Michael Meisner took his first Scientology course in
1970. He was so impressed that he left college before taking his finals, and became a
full-time staff Scientologist. In May 1973, he was recruited by the Guardian's Office, and
assigned to the Intelligence Bureau, shortly to be renamed the Information Bureau.
From July to October 1973, Meisner was in Los Angeles
learning the complicated internal procedures followed in all Scientology organizations,
and other procedures peculiar to the Guardian's Office. He was indoctrinated in
Information Bureau techniques. He was taught how to conduct covert investigations, how to
recruit undercover agents and place them in "enemy" organizations, as well as
techniques of surveillance.
This was nothing new. The GO had been placing
"plants" in organizations perceived to be hostile for some years. From 1969 the
GO had infiltrated the Better Business Bureau and various mental health organizations
including, in 1972, the American Medical Association. The pattern was well established.
In November, Meisner became Director of Branch 2 (B-2)
in Washington, DC. Branch 2 dealt with internal security. It monitored Scientology itself,
looking for infiltrators, and weeding out anyone who was a "potential trouble
source." Independent, or "Squirrel" Scientology groups were also the
province of B-2, which would do anything in its power to destroy such groups. At about the
time Meisner was posted, Guardian Jane Kember wrote to tell Henning Heidt, her deputy in
the United States, that the GO had illegally obtained documents relating to lnterpol. She
now ordered Heldt to acquire Ron Hubbard's file from the lnterpol Bureau in Washington.
Meisner rose quickly through the ranks. In January
1974, he was promoted by Kember to Assistant Guardian for Information in Washington, DC.
From this position he oversaw both Branch 1 and Branch 2.
In her letter to Heldt, the Guardian had said the GO
Legal Bureau had made Freedom of Information Act requests for certain documents, but
because the legal approach took too long, B-1 should obtain them anyway. Meisner was given
the job. Some Scientologists claim he was a government agent provocateur, who instigated
the use of illegal tactics. As we've seen, infiltration and the theft of files was well
underway before Meisner began his incredibly successful career. Meisner's orders came from
the Guardian, and the theft of government files was an extension of the program written by
Hubbard himself in New York in 1973. He had called it Operation Snow White. In 1974,
Kenneth Urquhart, who was "L. Ron Hubbard Personal Communicator" at the time,
overheard a conversation between Ron and Mary Sue about an agent working in the IRS in
Meisner initiated a "project" to obtain all
Interpol files relating to Hubbard and Scientology which called for the lnterpol National
Bureau to be infiltrated by a Guardian's Office agent. The project was approved by
Meisner's direct senior, Duke Snider, and Meisner assigned it to his B-1 Director,
Mitchell Hermann. No immediate action was taken.
In the late summer of 1974, Cindy Raymond, who was the
GO Collections Officer U.S., ordered Meisner to recruit a Scientologist to infiltrate the
Internal Revenue Service. Prospective candidates were interviewed, but no one with the
right psychological makeup was found. In September, Raymond sent her own choice, Gerald
Wolfe, to Washington.
It took Wolfe, codenamed Silver, a while to find a job
as there was an employment freeze at the IRS. He started work as a clerk-typist on
November 18, 1974.
Shortly before Silver started his job, GO agent Don
Alverzo flew to Washington from Los Angeles. On the afternoon of October 30, following a
briefing by Alverzo, Meisner and Hermann walked into the main IRS building looking for the
Chief Counsel's Office. The Scientologists had heard from their lawyers that there would
be a meeting to discuss Scientology litigation there on November 1.
On the appointed day, Alverzo and Hermann went into
the Chief Counsel's Office before the meeting, and installed an electronic bug. They taped
the proceedings via a car FM receiver. Then Hermann went back into the office (on the
fourth floor), and retrieved the bug.
At first, Silver did not do well on his IRS mission.
In fact, he did not do anything. After a month, Meisner decided to coax him by showing
just how easy it was. Meisner and Hermann went into the IRS building on a week day at four
in the afternoon. They waited for the building to empty out, and then at about seven went
into the offices of the Exempt Organization Division of the IRS, and stole a file on
Scientology. The file was photocopied and Hermann returned it the next day.
At the end of December, three weeks after Meisner's
little mission, the Silver lode opened up. He was asked to steal and photocopy files from
the office of IRS official Barbara Bird. Meisner reviewed the copies, and sent an edited
version to his superiors.
In January 1975, Meisner was also supervising an agent
in the U.S. Coast Guard, Sharon Thomas, and another in the Drug Enforcement
Administration, Nancy Douglas. Thomas was placed in the Coast Guard in compliance with
Kember's Guardian's Order 1344. Later, Thomas and Meisner also performed the fake
hit-and-run accident for Mayor Cazares.
In May 1975, Meisner received a copy of Project Horn
from its author, Gregory Willardson. Willardson was B-1 Director U.S. "Project
Horn" was meant to create a cover story whereby stolen documents could be publicly
released, without revealing the identity of the thieves. Meisner's team was to steal
documents which did not relate to Scientology. They were also to steal IRS stationery, so
that a fictitious disgruntled ex-employee of the IRS could release these documents to the
organizations and individuals they concerned.
The Church of Scientology would also ostensibly
receive letters from this "former IRS employee," along with a wealth of
documents, which would help in their fight against the immoral steps the IRS had taken
Having banished his initial hesitance completely,
Silver stole, copied and replaced a ten-foot stack of documents from the IRS by
May 1975. About 30,000 pages.
Jane Kember's Guardian's Order 1361 ordered the theft
of documents from the Tax Division of the United States Justice Department. Meisner set to
work in April 1975.
The Guardian's Office Legal Bureau told Meisner that
attorneys Harold Larsen and Stanley Krysa had represented the government in litigation
against Scientology in both Hawaii and Florida. Meisner ordered Silver to go into their
offices, in the Tax Division of the Department of Justice, and steal all files relating to
On three successive Saturdays in May 1975, Silver went
into the Star Building, to the offices of the Tax Division. He used his IRS identification
card. He stole and copied twelve files relating to litigation against the Church. He
passed the copies to Meisner at their usual rendezvous, Lums restaurant in Arlington,
Virginia. As usual, Meisner wrote a synopsis of the material, and sent this to his
seniors. The Controller, Mary Sue Hubbard, was among those informed of the thefts from the
IRS. A letter in her hand approving the strategy was later used in evidence against her.
On June 11, 1975, Meisner wrote "Project Beetle
Clean-up," the purpose of which was to obtain copies of all the Washington IRS files
on the Hubbards and Scientology. This included files held in both the Intelligence
Division and the Internal Revenue Service's Office of International Operations. The
project was approved by Meisner's senior, Wi!lardson.
Silver set to work immediately. The IRS was about to
begin a major audit of the Church of Scientology of California--the then "mother
church." During this audit, between two and three million pages of material would be
reviewed. Heading the audit was Lewis Hubbard of the IRS Chief Counsel's Office. So Silver
broke into Hubbard's office and made copies of everything he could find, even his daily
jottings. Now the Guardian's Office knew the IRS strategy, and which of the Church's many
weaknesses it would have to defend.
In July, Cindy Raymond told Meisner that the Church
had brought a Freedom of Information Act suit against the Internal Revenue Service,
charging that the IRS had failed to give proper access to files on Scientology. Meisner
was ordered to obtain documents from the office of Charles Zuravin, the IRS attorney who
would be defending the Freedom of Information case.
The Church created a pattern, bringing suits against
agencies, then penetrating their attorneys' offices to see how the agencies proposed to
defend themselves. In the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suits, these attorneys had
access to the very files which the Scientologists were suing to obtain. Eventually, the
Scientologists stole far more material than they were ostensibly trying to gain through
Silver added Zuravin's office to those he was
monitoring. Zuravin was amassing documents relating to Scientology from IRS offices
throughout the United States, so he could prepare an FOIA index. These documents
represented the dealings of the IRS with the Church over twenty years. Zuravin's task was
awesome. He had to prepare a Vaughn Index (listing every document potentially subject to
an FOIA request). Zuravin also had to explain IRS reasons for non-disclosure for each
document the IRS had refused to release.
The IRS was doing the GO's work for it. All Silver had
to do was copy the documents as they came in, and the GO would have every scrap of
information from the IRS files, indexed at IRS expense, with the added bonus of the list
of IRS reasons for non-disclosure.
In September 1975, Guardian Jane Kember issued
"commendations" (yet another military term used in Scientology) to those who had
worked on Guardian's Order 1361; those who had committed the criminal acts of burglary and
theft for the good of the cause.
In October, attorney Zuravin completed his index.
Every document was numbered, giving the GO an excellent reference work. The index was
handed over to Scientology attorneys. Within days it had been edited, so Silver would only
steal the "exempted" documents, not wasting his time on those already obtained
through FOIA requests.
Silver went to Zuravin's office, and in a single
weekend stole some 3,000 pages of documents. Even this haul did not net all of the denied
documents. At the end of November 1975, before Silver had completed his work, Zuravin's
office, and that of Lewis Hubbard, were placed within a "red seal," or high
security area, inside the main IRS building. From this point the doors were locked at all
times. Zuravin's papers were moved into a locked file room.
At the beginning of December, Meisner flew to Los
Angeles for a conference with his superiors. He was shown the newly issued
"Guardian's Program Order 158 - Early Warning System," which the Guardian had
approved. This program had come into being as a direct result of a Hubbard order. Its
purpose was to keep Hubbard out of the hands of the courts. The GO were to anticipate any
law suit against or subpoena on the Hubbards.
The Order directed that an agent be placed in the U.S.
Attorney's Office in Washington, DC. Any Federal agency which was in litigation with the
Church, or was planning litigation, would report to the U.S. Attorney's Office. An agent
was also to be placed in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles. Another agent was to
be infiltrated into the IRS Office of International Operations (OIO), because they were
preparing a tax case against Hubbard. This last agent was to steal any files on either of
the Hubbards, and to report any developments. Close liaison was to be maintained with the
agents already in place in the Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Administration in
Washington, DC, and the IRS in Los Angeles and Washington, DC.
Back in Washington, Meisner started his compliance
with the Order. The internal procedures of the GO required that all major actions be
"okayed" in writing by a senior. These Orders, and Meisner's responses to them,
were reported step by step through the hierarchy to Mary Sue Hubbard, the Controller. Mary
Sue Hubbard was living with her husband at this time, and no doubt kept him informed of
Meisner's spectacular offensive against the United States government.
Meisner and Silver performed a series of burglaries on
the Justice Department. They stole documents from the offices of Paul Figley and Jeffrey
Axelrad in the Civil Division's Information and Privacy Unit. Figley had been assigned to
the defense of the Freedom of Information Act suits brought against government agencies by
the Church of Scientology.
Meisner and Silver went into the Justice Department
library using Silver's IRS identification card. They waited until after office hours, and
went into Figley's office. As ever, they used the nearest photocopier. On two occasions
they stayed in the building until 10:00 p.m., copying files on Scientology, and every
Interpol document they could find. Further burglaries of Figley's office were committed by
Silver, with GO agents Joseph Alesi and Richard Kimmel.
On Saturday, January 17, 1976, Don Alverzo again flew
to Washington. The next evening, accompanied by Silver and Meisner, he entered the main
IRS building, using Silver's IRS identification. They went up to the third floor where
Lewis Hubbard's office and Zuravin's file office were. Silver stood guard while Alverzo
tried to pick the lock on Hubbard's door. Meisner worked on Zuravin's door. Their GO
training, the "Breaking and Entering Hat," did not serve them well. After about
an hour and a half, the exasperated Meisner forced Zuravin's door. The three went into the
office, stole the remaining "exempt" documents from Zuravin's index, and took
them to a photocopier on another floor. After a while, Meisner and Alverzo left Silver to
the copying and returned to Hubbard's office. Eventually, Alverzo managed to force the
latch with a strip of cardboard. They took all the files which had not previously been
copied. The party left at two in the morning with a one foot stack of documents. Alverzo
returned to Los Angeles the next day.
At the beginning of February, Meisner again flew to
Los Angeles for a conference. There were representatives from the Guardian's Office Legal
and Finance Bureaus at the meeting, as well as Church accountant Martin Greenberg. The
meeting discussed IRS strategy with regard to the Scientology audit, as revealed in the
stolen documents. Meisner was instructed to look out for any documents dealing with the
Religious Research Foundation, a front through which Scientology monies were paid to
Hubbard. Mary Sue's Office was informed.
In Washington, Meisner relayed his instructions to
Silver. The offices of the Exempt Organizations Division were to be monitored for files.
The GO wanted advance warning in case there was an adverse ruling on Scientology's current
attempt to regain tax-exempt status. They wanted to know before it was finalized, so they
could prepare their next line of defense.
Meisner had ordered Sharon Thomas to leave the U.S.
Coast Guard, and find a job at the Department of Justice. After initial difficulties, she
finally managed to do this, and started work there on February 29, 1976.
Silver had to be slightly more inventive than usual to
get into Joseph Tedesco's suite of offices. During the day, Silver removed the knob from a
door which led into the suite, and disabled the lock. The door was not normally in use, so
the ploy went unnoticed. That night Silver returned and carried out his usual procedure.
Silver also stole files relating to the American
Medical Association's tax-exemption, as ammunition for Scientology's long standing battle
against the AMA.
At the beginning of March, Meisner decided to refine
the GO operation. He and Silver went into the main IRS building, again using Silver's
legitimate card, in his real name, Gerald Wolfe. They went to the IRS Identification Room
on the first floor, and forced the door. While Meisner read the instruction booklet for
the photo equipment, Silver typed two fictitious names for himself, and two for Meisner,
onto cards. They then used the photo equipment to put their faces to the names. Meisner
selected numbers from the log of previously issued cards. During the next few months,
false identification cards were made for four other GO agents.
In March 1976, Mary Sue Hubbard approved a Program
written by Cindy Raymond, for the collection of what were termed "non-FOI data"
- i.e. documents not available through the Freedom of Information Act. Raymond, who was
the GO Collections Officer U.S., planned to infiltrate no less than 136 government
agencies! She also ordered Meisner to obtain material relating to proposed amendments of
the Freedom of Information Act.
In April, Meisner and Silver returned to the Justice
Department. Meisner used an identification card made out to "John M. Foster,"
while Silver used his own genuine IRS card, which later proved to be a crucial mistake.
They burgled the office of Deputy Attorney General of the United States, Harold Tyler, and
copied memoranda which the Justice Department was about to send to Congress outlining its
position on proposed amendments to the FOIA. The office door was forced to gain entry.
A few days later, Cindy Raymond wrote to Meisner
explaining that the Justice Department had just conclucted an investigation of the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA). The distribution of the "DeFeo Report" was
designated "severely limited." The Church had just lost an FOIA case against the
DEA. Raymond told Meisner to steal the DeFeo Report. Meisner knew where to go, having
noticed the Report during his last raid.
Meisner put "Operation Chaos Leak" into
action. The DeFeo Report was highly critical of the DEA, so leaking it would create
adverse press. The GO believed a scandal might help to color the judge's view in their
appeal against the DEA decision. Half of the DeFeo Report was given to the Village
Voice in New York by Meisner, who pretended to be a disaffected Justice Department
employee. Meisner had been ordered to obtain all files relating to Ron and Mary Sue
Hubbard from the Office of International Operations of the IRS (OIO). Silver and Meisner,
the latter using his "Foster" identification, entered the OIO building, and went
to the tenth floor to burgle the office of Thomas Crate. The door was locked. One of the
cleaning ladies told a security guard there were two suspicious characters on the tenth
floor. Silver and Meisner fobbed the guard off with their IRS identification cards. The
cleaning lady then opened Crate's office for them. By this time, Meisner had nerves of
They found more documents in a locked cabinet
belonging to Crate's superior, Howard Rosen. They could not find a photocopying machine in
the OIO building, so took the files to the main IRS building, and copied them there.
During the next few months, Sharon Thomas stole files
from the Information and Privacy Unit of the Department of Justice relating to pending
Scientology initiated FOIA suits. Files relating to the Church's FOIA suit against the
Energy Research and Development Administration were also stolen. The lnterpol Liaison
Office was raided, and the safe broken into. The material stolen included lnterpol files
on terrorism. Meisner had been instructed to take all and any lnterpol files, so
that material obtained could be used to show Interpol's "criminality." Several
thousand pages of Interpol documents were taken.
In a chambers hearing of a Scientology FOIA case,
Judge Hart asked Justice Department attorney Nathan Dodell whether he had considered
taking L. Ron Hubbard's deposition. The Scientologists' attorney, Walter Birkeli, reported
back. In the panic, Meisner was ordered to check Dodell's office to see what he was
planning. He was also ordered to find information which could be used to remove Judge Hart
from the case. Safeguarding Hubbard, even from an appearance, was the GO's top priority.
Early in May, Silver and Meisner reconnoitered the
United States Courthouse building. They went first to the Bar Association library, on the
same floor as Dodell's office. They found the nearest photocopy machines, and then went to
Dodell's office. The door was locked, and the tool they usually used failed to lift the
latch. For once, they left a mission incomplete.
A few days later, Silver phoned Meisner from Dodell's
office. No doubt in hushed tones, he excitedly told his superior that a secretary had left
her keys on the desk. Silver and Meisner found a locksmith, who made copies of the keys
for them. Once again GO operatives had waltzed through the security system of a U.S.
On the evening of May 21, Silver and Meisner presented
themselves at the U.S. Courthouse, showing the security guard their fake IRS credentials.
They were given permission to do legal research in the Bar Association Library. They went
up to the third floor and signed the log. Putting a few books out on a table at the back
of the library, they left through the back door, which led into the hallway outside
Dodell's office. Using the duplicate keys they entered the office. With a flashlight they
peered at the files on Scientology. After copying about 1,000 pages, they returned the
originals, and went back to the library, leaving at about 11:00 p.m. The documents were
the Interpol files which had been withheld from Scientology by the National Bureau of
A week later, Silver and Meisner again went to do
"research" in the Bar Association Library. They had signed in as "John
Foster," and "W. Haake" (perhaps an elaborate joke since Sir John Foster
and F.W. Haack were both critics of Scientology), and copied about 2,000 pages of
documents relating to Scientology, most from Washington, DC, police files, and Food and
Drug Administration files. All were taken from Dodell's office.
They were replacing the originals, when librarian
Charles Johnson stopped them. He asked if they had signed in, and told them not to come
back without the permission of a chief librarian. Having braved this challenge, they had
to sneak back to Dodell's office and replace the stolen originals.
Stipulation of Evidence in U.S.A. vs. Mary Sue Hubbard et al., District Court,
DC, criminal case no. 78-401.
Sentencing memorandum in U.S.A. vs. Jane Kember; interviews with former B-1
agent; documents quoted in text.
1. Interview, Urquhart