Why should a man certain of immortality think
of his life at all?
- JOSEPH CONRAD, Under
Early in June 1976, the GO issued "Project:
Target Dodell." Dodell was too successful in the defense against the Scientology FOIA
legal suits. Meisner was ordered to steal files from Dodell's office which could be used
to formulate an operation to remove him as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. By this time
Meisner had requested and received written permission to use the Bar Association Library.
At seven o'clock on the evening of June 11, Meisner
and Wolfe (Silver) signed in. This time Wolfe was using a card in the name of "Thomas
Blake." Meisner showed librarian Johnson the written permission he had obtained. They
followed their usual route through the back of the library, but found that cleaners were
still at work in Dodell's office.
While Meisner and Wolfe were waiting at the back of
the library, two FBI agents approached them. Librarian Charles Johnson had reported their
earlier visit to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Little was made of it at the time, but
Johnson was instructed to call the FBI if the two suspicious IRS men returned. Meisner
presented his false IRS credentials, and said he had since resigned from the IRS. One of
the agents stayed with Meisner and Wolfe, while the other went to find an Assistant U.S.
Meisner said they were doing legal research, and had
been using the photocopier to copy legal texts. He gave an address, a few doors from his
own, to FBI agent Christine Hansen. After about fifteen minutes of questioning, Meisner
asked if they were under arrest. When he was told they were not, he said they were
leaving. The other agent, Dan Hodges, saw them on his way back to the Library. Meisner
called to him to say Hansen had given them permission to leave. Once again Meisner had
faked out the enemy.
They walked for several blocks to make sure they were
not being followed, and then took a taxi to Martin's Tavern restaurant. Meisner phoned his
superior, Mitchell Hermann, in Los Angeles, and in a roundabout way told him they had been
stopped. Hermann told him to call him back at a public telephone. In the subsequent
conversation, Hermann told Meisner to wait at the restaurant, and phone back an hour
later, so Hermann could contact the Deputy Guardian for Information U.S., Richard Weigand.
Meisner's incredible luck had finally turned. The GO
operation in Washington was finished. A "Church" had penetrated U.S. government
agencies willy-nilly. They had come and gone undetected for eighteen months, copying tens
of thousands of pages of government files, including very sensitive and restricted
material. It is little wonder that when the FBI raid against the Church of Scientology
finally came, a year later, it was a show of strength. Few people would understand the
reason for such a show. It was intended for those in the Guardian's Office, who would
understand only too well.
The GO ordered Wolfe to turn himself in, as part of
the operation to conceal their involvement. He was arrested at his desk at the IRS before
he had a chance to surrender. The FBI had simply checked every record where "John M.
Foster" had signed into official buildings. Then they had checked the identifications
given by the man with him. "W. Haake" and "Thomas Blake" had not
turned up anything, but sometimes Wolfe had used his real IRS credentials. He was arrested
for using false credentials the other times. The FBI proved that the monolithic U.S.
government agencies were not quite as stupid as the GO had come to believe.
Wolfe told the FBI he had been doing legal research
under his own steam, and said he had never known the other man as anything other than
"Foster." The story was manufactured in the GO, and Wolfe was drilled on it. He
maintained it through a grand jury hearing, adding perjury and conspiracy to obstruct
justice to his other crimes.
Two months later, at the end of August 1976, an FBI
agent arrived at the Church of Scientology in Washington with a warrant for the arrest of
Michael Meisner. In the Courthouse library, he had given an address a few doors from his
own. The FBI had traced him by talking to his neighbors.
Instead of turning Meisner in, the GO added harboring
a fugitive to its growing list of crimes. The GO was in a state of panic, and suggestions
of how best to handle the situation multiplied. The first plan was to fly Meisner to
Europe to wait it out. His appearance was immediately changed. He was to look like a
middle-aged man trying to be fashionable. He was to shave his head, wear contact lenses,
have a tooth capped, lose or gain weight, and wear "earth shoes" to change his
posture. He went through a rapid succession of identities, becoming first "Jeff
Burns," then "Jeff Marks," and then "Jeff Murphy." Controller
Mary Sue Hubbard wrote to one of her juniors that it would be safest for Meisner to
disappear in a big city.
Mary Sue Hubbard also acknowledged receipt of a copy
of Meisner's arrest warrant, and continued to discuss various concocted alibis for Meisner
with Guardian Jane Kember and other GO officials. The FBI discovered these exchanges in
their 1977 raid.
Lieutenant Warren Young, a Scientologist in the San
Diego police, checked the National Crime Information Center computer records to see how
the hunt for Meisner was progressing. The FBI questioned Young, who claimed he had
arrested Meisner for a pedestrian violation.
The GO in Washington supplied false samples of
Meisner's handwriting to the FBI. These were to be compared to the signatures in the logs
of various government buildings. Mary Sue Hubbard requested a list of buildings illegally
entered by Meisner. It was impressive, eleven were listed in the reply: the Department of
Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, the Office of International Operations, the Post
Office, the Labor Department's National Office, the Federal Trade Commission, the
Department of the Treasury, U.S. Customs, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the offices
of the American Medical Association's attorneys, and the offices of the St. Petersburg
Times' attorneys in Washington.
One of Meisner's seniors even toyed with the idea of
creating a cover for Meisner whereby he would claim to have been researching the poor
security of government buildings.
By the end of October, Meisner, in hiding in Los
Angeles, was expressing concern at the vacillations of his superiors. He was assured that
Mary Sue Hubbard was working on his case personally. Indeed she was, and a few days later
she suggested that Meisner turn himself in, saying the whole affair had arisen out of his
jealousy of his wife's consistently superior performance in the Guardian's Office. To
outdo her, he had organized the burglaries of government offices, unbeknown to any of his
Then it was suggested that Meisner turn himself in,
plead guilty, and take the Fifth Amendment (refuse to answer questions because they might
incriminate him) if asked about his superiors. Meisner was willing to be the scapegoat,
and willing to go to prison, such was his devotion to the cause: but the sooner the
"shore story" was settled the better. Otherwise the FBI might hit paydirt. He
was fearful of the consequences for Scientology, and aware that his own fate could only be
worsened by delay.
While in hiding, Meisner continued to work for the
Guardian's Office, and to receive Scientology auditing. His pleas for a swift resolution
were repeatedly rejected, and he threatened to leave, for either Washington or Canada, if
decisive action was not taken. This was the situation in April 1977, ten months after the
Courthouse library incident. He had been a fugitive for eight months. The GO responded to
Meisner's threat by transforming his "case officer," Brian Andrus, into his
Andrus and three heavies, accompanied by two high
officials of the Guardian's Office, visited Meisner. He was told that from now on he would
have to follow orders. His apartment was searched, and anything which might conceivably
connect Meisner to Scientology removed. As usual, Mary Sue Hubbard was informed.
A month later, Andrus visited Meisner and told him he
was going to be moved to another apartment. He refused to leave, and the "two guards
handcuffed him behind his back, gagged him and dragged him out of the building. Outside,
they forced him onto the floor in the back of a waiting car. In the car, one of the guards
held Meisner down with his feet." This account comes from the Stipulation of Evidence
signed by Mary Sue Hubbard and eight senior GO officials, as do all of the principal
details of this chapter. There is no conjecture. There are reams of uncontested documents.
Meisner gradually persuaded his captors that he was
willing to cooperate, and by the end of May he was down to a single guard. One day,
Meisner broke away and leapt into a taxi. He went to a bus station, and from there to Las
Vegas. Despite everything, Meisner was still devoted to Scientology. He felt his captors
had failed to take the proper course for the good of Scientology, and wanted time to think
the situation through.
The next day, Meisner phoned the GO and told them he
was in Las Vegas. They had already worked out a new angle or "shore story" in
case Meisner had gone over to the "enemy." Cindy Raymond suggested that the FBI
be told that Meisner was trying to blackmail the Church, by threatening to pretend that it
had harbored him after the warrant for his arrest was issued.
Meisner agreed to meet one of his former guards, Jim
Douglas, in Las Vegas. At the meeting, Meisner refused to return to Los Angeles. It was
too late, the GO had found out where he was staying, and another official met him there,
and persuaded him that everything had changed with the removal of a senior GO executive.
The Scientologists constantly excuse reprehensible
acts by blaming them on a Suppressive who has subsequently been removed. Hubbard had first
used this scapegoat approach as early as 1952 with his outlandish attack on Don Purcell.
This is what comes from believing in the evil influence of Suppressives, and their magical
power for disruption. Most Scientologists accept the excuse every time it is trotted out.
Meisner did, and he returned to Los Angeles.
In fact, Andrus had ordered that a new apartment be
found for Meisner. Meisner was to be put in a room either with a window too small for him
to escape through, or no window at all. He was to have no further contact with the outside
world. Meisner was installed in the apartment immediately upon his return to Los Angeles.
In June 1977, in Washington, DC, Gerald
"Silver" Wolfe was sentenced to probation and community service, having pleaded
guilty to the forgery of credentials. On the day he was sentenced, Wolfe was subpoenaed to
appear the same afternoon before a grand jury, which had been investigating the entries
into the U.S. Courthouse. The FBI was hot on the trail.
Wolfe paraded his carefully drilled story, claiming he
had gone to the courthouse library to educate himself in legal research, so he would be
able to get a better job. He said his accomplice was only known to him as "John
Foster." After his appearance, Wolfe was meticulously debriefed by the GO.
Meisner managed to ingratiate himself with his captors
again. From June 17, 1977, he was no longer guarded at night. Three days later, he
collected a few clothes and left the apartment. He watched his back carefully to make sure
he was not being followed, and changed buses twice en route to a bowling alley. From there
he made a collect call to an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, pretending to be
Gerald Wolfe, just in case the GO had an operative in the Attorney's office. Two hours
later, Meisner surrendered himself to the FBI.
While the GO was concocting a story about Meisner
having tried to blackmail them after setting up the Washington operations on his own
initiative, the FBI, with Meisner to help them, was moving at full speed. Meisner
contacted the GO to say he was thinking things over. They were put off guard. In fact,
Meisner had at last thought things over, and concluded that there was something very wrong
with an organization which resorted to the criminal tactics of the Church of Scientology.
He had broken out of the Kafkaesque nightmare, and made his confession, this time not to a
Scientology Auditor, but to the FBI. On July 7, 1977, the FBI carried out one of the
largest raids in its history: on the Guardian's Office of the Church of Scientology,
simultaneously in both Los Angeles and Washington, DC.
As a result eleven GO officials, including Guardian
Jane Kember and Controller Mary Sue Hubbard, were eventually imprisoned.
Stipulation of Evidence in U.S.A. vs. Mary Sue Hubbard et al., District Court,
DC, criminal case no. 78-401.