"Justice Actions":
the activities of Scientology's
intelligence agencies




The primary function of the Guardian Office is: To sweep aside opposition sufficiently to create a vacuum into which Scientology can expand.

[Mary Sue Hubbard, Guardian Order of 19 October 1974]

Mary Sue Hubbard's mission statement for the Guardian Office could not have been clearer. The GO and today's Office of Special Affairs, or OSA, have provided Scientology with an all-in-one facility to investigate and "sweep aside" those whom the organization regards as enemies. Crucially, this facility is kept separate from the rest of Scientology: intelligence and PR activities are carried out by staff specifically trained and vetted for those duties, ordinary staff members being kept well away from such "enturbulative" contacts. The system has a high degree of organization, outlined in numerous documents and training materials - many of which came to light in the FBI's 1977 raids against the Guardian Office.

Intelligence Activities

The objectives of Scientology intelligence activity

The Guardian Office pursued three main objectives in its covert work:

  1. To provide early warning of threats to Scientology or its leaders.

  2. To discover the extent of information on Scientology held by governments.

  3. To unearth compromising information on opponents of Scientology.

Objectives (1) and (2) are necessarily secretive. A good example of an operation under the first objective is that of Guardian Order 261175 LRH, the 1975 order from L. Ron Hubbard to infiltrate the US authorities to provide early warning of legal action against Scientology or its leadership. No such clear-cut example has been discovered for the Office of Special Affairs, but the papers seized in Athens in 1995 (particularly Major Target #2 of the "558 Program", which is reminiscent of the earlier activities against the US authorities) suggest that this objective may remain on OSA's agenda.

Objective (2) is, of course, best exemplified by Operation Snow White, for which the Guardian Office leadership was imprisoned. The discovery in Greece that documents had apparently been stolen from the Greek Secret Service by Scientologists suggests that in this field, too, OSA continues to be active.

Objective (3) certainly continues to be undertaken by the Office of Special Affairs. A vital function of the intelligence division of OSA is to pass information on to the public relations (PR) division, to enable the "dead agenting" (discrediting) of opponents. "Dead Agent packs" continue to be generated on a regular basis and will be discussed shortly.

L. Ron Hubbard, "Intelligence Officer"

L. Ron Hubbard, as one might expect, formulated many of the intelligence and PR techniques employed by the Guardian Office and OSA. He claimed that his experience in this derived from two sources: his period as an Intelligence Officer in the US Navy during World War 2 (in fact, this was only for a short time and apparently involved little more than censoring signals) and his education in government apparently received at Princeton University (this was in fact a short cause on military government - i.e. occupation, MacArthur-style - held on the Princeton campus, a rather different matter).

Despite his limited experience in both fields Hubbard established a sophisticated battery of intelligence-gathering and PR techniques, probably as a result of reading many book on the fields. He published a list of reference books in the confidential Flag Order 2191 of 15 November 1969, "Intelligence Book List" (a document which is still in use today - it is referenced as part of item #150 on Heber Jentszch's Full Hat Checksheet, which Jentszch read on 23 July 1988). Amongst these books are:

  • Clausewitz, Karl von - On War, 1873
  • Cross, J.E. - Conflict in the Shadows, 1964
  • Felix, C. - The Spy and his Masters, 1963
  • Nikitin, B.V. - The Fatal Years, 1938
  • Reiss, Curt - Total Espionage, 1941
  • Sun Tzu - The Art of War, trans. Samuel B. Griffith

These are rather unusual books to be listed as religious reading materials! (Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Nikitin and Reiss are listed in Heber Jentszch's Full Hat Checksheet of 1988 as items #80, #81, #150 and #151 and presumably continue to be used as standard reference guides.) Felix's book, The Spy and his Masters, was elevated by the Guardian Office virtually to the status of a manual on espionage techniques; Part A of Section 4 of the GO's Intelligence Course was devoted entirely to the student demonstrating his understanding of the book.

Whatever the source of his information, there is no doubt that L. Ron Hubbard well understood the principles of espionage. See, for instance, his 2 Dec 1969 minute on "Covert Intelligence: Data Collecting", in which he describes how "Case Officers" should run agents or Field Staff Members:

LRH memo of 2 Dec 69, "Covert Intelligence: Data Collecting"

PR Activities

Handling the Media

As already mentioned, Scientology's PR activities are conducted from the same division which conducts intelligence activities - the Office of Special Affairs. This is no accident, indicating the close connection between Scientology PR and intelligence; the same organisational setup existed in the old-style Hubbard Communications Office and in the Guardian Office.

This is not to say that all of Scientology's PR derives from intelligence work. A normal PR agency is concerned primarily with marketing - promoting its client's products, conducting customer surveys, obtaining celebrity endorsements, and so on. It also performs a certain defensive role, countering unfavourable media articles. Such activities are routinely undertaken by the Office of Special Affairs which, to be fair, has enjoyed considerable success in raising the profile of Scientology as "the religion of Hollywood". What makes Scientology so unusual - in fact, more reminiscent of propaganda outlets such as the old-style Soviet news agencies like TASS - is its regular use of personal smears, ad hominem attacks and overt black propaganda techniques. These tactics have made Scientology justly notorious amongst media professionals.

The policy, as expounded by L. Ron Hubbard, is simple:

"The DEFENSE of anything is UNTENABLE. The only way to defend anything is to ATTACK, and if you ever forget that, then you will lose every battle you are ever engaged in, whether it is in terms of personal conversation, public debate, or a court of law. NEVER BE INTERESTED IN CHARGES. DO, yourself, much MORE CHARGING, and you will WIN."

[Hubbard, "The Scientologist: A Manual on The Dissemination of Material", Ability Major #1, 1955]

This was later codified into formal policy in an HCO Policy Letter of 3 Feb 1969, "Public Image," which is still the governing policy of Scientology PR; as Hubbard puts it, "Don't defend Scientology, attack bad conditions ["unethical" behaviour] and bad hats! ["unethical" people]" ("Unethical" in this context means, of course, being critical of Scientology.) Later that year, the Public Relations Office World Wide - the body which coordinated the Guardian Office's Bureau 3 - devised a set of training routines (or TRs) to "handle" reporters. These were a collection of scenarios with which the trainee Public Relations Officer (PRO) would try to cope. Another Scientologist would play the role of a journalist. Five scenarios were outlined, each of which needed a different technique to "handle":

  1. Answering non-loaded questions.

    Training the PRO to answer common questions, e.g. "What is Scientology?"

  2. No answer.

    Training the PRO not to answer the questions, or "appearing to answer the question by giving generalized statements in simple terms so that the reporter doesn't realize his question hasn't been answered." This technique is still very much in use.

  3. Non-sequitur events.

    Training the PRO to put a Scientological spin on otherwise unconnected news events.

  4. Handling a suppressive T.V. Interviewer.

    Training the PRO to deal with critical questioning on the broadcast media.

  5. Handling an SP [Suppressive Person].

    Training the PR to deal with journalists who answer awkward questions; techniques include the use of "Overwhelm", "to establish an [Scientology] Ethics presence over an SP reporter if the occasion arises, by such things as shouting, banging, pointing, swearing. To do this completely causatively until the poor reporter is 'caved in'."

Reporter TRs: Confidential Board Technical Bulletin of 10 Dec 69 (reissued 21 June 75)
One person who was in the thick of such activities was Robert Vaughn Young, who served as a senior PRO between 1969 and 1989. In 1993, he wrote an excellent article for Quill magazine on Scientology PR techniques - reproduced here with his kind permission:
"Scientology from inside out" by Robert Vaughn Young. 1993

Dead Agenting

Events involving ex-Scientologists or commentators critical of the movement (such as politicians, clergymen or anti-cult campaigners) often provide the spark which leads to a critical article appearing in the press. The credibility of such people is obviously of crucial importance if the story as a whole is to be credible - otherwise the media organisation concerned could find itself the subject of ridicule (as with Stern and the "Hitler Diaries") or a libel suit (too many cases to mention).

L. Ron Hubbard's peculiar ideas on PR discourage Scientology PROs from giving direct answers to awkward questions ("never defend ..."). Instead, replies are "doubled curved" in a tactic described as "attacking the attacker", otherwise known as "Dead Agenting". The latter is yet another Hubbard-devised term, which has become synonymous with smear tactics. It is in fact a bastardization of one of Sun Tzu's precepts, first expressed around 500 BC. As Hubbard put it,

"The technique of proving utterances false [comes from] the first book of Chinese espionage [Sun Tzu, The Art of War]. When the enemy agent gives false data, those who believed him but now find it false kill him - or at least cease to believe him."

[Hubbard, HCO Policy Letter of 21 Nov 72, "How to Handle Black Propaganda"]

So it is not simply a matter of attacking a person's character for the sake of it. It is, instead, all about destroying the person's reputation so that their credibility concerning matters related to Scientology is reduced or totally eliminated.

This is where intelligence gathering plays a very important role. The internal OSA papers seized by the Greek Public Prosecutor in 1995 provide a unique insight into the preparation of a Dead Agenting campaign against Greece's foremost anti-cult campaigner, the late Father Alexios Alevizopoulos. The primary target of the September 1995 "558 Program" is given as "Priest Alevizopoulos investigated with his crimes exposed" - both intelligence and PR wrapped up in one objective. The target is subdivided into "Public Record Collection on Alevizopoulos" (the sort of records sought is outlined in the 1974 memorandum "The Source File"), getting "a PI [private investigator] to investigate Alevizopoulos ... to find any past and current crimes he is involved in" and getting Alevizopoulos' books studied and "handled". The end product of this was a Dead Agent pack, which was to be "forwarded to any person who needs to be informed on his real activities."

Collection of Scientology Dead Agent packs
The preparation of Dead Agent packs lay behind many of the Guardian Office's illegal activities against the US Government in the mid-1970s. GO 1361 directed that once documents had been obtained clandestinely from the US Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice, the designated GO bureau and official would create "suitable cover" to disguise the manner in which "the data was obtained" so that they could be released to "PR for dead agenting." In other words, confidential government material which was unfavourable to Scientology would be turned against the government. This was precisely in line with Hubbard's own directives:
"1. Spot who is attacking us.
 2. Start investigating them promptly for FELONIES or worse using our own professionals, not outside agencies.
 3. Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them.
 4. Start feeding lurid, blood sex crime actual evidence on the attackers to the press."

[Hubbard, HCOPL 25 Feb 1966 "Attacks on Scientology"]