Scientology's Dept. 20:: a memoir
Introduction and Part 1 - Snow White
by Robert Vaughn Young
From 1971 until 1982, I served in Scientology's notorious "enforcement" section located in Department 20. Our targets were the "enemies" of Scientology, the media, the courts, the authorities and other "troublesome sources." In 1971 it was called the Guardian's Office (GO). In 1981 it became the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), as it is still known today (1997).
In 1977, Dept. 20 was raided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in what was then the largest raid in the history of the FBI. Th y found evidence of burglaries and wiretapping of federal offices, not to mention similar break-ins of media and private individuals and various campaigns to destroy critics and institutions. As a result, the wife of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and ten Dept. 20 executives and personnel went to jail. Hubbard himself was cited as an "unindicted co-conspirator." He went into hiding.
What happened in those days - and those before and after - has never been told by someone who was there. This is my personal story.
Part 1 - The Legend of Snow White
Fiefield Manor sits at 5930 Franklin Avenue, perhaps a dozen blocks east of Vine, in Hollywood, California. Built to look like a large, seven-story French castle/chateau, it has that super surreal look, better fitting a Disneyland ride.
It was pure Hollywood. And that is its history. It served as a hotel for Hollywood types back in the 1930s and 1940s, and it looked as if it hadn't been painted or renovated since. The lobby had a small worn mahogany reception desk in the corner, complete with an ancient telephone board, the kind where cords were plugged in to connect residents with the outside world. The ceiling was gilded and the cheap chandelier fits the Tinseltown motif. The carpeting was that gaudy Florentine that one found in Hollywood theater lobbies in the era. On the first floor, there was a kitchen and small restaurant but the rest of the building consisted of apartments, from the one-room with wall beds to two floor suites connected by marble staircases. Many had kitchenettes.
Next door on Franklin was a one-story,u-shaped convalescent home.(1)
Scientology bought both structures in the early 1970s, using them primarily for staff housing. The convalescent home had been taken over by the "Advanced Organization," where the "upper levels" of Scientology were taught. But little was done to remove the hospital feeling. Handrails were on the walls and fixtures were present for oxygen hookups. Half of the building was used for AO staff. Space were at such a premium that married couples were forced to share larger rooms. The original curtains that pulled along ceiling tracks to divide the multi-bed rooms for patient privacy were used by the couples to separate the beds.
More fortunate staff lived in the Manor, but even then, people were crammed into the place.
The top two floors were given over to the US Guardian's Office. It was a considerable upgrade. The former "national offices" was a one-story apartment complex across Los Angeles that made slum housing look elegant.
Several bureaus and perhaps 80 staff were crammed into the top two floors of the Fiefield Manor. Public Relations (my bureau) occupied one double-floor suite. The Legal Bureau did the same, directly across the hall. The Finance Bureau wasn't as large so they had only a one-floor suite on six. The Deputy Guardian for the US was also on six, with his own large suite. The rest of the seventh floor was taken up by the Intelligence Bureau, until 1977, when they moved across town to what had been the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital that had just been bought. The rest of us were due to follow when renovations on the block-long complex were done.
I came to the USGO from the San Francisco GO in late 1973. It was a good move, I felt. While I loved San Francisco, working in the US offices was an honor and I wasn't there long before I was assigned to the highest priority and most secret program the GO had ever carried. The code name was "Snow White," after the fairy tale. Other elements, including countries and projects, had words from the tale: Pick, Shovel, Diamond, Mine, Witch, Grumpy, Lantern, etc.
Each bureau had a "Snow White Section" and the work was secret, even from the rest of the bureau. Staff would learn of some of our successes but the actual plans and the actual purposes - drawn up by L. Ron Hubbard himself in 1972 and 1973 - were top secret.
In a nutshell, Hubbard believed that there was a tiny, very secret international cabal that had been orchestrating the attacks on him for decades.(2) This same cabal was also responsible for the destruction of governments and currencies and crime around the world. Unlike Ian Fleming's SPECTRE in the James Bond novels, Hubbard's cabal was not promoted as fiction. It existed, he said, and it had to be found and destroyed. He didn't know where it was but it was probably in West Germany and was staffed by former members of the Third Reich. They operated through Interpol, Hubbard said, the International Criminal Police Organization. Interpol was their "conveyor belt" to the FBI, CIA, MI5, MI6, BKA and all the groups that Hubbard felt were conspiring to stop him.
The other piece of information Hubbard provided was that the cabal had the equivalent of the Japanese "Tenyaka Memorial." The Tenyaka Memorial was a written plan the Japanese had operated by for the takeover of the Pacific. This cabal, Hubbard said, had their version of a "Tenyaka Memorial" that laid out the cabal's plan for the destruction of Scientology and it was locked in a safe, probably in a public relations firm. He didn't say if the PR firm and the West German group were one and the same.
The task of finding the "Tenyaka Memorial" and destroying the cabal was given over to his wife, Mary Sue, who gave it to her Guardian's Office. I was assigned to head the US PR section of Snow White at the end of 1973. At the time, there were only four of us, one in each bureau, plus a "Snow White In-Charge" and soon a "Snow White Programmes Officer" (3) who kept all the files for the bureaus.
Our functions were pretty simple. Intell's job was to do their usual spying to find leads and suspects. Legal was to use the Freedom of Information Act to get files from government agencies so we could track leads. (Intell was also to keep a data base on the documents, cross-filing names and connections found in the documents.) PR was basically to create a stink, attacking the FBI, CIA and any other government agency we considered an enemy. Finance was there to write the checks for the whole operation.
While our work was secret even in the already-secret GO, we couldn't keep everything under wraps, so there was a cover story about how we were trying to find "false reports" in government files so we could correct them. It was, as Hubbard called it, an "acceptable truth" since we were looking for false reports and correcting them. What we didn't reveal was the actual, longer-ranged target of finding this cabal and destroying it.
Because Snow White was an international effort, programs were written at the World Wide Guardian Offices at East Grinstead, in the UK. They sent down a series to each bureau. When I read mine, I tossed them in a drawer and ignored them. They included some ridiculous ideas like getting the FBI to create a file on a cat - as in feline - and then later expose this to show how stupid the FBI was.
Instead, I began to dig into Interpol, starting at my local library. In the meantime, the programs were gathering dust and GO WW wanted to know how things like "Operation Cat" were going. I finally answered that I had found a some incongruities in Interpol's history and that they might have a direct Nazi connection to the Third Reich.
My enthusiasm didn't set well with GO WW. I was sent to Ethics, interrogated to find some "hidden crime" that would explain my lack of obedience and demoted. Jeff Friedman, a PR from back east, was brought in to replace me and be my senior. He was to run the program and I was to be his assistant. Frankly, I was relieved. Let Jeff run "Operation Cat." (He never did either.)
Jeff and I got along great. I loved to research and he hated it. I showed him what I was digging out on the Interpol-Nazi connection and he became excited and told me to keep digging and he would cover for me. I did and subsequently confirmed that Interpol had been taken over by the Third Reich and that such notorious figures as Ernst Kaltenbrunner, head of the SS, had also been the president of Interpol. (None of this history had appeared in any books about Interpol.)
The kicker came by sheer luck in the military section of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. I was on my way to the airport to return to LA and had stopped by to pick up copies of the 1943 Interpol magazine that had Kaltenbrunner on the cover, in full SS uniform. While waiting, I didn't have anything to do so I started to browse through various files in the main research room and found a list of Nazi Party members, compiled by the Allies after the war. I began to flip through it, curious if Hitler himself was listed. Nope. Funny, I thought, that the boss himself wasn't a member. But there was Himmler and another and another from history. Gee, who else could I look up?
By a complete fluke I looked up Paul Dickopf, a German who had been the president of Interpol in the early 1970s. My jaw dropped. There was Dickopf's name, complete with a date of birth and his party number. Could it be?
The archivist came out with my copies of the Interpol Nazi magazine. I explained my rush and he quickly made copies of that page with Dickopf's name and the cover sheet.
As it turned out, it was the right Dickopf. We even got his SS file from the Berlin archives, complete with him in an SS exercise suit. Coupled with the new part of Interpol's history that I had uncovered, we were off and running, getting headlines around the world. I even testified at a US Congressional hearing, where I dumped my documents. Someone did an op-ed in the Washington Post about the connection and I was on Tom Snyder's national TV show for an hour, right after Johnny Carson. We were flying!
No one ever asked me about "Operation Cat" again. Nor did they ever admit that I had been right and they were wrong. That's not part of the thinking.
In early 1977, I was sent on a seven-country tour of Europe. The continental Snow White program had not taken off as well as the US version and I was sent over to see if I could jump-start some of them, plus dig around some more. The PR side didn't work that well but I got a chance to spend some time with Simon Wiesenthal at his center, reviewing some functions of the Nazi Interpol. But when Interpol put out an alert on my being loose on the continent after I hit their Austrian office and a German wire service came after me, it got wild.
All it did for me and the others was "prove" that the "cabal" really existed. We never considered that we were working by self-fulfilling prophecies, causing problems so that when someone reacted, that proved they were "after us." It was, we thought, complete war, just as Hubbard had told us.
I came back to the US via Washington, DC, after giving one more round of Congressional testimony before heading back to Los Angeles. Overall, the trip was part success and part failure but in a few weeks, it didn't matter. While I was gone, some other problems had happened and Snow White was about to be blown out of the water by 100 FBI agents.
My life, Hubbard's life and Scientology would be changed forever.
(1) The convelescent home building has since been destroyed and the Manor taken over by Scientology's Celebrity Centre with considerable interior renovations. Outside, they added a large neon "Scientology" sign at the top of the building, overlooking the freeway. It is pure Hubbard kitsch, adding neon to a fake French castle.
(2) Over the years, Hubbard had promulgated dozens of conspiracy theories, that grew larger and larger. They started with psychiatry and the communist party (he believed his second wife was a Moscow agent and reported her to the FBI in the early 1950s, during the McCarthy era) and moved through the various psychiatric organizations (e.g., World Federation of Mental Health) and on to government agencies in the US and abroad. The more detailed theories were always issued in a confidential or secret form to selected staff, especially the Guardian's Office.
(3) One of Hubbard;s affectations was to use the British spelling of some words. I will try to use his spellings when they seem relevant but may move back and forth between the two.
end of part 1
Copyright © 1997 by Robert Vaughn Young
All Rights Reserved