and same sort of effort and it was great in the kind of teamwork that I was a part of. The most notable case, of course, was the John Hinckley case when he was prosecuted for his attempted assassination of President Reagan,” Judge Harris said in the oral history.

But we’re interested in something else Harris handled in that job. At the time, Mary Sue Hubbard’s appeals were still going on after the 1979 Snow White prosecution, and Harris’s name can be found on court cases being handled by his assistant district attorneys. In other words, although his tenure as a prosecutor was brief, he had knowledge of, and employed prosecutors with a much more expansive knowledge of, the entire Snow White matter.

And Harris was not happy that the government was about to capitulate to Scientology in court.

The “proposed settlement would substantially hamper effective law enforcement, vitiate the accomplishments of the criminal prosecutions of Scientology officials (and indeed rewrite history), impose enormous administrative burdens upon the government, and, rather than terminate litigation, spawn more litigation than can be imagined. Scientology has shown in its past and present conduct that it is one of the most litigious organizations,” Harris wrote in the memo, which was sent to the assistant US Attorney General handling the case, J. Paul McGrath.

“In October 1979, the nine highest officials of the Church in the United States — including Mary Sue Hubbard, the wife of Scientology founder and leader L. Ron Hubbard — were convicted of either conspiracy to burglarize government offices in order to steal government documents, bug high level government meetings, and forge government identification credentials, or conspiracy to obstruct justice by hiding fugitives from justice, soliciting and committing perjury before a federal grand jury, and submitting false evidence to that grand jury,” he reminded McGrath.

Then Harris summarized some of the nefarious activities Scientologists had been up to during Snow White…

“Among the criminal activities outlined in that Stipulation and the subsequent sentencing memoranda filed by the Government were: infiltration by the Church of Scientology of numerous government agencies and departments including, inter alia, the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the United States Coast Guard Intelligence…burglaries of numerous government offices in the above agencies as well as others; infiltration of the California Attorney General’s office, and projects to infiltrate the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.; infiltration and theft of documents from the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, the Better Business Bureau, various anti-cult groups, the law firms of Sidley and Austin, Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin, and Kahn (in Washington, D.C.) and West-Girardi (in Los Angeles); newspapers such as the St. Petersburg Times, Clearwater Sun and the Washington Post; directives to infiltrate the Public Health Service, the Food and Drug Administration, Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration; operations to discredit and destroy individuals who had been critical of Scientology, including Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service attorneys, and other private persons including authors, reporters, at least two mayors (including Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and Clearwater, Florida Mayor Gabriel Cazares, against whom a hit and run operation was conducted); an operation to falsely link United States Senator Dennis DeConcini with organized crime; an operation to discredit former California governors Edmund Brown and Edmund Brown, Jr.

And so much more — Harris didn’t mention one of the worst cases of “Fair Game” harassment, against author Paulette Cooper, probably because it wasn’t an example of Scientology targeting a government office or official.

Anyway, given that pretty incredible record of determined subterfuge and amoral and vicious behavior, Scientology would be the last organization you’d want to hand such a gift that was incorporated in the proposed settlement…

“These provisions will undoubtedly be employed by Scientology to intimidate, harass, and threaten the signatory government agency and its employees, chilling legitimate investigative activities at their inception and curbing the disseminations to the public of information about Scientology’s past criminal activities.”

Scientology wanted desperately to smother the shocking news about what it had really been up to.

“Ever since the convictions, Scientology has been seeking a way to put a lid on dissemination of information about its criminal activities and to shift the focus from its own criminal conduct to allegations of government improprieties.”

But the government should never forget that Scientology is never sincere about its actions, that it first and foremost wants to hide the truth about itself to the public.

“Scientology has a track record of deceit, the dissemination of false information and obstruction of the flow of accurate information,” he wrote. “Thus, the history of Scientology has been that truth is its enemy, and that it is opposed to the accuracy of information where correct information may hurt Scientology.”

 

[Judge Stan, the man]

Let’s repeat that. Maybe put it on a billboard.

“THE HISTORY OF SCIENTOLOGY HAS BEEN THAT TRUTH IS ITS ENEMY, AND THAT IT IS OPPOSED TO THE ACCURACY OF INFORMATION WHERE CORRECT INFORMATION MAY HURT SCIENTOLOGY.”

Damn, judge. Move over, Bucky: Salty Harris just made the Hall of Fame.

“The Scientologists have reason to fear a trial in this case; the government does not. It would be a defense to Scientology’s charges of harassment to show that Scientology’s activities were a matter of legitimate concern to law enforcement agencies. Therefore, in a trial, it would be appropriate for the government to display the entire sorry record of Scientology’s criminal activities. This is what Scientology fears most,” he concluded, urging the government to dump the proposed settlement.

As Chris points out, the settlement wasn’t adopted, and the lawsuit fell apart when L. Ron Hubbard couldn’t appear for a deposition.

But then, just a few years later, the US government gave Scientology everything it wanted in this settlement and much, much more.

After a study was launched by the IRS commissioner under President George H.W. Bush in 1991, it was concluded two years later and signed by President Bill Clinton, granting Scientology tax exempt status as a church.

Everything Judge Harris predicted — that Scientology would use government complacency to bully its enemies, litigate cases endlessly, and hide the truth of what Scientology is really all about — came true, and remains the case today.

The US government forgot the lessons it had learned from Snow White, and turned its back on people like Harris and his assistant US attorneys and the FBI, handing Scientology a shield to use against prying eyes.

It’s a shameful legacy, and we can only salute Judge Stanley S. Harris for trying to stem the tide.

 
Here’s the memo itself…

Stanley Harris Memo regardi… by on Scribd

 
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Underground Bunker TV

The programming just keeps coming at Underground Bunker TV. We’ve posted short videos about how ABCMouse and Humira are helping to keep Scientology in business, about Scientology attorney Gary Soter’s attempt to stop Leah Remini, David Miscavige’s position in the church (and why he’s shy about it), what Scientology says about Jesus and Christianity, Scientology’s obsession with masturbation, the reason Miscavige is obsessed with “Ideal Orgs,” why nothing was done about Narconon deaths, the vile secret buried in Dianetics, the continuation of Scientology spying, why Tom Cruise doesn’t see Suri, Where Is Shelly? and how many Scientologists are there, anyway. Today we have another short spot that brings up something we’ve covered here before. We hope these vids will draw people back here to the Bunker to seek more information. So please help us get them out into the world!

 

 
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Hey, who moved my cetacean?

Looking for your meritorious status level? We’re maintaining our whales over at this site, which will be continously updated.

 

 
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Scientology’s celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs’ — now with comments!

[Billy Sheehan and the Orange County Ideal Org]

We’re building landing pages about two of David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, his celebrities and his ‘Ideal Orgs.’ We’re posting pages each day, and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them, in order to build a record and maintain a watch as Scientology continues its inexorable decline — and yes, we finally have comments working on these new pages! Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments about all of your favorite celebrities and failing Ideal Orgs

Previously, we posted pages for celebrities Anne Archer, Beck Hansen, Catherine Bell, Chick Corea, Elisabeth Moss, Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, Giovanni Ribisi, Greta Van Susteren, Jenna Elfman, John Travolta, Juliette Lewis, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, Laura Prepon, Marisol Nichols, Michael Peña, Nancy Cartwright, Tom Cruise Danny Masterson, Stanley Clarke, Edgar Winter, and Alanna Masterson. And for the Ideal Orgs of Portland, Oregon; Sydney, Australia; San Diego, California; Denver, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; Perth, Australia; Tokyo, Japan; Sacramento, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Silicon Valley, California; Rome, Italy; Orlando, Florida; Moscow, Russia; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Seattle, Washington; Dallas, Texas; Melbourne, Australia; San Fernando Valley, California; Pasadena, California; Bogotá, Colombia; Budapest, Hungary; Phoenix, Arizona; and London, England.

Today it’s Billy Sheehan and Orange County, California!

 
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MEANWHILE, AT FACEBOOK…

 

 
Please join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,258 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,861 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 404 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 292 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,467 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,241 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,015 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,361 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,927 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,595 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,855 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,895 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,607 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,133 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,222 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,362 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,682 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,538 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,657 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,013 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,315 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,421 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,824 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,695 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,278 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,783 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,027 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,136 days.

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on October 5, 2018 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, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news

 

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